Posted by: Jay | May 8, 2008

Conversations on Controversial Mormon History


A conversation with my wife last night sparked this post. She asked me what my purpose was in wanting to tell people about controversial LDS Church history. By no means need you suppose that I am actively looking for people to share the information with, but when asked for my personal opinion on a topic I do not hesitate to share it. I believe my purpose is that I want to spark conversation and discussion about topics that are not often talked about. I want people to be fully informed about what they believe in.

Recently, at a friends house I was asked what I thought of Brigham Young taking away the priesthood from blacks. My response was that I believe he was motivated by racism and that it was not of God. In our conversation last night my wife brought this up and pointed out that using such incendiary words like “racist” only serves to push people away. I admitted that she made a good point. I have experienced the same from anti-Mormons I have talked to. Since I am aware of most of the criticisms of the LDS faith I recognize the truth in their accusations. However, I also spot the exaggerations, opinions stated as fact and the biases they bring to the discussion. This gives me little choice than to take what they say with a grain of salt and requires me to do more investigating into their sources, which often turn out to be biased and inaccurate. I don’t have much patience for these type of conversations anymore because I’m interested in learning truth not opinion. So, if my purpose is to make faithful members aware of the facts, even the disturbing ones, perhaps calling Brigham Young a racist is not the best approach, even if that’s how I really feel.

Toward the end of our conversation I could tell my wife’s ability to put up with me was wearing thin (I don’t blame her a bit). I realized that she was correct in saying that I should use softer adjectives to describe what I perceive as problems with LDS history. If I don’t I’ll be pushed aside by the faithful member as just another anti-Mormon (something I do not aspire to), ignored and my comments will help no one. Eventually, I want to begin to create a database of all the articles and information I have read, which I can recommend to people that have questions. Perhaps even write up a summary of the history to hand out to people. This would be something without any comments of my own, just the facts and events as they happened and with references. I firmly believe that it is everyones’ personal responsibility to learn these things on their own, through studying it out and making a decision independent of anyone else. So if I say that I believe Brigham Young and other leaders were racist, that is my personal belief and no one should base their opinion of them soly on my statement, which I freely admit may be harsh.

I have experienced many approaches to discussions of controversial LDS history. The faithful Mormon trying to defend troublesome aspects of their history, the angry Christian yelling at Mormons telling them they are going to hell, the condescending Mormon intellectual, the thoughtful Mormon with a desire to learn and still be faithful and the thoughtful Christian who approaches Mormons in love. In my experience the last two have always been the best approach to difficult subjects in religion or elsewhere. If your purpose is really to help someone you will communicate with them respectfully and with patience. If you are a hireling and care little about the people you are speaking with then you will not worry about offending them, but when you do this the risk is that they will not listen long enough to discover the truth for themselves

What do you think is the best approach when talking to faithful Mormons about their checkered Church history? Is it okay to recognize the good things that Brigham Young and other leaders did? What type of language you use? Is it important to be respectful when speaking to others that don’t believe as you do?



  1. First of all, I guess I should explain that I work in a Unitarian Universalist church. In a Unitarian church, there can be as many belief systems as there are people sitting in the pews. Some of them are theists –and of those, some are Christians or Jews or some other type of believer — some are atheists; some are pagan, some are agnostic, some would call themselves “humanists.”

    This means that every single workday and every single worship service, I interact with people who do not believe the same things I do. But it also means that I am in a group of people who not only are aware of their differences, but who *chose* to be in an eclectic spiritual community.

    In our church, in order to communicate with each other in a loving way, we *must* be respectful when discussing our widely varied beliefs with each other. And this has extended to the way I interact with others in my larger community as well (including online).

    Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be afraid of talking about our own positions. But the language we choose is important. People generally stop listening at some point if the language is provocative or offensive. I want them to hear me, so I choose my words carefully (even if they do not). And to answer your specific question about Brigham Young, yes, it *is* okay to bring up and acknowledge the good things he did, just as it is okay to bring up the points with which you take negative issue. Your voice and your viewpoint are part of the discussion, too. But so is the person’s with whom you are conversing.

    Some belief systems put a very high premium on evangelism or proselytizing. I am including Mormonism in this statement. It is good to realize when discussing hot-button religious topics with these people that they will feel great stress if they cannot “win” what they perceive of as the “argument.” Many evangelical people don’t know how to discuss topics of faith, only to argue, because learning from you is not on their agenda. Winning the argument is. –Not because of malice, but because they believe your soul (or theirs) is at stake. When so much importance is placed on being “right,” it’s difficult, but not impossible, to hold an intelligent discussion.

    No one responds well to being attacked, even if the “attack” is only perceived. When discussing religious differences, allowing for what is right and loving and caring in another person’s belief system will go a long way in setting a tone that can allow your own side of the discussion to be heard.

  2. Wow I should have proofed before I posted the above.

    “Now, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be afraid of talking about our own positions. ”

    Whoops. should read: “Now this doesn’t mean we SHOULD be afraid of talking about our own positions.”


  3. I’m a lot like you in this regard; I call them like I see them, but I totally understand where your wife is coming from. Maybe just a little justification for your claim, without becoming a complete apologist, is what I am for, personally. For example, Brigham Young was a racist because he was a product of the times, and unfortunately his personal and/or cultural views got mixed with his religious views, leading to our church’s horrible track-record in that area.

    That doesn’t seem to pull punches, but it also softens the feeling assault that the TBM might feel, doesn’t it?

  4. That was supposed to read, “without becoming a complete apologist, is what I AIM for, personally.

  5. Jay

    Whether we call Brigham Young a racist or just an idiot or simply mistaken is not important.

    We shouldn’t try to defend or excuse his offensive and disgraceful comments about blacks.He was supposed to be led directly by Jesus Christ as Prophet.

    They were Humans .I know some black people and the thought of once having them in slavery is too disturbing to comprehend .Check out the British man with a great spirit of Christ in him,Evangelical Christian William Wilbeforce who got slavery made illegal by Law in England just 50 years before Brigham Young was telling us all it was a divine institution and not to be abolished and that they were getting there just merits ( maybe John Taylor said the last bit ? )

    Brigham Young was simply wrong on the blacks thing in my opinion .He said some nasty things about them when he should have known better if he was really in charge of Jesus Christs church and why didn’t Jesus Correct him and instead allow it to go on and on with Joseph Fielding Smith , John Taylor , Bruce McConkie , Mark Peterson and many others all confidently teaching this Less Valiancy thing concerning Blacks/negroes and making nasty judgemental remarks with such Conviction, Authority and Assertiveness whilst at the same time bragging of their own worthiness in the pre existence , having been born White and Mormon !

    Its breathtaking Arrogance .

    The simple answer to me is they were never guided or authorised/chosen by Jesus and neither were they part of any restoration.

    We can look deeper at where it all originated from and we’ll find that it was from the Book Of Mormon .A book which purports to explain/answer who the Indians are ,where they came from and why they are dark skinned.

    The Book Of Abraham gives the authority of the Priesthood ban to Blacks.Its easy to put them together thinking you have revelation and insight as Brigham did.

    I’m sure you are familiar with the verses .

    The simple question I ask myself is , If the American Indians were cursed with a dark skin for disobediance , then why do their relatives back in Siberia/Mongolia also have the same dark skin ? Why were they given a dark skin if they were thousands of miles away from the White Nephites and unknown to them ? It must have been a shock to them ! lol

    Of course once again the answer is simple to me.Its all Joseph Smiths Baloney !

    I really do feel for you and your predicament, however with your new state of belief and knowledge ,I know you can be trusted to be Honest with all future Investigators of the church and that you wouldn’t want to see future converts being ‘misled’ into the church with the standard love bombing procedure and misleading version of it all .

    Because you now know the consequences of what the Real Truth is like and how much danger they could be in and the potential family problems in store.

    Sorry if my comments are not uplifting.

  6. I commend your thoughts and efforts. I can also make life a lot easier for you. I went to a fireside on blacks and the priesthood by Marvin Perkins. My jaw was on the floor most of the night. I went home and bought the dvds that he and Darius Gray did. 2 dvds, over 3 hours of scripture and history that I’ve never heard taught in the church before in relationship to this issue. Your wife will be happy because they don’t focus on negative. The tone is very productive and you can tell these brothers have the spirit with them as they’re teaching. Even though neither say in their own words that we were wrong, after seeing the video you know what the real doctrine of the church is and was, and they we got it way wrong.

    It’s called Blacks in the Scriptures and you can go to the site of the same name to view clips and get more information.

  7. In my experience I have found it is best to not share the uncomfortable history unless an active member asks for your opinion. Usually, it is just going to cause problems and they won’t believe you anyway.

    It is really difficult for me to know that nobody in my family knows what actually happened…..they think the church is perfect and my dad is always talking about the rediculous teachings of other churches and their history (he has no idea of the problems wih our church).

    The little bit I have shared has blown up in my face. Most people won’t listen period and will think of the most lame excuses to counter….usually they no nothing of the facts anyway and they are grasping for answers. It is amazing to me how someone will try to justify something no matter how crazy their explanations are.

    I do believe that you need to be careful with your words. Even if BY was a racist, you need to not use that term if you want people to listen to you. If you can say things that are good, they are probably more willing to take you seriously about the things you know that are not too good…..If you appear angry at past church leaders, they won’t listen. If you appear ‘saddened and confused” they more likely will.

    When people are unfamiliar with the ‘real’ history of the church. The best way to educate them is give them a book by a credible author, or refer them to other sources. When you read about it it is much more effective than if you just hear someone talk about it.

  8. I found this a very interesting post; thank you.

    I have a friend who used to be a self-proclaimed Evangelical Christian – who experienced many, MANY turmoils in a relatively short space of time. Because of these horrid experiences, he slowly moved away from believing that God is good – to His non-existence. He is now an ardent Dawkins follower…

    It’s interesting for me – given our similar experiences in life – it made me to go the opposite way: it has been through the pain of loss and suffering that I have known God’s Sovereignty in my life. I could elaborate, but for now, I’ll resist =)

    So, whenever my friend and I get together, I really appreciate his verbosity [even when expressed with aggression] whenever he challenges my faith in God. Now, I acknowledge that it could be that we are friends, first and foremost, that I welcome his challenges and criticisms…but it seems that I also welcome all criticism (however real or not so real they may be) from any person that I meet.

    Personally, I prefer for people to just tell things to me straight. I like their statements (whether or not there may be some added emotional agenda) to be consice and to the point.

    It’s worth noting that Jesus, in his address to the Saducees – when they tried to trick him by asking a question to which they [thought] they already knew the answer – was met with a very harsh answer from Jesus. Straight away, Jesus told them that they are in ERROR – because they did not know their Scriptures and secondly that they did not know the power of God.

    It seems Jesus did not pussy-foot around whenever it came to answering those around him who were in error – or those who had hidden agendas. Jesus stuck to the point, with a full knowledge of their motivation…

    Although I subscribe to the gently-gently approach, I am very drawn to Jesus’ method when he came up against people who tried to trip him up.

  9. EJ,

    You made a number of statements I’d like to comment on:

    We shouldn’t try to defend or excuse his offensive and disgraceful comments about blacks.

    I agree; nor should we try to justify them as many members do due to their fear of speaking ill of the Lord’s anointed. I don’t think my wife or I would try to excuse his comments and I know for a fact that many members are, at the very least, uncomfortable with them.

    …and why didn’t Jesus Correct him…

    Why doesn’t Jesus correct anyone that does something wrong. I think it is valid to say that even prophets are allowed to make mistakes. If they didn’t their lives would be pretty useless here on earth (according to Mormon theology). If God told them everything to say/do they would be only robots or puppets. Mormons believe that was Satan’s plan.

    The simple answer to me is they were never guided or authorized/chosen by Jesus

    The most parsimonious answer to me is that they are human just like everyone else.

    We can look deeper at where it all originated from and we’ll find that it was from the Book Of Mormon .

    Actually, I think it started even further back than that. It started with the culture that surrounded Mormonism at the time. It was prevalent in the Christian Churches at the time and I believe Brigham Young and others brought their ideas about blacks with them from their old faiths.

    The Book Of Abraham gives the authority of the Priesthood ban to Blacks.

    I don’t think it actually says that blacks can’t have the priesthood, but I agree that it can be used to justify such a belief, but the Bible is still used by white supremacists to show that blacks are inferior.

    I know you can be trusted to be Honest with all future Investigators of the church and that you wouldn’t want to see future converts being ‘misled’

    I do not believe it is my place to instruct or teach anyone about these things. I am not knowledgeable enough to do that. If asked I will give my opinion, but I do not go out of my way to share what I know with people. If someone is serious about investigating the LDS faith it is their responsibility to search it out from different viewpoints. It is not my job to make sure they are properly informed. Once again when asked I will gladly give an honest answer because I know that the person is being thoughtful and is willing to listen.


    It’s called Blacks in the Scriptures and you can go to the site of the same name to view clips and get more information.

    Thank you for your comment. Due to some unfortunate comments in my ward last year (see earlier posts on Mormons talk), I emailed Margaret Young and Darius Grey. He gave me the PowerPoint presentation he gave at BYU (unfortunately he won’t let me pass it around. I’m not sure why, copyright or something). I made notes while watching it and listening to his presentation on mormonstories John Dehlin’s podcast. I made copies of my notes and handed them out to people that had questions. Unfortunately, I lost the ecopy and now I have to go back and take notes again. Anyway I think the video you referenced is basically the same presentation with additions. I really admire Darius and what he is doing. It appears that he has permission from the Church to do it as long as he doesn’t say they were wrong or call any leaders racists. I heard him say that an unnamed “general authority” told him it would be okay for him to say that the Lord “allowed the ban to happen”. This is as close as anyone has been able to get to saying the Church was wrong.


    In my experience I have found it is best to not share the uncomfortable history unless an active member asks for your opinion. Usually, it is just going to cause problems and they won’t believe you anyway.

    I have had the same experience. It has to come up in the conversation, sparked by a question they ask you.

    …my dad is always talking about the rediculous teachings of other churches and their history…

    I think this would be an appropriate time to share what you know in a respectful way. I was taught once as a child that the other Christian churches all have break off groups because they are not true and people are looking for truth. Well as many know there were hundreds of groups that broke off of the LDS Church and many are still around today. So I was being taught something that wasn’t true and made other religions look bad when in reality ours was no better.

    If something is said that is wrong those of us that know have the responsibility to speak up even if it is uncomfortable. I will never sit silent in a lesson again and listen to someone try to justify the priesthood ban with the many excuses common among members today. Of course you have to be as respectful as possible. If I was to call BY racist in Sunday School I doubt that would go over very well, no one would take my words seriously. Instead I would point out that Mormon history itself disputes that the ban was from God and that all excuses were made up to make people feel better about prophet being human.

    It is amazing to me how someone will try to justify something no matter how crazy their explanations are.

    It is true. I have seen this myself. We do some amazing things mentally when we don’t want to face the truth. We hold our leaders to a different standard than others, sometimes giving them a pass because we assume that God must have told them to do it and we lay members just don’t understand. It’s hard to think that they could make such mistakes and still be prophets.

    If you appear ’saddened and confused” they more likely will.

    Yes, this is the approach I use most, but it’s not an act, I really am saddened and confused by it all. It still bothers me as I think it should any thoughtful LDS member.


    Although I subscribe to the gently-gently approach, I am very drawn to Jesus’ method when he came up against people who tried to trip him up.

    If we could only read peoples’ minds like Jesus could I would say that a more harsh approach would sometimes we warranted. Unfortunately, I see way too many “Christians” that used Jesus’ few harsh moments to justify a policy of lashing out at others (I’ve seen this personally and its very ugly). Jesus knew when to “lay it down” and when to gently teach. I fear that we unperfected people have a much harder time drawing that line. I’m with you though, at times I want to be straight forward, but I think it’s probably the wiser choice to be more reserved.

  10. Anytime the blacks and priesthood thing is brought up, I always like to bring up the fact that Joseph Smith also gave the priesthood to women, which Brigham Young also took away, so why have we overcome the Brigham Young racism and not the sexism?

  11. Zelph,

    Thanks for bring that up. I’m not very informed about the topic, though I’ve heard a little about it from time to time. Perhaps you can provide some good references for all to check out. Thanks.

  12. Jay,

    I think the only categorical thing I can say is that most of the time it will be a waste of time, so don’t bother unless you think there is some really big overarching need to share, over and beyond “well they should know the truth.”

    The bottom line is that most people have an enormous investment in preserving their vision of what the church is. After all they have given up 10% of their money and a huge chunk of time because of what the church means to them. There is a tremendous psychological need to preserve that meaning, almost at all costs. Almost everything about the darker sides of church history and doctrine if taken at face value will severely impact what the church means to them. Because of that they will deploy a bewildering array of defense mechanisms against what you are saying. The bottom line is that what you are saying will likely have zero impact after the defense mechanisms have been employed.

    By the way, I think this is why most church members can’t be bothered to do any sort of research into church history or doctrine. Not knowing anything is the best defense possible for most people.

    By the way, I am not saying I like this situation, it’s simply the situation that members who know the darker sides of church history find themselves in. I also think that in the long run this situation is hurting the church, both leaders and members.

  13. David,
    I agree that if approached in the wrong way it can be a waste of time but my hope is that if we are respectful there is a way to speak about taboo issues in an accurate way. At the very least exposing people to a different point of view desperately needed in the Church. I don’t think it is a waste of time. I have to believe it is productive to have the conversation when a topic comes up and I feel strongly that if excuses for past leaders behavior are repeated they should be corrected. My conscience would not let me sit by and listen to someone say that blacks are the seed of Cain/Ham or less valiant in the pre-existence when, as an LDS member, I know these to be made up and false.

    I think many people don’t do research into the Church’s past because they think the whole history is being told to them. Why should they go through the work if it’s already been done and in the manual? What they don’t realize is that the manual leaves out anything that might challenge their faith. So all the “bad” Church history is skimmed off before they learn of it.

    I think your absolutely correct it is hurting the Church. Just look at how reluctant members are to share “the gospel” with friends, even the most faithful ones. The Church is not baptizing as many people and can you imagine trying to tell a black friend that this Church is God’s and then try to explain to them how blacks were denied the priesthood for over 100 years? Or how about explaining polygamy (a topic that’s sure to come up). It’s not easy and since the Church offers NO guidance in these areas members don’t even want to take a chance that they might have to broach the subject with friends.

    Then there are the investigators that learn about it on their own and are so turned off that they stop investigating, some even turning against the Church. Word of mouth spreads fast.

  14. Recently, at a friends house I was asked what I thought of Brigham Young taking away the priesthood from blacks. My response was that I believe he was motivated by racism and that it was not of God.

    well to be fair to you, he did ask you what you thought of it.

  15. Jay,

    I admire your idealism and I wish there were a way to speak about these taboo subjects honestly and accurately, but I simply don’t think it is possible, the cognitive dissonance is simply too high for most people to bear.

    Think about it, you are brought up in the church singing “Praise to the Man.” And then you hear that the man you are praising had 30 some odd wives, many very young, many married to other men, many basically coerced into marriage on short notice. To top it all off he lied and perjured himself about the whole thing until the day he died. You simply can’t get much more cognitive dissonance than that. I know that it was that way for me.

    My point is this. You can be as respectful and accurate as you want and most people are simply going to shut down and ignore it because they can’t deal with it. I can’t blame them in the slightest, it’s a natural human reaction. This is more than just a church problem, it’s a human nature problem.

    In any case I wish you the best in sharing this stuff with faithful Mormons and I encourage you to post any positive experiences you have on your blog.

  16. David,

    Thank you that’s a good idea. I’ll post a couple of experiences I’ve had already.

    I understand where you are coming from and why you would feel this way, but I have to believe that if I could overcome the cognitive dissonance there are others that could do the same if given the chance. I’m not out to convince people that Joseph had 30 wives or that the priesthood ban was not of God. I just think it’s important to expose them to the idea, plant the seed as we like to say in the Church. What they decide to do with it is entirely up to them. I’m perfectly comfortable if they decide they don’t want to deal with it and “put it in the shelf”.

    Perhaps I am being too optimistic. However, the Church will never change if people like us aren’t more outspoken about what we know. Like I’ve said in the past I think the Church is starting to change due to the pressure of anti-Mormon groups. They’ve been forced to respond to difficult issues and I think this is a good thing. I want to know about the gritty details, I want to know the human side of Joseph Smith and other leaders. I think giving members a more complete picture of what a prophet really is like would help tremendously to resolve many of the tough issues they face.

    Do you still attend Church? How has knowing all of this affected your testimony and resolve as a member?


    You’re right she did ask the question. I don’t think my answer was said in a harsh way. I was just trying to be honest about how I felt. However, after thinking about it for a while I believe my wife was right, I shouldn’t have used the word racist, I should have said his comments extremely troubled or disappointed me; something a little softer. By being so emphatic about it, I may have hurt my chances of being taken seriously if we ever have a conversation again on the subject as well as offended a good friend. I do think it’s important to talk about it what I’m trying to say is there is a soft approach and a harsh approach and if we really care about the listener the softer delivery is best. This will encourage them to study it out on there own which is better anyway because we tend to trust our own judgment much more than someone else’s.

  17. Jay,

    I still attend church. I don’t know that my testimony has changed all that much, but what it means to me has changed drastically. It’s hard to describe.

  18. David,

    Does it mean less to you than it once did or more?

  19. Jay,

    It’s not really a more or less thing. I know it sounds like I am evading the question.

    In one sense it means more to me. To be honest I am a much nicer, kinder, and understanding person than I was before I started learning all about church history and doctrine and was pure TBM. I have much more empathy for others and I am much more circumspect about my own knowledge and abilities. I really enjoy home teaching and being with people. I am much nicer to my kids.

    In another sense it has alienated me from the church in some ways. To be perfectly blunt I really couldn’t care less what gets said at general conference anymore. It’s amazingly boring and I find myself nitpicking what the speakers say. For my own sanity I just ignore it for the most part.

    If you have ever read “Stages of Faith” by Fowler I would categorize my testimony as advancing along the stages of faith. Right now I would put myself at stage 4 or transitioning to stage 5. That’s not to say that my testimony is better or means more now than it did when I was in stage 3, it’s different, fuller, more nuanced etc..

    By the way this is where the alienation comes from. Stage 3 people think that stage 4 or 5 people are going to hell. The LDS church is almost exclusively made up of stage 3 believers (as are almost all churches). However LDS theology really accentuates the alienation because of our constant “one true church” rhetoric, which makes stage 3 believers feel even more complacent and stage 4 & 5 people even more alienated.

  20. ZELPH
    Anytime the blacks and priesthood thing is brought up, I always like to bring up the fact that Joseph Smith also gave the priesthood to women, which Brigham Young also took away, so why have we overcome the Brigham Young racism and not the sexism?


    I too find this interesting. Actually, through my readings I discovered that Joseph gave the priesthood to not only women, but black people too. He actually had some good characteristics (contrary to Brigham Young). All of the old journal entries discuss how women were giving blessings all of the time. One thing I found really interesting was by reading “Emma Hale Smith Mormon Enigma” that Brigham Young cancelled the relief society because of Emma herself. She was a brave woman and in front of a huge congregation she addresses polygamy and used quotes from the leaders of the church talking about how bad it was (since they denied this in public) and used their own words against them. She knew that people were practicing, but thought it was horrible and got people thinking….I think this is probably around the time when BY took all authority away from women.

  21. David,

    I seem to be in a similar but slightly different place than you. I too find myself being less judgmental toward others and understand my own capabilities and limitations much more than I used to. However, I don’t enjoy home teaching. Probably because the majority of people really don’t want you to come visit them but permit it because they know you were told to and have to report. Mostly, I just feel like I’m wasting my time, though there are a few moments that are good. I recently started doing it again because I know that it will help me to be more Christ like.

    I also don’t give much stock to what is said in General Conference anymore. I usually only hear one good talk the whole time, maybe two if I’m lucky. It makes me sad to say that, but it’s true. I really want to have a time when I go to learn and grow. For that to happen there has to be trust and my trust in the Church has been severely challenged. When I do listen, something usually bugs me, driving away any positive feelings I might have had. So I’m totally with you on that.

    I have heard about Fowler’s stages of faith. I’d probably categorize myself as a late stage 4. I view my testimony as more realistic. I don’t think of prophets as better than me anymore. I see them capable of making the same or worse mistake than I do. I still struggle with understanding how a prophet can be as fallible as me, but in the end I have to admit expecting them to be perfect or close to it is not very fair of me to do. If I ever gave my testimony a TBM would probably say I was “wishy-washy”. That doesn’t matter much to me, but to avoid unnecessary ward gossip I just avoid giving my testimony whenever possible. If I’m ever caught in a situation where I have to say something I focus on Christ as the source of my testimony not the Church, Joseph Smith, or the Book of Mormon.

    He actually had some good characteristics (contrary to Brigham Young).

    Surely you don’t mean to say that there was nothing good about Brigham Young. I believe he made some major mistakes but I don’t think he was devoid of good. I mean the Church found enough of it to fill a lesson manual.

    The fact that Joseph Smith gave Elijah Abel the priesthood, that there was some controversy about it among Apostles and Prophets from Brigham Young’s time until 1978 and that other blacks received the priesthood during the ban tells me it was not from God.

    Wow, Emma Hale Smith had some guts!! I’ve been meaning to read that book. Thanks for sharing that.

  22. I really, really understand where you’re coming from. I love you for sharing what you have. I’ve been wrestling with similar things too, and I’ve come to some conclusions which I’ve posted on my blog: “My Paradigm Shift-“Joseph Smith, Rough Stone Rolling” and “Pessimists do not contribute, unbelievers do not create, doubters do not achieve”. I don’t know how to make links here, but my blog is

  23. After recently moving to the area, I have spent countless nights reading, researching, listening and learning all that I can about the LDS church. I was completely ignorant to the Mormon belief system and I wanted my family to assimilate as smoothly as possible and avoid any social faux pas. There are many things about the history of the LDS church, the living prophet and other teachings that I do not agree with, however as I try to do research I find it hard to find unbiased reading, it’s all been really anti-Mormon or really pro-Mormon (or Wikipedia, ha ha). Do you have any suggestions?

    In addition, my heart goes out to you, as a born again Christian, I used to be very apprehensive to share my faith or say a quick prayer over my dinner at a restaurant for fear of what my friends or family would think. Yet when I went to church I was never afraid to ask questions and was even encouraged to read and challenge my faith. I am not posting this to disrespect LDS church, I just want you to know that the questioning, fear of being an outcast and avoidance is shared non-Mormons, too.
    As a Christian, we have explain that your path to salvation is Christ’s atonement and God’s grace, regardless of how good or bad you have lived your life. For many (including myself several years ago) that is hard thing to believe.
    In addition, all religion has had some rough patches in their past and someday I hope the future doesn’t look back at us in too much shame.

    Finally, just know that God loves you and in your moments of doubt find comfort in prayer. I am encouraged by your strength to post this site and openly share your ideas and apprehensions.

  24. Shawna,
    Thank you for your kind words. It is encouraging to see others not of the LDS faith taking such a level approach to learning about our Church. I admire your desire to find unbiased material to study. Many non-LDS persons rely on articles that are written by extremely critical authors, which do not wish to portray any part of Mormonism in a favorable light. While I understand the frustration that many feel with the LDS church, I am not a fan of these type of unfair portrayals of Mormonism. I do however enjoy those that are able to look at the LDS Church with an objective eye. I think there are many in the LDS faith and outside the LDS faith that do just that. They are able to minimize their own biases and get as close to the truth as possible.

    Though he explicitly warns readers of his faith in the Church in the introduction of his book, Richard Bushman’s “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling” is an excellent book. I find that he steers clear of the most controversial aspects of polygamy, but is very honest and straightforward about many of the troubling aspects of Church History during the time of Joseph Smith. I really enjoyed his book.

    Another good book is Todd Compton’s “In Sacred Loneliness”. It is about the polygamy of Joseph Smith. The front of the book is an excellent resource with a list of his wives, marriage dates, ages at time of marriage, quotes from some of the wives, etc. I have purchased both of these books for my personal library. Both are written by members of the LDS faith that are a bit more liberal in their testimonies and much more open than you will find in Church manuals.

    I’m assuming that “Moving to the area” mean Utah. I hope you enjoy it there. Personally, I love the outdoor environment but couldn’t live there because well, there are too many Mormons. I don’t say that to imply they are not likable people (I have family there). However, during my five-year stay out west I just came to realize that I had little to offer. Most of my neighbors were LDS and many had similar likes and dislikes as myself, as well as similar backgrounds. I felt like I was a clone of everyone else I was around and didn’t like that feeling. I am much happier living where there is more diversity of thought and people. I’m not quite sure how it must feel being a non-LDS Christian in such an environment, but there must be some similarities. I wish you the best and hope you continue to comment on Mormons Talk. I’m grateful for those that have alternate and respectful opinions.

  25. My prayer for everyone is that each of you will find spiritual peace in your heart and mind.

    I am so grateful that I have never felt any struggle with history of the Church. I will never feel any person is worthy enough to judge Heavenly Fathers appointed leader; Presiding Prophet and President of the Church.

    Maybe I’m just to damn spoiled with the blessings of my life, and mostly with the daily expectations of answers to my prayers. Which I always receive and don’t want to rock the boat, in a manner of speaking. It’s purely selfishness, as in, I’m getting mine and I don’t want to waste my time in trying to convince anyone else of anything, period.

    I was referred here and that’s why I came, I find the comments very interesting. Especially where everyone is at their lives and where their coming from in perspective.
    I guess my question would be to everyone is threefold. Are you happy? Have you ever been happy? What will/would it take for to be happy or fulfilled or content? Or how ever you would care to re-word it.

  26. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  27. Sandrar,

    Thanks for the great complement, I’m humbled:)

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