Mormonism and culture/Response to "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008)/Historical and doctrinal issues

Table of Contents

An analysis of "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008)—Historical and doctrinal issues

A FairMormon Analysis of: "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008), a work by author: John P. Dehlin

An analysis of "Why People Leave the LDS Church" (2008)—Historical and doctrinal issues


The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith was a pure, innocent boy.
  • What the history/facts tell us: Joseph used a "magical peep stone" to help people find buried treasure.
  •   The author is applying presentism  —The critics often ignore or fail to provide historical context to understand why things might have been different earlier.
    Why is Joseph being relatively pure and innocent contradicted by using a seer stone?
  •   The author is using loaded language   —Critics often use negative terms, biased language, or casual terms to make LDS matters seem bizarre, evil, or absurd.
    "Magical peep stone" is both loaded language and not how Joseph or his family would have seen the matter.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith turned down alcohol in surgery
  • What the history/facts tell us: Joseph drank beer and wine as an adult (his own journal)
  •   The author is applying presentism  —The critics often ignore or fail to provide historical context to understand why things might have been different earlier.
  • It is true that the story of Joseph's leg operation should not be used as a lesson on the Word of Wisdom.
  • Beer and wine were not seen as a violation of the Word of Wisdom in Joseph's day (they were not regarded as "strong drinks," which were generally distilled liquors). The members of Joseph's day were not troubled by his actions—this demonstrates that the member is probably misunderstanding the historical context, because he is bothered by something that did not bother Joseph's contemporaries.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus
  • What the history/facts tell us: First vision has multiple, and varied accounts (Pres. Hinckley)
  •   The author is making mutually exclusive claims:  —When critics need an attack against the Church, any excuse will do, even if they are mutually self-contradictory: if one argument is true, the other cannot be.
  • If he cites President Hinckley, how can it be fairly said that the Church is not disclosing this matter?
  • Joseph did see God and Jesus.
  • Joseph's 1832 journal account of the First Vision is the only one that does not explicitly mention a second personage, though both may be present by implication (see here). The remainder of the "multiple, varied accounts" all claim that Joseph saw two personages.
  • No early critic or member made a similar complaint—which probably suggests that those who think it causes problems for Joseph's account are missing something in their assessment.
  •   Church never tells us  —Critics often claim the Church doesn't reveal or discuss something, when Church publications have discussed the matter, often at length and in detail.
  • Contrary to the presenter's implied claim, these matters have been extensively and exhaustively discussed and reported in Church-published books and materials. For example:
    • Church Educational System, “Additional Details from Joseph Smith’s 1832 Account of the First Vision,” in Presidents of the Church: Student Manual (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003), 5–6.
    • Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 9–20.
    • Dean C. Jessee, "The Early Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision," Brigham Young University Studies 9 no. 3 (Spring 1969), 279–80.
    • Dean C. Jessee, "The Earliest Documented Accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision," in Opening the Heavens: Accounts of Divine Manifestations 1820–1844 (Documents in Latter-day Saint History), edited by John W. Welch with Erick B. Carlson, (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press / Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 2005), 1–33. ISBN 0842526072. This book has recently been reprinted, in paperback. BYU Studies and Deseret Book (July 13, 2011)

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon using the "Urim and Thummim"
  • What the history/facts tell us:The same "peep stone" was used to translate the Book of Mormon—Stone in the hat, plates not in sight (Russell M. Nelson)
  •   The author is making mutually exclusive claims:  —When critics need an attack against the Church, any excuse will do, even if they are mutually self-contradictory: if one argument is true, the other cannot be.
  • Since the presenter quotes Russell M. Nelson's talk published in the Ensign as evidence, how can he then claim that he was never told this by the Church?
  •   The author is applying presentism  —The critics often ignore or fail to provide historical context to understand why things might have been different earlier.
  • By 1832, both the Nephite Interpreters and the seer stone were referred to by Church members as the "Urim and Thummim."

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith had one wife—Emma
  • What the history/facts tell us: Joseph had 30 wives, some of them married to other men, several teenagers (familysearch.org)
  • It is unlikely that anyone taught in Church that "Joseph Smith had just one wife." Rather, Emma features most prominently in Church history, and Joseph's other wives are not mentioned.
  •   Church never tells us  —Critics often claim the Church doesn't reveal or discuss something, when Church publications have discussed the matter, often at length and in detail.
  • Members are encouraged to read the scriptures—LDS scripture discussing plural marriage makes it clear that Emma was instructed to accept the other plural wives that had been given to Joseph (DC 132:52).
  • Since it is not practiced today, LDS publications do not focus on plural marriage. But, the issue is mentioned repeatedly:

Starting during Joseph Smith’s own lifetime but limited to a few dozen families until its official announcement in 1852, plural marriage brought a powerful new challenge to the equanimity of Latter-day Saint family life...
—Davis Bitton, "Great-Grandfather’s Family," Ensign (Feb 1977), 48.(emphasis added)

Her great trial came when the prophet revealed to Emma that they would be required to live the ancient law of Abraham—plural marriage. Emma suffered deeply hurt feelings because of it. While she agreed with this doctrine at times, at other times she opposed it. Years later, Emma is purported to have denied that any such doctrine was ever introduced by her husband.
—Gracia N. Jones, "My Great-Great-Grandmother, Emma Hale Smith," Ensign (Aug 1992), 30.(emphasis added)

  • Even the younger ages of some plural wives has been mentioned:
Although little Don Carlos Smith died a short time later, Emily and Eliza continued to live in the Smith home, where, in the summer of 1842, both girls “were married to Bro. Joseph about the same time, but neither of us knew about the other at the time; everything was so secret” (Emily, “Incidents,” p. 186).
—Dean Jessee, "‘Steadfastness and Patient Endurance’: The Legacy of Edward Partridge," Ensign (Jun 1979), 41. off-site (emphasis added)
''' How a family accepts members who join it by marriage is, in some ways, analogous to how a Church accepts members who join it by baptism. The experiences of plural marriage' make the analogy even closer....the Prophet Joseph Smith recorded a revelation to the Whitneys on plural marriage....The Whitneys gave their daughter into the system of plural marriage and received into their family other plural wives.
—D. Michael Quinn, “The Newel K. Whitney Family,” Ensign, Dec 1978, 42 off-site (emphasis added)

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith was falsely accused and persecuted
  • What the history/facts tell us: [Joseph's use of a "magical peep stone"] was the reason for some of the early "trials" and court cases involving Joseph (Court records) Joseph denied polygamy publicly (Oaks)
  •   The author is applying presentism  —The critics often ignore or fail to provide historical context to understand why things might have been different earlier.
  •   The author is making mutually exclusive claims:  —When critics need an attack against the Church, any excuse will do, even if they are mutually self-contradictory: if one argument is true, the other cannot be.
  • If the presenter cites Elder Oaks, how can the Church be hiding these facts?
  • It is not clear why the presenter thinks these facts oppose each other. Joseph a hearing (not a trial) in 1826 for his use of the peep stone and accused of trying to defraud someone. He was not found guilty, and was free from further legal investigation on the matter. This would seem to imply that the charge against him was false (or, at least, not proven).
  • Joseph did deny plural marriage for reasons of safety; however, he was never charged with polygamy or bigamy or anything else related to plural marriage. Court cases were brought on other grounds, and study of the prophet's involvement with the legal system demonstrates that the courts were often used to harass and persecute Joseph and other members.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith went to the jail in Carthage like a "Lamb to the Slaughter"
  • What the history/facts tell us: Exposure of polygamy and destruction of printing press led to martyrdom.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • The destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor has always been taught to have played a role in the martyrdom.
  • Claims of polygamy did not begin with the Expositor: John C. Bennett, for example, had written numerous letters, published them as a book, and embarked on an anti-Mormon lecture tour in which tales of polygamy featured prominently. They were far more detailed than anything in the Expositor, which charged Joseph and others with causing the death of Mormon women.
  • Joseph and the others were not in jail because of the Expositor. They had posted bail, and were free until the circuit court judge arrived to hear the case (which would have only penalized them with a fine if found guilty). They were in jail because they were falsely charged with treason. This charge was upheld by a justice of the peace, who the head of the Carthage Greys—the militia unit that would later murder Joseph.
  •   Church never tells us  —Critics often claim the Church doesn't reveal or discuss something, when Church publications have discussed the matter, often at length and in detail.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in the Church: Joseph Smith was 2nd to Jesus in Righteousness (no man has done more for the salvation of others except Jesus Christ)
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • The Church does not teach that Joseph was "second to Jesus in Righteousness". Rather, Joseph's influence and impact are said to have done more for salvation than anyone besides Jesus. However, it is not Joseph's righteousness that saves others, or that helps redeem them. Instead, it is only the authority that Joseph restored, the scripture he produced, and the doctrines he taught that provide a way to salvation:
Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, and has been the means of publishing it on two continents; has sent the fulness of the everlasting gospel, which it contained, to the four quarters of the earth; has brought forth the revelations and commandments which compose this book of Doctrine and Covenants, and many other wise documents and instructions for the benefit of the children of men; gathered many thousands of the Latter-day Saints, founded a great city, and left a fame and name that cannot be slain. He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord's anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum (D&C 135:3)
Joseph's personal righteousness is immaterial.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: The Book of Mormon is the "most correct book on earth."
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: The Book of Mormon has had over 4000 changes. Many minor, some major.
  • Almost all the changes are minor. There are probably only half-a-dozen changes of any significance at all.
  • Brigham Young University has funded the most detailed and searching examination of the original text of the Book of Mormon, conducted by Royal Skousen. The Church can hardly be said to have hidden such matters.
  • Joseph Smith supervised editing of the Book of Mormon.
  • Such things are of historical interest, but they do not change the Book of Mormon's message or teachings. It is not surprising, then, that only those who study the history of the text might pay very much attention to such things.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: The Book of Mormon was found in the Hill Cumorah, in New York, where it was buried by Moroni.
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: No one has been able to find any geography that credibly maps to what's in the Book of Mormon.
  •   The author seriously misunderstands the data  —The critic either genuinely misunderstands an issue or feigns confusion, and then disputes his or her misunderstanding as if it were accurate.
  • No one in the Church disputes that the Hill in New York was where Joseph found the plates, after they were buried by Moroni.
  • The question is whether early Mormons were correct in labeling this hill "Cumorah," and equating it with the Hill Cumorah in the Nephite record. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text demonstrates that doing so is probably not accurate.
  • The Book of Mormon creates a complex, credible, and internally-consistent geography. It is not clear why the presenter feels qualified to claim that no such maps are "credible." (See John Sorenson's Mormon's Map, for example.)
  • If an member is expecting to be able to correlate the Book of Mormon's internal map with real-world present-day locations, that is a taller order, partly because we have no New World "anchor points" at which we can confidently place a known Book of Mormon location. Because of this, real-world maps can be consistent with the Book of Mormon, but they cannot be definitive. Such maps with the best scholarly support include Sorenson's real-world model, and Paulsen's refinements upon it.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: The Book of Mormon is a history of the native Americans of Central, South America, North America and the Pacific Islands.
  •   The author seriously misunderstands the data  —The critic either genuinely misunderstands an issue or feigns confusion, and then disputes his or her misunderstanding as if it were accurate.
  • The Book of Mormon is a record of the ancestors of the native Americans. If even a very small group of people, like Lehi's, from 2600 years ago has any descendants, then everyone in the Americas (and elsewhere) is now their descendant. He is mistaken if he thinks that most of the DNA should come from Lehi if these people are to be Lehi's descendants.
  • It's not clear why "bones" cause a problem for the Book of Mormon. How does one tell a Nephite bone from a non-Nephite bone?
  • Book of Mormon armor matches what is known about pre-Columbian armor.
  • The presenter invokes a wide range of supposed "anachronisms," but shows little familiarity with the discussion that has long taken place about such things.
  • For example, barley has been known in the New World since 1983, despite his claim.
  • Likewise, a 7-day calendar was known among pre-Columbian Americans. Elephants only date to Jaredite times, and there are plausible candidates. Other issues are treated in the links provided above.
  • The theory about View of the Hebrews is a poor one, as even a superficial comparison of its text with the Book of Mormon demonstrates.
  • Church scholars were so certain that the View of the Hebrews posed no risk to the Book of Mormon that BYU published the text anew so it would be more easily accessible.

FairMormon Response

Cover of the January 1968 issue of the Improvement Era, the Church's official magazine of the time. Note the color photograph of the recovered Facsimile 1.

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: The Book of Abraham was translated from papyrus.
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: Experts agree (Nibley included) that the Book of Abraham is not a translation of the papyrus.
  •   Caricature believers' arguments  —Rather than accurately report and respond to a statement offered by a believer, the critic misrepresents it and then criticizes their own straw man version.
  •   The author seriously misunderstands the data  —The critic either genuinely misunderstands an issue or feigns confusion, and then disputes his or her misunderstanding as if it were accurate.
  • Nibley's position is being misrepresented. Nibley insisted that the fragments of papyrus that remain are not the source for the Book of Abraham (except Facsimile 1). He did not claim that the Book of Abraham was not translated from the papyrus.
  •   Church never tells us  —Critics often claim the Church doesn't reveal or discuss something, when Church publications have discussed the matter, often at length and in detail.
  • Nibley published what he thought about the matter in the official Church magazine. Thus, if Church instructors were mistaken, it is not because the Church hid or distorted the matter.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: "Follow the Prophet"
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • Following the prophet does not mean the prophet is perfect.
  • How could any member possibly be surprised by the fact that mortal leaders "have not been perfect"? The Bible is full of stories of prophets who were not perfect. No one is perfect, save Jesus. This is an impossible standard.
  • Any Church member was almost certainly also taught in Church that he or she should seek personal revelation and get a personal testimony of anything which the prophet asked him or her to do before following.
  • It is unlikely that any Church member was ever asked to preach or believe Adam-God theory, blood atonement, or racism in Church.
  • Prophets have also repudiated these speculative teachings, on Adam-God, race, and the critics' interpretation of blood atonement, which were never sustained by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve (as is required to make doctrine binding) or voted upon by the Church membership.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: The Prophet "talks with God"
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: Polygamy: from everlasting to embarrassment. Blacks and the priesthood: from "never in this life" to "what ban?" Policy not doctrine. Mark Hoffman [sic] fooled Church leaders.
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • Just because prophets may "speak with God" does not mean that everything prophets think, believe, or say comes from God.
  • God respects prophets' (and everyone else's) moral agency: God expects us to think, reason, and draw conclusions. No one will do so perfectly.
  • Some members apparently held an extremely rigid, fundamentalist view of such matters that simply could not cope with the realities of history and mortal life.
  • The presenter focuses on quotes that support his thesis (the Church is false, or not what it claims) but he ignores the fact that other leaders said different things about these matters. Since the leaders were not of one voice on the matter, and knew this, and yet did not see this as a problem, that ought to suggest that they understood that views could and would differ.
  • The presenter again overlooks the absolute necessity of personal revelation before accepting any teaching as binding and authoritative.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: Words of modern prophets are scripture. "When the brethren have spoken, the discussion ends."
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: The Church has "completely distanced" itself from the Journal of Discourses. You won't see many quotes from the Journal of Discourses.
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • The idea that "when the brethren have spoken, the discussion ends" is false doctrine. Something similar was printed as a home teaching message written in 1945 by a Church employee, and George Albert Smith repudiated it. If any Church member was taught this, he or she was taught false doctrine.
  •   Church never tells us  —Critics often claim the Church doesn't reveal or discuss something, when Church publications have discussed the matter, often at length and in detail.
  • How many quotes from the Journal of Discourses counts as "many"? For earlier Church leaders, almost entire manuals have been created from quotes that can be found in the Journal of Discourses, since this is where their talks were reprinted. Often, however, another source for the same quote is provided (e.g., a Church newspaper such as Deseret News), so the presenter may not realize that the same material is also found in the Journal of Discourses. See, for example:
  • To find a quote from these manuals in the Journal of Discourses, simply copy a few words or a phrase into the search box of the FAIRwiki at the left side of the screen, and surround them by quotation marks.
  • Contrary to the presenter's claim, members have probably been exposed to more material in the Journal of Discourses by way of the Priesthood and Relief Society manuals than any Church classes in the last few generations.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: The book Mormon Doctrine was just that.
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: Massive errors. Elder McConkie censured and punished.
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • Church leaders are not perfect. No Church manual or publication has ever declared Mormon Doctrine as "official doctrine".

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: LDS General Authorities are among the most righteous people in the world.
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: Paul Dunn, George P. Lee, Richard Lyman. Abuses: sexual, baptismal, ecclesiastical.
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • When these leaders made serious errors in judgment and/or committed grave sins, they were disciplined, by the Church.
  • No one is perfect, or free from the risk of using their moral agency to fall. Only Jesus lived a perfect life.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: Church doctrine is the same today, yesterday and forever.
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: President Hinckley on Larry King, on men becoming gods and vice versa, "I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it." On polygamy, "not doctrinal."
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • The practice of polygamy is not doctrinal at present. No Church leader has denied that plural marriage has a doctrinal basis: it remains clearly in DC 132:, for example.
  • How doctrine is taught and emphasized will change as modern revelation progresses. The Articles of Faith remind us:
We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God (A+of+F 1:9).
  •   The author seriously misunderstands the data  —The critic either genuinely misunderstands an issue or feigns confusion, and then disputes his or her misunderstanding as if it were accurate.
  • The presenter misunderstands what President Hinckley said, and because he does not include the full citation, the meaning is not clear. The only doctrine about which he evidenced some uncertainty or lack of much information was about God's "pre-divine" history.

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: Church doctrine comes straight from God to the prophets.
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  •   Repetition   —Critics often repeat the same claim again and again, as if repetition improved their argument. Or, they use the same 'shock-quote' multiple times.
  •   Not doctrine  —Critics make claims about what "the Church teaches" or what "I was taught," but these ideas are specifically repudiated by official sources.
  • Any Church member cannot have avoided also learning that God reveals, "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little" (see Isaiah 28:13, 2 Nephi 28:30, DC 98:12). Nor is he likely to have avoided hearing that God will "yet reveal many great and important things" (Articles of Faith 1:9). There would be little point in such on-going revelation if it would not change our minds and conclusions about some matters.
  • Also, simply because doctrine comes from God does not mean that everything that a prophet thinks, concludes, or says is "straight from God."

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: Word of Wisdom—Joseph turned down wine, Jesus drank grape juice.
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: Not a commandment until the early 1900s. Many apostles/prophets drank/used tobacco. Joseph had a bar in his mansion, drank wine the night before he was murdered.
  •   The author is applying presentism  —The critics often ignore or fail to provide historical context to understand why things might have been different earlier.
  •   Repetition   —Critics often repeat the same claim again and again, as if repetition improved their argument. Or, they use the same 'shock-quote' multiple times.
  • The presenter is here repeating this concern about the Word of Wisdom (see above). Since he knows that the Word of Wisdom was not a commandment until the 1900s (and even DC 89:2) makes it clear), why is he so troubled by Joseph not keeping the Word of Wisdom in the way that modern members are required to?

FairMormon Response

The author(s) of Why People Leave the LDS Church make(s) the following claim:

*What I learned growing up in Church: Temple ceremony was direct from God.
  • What the history/facts seem to tell us: Temple ceremony, many direct connections to Masonic lodge. Drastic changes in ceremony from inception to now.
  •   The author is applying presentism  —The critics often ignore or fail to provide historical context to understand why things might have been different earlier.
  •   the author is applying fundamentalist thinking  —The critic reveals extremely rigid, unrealistic expectations which he or she attributes to "the Church" or "the gospel," and then criticizes the Church or its leaders from being unable to meet this impossible standard.
  • Members were all aware of changes to the presentation of the temple ordinances as they happened. They did not see any contradiction or problem with this.
  • The earliest members were well aware of the parallels with the Masonic lodge. Joseph Smith actively encouraged membership in the Masons at Nauvoo, which is a strange act to take if he is trying to hide the source of his ideas.
  • The message, doctrine, and intent of the Masonic ceremonies and the temple ordinances are completely different. Early members understood this, and were not troubled by some of the mechanical or structural similarities.

FairMormon Response

Notes