I wrote just a few days ago about my absolute horror when reading Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” and discovering that a lot of what Orwell describes as the tools and effects of totalitarianism have been present in my life because of my association with the LDS church. Almost on cue, the church decided to prove my point by going after the editor of MormonThink.com, which is run, according to its home page, “largely by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are interested in the historical accuracy of our church and how it is being taught to its members and portrayed in the media.”
In my experience, the information presented at the site is historically accurate, indeed far more so than the church’s own web site, or the apologetic site, FAIRLDS.org. I support their mission and believe they are sincere and have made a good-faith effort to be fair and accurate. Accuracy is apparently unwelcome in the LDS church.
What is so ironic to me is that, as members of the LDS church, we were taught that truth matters. We sang in our hymns, “true to the faith that our parents have cherished, true to the truth for which martyrs have perished” because
Yes, say, what is truth? ’Tis the brightest prize
To which mortals or Gods can aspire.
Go search in the depths where it glittering lies,
Or ascend in pursuit to the loftiest skies:
’Tis an aim for the noblest desire.
Our leaders taught us the value of truth. Here are a couple of representative quotes:
“To those who humbly seek, there is no need to stumble or falter along the pathway leading to truth. It is well marked by our Heavenly Father. We must first have a desire to know for ourselves. We must study. We must pray. We must do the will of the Father. And then we will know the truth, and the truth will make us free” (Thomas S. Monson, “Great Expectations,” CES fireside for young adults, Jan. 11, 2009).
“Clear declaration of truth makes a difference in people’s lives. That is what changes hearts. That is what the Holy Ghost can confirm in the hearts of God’s children” (M. Russell Ballard, “Pure Testimony,” Ensign, Nov. 2004, 41).
For many of us, seeking and discovering the truth about our religion led us to doubt and even leave the church, but others have stayed because they were able to absorb that truth into their beliefs. I find that admirable, and in some ways I wish I could have done that as well.
But the LDS church hierarchy clearly does not admire continued faith in the face of troubling information. No, it’s not quite that. It seems to be fine within in the church to question or hold unorthodox beliefs, as long as you do so privately. The moment you share the truth, you are on dangerous ground. I’ve had many Mormon leaders and friends tell me I need to keep my opinions and knowledge to myself, lest I damage someone’s faith.
I won’t do that. I have never tried to dissuade people from their faith in Mormonism, but I will not be silenced. If speaking the truth damages one’s faith, that is a pretty good sign that it’s a misplaced faith. Truth is not scary; it is not hurtful. It may be uncomfortable and perhaps painful to acknowledge, but Jesus was right that knowing the truth sets you free because knowing the truth allows you to see clearly and make informed decisions.
So, I stand in solidarity and support with those who have dared to publish truth. I’m a little surprised that the church hasn’t come after me, but then it won’t matter to me if they excommunicate me.
And let me just say something to those members and leaders of the LDS church who would attempt to silence those who publish the truth: You may succeed in quieting some people, but you cannot put the truth back in a hidden corner. You can’t quash the truth because you taught us to cherish it.