Problems with the Truth Claims of the LDS Church: A Summary
This section is meant to serve as a recap of what has been written on this site across all of the various subjects to briefly illustrate some of the issues we have come across that can not be reconciled by apologetic arguments. Apologists often approach these problems by isolating each one individually with an overload of information that doesn't actually solve the problem, but can end up making you think you were the silly one for questioning it in the first place. What we want to do below is just quickly highlight each problem with links to the individual pages on this site if you want to read further on any given topic. When you take these in totality, it paints a picture that is difficult to reconcile with the narrative the church taught me, and we'll explain why as we go through these points. This page might be a bit long, but I believe you will find it worthwhile and we have plenty of links below if you'd like to research any of these points further.
One quick note: While many used to call these arguments "anti-Mormon," as you will see below they are heavily sourced from LDS materials/history. Facts matter and the truth does not change no matter how much we want to believe otherwise. They are real, they are tangible, and they are what we have learned since Joseph Smith's lifetime. These different subjects are difficult to read and a lot of it is unknown to members, but they are facts and we all deserve to know the truth as difficult as it might be to discover. If anyone has any suggestions or rebuttals, please email us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to correct any incorrect info or give you more information as to why we feel as we do.
As prominent LDS historian Richard Bushman noted, "I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative. The dominant narrative is not true; it can’t be sustained. The Church has to absorb all this new information or it will be on very shaky grounds and that’s what it is trying to do and it will be a strain for a lot of people, older people especially. But I think it has to change."
President J. Reuben Clark: "If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”
Elder Jeffrey Holland: “...everything in the Church – everything – rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth...It sounds like a ‘sudden death’ proposition to me. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward.”
1. The Book of Abraham | 2. King James Errors and Deutero-Isaiah | 3. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible Plagiarism | 4. Polygamy and Polyandry | 5. Book of Mormon Translation - Church Narrative vs. Church History | 6. DNA and the Changing Lamanites | 7. Anachronisms | 8. Significant Changes to Key Revelations | 9. The Retrofitted Priesthood Restoration | 10. Ban on Blacks from the Priesthood and All Temple Ordinances | 11. Role of Women - Lack of Priesthood, Treatment During Polygamy, Etc | 12. Treatment of the LGBT Community | 13. Lack of Discernment by Prophets and Church Leaders | 14. The Transfiguration of Brigham Young and Other Faith Promoting Stories | 15. Brigham Young | 16. Lack of Proof for Joseph Smith's Prophetic Abilities or the Book of Mormon | 17. The Lost 116 Pages | 18. Math | 19. Joseph Smith and the Convenience of Revelations | 20. Insistence on Literal Biblical Stories | 21. The Ever-changing LDS Apologists | 22. Joseph Smith 'Mixtape' Theory | 23. Church History of Hiding/Suppressing Evidence | 24. Lack of Modern Day Revelations | 25. Lack of Modern Day Priesthood Miracles | 26. Spiritual Witnesses/Where Will You Go? | 27. Use of Fear to Attack Critics and Those Who Leave | 28. Lack of Answers to the Tough Questions | 29. Changes to Doctrine/Ordinances Without Explanation | 30. Joseph Smith and the Big Picture
1. The Book of Abraham
Unlike the Book of Mormon, we have the actual source material that Joseph Smith translated from, and because of the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, we also have learned that what Joseph Smith proclaimed the papyri said is simply not correct. Joseph Smith told us that it was written by the hand of Abraham, yet the papyri dates thousands of years later. He claimed to translate the facsimiles, but he could not know during his lifetime that we would later have the Rosetta Stone to verify that what he translated was incorrect.
In addition, the Book of Abraham relies on source material that was in the Nauvoo Library and available to Joseph Smith during the time that he wrote it (Thomas Dick’s Philosophy of a Future State (1830), Thomas Taylor’s The Six Books of Proclus, and the apocryphal books of Jasher and Josephus), which is why the astronomy referenced in the book matches the thinking of his time, but not from the time it was supposed to take place in nor does it match what we know now. Take this paragraph from Joseph Smith's translation of the facsimile: "Fig. 5. Is called in Egyptian Enish-go-on-dosh; this is one of the governing planets also, and is said by the Egyptians to be the Sun, and to borrow its light from Kolob through the medium of Kae-e-vanrash, which is the grand Key, or, in other words, the governing power, which governs fifteen other fixed planets or stars, as also Floeese or the Moon, the Earth and the Sun in their annual revolutions. This planet receives its power through the medium of Kli-flos-is-es, or Hah-ko-kau-beam, the stars represented by numbers 22 and 23, receiving light from the revolutions of Kolob."
We now know that the actual Egyptian translation for that is "the Cow of Hathor, behind which stands a uzat-headed goddess holding a sacred tree." There is not a single Egyptian scholar that believes Joseph Smith's translation of the papyrus is credible, and even the LDS essay concedes that the papyri Joseph Smith translated from has nothing at all to do with Abraham.
The problem is that the accuracy of the Book of Abraham has been invalidated by both the Rosetta Stone and the discovery of the original fragments, and the apologist arguments can not be reconciled with what Joseph Smith himself told us. What Joseph Smith claimed was the literal signature of Abraham we know now is nothing more than a libations table. We are not trying to be disrespectful here - these are established facts that are even accepted by LDS apologists.
One key argument apologists make is that there is a now lost "long scroll" that contained the actual Book of Abraham. The annotated LDS essay notes why this is not a reasonable conclusion based on the size of the scroll being known now that we have the fragments, our understanding of what mummies were buried with, and the fact that the the Book of Abraham itself clearly states that Facsimile 1 is part of the same scroll. Abraham says, “and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record” (Abraham 1:12)
This is a very important subject and we can not give the details proper coverage here. Our annotated LDS essay on the Book of Abraham goes into all of these issues in much more detail, and further explains why this is, in our opinion, the biggest "smoking gun" against Joseph Smith and the credibility of the LDS church. You can read that here.
2. King James Errors and Deutero-Isaiah
This has been discussed by other critical sources at length, but it is a massive problem for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. As we discussed in our tight vs loose translation page, the history is absolutely clear that Joseph Smith had to undertake a tight translation from the seer stone, which means that the Book of Mormon should be word for word from the words that appear on the seer stone in Joseph's hat.
The problem, however, is that the Book of Mormon contains around 15% of its content from the King James Version of the Bible. That problem is compounded further by Joseph Smith also bringing all of the King James errors and italicized words with the lifted passages. There is no way to reconcile a tight translation with KJV errors, and there is no way to reconcile a loose translation with the history of how Joseph Smith claimed to translate the Book of Mormon. This is a massive problem for the Book of Mormon: Why would God include so much material from a version of the Bible not available to the writers of the Book of Mormon, and why would He allow translation errors to be copied directly into the Book of Mormon?
However, the biggest problem is the Deutero-Isaiah issue: What was unknown during Joseph Smith's lifetime is that the book of Isaiah was actually written by multiple authors from different times. It has since been accepted by both non-LDS and LDS scholars that parts of Isaiah were written after the exodus from Jerusalem, meaning that the gold plates could not have possibly included those chapters, yet they still found their way into the Book of Mormon.
This begs the question of why God would allow Joseph Smith to be setup to look like a false prophet by using King James errors and Deutero-Isaiah passages. The Book of Abraham has been concluded by every non-LDS scholar to be unequivocally false, and now we have learned that Joseph Smith included parts of Isaiah written after Lehi left with the plates. These issues have no good answer as we discuss on the Book of Abraham LDS Essay and Deutero-Isaiah pages, and the most obvious answer is that these writings are 19th century writings from Joseph Smith, and not ancient texts given to Joseph by God.
3. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible Plagiarism
The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of the Bible has long been considered an inspired translation of the King James Bible. The LDS website describes the work this way: "A revision or translation of the King James Version of the Bible begun by the Prophet Joseph Smith in June 1830. He was divinely commissioned to make the translation and regarded it as “a branch of his calling” as a prophet."
A recent study from BYU, however, discovered that Joseph Smith heavily lifted materials from Adam Clarke's Bible commentaries. While the full paper has not been released yet, their summary of the issue makes clear the Joseph Smith borrowed extensively from Clarke's work. "The commentary, Adam Clarke’s famous Holy Bible, Containing the Old and New Testaments, was a mainstay for Methodist theologians and biblical scholars alike, and was one of the most widely available commentaries in the mid-1820s and 1830s in America. Direct borrowing from this source has not previously been connected to Smith’s translation efforts, and the fundamental question of what Smith meant by the term “translation” with respect to his efforts to rework the biblical text can now be reconsidered in light of this new evidence."
"Our research has revealed that the number of direct parallels between Smith’s translation and Adam Clarke’s biblical commentary are simply too numerous and explicit to posit happenstance or coincidental overlap. The parallels between the two texts number into the hundreds, a number that is well beyond the limits of this paper to discuss. A few of them, however, demonstrate Smith’s open reliance upon Clarke and establish that he was inclined to lean on Clarke’s commentary for matters of history, textual questions, clarification of wording, and theological nuance. In presenting the evidence, we have attempted to both establish that Smith drew upon Clarke, likely at the urging of Rigdon, and we present here a broad categorization of the types of changes that Smith made when he used Clarke as a source." (BYU Study)
Haley Wilson spoke about the project on a podcast for Mormon Discussions, and noted that "just speaking in terms of direct engagement, he plagiarized Clarke about thirty times in his New Testament translation and a little less in the Old Testament, but there's about ten parallels, fifteen direct parallels in the Old Testament. There's a lot, and these aren't just like one word here and there - these were whole sentences."
As we will highlight throughout these issues, this is another area where Joseph Smith's prophetic work does not hold up to history as we now know this divine translation was being done by utilizing outside sources. Much like the Book of Mormon's use of the King James Bible (and other possible sources with similar themes and writing styles), the Joseph Smith Translation is a work that we now know was not brought to life by Joseph Smith's prophetic ability, but by his use of materials that were readily available during his lifetime.
4. Polygamy and Polyandry
There's no way around it - polygamy and polyandry in the church's history are a mess. Joseph Smith was engaging in polygamy long before the revelation to do so was recorded, lied to Emma and church members about it, and then still repeatedly violated the revelation he claimed to receive in D&C 132.
Joseph Smith even had women sign a false affidavit to swear the church was not engaged in polygamy while he was married to many of the women who signed the affidavit from the Relief Society. Imagine how embarrassing it must have been in hindsight for Emma to be rallying these women against polygamy as they were secretly married to Joseph behind her back! In addition, Joseph Smith pressured young women into entering into polygamous marriages with him by promising these young women and their entire families exaltation if they would do so, which seems to go against church doctrine to make such a promise. Why would a woman's entire family receive exaltation if she enters into a polygamous marriage with Joseph Smith? It simply makes no sense.
In addition, Joseph Smith took the wives of faithful LDS husbands as his wives own for eternity, which is explicitly against D&C 132. The idea of a "forever family" is central to LDS theology, yet Joseph Smith was taking that forever family away from faithful members for his own benefit. What kind of person would steal a faithful LDS member's chance to be with their wife for eternity? It is wrong on every moral level and is a clear and blatant violation of his own revelation (D&C 132) to only marry virgins, which was contradicted his earlier revelation (D&C 101) that marriage was only to be between one man and one woman.
Consider this: Joseph Smith told women who had initially rebuffed him that an angel with a drawn sword commanded him to take them as a polygamous wife or else he would be destroyed. I personally do not believe an angel would command Joseph to do something against the free will of these women. It also needs to be remembered that Joseph himself initiated the topic with God about polygamy (D&C 132 verse 1), but for a moment let's consider that an angel did appear with a drawn sword. Why would God be so invested in Joseph Smith instituting polygamy that He sent an angel to threaten Joseph (or to put pressure on the women), but God then had no problem with Joseph Smith violating the revelation by marrying non-virgins (other men's wives) and by marrying women without giving Emma the chance to give her consent? Joseph also never bore children, which was the stated purpose of polygamy - to raise up seed. As you look at the evidence, occam's razor would tell us that Joseph Smith used the revelation to calm down growing rumors about his relationships beyond his marriage to Emma
Polygamy is wrong, it is vile, and it is a practice that treated women like property. There is a reason that nowhere in the Bible does God actually command anyone to take up polygamy. Apologists like to claim that this was common in the Bible, but the fact is that God never commanded anyone to do it and mostly looked down on it as an abomination. It is a truly horrific practice and while the church contends women found spiritual goodness from it, the history shows that it was excruciatingly difficult for women to share their husbands physically, mentally, and spiritually with other women. The church now even concedes that Joseph Smith had sex with at least some of his polygamous wives, which up until recently was considered an anti-Mormon fabrication. They even admit that he was with Fanny Alger, although they still are dishonest about the time-frame of the revelation and when he was caught with her by Emma, Oliver Cowdery, and others who spoke of the affair.
I highly encourage you to read our annotated LDS essay on polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvoo as we go into much more detail about how the church has misdirected their members on the history of Joseph Smith and polygamy. We also did an annotated LDS essay on polygamy in the Utah period, which discusses how Brigham Young abused the practice of polygamy even further.
While we don't have source material beyond Joseph Smith's changing revelation (D&C 101 to D&C 132) or false affidavits with the Relief Society to declare this a "smoking gun," every woman should understand that polygamy is still the everlasting covenant in the LDS church. The current prophet is sealed to two women, and under LDS doctrine, when he dies he will have both women as his wives in heaven. In addition, past prophets have declared that men in the celestial kingdom will take on many wives who will create spirit children for eternity to create new worlds with. Simple math would tell you this can not work - many men would be left without wives under polygamy, and would thus be robbed of their chance for a forever family in eternity. It's an abomination to think that this could be the way of God, and our LDS annotated essays explain in very specific detail how Joseph Smith created the practice and then violated the very rules he claimed to receive in the revelation.
5. Book of Mormon Translation - Church Narrative vs. Church History
I took the missionary discussions and remember quite well the missionaries showing me the pictures of Joseph Smith sitting a table looking at the gold plates, transcribing it in a very scholarly way. As a matter of fact, I recently asked current missionaries to describe the translation process and that is how they described it to me over twenty years later in 2018. That is the church narrative - that Joseph Smith translated gold plates on a table while a scribe wrote down his translations.
However, as we now know (and has been confirmed by the church), this is just not how it happened. Joseph Smith never used the gold plates in translating what we know as the Book of Mormon. The method of translation was Joseph Smith putting a stone that he found buried under a well during a treasure dig into a hat, putting his head completely into the hat, and then reading the words that "appeared" in the hat. There was no Urim and Thummim used in the translation as the church likes to say in order to avoid talking about a 'seer stone' in a hat. The translation narrative from the church does not match actual history in any way, and the church has been aware of this as they commission artwork and manuals that purposefully teach members an inaccurate history. The picture on the left below is how the church teaches members the translation happened, but the picture on the right is how it actually happened.
There are a lot of reasons that this is a problem for the credibility of the church. First, it is another example where the church has suppressed their history from members and continue to present a dishonest narrative to potential converts. Second, this makes clear that the only way a translation of the Book of Mormon could have happened is with a tight translation. Due to the King James Bible errors and Deutero-Isaiah passage in the Book of Mormon, it further proves that the the Book of Mormon is a work of Joseph Smith's 19th century mindset, and even apologetic LDS historian Richard Bushman concluded that "It is riddled with nineteenth-century Protestant theology and phrasing, but still is an incredible narrative of a civilization's rise and fall." (Richard Bushman, Ask Me Anything)
Our annotated LDS essay on the Book of Mormon translation goes into all of the translation problems in many more details, and further explains why this is a problem for not just the Book of Mormon but the church's credibility as a whole. You can read that here.
6. DNA and the Changing Lamanites
The title page of the Book of Mormon says that the book is "Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel." Joseph Smith himself claimed the Native Americans were the Lamanites as did every church leader and prophet that followed him. During the 1955 General Conference, Elder Milton Hunter said "I bear witness that the Book of Mormon contains the word of God and that it was written originally by holy prophets with the knowledge that it would be preserved to be brought forth in the latter days for the benefit of the descendants of the Lamanites--the American Indians."
The problem is that DNA testing has proven that the Native Americans are from Asia, and did not come from Israel. This puts the entire purpose and credibility of the Book of Mormon into question, and there is literally no good answer for apologists. Even in 1997, then Elder Russell Ballard spoke at a conference for Native Americans and said "You would be overwhelmed if you had the opportunity to shake hands with Lamanite stake presidents and bishops who have come out of the world and embraced the gospel."
There is no question that the church believed and taught that the Native Americans were Lamanites, but we now know that is simply not true. The DNA tests are extremely conclusive and our official LDS annotated essay on DNA goes into almost too much detail as to why the many different apologist theories just can not work. There is no getting around the basic fact that the premise and history of the Book of Mormon has been proven false by DNA testing that Joseph Smith could have never foreseen when writing the book in the 1820s. The church even changed the language of the introduction from the Lamanites "are the principal ancestors of the American Indians" to "among the ancestors of the American Indians." This change did not come from revelation or discernment - it came from advancements in science and history that proved the statement to be wrong.
This is a very difficult area because it is so definitive that it is hard to take in, but facts do matter and on this one there is just no explanation besides the Book of Mormon and church leaders getting it wrong. It is insulting to tell the Native Americans that they are Lamanites, and it is insulting to tell church members to just ignore what the Book of Mormon says and now pretend there were actually other populations in the New World during Book of Mormon times.
Even Jeffrey Holland taught that the “Holy scripture records that “after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof.” (Ether 13:2.) Such a special place needed now to be kept apart from other regions, free from the indiscriminate traveler as well as the soldier of fortune. To guarantee such sanctity the very surface of the earth was rent. In response to God’s decree, the great continents separated and the ocean rushed in to surround them. The promised place was set apart. Without habitation it waited for the fulfillment of God’s special purposes.”
“With care and selectivity, the Lord began almost at once to re-people the promised land. The Jaredites came first, with stories of the great flood fresh in their memories and the Lord’s solemn declaration ringing in their ears: “Whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever, should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them.” (Ether 2:8.) (Ensign)
Just as Joseph Smith had no idea that DNA testing would be available some day to prove that the Lamanites are not who Joseph claimed God said they were, Jeffrey Holland had no idea either when he gave this talk. Our LDS annotated essay on DNA goes into this problem in so much more detail, and further explain why this is such an unquestionable "smoking gun" against Joseph Smith and the credibility of the LDS church. A lot of books wondered about where the Indians came from, and Joseph Smith was no exception. The apologist theories just do not work, and we detail that with quotes from the Book of Mormon and church leaders - these are not anti-Mormon sources that we used in our annotated essays. DNA research is not anti-Mormon - it doesn't even consider Mormonism when looking at the results. In fact, scientists would love nothing more than to find definitive proof that the Book of Mormon is true - it would literally make their career to find such a breakthrough. You can read our essay here.
The Book of Mormon is full of anachronisms, which is when a person takes an idea from their own time and inserts it in a past time in which it never actually existed. It would be as if a Civil War book talked about how Lincoln gave a televised address to America, when of course we know there were no TVs during his lifetime. That alone would be proof that the Civil War book could not have happened as written, and the Book of Mormon suffers from this problem throughout:
Deutero-Isaiah: As discussed above, the inclusion of Deutero-Isaiah in the Book of Mormon is a massive anachronism. There is no way that these passages could have been included on the gold plates since they were written after the exodus from Jerusalem. Joseph Smith did not know this when writing the Book of Mormon, which is why he took freely from Isaiah as a whole.
Cattle/Sheep/Goats: "And also all manner of cattle, of oxen, and cows, and of sheep, and of swine, and of goats, and also many other kinds of animals which were useful for the food of man." (Ether 9:18) While the Book of Mormon claims that animals were domesticated for food as in Joseph Smith's time, even FAIR considers this anachronism correct. They loan shift cattle to buffalo, sheep to mountain sheep, and that goats could've been deer, but the reality is that these animals were not introduced to America until Columbus got here.
Honey Bees: "did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees." (Ether 2:3) FAIR gives the following explanation: "The Book of Mormon does not state that the Jaredites brought honeybees across the ocean. It says that they brought them to the coast of the Old World. The Maya codex Tro-Cortesianus, which predates the arrival of the Spaniards, shows drawings of bees and parts of honey combs." They want you to believe both that the Book of Mormon never explicitly says honey bees were brought while also telling us that there are drawings of bee parts so either way they're covered. That's peak apologetics right there. Of course what FAIR doesn't note is that the earliest honey bee fossils date back 14 million years, which is over 13 million years before Mormon doctrine allows for life to exist.
Swords/Metalworking: "And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance." (2 Nephi 5:15) This is one of the most egregious anachronisms, because we are told they used these weapons for battles that numbered in the hundreds of thousands. In order to create such metalworking, you would have evidence of forges, old stockpiles of materials, etc. It simply did not happen, even though FAIR tells us that steel doesn't actually mean steel. FAIR states: "The author assumes that "steel" refers to modern steel, which did not exist in pre-Columbian America. Steel has been found in the Old World in the appropriate time period." The problem is that it did not exist in the Americas. A lot of things existed in the Old World that were not in the New World - that's actually the point of pointing out the anachronisms that Joseph made based on what he was familiar with from his time-frame. That includes both things around him physically, as well as things that he read about int he Bible, which we know he heavily referenced/borrowed from for the Book of Mormon. Take note that the few examples that FAIR states for metalworking are from the Old World - no one is arguing that particularly because there is evidence it happened in the Old World. What we are arguing is that Joseph Smith used metalworking in the New World because he was familiar with it, yet there is not a single shred of proof of its existence in the New World even though hundreds of thousands of people battled with swords, helmets, shields, etc.
Horses/Chariots: "Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots." (Alma 20:6) This is a technology that would have revolutionized the population and would have been passed down from generation to generation, yet there is zero evidence it happened. FAIR admits this is correct, even though they try to downplay the idea by stating chariots are not mentioned often. Bottom line is that this is an anachronism that Joseph Smith would have assumed would've been used when going to battle, and thus it ended up in the Book of Mormon. The most obvious answer is usually the correct one.
There are many other anachronisms including wheat, silk, oxen, swine, coins, and wheels as well in the Book of Mormon. As is a common theme in these different subjects, Joseph Smith freely used from concepts and sources that were available in his lifetime. The fact that anachronisms are scattered in the Book of Mormon therefore is not surprising, but another knock against his credibility as a prophet of God.
It also needs to be noted again that the history tells us that the Book of Mormon has a tight translation. The fact that these anachronisms exist can only be excused under a loose translation, but that is not what the history tells us. While anachronisms by themselves might not be the smoking gun, in combination with what we know about the history of the translation as well as the King James issues, they are another insight into the problems with the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith's credibility as a prophet of God.
8. Significant Changes to Key Revelations
One of the key foundations of the church is the idea of a living prophet who can receive revelations directly from God. Joseph Smith claimed many of these revelations, and originally compiled them in the Book of Commandments. Almost all of the printing run was destroyed, but a few copies remained which is incredibly important because when the Doctrine and Covenants was released a few years later, many key revelations were significantly changed without explanation, admission, or fanfare.
Joseph Smith claimed to receive many of the early revelations through his seer stone, which again is a tight translation as words would appear just as was claimed with the Book of Mormon, yet Joseph Smith altered the words of God as he saw fit after the revelations were recorded. Does it make sense that God would give revelations that He would expect to be altered to fit Joseph's evolving theology or to help solve problems such as polygamy?
In 1829, Joseph Smith claimed that God revealed to him that "he has a gift to translate the book, and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift." Yet Joseph Smith quietly changed this revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants to "And you have a gift to translate the plates; and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you; and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift, until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished." This is a significant difference that allowed Joseph Smith to change his objective from simply translating a book to creating an entire religion.
The entire story of the priesthood was retrofitted via revelation to add in John the Baptist along with the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, neither of which were ever mentioned before Sidney Rigdon brought them over as a part of the Campbellite branch. We will touch on this further in our next point.
Joseph Smith originally claimed that God told him "Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." (D&C 101:4) Of course we now know that Joseph Smith was already involved in extramarital relations when giving this revelation, and since this did not quiet the rumors, Joseph Smith then added D&C 132 which made the case for polygamy although Joseph Smith broke many of the rules in that revelation as well. Also interesting is that Joseph Smith did not use the seer stone to receive D&C 132 even though this revelation was incredibly specific, detailed, and important.
These are just a few examples of where Joseph Smith changed key revelations to help explain his own changing theology, and if we are to believe that God is constant and infallible it is impossible to reconcile with Joseph needing to correct the word of God as frequently and expansively as he did. Again, occam's razor would tell us that he needed to make these changes to make his story work, and church history backs that up when you view it against the evolution of the church.
Our Changes to the Doctrine and Covenants page goes into this problem in so much more detail, and further explain why this is such a big problem for the narrative of Joseph Smith and the credibility of the LDS church. Apologists continue to insist that the changes are almost entirely grammatical, but as we detail with images of the changes, you can see that many of the changes were massive and consequential. You can read that here.
9. The Retrofitted Priesthood Restoration
The restoration of the priesthood is one of the central elements to the LDS church theology, yet what they don't tell prospective members is that the story we all know today was quietly retrofitted into church history years after is supposedly happened.
According to LDS.org, Joseph Smith received the priesthood from John the Baptist in 1829. The problem, of course, is that we now have a lot more information which tells a much different story. As Richard Bushman, an LDS historian who labors to paint a faith-promoting picture of Joseph Smith in Rough Stone Rolling, notes, Joseph Smith wasn't even ordained to the priesthood until Lyman Wright ordained him in 1831 - and even then it was just as a "high priest" and not to the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthoods. As Bushman makes crystal clear, Joseph Smith never mentioned the priesthoods prior to this event: "During the turbulent meeting, Joseph ordained five men to the high priesthood, and Lyman Wight ordained eighteen others, including Joseph. The ordinations to the high priesthood marked a milestone in Mormon ecclesiology. Until that time, the word 'priesthood,' although it appeared in the Book of Mormon, had not been used in Mormon sermonizing or modern revelations. Later accounts applied the term retroactively, but the June 1831 conference marked its first appearance in contemporary records… The Melchizedek Priesthood, Mormons now believe, had been bestowed a year or two earlier with the visit of Peter, James, and John. If so, why did contemporaries say the high priesthood was given for the first time in June 1831? Joseph Smith himself was ordained to this 'high priesthood' by Lyman Wight. If Joseph was already an elder and apostle, what was the necessity of being ordained again?"
This is confirmed by the lack of any mention of the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood in the Book of Commandments or in any other materials prior to Joseph Smith retrofitting it into the Doctrine and Covenants in 1835. This is a massive change to a revelation and event that was supposed to have been from God, and one that again is important to understand when coming to the conclusion that the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants are a product of Joseph Smith's authorship and not from God.
We detail this problem in two ways - the first is to examine the LDS vs. Historical timelines of the priesthood restoration, which very clearly shows how the LDS timeline does not stand up to history. The second is a page on apologetic arguments about the priesthood restoration, which details how FAIR distorts, deflects, and deceives in order to try and make you think you're the crazy one for questioning the timeline (i.e. gaslighting). It's a common theme with apologetics and the church, and one we detail in all of our annotated essays because it is important to understand what they are doing to try and keep you from researching any further.
10. Ban on Blacks from the Priesthood and All Temple Ordinances
Many LDS apologists like to blame any criticism of the ban on black members from the priesthood or from participating in temple ordinances as a case of "presentism," where we apply our current culture onto the leaders in the 1800s. The idea is that Brigham Young was a racist, but it was only because everyone was a racist at the time so it's really not a big deal and does not lessen his claim to being a prophet of God in any way.
There are two problems with this: 1. Joseph Smith brought forth scripture that was inherently racist. The entire Book of Mormon is based on the idea of white exceptionalism and that God cursed the Lamanites so that they were so unattractive that no one would ever want to procreate with them. The Book of Abraham takes this even further when explicitly giving the doctrine that blacks can not have the priesthood:
Abraham 1:24 - When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
Abraham 1:27 - Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry.
So while apologists want to tell you that LDS scriptures do not promote white exceptionalism, the very words are quite explicit otherwise. It is insulting to the intelligence of members and even more so to African Americans to pretend that the racism the church held for almost 150 years had no basis in either scripture or doctrine. These black members of the church were denied their chance to be 'together forever' because prophets for over 130 years declared that God said it was to be so. We are now told to ignore that, but the bottom line is that the one true church had no more ability to discern right from wrong than any other church or organization on the planet.
The second problem with this idea is that Brigham Young claimed the mantle of prophet of the church. He introduced ideas to the church that he claimed were scripture such as the Adam God theory, blood atonement, and banning blacks from the priesthood while giving constant support to slavery. All three of these teachings are now disavowed, but all three were taught by Brigham Young the prophet as doctrine.
What kind of God would allow His prophet to preach in favor of slavery and forcing black members to inherit the supposed sins of their ancestor? What kind of God would tell his prophet that the penalty for having sex/marrying a black person would be death on the spot? (Journal of Discourses, Vol 10 p 110)
We spend a lot of time detailing in our official LDS annotated essay just how disingenuous the church is as they try to distance themselves from the words of their prophets, leaders, and members. We also provide a brief timeline and some quotes about blacks from church leaders over the last 190 years to illustrate just how core of a principal racism was in the church and the unwavering declaration that the ban was doctrine from God. In the LDS annotated essay we also discuss the "revelation" that ended the ban, which was not a revelation in the way it is taught, but an organizational meeting to decide how best to end the ban causing so many problems for the church.
Even during the recent "Be One" event where the church celebrated the end of the racist ban on blacks long after the country realized how harmful discrimination was, President Oaks said the following: “I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them.”
If President Oaks found no confirmation in any of them, why did all of the prophets before the ban was lifted fight so hard to keep them? Why did President Oaks not speak out before the ban was lifted? Why did President Oaks allow blacks to be refused their chance at a "forever family" if he knew the ban was wrong? The answer is quite obvious - this ban was not from God, the lifting of the ban was not even a revelation as discussed in the LDS annotated essay, and this is the result of men creating doctrine based solely on their life experiences. The church was decades behind everyone else to determine that discrimination against blacks was wrong - if this is the one true church you would expect them to lead us in loving and valuing each other as equals, not begrudgingly accepting change only after public pressure leaves them no other choice.
11. Role of Women - Lack of Priesthood, Treatment During Polygamy, Etc
Since the beginning of the church, men have always been more important than women in both treatment and organization. This could not be more clear than how they were treated under polygamy - men could marry and have sex with as many women as they wanted, but women were only allowed to be with one man or were cast out as harlots. What kind of church tells women that they have to just endure to the end as their husband brought home new wives after returning home from a trip? I highly recommend the Year of Polygamy podcast series, which was done by Lindsay Hansen Park, an LDS woman, to highlight just how excruciating and brutal polygamy was for many of these women.
The revelation that Joseph claimed in D&C 132 allowed men to enter into polygamous relations only with virgins (Joseph broke this revelation, which makes this even worse) after gaining the approval of the first wife. But Joseph's revelation then gives a loophole: If the woman does not consent, the men are free to pursue these additional wives anyway. Again, I ask what kind of God would tell men that they have to ask their wife if they can go and marry another, only to tell them if the (first) wife says no they can just do it anyway? It is horrendous to think women would be put in a position to approve of a marriage that in the end they have no real power over. Moreover, it is an abomination to think that Joseph Smith told some of these women they could only receive exaltation if they gave in to polygamy, which was never commanded in the Bible by God and was even considered an abomination in the Book of Mormon.
In addition to polygamy, women are not allowed to hold the priesthood, which is not based on scripture. Women were actually allowed to give blessings early on in the church, but are not allowed to do so today. The church has given women some new capabilities in the church, allowing women to give a prayer at General Conference for the first time in 2013.
It is pretty amazing to tell women they can do anything that men can do, but then also having to tell young daughters that their role in life is to serve the worthy priesthood holders by having kids and being obedient. Before 1990, women in the temple had to promise to God that they would be observant of their husbands whereas men were required to make no such promise.
A few quotes to further the point of how deep sexism has prevailed in Mormonism:
Boyd K. Packer: "The husband, the holder of the household, is established this day in this marriage covenant as the head of the family and the breadwinner. It may be hard for you to recognize this role, young lady, but your happiness is conditioned upon it."(Boyd K. Packer, ‘That All May Be Edified’, Pg. 230, Pub. 1982)
Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith: "When the wife is faithful and desires to obey the divine law and the husband is rebellious, or unwilling to obey the will of the Lord, if she maintains her integrity to the best of her ability, she will be given to another husband in eternity and will receive all the blessings of the celestial kingdom.“ (Joseph Fielding Smith’s ‘Answers to Gospel Questions’, Vol. 3, Pg. 23, 24. Pub. 1957)
M. Russell Ballard: "We need you. We need your voices. They need to be heard. They need to be heard in your community, in your neighborhoods, they need to be heard within the ward council or the branch council. Now don’t talk too much in those council meetings, just straighten the brethren out quickly and move the work on." (M. Russell Ballard in an Europe Area Sisters’ Meeting, September 9 2014)
Apostle Richard G. Scott: "The victim must do all in his or her power to stop the abuse. Most often, the victim is innocent because of being disabled by fear or the power or authority of the offender. At some point in time, however, the Lord may prompt a victim to recognize a degree of responsibility for abuse. Your priesthood leader will help assess your responsibility so that, if needed, it can be addressed." (1992 General Conference, Apostle Richard G. Scott, ‘Healing the Tragic Scars of Abuse’)
Brigham Young: "True there is a curse upon the woman that is not upon the man, namely, that “her whole affections shall be towards her husband,” and what is the next? “He shall rule over you.” But how is it now? Your desire is to your husband, but you strive to rule over him, whereas the man should rule over you." (A Discourse by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Bowery, Great Salt Lake City, September 21, 1856)
1940 LDS Handbook: "Under no circumstances is a recommend to the Temple to be issued to a wife whose husband is not a member of the Church. Experience has shown that the results of giving endowments to women whose husbands are not members of the Church have led to regrettable and unfortunate conditions.” (LDS 1940 General Handbook of Instructions, Pg. 131,132)
Apostle George F. Richards: “My wife has borne to me fifteen children. Anything short of this would have been less than her duty and privilege.”(July 1916, Relief Society Magazine, ‘Birth Control')
And, yes, there are many quotes that are very complementary of women. These are obviously cherry picked quotes - I admit that. My point is that the actions of the church to not allow women to hold the priesthood and the slow allowance of women to give prayer in general conference matches these quotes more than they match the quotes where men are speaking to women in terms that they are equal to them.
Again, this is a belief in Mormonism that has prevailed from the day Joseph Smith told Emma that God told Joseph she would be destroyed for not being obedient about his inquiry and involvement in polygamy, all the way until today when women are still denied the priesthood and some even excommunicated for wanting it. Women have spent centuries striving for equality, but again the church is still only giving in on small issues begrudgingly instead of leading the charge as a true church of God would do.
12. Treatment of the LGBT Community
Just like the church's treatment of blacks, they continue to exclude and demonize the gay community and have spent millions of dollars to deny them rights based on their belief that they have chosen to be gay in order to sin. The November 15 policy determined that children of gay parents (either of them) can not receive a blessing, baptism, or any ordinance that children of straight parents can receive. In addition, in order to be baptized at the age of 18, these children of LGBTQ parents must disavow the choices their parents have made. The church has since doubled down on this policy, including it in the updated Preach My Gospel manual in 2018.
And just as advances in DNA have proven that the Lamanites are not who the Book of Mormon and all prophets since have told us that they are, science is now confirming something that almost everyone knew already: gay people are born gay (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3). People don't choose to be gay so that they can live a life being bullied and discriminated against for their choices - they are gay because that is how they were born. We also know this from talking to those who are gay about their experiences, but the church, as they have been with blacks and women, continues to lag behind public acceptance of people for who they are.
One theory I've seen brought up by religions that exclude gays over the years is that being gay is a sin so 'Why would God allow someone to be born gay if it's a sin?' That's a question that becomes really obvious once you accept what you can see with your own eyes: People are born gay, so either being gay is not a sin or God is allowing people to be born in sin for some unknown reason. If you think about your experiences with gay people without thinking of the church's stance, this becomes quite clear, and the current antagonism towards the LGBT community is causing depression, anxiety, and even suicide in heavily Mormon states at higher levels than the US as a whole.
Here are a few quotes from church leaders and manuals about homosexuality:
BYU Honor Code: "Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings." (Brigham Young University ‘Church Educational System Honor Code’, Pub. 9 November 2015)
Spencer W. Kimball: "Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality." (January 5, 1965 address at BYU by Spencer W. Kimball, ‘Love vs. Lust')
1981 Booklet Addressing ‘Homosexuality’: The Causes of Homosexual Behavior: 1. Disturbed Family Background, 2. Poor Relationship with Peers, 3. Unhealthy Sexual Attitudes, 4. Early homosexual experience (LDS Homosexuality Booklet)
LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks: “It would also be desirable to permit employers to exclude homosexuals from influential positions in media, literature, and entertainment , since those jobs influence the tone and ideals of a society.” (‘Principles to Govern Possible Public Statement on Legislation Affecting Rights of Homosexuals’ – LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, August 7, 1984)
Apostle Boyd K. Packer: “The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals." (Address by Apostle Boyd K. Packer, ‘All-Church Coordinating Council’, May 18, 1993)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks in response to question of "If the son says, ‘Well, if you love me, can I bring my partner to our home to visit? Can we come for holidays?’ How do you balance that against, for example, concern for other children in the home?’": That’s a decision that needs to be made individually by the person responsible, calling upon the Lord for inspiration. I can imagine that in most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.’ Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that. There would also be other factors that would make that the likely answer. I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.”
Elder Hartman Rector, Jr: ‘If children have a happy family experience, they will not want to be homosexuals, which I am sure is an acquired addiction, just as drugs, alcohol, and pornography are. The promoters of homosexuality say they were born that way, but I do not believe this is true. There are no female spirits trapped in male bodies and vice versa. He who made them made them male and female. Every form of homosexuality is sin, said the living prophet Spencer W. Kimball.’ (Elder Hartman Rector, Jr. Of the First Quorum of the Seventy gave an address titled ‘Turning the Hearts’, 1981)
1981 Booklet Addressing ‘Homosexuality’: "Homosexual behavior is learned. Homosexual behavior is learned and can be overcome." (LDS Homosexuality Booklet)
BYU also conducted gay aversion studies, including one where a BYU student conducted electroshock aversion therapy on 17 men. While there is no official word of whether or not the church leadership officially endorsed the program, church historian Michael D Quinn discovered that apostles Spencer Kimball, Mark Peterson, and now apostle Dallin Oaks were all aware of the electroshock experiments. (Quinn, D. Michael (1996). Same-Sex Dynamics among Nineteenth-Century Americans: A Mormon Example. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0252022050.) Quinn was excommunicated as part of the September Six - historians that were cut off for releasing information on the church that, while accurate, was not faith promoting. The church has even used Quinn's work for their Gospel Topics essays, which presents items that the church itself would have declared 'anti-Mormon lies' just decades earlier.
The complete lack of understanding about the LGBTQ community is again surprising for a church that calls other religions inferior as they are the only church with a direct line to God. Why have the prophets of this church not asked God about blacks or gays over the last 180+ years to get direct revelation as to whether they should be treated as human beings or discriminated against as outcasts as God's children?
There are kids born gay in the church who kill themselves because they are raised to believe there is something wrong with them. Some have families who would treat them as strangers before they would ever introduce them to friends and let them know they are gay. That is because of this church. That is because of the teachings that this church spends millions of tithing dollars on, and it is wrong. Just as polygamy was wrong, just as marrying the wives of faithful husbands was wrong, just as banning blacks from the temple was wrong, this too is wrong. How many more people will commit suicide, fall into depression, or be forced to live a lie until the church will admit they are wrong and that people are born this way?
This is a major issue of our time, and the prophets of the church have not only doubled down on their policy of exclusion, but have considered it from God. Just as the entire purpose of the Book of Mormon was proven to be incorrect when we discovered the Native Americans have nothing to do with Israel, we are learning more and more each day that those who are gay are born with that orientation, and that it is not something they choose in order to fall into sin.
13. Lack of Discernment by Prophets and Church Leaders
The fact that the ban on blacks was allowed to continue for 130 years without a single church leader having a revelation as to how wrong it was speaks to the fact that there is no discernment among church leaders. I can not speak for them and say that they know they do not receive answers from God, but clearly those answers are a confirmation of what they wanted the answer to be in the first place.
It is clear that leaders have no true discernment when stories about a Mission President named Joseph Bishop sexually assaulting a female missionary come out, or when Elder Jeffrey Holland has to retract a faith promoting story because the miraculous elements of it were a lie.
Joseph Smith of all people should have had the power of discernment, but instead spent thousands of dollars to buy Egyptian papyri that he claimed was written by the hand of Abraham, which we now know could not be further from the truth. In the original Word of Wisdom, Saints were told not to eat hot soups yet no one was warned that boiling water was essential to staying healthy.
If the church leaders truly have a power of discernment, why did they pay Mark Hoffman for a collection of forged documents in order to avoid the embarrassment they would cause if the public saw them? And not only did they pay Hoffman, they had to rush to release them to the press after Hoffman leaked the existence of the documents. Ironically enough, Jared and Sandra Tanner, who the church viewed as anti-Mormons making up false info about the church, understood the documents were fake before the church leaders did. In this case, the Tanners more correctly discerned what Hoffman was doing, which is not surprising considering how many of their writings have now been proven correct as we have more source material available to compare to.
If the LDS church is the one true church and all others are an "abomination" as Joseph Smith claimed he was told by God, it is mind boggling how many times they have settled allegations of abuse, had to change doctrine (polygamy, ban on blacks, Adam God, blood atonement, etc), or just got basic health facts wrong like not knowing to boil water, that the Native Americans came from Asia and not the Old World, or that the Hill Cumorah wasn't actually where the battles took place in the Book of Mormon.
This is why the church fights so hard to keep members from reading outside sources - they have no answers for why the history tells a completely different story and why so many "anti-Mormon" writings have since been proven true. I spent decades ignoring non-LDS approved sources for this reason, and I promise everyone reading this that I am not making these things up - please read our annotated essays that include the official LDS essays with our notes where they are being dishonest/misleading. These might be very difficult facts, but they are still facts. They are backed by LDS sources and while it is shocking to discover this information, facts do matter and it is better to discover the truth than to continue ignoring it like I did for so many years.
14. The Transfiguration of Brigham Young and Other Faith Promoting Stories
When Joseph Smith died, there was no clear succession plan for the next prophet. As the LDS history goes, Brigham Young gave a speech declaring that the 12 should have the power, and the entire audience saw Brigham Young transform into Joseph Smith, even sounding just like him as he spoke. This was how they knew that Brigham Young was indeed a prophet of God and that they had followed the correct fragment of the Mormon church (remember that Emma and the other living witnesses went with the RLDS or Strangites).
The problem, as we're seeing with most of these, is that the history just doesn't back it up. There were no accounts of this miraculous event happening until 13 years after, which is impossible to believe considering the meeting was covered in church papers and in the journals of church leaders. If such an event had happened, it would have been everywhere, and yet it was not mentioned even in private journals. As LDS Answers said: "If the Lord miraculously transfigured Brigham Young’s appearance, Brigham Young was divinely sanctioned as Joseph Smith’s successor. If this transfiguration never took place, the very foundations of our LDS faith and history are weakened." (LDS Answers)
LDS Answers is right, of course, which is why the church worked so hard to push a false story to give authority to Brigham Young. Orson Hyde talked about his experience with the transfiguration at General Conference in 1869: "his words went through me like electricity…This is my testimony; it was not only the voice of Joseph, but there were the features, the gestures and even the stature of Joseph before us in the person of Brigham.” (Journal of Discourse 13:181)
As we know from Wilford Woodruff's journal, Orson Hyde wasn't even in Nauvoo that day, yet somehow saw managed to tell the entire church he saw an event that never even happened.
These faith promoting stories all suffer from these same problems. The Miracle of the Gulls didn't happen as the church lessons stated, Lorenzo Snow's face-to-face meeting with Jesus in the temple has these problems, and Wilford Woodruff's vision of the Founding Fathers being upset that no temple work had been done for them is blown apart by the fact that the baptisms were done for them already - sometimes more than once.
The point is that a lot of the faith promoting miracle stories that the church relies on do not stand up to what we know from historical documents and journals. Brigham Young has no more of a right to being the next prophet than anyone else does, which is quite clear by the actions he took and the (now disavowed) doctrines he spoke of as prophet. As we mentioned above with Elder Holland having to publicly retract one of these faith promoting stories recently, these miracles are becoming just about extinct these days due to the amount of information we have to compare to and verify from. Since the LDS church continues to teach these lessons knowing full well that the history doesn't match, one must wonder what else they know about and continue to misrepresent to members and prospective converts.
15. Brigham Young
Once we understand that the story of Brigham Young transforming into Joseph Smith never happened, it becomes easier to understand that Brigham Young was no prophet of God. Brigham is responsible for a lot of disavowed doctrine from the church, abused polygamy in horrific ways, and used his power to create a culture of anger and violence among the saints that very likely contributed to the horrific Mountain Meadows Massacre.
Brigham Young introduced the Adam-God theory: "How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God... He brought one of his wives with him, and she was called Eve, because she was the first woman upon the earth. Our Father Adam is the man who stands at the gate and holds the keys of everlasting life and salvation to all his children who have or who ever will come upon the earth" (Deseret News, June 18, 1873)
That theory has since been disavowed by the church, and many members say he was merely speaking as a man even though he clearly states it was revealed to him by God. The church wants it both ways: You have to listen and follow the prophets without question, but they also want you to disavow their statements whenever they deem fit. That might sound harsh, but Brigham Young specifically said this was revealed by God. Brigham also made this comment: “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture” (Journal of Discourses , vol. 13, 95) FAIR argues that this last quote is referring only to sermons that Brigham Young later reviewed and released, but if it was incorrect in the Journal of Discourses it is highly likely Brigham Young would have fixed it. I'm only pointing that out since FAIR likes to argue that quote is not fair to use.
One more final point for those who say that Brigham was merely speaking as a man even though he made perfectly clear that he was speaking on behalf of God: The "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" released by the LDS Presidency in 1980 makes clear that "The prophet will never lead the Church astray" and, more importantly in this case, "The prophet does not have to say “Thus saith the Lord” to give us scripture." (Fourteen Fundamentals)
Brigham Young also introduced 'blood atonement' to the church, where a person's blood had to be shed to atone for their sins if it was beyond the atonement of Jesus Christ. According to Young: "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world. I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them.." (Journal of Discourses 4:53-54)
In addition, Brigham Young taught that polygamy was a practice that either needed to be practiced or agreed with in order to receive exaltation: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy." (Journal of Discourses 11:26)
While apologists claim that Brigham Young was speaking as a man and only meant that you needed to agree with polygamy, not necessarily take on additional wives, it is literally right in D&C 132: "For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory."
Our LDS annotated essay on polygamy in the Utah period covers Brigham's abuse of polygamy and polyandry in much more detail, and we encourage you to read that here. One last note about Brigham Young and polygamy is the idea that he actually hated doing it from this quote: "It was the first time in my life that I had desired the grave" and "when I saw a funeral I felt to envy the corpse its situation, and to regret that I was not in the coffin." Brigham Young knows full well he could've taken just a few wives and fulfilled the commandment if he truly hated it. Instead Brigham Young took on 55 wives and had 56 kids with them, so let's not pretend that this quote matches his actions in any way. It's insulting, and the apologists who use it are the same ones that pretend his doctrine from God on Adam-God, blood atonement, and racism are somehow not applicable.
Brigham Young was also the prophet of God who began the complete ban on blacks from receiving the priesthood or any temple endowments. He believed the following of anyone who married a black person: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Journal of Discourses)
In addition, Brigham Young was a strong supporter of slavery, which seems an odd thing for a man that claims to communicate with a God that loves all of us: "I will remark with regard to slavery, inasmuch as we believe in the Bible, inasmuch as we believe in the ordinances of God, in the Priesthood and order and decrees of God, we must believe in slavery. This colored race have been subjected to severe curses, which they have in their families and their classes and in their various capacities brought upon themselves. And until the curse is removed by Him who placed it upon them, they must suffer under its consequences; I am not authorized to remove it. I am a firm believer in slavery."
Again, why would God allow His prophet to give false doctrine along with such hate for black people and a complete abuse of polygamy? This all comes after we find out that the miraculous story of his transfiguration to Joseph Smith never actually happened. While many people like to ignore all of these problems with Brigham Young, the truth is that most of his doctrine has been disavowed which is a pretty sure sign that he was not a prophet of God, and that this church is not true.
16. Lack of Proof for Joseph Smith's Prophetic Abilities or the Book of Mormon
This should be higher on the list, but we needed to give a foundation above to make this point more clear: If Joseph Smith was a true prophet and the Book of Mormon is the word of God, there would be proof of it. We are told that millions were killed in these grand battles, yet we have found no battlefields, weaponry, or monuments.
If Joseph Smith was a true prophet, we would by now have evidence of his prophetic abilities. Instead we have a Book of Abraham which was determined to be a fraud after the Rosetta Stone was uncovered, a BYU study that shows he plagiarized parts of his Bible translation, and Deutero-Isaiah passages in the Book of Mormon that could not possibly have been on the gold plates.
We have DNA evidence that is crystal clear that the Lamanites are not who Joseph Smith claimed they were. Apologists now claim that there were large groups of people in America already, but the Book of Mormon not only neglects to mention them, but makes clear that America was being preserved just for those leaving Jerusalem. The Kinderhook Plates were a hoax that Joseph Smith started translating (even if not claiming the translation was from God) before he died and concluded: "I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth." (History of the Church, 5:372–79, Salt Lake City)
Joseph Smith claimed that the second coming was imminent, and if he had lived until 1890 it would have happened. Of course that gives an out to it being a 100% "failed prophecy" because he died prior to 1890, but every generation since has been told by church leaders they are the chosen generation.
Among the failed prophecies of Joseph Smith's time:
That a temple would be built in Missouri during his time: Therefore, as I said concerning the sons of Moses for the sons of Moses and also the sons of Aaron shall offer an acceptable offering and sacrifice in the house of the Lord, which house shall be built unto the Lord in this generation, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed (D&C 84:31)
After Joseph Smith saw a story in the lead-up to the Civil War from a Painesville Telegraph article on December 21, 1832, he then recorded a revelation just four days later "predicting" the Civil War. The problem, of course, is that he got a huge detail wrong: He claimed "the time will come that war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at this place" which did not happen, although apologists will claim that some deals on ships qualifies as war pouring out upon all nations or that he was actually talking about World War 1.
Joseph Smith foresaw the end of the US Government after their treatment in Missouri. "I prophecy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished." (History of the Church, Vol. 5, page 394)
Another revelation from Joseph claimed the Government would be broken up: "While discussing the petition to Congress, I prophesied, by virtue of the holy Priesthood vested in me, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government, and God shall damn them, and there shall be nothing left of them - not even a grease spot. (Millennial Star, Vol. 22, p. 455. See also History of the Church (HC), vol. 6, p. 116, though when this prediction was incorporated into the official history, Mormon Church leaders decided to leave out the "grease spot" part.)"
There are other missed prophecies: That David W. Patten would go on a mission in D&C 114 (he died 6 months later and never served), that there was treasure to be found in Salem, MA in D&C 111 (remember that Joseph Smith was a treasure digger), and that "not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country." (History of the Church, Vol. 1, pp. 315-316)
Again - as with so many other issues above, why is there nothing that we can point to and know that the Book of Mormon happened as stated, or that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. Most of the talk of prophecies being fulfilled today are in relation to the church buying land to build a temple, which is pretty easy to fulfill if you have enough money to buy land. We've asked this question in our annotated essays and some points above, but why would God create his one true church and then make Joseph Smith look like a false prophet through failed prophecies and scriptures that can not stand up to history?
17. The Lost 116 Pages
When Joseph Smith began translating the Book of Mormon, Marin Harris wanted to show his wife Lucy the manuscript to calm her fears that Joseph Smith was conning him out of his money. After God told Joseph no two times, Martin continued to plead with Joseph to let him take the manuscript back. Joseph Smith asked God a third time, and Joseph claims that God changed His mind and allowed Martin to take the manuscript back home.
As we all know, Martin then lost the manuscript, likely taken by his wife Lucy. Upon returning, Joseph exclaimed "Oh, my God! All is lost! all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned." (Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, 1853) That Joseph said that 'All is lost' is a pretty good summary of his predicament: He knew he could never replicate the first 116 pages because he was not even 'translating' from the golden plates, but he also needed the first part of the Book of Mormon or it would be a book with no beginning.
Joseph soon had a revelation from God (now known as D&C 10) not to re-translate the pages:
Now, behold, I say unto you, that because you delivered up those writings... into the hands of a wicked man, you have lost them.... you also lost your gift at the same time; and your mind became darkened....
And, behold, Satan hath put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated...
Behold, I say unto you, that you shall not translate again those words which have gone forth out of your hands;
For, behold, they shall not accomplish their evil designs in lying against those words. For, behold, if you should bring forth the same words they will say that you have lied and that you have pretended to translate, but that you have contradicted yourself.
And, behold, they will publish this, and Satan will harden the hearts of the people to stir them up to anger against you, that they will not believe my words. (Doctrine and Covenants 10:1, 2,10,30-32)
This revelation is, of course, for the benefit of Joseph Smith to give himself cover since he could not replicate the first 116 pages. It would be incredibly obvious if someone tried to alter Joseph's original 116 pages since people did not have the resources to recreate an entire page of manuscript with altered words in the handwriting of Emma Smith (or any other scribe he used in this time). And even if Lucy Harris did find a master forger, she could have just as easily done it for any other part of the Book of Mormon if Joseph's revelation was correct. Last, if God was so worried about Joseph Smith being exposed as for false material, then why did he allow him to translate the Book of Abraham which had nothing to do with Abraham? Or why would God allow him to use King James Bible errors or Deutero-Isaiah? The answer is beyond obvious here, and as we have stated before (and will summarize more below), many key revelations in the Doctrines and Covenants are often very convenient for Joseph.
Can we also make a quick note here to mention that the lost 116 pages could have been a great chance for Joseph Smith to prove himself a prophet? If he re-translated them and they were the same (which would have been the case with the seer stone in a hat since it was tight translation), he's a true prophet. If he re-translated them and those with "evil designs" altered the pages, it would be a win for Joseph because it would be so obvious the words were altered on foolscap paper.
Joseph then claims that God actually knew this was going to happen all along, and had Nephi make another set of backup plates that cover the exact same timeframe as the lost pages! This is just a perfect coincidence for Joseph, because he could now recreate the basic concept of the first 116 pages without needing any of the details to match because the first 116 pages now focus on 'spiritual' matters in order to avoid getting the details wrong.
This alone is a massive problem for the credibility of the church, but it gets worse once you read the first 116 pages and realize just how careful Joseph Smith is to avoid giving any details out at all. The Tanners did an amazing write-up of this problem called 'A Black Hole in the Book of Mormon,' where they document the lengths Joseph goes to in order to avoid contradicting himself from the first 116 pages (about 400 years of history of the Nephites and Lamanites!). A few highlights:
Joseph Smith goes to great lengths to write in the Book of Mormon that the 'small plates' are not meant to give out much information. Jacob writes that he should "write upon these plates a few of the things which I considered to be most precious; that I should not touch, save it were lightly, concerning the history of this people which are called the people of Nephi.... he said that the history of his people should be engraven upon his other plates." That seems odd for a record of their people, but makes sense once you realize what Joseph is trying to do here.
Only 11 people are named in the first book of Nephi, and no additional names are given at all in the second book. Yet Joseph names ten Old Testament characters by name and even "prophetically speaks of Jesus some 600 years before his birth and claims that he knew that "the name of the apostle of the Lamb was John..." (1 Nephi 14:27)" Joseph goes to great lengths to avoid giving out names of extended family members, likely because he couldn't remember them and knew those could easily be disproven. "... my father... called the children of Laman, his sons, and his daughters, and said unto them: Behold, my sons, and my daughters of my first-born... after my father had made an end of speaking... he caused the sons and daughters of Lemuel to be brought before him... he spake unto them, saying: Behold, my sons and my daughters, who are the sons and the daughters of my second son..." (2 Nephi 4:3, 8, 9)
Nephi married one of Ishmael's daughters, yet we never even are told her name! "...I Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife." (1 Nephi 16:7) In addition, Nephi neglects to name his children (1 Nephi 18:19), the children of his brothers, or the children of Ishmael. That makes no sense unless you remember the context of what Joseph needs to accomplish in this rewriting of the 116 pages.
We then get two new names in the book of Jacob (Sherem, Enos) and two more new names in the book of Jarom (Jarom, Omni). Jarom states that 238 years have passed, which means that the Book of Mormon only gives four new names in almost 230 years of history (the first 11 names are from the beginning years)!
Joseph is even vague on the names of kings: "Now Nephi began to be old, and he saw that he must soon die; wherefore, he anointed a man to be a king and a ruler over his people now, according to the reigns of the kings." (Jacob 1:9) Later in the chapter, Jacob says "the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts." Again, no more new names given until we come out of the 116 pages and then Joseph begins naming kings (Mosiah, Benjamin).
In the first 116 pages, dating is very vague as well to avoid contradictions with the original 116 pages that Joseph feared might be still in the possession of Lucy Harris. Dating is super precise later in the book of Mormon ("And it came to pass that Mosiah died also, in the thirty and third year of his reign, being sixty and three years old; making in the whole, five hundred and nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem." (Mosiah 29:46)), but in the lost 116 pages everything is intentionally vague: "...my father, Lehi... waxed old. And it came to pass that he died, and was buried." (2 Nephi 4:12)
The same problem happens with directions and locations. From the Tanner's article: "It is very interesting to note that Nephi never referred to the place where he and his people lived as a "city," and he did not name even one Nephite or Lamanite city! Before he came to the New World, Nephi spoke of the "city" Jerusalem six times and referred to "the city of Nazareth" two times, but after he came to the New World, he was completely silent with regard to the names of New World cities. As a matter of fact, none of the other writers who followed Nephi through the black hole period mentioned the name of any city. Mosiah 7:1 is the first place that we find the name of a city: "...king Mosiah... was desirous to know concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi...""
There are other issues with unrecorded wars, filler material, the use of Isaiah instead of giving actual history or information about the people the plates are written about, etc. I would highly recommend that anyone interested read the Tanner's article which can be found here. It helps to give a very comprehensive picture as to how Joseph Smith rewrote the 116 pages in a way that was so vague as to avoid being proved a fraud if Lucy Harris did indeed keep the original manuscript. Combine that with Joseph's claimed revelations from God that really make no sense given that God (by this account from Joseph) would allow Joseph to be proven incorrect from the Book of Abraham just a short time later. The most obvious answer, as we're seeing from all of these points, is that Joseph Smith is the writer of the Book of Mormon and in this case was doing his best to retrace his steps in fear that the original manuscript was still out there.
One of the problems with the Book of Mormon is that the church teaches a literal interpretation of it as the book is intended to be a true history of the people in it. The problem is that the math just does not add up to make it remotely possible.
In 2 Nephi 5, we have the story that a temple was built in the first 20 years in the New World. "And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine."
At this point there are at most 50-53 people who have already split into two groups, with one half to two thirds of this group women and children, who would likely not be sent to work on building temples. That leaves at most 8-10 men to build a temple! For contrast, the Bible tells us that 183,000 people worked on Solomon's Temple for 7.5 years. There is absolutely no way that 8-10 men could build any kind of temple in such a short time, let alone in exceedingly fine workmanship. The math just does not add up.
Nephi also says that "And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us." Again, the amount of people needed to create swords without any technology is beyond what was available. This would require not just the material, but iron and steel forges, which would have also left evidence for us to know it happened. In addition, you can't just make a sword on a whim- you need to find ore, smelt the ore, make tools to shape the smelted ore, the knowledge of how to smelt the ore so that it is strong and durable, and know which materials are strong and which ones will break. Yet we are told that Nephi was able to make these swords with a small group of people that have never made swords before. I realize the apologists would proclaim that God can make miracles happen, but there is no mention of God providing the swords or the temples. FAIR mentioned that the swords are probably much more primitive than Laban's, but that does not match the Book of Mormon's own words. The math does not add up.
In Jacob chapter 2 it has been about 56 years since Lehi left Jerusalem. He is about 45-50 years old and is upset at the white Nephites and calls them worse than the Lamanites as the rich Nephites have become arrogant and proud about their wealth and they have “gold, silver, and all manner of precious ores." Those that have more are proud and mistreat the poor and they like to wear “costly apparel."
At this point we've had just two generations since leaving Jerusalem. Because the groups have split, we are talking of a group that consists of about three dozen people. Considering again that many are women and children, does it make any sense that they would have the time or motivation to search for gold, silver, and precious ores? The Book of Mormon states that they are the only people on the entire land - what good would precious ores do? They would be focused on making cooking pots, storage for gathering, or materials for shelter.
With such a small group, the priorities would be hunting, water, and shelter. But in the Book of Mormon they are already talking about "costly apparel," which implies there are multiple levels of clothing to distinguish between normal and costly apparel. Again, the amount of work that goes into creating clothing is large, and the idea that multiple levels of clothing are being produced for just a few dozen people is silly. This is compounded by the idea that the rich Nephites are trading gold, silver, and precious ores for the clothing which would have no value in an uninhabited world.
Last, I want to make a note about polygamy. The current ratio is about one boy for every girl born. Joseph Smith implemented polygamy, but the math does not add up. For every polygamous guy who takes 4 wives, that will leave 3 men who might never find a wife. Joseph Smith had upwards of 40 wives, leaving over 30 men without the chance. Brigham Young left over 50 men without the chance. And if we are to believe that God created this world, why would He create such an almost perfect balance of men vs women only to have it disrupted by polygamy? And this extends into the afterlife - polygamy is still the everlasting covenant in Joseph Smith's version of heaven. That means when we get our resurrected bodies, the men will be taking multiple wives to procreate with in the Celestial Kingdom and leaving many without the chance to find a wife.
The point is this: Many church leaders over the years have talked about how the Book of Mormon has been the most scrutinized book in religious history, and no one has yet to find a smoking gun against it. We have listed with sources a number of them, which again highlights why they work so hard to keep members from looking outside of their sources.
19. Joseph Smith and the Convenience of Revelations
The heading for this point is flippant, but the bottom line is that many of the revelations that Joseph Smith got were of great benefit to him and him alone. Granted there are a lot of chapters in the Doctrine and Covenants, but most of them are directed at specific people to go on missions, work in capacity of the church, or organizational matters.
I just want to post a quick recap of the times where Joseph Smith got revelations that helped him out of a problem or helped to bolster his authority when members began having questions:
When Joseph Smith was caught in an affair with Fanny Alger and members started talking (including Oliver Cowdery, the co-founder of the church), the church produced a revelation (not written by Joseph) to declare marriage was just one man and one wife. (D&C 101:4)
However, Joseph Smith couldn't keep polygamy a secret forever, and more people began finding out about what was happening. And so Joseph Smith was again given a lifeline in another revelation from God, who changed His mind from D&C 101 and declared that polygamy was the new and everlasting covenant. This is even more interesting because the revelation itself states that Joseph was the one asking God why others got plural wives and he didn't... which adds to the evidence that Joseph Smith had been involved in polygamy/extramarital relationships before this revelation. (D&C 132)
When Joseph Smith needed to push Martin Harris for more money to get the Book of Mormon printed, Harris was being pressured by his suspecting wife that Joseph Smith was not a prophet. Lo and behold, Joseph Smith receive a prompt revelation that instructed Martin Harris to sell whatever he needed to sell and give the money to to Joseph or face eternal damnation. "Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not… And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon…" (D&C 19:15&26)
When Martin Harris lost the original 116 pages after Lucy Harris took them to force Joseph to prove himself as a prophet, God was there to give Joseph a way out. As we discussed above, in D&C 10, God tells Joseph not to re-translate the original 116 pages as Lucy wanted, because evil people would prove him a fraud by altering his pages (even though it would be incredibly obvious if they made any changes). Joseph Smith continued to translate the supposed plates, but knew that he couldn't publish a book with the beginning missing. God then gives Joseph Smith a further revelation as he finished that He knew this was going to happen all along, so He had Nephi make a second set of plates that would cover the exact same time-frame but without all of the historical details that someone like Lucy Harris could prove that Joseph was making it all up.
In September 1830, Hiram Page found his own seer stone, and he claimed to receive revelation through it just as Joseph Smith claimed to translate the Book of Mormon through his stone. Page “looked at [the stone]. It contained a sentence on paper to befit it. As soon as he wrote one sentence, another sentence came on the stone, until he wrote 16 pages.” This is exactly how Joseph claimed to translate the Book of Mormon and early revelations... and Oliver Cowdery and the David Whitmer believed him. Joseph Smith promptly received a revelation, now D&C 28, where God tells Joseph that only he can receive the words of God."But, behold, verily, verily, I say unto thee, no one shall be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses." After the revelation establishes Joseph's authority, God then says: "And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him." It's quite convenient that Joseph Smith can receive revelation from a rock he found buried under a well during a treasure dig, but when someone else claims to receive revelation that way... it's from Satan. On a quick side note, this revelation commands Oliver to "go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them," which is interesting since the Lamanites are not the Native Americans as we've established earlier in the LDS essay on DNA.
In 1831, Joseph Smith was traveling with 10 others when they experienced unusually rough waters. Elder William Phelps even claimed to see "the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters." After this happened, Joseph Smith received a revelation that God "cursed the waters.... Wherefore, the days will come that no flesh shall be safe upon the waters." (D&C 61:14-15) God then gives a commandment that Joseph, Sidney Rigdon, and Olivery Cowdery should travel by land and let the other 8 continue on in the cursed waters. "And now, concerning my servants, Sidney Rigdon, Joseph Smith, Jun., and Oliver Cowdery, let them come not again upon the waters, save it be upon the canal, while journeying unto their homes; or in other words they shall not come upon the waters to journey, save upon the canal. 24 Behold, I, the Lord, have appointed a way for the journeying of my saints; and behold, this is the way—that after they leave the canal they shall journey by land, inasmuch as they are commanded to journey and go up unto the land of Zion." In summary, the waters were unusually rough, Elder Phelps claimed to see the "destroyer" riding on the water, and Joseph Smith then got a revelation that the waters were cursed and that the church should pay for him to travel by land. Again, that's incredibly convenient. It is also important to note that while the church still refuses to allow missionaries to enter the water, the waters have not appeared to be cursed ever since, nor do current leaders or people proclaimed to see Satan riding in it. As we've detailed in some of the other famous LDS visionary stories, they are never backed up by facts.
It is a pattern in Joseph Smith's life that the revelations arrived quickly whenever he found himself in a difficult spot, and as we've detailed in our Doctrine and Covenants changes page, Joseph freely changed revelations later on if he needed to. This is amazing given that the church never received revelations that could have saved lives like the need to boil water, or save the church a lot of trouble and make it clear that black people aren't actually black because of a curse on their skin as the Book of Abraham states. Again, I know this seems flippant, but if we are to believe that God is speaking to Joseph, doesn't anyone else wonder why so many revelations are specifically to Joseph's benefit while basic tips on how to live a safer life like boiling water are left unsaid?
20. Insistence on Literal Biblical Stories
As we have learned more about the world and history, we have learned that some of the most important stories of the Bible are likely did not happen in a literal sense as in the Bible. Many Christian religions have adapted to our growth in understanding the historicity of the Bible, but the LDS church is stuck because they need these Biblical events to be true in a literal sense because of how tightly connected they are to Mormon theology.
Adam and Eve
Advances in our understanding of DNA have led to different conclusions about a literal Adam and Eve, with a general timeline that humans have been on this Earth for at least 100,000 years. Some studies have shown that there is no way to get DNA to get to a population size below 20,000 people, and others show that the Mitochondrial DNA for women go back about 100-150,000 years while the genes on the Y chromosome date back about 125-150,000 years. This is also evident when doing a 23 and Me DNA test - you see Neanderthal DNA in almost all of us, which predate the Adam and Eve story by thousands and thousands of years. We also know that repopulating the Earth with relatives leads to disorders and development issues which is why the Earth needs a diversity of genes to thrive.
This is a massive problem for the LDS church, because the story of Adam and Eve is so central to the church. We are taught in the church that Adam and Eve were 'born' in Missouri about 6,000 years ago, and Brigham Young even taught that Adam was our God (and was doctrine from God) as discussed above. The temple ceremony incorporates Adam and Eve thoroughly, and the Book of Mormon leans heavily on the literal standing of the Adam and Eve story. While other churches have been reconciling theology with science, the LDS church has taught such a rigid, literal interpretation that they can not adapt without exposing that the church is a product solely of the thinking of Joseph Smith's time.
Noah's Ark and the Global Flood
Science tells us that there was no global flood event that wiped out all life as told in the Bible. The legends of a 'great flood' predate the Bible (Gilgamesh being one of the more famous legends) and were common throughout history to explain natural disasters by attaching it to a deity to give meaning to it. While there is ample evidence of catastrophic local floods, there is no evidence of a global flood nor is there any evidence that a global flood wiped out all life on Earth. We have civilizations that have records they went uninterrupted during the time of the flood, we have DNA evidence that proves that species survived and thrived during the flood timeline, and we also can look at the evolution of animals to know that there is no way Noah could have had two of every species on the ark just due to the most obvious fact that the animals are spread out around the world and would not have been accessible to him.
The problem for the LDS church is that they need a global flood to make their truth claims work. Because they claim that Adam and Eve were 'born' in Missouri, they need a global flood to carry Noah from America to the Old World. Without a global flood to bring Noah across the ocean, the entire truth claims of the Mormon church fall apart. Apologists claim that Noah simply took the ark down a body of water like the Mississippi River to the ocean, which is of course possible, but it is very unlikely given that there is no evidence of a global flood hitting Missouri. In other words, why would Noah be in Missouri and then take an ark to the ocean when there was no flood in the Missouri?
And more to the point, the global flood presents a massive problem for the LDS truth claims: If a global flood wiped out all life as they believe, then there were no other people in the Americas when Lehi arrived. This is what the church has taught, but now that we know the Native Americans have nothing to do with the "Lamanites," the church has begun claiming that there were other people in the Americas that mixed with the people of Book of Mormon times. On the other hand, if there was no global flood there would be people in the Americas as all of the evidence tells us, but then the Mormon truth claims of Adam and Even in Missouri and a great flood are discredited. The church apologists want to have it both ways, but the problem is that it can't be both and either one by itself is a problem for the credibility of the church.
Again, as we look at these topics we have to think about what makes sense given what we know today. In Joseph Smith's time these ideas made sense because we did not know about DNA and population movements throughout history, but as we learn more we can see that the Mormon theology is completely based in the ideas of Joseph Smith's time, and that is not something you would expect for someone who is giving us direct scriptures and knowledge from God.
These two examples do not prove that God is not real, but it does further prove that Joseph Smith's teachings continue to fail against the test of time, evidence, and our basic understandings of history. And that's a point that is not made enough - the Mormon church not being true does not mean there is no higher power, as much as the church wants to make it an all or nothing proposition. It simply means that the LDS church is a creation of Joseph Smith and that he did not have a prophetic calling as he claimed to have.
21. The Ever-changing LDS Apologists
Over the last few decades, LDS apologists have moved from a harsher tone against anyone that questioned church history to a much softer one that embraces the errors but then tries to turn them into a positive lesson. Some of the basic concepts from leading apologists like Richard Bushman, Terryl and Fiona Givens, Patrick Mason, Thomas McConkie, Spencer Fluhman, etc boil down to:
The LDS church is imperfect, but all organizations are imperfect. Joseph Smith made some mistakes, but he was just an imperfect person. The history is messy, but there are beautiful things we can focus on through it.
Mormonism is a religion, and religions are good things to belong to. It is good to believe in God, and it is good to belong to an organization that encourages and nurtures deep spiritual practice.
The Book of Abraham isn't a translated text but one that was purely inspirational despite what Joseph Smith and the church claimed.
The DNA that proves the Native Americans aren't Lamanites doesn't mean the Book of Mormon isn't true, because there were probably lots of other people in the Americas that just weren't mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
Polygamy was terrible and maybe even a mistake, but it led to spiritual togetherness for the church which was needed during difficult times.
The church was deeply racist for no understood reason, but we now have come out of it stronger and realize that God loves each and every one of us.
Do not let a seed of doubt grow, because there is no turning back. Yes there are a lot of problems, but if you ignore those and focus on the good ones there is beauty.
There are a lot of problems here, but the most important one is to note just how much the LDS apologists have moved the goalposts over the last few decades as more information has become available. When the Tanners began their work 50 years ago, they were labeled as anti-Mormons making up stories about Joseph Smith, but we now know they were correct about changes to the Doctrines and Covenants, hiding the 1832 First Vision account, and plagiarizing from the King James Bible.
Now even LDS apologists admit that critics are correct about certain things: the gold plates were never used in the translation, the Book of Abraham papyrus has nothing to do with Abraham, and that Joseph Smith was engaging in polygamy before he had the authority to do so. However, in doing so they shift the argument to how the church used to make you feel. It's an unhealthy relationship - when a spouse is caught lying to you, the fallback is to say "Are you going to throw all of this away? Think of how you used to feel! We still have some things that are great, so just ignore all of the things I lied to you about."
That might seem too harsh, but that is the reality. If you truly want spirituality, there are a lot of great Christian (and non-Christian) churches that will give that to you without the requirement of wearing garments, paying 10% of your income, avoiding coffee, discussing your sexual purity in order to go to a temple, denouncing your gay parents if you ever want to be baptized yourself, or having to answer for a founder that married the wives of other faithful men or a 130+ year history of systematic racism. This is a church where families can be bitterly divided if someone looks outside of approved sources, discovers the truth, and walks away, or where parents will take drastic steps to make sure their children only date/marry those in the church. It can be destructive and harmful - their anti-LGBT stances have been a factor that has driven Utah to one of the highest rates of suicide in the United States. Speaking as someone in a situation from above, I can tell you that the damage it does to your confidence and sense of worth lasts a long time and is all the more depressing when you discover it was all over a church that can not even stand up to the same scrutiny that was put on you by others.
Since moving away from absolute truth claims of the past, apologists now tell us that without doubt there could be be no room for faith. If the Book of Abraham was not proven to be a completely incorrect translation, we would all know Joseph Smith is a prophet and therefore have no need for faith in his work. I get why they've moved to this argument, but if the reason for this church is to spread the gospel and gather everyone together before the second coming, why would God purposefully try to convince us Joseph made it all up?
Apologists will tell you that imperfect men have led this church, and that we need to stop expecting perfection. They have even moved away from the 'people aren't perfect, the church is perfect' line of apology because it is clear that the church continues to provide false narratives to investigators to the church along with the youth being brought up through nursery, seminary, etc. But this goes well beyond imperfection - polyandry, if you believe church theology of forever families, robbed faithful husbands of a chance to be with their wives forever. What kind of God would allow that? What kind of God would let Joseph Smith incorrectly translate the Book of Mormon to look like a false prophet in front of the entire world? They know the answer to these questions, but they keep telling you to ignore the details and follow what you used to know and how it made you feel. Speaking as someone who used to believe - the truth can be painful, but the truth is undeniable.
22. Joseph Smith 'Mixtape' Theory
One thing we have made clear in the LDS annotated essays and other pages is that Joseph Smith used ideas and themes from his time to craft the Book of Mormon, doctrines, and other scriptures. I just want to quickly outline where some of the sources that led to Joseph Smith's scriptures and ideas (might have/likely) came from:
Book of Mormon: Critics have long accused Joseph Smith of stealing other works for the Book of Mormon, but at the end of the day what is most interesting is that most of the themes that are central to the Book of Mormon were already written. View of the Hebrews has many similar themes to the Book of Mormon. The Late War is a book also written in the style of the King James Bible, and also features chiasmus, which is one of the "strongest evidences" that FAIR gives for the Book of Mormon. We have highlighted repeatedly Joseph Smith's use of the King James Bible in the Book of Mormon, which gave Joseph not just material but a writing style that was familiar for him to write in. In addition there are other works from his time that have similarities such as Tales of Captain Kidd, The Apocrypha, Joseph Sr's dream that later became the Lehi's Tree of Life vision, and revival meetings around Joseph's area in 1824.
Priesthood Restoration: While LDS manuals tell us the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods were restored in 1829, the history tells us that they were never even mentioned until 1834/1835. What is even more interesting is that those two terms were taught by the Campbellite branch that Sidney Rigdon just happened to be a preacher for. Joseph Smith introduced these ideas through a retrofitted revelation as discussed above, which incorporated Rigdon's teachings as his own. You can read more about this on our priesthood restoration timeline.
Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible: As discussed above, a recent BYU study found that Joseph Smith lifted heavily from Adam Clarke's Bible commentaries when doing his 'inspired' translation. Please read our JST page for more detailed information on how Joseph Smith directly plagiarized Clarke's material often in a translation that church leaders have called divinely inspired.
Temple Ceremony: While we do not post the Temple ceremony scripts out of respect for faithful members, it needs to be noted that much of the endowment ceremony and signs are taken from Masonic ceremonies, and that Joseph Smith introduced these just six weeks after being initiated as a Mason. Apologists will tell you that the temple is about much more, which is true, but it is undeniable that Joseph Smith modeled what is supposed to be the most sacred ceremony after a secret script he learned just six weeks prior. Again, considering the pattern that is crystal clear here, the obvious answer is that the ceremony was not given by God, but by the elements that Joseph had available to him.
Different degrees of heaven: While Joseph Smith is usually credited for the idea of three different heavens, the idea was first popularized by Emanuel Swedenborg as his writings became available around 1784. Swedenborg believe that "There are three heavens," described as "entirely distinct from each other." He called the highest heaven "the Celestial Kingdom," and stated that the inhabitants of the three heavens corresponded to the "sun, moon and stars." Sound familiar? A BYU Studies article concedes that Swedenborg had a lot of concepts that mirror what Joseph Smith later "introduced" to Mormonism, but concludes with: "Believing Latter-day Saints might answer that question with an explanation that parallels Joseph Smith’s reported statement to Edward Hunter: it is possible that Swedenborg saw the heavens. Latter-day Saints readily accept that individuals outside their tradition have been given special, revealed insight into heavenly truths, and thus the points of convergence in Swedenborgianism and Mormonism could reflect accurate, though independent, descriptions of true Christian eschatology. Latter-day Saints could accept that, to a remarkable degree, Emanuel Swedenborg and Joseph Smith both experienced actual visions of the afterlife reality." This type of apologetic argument is gaining ground as more parallels to Joseph Smith's work are found to be borrowed/lifted from others, but again begs the question of why it was never taught this way before. The obvious answer is that all of these similarities can no longer be brushed off as coincidence, and that we now have to declare that the original sources Joseph took from must have been revelations from God or else the whole thing falls apart.
Non-infant baptism: This is another concept that was taught by the Campbellites and brought over by Sidney Rigdon and was a hot topic of religion during Joseph's time with the Book of Mormon. Interestingly enough, the Campbellites were not arguing to begin baptisms at eight, but that eight was the earliest that people should be baptized. I will note in this case that the Book of Mormon, unlike the Aaronic/Melchizedek priesthood, temple ceremonies, or degrees of heaven, does mention infant baptism even if not the specifics that were brought over by the Campbellites.
Word of Wisdom: The Word of Wisdom has been changed a lot over the years (the original version was not even considered a commandment and proclaimed hot soups to be a danger to our health), but was an offshoot of the temperance movement. The most amazing part about the Word of Wisdom is that it originally said beer was OK, but then later prohibited along with banning coffee, which has been shown to have a lot of health benefits. Furthermore, if the Word of Wisdom was truly an inspired revelation from God, we would have known much earlier to boil our water and avoid a lot of needless deaths due to not doing so.
Book of Abraham: The Book of Abraham has a lot of problems, but it is necessary to note that the apocryphal books of Jasher and Josephus are used for concepts in the book. In addition, a lot of the concepts about the world come from Thomas Dick’s Philosophy of a Future State (1830) and Thomas Taylor’s The Six Books of Proclus on the Theology of Plato (1816), both books that were owned by Joseph Smith. (K. Godfrey, "A Note on the Nauvoo Library and Literary Institute," BYU Studies 14, no. 3). We dive into these sources in great detail on the Official LDS Annotated Essay.
First Vision: Many members believe that Joseph Smith's First Vision account was unique and miraculous to his time, but it was anything but. As we discuss in the annotated LDS Essay on the First Vision, Richard Bushman himself states that Joseph Smith might have kept it to himself because it was such a common event in those times that no one would have thought anything of it. In an article that Bushman wrote about a very similar account, he notes this vision from Solomon Chamberlain:"Dissatisfied with the religions he had tried, Chamberlin prayed for further guidance, and in 1816, according to his account, "the Lord revealed to me in a vision of the night an angel," whom Chamberlin asked about the right way. The angel told him that the churches were corrupt and that God would soon raise up an apostolic church. Chamberlin printed up an account of his visions and was still distributing them and looking for the apostolic church when he stopped in Palmyra." (Meridian Magazine, archived by BYU studies)
23. Church History of Hiding/Suppressing Evidence
Before the internet age, the church had an established history of hiding and suppressing evidence while telling members that any conflicting stories were simply anti-Mormon literature. I remember being told once that the people handing out pamphlets outside the temple were spreading anti-Mormon lies, only to find out later that the pamphlets about the multiple First Vision accounts and polygamy/polyandry were actually true. In 2017, Elder Ballard boldly declared during a pre-screened question and answer session that the church does not hide anything from their members. A few quick examples of where the church did exactly that:
1. Elder Ballard says: "And some are saying that the church has been hiding the fact that there is more than one version of the First Vision." The reason why people say this is really quite simple: The church hid Joseph Smith's first account of the First Vision (now known as the 1832 version) for decades. Joseph Fielding Smith was the church historian when the journal was discovered, and he carefully cut out the pages of the journal and hid them in the historian's vault. The only reason this version was ever released was that the Tanners found out about it through a vague comment that a member of the media had been told. The church quietly gave the account to a BYU student to write a paper about, and then taped the pages back in the letterbook. You can actually see the tape marks on the Joseph Smith Papers project. There is a huge reason this account was suppressed for decades, which as noted in our LDS First Vision annotated essay and is due to Joseph Smith's changing theology at the time.
2. The LDS essays: If you read our annotated LDS essays, you can see areas where the church is still hiding/suppressing information. FAIR also does this when they give apologetic spin to difficult subjects by gaslighting those with doubts. It is also worth noting that while the church has made some progress with these essays, they do not promote them nor have them ever discussed them in General Conference talks. They are not even easy to find - you have to go three clicks into the site to find them, and even then you have to know what "Gospel Topics Essays" means or else you'd never know to click there. One super clear example of the church lying in these essays is the Kirtland/Nauvoo one, where they say Joseph issued “carefully worded denials” about polygamy. Joseph Smith was lying. They know he was lying. His polygamous wives that signed the document swearing they were not implementing polygamy were lying. Those are some seriously insulting phrases to try and avoid calling a lie a lie.
3. Faith promoting stories: We have covered this above and on our Faith Promoting Stories page, but bottom line is that these stories (Transfiguration of Brigham Young, Woodruff's Vision of the Founding Fathers, Miracle of the Gulls, etc) are easily debunked and yet remain in the church manuals. We now know that the gold plates were never used to translate the Book of Mormon, yet the church continually commissions artwork to show otherwise. These are examples of the church being dishonest and they are obviously well aware of this considering they have a robust Church Educational System, yet they continue to push a false narrative both to prospective members and lifelong members.
4. Pretending that now disavowed doctrines weren't doctrine: In 1976, Prophet Spencer Kimball denied at General Conference that Brigham Young taught the Adam-God doctrine. Above we have the exact quotes to show otherwise. Even more recently with the celebration of 40 years since the church stopped banning blacks from the priesthood/temples, church leaders claim it was not a doctrinal issue. Yet if you read our LDS annotated essay, you will see that not only was it considered to be doctrinal from God, the scriptures that Joseph Smith brought to us are the reason for it. Gordon B Hinkley even declared on Larry King that polygamy wasn't doctrine, even as it sits in the Doctrine and Covenants TO THIS DAY as doctrine. On all of these they are knowingly lying about their history, and I don't think that is too harsh of a term.
5. Boyd K Packer's 'The Mantle is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect' talk: During this talk, Packer gives a literal blue print for how to 'inoculate' members from an early age to avoid the dirty history of the church. CES instructors were only to talk about faith promoting stories that were whitewashed and correlated by the church. Elder Oaks took this mantle and ran with it four years later when said: “I have chosen to speak on how church history should be read, especially the so-called history.” By "so-called history" he means the history as it is written in LDS documents/sources, but that contradicts the legitimacy of the church. In other words, "so-called history" is the uncorrelated history that he wants members to avoid. This worked out well until the internet made the information too readily available, and absolutely holds a smoking gun to the idea that the church does not try to hide and suppress the history of the church.
6. The September Six: In 1993, six people were excommunicated from the church in a coordinated attack against scholars and historians who would discuss and publish information detrimental to the church. One of the great ironies in the excommunications is that a lot of the work done by these historians (especially Michael D Quinn) has been used in the LDS essays we have discussed on our pages. But at the time, the church was still able to control information better, and excommunicated these six members to send a signal that the only history that mattered was the faith promoting kind. In addition, during this time it leaked out that Boyd K Packer was in contact with a Stake President about one of the excommunication, which would confirm this was a coordinated effort from the top. Elder Oaks then confirmed that this was not coordinated and Packer never made contact. Unfortunately, Elder Oaks made the mistake of telling Steve Benson (Ezra Benson's grandson) about this meeting, and Steve Benson faxed a reminder of this to Elder Oaks. This forced Elder Oaks to admit he had "misspoken," which is another word for lying.
7. The seer stone: In 2000, Joseph F McConkie wrongly declared: "Thus, everything we have in the Book of Mormon, according to Mr. Whitmer, was translated by placing the chocolate-colored stone in a hat into which Joseph would bury his head so as to close out the light. While doing so he could see "an oblong piece of parchment, on which the hieroglyphics would appear," and below the ancient writing, the translation would be given in English. Joseph would then read this to Oliver Cowdery, who in turn would write it. If he did so correctly, the characters and the interpretation would disappear and be replaced by other characters with their interpretation (Cook, David Whitmer Interviews, 115, 157-58). Such an explanation is, in our judgment, simply fiction created for the purpose of demeaning Joseph Smith and to undermine the validity of the revelations he received after translating the Book of Mormon." (BYU)
8. Financial transparency: The LDS church has not released financial records since 1959. For a church that claims to be 'as transparent as we know how to be,' this seems like a very obvious place where they could be transparent. Everyone speculates as to why they do not release their records, but the recent leak that the church owned $32 billion in stocks alone in 2015 would indicate the church is incredibly wealthy between their stock and real estate ventures. In addition, it becomes more difficult to ask members to pay the full 10% tithing on income (before taxes) if members knew just how much money was in the reserve of the church. It would also make the recent story of President Nelson telling the people of Africa that tithing would break the cycle of poverty seem even more out of touch than many took it to be at the time. Again, for a non-profit church, financial transparency is not too much to ask at all, so why hide it?
There's also a great article from the Improvement Era in August 1946 where Apostle John A Widtsoe says the following: "Honest historians cannot safely make the charge that Joseph Smith was a professional money digger. Likewise, no credence can be placed upon the charge that Joseph was a peepstone user. Anti-Mormon writers are prone to suggest that the Prophet spent his time in leading people into many a fruitless chase for lost money supposed to be revealed by peepstones... there is no acceptable evidence to support them, only gossip, and deliberate misrepresentation." We now know that Joseph Smith use a stone (call it a peepstone or seer stone) for money, he also used that stone to translate the entire Book of Mormon, and that the people being labeled anti-Mormon for over a century were actually the only ones telling the truth.
Joseph Fielding Smith also denied the seer stone, saying: "While the statement has been made by some writers that the Prophet Joseph Smith used a seer stone part of the time in his translating of the record, and information points to the fact that he did have in his possession such a stone, yet there is no authentic statement in the history of the Church which states that the use of such a stone was made in that translation. The information is all hearsay, and personally, I do not believe that this stone was used for this purpose. The reason I give for this conclusion is found in the statement of the Lord to the Brother of Jared as recorded in Ether 3:22-24" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, edited by Bruce R. McConkie, 3:, p.225)
We now know that this is exactly what happened. McConkie's paper was written just 18 years ago -- and they knew about the seer stone long before that, but most members did not. Joseph Fielding Smith not only knew about the seer stone, but was the person who hid the 1832 First Vision account. That is the very definition of hiding/suppressing key information.
We can go on, but for purposes of this page we want to keep it short. The fact is that the church has a history of lying and suppressing the truth about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and so many key elements of its doctrine. And the answer as to why is obvious - they know that potential converts wouldn't join if they knew this, and that many current members would leave if they knew what Joseph Smith did to the Doctrine and Covenants, misuse of Deutero-Isaiah, or using a stone to translate the Book of Mormon instead of the narrative of the gold plates. There is a reason they have to do this, but it is very sad to learn that I was lied to in the mission discussions. And I don't blame the missionaries for that, but I do feel betrayed by a church that feels they have to lie about their history in order to get/keep members in.
24. Lack of Modern Day Revelations
When I took the missionary discussions, one of the central themes was that the Mormon church has a true and living prophet to guide us through these times. The idea told to me was that the prophets have a direct line to God and thus could get answers on the problems that are happening during our times, unlike the other churches that Joseph Smith declared that God considered an abomination.
But the reality is that the prophets haven't really given any revelation since the early days of the church. That's what you'd expect with a church that was created by Joseph Smith - that as time goes on, the leaders treat their role more as the CEO of a corporation than a prophet who would risk their credibility by making predictions about what is to come.
The three most recent revelations that are most known by members are the ending of polygamy, the ending of the ban on blacks for the priesthood, and A Proclamation to the World. But the problem is that none of them are revelations in the way they have been presented, which begs the question as to exactly what revelations prophets have had over the last ~150 years.
The Ending of Polygamy (Manifesto/Declaration 1): Wilford Woodruff claimed a vision that led to the end of polygamy. As he told General Conference: "The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for. . . any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice."
Three problems here: 1. We already know from above that Wilford Woodruff's visions aren't exactly reliable. His vision of the Founding Fathers being upset that no one did any temple work for them has the massive problem that they already had baptisms performed for them, some multiple times. 2. This vision is basically what he was already told would happen if they did not stop polygamy - this vision would make a lot more sense before the government threatened to seize property if they did not stop the illegal practice of polygamy. 3. Wilford Woodruff almost certainly took on another wife after the first Declaration (an 1897 marriage to Madame Mountford) and authorized other plural marriages, which makes it pretty clear that the "vision" did not reach him as deeply as he would like you to think.
The ending of polygamy then needed a second Declaration, which made clear the polygamy was over (at least in this life), for real this time. None of it reads like a revelation with words from God, and is crafted more like a legal document than the revelation it is regarded as. This, again, makes sense in the context that the church does not have a living prophet, and they were forced to make the change due to government/public pressure and not because God changed his mind for the third time (remember D&C 101 that forbade it before Joseph Smith claimed God reversed His commandment in D&C 132).
The Ending of the Ban on Blacks (Declaration 2): When the ban on blacks for the priesthood/temple ordinances was lifted, it was hailed as a revelation from God that the church's history of racism had been finally lifted. What church literature doesn't tell you, however, is that the process for this revelation was anything but the way most members think of revelation. Apostle Legrand Richards, who was involved in the revelation, described the process this way in an interview:
WALTERS: On this revelation, of the priesthood to the Negro, I’ve heard all kinds of stories: I’ve heard that Christ appeared to the Apostles. I’ve heard that Joseph Smith appeared; and then I heard another story that Spencer Kimball had had a concern about this for some time and simply shared it with the apostles, and they decided that this was the right time to move in that direction. Now are any of those stories true, or are they all…
RICHARDS: Well, the last one is pretty true, and I might tell you what provoked it in a way. Down in Brazil, there is so much Negro blood in the population there that it’s hard to get leaders that don’t have Negro blood in them. We just built a temple down there. It’s going to be dedicated in October. All those people with Negro blood in them have been raising the money to build that temple. And then, if we don’t change, then they can’t even use it. So Brother Kimball worried about it, and he prayed a lot about it.
He asked each one of us of the Twelve if we would pray – and we did – that the Lord would give him the inspiration to know what the will of the Lord was. And then he invited each one of us in his office – individually, because you know when you are in a group, you can’t always express everything that’s in your heart. You’re part of the group, you see – so he interviewed each one of us, personally, to see how we felt about it, and he asked us to pray about it. And then he asked each one of us to hand in all the references we had, for, or against that proposal. See, he was thinking favorably toward giving the colored people the priesthood.
Then we had a meeting where we meet every week in the temple, and we discussed it as a group together, and then we prayed about it in our prayer circle, and then we held another prayer circle after the close of that meeting, and he (President Kimball) lead in the prayer; praying that the Lord would give us the inspiration that we needed to do the thing that would be pleasing to Him and for the blessing of His children. And then the next Thursday – we meet every Thursday – the Presidency came with this little document written out to make the announcement – to see how we’d feel about it – and present it in written form. Well, some of the members of the Twelve suggested a few changes in the announcement, and then in our meeting there we all voted in favor of it – the Twelve and the Presidency. One member of the Twelve, Mark Petersen, was down in South America, but Brother Benson, our President, had arranged to know where he could be reached by phone, and right while we were in that meeting in the temple, Brother Kimball talked with Brother Petersen, and read him this article, and he (Petersen) approved of it.
WALTERS: Now when President Kimball read this little announcement or paper, was that the same thing that was released to the press?
WALTERS: There wasn’t a special document as a “revelation”, that he had and wrote down?
RICHARDS: We discussed it in our meeting. What else should we say besides that announcement? And we decided that was sufficient; that no more needed to be said.
The entire interview can be found here))
I think that speaks for itself - once again, the church's prophets since the early days run the church like a corporation responding to changing culture, and then make a legalistic approach to embrace change. Which brings us to...
A Proclamation to the World: Church leaders were concerned about gay marriage (see our above point on treatment towards the LGBT community), and needed to create a document to give themselves legal standing to go against gay marriage as a matter of religious principal. Elder Oaks pretty much admitted that this was a legal document prepared for the First Presidency to grant them this standing in his General Conference talk: "During this revelatory process, a proposed text was presented to the First Presidency, who oversee and promulgate Church teachings and doctrine. After the Presidency made further changes, the proclamation on the family was announced by the President of the Church, Gordon B. Hinckley."
The proclamation that hangs on so many walls and is thought to be revelation from God for traditional marriage (and against gay marriage) is actually a legal document created to give the church room to spend millions of dollars of tithing money to isolate gays further. That doesn't even include the damage that the church has done to the non-LDS LGBT community after they spent millions of dollars on Prop 8 in California to keep gay people from marrying. That might sound very harsh, but when you consider the damage that legal document has caused gay LDS members and their families, extending all the way to elevated levels of suicide in heavily Mormon states, I don't know that it's harsh enough.
After looking at these three "revelations," I have to ask what is left. There are always articles in the Deseret News proclaiming revelations have been fulfilled when a new temple is announced, but that's not revelation - that's telling a city they're going to get a temple and then writing a check for the land. Renaming visiting teaching into ministering isn't revelation - that's an organizational change.
The bottom line is that if the church is not true, you would expect that the prophets would either give false prophesies or just avoid giving them altogether. The history of the church tells us that they are clearly in the latter category since Brigham Young, and learning about the way these landmark "revelations" took shape was quite shocking to me in comparison to the way they are presented to members. No prophet since Joseph Smith has had the kinds of magical visions and visitations from angels, which makes more sense once your realize that the church was his creation and not from God.
25. Lack of Modern Day Priesthood Miracles
We also wanted to note the lack of modern miracles. In the scriptures we read about critics being struck dumb, people healed miraculously, and stories of visions on the water or in the temple. Yet today the only way critics are struck is through excommunication even as church leaders continues to denounce them. With a restored priesthood you would expect to see higher rates of healing among Mormons than non-Mormons, yet there is no increase. And you would certainly expect to have more visions with the one true church, but even in the "Second Annointing" ceremony in the temple, there is no vision of Christ as some church stories have spoken of. I remember being taught in Sunday school about the second annointing leading to a one-on-one meeting with Christ, yet as this Mormon Stories episode reveals, that doesn't actually happen.
One of the big blessings that members receive is the Patriarchal Blessing, which is meant to be a revelation of their life to come. The problem is that as the internet has become popular, many Mormons have posted their blessings and they are extremely similar. In addition, they can be extremely painful when members are told they would have a temple marriage and children only to not marry for whatever reason, or if they have trouble conceiving children. They are not revelation, they are not inspired, and they cause a lot of members pain when the promises inside do not come true. LDS Living magazine just released an article examining why the promises do not come true. Just as church leaders tend to do when members read about the problems with the church's history and credibility (such as this page), they blame the member. Their three reasons that the promises of the Patriarchal Blessing do not come true: Worthiness (you just weren't living up to the standard), Timing (we can't know if the blessing meant this life or the next - a common argument for all of the problems listed above), and assumptions (the revelations were actually fulfilled, but you just didn't notice because you read the blessing in too literal of a way). The real reason that the promises of a Patriarchal Blessing often do not come true (especially beyond the vague promises in almost every blessing) is that the Patriarchs giving the blessing have no more power of revelation than you or me.
Furthermore, in a restored church that has long claimed to have the power to give heal through priesthood blessings, you would expect healing to actually take place. Statistically though, there is no increased rate of healing from cancer or other illnesses. It is why the church has moved the goalposts from the faith to be healed to the 'faith to not be healed.' In the most recent General Conference (April 2018), there were 11 stories from the various speakers about people who were dying, and not one of them was healed by those involved in giving the talks. While I realize that it is unreasonable to expect everyone to perform miracles that are leaders of the church, I do expect some increase of healings beyond the overall average of the population as a whole.
Last, I want to note that it is quite convenient that as we have better records and documentation, we have fewer miracles and revelations. While more and more of the faith promoting legends have been proven false with time and history, we have almost no revelations or miracles in the age of video and constant documentation. I know this sounds harsh, but after being told by missionaries twenty years ago about the healing power of the priesthood blessing, you can imagine my surprise to read that there is just no evidence to back up the claim. As a BYU article proclaims: "Sometimes faith isn’t found in receiving desired blessings but in accepting the will of the Lord regardless of the outcome." This feels like the end of each LDS essay where they toss aside all of the problems and tell you to focus on your spiritual witness, which brings us to...
26. Spiritual Witnesses/Where Will You Go?
Every church uses the concept of spiritual witness to attract members to their religion. As we have pointed out in our annotated LDS essay videos, there is a great YouTube video that highlights how every religion has the same feeling of warmth to confirm they are in the right place. If you have not seen it, I highly recommend watching it and especially recommend the LDS splinter group testimony at the 10 minute mark where a woman who just entered into a polygamous marriage talks about how she felt the spirit confirm to her the truthfulness of it even as she is struggling. As a matter of fact, almost every LDS splinter group bears testimony the same way, which again begs the question: If the Holy Spirit can provide personal revelation as the LDS church contends, why would the Holy Ghost inspire anyone to join an incorrect religion that still undertakes polygamy? What kind of God would fool billions of people into confirming their feelings towards churches that we are taught He told Joseph Smith were an abomination?
The truth is that the idea of spiritual witnesses are not unique to the LDS church, but they are cultivated from an early age in order to keep members from researching the true history of the church and all of the problems with the scriptures. It is why in their essays that we cover, all of them spend the entire essay tossing out possible excuses for the gaping problems, but then end with summary akin to 'But we can't know for sure, but if you pray honestly you will feel the spirit and know it is OK.'
This is not to downplay the concept of a spiritual witness - I once had it too while reading the Book of Mormon and attending as a member. And it did not come right away, but I kept trying and did feel that warmth that this was the right path for me. However, that went away as I thought more about polygamy and thought about how blacks were treated by the church for so long without anyone realizing how terrible that was. My personal opinion is that the spiritual witness is a feeling of your conscious confirming that you are on the right track - it explains why Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, and the polygamous FLDS all receive the same feeling of warmth after thinking about what they're read/studied. Otherwise we have to wonder why the Holy Ghost would lead billions to the wrong church - and we know at least a large portion of those people are sincere in praying for confirmation.
And the church knows this, which is why they fight so hard to keep members from leaving. "Where will you go," was a popular phrase from Elder M. Russell Ballard, as he proceeded to use fear to keep those with doubts from exploring further. That talk is insulting to those with honest questions that the church has hidden for decades. It is why the church fights so hard to keep members from reading articles like this or the CES Letter or Letter For My Wife -- these articles/websites are sourced with LDS material, and they know in the Internet age they can not keep members from the information as they have in the past.
The church excommunicated John Dehlin of the Mormon Stories podcast for this very reason - they know that a spiritual witness only goes as far as the member has been properly "inoculated" (Boyd K Packer, 2004) from the very difficult history which tells a much different story than the one the missionaries told me. It is the reason that when I later found out that Joseph Smith never even used the "golden plates" to translate the Book or Mormon and instead used a stone in a hat, that the priesthood revelation did not happen as stated, or that Joseph Smith married the wives of faithful members, taking them from these husbands for eternity, my spiritual witness became crystal clear that this church is not true. My own conscience then led me because I do not believe that God would ever endorse the exclusion of blacks for over 150 years, that women can not be equals with men, and that people born gay deserve to be shunned as outcasts because of who they are attracted to.
Spirituality is a great thing, but it is not unique to the church. I get a feeling of warmth when my child gives me a giant bear-hug, when I am looking out at the ocean on a beautiful day, or when I hear a song that reminds me of a special time in my life. I've gotten that warm feeling watching a sad TV show like This Is Us, a funny one like the Office, or even hearing music from the show Lost. We've all felt that feeling when seeing a heartwarming story on the news, or when talking to a friend going through a tough time. The church would tell you that these feelings only come as a confirmation of its unique truth, but science has clear studies that show this feeling is a reaction of your body to stimulus that moves you emotionally. Again, I am not trying to diminish the idea of spirituality, I am simply stating that you can find it outside of the church and without the manipulation they use to keep you from researching their claims of truth. And that's what makes it so great - being able to value this life even more because it's our life, and not because we feel like we have to live up to a church that can't even live up to their own history.
There are so many great resources to help those going through a faith crisis, and I promise you that while learning the truth about this church is painful, it does get better. I know for me it's still pretty raw, but listening to so many others who are now in a better place, it is worth the journey to discover the truth.
Please contact me if you would like to be pointed to some great groups that can help, as well as some great podcasts and websites that feature former members that have come out the other side much better than when they were still in the church. That is my testimony to all of you - it does get better, facts do matter, and no matter how much the truth of the church might hurt, the truth is important. You will still feel that great feeling of warmth, but you will know it is coming from within and because of the amazing parts of life like family, nature, music, or doing something great for another person.
27. Use of Fear to Attack Critics and Those Who Leave
The church has a history of attacking those who criticize the church as anti-Mormon. They have done this throughout history, even as these critics have been proven right over time with our increased resources of both church historical documents as well as our understanding of Egyptian (Book of Abraham problems), DNA (Lamanites aren't who we were told they are), and Joseph Smith's life (polygamy, polyandry, treasure digging, and use of a stone to translate the Book of Mormon and not the gold plates). Now the church is adopting a softer tone towards history because they have been forced to, but they continue to attack critics while creating an atmosphere of fear for any member with doubts or thinking of leaving.
As we mentioned above, the "Where will go you" talk focused heavily on the idea that if you leave the church, your life will spiral into misery and shame. In 2016, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told students at BYU that "many who have walked away from faith have found the price higher than they intended to pay, like the man who tore down the fence surrounding his new property only to learn that his next-door neighbor kept a pack of particularly vicious Rottweilers." The idea, of course, is to make sure members know from primary on that life has no meaning without the church. That the very idea of looking at critical material risks your eternal salvation, and that your life is nothing without them.
The truth is that the church can not stand up to its own claims, history, or doctrine. They have called critics liars for decades as noted in this page and our annotated essays, but in the internet age they can no longer hide the truth. Therefore they are doubling down on fear, which is unhealthy and immoral. Church leaders constantly engage in an "us vs them" mentality to keep members from even listening to the ideas presented on this page, and continue to demand that members "doubt their doubts" while hiding the truth about Joseph Smith and the church. I recently had a discussion with the missionaries where I was told that the "adversary had a hold of me" when I brought up the Book of Abraham being proven false by every non-LDS scholar, and that if I was "more in-tune with the spirit" I would not question why Joseph Smith married the wives of faithful LDS members while they were away on missions. It is not my fault that I have doubts, it is not your fault that you have doubts, and it is not wrong to research the church that demands complete obedience in how you dress, eat, drink, and sustain leaders.
I know this sounds harsh and I know it is blunt, but we have discussed above many areas where the church has been dishonest while knowing the truth. The looks on the missionaries' faces when I talked to them about polyandry, the Book of Abraham, and Deutero-Isaiah made me feel so incredibly sad: they had no idea about these problems because the church refuses to be honest to its members. When I explained the gold plates were never used for the translation they told me I was mistaken, but when I told them it was all confirmed in church sources they were speechless. And this is in the year 2018. If the church can't be honest even with all of the information out there for all to see, what does that tell you about the truthfulness of the church?
There are many people who are leaving the church every single day, and they go on to live happy, fulfilling lives. When I left years ago I was deeply depressed because I knew it was going to cause so many problems with family, and I wondered what it meant for my belief in God as a whole. But the truth is that in the years since things have never been better. I have had an amazing child, had a nice job where I can work on my own, and still haven't fallen into wicked sin as church leaders tell you that 'apostates' immediately turn to. Learning this info has been painful, but it is unfortunately a part of moving on that we all have to go through. It is reprehensible to teach members from a young age that they will be sad and miserable if they ever leave the church - it is the exact same tactic you see in unhealthy relationships, and if the church could stand up to history there would be no need to ingrain members with this fear from their early years through adulthood.
28. Lack of (Faith Promoting) Answers to the Tough Questions
If you read through our annotated LDS essays, it becomes clear that there are no faith-promoting answers to the tough questions about the LDS truth claims. Most of the essays propose a number of possible reasons that certain historical problems exist, and then end with telling the reader that we can't possibly know the answers but if you pray about it sincerely you'll know it's still true.
The problem is that we do have a lot of information. We know that the reasons they give for the Book of Abraham papyrus not matching Joseph Smith's incorrect translation do not stand up to reason, that the reasons for polygamy and Joseph's violation of the rules do not stand up to reason, or that the claims about the Native Americans being the Lamanites has no basis in truth. So it's not that the church doesn't have answers, it's just that the answers we do have all point to the conclusion that their credibility can not hold up to scrutiny.
If you would like further proof of this, I invite you to watch the recent LDS video on church history with church historian Steven Harper. The video is entitled "How to Answer Questions about Church History," but as you watch you'll notice that there is not one point where Harper gives any answers to specific issues nor does he ever give viewers any places to begin researching church history. Harper even constantly admits that his research has only led to more unanswered questions, but as with the essays tells viewers not to throw it all away over some doubts. His 'Santa Clause' analogy is amazing -- he says we didn't throw Christmas away when we found out Santa Clause wasn't real, so why would we leave the church when we find out that church history isn't what we were all taught from the beginning until now?
The problem is the internet has provided more and more with this information, and as more members have become open to researching the church they have discovered the truth behind it. The tactics of LDS apologists of the past to declare all disparaging information to be "anti-Mormon" #FakeNews no longer works - we have historical documents that are well sources to tell us that the church has not been truthful with its claims, and that Joseph Smith was not a prophet as we were taught.
Again, I encourage you to watch the LDS history video here, and then if you're up for it, check out the podcast about this video from Bill Reel and Radio Free Mormon - both LDS members who have discovered the truth over the last few decades. You can find part 1 here, and part 2 here.
29. Changes to Doctrine/Ordinances Without Explanation
We have covered some of the changes above to the Doctrine and Covenants as well as some of the church doctrines, but it needs to be noted what a problem this is for the truth claims of the church.
If the church was "true" and was the one church that could speak for God, you would expect a much more consistent message, yet we have constantly evolving and changing theology and ordinances. We will recap a few here because it is an important point:
Polygamy: Joseph Smith began extramarital/polygamous relationships with Fanny Alger long before he claimed to have the power to seal or had the revelation on polygamy recorded. From that point Joseph Smith considered it doctrine that the church was not involved in polygamy (D&C 101, now de-canonized) until he then claimed D&C 132 actually did allow for polygamy in the 'New and Evelasting Covenant.' As we know, that revelation was then ended with the two manifesto/declarations even though D&C 132 is still considered canon and the 'New and Everlasting Covenant.' If polygamy was really from God, why did the doctrine change so much? Why would we have all the secrecy?
Adam-God Doctrine: As noted above, Brigham Young taught that Adam was our God and that this doctrine from from God. "How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me – namely that Adam is our father and God." (Deseret News, 1873) We have many church leaders claiming that this was never taught, yet it clearly was. So was Brigham Young a false prophet, or did God change his teachings? This is a massive problem for the church even though they continue to pretend it never happened.
Ban on Blacks for Priesthood and Temple Ordinances: We have discussed this above as well, but why did so many church leaders claim the ban on blacks was doctrine only to now talk as if they have no good reason for it? This quote from the First Presidency in 1947 makes this very clear: "From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel."
Again, why are we to believe that the will of God could be changed by the proclamation in 1978 (not a direct revelation) when they were told it was from God? If we believe that God is unwavering and constant, how is it OK for the church leaders to change due to social pressure and the needs to keep temple attendance high in areas with members that do not have white skin?
The Temple Ceremonies: Again, I do not want to post scripts of the temple ceremonies out of respect to members, but the changes in the temple have been remarkable for an ordinance that was supposedly given from God and unchanging. Much of the initial ceremony is heavily lifted from the Masonic ceremonies that Joseph Smith learned just months prior to unveiling the temple ceremony, but the penalties that have since been removed are scary. In the original ceremony, members would have to say that they would kill themselves in the most violent manner (with accompanying hand motions) if they ever spoke of the temple to outsiders. All of the quotes/motions are adapted from the early Masonic ceremonies, and were horrifying to read. While we will not post the quotes here, they are out there for the world to see which has been a problem for the LDS church over time.
There are other changes to the temple ceremonies over the years - in 1990 there were big changes along with 2005. Why would a ceremony given from God need to change as the public became more aware of what was going on? My personal experience with the temple before 2005 was unpleasant, as men rubbed oil on our naked bodies, with only a 'shield' covering us. Thankfully members do not have to go through that today.
For those that continue to insist that the church never taught the Adam-God doctrine, Brigham Young actually added references to it in the 'Lecture at the Veil' in the temple. It was included in the St. George temple, but we do not have records to know if it expanded to all temples or not. It was removed after Brigham Young's death as many church leaders were uncomfortable with the concept that Brigham Young claimed to be told directly from God.
The 2018 Mormon vs LDS vs Restored Church of Christ change: Just this year in 2018, new prophet Russell Nelson has unveiled that the was 'impressed' by God that the names Mormon and LDS Church are not in harmony with the will of God. The problem here is that previous leaders spent millions marketing the term Mormon along with using LDS in so much marketing materials. Why would God allow the improper name to not only be used, but to be promoted through movies, advertisements, and marketing campaigns if it was the incorrect name?
The truth is that Nelson has long disliked the use of Mormon/LDS for the church name, and now that he is prophet wanted to finally make the change official. That illustrates my earlier point that personal revelation is not revelation from God, but confirmation of what we already believe is the right thing to do. That is very important to understand in order to fully grasp why spiritual witness is not a confirmation of the truthfulness of the church when God has confirmed to billions of people across the Earth that other religions are actually the true churches.
30. Joseph Smith and the Big Picture
At the end of the day, the truthfulness of the LDS church rests with Joseph Smith. The church began with him and for the most part not a lot has changed with doctrines since he died. We have covered most of the problems with Joseph Smith already, but the main reason I believe without a doubt that this church is not true is because Joseph Smith was no prophet of God.
Joseph Smith was a treasure digger - this is now confirmed by the church after decades of calling it an anti-Mormon lie. He found his "seer stone" while digging for treasure, and used this stone to charge others who hired Joseph to look for treasure. Joseph never once found treasure, and was even arrested for defrauding Josiah Stowell as that man's nephew realized that Joseph was taking advantage of him. He used the very same stone that he charged Josiah Stowell to seek treasure for to 'translate' the entire Book of Mormon. No gold plates were ever used, and often they were not even in the same room as Joseph. These are all facts that are now being reluctantly confirmed by apologetic LDS historians like Richard Bushman in Rough Stone Rolling as well as in the LDS Gospel Topics essays.
In addition, Joseph Smith lost the life savings of many of the early Saints in his failed Kirtland banking scandal. Joseph Smith was also tarred and feathered because he was engaging in polygamous and polyandrous marriages in secret, and when family members found out they literally sought to castrate him. Todd Compton, Mormon writer of In Sacred Loneliness, had this to say: "The motivation for this mobbing has been debated. Clark Braden…alleged…that Marinda’s brother Eli led a mob against Smith because the prophet had been too intimate with Marinda. This tradition suggests that Smith may have married Marinda at this early time, and some circumstantial factors support such a possibility. The castration attempt might be taken as evidence that the mob felt that Joseph had committed a sexual impropriety; since the attempt is reported by [Marinda's brother who later became an LDS apostle] Luke Johnson, there is no good reason to doubt it. Also, they had planned the operation in advance, as they brought along a doctor to perform it. The first revelations had been received in 1831, by historian Danel Bachman’s dating. Also, Joseph did tend to marry women who had stayed at his house or in whose house he had stayed.” (In Sacred Loneliness, page 231).
Joseph Smith did a lot of things in secret, changed the word of God freely as outlined above when he needed to make his evolving theology and claims of authority work, and borrowed heavily for both his scriptures and doctrines. He cost the Saints their life savings, took additional wives under the threat of eternal damnation for refusing him, and burned down the Nauvoo Expositor which we now know was factual in the content of their one and only issue. In other words, he torched a printing press that was simply reporting the truth about what Joseph Smith was doing in secret. You can read the text of the Nauvoo Expositor here.
Many of Joseph Smith's most miraculous stories were only told years after they supposedly happened, and his original First Vision account was based on his original trinitarian view and much less grand than his later accounts. He only claimed to see John the Baptist to restore the priesthood 6 years after he claimed it happened, and four years after he was actually ordained a 'High Priest' by Lyman Wright. Joseph's version of events just does not hold up to history, and his practices of polygamy were an abomination that ultimately led to his death.
Joseph Smith's work on the Book of Abraham is wrong in almost every possible way, and the church has been forced to completely change their story behind its translation. DNA studies have proven that the Lamanites are not who Joseph told us they were, and the church has again been forced to pretend that there were huge populations in the Americas that were never once mentioned in the Book of Mormon. The Hill Cumorah was not the site of large battles, and the church has since been forced to claim there's another Hill Cumorah... somewhere. The Kinderhook Plates were a hoax and not the record of "a descendant of Ham." Joseph Smith was wrong at almost every single claim that can be proven over time, and the obvious reason for that is because Joseph Smith was intentionally deceiving people into giving their money and property to the church while some were even commanded to hand their wives/daughters over to him for time and eternity. Facts still matter, and while they are difficult to hear - these are facts.
Since Joseph's death there has been very little in the way of prophesy or true doctrine (and much of what Brigham Young introduced has been disavowed since- Adam-God, blood atonement, and ban on blacks), which means this church is Joseph Smith's. That we are still learning about Joseph Smith's problems with scriptures (the recent BYU study that he heavily lifted his Joseph Smith Translation from Adam Clarke's Bible commentaries), only further shows that Joseph Smith was not who the church tells us he was.
Again, I realize how difficult this page is to read. Most of this is unknown to readers, and our LDS annotated essays have even more in-depth info on each topic. But the truth matters and facts do not have a bias. They do not care about feelings, they can not be changed by apologists, and they all point to a simple conclusion: this church is simply not true.
As has been mentioned before, apologists tend to take one issue at a time, conflate the reasons why there is some history that backs up their claims, and then reset before taking on another topic. But the problem is that you can not take all of these problems at once and make them work - we have even given the common apologetic responses from FAIR, the LDS essays, and other sources like LDS Answers or LDS Living, while giving reasons why their apologetic responses just can not work. It's not that there are no answers to these problems - it's that there are no answers that promote faith in the LDS church.
I encourage all of you to continue to study our pages, and to compare them to the church manuals, missionary discussions, and other materials that paint an entirely different picture than the history tells us. As someone who went through the missionary discussions and joined the church, I can not explain how betrayed I feel from not being told the truth, and the pain caused during times when I was looking into the church as well as when I started to discover the truth. It is very difficult to understand any of that until you see the truth of the church for what it is, which is why I hope that I can help others who are now in the position I was in when I first started having doubts.
It does get better and it is a much better feeling to do something good because you want to and not because you are told to, to make choices about what to eat and drink because you are being responsible for your own choices, and to be able to dress the way you want because you know what is grossly immodest without needing a constant reminder.
Last - I want to note that while this summary, in my opinion, does prove why the Mormon church is not true, it does not mean there is no truth to God, Christianity, or spirituality. As the LDS historian Steven Harper pointed out in the church video highlighted above - you don't throw out Christmas because you find out about Santa Claus. He is right in that regard - you don't have to throw out the idea of a higher power just because you discover that Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God. This world has so much to offer and there is reason to feel a spirituality with it whether you believe in God, nature, or any type of higher power. I am still trying to figure out exactly what that means for me, but I think there are a lot of religions that leave room for Christianity that doesn't require the literalness of the Bible. Faith transitions are not easy, but they are not an "all or nothing" proposition either, and I think this is important when you think about what is true and what happens if you do walk away from the LDS church.
Please contact me if you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns. I truly hope you will continue to research and engage with the supportive communities to know that things not only get better, but they get better than when you were still in the church. Thank you for reading, and I hope this helped in some way. Again - if you are struggling please contact me - I will be happy to help as I know how difficult learning all of this stuff can be, and I want to make sure you have people you can talk to or talks to listen to so you can transition away in a healthy, happy way.