Mormons - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Frontline contains a wonderful documentary on the history and practices of the Mormonism. Part 1 shows the history of the Church, whilst part 2 discusses the modern day beliefs and practices. A balanced overview is provided through interviews with both active and former Mormons.
The Mormon Church was founded on April 6th, 1830 in New York, just a few decades before the Watchtower Society. Like Russell, Joseph Smith was a disillusioned Presbyterian. In History of the Church Volume 1 pp.3-4 he stated;
"so great were the confusion and strife among the different denominations, that it was impossible for a person young as I was, and so unacquainted with men and things, to come to any certain conclusion who was right and who was wrong. The Presbyterians were most decided against the Baptists and the Methodists, and used all the powers of both reason and sophistry to prove their errors, or, at least, to make the people think were in error. On the other hand, the Baptists and Methodists in their turn were equally zealous in endeavoring to establish their own tenets and disprove all others."
Smith accepted the Bible as the Word of God, but as a prophet of God revealed in addition the book of Mormon to go hand in hand with the Bible. Smith had prayed in sincerity to know which church to join but rather was guided by visions from the spirit world to locate and translate golden tablets into the Book of Mormon. This may sound unusual to a Witness now, but does not differ from claims made by Bible prophets. Nor is it particularly different from Russell claiming to be Jehovah's mouthpiece or Rutherford saying he was spoken to by Angels.
Witnesses strongly condemn the Mormons for using the Book of Mormon in favour of the Bible. Though not claiming Watchtower publications to be inspired or of equal weight to the Bible, note how Russell described the importance of his Studies in the Scriptures series;
"Furthermore, not only do we find that people cannot see the divine plan in studying the Bible by itself, but we see, also, that if anyone lays the Scripture Studies aside, even after he has used them, after he has become familiar with them, after he has read them for ten yearsif he then lays them aside and ignores them and goes to the Bible alone, though he has understood his Bible for ten years, our experience shows that within two years he goes into darkness. On the other hand, if he had merely read the Scripture Studies with their references, and not read a page of the Bible, as such, he would be in the light at the end of the two years, because he would have the light of the Scriptures." - This appeared in a 1910 Watch Tower, as quoted in the Watchtower 1957 July 1 p.415
The teachings and history of the Mormons and Witnesses are remarkably similar. Both:
- Have an 1800s American origin
- Do not believe in the Trinity
- Believe Jesus was created and a Spirit-brother of Satan
- Preach from door to door
- Have been rocked by scandal (Both Russell and Rutherford separated from their wives and spent much time in court not only for freedom of worship, but over business dealings)
- Borrowed symbols and terminology from the Freemasons, such as the all Seeing Eye and the pyramid.
- After Joseph Smith died the church split over who should be the successor. The Watchtower Society split several times with there now being numerous religions that stem from Russell, such as Russellites, Bible Students and Jehovahs Witnesses
- Believe(d) God is on a planet (Russell and Rutherford both taught we would be resurrected to the Pleiades Constellation)
- Feel Christendom is apostate
- Mormons are the only one true religion that you must be baptised in for salvation
- Individual salvation requires faith, repentance, baptism and continued righteousness
- General Salvation will eventually come to most of mankind through a resurrection
- Armageddon refers to the desolation that is soon to come on the earth. It is not the end of the planet but will be the end for most of mankind
- Salvation is the result of works as well as faith
- The cross is not a valid Christian symbol claiming that it is a late invention of corrupt Christianity
- Follow Time Prophecies
- Adam fathered Jesus through Mary (requirement for the ransom)
- Keep the Sabbath due to the Sabbath being an everlasting law that was started at Gen 2:3, prior to the Mosaic Law
One break-away Mormon group are the Strangites. Their official site, as of December 2010, is strangite.org. In 2006, they ran a website mormonbeliefs.com that proclaimed the world would end in 2007, based on this being the end of the "generation".
An episode of South Park entitled All About the Mormons gives a great overview of the founding of the religion by Smith. The end reaction is particularly interesting.
Comments from ex-Mormons
Does the Mormon 'Plan of Happiness', as compiled by an ex-Mormon, sound familiar?
The following comments are some of many that appear on ex-Mormon Internet sites, showing the similar thought process of Mormons on leaving their religion to that of Jehovah's Witnesses. All the following Mormon experiences could as easily have been written by Jehovah's Witnesses.
“The two sides of myself were at war. On one side was the part of me that expected and yes, wanted, the Church to be true. On the other side were my own personal beliefs, my own common sense, my feeling that things should not be so complicated. I had pleaded with [God] to tell me the church was true. I finally asked if it wasnt. I was finally honest with myself that I didnt think it was. That truth couldnt possibly be so complicated. With that honesty came a feeling of immense relief. For the first time I was able to look at the Church as an outsider and see what a small sect it was in the world. And you know, it did suddenly look implausible. Of course I had believed it because everyone I loved believed it. As the weight lifted off my chest I laughed in sheer joy. This was the moment I went from being inactive to an apostate. I slept well that night and woke up in a new world. It has been 7 years since that realization and I have not attempted to force the church to make sense again. Ive found great joy in just being a regular human being and want my children to be regular human beings as well.”
“Since I have studied somewhat and gained a little understanding I am still amazed at the lack of knowledge that most devout members have about their religion. I mean I discuss some of topics with them and bring up questions that they never had heard anything about. These are college educated, returned missionary brethren that really dont have a clue about some of their religious history.”
“There was a pervasive attitude at BYU that questions were ok, as long as they were within certain confines. In the Mormon Church, constant questioning can be interpreted as a challenge of authority. The more I studied, the more questions piled up. I often asked myself why I believed in the church. The answer was invariably because it helped me to be a good person. I knew that everything in my life was virtually inseparable from the church. Risking everything good in my life wasnt worth opening the Pandoras Box that I knew was there, filling slowly but surely.
Mormons are taught that Anti-Mormons are people who are deceived by Satan (probably because they sinned), that they become bitter and angry against the church because they are sinful, and that they spread all kind of nasty lies on the internet to try to make Mormons leave the church and be miserable too. After all, misery loves company!
I finally found someone to talk to at school, and the first thing I did was cry for about 15 minutes, without saying anything. It was fear, anger, loss, betrayal, and relief all rolled up.
My wife and my parents must have felt that I had gone crazy, and sometimes I really felt crazy. They were thinking, how could Tom have changed overnight like this? and I was thinking, Cant you see the deception in this?”
“I just want to start off by expressing how thankful I am to have found this place. Ever since I left the church 7 months ago, I've been looking for an outlet. Emotions run deep in the Mormon church, and they run deep coming out of it.
[My wife] talked about a shelf that all Mormons have where they keep all their unsolvable doubts. That's when I examined my shelf. That's when I realized my shelf was full. Quickly, though, I found out that getting out of Mormonism is about as easy as getting out of Alcatraz.
The rumors started almost immediately. Of course, I didn't tell anyone about my falling away. Jana, however, happened to mention to a friend of hers that I wasn't going to church anymore. By the time that little bit-o-gossip got around to my mother, it had mutated into “Dave's gotten some crazy ideas. I think he's gone to the loony bin.”
So, as I continue to escape, emotions continue to run deep. I get sad a lot, thinking about the culture I once had and the bond I once shared with my family. I miss it. I really, really do. At times, though, I get those sharp pangs of anger that come from realizing I had been fooled for so long.”
Comments from active Mormons
Just as Mormons go through the same difficulties as Witnesses when leaving their organization, active Mormons display the same animosity and reasoning as Jehovahs Witnesses do when talking to former members.
The following are letters from Mormons to the ex-Mormon administrator of the site http://www.exmormon.org/lovemorm.htm as appearing on 27th August 2006 (mistakes are as appear on the site).
“I'm sorry that you feel this way about the church in which I Know to be True. I'm sorry that you had the truth and feel it was not. The things you wrote made me sick to my stomach. Some things you wrote were twisted, some were wrong, and some you need faith to have a testimony of them.”
“What church you found to be the truth.”
“Or maybe it was that you just copied all your "facts" out of a typical anti-mormon pamphlet. Your story lacks documentation and proof. You attack irregularities and personal human flaws, nobody is perfect not even Mormons. Religious history, regardless of denomination, is always plaged by "human" misjudgments and mistakes. Give me any religion and I can give you a story three times as long as you gave about Mormons. Your story proves nothing. The doctrine is the heart of mormonism not the the people or its leaders. The doctrine is true and I hope one day you will the ability to overlook these small oversights and descrepancies.”
“Are Ex-Mormons just taking the easy way out? No tithing to pay. So many fewer meetings to attend. So much less criticism from others not of your faith. No more Word of Wisdom. No guilt for sin.”
“I hope you humble yourself and discover that you are fighting against the truth and work of God before you cause great harm to the Christ's work. Don't believe the lies you heard from others or create for yourself.”
“I'm sorry you have fallen away from the ONLY TRUE CHURCH on EARTH and i really do hope you and your wife will repent and have faith in the church and in your testimony.”
“I know without a shadow of a doubt that this is the only true church. not because thats what i was taught all my life, but because i have found it out through my own experiences.”
“I am Very happy. We are not a CULT!!!! We are very nice people and others make up the most ridiculous storys.”
“Satan is a powerful being that can mislead our thoughts and actions. I am astonished that a grown man can be so naive and ignorant. Please, dont spend so much time destroying what other people find dear to their hearts. Why is it only Mormonism that you try and destroy??? I know, because it is the only TRUE CHURCH and misery loves company no sorry misery loves company.”
“What have you found that is a better way to live your life?”
“You have no right to put LIES on the internet to discourage people in converting.”
“You see Eric You made me stronger in the faith. I read entirely through your site and for the first time doubted. Un fortunately for you instead of just leaving I did the unexplainable, I prayed. I did not recieve an answer right away, Which made me doubt more, especialy since I had been praying for three hours. Well to make a long story short I was again browsing through all the sites about mormons when i came to a site www.mormons.org. You see every reason that you left the church was covered. It gave scientific evidence against the smithsonians rebutal of the Book of Mormon and even more scriptural evidence for it. Amazing that the day after I prayed three hours I learned more about what was being said about the church and how it was lies, more so then I had ever leaned before.”
For information on Mormons, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, see their official site at lds.org.
Written 2007. Latest update Oct 2015.