A Message for Active Members of the Church

A Message for Active Members of the Church

I have a message for a lot of you “active” members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints out there.  It’s going to shock you.  It’s going to disturb you.  You’ll most likely reject it.  But you need to hear it.

Regretfully, before I proceed, I need to give you a disclaimer and proclaim my “orthodoxy” (because I know orthodoxy is important to you and that you’ll definitely want to question it later).  I go to Church.  I have a calling.  I pay my tithing.  I have a temple recommend.  I love the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And “I know the Book of Mormon is true.”  I’ve been an EQ president, served in multiple bishoprics, stake presidencies, high councils, etc., etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.  I was President Hinckley’s lawyer and thought I was a real big deal at one time.  Now that you know that I’m one of “you”—and not some disgruntled inactive or ex—please listen to my message.  But, remember, it’s going to be disturbing (and did I mention that you’ll want to judge me and question my orthodoxy later?).

I’m tired of seeing people leave the Church, take their own lives, or suffer crippling depression because they feel so alone and so isolated …

You see, a lot of you–maybe most of you–are the problem.  You’re the reason so many of our young (and old) people are leaving the Church.  And prophets in the Book of Mormon saw it coming more than a millennia ago.  You should pay attention to this message.  After all, it was written for our day.  It was written for you.  (Mormon 8:35.)  Like Moroni and Mormon of old, “I would speak unto you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ, and that have obtained a sufficient hope by which ye can enter into the rest of the Lord[.]”  (Moroni 7:3.)  So what is this message for the “active” members, those that Mormon and Moroni called “you that are of the church, that are the peaceable followers of Christ”?

“Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.”  (Moroni 7:14.)  Isn’t it interesting that those, like you, that think they “are the peaceable followers of Christ,” have an issue with condemning things that are actually good and of God?  Isn’t it interesting that you, like them, need a reminder “that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.”  (Moroni 7:18.)

Read Moroni 7 and then remember that Mormon and Moroni weren’t talking to the “bad” guys.  They were talking to the “good” guys.  They were talking to “us” not “them.”  And they said, multiple times, that we need to learn how to “lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not” (Moroni 7:19, 20, 21, 25) for “if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.” (Moroni 7:19.)  They said we tend to “judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.”  (Moroni 7:14.)

Mormon is the new Pharisee

What does this mean?  It means that a lot of the things you love, adore and idolize—the chief seats in the Conference Center (Matthew 23:6), the big important titles (Matthew 23:7-8), being seen at the temple (Matthew 23:5), your conspicuous consecration (Matthew 6:1-8)—are all things Jesus detested.

This admonition to the active members of the Church–to be careful not to “judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.”  (Moroni 7:14)–means you’re going to be shocked when you get to heaven only to find Jesus doing the moon walk with MJ, rocking out with Ozzy and Angus, hanging with hippies (and, yes, maybe even hipsters), and goofing off irreverently with little children.  Jesus hangs out with the undesireables (see John 8:1-11, Luke 9:1-10, Mark 2:13-17), the lowly and the unpretentious (Luke 18:16-17, 3 Nephi 17:11-25).  So instead of soft organs and whiteness, it’s going to be loud and colorful, which means you’re probably not going to like it.  You temple workers who admonished me (in Boise, Draper and American Fork) for back-slapping hugs … well, you might want to have a paradigm shift because, as it turns out, you’ve got it all wrong.  People are actually more important than places and piousness.

Moroni saw us active members, and this is what he said: “And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.”  (Mormon 8:36.)  Your pride and arrogance, your self-righteousness, your persecution of those who doubt or are different is corrupting the Church.  I’m not saying it.  Mormon and Moroni are.

Mormon and Moroni said you think you know what righteousness looks like but you don’t.  “For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.”  (Mormon 8:37.)  You seek the “praise of the world” (Mormon 8:39)—in fact, you love and idolize other members who are famous, and love it any time the media pays attention to one of us.  The rich and famous make the covers of our magazines and get invited to speak at firesides.  People with titles are adored and almost worshiped, which really puts the “cult” in our culture.  Even though “all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33), we are stratified and hierarchical.  We place obeisance and orthodoxy above compassion and orthopraxy.  Our culture is killing people, literally and spiritually … it has become the very thing that Mormon and Moroni foresaw and condemned.  We sorely need to repent.

“God so loved the world” and so should you.

Don’t be mad at me.  I understand.  I used to be just like you.  The only thing stiffer than my starched white shirts was my self-righteous, sanctimonious soul.  My obedience, my sycophancy, my sparkling white exterior … they rivaled them all.  I went to the temple every week and, like the Pharisee who prayed thus with himself, I thought that made me righteous.  (Luke 18:9-14.)  I wasn’t “worldly,” like I am now.  But, you see, I had it all wrong.  “For God so loved the world ….” (John 3:16.)  And now so do I.

I’m tired of seeing people leave the Church, take their own lives, or suffer crippling depression because they feel so alone and so isolated by our judgey culture that too often calls good people or good things bad just because they are different, or just because they doubt or believe differently than we do.  I’m afraid that Mormon is the new Pharisee.  I wouldn’t be so fired up about this if it wasn’t so real.  I wouldn’t care enough about this to put my neck out there and write about it if I didn’t love my Church so much, which I do.

The message of Jesus, Moroni and Mormon, and anyone else who “gets it” is that love sanctifies everything it touches.  The evil or good that God really cares about is the meekness and charity that exists within your heart.  (See Moroni 7:39-48.)  This was the message that Mormon and Moroni saw as being imperative for the “active” members of the Church in their day (and ours).  So stop judging, stop condemning (John 3:17), and start loving.  You need a change of consciousness. Relationships are more important than rules, rites and rituals.  (Matthew 5:23-24.)  “God so loved the world” and so should you.

845 thoughts on “A Message for Active Members of the Church

    1. Oh Dan, we ARE related! I find my self kicking against the pricks often. I love the gospel and have a strong testimony. I love MY Father with all of my being. I adore my Elder Brother. But it doesn’t make being a member easy with our culture. I have been very vey sickened lately as beloved friends have left the church or taken their lives. I feel we are in an epidemic. Thank you for putting these thoughts to words.

      1. Yes my dear cousins… try going through a divorce when you have been married in the temple… oh the places I could go! Love you both

      1. Idk man – what I’m about to say is probably gonna be pretty unpopular but it’s the truth: the cultural problems in the church are directly because of the doctrine, and not in spite of it. People like to say “the church is perfect, but the people aren’t.” That’s a total fantasy. The church is FAR from perfect. In fact, every single cultural problem in the church stems directly from doctrine. I’ll say it again: every single cultural problem in the church stems directly from doctrine. Perfectionism? Looking down on others? Judging people for their choices, lifestyles, etc? Saying that “true happiness can not be found outside the gospel (aka our very special true church).” Thinking they belong to the one true group on the earth, “and all others are an abomination.” All of those things can be justified from scriptures and words of prophets. And they’re not being misunderstood. The words are very plain. Oh sure, there are a few nice verses here and there that say we should love everyone and not by like Pharisees (like the ones quoted in this post) – but those are rarely emphasized by the leaders at the top. There’s enough material in “the gospel” the justify just about anything – even murder if you think about it (do Nephi or Ammon strike you as the compassionate types? They were “prophets” after all). Just look at Oaks last talk in conference. With the exception of Uchdorf, most of the leaders are still quite divisive and didactic, delivering strong hate speech cleverly disguised as pious and sacred conference addresses. “Whited sepulchres,” as Jesus said, “but inside are dead men’s bones.”

        1. I left not because I was mistreated or judged. I left because I could no longer be in a state of credulity. If you come to the realization that Mormonism has the same likelihood of being “true” as Scientology, it does not really matter how well you are treated. Thought I would share.

          1. Me too. Once again an active Mormon gets it wrong regarding those of us who are leaving. Its demonstrably false. That is why. Who cares about any other cultural ticks once you understand this. Good article though, just a secondary problem.

        2. Some observations…

          It’s a mistake to broadly categorize people, to narrowly generalize their motives, or to casually tell the stories of other people for them.

          That credentials unfortunately add weight to an argument apart from the merits of the argument. So many sound arguments will go unheard, while fallacious or otherwise inconsistent reasoning may be honored and perpetuated because of its celebrated source.

          It takes at least one of two things to keep a person in the church:
          * A sense of belonging to, and love of the culture.
          * A conviction of or resonance with the doctrine.
          With absence of both of these, there is no appeal.
          With rejection within the former, and despair of the latter, the church experience will become negative, or unfulfilling.

          We do indeed have members leaving the church in life and in death.
          Kudos to Dan for his recognition of the issue, as well as his humility and willingness to shoulder a share of responsibility.
          Most of us can relate to a cycle of pride and despair within our own selves. Our doctrine and culture are great for perpetuating that cycle. We can foolishly see ourselves as obedient.

          10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
          -James 2

          We are proud of ourselves when we do, and can’t help wanting to be seen in our glory. That not only blinds us to our true condition, but also serves as a stumbling block to others who also perceive personal righteousness as not only possible, but essential.

          We have a self-contradictory third Article of Faith. We as a people cannot contextualize works or Grace, therefore we cannot reconcile them.
          We attempt to do so by re-defining Grace.
          We have popular speakers and writers like Brad Wilcox,
          as well as Elder Holland,
          who’s words and ideas are calculated to relieve us in the spirit of the institutional “The miracle of forgiveness.”
          However, President Kimball was spot on with LDS doctrine, and there has been no renunciation of any of it.

          In reference to those who separate themselves, we tend to see others as weak or indifferent, when in truth it is often those who care so much, who are so honest with themselves or who are humble enough to recognize their own failure within the law that they feel they have no place amongst those who are outwardly doing it right, and cannot abide fellowship.
          Others have been touched by the Grace of Jesus, and as new creatures in Christ also cannot abide fellowship with the self-righteous.

          We know and trust Nephi and his sentiments from the Book of Mormon very well,

          23 …for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, AFTER all we can do.
          – 2 Ne 25

          But because of the bias of the 8th Article of Faith, we hardly know Paul or understand his teachings.

          8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
          9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
          – Ephesians 2

          “The Miracle of Forgiveness” is now out of print – mercifully so in my view.
          To all who have ever given that book to someone else who “needed it”, and to all who ever felt despair as they read some of its pages, may I be so bold as to offer a challenge?

          As an exercise in understanding why the Gospel is indeed “Good News”, open the short Book of Galatians (of the New Testament, or what I jokingly refer to as the “sealed portion”).
          Ignoring the chapter headings, copy each verse, but in your own words. Try to say the same thing, but in a different way.
          See if your understanding isn’t improved.
          See if you don’t feel justified in reclaiming your place in worship.
          See if you don’t feel ashamed in wondering why Brother or Sister so -and-so returned “like that.”
          So if you don’t feel to write and deliver your talks and lessons a little differently.
          See if our meetings become a little less about the Latter-day Saints, and a little bit more about Jesus Christ and our experience with His Grace.
          Perhaps then our worship might look more like worship, and maybe we can give a better reason for hope being within us.

          15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
          -1 Peter 3

  1. I’ve been a member of the Church for a little over six years and I absolutly love it. I was not disturbed, nor do I reject what you had to say. In fact, I agree completly! Someone who I care greatly for and who helped me in the earliest parts of my conversion, came to a point in his life where he was struggling with questions. He stepped away from the church for a bit to try and get his head around it all. The vitriol that came forth toward him and his family was disgraceful. They felt unwelcome in the Ward and have now completely isolated themselves from the Church. I hate the fact that he no longer considers me his friend because I choose to remain a member of the Church.

    I’ve been missing your posts. I’ve been following you for a few years now and it is comforting to know that I’m not alone in the way I feel. Thank you!

  2. I love this. so. much! I only want to hear more of what you have to say. Finally someone who articulates so well the thoughts and feelings that are in my heart. Thank you.

  3. Love this! And we can’t forget the 2nd great commandment – after loving God – is to love everyone else!!!!

  4. Hey Dan! Have u read The Cultural Evolution Inside of Mormonism by Greg Trimble? I liked it so much I have given away about 6 copies of it. The first chapter expresses really well what u r talking about here.
    I also really like the church’s ministering shift. I am hoping that will help with this problem. We attend church in ward that is super accepting and kind and are so grateful for that. Hope u and your family are well.
    Love, Tanya

  5. I agree and appreciate your thoughts. The main problem the church is facing today is coming to grips with a history that is less than clear. With the rise of the internet and information at our fingertips…a lot of church history that we didn’t have to address now we must.

    There are many issues that the church is going to have to struggle with and we are doing our best to address. Many difficult things. The church we know today was truly not the church that was originally formed. Much much much more mainstream today.

      1. Less than clear??? Its perfectly clear. Thats why the church is in trouble now. It was less than clear before the internet.

  6. Sorry, I don’t need to be lectured about how I’m responsible for making people leave the church! The scriptures are pretty clear that agency or free will is the pivotal principle in our lives now and before we were born. It is impossible to force someone to do anything! You cannot control a person’s acts but, you can always control how you respond to their acts! So, I exercise my free will and refuse to blame others for my problems. I choose to do the best I can and if that offends someone and they leave the church; well, I’m sorry they made that choice.

      1. Even more tragically, some people are not lost sheep but lost COINS. On this subject President McKay taught: “In this case the thing lost WAS NOT IN ITSELF RESPONSIBLE [my emphasis]. The one who had been trusted with that coin had, through carelessness or neglect, mislaid it or dropped it.… Our charge is not only coins, but living souls of children, youth, and adults. They are our charges.”

        Too often we are not merely careless or neglectful, but go out of our way to make some people feel unwelcome, that they don’t “fit in” for any of myriad reasons. For example, my bishop’s wife actually said from the pulpit recently, “If people have a problem with something the Prophet says, then maybe they should go find some other church.” (Notice you never hear that kind of talk at General Conference.)

        When people stop associating with the Church because we’ve made it too painful for them to stay, we don’t get to turn around and call them prodigals. They are lost coins, and we lost them.

      2. Anonymous too, you don’t understand that parable. Go read the words of the Prophet in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by JFS about pages 275-6.

    1. It’s not about who’s fault it is or not, it is about the arrogance that “It’s not my fault”. It about the PRIDE that you are better. You go to church, you’re a good person, you are a part of the one true church when so many are not; oh what hubris. This is exactly what the article is about. Although free will is in every human being, do you not believe that your actions could influence someone else’s free will? Why would you even take the time to argue in this post if it doesn’t matter because you can’t “control how a person acts”. Do you need to feel the guilt??? Well that depends. Not feeling guilt, and actually feeling pride that you are special because you are a true member when another could find their way are 2 very different things. Such arrogance will only breed lack of compassion and empathy, and contribute to the downfall of the church. -PS I’m an inactive member, so I’m sure my opinion doesn’t count-

      1. Well said. I agree with your interpretation of what Dan was saying in his excellent article and your insightful remarks about the hidden pride and arrogance.
        You might enjoy this article, ‘7 Signs of a Covert Introvert Narcissist’,


        Also, very much agree with your point that the notion that we are always in control as to how we process and deal with perceived offenses (a questionable argument that I’ve heard Elder David Bednar make) fails to take into account the real power of influence under various circumstances in the real world.

        Taking it to an extreme just to illustrate a point, if I’m a relatively new black member of a particular white ward before 1978 and me as the father and my family get a sense that the racial divide in this particular ward goes beyond just priesthood and temple restrictions, is it entirely my fault, my weakness and the weakness of my family, if we feel like we’re being treated lesser than and don’t really feel ourselves at the same level as the rest of the ward and as part of the larger whole.

        What if there’s a new gay convert and enough members of the ward, maybe even including the bishop, eventually betray their inner biases and make this gay person feel inferior, broken or defective.
        What if I just have honest doubts, and for that reason, am constantly treated as spiritually weaker and/or less intelligent and generally disregarded.

        And my final agreement, that pride and arrogance leave little room for true compassion and empathy and can indeed contribute to the downfall of the Church. But I’m just an inactive member like you and perhaps more like what some might consider an apostate and so I doubt my opinion will fare any better.

    2. You are those of whom he speaks. What is wrong with taking some ideas and counsel from a brother who obviously has the right to his opinion, my goodness all it was is an article. I welcome learning something new everyday and taking what may apply and letting go of the rest. The church is not perfect, the gospel of Jesus Christ is perfect. Remember, Jesus is the keeper of the gate and he employeth no servants there.

  7. this is a character problem with the individual not a church issue. The church nor any other church does not teach or condone poor unkind behavior. In fact they teach love the sinner not the sin. You are scripturally read, but spiritually missing the whole point..

    1. It is a culture problem. You are right that the church doesn’t condone these activities, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a church issue. The Vatican doesn’t condone child molestation by priests, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a catholic issue. Islam claims to be a religion of peace, yet won’t change it’s culture of Jihad. Now I’m not implicating that the church’s issue is anywhere near as bad as those things, but this is an issue that needs to be addressed continuously until the culture changes. It’s not just individuals, it is a culture of elitism that exists.

    2. While your remarks might have some partial truth basis with respect to the fundamental teachings and ideology of most religious institutions, particularly Christian Churches including the LDS, in my opinion you fail to consider the reality of mixed and negative messages (intentional or otherwise) and how they are understood.

      Just to offer one quick example, I don’t doubt that Brigham Young and those Church leaders under him, taught the Utah membership, as you said, to show love and kindness towards their fellow man. But within the same religious framework, I also believe that he, Brigham Young made it clear that the Church had enemies and needed to be protected.

      While we could argue the point of whether Brigham was in any way responsible for the Mountain Meadows Massacre, where 120–140 members of the Baker–Fancher wagon train were murdered but I highly doubt that the group of Mormon men who carried out this heinous crime, were not in some way influenced by Young’s, ‘protect Zion from the enemy’ rhetoric and similarly from those leaders below him.

      I would like to think the early Christian Church, long before Joseph Smith’s restoration, did “not teach or condone poor unkind behavior” but as I suspect was the case of Brigham Young, the things that were taught and delivered, were mixed, not always done so perfectly and not without exception. Otherwise the blame for people being accused of being witches and heretics and burned at the stake, and foreign natives being viewed as heathen savages that needed to be converted or killed, always fell solely on the members, never the Church.

      History shows that the reality of what the Church teaches at various times and it’s influence at other times are not always in perfect harmony with the gospel or always achieving those ideological results.

      Below is just one example of a prominent LDS Church leader in affect creating a characterization that may not always be valid but because of his leadership position, inevitably some members will have painted in their minds a fixed picture of someone like myself that is not accurate or helpful and at times can even be harmful to the portrayed individual and/or his or her family.

      In summary, I would contend that it is you who perhaps is, “scripturally read, but spiritually missing the whole point..”

  8. Doctrine and Covenants 112: 23-28 with emphasis on:

    25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
    26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

    I have a lot of feelings that I could share about this post, Dan, especially having grown up as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in southern Missouri, and currently living in Blackfoot, Idaho. But I will leave it to this. The Resurrected Lord in His revelation above, addressed perfectly what you describe in your article, will be the RESULT of such behavior.

    It is not my place to judge whether you are right or wrong in what you’ve said, but thank you for reminding us that, “May God be thanked for the Matchless Gift of His Divine Son.”



  9. Doctrine and Covenants 112: 23-28, with emphasis on:

    25 And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord;
    26 First among those among you, saith the Lord, who have professed to know my name and have not known me, and have blasphemed against me in the midst of my house, saith the Lord.

    I have a lot of feelings that I could share with you Dan, regarding your article above. I especially am emotional having grown up in southern Missouri as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints versus growing up behind “the Zion curtain.“ And I currently live in Blackfoot, Idaho which add to my emotions. But I will simply leave it at this:

    In His revelation cited above, the resurrected Lord states exactly what will happen to those described in your article, particularly our own members, as a result of their behavior.

    I will not currently put myself in a position to conclude whether you are correct or incorrect in your assertions above. But I will thank you for reminding us that, “May God be thanked for the Matchless gift of His Divine Son.”

    PS. I am sorry that you have been hurt.



  10. Thank you so much for saying this. I’ve especially noticed this since I got divorced. It’s strange what happens to you when you are divorced, but part of an eternal marriage, family focused religion. You become conspicuous. You become a service project and a subject discussed in meetings. You start to doubt people’s sincerity. You go to church and are immediately overwhelmed by people who probably mean well but who don’t realize you just want to sit, unnoticed, and listen. You don’t fit in anywhere so you start pulling away. You believe the gospel; you just don’t fit the mold. It becomes easier to just disappear. Then they sic the missionaries on you. You know the lessons. You’ve heard them your entire life and don’t need the visits. Being clear water in a very “kool aid” culture is not easy. I love the gospel, but hate the culture. It’s become strange and in-genuine. You’ve nailed it Dan. I wish more of us could see how we, as a group, appear to others.

  11. You may not agree with this post. You may not see yourself in this post. But if you don’t know what he is talking about, or see some of this in yourself, you have a pride problem. If you don’t see the piety in your elder’s quorum, it is probably you that is pious. If you think the ‘mid-mormon’ is the problem, YOU are the problem. We are all mid-mormons. We ALL need the atonement. Even those of us who are seen in the Temple every week. Maybe especially those of us who are seen in the Temple every week.

    1. While these things might not necessarily apply to all Latter-Day Saints, at least not to the same degree, I do really like the summary you gave in your last 3 sentences.
      Indeed, we are ALL ragamuffins, who need the Saviour’s atonement.

  12. Dan, you have it all wrong. We don’t leave the church because of the people or culture. We leave because of the doctrine and because of the lies. The culture is a product of those two things. We aren’t allowed to question because the church history doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. We aren’t allowed to be gay because the doctrine creates a culture of intolerance. It’s not the people’s fault they were instilled with that intolerance by leaders. The intolerance was preached from the pulpit – first about blacks, then about gays, etc. Don’t let the leaders off the hook by blaming those who follow them. That is a sign that you just can’t face the reality that all the bad press, all the stuff that goes on in the church that is obviously wrong, the insanely high suicide rate in Utah, etc is a direct result of leaders and doctrine. The church can’t hide behind their curated narrative anymore. The cat is out of the bag. Joseph Smith was a complete and utter fraud, as are the current leaders. The history proves it. The current “revelations” and teachings prove it further.

    1. There are bad people everywhere. If the church is to blame for suicides, why are states not ranked by church populus by state? There are many causes of suicide, and though LDS doctrines may be part of the reason, why does that make the church leaders responsible? The cat is out of the bag? Does that mean you ran away and won’t return? Does that mean you no longer tolerate me? If I disagree with you that the Book was written by inspiration that I’m of the devil? Or just ignorant. Maybe I’m just more tolerant of the mistakes early Saints made than you are. I, and you, preach tolerance, but you seem to have less of it than I do.

      1. Oops, I inadvertently let my last comment in response to Bryant, slip away and it got posted before I was finished and now I seem unable to go back and edit.

        So following the thread of my earlier response;
        Current leaders might be flawed some, each in their own way, just like the rest of us, but certainly the label of “utter fraud(s)” is not a fair or accurate characterization, in fact in the case of most, if not all Church leaders, I still believe the general opposite. At times they might possibly be misguided and maybe even a little bit self-deluded and less than totally honest and transparent in some respects, but that is perhaps the very worst I could say.

        With regards to Joseph Smith, I’ll simply add this quote from Josiah Quincy, the pioneer mayor of Boston (1845) which quote, for me, reflects much of my own personal feeling about Joseph Smith.

        “Fanatic, imposter, charlatan, he may have been; but these hard names furnish no solution to the problem he presents to us. Fanatics and impostors are living and dying every day, and their memory is buried with them; but the wonderful influence which this founder of a religion exerted and still exerts throws him into relief before us, not as a rogue to be criminated, but as a phenomenon to be explained.

        The most vital questions Americans are asking each other today have to do with this man and what he has left us…. A generation other than mine must deal with these questions. Burning questions they are, which must give a prominent place in the history of the country to that sturdy self-asserter whom I visited at Nauvoo.

        . . . If the reader does not know just what to make of Joseph Smith, I cannot help him out of the difficulty. I myself stand helpless before the puzzle.”

        — Josiah Quincy, mayor of Boston (December 11, 1845 – January 1, 1849)
        (Figures of the Past From the Leaves of Old Journals (Boston, 1883), p. 376-400)

    2. AMEN
      Lies are the tools of the minions, 1/3 the host of heaven.
      An article like this has 99% truth and slips in one little lie or two.
      Pursuit to do good – blessing – aka Love
      Pursuit to do harm – cursing – aka evil (pursuit to criticize, make feel bad…)
      Not pursuing to do anything – the contrary to both – also evil.
      BE NICE.
      not live and let live <– evil

      1. I found it a challenge to follow and clearly understand the concluding point of your comment.
        Wish you had more clearly defined the specific “little lie or two” that you say the article “slips in”?

    3. Bryant, I can definitely agree with and relate to some of your points, i.e., that the culture is largely a product of the Church’s leadership, the teachings and controlling demands and the stifling of those who just want more truth and transparency, etc.
      However, I find hard labels such as “complete and utter fraud” applied to Joseph Smith and current leaders, are, in my opinion, neither entirely true nor entirely helpful.

    4. If by their fruits ye shall know them… the statistics of Utah should tell you all you need to know….highest rate of teen suicide, depression, pedophilia, and on and on. Ya ain’t it great?

  13. It’s not just a people problem, it’s not just a culture problem. The church has painted itself into a corner, and with it, all the believing members. If people are expected to dedicate their life to the organisation, obey the counsel of the leaders, and their family’s not only temporal but eternal welfare depends upon it, you can expect some very bad behavior, unkind behavior, harmful behavior. The system is sick.

    1. I wonder why those who have left insist on coming back to poke at us. All we ask is to be tolerated as we tolerate their insults and accusations, assuming that we are here because of ignorance or laziness. I don’t go on their sites and poke them for being evil or corrupt or lazy. Leave us to worship as we please. It is my issue if “it is I”.

        1. Quite the opposite. I’m a devoted Libertarian and firmly believe most of us get what we choose. I can’t recall a single event in my life where I felt the victim. Oops, there was one, when in third year of medical school, when an intern told me that my family was too important to me and that I would never make it in medicine. I felt victimized, but in a way, was glad that she recognized that fact. If there were a Victim Olympics, I would want to be there at the finish line to help those fallen (or the winners, I can’t figure out which ones you are talking about) recover from their Victim Victory… whatever that may look like

      1. The world: Blacks should be offered the same opportunities as everyone else. Steve: Stop poking us! It’s God’s word, not ours! It’s His fault! Stop poking us!

      2. Primarily because “the Mormon Church” refuses to leave others alone; whether it be religion, politics, local customs etc. Until they back off…we’re going to give as good as we get.

      3. Those who leave? I am still part of my community which is very much Mormon. It is my heritage, it makes up friends and family. I am still a living, breathing, person inseparably connected to forty years of believing Mormonism. The “just leave” is a groupthink fallacy. Break it, please, it does not contribute to healthy ongoing relationships.

  14. I love the comments — they are a good example of the diversity of opinions that should be allowed to exist. Not trying to disuade further comments here. I had the thought of President Uchtdorf’s (at the time he was a member of the church’s first presidency) talk “Lord, is it I?”. I agree with what was posted by Dan, no disrespect to anyone. I also feel like i need to pay more attention to how I may be the one Dan was talking about, so I don’t lose sight of the dandelions in my own yard while looking at those in the yard’s of others’. Just sharing this in case it may help someone else not forget to check themselves before pointing the finger at someone else. Again, I agree with what was said — I have seen this in many others around me. I’m just also trying to make sure this isn’t in myself. Love you all:)

  15. I love the message, that it is ultimately about love and how we treat each other. In the end, it won’t matter which church/group/organization you belong to. It will be about how you loved, walked with, and treated those around you. Churches, unfortunately, are organizations created by men. As you quoted from Moroni 8, all churches have become polluted. Not just some, not just every other church (except the LDS church), ALL CHURCHES. Church can help point people to God, but they never should replace HIM.

  16. Good for you for saying it like it is, well at least in your experience and opinion. I’m a convert from back east and that is how we roll. However, I live in Draper (older neighborhood) and I work at the Draper temple, and yes I have a loud Italian voice so I get what you are saying. The plastic part of my neighborhood, both in heart and in body, may have a hard time with your bluntness. Judging is really two-fold. You are judging those that you say are judging so the message is for everyone. Active, inactive, non members and perhaps especially those that sit on their tower and pray for those less fortunate then themselves. But there are those that give their hearts, talents and time to serving others. I choose to surround myself around those people, positive, uplifting people who help me to follow Jesus. I hope your article finds those people because heaven knows we dont need anymore judging from either side. #umatter #holdmeup #leaveittome #changetheworld

  17. I am more comfortable with the way the apostles dealt with these issues in General Conference in recent years than the way they are dealt with in this article. As far as slapping people on the back in the temple, that is simple irreverence. There is a time and place for showing that form of loving expression, but the temple is not the place nor the time. As a convert from California, I was warned when we moved to Utah that “Utah Mormons” are “different.” After two years in Spanish Fork I have not seen much difference than when I was in other parts of the U.S., Asia, or Europe (ten years). I appreciate your attempt to help all of us be more Christ-like. I am not comfortable with the broad-stroke attack on what President Packer called the ordinary members of the church. Most everyone I know is trying the best they can according to the knowledge they have. Sometimes we do not know what to say or how to act in a giving situation. Please allow us the opportunity to grow and learn, line upon line.

    1. I didn’t realize that back-slapping hugs in the temple is a “simple irreverence” no-no. But then,
      I haven’t been in the temple since the final days of when making the signs of the brutal self-inflicted death penalty gestures was still part of the endowment ceremony.

      Anyway, in this context, thinking about Christ in the New Testament, below are just a few of his deeds and words that help convince me that Dan, is on the right track when he says, “People are actually more important than places and piousness.”

      I think about the Jesus who defends his disciples when they were plucking corn on the sabbath day.

      “But he said unto them, Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him;
      How he entered into the house of God, and did eat the shewbread, which was not lawful for him to eat, neither for them which were with him, but only for the priests?” — Matthew 12:3-4

      And when he says, “It is not what goes into a man from outside that can make him unclean. It’s what comes out of him that makes him unclean.” — Mark 7:15

      The first will be last and the last first. — Mark 10:31

      You can take it as you wish, but this to me is not a “broad-stroke attack” but rather an honest effort to deliver a broad-stroke important lesson on what really matters most.

      I’ve been in the Church for 40+ years and I’ve seen both the good and bad within Mormonism. While there may be many members who are honestly doing the best they can, and doing a marvelous job, it still doesn’t mean there isn’t a real general problem that needs addressing.

  18. Human love will always be suspect. Acts Chapter One and every instance in the Book of Mormon where a conversion happened ought to be a clue how godly love is obtained. Mortals can put up a good show and a robust community can carry some weight. A perfect society can only come when that which is perfect is added to our fallen natures. They we can endure all things and hope in all things and endure in all things. A message like Dan’s is a thoughtful pause on a path towards obeying the commandment of Jesus Christ to obey and forsake the world, laying down our life, pride, ambitions, vanity, greed, hypocrisy and malice, to become a new creature.

    For all those chained to the leaders, leaders who never teach Acts Chapter One and who tell everyone to read the Book of Mormon yet never quite manage to focus on the entire point of why Jesus laid down his life to give us a new heart from God, to make of us a new creature by God’s power doing it, and why exactly is it that leaders refuse to do so. It is because NONE of them ever went in and they forbid any to enter in at the door to the true sheepfold. That is all that needs to be considered. The tradition of Mormonism became its own. A craft of men and not of God. If they were of God then they would lead us to obey God . They never have and it is everlastingly too late to expect them too in the abundance of their delicacies that they delight in. Upper most is the envy they relish of those they lead. ARGUE THIS.

    1. I have yet to hear a single conference talk that does not advocate following Christ and reading scriptures, not to mention daily prayer. James. you need to be intellectually honest before posting your unfounded criticism mixed with soured spirit. And I just wonder why you post here to poke at our views. Let us worship as we choose and you worship as you choose. Leave it alone and post elsewhere. If you post here, be tolerant of the views those here have. I won’t argue anything, but I will defend truth when needed. And correct your spelling if you want me too [sic] do that to[sic]

      1. Steve scolded that I am not intellectually honest and that my criticism is unfounded with a sour spirit. Well, my good fellow here is a quote from Dallin H Oaks that you might choke on.
        (speaking of Alma the Younger’s. what he calls, a ‘startling experience’ Elder Oaks said at a multi-stake youth fireside January 23, 2016 in Bellevue, Washington: “I have never had an experience like that and I don’t know anyone among the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve who have had that kind of experience.”

        If you cannot comprehend that he just disenfranchised the entire first quorums of the Church, leaving them without a foundation in Christ Jesus. testifying none of them having ever been truly born again by the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost…..which is what he lightly called Alma’s ‘startling experience’ then you are not one to judge my criticisms.

        They do not know the gospel. Why? Because they were all their lives busy learning the ways of the world and never took thought to forsake the world and come unto Christ with full purpose of heart that he might heal them, make them new creatures, indeed make them prophets.

        1. What he said was that none of the current twelve had a single moment of conversion, but rather moment-to-moment changes of their lives. If you want to believe that none of the twelve have a testimony, or have reason to, then move on. But if you stay, I
          would ask you to leave the contentiousness and arrogance at the door. This is a forum for discussion of love and its intersection with members trying hard to get thru difficult lives. If you want to poke at members, please go find your kind. We are trying to be loving and accepting, and if you are not, then head for the door.

  19. I am a greeter at my ward and talk to people in that area. In the past year or so, I have heard no one speak ill of one another. I am sad to read that that is not so church-wide.

  20. Very well written insight that I’ve noticed for a while. I think there are areas of the world where this happens worse than others, but it happens to some extent most places. My only quibble is with the phrase, ‘Mormon is the new pharisee.’ That seems to indicate that Mormon the prophet is a pharisee, when he wasn’t. I think you meant (though I may be wrong) that ‘Cultural Mormons are the new pharisees.’ At least, that’s the way I would phrase it.
    Thank you. Ordinances are important, but they mean nothing if we treat others — ANY others — with contention, condemnation, or condescension.

  21. Thank you, very well written. I’m one of the fallen ones. The culture of the church drove me away. It was the last place I felt like I could go for acceptance and a sense of community. Once I started asking questions, “Why can ordinances change? Did God give the wrong revelation the first time?” I was totally ostracized. I was pretty prideful of my righteousness as well. I studied ardently and it bothered me that no one in the church actually seemed to read the scriptures, let alone study them. I left the church and found community elsewhere. I feel the judgment more than ever but have learned to operate living in Utah in a sphere where I am comfortable. Just trying to be the best dad I can and have integrity in my career and raise good kids. I’m sure I’m a horrible person because of it. Just trying to work hard. I cannot imagine ever going back.

    1. I wonder what your answer was to your own question of why ordinances change. I wonder that too. Did the temple ordinance change because it needed to be shorter to fit in with our convenience-oriented lives? Did 18-month missions fail as an experiment or was it a misread revelation? I choose to believe that the ordinances change in the same way that the offspring of Lehi changed over the next thirty generations (commandments changed form obedience-oriented ones of the Jews to more loving-atonement-forgiveness ones of 3 Nephi days) and that changes reflect US more than changes in ‘truth’

    2. Love to you brother! There is nothing wrong with asking questions, but it can make some people uncomfortable if they don’t know the answers. I used to ask my parents all kinds of questions about the church. It was always shocking to me that they didn’t think to ask those questions themselves! I’ve been in the church for over thirty years and I still have lots of really good questions. Keep asking those questions and seeking the answers and God will guide your faith journey. God bless!

  22. I appreciate the sincere sentiments shared here. I would point out that unless you have sat in a ward council meeting, or a RS presidency mtg, etc., I don’t think you can judge church leaders either. How does the divorced sister KNOW she’s a “project”? How does anyone KNOW that service extended to them is not motivated by genuine caring? We as a Church are a bunch of flawed individuals, but the clear message of the Gospel is (and always has been) to love and serve our fellow earth occupants. How we accomplish that may be problematic, but we can keep on working on getting better at it.

  23. Powerful stuff and so true.

    Jesus didn’t say to Thomas, “get away from be you doubter, you’re going to hell.” He said “blessed are you because you have seen, blessed are they who have believed without seeing.”

    The absence of bad is merely a terrestrial life. How much good am I actually doing today? I don’t know that some days I do that much beyond my family. And some days I don’t even do good towards them. But a celestial life is not content to bless their family alone, but anxiously goes about seeking to bless the ‘whole human race’ as Joseph Smith put it.

  24. Another way to look at it is to use our imaginations.

    For the Pharisees, eating corn, healing, etc. on the sabbath were their looking beyond the mark. If Jesus showed up among us today, what would he do to teach and test if we are looking beyond the mark? Wear a non white shirt to church, with no tie? Drive a crappy old beater car? Visit inactive rebellious neighbors instead of us?

  25. Well, Dan. You are right about this, of course. I applaud your courage, and you have my respect. I wonder, though, if you realize that, as you say Moroni and Mormon were talking to “the good guys”, the active members, that this implies that those who, for whatever reason, are no longer active members, are “the bad guys”. I wonder if you realize that when you talk about MJ, and Ozzie and Angus, and hippies, and even hipsters and then say in the very next sentence that Jesus hung out with “undesirables” – that MJ and Ozzie and Angus and hippies and hipsters are thus “undesirable”. I wonder if you realize that.

    I left the church almost 4 years ago. Was “Phariseeism” the reason”. Yeah, I guess – some form or manifestation of phariseeism. Did I lose my testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as described in the Bible and the Book of Mormon and many, many other writings, and as taught to me by the Savior Himself? No, I did not. I left the church because I began to realize that the CHURCH did not have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ – that the CHURCH worshiped the church, and its leaders, and even the scriptures, more than they did Christ Himself.

    How does this tie in to your discussion? The phariseeism that you describe is the ievitable result of the church having lost its testimony of the gospel, and having transferred that loyalty to the institution in all its many manifestation – the culture, the doctrine (which far exceeds the doctrine of Christ as described in the BOM), the buildings, the temples, the leaders, the “mission”, the history, the “us against them” mentality. I was there. I know what it’s like. Once that testimony is lost – it must be replaced, and it will be replaced by a gospel of man.

    Dan, there is no church on the earth that teaches the gospel of Christ. They have all been corrupted by men. If Joseph were to have that vision today, he would be told to join none of them. We must approach Christ individually, and know HIM, and THEN, perhaps, those who do can come together as a church – perhaps even Zion. But to expect a church to lead people to Christ – well, it’s just not scriptural, and it will always – ALWAYS – lead to phariseeism – the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

    Again – I applaud and respect you for your courage. Perhaps you will take it to the next step – whatever that may be. I hope that whatever that step is, it will bring you closer to Christ.

    1. — Scootd28,
      I loved your response! In my opinion, it’s one of the most spot on descriptive summaries of how I myself, personally see some critical aspects of the Church, less about the gift of grace, salvation through the atonement of Jesus Christ and as you said, more about the LDS institution and temple worthy works. It’s almost like the Church has become a saviour unto itself, while still professing the atonement of Christ.

      Although I see the Church getting better in this respect (maybe taking a hint or two from its Christian neighbors) and perhaps evolving, I still see a certain amount of unhealthy ‘covert, introvert, narcissism’.

      I’ve copied your comment and if you don’t mind, may use some of your words, to help me express how I see some things that are LDS.

        1. — Scootd28,
          I don’t know about royalties since I doubt I’ll ever get a book published but if you do, on this general topic, I’ll buy it and help promote it. 🙂

  26. There are multiple reasons that people become distant from the church. The excellent talk you quoted from David O. McKay addresses several of them, plus the responsibility both of the one feeling separated, and of the members. He gave the talk in April 1945. You can read it in its entirety online at the LDS Scripture Citation Index.

    One important thing to note is what Mormon said to the faithful church members in the ten verses between the ones you quoted– the WAY to judge. The whole chapter, known most often as the chapter on charity, has a greater focus on how to judge righteously than it does oon love — because doing so is essential to personal growth.

    Immediately preceding the warning you quoted we find this:

    “the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
    But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.”
    Then the verse you gave:
    “WHEREFORE, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil…”

    It’s not a warning to not judge, but to be observant and notice which things invite people to become more like the Sinless One, and to notice what entices people to sin.

  27. Not many people post their own quotes on their sites. Huh.
    Ya so in general I agree with the message, but the part about the Savior rocking out with Angus and such just doesn’t seem appropriate with the sacred character of who He is and IMO is disrespectful and irreverent. But then I’m probably a pharisee….so there ya go! Reading the above comments brings mixed emotions of sadness for those who have left their faith and wanting to “defend” things…but nothing we say here really changes anyone’s opinions. Still don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to just let members believe as they wish. If you choose to leave please don’t take it as your mission to save all the other deluded souls still attending church. That is their choice, whatever their motivation.

    1. “Still don’t understand why it’s so hard for people to just let members believe as they wish.”

      David, do you mean like the army of 60,000+ Mormon missionaries who, among other things, regularly convert people from other faiths, even from other Christian faiths and the active members who listen to their General Authorities and Church leaders (every member a missionary, etc.) and do their part in sharing the LDS restored gospel with their family, friends and neighbors and through social media and Mormon blogs, etc.? Do you mean like the Church that spends millions of dollars every year in top grade commercial ads, proselytizing and PR?

      1. If we think we have something good to say, why not say it? If we are commanded to let all the earth know who Joseph was, and Nelson is, what are we to do if not be obvious. We ask to be allowed to worship as we please, and offer the same to others. No ad for a politician you don’t agree with forces your vote. No missionary drags the unconvinced to the waters. No home teacher forces you to a meeting. But we ask that those leaving, do so in their own peace. I hope you found yours. I honor those who leave, but feel for the hurt they must feel that triggered their departure.

        1. Steve, I never want to broad-brush Church leaders or members as all being the same. We’re all unique and different in some ways. And I realize that we’re all human and all have our good days and bad days.

          Having said this, I’m a little tired of the very innocent sounding, ‘we just want to be left in peace, to worship as we please’ argument’. While I totally support all people of all faiths, in this basic human right, I think too often, it’s perverted and then used as a shield and a way to silence people with an honest story to tell and to demonize honest critics who just want to get at the truth.

          “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”

          ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

          Secondly, I’m also tired of Church leaders not being held responsible, at least in some measure, for the “spiritual arrogance married to a persecution complex”, that seems such a common thread in the Church, some parts, more so than others.

          You show a bit of sensitivity in your words and I do appreciate that but at the same time I want to take this opportunity to offer an example of a couple of prominent Church leaders being arguably less sensitive in their sweeping characterization of those who leave the Church, even the honest ones who simply wanted to get at the truth and nothing else.

          This video for me, shows that at least some of the pride and arrogance can be attributed, at least in part, to some of the leadership at various times throughout Church history.

          1. But, you forgot to listen to the full explanation of why they said this. They are talking about outside critics of the Church. It doesn’t matter what they say or do, because the gospel of Jesus Christ will roll forth according to the Plan of Salvation.

          2. The video is fallacious and disingenuous. The two concepts, parable of the lost sheep and parable of the caravan presented in the video are not in any way contradictory. People will choose to leave Christ’s Church, and the proverbial predators will devour them. Is the video trying to suggest that members of the church can force people not to leave? It’s all metaphorical and individual choice is just that, individual choice. As somebody who has spent many, many hours going out and inviting the proverbial “lost sheep” back and being told to pound sand time and time again. Approaching the people who are about to be devoured metaphorically when they leave the caravan and warning them not to go and again being told to mind my own business. And watching as they still choose to do so. Is the person in the video suggesting that I am not Christlike simply because the caravan parable actually does happen and plays out in real life. That because people do leave the caravan and fall into apostasy or in other words are devoured, that the Apostle giving the warning through the parable is not Christlike for issuing the warning? It all hinges around individual choice. There are many other parables that Christ shared that illustrate this. The prodigal son, the father did not go after his son, he waited for him to come back and when he did he welcomed him. The wheat and tares, the tares being separated out and then destroyed. Hardly a Christlike thing to burn somebody. The seeds being sown and the different types of ground, and most of the seeds dying. Is the sower not Christlike because all of the seeds sown did not grow. The ten virgins, the wise ones refused to share and the bridegroom rejected those who did not have their own oil. Hardly loving and Christlike and yet a very stark example that Christ, while he taught love and compassion, and while he taught our responsibility to try and help others be saved, it is ultimately an individuals choice what they will do with their agency. Somebody who doesn’t believe in the Church as Christ’s church will see it as arrogance from these leaders. But if it is Christ’s church, then it is simply disciples of Jesus Christ providing warnings to those who may think about leaving the caravan and what will happen if they do. Picking one parable, and then comparing it to one statement made by two individuals, and right off blatantly misrepresenting intent of the speakers. But add to that the ignoring of literally thousands of total hours of teaching from these and other church leaders, all about finding the lost, ministering and serving and helping and trying to bring back those that are lost. To ignore all of that and focus on this small sliver of statement is not only intellectually lazy but intellectually dishonest. And only shows the maker of this video is intentionally trying to be deceitful.

  28. Your message has me crying; tears of joy and tears of sorrow. I had to leave the Church in 1995 because of my choice in life partner, and my soul has been empty incomplete since that day. I love our Savior and I love the Gospel but I can’t worship and I can’t enjoy the blessings of the Temple anymore because of the person that I love, the person that I wish I could spend eternity with. But I now eel great joy because you love and accept me, whether I’m of God or of the Devil. Thank you 💞

  29. I love this! Reminds me of what my Dad always told us growing up… “The church is true despite of the members!” Sad but true! The older I get the more I realize how many members are in the “great and spacious building” all the while thinking they are holding “tight to the rod.” I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in this position before…. 😥

  30. I’m not a hugger but I was chastised in the temple a number of times for daring to speak in the celestial room. Though we are told that is the only place we can discuss deep doctrines, in reality it is only a place to take a nap, wonder how much the chandelier costs, or listen to tragic people crying. I suppose this is a special combination of mixed up doctrine and culture but it’s a little microcosm of why I left.

    1. How about being quiet because people, who are going through difficult things are praying? That’s where I go to pray.
      Just walk to a place away from others and talk quietly, please. Someday you may need the quiet solitude the temple (hopefully) brings. It isn’t self-righteousness.
      And maybe try to think about something other than the cost of the chandelier. You may find that your attitude changes.
      I know, I know… because I speak the truth, I am self-righteous.

      1. Jim, you almost make it sound like the temple is the only place where one can have focused and meaningful prayer. My reading of Church history leads me to believe that some of Joseph Smith’s most powerful communications with God were done outside the temple, i.e., the first vision experience in the woods, many answered prayers in his home and arguably his greatest “temple” experience and some of his deepest prayers answered, in the Carthage jail.

        I’m all for respecting the temple environment and those who wish for peaceful, meditative and prayer focusing quiet, but I think most people in the temple do understand that and try to respect those wishes, even if not, quite perfectly. But when the temple becomes such a sterile sanctuary, an exclusive go-to-holy-place for prayers to be heard and answered, then my concern follows what Dan has said, that the building and the piety within it can become more important and more beautiful than the people in it.

        The vast majority of the time, most of the people in the world, who need God the most, who might be in a chaotic crisis or suffering in agony, are not afforded the luxury of a quiet, beautiful temple during their desperate hour of need.

        Those people will have no choice but to cry out to Him in desperate prayer, trusting and believing that they can call upon Him, almost anywhere and at any time, regardless of possible distractions and have that sacred portal there when they need it. It just takes faith and focus. A stressed and heartbroken mother praying for her children in a noisy crisis can know just as Joseph Smith did, that the focused prayer can bring the temple (God portal) to wherever one might happen to be. Quiet or otherwise.

  31. Self righteous people come in many different forms, those who are and those who call others out, for it.
    I agree with much of what you are saying, and much I do not. We can all do better! I resent the “YOU, YOU, YOU,” I don’t know you but I know YOU are not perfect.
    Oh, and by the way… the back slapping in the temple, and being called out for it, is so the grieving widow, or the person with a terminal disease, who needs a little time to commune with God in a holy place, is not disturbed in their personal meditation. It is not about the temple building itself. The worker has been instructed to discourage “back slapping noise” for that reason, she is not being self-righteous. I resent the implication that they have a “holier-than-thou attitude. They are just volunteers.
    I have a suggestion. Look for the members who love and serve out of kindness, look for those who volunteer in the community on a regular basis, try and notice those who are compassionate to others no matter their circumstance, belief, habits, or their intolerance. Those who try to include the lonely, and be kind to the stranger. There are so many because I know many, of them personally.
    BTW…. your article would be better if you didn’t reiterate how tolerant YOU are, and you left out the “I used to be like that” parts. We are all sinners.

    1. Hi Julia, I’m Rui Belo and I saw your comment after I responded to a somewhat similar comment from Jim, so I hope you don’t mind my referring you to that same response that I offered him, posted above yours.

      Dan’s article begins with, “I have a message for a lot of you…”. Not please, that he didn’t say all of “YOU”.

      Having read many of his insightful articles and two of his inspiring books, and having communicated a number of times, one on one with him, I am thoroughly convinced he is NOT at all, the self righteous kind of person that parts of your comment seem to suggest.

      To the contrary, I find him humble, honest, brilliantly insightful and a very caring individual (I think of him as the outlaw apostle) who simply wants to help all people to love like Christ did. I can see where you might find him judgemental in this article (although I do not share your view) but if you knew him as well as I’d like to think I know him, you might come to see that he is simply being his wonderful bold self and simply delivering his honest message with the clear conviction of so many of his other articles..

      I’d encourage to read more of his material, I think you might then judge him somewhat differently and see this latest article from a more positive perspective.

  32. His problem is assuming most members are like this. And he has a bit of a problem doing what he claims others are doing. It’s a problem some fundamentalists fall into. Not saying he’s some extremist fundamentalist. But he’s actually using the same scriptures that groups like Denver Snuffer uses (a group that claims the Church has fallen into apostasy). BTW Mormon 8 is not necessarily for the Church.

    Sure, there’s truth to his points for subgroups of members. There are fundamentalist members that judge others harshly. Dogmatists. Literalists. They exist in every religious and political group. The bane of my existence. What I strive to fight against in Latter-day-Saintism. It just doesn’t help that the author jumped the gun into labelling all or most members like that. I find that the majority of “active” members are great quiet “peaceful followers”, not the judgmental pricks that the author seems to see every where he looks.

    Furthermore, Mormon and Moroni said a lot more than what he is focusing on, about the goodness of God’s Saints and Church. In the very chapter the author uses, Moroni says,

    “But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness”

  33. I love you everyone, not sufficient testimony, but i know our Father in Heaven & Jesus Christ is real, as far as i know, i will keep his commandments thats all i know, and i love thee.

  34. When I was younger I worked in law enforcement and worked overnight shifts. I did not make it to church often because by the time 11am church rolled around I was exhausted from working all night and ready for bed. When I did make it to church one Sunday and went to give my tithing envelope to a member of the bishopric I was basically told I need to make a better effort to come to church. So I was doing my best and was still told I wasnt good enough. It wasnt the only thing that happened but it was definitely a major point in why I no longer go to church. If I am going to be judged when I am trying my best, whats the point?

    1. The point is that you are there to worship HF and Jesus Christ and renew your covenants, not to please any person. It is extremely disappointing that the bishopric member said something thoughtless. But I have found that people do awful things. Christ never does or did. I worship Him, not them. They will hopefully learn to do better.

  35. “Love one another as Jesus loves you. Try to show kindness in all that you do. Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought. For these are the things Jesus taught.”
    This is what the church has always taught.

    1. That plus reject the gay couple in your midst and refuse blessings and baptisms of their children. Jesus taught “Suffer the little children and forbid them not to come unto me. The “church” teaches “Suffer little children. Can you see the difference?

  36. Love it! I agree that the scope of the problem varies from Ward to Ward, and sometimes Stake to Stake, but all in all, there is always this problem from groups in any area of the church. I have lived in 40+ different wards both in Utah and out of state, and out of country, and most were in the last 2 decades. I have seen many different reactions and judgmental tactics that were inherently a part of those who thought they were “righteous”. I would argue that even you Dan will never be completely free of this. I am not either. It is very apparent that this is a problem around the world both inside and outside the church. We naturally think that whatever we are doing, that makes us feel confident or gain self esteem, means that those who aren’t doing it are wrong. I don’t think that this problem is only unique to religion. Of course Mormon and Moroni have a religious audience, so that is who they are addressing. They aren’t talking to people that aren’t going to be reading what they are saying. It doesn’t mean that this isn’t something we will all struggle with on a continual basis.

  37. Thank you for your words and sharing your soul! A month and a half ago, I became aware of the huge problem in our ward with judgments, shaming, and hypocrisy. It wasn’t until I became nearly crippled with anxiety and depression that I saw what I am sure others have seen, that many church members don’t really care much about people who are suffering or their imperfect efforts to come to the Savior. It is more about creating a great and spacious building within the church where we delude ourselves in the blindness of our pride that we are better than we are and can put ourselves above others. There is nothing more twisted and wrong! The gospel of Jesus Christ is so much bigger than that! If we as members of the church don’t foster the love of the Master in our own hearts and in one another, we are building the tower of babel and will fail just as surely as they did.

  38. This is my first time seeing or hearing of you; I just would like to extend my hand to you for bringing such a touchy subject to light. Sometimes it’s necessary to be a reminder of who we all should be. You bring truth and light to our ears and eyes on this subject.

  39. Bravo for having the courage to start a discussion of a difficult discussion.
    I often resonate with the words of the apostle Paul who states that he was raised a Pharisee (Acts 26:5 after the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee)…I was definitely raised by Pharisee Mormons who got me up at 6 am to read scriptures and then my Mom sat by me with a squirt bottle of water in case I should start to dose off. More than one drenching happened in the name of perfect family scripture reading. It is a wonder I ever read my scriptures as a grown up at all.
    My mother raised all 6 of us kids to wear temple garment appropriate clothing even when we were far too young…I am the only person I know growing up in Phoenix who never owned a pair of shorts or a tank top. Because heaven knows, I could have become walking pornography! This clothing torture was doubly bad because she was too cheap to turn on the air conditioning. It is a wonder I ever wear garments as a grown up at all.
    My parents of course made many other rules that “looked beyond the mark”…no watching TV on Sunday, no taking the paper on Sunday, no caffeinated sodas, no homework on Sunday, no no no no no. It .is.a. wonder.I.ever.stayed.in.the.church.as.a.grown.up.at.all.
    And no one in the comments up thread mentioned the problem of being an educated feminist with a career at church. Even though I live in a rural area I am radioactive to the leaders and have never been given any calling in the young women or any leadership calling for 35 years. The church is missing out on my talents. The church really doesn’t seem to care if I stay in the church as a grown up at all.

    So I do think the church could do some should searching and repenting and make a commitment to love everyone, not just those who are white men, or Republicans, but those of us who have hung in there in spite of the fact that we do not fit in and never will. (I also have adopted black children and my husband has come out as gay. Wow. What a family.) Please just love us in our journey to whatever.

  40. So this douchebag can write an article judging everyone in the church and in that article say that our judgmental society is wrong.

    He says he is just like me but I would never list off callings i have had in the church. Maybe if he said primary teacher or deacons quorum secretary but how can he say bishopric and stake presidency oh and just drop lawyer to president Hinkley and think anyone can relate to that. He says YOU a lot like he never judges anymore.

    All I have to say to this idiot is I only judge the judgers that judge me for being judgmental.

    1. “Psychiatrist Glen Gabbard notes that some introverted narcissists are “exquisitely sensitive”. They tend to be affronted by any signs of real or perceived slights, and handle criticism poorly. In the face of negative feedback, some introvert narcissists will defend with an increased sense of superior smugness and dismissal (fight), . . .
      Of course, not all highly sensitive people are narcissistic. What distinguishes the narcissist is their falsely constructed superiority complex.”.

    2. “Psychiatrist Glen Gabbard notes that some introverted narcissists are “exquisitely sensitive”. They tend to be affronted by any signs of real or perceived slights, and handle criticism poorly. In the face of negative feedback, some introvert narcissists will defend with an increased sense of superior smugness and dismissal (fight) . . .
      Of course, not all highly sensitive people are narcissistic. What distinguishes the narcissist is their falsely constructed superiority complex.”.

      The first words of Dan’s excellent article said, “I have a message for a lot of you” — meaning this does NOT necessarily apply to ALL of YOU.
      But you seem to have a serious chip on your shoulder, which I think perhaps might be best explained by the quoted paragraph above (by Preston Ni M.S.B.A.)

      You can disagree and make your argument, without the vitriol and nasty label attacks on someone you obviously know nothing about.

      1. His blog post was completely hypocritical. He judged “most” of the Mormon population while telling them not to judge.

        Your comment was equally as hypocritical. You tell me to make an argument without nasty label attacks on someone I don’t know while you call me a narcissist.

      2. Right, he starts the article by basically saying if you are upset about this you are part of the problem. At the very least it is intellectually lazy and fallacious at worst he knows he is being hypocritical and deceitful so he is trying to shut down anyone who disagrees with him by shaming them.

  41. I agree with your article in that we need to be christ-like and not judge others and be accepting etc. But I feel like you’re being unfair to the members who do try to live this way by saying that “maybe most of you–are the problem”. I don’t know where you live, probably Utah, but I have lived in Florida, Washington, New York and now currently in Illinois and I have found that most of the members here are very accepting and loving and are trying to do what Christ would want them to do. You can’t generalize so broadly! Yes, there is an issue with some members judging, but to say that most of the members are that way is blatantly untrue and biased. I applaud your efforts to unite the church and to help others come unto Christ and be accepting but be careful with the way you word things or if you truly believe that most of the church needs to change you need to look outside your circle and see if the wonderful things that most of the church is doing.

  42. I agree that many Mormons are just like the Pharisees but few are leaving just because of this, me included. The Church’s history can only be shelved for so long before it all collapses.

    1. Well said Steve and I very much agree that the weight of all the things collapsing the shelf are the prime reasons but I also believe that the strong undercurrent of staunch, passive/aggressive arrogance, denials of truth and hiding behind the persecution complex, all contribute in a big way to the over-all problem.

  43. Dan, I agree with a lot of the things you say. I also think that the church needs more people like you, loving and non judgmental. I just wanted to add that a big reason why a lot of people are leaving is because of church history. We don’t believe that the church is or has ever been what it claims to be. And when you get to this conclusion, you are painted as someone who lacks faith and easy to be deceived, They tell you that because of that you can’t be happy and your children will suffer. As soon as you start having doubts, you start to realize that there’s not a lot of room left for people like you. Not everyone is leaving for this reason, but a lot of people are. I just wanted to point that out. Thanks for your post.

  44. I am so sad you were admonished for giving a hug in the temple. I think the temple (the celestial room) should be a place where everyone gets a hug. Wouldn’t it feel like Heaven if your fellow brothers and sisters give you a warm embrace that exudes the message “Welcome Home!”?

  45. The church is true, the gospel is simple. We all have issues. Sometimes we get into this funk and I really believe it is our humaness. I was Catholic, then joined the church. You will find all of what you mentioned in any church, because we are human, we are people with pasts we can’t let go of. I am sorry for those who feel the church has failed them. We all judge and we all have a chance to repent. That is the beauty of the true gospel of Jesus Christ, his Atonement is our salvation. And honestly I can’t tell what it will be like on the other side, because I haven’t been there, but I sure hope that, the happiest of days in this life will be clone in the next, with the Savior. I am grateful for the progress of the church, for our wonderful leaders, for famous people that are members of the church, because there are people that look up to them. I am grateful for the way the church has influenced me in a positive way, without complicating my life, instead of improving it, to want to be more like the Savior, to be kind, to not beat myself up over stuff… In the end it is me who creates the world around me, my thoughts, my behavior, opinions and most importantly how I feel about God and his son.

    1. I love your attitude and your beautiful words of love and personal truth… May the Lord continue to bless you, always…

  46. Am I the only one that sees the irony in this post?? Someone posting about “not judging and loving” but the whole post is judging a group of millions of people and not uplifting or loving at all. If I’ve learned anything in my life, I’ve learned to distinguish the feeling of uplifting, good and truth. This is not it. Judging from one side is no better then judging from the other side

  47. His blog post was completely hypocritical. He judged “most” of the Mormon population while telling them not to judge.

    Your comment was equally as hypocritical. You tell me to make an argument without nasty label attacks on someone I don’t know while you call me a narcissist.

    1. I encourage you to read more about Dan and his experiences. His other posts are not so controversial and may change your take away from this post. It is important to take the words of a man in context of his life and experiences. You might find that he is not so hypocritical as you think. I find him to be a remarkably insightful person with a deep and abiding love and understanding of compassion. I believe he doesn’t seek to condemn or judge, just to inform and spur thought. God bless!

      1. It seems like you are asking people to have some empathy Dan and show some understanding. Why can he not do that for his fellow members? How can he be so certain that everyone but him is the problem and then expect to be met with understanding?

        1. Did we read the same article? I did not hear any of those things. He is asking us to rid ourselves of pride. I always welcome such reminders. Sometimes I get busy cleaning the outside of the cup and forget the whole purpose of this life–to realize I am broken and I need the Savior.

  48. Great message. Right there with you. I am young still in the church, of brown skin from the islands. I always get judged by the “white” men/women of the church mostly bc I share the truth of how my islander ancestors were treated by the “white” men/ women during their time that were members of the church as well. That shouldn’t happen anywhere nor to anyone human race. For inside we are the same. Our outward appearances makes us who we are along with our characters and personality. I don’t like when I get looks like I am asking for pitty when I share my ancestors stories from the building of the Salt Lake City temple time of history. To me my people had the faith to travel from many distances for days, weeks and months like any other pioneers from their native lands to help with the building of the temple back in the 1860s to early 1900s. And because of illnesses they were not immune to they were asked to leave the city where lots of compaies and colonies lived to be closer to the temple. My people endured a lot of illnesses yet they had faith leaving their home lands to help build a temple so they can reap the blessings they were promised by the “white” missionaries. The way they were treated by members of the church then was with cruelty just like in todays wards and stakes. I see it everywhere I go. With this said I refuse to allow so called “members” of the church to pull me down. In the end they will be the ones judged for their wrong doings. It is because of my ancestors faith to come to the promise land, America, that I refuse to allow such rudeness around me. I do my best to kill these kinds of judgemental people love. For God is Love. And I choose not to judge other cultures for things they do or not do as they learn about our church culture. In fact I choose to help serve them by being an example and sharing my testimony when the spirit allows me to speak. And that is where I stand with this topic. Great read!

    1. Your are a brave and faithful brother and I apologize for all those who have maligned you in any way. I love the island cultures and I appreciate the love that flows from your beautiful hearts… You have much to contribute to all of us and I wish you were in our Ward so you could share your stories with us… Thank you for sharing your experience. So sorry some members were less than nice to you. They don’t know what they are missing… Blessings, always…

  49. First of all, this article is not telling me anything that I have not heard many times from the prophets. President Benson gave a talk that made a huge impression on me called, “Beware of Pride”. Our latter-day prophets have done nothing but love everyone. Look at the examples of President Monson and President Nelson. Some of what you say is true, but I have seen the same in others churches. We are all human. We are taught, however, to “forgive men their weaknesses” and to “love one another”. I think most of us are trying to do the best we can. We fall short many times, hence the need for a savior. If a woman in the temple (a volunteer who is probably in advanced years) said something that you disagree with, forgive her. I try to focus on my own faults and shortcomings rather than point out others’. As for our callings, I have been a Primary president and a Relief Society president, and I did not ask or seek for those callings. I was scared to death, but I learned so much from serving in those callings. I became more loving and humble, and my love for the Savior grew. I served those individual children and sisters with all my heart and came to love all of them. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does have the fullness of the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ, and we are led by true prophets of God. Yes, we as a people can do better. That is what we are constantly taught in Sacrament Meeting, Stake Conference and General Conference. Lets all be a “kinder, gentler people”.

  50. Parting a little bit from personal pride and such I would suggest that another meaning might be gleaned from the scriptures referenced in the article. This could be the judging by the members of the philosophies of men for good and the traditional teachings of the gospel for evil where they do not conform to the worlds ideas of morality and compassion. We see a very strong push in todays world to accept everything under the sun or we are judged for not being Christ like. Many of the tenets of socialism that Ezra Taft Benson warned of now infect the thought process of what some members believe to be the hallmarks of a follower of Christ. Every new social cause or deviant behavior becomes a moral imperative to be tolerated, accepted, and sometimes even celebrated under the guise of not being judgmental. We must be careful in how we consider these things. I think we should be accepting of those who are friends of another faith or even no faith. Love the sinner, not the sin. We should not however be confused about or tolerant of ideologies or beliefs that are diametrically opposed to the Lords teachings or our liberty to worship as we please. We must not let ourselves be fooled into accepting these false doctrines as our own. We must let the holy spirit be our guide and constant companion and then being truly Christ like will become second nature.

  51. Brother, thanks for your thoughts, but if you look at why we leave it’s not cause of the culture. The culture is what kept us in. It’s because the Church is so clearly false. I appreciate your sentiment. But members of the Church are the most beautiful people on the planet. I love the culture, although there is for sure some pride and judgeiness, let’s be real.

  52. I left the Church about 11 years ago. I left because the church’s history and doctrinal contradictions plainly demonstrate that the church is *NOT* true.

    I spent 30 years struggling with suicidal depression because teenage “worthiness interviews” shamed me nigh unto death for being a normal human being.

    Upon leaving the church, I discovered the viciousness that lurks beneath the member’s smiles. Only a single lifelong friend continued to be my friend. Members of my own family shunned me. My wife divorced me because I was no longer her “worthy Priesthood holder.” That’s pretty messed up. To all of you whining that Dan is painting with “too broad of a brush,” well all I can say is that in my experience his brush was not nearly broad enough.

    I’m no longer a believer and the cool thing about that is I no longer worry particularly about violating the Christian commandment against judgment. I’ll judge any damn way I please. I don’t judge people as righteous or unrighteous nor do I damn people to hell or call them unworthy. But yes, I will call many members self-righteous, smug, hypocritical pr*cks because that’s what they’ve shown me they are. They are “assigned friends”, insincere in their love, and false in their friendships. That said, I don’t really blame them. They are, after all just modelling the example of their highest leaders. You know, the men who tell you that God is displeased when you wear colored shirts, more than one earring in an ear, sandals on your feet, or that gay people are by their nature evil.

    They don’t tell the sinner to “go thy way and sin no more”…no they convene a so-called court of love, hire lawyers to trash reputations, and excommunicate those who disagree with them. Yep, the members just follow their leader’s examples.

  53. Most of what he said is truth, yet he’s obviously judging active members while preaching the opposite.
    Typical person that is lost in their own knowledge. 🙏 for him.

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  82. There is more than sufficient teaching in the Church regarding this. The need is for members to obey those teachings. Remember that there are five wise virgins and five foolish ones. If you meet someone in the temple who is self-righteously pious it doesn’t mean that every member is, it just means that that one is. There are those who don’t judge others but and don’t drive people to suicide but they may not stand out from the crowd. It might be the ones doing things wrong that get the most attention and then can come to seem representative of all members. If one ignores the actual teachings and only goes off of what they see *some* “active members” doing then they could easily yet wrongly conclude that most or all members are like those few who are giving offense.

    “The New Testament shows the great efforts Jesus made to reach out to all kinds of people: lepers, tax collectors, children, Galileans, harlots, women, Pharisees, sinners, Samaritans, widows, Roman soldiers, adulterers, the ritually unclean. In almost every story, He is reaching someone who wasn’t traditionally accepted in society.”


  83. I think Emanuel Swedenborg is worth reading to get a better understanding of how God works with all of the religions on earth

  84. So an entire article written that judges and condemns those who judge and condemn. And very few see the hypocrisy and irony of the entire thing. If judging and condemning is wrong then judging and condemning is wrong. This article engages in the exact same behavior that it seems to try and call out. And while I might be surprised to find Jesus moon walking on the other side of the veil, I think the writer of this article and many of the commentators will be just as surprised to find those judgmental people they are so quick to condemn right there with him. Because Jesus loves, and Jesus forgives, all of those who come to Him, not just those who sin the same as you, and judging and condemning is a sin as this article so clearly points out. The writer of this article claims to be an active, temple recommend holder member of the church. So based on his own criteria, if I get offended by the judgmental and condemning tone of this article and go inactive is he accountable and responsible? Based on his criteria the answer would be yes, but of course, based on actual truth and doctrine in the gospel of Jesus Christ that would be nothing more then a lame excuse. As Elder Bednar so clearly points out, it is a “choice” to be offended.

    Some day, I will stand by myself in front of the Savior. And I will be judged by Him and no one else and that judgement will be based on my choices and behavior. I will be judged based on how I kept my covenants, which include how I treated others, how obedient I was to His commandments and if I repented of the sins that I committed. If I fail to repent as needed, then I will be condemned and rightfully so. And as the scripture states, I will be judged by the same judgement I gave to others. Which would include if I judged and condemned those who judge and condemn. If I didn’t keep my covenants, I cannot at that time look over and say that I didn’t keep my promises, I didn’t keep my covenants because of the actions and behavior of someone else. It simply will not be a valid excuse. So I encourage everyone including the writer of this article, to stop judging and condemning, instead love and encourage, and focus on your own commitment process of daily repentance and following Jesus Christ.

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