Brief Summary

Other Concerns

As with other issues, FairMormon fails to adequately address other concerns I’ve raised in the CES Letter. For example, FairMormon provides no good explanation for the Church’s misleading statements about its history, such as the statement in the recently revised Official Declaration 2 Heading that “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of” the ban on conferring the priesthood on black males.

FairMormon likewise fails in its attempt to explain why the Church’s changing of the term “wives” to “wife” in the Brigham Young Sunday School manual wasn’t disingenuous. These are just a few attempts by the Church to cover up and whitewash its history.

FairMormon likewise fails to justify the Church’s lack of transparency with its finances and the Church’s questionable expenditure of $1.5 billion on the City Creek Center megamall. The Church spent more money on that mall than it did on humanitarian aid from 1985 through 2011 (a 26 year period).

FairMormon likewise fails to explain other bizarre historical issues, such as how Joseph Smith, and later Brigham Young, could have properly married Zina Diantha Huntingon Young while she remained married to her first husband. And why, on May 3, 1834, Joseph Smith omitted the name “Jesus Christ” from the official name of the Church.

Finally, FairMormon offers no adequate justification for the Church’s alienation of members asking legitimate questions about Church history and doctrine. The Church has used the tactics of a totalitarian regime in discouraging inquisitive thought and discussion, rather than acknowledging and owning the weaknesses and problems in its history and doctrine.

Donut Chart

Other Concerns

The above donut chart shows percentages of the Other Concerns section of Letter to a CES Director that FairMormon is in agreement, disagreement, and neutral on.

If one assumes that FairMormon's undisputed silence is acceptance of the facts, FairMormon agrees with 77% of the CES Letter's Other Concerns section.

Breakdown can be found here.

Detailed Response

Other Concerns

2013 Official Declaration 2 Header Update Dishonesty

CES Letter says...

The author challenges the truthfulness of the recent change in heading to Official Declaration 2: "Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice." The author then quotes various Church leaders as they offered reasons for the practice, and states that "the 2013 edition Official Declaration 2 Header in the scriptures is not only misleading, it’s dishonest. We do have records – including from the First Presidency itself – with very clear insights on the origins of the ban on the blacks."

FairMormon Disagrees

FairMormon says...
  • Namecalling: liars – Critics often assume or claim that LDS leaders or members are lying or dishonest. They do not consider or grant that even if they are in error, they might have made an error innocently or unintentionally. Any error (real or perceived) is evidence of lying.
  • Correct:
    As the author notes, the 1949 First Presidency stated that the policy was a "direct commandment from the Lord." They supported this by quoting Brigham Young, who stated that "It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God." Wilford Woodruff stated that "the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality." These were all advanced by Church leaders as reasons for the priesthood ban.
  • Incorrect:
    There is no record of an actual revelation which instituted the priesthood ban. No such revelation has ever come to light. We do not know precisely how or when the practice began, since Joseph Smith did indeed confer the priesthood upon several black men. We do not know the origin of the practice. The statements of Church leaders providing justification of the practice do not tell us anything about its origin.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

The Church debunks FAIR and ironically contradicts its own 2013 Official Declaration 2 header with the release of its December 6, 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood:

During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.

The Church took it further in its new essay by stating the following:

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Yesterday's doctrine is today's "disavowed theories." Yesterday's prophets are today's "disavowed" heretics.

In one fell swoop, the Church has effectively thrown past prophets, seers, and revelators - from Brigham Young down to Harold B. Lee - under the bus as teaching "theories" with their enforcement and justification on the ban on the blacks.

Now, if we could just edit out all of the racism and black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse in the keystone Book of Mormon? We'd be set.

FairMormon says...
  • Church answer:
    Elder Bruce R. McConkie responds to this after the lifting of the ban in 1978:

    We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years. We have seen what the words say and have said to ourselves, “Yes, it says that, but we must read out of it the taking of the gospel and the blessings of the temple to the Negro people, because they are denied certain things.” There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. (Bruce R. McConkie, "All Are Alike unto God," August 18, 1978 CES Religious Educators Symposium address)

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon


If the Church was not true and it was indeed led by uninspired men no more inspired than the average human being on the planet, what would it look like? And what signs would we need to look for to discover its falsehood?

I find McConkie’s above statement astounding: “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation.

Concerned and troubled by the blatant and outright contradictions and inconsistencies? It is you, says McConkie, who is the disbeliever in need of repentance. Repent, get back in line, forget all that was said, and keep paying your tithing.

Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophets are today’s heretics.


Zina Diantha Huntington Young

CES Letter says...

The following is a quick biographic snapshot of Zina:

She was married for 7.5 months and was 6 months pregnant with her first husband, Henry Jacobs, when she married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a flaming sword. After Joseph’s death, she married Brigham Young and had Young’s baby while her first husband, Henry, was on a mission."

FairMormon Agrees
  • FairMormon agrees and acknowledges that Joseph married 8-11 women who were married to other living men.
  • FairMormon acknowledges that Zina was married and pregnant with Henry’s child when she married Joseph Smith.
  • FairMormon acknowledges that Zina was married to and had a child with Brigham Young while being lawfully married to Henry B. Jacobs.

FairMormon says...
  • Correct:
    Among Joseph's plural marriages and/or sealings, between eight to eleven of them were to women who were already married. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands.

This statement and claim by FAIR is false. I address this in the Polygamy | Polyandry section.

FairMormon says...
  • Correct:
    One of the most well-known of these “polyandrous” marriages was to Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs. In 1839, at age 18, Zina arrived with her parents in Nauvoo after being driven out of Missouri. Faithful LDS missionary Henry Jacobs courted her during 1840–41. At the same time, Joseph Smith had taught Zina the doctrine of plural marriage, and thrice asked her to marry him. She declined each time, and she and Henry were wed 7 March 1841.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Joseph Smith was quite the persistent lad. He asked Zina “thrice” to marry him. She rejected his advances each and every time because she instead wanted to be with and marry Henry. Zina married Henry and she was 6 months pregnant with Henry’s child, when she was intimidated and compelled to marry Joseph after the Mormon god threatened to kill Joseph via his angel with a drawn sword:

“[Joseph] sent word to me by my brother, saying, ‘Tell Zina, I put it off and put it off till an angel with a drawn sword stood by me and told me if I did not establish that principle upon the earth I would lose my position and my life.”

Mormon historian and scholar Richard Bushman confirms this:

“Zina changed her mind after her brother told her about the angel threatening Joseph’s ‘position and his life.’” – Rough Stone Rolling, p.439

Isn’t it funny how you don’t hear that part of the story from FairMormon?

FairMormon says...
  • Zina and Henry were married by John C. Bennett, then mayor of Nauvoo. They had invited Joseph to perform the ceremony, but Bennett stepped in when Joseph did not arrive:

    …Zina asked the Prophet to perform the marriage. They went to the Clerk’s office and the Prophet did not arrive, so they were married by John C. Bennett. When they saw Joseph they asked him why he didn’t come, and he told them the Lord had made it known to him that she was to be his Celestial wife.

    Family tradition holds, then, that Zina and Henry were aware of Joseph's plural marriage teachings and his proposal to Zina. While this perspective is late and after-the-fact, it is consistent with the Jacobs' behaviour thereafter. Zina's family also wrote that Henry believed that "whatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God's authorities bend to the reasoning of any man.
  • On 27 October 1841, Zina was sealed to Joseph Smith by her brother, Dimick Huntington. She was six months pregnant by Henry, and continued to live with him.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

She continued to live with her lawfully wedded husband Henry until Brigham decided to publicly live as a polygamist. Like Joseph, Brigham sent Henry away during the initial years of their sealing. Brigham had a child with Henry's wife while he was on a mission in England that Brigham sent him on.

FairMormon loves to tell their readers that the polyandrous marriages had “little effect” on the lives involved and that the marriages to Joseph were “eternal” in nature while completely ignoring the evidence of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other “prophet, seers, and revelators” sleeping with and having children with their polyandrous wives.

FairMormon says...
  • She had refused Joseph's suit three times, and chosen to marry Henry. Why did she decide to be sealed to Joseph?

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Let’s see here … she refused Joseph’s advances three times and instead marries Henry. What worked the 4th time when she was a newlywed and about seven months pregnant with Henry’s baby? Joseph intimidated and compelled Zina by telling her that an angel of the Lord was threatening his (Joseph) life with a drawn sword if Zina didn’t marry him.

The angel with a drawn sword in Zina's case is bizarre because Joseph was already a secret polygamist several times over and Zina was already married to a faithful Latter-day Saint.

I’ll leave it to the reader to decide whether or not they believe in a god who threatened Joseph Smith with one of his angels with a drawn sword so that a newlywed pregnant woman would feel compelled to marry His polygamist prophet.

FairMormon says...
  • Joseph Smith and Brigham Young's ‘mistreatment’ of Henry and their ‘theft’ of his family have received a great deal of publicity, thanks to late 19th century anti-Mormon sources, and Fawn Brodie increased their cachet for a 20th century audience. These charges are examined in detail (here). For present purposes, we will focus on Zina.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

(Note: FairMormon's above link to "Zina and Her Men" is dead. The correct url can be found here.)

No, FairMormon, let’s focus on Joseph’s and Brigham’s mistreatment of Henry and the theft of his family. FairMormon is pulling out the boogeyman “anti-Mormon” card to intimidate their Latter-day Saint audience from looking further into Brigham Young’s misconduct in taking Henry’s wife.

One account, written by a former Mormon, states that shortly before Henry left for his mission to England and after the Saints left Illinois and were camped in Iowa:

“Brigham Young spoke in this wise, in the hearing of hundreds: He said it was time for men who were walking in other men's shoes to step out of them. ‘Brother Jacobs,’ he says, ‘the woman you claim for a wife does not belong to you. She is the spiritual wife of brother Joseph, sealed up to him. I am his proxy, and she, in this behalf, with her children, are my property. You can go where you please, and get another, but be sure to get one of your own kindred spirit.’” – William Hall, The Abominations of Mormonism Exposed, 1852, p.43-44 (also quoted in “No Man Knows My History”)

I do not rely solely on the above quote and source in my assessment of Brigham’s theft of Henry’s wife. Brigham Young taught a “pre-emptive wives” doctrine which taught that any man in high position within the ranks of the priesthood could take the wife of any other man below him in the Church. Brigham explains:

"The second way in which a wife can be separated from her husband while he continues to be faithful to his God and his priesthood, I have not revealed, except to a few persons in this Church; and a few have received it from Joseph the prophet – as well as myself. If a woman can find a man holding the keys of the priesthood with a higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her, he can do so, otherwise she has to remain where she is." – October 8, 1861, Conference Report, Salt Lake City Tabernacle

Notice the part "and he is disposed to take her". This "he" is referring to the man of higher priesthood, since he is the one taking. In other words, the man lower in the priesthood has no say in the matter. If someone higher than you in the priesthood wants your wife, you have to give her up.

Brigham Young was still teaching this doctrine thirteen years later:

"It takes a higher power than a bill of divorce to take a woman away from a man who is a good man and honors his priesthood. It must be a man who possesses a higher power in the priesthood or else a woman is bound to her husband forever and ever." – June 28, 1874, Brigham City, Utah, Bowery

Zina was the lawfully married wife of Henry B. Jacobs. Joseph Smith – per D&C 132:61 – had zero business telling Zina to marry him under the threat of his life being taken by an angel with a drawn sword. Brigham Young – per D&C 132:61 – had zero business marrying, sleeping with, and having a child with Zina while she was lawfully married to her first husband Henry, with whom she had two children.

At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words and Brigham’s actions of taking the wife of this faithful man away from him is adultery as explicitly and clearly defined in the D&C 132 rulebook of polygamy. There is absolutely no justification whatsoever for the adultery committed by these two latter-day “prophets, seers, and revelators”.

Henry still loved Zina very much and was heartsick for her. The theft of his wife by these two “latter-day prophets” tormented him. Here is a letter that Henry wrote to his wife expressing this love six years after she gave birth to Young’s child:

"Oh how happy I would be if I only could see you and the little children, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. I am unhappy, there is no peace for poor me, my pleasure is you, my comfort has vanished…Oh Zina, can I ever, will I ever get you again, answer the question please. Zina my mind never will change from worlds without ends, no never, the same affection is there and never can be moved. I do not murmur nor complain of the handlings of God no verily, no but I feel alone and no one to speak to, to call my own…I do not blame any person or persons, no – May the Lord our Father bless Brother Brigham and all pertains unto him forever. Tell him for me I have no feelings against him nor never had, all is right according to the law of the celestial kingdom of our God Joseph."

Anyone who believes there is a Warren Jeffs style god who not only condoned polyandry but condoned what Joseph and Brigham did to Henry B. Jacobs – a good man – by marrying, having sex with, and having a child with his lawfully married wife, whom he loved dearly? Any person who thinks this is tolerable and acceptable lacks empathy and basic human decency.

Ironically, even the Mormon god rejects this despicable behavior on the part of these two latter-day “prophets” as He very explicitly and very clearly condemns polyandry as adultery:

“–if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.” – D&C 132:61

Since Brigham Young is a major focus here as he took Henry B. Jacob’s wife, had sex with Zina, and had a child with Zina – all in direct violation to D&C 132:61 – I think the following statement made by Brigham helps paint a clearer picture of the kind of man that Brigham Young really was; the unsanitized Brigham we’ll never hear about in Sunday School or General Conference:

“He (Thomas B. Marsh) has told you that he is an old man. Do you think that I am an old man? I could prove to this congregation that I am young; for I could find more girls who would choose me for a husband than can any of the young men. Brother Thomas considers himself very aged and infirm, and you can see that he is, brethren and sisters. What is the cause of it? He left the Gospel of salvation….When Brother Thomas thought of returning to the Church, the plurality of wives troubled him a good deal. Look at him. Do you think it need to? I do not; for I doubt whether he could get one wife. Why it should have troubled an infirm old man like him is not for me to say.” – Journal of Discourses 5:210

Thomas B. Marsh came back to the Church. He repented. Nevertheless, this “prophet, seer, revelator” humiliated Marsh at a Conference while boasting that he (Brigham) “could find more girls who would choose me for a husband than can any of the young men.”

Another statement made by Brigham Young:

One common theme coming from FairMormon is their attack on David O. McKay’s niece, Fawn Brodie, and her 1945 book No Man Knows My History. I heard about this book as a believing Mormon but only in the context that it’s “anti-Mormon” and “full of lies.” When I read the book during my faith transition in 2012, I found it to be the opposite of what I had heard as a believing Mormon.

In fact, the following is what LDS member Ronald O. Barney from the Church’s Joseph Smith Papers project had to say about Fawn Brodie and No Man Knows My History:

“…her book, by all accounts, was well-written.”

“Fawn Brodie’s claims about Joseph Smith eventually brought censure to her from the Church and she was ‘un-Churched’ [excommunicated].”

“There were some attempts to respond to what [Brodie] had to say but they were absent the kind of historical scrutiny that she had applied to the whole milieu of Joseph during his lifetime.”

You can watch a video of Mr. Barney making the above statements here.

Respected LDS Scholar and Historian Richard Bushman extensively used No Man Knows My History as a source in his groundbreaking Rough Stone Rolling biography of Joseph Smith.

So, despite FairMormon’s attempt to define Fawn Brodie and No Man Knows My History as basically “just another anti-Mormon book full of lies,” many respectable LDS scholars and historians disagree with FairMormon’s positioning and characterization of Brodie and her book.

FairMormon says...
  • Henry was to stand as proxy for Zina's post-martyrdom sealing to Joseph, and her sealing for time to Brigham Young. He and Zina separated soon thereafter, and Henry was soon gone on one of his many missions for the Church. (See here for a more in-depth analysis of attacks on Brigham and Joseph regarding Zina and Henry.)
  • Quotes to consider:

    When interrogated by a member of the RLDS Church, Zina refused to be drawn into specifics. She made her motivations clear, and explained that God had prepared her mind for Joseph's teachings even before she had heard them:

    Q. "Can you give us the date of that marriage with Joseph Smith?"
    A. "No, sir, I could not."
    Q. "Not even the year?"
    A. "No, I do not remember. It was something too sacred to be talked about; it was more to me than life or death. I never breathed it for years. I will tell you the facts. I had dreams—I am no dreamer but I had dreams that I could not account for. I know this is the work of the Lord; it was revealed to me, even when young. Things were presented to my mind that I could not account for. When Joseph Smith revealed this order [Celestial marriage] I knew what it meant; the Lord was preparing my mind to receive it."

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Let’s pull out the parts of this very same RLDS interview with Zina that FairMormon decided to omit from their readers:

In 1898, legalistic questioning cornered the initially cooperative Zina D. Huntington Jacobs Smith Young into either affirming or denying that she had sexually cohabited with legal husband Henry Jacobs during the same years she claimed to be Joseph Smith's polygamous wife.

Zina exclaimed: "What right have you to ask such questions? I was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity."

Undeterred, her questioner (an apostle in the anti-polygamy Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) then led her into one trap after another:

Question: "It is a fact then, Mrs. Young, that Joseph was not married to you [literally--but] only in the sense of being sealed for eternity?"

Zina: "As his wife for time and eternity."

Question: "Mrs. Young, you have answered that question in two ways: for time, and for time and eternity."

Zina: "I meant for eternity."

After affirming the literalness of her marriage "for time" to Joseph Smith, Zina realized that she had to deny sexual polyandry by re-affirming that (during his lifetime) the Prophet had been her husband "for eternity" only. However, her questioner didn't allow her to escape the contradiction.

Question: "Mrs. Young, you have stated that you were married to Joseph Smith for time and eternity. Now, how could you marry Joseph Smith for time when at the same time you were married to Mr. Jacobs[?]"

Zina: "I do not wish to reply..."

Shortly after refusing to cooperate with the ambush into which she had been led, Zina ended the interview by denouncing her RLDS interrogator for prying into "the most sacred experiences of my life..." – Joseph Smith’s Sexual Polyandry, D. Michael Quinn, p.19-20

Doesn’t sound like the polyandrous marriage to Joseph Smith had “little effect” on Zina’s life, now does it?

I’ll leave it to the reader to interpret what “marriage for time” really meant and why Zina felt the need to not only refuse to answer that specific question but to abruptly end the interview as well.

FairMormon says...
  • Incorrect:
    Zina didn’t marry Joseph because of a “flaming sword” threat. Zina herself clearly explains the basis for her choice:

    …when I heard that God had revealed the law of Celestial marriage that we would have the privilege of associating in family relationships in the worlds to come, I searched the scriptures and by humble prayer to my Heavenly Father I obtained a testimony for myself that God had required that order to be established in his Church. Faced with questions from her RLDS interviewer that she felt exceeded propriety, Zina became evasive. She finally terminated the interview by saying, "Mr. Wight, you are speaking on the most sacred experiences of my life…"

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Respected Mormon historian and scholar Richard Bushman disagrees with FAIR:

"Zina changed her mind after her brother told her about the angel threatening Joseph’s ‘position and his life.’” – Rough Stone Rolling, p.439


Brigham Young Sunday School Manual

CES Letter says...

"In the Church’s Sunday School manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, the Church changed the word “wives” to “[wife]”. ....the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist....”

FairMormon Disagrees
  • FairMormon creates a strawman by misrepresenting my argument.
  • FairMormon claims that Brigham Young Manual is not biographical or historical but instead is didactical. This is provably false to anyone who reads the first chapter of the Brigham Young manual, which presents and portrays a monogamist Brigham Young.

FairMormon says...
  • Namecalling: liars – Critics often assume or claim that LDS leaders or members are lying or dishonest. They do not consider or grant that even if they are in error, they might have made an error innocently or unintentionally. Any error (real or perceived) is evidence of lying.
  • Incorrect:
    The author seems to suggest that the Church has been attempting to ‘fool’ its membership into thinking Brigham was a monogamist, when it is fairly common knowledge, both inside and outside of the Church, that he was not. Many US history textbooks used in public high schools mention Brigham's polygamy, for example, and most news stories and other mentions of the Church in modern media will mention polygamy, so it would seem odd (and a bit futile) for the Church to attempt to rewrite this aspect of its history by means of a single lesson in a single manual.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

It seems odd that the Church was not transparent to their members on the polyandry, the rock-in-the-hat Book of Mormon translation, multiple First Vision accounts, the Book of Abraham, and so on, and yet, here we are. There are more members outside the United States than within, remember? And no, there are many outside of the United States unaware of the Church’s history with polygamy (especially in the third world). So, why offer dirt on Brigham and bring up the ugly polygamy card when you’re in control of the conversation and material? Why not pretend polygamy never happened while stopping short of denying it?

The bottom line here is that the Church presents a monogamist Brigham Young in its Brigham Young manual. When it refers to Brigham’s biographical history, they present a monogamist Brigham Young. For example, it talks about how Young married at 23-years-old Miriam Angeline Works and how he supported and took care of her after she contracted tuberculosis (page 2). It continues on that Brigham nursed Miriam in her final weeks until she died in September 1832 (page 3). On page 4, it mentions that Brigham remarried, after Miriam’s death, a lady by the name of “Mary Ann Angell” and that “over the next 10 years, six children were born into their family.”

It continues on in listing all the many events, achievements, and challenges that Young went through in his life but there is zero mention of Young’s polygamy, his other 53 wives, and his other 49 children. The Church has no problem talking about Young’s first non-polygamous wife Miriam and their two daughters as well and as his second non-polygamous wife Mary (married shortly after Miriam’s death) and their six children but there is zero transparency about his other 53 wives and 49 children born out of polygamy. This is like writing about Abraham Lincoln and failing to mention that he was President of the United States. This is why I wrote “the manual is deceptive about whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist.”

The reader can verify this for themselves by viewing the Brigham Young manual in PDF and searching (CTRL + F) through the entire book to determine if the Church is presenting a monogamous Brigham Young.

FairMormon says...
  • Furthermore, the use of square brackets is an accepted editorial convention when a later author wants to use an earlier author's words but change them slightly to fit a different purpose without changing the overall message of the quote. In the case of the quote in question (which is not quoted in the ‘Letter to a CES Director’), Brigham Young is giving counsel to a group of men on how they can be good leaders in their families, which for many of them at the time would have included polygamous marriages. In the modern church, members would only have one spouse, yet the counsel on how to be good leaders of families is still relevant, though it would require an editorial change (clearly marked in square brackets) to change ‘wives’ to ‘wife’.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

I never claimed that the quotes referred to Brigham Young’s own wives. It’s obvious from Brigham’s talk that he was referring to other men and that their polygamous wives.

FairMormon is creating a strawman by misrepresenting my argument.

FairMormon says...
  • Misunderstanding – The critic either genuinely misunderstands an issue or feigns confusion, and then disputes his or misunderstanding as if it were accurate.
  • Note also that a careful reading of the quotations as shown in the manual or in their original sources (which is clearly referenced in the manual) will show that Brigham is not actually referring to his own wives and family in these quotes but to the families of the people he was addressing, so the suggestion that this quote somehow recasts Brigham as a monogamist is somewhat puzzling. The fact that the author of the letter mentions changing ‘wives’ to ‘wife’ in the Brigham Young manual without sharing the actual quote, which provides this additional explanatory context, suggests that this criticism is borrowed from elsewhere, since many sectarian critics of the church picked up on this story when the manual first came out and characterized it in similar terms and without the proper context, as the author has done here.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Again, I never claimed that Brigham was referring to his own wives in the altered quotes. I simply state the following in Letter to a CES Director:

  • In the Church’s Sunday School manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, the Church changed the word “wives” to “[wife]”.
  • Not only is the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist but it’s deceptive in hiding Brigham Young’s real teaching on marriage: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy." – Journal of Discourses 11:269

FairMormon is grasping at straws here. I demonstrate above how the manual is deceptive because there is not one mention about Brigham’s 53 wives and 49 children and polygamy despite discussing his pre-polygamy first wife and then his pre-polygamy second wife (after his first wife passed) along with the children from those non-polygamous marriages. The manual presents a monogamous Brigham Young.

Further, FairMormon’s repeated attempt to paint me as the ex-Mormon who gets his information from only critical sources fails as I linked in my CES letter to the specific page in the manual that contains the quote. It’s obvious to anyone on that page where “[wife]” is.

FairMormon says...
  • A FairMormon publication by Mike Parker, ‘The Church’s Portrayal of Brigham Young,’ explains further:

    In Chapter 23, ‘Understanding the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage,’ two instances of the term ‘wives’ were modified to ‘[wife],’ with brackets included to notify the reader of the editorial change. Since the statements did not refer to Brigham’s own wives, but were part of his counsel to men regarding their marriages, the edited reading is easier for today’s Latter-day Saints, none of whom are married to more than one wife.

    The next manual in the instructional series–Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith–includes this clarifying statement in the “Historical Summary” of President Smith’s life:

    This book is not a history, but rather a compilation of gospel principles as taught by President Joseph F. Smith. However, in order to put the teachings in a historical framework, the following list is provided to summarize some of the milestones in his life that have most immediate relationship to his teachings. This summary omits some important events in his personal life, including his marriages (plural marriage was being practiced in the Church at that time) and the births and deaths of his children, to whom he was devoted.

    This explanation, which is almost certainly directed at detractors of the Brigham Young manual, clarifies that the purpose of the series is not biographical or historical, but didactical. Other Church publications that are historical discuss the subject of plural marriage and its practice among the Latter-day Saints in the nineteenth century.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

This is a false claim. It’s really all three: biographical, historical, and didactical. The manual includes a “Historical Summary” timeline as well as an entire chapter (Chapter 1), entitled 'The Ministry of Brigham Young,' that identified key dates and events in Brigham Young’s life.

In the "Historical Summary" section of the manual, the Church includes only Brigham's monogamous marriages. They list Miriam Works (first wife, died a few months after her baptism). They list the death of Miriam. Then they list Brigham's next wife (again monogamous due to the death of the first). They then leave out Brigham's next 53 plural wives.

It should be obvious to any reader who reads Chapter 1 that the manual includes biographical and historical information on Brigham Young; not just didactical.

FairMormon says...
  • The Brigham Young manual and the manuals that followed it include selected teachings on selected subjects that have application to subjects of concern to today’s Latter-day Saints. They do not teach history, but how to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Despite the complaints of its detractors, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not engaged in a cover up, nor is it attempting to hide an “embarrassing past.”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Again, this is a false claim. The manuals do teach history along with didactical lessons.

It is also false that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not engaged in a cover up, nor is it attempting to hide an ‘embarrassing past’.” The Church is not transparent to their members and investigators in 2014 about its origins and history. FairMormon admits, for example, that there is nothing about the polyandry from official sources. Further, I demonstrated how out of all the official links given by FairMormon to prove the Church’s transparency regarding the rock in a hat Book of Mormon translation, only 2 obscure sources over 20 years old (out of the 40 years of sources listed) are valid. The same is true with the Book of Abraham having obscure sources 20-45 years old. Ditto with polygamy sources which FairMormon does not provide in their response but which they did in their March 2012 presentation at Utah Valley University, which only further proved the point that there are not very many good official sources on polygamy out of the 40 years listed.

The Church is indeed covering up and concealing many embarrassing and damaging facts about Joseph Smith and its origins.

John Dehlin brings up not only the Brigham Young manual but also the Church’s lack of transparency problems. Watch the body language, facial expressions, and comments of the president of FairMormon, Scott Gordon, as John outlines the transparency problems:

(Starts @ 37:33. Brigham Young Manual starts @ 39:25)

The following is a graphic showing Brigham Young’s wives (including the polyandrous marriages and non-plural marriages):



The only men who become gods, even the Sons of God,
are those who enter into polygamy

CES Letter says...

"Not only is the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist but it’s deceptive in hiding Brigham Young’s real teaching on marriage: ‘The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.’ – Journal of Discourses 11:269”

FairMormon Disagrees

FairMormon says...
  • Church answer:

    “Note: Avoid sensationalism and speculation when talking about plural marriage. Sometimes teachers speculate that plural marriage will be a requirement for all who enter the celestial kingdom. We have no knowledge that plural marriage will be a requirement for exaltation. — ‘Doctrine and Covenants 132’, Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, found on lds.org.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Brigham Young: “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.”

Gordon B. Hinckley: “Polygamy is not doctrinal.”

Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic.

Notice that the speculation is not on whether or not there is polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom. The speculation is on whether it is a requirement “for all who enter” the Celestial Kingdom. Yet, you have President Hinckley clearly stating that polygamy is not doctrinal.

FairMormon says...
  • This quotation is often used in critical sources. They do not include the surrounding text which explains what Brigham Young had in mind on this occasion:

    “We wish to obtain all that father Abraham obtained. I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us...It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: "We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character and office, etc,"—the man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them. (emphasis added)”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

I dismantle FairMormon’s diversion here.

FairMormon says...
  • It is clear that Brigham was making several points:
  • The command to practice plural marriage is from God, and it is wrong to seek to abolish a command from God.
  • To obtain the blessings of Abraham, the Saints were required to be ‘polygamists at least in your faith’: i.e., it was not necessary that each enter into plural marriage in practice, but that they accept that God spoke to His prophets.
  • It was wrong to avoid plural marriage for worldly, selfish reasons, such as believing the Church would fail, and hoping to have political or monetary rewards afterward.
  • Faithful Saints cannot expect to receive ‘all that the Father has’ if they willfully disobey God. When the people have ‘had blessings offered unto them,’ and if they refuse to obey, God will withhold blessings later because of that disobedience now.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

It is clear that Brigham makes the point that the only men who become gods are those who enter into polygamy. The “polygamists at least in your faith” grants you entrance into the Celestial Kingdom but not as a god as I demonstrate here.

This is just a diversionary tactic by FairMormon.

Brigham Young says polygamy in practice or “at least in your faith” is required for admittance into the Celestial Kingdom. President Hinckley emphatically states that polygamy is not doctrinal.

Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic.

FairMormon says...
  • Finally, it must be remembered that Brigham Young is speaking to a group who had been commanded to live the law of polygamy. There is no basis here for speculating about what he would have said to a group who did not have that commandment given to them, as we now do not.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

“The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy” was a doctrine. It does not matter whether Brigham Young was talking to polygamists, non-polygamists, Masons, non-Mormons, young women, or the bears in the Wasatch Mountains – it was still doctrine.


Church Finances

CES Letter says...
  • Estimated $5 billion megamall City Creek Center
  • Total Church humanitarian aid from 1985-2011: $1.4 billion

Something is fundamentally wrong with 'the one true Church' spending more on a multi-billion dollar high-end megamall than it has in 26 years of humanitarian aid.

FairMormon Agrees
  • FairMormon does not dispute that the Church built a $1.5 billion dollar mall nor that the Church’s combined 25 years humanitarian aid (1985-2011) is $1.4 billion.
  • FairMormon and I agree on mall price mistake (should be estimated $1.5 billion instead of $5 billion).

FairMormon says...
  • Quotes from Ex-Mormon message board posts do not produce the best evidence – Ex Mormon message board posts tend to let their rhetoric obscure facts.
  • Incorrect:
    The author is incorrect. The City Creek Center cost is approximately $1.5 billion, not $5 billion. (The $5 billion figure is popularly used on ex-Mormon message boards)

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

FairMormon is correct about the estimated price tag not being $5 billion. I corrected this mistake.

I did not get my $5 billion figure from “ex-Mormon message boards.” I got the figure from the KSL article which I also linked in my letter. However, the mistake I made was not taking into account that the $5 billion figure also includes other downtown revitalization project costs. It’s easy to see how this honest mistake can be made from reading the Church-owned KSL article, which focuses on City Creek:

The Salt Lake Chamber says $5 billion have gone into the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake City, and a major part of that is soon to open in the new City Creek Center. - KSL article

I find FairMormon’s snarky “ex-Mormon message boards” comment and assumption unnecessary and desperate; desperate in their attempt to paint me as an imbalanced ex-Mormon who only gets his information and sources from the “ex-Mormon message boards.

Regardless of the mistake in the Mall price, I find it very telling that FAIR chooses to focus on a minor price tag error instead of addressing the very troubling points I was making:

Total Church humanitarian aid from 1985-2011: $1.4 billion
City Creek Mall Estimated Price Tag: $1.5 Billion

Something is fundamentally wrong with “the one true Church” spending more on an estimated $1.5 billion dollar high-end megamall than it has in 26 years of humanitarian aid.

FairMormon says...
  • From the Wikipedia article ‘City Creek Center’: ‘The City Creek Center is part of an estimated $5 billion sustainable design project to revitalize downtown Salt Lake City. The City Creek Center project itself has been estimated to cost around $1.5 billion.’

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

The bottom line is that we still do not know how much City Creek Center really cost. The $1.5 billion price tag is just an estimate, which reinforces the point I made in the finances section of my letter and which FAIR fails to address: the Church’s secrecy with its finances.

The Church has the answer. The Church can tell its members and the public exactly how much City Creek cost yet the Church refuses to disclose its finances or its City Creek data to their members despite President Hinckley’s dishonest statement (@1:22) that the information belongs to the members.”

City Creek could have cost the Church $2 billion, $3 billion, maybe even more. We really don’t know. All we can do is guess due to the Church’s lack of financial transparency.

The idea of a religion, let alone one which claims to be the “one true” restored gospel of Jesus Christ, spending $1.5 billion or more on a high-end luxury megamall is unprecedented. Members of the Church deserve to know how much was spent by the Church and how spending such an astronomical amount of money on a luxury megamall can be reconciled with the teachings and legacy of Christ, the Book of Mormon, scriptures, and latter-day prophets.

FairMormon says...
  • The "$5 billion" dollar figure refers to the cost of the entire Salt Lake City downtown redevelopment project, referred to as "Downtown Rising." The City Creek Center cost $1.5 Billion. Details about these projects may be viewed at Downtown Rising. Other projects include the following:
  • Utah Performing Arts Center
  • Frank E. Moss Federal Courthouse
  • Six Gateway
  • Questar Corporate Headquarters
  • Jessie Eccles Quinney Center For Dance and Capitol Theatre Renovation
  • Public Safety Building
  • Public Market
  • Convention Center Hotel
  • Utah Theater
  • City Creek
  • Gallivan Plaza
  • Harmons City Creek
  • The Leonardo
  • 222 South Main
  • O.C. Tanner

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Correct. The one that concerns a lot of people is the Church owned City Creek Center.

Latter-day Saint Alan Rock Waterman wrote an excellent piece on City Creek worth reading, “City Creek: How Did We Come To This?

When we live in a world where 80,000 active LDS children suffer from chronic malnutrition? And about 900 of those children die from malnutrition every year? This $1.5+ billion luxury megamall business is truly a moral failure of epic proportions.

FairMormon says...

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

I’ll just respond to this with a 2-minute clip and a simple question:


What would the Savior do?


Tithing

CES Letter says...

I find the following quote in the December 2012 Ensign very disturbing:

‘If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing. The Lord will not abandon you.’

Would a loving, kind, empathic God really place parents in the horrible position of having to choose whether to feed their children or pay what little they have to a multi-billion megamall owning Church that receives an estimated $8,000,000,000 in annual tithing receipts?

FairMormon Disagrees

FairMormon says...
  • Mocking language and hyperbole – The critic exaggerates claims in order to mock believers.
  • From a believer's perspective, a more accurate description than “pay what little they have to a multi-billion megamall owning Church” would be to “donate one-tenth of what little they have to the Lord.”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Of course. The vast majority of Chapel Mormons are completely unaware of not only how much the Church receives approximately annually in tithing receipts but they are also unaware that their own Church is a luxury megamall owner that spent at least $1.5 billion dollars to fund it.

The fact that members are unaware of these facts and that they believe their money is helping to pay for Church buildings, Temples, materials, and missionary work – not a $1.5+ billion dollar luxury mall – does not negate the fact that their hard earned tithing money is still going toward a luxury megamall owner.

And no, the argument that no tithing money was used for the mall is misleading and deceptive. Without tithing, the Church would not have had the money in the first place to invest in corporations, amusement park, hotel resorts, cattle ranches, a hunting reserve, lands, real estate, stocks, etc. – which in turn provide profit, interest, and residual income. No tithing = no income producing assets = no profit = no $1.5+ billion dollar megamall.

Brother Jake explains tithing:


FairMormon says...
  • The quote is part of a story about a family in San Salvador that had joined the Church and was experiencing a great change in their lives. We will provide a bit more of the context:

    The Vigils’ bishop, César Orellana, also saw changes in their lives. Soon after their baptism, Amado approached Bishop Orellana and said, ‘We want to pay tithing, but we don’t know how.’

    Bishop Orellana explained that tithing was 10 percent of their increase. Amado was somewhat concerned. At the time, Evelyn had a job, but he did not. ‘We always come up short,’ Amado explained to his bishop, ‘but we want to pay tithing.’

    Bishop Orellana responded, ‘Brother, the Lord has made many promises.’ Together they read scriptures about the blessings that come from faithfully paying tithing, including the Lord’s words through the prophet Malachi: ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, … and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it’ (Malachi 3:10).

    After reading these scriptures together, Bishop Orellana looked at the new convert and said, ‘If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing. The Lord will not abandon you.’

    The next Sunday, Amado approached Bishop Orellana again. This time he didn’t ask any questions. He simply handed his bishop an envelope and said, ‘Bishop, here is our tithing.’

    Reflecting on this experience, Bishop Orellana says, ‘Ever since then, they have been faithful tithe payers.’ The family received some commodities from the bishops’ storehouse during their financial difficulties. Beyond that, the Lord blessed them to be able to care for themselves. Evelyn received a promotion, and Amado found a good job. Evelyn later lost her job, but they continued to pay tithing and to receive spiritual and temporal blessings for their faithfulness. Once Bishop Orellana asked Amado how the family was doing financially. Amado responded, ‘We’re doing all right. Sometimes we don’t have much to eat, but we have enough. And more than anything, we trust in the Lord.’

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

The rent vs. tithing and food for family vs. tithing is disturbing. Further, if “sometimes we don’t have much to eat, but we have enough” is a standard of the Lord pouring “out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it”? The Vigils are better off keeping their own hard earned money to actually provide and fully feed themselves and their children instead of giving it to a multi-billion dollar multinational luxury megamall owning corporation. It is absolutely insane that they still do not have much to eat even though they “have enough.” This is like saying, “Well, the Lord is blessing us for tithing as we’re not starving” while they’re completely miserable in not having much to eat.

A god who tests and withholds blessings (aka money, food, clothes) from a third world Mormon family because they don’t donate 10% of their already extremely meager and scant income to a luxury megamall owning corporation is a sadistic god unworthy of obedience and worship.

FairMormon says...
  • If someone is in the situation where they have to choose between tithing and food, it is of benefit to sit down and talk with the bishop as they have access to better training and employment opportunities as well as may be helpful in establishing a better budget so that such a conflict won't arise in the future.

FAIR's above response can be found on FAIR's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

I love how the problem is not tithing but rather, in applying FairMormon’s advice to the Vigils, helping this third world family to establish “a better budget.” If “a better budget” is FairMormon’s answer, they are oblivious on the real burden and hardship that 10% tithing is on the backs of third world Latter-day Saint families like the Vigils, who are often faced with life and death situations. Now they get to also worry about guilt from a Mormon god demanding a 10% ransom of their precious resources; a god who sees no problem telling his prophet and apostles to buy an American luxury multi-billion dollar megamall while proclaiming, “Let’s go shopping!” at its grand opening as families such as the Vigils truly struggle and suffer just to get by.

FairMormon says...
  • With regard to self sufficiency, we are taught as well that we need to be part of our faith community and that requires at us time to allow others to serve us. It is a kindness to give others such opportunities, even when we don't necessarily need such help. There are blessings that come from being a charitable receiver as well as a charitable giver.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Sure. However, we are not taught to be dependent upon this “faith community” to survive and live. This is self-reliance: to be able to fed, clothe, shelter, and provide for ourselves. When it is the Church itself that is getting in the way of a family’s self-reliance to feed, shelter, and clothe themselves? Due to horrible and despicable tithing counsel? That’s just morally indefensible.


Names of the Church

CES Letter says...

After deciding “Church of Jesus Christ” on April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith made the decision on May 3, 1834 to change the name of the Church to, “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”. Why did Joseph take the name of “Jesus Christ” out of the very name of His restored Church? The one and only true Church on the face of the earth in which Christ is the Head?

FairMormon Agrees

FairMormon says...
  • The only name for the Church established by revelation was the one mentioned in D&C 115:3.

    ...for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world.”
  • “None of the other names (The Church of Christ; Church of Jesus Christ; Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints; The Church of God; The Church of Latter Day Saints) were established by revelation.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Well, why not? FairMormon’s answer just makes things worse.

D&C 115:3 wasn’t revealed until April 26, 1838. Why did Joseph Smith completely make up names of the Church for 8 whole years – including one where he removes “Jesus Christ” – when none of the names he made up were revealed to him? What does this say about the Church and Joseph Smith’s claim that the Church has been and is continuing to be guided by modern revelation since its restoration in 1830?

FairMormon says...
  • David Whitmer, however insisted that the original name of the Church was the only proper one, and that it had been given by revelation. There is no known revelation to support this claim however, and Whitmer appears to be using the Book of Mormon to support this claim (the Book of Mormon uses ‘Church of Christ’.) Whitmer also claimed that it was Sidney Rigdon who pushed to change the name to ‘Church of the Latter Day Saints’.” (Note: FAIR removed previous last sentence on October 6, 2013)

    “In June, 1829, the Lord gave us the name by which we must call the church, being the same as He gave the Nephites. We obeyed His commandment, and called it THE CHURCH OF CHRIST until 1834, when, through the influence of Sydney Rigdon, the name of the church was changed to ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints,’ dropping out the name of Christ entirely, that name which we were strictly commanded to call the church by, and which Christ by His own lips makes so plain. (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ by a Witness to the Divine Authenticity of The Book of Mormon)”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

D&C 115:3 was given by revelation on April 26, 1838…over 8 years after the Church was established. So, for 8 years the Lord never bothered to getting around to revealing the name of His restored Church?

The Lord gives a revelation in April 1829 that Oliver can use his magical rod but He doesn’t get around to something as critical as what the name of His restored gospel in the latter days should be?

The Lord gets around to doing the following but not getting around to something as important as the name of His restored Church?

  • Delivers personal notes to John and Peter Whitmer (D&C 15 & 16)
  • Compliments Emma and gives her advice (D&C 25)
  • Tells Oliver and John Whitmer to do their scripture reading (D&C 26)
  • Tells Hiram Page to quit it with his stone as Satan is messing with him (D&C 28)
  • Chastises David Whitmer for his lackluster performance. (D&C 30)
  • Gives Thomas Marsh a motivational note (D&C 31)
  • Gives Edward Partridge a personal note (D&C 36)
  • D&C 39 Corvell is called by the Lord to do great things and Corvell says “no thanks, bye” in D&C 40.

The following is the minutes of the council in May 1834 that made the decision to remove “Jesus Christ” and create the new name, “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”:

“President Joseph Smith, Jun., was chosen moderator, and Frederick G. Williams and Oliver Cowdery were appointed clerks.

After prayer, the conference proceeded to discuss the subject of names and appellations, when a motion was made by Sidney Rigdon, and seconded by Newel K. Whitney, that this Church be known hereafter by the name of "The Church of the Latter-day Saints." Remarks were made by the members, after which the motion passed by unanimous vote.” - History of the Church, Volume 2, Chapter 5, p. 62

For a Church that claims to be restored and based upon revelation, you’d expect something as important as the name of the Church to be given by revelation like the Lord’s green lighting of Oliver’s stick.

David Whitmer stated that “through the influence of Sydney Rigdon, the name of the church was changed to ‘The Church of the Latter Day Saints,’ dropping out the name of Christ entirely.”

So, that’s it? As “prophet, seer, and revelator” and as the “chosen moderator” of the council meeting, Joseph allowed the name of Jesus Christ to be dropped from His Church for the next 4 years? The name change was approved by “unanimous vote”. Whether Rigdon tried to influence the name change or not is irrelevant. As “prophet, seer, and revelator,” Joseph approved taking the name “Jesus Christ” out of the name of the Church through a council setting in which the vote was unanimous. With a direct line to Deity and call to set up His Church in the latter days, Joseph had every right to ask the Lord for a revelation on something as important as the name of the Church.

Besides, where was the Lord over the next 4 years? The entire 8 years before he finally got around to revealing the correct name of the Church to Joseph? Over the years as this god continued giving comparatively irrelevant and unimportant revelations to Joseph Smith, He never once bothered to say, “Oh, by the way, dummy … you got the name of the Church wrong … put ‘Jesus Christ’ back in there, m’kay?”?

The ironic and insulting part of FairMormon’s answer on their “Other Concerns” section is that they point to Elder B.H. Roberts’ quote for support. In the View of Hebrews response in the Book of Mormon section, they have no problem whatsoever throwing the same Elder B.H. Roberts under the bus as his beliefs and conclusions do not support their fringe Limited Geography theory. I guess Roberts’ answer is only “valid” and useful when it matches FairMormon’s conclusions.


Some things that are true are not very useful

CES Letter says...

"Packer said the following:

‘There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.'

Joseph using a rock in a hat instead of the gold plates to translate the Book of Mormon is not a useful truth? The fact that there are multiple conflicting First Vision accounts is not a useful truth? The fact that Joseph Smith was involved in Polyandry when D&C 132:61 condemns it as ‘adultery’ is not a useful truth?"

FairMormon Disagrees

FairMormon says...
  • Elder Packer was speaking about illustrating weaknesses or mistakes of prominent historical figures.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

…yes, he did, which is exactly why I wrote my concerns on ignoring the “weaknesses” and “mistakes” of past leaders in the CES Letter, which I quote here:

“He [Packer] continues:

‘That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith – particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith – places himself in great spiritual jeopardy.”

Right, because being honest to members about Joseph’s ‘weaknesses and frailties’ of secretly marrying other men’s wives while denying and lying about it to everyone for 10+ years just might destroy faith. But let’s not teach this historical fact because ‘some things that are true are not very useful’.

What’s interesting about Packer’s above quote is that he’s focusing on history from the point of view that a historian is only interested in the ‘weaknesses and frailties of present and past leaders’. Historians are also interested in things like how the Book of Mormon got translated or how many accounts Joseph gave about the foundational First Vision or whether the Book of Abraham even matches the papyri and facsimiles.

Besides, it matters in the religious context what present and past leaders ‘weaknesses and frailties’ are. If Joseph’s public position was that adultery and polygamy are morally wrong and condemned by God, what does it say about him and his character that he did exactly that in the dark while lying to Emma and everyone else about it? How is this not a useful truth? A relevant hypothetical example: President Monson gets caught with child pornography on his hard drive. This matters, especially in light of his current position, status, and teachings on morality. Just because a leader wears a religious hat does not follow that they’re exempt from history and accountability from others.

The question should not be whether it’s faith promoting or not to share ugly but truthful facts. The question should be: is the right thing to do? Is it the honest thing to do?’”

FairMormon says...
  • Joseph's use of a ‘rock in a hat’ is indeed a ‘useful’ truth, since it makes it more difficult for critics to claim that Joseph was consulting other texts while he dictated the Book of Mormon. Furthermore, the ‘rock in hat’ has been mentioned a number of times in Church materials.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

CES Letter: Why are there 1769 King James Version edition errors and 17th century KJV translator’s italics in the Book of Mormon? Word for word?

FairMormon: We don’t know. God must’ve given them to Joseph. Joseph didn’t consult other texts – especially the KJV bible – so…we don’t know.

I went over each and every “rock in hat” source that FAIR points to as “proof” of the Church’s transparency here. The Church only clearly explained the rock in the hat translation process three times in 40 years; once in 1977 and again in 1993 and recently in their new essay released on December 30, 2013. Never in lesson manuals, and never in General Conference. If this is what transparency looks like…I have a magical rock, a hat, and possibly a bridge to sell to FairMormon.

Hopefully we will start seeing art work showing Joseph's face in a hat on Temple Square, Museums, Ensign, and in lesson manuals. Hopefully the Church will finally pull the treasure hunting rock Joseph used for the Book of Mormon out of their dark vault for public display on Temple Square.

FairMormon says...
  • Joseph's multiple First Vision accounts are discussed on the Church's official website here: "First Vision Accounts" on "lds.org".

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

FairMormon is pointing to a brand new essay that the Church released on their website recently on November 20, 2013. This is the first of an estimated 13 essays which will be published by the Church over the next few months. An updated list of all of the essays which have been released on the issues by the Church can be found here.

It's just too bad that Chapel Mormons weren't privy to this information and to the various First Vision accounts for decades prior to November 20, 2013. It's also too bad that the Church's new essays, including the First Vision accounts, still contain serious omissions and outright lies.

While I applaud the Church's direction toward honesty and transparency, the Church had a moral obligation and responsibility to disclose these different versions of the First Vision story at least 30 years ago when they knew about it. Generations of Mormons have based their testimonies on the 1838 account when they were oblivious to the contradictory earlier accounts.

FairMormon says...
  • Joseph's practice of ‘polyandry’ does not match the definition of adultery in D&C 132. Verse 63 states, ‘But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery.’ Joseph was never ‘with another woman’ who was married to another man. Joseph was sealed to women who were married to other men, but there is no evidence that he had any physical intimacy with them. In fact, as the author points out, ‘These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their prior husband after marrying Joseph.’ More accurately stated, "These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their current husband after being sealed to Joseph. At that time, it was possible to be sealed for eternity to someone other than your current spouse.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

This is both false and deceptive. Let’s pull up the Doctrine & Covenants 132 verse that FAIR decided to leave out in their answer:

“–if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.” – D&C 132:61

The women Joseph married were not virgins as they were married to other men (Zina was 6 months pregnant). They were definitely vowed to other men when Joseph approached them and married them. And Joseph definitely didn’t get the “first give her consent” from Emma because Emma was left in the dark about these marriages.

Joseph had zero business being married to other men’s wives. There is simply no justification – legally, doctrinally, morally – for marrying women who were vowed and married to other living men. None. Joseph violated the following D&C 132 rules with the polyandry:

  • These married women were not virgins, which is a violation of D&C 132:61
  • Joseph did not get the first wife Emma to “give her consent.” In fact, Emma was unaware of the majority of Joseph’s polygamous marriages, including ones with other men’s wives.
  • Contrary to the lie that FAIR is trying to sell here, polyandry is adultery as these women were vowed to other men.

Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that Joseph Smith didn’t practice sexual polyandry (most scholars say he did), there is no doubt that Brigham Young did.

In any event, FairMormon is attempting to wiggle out of this serious problem by not only trying to redefine polyandry but also by making the unsubstantiated and unsupported claim that there was no “physical intimacy” in the polyandrous marriages.

As for Joseph’s sexual polyandry, see the following table:

This is from FairMormon’s own website. So, there’s only one scholar – a Mormon apologist – who does not believe that the polyandrous marriages were sexual. Everyone else is either a “yes” or “maybe.” The only reason why Hales doesn’t say “yes” is because he believes that Sylvia Sessions Lyon was separated (not divorced) from her husband at the time that she conceived a child with Joseph Smith (Josephine Sessions). Other scholars – both LDS and non-LDS – differ with Hales on this point.

The list includes about 50/50 of what FairMormon would consider friendly/neutral and critics. 8 pro-LDS and 7 critics.

Why is FairMormon misrepresenting the issue by making the unsubstantiated and unsupported claim that there was no sex or physical intimacy in the polyandrous marriages when even Mormon apologists and scholars on polygamy are mostly on the “yes” or “maybe” side?

Also, why is FairMormon contradicting themselves? On FairMormon’s own website discussing Joseph’s marriages to women already married to other living men (polyandry), FairMormon states:

“This is not to argue, I hasten to add, that such marriages must not or could not involve sexuality. I believe they were legitimate marriages, and as such could easily accommodate righteous marital relations.”

The only justified purpose to polygamy is to “multiply and replenish the earth”, “bear the souls of men”, and “raise seed”.

In FairMormon’s attempt to support their unsubstantiated claim that the polyandrous marriages were not sexual, FairMormon states: “These married women continued to live as husband and wife with their current husband after being sealed to Joseph. At that time, it was possible to be sealed for eternity to someone other than your current spouse.

I outline the problems and contradictions to FairMormon’s above claim with polyandry in further detail in the Polygamy | Polyandry Section.


Criticizing leaders

CES Letter says...

"Dallin H. Oaks made the following disturbing comment in the PBS documentary, 'The Mormons': 'It is wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.'"

FairMormon Agrees

FairMormon says...
  • Elder Oaks answers this claim himself. In the following transcript, ‘HW’ is ‘Helen Whitney’ and ‘DHO’ is ‘Dallin H. Oaks’:

    HW: You used an interesting phrase, “Not everything that’s true is useful.” Could you develop that as someone who’s a scholar and trying to encourage deep searching?

    DHO: The talk where I gave that was a talk on “Reading Church History” — that was the title of the talk. And in the course of the talk I said many things about being skeptical in your reading and looking for bias and looking for context and a lot of things that were in that perspective. But I said two things in it and the newspapers and anybody who ever referred to the talk only referred to [those] two things: one is the one you cite, “Not everything that’s true is useful,” and that [meant] “was useful to say or to publish.” And you tell newspapers any time (media people) [that] they can’t publish something, they’ll strap on their armor and come out to slay you! [Laughs.]

    I also said something else that has excited people: that it’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true, because it diminishes their effectiveness as a servant of the Lord. One can work to correct them by some other means, but don’t go about saying that they misbehaved when they were a youngster or whatever. Well, of course, that sounds like religious censorship also.

    But not everything that’s true is useful. I am a lawyer, and I hear something from a client. It’s true, but I’ll be disciplined professionally if I share it because it’s part of the attorney-client privilege. There’s a husband-wife privilege, there’s a priest-penitent privilege, and so on. That’s an illustration of the fact that not everything that’s true is useful to be shared.

    In relation to history, I was speaking in that talk for the benefit of those that write history. In the course of writing history, I said that people ought to be careful in what they publish because not everything that’s true is useful. See a person in context; don’t depreciate their effectiveness in one area because they have some misbehavior in another area — especially from their youth. I think that’s the spirit of that. I think I’m not talking necessarily just about writing Mormon history; I’m talking about George Washington or any other case. If he had an affair with a girl when he was a teenager, I don’t need to read that when I’m trying to read a biography of the Founding Father of our nation. (See "Elder Oaks Interview Transcript from PBS Documentary" on mormonnewsroom.org)

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

"I also said something else that has excited people: that it’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true, because it diminishes their effectiveness as a servant of the Lord. One can work to correct them by some other means, but don’t go about saying that they misbehaved when they were a youngster or whatever. Well, of course, that sounds like religious censorship also."

You know that it’s bad when even Oaks awkwardly and freely admits, “that sounds like religious censorship also.

Oaks’ attempt to backtrack or diminish what he said on PBS does not negate from his statement. He was very clear that “it is wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.” If the criticism is true and its validity, truth, and usefulness is strong enough to “diminish [the] effectiveness” of a leader? Well, it ought to. A fact or truth about a leader’s character and conduct that can “diminish” the leader’s effectiveness is a serious thing deserving of closer inspection and investigation.

Oaks’ PBS comment and previous “not everything that’s true is useful” comment is consistent with the Church’s informal “some things that are true are not very useful” policy. It’s consistent with the Church’s decades long misconduct of hiding and concealing ugly facts about Joseph Smith and the Church’s origins and history.


The scary internet

CES Letter says...

After quoting comments from Elder Quentin Cook and Elder Dieter Uchtdorf related to the use of online information, the author responds, "Who cares whether you received the information from a stranger, television, book, magazine, comic book, napkin, and even the scary internet? They’re all mediums or conduits of information. It’s the information itself, its accuracy, and its relevance that you need to focus on and be concerned with. With all this talk from General Authorities against the scary internet and daring to be balanced by looking at what both defenders and critics are saying about the Church, it is as if questioning and researching and doubting is now the new pornography."

FairMormon Disagrees

FairMormon says...
  • According to the quote by Elder Uchtdorf that appears just prior to the author's statement, it doesn't matter by what medium you receive information:

    “it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

I was responding to Elder Cook’s comment; specifically focused on “internet materials.” Further, Uchtdorf’s quoted comment starts with “in this age of information” (internet) while expanding on typical stereotypes of “conspiracy theories” found on the internet such as “earth is flat,” “moon is a hologram,” and “movie stars are really aliens from another planet." Further, the “printed on paper” in this context can be interpreted as meaning information from the internet printed on paper and passed around.

This is just irrelevant FairMormon nitpicking.

FairMormon says...
  • Elder Uchtdorf is not telling members to avoid things that ‘appear on the internet’ any more than he is telling them to avoid ‘printed paper.’ He has, in fact, precisely answered the question that the author asked after the author presented Elder Uchtdorf's quote.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Let’s see…Uchtdorf starts talking about the “age of information (internet),” focuses on extreme internet stereotypical “conspiracy theories” using hyperboles, and then states “…printed on paper, appears on the internet…”, followed by “has a powerful group of followers." It is obvious that - like Cook - Uchtdorf is focusing on the internet and attempting to imply that the internet is dangerous territory for testimonies and finding truth.

FairMormon says...
  • Elder Cook is talking about the type of internet materials one looks at:

    “Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders.”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Cook brings up just the internet for a reason. This is the point I’m making. The implication of Cook’s comments about “internet materials” is: if you too “immerse” yourself on the internet, you will likely “draw incorrect conclusions” that “affect testimony."

I illustrate in my open letter to Cook about how these “internet materials” that “affect testimony” is often the Church’s own materials and websites. Additionally, “internet materials” such as fairlds.org often “affect testimony” as well.

FairMormon says...
  • “Once again, this is not an admonition by Elder Cook to avoid the ‘scary internet’.”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Elder Cook is giving a subtle message to the members that the internet is a dangerous place where testimonies can die. Cook is only focusing on the medium of the internet while making unclear and ambiguous references to how members lose their way through researching “internet materials."

The real message being given here is that if you do research on the internet outside of approved sources you are putting your testimony at risk.

He does not elaborate on what can be construed as “internet materials” or how to know if the “internet materials” are “magnifying, exaggerating…or [inventing] shortcomings.” He simply just creates a boogeyman on the internet to instill fear in the members that their testimonies can be “affected” by researching online.

FairMormon says...
  • “The author employs hyperbole (the "scary internet") to make it seem as if Elder's Cook and Uchtdorf are telling Church members to avoid using the internet. He has missed the point of their comments entirely.”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Have I really?

Nice strawman, FairMormon. My argument is not that they’re telling Church members to avoid using the internet. Obviously, they’re fine with Church members going on, for example, LDS.org, Mormon.org, and familysearch.org.

My argument here is that they’re painting the internet as a dangerous place where testimonies can be “affected”. They are implying to the members that if they too “immerse themselves” into “internet materials” that “magnify, exaggerate, and invent shortcoming of early Church leaders” (without telling them how they can know what is or is not doing those things), they’re effectively discouraging and instilling fear into the members to not “immerse themselves” into “internet materials” about Church leaders at all. Unless of course it comes from Mormon.org and LDS.org.

Like FairMormon, the Church often gives ambiguous statements that do not directly say something but which can be implied or interpreted by their audience as such. This allows FairMormon and the Church to use plausible deniability. After all, Cook and Uchtdorf would not directly admonish or counsel members to avoid researching anything about the Church online except for official sources because that would really make the LDS Church look cultish. All they have to do is imply, as they did – through fear and intimidation – that if you search or “immerse yourself” in the internet, your testimony will be “affected.”

CES Letter says...

"Under [Elder Quentin] Cook’s counsel, FairMormon and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons “internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcoming of early Church leaders” but they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism."

FairMormon Disagrees
  • FairMormon completely misunderstands my argument and misrepresents the point I’m making.

FairMormon says...
  • Misunderstanding - The critic either genuinely misunderstands an issue or feigns confusion, and then disputes his or her misunderstanding as if it were accurate.
  • Incorrect:
    FairMormon does not "magnify, exaggerate" or "invent shortcomings of early Church leaders." Claiming that prophets are human beings is not a "shortcoming."
  • Read the author's statement carefully: He claims that FairMormon provides "many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions." The author, ironically, commits the logical fallacy of "Appeal to Ridicule," which, according to Wikipedia,

Appeal to ridicule....is an informal fallacy which presents an opponent's argument as absurd, ridiculous, or in any way humorous, to the specific end of a foregone conclusion that the argument lacks any substance which would merit consideration.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

This is incorrect.

FairMormon “Appeal to Ridicule” charge is true only by taking out and isolating that statement out of my letter, like they just did. FairMormon’s “Appeal to Ridicule” charge is not true when that sentence is taken into context with my entire letter.

In other words, it’s not a logical fallacy because I outline in my letter the answers and logic given by unofficial apologists like FairMormon that led me to the conclusion that “they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism.”

FairMormon is cherry-picking. This statement is a conclusion, not a premise. The claim by FairMormon that I committed the informal “Appeal to Ridicule” fallacy is therefore invalid.

Notice that FairMormon didn’t dispute my claim that their answers contain fallacies and omissions.

FairMormon says...
  • “FairMormon does not ‘magnify, exaggerate’ or ‘invent shortcomings of early Church leaders.’"

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

Nice play with words, FairMormon. Let’s pull up what I actually wrote in the CES Letter:

“Under Cook’s counsel, FairMormon and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons “internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcoming of early Church leaders” but they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism.” (Emphasis added)

I didn’t say that FairMormon “magnify[ies], exaggerate[s]” or “invent[s] shortcomings of early Church leaders.” As defenders of the LDS Church and its leaders, this is obviously not true. I said that FairMormon introduces material that does so. Materials that FAIR brings up to use in their counter or rebuttals but which unintentionally expose Chapel Mormons to in the process.

As staunch unofficial defenders of Mormonism, FairMormon has to go into the trenches and discuss materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders in order to defend the Church and its leaders. The byproduct, of course, is that Chapel Mormons learn new and disturbing information and facts about LDS history and its leaders that they were previously clueless about before FairMormon introduced the information to them.


Going after members who publish or share their questions, concerns, and doubts

CES Letter says...

"The September Six were six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were excommunicated or disfellowshipped by the LDS in September 1993, allegedly for publishing scholarly work on Mormonism or critiquing Church doctrine or leadership." He then notes that "Boyd K. Packer made the following comment regarding the three “enemies” of the Church: 'The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.'"

FairMormon Agrees

FairMormon says...
  • The excommunication of the ‘September Six’ occurred almost 20 years ago. The ‘September Six’ is comprised of the following individuals. Of the six, two have rejoined the church and one still attends LDS services:
  • Lavina Fielding Anderson (excommunicated—Still attends Church services)
  • Avraham Gileadi (excommunicated—now back in full fellowship)
  • Maxine Hanks (excommunicated—now back in full fellowship as of 2012)
  • D. Michael Quinn (excommunicated)
  • Paul Toscano (excommunicated)
  • Lynne Kanavel Whitesides (disfellowshipped)

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FAIR

FairMormon is not answering anything. This information is in the Wikipedia article which I linked in the September Six section of my letter.

Whether or not some of these individuals returned back to the Church is irrelevant. The issue here is the Church’s anti-intellectualism, which led to events like the September Six in the first place. Several of these intellectuals have pointed to the Church’s anti-intellectualism and the Strengthening Church Members Committee (SCMC) – which still exists as of March 2012 – as the reasoning and driving force behind their excommunication/disfellowship in September 1993.

FairMormon says...
  • The author speculates that the church discipline occurred because these individuals shared ‘questions, concerns, and doubts,’ however, the Church does not release any records indicating the reason that someone was disciplined. In this case, D. Michael Quinn claimed that it was because of his scholarly work, and blamed Boyd K. Packer for his excommunication.

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

No. I don’t speculate. I’m getting my information directly from several of the above mentioned individuals who were excommunicated as part of the September Six. It wasn’t just D. Michael Quinn who claimed that he was excommunicated due to his scholarly work. Several others concur and share the same opinion that they were targeted and excommunicated over their scholarly work as well.

FairMormon fails to address or respond to Boyd K. Packer’s “three enemies of the Church” comment made several months before the September Six took place:

“The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.”


Strengthening the Church Members Committee

CES Letter says...

"Strengthening the Church Members Committee: The spying and monitoring arm of the Church. It is secretive and most members have been unaware of its existence since its creation in 1985 after President Ezra Taft Benson took over. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland admitted it still exists in March 2012. The historical evidence and the September Six points to SCMC’s primary mission being to hunt and expose intellectuals and/or disaffected members who are influencing other members to think and question, despite Holland’s claim that it’s a committee primarily to fight against polygamy."

FairMormon Agrees

FairMormon says...
  • The Strengthening Church Members Committee has been described as a "clipping service" which kept track of public statements by Church members who openly criticized the Church in the media. Although a "clipping service" probably made sense back in 1985, in the internet-rich world of 2013 it seems somewhat anachronistic. The Committee apparently still exists (as noted in the Jeffery R. Holland interview referenced by the author), but we do not know what it currently does.

Quotes to consider

  • The following is from the Church News, August 22, 1992:

    First Presidency statement cites scriptural mandate for Church committee

    Generally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not respond to criticism levied against its work. But in light of extensive publicity recently given to false accusations of so-called secret Church committees and files, the First Presidency has issued the following statement:

    "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in 1830 following the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith in upstate New York. This sacred event heralded the onset of the promised `restitution of all things.' Many instructions were subsequently given to the Prophet including Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants:" `And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them…

    "’And also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained, both of character and personal injuries…

    "’And also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out.

    "’And perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements and affidavits; and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat;

    "’And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published. . . . (Verses 1-5.)'

    "Leaders and members of the Church strive to implement commandments of the Lord including this direction received in 1839. Because the Church has a non-professional clergy, its stake presidents and bishops have varied backgrounds and training. In order to assist their members who have questions, these local leaders often request information from General Authorities of the Church.

    "The Strengthening Church Members Committee was appointed by the First Presidency to help fulfill this need and to comply with the cited section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This committee serves as a resource to priesthood leaders throughout the world who may desire assistance on a wide variety of topics. It is a General Authority committee, currently comprised of Elder James E. Faust and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They work through established priesthood channels, and neither impose nor direct Church disciplinary action.

    "Members who have questions concerning Church doctrine, policies, or procedures have been counseled to discuss those concerns confidentially with their local leaders. These leaders are deeply aware of their obligation to counsel members wisely in the spirit of love, in order to strengthen their faith in the Lord and in His great latter-day work."

    - The First Presidency

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

…a clipping service

What were they “clipping”? And for what purpose were they clipping for? Examples of so-called "clipping":

This clipping service at LDS headquarters is also interested in published letters-to-the-editor in all Utah’s newspapers, including the student publications of BYU and other Utah colleges. Statements considered controversial about LDS policy to national media are also targets for these files. In addition, the [committee] uses operatives to obtain tape-recordings of every Mormon who gives presentations at public forums regarded as suspicious. As a glimpse into the extent of these files, a history professor at Utah State University [Ross Peterson] was informed during a meeting at LDS headquarters in 1990 that his surveillance file included an anti-war statement he made as an undergraduate in college (p. 311). - Extensions of Power, Michael Quinn, p.331

They were clipping statements/articles/books/speeches made by members to be collected in the member's file for whatever purposes the Church saw fit. In other words, Mormon Secret Police keeping tabs on members of the Church to make sure they're toeing the party line.

Elder Holland tries to paint the SCMC as primarily an anti-polygamist group; however, that doesn't quite align with Elder Oaks' "clipping service" claim.

The historical evidence disputes Holland's anti-polygamy claims as the SCMC was used against the September Six, BYU Professors, Grant Palmer, and other non-polygamous members of the Church.

…we do not currently know what it does

Exactly my point. Even the Church's official spokesman won't talk about it:

Based on the historical record, it is a secretive spy and monitoring arm of the Church which is still secretive and non-transparent to the members and the world in .

A believing active Latter-day Saint wrote a great article about the Strengthening the Church Members Committee.


When the prophet speaks the debate is over

CES Letter says...

"N. Eldon Tanner, 1st Counselor in the First Presidency, gave a First Presidency Message in the August 1979 Ensign that includes the following statement: ‘When the prophet speaks the debate is over.’

“Some things that are true are not very useful + It is wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true + Spying and monitoring on members + Intellectuals are dangerous + When the prophet speaks the debate is over + Obedience is the First Law of Heaven = Policies and practices you’d expect to find in a totalitarian system such as North Korea or 1984; not from the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

FairMormon Disagrees

FairMormon says...
  • President Tanner is speaking about several specific moral issues, which he outlines in his talk. He is not advocating that one should not think for themselves:

    “To gain these riches many engage in the debates on moral issues. The alcohol and tobacco industries and dealers in pornography are accumulating great wealth at the expense of the people and to the detriment of their health. With all the evidence of child pornography, it is deplorable that any parent would allow any child to be so exploited. Some children are being neglected and abused because their mothers are seeking worldly pleasures and careers outside the home. Many fathers are more concerned with their financial success than with the welfare of their wives and children.

    We must turn all this about. We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over.”

FairMormon's above response can be found on FairMormon's website here.



Jeremy's Response to FairMormon

What does it mean to debate? A definition: “To engage in argument by discussing opposing points.” Debate is the discussion, interaction, and exchange of ideas. Debate is the foundation to a true free market of ideas and information. When debate is snuffed out, the free flow of information and the free exchange of ideas cease. This censorship or halting of the free flow of information and ideas is anti-intellectualism.

So, what does it really mean when one says, “When the prophet speaks the debate is over”? It means that one man can censor the free flow of information and exchange of ideas. Rather than allow the strength and merit of ideas to win the day, the idea that one man who wears a hat called “prophet” can censor and shut down debate is a direct example of anti-intellectualism. The censorship of the exchange of ideas is against the very idea of free agency itself.

It does not matter if Tanner is talking about morality, politics, philosophy, business, religion, science, finance or sports. The very idea that one single man can control and censor debate and the free flow of ideas and information is not only anti-intellectualism but anti-free agency as well.




Debunking FairMormon Table of Contents





Important Note

Other Concerns Last Updated: 5.9.14

My above response is based on FAIR's 12.23.2013 Other Concerns answers.



About the Author

Born and raised in Southern California, Jeremy is a seventh generation Mormon of Pioneer heritage who reached every Mormon youth milestone. An Eagle Scout, Returned Missionary, BYU alumnus, Jeremy was married in the San Diego Temple with expectations and plans of living Mormonism for the rest of his life.

In February 2012, Jeremy experienced an awakening to the LDS Church's truth crisis, which subsequently led to a faith transition that summer. In the spring of 2013, Jeremy was approached and asked by a CES Director to share his questions and concerns about the LDS Church's origins, history, and current practices. In response, Jeremy wrote what later became publicly known as the CES Letter (originally titled Letter to a CES Director).

The CES Director responded that he read the "very well written" letter and that he would provide Jeremy with a response. No response ever came.

“I believe that members and investigators deserve to have all of the facts and information on the table, to be able to make a fully-informed and balanced decision as to whether or not they want to commit their hearts, minds, time, talents, income, and lives to Mormonism.”

Jeremy T. Runnells


Interview with Mormon Stories

Part 1 On Growing Up Mormon and the Genesis of the CES Letter 
Part 2 Jeremy Discusses the CES Letter in Detail 
Part 3 Rapid Firing Round, Reaction to the Letter 

Debunking

Several unofficial Mormon apologists, including FairMormon, have provided responses to CES Letter:

Jeremy's response to FairMormon:

The only official response, to date, is the series of recent essays by the LDS Church, which is available on the Church’s own lds.org website.

A comprehensive critique of each essay is available here on MormonThink.com.

Jeremy’s rebuttals to other Mormon apologist arguments:

A Zombie’s Reflections on That Mormon Apologist’s Reflections

Jeremy’s rebuttal to Daniel C. Peterson’s FairMormon Some Reflections on That Letter to a CES Director presentation.

The Book of Abraham: “Except for Those Willfully Blind, the Case is Closed”

Jeremy’s rebuttal to Brian M. Hauglid’s Jeremy Runnells and the Book of Abraham essay.

The Sky is Falling – Part 1

Jeremy’s rebuttal to FairMormon’s Kevin Christensen’s Eye of the Beholder essay.