An article in the Salt Lake Tribune regarding the various accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision is circulating quickly among Mormons and non-Mormons alike today.
My first reactions are frustration and grief that most of my family, friends, and neighbors are oblivious to the fact that they are caught in a web of lies. The next emotion to surface is profound gratitude that I am NOT!
Richard J. Maynes, of the Presidency of the Seventy, stated, “Some have mistakenly argued that any variation in the retelling of the story is evidence of fabrication. To the contrary, the rich historical record enables us to learn more about this remarkable event than we could if they were less well-documented.”
Doesn’t this sound like a bit of a reach? If one of my students told me of an event that happened on the playground during recess, and then continued to change the details of that event throughout the day, I’d have a hard time believing any of the accounts. And though I’m not a lawyer, I’m quite certain that if a witness continued to omit, add, or change details of his testimony, the court would deem him an unreliable witness.
And yet, high-ranking leaders in the Mormon Church are encouraging their members to believe that the multiple conflicting unsubstantiated versions of the First Vision are evidence of a “remarkable” event! What I think is even more remarkable is that millions of people around the world are adopting that mindset as their own, rather than utilizing their own critical thinking skills. But until God stripped the blinders from my eyes, I was one of the mindless Mormon sheep who allowed the LDS leaders to do all the thinking for me.
We teach our children the importance of honesty. We expect students to be honest in regards to their homework and interactions with others. But it appears that once someone reaches the highest profile positions in the LDS church, honesty takes a backseat to public relations and financial profits. Fabrications are not only allowed, but encouraged to protect the status quo of the LDS Church as well as the reputation of its leaders, past and present.
Another link that is being shared on social media today is a quote from J.R. Holland taken from a talk he gave in Arizona last week. As he spoke these words sharply, agreeable laughter supported him from the congregation…evidence of the mind-control church leaders have over their followers.
“Don’t you dare bail. I am so furious with people who leave this church. I don’t know whether ‘furious’ is a good apostolic word. But I am. What on earth kind of conviction is that? What kind of patty-cake, taffy-pull experience is that? As if none of this ever mattered, as if nothing in our contemporary life mattered, as if this is all just supposed to be “just exactly the way I want it and answer every one of my questions and pursue this and occupy that and defy this – and then maybe I’ll be a Latter-Day Saint”?! Well, there’s too much Irish in me for that…This church means everything to me and I’m not going to leave it! And I’m not going to let YOU leave it…Stay in the boat!”
Abusers use threats like this. They intimidate people to keep them submissive. Schools have a “zero tolerance” policy regarding bullying. But it appears that some politicians and church leaders seem to get a free pass to insult and bully others in their zeal to control the masses. Is that what a self-professed apostle and follower of Christ does to emulate the Savior of the world?
Holland demands, “Don’t you dare bail.”
Christ invites, “Come follow me.” (Mark 1:17)
Holland shouts, “I’m furious!”
Christ whispers, “You are precious and honored in my sight.” (Isaiah 43:4)
Holland threatens, “I’m not going to let you leave.”
Christ instructs, “My sheep hear my voice…and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
Holland orders, “Stay in the boat!”
Christ declares, “Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Being rescued from a spiritually abusive religion and enfolded in the arms of Jesus has changed me forever. I pray for those who are still chained to the manipulations, threats, and false promises of abusive religions. May they come to find the comfort and peace I’ve found in the promises of God.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to me is greater than all; and no one will snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”