|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|
updated 14th May 2006
It destroys your integrity
It makes you covenant to do evil.
It might kill them
It limits their emotional development
Faith is divisive
The church teaches prejudice
It takes good ideas and makes them worse
It is unethical
Poor decision making
This web page is only for parents who want the best. If you are satisifed with just "better than average," then Mormonism might be OK for you.
Mormonism is better than many alternatives. Raising your children as Mormons is better than ignoring them completely. It is better than raising them in an even worse cult. It is better than leaving them to experiment with sex and drugs without any guidance at all. It is better than shutting them away at home without any human company at all. It is better than telling them they are worthless. Mormonism is a lot better than some other life choices. If you only want to avoid the really bad stuff, then Mormonism might be for you.
But Mormonism is not the best. Indeed, if you want the very best, then Mormonism is dangerous. I was a very active Mormon for 34 years, but I finally felt that I had to leave, for the sake of my children. This page tells why.
- Chris Tolworthy
Integrity means wholeness, consistency, and honesty. But Mormon history and doctrine are based on lies. How can a life that is based on lies have any integrity? Deliberate ignorance is no excuse, but just compounds the sin.
What about smart Mormons who know the history, yet still believe?
If an intelligent person is brought up in the church and marries in the church, they are likely to defend the Church for cultural reasons. Fewer and fewer people with leadership ability or education are joining the church, which explains why the church outside America cannot survive without injections of leadership from Utah. Educated people may be raised and taught in the church, but educated non-members seldom join.
Some Mormon techings and practices are evil. Destroying integrity is evil. Putting church before family is evil. Dividing communities is evil. Racism and homophobia are evil. Scriptural teachings are often evil. Corrupting good things is evil. Making people lonely is evil. Making people feel good about being harmed is evil. Telling lies is evil.
The church makes you covenant to do all these with "sacred," "holy" covenants. It tricks people into making these promises:
So the church uses unethical means to makes you covenant to do evil. And they call it righteousness. And the people who do these things believe they are righteous. I did, for 34 years.
"But it also teaches good things, like honesty." The church uses words like honesty but is not honest with its own history. The closer to the church you become, the more you must twist your mind to believe lies. Mormon honesty is not real honesty.
"But it does teach some GENUINELY good things." Isn't that Satan's plan? Mix the bad with the good and make you do both? You don't have to be a Mormon to believe and do good things.
"But other people are often worse." The only rational defense of the church is that other people can be even worse. That is true. CHurch members are often better than others, But they are often worse as well. "But somebody else is even worse" is no excuse.
Utah is the Prozac capital of the world. And Utah is the number one state in America for suicide among young men aged 15-24:
(deseretnews.com Deadly taboo Youth suicide an epidemic that many in Utah prefer to ignore - April 23 2006.)
Coincidence? The church teaches teenagers to feel different from other people ("in the world but not of the world.") It teaches teenagers to feel guilty for normal sexual urges. And surprise, surprise, Utah teenagers are miserable. Coincidence?
"But active members are LESS likely to kill themselves!" Believers point to studies like this one that say that active members are LESS likely to kill themselves than other people. Yet the total suicide rate is still very high. As the believers admit, this is because less active members are much more likely to kill themselves. Their solution is for people to believe more. But they forget the real world. In the real world, whever there is an "active" member there is always at least one "less active" member. When you create active members you also create less active members. And it is the less active members who are so miserable that they kill themselves.
"The answer is to try harder! Make everyone believe!" How exactly are you going to make everyone believe? Less-active members are a fact of life for every church throughout history. No church has ever found a magic way to make people believe. Every church that creates strong believers also creates weak believers. Preaching "believe more" just creates the problem it pretends to solve.
"It is not my fault if people do not believe." Yes it is. The Mormon church is based on lies. That is why people find it hard to believe. By teaching nonsense, the church attacks people's natural faith.
I said at the start that the Mormon church is good if you do not want the best. If you just want to be a little better than the average, then Mormonism might be a good choice. But if you want the best, Mormonism is disastrous. A good illustration is in emotional development.
Psychologists often refer to Lawrence Kohlberg's six stages of moral development. Later scholars have challenged and refined these six stages, but the general principles are still good. Put simply, there are six levels of moral development, Most of us are at different stages on different topics, but most adults are at stage four for most topics. The stages are:
- Stage 1: We avoid pain and punishment. Even the simplest amoeba is at this stage.
- Stage 2: We try to get what we want. Young children soon reach this stage. Cheats and liars do not progress past stage 2, but they often pretend to be at stage 5.
- Stage 3: We want to look good for others. This is where children learn to cooperate.
- Stage 4: We obey authority. This is where we fit into institutions. We realise that the alternative is chaos.
- Stage 5: We believe in principles and laws. This means sometimes challenging institutions.
- Stage 6: We have a personal commitment to abstract universal principles. These principles are based on understanding the world and individuals within it. This allows laws to be created, to be challenged, and to constantly evolve.
The Mormon church teaches that "obedience is the first law of heaven." So it is very good at getting children to stage four very quickly.
"A study completed in 1977 compared Protestant, Catholic, and Mormon families using Kohlberg's six stages of moral reasoning. Mormon children attained the fourth stage of conventional morality at about age eight or nine, then remained at that level for the rest of their lives, whereas Catholic and Protestant children in the study achieved that level of morality at a later age (and also maintained that level through adulthood)." (Sunstone, July 1982: "Between Heaven and Earth: a Response to Larry Foster" by MaryBeth Raynes)
So if you want to progress quickly to stage 4, where most adults operate, then Mormonism is good. But if you want to go beyond that stage, and make the world better, Mormonism is dangerous. The Mormon church teaches people to never question the prophet or their leaders. Can you imagine a Mormon challenging the prophet on some moral question? This is how the church manages to stay doctrinally racist and actively homophobic when the rest of society has moved on. The church can hold you back, both emotionally and ethically.
No church can prove to another church that it is right, so reliance on churches will always create divisions. And because they rely on faith, they cannot prove their teachings to even their own members. So a proportion of their members will always stop believing, and that creates divisions within families. Mormonism in particular is prone to divisions because it has so many core beliefs that can be proven false.
There are plenty of organizations that unite people: schools, governments, village halls, scouting, charities, and so on. They avoid divisions by not insisting that certain things are true. They simply address different needs and make the world a better place.
Note: these divisions cannot be avoided
Churches cannot avoid these divisions no matter how hard they try. If your church is the "only true church" then all other churches are wrong, and other churches will never accept that. No church has ever gained a majority position in any country anywhere, any time in history... except by taking away freedom. Some have gained power using economic or physical force (such as in medieval times when nobody had a choice) and others have just run away to the desert somewhere (as with Utah before the railway, but that didn't last long). Otherwise, faith based religion always means divisions.
The church wants families to desire the same thing as the church. But that can never happen, for three reasons.
Of course, a family might disagree on other things as well. But it is easier to persuade a family to go to a fun activity than to go to church. So if you want a unified family, choose fun activities, not church. When you put the church first, you put family unity second.
"Church families are better than non-church families." This is just blind prejudice. There is no evidence that Mormon families are better than non-Mormon families. It is true that there are a few wonderful families in every large ward. But here are a few wonderful families in every group of people, whether Mormon or not.
"Church families are quieter and more obedient than non-church families." Quiet is not the same as healthy. Children need to learn to question authority so they can see if their life really is the best possible. Teenagers evolved to rebel for good reasons.
"If we didn't come to church we wouldn't do other fun stuff." If you are able to drag your family to church, you can surely drag them to a cinema or bowling alley. Other good families do it, why not your family? Why compare yourself to the worst non-members? Why not compare yourself to the best?
"The church teaches families to be together."
The church says one thing and does the opposite. The church actively divides families in three ways. First, missionaries baptize people into the Mormon church while the rest of their family stays in their old church. Second, in most church meetings, families are split up in separate directions. Third, parents are given callings that take up their free time and often take them out of the home. Young men and grandparents are sent to foreign countries on missions.
Gospel teachings are often prejudiced. For example, Joseph Smith and the other early prophets were very racist, and Joseph Smith and others condemned those who fought against slavery. Today, gospel teachings lead to attacks on gays and lesbians. This prejudice was directly based on Mormon scripture, and those racist scriptures are still there today.
Mormons say they are not racist, yet their scripture teaches that black skin is a curse for wickedness. Mormons say they have love toward gays, yet they campaign to stop gays from forming families. Look at Mormon history: the church is consistently on the wrong side of every social issue. It took many years to give up polygamy, and Utah still suffers from abusive polygamous cults that tace their origins to the church. It took many years to give up racism, and it still has not given up homophobia - even if individual members disagree, the church spends millions on attacking gays.
Perhaps the biggest example of prejudice is missionary work. Missionaries are taught that they have the only true church, and are to never consider that maybe someone else's church is equally true, and may be more suitable for them. Missionaries are to see every communication as an opportunity to share "the gospel, they are to teach, not be taught, and "every member is a missionary."
Another example of prejudice is the belief that atheism have less to offer, and is less fulfilling and less ethical than religion. Another example is doing temple work for Jewish Holocaust victims. Mormons may not see why this causes offence, but others do. All these examples have one thing in common: the Mormon beliefs came from the spirit, that is, from feelings, and any conflicting claims are assumed to be false. And that is a pretty good definition of prejudice.
The church has no good ideas of its own - every good idea in the church can be found elsewhere. The church takes these good ideas and makes them worse. Take for example the Proclamation on the Family. All thinking people agree that families are good, so the church tries to go further. The church is very proud of what it adds. "The proclamation's clear and simple language stands in stark contrast to the confused and convoluted notions of a society that cannot even agree on a definition of family, let alone supply the help and support parents and families need." (M. Russell Ballard, October 2005 General Conference.) The church goes further by:
The church claims to love single people and homosexuals, but the doctrine is clear: anything other than a family headed by a man and woman is not in God's plan, and will lead to "the destruction of society." This leads to pressure on single people and persecution of gays and lesbians: see the sections on loneliness and prejudice for details.
Note: The world praises families without attacking single people:
The rest of the world has a perfectly good definition of a family - people with a long-term commitment to each other. And non-Mormon families do not need special help and support, they provide help and support to others. They are already strong because they are not compromised by divided loyalty to the church.
The gospel contains bad teachings. For example, In the Book of Mormon, Nephi kills Laban and steals his property, and this is praised. In the Old Testament, Saul commits genocide at God's command, then is punished because he lets some animals escape. In the New Testament, Jesus says nobody should ever divorce (except for adultery). In the Doctrine and Covenants (132) Joseph Smith says his wife must let him have as many other partners as he wants "to raise up seed" or she will be destroyed. Of course, modern readers ignore these teachings. But that just shows that the readers are more ethical than the scriptures.
A bad way to teach children
The gospel is a bad way to teach ethics. The "God said so" approach just adds problems. First, the child can grow up indecisive and worried. Why? Because they can never be sure they have made the right decision, because they rely on someone else to validate their ideas. Second, they miss out on experience of thinking and discovering for themselves. Third, when a person decides that the church is not true, they may lose all their ethical teaching along with the doctrines.
The gospel is an inefficient way to teach. Church teachers do not know your children as well as you do. They cannot be as committed to your children as you are, and they cannot teach them one on one. So the time in church would be better spent one-on-one with our children. The church also encourages us to be critical, by adding more sins to a child's already long list.
The church tells parents that they need help in raising their children, but millions of non-Mormons bring up good children without the gospel. The principles of teaching children are not difficult - you simply show them consequences of their actions, and when they are old enough you show them the benefit of thinking of the other person's point of view. Those two things, consequences and empathy, are the basis for all morality - there is no need for the church.
It takes your money under false pretenses
The church asks for ten percent of your money, plus other offerings, and a few hours a week plus daily Seminary or other callings. It does this on false pretenses: it calims to represent God, yet plainly it does not.
The time and money may not seem like much, but as a proportion of disposable income and free time it is a huge amount. This time and money could be spent on your family, or own worthwhile charities. The church takes all this, and yet does not appear to do anything with the money except build more buildings.
The church steals childhood. When we make them sit for hours in church and worry about sin, we stop them having fun like normal kids. Later, when we stop them experimenting with normal urges and normal friends, we steal their adolescence. And daily Seminary takes time away from their schoolwork. And if their grandparents are on missions and their parents are on presidencies and they go to separate meetings on Sundays, family life is taken as well.
It takes your freedom
The church not only takes your time and money, it takes your freedom to make choices, or rather it gives two choices: "either you do it our way or the wrong way." The church tries to control every aspect of your life. It tells you what to where, what underwear to wear, whether to wear earrings (just one set for women) or facial hair (never). It tells you what kind of sex to have (see the infamous 1980 letter to bishops), and sees no limits to where it can give instructions. In other words, the church is totalitarian.
Finally, the gospel condemns good things, so church kids get criticized too often. In summary, the church teaches badly, it teaches bad things, and it condemns good things. Why do we let it teach our children?
Note: Examples of 'sins' that are good for you:
For example, children need to argue a little, in order to learn the reasons for cooperation. Sunday is often an important work day or the only day to relax and have fun. Masturbation is healthy - it relieves tension and prevents prostrate trouble. Gay marriage is built on love and helps make a stable society. Speaking like your peer group, even if it includes mild swear words, helps to build friendships. Dating non-members gives you experience that can never be gained elsewhere. Not every "sin" is good for you, but some of them are.
Mormons rely on feelings to guide them to truth. Feelings are very useful when they agree with the facts. But Mormons use feelings to ignore facts presented by others:
This puts our children in danger.
The rest of this page shows examples of bad decisions made because the spirit says follow the prophet. Ironically, these decisions lead to pain and bad feelings - for example, when a family falls apart. Yet believers will still cling to the church "because of how it makes them feel."
Note: About the witness of the Holy Ghost
Other churches produce stronger feelings than the Mormon Holy Ghost. For example, Pentecostal churches or Hare Krisna groups are sometimes a frenzy of joy. Psychologists understand how Mormons and other churches create these feelings - it is called conditioning. You associate good things with the church and bad things with the world, and that creates good feelings whenever you think of the church. When conditioning is very strong, it is called brainwashing. See "Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control" by Kathleen Taylor (Oxford University Press) or a summary here.
"By their fruits ye shall know them." Despite taking large amounts of time and money, the church doesn't create better people. If Mormonism is such a great way to live, we would expect Utah to be the best nation in America, but it doesn't stand ut as unusual. Some statistics make Utah look good, but others make it look bad, which is just like any other state. Examples of unfavorable statistics: Utah has the highest use of antidepressants, the highest level of bankruptcy, high economic inequality, a high level of child brides (from age 14 last time I looked), a high level of suicide, and so on. There are also good statistics to balance these, but overall the state is no more special than other states. (Actually, if you want an American state that scores highly on nearly every test, try North Dakota. But I digress.)
All the so-called benefits of Mormonism are empty. Let us look at some other examples.
Sometimes the "good" Mormon statistics are misleading. For example, temple marriages last longer than other marriages. But that is just because temple marriages imply that both partners have the same beliefs. If two people have the same beliefs then of course their marriage will be strong. But Mormonism is unable to keep many people in that happy state, despite its best efforts (See "it's divisive"). The good statistics they quote are extremely misleading, but that is a topic for another day. Over all, taking all Mormons and not just a tiny sub-set, American Mormons have the same divorce rate as the rest of America, which means that for every super-happy Mormon family there is another super-miserable one to balance the statistics. Every happy Mormon exists at the expense of a miserable one.
An example of empty promises is the promise of friends. We talk about having friends at church, but most people only have one or two really good friends in their ward or branch. That is probably the same number they would have if they were not church members but joined some other club or society instead.
Another example is charitable work. The church "gives its alms to be seen of men" (see Matthew 6:1-4) and asks its members to wear bright yellow "LDS helping hands" shirts. It often refers to millions of dollars given in humanitarian aid. But according to figures given to the British Charities Commission, only one fifth of one percent of tithing goes to humanitarian aid. Even if we include the money given and spent as dedicated "humanitarian aid," and add the money given to church members in need, the church pays only about three percent of its money to charitable work. Most of the money you give the church goes to buy expensive buildings and pay salaries.
Another empty promise is feeling good because you are a child of God. The flip side of this is that without God you are worthless (see Moses 1:10, Helaman 12:7). And Mormon apostles teach that God's love is conditional - you have to earn his love. No wonder many Mormon youth feel they are not good enough. In contrast, Protestant churches say you are loved equally regardless of what you do, and humanists believe they that humans have worth on their own, right now, even without God.
One of the great blessings offered by the church is that families can be together forever. But all Christian churches teach that we will be together forever - if husbands and wives want to be together they can. The only difference in Mormonism is that if you will be separated from your family if you don't try hard enough, which makes the Mormon God uniquely cruel. So the Mormon promise is not just empty, but worse than what other churches offer.
These are just a few examples. Mormonism sounds good, and sees to offer great things, but when you look closer the promises are empty, and often undesirable. In general, on the long term and at a large scale, there is plenty of evidence that fundamentalist religion is bad for society. Religions like Mormonism do provide some good things, but statistically, the bad outweighs the good.
Notes on eternal families
Note that atheists believe that happiness comes from helping your family (your genes) survive - so atheism is less self-centered and more family centered than Mormonism. There used to be another difference in Mormon doctrine, that Mormons could have more children and eventually populate worlds as gods, but according to President Hinckley the church doesn't teach that any more.
The Mormon Church claims to do a lot of good. Well compared with disfunctional lifestyles, I suppose it does do good. But compared with better lifestyles it does harm. If you want better for your children, you can protect your children from the dangers of Mormonism. You do have a choice.