Attacking the Church—its stricter teachings as well as its traditional members and leaders—has become acceptable for ‘progressive’ members. A least for those on Twitter.

Back in the ’60s, members suspected of preferring old Mormon practices (like polygamy) were sometimes made to sign a document: the First Presidency was the one true voice of God on Earth. 20th Century LDS leaders were infallible: once they had spoken, the thinking had been done (1). Members had to be obedient in all things: if what they were told to do was wrong, it would still be counted as righteousness (2).

When I was LDS (between 1995 and 2000), members in good standing did not tolerate critics of the Church. Back then, no one but those who were ‘on their way out’ dared to criticise the Church. I was one of them. Not raising my hand to support the Church Presidency at a meeting started the chain of events that led to my excommunication. To be fair, the current Presidency indicated they were not infallible after all. This is a move in the right direction. Maybe that is what has emboldened frustrated members to become so vocal. 

Twitter—by far the most dreadful of platforms when it comes to that sort of things—has been a game changer. Had we had social media back then, I would have shared that Man is fallible. Joseph Smith said he was not perfect; that he only acted as a Prophet when acted upon by the Holy Ghost. I later learned that Brigham Young worried that members put too much trust in their religious leaders and relied too much on them. 

During the two years between the time I came out and my excommunication, the members in my ward thought I was a demon for going against “the Prophet and God.” But I knew he was wrong to claim that same-sex attraction was a sin and that it was a choice. I knew it was not a choice. I had fought it all my life. LDS teens taking their own life in the late ’90s knew having homosexual feelings was not a choice. Their one choice was choosing between being gay or being dead. Those teens could not change who they were. I am sure they had prayed, cried, fasted and pleaded with the Lord to change them. They were not “apostates”, they were devout Mormon kids who hated their ‘sinful nature’ but could not do a thing about it. 


LDS teens taking their own life in the ate ’90s knew having homosexual feelings was not a choice.

The idea of taking my own life never crossed my mind. I was lucky to be a very independent person, due to the sad fact that I had never been close to my family, and due to my joining the Church instead of being born into it. Of course, I remained confused as to where I could fit in the Church—and more importantly in the Gospel plan—but I felt some strength inside of me. 

I had a crush on a kid when I was in kindergarten. How could being different since as far as I could remember be a sin? Acting upon my homosexual feelings was a choice, and it might be a sin—I was not sure—but I knew that being different was no sin. I started to accept who I was: a homosexual man who loved the Lord. That was a huge step for me: I had hated my “sinful nature” with a passion since before the age of accountability, long before joining the Church at 19. Coming out thanks to my mentor in Utah (3) and finding what I thought was true love (4), had been a true liberation. My head had been held down the water for so long, and now I was breathing for the first time. I was on my own road.

So, of course, I am so glad things have changed since then and that the Church is more open to the LGBT than it was when I was going through this. But my own grievances and frustration with the Church do not make me a pal of those Twitter critics’. There is a huge difference between us. Because unlike Twitter LDS critics, I never asked for doctrinal changes in order to accommodate my own circumstances or, worse, to further a progressive political agenda. I always wanted the Truth. I have always wanted to figure out where I fit in the religion that I love, despite what the leaders could say.

Back in 1999, although I knew I was on my way out, I did not reject the authority of the Church President or of the Apostles. I believed God had appointed them, and just like those of the primitive Church, our latter-day Apostles were imperfect men who often failed to understand the ways of God, or what Jesus expected of them. I started reading those books about women in the Bible, a group snubbed by Church leaders, but understood—and even accepted—by the Saviour. Regardless of what the Church stance was, I remained a Mormon. Because I loved Mormonism as much as I love it now. I did not reject the Church. Au contraire: I wanted the Church to get closer to God. I believed my Saviour and my God understood—and even accepted—me (if not homosexual acts, my nature, and my love for the man I loved on Utah).

Maybe my disillusion with our leaders and my quest to know what God actually wanted prepared me to become a Fundamentalist many years later. At any rate, it did not prepare me for what some LDS post online. Brigham Young is my hero, but for those people he is a racist sociopath that perverted the Church by introducing mad doctrines. Some spread some movie’s crazy claim that he and John Taylor (Brigham’s successor in the Church Presidency) were responsible for Joseph Smith’s murder. If you discredit the men, it is easier to discard all the ‘un-Christian’ doctrines they taught and practised, I suppose. 

Those cretins want to rewrite Church history and turn Mormonism into a bland Christian denomination. So, they make those ridiculous claims that Joseph never practised polygamy. “His wife Emma said he did not.” (And we are meant to believe women these days, no matter what evidence we have). What’s more, critics claim that Joseph’s ‘Nauvoo doctrines’ were stuff that Brigham et al edited. Ignoring a mountain of evidence to the contrary, ‘modern’ LDS have chosen to cancel the Joseph of the 1840s and focus entirely on the Joseph of the early days of the Book of Mormon—the more ‘Christian’ version of the Prophet. 

Perhaps it is because the LDS Church wants to be ‘all-Christian’ and non-controversial that Church leaders no longer mind members trashing Brigham or John Taylor, and ‘editing’ Joseph Smith. I have noticed there is much less mentioning of the Prophet Joseph in LDS meetings. It is as if they wanted him to disappear. Because Jesus must be the sole focus. And there has been yet another change to Temple rites to make it “more focused on Jesus”. That is not what temples were meant to be! The Church might as well dispense with them altogether now.

Changes are nothing new: leaders of the 20th Century had recast Jesus as the Jehovah of the Old Testament. But I believe they would be appalled if they saw what the LDS Church has become. Once the religion of Jesus, ‘Mormonism’—they’re not even allowed to use the term now!— is now a religion about Jesus.

Ten years ago, I said that the LDS would soon have crosses in their meeting houses. It has not come to pass but you see members wearing a cross and hear them talk about their “personal relationship with Jesus”. Some even pray to Jesus. Some might believe in the Trinity, that “Protestant hangover from the Catholic Church”, as we used to call it back home. 

I had been surrounded with Catholicism all the days of my youth. I had studied Protestant teachings (along with Islam and Judaism) as a young man. I wanted Mormonism because its teachings made sense, and it was what I believed in (after I studied and received a testimony). I did not want just an average Christian denomination. 

It was precisely because the Church was non-Trinitarian that it attracted me. If the missionaries had told me to  “develop a personal relationship with Jesus” like they do now, I would have stopped taking the discussions. If a sister had said that she prayed to Jesus and she felt like he was there holding her hand, like I heard at an LDS meeting last month, I would not have come back to another. 


Those cretins want to rewrite Church history and turn Mormonism into a bland Christian denomination


Yes, Jesus in central to Mormon theology, and nothing in God’s plan would be possible without his sacrifice, but worshipping him like Catholics do, or quoting some feel-good Bible verses to make it about Grace like Protestants do, is shocking to me. Off with talks about learning to work out our own salvation, on how to follow Jesus’s teachings and example, on progressing towards godhood to be among the gods. No mention of Heavenly Mother—it would please the woke but it reeks of the old days when man and woman were Gods in the making.

To be sure, lost of precious doctrines and practices had been discarded for a very long time when I joined the Church in 1995, but members in my ward talked about Jesus being married (to Mary Magdalene), and said that polygamy would be reinstated during the Millennium, that God was once a man and that we could become like Him if we followed Jesus’s teachings and did our part in the temple.

I remember a Sunday School teacher sharing quotes of Brigham Young saying that Adam was a celestial being from another world, who came here with one of his wives so they could fall and give our eternal spirits bodies, so we could learn in the flesh and progress. I will never forget that  lesson, how it made my heart leap, how my soul was on fire. Now it would be: “Adam was made of the dust of the earth and he fell and we are mortal sinners because of him. But if we believe in Jesus, we will be saved. Grace is all we need to go to Heaven.” 

I may have been a Fundamentalist since the day I joined the Church. But one thing I am sure of: I am glad I met the missionaries in 1995 and not today. I am glad I attended my first meetings back then. Because I would never join the Church today. I could not become a Mormon if I discovered the Church today for the simple fact that it is no longer Mormon. LDS members on Twitter complain about many things, but that is the one thing I complain about.


(1) “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan — it is God’s plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.” (Improvement Era, June 1945, Ward Teachers’ Message)

(2) “I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home … Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.’” (Conference Report, October 1960, p. 78.)


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