I’ve often pondered the question from the time I was a young man, “If Mormonism is true, then why aren’t the Mormons better people?” To which I’ve heard many persons reply, “You can’t judge the church by its members!” But why not? Shouldn’t the people be a measure of their religious system? Shouldn’t Mormonism take average people and change them into phenomenal human beings if the claims of the church are true? Shouldn’t membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints actually produce “saints” who walk a sacred and holy walk by the side of their Savior Jesus Christ and live their lives according to his teachings? Why then does the Mormon church only give lip service to Jesus’ words while focusing most of what is taught on Joseph Smith and the living “brethren” as we’ve demonstrated? If it’s truly Jesus’ restored church, then why isn’t Jesus the central focus of the church?
I don’t know about the rest of you, but my experience of living among the Mormons and serving in many ward and stake capacities as an adult exposed a hypocritical and deceitful system that really became apparent as I married and began a career working mostly among other Mormons. I grew up in a small rural town and had an idyllic experience in the church as a child and youth in what I thought was Zion. I was fortunate to have dedicated young men and scouting leaders who also bore powerful testimonies of the gospel and I was certain that this was indeed Zion.
The first intimation that something was drastically amiss occurred when I entered the MTC in preparation to serve a mission. I suddenly found myself in a militarized boot camp where backstabbing, posturing for position, flattery to garner favor, stepping over others, and every other form of disingenuous and duplicitous behavior was on full display. What happened to the church I grew up in? Where was the brotherly love Jesus spoke of? I watched in disbelief as the two-faced adults called as teachers and leaders seemed to encourage the behavior I observed and they would speak about how to get ahead in life— Thus began my education in what Mormonism was really all about… Nothing changed during the course of my mission and I observed aggressive and forceful missionaries garner the attention of the mission president and receive the most desired assignments and positions. When it was over and I returned home, I had a distinct distaste for the Mormon missionary system which was all based on numbers and appearance. Is it any wonder that so many returned missionaries become disillusioned and estranged and eventually leave the church!
Returning to “normal” life and getting back to school was like chicken soup for the soul I suppose because it put distance between me and the megalomaniacs in the mission field. In time I dutifully married in the temple as I had been instructed all my life and we began our indoctrination as adults into the salvation-by-service system of Mormonism. Callings were piled onto both of us and we were deeply entrenched in living the Mormon life. We gauged our righteousness by the hours spent weekly in church service and there was little time left for ourselves and our growing family. My wife wisely noted early on the stress and guilt which the church piles on women. We gave our time and money to the church as required and the years passed. Salvation was an expensive ordeal as Mormons.
Our first home was in a neighborhood of people of many ages and almost everyone was Mormon. Our initial bad experience in the church as a couple came at the expense of a ward member who served in a very senior leadership position and remains to this day one of the worst human beings I’ve ever known. How could a person who believed in the “restoration” and was serving in such a responsible positions act that way? Over the years it only got worse as we met and interacted with more and more of these types of active members who went to the temple regularly, served in senior leadership positions, yet lived lives that were morally reprehensible and dishonest in many ways. It was disheartening to say the least. My wife and I often discussed these troubling matters and wondered what was wrong with our supposed “true church?” People were simply not reflecting the ideals of Jesus’ gospel in their daily walk of life. Something was very wrong!
Eventually I served in ward and stake leadership positions and my eyes were really opened to deeper levels of disgust about the Mormon people. Not only were shocking moral lapses prevalent and common among both women and men who claimed to love and follow Christ, but the same disgusting backstabbing and climbing over others to get ahead that I had witnessed as a missionary was alive and well. I watched a Stake president lift himself over others and demand deference to his every word, while displaying his ignorance of The Word of God. He followed the examples set for him by General Authorities so I shouldn’t have been surprised. I finally couldn’t take it anymore and asked to be released and walked away from active membership.
All during these many years as I worked in my career I observed the same shameful and inexcusable behavior from coworkers and Sr. managers who were bishops, stake presidents, and former mission presidents who were among the most dishonest people I had ever known. I saw them mismanage corporate funds for personal benefit and cheat their employees. They justified their actions calling it “business” and would march their families to church on Sunday and answer the temple worthiness questions about honesty with a smile and a handshake. Most of the truly good and honorable Mormons I’ve known have their own litany of such heartbreaking stories.
I had occasion to meet and work alongside many non-Mormons over the years and I’m embarrassed to say how many times they would complain to me about members of the Mormon church and how dishonest and cliquish they were. Elitism is one of the worst side effects of Mormonism and many adherents consider themselves superior to everyone else because they are member of the “one true church” or so they think… Such snobbery breeds contempt among non-Mormons. One vendor that used to provide critical services to a company I worked for closed his Utah offices after 12 years and said he could no longer operate a business among the dishonest Mormons and consolidated his business to another state. These are common things that anyone paying attention has witnessed for themselves. I have friends who have worked for the LDS Church and they tell me horror stories of their employment at the church office building.
Again I ask, If the restoration was true and was what it claimed to be, why would Mormons have such bad reputations? Why would vice and wickedness be so prevalent? Why would Mormon women engage so much in gossip, trouble making, and backbiting while striving to be “pure in appearance” as Hugh Nibley accused them? If the restoration was true, then why are Mormons known for their financial pyramid schemes to defraud others? Why are the poor and needy and homeless ignored? Why does the church erect countless multi-million dollar churches and lavish temples for dead works? Why are the valleys of the Wasatch Front in Utah filled with multi-million dollar homes which is counter to everything Jesus taught?
Why are the doctrines of the church so far out of alignment with the holy scriptures as we’ve demonstrated on this blog? Why do the members ignore the Book of Isaiah and Jesus’ commandments to study Isaiah? Why are members so ignorant of the contents of the Book or Mormon? Why can’t members compare the D&C with the rest of scripture and realize the D&C is incongruent with the holy scriptures? How do members continue to believe the Book of Abraham when its proven NOT to be a translation of the Egyptian papyrus as Smith claimed? The list goes on and on. Add your own favorite reasons why; there are so many to choose from including the billions spent on the City Creek center.
Is it any wonder that record numbers of people are having their names removed from membership in the church? Is it surprising that the younger generations feel disenfranchised and that some of the older generations who have attended church all their lives feel marginalized by the faith that has become empty to them? None of this should surprise us if we’ve been paying attention. The lies are unraveling one by one as more people become aware of the fact that the restoration is not true and never was true. Remember that Joseph Smith was only given one gift to translate the Book of Mormon. There wasn’t supposed to be a “restoration” or a church at all.
I began to search through everything Mormon as a young man. Now in the fifth decade of my research and studies which includes searching many volumes of history, doctrine, sermons, biographies etc., I wish with all my heart the story of the restoration had been true. I wish we had a system of belief on the earth that naturally helped good people become great people! Such a time however is coming and the holy scriptures call it The Great and Marvelous Work. We can prepare ourselves to be ready for that day by searching the scriptures diligently and walking in the light of Christ.
These are the musings of my heart on this Sunday as I’ve prayed and pondered all that The Word of God has given us. If the restoration had been true, then by its fruits we would have seen better things than what we have witnessed in the church all the days of our lives. Our collective hope among those involved with this blog is to see The Great and Marvelous Work commence soon and for the hearts and minds of the truly righteous to be open to the truth of God’s coming work among men.