Results from the Knowledge of LDS Church History Survey: Joseph Smith and Polygamy section


Results from the Knowledge of LDS Church History_final


Objective: To identify the percentage of members who were already aware that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and of select details, and the prevalence of resulting psychological conflict.

Methods: A cross-sectional online survey was administered to members and former members through social media.

Results: An evenly-distributed population of active to former members participated. Seventy-one percent reported having been previously made aware of Joseph’s polygamy, with 75% reporting resulting cognitive dissonance. Only 38%, 33%, 33%, and 28%, respectively, reported being made aware of polyandry, marriage to teenagers, persuasive proposals, and marriage to the wives of other faithful members, which induced high levels of dissonance (87-91%). Activity in the church was associated with the choice to not entertain doubt (p=0.0006), but not awareness of historical facts. Non-doubting members were more likely to not complete the survey (p=0.08).

Conclusion: Prior to the recent church essays, over two-thirds of LDS church members reported that they had previously been made aware of Joseph’s polygamy by church sources. The vast majority, however, had not been informed of details invoking near-ubiquitous psychological conflict.


Addendum #50- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (11:05-11:55)

joseph smith profile 1.8

ADDENDUM:  The film’s juxtaposition of depictions of the gold plates, followed by the story of Jesus’ visit to the Nephites in 3 Nephi 11, followed by Joseph telling his family stories of ancient American civilization conveys a false understanding through an inaccurate sequence of events.  The depiction may easily be understood by viewers that Joseph translated the plates, learned the story of Jesus coming to America during translation, and then related it to his family, a sequence of events that did not occur.

As FAIR openly admits and even argues, Joseph told stories about ancient America to his family prior to his receiving the plates, as documented by his mother.  These stories were “information that he was receiving from the angel Moroni” (FAIR) and not from the text of the Book of Mormon, which had not yet been unearthed, let alone translated through the peep stone and urim and thummim.  While the film doesn’t assert that Joseph’s stories were actually from the Book of Mormon, the sequencing suggests it.  This could be remedied by simply adding the words, “Before obtaining the plates, Joseph was given knowledge by Moroni or another angel of an appearance Christ himself made… (etc.)”  Addition of this qualifying detail will prevent viewers from incorrectly understanding that Joseph told the Book of Mormon story found in 3 Nephi 11 to his family at age 17.

However, this may be problematic, given that there is no documentation that Joseph ever told the 3 Nephi 11 story to anyone in the years before obtaining the plates.  While it could be true that the information contained in 3 Nephi 11 was simply related to Joseph verbally by an angel prior to his obtaining the plates, this is not suggested by the historical text, which only documents that Joseph, “would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them.”

Since there is no documentation that Joseph related the story of 3 Nephi 11 to anyone at age 17, the film could more correctly state that Joseph related certain cultural aspects of ancient America to his family in story and not extrapolate further, unknowingly.  More concerning, though, the film actually mislead viewers in this regard, for it specifically extols the details of 3 Nephi 11 (relating the account of Jesus’ visit to the Americas with such details as the calling of apostles, invitation to the crowd to touch the marks of the nails, and the miracles Jesus’ performed among them — JOINTLY told with visual material from film “The Testaments,” which depicts the event exclusively as it is told in 3 Nephi) and immediately thereafter using the pronoun “this” to allude precisely to what Joseph allegedly told his eagerly-listening family: “Joseph could describe this as if he had spent his whole life with them.”  The pronoun in the sentence directly modifies the story of Jesus’ visit to America.

This exaggeration and misrepresentation of the documented record takes literary license and tells a history that is not documented,  This can be easily corrected by full disclosure of what is actually documented:  Joseph told stories about ancient American war, religion, animal travel, etc. to his family during the years prior to his obtaining the plates presumably from angel Moroni (the historical accuracy of certain aspects of these stories lack substantive evidence by modern investigation [FAIR]).   Further information than this, stated or implied, is admittedly unsubstantiated and should be addended for historical accuracy.

Joseph’s story need not be embellished for millions to cultivate faith in it, but such embellishment will certainly prevent many members from sustaining their faith.

The current depiction incorrectly leads viewers to the understanding that the Book of Mormon story found in 3 Nephi 11 was told to Joseph’s family directly 3 years before Joseph ever received the plates.  Furthermore, the telling of these stories confirms that many of the descriptions of ancient America later found in the text of the Book of Mormon were known to Joseph years prior to the book’s translation and publication, which is said to have occurred in a short span of a “three-month period between April and June of [1829],” (LDS.ORG) demonstrating that the cumulative understanding communicated in the book evolved or was acquired over a much longer period of time.”Amusing_recitals”_of_ancient_American_inhabitants

Addendum #49- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (10:13-10:43)

joseph smith profile 1.7ADDENDUM:  Although the film dramatizes the visit of the angel Moroni as an unprovoked and surprising event to Joseph, historical context adds substantially to one’s understanding of the event and must no longer be omitted in correlated church materials and film depictions.  FAIR acknolwedges that Joseph was not at all unfamiliar with messages of valuable relics buried in the ground and the pursuit to unearth them.  In fact, he was intimately familiar with seeking for buried treasures and had not only been minimally involved with J. Stowell in treasure seeking, but had been seeking for buried treasure with a seer stone for years, often as his principle employment.  A subset of the general population at the time believed firmly in the reality of divination, seer stones, and magical thinking, etc., so it is appropriately argued that the mindset was a not-unheard-of component of early New England history.  Often stories of such fabled treasures included treasure guardians, in the form of ghosts, devilish minions, animals, etc.  FAIR acknowledges this as foundational history and affirms that, given Joseph’s involvement with treasure seeking, that there is no way to know whether Joseph first considered Moroni (whom he initially described as being the spirit of the Almighty) as one of these treasure guardians, as a divine messenger, or both.  Regardless, as modern members of the church consider the story of Moroni’s visitation and the discovery of the golden plates, each has a right to be presented the full contextual history, without having to wade through an occult historical record alone, and to be given such context by the same trusted church organization that first introduced the story to them and sanctified it in their hearts.  Members and investigators can still choose to believe that God used Joseph as an instrument to obtain and translate the plates, but such belief should be coupled by understanding of the historical truth.  This will likely modify the current pervasive characterization of Joseph and may require mental rationalizations of history, including, for example, that his treasure digging was divine preparation for unearthing the plates, that prior encounters with fictitious treasure guardians was a heralding of the actual divine encounter with Moroni, or that those he led to believe in his magical-world capabilities of divination and seer stone use were correct to believe him and that he alone among 19th century treasure seekers actually held divine seer powers which were later necessary for translation , etc.  Omission of such detail has created generations of believers whose faith is mal-contextualized.  Modern church members have a right to inform their individual, collective, and generational decisions of faith and orthodoxy with history that is fully disclosed.

Addendum #48- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (09:03-10:10)

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ADDENDUM:  Although the film dramatizes the impact that Joseph’s telling of the first vision had both personally on his relationship with one particular minister, as well as on his family with the greater community surrounding their family, as FAIR acknowledges, there is no documentation that the first vision was related to anyone until 1827, 7 years after it was said to have occurred.  While the account that Joseph related years later can be taken at face value as historical, full disclosure of this lack of parallel evidence is needed.  Additionally, numerous accounts demonstrate that Joseph’s initial treasure-seeking endeavors focused on the finding of the gold plates without any telling of the first vision and that his efforts were initially devoid of any religious intent, which later increasingly grew with time.  Members of the church can choose to have faith in the first vision and its impact on the community as related by Joseph, but the telling of the story should include the full historical record, to contextualize the account and facilitate the  choice to exercise faith and believe that the vision occurred as is claimed.

Addendum #47- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (06:18-08:00)

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ADDENDUM:  The different accounts of the first vision are of equal historical legitimacy.  The church should teach the details of each account even if they favor one over the others.  In film, it would be reasonable to create film depictions of each account.  Even if they weren’t as widely dispersed as the others, the effort to create a media library that actually reflect the other accounts would legitimate them to all members, allowing the church and its members to better know and accept its true history.  such a film wouldn’t necessarily be shown in the Legacy Theater of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building with as much fanfare, but currently no film depictions of the other accounts even exist.

Addendum #46- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (03:50-04:08)

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ADDEDNUM:  The film mentions Joseph’s uncle Jesse Smith of Salem, MA, affectionately by deriving a story of a retained seashell, alluding to a time that Joseph spent with him at the seaside, years previously, after his leg operation.  The film paints Jesse as an affectionate uncle without mentioning how potently he opposed what Joseph later did.  A letter written from Jesse to Hyrum in response to a letter from Joseph Smith, Sr. is included above, demonstrating his disdain.  The film should not make reference to Jesse Smith in such an affectionate and affirming way without providing further information of his opposition to Joseph’s behavior.  The film omits at least the following details demonstrated by the letter:  Jesse’s opinion was that Joseph pretended his discoveries, that he was involved in clear foolish deception, that Joseph’s paternal grandfather was greatly afflicted by his behavior, and that he mocked the alleged use of spectacles to decipher hieroglyphics.  The church can ignore Jesse’s criticisms but should not unilaterally allude to only favorable aspects of his relationship with Joseph and his family.!/paperSummary/letterbook-2&p=65

Addendum #45- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (02:32)

joseph smith profile 1.4 (accessed 13 AUG 2014)

Addendum #44- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (01:51-01:59)

joseph smith profile 1.3 (accessed 13 AUG 2014)

Addendum #43- Full-Length Film: Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (01:12-01:48)

joseph smith profile 1.2

FAIR references (all accessed 13 AUG 2014):

Smith family money digging 

1826 court

First vision 1827

Joseph Sr’s dream

Addendum #42- Liahona December 2008, Friend Page 10-11, Cartoon Depiction of The Martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith

liahona dec 2008 1.1

See Addenda #40 and #41 for more details about the martyrdom.

Addendum #41- Primary 5, Chapter 37, Joseph and Hyrum are Martyred (Part 2)

Primary 5 Chapter 37.2

Addendum #40- Primary 5, Chapter 37- Joseph and Hyrum are Martyred

Primary 5 Chapter 37.1 (accessed 3 Aug 2014) (accessed 3 Aug 2014)

Full text: Nauvoo Expositor (accessed 3 Aug 2014)

Addendum #39- Endowed From On High, Temple Preparation Seminar, Chapter 3, Temple Work Brings Great Blessings into Our Lives

temple 1.1

“I don’t feel I was ready…”

Impact:  This is exactly how I am feeling right now! I don’t feel I was ready [for baptism at age 8] and I don’t feel that my children are at all either. I have had a real hard time with baptizing at the age of 8 for some time now. But the family pressure is so thick, I couldn’t handle the explanation as to why we wouldn’t, and of course the pressure in primary.

Name: Meradith

Date:  30 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Under-Informed Covenant Making

Addendum #38- Children’s Songbook, Page 88, On A Golden Springtime

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For the different accounts of the first vision, see Addendum #11

Addendum #37- Hymns, #26, Joseph Smith’s First Prayer

hymns 1.1

For the different accounts of the first vision, see Addendum #11

Addendum #36- Nursery Manual, Behold Your Little Ones, Chapter 26, I Will be Baptized and Confirmed

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Addendum #35- Nursery Manual, Behold Your Little Ones, Chapter 21, Joseph Smith Saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ

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For accounts of First Vision, see Addendum #11

“Consider manipulation of truth… as a kind of abuse”

Impact:   I found out [about historical Church History] in December of last year. I did not reason my way through any difficult questions, rather, I was told over the course of three hours the real story of the church. I feel like it will take me years to recover. At 44, that is a depressing thought! Anyway, while some might say there are compelling reasons to stay… there are many more compelling reasons to leave. Fact is, you and I were lied to and the foundation of the church is false. If you let yourself go to places like and go through some of their archived subjects, you will begin to understand the depth of the pain and sorrow and worse that many have suffered at the hands of this dysfunctional and authoritarian organization. While there are very often good messages that can be found about how to treat our fellow human beings or how to be a more productive person and the like, they are not unique to Mormonism. You will see this quote from time to time– “What is good in the church is not unique and what is unique in the church is not good.” Consider manipulation of truth for selfish goals as a kind of abuse. And while not all encompassing throughout the church, it is most certainly very pervasive. 

Name: Anonymous

Date: 27 Jul 2015

Impact Topic: General; Cover Up and Excommunications

Addendum #34- Joseph Smith History 1:56 and Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, Joseph Smith History

money-digging 1.1 (apologist view) (apologist view) (critical view)

Exact text of court record published in (numerous sources, including) Tuttle, Daniel S. “Mormons” in a Religious Encyclopedia, ed.  Philip Schaff (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1883), 2:1576 [see figure above].  Re-published copy of text from Brodie, Fawn.  No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith. 1941. Appendix A is used and highlighted above because of its improved legibility.

Addendum #33- Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual, Chapter 3, Succession in the Presidency

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“…it shook my world.”

Impact:   Once I found out that Joseph Smith put his head into a hat to look at peep stones, the same stones he went fortune hunting with, it shook my world.  I wondered what else the church had white-washed and kept from me?  The polyandry, polygamy and lying to Emma was another big issue for me.  Then I had to look at the story of mobs being after an innocent man because Satan didn’t want the gospel restored.  Made way more sense that people would be upset with shenanigans then they would be with religion.

Name: Kim

Date: 25 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Book of Mormon Translation

“A …good understanding… made me less angry”

Impact:  A very good understanding of the overall polygamy dynamics during [Joseph’s] time… actually made me less angry about polygamy surprisingly. It gave me an insight to his actions and why he did what he did, but there were times that I was still angered by his behavior, especially his secrecy with Emma. I was surprised by the secrecy that went on among Emma’s close friends as well. Many of them were married to Joseph and hid it from her. Joseph lied. Emma’s friends lied to her regularly. [I learned] the intricate dynamics and weird triangles of people involved in lying to keep polygamy secret and hidden. There is no way a prophet could pull off today what Joseph did. I …especially [found fascinating] the practice of the dynastic celestial sealings. I still have a lot of unanswered questions, but I ultimately have a better understanding. The reason why I was so fascinated with polygamy was because my ancestors are all Mormon pioneers who came across the plains and settled in Utah. I have a ton of polygamy in my ancestry on both sides of my family. I wanted to understand what my ancestors went through in practicing polygamy. I became obsessed with studying it for a while last year. I was shocked to discover that it was not true that there was a surplus of women which was the reason I was told polygamy was practiced. But I shouldn’t have been that surprised considering all the other stuff I didn’t know:) I think when [one is] studying subjects as complicated as polygamy, it’s important to read as much as you possibly can. I found out really quick when I started on my faith crisis that having little information was dangerous. I was reading a little bit here and a little bit there which sent me over the edge without knowing how to process it. Not saying that I still know how to process it all now, but it’s been much easier to process and understand things by immersing myself in studying the history.

Name: Alyson

Date: 24 July 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy

“I am young and naive. This pain is new to me.”

Impact:  I am 17 years old, a true, believing Mormon until about a few months ago. I first started to see flaws about the church last year when I decided not to go to girl’s camp because I decided to take classes at our local community college.  I had expected the rest of the young women to be disappointed, but never would I have imagined my close friends and well-respected leaders to shun me and tell me that I was missing out on “the most spiritual experience of my life,” which of course is just nuts.  They then proceeded to tell me that I didn’t need to take college classes because I didn’t have to in order to graduated high school and that college is where I can meet my future husband who will work while I can stay at home with the kids. They told me to worry about my celestial marriage right now (I was 16 at the time). That’s when my eyes opened about the ridiculousness of the Mormon culture.

I started to question doctrine last year during seminary as we studied the Book of Mormon. I went to learn more about the history and the translation process. Like many, I was shocked about the things I found concerning Joseph Smith, polygamy, first vision accounts, blacks and the priesthood, the Book of Abraham, temples, and so much more. I cried myself to sleep for many months. I loved the church. I loved the scriptures, the prophet, the ward family, temples, and so much more. But I loved the Savior and His atonement most of all. I feel betrayed, lied to, and cheated. If the church isn’t true, then how many precious hours did I waste for it?

Only my parents know of my crisis of faith. I told my bishop a little but he thinks I gained my testimony back. I’m not sure what I believe in any more. I still feel good when I go to church, but because of the familiarity or otherwise, I’m not sure. I’m not sure I want to leave or stay.

I am young and naïve. This pain is new to me. I feel empty and hopeless where I was once happy about church. Sometimes I wish I had stayed a true, believing Mormon because it was so much easier. But I can’t go back after what I’ve seen. I can only move forward. I don’t even know what the right thing to do is anymore, otherwise I would do it.

Date: 24 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: General

Addendum #32- Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants (2nd page)

doctrine and covenants 1.3

Click to access 2009_Brigham_Youngs_Teachings_On_Adam.pdf

Addendum #31- Introduction to The Doctrine and Covenants

doctrine and covenants 1.2

Click to access scripture-comparison_eng.pdf

Addendum #30- Preach My Gospel, Chapter 3, Lesson 5, Laws and Ordinances, Priesthood and Auxiliaries

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Addendum #29- Preach My Gospel, Chapter 3, Lesson 5, Laws and Ordinances, Eternal Marriage

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Addendum #28- Preach My Gospel, Chapter 3, Lesson 5, Laws and Ordinances, Callings

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“…the very same standard.”

Impact:  If I had to pinpoint one [most concerning] thing, it would be the secrecy and the lies. To get a Temple recommend, I had to say that I was honest in all my dealings, when the very church who deals out these questions does not have to live by the same standard.

Name: M.S.

Date: 15 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Cover Up and Excommunications

Addendum #27- Preach My Gospel, Chapter 3, Lesson 1, The Restoration

Book of Mormon Translation 1.5

“They didn’t know,” then they did… “what?”

Impact: This broke my shelf- that memo that they didn’t know where the [priesthood] ban came from shortly followed by the essay. I was like, wait, what? I thought you just said we didn’t know where it came from! I felt so lied to! It was all down hill from there.

Name: Andrea

Date: 19 JUL 2014

Impact Topic: Race and the Priesthood

Addendum #26- Preach My Gospel, Chapter 1, What is My Purpose as a Missionary

Book of Mormon Translation 1.4

Addenda #24 and #25- Our Heritage, Chapter 9, The Expanding Church and Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Teacher Manual, Lesson 42, Continuing Revelation to Latter-day Prophets

prophets after joseph 1.1.

“All the years I sang this”

Impact: I actually wouldn’t get too exercised over this because for all of the years I sang this, I simply believed that “all the chosen race” were those who belonged to the church and therefore were “adopted” into the “chosen race.” I guess I was taught that the “seed of Abraham” or the “House of Israel” were more responsive to the message of the restored gospel, but I also thought that anyone who accepted it became the “chosen” people. I remember even hearing that those who accepted the “restored gospel” would literally have their blood changed to become part of the House of Israel, and countless patriarchal blessings declare lineage in the house of Israel either by descent or adoption.

Name: Nadine

Date: 17 JUL 2014

Impact Topic: Race and the Priesthood

“I…would…try to pray it out of me”

Impact:  I was raised in the church, went to BYU, then served a mission in South America. After returning from the mission field, I became a RS Pres, then I was in Young Women’s, Primary and most of the other jobs that most wards have. I was very active. I struggled my whole life with knowing I was gay, but would go to the temple and try to pray it out of me. That never worked, but I tried to remain faithful. After so many years of trying, I can be honest and say, I was not happy, I didn’t feel the peace of being faithful so I made the decision to leave the church after talking with my parents and telling them I was gay. They were incredible. They said they always knew and that they just wanted me to be happy and if I could only love a women, then I had their support. While I did meet someone and we both continued to attend church, for a while, it just became too much. We both felt we had to step away. So step away we did.

My partner was the one who starting investigating the church and would share things with me. At first I didn’t believe what she found and I said it was not true what was being said about Joseph and the current leaders. I grew up in Maryland, so I was aware of some of the history, such as Joseph had multiple wives, even that he had told Martin Harris that he was to give his wife to Joseph. I was taught it was only a test and Joseph never took her away from Martin. I knew about Eliza R. Snow and was told it was a spiritual marriage only. So when I started doing research and found that Joseph had been arrested for fraud, that rocked my belief pretty badly. Then to learn he actual took other men’s wives, even one that was 8 months pregnant, that was bad. Then learning that he married a 14 year old and Emma was not aware of any of this. Then learning that their are multiple versions of the First Vision, I felt betrayed and lied to about early history and if I was lied to about that, what else was the church lying about?

My dad was Stake President when Ezra T. Benson came back for a Stake Conference. He stayed the weekend with us and there were lots of talks at night about all the issues. One particular discussion was about blacks and the priesthood. Ezra told us that it was because blacks were cursed because of Cain. That just felt wrong to me on so many levels and I wondered how I could feel such darkness from a man that at the time was President of the Quorum of the Twelve. It just didn’t sit right with me.

When I was young I remember hearing the amount of tithing that was paid, the fast offering, the expenses of the church. It was read in Stake every six months. Then it stopped and when I asked why, I never got an answer. I was told it was not for members to know, which struck me funny because we used to be told, so why change it now. Obviously, the church was becoming more wealthy ever day and that wouldn’t look good. My faith crisis really came when I decided to live my authentic life the way God created me. I struggled because I thought the church represented Christ’s gospel as he taught it.

So it was like being true to myself was betraying my faith, but at the same time, I had such a peaceful feeling that God supported me in being who he created. So I was happier living my life than I ever had been, but felt I lost part of me with the church. When I found out that most of what I was taught growing up was a lie, I felt I could leave and be at peace. I guess now I’m just angry that I spent a lot of years thinking there was something wrong with me and that I was a sinner. Even though I never did anything wrong, wrong that I would have to see a bishop for at any rate. I don’t feel the need to get others to leave, because I feel that is a personal decision each person needs to come to on their terms.

I’ve learned to be the best spiritual being that I can. I’m glad I was raised with the values that I was, so no regrets there. I don’t regret going on a mission because it was such a great life experience for me on so many levels. I don’t wish the church any ill will, I just wish they would be honest. I do believe one day they will see that it is going to crumble if they don’t stop and begin to admit the truth.

Name: Joni

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: LGBT issues, General, Polygamy, Race and the Priesthood

“We are so much happier out of the church”

Impact: I was raised in the LDS church by convert parents who joined the church in Berlin Germany.  David O McKay was the prophet when I was a little girl living in Salt Lake City in the 1950’s and he called me on my mission to Austria in 1969.  I had a strong testimony and questioning and understanding the gospel was encouraged by the church and my father. We believed that a church that could not withstand investigation had a weak foundation.

I first started doubting on my mission as Austria was a difficult mission.  I believed in the plan of salvation that man could become like God and in the law of eternal progression and pursuit of excellence.  I loved feeling like we had a living prophet to guide us and the security of being in Christ’s church.  That we would not be led astray.  After my mission, I met my husband who joined the church on an intellectual testimony.  He believed the spiritual witness would come later.  He took seriously Moroni’s promise of the Book of Mormon and fasted and prayed for that spiritual witness.  After 30 years of praying and fasting and living the gospel, it never came.

I taught Gospel Doctrine for 4 years and started studying church history and Journal of Discourses.  That is when things started bothering me about Joseph Smith and polygamy and polyandry.  Also, his dealing with money.  His character started bothering me.  Paul Dunn’s fabricated spiritual experiences also bothered us as I really loved him.  But, a main change happened when the LDS church no longer seemed like the church I was raised in.  With the coming of the internet, it seemed the lds church began muzzling its members and me as a teacher.  We could no longer use outside sources (as the 13th article of faith advocated) in teaching lessons although General authorities could.

Also, we had a gay son and prop 8 did not help.  The church was becoming more and more of a corporation and the spirit was no longer in most of the meetings there. We had prayed about our temple experiences and the spirit was not there for us.  It seemed so strange with all the death oaths, and weird covenants. After much prayer God led us to other churches where I learned the Holy Spirit dwells as well.

Even though the church emphasizes families, it took my husband out of the home so much with home teaching, and as a stake counsel man, Elders Quorum President, etc that he had no time for me or our kids that I felt so neglected.  It almost destroyed our marriage.  When President Hinckley was on Larry King live and brushed off polygamy, and that we no longer believe that man can become like God, we felt this man was not a prophet.

We watched John Dehlin’s video on Why People leave the church and it hit home.  No body liked that we questioned or would discuss our doubts with us.  This was one of the things that bothered me the most.  And nobody cared when we left the church, especially all those my husband worked with in the high council. We are so much happier out of the church now and attend the United Church of Christ in our area.

Name: Erika

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy

Addendum #16 Old Testament Gospel Teaching Manual, Chapter 19, The Reign of the Judges (both male and female)

women in the church 1.1

“I was ready to know difficult things”

Impact: I am a BYU graduate, a returned missionary, and a very black-and-white believer (that was probably the problem). The beginning of losing my testimony is probably like a lot of others’ experiences. I never got strong answers to my prayers. I always told myself that I knew the church was true, and I felt good while reading the Book of Mormon.

The clincher came when I worked for the Liahona. I did some research on Abraham for a series on Old Testament prophets (I think it’s in March?), and I read the Wikipedia entry, just like I had for Adam and Noah. Of course I read about the mismatched translations, and my heart sunk. I panicked about it, then eventually figured that there was an explanation, but it didn’t matter. Only my faith mattered.

But I gave myself permission to look at the questions that all of the anti-Mormons were asking. I thought they would be saying stupid things like, “Joseph Smith ate babies!” And of course, it wouldn’t be true. I remembered having a speaker come to BYU-I and talk about this list of 20 things that disproved Mormonism and resolving all 20 of them over the years. So I felt justified. I was ready to know difficult things.

I was so, so wrong. I was a very black-and-white, orthodox Mormon. For example, the whole Proposition 8 thing made me feel uncomfortable, but I supported it anyway. (They had a big campaign at BYU-I to get students involved in a telephone campaign at the time. I didn’t do that but messaged a bunch of friends on Facebook.) My stake president pushed a group of students to start a club at my high school called the CTR Alliance. It was basically FHE for high school kids (despite the fact there was already a Christian club on campus). That felt very wrong too, but I thought the carnal me just needed to be humbled.

Being black-and-white, the church was not allowed to be anything other than black-and-white, and the evidence was so overwhelming. It was just one thing after another–the Book of Abraham, the Kinderhook Plates, the real reason for Thomas Marsh’s excommunication, Joseph’s involvement with treasure hunting and masonry, polyandry, and everything else under the sun. Polyandry was a very painful thing to me, and I think it was what sent my beliefs tumbling down. It was plain adultery in my eyes (which, come to think of it, is that not somewhat sexist of me? I mean, why can a man have multiple wives but a woman can’t have multiple husbands? I guess the point, though, was the utter hypocrisy of Joseph).

If it had been one or two things, I could have survived. But it was too much. It was an excruciatingly painful process deconstructing my faith, but it was also very freeing to let go of faith-encrusted beliefs about women and the priesthood, blacks and the priesthood, polygamy, homosexuality, cohabitation, and the inferiority of other faiths. I feel like this is my refiner’s fire because the people burning me are the people I would have expected to agree with the rest of my life.

I think everyone feels anger to some degree, and it can be all encompassing. It’s anger over a life dedicated to half-truths and lies, anger over losing the love of others because the church won’t come clean, anger that you’ve given yourself so blindly to something that has kept you from loving fully. I don’t know that the anger ever goes away, but it becomes embers, more tame than the inferno that could have taken out a forest and probably took some people with it.

The facts are the catalyst for the betrayal. I think they are the thing that burns below the surface when you talk to others filled with testimony or with people who judge you. At the same time you want to burn them up with the facts, you don’t want anyone to ever feel what you’ve felt. You want to be a light, not an ignition source.

I’ve lost my husband over my loss of faith. I just hope he’ll come back to me and realize that I was just trying to be a light.

Name: ES

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy; The Book of Abraham; General

“I did not sign up to be a polygamist.”

Impact: I was divorced after 10 years.  I was married in the Mesa, AZ temple.  Fast forward 6 years later.  I remarried and started the paperwork to be sealed to my current wife in the Mesa, AZ temple.  My stake president at that time noticed I checkmarked the box for sealing CLEARANCE, not CANCELATION.  He reminded me that if my ex repented, the Lord would remember her sins no more and the sealing between us would stay valid.  He asked my current wife if she liked the idea of me being sealed to both of them.  She obviously said no.  I said, no.  He agreed and checked the CANCELLATION box. A few months later, I got a sealing CLEARANCE letter not a CANCELLATION.  I didn’t want to ruin our planned sealing date so I didn’t say anything.

I absolutely hate polygamy.  I hate the idea.  I think it is deplorable.  I want nothing to do with it.  I had no clue how polygamy began or was administered back in the day but this issue forced me to learn the history of polygamy as I am forced to live the “spiritual principle”.  The huge issue I have is that my free will has been thrown aside and I am forced to be a spiritual polygamist.  In the Declaration #1 in the D&C, the Church confirmed it no long performs plural marriages in the temples.  Not true!  The day my current wife and I were sealed IN THE TEMPLE…was the day I became a spiritual polygamist on paper with the Church.  What happened to free-agency?

President Hinckley in an interview with Larry King on CNN outright stated to the world that polygamy “is not doctrinal.”   So, we have a current prophet saying it isn’t doctrinal and an official declaration stating the church isn’t practicing plural marriage in the temple,  all the while…my free agency is not honored.

This is truly one of a few issues I have had with Priesthood authority that has caused a faith crisis in my life.  I did not sign up to be a polygamist.  I am not sure what to do with this other than attempt an appeal to the Brethren.  I am just worried about being blacklisted for questioning their decisions and authority.  We shall see what happens when one questions and pushes too much.

That’s part of my story…  There is more…I’ll leave that for another post.

Name: Randy

Date: 16 Jul 2014

Impact Topic: Polygamy

‘We can… intentionally deceive others by silence”

Impact:  How has this incomplete disclosure of church history affected your life? Add your story!: I was born into a very devout Mormon family.  There was never a time in 51 years that I did not attend church regularly.  I graduated from Seminary, went on a mission, paid a full tithing, and served in leadership callings.

My faith crisis came last year while defending the church against accusations from an apostate nephew.  The issue dealt with the Book of Abraham.  I quickly discovered that his information was correct.  I found the explanation of the problems from church apologists to be unsatisfactory.

This experience motivated me to study more deeply and skeptically. was a major source of information.  As I went through each topic I read as much as possible from both sides and tried to objectively weigh the evidence.

Books I read included “No Man Knows my History”, “Studies of the Book of Mormon”, “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins”, and “No Weapon Shall Prosper”.  I also listened to many of John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories podcasts and read heavily from

The information from FAIR made it worse.  They verified that the difficulties were based on facts; but followed with weak arguments, logical fallacies, and even personal attacks, in defense of the church.

I was surprised how little I knew about the real history of the church given all my experience. I never learned about Joseph’s polygamy and polyandry; the actual BoM translation process; or the temple ceremony connection to Masonic rituals; etc.

It was clear to me that the church concealed troubling facts and engaged in a concerted effort to rewrite its history.  I began to feel betrayed by the very people I trusted the most.  The Gospel Principles manual states “When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.”  At best the church is telling only part of the truth.

I prayed for answers and guidance but I began to realize that my testimony was based more on feelings than on divine revelation.  I began to feel quite lost and alone.  I didn’t feel like there was anyone out there who could answer the questions that I was struggling with.  I talked to my Bishop and Stake President but they were of no help.

I talked to my wife early about my studying and she agreed to study along with me.  It was very difficult for her to read things that were negative about the church and called into question her beliefs.  Our studying often lead to contentious debates and caused a great strain in our marriage.  We began seeing a counselor to help us work through these difficulties.

My faith crisis also caused problems with my older siblings as they refused to listen or learn about these issues and have accused me of looking for a way out, wanting to sin, being deceived by Satan, etc.  It also created a problem with my employment because I worked at BYU.  I realized I had to leave a job I dearly loved.

The most painful thing so far however, was missing my daughter’s wedding.  She was married in the Temple last month.  It was so hurtful to learn that in other countries couples are allowed to marry civilly and then immediately enter the temple to be sealed, but in America they must wait a year. Most couples, including my daughter and son-in-law are afraid of the consequences of making that choice.  I’ll never forgive the church for denying me the privilege of seeing my precious girl get married.

My faith crisis might have been avoided if the church was open and honest about its history from the start.  I might be able to find a way to stay if they were open and honest now, and allowed non-believing family members and friends to witness their loved ones weddings.  But I don’t see that ever happening and I plan to resign my membership soon.

In short, my faith crisis has cost me my job, strained my relationships with family and friends, and could ultimately cost me my marriage.

Name: Mark

Date: 16 JUL 2014

Impact Topic: Book of Abraham

“Made me want to effect change…”

Impact: At first I felt betrayed, and the feelings of betrayal actually made me want to effect change with the things that were wrong. But after more and more changes to the narrative erupted, the reason for leaving was intellectual, based on the reconciliation that if they were wrong so many times, what makes it right?

Name: Eric

Date: 16 JUL 2014

Impact Topic: General