Mormon's using the web to escape their cult.

by cantleave 11 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • cantleave

    When fellow believers in Sweden first began coming to him with information from the Internet that contradicted the church’s history and teachings, he dismissed it as “anti-Mormon propaganda,” the whisperings of Lucifer. He asked his superiors for help in responding to the members’ doubts, and when they seemed to only sidestep the questions, Mr. Mattsson began his own investigation.

    But when he discovered credible evidence that the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, was a polygamist and that theBook of Mormon and other scriptures were rife with historical anomalies, Mr. Mattsson said he felt that the foundation on which he had built his life began to crumble.

    Around the world and in the United States, where the faith was founded, the Mormon Church is grappling with a wave of doubt and disillusionment among members who encountered information on the Internet that sabotaged what they were taught about their faith, according to interviews with dozens of Mormons and those who study the church.

    “I felt like I had an earthquake under my feet,” said Mr. Mattsson, now an emeritus area authority. “Everything I’d been taught, everything I’d been proud to preach about and witness about just crumbled under my feet. It was such a terrible psychological and nearly physical disturbance.”

    Mr. Mattsson’s decision to go public with his disaffection, in a church whose top leaders commonly deliberate in private, is a sign that the church faces serious challenges not just from outside but also from skeptics inside.

    Greg Prince, a Mormon historian and businessman in Washington who has held local leadership positions in the church, shares Mr. Mattsson’s doubts. “Consider a Catholic cardinal suddenly going to the media and saying about his own church, ‘I don’t buy a lot of this stuff,’ ” Mr. Prince said. “That’s the level we’re talking about here.”

    He said of Mr. Mattsson, “He is, as far as I know, the highest-ranking church official who has gone public with deep concerns, who has had a faith crisis and come forward to say he’s going to talk about it because maybe that will help us all to resolve it.”

    Every faith has its skeptics and detractors, but the Mormon Church’s history creates special challenges. The church was born in America only 183 years ago, and its founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, and his disciples left behind reams of papers that still exist, documenting their work, exposing their warts and sometimes contradicting one another.

    “The Roman Catholic Church has had 2,000 years to work through the hiccups in its history,” said Terryl L. Givens, a professor of English, literature and religion at the University of Richmond and a Mormon believer. “Mormonism is still an adolescent religion.”

    Mr. Givens and his wife, Fiona, recently presented what they called “Crucible of Doubt” sessions for questioning Mormons in England, Scotland and Ireland. Hundreds attended each event.

    “Sometimes they are just this side of leaving, and sometimes they are simply faithful members who are looking for clarity and understanding to add to their faith,” said Mr. Givens, who hosted a similar discussion in July in Provo, Utah, and has others planned in the United States. The church is not sponsoring the sessions, Mr. Givens said, but local bishops give their permission.

    Eric Hawkins, a church spokesman, said that “every church faces this challenge,” adding, “The answer is not to try to silence critics, but to provide as much information and as much support as possible to those who may be affected.” Mr. Hawkins also said the Mormon Church, which counts 14 million members worldwide, added about one million members every three years.

    But Mr. Mattsson and others say the disillusionment is infecting the church’s best and brightest. A survey of more than 3,300 Mormon disbelievers, released last year, found that more than half of the men and four in 10 of the women had served in leadership positions in the church.

    Many said they had suffered broken relationships with their parents, spouses and children as a result of their disbelief. The study was conducted by John Dehlin, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Utah State University and the founder of “Mormon Stories,” a podcast of interviews with scholars and church members, many critical toward the church.

    Some church leaders are well aware of the doubters in their midst. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, who serves in the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the governing body just below the three-member First Presidency), said in April while addressing the church’s semiannual general conference in Salt Lake City: “Please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood and resolved. They do, and they will.”

    Mr. Mattsson served as a young missionary in England; his wife, Birgitta, is a convert. They raised their five children in the Mormon Church in Sweden, which dates to the 1850s and has about 9,000 members.

    He and his twin brother, Leif, both rose through the ranks of leadership, and in 2000, Hans Mattsson became the first Swede ever to be named an area authority. (He served until 2005, when he had heart surgery.) During the week he worked in technology marketing, and on the weekends he traveled widely throughout Europe, preaching and organizing the believers.

    “I was just in a bubble, and we felt so happy,” Mr. Mattsson said.

    The first doubts filtered up to him from members who had turned to the Internet to research a Sunday school talk. There are dozens of Web sites other than the Mormons’ own that present critical views of the faith.

    The questions were things like:

    ¦ Why does the church always portray Joseph Smith translating the Book of Mormon from golden plates, when witnesses described him looking down into a hat at a “peep stone,” a rock that he believed helped him find buried treasure?

    ¦ Why were black men excluded from the priesthood from the mid-1800s until 1978?

    ¦ Why did Smith claim that the Book of Abraham, a core scripture, was a translation of ancient writings from the Hebrew patriarch Abraham, when Egyptologists now identify the papyrus that Smith used in the translation as a common funerary scroll that has nothing to do with Abraham?

    ¦ Is it true that Smith took dozens of wives, some as young as 14 and some already wed to other Mormon leaders, to the great pain of his first wife, Emma?

    About that last question, Mr. Mattsson said, “That was kind of shocking.”

    Mr. Mattsson said he sought the help of the church’s highest authorities. He said a senior apostle came to Sweden at his request and told a meeting of Mormons that he had a manuscript in his briefcase that, once it was published, would prove all the doubters wrong. But Mr. Mattsson said the promised text never appeared, and when he asked the apostle about it, he was told it was impertinent to ask.

    (Mr. Mattsson refused to identify the apostle, but others said it was Elder L. Tom Perry, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Perry, now 91, confirmed through a church spokesman that he did visit a branch in Sweden with skeptical members, but said he recalled satisfying their questions with a letter written by the church’s history department.)

    That encounter is what really set off Mr. Mattsson’s doubts. He began reading everything he could. He listened to the “Mormon Stories” podcasts. And he read “Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling,” a biography by Richard Lyman Bushman, a historian at Columbia University and a prominent Mormon.

    Mr. Bushman said in a telephone interview: “You would be amazed at the number of Mormons who don’t think Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. It just wasn’t talked about. It was never mentioned in church periodicals. That was policy.”

    In the last 10 or 15 years, he said, “the church has come to realize that transparency and candor and historical accuracy are really the only way to go.” The church has released seven volumes of the papers of Joseph Smith and published an essay on one of the most shameful events in church history, the Mountain Meadows massacre, in which church leaders plotted the slaughter of people in a wagon train in 1857.

    But the church has not actively disseminated most of these documents, so when members come across them on Web sites or in books, Mr. Bushman said, “it’s just excruciating.”

    “Sometimes people are furious because they feel they haven’t been told the truth growing up,” he said. “They feel like they were tricked or betrayed.”

    Mr. Mattsson said that when he started sharing what he had learned with other Mormons in Sweden, the stake president (who oversees a cluster of congregations) told him not to talk about it to any members, even his wife and children. He did not obey: “I said to them, why are you afraid for the truth?”

    He organized a discussion group in Sweden, and more than 600 participated, he said. In 2010, the church sent two of its top historians, Elder Marlin K. Jensen and Richard E. Turley Jr. to allay the Swedes’ concerns. They had a remarkably frank and sometimes testy exchange, especially about Smith and polygamy.

    The Mattssons have tried other churches, but they are still attached to their Mormon faith. A few weeks ago, they moved to Spain for health reasons, they said. They left behind some family members who are unhappy with Mr. Mattsson’s decision to grant interviews to The New York Times and to the “Mormon Stories” podcast.

    “I don’t want to hurt the church,” Mr. Mattsson said. “I just want the truth.”

  • Kojack57

    I mailed that link to family and friends. Thank God for the Internet. Freedom is at hand for all brainwashed CULTS.

  • Kojack57

    The Mormons call their leaders Apostles or Governing body too. They have twelve of those buggers. It's all about the money and controlling people's lives.

  • garyneal
  • WTWizard

    One cult down, who knows how many to go. You get rid of one cult where the original leader hid parts of its past, you get others popping up to take its place. And, if a lousy sex scandal is all they have to go by, hypocrisy should be highlighted. When you are sexually promiscuous yet you proclaim yourself holier than thou, that is far worse than someone that is sexually promiscuous and open about it. And what about highlighting basic doctrinal issues? That is what is going to work against the Mor[m]on church. There were no gold tablets. Joseph Smith was not some inspired prophet, but another scam artists that was pigging out when the end-time slop was handy back in the early and mid 1800s. The Seventh Day Adventists and jokehovian witlesses are also part of that mess.

    But, there are enough idiots out there who fall for these scams that they stay alive. Newer cults come up. The Boston Movement, for instance, is known to be a splinter group from the mainstream Church of Christ. And fairly recent--someone turned apostate from the mainstream church in the late 1960s and released the Boston Movement in its final form in 1979. The Twelve Tribes cult was started in 1973. People have access to the history of these cults--yet they still join. You get even newer cults, some too new to even register, and their history is easy to check. Yet, under the influence of their Paxil, Prozac, Ritalin, Xanax, and the fluoride in the water plus the diseducation in "school(??)", they still join.

    The whole of Christi-SCAM-ity has to go. No Christi-SCAM-ity, no fear of hellfire or Gehenna, no threat, no cults. And, if they do start cults, they cannot use Jesus or God to do so. Instead, they need to start a business cult or something else and have to pay taxes like everyone else, subject to audits, and possible raids. Under Jesus, they have protection and often start and keep cults going despite rubbish like this. You lose half or more of the membership, others join.

    And, even if the Mor[m]ons go, where are too many of them going? Some will go into the cat lick church or other Protestant denominations. Too many will end up in the sister cults the Seventh Day Adventists or jokehovian witlesses. Some will end up in even worse cults like the Boston Movement or Twelve Tribes, or some even newer and worse cult. And not enough are going to dump Jesus altogether so they will not fall into another religious cult--even the ones that find Allah are still open to Islamic cults that can be just as bad or even worse.

  • outinthemeadows

    We've never had em round at our house anyway lol Don't know if right but I was told they preach for 6 months and thats it for em.

  • Cold Steel
    Cold Steel

    Well, the Mormon church has been written off many times before, but it's a long way from being down and out. I became LDS when I was 18 years old and within a year I knew about all these claims because they're not new. Many LDS members are disturbed because they think the church hasn't addressed it; however, published responses to all of the issues raised by Mattsson also are on the Internet.

    The Romans viewed ancient Christianity in a very similar light. Pliny the elder called it a "wretched cult" and people accused the Christians of practicing magic and performing secretive, obscene rites. It bothered people that the Christian priesthood exercised authority over those afflicted with devils and Jesus rebuked them for it, explaining that if the devil's kingdom were divided, it could not stand. Thus, his opposition to it could not be a ruse for deception.

    The LDS church is addressing its retention problems, even as other churches are, and our own church prophecy warns us that this will not only happen, but grow worse prior to the coming of the Son of Man. The information on both sides of these issues is available to all on the Internet and in books; however, many people are content only to take sides against the church and cite every seedy thing they can get their hands on, even when they know it's less than reliable...or even completely false. And though people like the Mattssons are well publicized in the popular press, the vast majority of the church is holding steady. In short, there will always be doubters and malcontents regardless of whatever religion or philosophy is being discussed. And though the world is full of vile cults and political, social and religious philosophies, most of our critics will never dig deep enough or be intellectually honest enough to bother looking beyond the charges of our enemies. Still, there are many who are honest and will seek on a spiritual level. And if they honestly seek, they will find, and if they find, the church of Jesus Christ will continue to grow and prosper. As Isaiah wrote, " For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: that make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought." (Isa. 29:20-21)

    See Skin Deep, by Daniel C. Peterson, for more info.

  • exwhyzee

    I encourage everyone to read the comments of others who have viewd this Video. (the example below says it all, for me)

    “I was just in a bubble, and we felt so happy,”

    That is exactly the question we must all answer -- is it better to stay in the bubble and be happy? Or to face the truth?
  • Cold Steel
    Cold Steel

    It all depends on whether the bubble of happiness is founded in truth or not. When I was in school, my philosophy professor was a staunch atheist. He challenged me and other Christians about our faith and used his age and experience to try to manipulate our views. We also had to read anti-Christian and pro-atheistic books. I’d just converted to Mormonism and I weathered the storm just fine, though I took a lot of crap for it. Others, however, didn’t.

    There’s a lot to be said for Jesus’ parable about the sower. If one sows seeds of doubt, and if it falls in fertile ground, then it grows and prospers. If one sows the seeds of faith, then it grows and prospers. Does that mean one should close one’s eyes to all evidence and learning? No, but it does mean that if one lives one’s life in a righteous manner and seeks the Lord when confronted with intellectual and historical doubts and misgivings that are beyond his or her ability to deal with, one can turn to God.

    Peter wasn’t an educated man, yet when he told the Lord that he personally knew that he, Jesus, was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, Jesus replied, “Blessed art thou, Simon...for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in Heaven.” This means that irrespective of the various intellectual pros and cons of what people were saying, that Peter knew it on a spiritual level that was beyond doubt. The same spiritual insights that Peter enjoyed also may be utilized by people today. Did Peter feel he was in a bubble? Was he happy? Alas, he is not around today to ask, but I think he was ensconced in his own bubble and that he was happy. He was no scholar, but he knew what was being bandied around about Jesus by critics of the church and he simply knew it wasn’t true.

    On the other hand, I’ve been reading anti-Mormon stuff for years and I ’m happy and don’t consider myself in a bubble. But I don’t criticize those who are because I would rather take the slings and arrows of critics than to apostatize from the faith I ’ m convinced is true.

    So it ’ s all a matter of point of view.

  • garyneal

    My God, the parallels between them and the witnesses are astounding.

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