Sunday, April 5, 2015

Reasons I Opposed the Vote

I opposed the vote to sustain the President, First Presidency, and 12 Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the 185th General Conference yesterday. I wouldn't be making this public, except for the fact that I fear that the published reason that the group Any Opposed gave for their opposing votes will unduly influence the discussion about what happened from hereon out because it opened and ended with discussions of LGBT issues, therefore emphasizing them. While I don't claim that LGBT issues are unimportant (especially the suicides of LGBT individuals, which is truly tragic), I believe that these other issues are more pressing, and hence need more discussion and exposure. I wasn't in any way affiliated with the actions of Any Opposed, although I was aware of their intentions to oppose before Conference. My decision to oppose wasn't connected to their actions, but was instead something that I felt needed to happen for my own reasons.

For me and hundreds of people I know, our issues with the Church have almost nothing to do with LGBT issues. We are not political or social crusaders trying to force a discussion on social issues or push the Church into changing doctrine or policies to align with a progressive philosophy. What we would like to see, what we believe is mandated in the scriptures that are given as "a law unto [the] Church" (D&C 42:49), is a return to the original doctrine as taught by Joseph Smith, and the more pure, Gospel-centered practices contained in the scriptures. Many of those who share my take on these issues have been excommunicated for their beliefs (you can read a partial list here), but undoubtedly they would have voted in opposition given the chance. My hope is that any faithful member coming across this will take time to read for understanding: even if you don't agree, try to understand where I and many, many others like me are coming from. I personally don't like contention; I eschew confrontation in my own life and, despite my failings and imperfections, want all members to come to a unity of the faith delivered to us by Christ, and restored through Joseph Smith. I am afraid that, if the Church doesn't correct its course soon, the Church will do things that will lead to a loss of that faith, and the fullness of the Gospel will be given to another people.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I can list the reasons that I personally couldn't, in good conscience, either support or abstain from the sustaining vote of the leaders. I believe that every single one of those men are spiritual men. I believe they can be, and very often are, inspired. I believe many of them are honest. I believe many of them do the best, according to the traditions of their fathers and the Church, to be Christlike, and I believe that many of them succeed in becoming very Christlike. However, there is a difference: being spiritual, inspired, honest, and partially Christlike, is not the same as acting in full harmony with the requirements of your appointed station.

I will not engage in the idolatrous notion that "they know more than me", and that therefore the problem lies with me, and that I should keep my thoughts to myself and get back in line. I don't claim to know more than the leaders; I claim that God knows more than us all, that His will is revealed in the scriptures, and that it is the duty devolving on every single member to know His will and use the light and truth that God gives us to judge whether our leaders are leading according to His will. If they're not, it is our duty to oppose the vote to sustain them, that the problems may be brought to light and fixed or, in the worst case, remove the leaders from their office. I don't have any illusions that the latter is going to happen, nor would I want to see it happen; I do, however, hope that the former will.

This list isn't as well-sourced as I'd like it to be. There's a narrow window of time with which I can publish this and have it be even slightly effective. I wrote this up to solidify, in my own mind and heart, the concrete reasons for opposing. I didn't expect it to be published and, so, didn't source it when I first wrote it. I've tried to do what I can but, because it's Easter and I'm not a regular blogger, this is going to be somewhat hasty.  I'm not going to explain the background or give a lot of support for a some of these claims for the same reason. During the editing process, some text has shrunk, and I can't figure out the reason for that, although I tried to fix it. That's life, I guess.

These are the reasons--shared in part by hundreds, if not thousands, of God-fearing members--that I cannot sustain Thomas S. Monson as a prophet, seer, or revelator, and why I cannot sustain him as the President of the Church. By virtue of their connection to, and sustaining of, President Monson, I cannot sustain the rest of the First Presidency or those consisting of the Quorum of the 12, who meet so regularly with the First Presidency and form a united front on these issues. I abstained from sustaining the other general authorities of the Church, and am able to sustain the local leaders because, through interaction with them, I am enabled to partially judge their character and hearts, and I believe them to be sincere. I also believe that my local leaders lead according to both the scriptures and the Spirit, and trust that whenever there was a conflict between the Church Handbook of Instructions and the dictates of the Spirit, they would choose to follow the Spirit. I cannot say the same for the general authorities of the Church, because I do not know them.

  • President Monson has given no indication that he is a prophet, seer, or revelator (PSR) by producing the fruits required to be one (the fruits of being a prophet are prophesies and expounding the scriptures in a prophetic manner; the fruits of being a seer is visions; the fruits of being a revelator, published revelations). To my knowledge he has never made these claims for himself, but he has allowed others to make these claims about him without any sort of correction. Therefore, he is content to let the Church view him as a PSR. Because there are no fruits of his being a PSR, I am under no obligation to accept him as such, although if it were clear it is only in title or aspiration alone he is a PSR, I could do so. However, because he is willing to allow others to sustain him as a PSR (not in aspiration only, but in actuality) without bringing forth the fruits of being one, I cannot in good conscience sustain him, because I believe that is dishonest, even if it is well-intended. The same principles apply to the other presiding Brethren of the Church, none of which (to my knowledge) have brought forth the required fruits to be true PSR's.
  • Under the assumed approbation of President Monson, multiple leaders, including Russell M. Nelson, Henry B. Eyring, Carol F. McConkie, and M. Russell Ballard all gave iterations of an intense "follow the prophet (and us), because he (and we) can't lead you astray" message at the October 2014 General Conference of the Church. The promises offered by these speakers regarding "following the prophet" are not well rooted in scripture. I believe that this message is spiritually toxic to anyone who will heed it, because it takes the emphasis off of God and claims, in a fashion, that "he hath given his power unto men" (2 Nephi 28:5). I believe that this de-emphasis of God will damn anyone who heeds this message because, according to the Lectures on Faith, it is on God and God alone where we must center our faith for life and salvation (LoF 2:2, 3:1, 3:19). The focus on prophets as spiritual luminaries, while de-emphasizing the importance of approaching God for one's self, seeing His face, and receiving one's calling and election, et al. serves to move the center of our faith to man, or somewhere between God and man, and therefore cannot produce faith unto life and salvation. Indeed, there is talk about "personal revelation", but more and more the kind of personal revelation we're encouraged to seek is a confirming witness that "the Prophet" is God's spokesman on Earth, and that we should follow him. There is no longer any substantive general discussion about receiving the mysteries of godliness, how to do so, and why we should do so. We are also told, implicitly, that if we don't receive the confirming revelation that "the Prophet" isn't actually a prophet, to just keep trying and believing and we'll get it one day, and if we don't, the problem is with us. Moreover, the psychological ramifications of encouraging an entrenched "follow the leader, even if you must do so blindly" mentality are serious, and Christ condemned this kind of thing as the blind leading the blind. I cannot in good conscience agree to perpetuating such a system when it is my duty as a priest and elder of the Church to preach, teach, warn, and exhort using the scriptures and the truths of God (D&C 20:38-59), which warn against this kind of trusting in the "arm of flesh" (2 Ne. 28:31). Joseph taught that, in his day, the Saints were "depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves". This kind of dependence on the prophet is now explicitly encouraged by Church leaders.
  • Under the direction of previous leaders, the curriculum of the Church has been increasingly simplified, and critical doctrine has been de-emphasized or ignored. While President Monson and other leaders aren't directly responsible for this, they continue the trend, and it is getting to the point where deep study into Gospel topics is implicitly or, in some cases, explicitly discouraged. Study is encouraged to a certain point but there is an uncomfortable silence about certain topics, such as having one's calling and election made sure, the doctrine of the Second Comforter, the coming forth of Zion and the abomination of desolation, and other similar topics that are involved with the fullness of the Gospel.
    • For instance, True to the Faith, which was released in 2004 (when President Monson was the First Counselor to President Hinckley) contained the following message from the First Presidency: "This book is designed as a companion to [one's] study of the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets. We encourage you to refer to it as you study and apply gospel principles. Use it as a resource... [to] answer questions about the Church. As you learn gospel truths, you will increase in your understanding of Heavenly Father’s eternal plan." Despite being a resource to answer questions, learn gospel truths, and increase understanding of Heavenly Father's "eternal plan", the topics of "Second Comforter" and "Calling and Election" are not mentioned at all; the topic of "Zion" is briefly mentioned and primarily seen as being "the pure in heart", with no meaningful discussion about it being a physical place we hope to one day build. All three topics are critical pieces of the Restoration that Joseph Smith died to bring about, and we have neglected and forgotten them and their implications.
  • President Monson signed a great deal of control of Church financial decisions to 3 relatively unknown bureaucrats (Robert Cantwell, Douglas Martin, and Steven Penrose)**. I have never been asked to sustain or acknowledge them in any way, but they have been given incredible amounts of power to deal with the financial assets of the Church, which are ostensibly undergirded by tithing donations, which belong to the Lord. This is continuing a trend that seems to have been established or continued by President Hinckley. While this may be for purely legal reasons, to my knowledge these actions aren't comprehended in the rules and regulations of the Church as found in the scriptures, which are a “law unto [God's] church” (D&C 42:59). All things are to be done “by common consent, by much prayer and faith” (D&C 26:2), including financial matters (D&C 104:71). The nature of the Church's legal structure (the fact that it exists as a corporate sole in Utah, for instance) is not widely disseminated information, and the Church does not do its part to make that information known to the average member. This allows ignorance, confusion, and obfuscation to reign in the minds of the Saints. The leaders ask us to take it all as a matter of faith that everything is all right, and the general message is that “all is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth” (2 Nephi 28:21). In that vein, we are given only a general assurance that the Church uses tithing money correctly, according to "approved Church budgets, policies, and accounting practices", which at this point include a great deal of extra-scriptural (and possibly anti-scriptural) instructions. I believe this is dangerous and against the principles that God founded the Church upon. I believe President Monson and the rest are failing in their responsibility to be open and honest about Church finances and structure and to follow the revealed will of the Lord for the Church. If they have received revelation justifying their actions, they have neglected their duty as revelators to let the Church know the will of the Lord on the matter. Either way, they are neglecting the fullness of their duty. I would be remiss if I didn't mention that failing to release a more detailed budget to the members, to ensure that the tithing money is honestly used, is also something that should be fixed, although the failure to disclose the budget is another tradition President Monson inherited and didn't start.
  • President Monson has allowed the Strengthening the Church Member Committee (SCMC), currently headed by Elder Nelson, to continue their work. In my opinion, their work is akin to the Danites in the early Church, which Joseph condemned as a secret combination. The SCMC is responsible for finding and “weeding out” undesirables, and has been a critical cog in the machine of modern Church discipline in at least a few high-profile instances (probably including, but not limited to, Denver Snuffer, Kate Kelly, and John Dehlin). The fact that such a group exists, contrary to the principles found in the D&C and Book of Mormon, is disturbing. The Lord God worketh not in darkness” (2 Nephi 26:23) and the Church isn't supposed to, either. The principles of common consent cannot operate correctly when a large degree of what happens is obfuscated by shadow. Indeed, if we are being lied to or if the truth is being withheld, the principles upon which common consent rest are rendered obsolete, and the sustaining vote becomes a sham and completely meaningless.
  • The Correlation Department's operation and existence continues to harm the Church. Although the motives may have originally been good, I believe it is not of God and continues to direct doctrinal shift by choosing which doctrines are acceptable for member consumption. At this time, it is impossible to determine exactly who's on the committee because that's not public knowledge, yet their power is immense. Even General Conference talks must go through the committee before they are given, according to rumors (again, there isn't much information known about this very important, but secretive, organization).
  • SB 296, the Utah “Antidiscrimination and Religious Freedom” bill. The Church openly endorsed this bill, which I feel goes against the natural right to freedom of association. Based on how the Church has modified its stance on gay marriage in the past 5-6 years, I believe this is a shrewd political move to try to curry favor with the world and the millenials who are leaving the Church over issues like gay marriage. The Church puts a great amount of pressure on the legislature of Utah, and thereby wields undue influence in its politics and policy. The bill would keep the Church exempt from its requirements, but force Church members to abide by its requirements. While I don't disagree with the idea that people shouldn't be fired for sexual orientation or gender identity, I do believe it is wrong to force people to do what I think is right. The Church is wielding unrighteous dominion for the sake of a public relations move that will prove to be noneffective and will probably backfire in the future. As the leaders of the Church President Monson, the First Presidency, and the other Apostles should be held accountable. Perhaps more than any other social issue in the world right now, we need more light and truth from God on the subject of same-sex attraction. However, Church leaders continue to take stances that are a combination of LDS scripture, past policies and doctrinal declarations, and the philosophies and practices of men. Those stances are changing, and will undoubtedly continue to change.

    **Note: The link is to mormondisclosures, which contains a great deal of content I disagree with. However, it is the best source I know of to support the claims made here, because it has facsimiles of the legal document in question. I know the document in question is expired, but it did happen, and I'm sure there's been another drafted to take its place.


  1. I add my signature to this and include also the multi billion dollar shopping mall at the door step of the temple. An action that Christ demonstrated was worthy to be overturned and thrown out when he drove out the money changers.

    1. Well said. The money-changers hold very significant power in the world today and it is clear that parts of the church are fornicating with the mystery babylon system.

    2. I'm confused. How does Christ overturning tables inside the temple grounds relate in any way to City Creek Mall? I'm pretty sure there is a distinct difference between inside the temple and temple grounds and where the mall is located. You may be better about the mall for your own personal or political reasons, but trying to relate it to a very important scriptural reference more than just a little mis-aligned

  2. Well said, Matthew. If it weren't for the fear that I have of being excommunicated before I am finished teaching, I would write a very similar blog. Oh, wait - but fear shouldn't be part of the Lord's church! It's not the way He works. Yet, I have learned to keep my mouth shut about things because I fear cultural, administrative, and ecclesiastical retaliation. "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood..."

  3. Thanks for this blog. This goes along the lines of why I would have dissented had I been present. In a church of 15 million, it is much more normal to have some people conscientiously dissent than to have everyone thinking exactly the same way. I hope we can get used to it and people will stop casting dissent in such a negative light. Instead hopefully people will turn to scripture and realize that dissent is a process found in the doctrine and covenants, and a return to it means we are following scripture.
    -Rebecca C.

  4. Thank you for voicing your thoughts so poignantly. I support and affirm that I agree with these thoughts. I too cannot sustain the leaders of the church at this time.

  5. Thank you for your brave act today. Thank you for writing your reasons too. Unfortunately, from now on, they will most likely insist that the Bishops be more careful to whom they give Conference tickets. Only blind sheep will be allowed to attend.

  6. I appreciate your openness and the courteous tone of your post. It is clear that you have thought through the issues, and even though I disagree on your ultimate conclusions, I am grateful to be able to better understand your positions. For my part, I have received numerous witnesses of President Monson's calling as a prophet, seer, and revelator through the Holy Ghost and have been able to view his fruits through his words, actions, and leadership. I love him and choose to sustain him and the other living apostles. I also respect your right to oppose church leaders as part of the structure of the Lord's church. I wish you the best in your spiritual journey. I pray that you will be able to feel the Savior's love throughout what will likely be a difficult journey for you in the coming months. Love, your brother in Christ

  7. The Everlasting and Almighty God, the Creator of this vast universe, will speak to those who approach Him with a sincere heart and real intent.
    He will speak to them in dreams, visions, thoughts, and feelings.
    He will speak in a way that is unmistakable and that transcends human experience. He will give them divine direction and answers for their personal lives.
    Of course, there will be those who scoff and say such a thing is impossible, that if there were a God, He would have better things to do than hear and answer a single person’s prayer.
    But I tell you this: God cares about you. He will listen, and He will answer your personal questions. The answers to your prayers will come in His own way and in His own time, and therefore, you need to learn to listen to His voice. God wants you to find your way back to Him, and the Savior is the way.5 God wants you to learn of His Son, Jesus Christ, and experience the profound peace and joy that come from following the path of divine discipleship.
    -Uchtdorf 2014 general conference

    1. Thank you!

    2. I really enjoy Elder Uchtdorf's talks. He is, in my opinion, very often inspired in what he says. This is a wonderful example of that.

      I can only assume that you mean this as a reply to my post, to prove that the authorities do testify of Christ. They do indeed, but more and more they also testify of themselves. The aggregate result on the minds of the members is to darken their minds regarding the duty devolving on themselves, as Joseph Smith mentioned.

  8. Matthew:

    Dennis Prager (nationally syndicated radio personality) frequently says, courage is the most rare of all virtuous human qualities, but you possess a great deal of it. The opposite of courage is fear, but is it fear or apathy which causes us to not act as you have acted?

    I have been pondering all the talks we heard in Conference this weekend. One, in particular, raised my personal ire when he referred to the Church being in better shape than ever before. He was defiant and spoke as though he could single-handedly dispatch all comers to the "all is well in Zion" construct of so many active adults in our Church. Another leader's remonstration was regarding our "choice" to entertain doubt, and that if we are faithful and will not give up, we shall prevail. Following them that evening was what I consider an inspired talk by Elder Uchdorf which seemed to challenge the other two talks with warnings to not to use false measurements for determining what is true. In another talk, Elder Oaks said their (all the GAs) talks are not coordinated and for that I am grateful, because if they were coordinated I wouldn't be able to judge between them. Oaks reminded us we ought to be moderate and mild in the way we approach our misgivings toward those who make decisions. I want to be appropriately mild and generous, but I also mostly agree with you about the trajectory of our beloved Church. "This is my Church too!" is a favorite saying of mine, because of an ancestor who wouldn't be cowed by President Young's challenge. "No I will not apostatize...this is not President Young's church this is the Lord's Church!"

    Something is breaking down and we have no way to "veto," as you say it, their actions. There is no culturally acceptable way to give them feedback and we're all dissatisfied to one degree or another toward one another depending on what camp we espouse. I reckon about 67% of active Church Membership seem to be saying, all is well in Zion with a hearty agreement to "*the prophet cannot lead us astray." About 25% think something is wrong; something is unsettling, and another 1-8% are in the throes of seduction that Joseph was a fallen prophet and thus it is all a lie. The saddest reality of all is that we're all wrong until we can start discussing things with one another openly. Our faction says we don't want any more slippage toward apostasy from the founding principles, but as soon as we voice our concerns we are slapped down ecumenically and socially even with a few examples of excommunication to ponder. Leaders and their committees seem to exacerbate the problem by whipping up contention because ordinary members do not know how to defend their views in a loving manner. Thus more frustration and then the frustration itself is proof the offenders should have been excommunicated in the first place. There is much fear toward one another. Dennis Prager (a religious Jew) reminds us that God repeats and repeats in the Old Testament to "not fear." Why? Because with fear lies start, and bearing false witness is at the root of most evil...

    [Continued in the reply, due to space constraints]

    1. [Continued]

      Note: Out here where I live in deep Utah County we had a rather eccentric bishop and visionary who before 1947 predicted the Church would be set in order again before the Millennium. Some think with the calling of President Uchdorf and the recent essays, the setting in order is taking place. If so, we have no one but President Monson to thank. I personally believe the Lord Himself is moving His Spirit through this Church to get us to stop thinking the way we have been bred to think for too many consecutive generations. However, we MUST do our thinking and discussing without contention. Like you have stated, the changes to us were gradual and with good intentions, but the Church bureaucracy has taken on a life of its own even to the suppression of thought and derogation of our open freedom to learn the mysteries of God. What have we done to ourselves? It is heartbreaking.

      I don't have to believe anything which isn't true,
      Jonathan Felt

      *I have studied diligently for an answer to this perplexing tendency for so many to say "the prophet cannot lead us astray." Why do we say such a bovine thing when we know it just isn't logically true. I think there is an answer and hope someone will know the exact quote source. Apparently Joseph taught in the upper room of his store, those who received their calling and election sure would be struck down (even dead) if they willingly and intentionally tried to lead anyone from the truth. So when President Woodruff said it wasn't in the program for him to lead the congregation astray, he was probably referring to his own calling and election, and he heard it first hand. If I am right, this is a practical example of how modern leaders inadvertently lead us astray by removing vital context and detail from our curriculum.

  9. THANK YOU for standing up for truth and free-thought.

    This is what I heard from your blog translation: "I really feel uneasy in my soul about the actions by the current LDS Church in placating to the Secret Combinations, Gaddiantons and babylon. I feel their support for laws that violate the people's freedom of conscience is unjust and misguided. Why do we here no warnings about what is actually happening in our country now, are they infiltrated or just playing nice with the Gaddiantons?"

    I really admire your bravery, you know you are not alone even if many others would skew the outlook toward "dissenters" as somehow negative and sooo fringe.

    ALSO: I read the website and, to me, it is clearly a dis-information, controlled opposition movement with the purpose of lumping ALL dissenters in church with the LGBT movement, which you clearly are not espousing their point of view.

    The so-called LGBT talk is such a distraction from the deep seeded problems with the current state of the church. The covenant will soon be with the remnant, the natural seed of Lehi and Jacob. Sad to see but we knew this would happen if we didnt wake up and repent.

    God bless you brother.

    1. Thank you, Andrew! I don't know if Any Opposed was an example of controlled opposition. The thought did cross my mind, but I could just as easily see it being genuine, too. I'm not a social progressive, but I know some good people who are and are as concerned about the Church as I am, for their own reasons. God bless you, brother, and keep up the good fight!

  10. Matthew,
    I appreciate your levelheaded responses. I am not a fan of the loud shouting any side does. Discussions are helpful, arguments are not. I personally and spiritually disagree with many things you mentioned and curious how you reached the conclusions about various points. So I will respond bullet by bullet asking for clarification.
    • President Monson not indicating he is a PSR. You are pointing at two things. First is that it seems you are saying that he has never said “I am the Prophet,” Am I correct? Just looking at the Sunday session after he was called he indicated the church is led by a prophet, that he is the president of the church. That is with me just skimming three talks, so my question is it more his declaration or the PSR actions you are pointing to? The second part seems you are seeking a “sign” showing that he is a prophet. Off the top of my head I would point to the announcement of more temples and their locations. I would be curious in this bullet, what it is you are looking for.
    • Your next point it seems is that in October 2014 there were multiple talks iterating the point of Following the prophet blindly without gaining a testimony. For kicks and grins I would point to the primary song “Follow the Prophet” as another aspect of that. :) But really it is still heavily taught for us to gain our testimony. You sit in any Gospel Principals class or Gospel Doctrine class and you hear this. Additionally my kids play General Conference Bingo and Testimony is one of the most hit words, besides prophet. I actually would point to M. Russell Ballards talk, the one you reference, as more of being a point of not getting distracted by small issues, not to just follow the prophet. You and I both know that many people fall away because they get stuck on one issue, whether they should or not. The reality is if anyone agrees 100% with all doctrine of the church I would be impressed. Should I let it consume all my resources and miss all the good information when I listen to talks by the prophets, apostles, teachers, my fellow church members? Because I could let it. I would also say read President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk of “Receiving a Testimony of Light and Truth” from the same session. You will notice this time around the prophet thing wasn’t mentioned as much, it happens in waves in regards to the topics. I wouldn’t hang your hat on the October 2014 GC prophet heavy talks.
    • I am commenting about your mention of simplification of the Gospel. Personally I find this to be perfect for the Church. I too as a young missionary in the MTC over delved in deep doctrine. I learned a valuable lesson on my mission. The vast majority of members need to rebuild the basic principles of the Gospel, not the deep doctrine. I would defer to the teachings of Jesus Christ as teaching mainly the basic principles of the gospel. Although we are in the fullness of times, I don’t see that needs changing. Joseph Smith stands out because so many lost things had to be unlost. I also would point to the fact that he wasn’t perfect, but was in fact the prophet. I don’t see our eternal salvation as requiring us to work out all the “mysteries of godliness” in this life. Maybe some people can, but the vast majority of the members are not and will not be ready for them. As such normal classes should not delve to this level, as it would actually cause further problems for those with new testimonies. This is why I refer to the Spirit world as more of a school, as there will be tons of things we learn there. The basics of the plan of Salvation point to this in that we do the best we can now. I would gladly state that a lively debate of “calling and election” won’t help anyone gain Eternal salvation more than a reemphasis of “repentance.” If Christ can allow people with Mental Disabilities into the Celestial Kingdom (My son suffers from some) and they would never get into the details you are mentioning. They won’t stop anyone of us either.

    1. • You mention the signing of the financial decisions to the Robert W Cantwell, “The Managing Director of the Church Audit Report,” you call them bureaucrats, which in this case seems to be a derogative term so I am hesitant in thinking that responding to this one will get me somewhere. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of Corporate Finances, but this is normal and actually a necessary requirement for corporations of this size. Second you say you haven’t been able to vote on this. When decisions are made by a quorum the decisions that quorum makes are only voted (bad word) on within that quorum. “Every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same…” D&C 107:27. Neither you nor I know if this decision was made by the quorum, but I would reason it was. Your reference about “common consent” makes me curious how you expect decisions in the church to be made. May I ask how? Then you get into finances of the church and what I would term as transparency. What is it that you would like to see? You mention that it should be made known to general members. Why would broadcasting the finances to all members help their eternal progression? It seems you are saying that since we don’t have all the details of the finances of the church, than it must be bad. I would say that same principal could be applied to every aspect of the gospel, which I would say is not the right way to go.
      • Personally I am confused about the complaint about the SMCC. The SMCC although not publicly talked about greatly, has been said to do this: “Provides local church leadership with information designed to help them counsel with members who, however well-meaning, may hinder the progress of the church through public criticism.” I am sure you are aware of the fact that the Book of Mormon has multiple instances where those opposing the Church/Gospel were “punished” (In some instances punished is an understatement) for leading people away. I do think that the church should engage members who may have a wrong point of view. Is this process perfect, no and it never will be, but because it isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be used. Maybe tweaked, sure.
      • As you said the Correlation Department knowledge is based on rumors so I am not going to comment on this other than to point to my simpler gospel teaching bullet and be very careful to listen to rumors. I personally don’t feel the lack of knowledge about various departments within the church as really mattering to me. Heck I don’t know how the Church’s IT Department is formed and who is on it. Does it mean its secret, no just means it isn’t pertinent to my personal salvation.
      • I am curious about the “modified” stance of the church on gay marriage. The church took a strong stance on Prop 8, which made it very clear their standing on gay marriage. They have that same stance as the recent general conference talks made that clear. The courts have overturned those laws and others like it. I expect in 5 years gay marriage will be law all throughout the US. Most likely sooner. The church continues to hammer away at the point of marriage being between a man and a woman. But their stance on Gay marriage got conflated by many people as a reason to discriminate against gays, which is not right. I am not sure how you feel their stance has changed. I would point to multiple blogs that feel the church hates gays just as much as back then. I would disagree about the unrighteous dominion. Church members are not forced to do anything they don’t want to. No different that the D&C stating that we should live the law of the land. Meaning I can’t conceal carry in some states and can in others. Doesn’t mean unrighteous dominion.
      In conclusion I hope I wasn’t mean. I didn’t intend to be. I am just horrible at writing. Reading your earlier blog entries it seems that a year ago you seemed to have a much different point of view. May I ask what happened in the last year that has caused this change? I wish you luck.

    2. Todd, I in turn appreciate your own levelheaded reply. God bless you, brother. I'll reply a little bit to each point.

      -I am saying that President Monson has never claimed that he is a prophet in plain language. Indicating that he might be because of his position doesn't count, in my opinion, because it is not the kind of "plain and simple" truth that Nephi loved and I believe is required from a true prophet. Someone who has seen the face of God and has a job to declare it can declare, in plain humility, that they have seen the face of God. The fact that President Monson hasn't done so leads me to think that that even has never occurred. Also, I mentioned what I believe the fruits of being a PSR are in the article.

      -I used the talks from last Conference to highlight what I see to be a general trend that has become official. Nowhere in the doctrine of Christ (3 Nephi 11:30-40, 2 Nephi 31 & 32) does it say that there will be an institution headed by men who will always be prophets, who cannot lead you astray, to whom you must pledge allegiance or be damned. I see that idea becoming the central tenet of Mormonism, and I believe that to be adding to the doctrine of Christ. 3 Nephi 11:40 warns about where this kind of thing comes from, and the spiritual end of anyone who tries to build on such a foundation.

      -"A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge." (Joseph Smith) The idea that new members and current church members can't handle more things is a false notion. It is because members don't search deeply into the things of God that they cannot handle deeper things. And they are no longer encouraged to search deeply into the things of God. To my understanding, this is a more modern change that has occurred over the past 40-50 years. In a day when we have unprecedented access to the scriptures and information about them, the general membership is being held (damned) back by this approach, which is encouraged by the leaders.

    3. -The Church was much more open about its finances before 1960, when it almost went bankrupt due to some very poor decision about the building programs (they were building many fine and spacious buildings for various reasons, including so that mission presidents could be housed very comfortably--see "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism"). I use the term "bureaucrat" in the sense that they are unelected by the Church (or, in this case, unknown and unsustained by the Church). The major problem I have with how the Church currently runs its finances is that its not transparent, and therefore is not accountable to us. President Hinckley, in an interview before the Olympics at Salt Lake City, said that the information about the finances of the Church belongs to those who made the contributions. I agree with that idea, but am disappointed that the leaders don't actually stand behind that sentiment. It's important to have accountability to ensure that there's no corruption. The Church auditing department, undoubtedly staffed by people who believe the leaders of the Church can do no wrong, is a disappointingly inefficient mechanism for ensuring honesty and financial stability in the Church.

      -The way discipline is supposed to work is that members of a congregation, who know of a serious sin of another member, come forward to the correct official (usually the bishop) and let the bishop know, who takes care of it. The SCMC actively seeks out those who it deems to have a wrong agenda or ideas and punishes them. Part of the effect is to centralize the disciplinary process, which allows for central control of it and is anathema to the scriptural procedures for discipline the Lord lays out.

      -The Correlation Department heads correlation, which is undeniably powerful. Again, "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism" has some information about this, and I hear that Daymon Smith's "The Book of Mammon" does as well, although I've never read it. It was originally supposed to only ensure that the teachings of the various auxiliaries of the Church all lined up chronologically with one another, but it's gone far beyond that now. I believe the centralized control of doctrine will eventually lead to a denial of the workings of the Spirit, which "bloweth where it listeth" (John 3:8). The fact that you have to rely on rumors to try to understand something as powerful as the Correlation Department is, again, distressing.

      -The Church's doctrinal approach has softened considerably as they've been forced to admit they don't know the causes for same-sex attraction (hence, this Conference, the heavy reliance on "the family", with very little talk about same-sex attraction despite it being one of the biggest hot-button issues in America right now). The most well-known example of the modified stance is the talk "Cleansing the Inner Vessel" by Boyd K. Packer, where the infamous line "Why would Heavenly Father do that to anyone?" (meaning, why would He make anyone homosexual) was removed. This was in harmony with multiple other statements and positions taken by the Church but, with the recent social and sociological changes, the Church has greatly dialed back that rhetoric.

      You weren't mean at all, but were incredibly respectful. I hope I've matched that in my own reply. My views have been more or less the same for the past three years, although it's mostly in the past 8 months that everything has finally "clicked" for me, and I more fully understand the problem. I would have preferred to have left this part out of the public sphere, but I felt that events necessitated me putting it out there, as I wrote in my post.

      God bless you and your family, Todd! Good luck to you as well.

  11. I sometimes feel that people mistake fruits with signs. If you want signs then I can promise you they will come but to your condemnation. Where is the faith and why have you stopped listening to the spirit? I felt the spirit all through conference and it affirmed to me that these are true prophets seers and revelators. I find it interesting that you use scripture to support what the bretheren do and lectures on faith to support your actions. Isn't this just reaffirming that what they are doing is correct? I urge you to seek the Father in heaven that knows you by name and who sent his Son so you could repent. Leading others astray and not sustaining church leaders is a sure sign of the road to apostacy and a fruit of an antichrist. I do hope you can find the faith and hope that you claim to have lost or have simply ignored. The loss of hope comes from iniquity as stated in the book of Mormon. I love this church and the gospel it proclaims which is a simple gospel and does not need to be searched for hidden mysteries. I think it's interesting that you said that certain subjects have been taken out of church manuals and that they are more simplified now. Isn't that perfect evidence that God is leading this church , that when people are struggling the best things to learn are the simple truths of the gospel? If all those that have left the church had focused more on the simple truths wouldn't that have been what they needed instead of getting lost in deep doctrine where the line between truth and false becomes murky? I wish we could stop making our problems and doubts public and seeking for attention and resolve them with church leaders like the scriptures say. I love this church and it's leaders and know that this still is the true gospel that was restored to the church by Joseph Smith and that it contains a fullness if only we will plant the seed and continue to nurture it it will grow.

    1. My friend, thank you for your thoughts and concern. I want to share some thoughts with you, from Joseph Smith and the scriptures.

      "The Savior has the words of eternal life. Nothing else can profit us... I advise all to go on to perfection, and search deeper and deeper into the mysteries of Godliness." (Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 364)

      "Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge." (Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse)

      "A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge he shall be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world." (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 217)

      "Ask that you may know the mysteries of God[,]" (D&C 8:11). This advice was given to Oliver Cowdery before he was allowed to practice translating the Book of Mormon, but other places the Lord stated that "what I say unto one, I say unto all" (D&C 93:49). That principle applies here as well.

      "And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell." (Alma 12:10-11)

      The condemnation that the Church was put under in 1832 was significant (see D&C 84:54-59). Because of your comment, I've written another post about condemnation, forgiveness, and the condemnation of the Church, which I refer you to for further information, if you'd like it.

      God bless you, my friend.

  12. Excellent post! I agree wholeheartedly with your points and applaud your courage to manifest your thoughts at Conference.

    The Church today seems to me to be in an analogous situation as was the Church at the time of Christ. It's teachings contained the truth, but the leaders had lost sight of the true essence of the gospel message and instead of recognizing that the voice of dissenters (John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, etc) had been sent from Father, they persecuted them and encouraged other members to do the same.

    There are many aspects of the Church today that are problematic, but I think that your list is an excellent starting point. Over my lifetime I have seen an increased emphasis on honoring the offices of the priesthood, to the point where today it has begun to take on the appearance of honoring the office-holder. We may have crossed the line to idolatry with our adulation. We are encouraged to address our leaders by their correct title, as though that is important. We are encouraged to stand when the prophet enters or exits a room. Christ though, discouraged such displays during his ministry, even though he was the very Son of God!

    The argument that because of their office these 12 men are necessarily inspired and thus all their pronouncements are inspired is utter nonsense, as is the idea that announcing a temple construction project is equivalent to revelation. We have become so accustomed to putting the words of God upon their lips that we are unconscious that we do it. How often have we heard members speculate as to why they don't speak to us about this or that doctrine, only to have it ascribed to yet another invisible revelation that tells them not to share it with us? Negroes and the Priesthood, Polygamy, Adam-God, Blood Atonement, changes to Temple ordinances, changes to the administration of the Sacrament, changes in public accountability of Church finances, etc., were all accomplished without a "thus sayeth the Lord" being recorded, never mind that actual scripture requires them to be presented to the Church for a sustaining vote. But we are to be reassured that they cannot lead us astray, so relax.

    If this were a true principle, the Bible would have a completely different ending. The leaders of the Church who crucified Christ would have been struck down by God before they would have been allowed to lead the people astray. The kings of Israel would have been struck down before they lead Israel astray. The leaders of the Church in the Book of Mormon would have been struck down before they led the Zoramites astray; before they burned Abinadi, etc.

    The Lord has never, ever promised that he would prevent Church leadership, in any dispensation, from leading the people astray. But individual leaders have said it on their OWN authority. Because Wilford Woodruff had to tell the Church the unthinkable; that the central doctrine of the Church for the previous 34 years (polygamy) was being rescinded, when he and others had declared that it would NEVER be abandoned, he threw out a salve to soften the blow for the members and promised them that while it looked like he (the Prophet), was leading them astray, in reality he couldn't! Whew! It was understandable, even forgivable, but it wasn't true and it isn't doctrinal. Once he'd set that precedent, every prophet since then has followed his lead, until today it is arguably the central doctrine of Mormonism. It is this false doctrine that sets the stage for all the abuses that we see today in the Church. Today, any decision made by nameless, faceless bureaucrats in the basement of the COB, supported by focus groups and instigated by high-powered PR firms in New York, may become the secret, effective doctrine of the Church as published in handbooks most members aren't allowed to see; because anything that is given approval by the President cannot be wrong. It's official! Of course, it's also unscriptural.

    1. You raise some excellent points, Dale. Thank you! I think you're right about the reasons for why President Woodruff gave that promise.

    2. ** Disclaimer: the opinions expressed herein are my own, and in no way represent an official statement by the church. That said, they at least make sense to me, and so I share them here, in the hopes that perhaps it will help others make sense of things as well (I know most of us probably understand an implied disclaimer, but I figured I should be explicit, just in case ... :P) **

      I spent some time reading/ skimming through the different comments on this and other pages discussing the “No” vote, and I can’t help but wonder what those who expressed it (and the others online who apparently share their views) are hoping to accomplish. I believe all who struggle with issues of doctrine, policy, organization in the church, and even with keeping the commandments, are eventually forced to answer this one question: is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints God’s church, or not? Meaning, do the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles hold the priesthood of God, with all priesthood keys given to man, and the rights to exercise them, or not?

      From what I’ve read, apparently there are at least a few people who would say “No” to that question. In that case, no amount of voting, organizing, and advocating –- trying to mobilize a movement –- is going to do any good, for then we are left in the same predicament as the early (primitive) church, after all the apostles were killed/ otherwise removed. Yes, you can try to reform church practices, procedures, and even replace leadership, but no amount of *reformation* will bring the authority of God back. Only a *restoration* will do. This is exactly why we needed Joseph Smith and the First Vision, with all that followed. And so, if you say “No”, you’ll have to take it up with God Himself to try to get that investiture of authority back, or go find a church that claims it never left.

      Now if you *do* think the Church is God’s church, then I see no way to claim that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are anything but prophets, seers, and revelators. The full bestowal of priesthood keys, as only granted to these two bodies, include the keys to formally represent God –- NO ONE ELSE has that right, except as granted by those who hold these priesthood keys. And so, no amount of mobilizing the masses to bring about change within the church, advocating whatever agenda you might have, can hope to gain that right -– you must gain the unified support of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, and you have to believe that, as a unified body, they *do in fact* represent God.

      So, why even take a vote? I can’t claim to be smart enough to give all (or perhaps even the most compelling) reasons, but it is my understanding that a sustaining vote is *not* meant to change church policy, doctrine, or even organization (except in as much as a means to inform those with priesthood keys of issues of which they may not be aware -– once they are informed, decisions are left to them, and God). No, a sustaining vote is meant to be a personal, revelatory experience. It is the opportunity for you, within yourself, to ask if you really believe the bestowal of a calling to an individual is by God, and to receive a confirming witness that it is so, with the implication that you will then go forward with that knowledge in supporting that individual in their calling to the best of your ability. It is an opportunity for you to re-confirm or re-validate the testimony you have, and re-commit to living it. And if you do not feel that way when you ask such a question, it is an opportunity for you to re-connect with God.

      I understand that this may sound harsh to some, but you have to ask yourself, is God with this church, or not? If so, then don’t worry – His mercy, longsuffering, and loving-kindness will cover all the weaknesses, imperfections, and mistakes church leaders (or anyone else) might make, and so you can confidently support even “bad” decisions they make, because Christ will cover it in the end. Let God be the judge.

    3. Sorry, I meant to put that in as a comment, and not as a reply. Also, that said, I appreciate your willingness to express your concerns, and wish you the best as you seek to find peace with God/ the church.

  13. Kenji, I appreciate your thoughtful response.

    The type of church and social government restored through Joseph Smith was very similar to American government. It was sort of a theocratic "democratic republic": the Law was given through the Lord and through revelation, but it was the people who chose to nominate and vote on those who would fill Church callings. Even when the Lord suggested candidates (such as in D&C 124:124-143), the Lord allowed the members to use their agency to vote for or against (D&C 124:144). This pattern would allow the Saints to congregate as a "peculiar people", separate from the world. It would allow them to become socially and geographically distinct from everyone else. It worked incredibly well, too, and a large amount of persecution leveled at the Saints were because the "Gentiles" feared the political power of the Saints, who voted in blocs and were unified to a high degree.

    This kind of church government was meant to be perpetuated. Men can and do make mistakes, and sometimes men or women are called into positions that they shouldn't be called into, either due to unworthiness or simply because it's a poor fit. That's why we ask for a vote on every new calling in the Church: it gives people the opportunity to publicly say "no, this person shouldn't be in this position". We shouldn't oppose unless we have very good reason.

    The ancient Israelites were God's people, and continued to be for a long time even when they were steeped in sin for generations. He owned them, but He was very displeased with them, and wished they would follow the laws He had given them. He still owns all of the house of Israel and, upon conditions of repentance, He will honor the covenants made with their fathers, which they are beneficiaries of. The Lord gives His people a great amount of latitude out of a respect for their agency and mercy for the weaknesses of men. However, that doesn't excuse His people: they must do as He says, or they continue to labor under a degree of divine disapproval. Even if the Lord owns a people or a Church, that doesn't mean He approves of everything the people (or the leaders of the people) do.

    Casting an opposing vote, if your honest reasons for doing so are motivated by the desire to see the work of the Lord prosper, is an act of loyal opposition: you are loyal to He who restored the Church, and so you oppose the nomination of anyone who you feel does not move forward that work. I advocate returning to the origins of the Restoration in practice, doctrine, and paradigm, and believe the current body of teachings is leading the Saints into greater darkness than we are currently experience. The main desire I had for casting my vote was to align myself with the will of God for me; to act in harmony with the principles of truth as I understand them. The Lord uses the honest actions of those seeking His will to further His own ends.

    God bless, Kenji, and good luck in your own spiritual journey!

  14. Kenji I don't have all the answers either. From what I can tell no one does. But let me ask some questions:

    Was the Church at the time of Christ the True Church?

    If the only acceptable answer to a vote in the Church is to affirm, why go through the ritual at all?

    At one key point, the Church voted on whether to follow Brigham or Sydney Rigdon. The majority present chose Brigham, although even today his claim that all of the keys rested with the 12 is somewhat controversial. But it at least shows that votes need not be unanimous within the Church. Why make a big deal about a few folks that vote differently than the majority? If you feel that the proper course is always to intimidate and harass those who vote in opposition how does that square with the idea that all things should be done by persuasion and longsuffering?

    If the vote of the people is the most important thing, then the fact that some people chose to go with Sydney Rigdon undercuts your position that NO ONE ELSE has the right to represent God. When Joseph died there were many pockets of LDS communities scattered wherever the Church had been; Palmyra, Kirtland, Missouri, etc., were all places where a few stragglers remained after the main body of the Church moved on. They each retained different ideas about what the Church was, what it believed, etc. The Strangites also had enough of a claim that the majority of Joseph's family accepted that body to align with. While it is true that the LDS Church is the largest of those bodies still in existence, there are many groups which have split since then which make the same claim. Size is not really an argument, though, or we'd all be Catholics (or possibly Jewish). If keys are all-important, where did Alma get the authority to start a new church and become it's prophet?

    When was Brigham anointed to be a prophet, seer and revelator? It's my understanding that this custom developed much, much later. In fact, Brigham is famous for saying that he wasn't a prophet in the same sense that Joseph was, but was more of a "yankee guesser", whatever that means. If the keys President Monson received, which were passed down from Brigham, are the same, should he be formally ordained as a yankee guesser?

    My point is that Church history being what it is, we should be careful about making absolute claims; that THIS means THAT. There are more subtleties and ambiguities than we generally acknowledge. There have been lots of changes over the years with no disclosed revelations to back them up. For example, although the D & C authorizes substitution of other beverages for wine, what revelation authorized changing the sacramental prayer, recorded in two different scriptures, to it's present state? That change didn't come until Heber J. Grant, as I understand it, and while we generally assume there was one, where is it? Joseph received revelations for seemingly minor questions. Where are the revelations which have been brought before the Church for canonization?

    The real question to answer is: what is the Church? For some it is the organization, including all those who've been given the gift of the Holy Ghost. For some, (and legally), there is only one person who owns all assets and embodies the Church; the President of the Church. For others, and according to the D & C, it is all those who repent and take upon him His Name. If the Church is President Monson's to do with as he seems fit, then anything he does can be assumed to be of the Lord. But if that is the case, why not shorten the Old Testament, New Testament and Book of Mormon to: Follow the Successor? Why burden us with having to seek to understand God's will at all? No leader will/can ever lead us astray!

    The whole point is that WE ARE ASKING is God with this Church or not? And we are at best uncertain as to the answer.

    1. I am quoting here but we learn from the institute manual of Teachings of the Living Prophet "The Lord Confirmed to the Saints That Brigham Young Was Joseph Smith’s Successor"

      “After the martyrdom of the Prophet the Twelve soon returned to Nauvoo, and learned of the aspirations of Sidney Rigdon. He had claimed that the Church needed a guardian, and that he was that guardian. He had appointed the day for the guardian to be selected, and of course, was present at the meeting, which was held in the open air. The wind was blowing toward the stand so strongly at the time that an improvised stand was made out of a wagon, which was drawn up at the back part of the congregation, and which he, [William] Marks, and some others occupied. He attempted to speak, but was much embarrassed. He had been the orator of the Church; but, on this occasion, his oratory failed him, and his talk fell very flat. In the meantime President Young and some of his brethren came and entered the stand. The wind by this time had ceased to blow. After Sidney Rigdon had spoken, President Young arose and addressed the congregation, which faced around to see and hear him, turning their backs towards the wagon occupied by Sidney” (Deseret News, Feb. 21, 1883, 67).

      “It was the first sound of his voice [Brigham’s] which the people had heard since he had gone east on his mission, and the effect upon them was most wonderful. Who that was present on that occasion can ever forget the impression it made upon them! If Joseph had risen from the dead and again spoken in their hearing, the effect could not have been more startling than it was to many present at that meeting. It was the voice of Joseph himself; and not only was it the voice of Joseph which was heard; but it seemed in the eyes of the people as though it was the very person of Joseph which stood before them. A more wonderful and miraculous event than was wrought that day in the presence of that congregation we never heard of. The Lord gave His people a testimony that left no room for doubt as to who was the man He had chosen to lead them. They both saw and heard with their natural eyes and ears, and then the words which were uttered came, accompanied by the convincing power of God, to their hearts, and they were filled with the Spirit and with great joy. There had been gloom, and, in some hearts probably, doubt and uncertainty; but now it was plain to all that here was the man upon whom the Lord had bestowed the necessary authority to act in their midst in Joseph’s stead” (“Joseph Smith, the Prophet,” Juvenile Instructor, Oct. 29, 1870, 174–75)

    2. [Continued]

      Hundreds of Church members witnessed the miracle that Zera Pulsipher (1789–1872) of the Presidency of the Seventy described having taken place at the meeting:
      “Brigham Young began to speak and at that time I sat with my back towards the stand as did many others. And when Brigham spoke he spoke with the voice of Joseph and we turned around to see Brigham speaking in Joseph’s voice and behold Joseph’s mantle had fallen upon him. The people understood it in the same way. Brigham stood at the head of the Twelve therefore the church turned to him” (in Lynne Watkins Jorgensen and BYU Studies staff, “The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph Passes to Brother Brigham: A Collective Spiritual Witness,” BYU Studies, vol. 36, no. 4 [1996–97], 173; emphasis added).

      Drusilla Dorris Hendricks also recorded her experience: “Pres. Brigham Young began to speak. I jumped up to look and see if it was not Brother Joseph for surely it was his voice and gestures. Every Latter Day Saint could easily see upon whom the priesthood descended for Brigham Young held the keys” (in Jorgensen and BYU Studies staff, “The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph,” 163; emphasis added).

      Nancy Naomi Alexander Tracy wrote: “I can testify that the mantle of Joseph fell upon Brigham that day as that of Elijah did fall upon Elisha [see 1 Kings 19:19; 2 Kings 2:11–15], for it seemed that his voice, his gestures, and all were Joseph. It seemed that we had him again with us. He was sustained by the voice of the people to be the prophet, seer, and revelator” (in Jorgensen and BYU Studies staff, “The Mantle of the Prophet Joseph,” 177; emphasis added).

    3. Bovey:

      The accounts of Brigham Young's transformation are problematic for at least a few reasons. The accounts ascribing miraculous happenings to Young were given years after the fact with no witnesses journaling or mentioning such an event in 1844. Furthermore, two "witnesses" (John D. Lee and Orson Hyde) who claimed to see the event weren't even in Nauvoo at the time and it would have therefore been impossible for them to see the transformation take place. For more information, see Wagoner's "The Making of a Mormon Myth: The 1844 Transfiguration of Brigham Young" (

      The Brigham Young transfiguration story is a perfect example of how we mythologize our history to confirm our preexisting bias. I would argue that such a practice is faith-destroying, although its intent is to be faith-promoting, as such things are essentially lies and destructive to a healthy and accurate knowledge of the truth.

  15. “We invite those who oppose any of the proposals to contact their Stake Presidents." President Uchtdorf, April 2015 General Conference Vote

    This is actually my story.

    --December 2014 - Attended ward conference, sat in the very back, quietly raised my hand in dissent on the first three choices for vote. (Top 3 Prophets, Seers, & Revelators (PSRs), Top 15 PSRs & All gen authorities)
    --January 2015 - Stake president called me in to ask why I voted in dissent. I expressed my concerns, questions and dissatisfaction with current leadership.
    --March 2015 - Sat before a disciplinary council for three hours where we discussed my "testimony" or lack thereof of the PSRs. Excommunicated that night.
    --March 2015 - Two weeks later received a letter from the stake president officially notifying me of the council's decision to excommunicate me for apostasy. The final sentence in the letter invited me to re-gain a testimony of the PSRs, then I might be re-admitted into the church.

    So when I hear people apposing, agreeing with my vote which led to being exed, I get electrified that my brothers and sisters are stepping up. I no longer have the right to express my vote in LDS conferences. But many of you do. I hope you vote wisely.


    1. Thank you for sharing your story, Daryl! I've seen this posted a few places now, and it saddens me every time that it happened to you. God bless you, brother.

  16. Thank you for taking the time to clarify why you chose to oppose. I appreciate your detailed, rational approach.

    Although I don't agree with your choice to oppose, I am grateful for the opportunity offered here to allow me to begin to understand. we must learn to do the mental gymnastics necessary to listen to people with different points of view. We all have different childhoods, sensitivities, interests and natural inclinations that affect how we are affected by our circumstances. Zion will not be made of people who are all the same. There will be people of different races, politics, parenting styles and religious foundations. We've got to learn to expand our comfort zones, and listen to find common ground.

    that requires vulnerability. Thank you for making yourself vulnerable.

    May you find many listening ears along your way.

    one point...I have always assumed that the two basic fruits of a prophet would be testifying of Christ and calling people to repentance. Isn't it interesting where we start from?

  17. "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake." President Monson doesn't need to proclaim that he is a prophet - he is not here to preach himself. The fruits of him being a prophet are apparent if you are looking for them. The opposite is true if you refuse to see them.

    1. My question to you is what are the fruits of being a prophet, seer, and revelator other than prophecies, visions, and oracles (revelations)?

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  19. I'm a non-Mormon who's lived in Utah for a year now, but have become acquainted with a neighbor who recommended some blogs to me. After dealing with the insanity of the membership that worships "the church" over God, it's a nice relief to see some common sense.