Friday, July 29, 2011


At the end of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Moroni gives a challenge (Moroni 10:3-5) where he admonishes the reader to ask God if the things written in the Book of Mormon are not true. What a great opportunity—a chance to ask God a specific question, and receive a specific answer. What better way can there be to both prove the existence of God and determine His true and living church?

While in high school, I wanted to find out if this was real, and if I really could find out for myself that the Mormon Church was true. So I read, prayed and waited. But nothing happened. Concerned, I thought I must have done something wrong. Maybe I had sinned and wasn’t worthy for an answer yet. So I repented and tried again. Still nothing.

At the end of high school it was expected of me to go on a mission for the church. My family expected it; my quasi-girlfriend expected it; even my non-Mormon friends expected it. Just before my temple endowment, my older brother came home from his mission and raved about how amazing it was and how much stronger his testimony had become. Ah ha! This was what I needed to really get an answer. What better way to know God than to serve Him by going on a mission and preaching and serving others? Surely, God would reveal himself to one of his servants. Surely, God would answer the prayers of one of his children concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, if that child was humbly spreading His word.

I do not regret going on a mission. It was a great experience, and so much more than just a two-year "vacation." I grew as a person, as an American citizen, and as a man. But I never received an answer to prayer. Still, I tried. There was no choice but to keep with it. My family and social ties depended on this. Perhaps going to college and starting a family of my own would show my commitment, and then, yes surely then, God would make it known to me.

So I went to B.Y.U. and earned a degree; all the while, feeling depressed for not knowing, like those around me, of the Church’s authenticity. Every time I would sit in church and hear someone say that they “know the Church is true,” I would asked myself: “How? Your faculties are the same as mine. The promise, the requirements, the whole experience is the same. For over a decade I have tried to know what you claim, but I do not. How do you know? How can you know, what I cannot?”
Spiraling into ever-growing despair, I decided to try a new approach. Perhaps it isn’t true. Perhaps I haven’t received an answer to a single prayer because no one is there to respond. But if this is so, then why do I feel so depressed and unworthy when I sin? Then it hit me. This could be a conditioned response to my upbringing. Maybe, I feel bad because I am told that I must. Once you remove the threat of eternal damnation, there is no reason to hate yourself or feel condemned for not meeting the standards imposed upon you by a “loving God.”

Numerous times I have heard stories of those who accepted the atonement of Christ for their sins and felt as though “a weight had been lifted” from them. I felt the same thing when I acknowledged my doubt. My sins no longer have power over me. I no longer feel unworthy, depressed or condemned. I no longer feel burdened by fleeting perfection. Instead, I embrace my imperfections as part of who I am. And I am fine.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


(Disclaimer: numbers and figures presented are taken from several internet sources, and some may not be accurate--but you already knew that, huh?)

"Using past patterns of growth as a baseline, religious sociologist Rodney Stark has projected an LDS population of 265 million by the year 2080. Using this projection, Stark has predicted that the LDS church will become the next major world religion." --Encyclopedia of Mormonism

Did you know....?

....the current world population is ~6.9 billion people

....the current population of Christians is ~2 billion

....the current population of Muslims is ~1.4 billion

....the current population of Hinduism is ~1 billion

....the current population of Buddism is ~1 billion (some debate here--silly commies)

....the current number of Jews in the world is ~14 million

....the current number of Mormons in the world is ~14 million

....the current number of Mormon missionaries is 52000 (while in the MTC in 2000 I was told several times that there were 50000 missionaries, so that's an increase of ~2000 in the last 11 years)

....the current annual world growth rate is ~1.2-1.4%

....the current annual growth of the Mormon Church is 2.5-3%

....the current annual growth of the rest of Christianity is 5-7% (depending on denomination)

....70-80% of new Mormons no longer go to church after their first year of membership.

....overall Mormon Church activity rate is ~50% order for Mormons to "convert the world" every member of the church (active or not) would need to baptize 485 people order for Mormons to "convert the world" every missionary would need to baptize 130769 people do this before the world population doubles (estimated ~58 years--well before Rodney Stark's projection of the growth of mormonism) each missionary would need to baptize 2254 people a year--but by that time, it would only be half the population

....most missionaries are lucky to see 1 baptism per companionship, so if you figure each missionary will have 5-10 companions, then about 5-10 baptisms for a two year mission would be high

....if Rodney Stark's prediction is correct (265 million mormons in 2080) it will still be under 2% of the projected global population this time the populations of all other major world religions will be 2-4 billion each

....the current population of "non-religious" people is ~1.1 billion and is currently the fastest growing religious category in the USA

Thursday, January 27, 2011


I was raised to be homophobic. I didnt realize I was homophobic until I went to collage and found that I had gay friends. I had to choose to either shun them (like I was taught) or befriend them. I chose the latter.

It wasnt until I took a psychology class at BYU, during which we discussed **homosexuality, that I realized that I really didnt agree with the Mormon view that homosexuality is a choice, and can therefore be "cured."

This brings me to what caused me to write this. One of my (many) cousins recently made a comment (spurred from a women's conference of some sort where a speaker touched on homosexuals in the Mormon Church) where she said "I dont see what the big deal is. We dont ask gays to do anything different from any other singles in the church. Just obstain from premarital sex. It has nothing to do with being gay."

The problem is that the statement isnt true. Gays in the church are not asked to do the same thing as heterosexual singles in the church. Here is the difference: because gays can not marry (which is what the Church wants) they have to live their entire lives in celebacy in order to remain in good standing with the Church. Whereas heterosexuals are taught to marry and have a healthy sex life with a spouse. Celebacy is not the same thing as abstinance all. Just ask any number of returned missionaries who have bible-bashed with a catholic about the celebacy of priests.

Now, if the church changed its position on gay marriage to allow them to have a civil marriage (not an eternal marriage in a Mormon temple) then it would be asking the same thing. Or at least a similar thing. But the Church has made it clear that they have no intention of changing that policy.

The notion of a cure for the "disease" of homosexuality has been prevelant in the Church pretty much since the beginning. LDS social services use "reparative therapy" to cure homosexuality. This method is based on the idea that, with enough prayer and scripture study, one can overcome homosexual thoughts and urges, thus becoming heterosexual again.

This in turn implies that anyone who does not overcome these thoughts is not working hard enough and should read more and pray harder. When this does not work (and really, how often has it worked?) people become distraught and have to make a choice: choose a life of celebacy in a church that does not fully accept them; or leave the church and live a life among people who embrace them.

For many the choice isnt a choice at all. It is more of an epiphany, really. As a social worker, I see teens who seem to be unable to make that decision (usually due to family pressure) and too many of them either leave home or kill themselves. The truly terrifying thing is that this is a growing trend in Utah and a sign that something needs to change.

Personally, I think it is high time for Mormons to get off the soapbox that homosexuality is a choice (and therefore a sin) and let gays get married. Afterall, "two dads are better than none" (I realize this is a separate topic--get over it).

Current polls on the subject show that younger generations are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage. This means that it is just a matter of time until the older generations die off and gay marriage is passed. When this happens, expect to see an "official statement" by the Church... The same thing happened with blacks in the Church having the priesthood. The difference is that blacks didnt kill themselves...

**For a long time homosexuality was actually considered a mental disorder by psychologists. But this was partly because scientists had yet to differentiate between homosexuality and gender identity disorder (which is still considered a mental disorder). Once the distinction was made, however, they withdrew that section from the DSM IV and have ever since quelched the sentiment that it is abnormal.

Keep in mind that one of the main reasons a distinction was made was because studies showed that homosexuality did not cause disfunction (or an inability to lead an otherwise normal life). All mental disorders (potentially) cause disfunction that extends to many aspects of the persons life. Homosexuality does not fit this discription.