Monday, October 5, 2009

I am no longer considered a member of the LDS church

I received my final letter indicating that my name and record has been removed from the records of the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.

As I close this chapter of my life, I look back at Mormonism and these are my thoughts:

Most of my experience as a lifelong member of the LDS church has been positive and uplifting. However, I simply don't believe the doctrine, dogma and claims made by the church leaders. It is all a big fantasy, a fairy tale where people live happily ever after in the celestial kingdom.

In my experience, most Mormons are genuine and truly believe what they have been taught, as are most people in any religion.
This is why initially I tried to stay as a member even if it were just for social reasons. However, this was not sustainable.

An entire lifetime of indoctrination withered away with just a few years of intense study of church history and other historical facts. I am currently unaffiliated with any religion.

This will be my last post, but I will still keep the blog up for those interested.


I will end with my recommendations for further study. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as an "unbiased" source, but I have compiled a list of reading material and other media that presents a mixture of "both sides" of the argument. This list is in no way complete or authoritative, but simply a compilation of resources from my own experience that have covered the main criticisms and defenses of Mormonism.


Joseph Smith biography:

  • No Man Knows My History- Fawn Brodie
  • Rough Stone Rolling- Richard Bushman
Historicity of the Book of Mormon:

  • Quest For the Gold Plates- Stan Larson
  • An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon- John Sorenson
Book of Abraham controversy:

  • By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus- Charles Larson

A free copy can be sent to members of the LDS church here

Online text can be read here

  • An Approach to the Book of Abraham- Hugh Nibley

History of Early Mormonism:

  • An Insider's View of Mormon Origins- Grant Palmer
  • Early Mormonism and the Magical World View- D. Michael Quinn

Online Resources:

Journal of Discourses

1833 and 1835 Doctrine and Covenants

History of the Church- Volume 1

History of the Church- Volume 2

History of the Church- Volume 3

History of the Church- Volume 4

History of the Church- Volume 6

(Unfortunately, I couldn't find volume 5 online)

Online Videos:

PBS documentary The Mormons 4 hours

Bible Vs. Book of Mormon
1 hour

DNA Vs. Book of Mormon 1 hour

Lost Book of Abraham
1 hour

FAIR Conferences -about 30 hours with 200 compiled videos

Why People Leave the LDS Church 1 hour

Dozens of videos by Mormonstories podcaster John Dehlin


20 Truths about Mormonism




Sunstone Magazine

New Order Mormons

Dialogue- A Journal of Mormon Thought

Institute for Religious Research- Mormons in Transition

Official LDS website over 200 hours of audio and video interviews


I would like to thank all that have maintained interest in this blog. It has been a positive experience for me in expressing myself during this difficult period. I do not hold anything against the LDS church and still cherish many of the positive aspects that I experienced. I simply do not believe in the doctrine, dogma and many of the historical claims fundamental to Mormonism. I don't think the LDS church is "evil", I just think it is a fantasy. I don't know what the future holds, but I feel ready to face it with eyes wide open with a greater understanding of reality.

What do I think of Mormonism? I like the parable of the canoe. A canoe helps you navigate across the river against strong currents. However, once you cross the river, the canoe becomes burdensome, especially when you consider the mountain that you must climb. That doesn't mean you don't appreciate what the canoe has done in getting you across the river, just that you no longer need the canoe. I view the church as the canoe. I feel like I have crossed the river of my childhood. The church was the canoe that carried me through the strong currents of adolescence and took me into the banks of adulthood. I now look at the mountain that I face knowing that I must leave the canoe behind me.

Disillusioned Ex-Mormon Read more!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Resignation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

I know this is a dead blog as I have not posted in a long time, nor do I plan on actively posting on here, so I don't know how many people will see it. However, this is an update on my status regarding my membership in the LDS church. Today, 8-10-2009 I no longer consider myself a member of the LDS church.

I sent the following letter to my current bishop:

Although I consider myself "non-Mormon", I understand that the church is going to go through a process to remove my name from their records. I will update the progress of this process.

I wanted to outline the specific "doctrinal and historical" claims made by the church that I do not believe, but simply did not have the space as I wanted to keep it a single page letter. Here are the specific claims that I do not believe:

  • The Book of Abraham is a literal translation of an ancient document written by Abraham
  • The Book of Mormon is literally a historical record of real ancient inhabitants that really lived in the Americas and came over by boat from the old world.
  • Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, who literally saw God the father and Jesus
  • The Book of Mormon was literally translated from gold-colored metal plates that physically existed
  • The doctrines of the LDS church are eternal and the same yesterday, today and forever.
Read more!

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Disillusioned Latter-day Saint

This is an excellent piece of work by Richard Bushman which I ran across from the NOM board. According to the blogger LifeOnaPlate, this is an introduction by Bushman to the 2008 summer seminar "Joseph Smith and His Critics" given July 29, 2008. He does an excellent job of describing almost step by step exactly what goes on in the mind of the disillusioned Mormon.

Here is the link to the blogger's post

Here are the highlights:

Increasingly teachers and church leaders at all levels are approached by Latter-day Saints who have lost confidence in Joseph Smith and the basic miraculous events of church history. They doubt the First Vision, the Book of Mormon, many of Joseph’s revelations, and much besides. They fall into doubt after going on the Internet and finding shocking information about Joseph Smith based on documents and facts they had never heard before. A surprising number had not known about Joseph Smith’s plural wives. They are set back by differences in the various accounts of the First Vision. They find that Egyptologists do not translate the Abraham manuscripts the way Joseph Smith did, making it appear that the Book of Abraham was a fabrication. When they come across this information in a critical book or read it on one of the innumerable critical Internet sites, they feel as if they had been introduced to a Joseph Smith and a Church history they had never known before. They undergo an experience like viewing the famous picture of a beautiful woman who in a blink of an eye turns into an old hag. Everything changes. What are they to believe?

Often church leaders, parents, and friends, do not understand the force of this alternate view. Not knowing how to respond, they react defensively. They are inclined to dismiss all the evidence as anti-Mormon or of the devil. Stop reading these things if they upset you so much, the inquirer is told. Or go back to the familiar formula: scriptures, prayer, church attendance.

The troubled person may have been doing all of these things sincerely, perhaps even desperately. He or she feels the world is falling apart. Everything these inquirers put their trust in starts to crumble. They want guidance more than ever in their lives, but they don’t seem to get it. The facts that have been presented to them challenge almost everything they believe. People affected in this way may indeed stop praying; they don’t trust the old methods because they feel betrayed by the old system. Frequently they are furious. On their missions they fervently taught people about Joseph Smith without knowing any of these negative facts. Were they taken advantage of? Was the Church trying to fool them for its own purposes?
These are deeply disturbing questions. They shake up everything. Should I stay in the Church? Should I tell my family? Should I just shut up and try to get along? Who can help me?

At this point, these questioners go off in various directions. Some give up on the Church entirely. They find another religion or, more likely these days, abandon religion altogether. Without their familiar Mormon God, they are not sure there is any God at all. They become atheist or agnostic. Some feel the restrictions they grew up with no longer apply. The strength has been drained out of tithing, the Word of Wisdom, and chastity. They partly welcome the new freedom of their agnostic condition. Now they can do anything they please without fear of breaking the old Mormon rules. The results may not be happy for them or their families.

Others piece together a morality and a spiritual attitude that stops them from declining morally, but they are not in an easy place. When they go to church, , they are not comfortable. Sunday School classes and Sacrament meeting talks about Joseph Smith and the early church no longer ring true. How can these people believe these “fairy tales,” the inquirers ask. Those who have absorbed doses of negative material live in two minds: their old church mind which now seems naive and credulous, and their new enlightened mind with its forbidden knowledge learned on the internet and from critical books.

He goes on to talk about how to deal with disillusioned members. I admire his approach. He goes out of his way to talk about how the standard "read the scriptures and pray about it" will not work. His idea is that if people are presented the facts in a controlled setting it wouldn't look quite so bad. Although I agree with him in many ways, I think that for some people there is not much that can be done. It has nothing to do with lack of fellowshipping, I simply can no longer believe in the doctrine.

It is quite frustrating when you try to explain why you no longer believe and they come back with the idea that there must be something wrong with you. It can't be the doctrine, because that is perfect, so it must be that you lack faith or are spiritually lazy and can't cut it.

I think Bushman is doing a good job at trying to build bridges between true believing members of the church and "apostates". It has been my experience that when people understand why someone no longer believes in the church, they become more tolerant.

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What Do I Believe?

This blog has helped me organize my thoughts, but it is exhausting. I think it is time for me to take a break for a while, maybe indefinitely as I am exiting the LDS community and am dedicating my time to other things in my life. This blog has helped me organize and express my thoughts and journey of disillusionment. It has been a painful process, but I have found this to be therapeutic but I will not be posting regularly.

I still have many issues about the LDS church that I wanted to talk about, but it is time for me to move on. My wife has started accepting my disillusionment, but this blog has an adverse effect on the relationship. I am still a member on record, but only attend sacrament meetings once or twice a month.

I am sure what I don't believe, but I find myself wondering what I do believe. That will be my next journey.

I do not think the LDS church is necessarily 'evil' or 'bad'. I believe that like most large institutions, the leadership has made mistakes in the past and I believe that the current leadership is doing the best they can. I believe that the church leaders genuinely believe in the message. I do not believe the church is purposefully trying to defraud anyone, I just do not believe in the doctrines.

I have given up on organized religion. It is apparent to me that all religions are man-made institutions. If there is a God, I don't think he cares which man-made church we associate ourselves with.

I do cherish some things that I learned growing up in the church. I do hold animosity over some things as well. However, what is important that I take this experience and move forward in my life.

A butterfly might appreciate the cocoon for making it the way it is, but that doesn't mean the butterfly has to carry the cocoon on his back for the rest of his life. Maybe he can look back and see that the cocoon has flaws and imperfections and understand that it is o.k. I feel the same way about the church.

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What LDS Doctrines are Found in The Book of Mormon?

Importance of the Book of Mormon in the LDS Church

Joesph Smith is well known for making the following statement regarding the Book of Mormon:

I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.
What Precepts from the Book of Mormon are we to Abide by?

If this is the case, my question is what doctrines that are practiced or taught by the LDS church are based on the Book of Mormon? I will argue that most of the doctrines or practices that are taught by the LDS church are not found in the Book of Mormon.

These are the doctrines I would consider unique to Mormonism that are not found in the Book of Mormon:

  • Baptism for the dead
  • Temple Garments
  • Polygamy-as practiced on earth or in the celestial kingdom
  • 3 heaven kingdoms, or 3 degrees of glory
  • Garden of Eden was in Missouri
  • Jesus and God are separate beings, both with tangible bodies
  • There was a Council in the pre-existence
  • Our ultimate destiny is to become like God
  • Jesus is the literal spirit-brother of Lucifer who became Satan
  • Tithing as a necessary commandment
  • Families are eternal
  • We lived with God before this life
  • The wording of the baptism prayer
  • Jesus and God may live near a planet or star named Kolob
These doctrines are principally found in the Doctrine and Covenants, other church sources and the Bible, particularly the Old Testament.

These teachings, which are found in the Book of Mormon can also be derived from interpretations of the Bible:

  • Baptism
  • Faith
  • Temples
  • The creation
  • The fall of Adam
  • The relationship between faith and works
  • The ministry of Jesus
  • The divinity of Jesus
  • The death and resurrection of Jesus
  • The holy ghost
  • Sacrament
  • Importance of missionary work
  • The role of prophets
  • Priesthood authority
Distinctive Mormon Doctrines Found in the Book of Mormon

There are very few teachings that are unique to the Book of Mormon that are practiced by the LDS church. The ones that come to mind are:

  • Jesus visited America
  • Native Americans are decedents of Israelites
  • The exact wording of the sacrament prayer
  • It is sinful to baptize little children
Most of the doctrines unique to Mormonism are either absent from the text in the Book of Mormon or are also found in the Bible. These principals and teachings can also be found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

What we have left in the Book of Mormon are stories with morals. It is my view that the Book of Mormon is not the source for most of the LDS teachings, but a tool used to claim divine authority due to the miraculous manner in which it was recorded, preserved and translated.

Disillusioned Mormon
Read more!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Revelations in the LDS church

Revelation and the LDS Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be an church that receives direct revelation from God. However, the question arises when was the last revelation? Most of Brigham Young's discourses are pretty much dead doctrines in the LDS church and are dismissed as merely his own personal opinion and not necessarily revelation from God. Mormon fundamentalists have a point there that they are the only ones that treat his discourses as scripture as originally intended. Are any of the most recent statements by the church considered to be revelations?

Official Church Statements

The Official Declaration 1, the basis for ceasing the practice of polygamy was not originally published as a revelation. It is a press release to the United States government. Nowhere does it say "thus sayeth the lord", it says "to whom it may concern" not even meant to be geared towards church members. Wilford Woodruff didn't call or refer to the manifesto as a revelation until a year later in 1891 at a stake conference in Logan, Utah. It is more likely that the manifesto was simply a response to the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887.

Official Declaration 2 is not a revelation. Once again, it is not written in 1st person from the Lord like Joseph Smith's revelations as contained in the Doctrine and Covenants. The specific wording simply refers to a revelation that the prophet and president of the church at the time received a revelation to allow blacks of any descent. The declaration reads "a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church". However, as I said the declaration simply refers to a revelation that was received, and explains the details of the revelation, but the actual revelation has not been recorded.

If we are to believe that God is at the head of the church, one would expect the church to be ahead of the rest of the world, not behind it. This revelation occurred 24 years after the civil rights movement. It seems to me that the idea that the prophets are directed by God simply makes the church more stubborn, entrenched and more reluctant to make changes, even if these are good changes. It draws the question if the church is run from top down, or from bottom up, or maybe a combination.

Are we to consider "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" and "The Living Christ The Testimony of the Apostles" as revelations? They both sound like declarations of beliefs.

Modern Revelation

Does the church still believe in receiving revelations from God? Not everything said from every prophet or apostle is to be considered doctrine. The prophets and apostles are able to voice their own opinions even when occasionally they are considered false doctrine by subsequent church leaders. If there is revelation given to the church leaders, is it given to them through feelings and perhaps not angelic messengers?

Book of Mormon and Angels

According to the Book of Mormon, if angels cease to appear and miracles cease to occur, it is due to apostasy and lack of faith.

Moroni 7:35-38

And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.
The question is asked if the LDS church is a church based on continual revelation, where are the revelations?

Disillusioned Mormon Read more!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mormon Fundamentalism vs. The Mainstream LDS Church

Mormon Fundamentalism VS. The LDS Church

There seems to be a lot of interest lately on the subject of Mormon fundamentalism, particularly the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) so I will speak on the subject. There are many people that see reports on t.v. about polygamist groups and associate these groups with the LDS church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Part of the reason for the confusion is over the use of the word "Mormon" when describing these groups.


LDS Church-The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I use the term "LDS Church" in reference to the mainstream church that most people refer as the "Mormon church".

Mormon-This term is usually used to describe a member of the LDS Church. However, it can also accurately be used to describe followers of other groups, which I will explain. To clarify in this case, I will use the term "mainstream Mormon" to refer to members of the LDS church.

Mormon fundamentalist-Someone that believes that the original teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are eternal and everlasting and the doctrines and practices can not ever change. The main points of these doctrines usually include the earthly practice of plural marriage (polygamy) and the law of consecration, along with other doctrines such as the Adam-God doctrine among many others.

FLDS-Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a Mormon Fundamentalist church that is not affiliated with the LDS church.

First, I would like to address the confusion that is out there. Many people still to this day think that Mormon Fundamentalists are somehow affiliated or associated with mainstream Mormons. This is simply not the case. Mormon Fundamentalists are groups that have splintered or broken off of the LDS church, many of them decades ago principally over the doctrine of polygamy.


The LDS church does not currently practice polygamy. The LDS church abandoned the practice of polygamy gradually from 1890 to the early 1900's. The LDS church excommunicates any member that practices polygamy.

There exists a lot of confusion regarding mainstream Mormons and Mormon fundamentalists. Mormon fundamentalist groups like the FLDS that practice polygamy have nothing to do with the LDS church. The source of this confusion could be the commonality of the word "Mormon" used to describe both groups. When people hear these terms, they assume that they are connected with the LDS church, since most people know the LDS church as the "Mormon church", which is a misnomer.

Frankly, I understand and can empathize with the frustration of the LDS church in trying to distinguish themselves from Mormon fundamentalists. The LDS church has even attempted to go as far as saying that they don't even exist.

Gordon B. Hinckley has said "There is no such thing as a 'Mormon fundamentalist.' It is a contradiction to use the two words together".

Are Mormon Fundamentalists "Mormon"?

This completely depends on your definition of the word "Mormon". Usually, the word "Mormon" is in reference to a member of the LDS Church. In this definition, Mormon fundamentalists are not "Mormon" in the sense that they are not members of the LDS church. However, in a broader sense of the word, a "Mormon" can correctly be applied to anyone that adheres to the teachings of Mormonism, as established by Joseph Smith, and considers themselves to be a Mormon. This was always my understanding of the term "Mormon" as defined by an encyclopedia I read in my youth.

Are Mormons Christian?

Many members and leaders of the LDS church have been trying to assert to mainstream Christianity that they are in fact Christians. Even though the views differ from traditional Christianity, the LDS church and its members make this assertion.

When Salt Lake hosted the winter Olympics, the leadership of the church expressed the importance of its insistence of being regarded a Christian church and attempted to try to distance itself from the use of the term "Mormon Church.

"the church's hierarchy recently advised the media that the term Mormon Church is no longer acceptable. Henceforth, officials declared, short references to the church should read: "The Church of Jesus Christ." In this way the church hopes to emphasize what Mormons share with historic Christianity, not what makes them different."

From Jeff Lindsey's blog(member of the LDS church): "I definitely consider myself a Christian, meaning that I look to Christ as my Savior and Redeemer, and that I seek to follow Him. You may disagree with other doctrines, but please don't assume this means that I am not Christian. However, I realize that some of our doctrines, as painted by opponents of the Church, sound odd, especially our ideas about the relationship between man and God. But our doctrines are rooted in scripture and are those of the earliest Christians - really."

Here is the ultimate irony. Here, you have a member of the LDS church defending the position that Mormons are Christians, yet most of mainstream Christianity that I have spoken with do not recognize Mormons as Christians. The irony is when the tables are turned, the mainstream LDS church gives Mormon fundamentalists the exact same treatment by asserting that Mormon Fundamentalists are not "Mormon".

Use the Same Argument For Mormon Fundamentalists

The same argument from Jeff Lindsey's defense for being Christian can be made to defend Mormon fundamentalists as being Mormon with a slight tweak. Imagine if a Mormon fundamentalist made this statement to the LDS church:

"I definitely consider myself a Mormon, meaning that I believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that I seek to follow his teachings. You may disagree with other doctrines, but please don't assume this means that I am not Mormon. However, I realize that some of our doctrines, as painted by opponents of the FLDS Church, sound odd, especially our ideas about the relationship between Adam and God, or polygamy. But our doctrines are rooted in scripture, and are those of the earliest Mormons - really."

Who or What is Mormon?- It is all About Semantics

I believe that there should be a correction of the use of the term "Mormon" to the more broad sense of the word, as any group that follows the teachings of Mormonism and considers themselves to be Mormon. I understand the concern of the LDS church in trying to distinguish themselves with other smaller followers of Mormonism. There is even a distinction within Mormon fundamentalists that try to dis-associate themselves with the FLDS church and consider Warren Jeffs a false prophet.

"Polygamist Sects?"

The LDS church has suggested that the correct term to use to describe Mormon fundamentalists is "polygamist sects" in place of "Mormon sects" or even Mormon fundamentalists. They are trying to get people to not incorporate the word "Mormon" when describing other groups. However, the term "polygamist sect" is very problematic. Not all Mormon Fundamentalists practice polygamy. Most believe in the principal, but are not currently practicing it. Some could be widows, some could be children too young to be married, many live a monogamous lifestyle, but generally still believe in the principal. What are we to call these individuals, Polygamists?

The LDS church fits into the criteria for the term "polygamist sect", as the principal of polygamy is still very much a part of the doctrine of the church as it is expected to be practiced in heaven as I have talked about in a previous post. So the LDS church fits under the definition of a "polygamist sect" if they can be called polygamists just for believing in the principal, but not actually practice it.

The other problem is not all splinter groups of Mormonism practice or believe in the doctrine of polygamy. The Community of Christ is the largest group that broke off of the LDS church and it does not teach the doctrine of polygamy nor does it recognize Brigham Young as a prophet. They deny or downplay Joseph Smith's practices and teachings of polygamy. The Community of Christ is not considered part of Mormon fundamentalism.

Different Groups Within Mormonism

There are different flavors of Christianity and Mormonism is no different. The most well known is the LDS church, however, there are many other churches that all proclaim to be the true Mormons:

Apostolic United Brethren
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Original Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days
Community of Christ (originally the Re-organized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)
Latter-day Church of Christ
Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
United Latter-day Church of Jesus Christ

All of these and countless other smaller groups consider themselves the true "Mormons" as in the real followers of the Book of Mormon and the teachings of Joseph Smith. I do not believe that the LDS church has a monopoly on the word "Mormon", even if they are the largest organization. I believe that the word "Mormon" should begin to be viewed in a general term like "Christian", not a specific term like "Catholic". I think a member of the LDS church can still call themselves "Mormon" for short, but so should members of other churches that teach the principals of Mormonism.

Disillusioned Mormon
Read more!

Monday, June 2, 2008

The Smithsonian Institue Considers the Book of Mormon a Historical Document

The Smithsonian Institute Considers the Book of Mormon a Historical Document

Well, sort of. The Smithsonian Institute considers the Book of Mormon a very important historical document of 19th century American religious history. However, the Smithsonian Institute is very clear that they do not consider the Book of Mormon to be a translation of ancient American texts.

I remember hearing rumors from other missionaries on my mission that the Smithsonian Institute used the Book of Mormon as a guide to help find archaeological digs. However, this is just Mormon folklore. Thanks to Shawn Landis for pointing this out, as I think it is important for everyone ,regardless of your belief in the Book of Mormon, to dispel untruthful rumors.

Smithsonian Letter Regarding Book of Mormon

I think it is important for everyone to read the Smithsonian Letter about the Book of Mormon. Here is the text of the letter as referenced from this site.

Information from the
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution Washington, D.C. 20560

Your recent inquiry concerning the Smithsonian Institution's alleged use of the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide has been received in the Smithsonians Department of Anthropology.

The Book of Mormon is a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archaeological research and any information that you have received to the contrary is incorrect. Accurate information about the Smithsonians position is contained in the enclosed Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon, which was prepared to respond to the numerous inquiries that the Smithsonian receives on this topic.

Because the Smithsonian regards the unauthorized use of its name to disseminate inaccurate information as unlawful, we would appreciate your assistance in providing us with the names of any individuals who are misusing the Smithsonians name. Please address any correspondence to:

Public Information Officer
Department of Anthropology
National Museum of Natural History
Smithsonian Institution, MRC 112
Washington, DC 20560

Prepared by


1. The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.

2. The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World--probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age--in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

3. Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen, who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around 1000 A.D. and then settled in Greenland. There is no evidence to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.

4. None of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre- Columbian times. This is one of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific premise that contacts with Old World civilizations, if they occurred, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, or camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, bat all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time the early big game hunters traveled across the Americas.)

5. Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteroic iron). Native copper was worked in various locations in pre- Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.

6. There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia. It is by no means certain that even such contacts occurred with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asia and the Near East.

7. No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archeological remains in Mexico and archeological remains in Egypt.

8. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.

9. There are copies of the Book of Mormon in the library of the National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution.

I believe that the last statement is the basis for the origin of the rumor that the Smithsonian Institute considers the Book of Mormon a historical document. However, anyone that has read the letter understands that it is very clear that the Smithsonian does not consider the Book of Mormon a historical document of ancient America, but one of 19th century America. They emphasize their frustrations and even the illegality of people mis-using the Smithsonian name.

Mormon Folklore

Mormon folklore are stories or things that are meant to be spiritually uplifting and faith promoting, but are essentially not true. I believe that it does more harm as people are crushed or disappointed when they realize that it isn't true. However, what is amazing to me is how confident someone can sound when they spread stories that are simply not the case.

I am confident that the missionary that told me about the Smithsonian Institute using the Book of Mormon as a guide really believed it. He sounded so confident and so 'matter of fact' that I believed that he had done thorough research on the subject, so I believed it. Turns out that my missionary companion had heard it from someone else that told it to him in such a way that he assumed that that person had looked into it and had checked the facts.

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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Why Was 1st Century Reformed Egyptian Translated into 17th Century King James English in 19th Century America?

Why Was 1st Century Reformed Egyptian Translated into 17th Century King James English in 19th Century America?

Was it really necessary for the Book of Mormon to be translated into 17th Century King James English? It seems that there is a perception that for something to be scripture, it must be translated into late middle/early modern English, as if that is some kind of God given perfect language. Who knew?

Perhaps people during that time period would be more susceptible to believing that the Book of Mormon is holy writ if it was translated into 17th century King James English. It also attempts to incorporate the Book of Mormon as part of the Bible as advertised as the stick of Joseph as referenced in the Bible, and therefore should have the same language. However, this view demonstrates a naïveness to what the Bible is and where it came from.

Book of Mormon For Our Time

If we are to believe that the Book of Mormon was written for our time, it is more likely that it would have been translated into Modern English so that people that read it could have understood it. Modern English had existed at least 80 years before publication of the Book of Mormon. So why wasn't the Book of Mormon translated into Modern English? Why isn't the Book of Mormon now translated into Modern English? The Book of Mormon has been translated from 17th century English into hundreds of different languages, and it is still considered 'scripture' in those other languages. However, if you translate it from 17th century English into modern English it would no longer become 'scripture', it would just be a personal 'explanation' and could not be used to replace 'scripture'. Why is that? It seems that God is obsessed with 17th century English as if that is the only proper way for him to communicate to English speakers. If that is the case, why aren't other revelations and church declarations that we consider 'doctrine' also written in 17th century English?

17th Century English and the Bible

17th century English has nothing to do with the original writings of the Bible. The Old Testament was translated from Hebrew texts and the books in the New Testament were mostly translated from Greek. King James ordered the translation of the collection of books that we call the Bible into the language of the time so that people could best understand it. So why wasn't the Book of Mormon held to the same standard? Why can't we modernize the language of the Book of Mormon? Why does it have to be in antiquated text?

We Believe the (Church Leadership Approved) Bible To Be The Word of God

We say we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly, yet we use the King James version of the Bible, which is not the most correctly translated Bible by any stretch of the imagination. There are tons of translational errors in the King James version. There are many better and more accurate translations written in modern English that are much easier to understand, yet the church is insistent on keeping the King James version as the sole version to use in English. It seems that any other translation is 'heretical'. I guess our article of faith should read "we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is church approved".

Other English Translations of the Bible

The King James version of the Bible was not the first Bible to be translated into English. The Anglo-Saxons had very early translations of some of the books in the Bible in Old English as early as 600 A.D. English translations that occurred in the 14th century were translated into Middle English, as this is what people spoke at the time. There were several translations into Late Middle/Early modern English, including King James, and they were all written in Early Modern English because that is the language that people could best understand at the time. There have been many Biblical translations since King James, and the most modern versions are translated into Modern English because that can be best understood today. Yet for some reason some people are stuck with King James when he is just one of a long procession of English translations.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

Was Joseph Smith Nearsighted?

Translation of the Book of Mormon

In a previous post, I talked about the method that Joseph Smith used to translate the Book of Mormon. Any reputable historian on the subject LDS or non-LDS will tell you that Joseph Smith did not use the gold plates, or the urim and thummim for the translation of the Book of Mormon. Instead, he used a seer stone that he found in the ground while digging a well in 1822, a year before the angel Moroni ever appeared to him. For the majority of the translation of the Book of Mormon, he would put the seer stone into a hat and put his head into the hat and dictate the words that would appear to him.

This is a very odd, but historically more accurate depiction of the method that gave us the Book of Mormon. A question has been raised, and I believe it is a good question; Was Joseph Smith incredibly near-sighted, or did he make himself go cross-eyed for the entire translation process?

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