Thursday, April 25, 2013

Is the Mormon Church Racist?

Many in the media have used the softball approach when discussing Mitt Romeny's religion and the history of alleged racism. They tend to take statements made 100 years ago by what I consider obvious racists like Brigham Young.  To date not a single media outlet has take the "gloves off" and done real analysis on the what I consider to be the racist nature of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I'm not going to attempt to rehash all of the hateful statements made by Mormon leaders in their well documented history of overt racism. I point people to to get a full treatment of Mormonism's overt racist past. You'll find what I consider a pattern of dehumanizing the black race executed by "inspired" men.

I'm going to instead talk about the racism that continues to plague the Mormon church and incidents that show a clear pattern of racism.

The PR wing of the LDS church tends to highlight "the work" that's being performed in Africa. The Mormon church has built a membership totally more than 400,000 members in Africa. They also feature blacks in their most recent ad campaign.

Screen captures from (No affiliation with this blog)

The connotation is obvious. I believe that the Mormons know that they have a serious problem in regards to race. Their site, in my opinion, is a thinly veiled statement that screams, "See! We're not racists! Look!". It reminds me of the guy that says,"Hey I'm not a racist. Some of my best friends are black!".

The claim has been made on many sites that almost 10% of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are black. It is possible that this statistic holds water if we consider that the church has over 400,000 members in Africa. After adding the claimed membership in Latin America, this statistic is believable.

What the PR wing of the LDS church may not realize is that the statistic they so desperately want people to know regarding black membership and the unambiguous highlighting of black members on their ad campaign is for naught when a casual observer takes a look at the "elite" leadership of the Mormon church.

General Authorites

The Mormon church is lead by a group of men that are known by the LDS membership as "General Authorities".  According to

"The General Authorities consist of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presidency of the Seventy, the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopric. (View General Authorities for more information on the roles of these leaders.)"
Additional information from informs us:

An Area President is typically a General Authority selected from the First or Second Quorum of the Seventy, while the counselors can be either General Authorities or Area Seventies selected from any Quorum of the Seventy.
These men are chosen from a global pool of members. You'll find men from all over the world in the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy.

What is glaringly obvious to me is the difference between what the church is saying verses what the church is actually doing. The site appears to be telling the world with their desperate attempt to highlight black membership that racism is a thing of the past. Yet a view of the current leadership, in my opinion, displays a clear pattern of institutional racism when the statistics on black membership are taken into account.

Finding a black man among the "elite" General Authorities reminds me of the "Where's Waldo" books that my children enjoy. The question that stands out to me is "Why?"

Recent events have forced the church to issue a press press release that states:

"The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form. "
If racism doesn't play a part in the selection of the current leadership, why is there such a disparity in the number of backs represented in today's leadership?

Are we to assume that there is only one qualified black man out of the 1,000,000+ black members?

As a Mormon, I was taught that General Authorities were called by God by inspiration.Are we to assume that God has deemed that only one black man should be called to lead the only true church on earth?

In my recollection , no black man or any person of color has never occupied the quorum of the 12 apostles or the first presidency.

The church continues to claim that more than half of the Mormon membership resides  outside of the United States. An online database of membership reports that there are more than 1,000,000 members in Brazil. The same online source estimates the membership in Mexico to also exceed 1,000,000 members. To my knowledge, not one man from either of these countries has been "called by God" to be in the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, First Presidency, or the Presiding Bishopric.

The only apologetic response that I've been given on the subject is that black members do not have the experience required to serve as "elite" leaders in the Mormon church. This apologetic claim is made by those that want you to believe that God called an uneducated fourteen year old to be His prophet.

Michael D Quinn wrote:
"Much as a corporate board of directors represents significant minority blocks of stockholders, the appointment of General Authorities to represent significant ethnic populations of the LDS Church has continued from the 1830s to the present. As the American-born Mormons were supplemented by tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints from Canada and Great Britain, twelve Canadian and British General Authorities served from 1837 to 1938, and five from 1960 to the present. . . .

As the population of the international church has accelerated since the 1960s, the newly expanded Quorum of Seventy has become the vehicle for representing diverse ethnic and foreign populations of Mormons, rather than the tight-knit Quorum of the Twelve Apostles which had non-American members from 1838 to 1975. Since that latter year, the following ethnic and non- American populations have become represented by appointments to the Quorum of Seventy: the Hawaiians with Adney Y. Komatsu, the French and Belgians with Charles A. Didier, the Navajos with George P. Lee, the Dutch with Jacob deJager, the Germans with F. Enzio Busche, the Japanese with Yoshihiko Kikuchi, the English with Derek A. Cuthbert, the Canadians with Ted E. Brewerton, and the Latin Americans with Angel Abrea ("From Sacred Grove to Sacred Power Structure," Dialogue, vol. 17, no. 2, Summer 1984, p. 23)."

Elite Leadership positions(Quorum of the 12/ Presiding Bishopric) appear to be reserved for those with family ties to the Mormon theocracy with very few exceptions. A popular Internet Podcast Mormon Matters produced an article highlighting the nepotism in the Mormon leadership structure.

Name Position Relationship to
Relative Position
Paul Bowen Pieper Miss Pres 2004 Son in Law A Theodore Tuttle 1st Quorum 70
Gordon B. Hinckley President Nephew Alonzo A Hinckley Quorum of 12
Francis M Lyman Quorum of 12 Son Amasa Lyman Quorum of 12
Antoine R Ivins 1st Council 70 Son Anthony W Ivins FP 1st Counselor
Susan W Tanner YW Gen Pres Daughter GG-Granddaughter Barbara W Winder John R Winder RS Gen Pres FP 1st Counselor
Benjamin Edwin Banks Miss Pres 2003 Son Ben B Banks Pres of 70
Brad B. Banks Miss Pres 2002 Son Ben B Banks Pres of 70
Allan Forrest Packer 1st Quorum of 70 Son Boyd K Packer Quorum of 12
Brigham Young Jr Quorum of 12 Son Brigham Young President
John Willard Young FP 1st Counselor Son Brigham Young President
Joseph A Young Apostle Son Brigham Young President
Joseph Young 1st Council 70 Brother Brigham Young President
Zina D. H. Young RS Gen Pres Wife Brigham Young President
Lorenzo Snow President Brother in Law Brother in Law Brigham Young Joseph Smith President President
Stephen Lowell McConkie Miss Pres 2008 Son Bruce R McConkie Quorum of 12
Anthony W Middleton Jr Miss Pres 2005 Brother in Law Cecil O Samuelson 1st Quorum 70
Merrill C Oaks 2nd Quorum 70 Brother Dallin H Oaks Quorum of 12
Emmeline B Wells RS Gen Pres Wife Daniel H Wells FP 2nd Counselor
Rulon S Wells 1st Council 70 Son Daniel H Wells FP 2nd Counselor
John Huntsman, Sr. Area Auth 70 Son in Law David B Haight Quorum of 12
Alan Conway Ashton Miss Pres 2004 Grandson David O McKay President
David Lawrence McKay Gen Super SS Son David O McKay President
George Richard Hill III 1st Quorum 70 Nephew David O McKay President
Ezra Taft Benson President G-Grandson Ezra T. Benson Quorum of 12
Richard R Lyman Quorum of 12 Son Francis M Lyman Quorum of 12
Franklin D Richards 1st Quorum 70 Grandson Franklin D Richards Quorum of 12
George F Richards Quorum of 12 Son Franklin D Richards Quorum of 12
Bathsheba W Smith RS Gen Pres Wife George A. Smith FP 1st Counselor
John Henry Smith FP 2nd Counselor Son George A. Smith FP 1st Counselor
LeGrand Richards Quorum of 12 Son George F Richards Quorum of 12
Abraham H Cannon Quorum of 12 Son George Q Cannon FP 1st Counselor
John Q Cannon 2nd Counselor PB Son George Q Cannon FP 1st Counselor
Sylvester Q Cannon Quorum of 12 Son George Q Cannon FP 1st Counselor
May Green Hinckley Pri GP Step-Mother Gordon B Hinckley President
Richard G Hinckley 1st Quorum 70 Son Gordon B Hinckley President
Virginia H. Pearce YW GP 1st C Daughter Gordon B Hinckley President
Dale Edwin Andersen Miss Pres 2005 Son H Verlan Andersen 1st Quorum 70
J Golden Kimball 1st Council 70 Son Heber C Kimball FP 1st Counselor
Quentin L Cook Quorum of 12 GG-Grandson Heber C Kimball FP 1st Counselor
Spencer W Kimball President Grandson Heber C Kimball FP 1st Counselor
Anthony W Ivins Quorum of 12 Cousin Heber J Grant President
George I Cannon 1st Quorum 70 Grandson Heber J Grant President
Lucy Grant Cannon YW Gen Pres Daughter Heber J Grant President
Henry Johnson Eyring Miss Pres 2003 Son Henry B Eyring FP 1st Counselor
Eldred G Smith Patriarch Son Hyrum G Smith Patriarch
Joseph Fielding Smith Patriarch Son Hyrum Mack Smith Quorum of 12
John Smith Patriarch Son Hyrum Smith Asst President
Joseph F. Smith President Son Hyrum Smith Asst President
Heber J Grant President Son Jedidiah M. Grant FP 2nd Counselor
Peter F. Evans Miss Pres 2002 Son in Law Joe J Christensen Pres of 70
Spencer Kohler Christensen Miss P res 2000 Son Joe J Christensen Pres of 70
Joseph Holbrook Groberg MTC Pres Brother John H. Groberg 1st Quorum 70
George Albert Smith President Son John Henry Smith FP 2nd Counselor
Nicholas G Smith Asst to 12 Son John Henry Smith FP 2nd Counselor
Hyrum G Smith Patriarch Grandson John Smith Patriarch
John Whitaker Taylor Quorum of 12 Son John Taylor President
William W Taylor 1st Council 70 Son John Taylor President
Keith A. Anderson Miss Pres 2002 Son Joseph A Anderson 1st Quorum 70
David B. Wirthlin MTC Pres 2000 Brother Joseph B Wirthlin Quorum of 12
Kent Walker Farnsworth Miss Pres 2004 Son in Law Joseph B Wirthlin Quorum of 12
David A Smith 1st Counselor PB Son Joseph F Smith President
Florence Smith Jacobsen YW Gen Pres Granddaughter Granddaughter Joseph F Smith Heber J Grant President President
Hyrum Mack Smith Quorum of 12 Son Joseph F. Smith President
Joseph Fielding Smith President Son Joseph F. Smith President
Bruce R McConkie Quorum of 12 Son in Law Joseph Fielding Smith President
Joseph B Wirthlin Quorum of 12 Son Joseph L Wirthlin Presiding Bishop
Richard B Wirthlin 2nd Quorum 70 Son Joseph L Wirthlin Presiding Bishop
Emma Smith RS Gen Pres Wife Joseph Smith President
George A Smith FP 1st Counselor 1st Cousin Joseph Smith President
Hyrum Smith Asst President Brother Joseph Smith President
John Smith FP Asst Counselor Uncle Joseph Smith President
Joseph Smith Sr Patriarch Father Joseph Smith President
William B Smith Quorum of 12 Brother Joseph Smith President
Lee Tom Perry Miss Pres 2005 Son L. Tom Perry Quorum of 12
LeGrand R. Curtis Jr Area Auth 70 Son LeGrand Curtis 2nd Quorum 70
Robert Karl Merrell Miss Pres 2003 Son in Law LeGrand Curtis 2nd Quorum 70
Eliza Roxcy Snow RS Gen Pres Sister Lorenzo Snow President
Peter Huntsman Area Auth 70 Son in Law M Russell Ballard Quorum of 12
John Knapp Baird Miss Pres 2001 Son in Law Marion D Hanks Pres of 70
Joseph F Merrill Quorum of 12 Son Marriner W Merrill Quorum of 12
Stephen Kent Ashton Miss Pres 2004 Son Marvin J Ashton Quorum of 12
Marvin J Ashton Quorum of 12 Son Marvin O Ashton 1st Counselor PB
Matthew Cowley Quorum of 12 Son Matthias Cowley Quorum of 12
M Russell Ballard Quorum of 12 Grandson Melvin J Ballard Quorum of 12
Elizabeth Ann Whitney RS Gen Pres Wife Newell K Whitney Presiding Bishop
Orson F Whitney Quorum of 12 Grandson Grandson Newell K Whitney Heber C Kimball Presiding Bishop FP 1st Counselor
Kevin Rex Pinegar Miss Pres 2004 Son Rex D Pinegar Pres of 70
Amy Brown Lyman RS Gen Pres Wife Richard R Lyman Quorum of 12
Ralph Joseph Marsh Miss Pres 2004 Son in Law Robert L Backman Pres of 70
H. David Burton Presiding Bishop Grandson Robert T. Burton 1st C PB
David Reed Webster Sr Miss Pres 2004 Son in Law Russell M Nelson Quorum of 12
Michael Tally Ringwood Miss Pres 2004 Son in law Russell M Nelson Quorum of 12
Clifford E Young Asst to 12 Son Seymour B Young 1st Council 70
Levi E Young 1st Council 70 Son Seymour B Young 1st Council 70
S Dilworth Young 1st Quorum 70 Grandson G-Grandson Seymour B Young Brigham Young 1st Council 70 President
Margaret D. Nadauld YW Gen Pres Wife Stephen D Nadauld 2nd Quorum 70
Stayner Richards Asst to 12 Brother Grandson Stephen L Richards Willard Richards Quorum of 12
Elaine A. Cannon YW Gen Pres Daughter in Law Sylvester Q Cannon Quorum of 12
Ann Dibb YW GP 1st C Daughter Thomas S Monson President
Abraham O Woodruff Quorum of 12 Son Wilford Woodruff President
Julie B Beck RS Gen Pres Daughter Wm Grant Bangerter Pres of 70

It seems obvious that the current Mormon leadership is formed through nepotism and does not represent the worldwide membership. To suggest that God only calls those with family ties to Mormon leadership and generations of membership in the Mormon church denies the legitimacy of Joseph Smith.

If I am to believe that these callings are divinely inspired, my only assumption can be that God, to some degree,  supports the the sentiments of Brigham Young and the curse talked about in the Book of Mormon.

Going by the numbers, I feel I should see at least:
  • 1 black apostle
  • 3-5 Latin apostles
  • 1 Asian apostle
The "curse of Cain" and the concept that skin color is a punishment by God for wickedness may be doctrines that  the LDS church wishes to bury, but the lasting effects of these beliefs appear to have influenced the selection of the current Mormon hierarchy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The "Arab Spring" of the LDS Church

We all watched the news as many Arab nations fought for their freedom in sometimes peaceful and sometimes bloody revolutions. Radical changes have been made and continue to be made throughout Northern Africa and the Middle East. Those dictators and despots have been forced to change or force expulsion.

A similar wave is making it's way through the membership of the LDS Church. On the surface, the Ex-Mormon movement has very few characteristics to a political revolution, but the way this revolution has been sparked and the way the LDS leadership is dealing with this crisis has many parallels.

Social Media and The Internet 

The riots in Egypt and Tunisia were organized and promoted on social media sites like Facebook. Videos and accounts inspired citizens to organize and fight the tyranny that plagued these nations. The Internet brought world wide attention to the situation.

The Internet has also had a devastating effect on the growth of the LDS church. The LDS church has watched the growth rate steadily decline since the public release of the Internet in the 90s.
You'll notice the steep decline starting in the mid 90s dropping from nearly 5% to the 2010 growth rate of barely above 2%.

During the Egyptian revolution, Mubarak attempted to curb the revolution by shutting down the Internet in his nation. The attempt to stop the flow of information ultimately failed.

The LDS church has responded to the deluge of information on the Internet by launching a multi-million dollar Google Adwords campaign in concert with the ImAMormon campaign. A search for "Mormon Negro" will display a link to the with the LDS spin on the former racist doctrines of the LDS Church. Each click costs the LDS church money.

The LDS church has invested in search optimization to ensure that Apologist sites appear at the top of each Mormon related search. The effectiveness seems to mirror Mubarak's attempt to block Internet access in Egypt. The information continues to be shared on blogs, message boards and social media. The flood of detractors continue to blog about their findings and participate in groups organized on Facebook other social networking sites. It is simply not possible to stop the free flow of information and the attempts to do so exacerbate the frustrations felt by faithful members that discover the real history of the founding of the LDS church.

Denial of the Problem
 We all watched the drama unfold in Libya. In the beginning stages of the revolt, Gaddafi insisted that al-Qaeda and outside influences were responsible for the revolt. He went on to say that young people were being duped by drugs and alcohol. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad blamed 'foreign planning' for the rebellion in his nation. The leaders of Arab nations insist that the recent rash of protests and rebellions are due to external pressures and have little to do with the corruption and oppression perpetrated by these brutal dictators.

The LDS church has also pointed the finger at outside forces for the recent wave of apostasy. They point the finger at "anti-mormon" Internet pages that make it extremely difficult for people to receive an honest and fair appraisal of Mormonism. 

Marlin Jensen was recently quoted as saying:

Never before have we had this information age, with social networking and bloggers publishing unvetted points of view.

"the church is concerned about misinformation and distorted information, but we are doing better and trying harder to get our story told in an accurate way."
At Utah State Jensen was quoted saying:

"The fifteen men really do know, and they really care. And they realize that maybe since Kirtland, we never have had a period of, I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having right now; largely over these issues."

It's interesting to note that quickly following this Q and A session at Utah State that Marlin Jensen was released from his position as church historian. He is also later quoted, backtracking on his original statement:

“I have heard that our overall activity, especially in the United States, is as good as it’s ever been. To say we are experiencing some Titanic-like wave of apostasy is inaccurate.”
This denial doesn't seem to have much of an effect. The word is out  and is being spread throughout the Internet and the media.

Outlook - The Future
The future of the governments in the Arab world seem to be pending on their ability to reform and address the demands of the people.  In a recent 60 Minutes interview, Bob Simon spoke with Faisal al-Qassem of the Al Jazeera network regarding Al Jazeera's role in the "Arab Spring" movement.

"We are here to reveal everything, to cover everything. That's why they don't like us. We are talking here about Arab governments, Arab regimes. I'm not talking about the Arab people. The Arab people love Al Jazeera."

When Simon asked if Al Jazeera had an agenda, Al Qasim responded:
"What is wrong with transforming the Arab world from tyranny and despotism into a democracy? What's wrong with that? If there is an agenda, it's a very good agenda."

The critics of Mormonism have also formed their own "Al Jazeera"  of sorts on the Internet. Many of these critics would like to see a reformation of the Mormon church. Many others are demanding honesty from LDS leadership in regards to their history. 

I too would like to see moderation in the Mormon church. The demand for 100% conformance to Mormon beliefs crushes intellectual inquiry. I have also called for a repudiation of the church's former racist doctrines.

This "Arab Spring" of the LDS church will continue to accelerate until the leadership comes to grips with their history. The Internet has accelerated this movement through blogs and social networking. At this point, the "unhallowed hands" appear to be slowing the "work" from progressing. The LDS church can now choose honesty and moderation or face eventual collapse.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Open Letter To Mitt Romney: Repudiate The Racist Doctrines of the LDS Church

Dear Mitt,

I'm writing you this letter as a potential Mitt Romney supporter. I have a similar background. I grew up in the Mormon church and I served a foreign mission. I'm proud of my LDS heritage. My ancestors were some of the original Mormon pioneers that immigrated to this country with the promise of religious freedom and a chunk of the American dream.

There are chapters of our history that bring me shame. I was reminded of such a chapter as I read this article. The former racist doctrines in the Mormon church have absolutely no founding in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Based on your previous comments regarding your reaction to the 1978 revelation, I imagine you feel the same way.

It is my opinion that the recent official responses to the Negro Priesthood Ban by those held as Prophets in the Mormon church are almost as shameful.

 You may recall a recent interview where Gordon B Hinckley was asked,

"So in retrospect was the Church wrong in that [denying blacks the priesthood]?". 

The prophet's response was this:

"No I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them."

Gordon B Hinckley was given the opportunity to repudiate all the ugly slurs uttered by earlier Mormon prophets. He had a chance to change attitudes across the entire church. He had a chance, one and for all, to put the issue behind us. He chose instead to insist that God was behind the racism. It was God that decided that the Negro was not worthy of the full benefits of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I refuse to accept this. It speaks volumes to all those who hold this religion to be the only true church on earth. It tells the current Mormon membership that there was a reason, prior to 1978,  that God withheld his blessings to those born with a black skin. It fails to erase these comments made by Brigham Young:

"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable, sad, low in their habits, wild, and seemingly without the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind."

Please join me in repudiating the racist doctrines of the Mormon church. I would formally like to say that this was a mistake made by men who were a product of their time. The act of denying individuals the right to full participation in Christ's gospel was not a directive from God. The former doctrine was not based on the Gospel of Jesus Christ in any way.

This would be a good chance for you to show the electorate that you are not controlled by the LDS church. It would show that you are capable of holding a belief that is opposed the current LDS hierarchy.

Holding the belief that God held back his blessings to the Negro race until 1978 is also a racist doctrine. It leaves fertile ground for racism to grow. It fails to condemn the dehumanization of an entire race. Your detractors will hold these statements over your head until you clearly repudiate them.

Independent Mormon Voter

Sunday, November 13, 2011

How Mormons are actually viewed: An eye opener to a lifetime Mormon

As a former Mormon that spent the majority of his life in the Mormon church, I always find it fascinating to listen to the reaction of "normal" individuals outside of the Mormon culture when approached with Mormonism. Here's a Ted talk featuring Julia Sweeney discussing her experience with Mormon missionaries.

I never considered the bizarre nature of my belief and considered it normal.

Practice of Interviewing Children - This is not Mainstream Christianity

As a Mormon, I was expected to have regular interviews with my priesthood authorities. These interviews were used to determine my worthiness to attend the temple and to hold volunteer positions in the Mormon so called "lay" ministry. This concept of continual private interviews seems to be a huge step outside of mainstream Christianity. These interviews are not limited to adults. They start with children as young as eight years of age.

Interview Questions:

These are the actual interview questions used to determine "worthiness" to enter the Mormon Temple:
  1. Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?
  2. Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
  3. Do you sustain the other General Authorities and the local authorities of the Church?
  4. Do you live the law of chastity?
  5. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
  6.  Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
  7. Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel?
  8.  Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
  9.  Are you a full-tithe payer?
  10.  Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
  11.  Have you ever been divorced or are you now separated from your spouse under order of a civil court? If yes, (a) - Are you current in your support payments and other financial obligations for family members, as specified by court order or in other written, binding commitments? (b) Were there any circumstances of transgression in connection
    with your divorce or separation that have not been previously resolved with your bishop?
  12.  If you have received your temple endowment -- (a) Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple? (b) Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?
  13. Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?
  14. Do you consider yourself worthy in every way to enter the temple and participate in temple ordinances?

Answering no to any of these questions may make the interviewee  unworthy to enter the temple and will likely spark additional meetings with priesthood leaders. Lacking temple worthiness may also preclude a Mormon from participating in the normal functions of the Mormon church such as holding a "calling". Almost all active members have a "calling"/responsibility in any given ward. These "callings" range from Sunday school teacher, to leadership over the various groups within the Mormon organization to church librarian..

I want to make it clear that I personally have no issue with an adult that wishes to subject himself to this line of questioning. I think it's important for Mormons to realize that this practice is definitely not a norm in most Christian faiths. It's my opinion that these interviews are used to keep members in check. It gives leadership the authority and power that many of them crave.

Temple Entrance - What's the big deal?

I know many outside of the Mormon faith may be asking themselves, "Why would anyone care? What does it matter if a practitioner of is not allowed to enter the Mormon temple?"

Mormons teach that temple ordinances are required to enter the highest kingdom of God. It's only in this highest kingdom that families can be "together forever". The bonds of family are manipulated to ensure strict adherence to Mormon beliefs. This manipulation of members using family bonds is exacerbated when a family loses a child or a beloved member. I find it cruel to use these feelings to ensure obedience.

Mormons also integrate Temple ordinances into family traditions. Before a Mormon is married, they must be initiated through temple ceremonies that are required to enter the highest kingdom of god. All worthy close family members are invited to attend the ceremonies. These ceremonies include the actual wedding/sealing ceremonies. Family members that are not deemed "worthy" for entrance are excluded from these ceremonies.

I think most Christians would be shocked to hear that grand-parents and close family members are routinely excluded from attending temple ceremonies because they are deemed "unworthy" to enter. Even fathers and mothers of the bride and group are excluded from the ceremony if they fail to answer the questions to the Bishop's satisfaction.

I watched my wife's grandmother wait outside of the temple during our wedding and during the weddings of every subsequent grand child because she was not a member. It honestly makes me sick today to imagine what she must of felt sitting on the benches outside of the temple. She was there before the ceremony to see throngs of my aunts, uncles, cousins, and grand parents enter while she sat outside like an untrained dog. To this day, it's one of my greatest regrets and continually inspires me to expose the true nature of the Mormon church.

The Questions:

  • Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?

In order to truthfully answer yes to this question, Mormons must believe that Mormonism is the only true faith in the world today. This question goes back to the belief that the "true" gospel of Jesus Christ was taken from the earth during what Mormons refer to as the "Great Apostasy".  Answering yes to this question nullifies the legitimacy of all current religions and forces the interviewee to affirm that the LDS church is the only true church.

  • Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
This question has a very cult like aspect to it.  The Mormon prophet is to be held beyond reproach. Members are not to question his authority or his decisions in any way. Research on the characteristics of a cult renders the concept of the infallibility of the cult leader. Cult members are punished or shunned for even questioning the authority of a leader. In this case, the Mormon church prohibits any member that does not sustain the prophet of the church from entering the temple.

  • Do you sustain the other General Authorities and the local authorities of the Church?
Mormonism takes the concept of infallibility one step further and applies it to all authorities in the Mormon church.  Any questioning of church authority is met with the same cult-like behaviors. Members are told that complying with authorities will bring blessings regardless of whether the leader's direction is contrary to God's will. Wilford Woodruff taught:

"When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God."

  •  Do you live the law of chastity? 
This question rarely stops here. Priesthood leadership are encouraged to probe deeper into this question to enforce the Mormon view on sexuality. It is not enough to say that you are in a committed monogamous relationship. Your sexuality must fit into a box defined by octogenarians.  (I'll discuss the inappropriate nature of this question later in this post when I talk about interviews of children.)

  • Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
This question is pretty basic. In this question, the church wants to cement the concept of eternal families in the brains of the interviewees. This goes back to temple worship and the manipulation of family bonds to ensure member compliance.

  • Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?
I had a chance to ask a bishop in the past about this question. I asked if this pertained to groups that wish to maintain the legality of abortion. He said that certainly affiliation with such a group would apply to this question.

This question is also a "cult-like" defense mechanism. It informs the individual that they should not even affiliate themselves with groups or individuals that disagree with the Mormon church. In many situations, it's an invitation to divorce for those faithful members that have a spouse that is in the process of apostasy.

The question again highlights another aspect of Mormonism that identifies it as a cult. In the cult 101 check list by Janja Lalich, PHD and Michael D. Langone, PHD 

  • Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
  •  The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
  •  Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.   

  • Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel?
This is another question to ensure compliance and ensure that members do not stray from Mormonism.

  • Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
This is probably the question I like most of the entire interview. It's too bad that the interview is muddled with additional psychological warfare aimed at inducing guilt and compliance.

  • Are you a full-tithe payer?
 Mormons are held accountable for paying 10% of their money to the church in every priesthood interview. Failure to pay a full tithe again precludes members from attending the temple. There are additional meetings called "tithing settlement", that Mormons attend yearly to ensure that money is being collected. Members are not allowed to see where that money is spent.

Unlike most Christian denominations, no accountability is provided to the membership.  The Mormon church is not required to "open the books" due to the protection of religion in the United States. Members are not to question where the money is spent.

Salaries paid to church leadership is also not published. Most members think that the Mormon church doesn't pay the general authorities. This is not true.

  • Do you keep the Word of Wisdom?
This question is usually followed by follow up questions. The Word of Wisdom prohibits the use of Alcohol, Tobacco, tea and coffee.

  • Have you ever been divorced or are you now separated from your spouse under order of a civil court? If yes, (a) - Are you current in your support payments and other financial obligations for family members, as specified by court order or in other written, binding commitments? (b) Were there any circumstances of transgression in connection with your divorce or separation that have not been previously resolved with your bishop?
This is a more recent addition to the questions. This ensures that Mormons support their children. I believe everyone should be subject to this question but that the enforcement of such a law should come by way of the government. Priesthood leadership has no authority or jurisdiction over these matters and hence very little effect on enforcement.

  • If you have received your temple endowment -- (a) Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple? (b) Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?
This question goes back to the cult-like nature of the Mormon church. In the previously mentioned  Cult 101 checklist we find:

The leadership dictates, sometimes in great detail, how members should think, act, and feel (for example, members must get permission to date, change jobs, marry—or leaders prescribe what types of clothes to wear, where to live, whether or not to have children, how to discipline children, and so forth). 
Temple garments are designed to remind the wearer of the promises made in the temple. The markings on the garment are Masonic in origin. They're tied to various rituals performed in the ceremony.

The practice of wearing garments controls the type of clothing that Mormons are allowed to wear. This also ensures that Mormons conform with the rigid requirements on dress.

  • Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?
The cultivation of guilt is an important tool employed by cults to control the behavior of adherents. Guilt is used as a motivator and as a tool to keep members in line. This question is used to motivate adherence to the belief system because of previous misdeeds in the interviewee's life.

Training in Counseling 

Mormonism is led by a "lay" ministry. This means that most priesthood leaders receive no training in counseling. The advice that is dealt generally comes down to common "horse sense". The biggest issue here is that these interviews touch on very complex human emotions.

It's my opinion that the "lay" dispensing of counseling has been very detrimental to adherents in the past. The Mormon view on homosexuality has had a fatal effect on homosexual youth. These interviews are utilized to cultivate members' feelings of inadequacy to ensure compliance to Mormonism.

Practice of Interviewing Youth

These personal interviews start at the age of 8 and accelerate in frequency as a child approaches adolescence. The practice is extended to male and female youth. Each time a youth is promoted from one age group to another, an interview is scheduled. Interviews are also a prerequisite for performing "Baptisms for the Dead".

These interviews are performed in private and parents are not allowed to attend. Youth are encouraged to confess wrong doings to the bishop through the same questions that are listed above.

In asking these questions, youth are forced to verbalize or confess their beliefs without the proper background on the subject. The setting pits at least two authority figure adults against a single youth. Priesthood leaders are assumed to have the "power of discernment" to assist them in dealing with the answers provided by the youth.

What most non-Mormons will find most disturbing is the practice of asking personal questions of youth on sexuality. The priesthood leaders are encouraged to ask "age appropriate" questions about sex outside of the presence of the child's guardians.

The questions involve subjects like masturbation and porn. The questions also delve into the youth's sexual experimentation. I want to remind you that these men, in most cases, have absolutely no training in counseling.

I personally cannot imagine a setting, outside of a professional counselor, where parents would allow discussions on personal sexuality to occur with their children. The Mormon oligarchy's view on sexuality is not one that I would consider healthy and is in disagreement with most professionals in the field of psychology.

Mormons preach that masturbation is a sin. Mormons also preach that the sin of homosexuality is close to that of murder. Imagine the damage done to the self esteem of an impressionable mind when he/she is told that his/her natural instincts put them in the depravity realm of a murderer.


Mormons seem to desperately desire to be counted as just another Christian denomination. The cult label seems to offend and spark countless articles on the mainstream nature of Mormonism. I will admit that I have little experience in practices outside of the Mormon religion, but I'm always surprised to find outrage when I tell my mainstream Christian friends about the practice of Priesthood worthiness Interviews.

This practice places Mormonism on the fringes of modern Christianity. In many ways, it justifies those who wish to label it a cult. The practice seeks to squash free thought and ensures compliance. Mormons should understand that this practice is not typical and can be psychologically damaging to young people.

This practice should be discontinued immediately with children. There is never an appropriate situation that requires an untrained religious leader to talk to an impressionable youth about sexual matters in private. There are no "age appropriate" questions. If the Church of Latter Day Saints wishes to be know as a mainstream Christian faith, they will discontinue this practice.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mitt Romney for President: Will the LDS Church Factor into Mitt's Decisions as President?

There's been a lot of talk about Mitt Romney's run for the presidency. The Romney camp is framing the opposition as religious bigots for their fear that the Mormon church will influence Romney's decisions. Is there any history of the Mormon Church exercising influence over political leaders?

Mormon Church vs The ERA

In 1972 an Amendment to the Constitution was passed by the Senate that required women to be treated as individuals under the law just as men were. The amendment required ratification by 38 states. National polls showed consistent support of the amendment.

The Mormon church on the other hand saw the ERA as "a moral issue with many disturbing ramifications for women and for the family as individual members as a whole." They warned that the ERA might "stifle many God-given feminine instincts".

After the Mormon church's condemnation of the amendment, Idaho reversed their approval of the amendment in a referendum. Bishops solicited donations to defeat the ERA.  Letter-writing campaigns were organized to spam politicians in every state. In the end the ERA was defeated.

Mormon Church vs Civil Rights Bill

In 1964, Governor George W. Romney was contacted by Apostle Delbert Leon Stapely via a letter printed on Church letter head. The apostle voices his concern about the governors stance on the civil rights issue. Governor Romney was an advocate of the Civil Rights movement.

In the letter, Stapley voices the his concern and the concern that had been expressed to him by "several others". Stapely also sent Romney a booklet entitled Mormonism and the Negro.  The booklet was full of quotes from former prophets and apostles on the subject. It was a good representation of the racist doctrines preached by Mormon prophets and apostles that used God's will as justification.

On December 14, 1963, then apostle Ezra Taft Benson claimed that the  Civil Rights Movement in the South had been "formatted almost entirely by the Communists.". Elder Benson later declared in a 1967 general conference:
The Communist program for revolution in America has been in progress for many years and is far advanced. While it can be thwarted in a fairly short period of time merely by sufficient exposure, the evil effects of what has already been accomplished cannot be removed overnight. The animosities, the hatred, the extension of government control into our daily lives--all this will take time to repair. The already-inflicted wounds will be slow to heal.
First of all, we must not place blame on the Negroes. They are merely the unfortunate group that has been selected by professional Communist agitators to be used as the primary source of cannon fodder. Not one in a thousand Americans--black or white--really understands the full implications of today's civil-rights agitation. The planning, direction, and leadership come from the Communists, and most of those are white men who fully intend to destroy America by spilling Negro blood, rather than their own.
Next, we must not participate in any so-called 'blacklash' activity which might tend to further intensify inter-racial friction. Anti-Negro vigilante action, or mob action, of any kind fits perfectly into the Communist plan. This is one of the best ways to force the decent Negro into cooperating with militant Negro groups. The Communists are just as anxious to spearhead such anti-Negro actions as they are to organize demonstrations that are calculated to irritate white people.
We must insist that duly authorized legislative investigating committess launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the degree to which secret Communists have penetrated into the civil rights movement. The same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups. This is an effective way for the American people of both races to find out who are the false leaders among them.

Idaho Lottery Initiative

In 1986, the people of Idaho voted yes on a lottery initiative by a 60 to 40 percent margin. The initiative was declared unconstitutional by the Idaho Supreme Court. An amendment was proposed in 1988. A letter was sent out stating the LDS stance on gambling. An organized effort similar to the recent California Proposition 22 was made in vain. In November of 1988 the Idaho lottery was instituted with a 51% vote.

Proposition 8

In 2010 the LDS Church was fined for failing to follow campaign disclosure policies during the last two weeks leading up to the election. The Church was found to have donated $37,000 in non-monetary contributions.  I won't go into the LDS involvement . Full chronological documentation can be found here:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

There are many other examples of the Mormon Church exercising political influence. There's an old saying that a zebra can't change his stripes. The Mormon church has always pressured politicians and the same will be true of Mitt Romney. We've already seen Mitt change his stance on abortion to fit the current Mormon stance word for word. Those that worry about the Mormon influence on Mitt's decisions as president seem to have historical evidence to back up their fears.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Why the "Holy War" is now little more than a minor skirmish

I just watched Utah destroy BYU in what is termed in Utah as the "Holy War" 54-10. I think it leaves a lot of BYU fans wondering why. Why has Utah taken the upper hand? Why does Utah appear to be headed to the top of the NCAA football rankings and BYU appears to be headed toward complete football irrelevance? The answer may have more to do with religion than most outsiders think.

Back in April, Deadspin published an interesting article about the uneven enforcement of the Honor code. They found that 70 athletes had been suspended, dismissed or put on probation since 1993 and 80 percent of those players were minorities. They also found that 60 percent of those athletes were black men. This is especially shocking when you consider that only .6% of the student body is black.

I have yet to see a good explanation from BYU regarding the obvious lopsided enforcement of the Honor code for black athletes. The actual reason for the disparity is much deeper than a simple case of racial bias on behalf of the administrators that enforce the honor code at BYU.

Mormonism's history of racism

Mormonism has a history of racism that is well documented. BYU was named after the Mormon prophet Brigham Young. He taught this from the pulpit:

"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind …. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the ‘servant of servants’; and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree."
 This was the general belief and attitude about the Negro race in the Mormon church for the greater part of the 20th century. Mark E Petersen gave a talk at BYU in 1954 and had this to say:
“Think of the Negro, cursed as to the priesthood.... This negro, who, in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a BLACK SKIN, and possibly being born in darkest Africa—if that negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.
The belief that blacks were cursed goes beyond the Negro race. In the Book of Mormon we find that the Lamanites (American Indians) were cursed with a dark skin for their wickedness. It's easy to see why Mormons equate dark skin to wickedness. It's actually part of their scripture.

Events Leading up to the 1978 Revelation

Pressure on the Mormon church to repeal their racist doctrine was mounting in the 60s. The first sport program protest against BYU began on Easter weekend in 1968. UTEP had scheduled a track meet against BYU. Several black students refused to travel to Provo to participate in a track meet.

Later in the fall of 1969 14 black football players were suspended from the Wyoming football team for boycotting a game with BYU. The students had their scholarships revoked and were dismissed from the team. This set off a hail storm of exposure and protests. Police had to be called to stop violence at a BYU-Arizona basketball game. Students at the University of New Mexico demanded that the college end all relations with BYU. Stanford later announced that it would schedule no athletic events or competitions with BYU.

Protests continued at many Western Universities until the 1978 revelation.

1978 Revelation - The Mormon Cop out 

 As tensions were building in the NCAA sporting programs, the racist doctrines were stifling the churches progress in countries like Brazil. Jimmy Carter threatened to deny Federal education grants and loans if the "discrimination" did not end.

Miraculously, a revelation was given to Spencer Kimball in 1978. This revelation ended the priesthood ban on all those descendants of Cain. The revelation completely failed to repudiate the racist doctrine held by the Mormon church. It was hailed as a Godly revelation instead of an acquiescence to external pressure.

The revelation lacked a repudiation of the racist doctrines that brought the political hail storm upon BYU. Spencer Kimball was later quoted as repudiating a small aspect of Mormonism's view on the Negro Race:
Mormonism no longer holds to...a theory that Blacks had been denied the priesthood because they somehow failed God during their pre-existence.
 The revelation fails to repudiate the earlier comments by Brigham Young and other Mormon Prophets and Apostles that portray blacks as sub-human.

An official repudiation of these doctrines has never been uttered by a latter day Mormon Prophet. When questioned about the issue, Gordon B Hinkley said the following:

Q: So in retrospect, was the Church wrong in that [not ordaining blacks]?
A [Pres. Hinckley]: No, I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them.
Q: What was the reason for that?
A: I don't know what the reason was. But I know that we've rectified whatever may have appeared to be wrong at the time.

This appears to be the current opinion of the LDS church. It puts the onus for past racism on God. It was God that determined that Blacks were not "ready" for a variety of reasons for receiving the "fullness" of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Problem with "revelation" vs repudiation

The revelation does very little to cure the racism held by Mormons that were taught the original doctrines from a young age. It is my belief that racism that is ordained of God is deeper than any other form of racism. The failure of modern day Mormon prophets and Apostles to repudiate those hundreds of comments made by former leaders from the pulpit has resulted in a deep seated racism that permeates the Mormon culture today.

Your average Mormon is left with all of these comments from people they view as God's voice on the face of the earth with little official word to ignore those former teachings that were laden with hate.

I can still open my revision of Mormon Doctrine and read the following:
Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions impose on them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God, and his murder of Able being a black skin. . . . Noah's son married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain, thus preserving the negro lineage through the flood. . . . the negro are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concern. . . .

This has been removed from subsequent versions of Mormon Doctrine but removal is a far cry from repudiation.

Why has the Mormon Church failed to repudiate?

Mormon Prophets are held in a different light than most religious leaders today. Mormons believe that God chooses his prophets. They are deemed has his representative on earth.

Racism today is viewed as a very ugly belief that has no part in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It would be very difficult to consider a racist as God's voice on earth. If a modern day prophet were to repudiate the teachings of a past prophet, the calling of that former prophet becomes suspect to the group as a whole. It's my opinion that modern day prophets and apostles fear that repudiation would unravel the authority of these men and would result in the unraveling of their authority.

Mormons are taught to follow the prophets without question:

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's Plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give directions, it should mark the end of controversy, God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.

Repudiating the ugly racist remarks of former prophets tears at the fabric of belief amongst the members. It puts into question all of the former doctrines of the Mormon Church.

Black Athletes at BYU

When you put this into consideration, It's no shock that black athletes are under the gun at BYU. The majority of the faculty and administrators were raised with the belief that black students are in some ways morally deficient. Their numbers are very few and they stick out like a sore thumb on campus.

Many of the students carry the subconscious attitudes that are born of racism that is based on religious belief.

This is what will make recruiting difficult for BYU in the future. The parents of these athletes are well aware of the religiously back racism that existed at BYU in the past. They also know that black athlete will always be suspect because of their race. I believe that they are held to a higher standard due to their visibility on campus.

The recent suspension of Brandon Davies and O'Neill Chambers seem to back up my theory. Is the general public to believe that these athletes were the only college athletes that had sex or drank alcohol in the entire athletic department? We all know about the flamboyant personality of Jim McMahon of the past. Are we to assume that for 4 years he refrained from participating in activities that most people would consider normal for a college athlete?

I think the more reasonable observer would say that the black athlete has a target on his back because of the deep seated racism that only comes from racism that is based on religious doctrine.

An Open Request to Mormon Prophet Thomas S Monson

The old saying that time will heal all wounds does not apply here. The racist beliefs will continue in the Mormon sub-culture until the doctrines of the past are repudiated. This means that nobody short of Thomas S. Monson needs to announce from the pulpit that former Mormon prophets were absolutely wrong. He needs to inform the Mormon sub-culture that those comments made in the past were born of societal racism and have absolutely no founding in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The statement needs to include an apology to the Negro race for the hatred that was preached as doctrine.

Thomas Monson also needs to repudiate the revelation that was given in 1978. To claim that God had any kind of justification for withholding the full benefits of the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of the color of ones skin leaves lingering racism in the remaining membership of the Mormon church. The unwritten undertones say that there was a reason for denying full blessings to the Negro race prior to 1978.

Anything short of a full repudiation of this past doctrine will ensure that minority athletes will always be the pariahs on Campus at BYU.

Reparations for Minority Students

Saying sorry and actually apologizing are two different things. There's no doubt that black athletes have suffered from the racial doctrines of the Mormon Church. If the Mormon church really wants to move past this issue, I suggest they offer scholarships to all minority students. There is a social debt that was incurred by the Mormon church's doctrine and this would be a proper way to repay it.

Anything short of a complete repudiation of all former doctrines and some form of reparations to those minority students will ensure that BYU will continue to be viewed as that ultra-conservative racist school backed by a racist religion.  It will be the school that will be avoided by top minority athletes and will fade into college football irrelevance.

I'm hoping that Thomas Monson has the stones to step up to the plate. The Internet will ensure that the world will never forget.

The future of BYU football

BYU football will continue the slide to irrelevance until something is done. No PR campaign will heal the wounds that this doctrine has caused. This will be highlighted by the drumming that Utah will give BYU in the years to come. Utah has moved past the Mormon racism because of the secular nature of the school. There's no doubt that this aspect of Mormonism will have an effect on all programs in the future. The age of the Internet has made Mormonism's past as obvious as the nose on your face. This slide only gets faster from here on out.