The fundamental tenets of Mormonism support honest investigation and open dialogue. We are taught that “the glory of God is intelligence” (D&C 93:36), that “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask…” (James 1:5), to seek knowledge “by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118), to “study it out in [our] minds” (D&C 9:8), to know truth in both our “mind[s] and… heart[s]” (D&C 8:2), and that we believe in “being honest” (Articles of Faith 1:13). Meat After Milk believes church educational materials must systematically teach members the full details of controversial but historically-factual aspects of the church’s history to comply with and reflect the expansiveness of these teachings.
Because of our conviction to these principles, we declare that honest disclosure of all less-favorable aspects of church history (and the details of all prior attempts at partial disclosure) is the only way to develop the mature church-wide understanding and faith needed to sustain and grow the church in the information age of the 21st century. We are confident that members can successfully digest the church’s true historical record and integrate it into their understanding and lives while still fortifying their faith, especially if they are informed of the history by the church itself. We know of nothing that more potently damages the faith of dedicated members than the independent and third-party discovery of the church’s prior non-disclosure of true church history. Indeed, non-disclosure violates the trust and agency of faithful members and is not God’s way (Moses 4:4). It can affect personal health by instilling resentment, violating loyalty, abusing vulnerability, collapsing one’s value infrastructure, dissolving families, provoking intense ostracism, compromising mental health, invoking personal crisis, and even prompting suicide.
The Church has shown remarkable progress into changing past policies of partial disclosure, including development of the Joseph Smith Papers project, and recent updates to the gospel topics sections of the scripture. However, we assert that current efforts are not sufficient and that additional transparency and open disclosure is needed. This is so because most members internalize doctrinal topics from the pages of scripture, manuals, and magazines as well as from audiovisual materials, without referencing more-obscure and less-well-known sources containing accurate historical information, if even available to them. The information needs to be systematically available and consistently presented to members at the end of gospel discussions, as a visible and optional “meat” discussion following each lesson of gospel “milk.” We call for the end of concealment of historical information at the hands of church management. As J. Rueben Clark stated, ““If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed” (quoted in D. Michael Quinn: The Church Years. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1983, p. 24.)
We do not wish to criticize, find fault with, or place blame on any individual or group of church leaders or administrators, past or present, who may have contributed to efforts to selectively limit the teaching of controversial church history. Instead, we see an unprecedented opportunity for both members and leaders, together, to define a new era of church history instruction, wherein the free agency of every member or investigator is valued and respected enough to allow them to know unabridged church history and then decide for themselves “if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham [yes, Abraham] 3:25) and accept whatever that means to the individual believer.
Meat After Milk embraces the statement by President Uchdtorf, welcoming Mormons all along the spectrum of belief: “…regardless of your circumstances, your personal history, or the strength of your testimony, there is room for you in this Church” (Come, Join with Us. October 1, 2013).
Based on these principle of open discussion and honest investigation, Meat After Milk aspires to create a space for Mormons to articulate issues of incomplete disclosure and concealment of the church’s history that they may be hesitant to raise alone. As a group we intend to put ourselves in the public eye and call attention to the need for more honesty in the teaching of church history. We advocate for the recall and addendum of previously-concealed or misleading aspects of church history within all correlated educational church materials (past and present). We note particularly, the need to include chronological disclosure of all prior revisions and modifications.
We faithfully look forward to a future era of Church membership wherein no one’s testimony can be shaken by accessing historical records. Certainly, after tasting the “milk” of basic gospel principles, all are entitled to know of the “meatier” issues of the church that motivates our faith, embodies our heritage, and defines our lives.