This is one of a series of web pages I created between 2001and 2006. I was angry and frustrated at the LDS Church. Since then I have moved on and calmed down. So please remember, if you read these pages, that they reflect my past and not my present feelings. Thanks for your understanding!      -  Chris Tolworthy

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Apostasy A to Z

Or, why I don't go to church any more.

by Chris Tolworthy

A Adam-God: Brigham Young taught that Adam was God, the Eternal Father. Read the Journal of Discourses. Read all the history and journals around the topic. The prophet was wrong on the simplest, most central doctrine!
B Bring'um Young: Brigham Young has the nickname "bring 'em young" because many of his wives were young while he was an old man. Do you really want to defend him?
C Conditional Love: An apostle, in a recent Ensign, stated that God’s love is conditional on our works. This means that God loves you less than your parents - most parents love their children unconditionally. Either God is inferior to us, or the apostle and Ensign are wrong about God. Again.
D DNA: DNA studies have proven conclusively that there is no significant trace of Israelite blood in any Native Americans. This contradicts what has been taught by church leaders since 1830. And the book of Mormon title page still says the Lamanites, descended from Israelites Mulek, Zoram and Lehi, are the "principle ancestors" of the native Americans.
E Egyptian: The original papyrus from the Book of Abraham have been found, and they are not the Book of Abraham. We cannot claim they just “inspired” the BofA because Joseph created an Egyptian Grammar, translating precise words from the papyrus into English. He even pointed at the "signature of Abraham." Joseph was completely wrong in every way.
F Fanny Alger: Joseph Smith pressurised this sixteen year old girl into "marrying" him (Joseph was already married), and they probably had sex. (Read "In Sacred Loneliness" for details – it was written by a faithful LDS historian). Alger was only the best known of the many women and girls that Joseph pressured in this way.
G Great And Abominable Church: Everyone who disagrees with the prophet is part of the "Great And Abominable Church" - which means that good people like Mother Theresa were misguided followers of Satan and would have been better if they had been LDS. In reality, these other churches offer a genuine alternative to the Mormon church: with friendship, moral guidance, support, worship, and everything else. But the church stops its members from making better choices, by teaching that all other churches have less truth and are a step downwards..
H Hoffman: In the 1980s, forger Mark Hoffman persuaded the church to buy (or get their friends to buy) fake historical documents. The documents said the church was restored through a magical salamander lizard. The man who dealt with Hoffman was none other than Gordon B. Hinckley. The idea that the church was inspired by a salamander did not strike the church leaders as unusual, and FARMS wrote articles defending the idea. But Gordon B. Hinckley's gift of discernment was less powerful than that of the famous anti-Mormon Jerald Tanner. Tanner was not fooled, yet Hinckley was.
I Irrationality: The church teaches that feelings equal truth. Yet other churches have people with equally strong feelings. Some feelings are stronger - look at those who become monks, or those who kill themselves for their beliefs. Does that mean that they are more likely to have "the only true church"?
J Jesus: Read the gospels in the New Testament. Compare Jesus' teachings with the teachings of the Pharisees. Which group is the modern church most like - Jesus' followers or the Pharisees? Mormonism is an established church, with strict dietary laws, food storage, concern for appearances - white shirts and ear-rings - and emphasis on tithing and ordinances. They have no more major revelations, and are always looking backwards to revelations in the past. If someone appears from outside the hierarchy, and prophesies, they are denounced.
K Kinderhook: The Kinderhook plates were forgeries of metal plates with ancient writing on them. Joseph Smith believed they were genuine, and gave a summary of their contents. Apologists now admit that the plates were forgeries, and say that the translation part was made up and the fact that it appeared in History of the Church was just some big misunderstanding. But at the time they were treated as another proof that Joseph Smith had the gift of translation.
L Loneliness: Obedience to the church greatly reduces the number of people you can date, especially outside of America. It also creates unrealistic expectations for a potential partner - they have to be an "eternal companion" instead of just a friend. As a result, the church is full of lonely single people. And lonely married people who made hurried decisions and now feel trapped for life. Of course they all say that the church makes them happy, yet Utah uses more Prozac than anywhere else on earth.
M Mountain Meadows Massacre: The greatest peacetime massacre in America before 9/11 was caused by Mormons. If it was not directly ordered by the leaders, it was certainly a result of the siege mentality they encouraged. But the church refuses to apologize.
N Negroes: Throughout its history, the church has always been on the wrong side (or at best, neutral) on every major social issue. Racial discrimination until 1978 was only the most obvious example. We could add slavery, Naziism before World War II, separation of church and state, polygamy, civil rights, women's rights, gay rights, etc., etc. The church is always on the wrong side, and always forced to change after everyone else has. In contrast, other churches, such as the Quakers, manage to take a moral stand and are generally on the right side from the beginning.
O Occam's Razor: Occam's razor is a principle used in theology, science, and everyday life, to compare different explanations. It says the simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Applying it to the church, all the issues on this page can be easily explained if the church is man-made. The other explanation requires us to add angels and gods and supernatural elements that are not needed..
P Polyandry: Most people know that early Mormons practiced polygamy. What they don't usually know is that Joseph Smith also practiced polyandry - where one woman has more than one husband. Joseph would see a woman he liked, and if she was married he would just use his position to pressure the husband, explaining that God had given his wife to Joseph. Or he would just send the husband away on a foreign mission, and approach the wife in his absence. Read "In Sacred Loneliness" for details.
Q Quetzalcoatl: When I was young, Quetzalcoatl was the best archeological evidence for the Book of Mormon - it featured in church videos, conference talks and pamphlets: here was actual evidence of Christ in America! But you don't hear much about Quetzalcoatl in the church any more. People looked closely and found that the evidence doesn't add up. All the Book of Mormon evidence is like that - it does not stand up to objective scrutiny.
R Rumors: Testimonies are always strengthened by faith promoting rumors - stories and experiences that are never examined closely. When you examine them closely, they fall apart like a house of cards. Every crazy idea that was ever invented was based on hearsay and rumors, and if you try to examine them you are accused of spoiling the fun, or being "too intellectual."
S Shopping Mall: Millions of people in the world are starving, billions live in poverty and oppression. And the church asks even its poorest members to sacrifice in order to pay money to the church. And how does the church spend its money? It keeps the numbers secret, but from the little that is revealed, much less than one percent of tithing goes to help the poor. (This does not include the recently added "humanitarian fund" that members can give to AFTER they have contributed tithing and other offerings. Church priorities are clear.) Most of the church's money goes on grand buildings, and in 2005, the church decided to spend a billion dollars on buying and renovating shopping malls in Salt Lake City.
T Tapirs: This is just one of many examples where the Book of Mormon is contradicted by scientific discoveries. The Book of Mormon says there were horses in ancient America. But after all these years, all the evidence indicates that there were no horses. The best the apologists can come up with is maybe the books meant tapirs. Tapirs are about the size of a pig, and when I imagine someone riding a tapir, or tapirs pulling chariots, I have to laugh.
U Unctuousness: Unctuous means slippery. It comes from the word for anointing oil, but came to mean anything oily or insincere, yet appearing earnest. If you ever try to find out what the church teaches, you will find it is unctuous. When I was young, I was taught that the prophet is always right, Lamanites filled America and Polynesia, blacks would not have the priesthood until the Millennium, mine was the generation when Jesus would return, and a thousand other things. Now I find that these things were just opinions and were not revelation at all. Like mythical Janus, the church has two faces. When a prophet speaks it is scripture, but years later when he is proven wrong, it was "just his opinion."
V Virgins: Joseph Smith's extra-marital affairs began in the early 1830s. But the "revelation" to justify it did not appear until his affairs became public, in 1843. Coincidence? D&C 132 said Joseph could take any virgin he wanted, and Emma (his wife) must agree or be destroyed. And yes, it was sex. Read verse 63 - "they are given him [Joseph] to multiply and replenish the earth." Joseph said that God commanded him to start polygamy - to secretly have sex with any girl he wanted. Doesn't that strike you as just a little bit suspicious?
W Washings: When I was young, the change from baptism by immersion to baptism by sprinkling was proof of the apostasy of the early church. Now the LDS church has done the same thing: in the temple. Washings were once whole-body affairs, then this was changed to simply touching parts of the body, and now this has been changed to just sprinkling. There are many other changes, but this is most recent and seems to be the most symbolic.
X eXclusion: Non-member parents are not allowed to see their childrens' weddings (only active members are allowed in temples). And on a more general level, the church keeps its people too busy to get involved in many non-LDS activities, while "worldly" is a synonym for evil. So members are excluded from the good things of the world.
Y Y? Why should we believe in the church? To see the absurdity of it, imagine a church based on pink unicorns. You cannot prove that pink unicorns do not exist. If the pink unicorn church was friendly, or you felt a strong emotion while praying, you might even want to join. You could read books on unicorns and gather faith-promoting stories. But if you stand back and look, it all seems crazy. You end up asking "why did I ever believe this?"
Z Zelph: FARMS says the Book of Mormon took place in a small corner of Central America, and that explains why evidence is hard to find. Yet the prophets have always been clear that Lamanites filled all the Americas. For example, Zelph and Onandagus were two Lamanites from the Great Lakes region. And Book of Mormon place names are similar to Great Lakes place names. FARMS disagrees with every other scholar in the world, and they even disagree with their own prophets. What are we to conclude?

Well now you know why I don't go to church any more. These 26 points are just the tip of the iceberg, there are plenty more where they came from. I've added links to more details, or you can find out more using Google. Or just go to http://trialsofascension.net/mormons.html.

But don't despair! If you reject the LDS church, there are plenty of other churches to choose from. And other alternatives. In my own case, I get my social life from my family, my spiritual needs are met by pantheism, and I use political means to try and make the world a better place. Or you may continue to believe in the church. Or you may stay as a member for social reasons. We all have choices. This page just explains why I made mine.

Good luck!

- Chris Tolworthy

 

Post script.

The 'A' to 'Z' just lists the big issues. It lists the things that are easiest to explain. But everyone has a different route out of Mormonism, and a couple of people have asked me for a more personal explanation. So here are my personal reasons for leaving the church:

1. I was raised in the church, but never enjoyed it.

2. I wanted to be a good missionary, but just knocking on doors and telling stories seemed like such a waste of time. I figured that, if we have the truth, we should be able to prove it. We should be able to point to archaeological evidence, and show that Mormons are healthier and happier, and find answers to all mankind's problems in the scriptures. So I studied and studied and studied. But the answers were not there. The closer I looked, the less sense it all made.

3. I wanted to do the most good I could. As a child, I thought that the church would help me. As a teenager I thought that the church would at least not get in the way. But as an adult it became obvious that the church can actually stop you doing more good. I have always lived in small branches, and had lots of callings. Doing anything worthwhile takes a lot of time, and the church (in small branches) does not allow you that time.

4. More than anything I wanted to understand - I feel so stupid most of the time! This means asking questions. But the church culture is against asking questions. I felt like an alien with nothing in common with anyone at church.

5. As the years go on I learned more about the church and had to explain away more and more. There was nothing inspirational or wonderful, everything had to apologized for and explained away.

6. At this point, I was called as Branch President. I hated it! After four years I asked to be released. They said no. I begged and begged to be released. They said no. It was destroying me. OS I finally said that I would go inactive until I was released. They released me! It was the first time I directly opposed my leaders, and it felt wonderful.

7. All this time I was still trying to believe. This was the time (1997-2001) that I made the "WhyProphets" website and published "The Bible Says 1830." I gave it my best shot, trying to make the church look exciting and good. I am still proud of the book (the website is more variable, but has some good parts), but ultimately I could not persuade myself.

8. I was a regular on ZLMB and somebody mentioned Folk of the Fringe. I went over there to criticize them, but found that I had more in common with them than the ZLMBers. At about this time I had an debate with Daniel Peterson on ZLMB (about Chomsky and Nibley) and realized that I had nothing in common with other apologists.

9. Then along came the NOM board. I felt at home there, but felt the need to constantly defend the church. It was obvious to others on the board that I felt like they did. Finally Archimedes "identified the spirit" (LOL) and told me, in very large letters, in his best Buzz Lightyear voice, "YOU ARE A NOM!" He was right. I finally admitted it to myself.

10. It only took a couple of weeks for everything to fall into place. The church was not true. It was so obvious! This was around September 2002. I shared my feelings with my wife, who didn't want to know. The family wanted me to still attend church, and I wanted to make them happy so I did. But after another year of this, my wife felt uncomfortable having me at church, so suggested I stop attending. About a year later my son stopped attending (at last- someone I can talk to!). About a year later (September 2004), the church discovered my ZarahemlaCityLimits stuff and scheduled a court, so I resigned.

And that is the whole story. True believer to apostate in ten less-than-easy steps. However, the story is a bit long, and hard for some people to understand unless they have had the same experience. So I made the "why I am not a member" page to give just the facts, without the personal stuff.

And that's the whole story.

- Chris

 

SMALL PRINT: I made this page to answer an email I got last week (early August 2005). Someone asked "what do you have against the church?" and this is the answer. If you agree that the church is a man-made institution that is less than wonderful, feel free to use this site however you wish, copy it, change it, whatever, without permission. Otherwise please don't. Some of the imagery on this page comes from the church, but the church stole its imagery from other churches, or the Masons, Swedenborg, Ethan Smith, etc. so I'm just carrying on the tradition. Except in this case I'm open about it. The alphabet images are courtesy of Jacci Howard Bear, About Desktop Publishing, http://desktoppub.about.com

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