I’ve spent a fair amount of time on this blog highlighting things that have contributed to my loss of faith in the direction of the LDS Church. I began in 2014 shortly after having been released as a bishop. However, my concerns actually began many years earlier at least regarding certain issues and topics. I tried to address many of these concerns as a bishop and made honest attempts to be bold, persuasive, and thoughtful as I did. I discovered that the scriptures are the best way to make a case. But, I came to realize that even the scriptures or words of Joseph Smith are very often ignored in favor of today’s so called prophets. “The living oracles” doctrine is the new “stare decisis” of Mormonism. Sadly. No one can argue against this statement while being honest, because this is what the Brethren themselves teach.
In fact, the Apostle who preaches this sermon the most is Elder Neal Andersen. Elder Andersen is a man I happen to like very much. I find him to be very kind, capable, and sincere. I think in his mind, not only is NOT sustaining the prophets “the high road to apostasy,” BUT I think he also believes sincerely that sustaining the prophet is the MOST important thing we can do. That it’s the BEST way we can truly follow Christ. He leads the Brethren in referring to President Nelson the most in his talks, having named him 98 times in conference since Nelson became president and 23 times in his last Conference talk alone. (Source)
President Nelson, despite being perhaps the least interesting and least revered president in Church history, “continues to be referenced more than any Latter-day Saint prophet with 133 mentions — whether named, quoted or footnoted” — in this last month’s General Conference. This clearly demonstrates the idea that this practice of prophet preeminence is becoming more and more prevalent.
Let’s be honest — and intending no disrespect — but, Elder Nelson was never a Church leader most people ever enjoyed listening to in Conference. His talks were and still are unnotable from a doctrinal or even “interesting” standpoint. I found myself even as a bishop cringing over his style and his rather creepy, seemingly staged, smiles into the camera. For me, he’s never been someone I’ve been very inspired by.
Most telling of all as to what perhaps his own peers have thought of him for the last 50 years comes from the very telling comment his wife Wendy made shortly after being installed as Church president, when she said that the new prophet is finally “unleashed to follow through on all the things he’s wanted to do.” (Source) Think about the implication of that statement! The Brethren claim they collaborate and vigorously debate endlessly together over important issues and that they always vote on those issues and obtain unanimity. So, apparently, ALL the ideas Elder Nelson ever had for nearly 50 years, even while President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, were rarely or never embraced unanimously by his 14 other colleagues. Not a sign of one whose ideas were well loved and accepted.
Now think of the converse of that implication–All the ideas Elder Nelson advocated for for nearly 50 years, which the Brethren were largely against, are now magically being put into action. Translation? If the Brethren really did ever debate anything, they don’t anymore. They now blindly do what the prophet wants to do. What the prophet says IS what they ALL agree on unanimously.
Of course, when it comes time to finally put into place all the changes of President Nelson that everyone was once against, we get statements like this one from Elder Holland:
“I bear my own witness that these adjustments are examples of the revelation that has guided this Church from its beginning. They are yet more evidence that the Lord is hastening His work in its time.” (Source)
Here’s a list of some of the “adjustments” that have been made since Nelson became prophet:
March 26, 2018 — The First Presidency updates guidelines on preventing and responding to abuse.
March 31, 2018 — Elder Gerrit W. Gong and Elder Ulisses Soares are sustained as Apostles; priesthood quorums are restructured as high priests and elders combined into one elders quorum.
April 1, 2018 — Ministering replaces home and visiting teaching.
May 9, 2018 — The Church will end relationship with Boy Scouts of America, announces new activity program for children and youth.
June 18, 2018 — Hymnbook and Children’s Songbook will be revised to create new, unified editions for the worldwide Church.
June 20, 2018 — A First Presidency letter announces new guidelines for youth interviews.
June 22, 2018 — A new and improved version of “Preach My Gospel” is released.
Aug. 16, 2018 — President Nelson issues a statement on using the full name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (He later addresses this topic in general conference, and changes are made to Church websites, social media accounts, mobile apps, etc.)
Sept. 4, 2018 — The first volume of “Saints: The Story of the Church of Jesus Christ in the Latter Days” is released.
Sept. 5, 2018 — Missionary candidates will receive assignments online instead of in the mail.
Oct. 6, 2018 — Home-centered, Church-supported gospel study and adjustments to the Sunday meeting schedule are announced.
Oct. 30, 2018 — Some Church-produced pageants are discontinued.
Nov. 16, 2018 — All young missionary candidates — including prospective service missionaries ‚ will use the missionary online recommendation process.
Dec. 14, 2018 — Changes announced for Primary progression, young men priesthood ordination and youth temple recommends.
Dec. 20, 2018 — Sister missionaries have the option to wear dress pants.
Jan. 2, 2019 — The First Presidency releases statement on temples.
Feb. 15, 2019 — Missionaries are authorized to communicate with their families each week on preparation day by text, online messaging, phone calls and video chats.
March 22, 2019 — Seminary curriculum will align with “Come, Follow Me.”
April 4, 2019 — Children of parents who identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender may now be blessed as infants and baptized without First Presidency approval.
May 6, 2019 — One-year waiting period for temple sealings after civil marriage is discontinued.
July 19, 2019 — The Church announces stakes in the U.S. and Canada will sponsor biennial For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences modeled after BYU’s Especially for Youth program.
Aug. 16, 2019 — The Church announces new training course to help adults know how to prevent and respond to child abuse.
Sept. 5, 2019 — Book of Mormon Videos series release dates are announced.
Oct. 2, 2019 — Women, youth and children may now serve as witnesses of sealing and baptismal ordinances.
Oct. 5, 2019 — Ward Young Men presidencies are discontinued; new Young Women theme, class name and structure changes are announced.
Oct. 6, 2019 — President Nelson announces revised temple recommend questions; 2020 will be “bicentennial year” with April conference “different from any previous conference.”
Nov. 15, 2019 — The Church releases new missionary handbook.
Nov. 17, 2019 — New Aaronic Priesthood quorum theme announced.
Dec. 17, 2019 — The First Presidency releases statement on Church finances.
Jan. 17, 2020 — Adjustments are made to ceremonial temple clothing.
Jan 30, 2020 — The Church announces new administrative handbook for all Church leaders and members to replace Handbook 1 and Handbook 2.
April 4, 2020 — A new Church symbol is introduced.
April 5, 2020 — President Nelson issues “The Restoration of the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: A Bicentennial Proclamation to the World.”
April 17, 2020 — The First Presidency releases administrative principles for the Church during challenging times.
June 12, 2020 — Blue dress shirts, no ties are approved as missionary attire exceptions.
Aug. 14, 2020 — The First Presidency announces three global Church magazines will replace the current four; Ensign title is retired and New Era renamed.
Aug. 25, 2020 — Church members can now submit names to temple prayer rolls online.
Nov. 20, 2020 — President Nelson gives his worldwide message on healing power of gratitude.
It’s ironic that the least popular prophet, ignored by his peers largely for 50 years, now makes the MOST changes to Church policy (and doctrine) and funny enough, becomes “popular” among the people (in a way) for having made so many changes. (Examples above such as shorter Church! No more home teaching! Home church for a bit! Shorter temple times with less effort! No more dresses for girl missionaries! More casual dress requirements for boy missionaries! More temples in cool places! Civil marriage today and sealed tomorrow! Missionaries able to call home every week! No more Boy Scouts!!! Kids with gay parents can be baptized! Etc.) I think anyone would be more popular if they enacted these kinds of changes.
But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and let’s be very honest again. Some of my closest very active Mormon friends have told me discreetly they strongly disagree with and even dislike President Nelson despite all the exciting changes he’s made. And why would that be? Here are just a few of the reasons:
- “While home church is AMAZING and BETTER in every way than Church-church, why did the Church NOT fight for our religious freedoms and rights of assembly during CoVid like other Churches did?”
- “Why did the Church make me wear a mask once it began opening its doors, and why couldn’t we sing, and why were we forced to sit 6 feet apart, and attend only every other week, etc?”
- “Why did the Church not let us come every week and yet told Priesthood holders they could not do Sacrament in their homes for many of those weeks and why can’t people who still feel vulnerable to CoVid and are still not attending, do Sacrament in their homes in most cases?”
- “Why do I need permission from the Church to do Sacrament in my home anyway?”
- “Why has the Church been so friendly with the world and why are they pushing that we need to be good global citizens, by wearing a mask as a ‘sign of Christlike love,’ and by forcing vaccinations on its members?”
- “Why in the hell (direct quote) does my 18-year old son or daughter have to get a vaccine to go on a mission or to attend a Church college, especially when they’ve already had CoVid?”
- “Why won’t the Church grant religious exemptions for people who a) don’t believe the vaccine is right for them and b) don’t want to inject themselves with anything that comes from aborted fetuses?”
- “Why is the Church NOT preaching in favor of our Constitution and the liberties it ought to want to safeguard that are GOD GIVEN?!”
- “Why is the Church saying we should trust science and medical people, when those same “scientists” are in favor of gender surgeries, abortion, etc?!”
- “How can the Church say vaccines are safe and effective when there have been almost 1 million adverse effects “reported” on VAERS, many of which have been deaths of young people, mothers, teens, children etc. AND tens of thousands of permanent disabilities!?”
- “How on earth can the Church sit back while elections are stolen and the Constitution is being destroyed?”
- “How can the Church be okay with one of its own Apostles contributing to political campaigns?”
- “How come the Church congratulated Joe Biden while the election was still being legally contested?”
- “Why does the Church seem to hate President Trump so much and yet seems to give folks like Joe Biden, Jeff Flake, Mitt Romney, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, et al, a free pass?”
- “Why is the Church so pro-illegal immigration?”
- “Why is the Church investing in Facebook, Pfeizer, the UN, and a million other entities it should disagree with?”
- “Why not invest in sports betting, porn, strip clubs, pay day loans, and pawn shops, if the whole goal is to just make money?”
I could add many of my own concerns, many of which I’ve spoken about on this blog. But, the point is that many, many LDS people are very upset with President Nelson about one or more of these above issues, hence the reason we are seeing historically low Church attendance/activity and growth rates. Another irony.
One faithful LDS mom took to the internet and read an open letter to President Nelson. I strongly recommend you listen to it. Her plea is incredibly sincere and needs to be shared and heard by the Brethren.
One friend who was a bishop recently told me, “Hey I will deny this in public, but I can’t stand this man leading the Church.” Another two friends confided in me that for the first time in their lives they believe the prophet can and IS leading people astray.
Add to the above list of concerns many have over a billionaire apostle being granted a “special dispensation” to be able to keep his company interests alive. So much for no purse or scrip and setting aside fish nets to become fishers of men.
AND secret accounts that only 7 people know about in the world where 126 billion tithing dollars are being gambled on the stock market…
AND the Church becoming more and more progressive on social issues including all things LGBTQ… meanwhile my gay friends have never felt less welcome or interested in Church… (In other words the Church has a credibility problem).
I think for the first time in my life we are seeing the beginning of the end of the Church’s ability to keep things from falling apart. I predict we are about to see a mass exodus from the Church.
Interestingly, the Church, for all its postering and unsupported policy impositions, is very sensitive to negative news and to member protests. Look at what happened recently with the Manti temple when members finally began to protest the Church for its decision to remove original pioneer murals. The Church went from “Pound sand!” to “Oh so sorry, we’ve heard you! And we’ve prayed again and good news! Jesus changed his mind! He wants us to keep the murals after all!”
The important thing to remember in all this is, DON’T just sit back and trust your leaders blindly! I know Mormons hate that word “blindly” (along with the word Mormon) and always contend that they don’t follow the prophet blindly… However… I have family members who literally have told me that they are getting the vaccine because the prophet told them to! And even if they DIE, they will not regret following the prophet NO MATTER WHAT! How is this not blind obedience?
Well, I rant. And I don’t mean to. Readers will notice that I don’t post much anymore. This has been largely for two reasons. 1) I really don’t find any enjoyment at this late point in the game to be critical of the Church. Things are getting too serious and I have too many people I love too dearly who are still faithful members of the Church. My hope for sharing my concerns has ALWAYS been with the desire to help people simply be willing to think for themselves and to focus on the Lord, not on men. 2) I am not a prophet or one who has words yet that can help produce faith. I am not one of His servants. For this reason, I am always reluctant to say anything at all.
And hence why I call these the musings of a fool, which I implore you NOT to give any heed to unless they turn you to the Lord, to the scriptures, or to those He calls. I am truly a fool before God and man, but I also truly hope He can redeem me and I pray I can learn how to serve Him and love Him better.
I will say this, however. I have absolutely found a new home in the Restoration movement. For any reading this blog who may be unaware of what that even means, I would refer you to these resources:
Here you can find a treasure trove of what I believe is God’s word as shared by at least one He has called to continue the work started through Joseph Smith.
The Church cannot save you, does not appear concerned with building Zion (i.e. a safe place to flee to during the troubles fast approaching) or saving the Constitution and will damn the people that follow them and hearken to their teachings if they have not been in the presence of God and His Angels.
The words you will hear in the Ten Talks above will better describe the work now underway AND will show you where you and your loved ones can land when you realize the dire and awful situation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.