This past week has been one of difficulty, anxiety and stress as I try to deal with the backlash from church leadership regarding how I have felt that I have been lied to on one of the tenants of the LDS church doctrine which I believe to be false and not true doctrine. These concerns were raised based on scriptural evidences that do not support the claim of the LDS church. Most notably around the issue of masturbation. I felt I needed to share my feelings on the matter so that others can perhaps begin to understand the harm this stance has caused. I brought my blog post to my Bishop so that he may also understand how I feel as I won’t let my children suffer from the church teachings as I have on this matter.
He soon read some of my other post relating to nudity, modesty and pornography. I soon learned he felt that was also speaking out against church doctrine despite scriptural backing to my positions and conclusions. Sadly this had a snowball effect in our meetings leading to feelings of frustration, and perhaps some anger on both parts.
It was not long before I was asked to return my temple recommend for not sustaining church leadership and doctrine, and being in open opposition to the teachings of the church. Though I had committed no sin by refusing to accept everything by the same interpretation of church teachings and stated that we have been lied to by church leadership on certain issues, this was serious enough of a sin for him to take my recommend and was told that this could very well lead to disciplinary council and ex-communication. I had endeavored to explain and demonstrate numerous statements and claims made by church leadership that were clearly false, misleading and straight out lies which could not be disputed. This was done in an effort to show how church leaders have been wrong and why I am not guilty of apostasy as I had been accused because of my statements, reasoning and evidences give sufficient reason to validate the truth of them. Some examples of this included Brigham Young stating that Marrying a black person is worthy of death. Spencer W Kimball, past prophet, stated Masturbation can make you gay. Gordon B Hinkley stated an obvious lie regarding Polygamy on Larry king. A doctrine that the Church claims had been restored by Joseph Smith and the church has never refuted, and still states today is an eternal principle as per my former bishop, even if it is not practiced any more. And yet the Prophet of God said it was not doctrinal despite LDS scriptures saying otherwise.
Considering what Gordon B Hinkley is on record as saying I would argue that he failed to uphold church leadership and prophets before him. Based on what I have been told, that to speak out and deny the doctrine publicly in open opposition which is what Hinkley has done in this video clip, that is grounds for charges of Apostasy. Was Hinkley then an Apostate? Or is it by virtue of his station he can say and do things that for me or anyone else would be considered sin, wrong and grounds for possible disciplinary action. My former Bishop has declared that Polygamy is an eternal principle. And yet that is in direct opposition to Hinkley’s statement that polygamy is not doctrine. Perhaps he should seek to have the stake president take his recommend for saying such things. No matter how you look at it someone is lying somewhere. It is no sin to say so, it is however sin to deny it and threaten those that dare point it out.
These are just a few examples of incorrect, false and misleading statements made by prophets and leaders of the the LDS church. Despite even these few examples it seems that the idea of suggesting the church or its leaders could be wrong on anything is akin to apostasy and must be silenced at all cost under threat of ex-communication.
Dieter F Uchtdorf explains that the church leaders are not perfect, and mistakes have been made. It also included some very valid and legit questions that many members have been asking. So if leaders have made mistakes, and this is known and accepted, why then is the church so strict and swift in taking action against members who dare to point out those mistakes? what is more important? being right with God or being right with the church?
The Bishops handbook speaks on opposition to church leaders as apostasy. Based on some statements made by my former bishop he is in opposition to some prophets. For example, polygamy he states is doctrine, contradicting Hinkley who has contradicted other past prophets and the scriptures themselves. Given that one could conclude that Hinkley was in fact an apostate, or at the very least, being in open opposition to previous church leadership. It would seem that it is acceptable to be opposed to doctrines and statements by church leaders if you are a church leader, but not if you are a ordinary member. The handbook states specifically that one must not be in open opposition. I believe that is the key here. You can freely oppose doctrine, policy or even leaders themselves as long as you keep it to yourself. The bishop denied this is the case and opted to not debate the meaning of the words themselves.
An example that was presented to me was that if one did not agree with tithing, then does that mean that one should just stop paying it and it would be acceptable to speak out against it. I had responded to that argument that I have no issue with the principle of tithing, nor do I have any objection to paying as I have seen nothing that would cause me to be so concerned about tithing that it would give me moral or ethical objections as other issues have. However since the subject was brought up I had stated that I felt that the church is not transparent on the use of tithes. The church has not disclosed details of it’s finances and expenditures publicly since the 1970’s and since then they have invested in numerous commercial enterprises such as multi billion dollar retail developments, stock markets, banks and political lobbying of governments even though the churches declaration of neutrality in political matters. With an estimated 7 billion in revenues from tithes I do not believe it is unreasonable to expect that the church be accountable to the members that are funding it for the use of those tithes.
The Bishop, sadly, did not take kindly to my apparent opposition to tithing and told me that the church is not a corporation, it is not accountable to me or anyone else but God for the use of tithes and they are under no obligation to disclose to its members or anyone else what that money is used for. I was told that I was not an investor in the church and it is none of my concern how that money is spent. The tithing money is God’s money, I was told and the church is accountable to God not me or anyone else. All of which were lies piled upon lies.
- The church is a corporation and is legally organized as such as the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, as is the corporation of the First Presidency and the Corporation of the Quorum of the 12. This is how the church appears on all legal documents. The church is a corporation. This is a proven, verifiable, documented reality. To state otherwise is false and misleading statement.
- God has no need for money, he rules the universe and has absolutely no need for money in any form. The church needs money from its members to operate and it collects that money from the members in the form of tithes.
- If you are going to demand that members give up billions a year in tithing, you better damn well be accountable to them for how their money is being spent. You have a responsibility to do so and to suggest that we should just “shut up and give up your money” with no accountability is wrong, always has been, always will be.
- Organized religion is the perfect business model because you do not have to abide by the same laws actual corporations are required to and yet it allows you to generate billions in revenue with no accountability to the ones who provide that revenue. When you refused to be accountable to the members for how their tithes are used it is nothing less than fraud, robbery and deceit.
- The church has invested billions in commercial developments and other businesses. I did not pay tithing to support commercial operations and businesses but to further the work of God and support the church. The church needs to be accountable for this.
- We are all investors in this church. Members around the world invest so much of their lives, talents, resources, time and money into this church and such an attitude of we are not investors is shameful, ignorant, belligerent, disrespectful and sickening. It demonstrates and complete lack of respect for the sacrifice millions of people around the world are making every day for this organization. Many people sacrifice more for their religion and church than any other aspect of their lives and you better damn well show some respect and appreciation for that. Such a position does neither and is nothing short of slavery of the membership under threat of damnation for themselves and their families if they do not comply.
I was also told that the church is not a democracy, but a theocracy and I do not get a say in how it is to be run. I must sustain the leaders at all cost, regardless of my personal feelings. This however is completely false. The church is in fact supposed to be a democracy, not a theocracy. This is well established in the Doctrine and Covenants, what you could say is the constitution of the LDS church.
D & C 26:2
And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen.
D & C 28:13
For all things must be done in order, and by common consent in the church, by the prayer of faith.
D & C 104:71-72
And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by the voice and common consent of the order.
D & C 104:85
The law of common consent was established as a check and balance to the church to ensure that not any one person, or group within the church obtain more power or authority than they should ever have. The inherent risk involved without this counter check in place was recognized in the early organization of the church. The reason for this was also recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants:
D & C 121:39
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Sadly this is the state of the church today. The laws of the church are not being followed. Power and authority is being taken back to a select few and the members ability to safeguard themselves from unrighteous dominion within the church is diminished. The only power we have left is to leave. And when you try to do so your family is held for ransom. I am told that if I go down this path then my entire family’s eternal salvation is at risk as per Bishop. This is also a false and misleading statement as both my wife and I have received all ordinances the church offers for this purpose, my children still have their free-agency to partake if they so choose. The bishop is not in a position to judge that. In the end only God can be the final and ultimate judge of my eternal salvation. While I have been told by my former bishop that I cannot live the gospel without my name on the records of the church one can live the gospel and live happy lives without the church in control of them and their families.
The position of the church is clear, which is If I accept Joseph smith as a prophet then I must accept all men from that time forth as prophets and that the church is lead by God, and if it is led by God surely it cannot be guilty of any unethical practices nor have any men of questionable character and so we should not be questioning them for any reason. If I do not trust the church then I do not believe that Joseph Smith was prophet. It is a very one extreme or the other attitude that ignores all possibility of wrong doing. It really is a for or against us attitude, and it is dangerous and manipulative.
When we cannot accept the faults of these men and speak out against those things which are harmful and wrong with what has been said and done and is being done now, it is not evil, or wrong to do so. God would not have us support evil so as to ensure we support his church leaders. When we are told that we should just trust them no matter what and without exception, it amounts to worship of men and church not God.
The Church and its leaders has stated on numerous occasions that they are not perfect, they make mistakes and have said and done some things that were not right at time. It seems however that the only ones allowed to point out the errors of the leaders and the church are those in the hierarchy and anyone else who does so it amounts to blasphemy, apostasy and sin. I have no desire to engage in idol worship. The demands and expectations of the church amount to worship of church and its leaders rather than worship of God and that is wrong in every way. When I see something wrong I will say something. No amount of pressure and implications that I will not be saved in heaven If I do not comply will change that.
Having the ability to openly dissent is important for any church to not only retain members long term but to prosper and grow. Stats show that church growth in Canada and the U.S. has at the very most flat lined. The church is losing as many members as it is gaining. This is evident from My experience and from what I have researched is that this is by far one of the leading causes of this crisis. How long before membership starts to decrease? How much will it take for the church to recognize the reasons it’s members are unhappy within their organization? Many I have talked to feel the same way I do but won’t publicly speak because of the fear of losing those connections they have in the church. I however must ask what is more important, the church, or truth? I will stand for righteousness at all times, in all places. I will worship God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and not the dictates of the LDS church. This is after all one of the core beliefs.
Article Of Faith 11
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
All of this demonstrates a clear attitude of control and conformity and not honest, open and intelligent discussion for the betterment of all involved. And this is why I have chosen to walk away from this church. I do not know what the future holds, but I do know for the foreseeable future It does not involved me attending the LDS church. As for the rest of my family, I will support them in whatever they choose. I however cannot align myself with A church more concerned with the fragile image of its leaders than honest worship and reverence for God.
And that is the gospel according to Andrew