Criticism of Mormonism/Cognitive dissonance/Further Reading

Further reading

Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles

Logical Fallacies

Accusations of lying and hypocrisy on the part of the modern Church

Accusations of hypocrisy in current Church practices

Summary: It is claimed that the Church, as a corporate entity, controls business properties that are not consistent with its stated purposes. Examples include claims that the Church owns controlling stock in the Coca-Cola company, tobacco companies, and alcohol companies.

Jump to Subtopic:

"Lying for the Lord"

Summary: Some have long accused Mormons of organizationally and systematically “lying for the Lord,” equating such with a policy of using any means necessary to achieve some “good” goal. This claim is false, and a biased reading of Church history. One must not use ethically questionable tactics because one believes the “end justifies the means.”

Jump to Subtopic:

Joseph Smith fired a gun at Carthage Jail

Summary: It is claimed that the Church has tried to hide the fact that Joseph fired a pepperbox pistol at the mob which murdered Hyrum and was soon to kill him, despite numerous mentions of the gun in Church literature, and the fact that the very gun itself is on display at the museum of Church History in Salt Lake City.

Jump to Subtopic:

Gordon B. Hinckley cited false information on the First Vision?

Summary: It is claimed that there were no religious revivals in the Palmyra, New York area in 1820, and that Gordon B. Hinckley cited false information in a book called Truth Restored.

Jump to Subtopic:

No paid ministry

Summary: It is claimed that Mormonism prides itself in having unpaid clergy as one proof of the Church's truthfulness. They then point to the fact that some General Authorities, mission presidents, and others do, in fact, receive a living stipend while serving the Church, and point to this as evidence of the “hypocrisy” of the Church.

Jump to Subtopic:

City Creek Center Mall in Salt Lake City

Summary: Members and critics have questions about the Church's involvement in the redevelopment of the city center in Salt Lake.

Jump to Subtopic:

Claims that church membership numbers distorted

Summary: It is claimed by some that the Church distorts its membership numbers and rate of growth for public relations purposes.

Jump to Subtopic:

Accusations of plagiarizing C.S. Lewis in General Conference

Summary: Some claim that President Ezra Taft Benson's famous General Conference address, "Beware of Pride," was plagiarized from C.S. Lewis' chapter on pride in Mere Christianity.

Jump to Subtopic:

Accusations of lying in the 19th century Church

Jump to Subtopic:

Censorship and revision of Church history

Some claim that the church has "whitewashed" some of the information about its origins to appear more palatable to members and investigators. Some feel that this is done intentionally to hide negative aspects of church history. Others feel that it is done to focus on the good, but that it causes problems for believing members when they encounter these issues outside of church curriculum.

Has the Church "whitewashed" its history?

Summary: Has the church "whitewashed" some of the information about its origins to appear more palatable to members and investigators?

Jump to Subtopic:

Church art and historical accuracy

Summary: It is claimed by some that the Church knowingly "lies" or distorts the historical record in its artwork in order to whitewash the past, or for propaganda purposes. A commonly used example is the inaccuracy of any Church art representing the translation process of the Book of Mormon.

Jump to Subtopic:

Does the Church excommunicate scholars who publish historical information?

Summary: Some claim that the Church excommunicates or disfellowships scholars who publish historical information that is embarrassing to Church leaders. It is often claimed, despite the fact that these disciplinary actions are carried out by local leaders, that they are in reality instigated by general authorities. It is also claimed that the Church is silencing honest people for telling the truth.

Jump to Subtopic:

Brigham Young and plural marriage

Summary: It is claimed that the Church's manual, The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, attempts to "hide history" by portraying Brigham Young (a well-known polygamist) as having only one wife.

Jump to Subtopic:

Hiding the facts in plain sight using Church publications

Summary: Quite a few items that some claim were hidden by the Church were actually published in Church magazines such as the New Era, the Ensign and the Friend.

Jump to Subtopic:

Brigham Young destroys Lucy Mack Smith's history of Joseph?

Summary: Did Brigham Young attempt to suppress and destroy all copies of Lucy Mack Smith's Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith because it contained information which would embarrass the Church? It is claimed that Brigham Young inserted the reference to Joseph Smith's First Vision into Lucy's book. Critics also try to prove that the silence of Joseph's mother and siblings in her history prove that the First Vision did not take place, and is a later fabrication by Joseph, and not well known to the early members of the church.

Jump to Subtopic:

Dealing with doubts about the Church

Jump to Subtopic:

FairMormon web site

  • Daniel C. Peterson, "Reflections on Secular Anti-Mormonism," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 423–450. off-site FairMormon link
  • Blake T. Ostler, "Spiritual Experiences as the Basis for Belief and Commitment," (2007 FAIR Conference Presentation). FairMormon link (Key source)
  • Wendy Ulrich, "'Believest thou...?': Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, and the Psychology of Religious Experience," FairMormon link (Key source)



"Believest thou?" Faith, Cognitive Dissonance, & Psychology of Religious Experience, Wendy Ulrich (Psychologist), 2005 FAIR Conference

External links

  • Cognitive dissonance - multiple links off-site
  • Critique of Cognitive Dissonance Theory off-site
  • Clark Goble, "Cognitive Dissonance and Confirmation Bias," Mormon Metaphysics blog post, (20 July 2007), off-site
  • Michael D. Jibson, "Imagine: Review of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 233–264. off-site wiki
  • Daniel C. Peterson and William J. Hamblin, "Is Spirituality All in Your Head?," off-site
  • Richard N. Williams, "The Spirit of Prophecy and the Spirit of Psychiatry: Restoration or Dissociation? (Review of The Sword of Laban: Joseph Smith Jr. and the Dissociated Mind)," FARMS Review of Books 12/1 (2000): 435–444. off-site

Printed material

  • Leon Festinger, Henry W. Riecken, and Stanley Schachter, When Prophecy Fails: a Social and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World, (Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1956).
  • Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957). ISBN 0804701318