There are five rules to the game of Mormonism; all of them from the perspective of church leaders:
Rule No. 1–We are going to hide stuff from you.
Rule No. 2–We are going to try to keep you from finding the stuff we are hiding from you.
Rule No. 3–We are going to lie about hiding stuff from you.
Rule No. 4–You can’t blame us for hiding stuff from you.
Rule No. 5–If you talk about the stuff we are hiding from you, we will hide you. (See Rule No. 2)Once you understand the five “rules of the game,” everything else falls into place.
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Oh Hey! What is truth?! Well, it used to be the Noblest Gem. Sadly its been going bye bye, nite, nite… for 40 years (explicitly I mean), but most of us slept through it and just kept on singing. But the dual messages of “seek for truth wherever you find it” and “don’t look there, look over here” are essential strands of Mormon DNA. You don’t have this church without it.
I do love it when messiness is distilled down like this. Thank you for the resources. I know this is a lot of extra work to find and post but it speaks to the integrity of the work.
Another exceptional discussion, but it feels to me like part 1 of a 2-part topic. On multiple occasions Church leaders have admitted to filtering and sanitizing information to be faith promoting. By not calling them out way too many people gives the Church a pass. This is especially troubling when you consider that the Q15 expect others (CES, History department, prominent apologists, etc.) to do the same.
For example, when Richard Bushman and Marlin Jensen promoted the notion that previous hidden or denied portions of Church history need to be taught to inoculate the youth before they find out about it on the Internet, no one called them out on their moral blind spot. When justifying this shift, neither of them mentioned the moral need to be transparent with its members, nor the abhorrent fallout experienced on a personal level as members found out that they had been lied to. Nope, the justification was focused on preserving the institution.
Jensen has also mentioned that it’s important that Church sourced information show up on Google searches. For the Church to do so effectively they needed to be the source of information to make a difference in Google’s AI search engines – thus the JSP Project was born. So again, the JPS Project wasn’t born out of some newfound morals or desire to be transparent with the members. Nope, it was born out of the desire to control the narrative as much as possible in the world of Google Search. The same goes for Stephen Snow, who in describing the Gospel Topic Essay process on Mormon Land Podcast, explains that the essays are sanitized by the History department after they written by specialized scholars, and that they need to be faith promoting.
Over the course of multiple talks, Oaks has reaffirmed that his allegiance is to fostering believing members, not informed ones. In fact, Oaks has stated that he would hide Church history that may deteriorate belief in Mormonism. Oaks has never mentioned the moral shortcomings inherent with lying for the Lord, which again point to a major moral void in his character.
Boyd K Packer was even worse than Oaks. Is there a more disturbing talk than “The Mantel is Greater than the Intellect”? Historians are bad because they tell too much of the truth. We need historians who think like lawyers and have no problem lying or withholding information to protect their clients. Elder Pack promoted the notion that CES members who don’t lie for the lord could possibly lose their job and be judged badly by god. Packer had a massive moral blind spot. In fact, in his biography of Leonard Arrington, Greg Prince clearly documented how the majority of the Q15 have no problem withholding problematic Church history from its members.
Unfortunately, Lying for the Lord isn’t victimless. Imagine the following:
– Growing up totally trusting adult Mormon leaders in your life that are teaching you about life and how to live in it using Church sanitized faith promoting stories
– All of the decisions one makes growing up based on filtered information
– Spending a year or two saving for a mission
– Going on a two-year mission
– The implications of the effects that the Church’s truth claims have when a youth selects with his parents a university to attend
– The implications of following the Church’s teaching in selecting a spouse; this is a major crossroad that has massive ramifications. Think of all the discord and divorces that happen when one of the spouses figures out that they have been lied to about the Church’s truth claims
– The ramifications of raising children (how many to have; what they should be taught) in the Church only to find out that they’ve been less than honest; think of all potential conflict that may arise
– The amount of tithing and other donations that are made on incomplete and biased information; donations that reach the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why is it that our society allows us to pursue fraudsters if they are not religious?
The potential ramifications of leaders lying for the lord are just as large in the Mormonism as any other fraud, and yet too many of us don’t hold the leader’s feet to the fire. So yes, I think this discussion deserves a part 2
I agree with and appreciated many of the comments in this episode. Thanks for your time.
Bill, in my opinion your assertion that church leaders are knowingly defrauding and misleading members is unhelpful and actually counter productive. This is an enormous claim requiring enormous substantiation IMO. I think by making this claim, you are ignoring your own insight in to the durability of belief even in the face of overwhelming contrary evidence. I think there is much more evidence that the leaders are true bevliever.
I was especially surpirsed to hear you claim that you knew this fact through what you feel in your ‘heart of hearts.’ As I’ve heard you say in other episodes, such feelings are not evidence of anything other than… your feelings.
In think you hurt your cause for truth by making this claim about the LDS leaders with very little evidence. As I’ve heard you say in other podcasts, belief is an amazingly flexible thing. IMO it is absolutely possible that LDS leaders fully believe in spite of the contrary information they are aware of. This is the nature of belief persistence.
To claim otherwise without substantial evidence seems unhelpful. When doing so, you are falling in to the familiar trap of trusting your very untrustworthy feelings of certainty.
What do you think?
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