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Posts Tagged ‘Mormonism in Decline’

Mormonism in Decline

185 years and six days ago, a 22-year-old man named Joseph Smith started a new religion in upstate New York. The story of the Mormons is built on The Book of Mormon and countless other “scriptures” and historical, theological and pseudo-historical documents accumulated over almost two centuries.

In the spring of 1820, Joseph went to a grove of trees near his home and knelt in prayer. He described his experience: “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me [ … ] When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other-This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” ( Joseph Smith-History 1:16-17 ).

Smith was born in 1805, so he was 15 years old when he had his first vision. Based on accounts of Smith and his cohorts, the Mormon Church has built a fairy-tale fantasy picture of Smith, his successors, and their religion that has little resemblence to what really happened, as evidenced by a vast historical record, outside of and contradictory to the tightly censored literature controlled by the church, available to anyone interested today. The picture below is typical, showing a studious, hard-working young man, in this case busy translating the golden plates he found into the Book of Mormon.

The following is the early history of the Mormon Church as condensed as I can summarize it:

Smith was visited by God and Jesus, as he described above. There are other accounts where it was not God and Jesus, but the angel Nephi that appeared to him. Later, he called him the angel Moroni. Whichever it was, the apparition showed him a buried treasure trove he was not allowed to open. This happened on September 22, 1823. Moroni told him he was chosen by God to obtain the golden plates, but it was not yet time. He told him to come back a year later, to the day. He did, and every year he was told it was not time yet. In 1827, finally, he was allowed to dig out the plates and take them home. Nobody but he was allowed to see them. The plates were written in ancient writing of Hebrew descendents who had come to America thousands of years ago and interbred with the American Indians.

Smith translated the plates, without ever letting anyone see them. This took several years. When he was done, Moroni took the plates away again and Smith published the first Book of Mormon and founded his religion. Things did not go smoothly, and the religion was persecuted and the Mormons were driven away wherever they settled, going from town to town and state to state. Eventually Smith became a Martyr when he was killed, along with his brother Hyram, by a mob of over 200 men who stormed a jail in Missouri.

His successor, Brigham Young, took over and led the flock westward, eventually ending up in Utah, building the church we have come to know today.

Joseph Smith is revered by Mormons as a prophet who receives direct revelations from God. His successors are all prophets. Mormonism is the only true church and the only religion in the history of the world that leads to eternal life in heaven, where each man will be a God, will have his own kingdom, will preside over as many wives as he likes, and will live in eternal bliss.

To keep this fairy-tale going, the church exercises rigorous control over its members, forbidding them to even read anything that is not sanctioned by the church, lest they be exposed to the devil and eternally banned from the kingdom of heaven.

A direct quote from a Mormon website:

There are many, many criticisms of Mormonism, but it all comes down to whether the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, or if it is a fake. It is the keystone of our religion – if it is a fake, so are all of our beliefs. The opposite is also true. I encourage people to be as skeptical as humanly possible when reading it. I tell them to ask themselves with every page, whether Joseph Smith, or anyone else could have made up the book, then ask God if it is true, and that somewhere between the first and last page, they will come to know with absolute surety that it is a true record. There are many theories as to the origin of the Book of Mormon. Had Joseph or anyone else written the book from ‘whole cloth’, it would have been infinitely more miraculous than the account of its divine origin, as given by Joseph Smith. As one man said ‘A wicked man couldn’t write such a book. A good man wouldn’t write it, unless he was commanded to do so.’

After all this propaganda, this is what appears to really have happened, based on records and evidence outside of the Mormon mainstream:

The Smith family was not much good for anything and young Joseph had a reputation in town of being the town magician. He would tell the future by covering his head with a hat that contained a seer-rock, a kind of crystal ball. The family was trying to make a living digging for treasures and money, which they believed was buried in the hill near their house. One day Joseph came home with a heavy wrapped  bundle and told his family that he found golden plates when digging, given to him by God, but he had to promise not to show anyone. In all the years that he had the plates, nobody was allowed to see them, but it is said that some people could feel them under a cloth. There are also affidavits from four, and then another eight people who swear they have seen them with their own eyes, but those are suspect as having been dictated by Smith himself. The fact is, Smith wrote the book of Mormon by plagiarizing large sections of the King James Bible and old Hebrew scripture, sprinkled with his own view of the world. There is no evidence that golden plates ever existed.

Smith later also obtained papyrus scrolls with Egyptian writing that he also translated into what became known as the writing The Pearl of Great Price. The scrolls were preserved and studied later, when qualified Egyptologists were available who could actually read them. Smith’s “translations” were exposed as pure nonsense with no relation to what was actually written on the scrolls. After the church clung to those papyrus translations for decades, integrating them into the doctrine, they had to weasel out from under them later, eventually editing them out of their history.

Smith appears to have created the religion to make money, and with that he succeeded. The modern Mormon Church is worth billions, and it would rank right in the middle in the Fortune 500 as a business.  With all members tithing 10% of their net income, and contributing hundreds of hours a year of free labor, that is not surprising, and old Smith would probably be amazed about its eventual success, even if he never lived to see it.

To make money for himself and his cronies, he concocted one scam after the other. He continued to dig for money for a fee using his seer-stone to “find it.” At one time he even started a bank and printed fake bank notes, known as the Kirtland Bank. The bank took people’s money and mismanaged it. When the depositors figured out the scam, Smith and his cohorts skipped town in the middle of the night, never to return. The Mormons where not persecuted  because of their religion, but because they kept scamming people, defrauding them and betraying them. Wherever they went, they were driven out by force when the locals figured out what was going on. The governor of Missouri ordered the Mormons to be “exterminated.” President Tyler charged Smith with high treason.

Smith was married to Emma Hale who was his lifelong companion. However, he liked to hit on young girls. So he filled his house with servants and maids to work. In reality, he was abusing them sexually. His wife was furious about it, but could not stem it. To justify his licentious needs, he received a revelation from God that stated that to reach heavenly bliss you needed to have lots of offspring with lots of women. He called it celestial marriage. In the end, he was “married”  to 37 women at the same time. This does not include the countless women he used and abused by way of his stature as God’s prophet.  If a young girl turned him down, she turned down God himself. Nice gig!

By seducing the daughters of his hosts, the wives of his friends and other church members, clerks and workers wherever he went, he obviously made many enemies in the male population, which, of course, contributed to the Mormons eventually being kicked out of wherever they showed up.

Contemporary descriptions of Smith’s character outside of the whitewashed Jesus-like images the church paints of him portray a deceitful, incompetent, lecherous, brutish, chauvinistic and generally unlikable man. Fraud and theft were commonplace in his dealings. Murder of adversaries, as well as apostates, ordered by him and executed by his henchmen, the Danites, was quite acceptable as a means to an end.

This was the man that announced his candidacy for U.S. President in January 1844. Rather than the martyr that the church makes him out, it should now be a little clearer why a mob of 200 men stormed the jail in Carthage and shot and killed him in 1844.

Brigham Young took over. Young, who has a university named after him, was an illiterate tyrant and, obviously, excellent leader and organizer, who kept the flock together, led them to Utah and continued building the church. Brigham Young also had a history of sexually using young girls and “marrying” them, as many as he could get his hands on.

Under governmental pressure, the church renounced polygamy in 1890, but continued to practice it clandestinely. Fundamental branches of Mormons practice polygamy to this day. The church doctrine still today states that polygamy, or the Mormon euphemism celestial marriage, is still practiced in heaven and it’s what every Mormon man can look forward to. That is, of course, at the expense of all Mormon women, who are second-class human beings, existing only to please their husbands.

Mormons, for almost two centuries, could destroy adverse evidence as it surfaced, falsify statements and rewrite “scripture” to fit their reality. But now, through the advent of the Internet and free and ubiquitous access to information for all, they don’t get away with it anymore.

There are literally thousands of anti-Mormon websites that anyone can access, and it is affecting the growth of the church. According to church records, there are over 10 million Mormons worldwide. However, skeptics doubt that this accurate, and suggest there are perhaps only 1.5 to 2 million, most of them living in Utah and surrounding areas.

There really are only three types of Mormons: Those born in the religion, those that were converted to the religion, and former Mormons, those that have left the religion.

Those that are born into the religion are obviously still fully adapted to the doctrine. They know nothing else, and since Mormonism claims that it is the only true religion that leads the follower to the celestial kingdom, the penalty of doubt is of course severe. If you have never known anything but Mormon doctrine, it must be very hard to break free. So this population will not decline rapidly. However, the average number of children per Mormon family has dropped from 4.5 to about 3.5 in recent years.

The conversion rate by Mormon missionaries has dropped rapidly. Many missions in Western Europe, where people are highly educated and increasingly secular, have closed down entirely. Missionaries used to be able to convert religious people to Mormonism by convincing them that it was the only true church and painting the rosy pictures. Now, in the process, a potential convert will read up on the church online and many times be shocked away. Conversion has gone down rapidly as a result.

More people are now leaving the church than ever before. Even Mormons themselves, those that can break the shackles of guilt and fear, will see through the charade and get out.

The church is holding on to the idea that one man found golden plates in upstate New York with Hebrew writings on them that were the true word of God. This is the foundation the entire church is built on.

To be fair, this is not that much different from the idea that there was a man named Jesus Christ 2000 years ago that did certain things almost as crazy as digging up golden plates that nobody ever saw. Fortunately for the records, this was so long ago, it is completely overgrown by the thickets of millennia of history and forever buried in mythology. Unfortunately for the Mormons, this stuff going on in the years following 1827 is still recorded in newspapers of the day, court documents, and many other records, all now exposed and available for research to anyone that is interested.

The heyday of Mormonism was years ago. The religion is now starting to burn itself out.

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