True, plain (Mormon) history – Micah McAllister

“Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying. The Lord gave this commandment to the children of Israel: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16). Jesus also taught this when he was on earth (see Matthew 19:18). There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest. “(“Chapter 31: Honesty,” Gospel Principles, 203)

Michael Quinn, an ex-LDS Historian articulated well this hypocrisy: “It is . . . my conviction that God desires everyone to enjoy freedom of inquiry and expression without fear, obstruction or intimidation. I find it one of the fundamental ironies of modern Mormonism that the General Authorities, who praise free agency, also do their best to limit free agency’s prerequisites–access to information, uninhibited inquiry and freedom of expression.”

“Church history can be so interesting and so inspiring as to be a powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer.” “There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.” “The writer or teacher who has an exaggerated loyalty to the theory that everything must be told is laying a foundation for his own judgment. The Lord made it clear that some things are to be taught selectively and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy.” “That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith -particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith -places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. Donot spread disease germs!” (Boyd K. Packer, 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271, emphasis mine)

While it is somewhat understandable why the LDS church is concerned with building faith instead of “destroying” it, the question remains that if the full version of history and events is such that faith would likely not be established when taught plainly, then perhaps it is not a foundation one would want to have faith in to begin with.
Notice that Elder Packer’s concerns are not whether truth is being taught, but whether faith is being established. Using this logic, one could freely modify and teach the history of events for any cause to recruit followers, gain power, wealth or whatever it is they are after and feel that the ends justify the means. However in the LDS church’s case, this is in clear contradiction to their own values and creed. Christopher Dawson, a distinguished scholar and author of many cultural history books, stated well the dangers of such hypocrisy: “As soon as men decide that all means are permitted to fight an evil, then their good becomes indistinguishable from the evil they set out to destroy.” When history is modified such that it only paints a positive light for any organization, it is easier for people to get warm fuzzies about it, such that they falsely think they are joining a good cause and fail to recognize or accept all of the skeletons in the closet from both the past and present. They only see and accept what the organization want them to. Unfortunately, when combining this control of information with other subtle means and tactics, the free agency and authentic identity of individuals is literally robbed from them, and their faith misplaced in a fictionalized version of the facts. As Thomas Edison so stated, “for faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction -faith in fiction is a damnable false hope.” Though facts are so often ignored and left out of LDS instruction manuals, they do not cease to exist and can be found and verified to any vigilant seeker of truth. Teaching a biased, watered down version of history is, in a very real sense, teaching fiction, spun to the benefit of the organization at the expense of the individual. Deception, lies, and cover-up are normally attributes of evil. An organization that preaches one thing but does another is not an organization worthy of loyalty or trust. The leadership of the LDS church is subject to the same commandments that they exact of their membership. Their inability to do so exposes them for the false prophets that they are.

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