Thursday, March 15, 2018

The New & Improved Mormon Apologists?

The video above is from: Mormon Stories #879: Brooke and Josh Miller - Seeking Support from the Maxwell Institute Pt. 3. If the video does not play just Google that title.

At the beginning of this episode (at 8 minutes to 11 minutes) John Dehlin talks about the old way of doing Mormon apologetics and how with people like Dr. Spencer, things appear to be changing for the better (and he gives several examples of how much it has changed).

Listening to this I saw that as a good thing. For when I first started contacting LDS apologists around 2001, it was hard enough to have your worldview shattered; but then I was often met with snarky sarcasm and attempts to belittle me for my concerns, and some tried to essentially bully me and intimidate me; by some of the apologists that Dehlin mentioned above. This was when I was still an LDS member and seeking to figure things out.

In fact, at one point I wrote from my college computer lab to an LDS apologist, and after I was very vocal about my doubts and became argumentative with him; the LDS apologist tried to intimidate me by saying he knows where I work (that I worked at the college computer lab). I was going on the computer anonymously at the time because I was still a member and feared reprisal ecclesiastically (as so many do in my situation at that time). He thought he had found my place of work, so to scare me he gave all these details about the computer I was using and the name of the lab and the college. He was clearly trying to create fear of me being excommunicated by the LDS church. He didn't' realize I was just using the free access lab area. Soon after that I resigned.

So I have not talked to LDS apologists in years. So if the apologists are becoming more like this guy Dr. Spencer Fluhman (Head of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship) and Richard Bushman (who has also been a friendly voice of truthfulness) then that is a positive step.

So hopefully this growing historical transparency and validation of those questioning LDS claims will continue.

Saturday, March 03, 2018

The Six Post-Mormon Discussions: Suggestions for Helping the LDS Member to Understand The Former Mormon Perspective

This is a follow up to my blog post on communicating with LDS friends and family. Start with my blog post linked below before having formal discussions. I give the reasons for this in my blog post. See

I put together the following six discussions after several unproductive discussions and arguments with LDS friends and family about my leaving the LDS church. After these failed attempts at seeking understanding which I discuss in my blog post linked above, I thought why not put together six discussions like the LDS missionaries do. So the following is a hypothetical discussion plan one might choose to follow when discussing why they left Mormonism. For more tips see my blog post above where I discuss my opinion on the best initial steps to take when communicating with Mormon friends and family.

Since one conversation about Mormonism will likely just end in tension and divisive attitudes on both sides I recommend trying to get them to commit to having six or seven separate discussions with you. I would tell the LDS member who protests that the church expects investigators to take six discussions so why not six discussions with you? You can also appeal to fairness and ask what a good juror would do? Would they only listen to one side in court or give both sides a fair hearing?

If they agree to the discussions, perhaps you can have them shake on it and give their “word” and promise to stick it out through all the discussions. This will hopefully encourage them to remain honest and keep their promise to hear you out, while of course respecting their decision to back out at any time.

Before discussing Mormonism with an LDS member be aware that if the LDS member is living in a heavily populated Mormon city or state then they may risk losing their job or losing business if they openly express their disbelief in Mormonism. They may also experience rejection from friends and family. Make sure they are in the right mental frame of mind to handle this and they are prepared to take the risk of being informed. Encourage them not to go around discussing what you will share with them with just anyone. See my word of caution at the beginning of my blog post above for more advice on this.

The following six discussions are designed to take place in a formal setting in the privacy of a person’s home or other quiet place. However, there’s no need to be formal. One can adapt these discussions and have them randomly during normal conversation with a Mormon. You can also change the order, content, and focus any way one likes as it fits the situation and persons involved.

            If you do decide to have formal discussions I recommend putting together visual aids and using video clips to make a lot of your points, which I provide below. For some great visual aides see Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words.

THE FIRST DISCUSSION (Truth Finding Methodology):

As I mentioned in the introduction these six discussions are a follow up to the 5 Step Process I outlined in the blog post linked above. In the blog post I suggest using the principles of Dale Carnegie's book How to Win Friends & Influence People, to set up a friendly atmosphere generating trust and camaraderie not a rivalry. Next I suggest having a Socratic dialogue and to avoid debate and arguments. I then suggested some material to share with them followed up by having them read your personal story of why you left the Mormon Church. These six Post-Mormon discussions pick up after this 5 Step Process. So after you’ve had several friendly Socratic conversations and they read your exit story and you can ask them if they would meet with you on six separate occasions for some further discussion. The following are some suggestions for your first meeting.

The first thing is setting a mood of friendliness and not combativeness. Begin with non-Mormon chit chat to create an atmosphere of serenity and trust. Then when the time feels right, ask them if they have any questions about your exit story or the resources you sent/gave them, which I discussed in my blog post linked above. If they haven’t read or watched the material don’t be offended, remember that they are likely scared of losing their grip on reality or they fear losing social ties by exposing themselves to other points of view. Simply ask why they did not read it and try to resolve their concerns if you can. If you can’t get them to commit to reading it later, then just accept that and move on trying not to take it personally.

The most important thing during the discussions is to establish openness. Make sure that the Mormon is open minded and willing to hear you out.  For example, you might ask:

 “Jeff and Mary, I realize that you are concerned about my resignation (or inactivity). I want to open up to you and express how I feel about the LDS church, and give you the reasons for why I left. I humbly ask that you keep an open mind as I share my thoughts with you. The reason I ask you to keep an open mind is because I'm going to share with you some things that you have probably never seen or heard before.  Will you keep an open mind? The second thing I’m going to ask of you is that you not prejudge me before I share my perspective. If at the end of the six discussions you completely disagree with my point of view, then we can shake hands as friends and just agree to disagree. I am not asking you to agree with my point of view, all I am asking is that you try to understand my perspective just as I have spent years understanding the devout LDS perspective. Sound fair?”

Next I suggest pointing out the likely inevitable obstacle to most discussions, which is pride or ego. You can ask them, “Will you agree with me to try to keep our ego out of our discussions, so that we can search the truth together and share our points of view without pride or prejudice?” When I first typed that sentence, I initially wrote, “Will you agree to keep your ego …” I then changed it to “our ego ...,” and this is the conversational frame you want to keep throughout all the discussions. You are on the same team, it is always us, we, and ours. You might also mention to them that others have taken your questions too personally, and give some examples. Put it out there that sensitive egos often get over involved with feeling “right” during these discussions; and ask if it can be our goal to minimize ego-conflict that arises from our natural human tendency to be competitive and seek validation. Point out that avoiding ego-conflict can be overcome by remaining calm, listening empathically, and making sure the other person feels understood and respected. Explain that the goal is a dialog rather than arguing or debating which often allows emotions to cloud our ability to reason and remain objective and calm. I would ask them to let you know if at any point in the conversation they are feeling upset or disrespected to let you know.

Keep in mind that the truth will emerge on its own without our trying to hammer our opinions into them. We should ask ourselves would I rather be right or be happy? Are you arguing your point of view to defend your ego, or are you selflessly sharing information to inspire the person and promote objective verifiable truth for the betterment of all involved? Make sure they understand that your goal is not to persuade but to seek to understand, stimulate thought, and share knowledge. The bottom line is that you will not inspire someone to think free by making them your enemy.

Your main goal is to get them to start thinking, reading, and researching on their own. Your objective is to encourage them to stop blindly believing and start critically thinking, and to begin consuming information voluntarily. Arouse their interest and let them figure it out for themselves. Good questions lead a person to think outside the box. Make your goal to get them to become proactive in their own search for truth.

Once they commit to keeping an open mind and not prejudging you, I suggest that you shake their hand on it to encourage their commitment to be open to information and to avoid personal attacks. If they later show closed mindedness, or attack you personally, simply remind them of their commitment.

Show sincere appreciation that they are willing to hear your side of the story, especially since they are discouraged from affiliating with and sympathizing with you (see Temple question #6).

The rest of the First Discussion will focus on one basic theme: covering the errors of a subjective epistemology. Epistemology is the study of how we know things, thus the First Discussion is aimed at showing how the LDS testimony methodology is flawed.

Define the word truth as that which corresponds with logic and reality/evidence.  Make sure you both agree on this definition. Make sure they agree that the universal laws of logic (such as 1 + 1 =2) are how we function and know reality. Explain to them the concept of objective versus subjective reality. For example, you might point to an object in the room, and ask “Jeff and Mary, we can both see that chair in the corner.  The chair is objective, and we both share the same reality. That is what I mean by objective truths.  Now if a song came on the radio, and you said that you loved it, but I could not stand it that would be an example of subjectivity. The song itself is not necessarily good or bad, but our subjective taste in music influences our perception. Do you understand what I mean?"

Discuss how courts of law rely on evidence rather than subjective experience. Explain to them the importance of distinguishing between feelings versus facts. For example, you might ask “Jeff and Mary, when a juror is at the trial, is he supposed to rely on his feelings or examine the evidence without pride or prejudice before reaching a verdict?” Then ask, “Why should the jury use reason and evidence to decipher guilt or innocence as opposed to appeals to emotion or subjective experience?” After they understand that feelings do not trump the facts, you may wish to go over the fact that nearly every religious believer “feels” that their religion is the truest.

1.   Show them an actual copy of the Koran. Explain to them that there are a billion Muslims that have a testimony of this book of scripture.
2.   Show them a copy of the Bhagavad-Gita. Explain to them that millions of Hindus believe in this book.
3.   If you can get a hold of a book or pamphlet by the Hare Krishna’s, the Moonies, or Jehovah Witnesses, show how these organizations all claim that subjective experience and/or feelings prove that only their dogma is true.

At this point I recommend watching with them this short video called, “Testimonies 1” by
“c mo” at, that features various religious persons bearing their testimony with it ending with Persinger’s God-helmet experiment (see:

Then I recommend watching with them the last part of this video on the testimonies of members of Heaven’s Gate who took their lives as a group. Start watching at 1: 17, of the  2013 talk by Chris Johnson: "How the Book of Mormon Destroyed Mormonism" at the Exmormon Conference at:

Then watch the ABC story on the HeavensGate cult:

To watch more HeavensGate Student Exit Statements see:

Explain how the appeal to subjective emotions results in what I like to call a testimony stalemate, like in chess. In other words, since one Mormon sect can't disprove the subjective experience of an opposing Mormon sect and vice versa, this results in a stalemate. Furthermore, faith in your Faith makes all Mormon Faiths equally true when you pull the "testimony card." So if everyone is claiming they "know" they are right through faith and feelings, and this is how objective truth is to be obtained, then the inevitable result is "epistemological anarchy" (i.e. anything goes).

In order to make your point that the Mormon testimony is subjective and fallible, encourage them to attend an RLDS church meeting (now called the Community of Christ, see Here they will see that having a feeling that the Book of Mormon is true, in no way proves Utah Mormonism is true.

If you have done your job effectively they cannot later just bear their testimony and appeal to feelings, since they’ve acknowledged that feelings are subjective and do not prove something objectively true.

Next, discuss the psychology of conformity summarized here: Have them watch these videos:

      The Milgram Experiment

I also recommend Daniel J. Simonsbasketball video. Tell the Mormon “When viewing the video, try to count the total number of times that the people wearing white pass the basketball. Do not count the passes made by the people wearing black.” After they are done ask how many passes they counted? Then have them watch the video again without counting and see if they spot the person in the guerrilla outfit. Point out that this is how so many Mormons are unable to see what is often before their eyes, they are distracted.

Make the point, that just because a lot of people in the Mormon Church believe in LDS claims, that does not make those claims true; and says more about the power of conformity

Before leaving I suggest that you hand them a book or pamphlet on logic, fallacies, and epistemology. They can’t say this is an anti-Mormon book since it’s just about logic.

Other Suggested Material  to Leave With Them Before Your Next Visit:

Loan them the video (or have them rent and watch) In the Line of Duty:Ambush in Waco. This movie does an excellent job of showing how religious feelings and social conformity works to create devoted members of a church.

Hand them a list of logical fallacies: go over some of the most common fallacies that many Mormons commit. If they don’t know how to think critically how can they think their way out of Mormon dogmatism, pseudoscience, and superstition?


* Note: If you’re discussing the LDS church with a single woman, you may wish to skip to the Fifth Discussion below, and then go back to the second discussion.

Since the Book of Mormon (from now on BoM) is the cornerstone of the Mormon religion, it makes sense to examine it first.

Show them a copy of a reprinted 1830 BoM replica (which can be bought online for less than $30) and discuss some of the changes: specifically, show the difference in the title page:

1830: Joseph Smith, Jr. The author and proprietor of this work
Since 1837: Joseph Smith, Jr. the translator of this work

Explain that BH Roberts compiled the six-volume History of the Churchof Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, publication. Then have them read for themselves BH Robert’s work in Studies of the Book ofMormon by Brigham D. Madsen, Brigham H. Roberts and Sterling M. McMurrin. Have them read pages 243 to 244, where Roberts states that: “was Joseph Smith possessed of a sufficiently vivid and creative imagination as to produce such a work as the Book of Mormon from such materials as have been indicated in the preceding chapters . . .? That such power of imagination would have to be of a high order is conceded; that Joseph Smith possessed such a gift of mind there can be no question.”

Then pull out a copy of An Address To BelieversIn Christ by David Whitmer. On page 12 Whitmer wrote, "I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man." Proceed to actually demonstrate this scenario or show an image of Smith with his head in the hat. Then show them a picture you printed off the intert from with Smith looking like he is using the plates to literally translate. Ask them if they believe that is an historically accurate image?

Also have a Bible by your side to show that Joseph Smith referenced from his own Bible: Show the "Faith, Hope and Charity" passage by Mormon in Moroni 7:45  and how it is a copy of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Ask how come the Indian Mormon sounds like the Jewish Paul?

One example I like to do is to show them a replica of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (I bought a replica called Joseph Smith Begins His Work Volume 2 for less than $30. I then use this replica to show them the changes in the revelations, like the early document denying polygamy (in the 1835 D&C 101) was being practiced when it was, and the early doctrine of the Godhead in the Lectures on Faith, etc. This is tangible evidence they can see for themselves. If you can afford it, you can even give them the replica so they can read it on their own after you leave to avoid them feeling any pressure to respond.

Review with them the original View of the Hebrews and bring up BH Roberts who edited LDS Church History and how he noted parallels in View of the Hebrews and how word analysis reveals that this book likely influenced Joseph Smith.

Bring up how Smith grew up reading the following book written in the Biblical style and word analysis reveals that this book likely influenced the war sections of the Book of Mormon. Show them sections of "The late war, between the United States and Great Britain, from June 1812, to February 1815 : written in the ancient historical style" (1816) by Gilbert J. Hunt: see For more details see: Joseph Smith's Plagiarism of the Bible in the Book of Mormon by Jareld & Sandra Tanner; also see the 2013 talk by Chris Johnson: "How the Book of Mormon Destroyed Mormonism" at the Exmormon Conference at:

Show Smithsonian Institutestatement on the historicity of the BoM.

Watch the video DNA vs. The Book of Mormon on the internet.

If you think they can handle it and won't be offended you could offer them a copy of, An Address to All Believers in Christ by David Whitmer. How can they object to reading a booklet by one of the Book of Mormon witnesses? In the booklet Whitmer testifies to many problems with Utah Mormonism even saying God told him to leave the Utah LDS church. Another book you could recommend is Studies of the Book of Mormon by B.H. Roberts, an LDS leader from the past who is famous in Mormon culture.


You can begin by sharing with them the 2013 Ensign article, Race and the Priesthood (see, which basically blames the past racist policy on Brigham Young. You can then point out that the LDS church defended the past racist doctrine by appealing to the book of Abraham.

If you have access to the Egyptian Book of the Dead, that you can probably get from your public Library, it would be good to show the Egyptian pictures compared to the ones in the LDS Book of Abraham.

For a free copy of the book By His Own Hand UponPapyrus go to, where last time I checked LDS members were allowed to order a free copy. Inside this book is a full-page layout of the funerary scrolls that Joseph pretended to translate. A picture of this Egyptian funeral scroll is also found in the Ensign, July 1999, page 43. Pulling this out to visually make your case would be much more compelling than just talking about it.

In No Man Knows My History by Faun Brodie, pages 171 to 173, Brodie explains how Joseph Smith took the ideas from the book The Philosophy of a Future State byThomas Dick, and invented the cosmology found in the Book of Abraham.  If you have a copy of the book The Philosophy of a Future State, it would be useful to demonstrate that this book was around at the time of Joseph Smith and was owned by him (See AnInsiders View of Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer pg. 22-23). Your local library or college may have a copy of this book, or you can buy a reprint. Reading passages from this book will show the Mormon where Smith likely got many of his cosmological ideas from that I put in the Book of Abraham.

Explain that the Book of Abraham, according to LDS leaders, was the only scriptural source for the 148-year racist policy to ban blacks from the priesthood.  Explain that missionaries were also discouraged from proselyting to blacks before 1978. Read to them a list of the racist scriptures found in the Book of Mormon and in the Book of Abraham, for source material see the internet.

On the internet find the TV documentary The Mormons by 60 minutes which aired April 7, 1996. I found the entire program at Fast forward to 7:30 minutes into the show and have them watch the clip segment where Gordon B. Hinckley is confronted by Mike Wallace with the church’s past racist policy. Have the viewer monitor Hinkley’s body language the second Wallace mentions the words “church policy” (in regards to blacks in the LDS church) at 7:30 minutes into the program, and how  Hinkley does a leap back in his chair. Point out how his body language clearly reveals that he is uncomfortable and defensive by the racial questions. During the other clips of the interview he is calm and leaning forward. So why does he leap back at the racial policy before 1978? It is because the church had no good reason for the policy? Is that why Hinkley deflects responsibility on the same program by saying “it’s behind us” and not to worry about nearly two hundred years of LDS church history? This video can also probably be found on Youtube, at least the clip where racism is discussed.

End by watch with them the video The Lost Book of Abraham available on Youtube. You can then leave by offering them a free copy of By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus by Larson.


Become familiar with the problems with the First Vision, The Lectures on Faith, and the evolution of the Mormon Godhead. If you have a copy of For Any Latter day Saint: One Investigator's Unanswered Questions by S. I. Banister, turn with the Mormon to pages 218 – 221 (or go to the booklet Where does it say that pg. 4 -7). Then show them an actual copy of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants (or any D&C before 1921, that you can get on eBay or through Google books) to prove that Mormon doctrine on the Godhead has changed. Again, you can purchase a reprinted copy of the early D&C. Prove to them that Joseph Smith sanctioned Lecture Five, as doctrine, that the Father does not have a body and there is no personage called the Holy Ghost in the Godhead, according to the 1835 D&C. Ask them, “Jeff and Mary, how certain are you that you have the true doctrine on the Godhead if the first Mormons had the wrong idea (from reading their scriptures) for almost a hundred years: from 1835 to 1921?!” This is also the time to explain how the testimony in Mormonism proves nothing as the doctrine changes.

I like to show people a replica of the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants and show them the changes in the revelations, like the early doctrine of the Godhead in the Lectures on Faith, etc. This is tangible evidence they can see for themselves.  Then hit on the fact that the 1832  First Vision version only mentions Jesus. Ask them: “Jeff and Mary, if you saw two Gods after you were told there is only one God, would you mention only seeing on in 1832?”

Go over the several First Vision versions using a chart you can give them from the internet. Explain that  Smith’s decision to sanction the Fifth Lecture on Faith contradicts the 1838 First Vision version, and show how each vision version evolved over time.


Show them a video on Freemasonry. The History Channel has a documentary on them I have found for free in the web.

Show the pictures in the book Duncan's Ritual ofFreemasonry by Malcolm Duncan. If you have a picture book of Freemasonry, that would also be useful in showing the ritual rooms and the altar.

Explain that Joseph Smith was a Freemason: Read with them Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith pg. 286.

Explain that the entire foundation of Mormon dogma is built on Joseph Smith’s sexual greed and delusions of grandeur. Go over my blog post Did Joseph Smith have Narcissistic Personality Disorder?  Explain how the LDS temple is one big fertility rite. Make sure that both of you have a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and open up to section 132.

A).   Open to D&C 131 and have them read the introduction and verses 1- 4, “Celestial marriage is essential to exaltation in the highest heaven…” Verse 4 states that you cannot have an “increase.” Ask the Mormon what he or she thinks that means?   

B).   See footnote 131: 2a, that refers you to D&C 132: 21 (5-21) “…except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to this glory.TG Family, Eternal. TG Man, Potential to Become Like HeavenlyFather.” What is the law mentioned in section 132?

C).   Read the introduction to section 132, “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet…relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, as also plurality of wives.” Read versus 1- 4. Ask the LDS member, “So section 132 contains the law (given by revelation) regarding what?”

D).   Explain the context of this revelation. Smith was committing adultery: Oliver Cowdery said:

“When he [Joseph Smith] was there we had some conversation in which in every instance I did not fail to affirm that what I had said was strictly true. A DIRTY, NASTY, FILTHY AFFAIR OF HIS AND FANNY ALGER'S was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deviated from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself.” (Letter written by Oliver Cowdery and recorded by his brother Warren Cowdery; see photograph in The Mormon Kingdom, Vol. 1, page 27).

Briefly discuss the history of Fanny Alger. Then turn to the introduction to D&C 132, “it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831…” Mention that Smith lied about polygamy: turn to the 1835 D&C page 251, and Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 137. When Emma found out he was having sex with other women, Joseph Smith tried to convince her that God told him to be with other women by writing her D&C 132, she subsequently destroyed it, but Smith had made a copy (Have them read History of the Church, Introduction to Vol. 5: xxix, xxxii - xxxiii). Next, read with them the letter that Joseph Smith sent Nancy Rigdon to try and seduce her which can be found on the internet.

E). Turn to D&C 88: 28, “They who are of a celestial spirit shall receive the same body which was a natural body…” see also D&C 130:22. Ask: what kind of body did Joseph Smith say that the Mormon Gods have? If God has a body can he have sex?

F).       Read verses D&C 132: 1 – 4 again.  Ask: so what is the new and everlasting covenant? Read D&C 131: 2 - 4 again with them. They should understand that polygamy is an eternal principle to have an increase in the heavens. Read to them D&C 132: 63, then read them footnote 3p in the 1891 D&C 132: 63 (which you can read for free and downloaded at Google books) which reads “that is, the souls or spirits of men to be born in heaven, vers. 19, 30.” In other words, LDS scripture teaches that polygamy is how the Gods procreate in the heavens and produce spirit children/souls.
G).   Read vs. 15 –17: Ask: what happens to those who do not practice polygamy?

H).   Read vs. 19 – 24, 30: Ask: what happens to those who do practice polygamy in heaven?

I).   If Joseph Smith was a man who was trying to justify his having sexual relationships with women other than his wife, what would you expect D&C 132 to contain? Would it justify his adultery? Would it mention Emma? Recall how the revelation was written to explain to Emma Smith’s affairs.

J).  Read vs. 44, 51 – 56. Ask, are these the words of the humble Jesus or more likely the man Joseph Smith?

K).   Today a Mormon man can be sealed to two women in the temple while the woman cannot. If they deny this tell them to ask their bishop if they can read in his office the section in the Church Handbook of Instructions that states that this is the case. Ask why that is?

L). Read vs. 61 – 5. Emphasize  again that polygamy is the law of Mormon heaven to have an increase “…and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men…” See 1891 D&C 132: 63 footnote 3p “that is, the souls or spirits of men to be born in heaven.” Also mention that verse 64 threatens women who don’t consent with destruction. In order to justify his actions Smith created an entire mythology of procreating supermen. Explain how the temple is about fertility worship, with a ritual to bless the loins for procreative power, throughout all time and eternity at the veil in the temple.

M).  Later Smith seduced women into being one of his concubines by claiming that an angel with a sword would kill him if he didn’t do it.

N).   Explain that Smith sought power and glory. Read with them the History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409 where Smith says,

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it.”

Ask: is it coincidence that a man who sought power and glory, who even tried to win the highest office in the land, that of President of the United States, would later write that he would become God? Is it coincidence that a man who was having sex with other women other than his wife, would later write a document to his wife threatening her to accept his extramarital affairs?

Read with them the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and ask them if Smith might have had this disorder?

Leave them with a printed copy of the page from the 1891 D&C 132: 63 that contains footnote 3p.


Explain that it’s an unfortunate fact that official LDS publications change and distort real Mormon history.  I consider this the sin of omission. I believe this leads to the current high turnover rate of people both joining and leaving the Mormon Church.  LDS members will continue to become shocked and disillusioned when they learn the whole truth, until the Mormon Church offers full-disclosure in their publications.

Point out that all you ask for is honest history and full-disclosure to investigators. Ask them why the church uses Protestant language on the Godhead when Brigham Young went around referring to the “Gods” plural? Ask why investigators are not told about garments and the oaths in the temple. Ask why investigators are not informed about the scientific evidence against the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham? Ask why African Americans are not forewarned that the seed of Cain is was official LDS doctrine until around 2013. Ask why most LDS members are not aware that Smith married other men’s wives and girls as young as fourteen? Ask why the LDS church has edited the History of the Church taking out things like Smith used tobacco and drank beer and tea (see Explain that all you are asking for is honest history and the right of investigators to make an informed decision; and for lifelong members to be given all the facts since so much is required of them.

I then recommend watching the 2012, BBC documentary, This World: The Mormon Candidate with John Sweeney who interviews the Mormon apostle Mr. Holland (find it on YouTube). I recommend fast forwarding past the Romney material to avoid politics and just playing the interview with Holland.


Provide information on how to deal with Post-Mormon life outside the Mormon Church.

Leave on a positive note, explain why you’re happy as a Post-Mormon.

Re-affirm that your love and friendship is not contingent upon them agreeing with your perspective on Mormonism. If you are able, express to them your commitment to maintain the friendship and build bridges. I would then close with a compliment on their open mindedness  and their courage to listen to your perspective.

The Heretic (a documentary about Rob Bell): A Short Review and Comparison with Joseph Smith

Just watched The Heretic on Amazon about Rob Bell. I rented it through my Amazon account. I really enjoyed it. There was a lot of information compacted into a short time, so I watched it twice.  A lot of good insights to ponder.

I have listened to Rob a lot over the last few years. I think his intellect is sharp, his scholarship on point, and his heart is full. I can't say the same for many other Fundamentalist type Christians, especially those who call him a heretic.

The documentary also covers another former Evangelical church pastor Carlton Pearson, who rejected the endless-hell dogma and was maligned by many Evangelical Christians. If you think only the Mormons ostracize (i.e. socially exclude those who question the set dogma), just look at how McCraney was treated by Evangelicals (in 2014) for questioning the Trinity creed formulated under Constantine. Watch the clips on YouTube and see how Rob Bell is treated by Fundamentalists. Watch the upcoming movie on Netflix, Come Sunday, about Carlton Pearson.

I have to say, I have my issues with the LDS church's past policies and some in the top leadership and Joseph Smith's mistreatment of women, etc; but the fact that Smith gave "the middle finger" to the hell fire dogma used by manipulative revival preachers of his day and said there is no hell fire endless torment, makes me appreciate Smith as a bad ass.

According to, "Joseph’s younger brother William [related] that his father was offended by the Presbyterians because Reverend Stockton, a Presbyterian who spoke at the funeral of Joseph’s brother Alvin, 'intimated very strongly' that Alvin had gone to hell because he was not a church member." After speaking to many of these kinds of preachers myself, in today's day and age, I can imagine how horrible that must have felt to the Smith family; and how harmful and arrogant some of these preachers are. I mean just listen to how Shawn McCraney was treated by an Orthodox Presbyterian preacher Jason Wallace at 24 to 29 minutes in his discussion with him in Episode 431 of Heart of the Matter.

Smith had the cajoles to do what many were too afraid to do. There are many today who are doing what Smith did in our modern scientific age and readily available biblical scholarship on the internet (e.g. or, etc.), but Smith was doing so in a less enlightened age.

Say what you will about Smith, and I have my many criticism of him, one thing is for sure, he saved many from the psychological trauma of hell-fire dogma. Many LDS children, including myself, avoided suffering nightmares and constant psychic terror and trauma (as many children do today in Fundamentalist homes) because of Smith.

Yes of course, I can hear my fellow exmormons crying, "But he still manipulated young girls with stories of threatening angels and swords, and manipulated LDS members into being polygamous or they'd become a celibate angel (D&C 131: 1-4132:13–18)!" Yes, yes, I agree, that is certainly manipulative and absurd and harmful. But one can't for one moment really think there is a direct comparison between the Mormon view of heaven (in D&C 76) in regards to physic harm, with the preaching on hell by the preachers of the 1700s (like Edwards "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God") or the revivalist bully pulpiteers of the 1830s, and what goes on today in many churches.

Today, right now, children are being psychologically harmed by this endless-hell dogma. In this regard, the LDS church, and many other Christian churches (and those like Rob Bell) are a bright shining light of mental health and sanity; amidst the fundamentalist darkness and fear mongering and bully pulpit intimation by many of the preachers both past and present.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Shawn McCraney 2.0

I am enjoying watching Shawn McCraney take on Fundamentalists who seem to act like Thought Police. In fact, Shawn's courage inspired me to start a blog post on my Science Friendly Christianity website. See the post Forms, Formality, and Conformity versus Poetry, Spirituality, & Inner Transformation (Part 1): From Ekklesia to Megachurch Charlatanry

I tuned into YouTube and watched Shawn debate James White "live" recently, available here; that's how much of a fan I am at this point.

I have to say, I just don't get it. I mean my gosh! Shawn is a supernaturalist and overall a theologically-conservative Christian (believes in the core essential doctrines of Christendom last I checked). But how dare he questions the dogmas on the periphery. The dude believes in a literal resurrection, believes in a theistic God, saved by faith, and preaching the gospel, etc. But that is NOT enough for the Fundamentalists who demand he shove his brain into a box against his will or be shunned and labeled a heretic.

Mormons watching all of this are just going, "See! Philosophies of men, mingled with scriptures, just endless sectarianism." Of course, this ignores the schisms in Mormonism as well (with even one of the alleged Book of Mormon witnesses saying that if you believe his testimony of the gold plates then one should believe him that God told him to leave Brigham-Young-led Mormonism). But be that as it may, the Mormons would be right. Many on the far right theological spectrum of the Christian faith are demanding there be no spectrum, that all conform to their post-Constantine Christianity. All McCraney is trying to do is expand tolerance for the those holding various views within the spectrum.

I don't even agree with everything Shawn says, but I like his newer ideas (post-2013) about Christianity than his older views. Shawn and Rob Bell and Brian McLaren and Marcus Borg and John Spong, and others, who can no longer fit into the Fundamentalist mold, are speaking out and being heard. I think their voice is the future of the Christian faith.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Would Jesus endorse the Mormon Corporation?

Just completed a long post about what the historical Jesus likely focused on. See: What Did Jesus Most Talk About & Focus On? It Might Surprise You 

In this post linked above at my other blog, I mention the Mormon Church/Corporation as an example of how Jesus and his early followers would NOT have run things.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Did Joseph Smith have NPD? - Part 2

I wrote a rather long reply to a comment on my blog post Did Joseph Smith have Narcissistic Personality Disorder? I put so much work into my reply I decided to post it here:

In reply to Anonymous,

You make some interesting points, thanks for sharing.

I humbly disagree with your statement that, “... there is every evidence that he believed what he was saying …” I mean just look at how he changes the First Vision or how he tells Nancy Rigdon in a letter that God is more liberal in his views when trying to seduce her into plural marriage. If he believed God appeared to him, why would he change the content of the First Vision in the differing versions? Why would he first speak only of seeing Jesus (in 1832), then later speak of seeing two personages (after 1835)? If he believed his revelations were actually from God (which revealed a monotheist Godhead prior to 1836), how could he then change paths and give revelations presenting a polytheistic Godhead? Scholars have shown conclusively that he produced monotheist scripture and revelations between 1830-1835; and then, when he began taking many more wives after 1835, his scriptures and revelations begin teaching polytheism and polygamy. It is CLEAR to me that he knew he was making up Mormonism as he went along. Writing a body of scripture and revelation that conveys a distinct Godhead, and then changing to a new version of the Godhead, shows calculation and intent to make it up as he goes along as it suits his purpose.

For more details see these articles below:

Your hypothesis that psychosis could have motivated his taking "multiple wives and that god, told him to do that”, in my humble opinion, doesn't pass parsimony. A simpler explanation is that just as he used the seer stone, that once earned him money by tricking people, he then moved on to use the trick of “God is speaking to me” to gain ecclesiastical authority and power and control over others and seduce women (see chapter 7 “Priesthood Restoration” in Grant Palmer’s book, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins and the free online article, Sacred Marriage or Secret Affair? Joseph Smith and the Beginning of Mormon Polygamy by Sandra Tanner).

You said “a narcissist would never admit to being wrong.” Some do in fact, especially if, as in the case of Smith, he feared that polygamy would cost him his narcissistic supply. For example, it is clear to me that he went back to face trial (and was soon after killed by the mob later) because he feared losing his narcissistic supply.

You wrote that “If anything the events directly preceding the ‘first vision’ sound exactly like a period of deep deep depression (where the darkness almost overwhelmed him) followed directly by a period of psychosis (he saw a vision). That IS exactly how bipolar or, delusional disorder or psychotic depression DOES WORK.” That is an interesting observation. Yet, keep in mind that there are different versions of the First Vision, so the events you speak of may have been made up later for dramatic effect, just as he made up his monotheist Godhead, then changed to a polytheistic Godhead. Since I don’t know which First Vision version you are referencing I can’t comment further.

You said, “His own father talked about seeing ‘visions’. His mother had depression. His son clearly had a mental breakdown of sorts and George Albert Smith had both anxiety and depression - depression does have elements of psychosis and mania if left untreated too long (which is distinct to, bipolar).” All of this can just as easily support the theory of pathological narcissism as Smith likely developed a sense of omnipotence in the home as the only one who could keep his family together. For, “Alvin Smith (February 11, 1798 – November 19, 1823) was the eldest brother of Joseph Smith, ... Alvin took a leading role in helping the Smith family work toward paying their debts and building their home. His death at age 25 resulted in his younger brother Joseph taking more of a leading role in family affairs.” Source:

Smith was thrust into being the hero in a family that was very troubled. There is a lot of social science research on this. He would do what his father could not do. He would unite the family and turn a profit at the same time which would rescue his family from degrees of poverty. See Dan Vogel’s bio of Smith for more details.

You said, “I truly don't think NPD cuts it, Joseph Smith himself often talked of long periods of melancholy - it just doesn't fit with narcissism…” I would suggest that you consider that depression and narcissism often go hand in hand. And that with narcissism there is “frequent presence of mood disorders, such as Bipolar I (co-morbidity).” See

After reading several historical biographies of Smith, the most common label historians use (and those who knew him in real life and spent time with him used), is that of an egoist, i.e. NPD. So I would take a look at what these many other experts have said about his personality.

In my view he had an unstable family life and was traumatized many timed growing up, and NPD was a buffer for his psyche, a way for his psyche to adapt. If he had a more stable family life and no trauma, he still might have been narcissistic genetically, but not as bad. Traumas and a troubled upbringing, combined with intelligence and creativity, and gaining the power and adulation from thousands of adoring fans (Mormons) caused his NPD to fester.

Remember, that when it comes to narcissism there is a spectrum as Dr. Craig Malkin argues in his book, Rethinking Narcissism: The Secret to Recognizing and Coping with Narcissists. Those that rate high in narcissism (the 7-10 range on Malkin's spectrum) experience a range of differing degrees of symptoms. We seem to only see narcissism as negative but narcissistic persons are still human and they are NOT psychopaths. As Malkin says in his book, all psychopaths are narcissists but not all narcissists are psychopaths. Narcissists are also capable of degrees of empathy.

So I see no reason why Joseph could not have been narcissistic and also loving to his family. On my LDS mission in Missouri I read a replica of a loving letter he sent to Emma when in jail. Yet in D&C 132 he threatens her with destruction. In prison I think he is lonely and is missing attention and so he feels more longing, more love for his wife. When he is out of prison and has a bevy of young girls at his disposal he can manipulate with his religion -- and then when his wife stands in his way -- he has no problem threatening her. He could be loving to his own children yet manipulate young girls into marrying him which put a lot of strain on them psychologically. This is because of the strong genetic pull in a father toward his biological offspring, that usually will override the narcissism to a certain degree. Smith would admit faults and foibles which to me is obviously his way of throwing his followers a bone (“See, I’m not a charlatan, I admit I am fallible”) yet the next minute he is speaking in the name of the resurrected Lord Jesus while also bragging that he is more successful than Jesus was on earth (See History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 408-409). Apparently Jesus speaking through him and to him did not cause him to pause before bragging he did a better job of organizing and sustaining a religion than Jesus.

You seem to conflate narcissism with the sociopath. This article explains the difference:

Narcissists can experience empathy in degrees, and some studies of narcissists show that if the narcissist tries to imagine what it’s like through another’s eyes this can induce empathy. See

Also, again, a father has a strong genetic pull to be loving toward his kin. Remember narcissism is a disorder and shouldn't be stigmatized or condemned but understood and treated, and exists along a spectrum. Narcissists are human and capable of goodness and empathy if they "try" to develop those virtues as Malkin argues. Since Smith was steeped in New Testament theology that emphasizes love and empathy, it would be a shock if at least some of the NT did not rub off on him.

I think Smith started out as a 7-8 on Malkin’s spectrum, as what Dan Vogels calls a pious fraud: as his family condoned his fraudulent activities, in using magic for pay; but with a different dad he may not have ended up a con man. I think in his 20s he was unconsciously trying to be the hero that would unite his family. Vogel’s bio of Smith convinced me of this. This itself is both very compassionate yet very narcissistic thinking that he could write a new bible and save his family from confusion and disunity and poverty through his pious fraud. But it was a "pious" act nevertheless. However, after 1835, as his power grew and he received more and more constant adulation, I think his egotism festered and he went from a 7-8 to a 9-10 on Malkin’s spectrum.

Its after 1835 that we see him rejecting monotheism and monogamy (in his pre-1835 scripture and revelations) and moving to polytheism and polygamy. His piety decreases as his ego grows from his growing power as a cult of personality and leader of members essentially worshiping him as the mouthpiece of Christ. During this time we see him become more aggressive too. This aggression was likely triggered by a loss of control and power and threats to his status, which triggered narcissistic rage. Grant Palmer tells how Smith may have ordered a murder and that is one of the reasons why William Law left the church: See his interview on April 22, 2015 with Jason Wallace on "Why William Law opposed Joseph Smith in Nauvoo." For even more details of Smith's aggressive and violent tendencies and narcissistic rage, see Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power by Quinn.

Again, the symptoms you mention like depression can be comorbid with NPD, as the first article I mention says. I see no reason why he could not suffer NPD and have other symptoms you mentioned as well. It’s not an either/or in my mind.

Someone can have NPD and OCD, NPD and depression, NPD and whatever, etc.

Regarding his composing the Book of Mormon I think that he was, as Harold Bloom argues, a “religious genius.” I remember when I was Mormon reading the book, The Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (online here: -- which has footnotes citing all the words of Smith in his sermons and how they can be tied back to the scriptures -- and being taken aback at how almost everything, or quite a lot, of what he said was a direct copying, rewording, or retelling of Bible passages. In other words, he was clearly intelligent with amazing recall;  and knowing the Bible was authoritative he spoke the language of the Bible to express his ideas and get what he wanted. I mean just look at the letter to Nancy Rigdon and D&C 132 to see what I mean.

Smith told his mother at a young age in 1823, “I can take my Bible, and go into the woods, and learn more in two hours, than you can learn at meeting in two years, if you should go all the time.” So he knew at an early age that he had the intelligence and the confidence and ability to memorize and articulate the Bible as good or better than the preachers of his day.

He was an information sponge with an incredible memory and in his book An Insider's View, Grant Palmer proves conclusively how he absorbed the sermons by the preachers in his area and rephrased those sermons in the Book of Mormon.

It is also obvious that Smith used View of the Hebrews to help compose the B of M, see Smith combined many works together and he had time to put together a manuscript in his head. I think the rock in the hat act was merely a prop and that he had already had an outline for the Book of Mormon in his head. He was telling Native American stories long before he composed the B of M. I think the dictation process was the end result of years of formulating a plot line and stories and it was a stream of consciousness activity.

Many narcissist are not necessarily intelligent, creative, or good looking, etc. But some narcissists have that rare combination of extreme ego, good looks, creative skills, and intelligence. I think Smith was the kind of narcissist who had the looks and intelligence and creativity to back up his extreme confidence. When you have that combination you have a personality capable of accomplishing the kinds of things that Smith did.

So NPD passes Occam’s Razar, fits the symptoms best (even if there was comorbidity), and is the diagnosis that most experts apply to him to explain his arrogance and behavior overall.

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

A Short List of Reasons Why I am Not a New Order Mormon and Decided to Resign

Note: If you are a New Order Mormon for the sake of family and career, I respect your decision. This is just my subjective point of view.

·       While I enjoyed Mormon social activities to a degree I didn't much care for Mormon culture at church; like the many (though not all) Mormons who acted uppity and holier-than-thou, the one sided political opinions, backbiting, and naiveté. I like(d) many Mormon individuals but never cared for the boring church talks about the same subjects at church, the uncomfortable seating, and the long three hour meetings was something I always dreaded for the most part. I wasn’t allowed to think such thoughts before I resigned.

·      Unlike other churches that have theologically liberal and conservative branches, Mormonism is not set up for variety in human nature. Instead it is set up to create clone-like copies of the Mormon leaders and their personality style and conservative nature. It is also not a buffet; you have to swallow the whole thing. As one person said online:

The biggest problem with Mormonism is it is NOT a buffet. You are not allowed to pick and choose [which] things you believe, or which things you do not agree with. You need to eat the entire nine course meal. What you don't eat, they will make into casserole and incessantly insist you eat it. If you die before choking it all down, they will take that rotting casserole and eat it in your name after your funeral. In the house of Mormon, one cannot see Jesus with out first seeing the doorman, who is [Joseph] Smith. ~ PolygamyPorter.

·       The feelings of warmth and familiarity at Mormon socials can be felt in varying degrees at other non-Mormon socials without having to sacrifice your integrity on the altar of conformity or check your brain at the door of the church. It is just a matter of resetting your brain’s neural pathways, i.e. rewiring your brain’s circuitry and re-adapting to a different culture. Psychologists say this won’t be easy but it may be worth it.

·       Some bishops may meddle in your marriage and encourage a divorce due to one partner not being a faithful member and for opposing Mormon doctrine.

·       While I like individual Mormons and feel a kinship with the average LDS member as I know their culture well. Most Mormons are indoctrinated to see you in one of two ways: as the enemy or a prospect to convert. Of course, not all Mormons suffer from the same level of indoctrination and LDS dogma fixation. The last few Mormons I tried to be friends with unfortunately did fall into the camp of those who saw me as a conversion project: they weren't interested in understanding my perspective but held out hope of magically converting me with their subjective emotional experiences. 

·       Ultimately, when it comes down to it, I can't be Mormon because I wear the wrong underwear. For the magic underpants represent a perception of reality that includes the "devil's out to getcha," which I can no longer hold. Sorry, but God doesn't care if I drink coffee and Satan's not happy when I take a sip of Tea. I just no longer think or speak the Mormon language.

·        I have met Mormons who rise above the indoctrination-system and reject the rigid dogma the LDS church promotes; but they are dwarfed by the massive group think that pervades the culture.Mormons are not a divergent group but are predominantly mostly conservative. I prefer to be around a group of people with a more divergent set of opinions and a variety of points of view rather than people suffering from ingrained group think. That's not to say that there aren't politically liberal Mormons, there are; I just don't like that the culture is so clearly slanted toward conservative politics which shows there's too much indoctrinated group think compared to other churches where the percentage of liberals and conservative is more even.

·       In my opinion there is more practical advice in Dale Carnegie’s books than all of the scripture Joseph Smith produced, as well as the Ensign, and General Conference talks. The Book of Mormon is boring fiction masquerading as true history. The Pearl of Great Price contains the Book of Abraham which is the best example of a hoax I have ever seen. 

·      Joseph Smith claimed to channel the voice of Jesus, that is what most of the Doctrine & Covenants is! Yet the voice of Jesus coming from Smith (like in D&C 132) is not the same Jesus I read about in the Bible. Grant Palmer makes this very clear in his book, Restoring Christ: Leaving Mormon Jesus for Jesus of the Gospels. Thus one can’t just say I am choosing to interpret a story as a source of inspiring mythos and poetry for pragmatic reasons as many Progressive Christians do with the Bible. In Mormonism, we are not talking inspired metaphors and parabolic language and love your enemy and love one another; for in D&C 132 Smith channels the voice of Jesus in order to threaten Emma with destruction if she doesn't stop interfering with Smith's polygamous agenda, which included taking teen brides and even marrying women who were already married. 

The New & Improved Mormon Apologists?

The video above is from: Mormon Stories #879: Brooke and Josh Miller - Seeking Support from the Maxwell Institute Pt. 3. If the video does...