Is the church anti-intellectual. Let's discuss. In the meantime here are a few ancillary observations:

Rate of Patents Issued to Utah Inventors Exceeds National Growth During Past Two Decades:"

Recent studies that suggest that the LDS community has produced more scientists per capita than most religious groups in twentieth-century America:

Utah has produced a disproportionate share of mathematicians:

Latter-day Saints attending Harvard Business School are so common that people joke about being dominated by the three “Ms” (the other two are McKinsey and the military):

 Los Alamos, which has the highest per-capita of PhDs in the world, is ~8% LDS. Bascially 4 times the national average.

These observations do not prove anything, but claims that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is anti-intellectual do not seem to be well founded.



Elder Boyd K. Packer gave a talk to Church Educational System Instructors and faculty at a CES Symposium on August 22, 1981 entitled The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect.

Elder Packer said the following:

There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.

CES Letter, Page 120 & 121


Historical truths are not created equal. Just because something happened doesn’t mean that it needs to be broadcast to the world. This applies to Church members and leaders who make mistakes (as we all do).

More Details

The Latter-day Saints, including their presiding authorities, are not perfect.  Multiple leaders have acknowledged that Church members are "liable to err" on occasion.[1]  For example, Joseph Smith proclaimed: "Altho' I do wrong, I do not the wrongs that I am charg'd with doing—the wrong that I do is thro' the frailty of human nature like other men. No man lives without fault.”[2]  Just weeks before his martyrdom, the Prophet exclaimed:  “I never told you I was perfect.”[3]  Similar declarations can be found in the statements from virtually all Church leaders.

The Lord will not overlook leaders’ imperfections.  “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven… For I am no respecter of persons…” (D&C 1:31-32, 35). 

Leaders and members must account for their actions.  However, individuals who are directly affected or even victimized by a leader’s misdeeds must forgive them, just as they must forgive everyone. Joseph Smith’s revelation states: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).  Holding a grudge or withdrawing due to perceived abuses is not acceptable to the Lord.

Latter-day Saint and those men and women who preside, the general counsel is to "not speak evil of the Lord's anointed."[4]  Importantly, this directive contains no footnote authorizing a person to speak evil under special circumstances, that is, if certain criteria are met, such as if it is true.  There is no bracketed insertion saying: "Go ahead and speak evil if it factual and accurate."  The caution is to not speak evil of the Lord's anointed, period. 

First Presidency Counselor, George Q. Cannon explained: "There is one thing that the Lord has warned us about from the beginning, and that is, not to speak evil of the Lord's anointed. He has told us that any member of the Church who indulged in this is liable to lose the Spirit of God and go into darkness. The Prophet Joseph said time and again that it was one of the first and strongest symptoms of apostasy."[5] 

Joseph Smith taught:  “I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”[6]  Throughout the Prophet’s teachings, the need for the Holy Spirit to guide and direct is consistently emphasized (e.g., D&C 42:14).

[1] See Brigham Young JD 4:290, 10:212;; Heber C. Kimball, JD 9:78-79; Joseph F. Smith JD 11:306-07; Lorenzo Snow JD 20:189-90.

[2] Ehat and Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 130.

[3] May 12, 1844 discourse in Ehat and Cook, Words of Joseph Smith, 369.  I am indebted to Don Bradley for this insight.

[4] Charles W. Penrose, Conference Report, April 1904, p.71; see also Acts 23:5; Brigham Young 16:188-89; Heber C. Kimball, JD 4:46, 12:188-89; John Taylor JD 9:14; JD 9:142-43; George Albert Smith JD 17:163-64; George Q. Cannon, Collected Discourses 5:222.

[5] Stuy, CD 5:222

[6] Joseph Fielding Smith, comp. and ed. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976 printing, 156.


Elder Dallin H. Oaks made a similar comment in the context of Church history at a CES Symposium on August 16, 1985:

The fact that something is true is not always a justification for communicating it.
Jim Bennett, in his reply to the CES Letter, gave the best response to the above quote. "That is quite good advice. Telling a child that they are physically repugnant, for instance, is not a good idea, even if it is true."

CES Letter, Page 121


In an interview with Helen Whitney for the PBS special "The Mormons" off-site , Dallin H. Oaks explained his views. In the following transcript, "HW" is "Helen Whitney" and "DHO" is "Dallin H. Oaks":

HW: You used an interesting phrase, “Not everything that’s true is useful.” Could you develop that as someone who’s a scholar and trying to encourage deep searching

DHO: The talk where I gave that was a talk on “Reading Church History” — that was the title of the talk. And in the course of the talk I said many things about being skeptical in your reading and looking for bias and looking for context and a lot of things that were in that perspective. But I said two things in it and the newspapers and anybody who ever referred to the talk only referred to [those] two things: one is the one you cite, “Not everything that’s true is useful,” and that [meant] “was useful to say or to publish.” And you tell newspapers any time (media people) [that] they can’t publish something, they’ll strap on their armor and come out to slay you! [Laughs.]

I also said something else that has excited people: that it’s wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true, because it diminishes their effectiveness as a servant of the Lord. One can work to correct them by some other means, but don’t go about saying that they misbehaved when they were a youngster or whatever. Well, of course, that sounds like religious censorship also.

But not everything that’s true is useful. I am a lawyer, and I hear something from a client. It’s true, but I’ll be disciplined professionally if I share it because it’s part of the attorney-client privilege. There’s a husband-wife privilege, there’s a priest-penitent privilege, and so on. That’s an illustration of the fact that not everything that’s true is useful to be shared.

In relation to history, I was speaking in that talk for the benefit of those that write history. In the course of writing history, I said that people ought to be careful in what they publish because not everything that’s true is useful. See a person in context; don’t depreciate their effectiveness in one area because they have some misbehavior in another area — especially from their youth. I think that’s the spirit of that. I think I’m not talking necessarily just about writing Mormon history; I’m talking about George Washington or any other case. If he had an affair with a girl when he was a teenager, I don’t need to read that when I’m trying to read a biography of the Founding Father of our nation.


"Elder Oaks Interview Transcript from PBS Documentary" on

The Mormons



Joseph using a rock in a hat instead of the gold plates to translate the Book of Mormon is not a useful truth? (addressed in the Book of Mormon Translation section) The fact that there are multiple conflicting first vision accounts is not a useful truth? (addressed in the First Vision section) The fact that Joseph Smith was involved in polyandry while hiding it from Emma, when D&C 132:61 condemns it as “adultery,” is not a useful truth? (addressed in the Polygamy section)

Elder Packer continues:

That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith – particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith – places himself in great spiritual jeopardy.

If facts and truths can destroy faith...what does it say about faith? If prophets of the Church conducted themselves in such a way that it can destroy faith, what does this say about the prophets?

What’s interesting about Elder Packer’s above quote is that he’s focusing on history from the point of view that a historian is only interested in the “weaknesses and frailties of present and past leaders.” (Packer isn't criticizing all historians in this quote - only the historian who "delights" in pointing out weaknesses and frailties. Similar to this letter.) Historians are also interested in things like how the Book of Mormon got translated or how many accounts Joseph gave about the foundational first vision or whether the Book of Abraham even matches the papyri and facsimiles. (Agreed. Historians can provide a lot of wonderful insights. The church employs a lot of historians) 

Besides, it matters in the religious context what past and present leaders “weaknesses and frailties” are. If Joseph’s public position was that adultery and polygamy are morally wrong and condemned by God, what does it say about him and his character that he did exactly that in the dark while lying to Emma and everyone else about it? How is this not a useful truth? (This is ironically untruthful. Joseph wasn't an adulterer. Joseph shared polygamy and implemented privately with many men and women during his lifetime. Polygamy wasn't shared with the broader public until 1852 in Utah.)

A relevant hypothetical example to further illustrate this point: The prophet or one of the apostles gets caught with child pornography on his hard drive. (an extremely unlikely hypothetical)  This matters, especially in light of his current position, status, and teachings on morality. Just because a leader wears a religious hat does not follow that they’re exempt from history and accountability from others. (Most would agree with these last two sentences)

Further, testimonies are acquired in part by the recitation of a historical narrative. Missionaries recite the narrative about Joseph Smith searching and praying for answers, about acquiring the gold plates and translating the Book of Mormon, about the Priesthood being restored along with other foundational narratives.

Why should investigators and members not learn the correct (Missionaries are sharing the correct version. It's not a complete history though.) and candid version of that historical narrative, for better or for worse? Are members and investigators not entitled to a truthful accounting of the real origins of Mormonism? (The church has been working very hard to do this with Saints, Gospel Topics Essays, Church History videos, and The Joseph Smith Papers project)

The question should not be whether it’s faith promoting or not to share ugly but truthful facts. The question should be: Is it the honest thing to do? (This is a strawman argument based upon the Packer & Oaks quotes above.  As described above, the church is working at sharing it's history while not overly "delighting" in weaknesses.)

CES Letter, Page 120 & 121


Everyone has biases.

More Details

No writer is unbiased; so in a sense, every author "spins" the evidence to some degree, no matter how hard objectivity might be sought.  However, some interpretive reconstructions seem to reflect little attempt to maintain impartiality.  They are primarily comprised of speculation and conjecture mingled with historical truths, usually ignoring contradictory evidences.  The writers may be accomplished and lettered, manifesting eloquence and an expressive writing style, but their written opinions may contain little truth and much error.

Either subtly or overtly, "loaded language," may be employed. The CES Letter goes well beyond loaded language to sometimes employ sarcasm and insensitivity like call God schizophrenic.

Possessing strong opinions regarding a topic does not mean the person understands the topic. More common now than perhaps ever in the past, we find emotion substituting for knowledge and rhetoric substituting for reason. Combined with a lack of faith, we may discover ourselves surrounded by  informational chaos.

Overly biased authors create opinion-pieces that bear the form of genuine documented history but lack the truth thereof. The direction of the spin may be agenda-driven by individuals who are willing to codify negative assumptions in their historical reconstructions regarding the motives and behaviors of Church members. 

Some authors may complain, "Don't shoot the messenger." However, such protests presuppose that the message presented by the messenger is accurate and objectively presented.  Unfortunately, heavy biases and spin result more in historical fiction. Obviously the messengers should not be shot, but LDS authorities would be neglecting their responsibilities to the membership if they were to in anyway validate or facilitate the spinning of the spinmeisters (see 2 John 1:10-11). 

The scriptures warn of given gospel meat to gospel milk-drinkers (D&C 19:22, Hebrews 5:12, 1 Peter 2:2). Misrepresented history is more like a rubber dog toy saturated with real meat taste and shaped like a t-bone steak.  It can be chewed for extended periods, but is not digestible.  If swallowed, it can cause choking more easily than the meatiest meat.  It might be called pseudo-meat because, although a counterfeit, it can readily cause the milk drinkers to perish. 

Several themes that are misrepresented in The CES Letter include:

The Book of Abraham

The Kinderhook Plates

The Book of Mormon

Multiple First Vision accounts

Priesthood restoration



Elder Dallin H. Oaks made the following disturbing comment in the PBS documentary, The Mormons:

It is wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.

CES Letter, Page 122


The general counsel to Latter-day Saints is to "not speak evil of the Lord's anointed."[1]  This directive contains no footnote authorizing a person to speak evil under special circumstances, that is, if certain criteria are met, such as if it is true.  There is no bracketed insertion saying: "Go ahead and speak evil if it factual and accurate." 

Paul taught:

“It is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people” (Acts 23:5).

Joseph Smith explained:

“I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.”[2] 

On April 6, 1861, Apostle John Taylor assured his listeners that if a “corrupt man” should preside, he would be removed according to God’s time:

Suppose a corrupt man is presiding in a certain place, his corruptions are soon known. People need not strive to turn good into evil because they think that some man does wrong. They need not turn calumniators and defamers, for all will come right in its turn. Then attend to your own business, work the works of righteousness, sustain the constituted authorities of the Church until God removes them, and he will do it in his own time.[3]

George Q. Cannon declared,

“God has chosen His servants. He claims it as His prerogative to condemn them, if they need condemnation. He has not given it to us individually to censure and condemn them. No man, however strong he may be in the faith, however high in the Priesthood, can speak evil of the Lord's anointed and find fault with God's authority on the earth without incurring His displeasure. The Holy Spirit will withdraw itself from such a man, and he will go into darkness. This being the case, do you not see how important it is that we should be careful? However difficult it may be for us to understand the reason for any action of the authorities of the Church, we should not too hastily call their acts in question and pronounce them wrong. (Gospel Truth, 1:278.)

On August 25, 1856, the Martin handcart company left Florence (Omaha) Nebraska headed for the Salt Lake Valley to join with the Saints settled there. Their late start for the West and an unusually early snowfall exposed their companies to extreme cold, blizzards and even starvation. Out of 576 who began the trek, at least 145 died due to the difficulties encountered.  Even some who completed the journey remained severely afflicted for the rest of their lives due to frostbitten limbs.

On one occasion years after the disastrous expedition, several Saints were conversing about the incident. Their criticisms of the leaders fell upon the ears of an elderly man who had been a member of the company.  After listening for a while he finally arose and said:

I ask you to stop this criticism. You are discussing a matter you know nothing about.  Cold historic facts mean nothing here, for they give no proper interpretation of the questions involved...  We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism?  Not one of that company ever apostatized or left the Church, because everyone of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives, for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.

I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it.

I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one.  I knew then that the angels of God were there.

Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart?   Neither then or any minute of my life since.  The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.  (R.S. Magazine, Jan. 1948, p. 8.)

Criticizing without sufficient faith or knowledge is so easy to individuals in this last dispensation.

[1] Charles W. Penrose, Conference Report, April 1904, p.71; see also Acts 23:5; Brigham Young 16:188-89; Heber C. Kimball, JD 4:46, 12:188-89; John Taylor JD 9:14; JD 9:142-43; George Albert Smith JD 17:163-64; George Q. Cannon, Collected Discourses 5:222.

[2] Joseph Fielding Smith, comp. and ed. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976 printing, 156.

[3] John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 9:14.




("Unapproved materials" is not a quote from the church or its leaders and is highly misleading. Most who read the two quotes below will likely agree with them. They're good quotes.)

Elder Quentin L. Cook made the following comment in the October 2012 General Conference:

Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf said the following in his CES talk “What is Truth?” (33:00):

...Remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place. You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat. That the moon is a hologram. It looks like it a little bit. And that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.

CES Letter, Page 122


It is surprising and puzzling that The CES Letter would criticize these comments of Elders Cook and Uchtdorf, which are true and wise in any context.

More Details

 “Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.” (Emphasis added.)

Elder Dieter Uchtdorf explained: “Remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place. You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat. That the moon is a hologram. It looks like it a little bit. And that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn't make it true.” (Emphasis added.)

Any scholar would agree that any material that magnifies, exaggerates, or invents information is undesirable. Equally true is the observation that popularity or even consensus does not create truth. The criticisms of The CES Letter seem short-sighted.

The Church has never discouraged anyone to learn truth, regardless of the source. Falsehoods are the problem.

Joseph Smith taught: “One of the grand fundamental principles of "Mormonism" is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may” (TPJS 313.)

The Prophet also warned: “Avoid contentions and vain disputes with men of corrupt minds, who do not desire to know the truth. Remember that "it is a day of warning, and not a day of many words." (TPJS 43.)



Why does it matter whether information was received from a stranger, television, book, magazine, comic book, napkin, and yes, the internet? They are all mediums or conduits of information. It’s the information itself, its accuracy, and its relevance that matters. (Reread the quote. Elder Uchtdorf has no problem with the medium. His concern is with truth.)

Elder Neil L. Andersen made the following statement in the October 2014 General Conference specifically targeting the medium of the internet in a bizarre (This is a perfectly logical quote. It's bizarre to call this quote bizarre) attempt to discredit the internet as a reliable source for getting factual and truthful information:

We might remind the sincere inquirer that Internet information does not have a ‘truth’ filter. Some information, no matter how convincing, is simply not true.
UPDATE: Ironically, the only way for members to directly read the Church’s admissions and validations of yesterday’s “anti-Mormon lies” is by going on the internet to the Gospel Topics Essays section of the Church’s website. The essays and their presence on have disturbed and shocked many members – some to the point of even believing that the Church’s website has been hacked. (Being open about our history is a good thing. There is an element of irony here because elsewhere the CES Letter bashes the church for not being open)

With all this talk from General Authorities against the internet and daring to be balanced (they didn't say don't be balanced, they said to beware of misinformation. This is a straw-man.) by looking at what both defenders and critics are saying about the Church, it is as if questioning and researching and doubting is now the new pornography. (to the contrary: the apostle Hugh B. Brown referred to doubt as an apprenticeship on the path to belief)

Truth has no fear of the light. President George A. Smith said:

If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.

A church that is afraid to let its people determine for themselves truth and falsehood in an open market is a church that is insecure and afraid of its own truth claims. (Yet another straw-man. Response from Jim Bennett, "It is also a church that bares no resemblance to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.")

Under Elder Cook’s counsel, FairMormon and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons “internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcoming of early Church leaders” but they provide asinine “faithful answers” with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism. (This is one of the more strange arguments in the letter. Each is entitled to their own opinion. I've found a lot of well-researched answers on FAIR and numerous logical fallacies in the CES Letter)

What about the disturbing information about early Church leaders and the Church which are not magnified, or exaggerated, or invented? What about the disturbing facts that didn’t come from the flat-earthers or moon-hologramers but instead from the Church itself? Are those facts invalid when someone discovers them on the internet?

What happens when a member comes across the Church’s Book of Mormon Translation essay where they learn – for the first time in their lives – that the Book of Mormon was not translated with gold plates as depicted in Sunday Schools, Ensigns, MTC, General Conference addresses, or Visitor Centers?

Or the Church’s Race and the Priesthood essay where yesterday’s prophets, seers, and revelators are thrown under the bus over their now disavowed “theories”?

Or the Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham essay and that the Book of Abraham and its facsimiles do not match what Joseph Smith translated?

Or the Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay where they learn the real origins of polygamy and the disturbing details of how Joseph practiced it? That Joseph was married to other living men’s wives and young girls as young as 14-years-old behind Emma’s back? That God sent an angel with a drawn sword threatening Joseph?

Or any of the other troubling essays, for that matter?

Is this member in need of repentance for discovering and being troubled by all the inconsistencies and deceptions? Why is the member required to repent for discovering verifiable facts and for coming to the same logical conclusion about the LDS Church’s dominant narrative that Mormon historian, scholar, and patriarch Richard Bushman did?

The dominant narrative is not true. It can’t be sustained.


Most of the main information and facts that I discovered and confirmed online about the Church is now found from Church sources, Church-friendly sources, and neutral sources.

“And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the Internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.” Exactly - the exact same can be said of Mormonism and

CES Letter, Pages 122-124


The Internet has the power to do immense good but it becomes “scary” to truth whenever it is used to promote misinformation, misrepresentation, half-truths, and falsehoods about the Church, its leaders and history.

Church leaders are asking members to use the internet "To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood," which directly contradicts The CES Letter's assertion. Click here

The Internet has given everyone their own pulpit either through articles, blogs, or comments. The number of voices now within listening range has multiplied immeasurably.

Truth can multiply on the Internet, but so can falsehoods. It is likely that the ratio of gospel truth-to-falsehoods found on the Internet will be determined by the belief and knowledge, the study and faith, of those using it.

The first generation of this world experienced the process of deception. “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish. (Moses 5:12–13.) We don’t know how Satan “commanded them.” Surely it wasn’t via electronic media, but the outcome was the same.

In Noah’s day the unrepentant argued with Noah that they were prospering so why would they need to repent using logic similar to Internet arguments today:

“And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent; but they hearkened not unto his words; And also, after that they had heard him, they came up before him, saying: Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men? And are we not eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage? And our wives bear unto us children, and the same are mighty men, which are like unto men of old, men of great renown. And they hearkened not unto the words of Noah.” (Moses 8:20-21.)

This also was documented in the Book of Mormon.

3 Nephi 1:22: “And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen.”

3 Nephi 8:4: “And there began to be great doubtings and disputations among the people, notwithstanding so many signs had been given.”

The Internet is “scary” only as it promotes deception and falsehood. It can assist in the work of the Lord if used correctly.

Additional Resources:

Mormons on the Internet –  by Gregory H. Taggart

Mormonism on the Internet II –  by Gregory H. Taggart

Mormonism on the Internet: Now Everybody Has a Printing Press –  by Gregory H. Taggart 

Let Our Voices Be Heard - M. Russell Ballard

M. Russell Ballard delivers an address entitled "Women of Dedication, Faith, Determination, and Action."

“Women of Dedication, Faith, Determination, and Action” by Elder M. Russell Ballard

Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet - Ensign July 2008 by M. Russell Ballard
LDS Church Representative on Social Media

Sharing your Faith Online

Media Relations

Sharing the Gospel through Social Media

To All the World: Reinventing the Church’s Media Businesses –  by Mark H. Willes





“The September Six were six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were excommunicated or disfellowshipped by the Church in September 1993, allegedly for publishing scholarly work on Mormonism or critiquing Church doctrine or leadership.”

CES Letter, Page 124


The September 1993 excommunications were unfortunate because many good people were involved and several have not yet returned to the Church.

Church leaders are obligated to separate people who teach false doctrines from the Church.  Those individuals are still free to teach outside of the Church and to attend Church meetings. However, they will lose their membership, so other members will know they are in error and so they can start the process of repentance.

"For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.

And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.  (Alma 5:59-60.)

The Lord instructed Alma:

Therefore I say unto you, that he that will not hear my voice, the same shall ye not receive into my church, for him I will not receive at the last day.

Therefore I say unto you, Go; and whosoever transgresseth against me, him shall ye judge according to the sins which he has committed; and if he confess his sins before thee and me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also.

Now I say unto you, Go; and whosoever will not repent of his sins the same shall not be numbered among my people; and this shall be observed from this time forward. (Mosiah 26:28-29, 32.)

Joseph Smith taught that disciplining the unrepentant is a process through which "God may be glorified" and that for Church leaders to neglect disciplinary action could "offend him who is your lawgiver":

"And him that repenteth not of his sins, and confesseth them not, ye shall bring before the church, and do with him as the scripture saith unto you, either by commandment or by revelation.

And this ye shall do that God may be glorified--not because ye forgive not, having not compassion, but that ye may be justified in the eyes of the law, that ye may not offend him who is your lawgiver” (D&C 64:12-13.)"

The scriptures describe other excommunications and times when people withdraw from the Church: “For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.” (Alma 1:24.)



A few months before the September Six, Elder Boyd K. Packer made the following comment regarding the three “enemies” of the Church:

The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.

CES Letter, Page 124


Scholars and other messengers who teach about the restored gospel, but are not called to teach the general membership of the Church are “alternate voices.”

More Details

God’s directions for teaching gospel truth are clear:

And again, the elders, priests and teachers of this church shall teach the principles of my gospel, which are in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in the which is the fulness of the gospel.

And they shall observe the covenants and church articles to do them, and these shall be their teachings, as they shall be directed by the Spirit.

And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach. (D&C 42:12-14; underline added.)

The teachers should teach from the scriptures and be obedient to the covenants.  Most importantly, they must teach by the Spirit because “if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” It is not arrogance because all people can embrace the Spirit through obedience and faith.

Paul taught: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Those who believe that the Spirit is foolishness cannot teach religious topics in a way that will increase testimony because they do not have one. Their biases will influence their listeners to disbelieve as they do. It is impossible to be otherwise.

Worldly knowledge cannot exalt us or inspire us to make and keep sacred covenants.

Authors who assume to teach generally, must understand the responsibilities associated therewith and exercise caution when:

Dealing with sacred teachings.

Quoting from private opinions of priesthood leaders.

Bringing forth any new teaching.

Criticizing or disagreeing with the teachings of the Lord's anointed.

It is unlikely that the Spirit will inspire open discussion of these topics.




The spying and monitoring arm of the Church. It is secretive and most members have been unaware of its existence since its creation in 1985 after Ezra Taft Benson became president. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland admitted it still exists in March 2012. The historical evidence and the September Six points to SCMC’s primary mission being to hunt and expose intellectuals and/or disaffected members who are influencing other members to think and question, despite Elder Holland’s claim that it’s a committee primarily to fight against polygamy.

CES Letter, Page 124-125


The goal is to keep the teachings pure and address threats to the church.

Church leaders are commissioned to keep the teachings pure within the Church and to keep the temples undefiled as much as they are able (D&C 94:8-9). This committee had its beginnings in the 1830s (D&C 85:2, 123:4), but the concept is much older. Why would anyone with such doubts feel a loss at excommunication? There seems to be a contradiction here.



N. Eldon Tanner, first counselor in the First Presidency, gave a First Presidency Message in the August 1979 Ensign that includes the following statement: (Statement was made by Elaine Cannon, the general president of the Young Women and repeated by N. Eldon Tanner)

When the prophet speaks the debate is over.

CES Letter, Page 125


The prophet didn't like that phrase

The phrase, "when the prophet speaks, the debate is over" comes from Sister Elaine Cannon, the general president of the Young Women at that time. N. Eldon Tanner repeats the quote. Interestingly, sister Cannon had a conversation with President Spencer W. Kimball the next morning about her statement. Sister Cannon's daughter and the Interpreter Foundation provide more detail about that conversation:

President Spencer W. Kimball corrected Sister Cannon for her public statement that “when the prophet speaks, the debate is over.” He worried that her expression risked suggesting that members do not have agency — that they are not free to decide on their own how to respond to prophets’ teachings. He didn’t want his status as prophet to suggest that members can’t question, explore, and find out for themselves. Of course they can — and should.

At the same time, however, President Kimball affirmed Sister Cannon’s actual meaning. “Yes, it’s true,” he said. While he wished for a better way of making the point, he affirmed that the point itself was accurate: he knew the Lord’s will and was reliable in speaking for him."

“Yes, It’s True, But I Don’t Think They Like to Hear it Quite That Way”:
What Spencer W. Kimball Told Elaine Cannon


Some things that are true are not very useful (already discussed)+ Censorship (already discussed)+ Deceptively altering past quotes (already discussed) + Prioritizing tithing before food and shelter (already discussed) + It is wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true (already discussed) + Spying and monitoring on members (already discussed) + Intellectuals are dangerous (already discussed) + “us versus them” rhetoric + When the prophet speaks the debate is over (already discussed) + Obedience is the First Law of Heaven = Policies and practices you’d expect to find in a totalitarian system such as North Korea or George Orwell’s 1984; not from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As a believing member, I was deeply offended by the accusation that the Church was a cult. “How can it be a cult when we’re good people who are following Christ, focusing on family, and doing good works in and out of a church that bears His name? When we’re 15 million members? What a ridiculous accusation.”

It was only after seeing all of the problems with the Church’s foundational truth claims and discovering, for the first time, the SCMC and the anti-intellectualism going on behind the scenes that I could clearly see the above cultish aspects of the Church and why people came to the conclusion that Mormonism is a cult.

CES Letter, p. 125