December 12, 2017

Temple Screenshots Post 5: Priestesses to Your Husbands

I'm going to do a series of #iWatchedTheTempleVideos posts on all of my social media accounts. Each one will have a screenshot (from one of the videos from Mike Norton's NewNameNoah YouTube channel), a link to the video where the screenshot is from, and a little message about how temple stuff was hidden from me as a Mormon child. 

I was born a Mormon. I didn't know women were less than men in Mormon doctrine until I saw the NewNameNoah YouTube videos when I was 21.

Men are priests to God who get to rule and reign forever. Women are just priestesses to their husbands:

"Brethren, you have been washed and pronounced clean, or that through your faithfulness you may become clean, from the blood and sins of this generation. You have been anointed to become hereafter kings and priests unto the most high God, to rule and reign in the house of Israel forever.
Sisters, you have been washed and anointed to become hereafter queens and priestesses to your husbands."  -Mormon Temple Endowment

This link jumps to the point in the video where I got the screenshot:

December 08, 2017

Temple Screenshots Post 4: Oh God, Hear the Words of My Mouth, Repeated Three Times

I'm going to do a series of #iWatchedTheTempleVideos posts on all of my social media accounts. Each one will have a screenshot (from one of the videos from Mike Norton's NewNameNoah YouTube channel), a link to the video where the screenshot is from, and a little message about how temple stuff was hidden from me as a Mormon child. 

I was born a Mormon. I knew about something called the "prayer circle", but I didn't know that there was chanting in the temple until I saw the NewNameNoah YouTube videos when I was 21.

This link jumps to the point in the video where I got this screenshot:

November 30, 2017

Temple Screenshots Post 3: Bow Your Head and Say Yes

I'm going to do a series of #iWatchedTheTempleVideos posts on all of my social media accounts. Each one will have a screenshot (from one of the videos from Mike Norton's NewNameNoah YouTube channel), a link to the video where the screenshot is from, and a little message about how temple stuff was hidden from me as a Mormon child. 

I was born a Mormon. I didn't know that part of the temple endowment involves bowing your head and saying yes (to promises that you didn't know you were going to be making) until I saw the NewNameNoah YouTube videos when I was 21.

This link jumps to the point in the video where I got this screenshot:

November 24, 2017

Temple Screenshots Post 2: The Law of Consecration

I'm going to do a series of #iWatchedTheTempleVideos posts on all of my social media accounts. Each one will have a screenshot (from one of the videos from Mike Norton's NewNameNoah YouTube channel), a link to the video where the screenshot is from, and a little message about how temple stuff was hidden from me as a Mormon child. 

I was born a Mormon. I didn't know that Mormons promise to give everything to the church until I saw the NewNameNoah YouTube videos when I was 21.

This link jumps to the point in the video where I got this screenshot:

I had always heard that the Law of Consecration you read about in the Doctrine and Covenants was just one of those weird things that happened in the past (like polygamy) that you didn't have to worry about any more. That was back in the days when the early saints gave everything to Joseph Smith and the early church. They even gave him their buildings and land (see D&C sections 41 and 42).

I had no idea that this was the promise that all of the LIVING temple-going Mormons in my life had made in the endowment session of the temple:

"You and each of you covenant and promise before God, angels, and these witnesses at this altar, that you do accept the law of consecration as contained in this, the book of Doctrine and Covenants, in that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion." - Mormon Temple Endowment 

The One Mission for Every Mormon Girl

Do Mormons still teach girls that being a stay-at-home mom is the most important thing they can be?

I was born in 1992. When I was getting ready for college, I got a letter from Harvard asking if I wanted to apply (I wasn’t sure if I could actually get in, but I wish I had at least applied!), and when I talked to my dad about it he said stuff about how it’s not just the education, but it’s about the possibility that you’ll marry someone you meet at college, and what do you want that to look like?

BYU ended up being the only school I applied to… What would be the point of going to another school that didn’t have RM’s for me to marry?

I chose to get an accounting degree that I hated rather than going into science because when I talked about it with my parents (my mom never went to college, my dad has an MBA) we all decided that it would offer better options for me as a stay at home mom…

I don’t even want kids. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was living the life “God” wanted me to live.

So add all that on top of my mom teaching me that I promised to God, before I was even born, that I would have children (I think she got that idea from the temple), and on top of all the Young Women’s lessons on being a good mom and putting children and family above everything else and making lists of what my perfect husband would be like.. I would say yes, at least in my case, I was definitely taught that the stay-at-home path was the righteous path for me as a woman and that it was the most important (if not the only) thing I should be focusing on in my life.

November 15, 2017

Temple Screenshots Post 1: Green Aprons, Baker's Hats, Robes and Veils

I'm going to do a series of #iWatchedTheTempleVideos posts on all of my social media accounts. Each one will have a screenshot (from one of the videos from Mike Norton's NewNameNoah YouTube channel), a link to the video where the screenshot is from, and a little message about how temple stuff was hidden from me as a Mormon child.

I was born a Mormon. I didn't know they wore green aprons, baker's hats, robes and veils in the temple until I saw the NewNameNoah YouTube videos when I was 21.

This link jumps to the point in the video where I got this screenshot:

November 01, 2017

Exposing the Cult: Anger and Pain

This video is an interview with Mike Norton, the guy who made the secret recordings inside of Mormon temples. Leaving Mormonism was hard for him too.

There is rhetoric that goes around about people like him (and even people like me) that we're just angry exmormons that have lost the spirit. That's so frustrating! Yes, there are moments of intense anger. Yes, we want to expose the "church" as the cult that it is. But it's not just because of the anger, because even more often than the moments of intense anger, there are moments of intense pain. This cult causes so much pain, and it's all based on the lies of a poor farm boy, Joseph Smith, who grew up to be a conman and ended up founding a cult by accident.

Even now, as Mike tells this story about when he told his wife that he had learned Joseph Smith was liar, it still brings him to tears. He was all in as a Mormon. I was too. It soooo painful to learn that's it's all made up:

October 31, 2017

Our Google Home Knows How to Get Into Mormon Heaven Now

Some explanation. Mormon's believe that you need to know secret handshakes to get into heaven.

They learn these handshakes during a meeting in the temple called the endowment. Here is what they say about the endowment during the ceremony itself:

"Your Endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the House of the Lord, which are necessary for you, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the keywords, the signs and the tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation."

These "signs and tokens" are the secret handshakes and their accompanying names.

The words the Google Home is saying in this video are the name of the last "token". So technically, it probably won't make it into Mormon heaven since it still doesn't know the secret handshakes, but it's a good start!

"Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and in the sinews, power in the Priesthood be upon me, and upon my posterity through all generations of time, and throughout all eternity." 

Link to transcript of Mormon endowment:

Link to secret recording of an actual endowment session:

September 15, 2017

Ditching Dogma at the Door

Facebook just reminded me that I shared this Holland quote five years ago.

"You never check your religion at the door. Not ever." - Jeffrey Holland,

I think I still agree with the general sentiment of what's going on in this quote. I think Holland is trying to say that it's important to not be a hypocrite and live your belief system, despite peer pressure. I think in general I would agree with that. Consistently doing what's right, even when it's hard, seems admirable to me.

But I would never post this quote now because I think that there is a downside to what Holland is advocating, and it has to do with dogma.

I think there are times when checking your religion at the door could be beneficial because I think there are times when clinging stubbornly and dogmatically to you belief system does more harm than good.

No dogma or set of principles should be unquestionable, religions don't always get things right, no belief system is perfect. Most importantly, I think it's important for us to be able to change our beliefs. Especially when those beliefs are harmful to others.

I think I should be willing to be wrong. I should be willing to change. I'm not good at it, but I'm trying.

This one of my biggest frustrations with Mormonism. It doesn't even feel like it's trying. It never allows itself (or more specifically, its doctrines and prophets) to be wrong. In the church culture as it exists now, holding to the teachings dogmatically is the best way to be a good Mormon. In the church now, doctrines are always right, no matter how much pain they cause, prophets have never been wrong, no matter how much the church has to censor the things they said, and if you disagree with that as Mormon, you could be denied a temple recommend and be deemed less righteous in your religion. Obedience to the rules is everything.

This dogmatism is everywhere in Mormonism, and I think it builds a culture where dogma (the beliefs, principles, and rituals) is more important than people. What I mean by that is that devotion to the religion, to the doctrines and to the words of the prophets, can often cause real people to be dismissed instead of being treated with empathy. The idea of Mormonism being "the one true church" that members should cling to above all else creates a wall that makes it hard for Mormons to have empathetic conversations with people who are hurt by Mormonism.

I think this wall is there because it's threatening to people to hear things that conflict with their worldview, and Mormons are no exception.

Conversely, it's hard for someone who is hurt by Mormon doctrine to talk to a Mormon about the pain they feel without those words falling on deaf ears. I've felt many times that the dogma of Mormonism and the desire to be a worthy temple recommend holder were more important to the Mormons in my life than I am as a person and that my very existence was threatening to them because I didn't fit in their world view. Their devotion to Mormon dogma put up a wall that prevented them from seeing how their belief system could be a source of pain, and that prevented them from being able to validate my pain.

I can see why it happens to Mormons. Mormonism feels safe to the members. It feels comforting. And why wouldn't it? It's a religion based on telling members that they, and they alone, are the lucky ones who are in the only religion that has all the truth. They are the ones who have prophets that are never wrong and always right. They are the ones who never need to change their doctrines because their's are the most correct doctrines in the world.

And so the dogma becomes more important than people. The dogma is talked about because it's comforting. It reinforces the idea that they are safe and doing the right things no matter what other people say. It's talked about more than people who need help because talking about that instead would threaten the comfort. It would be scary.

Keeping the temple a secret because the doctrine says to is easier than talking to the individuals who want to talk about it. Apologies are never given for the horrible things done by prophets in the past because it's scary to admit that prophets could be fallible. Some kids are denied baptism because their parents are gay and it makes some members uncomfortable, but there's nothing they can do about it because it would be even more uncomfortable to admit that some church policies could be wrong.

Strict obedience to the dogma is more important than being aware and empathetic to the feelings and well being of other people because that is what is taught as the priority. That is where Mormons are told to put their time and energy They are told obedience is a virtue, and they feel safe when they are obedient to the dogma.

I'm not saying that all Mormons are completely ignorant of the fact that Mormonism is dogmatic. There are plenty of Mormons who will rant against "Utah Mormons" because they can see the problems that arise when dogma is valued over humans. I know there are plenty of Mormons who want to be empathetic and who want to see changes in the church that make it more inclusive and loving. I wanted those things as a Mormon.

But Mormons in good standing aren't allowed to be vocal about it if they think something is wrong. They promise in the temple to not "speak evil" of "the Lord's anointed". Their voices don't matter. Only the prophets' voices matter. Only the doctrine matters. If people get too out of line from what the dogma dictates, the church can force them out of the church with excommunication.

I think the biggest shift in my thinking since I posted that quote five years ago is that I don't think I'm right about everything anymore, the way I did when I was a Mormon. I think that I get things wrong all the time and that I will probably keep getting things wrong in the future. That's definitely not as comforting as believing that I already have all the truth I'll ever need, but it makes it easier to suspend my own worldview when I'm trying to understand other people. (Plus, it makes me more interested in other perspectives in the first place when I don't view all other people as either sinners or people who could potentially be a good Mormon some day)

I wish that shift could happen in the church. I wish the culture of the church could shift to a place where people are more important than dogma. Where it's ok to be wrong. Where positive change is encouraged. Where people aren't excommunicated for being gay or for disagreeing with things the leaders teach. Where policies can be changed when they are hurting people. Where secrets don't have to be kept just because the cultural dogma says they should be kept a secret. Where apologies can be made for the mistakes that hurt people, instead of just brushing that hurt and pain under the rug.

I still get the sentiment of the Holland quote. It's admirable to be someone who consistently tries to do the right thing.

But I wish he wouldn't have phrased it that way. I think a more healthy approach would be something along the lines of, "Don't give in to peer pressure, but DO check your dogma at the door when you interact with other people".

People should be more important than religions or belief systems. We should all be willing to recognize when we are wrong so that we can be more open to listening to the experiences of other people. Ditching our dogma at the door, no matter what we believe, can help all of us be more empathetic to the experiences of the people around us and make it easier to see when we are wrong. Leaving behind the idea that we have the one and only true worldview when we interact with other people can let us be more open to seeing the world through the perspective of other people. Letting go of our own dogma helps us not feel threatened by other worldviews.

If we could all ditch our own dogma, we could figure out the world together, instead of wondering why everyone else is so crazy for not seeing it the way we do.

August 28, 2017

Mormons should be required to NOT reject their gay children before being allowed into temples

Gay teens are being rejected in Utah and the results are deadly.

I just got this newspaper out of the mailbox. It's The Crossroads Journal, a newspaper with information about Lehi, Utah and the surrounding cities. As the article title says, suicide is the leading cause of death for teens in Utah. 

Suicide is definitely a big deal. I've never heard anybody make light of the topic or not take it seriously. This newspaper article mentions a go-fund-me page for a non-profit organization called The Alive Movement, a monthly public meeting held by the Utah Suicide Prevention Coalition, and a website,, that has resources and phone numbers for anyone who needs help. It's good to see that people are aware of this issue and that they are trying to make changes.

The reason I'm writing this is that I think there are still parts of this message that are not getting fully transmitted. Take this paragraph from the article, for example:

"Gay and transgender teens who were highly rejected by their parents and caregivers were more than 8 times as likely to attempt suicide compared with gay and trans gender teens who were not at all or only rejected a little by the same."

Most people will probably miss this paragraph because it's at the end of an article that's on the very last page of a local newspaper.

The part about rejected gay and trans teens being 8 times more likely to commit suicide is the part that I think needs to be brought into the spotlight. I think there are some major cultural changes in Utah that need to happen, and to get to the bottom of why gay teens are being rejected in Utah we need to look at the major driver of culture in Utah: Mormonism.

The Mormon church needs to stop creating policies that are hateful towards gay people. And it's not just their policies. Even their careful PR interviews can be cruel:

"I can also imagine some circumstances in which it might be possible to say, ‘Yes, come, but don’t expect to stay overnight. Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest. Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends, or to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your “partnership.” - Dallin Oaks, 2006

That kind of rejection needs to stop.

The November 2015 policy that equates the punishments for being gay with the same punishments that murderers receive needs to be removed.

I think if the Mormon church wanted to even more specifically address the problem of teen suicide through policy change, they could make it so that Mormons be required to NOT reject their gay children before being allowed into temples. There is an explicit temple recommend question about tithing. There is an explicit question asking about financial obligations to former spouse or children. I think there should be something explicit in the temple recommend interview about whether or not parents are showing love and acceptance to their gay children.

It's good to see an article like this. It's good to see that there are resources available to help the people who are struggling right now.

But there's still so far to go. This needs to be a cultural change, and the Mormon church has a HUGE influence on the culture in Utah.

This topic needs to get out of the back pages of a little newspaper and into the thousands of chapels and bishop's offices where gay Mormon teens are struggling to fit into a culture that is so openly hostile towards them and causes their families to reject them. This topic needs to make its way into church policies so that loving connections can replace deadly rejections.

August 07, 2017

Mormonism is Bad for Women

I got my hair cut this morning by a woman who was raped while growing up in Utah and never reported it because of the shamefulness of it all. Can you imagine if something like that happened to you and it was harder for you to report it than to not report it?

I think there are huge problems with the way women are treated in Mormon doctrine and culture that lead to horrible outcomes like that. That lead to women feeling voiceless. Powerless. Abused.

What do Mormon women get? They get to disappear. Yeah, they might nurture children here on Earth, but then what? If we have a Heavenly Mother, she disappeared. Men become the nurturers. God, Jesus, all the highest callings in the church and even in the theology, all men.

Women are given nothing godly to aspire to except to be a background fixture (one of many wives possibly given that plural marriage is still allowed in temples) to their husband's glory.

In the temple, women have to bow their heads and say yes in agreement with the covenant to hearken to their husbands (this is a link to a video of the section of the endowment ceremony where women make this promise: They promise to become priestesses to their husbands while the husband is a priest to God.

This is not a church that helps women grow. It does not value women outside of their reproductive abilities and tells them that if they lose "purity" in that area that they would be better off dead (see Moroni 9:9, which teaches that chastity and virtue are more important than life itself). It does not give them a voice of their own.

It does not treat them with the dignity that human beings deserve and then covers up this horrible lack of respect by putting the voiceless, powerless women on a pedestal of flowery, empty, rhetoric.

I love how the person in this video puts it: 

May 09, 2017

Telling Temple Secrets

Note: I know the temple videos are painful to Mormons, and I want to acknowledge that. But I also want to have my pain acknowledged in return. And that hasn’t happened. What has happened is that people dismiss me, they call me names and try to slander my character. That’s not ok.

I want to talk about the temple ceremonies because I feel like I was being groomed by a manipulative organization to get me to obey them and to give them time, money, and children, and a huge part of that grooming process is the emphasis the church puts on having their members go through the temple. I deserve to talk about how that makes me feel, and part of helping people understand how I feel is explaining the context of the situation I am in, the context of what the temple really is and what it means in Mormonism. 

I was being set up to go through the temple my whole life. All the lessons in young women’s about wearing all white. Primary songs like “I Love to See the Temple” and the ominous tune “Follow the Prophet” get stuck in my head TO THIS DAY and feel like complete brainwashing. I haven’t been able to get them out, but I’m working on it.

Accurate information can be stronger than brainwashing. Knowing what I know now about how sexist the ceremony is, and how demanding the church is (you promise to give everything to the church, not to God - see this link to watch the part of the temple where members promise to give everything to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

I’m disgusted that throughout 20+ years being raised Mormon I wasn’t told about the aprons, the chanting, the secret handshakes, and the secret hand symbols. I can’t find it beautiful. I can’t feel that it’s sacred. The only thing I feel about it is that it's a form of manipulation, a type of hazing that gets people stuck even deeper in the cult that is Mormonism.

This is the same as the “secret combinations” Mormons are taught to abhor. It's ironic because the temple is supposed to be for "good guys", but in the BoM, these secret signs are something the "bad guys" use.

"And it came to pass that they did have their signs, yea, their secret signs, and their secret words; and this that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant." - Helaman 6:22, Book of Mormon

Even now that I realize the temple ceremonies are man-made, I have lingering hesitance to post videos like this. Even though I know that it’s just counterfeit Masonry in a building, that brainwashing still gets to me like the primary songs get to me.

I don’t want that to be the case. I want this all out in the open. I want all the ways that the church has tried to manipulate me to be exposed. I want to talk about the things I was told were sacred but were really just the church keeping secrets.

There's just so much brainwashing to unpack...

April 01, 2017

What if God's Mouthpiece Isn't Actually Speaking For God? - Why I Feel Sad During General Conference

Mormons talk a lot about General Conference, which is happening this weekend.

In Mormonism, there is a tradition of turning to leaders for guidance, and there seems to be a cultural idea that the higher the leader, the better the guidance, so hearing from the highest leaders (especially the top of the top leader, the prophet, who they believe is God's mouthpiece) is seen as a real treat.

In light of this, I want to bring up the LDS break off sect, the FLDS. The FLDS group believes that Warren Jeffs is a prophet and that he speaks for God. They also believe in the Book of Mormon and the early Mormon prophets like Brigham Young and Joseph Smith.

How is following Warren Jeffs different than following Thomas Monson, the mainstream prophet? Mormons believe in following the prophet. Warren Jeffs' followers also believe in following him as their prophet. Both of them claim continuing revelation. Both of them claim to have priesthood authority that comes from God through Joseph Smith.

If Warren Jeffs is wrong, will his followers question him? If Thomas Monson is wrong, will his followers question him?

It really scares me to see this level of devotion to leaders in any religion, especially in these two religions because they hit so close to home for me.

Warren Jeffs has done horrible things. I think the Mormon church has also done horrible things, more so in the past than Warren Jeffs, but on a much larger scale.

To be clear, that doesn't mean I think that Mormons are bad people, just like I don't think Warren Jeffs' followers are bad people.

But I think that a belief that men can speak for God is harmful and dangerous. It's too much power for any one person or organization and is often abused.

General Conference time makes me sad because it reminds me of these issues and how it seems to be impossible for me to talk to Mormons about this without them feeling attacked. I don't mean this to be an attack. This is something that sincerely worries me and that I really do think is dangerous.

March 23, 2017

Mission Stories I Left Out of My Homecoming Talk: Ceviche

My husband served a mission in Peru from 2010 to 2012. He wrote this series of posts to share what his mission was really like.

Ceviche is the culinary pride of Peru. Peruvians talk about ceviche the same way that Texans talk about barbecue ribs. Similar to sushi, the meal consists of raw fish "cooked" in lemon juice, and served with sweet potato, choclo corn, and cancha nuts. The cities that I served in were dotted with cevicherías, serving up the meal to hungry locals and tourists.

In my mission, we were forbidden from eating ceviche. Because the meal involved raw fish, and some restaurants did not have sanitary food preparation practices, there was a chance of food-borne illness, especially for gringos with sensitive stomachs. It was better not to risk it, so our mission president made it a strict rule that no missionary was to eat ceviche.

Well, kind of. See, sometimes ceviche was allowed. One month, my zone had the most baptisms in the whole mission. The mission president came by, congratulated us, and then with a smile invited us all to go out eat ceviche with him at a nice restaurant. I remember the thrill I felt inside as he ordered for us. I had heard about this meal for months, but, as an obedient missionary, I hadn't tried it until that moment. The meal did not disappoint.

It did bother me a little bit, though. Why was ceviche forbidden most of the time, but allowed at other times? Later in my mission, my mission president explained the inconsistency. He said that if he was around, he could ensure that we were going to a reputable place, where he knew the meal would be prepared safely.

That would make sense. Except, after that meal, we were still forbidden from going back to that restaurant to order ceviche again. Even though the mission president regarded that restaurant as safe. A few months later, when our zone had a bad month for baptisms, the mission president came back to visit us. No ceviche that time.

Really, there was no consistent rule for eating ceviche. There was no whitelist of approved and safe ceviche restaurants. If the mission president said eating ceviche was OK today, then it was good. If the mission president said ceviche was a sin today, then it was a sin.

My missionary brain was fine with this. After all, the mission president was the one who received revelation for the mission, and it was our job to be obedient. There didn't need to be a consistent rule for ceviche. That's why we have continuing revelation, so that we're not condemned to using consistent principles to decide what is right and wrong. After all, the Book of Mormon teaches this clearly. Polygamy is usually an abomination, except when God commands it to raise up seed. Murder is usually wrong, but sometimes God can command you to behead someone if you really need one of their books. Ceviche is usually a dangerous food, but if the mission president is around and your numbers are good, then it's safe. Obedience to God's will is the only consistent principle we need, and whether by God's own voice or the voice of His servants, it is the same.

Now, five years removed from my mission, I see things in a different light. Ceviche was a tool of control wielded by my mission president. It was how he rewarded the missionaries who had earned his favor, and punished those who had not. The food safety explanation was a front, a lie.

I know this isn't a story of some terrible abuse by an ecclesiastical leader. It's about a meal and an arbitrarily enforced rule. I know people are imperfect, and I didn't leave the church because I was offended by my mission president. But missions are a big deal. It was two years of my life--two years under a system of total control and perfect obedience to authority. And, as this story shows, that authority was not always used fairly or honestly. Still, I never criticized my mission president for his faults. There was a missionary who did, and experienced the consequences. But I'll save that story for another post.

March 07, 2017

Temple Endowment Recording Provides Accurate Information about the Mormon Temple

I think it's important that accurate information about the temple be available. The temple ceremony recordings put on YouTube under the account NewNameNoah, though they have been controversial, do provide accurate information.

Going through the temple is like entering a contract (or covenant to use the religious term). An important part of being Mormon is making and keeping sacred contracts (covenants) in the temple.

Having accurate information about what's in the contract is essential before signing any kind of contract. In the case of this temple contract (or temple covenant), the church itself provides very little information about what is in the contract. Temple prep classes give vague lectures on the importance of making and keeping contracts (covenants), temple open houses let people walk through the temple, and members talk about their feelings about the temple, but all this is done without actually explaining anything about the ceremonies themselves or the details of the temple contract.

Having accurate information is key to making good choices. Having access to accurate information is especially important when entering into contracts as life-encompassing as the temple contact. For example, as part of the endowment ceremony, members covenant to give themselves, their time, their talents, and everything that they have been blessed with or will be blessed with to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That's a pretty big commitment.

The temple recording I've linked to below offers accurate information about that contact, specifically the endowment ceremony. You can skip 58 minutes to hear about the law of consecration, which is the part where the members promise to give everything they have to the church. It is a recording from an actual temple session at a temple in Arizona. Endowment ceremonies are nearly identical across temples (sometimes the version of the movie is different, and some temples will have live actors instead of a movie).

From the temple script:

"We are instructed to give unto you the law of consecration as contained in the book of Doctrine and Covenants, in connection with the law of the gospel and the law of sacrifice, which you have already received. It is that you do consecrate yourselves, your time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed you, or with which he may bless you, to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for the building up of the kingdom of God on the earth and for the establishment of Zion."

I know some people won't want to watch it, and that's fine. There are other people who will want to watch it, and they have the right to do so. In fact, I think they should do so. Especially Mormons who are thinking of entering into the contract. They deserve all the accurate information they can get before jumping into something so big.

This is the bottom line: if the Mormon church won't provide accurate information about the temple ceremonies, then people on the internet will. And that's a good thing.

These videos provide the accurate information about Mormon temples that the members and institutional leaders have not provided themselves. Having accurate information will help both members and nonmembers make better decisions when it comes to the temple.

This link starts in the middle of a Mormon temple endowment session, at the part of the session that talks about the law of consecration:

(See the YouTube channel NewNameNoah for more videos from Mormon temples)

March 05, 2017

The Mormon Church is Claiming Copyright Infringement to Hide Information From Members

In general, I don't have a problem with churches hiring lawyers. It would be naive to expect a large organization not to employ some lawyers or even a team of lawyers. The judicial system is complicated and I see nothing wrong with an organization hiring specialists to help that organization navigate through the system.

I do, however, think it's wrong for the Mormon church to use its resources to keep information from the general public and from the members who give so much time and money to the organization.

Here's an example of why I think the Mormon church is using its resources to hide information:

In early March 2017, someone from intellectual property office of the church sent a take down notice to MormonLeaks, a website that has been leaking internal videos and documents since October 2016. The documents hosted on the MormonLeaks website so far have included pay stubs to church general authorities (with social security numbers removed), information about the cost of furniture inside of temples, agendas and presentations from meetings of the church's apostles, and a number of other items.

What damage has MormonLeaks done to the church that the church needs to send a notice to them?

There is no question that the church would be justified in taking action in some cases.

Are the documents slanderous?
Are there forged or false documents included on the MormonLeaks website?
Were these documents made-up just to make the church look bad, so the church needs to defend its public image?

In the case of MormonLeaks, the answer to these questions is no.

The notice sent in March shows that the church is going after MormonLeaks with the claim that they are breaking copyright laws.

The take down notice can be seen here: 

The fact that they are claiming copyright infringement legitimizes these documents. It establishes that these documents are, in fact, used internally by the church and contain accurate information.

Given that these are legitimate documents actually used internally by the church, why do I think they shouldn't be able to claim copyright infringement?

What does it matter if their meeting agendas and pay stubs get leaked? These items aren't some sort of creative content. They are business documents showing the internal workings of the organization that one would expect an open and honest organization to give out freely. Does making that information available to the public damage the Mormon church somehow?

By issuing this copyright notice, the Mormon church is admitting that this information IS damaging.

It's not damaging because it's false.
It's not damaging because it's slanderous.
It's not damaging because it's a loss of trade secrets.
It's not damaging because it's a loss of control over created content.

The information is damaging because it's accurate information that the church would rather hide.

The Mormon church is either the one true church, as they claim to be to the members who they require 10% tithing from, or it is a corporation trying to make sure that the wizard stays behind the curtain.

I don't think that it's the one true church, and I think it's despicable that they try so hard to keep their members in the dark. The "prophets" of the Mormon church seem more interested in profits than in being open and honest. Why else would they care if this information became available to their tithe-paying members?

January 22, 2017

Guest Post: A Rebuttal to "The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism"

I've seen the article "The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism" being shared a lot online in the past few weeks. The article talks about the dangers of Exmormonism by framing it in terms of the dangers of atheism. It is true that there is a growing trend in the US for people to become atheist when they leave a religion (rather than converting to another religion) and Mormonism is no exception. The problem that I have with this article is that it tries to make the argument that true morality comes only through religion and that this trend towards becoming a more secular and atheist society will lead to moral degeneration as we give up on the values taught by religion.

I'm not the only one to find this idea absurd. Today's post is written by an anonymous guest as a rebuttal to the four points made in the article. Enjoy!

Link to "The Alarming Truth Behind Anti-Mormonism":

Point one: There is Only one Credible Alternative to the Restored Gospel

The author says that the only credible alternative to Mormonism is atheism.

 - 0.2% of the world population is Mormon
 - 14% of the world population is "secular, non-religious, agnostics and atheists"

If the only two credible options for religious belief are the Restored Gospel and atheism, then 85.8% of the world population does not have a credible alternative to the Restored Gospel.

In America, atheism is one of the fastest growing religious opinions (as the author points out in point number two). Catholics aren't leaving their church to become Jews. Jews aren't suddenly deciding to be Lutherans. Evangelicals aren't suddenly converting to Islam. The majority of people who leave every religion are becoming atheists.

This point could just as easily read: There is only one Credible Alternative to the Catholic Church: atheism.

Assuming of course that there was some Catholic out there who assumed, like this person, that the only metric of an arguments validity was its popularity, and only sampled people who were or were formally part of the Catholic church. This argument is absurd! But not only is it absurd, it completely devalues religious faith. In a world where 85% of the population bases their world view on religious faith, to say that only 0.2% of the population that has a faithful view even has a credible opinion is to say that religious faith produces what the author claims to be a credible argument only 0.23% of the time.

If you follow the (flawed) populist logic of the author, we can conclude that because atheism produces a credible argument 98.6% of the time, we should all be atheist. Obviously, we cannot immediately reject all faith based arguments because of some convoluted popularity contest. This sloppy, lazy, and down right rude attempt to dismiss all of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, and (insert literally any religion other than Mormonism here) was made to make Joseph Smith the sole defender of Christian faith.

The statement "Christianity itself hinges upon the question, “Was Joseph Smith really a prophet?" is simply untrue, regardless of the opinion of some Mormons. The divinity of Christ doesn't depend on Joseph Smith's ability to prophesy (although Joseph's ability to prophesy certainly depends on Christ's divinity). Just read any book on theology written before 1828, or ask any non-Mormon Christian.

Point two: Crises of Faith in LDS Communities Are Really Just a Symptom of a Larger Problem

As I have already shown, the author's second point (the fact that atheism is rising across the board) shoots the first point in the face, drags it to the road, and curb stomps it.

Point three: Post-Modern Atheism Is Paving the Way for a New and Destructive Moral Order

First, I would like to quote the author:

"To be clear, people who become Atheists don’t suddenly become moral monsters. Their moral views shift, but they probably have more in common with the moral beliefs of their religious friends than they have in contrast."

He then goes on to describe how without religious belief, a society goes into a steady moral decline.

…Really? Lets look at the morals of societies that are (100% religious, 0% atheist):

First one to comes to mind is Saudi Arabia, where people are beheaded for apostasy, homosexuality, adultery, and witchcraft. Women can't drive, must be accompanied by a man everywhere in public, and are generally treated like property.

The same horrible morals appear at the other end too (0% religious, 100% atheist):

North Korea, Religious people can be killed on the spot.

Obviously the only reason you would have 0% of one type of belief is if you're murdering your opposition, which is completely immoral. The only conclusion I can come to is that there is a non linear relationship between "Immorality" and religious belief. I live in a very religious area, and I know for a fact that the people here are acting immorally. Just ask any bishop. He only hears what goes on from the ones who aren't too afraid to confess. A lot of very religious people do some very immoral things.

I also know that very much of what shakes my own faith and the faith of other people I know isn't the desire to be immoral, but it is the immorality that we see in religion. The religiously motivated wars in the Bible. Or the "it's better for one man to perish than a nation dwindle in disbelief" quote from the Book of Mormon.

Obviously, religious people see religion in a different way, but the point I'm making is that human morality doesn't come after someone has become religious, it preceded it. The desire to be moral is what motivated them to be religious, the religion isn't what motivated them to be moral. Whether there is or is not a religion, people will continue to act in moral ways.

Perfect Example: Jean Meslier. There are many people who continue in the religion without any religious faith, specifically because they enjoy the morals it encourages. I have met several Atheists who have completed missions, and are still completely active and enjoy the church, with no intention of leaving. I have also met several grown men who are the same way, but enjoy raising their families in a moral tradition. The faith may fade, but the morals will stay.

"You see, when people begin rejecting moral codes (because they are based on transcendent truths), they shift from feeling ashamed about falling short of moral standards and become angry that anyone would condemn their actions in the first place."-said by someone who rejects Sharia Law (a moral code based on transcendent truths) and is angered to find out it is immoral for women to drive.

Point four: The Book of Mormon Powerfully Responds to This Mindset

…by giving us free agency.

"The goal of Atheism, however, is to destroy the moral distinction between choices."

…No, the goal of atheism is to not believe in a deity. Socrates was forced to drink hemlock on a charge of atheism, and wrote an entire book on ethics, which in my opinion, has been more influential than the Bible has been. (I mean, you don't see us stoning people for minor religious infractions anymore, but good grief, we don't exactly "Turn the other cheek" either.)

Again, atheism doesn't end morality, it just takes it from one realm to another. In the Theistic realm, God is an absolute authority on morality, and what he says goes! If God says, give, you give and it's moral. If God says love, you love and it's moral. BUT, if God says kill, you kill and it's moral. If God says harm and you harm, it's moral.

In the atheistic realm, there is no absolute authority on morality. If I say "giving is moral", we debate. If I say "Loving is moral", we debate. If I say "killing is moral", we debate. If I say "harming is moral", we debate. Which leaves us with some grey areas on a few subjects, but at least we aren't, you know, killing people and taking their land because God promised it to us. *Cough*Old Testament *Cough*