BETRAYED AND HEARTBROKEN
For over thirty-one years I believed the doctrine of the Mormon Church, I trusted the Church. Even as I read the unsanitized (unauthorized) historical records I found myself arguing with myself in defense of the Church. I had to force myself to continue reading. I was traumatized and devastated at all the little pieces of Mormon history that had been swept under the proverbial carpet. My Journey became increasingly uncertain.
The following is a summary of some important facts about the Mormon Church and its history that we were not taught. Most members, including myself, are not encouraged to be well educated in the complete history of the Church. In fact, most of the historical documents have been purchased by the Church and are kept locked away in vaults inaccessible to the public. Each of the following facts has been substantiated by thorough historical research and scholarship.
THE FIRST VISION
The oldest version of The First Vision is in Joseph's own handwriting, dating from about 1832 (eleven years after the fact), and says that only one personage, Jesus Christ, appeared to him and it mentions nothing about a revival. Careful study of the religious history of the locale where Joseph lived in 1820 shows that there was not any trace of a religious revival there at that time. There were revivals in 1817 and 1824, but none in 1820. It contradicts the later account as to whether Joseph had already decided that no church was true. This version is presently in the possession of the Smith family and the RLDS Church.
There is another version of this event recorded as a recollection in Joseph's diary (1835-36, p. 24) fifteen years after the alleged vision, where only one personage appeared, specifically said to be neither The Father nor The Son, who was accompanied by many angels.
The official version of the First Vision story as presented currently in The Pearl of Great Price was unknown until 1838, eighteen years after its alleged occurrence and almost ten years after Joseph had begun his missionary efforts. It states The Father and The Son appeared to Joseph Smith. Joseph Smith said there were great multitudes (known as revivals) that united themselves together in 1820. Some were contending for the Methodist faith, some for the Presbyterian, and some for the Baptist (P of G P, J.S.).
There are three different versions of The First Vision written by Joseph
Smith and/or his scribes, and each of them is different.
These widely differing accounts raise some serious questions. Different people may have varying views of the same event, but when one person tells contradictory stories about the same event, shouldn't we be justified in questioning both the person and the truthfulness of the story?
Which version is correct, if any? Why was this event so important to the Mormon Church? Why are there conflicting versions? Who decided which one the Church would publish as authentic?
To add further confusion to The First Vision story are Church records that show Joseph applied for membership in a local Methodist Church in 1828, eight years after he said he had been told by God to join no church because "all creeds were an abomination in his sight" (P of G P, J.S. 1:19). Other members of his family, including his mother, were still active members of the Presbyterian Church of Palmyra in 1828. (Vol. 2 of the "Session Records" for the Western Presbyterian Church of Palmyra.) This information seriously undercuts Joseph's First Vision story.
1) In his 1832 account Joseph said it was by personal Bible study that he determined all the churches were apostate, while in his 1838 account he said it "never entered into my heart that all were wrong."
2) In this same version Joseph claimed to see only a vision of Christ; in 1835 version Joseph told of the visit of an angel; and in the 1838 version he claimed to see The Father and The Son.
3) Does a discrepancy of four years cause a major problem for Joseph's story? Joseph described a 10-year sequence of events that begins with the First Vision in 1820 and ends with the publication of The Book of Mormon in 1830. If this sequence did not start until the revivals of 1824, there are only six years in which to fit the ten-year sequence Joseph claims occurred before The Book of Mormon was printed. The events as told by Joseph Smith will not fit into the time period between the documented 1824 revival and the 1830 publication of The Book of Mormon.
4) Joseph was welcomed, not persecuted by the Methodists.
5) No one knew of an official version of The First Vision until after Joseph dictated it in 1838, and no published source mentions it until 1842. In fact, while a member of the Mormon Church I never heard of any other versions of The First Vision than the one published in the scriptures used by the Church.
6) The conflicts and contradictions brought to light by the irrefutable historical evidence demonstrate that The First Vision story as presented by the Mormon Church today must be regarded strictly as an invention of Joseph Smith's highly imaginative mind. The historical facts together with Joseph's own words discredit the story as is currently taught. From all available lines of evidence, it appears that Joseph's First Vision story is a myth, not a Divine Visitation.
On September 21, 1823 after retiring to bed, Joseph prayed to know his standing before the Lord. In the official account that is used today, the angel Moroni appeared to give Joseph further instructions concerning the Church. Joseph relates the following. "He [the angel] called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni; that God had a work for me to do;..." (P of GP, J.S. 1:33)
However, the 1838 Joseph Smith manuscript, the 1842 Times & Seasons, and the original edition of the Pearl of Great Price (1851, page 41) all state that the angel who appeared three times to Joseph Smith in 1823 was Nephi, not Moroni. The current canonized account of the history of Joseph Smith is from this same manuscript (with a few editing changes, i.e. the name Moroni is used, not Nephi).
Further documentation supporting Joseph's use of the name of Nephi is found in the 1st edition of Lucy Mack Smith's biographical sketches of Joseph Smith the prophet and his progenitors for many generations, 1853.
To Mormons who are familiar with the Book of Mormon there is a great difference between the two characters, and surely such an error would have been unique. Yet four separate earlier sources indicate it was Nephi who appeared, while today it is taught that it was Moroni who appeared to Joseph.
THE GOLD PLATES
Joseph is alleged to have received the gold plates containing The Book of Mormon record from the Angel Moroni (or Nephi) on September 22, 1827 (P of GP, J. S. 2:59). Moroni said "there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang" (P of G P, J. S. 1:34).
The Church has changed the wording originally found in Joseph Smith's History: "These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite as thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings in Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness" (H of C 1949, vol. 4, p. 537).
Why did the Church change the wording "gold plates" found in the
original Joseph Smith History to "which had the appearance of gold" in
the History of the Church? The following may answer this question.
To the Smiths in their primitive backwoods frontier environment, and to most of their neighbors and the country folk at large, gold was as rare as diamonds in Asia. It is very likely that not one of them had ever seen an ounce of raw gold. Not one of them, including Joseph Smith, had the slightest notion that gold weighs 1203.625 pounds per cubic foot, or nearly twice as much as lead, and nearly three times as much as iron, and ten times as much as common brick. According to the three witnesses of The Book of Mormon, and others who claimed to know, the gold plates were ringed together as a loose-leaf book about six inches by seven inches by eight inches in bulk, composed of two or three hundred plates of gold, not quite as thick as common tin. According to Orson Pratt "Each plate was not far from seven by eight inches in width and length, not quite as thick as common tin. Each was filled on both sides with engraved Egyptian characters; and the whole was bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, and fastened at one edge with three rings through each. This volume was something near six inches in thickness a part of which was sealed" (Divine Authenticity by Orson Pratt, p. 49; History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 537).
It is but a simple calculation to determine that an object measuring 7x8x6 inches equals roughly 336 cubic inches, the approximate size of Joseph's gold plates. With 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot, then the gold plates were approximately one-fifth of a cubic foot and would have weighed between 225 and 250 pounds if they were indeed made of gold. Joseph, then twenty-two years old, is reported by his mother to have taken the plates from their secret place, and, wrapping them in his linen frock, placed them under his arm and started for home some two or three miles away. He held them under his arm while he knocked down three assailants, jumped over a log, and having an injured hand, ran home at the top of his speed (biographical sketches by Lucy Mack Smith, pp. 104-105).
Translating The Gold Plates...
The Mormon Church places considerable emphasis on Joseph's ability to translate ancient documents written in foreign languages. The potential convert to the Mormon Church quickly hears how Joseph Smith was given special ability by God to translate the gold plates of The Book of Mormon.
Mormon missionary literature shows Joseph seated at a table with his hand on the gold plates that are in front of him. He looks as if he is concentrating deeply on the content of the plates. The caption underneath indicates that Joseph is translating by the gift and power of God. This, however, does not agree with the written testimony of people who were around Joseph while he was working on the supposed translation. Family members and friends describe in detail a far different method used by Joseph to produce The Book of Mormon.
According to historical evidence, Joseph used his seer stone, just as in his treasure seeking days, to produce The Book of Mormon. Both Mormon and non-Mormon sources agree that Joseph would take the seer stone, a dark colored rock, and put it in his hat, and then place his face in the hat. Emma Smith's brother-in-law, Michael Morse, describes the manner in which Joseph would translate the Gold Plates. He said: "The mode of procedure consisted in Joseph's placing the Seer Stone in the crown of a hat, then putting his face into the hat, so as to entirely cover his face, resting his elbows upon his knees, and then dictating word after word, while the scribe, Emma, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, or some other, wrote it down" (James E. Lancaster, By the Gift and Power of God: The Method of Translation of The Book of Mormon, in The Saints Herald, November 15, 1962, p. 17). The Saints Herald is the official magazine of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Emma Smith related the following to her son, "In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, after sitting by the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us" (The Saints Herald, May 19, 1888, p. 310). Emma, told how Joseph dictated to her, with the plates wrapped up in a linen tablecloth she had given him.
The three witnesses to The Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer, agreed with Emma and all testified that Joseph did not use the plates while he was dictating the content of The Book of Mormon.
This raises some interesting questions. If the gold plates were not necessary for producing The Book of Mormon, why all the emphasis on being led to the plates by Moroni, four years later receiving the plates from him, and eventually surrendering the plates back to the angel? Why go through the trouble of hiding, covering, yet protecting so cautiously, what was never needed in the first place? And why does the Mormon Church misrepresent the process and use pictures showing Joseph Smith touching the plates and looking at them while translating when there is no historical evidence to support this idea?
The only persons who claimed to have actually seen The Gold Plates were eleven close friends of Joseph (many of them related to each other). But what investigators are not told is that the experience was visionary. According to the three witnesses, Peter Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris, they were roused to a religious frenzy by Joseph's exhortations and reached a spiritual ecstasy together when they envisioned an angel with the Gold Plates. No disinterested third party was involved or ever allowed to examine the plates. Joseph's parents, and even his wife, Emma, were never allowed to see the plates. Joseph warned his family that it meant instant death to look upon them and he frequently changed their hiding place.
Joseph Smith claimed that after he translated The Gold Plates they were returned to the angel, so now there is no way to inspect them or check the accuracy of the translation. Most of the witnesses later abandoned Joseph and left the Church. Joseph Smith then called them liars. Brigham Young stated, "Most witnesses of the Book of Mormon who handled the plates and conversed with the angels of God were afterwards left to doubt and to disbelieve that they had ever seen an angel" (J of D, vol. 7, p. 164).
Were the witnesses' unstable men who were caught up in the religious enthusiasm of the times? And why wouldn't God allow the world to see the sacred history of the Americas since ancient texts have never been so mysteriously kept from human eyes?
THE BOOK OF MORMON
Early Mormon apostle, Orson Pratt made this statement concerning The Book of Mormon: "This book must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God... If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions... The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; If false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it... If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments on which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of deception, and to be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion may be exposed and silenced, not by physical force, neither by persecutions, bare assertions, nor ridicule, but by strong and powerful arguments - by evidences adduced from scripture and reason..." (Orson Pratt's Works, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, Liverpool, 1851, pp. 1-2).
On the first page of the first printing of The Book of Mormon it reads: 'By Joseph Smith, Author and Proprietor,' which in later revisions and printings was changed to read: 'Translated by Joseph Smith, Jun.'
Why did Joseph Smith name himself author of the book in the first place? And why did the Church in later printings make that important change?
Publishing The Book of Mormon...
In 1829-30 Joseph said he received a revelation instructing Oliver Cowdery and Hiram Page to travel to Toronto, Canada and sell the copyright to The Book of Mormon, warning them to be discrete and not reveal their mission to strangers, lest Satan overcome them, (enter fear) and pray often (An Address to All Believers in Christ by David Whitmer, 1887, p. 30-31).
A few days later they returned disheartened and low in spirits. Their mission had failed. Their account said, "We couldn't find anyone who was interested in the book at any price. They laughed at the idea of you having gold plates, and one man said he would be afraid to have a book like that in his house. We tried to reach the wealthy people of Toronto, but we couldn't even get past their servants. There just isn't any chance to sell the copyright in Toronto."
Hyrum Smith inquired. "Did you pray?" Both maintained that they had prayed night and day for guidance to the right parties, whom God had preserved beforehand, and for help in fulfilling their mission, without result. But Hyrum insisted; "Did you ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ to know what to do and where to go, and whom to see?" Both declared emphatically that they did so, but without any result or answer.
Oliver and Hiram were caught in The Double-Bind within The Pattern. Their mission did not succeed so it was their fault! They failed to accomplish the task the Lord had asked them to do. Hyrum Smith suggested they were lacking in faith and had not prayed with a sincere heart. Guilt, shame, and being dehumanized entered the picture. It was not Joseph's fault they failed; after all, he had had a revelation from God.
When Oliver and Hiram returned to the Whitmer home and reported to Joseph and the others gathered there of the failure of their mission, it caused a great concern to the followers, for it was in utter contradiction to the revelation. They asked Joseph for an explanation. What of the wealthy purchasers the Lord had reserved unto that very day for the purpose of buying the copyright of The Book of Mormon? Joseph admitted he could not understand it, but said that he would inquire of the Lord. He retired to a room and closed the door so he could be alone. About twenty minutes later, Joseph came from the room and announced that the Lord did not intend for them to sell the copyright of The Book of Mormon at all, that the whole thing had merely been a test to see if they would do all things whatsoever the Lord commanded them. (Enter The Double-Bind: it's not God or Joseph who messed up, it was you, Hiram and Oliver, who needed to be tested.) (For obvious reasons one will not find the revelation to sell the copyright of The Book of Mormon in The Doctrine and Covenants or in any authorized Church History.)
Joseph, hard-put to find a way out and very desperate to get the book printed, turned to Martin Harris. Joseph knew Martin was a man of considerable means, but Martin was also under condemnation for having lost the first hundred and sixteen pages of the translated Book of Mormon manuscript. In a revelation to Joseph, God had called Martin a wicked man (D&C, 3:12). Martin believed that he was under a perpetual curse and condemnation. How to get Martin out of that frame of mind and convince him that he had been forgiven, partially at least, until he would provide publishing money, was Joseph's next task. That could only be accomplished effectively by a message of encouragement from God. That demanded another revelation, and Joseph was equal to the task. The new revelation to Martin said: [My words are in brackets.]
"I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord;... it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment. Again it is written eternal damnation; [enter fear] wherefore, it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name's glory. Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine Apostles. . . For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand, is endless punishment, [more fear] for endless is my name; wherefore, eternal punishment is God's punishment. Endless punishment is God's punishment; wherefore I command you to repent, and keep the commandments, which you have received by the hand of my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., in my name. . . Therefore, I command you to repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your suffering be sore-how sore, you know not, how exquisite, you know not, yea, how hard to bear, you know not. [threats accompanied by intense fear] And again, I command thee that thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife; nor seek thy neighbor's life. [These were merely preliminary window-trimmings so that his principal command would not sound so blunt]. And again I command thee that thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon, which contains the truth and the word of God. . . And misery thou shalt receive if thou wilt slight these counsels yea even the destruction of thyself and property. [more threats] Impart a portion of thy property; yea even part of thy lands, and all save thy support of thy family" (D&C Sec.19)
This revelation is full of threats: Do as I command or else. According to the revelation it would appear that Martin Harris had no choice in the Upside-Down World of fear and control. Either finance The Book of Mormon or be destroyed and lose everything. Before making such a sacrifice, Martin demanded that Joseph show him the Gold Plates. But how could Joseph satisfy that simple farmer's curiosity? Joseph had to come up with a plan. Joseph explained that he no longer had the plates. The Angel Moroni had already come back for them and taken them away. Martin asked: "Couldn't the angel show them to us?" Joseph conveniently had another revelation: Martin was promised that if he would rely on the word of the Lord he would be allowed to "view the plates, the breastplate, the sword of Laban, and the Urim and Thummim." He was told "it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them" (D&C Sec. 17).
Martin Harris guaranteed $3,000 for the printing of 5,000 copies of The Book of Mormon. He even agreed to mortgage his farm if necessary. A relative of the Harris family, Abigail Harris, commented, "In the second month following, Martin Harris and his wife were at my house. In our conversation about Mormonites, she observed, that she [Martin's wife Lucy] wished her husband would quit them [Mormons] as she believed it was all false and a delusion. To which I heard Mr. Harris reply: "What if it is a lie; if you will let me alone I will make money out of it!" (Cited in No Man Knows My History, Brodie, pp. 436-37).
The detailed history and civilization described in The Book of Mormon does not correspond to anything found by archaeologists anywhere in the Americas. The Book of Mormon describes a civilization lasting for a thousand years, covering both North and South America, which mentions horses, elephants, cattle, sheep, wheat, barley, steel, wheeled vehicles, shipbuilding, sails, coins, and other elements of Old World culture. But no trace of any of these common things has ever been found in the Americas for that time frame. Nor does The Book of Mormon mention any of the features of the civilizations which archeology has found did exist at that time in the Americas.
The LDS Church has spent millions of dollars over many decades trying to prove through archaeological research that The Book of Mormon is an accurate historical record, but they have failed to produce even a shred of pre-Columbian archeological evidence supporting The Book of Mormon story. In addition, The Book of Mormon presents the picture of a people with a single language and the ability to communicate between distant parts of the Americas, while the pre-Columbian history of the Americas shows the opposite: widely distinct or different racial types (almost entirely east Asian, definitely not Semitic), and many unrelated native languages, none of which are even remotely related to Hebrew or Egyptian.
Biblical archaeology can be studied, because we know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful were, or any location in The Book of Mormon. There is no proof supporting The Book of Mormon. General Authority Dallen Oaks said it best in a talk he gave at BYU on October 29, 1993 when he said: "There is no historical proof supporting the Book of Mormon. It has to be believed upon faith and faith only." (Underline added)
In the mid 1970's President Spencer W. Kimball made this statement, which The Church News published: "Stop looking for archaeological evidences for the Book of Mormon, for there is none." (Underline added)
How can a civilization of such great numbers totally disappear in such a
short period of time? There are dozens of books published within the Mormon
community that claim there is Book of Mormon evidence, but the professional
world-recognized authorities have yet to confirm a single one of them. Why are
many Mormon archaeologists twisting the facts and distorting the truth? Your
guess is as good as mine. An excellent book on the subject is Quest for the Gold
Plates by Stan Larson.
Language & Culture...
With regard to the language of The Book of Mormon people, 1 Nephi 1:2 states that the Hebrews who left Jerusalem and came to the Americas spoke Egyptian. In fact, Hebrews spoke Hebrew and their records were kept in Hebrew. The Egyptians were their enemies, so it is unlikely that Hebrews would have written their sacred history in Egyptian. Would anyone believe that American history would be discovered written in Russian?
The people of The Book of Mormon were supposedly devout Jews observing the Law of Moses, but in The Book of Mormon there is almost no trace of their observance of Mosaic Law or even an accurate knowledge of it. How can that be when that was their way of life, their culture, their government and their religion?
There are several scientific papers comparing the mitochondrial DNA of numerous tribes of the American Indians with the mitochondrial DNA of other populations around the world. Simon Southerton Ph.D., a former Bishop of the Mormon Church wrote the following:
"Until recently I had only taken a passing interest in New World prehistory. Perhaps this was because I am an Australian. I suspect that few Americans have an interest in Australian prehistory. Perhaps it was because I was so busy in the Church that I just didn't have the time. For whatever reason I had happily assumed that BYU scholars were uncovering evidence supporting the Book of Mormon. I began to closely examine the text of the Book of Mormon. The Introduction to the book states that the principle ancestors of the American Indians are the Lamanites. The original founders of both major Book of Mormon civilizations fled to a Promised Land kept from the knowledge of other nations. Historical accounts of these civilizations only mention the presence of people in the New World whose Hebrew origin is accounted for in the text. People who migrated away from these civilizations appeared to be entering further unoccupied territories. There is not a single mention of non-Israelite people in the entire history. According to the Book of Mormon there was clear reason to consider it Mormon doctrine that the American Indians are predominantly the offspring of Hebrew ancestors. The Lamanites with their dark skin curse and loincloths appeared as stereotypical American Indians. This strong scriptural foundation is apparently the reason that most Latter-day prophets and senior leaders consider this to be the case today.
Arguably the most frequently repeated message in the Book of Mormon is that the seed of the Lamanites would receive the Gospel in the Latter days from the gentiles. This is further supported in the Doctrine and Covenants where God himself refers to any Indians at the frontiers as Lamanites. How could God allow the book to give the overwhelming impression that the descendants of Lehi were numerous, when they are now virtually undetectable?
In early August 1998, the life I had known as a Mormon came to an abrupt end. It doesn't matter that I have given my heart to Mormonism for three decades. This will count for naught to Mormons. I am married to Jane and we are the parents of five children aged between 6 and 15 years. We left the Church together towards the end of 1998. At the time I was a bishop in Brisbane, Australia. To my surprise I have found that most exmormons I have communicated with since then were once committed believers like me and not the moral bankrupts depicted by the Church.
I believed the Book of Mormon was true and that Hebrew civilization had occurred on the American continent. I firmly believed that there was a connection between the Old and the New World; however, I had never taken the time to seriously examine this. I was confident that somewhere in the scientific literature there must be some reliable research that supported this. There is an abundance of Mormon literature that claims strong links between the two worlds. With this in mind I decided to look for myself for research that supported Old World migrations to the Americas. I began searching for research papers having some connection with American Indians or Polynesians. Because I was familiar with plant genetics I became interested in recent research on the DNA of American Indians. The principles of DNA analysis are applicable to all living things so it was relatively easy to jump from the plant to the animal kingdom.
I rapidly accumulated many scientific papers comparing the mitochondrial DNA of American Indians from numerous tribes with the mitochondrial DNA of other populations around the world. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to child each generation. It is essentially a female genealogical lineage, or a maiden name if you like, stored in the mitochondrial DNA sequence. This part of the total DNA genome is used for population studies in many animal species. It is very simple to study because the mitochondrial genes don't get rearranged each generation like most genes, which are inherited as a mixed bag from previous generations. I was equally interested in more recent Y-chromosome DNA studies. Male lineages, much like DNA surnames, are passed from father to son and clearly reveal male genealogical lineages.
In the last decade scientists from several research groups have tested the mitochondrial DNA of over 2000 American Indians from about a hundred tribes scattered over the length of the Americas. It soon became apparent that about 99% of their female lineages were brought into the Americas in excess of 12,000 years ago. Almost all of these lineages are most closely related to those of people in Asia, particularly in southern Siberia near Mongolia. Several tribes in Mesoamerica (which included Aztecs and Mayans) had been tested and all but a couple of individuals out of about 500 had mitochondrial DNA of Asian origin. The small fraction of Native American lineages that were not from Asia appeared to originate in Europe, most likely Spain. DNA studies also showed that the female ancestors of the Polynesians came from South East Asia and not the Americas. Y-chromosome studies, which trace male migrations, strongly support the mitochondrial work, except that the European influence is higher (about 10% in the Americas).
For several weeks I wrestled with this research. I collected more and more research papers but failed to find anything that supported migration of Jewish or Middle Eastern people before Columbus. Enough is known about the DNA lineages of Semetic people to be very confident that they are clearly distinguishable from Asian lineages. They would also be easily identifiable if they were present in the Americas in significant numbers. I struggled with the complete discrepancy between the research and my understanding of The Book of Mormon and the doctrine regarding the Lamanites. The Book of Mormon describes the occurrence of Hebrew civilizations in the Americas numbering in the millions. It is clear that the victorious Lamanites would have numbered in the millions in about 400 AD. I could not understand how such large numbers of people could have completely escaped detection."
Many of the basic historical notions found in The Book of Mormon had already appeared in print in 1825, just two years before Joseph began producing The Book of Mormon in a book called View of the Hebrews by Ethan Smith (no relation to Joseph). This book was published just a few miles from where Joseph Smith lived. A careful study of this obscure book led one LDS Church official (Historian B. H. Roberts, 1857-1933) to confess that the evidence tended to show that The Book of Mormon was not an ancient record, but rather a story concocted by Joseph Smith himself, based on ideas he had read in the earlier book.
Why would a noted Church authority discredit The Book of Mormon unless he knew something that the lay members of the Church didn't?
Significant Problems with The Book of Mormon...
Although Joseph Smith said God had pronounced the completed translation of the plates as published in 1830 correct, many changes were made in later editions. There are at least 3,913 changes, and not all of them minor or merely grammatical. The LDS Church suggests that the changes are unimportant, but actual examination does not bear this out, especially when one considers that the Golden Plates were supposedly translated letter-by-letter by the power of God (H. of C. 1, pp. 54-55). Spelling or grammatical errors are one thing, but changes in doctrine and errors in consistency and common sense are quite another (Underlines added):
1) Title page: 1830: "by Joseph Smith, Jr., author and proprietor."
Today: "translated by Joseph Smith, Jr."
2) First Book of Nephi, p. 25, 1830: "Behold, the virgin which thou
seest, is the
mother of God, after the manner of the flesh."
Today: 1 Nephi 11: 18: "is the mother of the Son of God."
3) First Book of Nephi, p. 25, 1830: "behold the Lamb of God, yea, even
Today: 1 Nephi 11:21: "yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father!"
4) Second Book of Nephi, p. 117, 1830: "and many generations shall not
away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people."
Today: 2 Nephi 30:6: "and many generations shall not pass away among
them, save they shall be a pure and delightsome people."
5) Book of Alma, p. 303, 1830: "yea, I know that he allotteth unto men,
decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable according to their wills."
1950: Alma 29:4: "yea, I know that he allotteth unto men according to their
Today: Alma 29:4: "yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth
unto them decrees which are unalterable according to their wills."
6) Book of Alma p. 315, 1830: "But behold, as the seed swelleth and
and beginneth to grow, and then ye must needs say, That seed is good; for
behold, it swelleth and sprouteth and beginneth to grow."
Today: Alma 32:30: "But behold, as the seed swelleth and sprouteth and
beginneth to grow, and then ye must needs say, That seed is good; for
behold, it swelleth and sprouteth and beginneth to grow. And now behold,
will not this strengthen your faith? Yea, it will strengthen your faith: for ye
will say that I know that this is a good seed; for behold, it sprouteth and
beginneth to grow."
1) Book of Mosiah, p. 200, 1830: "on learning from the mouth of Ammon that
king Benjamin had a gift from God."
Today: Mosiah 21:28: "on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king
Mosiah had a gift from God."
2) Book of Mosiah, p. 214, 1830: "My soul was wrecked with eternal
Today: Mosiah 27:29: "My soul was racked with eternal torment."
3) Book of Alma, p. 278, 1830: "the multitude beheld that the man had
dead." (Also p. 310)
Today: Alma 19:24: "the multitude beheld that the man had fallen dead."
4) Book of Alma, p. 388; 1830: "For behold, Ammon had sent to their
Today: Alma 57:17: "For behold, Ammoron had sent to their support."
Now, was it the Lord or Joseph Smith who could not spell, keep doctrine and characters straight. And who was it that even had serious problems with grammar and logic? There are even more strange things such as the following:
1) Jacob 7:27: "and to the reader I bid farewell, hoping that many of my brethren may read my words. Brethren, adieu." (What is a French word doing in a document supposedly written by a Hebrew in Egyptian living in America around 421 B.C.?)
2) Helaman 9:6: "when the judge had been murdered, he being stabbed by his brother by a garb of secrecy" (How can one be stabbed by a garb (garment)?)
3) Alma 13: 1: "my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children." (How can you 'cite' someone's mind 'forward' to something that happened in the past?)
4) Alma 24:19: "they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war for peace." (What is a 'weapon of peace', and can it be the same as a weapon of war?)
5) Alma 43:38: "they being shielded from the more vital parts of the body." (How does one shield oneself from the vital parts of one's own body?)
6) Ether 15:31: "And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he struggled for breath, he died." (Impossible)
The King James Version of the Bible is an English language edition of the Bible that was translated in the early seventeenth century by scholars and translators. It is based upon earlier writings in Hebrew, Greek and perhaps other languages such as Latin by contemporaries of William Shakespeare who used poetic license in their translation.
Joseph Smith and his accomplices supposedly translated The Book of Mormon
from similarly ancient texts over two hundred years later in the 1820's. Joseph
alleges he translated it from gold plates he received from an angel. It appears
Joseph tired of the effort to make a book of sufficient bulk and realizing that
a biblical sounding book was more likely to gain acceptance as the word of God
he copied parts of the KJV of the Bible. It is no secret even within some LDS
circles that several sections of The Book of Mormon are near exact replicas of
portions of the KJV, as composed by Englishmen paraphrasing from ancient texts.
Some examples of this plagarism:
1) 1 Nephi 20-21 and Isaiah 48-49
2) 2 Nephi 12-24 and Isaiah 02-14
3) 3 Nephi 24-25 and Malachi 3-4
Joseph disguised this use of the Bible as source material by claiming that the plagiarized passages were referenced in brass plates that were brought to the Americas by the ancestors of the writers of the golden plates.
The KJV translators chose English words that were not derived from the source material in order to make the text more readable. When they did this, they used italics to denote the inserted words. It is possible that Joseph knew this, for many of the KJV words that were in italics have been altered for The Book of Mormon. However, many have not been altered. There are many verses, which are copied verbatim, including the words in italics, which were not part of the Hebrew and Greek source material.
From The Old Testament: (Isaiah 6:13) "But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof."
From The Book of Mormon: (2 Nephi 16: 13) "But yet there shall be a tenth, and they shall return, and shall be eaten, as a teil-tree, and as an oak whose substance is in them when they cast their leaves; so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof."
The words in italics in Isaiah were not in the ancient text and logically could not have been on the brass plates or the golden plates, yet they appeared in the Joseph Smith English translation of the golden plates. It would be an incredible stretch to say God made sure Joseph's literal translation of the golden plates included the exact wording as chosen by the scholars in the King James Version. The deception used by Joseph Smith becomes obvious.
Joseph Smith said The Book of Mormon was the most correct book on earth, and for most of the LDS Church's 150-year history, it was staunchly maintained by the Church leaders that there were no doctrinal changes in The Book of Mormon. Indeed, Joseph Fielding Smith warned in 1961 that "there was not one thing in the Book of Mormon or in the second edition or in any other edition since that in any way contradicts the first edition, and such changes as were made were made by the prophet Joseph Smith because under those adverse conditions the Book of Mormon was published. But there was no change of doctrine. Now, these sons of Belial who circulate these reports evidently know better. I will not use the word that is in my mind" (The Improvement Era, Dec. 1961, pp. 924-925).
How could Joseph Fielding Smith make such a fraudulent statement? Did he assume correctly that almost all of the Church membership would take him at his word and not research it themselves?
There are many reasons why I no longer believe The Book of Mormon to be an ancient record. I now believe that it was the creation of a very imaginative, intelligent and charismatic character who used a number of books, including the Bible, to create it. Perhaps in the beginning Joseph never intended his stories of The Golden Plates to be taken so seriously, but once the masquerade had begun, there was no point at which he could reasonably stop. Since his own family believed him (with the possible exception of his cynical younger brother William), why not the masses? The evidence shows that great faith and little or no knowledge is the reason that Larry and myself, and many, many others believe (or believed) The Book of Mormon to be the Word of God. A desire that it be true helped us visualize it into truth in our own minds.
Joseph Smith called himself a 'prophet,' and he frequently prophesied future events 'by the power of God'. Some of these prophecies are recorded in The Doctrine and Covenants, but many more are not known by the general membership of the Church. There is good reason why I never knew about most of Joseph's prophecies: he had a terrible track record. Almost every prophecy he made failed to come to pass.
Example 1) As far back as 1837 Joseph Smith said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as this earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do; that they lived generally to near the age of 1000 years. He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. (Oliver B. Huntington, Young Women's Journal, vol. 3, p. 263)
Example 2) It was Feb. 14, 1835 when Joseph Smith prophesied that The Second Coming of The Lord would be in 56 years (about 1891) (H of C, 2:182). This prophecy also appears in his diary for April 6, 1843 and H of C, 5:336. See also D&C 130:14-17. Joseph Smith prophesied, "there are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes." He prophesied "in the name of the Lord God let it be written: that the Son of Man will not come in the heavens till I am 85 year old, 48 years hence or about 1890."
The Church has deleted the last phrase, beginning with 48 years from official Church history, but it is still contained in Joseph's original diary.
Example 3) During the first few months of becoming an active member in the Mormon Church I remember being taught about the revelation known as the Word of Wisdom. It was given to Joseph Smith on Feb. 27, 1833, and appears as section 89 of The Doctrine and Covenants. I was sure that Joseph had been given great insight concerning natural laws that would govern good health. However, I soon discovered that the temperance movement led to Joseph Smith's Word of Wisdom revelation.
In 1826 Marcus Morton had founded the American Temperance Society. In June 1830, the Millennial Star quoted an article from the Philadelphia Journal of Health. The article strongly condemned the use of alcohol, tobacco, and the eating intemperately of meats. Six thousand separate Temperance Societies were organized in great numbers during the early thirties. On October 6, 1830, the Kirtland Temperance Society was organized with two hundred thirty nine members.
This organization succeeded in eliminating a distillery in Kirtland on February 1, 1833, just twenty-seven days before the Latter-day Saint 'revelation' counseling abstinence was announced. A distillery at Mentor, a town near Kirtland, was also closed at the same time (Brigham Young University Studies, Winter 1959, pp. 39-40).
Leonard J. Arrington, Church historian, provides this enlightening information: "In recent years a number of scholars have contended that the revelation [The Word of Wisdom] is an outgrowth of the temperance movement of the early nineteenth century."
Although most members of the Church feel that Joseph Smith would certainly have observed the Word of Wisdom, research reveals just the opposite. Joseph Smith, the man who introduced the temple ceremony into the Mormon Church, could not pass the 'worthiness interview' or go through the temple today. He frequently used alcoholic beverages, provided coffee as a beverage of choice to guests in his home, and smoked cigars after the Word of Wisdom was instituted (See Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, p. 6).
Example 4) The Civil War prophecy was given by Joseph Smith on December 25, 1832. It prophesied of the rebellion of South Carolina and the War between the States. "The South will call on Great Britain for aid, and as a result war will be poured out upon all nations; slaves will revolt; the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; famine, plague, earthquake, thunder, lightning, and a full end of all nations will result" (D&C: 87). This prophecy is the one most often cited by Mormons as proof that Joseph Smith was a living prophet. However, most Mormons are unaware of the political situation in America at the time it was made. In November of 1832 South Carolina had declared its power to nullify any federal act, and President Jackson was prepared to go to war to enforce federal authority. The nation expected war. Thus the prophecy did no more than reflect commonly held opinion. Even when the South did finally revolt in 1861, although Great Britain came to its assistance, other elements of the prophecy were not fulfilled: slaves did not rise up, war was not poured out upon all nations, there was no world-wide famine, plague, earthquake, etc., and there was no resulting end of all nations. Maybe if I had paid more attention to American History in school, I would have understood that The Civil War was inevitable long before Joseph gave this prophecy.
Example 5) The New and Everlasting Covenant as recorded in The Doctrine and Covenants (D&C Sec. 132) is two-fold. It includes the doctrine of 'eternal marriage' and the principle of 'polygamy.' It states that Mormon men are justified in having as many wives and concubines as did Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as well as Moses, David and Solomon. It states in verses 61-62, that a man is justified in having many virgins, for they are given to him and belong to him; while in verse 63, if a woman is with another man she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed. In verses 54 & 64 the Lord threatens to destroy Emma and all Mormon women if they do not administer to their husbands and abide the law of polygamy. Is there a double standard for men and women in the Mormon Church? Are women only viewed as property? Are they merely a place for the male seed?
Although the revelation on polygamy was recorded in 1843, it is evident from Church historical records that Joseph Smith had been practicing it since 1831. Joseph and many of the Church leaders had been outwardly deceiving the Saints and prospective converts, denying that they were involved with polygamy before the revelation was given. Church records show that Joseph Smith was married to at least twelve women prior to July 12, 1843. President Lorenzo Snow, who was not aware of this information at the time, stated in The Circuit Court of The United States, "Anyone who lived in plural marriage prior to the time the revelation was given was living in Adultery." (The Temple Lot Case, by Sandra & Gerald Tanner.)
If one looks at the 1890 D&C, it says that the polygamy revelation was given July 12, 1843. History of the Church, vol. 5 pp. 500-501 also says that it was given that day, but today the D&C section 132 says that this revelation was recorded July 12, 1843, implying that it could have been given at an earlier date. This kind of tampering with the official records of the Church can be noticed quite often by comparing the earlier printings with the more recent ones. Rarely is an alteration ever mentioned or footnoted.
The New and Everlasting Covenant of eternal marriage (the sacred/secret temple ritual called the endowment) was introduced by Joseph in May of 1842, just two months after he had been initiated into Freemasonry. The LDS temple ritual closely resembled the Masonic ritual of that day. Joseph explained that the Masons had corrupted the ancient (God-given) ritual by changing it and removing parts of it, and that he was restoring it to its 'pure and original' form as revealed to him by God.
Although the Prophet Joseph Smith declared, "Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of man, are not to be altered or changed," (Ensign, August 2001, p. 22) the temple ceremony has gone through major revisions over the last 160 years, and has been shortened with each modification. Originally each temple session lasted over 6 hours. Today's sessions are down to less than 2 hours.
In it's infancy (1842) the temple endowment required the initiate to covenant and promise that they would not reveal any of the secrets concerning the endowment. Should the initiate break the promise they agreed to have their throats cut, their tongues torn out, their breasts cut open and their hearts and vitals torn from their body and fed to the birds and beasts.
Ebenezer Robinson, who had been the editor of the Times and Seasons (an early Mormon Church newspaper) made this statement concerning the endowment ritual. "Here [in the temple] was instituted, undoubtedly the order of things which represented the scenes in the Garden of Eden, which was called in Nauvoo, the Holy Order, a secret organization. The terrible oaths and covenants taken by those who entered there were known only to those who took them, as one of the members said to me, I could tell you many things, but if I should, my life would pay the forfeiture."
Following the so-called martyrdom of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, President Brigham Young introduced an oath into the endowment that required members to swear vengeance upon this nation for their sakes. It was called The Law of Vengeance. Temple patrons were instructed to stand and raise their right arm to the square and told; "You, and each of you, do solemnly promise and vow that you will pray, and never cease to pray, and never cease to importune high heaven to avenge the blood of the prophets [Joseph and Hyrum Smith] on this nation, and that you will teach this to your children and your children's children unto the third and fourth generation.... All bow your heads and say yes."
I believe this oath was one of the main reasons 120 men, women, and children were killed by Mormons and their allies in what is known as the Mountain Meadow Massacre. (See Chapter XX)
Joseph declared God instituted the order and ordinances of the kingdom in the
councils of Heaven before the foundation of the world for the salvation of man.
Not to be altered! Not to be changed! The Church has seen fit to do just the
opposite. For instance, in 1927 'The Oath of Vengeance' was abandoned. Through
the years the blood oaths were either eliminated or softened and replaced with
simple promises of allegiance. In 1990 the Church also quietly dropped from its
temple rituals 1) a vow in which women pledged obedience to their husbands; 2) a
segment that shows a Christian minister working hand-in-hand with Lucifer to
deceive mankind for profit by teaching orthodox Christian doctrine; 3) the
chanting in unison of Pay Lay Ale (repeated three times) meaning "Oh God,
hear the words of my mouth" in the Adamic language; and 4) The Five Points
of Fellowship in which the initiates embrace the Lord (a male temple worker)
through openings in the Veil of the temple. What happened to the declaration
that the ordinances of the temple were not to be altered or changed?
PERSECUTION AND DEATH
Mormon stories of persecution are based on the Mormon version of events that were secularized wherever they went. They were a tight-knit people who worked closely together to buy large tracts of land and convert (or condemn) the populace. They politically banded together for their own benefit and welfare and ostracized anyone who got in their way. They were formidable and enviable to many. And to some, they were terrifying and loathsome. Diaries of the same events recorded by good people on both sides are extremely contradictory.
Mormons embellish the persecution of the early Latter-day Saints. The movie "Legacy" is an excellent example of Mormons capitalizing on their problems. I even fell into the Persecution Syndrome. As odd as it sounds, it made me feel special. It's rather like a badge of honor: Belonging to the only true church separates Mormons from all apostate churches. I was proud to be different from other people, and I didn't mind being called peculiar. After all, our leaders said that our being different was something to be proud of.
John E. Hallwas and Roger D. Launius have compiled and written the most balanced and thorough account yet of the events and circumstances that led to the forced Mormon exodus from Nauvoo following the mini civil war that erupted in Illinois during the 1840's. Some of the following information is taken from their book Cultures in Conflict.
When Joseph Smith and his followers declared that they were God's chosen people, he placed himself and the Saints on a collision course with the rest of America. History suggests that the conflict was essentially an ideological struggle between two cultures; that is, groups with differing social visions. Mormonism was a Theocracy that asserted itself within a deeply devoted Democracy. When Joseph extended his religious ideology into the temporal affairs of the non-Mormons, conflict was inevitable. When he condemned his critics as enemies of the people and suppressed their civil rights through violence, the non-Mormons, politically frustrated and fearful of despotism, resorted to mob tactics.
In D&C 52:42 Joseph recorded the Lord saying, "Assemble yourselves together to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies." Can you imagine the old settlers who had claimed this land, cleared it with the sweat of their brow, being told the land was not theirs, but the Mormons'? It was not the mere religion of the Mormons that exasperated the Missourians; it was their arrogance, their united purpose to protect each other and infringe on the rights of other citizens. It was their thefts and their concealments of each other's crimes. There was also the famous Sidney Rigdon speech of July 4, 1838, called the Salt Sermon, where Rigdon threatened the Missourians with extermination. (Comprehensive History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 441.) With this declaration, violence escalated. The Missourians destroyed the Church-owned printing press. Fighting broke out. Mormons killed settlers at Crooked River. Settlers killed Mormons at Haun's Mill. Two big mistakes the Mormons made were killing two state militiamen, and forming a force called 'Zion's Camp' to go against state troops. Although the Mormon force never fired a shot, their organization constituted treason against the United States of America.
It was during this time that Gov. Lilburn Boggs had had enough, and using Rigdon's own words, made up his own extermination order saying: "either the Mormons must be exterminated, or driven from the state for the public good." Under the circumstances, these were threats and injuries without legal remedies; and although this does not justify a mob, there are few communities in this country, that would not have been exasperated to violence. I saw this same sort of thing happen in Manti when the Mormons were exasperated with the Jim Harmston Group who was declaring the town of Manti a Mecca for their believers.
With regard to non-Mormons, the inescapable conclusion is that they had justifiable ideological and constitutional grounds on which to criticize Joseph Smith and oppose the spread of the Mormon theocracy, but by using violence, they breached the very democratic ideals to which they were committed.
Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were arrested for having ordered the destruction of a Nauvoo newspaper, The Nauvoo Expositor, which dared to print and expose Joseph's secret sexual liaisons. When a mob gathered outside the jail Joseph sent for his militia to attack the mob and orchestrate a rescue. The militia ignored his orders. According to future prophet/president, John Taylor, when the mob attacked the jail, Joseph Smith shot four of them using a gun that had been smuggled into the jail. Two of the men died. Hyrum was killed immediately, and Joseph was shot while jumping from the upper window, after shouting the Masonic cry of distress, "Oh Lord, my God, is there no hope for the widow's son?" At the time of Joseph's death he was a Mason, he was practicing polygamy, he had announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States, set up a secret government, and secretly had himself crowned King of the Kingdom of God.
The year 1845 was one of turbulence in Nauvoo. Among all the aspirants for the prophet's mantle, Brigham Young was successful, and immediately started preparing to lead his followers to Oregon or California. The rapid exodus was two-fold. First: The people of Illinois were fed up with the Mormons and their strange practices, and demanded that the Mormons leave Illinois in the spring of 1846. Second: According to the United States Government records, Brigham Young, Willard Richards, John Taylor, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Hyde, and seven other Mormon leaders had been indicted for counterfeiting on December 18, 1845. Brigham and the others remained in Nauvoo, hiding from the Marshall. In February of 1846 most of the Saints fled from Nauvoo and headed west. It seems obvious that the indictments for counterfeiting caused the early departure and extreme hardship on the Mormon people rather than the stories I was told about the people of Illinois running them out of their state in the middle of winter. Mormon writer Kenneth W. Godfrey made this statement: "Warrants pending for the arrest of Brigham Young and other leaders on charges of counterfeiting were among the reasons for the early departure of the Saints from the 'city of Joseph' [Nauvoo] in February rather than in the spring as originally proposed." (BYU Studies, Winter 1968, p. 215)
One month before Brigham and the other leaders were indicted, Joseph's widow, Emma, wrote a letter to the New York Sun. The following is taken from Thomas Gregg's book, (1890), The Prophet of Palmyra. It is a history of Mormonism revisited and examines the life, character, and career of Joseph Smith.)
"Many books have been written on the subject of Mormonism; some of them
honest, trustworthy, and valuable; others sensational and unreliable; and still
more utterly unworthy. Yet, notwithstanding all this, the great Christian public
in America and abroad remains today strangely indifferent to, and ignorant of,
the origin, character and purposes of the miserable fraud.
The undersigned offers no apology for the matter of the following pages.
Content with his purpose to add to the mass of credible history, and to aid in
expanding a most silly and dangerous delusion, he leaves it with an intelligent
and discerning public, hoping neither to escape censure nor disarm criticism.
We have frequently expressed the opinion that Mrs. Emma Hale Smith never had any confidence in the validity of her husband's claim as "Prophet, Seer, and Revelator." At the time of her death in Nauvoo, a few years ago, her son Joseph and his friends, of the "Reconstructed Branch" of the church, had much to say of her adherence to the faith, and of her having died in full belief of the truth of Mormonism.
It is true that in all the later years of her life, and since that son had
arrived at manhood and had been placed in the new Presidential office, she had
lived in friendly relations with him and his followers. How far this condition
of affairs may have changed her opinions is not known; but certain it is, that
in her widowhood, and while the son was still a boy, and with no aspirations for
a prophet's career, her feelings were otherwise. She was a very quiet and
unobtrusive woman, yet on many occasions when questioned on the subject, she is
reported to have expressed her unbelief in the sacred character of her husband's
Hamilton, Illinois, 1889
Nauvoo. (ILL), Nov. 20th, 1845.
To the Editor of the New York Sun:
Sir:--I hope to be excused for addressing, for the first time in my life, a letter to the Editor of a newspaper, and this I have been induced to do from seeing the letter of General Arlington Bennett, published in the newspapers, urging the Mormon people to remove to the Pacific Ocean, and advocating the cause of the Tyrants, [Brigham Young] who have seized on the government of the Mormon Church. This church, such as it is, was formed by my lamented husband who was martyred for it's sake, and whether true or false, has laid down his life for it's belief!
I am left here, sir, with a family of children to attend to, without any means of giving them an education for there is not a school in the city, nor is it intended there shall be any here, or at any other place, where the men, who now govern this infatuated, simple-minded people, have sway. I have not the least objection that these petty tyrants remove to California or any other remote place, out of the world if they wish; for they will never be of any service to the Mormons, or the human family, no matter where they go. Their object is to keep the people over whom they rule in the greatest ignorance, and most abject religious bondage, if these poor confiding creatures remove with them, they will die in the wilderness!
The laws of the United States are quite good enough for me and my children,
and my settled intention is to remain where I am, take care of my property, and
if I cannot educate my children here, send them to New York or England for that
Many of the Mormons will, no doubt, remove in the spring, and many more will remain here: and nothing would give me greater pleasure than to have a mixed society in Nauvoo, as in other cities, and all exclusive religious distinctions abolished.
I must now say that I never for a moment believed in what my husband called his apparitions or revelations, as I thought him laboring under a diseased mind; yet, they may all be true, as a Prophet is seldom without credence or honor, excepting in his own family or country: but as my conviction is to the contrary, I shall educate my children in a different faith, and teach them to obey and reverence the laws and institutions of their country. Shall I not, sir, be protected in these resolutions against the annoyance of the men I now oppose, for they will no doubt seek my life?
What object Gen. Arlington Bennett has advocating the cause of these tyrants I am unable to understand, for he assured me when at my house, that he had not the remotest intention of connecting himself in any manner with them, much less of removing with them to the Pacific Ocean. But this is a strange world; and I would not be surprised if they offered to anoint and crown him King or Emperor in the West! As I have something more to say, I will take the liberty to write you another letter.
With great respect,
I am, sir your humble servant,
Although Mormons claim that God is guiding the Mormon Church through revelation to its president (who along with his counselors and Twelve Apostles have the title Prophet, Seer and Revelator), the Prophets have repeatedly changed doctrine preached by previous prophets, led the Church into undertakings that were dismal failures, warned of events that failed to take place, and failed to warn of impending disaster. To mention only a few: the Kirtland Bank failed, the United Order failed, the gathering of Zion to Missouri failed, the Zion's Camp expedition failed, Polygamy failed, the Deseret Alphabet failed; and The Martin-Willy Handcart migration failed, causing human suffering beyond belief, and the death of several hundred Saints.
A recent example of lack of inspiration is the successful hoax perpetrated on the Church by manuscript dealer Mark Hoffmann in the 1980s. He succeeded in selling the Church fake 'historical manuscripts' for thousands of dollars that he had forged. The Church accepted them as genuine. The Church leaders learned the truth not from God through revelation, but from non-Mormon experts and the police after Hoffmann was arrested for two murders he committed to cover up his hoax. This scandal was reported nationwide.
Why was the forgery scheme not only not detected by the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of the Church, but also approved by him? (The Poet & The Murderer, by Simon Worrall)
Many doctrines that were once taught by the Prophets of the Mormon Church and held to be fundamental, essential and eternal truths, have been abandoned. Members are taught that the prophet[s] will never mislead them. In fact, the idea is fundamentally impossible. And yet it happens. Whether I feel like the Church was/is correct in abandoning or changing doctrine is not the point; rather, the point is that a Church claiming to be the only church directed by the Lord takes one everlasting position at one time and an opposing position at another, all the time claiming that it is the word of the Lord. Some examples are:
1) The Adam-God Doctrine, which states that Adam is God the Father, and which was taught by Brigham Young in 1852 (J of D, vol. 1:50-51). Brigham Young never denied this doctrine, but later prophets declared the doctrine was false.
2) The United Order. All property of Church members is to be held in common, with title in the Church's name. (1831-1876)
3) Plural Marriage. A man must have more than one wife to attain the highest degree of heaven (1843). Plural Marriage was abandoned with the publication of The Manifesto in 1890.
4) The Curse of Cain. The black race is not entitled to hold God's priesthood because they are cursed; Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and more-recent General Authorities taught this doctrine. The doctrine was abandoned in 1978.
5) Blood Atonement. Some sins, such as apostasy, adultery, murder and
interracial marriage must be atoned for by the shedding of the sinner's blood,
preferably by someone appointed to do so by Church authorities (1856-?).
All of these doctrines were proclaimed by the reigning prophet to be the Word of The Lord, eternal and everlasting, to govern the Church forevermore. And yet, later prophets of the Church have abandoned them all.
Joseph Smith claimed to be a 'translator' of sacred texts by the power of God. In addition to translating The Gold Plates into The Book of Mormon he supposedly made several other translations, one of which was The Book of Abraham.
The Book of Abraham...
Gerald Paul records the following in his book, What the Mormon Missionaries Don't Tell You. "In 1835, a traveling showman named Michael Chandler pulled his wagon into the frontier Mormon town of Kirtland, Ohio. In his wagon were an exhibit of four Egyptian mummies and a few tattered pieces of papyrus with Egyptian writings on them. His business was displaying these artifacts to the curious, for a small admission. When Mormons questioned him as to what was written on the papyri, Chandler explained that ancient Egyptian was a lost language and no one could read it. The Mormon people became excited and told them they had a man who could translate Egyptian, their Prophet. Joseph could hardly deny this to his followers, since he had claimed to translate The Book of Mormon from Reformed Egyptian. And so the challenge was issued.
Joseph examined the papyri and declared that they were the writings of Abraham and Joseph of ancient Egypt. Joseph persuaded the Church membership to purchase the entire exhibit from Chandler for the sum of $2,400. Joseph then claimed to translate some of the writings into English by the power of God and the Church accepted this translation as true and correct. They added it to their scriptures calling it The Book of Abraham, with its three drawn facsimiles found on the papyri."
Around 1846 the papyri were lost from the Church, but showed up again in the late 1960s after being discovered in the archives of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Since the 1830s the scholarly field of Egyptology has developed, due in part to discoveries like the Rosetta Stone and the worldwide dissemination of scholarly research information. This has made translating ancient Egyptian writings possible to many scholars and verification of Joseph Smith's translation easy, where this was impossible in the American frontier during the 1840's.
I will never forget November of 1967 when the Egyptian Papyri that Joseph Smith used to translate The Book of Abraham was given to the LDS Church by the Metropolitan Museum. It had been lost for many years. Most members thought it had been destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. Finally there was something concrete that an angel hadn't taken away that could prove to those who doubted that Joseph Smith was really a prophet of God and that he had a God-given gift or ability to translate. I couldn't understand why everyone wasn't running to join the LDS Church. Here was the proof. What more did they want? Little did I know then that problems started to surface immediately after the First Presidency asked BYU Professor Hugh Nibley to translate the papyri or find someone who could.
Since the papyri's rediscovery many of the world's top Egyptologists have translated the papyri and facsimiles and have declared that Joseph Smith's translation is absolutely incorrect and that the papyri and facsimiles are common Egyptian funeral text of circa 500 B.C. They have nothing to do with Abraham. No group or body of scholars even pretends that Joseph Smith's divine transcriptions are remotely accurate. The RLDS Church has formally discounted the papyri translation.
The writings were nothing more than a pagan burial record called the Book of Breathings, a short portion of the Book of the Dead. It is chiefly a book of magical charms, pagan beliefs, and instructions on the after-life as believed in Egypt. A very superstitious people wrote it. Professor Hugh Nibley of BYU conceded that the papyri were the Book of Breathings that Joseph Smith had said was the writings of Abraham.
Thomas Ferguson, a Mormon BYU graduate and self-taught archeologist became a disenchanted Mormon and closet doubter when he discovered the papyri were nothing more than a pagan funeral text. Ferguson had spent his entire adult life trying to find concrete evidence to prove that The Book of Mormon was factual. But after the lost papyri were discredited he finally accepted the fact that neither archeologists nor scientists nor scholars have ever found any concrete Book of Mormon evidences. He also accepted the fact that Joseph Smith perpetrated a terrible lie by pretending to translate sacred writings. Ferguson stopped looking for proof and called Joseph Smith a fake, and then said; "Joseph Smith, how I hate that phony bastard" (Quest for the Gold Plates, by Stan Larsen. See also by his own hand upon papyrus, by Charles M. Larson.)
As active practicing Latter-day Saints, we were never made aware of any of the facts concerning the papyri. The general membership had no knowledge that the translation had been discredited. Had we known, I'm in hopes that we would have acted on that information. Joseph's claims were pure fantasy: he made it all up.
Since Joseph's translation of the papyri was discredited, why is the Book of Abraham still in The Pearl of Great Price and still accepted as divine revelation?
The Bible wasn't nearly as important to me as the other standard works of the Church. If there were contradictory statements in the Bible when compared to the other Standard Works of the Church, we were told the Bible was in error. The eighth Article of Faith reinforced what we had been told, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God." (Underline added)
Joseph said he was commanded by God to retranslate the Bible because the existing translations contained errors. Joseph's version was referred to as The Inspired Version of the King James Bible. Joseph Smith along with Sidney Rigdon completed this translation in 1833. I never read the Inspired Version nor had any knowledge of its existence until I read about it in the complete History of the Church. Selected verses of the Joseph Smith Translation are in the concordance and footnotes of the Standard Works. The Reorganized Church owns the copyright, but neither church relies on this so-called 'inspired version.' I wonder why?
The Kinderhook Plates...
The Kinderhook Plates were a group of eight metal plates with strange engraved characters that were unearthed in 1843 near Kinderhook, Illinois, and examined by Joseph, who began a translation of them. He never completed the translation, but he identified the plates as an ancient record, and translated enough to identify the author as a descendant of a Pharaoh. Local farmers later confessed that they had manufactured, engraved, and buried the plates themselves as a hoax. They had copied the characters from a Chinese tea box, and fooled Joseph Smith.
1) From the beginning, Joseph Smith's life was intertwined with gross ignorance and superstition.
2) His family was extremely devoted to mysticism, visions, and dreams.
3) Joseph and his father were deeply involved in magic-occult practices, including the use of a seer stone.
4) Joseph was found guilty in court and by his own admission of being an impostor and disorderly person.
5) Neighbors wrote affidavits stating Joseph was endowed with a fertile imagination, was lazy, and a romancer of the first water.
6) Joseph said he had his family fooled with his Canadian Golden Bible, and would carry out the fun.
7) Joseph undercuts his own First Vision story by writing different and contradictory accounts of it. And against God's condemnation of all religions, joins the Methodist Church in 1828. Since the witnesses said they saw The Gold Plates with their spiritual eyes it is my understanding that no one (but Joseph Smith?) ever physically saw them.
8) Accounts of those involved said, "The Gold Plates were translated by Joseph while looking into a hat with the same seer stone he had used for his treasure seeking."
9) There is no proof that a civilization such as described in The Book of Mormon ever existed. Mormons who have said otherwise are not substantiated by any scientifically recognized organizations.
10) None of Joseph's prophecies that weren't common knowledge at the time ever came true.
11) Mormon persecution, for the most part, took place because the Saints placed themselves on a collision course with the rest of America.
12) The Book of Abraham is not a translation but a myth born of Joseph's own imagination. The papyri are nothing more than a pagan funeral text.
13) The "Inspired Version" of the Bible is embarrassing to the Church, and the "Kinderhook Plates" were a fraud.
The true history of the Mormon Church contains a huge amount of evidence that discredit its founder and its defenders. When you add up all the major problems in The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, The Book of Abraham, Mormon History, The First Vision, and the Temple Ceremony, Mormonism loses credibility. And if that isn't enough, add murder of innocent people, the practice of Blood Atonement, and theology interwoven with racism, sexism and fear. There are over 600 major problems with the historical records of the Mormon Church. Most Mormons are totally unaware of these problems, their minds conditioned to reject everything the Church doesn't agree with. Blind faith is hard at work in the Mormon Church.
Within months of embarking on my own quest for truth, the distortions, cover-ups and lies began leaping off the pages at me. The Church leaders had fed us half-truths, lies and deceit. I had been spoon fed so many fables that the truth had become a stranger. I had been desensitized to the truth, brainwashed, if you will. I repeat, on April 7, 1844; Joseph Smith said, "You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history." I found the proceeding statement to be incredibly true. While a committed, practicing Mormon, I never knew the man named Joseph Smith.
His story is more than a story of a new religion. It's the story of 160 years of people's lives, and how they have trusted a man who declared himself a prophet of God, and his Church, not God's, which claims it is the Only True Church on the earth today.
Our good friend and educator, Dave Simmons, wrote the following. "Have you noticed they [the Mormons] want it both ways?... They want to tell their story without any kind of rebuttal. The Church has the gall to preach an absolutely bizarre story. Sustain an aggressive stance by sending out into society packs of missionaries. Perpetuate lies in the minds of the next generation of poor suckers unfortunate enough to be born to them, to carry on the fraud. Ostracize those that leave. Maintain a holier than thou white supremest attitude. Vilify the rest of the world for having different value systems and then..... They don't want anyone to say anything bad about them!!!
Sorry, but in an open society it doesn't work that way. Once you step up on
the soapbox and make a public statement, in this case a loud continuing
statement [The Mormon Church is the only true church on the earth today], it is
open to public scrutiny. The wilder the claim without supporting evidence, the
less respect they get. If the claims are utter nonsense, and they refuse to step
down, then the audience starts to throw tomatoes (figuratively). If the claims
are doing, have done, or could do damage to peoples lives, then the tomatoes
come hard and fast and green, as they should. The moral high ground is to expose
a fraudulent organization for what it is. Their misguided impact is tremendous;
the damage they have done can't be measured. We don't need to make up lies or
exaggerate. The truth is bad enough."
Mormons are taught to shun and label members 'apostates' who no longer 'buy the story.' Mormonism equips its members with a keen sense of judgment particularly when it is directed towards people who can so easily be branded apostates. Often those who leave the Mormon Church are ostracized and isolated. Larry and I discovered this first hand. I will always be grateful for the good things the Church gave to us and our family, but does it outweigh the negative? It is unfortunate that the Mormon Church cannot tell the whole truth about its history and origin. But that will never happen, for to do so would destroy the very foundation upon which it is built.
Joseph Smith and Mormonism have lost their credibility with those who are engaged in critical thinking and honest study. This religion's greatest fear is to have its belief system destroyed by indisputable facts.
President Hinckley has wisely kicked Church history into the proverbial
closet and proceeded to emphasize the present and future of his great
organization. If it weren't for those closet skeletons he'd probably have smooth
sailing. But more and more people are discovering the 'rest of the story'. And
for those of us who are seeking God's way, come-what-may, we are sorely hurt by
During this time of great upheaval in my life a Stake Conference was scheduled and, as incredible as it sounds, I wanted to attend because it was rumored that President Gordon B. Hinckley would be attending. I was hoping that he would say something, anything, that would give me some peace or even some understanding of the things I had discovered about Church history. No sooner had I sat down than the rumor became a reality. The Stake President stood and said: "We are greatly blessed to have President Gordon B. Hinckley our 'true and living Prophet' here to speak to us today." My heart and soul filled with excitement and tears filled my eyes as I held onto every word he said, waiting for the miracle words. As the meeting ended I still had tears in my eyes, but now for a different reason. Who I saw that day was President Hinckley, not as a Prophet but as a man whose message was to give more, be more, and study more. I took his advice and began to study more. I picked up the books again and began to read. I had a multitude of unresolved questions for which I needed answers. By this time, my emotions were so deep that at night I would lie sleepless and overwhelmed with both what I was learning and how I was feeling.
Although sleep was my only release from this emotional pain, for the next several months it did not come easily. The agony of sleepless nights were filled with nightmares, and the conflict between harboring cherished beliefs and trying to make sense of the information that was now laid out before me threw me into a deep, black hole. Weeks turned into months. There seemed to be no relief and I was miserable, traumatized and perplexed by what I was finding. It was not easy for me to accept negative information about the Mormon Church. I was skeptical about the sources of the things I read, thinking that maybe Satan was behind all of this. Was he deceiving me? Did he have me in his grasp? Was the Church still true in spite of all I was reading, studying and feeling? Was it natural to have confused feelings, or was I going mad? I was struggling with my emotions and was totally unprepared to deal with the contradictory feelings that surfaced. Here again I had to discipline myself and continue on my Journey.
Desperately seeking answers to our bewildering questions, Larry and I drove to Salt Lake City to visit with Sandra and Gerald Tanner, publishers of some of the material we were reading. Having never associated with anyone who was called an 'apostate,' we nervously entered their place of business.
Sandra was seated at her desk when we arrived and Gerald was out of town on a
business trip. We told Sandra who we were and that we had read a lot of the
material she and her husband had written. We had many questions, and Sandra had
all of the answers. We found it interesting that she is the great-great
granddaughter of Brigham Young. Surely with that kind of legacy she must have
had a very good reason for leaving the Church and doing the work and research
she and her husband have done.
We were amazed at the information and history of the Mormon Church they had gathered over the years. The Tanners had once been allowed access to the Church vaults and gathered a lot of information before they were closed to the public. This brought up more questions, such as why would the Church close their vaults to the public? Are they afraid of what is found there? (For further information about the Tanners log onto www.utlm.org)
At the end of our visit, she told us of another couple we might also want to visit, Rauni and Dennis Higley. We also found them to be very kind, and the visit very enlightening.
They have an incredible story to tell about their exodus from Mormonism. Rauni was a translator for the Church for fifteen years. Her specific assignment at one time was to translate the temple ceremony into Swedish. It was during this time that she discovered inconsistencies in the ceremony, which lead her on an in-depth study of the Mormon Church. Her husband, Dennis, was a High Counselor in the Stake Presidency when Rauni informed him of her findings. His first reaction was denial, then pain. I could relate to those very same feelings. Dennis eventually sat down with Rauni and they went over all the information she had collected. In the end, they chose to withdraw their names from the Mormon Church. We left their home knowing that we were not alone, that others had gone through what we were going through. (For the rest of their story log onto http://www.hismin.com/page2.html)
I was more determined than ever to continue my own research and study. It was important to me that I form my own conclusions in order to make the most important decision I would ever make in my life.
After our trip to Salt Lake City, I wondered what else I was going to find. I stopped reading Church history for a while. The pain was too intense. I put the books away and tried to keep my mind off the Church and what I had discovered. No one knew the anguish I was going through except Larry. His anguish had preceded mine by two years. I am saddened that he went through that alone; I had not been there for him emotionally. In fact, I probably contributed to his hurt and pain. Nevertheless, he offered me support and sometimes just held me, while tears rolled down my cheeks in what seemed a never-ending stream.
I was still attending Church and going through the motions of being Little
Miss Molly Mormon, until one day in Relief Society I found myself reacting
strongly to a dear sister who was giving the Relief Society lesson on Eternal
Marriage. When she finished the lesson she bore her testimony and began to cry.
She asked us to forgive her tears and proceeded to tell us that she and her
family would never experience the blessings of being an eternal family. She
explained that her husband was inactive and wanted nothing to do with the Mormon
Church, let alone the temple ceremony. Before she was done there wasn't a dry
eye in the room.
I wanted to stand up and scream from the top of my lungs; "I don't believe that! I don't believe that! I don't believe that you won't be with your family in the next life." Still, the fear of becoming alienated from my ward family kept me from sharing my feelings. But it was more than I could take. I no longer believed in the Mormon Church. I couldn't attend another meeting and see people being used and emotionally abused.
Perhaps no Mormon doctrine is as insidious as the doctrine of 'forever families.' While on its face, this doctrine seems to offer hope and reassurance to the Church's members (and the world, via ordinances for the deceased), what this doctrine really does is scare the living daylights out of people. All of the hope that it offers on its face is merely a facade, a charade, a rouse. For underneath all the happy, shiny primary songs, testimonies, stories, etc. about 'eternal' families, lies one very large piece of fine print - a caveat if you will.
You can be with your family for time and all eternity, living in Celestial bliss, IF, you obey the commandments, IF you commit no sins for which you do not repent, IF you are married in the temple, IF you accept your callings willingly, IF you pay your tithing, IF, IF, IF. Mormonism is about performance under the 'Law of Joseph Smith.' You better tow the line if you want to see your family in the afterlife. Whatever you do, do not marry a non-member or inactive member - doing so will put your eternal life in jeopardy and your family will be torn asunder in the hereafter. And of course all active members better watch out too - just because you were sealed in the temple doesn't mean you're going to enjoy the blessings of 'eternal' family. Should you cease to obey the Commandments (i.e. do what we say), you'll be sitting in the Terrestrial or Telestial Kingdom. Even worse, your spouse may be married to someone else in the next life, assuming they were faithful and you weren't. Of course, if you're a female, your spouse will probably be married to more than one wife.
The bottom line is, what seems to be a comforting and assuring doctrine really isn't that at all. It's the single best way the Church has to keep its members in line. It's the ultimate punishment - the destruction of your family. It's nothing more than emotional blackmail. Who does a parent love more than their children? Who do children long for more than their parents?
Shame on the 'Brethern' for teaching this false and terrible doctrine. Shame of them for poisoning millions of lives with this nonsense. And shame on the Church for keeping its members in the fold through fear and intimidation.
Before that defining moment in Relief Society I thought I could somehow reach a compromise: accept the Church but with my eyes wide open. But I discovered that isn't who I am. To compromise would be to deny a very basic spiritual part of me. I recall the words of Shakespeare when he wrote: "Above all else, to thine own self be true." The verdict was in. To remain a member of the Mormon Church was no longer an option. If I were to do so I would be condoning the killings, the adultery, the abuse, the racism and sexism, the lies, deceit and cover-up. Half-truths taught to the members are the blackest lies of all. In the face of a mountain of evidence, my heart finally accepted what my mind already knew. I sat down and wrote the following exodus letter to the Stake President.
Dear President X
I suppose that I've known for some time that I would be writing this letter to you. After Larry received your letter stating that you were going to excommunicate him for apostasy, I knew I needed to write it now. I'm sorry that you've been placed in this awful position of taking this action. My heart goes out to you, for I'm sure you are just doing what you've been told to do. I was hoping and praying things wouldn't work out this way. Larry had only requested that his name be removed from the records of the Mormon Church, for he no longer believes as you and others do. He didn't want to be asked anymore to take positions, home teach and other responsibilities that comes with being a member.
If you knew my husband, the father of our children, and grandfather of our grandchildren, you would never take such action as excommunicating him for apostasy. Larry could not be a hypocrite and support something he no longer believes to be true. He has a sense of integrity that is rare these days. I could never ask him to be less than he is. Larry respects all religions and the rights of others.
Jesus and our Father in Heaven love all people. They would never close the door as you have done. Excommunication means to stop communicating. Christ never used this word in His vocabulary. Being excommunicated for apostasy turns family and friends against the person leaving the Church and brands them as being evil. I know this is not the Lord's way, but man's way. I know that Christ would not allow such a cruel thing to take place in His Church. You have judged my husband harshly. Jesus said. Judge not, and ye shall not be judged, condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned, forgive and ye shall be forgiven. Luke 6-37. I believe we will all be judged by what is in our heart, by our Father in Heaven and our Savior, and not by man.
We should all have the freedom and opportunity in all churches to study, investigate and evaluate our own personal feeling's in the search for truth, without fear, guilt or restrictions of any kind. I believe it's called free agency. It is only through weakness, guilt, ignorance, superstition and fear that we do not thoroughly investigate our feelings and seek for the things that could and would enhance our own personal relationship with God and His Son. We become a servant to man's ideas, and let them dominate over us.
In the eyes of God all people are equal, and have their free will to think
what they may. It doesn't matter what language, environment, customs, beliefs,
color of skin, rich or poor, male or female. He loves us all the same. He is no
respecter of persons.
I think the thing that makes our Father and Christ the saddest of all, is when we as their children hurt one another. The Savior only asked one thing of us. "To Love One Another."
Larry tried so hard to prove that the Church was true, for he had given his heart and soul to it. But it was not to be. I kept looking for his countenance to change, like I had been told in the Church it would. It never did. Instead he seemed to have a peace in his life that I had never seen before. Larry has always sought to do his Father's will and follow the Savior. There are few men on earth such as my husband. I know him. I'm his wife, sweetheart, best friend and eternal companion. I see the qualities of the Savior in his actions everyday. His children and grandchildren adore him. His friends and business acquaintances know him as a man of integrity, honesty, and love. His actions of kindness, charity and service have so often been given to those in need, anonymously.
When you met with Larry I had expected you to say something like this. "Larry I'm sorry you feel the way you do. I'm sure coming to this decision has been painful for you and your family. I don't understand why you are leaving the Church. Nevertheless we will honor your request and remove your name from the records of the Church. If you ever want to come back the door is always open. May God go with you."
President X, I no longer feel toward the Mormon Church as I once had. When we elevate ourselves above the teachings of the Savior we destroy each other. He said. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." Mat. 22:37-39.
True religion cannot be built on fear, but only on the love of our Father and
His Son Jesus Christ.
After a great deal of personal study and prayer I have lost trust in the Church and no longer feel about the doctrines of the Mormon Church as I once had. I would appreciate you removing my name from the records of the LDS Church. I don't do this out of anger or spite, but because I have to stand up for what is right. I recall a statement in the Young Woman's Program. "To Stand up for Truth and Righteousness."
I will forever be grateful for the principles the Church taught me that was
of the Savior. And also for the many friends we have made. I love the Mormon
people and will miss the association with them. I know there will be some who
will turn away. I believe its called excommunication. This will make me sad, for
I will care about them always. There will be talk, gossip if I may. Some will
say I'm under the power and influence of Satan, and that even the elect will
fall. These things will hurt, but I have faith in my Father in Heaven and know
that He is by my side. Through that trust in Him I have the strength and courage
to face the future.
President X, I hope you read this letter in the spirit that it was written. It is my hope and prayer that someday all of us here on earth, regardless of our beliefs or life's circumstances can come together and live as the Savior asked. "To just Love One Another." Such a simply request. The Savior even sealed this request with His life.
May our Father be with you and yours.
After waiting three months for a reply, I wrote a follow-up letter to President X and Bishop X.
I am concerned that you might not have received my letter, which was mailed to you the later part of July. I have not received any reply. I am enclosing a copy of the letter I mailed to you.
Just so there isn't any confusion about my request I will again ask; I want my name removed from the records of the LDS Church. I understand what I am requesting. I will not participate in any interview or Church court, as I have done nothing wrong. I am asking for a simple administrative procedure. I simply do not want to be a member anymore. I have also, sent a copy to Bishop X.
Tamra Jean Arnold Braithwaite
Dear Bishop X,
I have enclosed a letter I wrote to Pres. X sometime ago. It explains how I feel about what has happened to Larry, and how I feel about the LDS Church. Please know that it is not a reflection on you. I want to thank you for being such a good Bishop and helping so many people. You and your family will always hold a special place in our hearts. Thank you again for everything.
Tamra Jean Arnold Braithwaite
On September 16th the Bishop wrote that he'd referred my request to the Stake President, reminding me that my baptism would be canceled and my temple blessings suspended. He concluded his letter hoping that Larry and I would have a change of heart.
I'm not sure it is possible to communicate the devastating effects of all the different steps of my Journey. Some experiences have been so traumatic that they utterly defy description. Tears of loss and confusion became my constant companion for a long time. Departure from the Mormon Church meant dealing with a multitude of losses. Family pulled away, friendships ceased, no longer did I have the assurance of eternal life with my family. My whole structure, security, and support system died. My roots in the Church took on a whole new meaning. I thought I had lost my identity. I was no longer part of the Saints. Had my life lost meaning and purpose? Would I ever be able to trust again?
For many years I had been unconsciously living a lie, and finding out the truth stripped me of everything I thought I knew. I had to deprogram 31 years of thought control. I struggled to escape from the emotional baggage. Even though I no longer belonged to or believed in the Mormon Church, I still wasn't free of it. In fact, as odd as it may sound, I missed it. I missed the close association I'd had with the sisters, the opportunity to serve, the music, especially at Christmas time. I even missed the God I had known all those years. Had the Mormon Church and the Mormon God become a drug that I was addicted to? I missed working with the youth and giving lessons. But most of all, I missed the promise that we would be an Eternal Family.
Although one of our children went through the motions of being a good Mormon, not wanting to hurt or offend us, leaving the Church nearly destroyed our relationship with the rest of them. It has taken Larry, our family, and myself almost six years to repair the emotional damage done when we declared that we no longer believed in Mormonism. I've seen the shameful division of family and friends because of religious beliefs, the "I'm right, and you're wrong" mentality. It's hard to silently sit by and watch some of our children teach our grandchildren the same things we taught them about God's love and acceptance. The Mormon God's love and acceptance is so conditional. How can I let them know that God is so much more than that? And how can I let them know that all of mankind is the same. There is no one more blessed or more special than another.
In some ways I am still caught in The Double-Bind. I can't respond to our family and friends' Mormon beliefs without appearing confrontational, making it sound like an attack on them. Their identity, like mine was, is so intertwined with the Mormon culture that they are unable to separate the two. It is their testimony that the Mormon Church is true and if I disagree, I am the one who is evil, lost and deceived. If only they would open their eyes, they too would see the facts as they really are. If I could just tell them, "Please don't shoot the messenger, just study the message."
Although our children know we love them, some also feel abandoned, like a
part of us has left them. In a way they're right, for we can no longer support
their Mormon culture. I suppose there are moments in many a parent's life when
they realize they may play a part in their children's pain. This must be our
moment. Nevertheless, Larry and I had to tell them how we felt, even though it
was breaking our hearts as well as theirs. All I've ever wanted is what's best
for them. Now I realize that what is best for me may not be best for them. If
the moment ever arises I would like to tell them this:
My dear Children,
Over the years so much has changed. You are no longer children that need to be watched over and protected. You are all beautiful, responsible adults now, with your own ideas, your own needs, and your own lives to live. Even though you're all grown-up I will never quit caring about your welfare and happiness. I dream great dreams for you, but realize you must chase the dreams you have for yourself, and walk your own walk. Nothing else will ever make me as happy or as sad, as proud or as tired, as being your mother. You have given me many gifts during our time together. The gift of unconditional love. The gift of wisdom. You were often the teacher and I was the student. The gift of laughter and so many sweet memories. But, above all, you gave me the gift of Motherhood.
If I could give you but one gift it would be sharing with you my life's journey and the wisdom I have acquired. First of all, I would tell you that you that my love for each of you is like a circle, it has no beginning and no ending. It keeps going round and round ever expanding. There are no conditions, no requirements, and no demands. Next, I would tell you that you are Children of the Universe having spiritual experiences along with your physical ones. Get clear about what you want in life and realize that you have the ability to manifest and attract all that you need and desire. Be deeply grateful for all that you receive and look for opportunities to give back. Appreciate the many gifts of the universe and realize that you are not separate from your environment. We are all 'one.' Be kind to Mother Earth; this is our home. Learn to take charge of your life and hold on. This is a long ride but remember: you are the captain of your own ship. Don't give your power away, particularly to those who would abuse it. Remember to take quality time for yourself. You're worth it! Acknowledge and accept accountability for your life. Get real with yourself about your life and everybody in it. Own, rather than complain about how people treat you. Be truthful about what isn't working; don't make excuses. Using your own cognitive abilities, reason things through. It's an important part of being a human being. Make careful decisions based on facts, research, knowledge, and experience.
Lori, Holly, Lonny, and Jody, most of all, live a good honorable life. Live lives of truth. It is very fulfilling and enlightening. Realize that the relationship between you, your spirit and the Creator of the Universe is a deeply personal matter. There can be no middle-man in this relationship. Not your parents, nor any self-appointed representative of God.
One of life's most pleasurable moments comes when a child reaches the age when a mother doesn't have to pretend that she knows everything. I don't know all the answers about life, and will continue to question as I learn. It's part of the human experience. What I do know is that there is a big, beautiful world out there just waiting to be discovered. There is an incredible world of literature, music, history, artwork, architecture, philosophy, biology, chemistry, animals, mountains, oceans, blue skies, clouds, and a vast expanse of human beings in all shades of color and personality. There is the pleasure of the gradual discoveries in this magnificent world and there is the beauty of a quiet moment when you realize that you are connected to the universe and all that is in it. In the end; true religion is life, and hopefully, wisdom gained. A life filled with someone else's expectations of you and without freedom for self-discovery is no life at all. Freedom has never come easily, but its rewards can be marvelous. I honor you, my children, and send you peace, love and harmony on your Journey through Life.
I was good at being a Mormon. It was my life, my career, and my hope. It fed my ego and increased my self-esteem. Occasionally I still find myself defending the Church. How does one let go of 31 years? Letting go is difficult and all-consuming. As usual, Larry exercised a great deal of patience with me. He said he knew how I felt, and that time would heal my deapest wounds. As an old song says, I had to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again. I had to get in touch with who I am and my relationship to all the experiences I had gone through. Now I can stop trying to reach perfection. I realize I am everything I need to be. It would have been much easier to stop questioning, stop studying, stop thinking for myself, and follow the Church leaders. I could have chosen willful ignorance and stopped studying Church history, but something inside wouldn't let me take that position.
I understood more and more there would be a price to pay, but I had no idea what that price would be. I expected some of our family and friends to turn their backs on us and rumors to fly, such as: "They must have done something wrong; they must have never had a testimony to begin with; we've been warned that some of the elite will fall;" or, "they've lost their countenance and the Spirit of Christ." My expectations became a reality when Larry was accused three different times of losing his countenance. When we walked around the block, members would hurry into their homes or turn around and go the other way in order to avoid contact with us. Mormon neighbors turned a cold shoulder. We usually had about 150 children come to our home for Halloween, but the year after we left the Church we had 35. Their parents must think we will contaminate their children if they associate with us in any way. It's as if we don't even exist. One of my good friends wouldn't even make eye contact with me. Larry's uncle passed away and his aunt asked him to give one of the prayers at the funeral. The Bishop quickly informed her that Larry was no longer worthy or welcome to pray in any LDS service. Every time we told someone that we no longer believed in the Mormon Church, we were put on trial (like many rape victims are). What had we done wrong? Our only crime was that we had done in-depth research in an area the Church doesn't want investigated. The Mormon Church leaders and academics who know but do not speak out are the ones who have deceived, lied, and have ultimately covered up the truth, and they should be held accountable. They do everyone, especially the membership of the Church, a great injustice when they deny or alter the facts. People, who have nothing to hide, hide nothing!
IS HONESTY IMPORTANT?
The Church teaches that complete honesty is necessary for salvation, that we will be accountable to God if we only tell part of the truth. There are no acceptable reasons to be dishonest. The Church's living prophet today, Gordon B. Hinckley, says that honesty is the essence of integrity and demands that we be straightforward and unequivocal in walking the straight and narrow line of what is right and true, even at times when it might seem enticing or easier to cheat and tell half truths. However, Hinckley fails to pass the test of honesty. As recently as December 29, 2002 he repeated the often-quoted myth that the LDS Church is "the world's fasted growing church." Though this may have once been true, it is no longer the case.
LDS researcher David Stewart comprehensively addresses LDS Church growth in a paper located at www.cumorah.com/report.html. "[The]...LDS Church ranks 23rd among the 149 participating denominations in overall U. S. growth rate..."and further, worldwide, "The Assemblies of God are growing at approximately 10 percent per year, or over three time the growth rate of the LDS rate at 5.6-8 percent per year."
In fact, LDS Church growth rates have declined from 5 percent to less than 3 percent since the late 1980s. Additionally, the LDS Church does not adjust its membership tallies to reflect those who no longer identify themselves as members, or who are no longer actively participating. Were it to do so, its membership would drop by an estimated 65 percent to approximately 4 million participating members.
Years ago one of my favorite General Authorities was Elder Paul H. Dunn. Through the years we bought all of his books and listened to all of his tapes. He wrote inspiring stories about his professional baseball career playing for the St. Louis Cardinals, and how God protected him during World War II as enemy machine-gun bullets ripped away his clothing, gear, and helmet without ever touching his body, all because of his faith and because he was wearing his sacred underwear (garments).
On Feb. 16, 1991 the Arizona Republic published an article revealing that Dunn was not a war hero, and furthermore that the Cardinals had never even heard of him. Salt Lake City freelance writer Lynn Packer gave the information to the newspaper. The Mormon Church pressured Packer, also a Mormon, not to publish stories about Dunn's fabrications, but Packer would not be stopped. As a result, the Church terminated Packer's teaching contract at Brigham Young University. When faced with the facts, Elder Dunn acknowledged that those stories and others were untrue, but defended his actions by saying, "They illustrated good theological and moral points." He went on to say he doesn't consider it deceitful to exaggerate or alter facts. During an interview in Salt Lake City Elder Dunn said, "My motives are pure and innocent." Although Elder Dunn's books and tapes were discredited they are still being sold by Deseret Book Store, the official chain of LDS Church bookstores.
It is difficult to understand how the Church leaders can be following God's teachings when they are not honest.
1) It is a fact that Joseph Smith continually denied and lied about the practice of polygamy when he had actually been involved in it for several years. He lied about translating The Book of Abraham and the Kinderhook Plates. And he lied when he said he had a vision of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and was instructed to translate the Gold Plates into what became The Book of Mormon.
2) In 1890 Church leaders told the Government that they had stopped practicing polygamy, however, they continued to practice it secretly until 1904.
3) Church leaders lied to the FBI about being involved with the Mark Hoffman scandal, but the investigation later revealed that they had bought a number of fake documents, including the famous 'Salamander Letter' and kept its contents secret from the general membership.
4) We were taught that Brigham Young's henchmen, the Danites or Avenging Angels, didn't actually exist. However, unsanitized Church historical documents are full of references to the atrocities of the Danites or Avenging Angels, including murder.
5) And finally, the Church leadership has changed, deleted, and added to the history and doctrine of the Mormon Church as they have seen fit.
The integrity of my religion failed it's own test. The facts pushed my soul to its breaking point when I realized my belief system was laced with murder, adultery, racism, sexism, lies and deceit. I went over and over in my mind the doctrine I had been taught all these years. If I had been exposed to the whole story instead of the homogenized version I would never have become a Mormon. The clear and convincing evidence leaves no doubt that whatever Joseph's inner motives, (and only he knows them), he created a MASS MOVEMENT that would seduce millions of good people for the next 2 centuries.
I had a difficult time trying to understand how the Church could be so successful if God wasn't a part of it. Janis Hutchins, author of Out of a Cult & Into the Church, helped me understand the next phase of my journey.
A mass movement is nothing more than human energy in motion. A movement's success, rather than being attributed to God's presence and direction, is based on certain key principles, which if followed, automatically give it momentum. The leader cannot create the conditions that make the rise of a movement possible. But where there is an eagerness to follow a movement's leader[s] and/or message and an intense dissatisfaction with things as they have been, a movement will mushroom.
Any rising mass movement must have a close-knit organization to succeed. Excellent leadership with the right message creates the atmosphere necessary to develop a passionate membership. There was a reformation swelling in a plethora of new religions in America, each contending that their organization was God's true church. Thus the people of Joseph's time were ready for change.
Joseph was a 'Man of Many Words'. He loved the sound of his own voice. He gave the people what they were hungry for, not a reformation, but Divine Revelation, The Book of Mormon, and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He invented a holy cause. People were eager to follow and obey. Joseph offered them the hope of eternal life with their loved ones. Larry and I took the bait when conditions were ripe and someone reached out to us.
In order for any mass movement to succeed there is a necessity for
opposition. Dedication and commitment thrive when opposition exists. Joseph
delighted in the challenge of persecution. In his case the opposition included
the Gentiles (unbelievers) and the United States Government. By vilifying them
he united his followers and promoted his new movement. Members became dedicated
to the cause. It was inevitable that the two cultures would collide. History
suggests that the conflict was essentially an ideological struggle between two
cultures, that is, groups with differing social visions. The Mormons believed in
a theocracy (religion-based government) because they believed they were God's
chosen. The non-Mormons were devoted to a democracy (separation of church and
When Joseph expanded his religious ideology into temporal affairs by controlling all the important offices in Nauvoo, directing the voting behavior of his followers, and attempting to establish a Mormon kingdom (with himself in charge), conflict was inevitable. When he condemned his Mormon critics as enemies of the people and suppressed their civil rights with violence, the non-Mormons, politically frustrated and fearful of despotism (a ruler with absolute control), resorted to mob tactics, which helped neither side.
Joseph injected a fear factor into the Movement. John Whitmer, one of the eight witnesses to The Book of Mormon, made this statement: "Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon began to enforce their new organized plan, which caused dissensions and difficulties, threatening's and even murders. Joseph stated that anyone who said a word against the heads of the Church should be driven over these prairies as a chased deer by a pack of hounds. Thus on the 19th of June, 1838, they preached a sermon called the "Salt Sermon," in which the members understood they would be KILLED if they didn't uphold Joseph and the others in their wicked purposes and designs." (John Whitmer's History, p. 22)
Even though Joseph's Movement had all the necessary ingredients, it reached the stage when 'The Man of Words' (Joseph)) would not have been effective. A deeper level of fear, blind obedience and coercion were necessary in order to control the Movement's momentum. Mormonism entered into this period of bondage under the dictatorship of Brigham Young. He depended less and less upon the faith of the members and more and more on fear, force and coercion. Brigham Young was a 'Man of Action'. Whether Joseph had been killed or not, Brigham's leadership would have been necessary to carry the group to its successful colonization of the West.
A movement prospers if it follows the principles as established in the stages
of all successful mass movements:
1) Changes structure and leadership at crucial points.
2) Meets the sociological needs of its general membership.
3) Maintains tight control.
4) Makes periodic accommodations to society. That means giving up a belief or practice that society frowns upon.
The Mormon Church's first accommodation was in 1890 when it gave up polygamy and economic separation for statehood. In 1978 they appeased the civil rights movement by allowing black male members to hold the priesthood. And lastly, they deleted material from the temple ceremony that was offensive to their own members and other traditional churches.
I expect other changes will follow at a more rapid rate. The Mormon Church is facing a huge dilemma. In the face of mounting and indisputable historical and scientific evidence, it must address doctrine previously preached by their prophets that has been altered, ignored and even created since the Church's early days. DNA science proves that Native Americans do not descend from Europeans; the Egyptian papyrus Joseph Smith supposedly translated is not the writings of Abraham; nor did horses, lions and elephants roam the forests during the The Book of Mormon era. No longer is it possible to stop the dissemination of information as has been done in the past. The internet now holds information that will free many from living a life of deception and fear. All one has to do is log-on.
To tone down the exclusiveness of the LDS Church and appear less radical to the public the leaders are now claiming that the Church is just "another Christian religion." President Gordon B. Hinckley already tried this approach when he said on the Larry King Live Show: "Mormons are no different than any other Christians." This Mainstreaming approach may be their last hope of survival. The Church has discovered that offering a free Bible, rather than a Book of Mormon, opens a lot of doors. LDS Apostle Dallin Oaks said on behalf of the Church that they wished to be referred to as 'The Church of Christ,' and discouraged the media from using the term 'Mormon Church.' In other words, by disassociating themselves with the name 'Mormon,' they are almost turning Protestant. Accommodation is crucial for a Movement if it wants to survive. Do the Church leaders now realize they can only keep the Joseph Smith/Book of Mormon fantasy going for so long? With the internet and so many publications available, it's going to be harder and harder to keep the Mormon Movement going.
The Church is a huge empire that has been cleverly altered from the days of
Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and the other early Church leaders. Its focus is
now on the wholesome image of an organization based on clean living and good
family values. However, underneath the sugarcoating is the same doctrine that
Joseph, Brigham, and the other leaders of the early Church taught. There is no
way to escape the deceptions without declaring that Joseph was never a prophet
Do I think the Mormon Church will ever cease to exist, or be held accountable for the lies and deception? Probably not! They are a billion dollar business under the cloak of religion. Hence, they are protected under The Constitution of the United States (freedom of religion). But I'm sure the Church my great-grandchildren see will bear little resemblance to the one I was taught to believe in. The Church will continue, not because it has a divine origin or because God is sustaining it, but because it has money and power, with a huge controlling interest in the media. It will continue changing its doctrine as needed, exert strong control, and continue to promote fear in its membership. The fear of not being with your family in the next life is enough to keep true believers and skeptics Bound to the Binder for life. The Church will use all the necessary principles, including blind faith and intimidation, to successfully get through each stage of the movement it encounters.
Recovery from Mormonism
Letting go of my belief system was bittersweet. I've been filled with anticipation for what lies ahead, and relief for having put this behind me. When I began this Journey my deepest desire was to learn the truth, and I knew I would have to follow wherever it led me. Lies are lies no matter how pretty a package they come in. The Church has whitewashed their history, altered their scriptures, their doctrine, their policies, even their temple ceremony. As I waded through the histories and doctrine of the Mormon Church I was bewildered and uncomfortable with the organization that claimed to have the truth and know all the answers. I fell into their trap for a long period of time because it seemed like our only hope to ever be with Cindy again.
Many of us fear making the journey to truth as I did. The experience has been humbling and humiliating, enlightening and terrifying. It required personal honesty and integrity. Once educated, I was faced with the emotional and moral question, "Do I just let it go and stay active, or do I have the courage to walk away?" My spirit was truly tested. I had come face to face with the facts, and they turned out to contain the darker side of humanity. Somehow I gathered the courage to walk away!
Today I feel wiser and look at life through different eyes. Mormonism is a system built on tyranny: If we are obedient, we're accepted, if not, we're rejected. Like a thief in the night, they encourage education, all the while robbing people of their intellect. This realization made me as angry as I have ever been about anything. I am ashamed for having believed in the Mormon Church, and I cry for the person I became under its influence. There was an allure of religious dogma that pulled me away from my highest self, and I was so distracted by the day-to-day requirements of Mormon living that I couldn't see the web of deception.
Religious beliefs should encourage, not discourage their members to challenge its position critically. Not out of adolescent impatience, but on the basis of an informed adult conscience. A religion that persists in understanding good to mean unquestioning obedience is a religion that would make perpetual children of us all. Authentic religion does not want unquestioning, obedient followers. It wants authentic people, people of integrity.
Believing in the Mormon story empowered them with my sacred trust. It was
incredibly painful when I realized that my trust had been built with their lies
and manipulation; that my body, mind and soul, along with my love, devotion and
energy had been used and abused, all in the name of God. I didn't want to
believe what I was reading, feeling and hearing. Yet the proof is there. Since
the founding of the Mormon Church to the present day, Church leaders have
falsified documents, rewritten and suppressed historical records, and done
whatever was necessary to protect the image of the Church. I now have ample
appreciation of the extent to which the LDS Church preys on its members'
emotions, manipulates and conceals truth, and controls the flow of information
to members in order to maintain the faith of the Saints.
I have always made it a practice to tell the truth, not half-truths, but the whole truth. The Mormon Church has not told the truth! They have not been honest!
Having my cherished beliefs torn from me has not been a pleasant journey. I don't know if I'll ever get over the hurt: how do you mend a broken heart? I have had to give up my entire way of life. I have lost a part of myself. Some days the pain is minimal, and other days it's almost unbearable.
Still, there have been golden linings among all these storm clouds. Learning to study and think for myself has been extraordinarily enlightening. Realizing how free I am to develop my true self is exhilarating. This journey has taken me straight to my very center. Like flexing a new muscle I'm still feeling for what's right, but can instinctively feel new strength coming into my being and am open in anticipation of what the future has in store.
For thirty-one years I had lived a life of incongruency. The content of my life and many of the choices I made were incongruent with who I really am. I didn't realize I had disconnected with the I that is me. I was living a fictional life. I was worshipping a God who justified murder, racism, sexism and adultery as a necessary part of The Eternal Plan. I belonged to a church that convinced me I was better than others and it was my duty to help convert the world to join the Mormon Church where they could be a 'Family Forever.' Ultimately, I was able to break the bonds that held me prisoner and totally re-engineer those parts of my life that didn't feel right and build on those that did. Once I started to hear my own inner voice and get in touch with my own needs, my life changed monumentally. I'll never get those thirty-one years back but as each day passes they are becoming a memory, daily being replaced with a life that is authentically me. I will never completely forget the pain Larry and I went through as we discovered the truth about Mormonism and ourselves, and I don't want to forget. The pain reminds me of the lessons learned. Having spent thirty-one years in fear of whether or not our family would make it to the Celestial Kingdom leaves a vacancy where I will never go again. As I take the next step on my journey I am building on healthier footings with unconditional love at its core.
I began to search within and am creating my new life from the inside out. I am thinking for myself and getting in touch with my own nature. I am in the process of creating my own identity. This journey of self-discovery makes life exciting, for I am creating a new, wiser person.
After several conversations with some of our children, I realize I can't fix their pain. I also realize they are not ready to hear what Larry or I have discovered. I'll just love them and allow them their own experience. They are in charge of their own destinies. I'm not letting go of my children, I have just chosen not to argue or debate religious beliefs with them or anyone else. I will take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it. Letting go is not to regret the past, but to grow from it and live for the future. It is to fear less and live more. I embrace each day as an opportunity to learn and I value each life as sacred.
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Note: Copyright 2003 Tammy and Larry Braithwaite.