Experiencing Honesty within Mormon Leadership

We believe in being honest . . . and in doing good to all men?

Photo by nikko macaspac on Unsplash

The above-quoted scripture from the King James Version of the Bible is the usual response offered to any member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormons when questions of honesty or a lack of information are discussed. Basically, the rote response is we didn’t tell you or omitted to tell you because you're not ready yet. In other words, in a similar fashion to Scientology, until you’ve proved yourself at one level, other relevant information is being kept from you. The suggestion is that if we told you everything expected of you, you might leave and not return.

“It matters very much not only what we are told but when we are told it.” — Elder Boyd K. Packer.

Elder Boyd K. Packer, an Apostle in the church, emphasized this practice: "It matters very much not only what we are told but when we are told it.” This approach always felt uncomfortable to me and even dishonest. Surely we have a right to know what it means to be a member of this club, so to speak. However, members are reminded by Elder Packer, “The prophets and apostles have a much clearer perspective on what should and should not be taught than most of us will ever have.” And so the argument goes, “A person who knows very little about our doctrine, for example, will probably not understand or appreciate our teachings concerning temples, sealing powers, eternal life, or the potential godhood of man.”

Thus, church members have to rely on the honesty and integrity of leaders they do not know about subjects they are not allowed to be aware of. Apparently, fifteen old white male church leaders in Salt Lake City, Utah, decide what I can know and not know. And when I can know it or not know it.

This approach is never more obvious than members' first time attending one of the Mormon temples. As you are prepared before attending, you are told it might seem ‘strange,’ but don’t worry; it will make sense down the road. And frankly, when you realize something strange is actually going on, there’s no going back. Any objections are dealt with by suggesting that the more you know, the more you will understand. You’re just not there yet! One day it will all make sense. Obedience is key.

In fact, your understanding will be much clearer if you ensure you religiously pay 10% of your earnings to the church without fail. Depending on your financial offerings, you also have to decide whether you wish to have net or gross blessings. Plus, your clarity will be even better if you pay a monthly fasting amount. Also, your faith must be total to understand fully, of course. Not forgetting that if you attend church faithfully, accept all assignments no matter what, do not smoke or drink alcohol, and swear you will give your life, if necessary, for the benefit and protection of the church, then your ‘spiritual understanding’ will be more focused toward the ‘mysteries of the kingdom.’ These mysteries, however, seem to be moving targets just as in Scientology.

Similarly, privately studying in groups outside your family is highly discouraged. Only studying in church-approved groups or buildings is allowed. Of course, this ensures control of what is taught and how it is taught. The strange paradox is although no one is allowed to discuss anything not approved by the church leaders, it was more than okay to discuss crazy political conspiracy theories, including only righteous people being Republicans. And Donald J. Trump was indeed the savior of America. At that point, I realized I was part of something that was decidedly unsavory. As far as I understood, these kinds of church discussions were not allowed to avoid the church paying billions, yes billions, in taxes. But just as in the distant past of Mormon church history, what you see on the outside of the public face of Mormonism is quite different than what you encounter on the inside.

“The truth is not uplifting; it destroys.” — Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

All you have to do is examine the words of Apostles Oaks, “It’s wrong to criticize leaders of the church, even if the criticism is true.” Along with Elder Packer once more, who also stated, “The truth is not uplifting; it destroys. . . . Historians should tell only the part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting.” In other words, if the truth is deemed bad to church leaders, it should not be told! What kind of so-called religious organization would see covering the truth as good? Similarly, the Catholic Church covered up sexual child abuse for centuries. Everyone understands that you must tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth when entering a courtroom. And yet, the Mormon church does not have that same standard.

Why is that? As in years past, members are reminded that God's law always overrides man's law! This convenient teaching ensures that not telling the truth in all kinds of ways is more than okay if God deems it that way. We have seen the danger in such teachings all across the world. For example, God told me to fly a plane into the Twin Towers. It seems to me that throughout history, almost all of humanity has suffered through wars, torture, and slavery because, apparently, God told men to do it. Maybe it's time to recognize that men will, and have, committed all kinds of atrocities in the name of God. I would suggest God did not create man in His own image, but in fact, Man created God in his own image to control others. To maintain control and slowly coerce, honesty is thrown out of the window, along with the meat. Just as helpless babes, you will only ever be offered milk.

© Stephen G. Arrowsmith 2021

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Steve Arrowsmith MA

I live &write on two continents ⚽🏈 teacher, coach, and writer. Religious cults/Mormonism are my main interests. Contact me at stevearrowsmith.com@gmail.com