Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/MormonThink

A FairMormon Analysis of the critical website MormonThink.com

I fantasize about a full-blown faith-destroying session. In real life, I did put the bishop in his place over polygamy. He kept saying I was wrong about Joseph having other wives and being illegal and such. I proved him wrong and he ate crow. twas fun.

—MormonThink's first managing editor, Feb. 21, 2012, 12:50PM. [1]
A MormonThink.com supporter displays a sign during "The American Atheists Mass Resignation Event" at the April 2014 General Conference
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Claim Evaluation
MormonThink
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Overview

The website mormonthink.com is designed to lead Church members into questioning their beliefs in a non-threatening manner by claiming to be "objective" and "balanced." For years that site claimed to be run by active members of the Church. In reality, however, they were "active" only in the sense that some of them still occasionally attended Church—they did not accept the Church's truth claims, and they had no interest in strengthening belief. Instead, the site portrays Church leaders as liars, Joseph Smith as a fraud and con-man, and the Church as "an oppressive empire building corporation." The site includes links to FairMormon as a way of demonstrating their claimed "balance."

Each page on MormonThink.com typically includes quotes from Church sources, large amounts of block text copied from websites critical of the Church, a few references to LDS apologetics that are followed by mocking refutations by critics, and and ending summary which generally agrees with the critics. The bottom of each page contains links to critical sites, believers' sites and to some sites which they consider neutral.

The specific content of the MormonThink website is addressed in the articles listed below

The Book of Mormon

A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Translation of the Book of Mormon"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that "Most of us could probably accept the translation method more easily if we had always been taught about the 'stone in the hat' method but we have a hard time accepting it now knowing that the leaders know about it but all the Church manuals, paintings, Church magazines, Church website, Church movies, missionary discussions, etc. purposely show a very different method."

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Book of Mormon Problems"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that "While we cannot accept the Book of Mormon story as literally historical; we can, in a sense, accept the book as a somewhat symbolic embodiment of 'the American story' - the creation of a unique but "familiar" vision of manifest destiny, wars waged to protect the "liberties" of patriots, democracies created to secure the sanctity of these liberties, and the overarching struggle of good and evil - all roughly woven together within the framework of an American Christian apocalypse."

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "The Lost 116 Pages of the Book of Mormon"

Summary: This MormonThink article draws the following conclusion: "There's an episode of the cartoon South Park called "All About the Mormons". In the episode, a faithful LDS family tells the story of the lost 116 pages to a neighbor boy they are trying to convert. They tell this story as proof that Joseph Smith was telling the truth and Mormonism is true. Perhaps the most telling comment we've ever heard about the lost 116 pages debacle comes from the neighborhood boy, who, after hearing the story of the lost 116 pages, exclaims "'Wait, Mormons actually know this story and they still believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet?'"

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Could Joseph Smith have written the Book of Mormon?"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that "The Nephites and Lamanites were primitive peoples. Joseph Smith would have been considered a scholar compared to any Indians that lived 2,000 years ago. Yet we don't question that the ancient Indians wrote the original Book of Mormon, but we totally reject the idea that a 19th century man couldn't have done the same thing. That makes reason stare." (FairMormon note: we find this conclusion somewhat insulting to Native Americans)

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "The Witnesses"

Summary: MormonThink concludes that the witnesses may have only seen the plates in a vision, rather than with their own eyes.

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Joseph Smith

A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Moroni's Visitation"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that Moroni's visit was likely a "dream or hallucination."

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "The First Vision"

Summary: MormonThink concludes that the story of the First Vision "is very simplified and perhaps not likely to be what really happened when you consider all the evidence contradicting the official account of the First Vision that we were all taught in Sunday School."

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "The Book of Abraham"

Summary: The critics summarize their position as follows: "We think that without an official response from the church on the Book of Abraham problems, we are required to have more faith than anyone should be asked to have."

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "The Kinderhook Plates"

Summary: MormonThink editors conclude that "If Joseph did misrepresent himself about the Kinderhook Plates, for whatever reason, we wonder what else he may have misrepresented about himself?"

We note that the most recent new data on this subject presented by historian Don Bradley (who is not an apologist, nor is he a member of FairMormon) invalidates the old apologetic arguments. The new data suggests that Joseph attempted to translate a character on the Kinderhook Plates manually by matching it to a similar character in the Grammar and Alphabet of the Egyptian Language (which, by the way, actually has nothing to do with actual Egyptian). The "translation" recorded by William Clayton matched the explanation given for the character in the GAEL. See: “President Joseph has Translated a Portion": Solving the Mystery of the Kinderhook Plates by Don Bradley, 2011 FAIR Conference.

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Joseph's Translation of the Bible"

Summary: MormonThink concludes that the "Joseph Smith Translation" of the Bible needs to be added to the "Book of Abraham facsimiles and papyri, the Anthon Manuscript, the Kinderhook Plates, Joseph Smith’s Book of Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar and the Greek Psalter" as demonstrations that Joseph lacked the ability to translate anything.

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Running with Gold Plates"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that Joseph could probably not have run with the gold plates because he had a limp from his leg operation as a child, and that his story of running with the plates is likely a "tall tale."

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History

A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Polygamy"

Summary: MormonThink concludes in this article that we should believe that Oliver Cowdery's claim that Joseph had an affair should be given credence because Oliver was also a Book of Mormon witness.

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Blacks and the Priesthood"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that President Kimball did not actually receive a revelation ending the priesthood ban.

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page" The Greek Psalter Incident"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that because of the "Book of Abraham, Kinderhook Plates and the Joseph Smith translation of the Bible," that the Greek Psalter story "further damages Joseph's claims to be a true seer."

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Doctrine

A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Conflicts with Science"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes that acceptance of scientific facts and a belief in God are incompatible. For example the website offers this conclusion: "What sounds more plausible; that dinosaurs and plants lived on our planet, died millions of years ago and turned into oil and coal and petrified wood, etc. from age and intense volcanic pressure OR that dinosaurs and plants really only existed on another planet and God moved all of the dinosaur bones, coal, oil, petrified wood, footprints and fossilized dinosaur poop here just to trick everybody but the clever Mormon gospel doctrine teachers?"

A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Tithing"

Summary: This MormonThink article concludes: "The church doesn't need the money," and that the Church "simply does not appear to really need the money. President Hinckley acknowledged that no tithing dollars were needed to fund a $5 billion City Creek development & mall. If it can make this kind of interest on its existing assets, then it doesn't appear to need any additional funding to operate quite comfortably on its income from the many businesses it owns without any tithing income." The website recommends that members send their contributions elsewhere.

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Temple"

Summary: MormonThink originally removed this page containing detailed information about the temple, not because it was offensive to Latter-day Saints, but only because it was driving ex-Mormons' believing spouses away from examining their critical website. The content has been removed and added back several times. FairMormon responds to a number of issues raised which are not related to the explicit temple content that the site sometimes hosts. MormonThink concludes this page with a section titled "The absurdness of it all."

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Lying for the Lord"

Summary: MormonThink concludes that "lying was the method the church used as standard operating procedure to keep from losing its members." MormonThink also notes that "The message from current leaders is clear. Pretend that the LDS leaders are infallible, blindly obey and conform." (FAIR note: this is a standard position taken by many ex-Mormons after their disaffection with the Church).

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A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Doctrine & Covenants"

Summary: MormonThink concludes that the "D&C seems to betray it's origins as more likely coming from man and not from God as there have been many, many substantive changes to the D&C with no explanation."

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The "Spin Free" Section

The following articles extract all of the primary and secondary source quotes from the critical site, places them within their original context when possible, and provides links to the original sources online. This allows you to read the critics' articles free of critical or apologetic "spin." You read the quotes and decide for yourself what to think, without any help from FairMormon or from the critics at MormonThink. If you want to check the sources, we make it easy to go back and look at the originals whenever possible. We won't tell you what to think, and neither will the critics.

A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Joseph Smith, Captain Kidd, Cumorah And Moroni"

Summary: Grant Palmer published a paper called "Joseph Smith, Captain Kidd, Cumorah And Moroni" in the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal in 2014. Palmer asserts that Joseph Smith acquired the names "Cumorah" and "Moroni" by reading stories of Captain Kidd in his youth. Palmer concludes that it is "reasonable to assert that Joseph Smith's hill in the "land of Camorah" [Comorah/Cumorah], "city of Moroni," and "land of Moroni" [2] We respond to these claims in this article.

A FairMormon Analysis of MormonThink page "Kirtland Temple Dedication"

Summary: (http://mormonthink.com/glossary/kirtlandtemplededication.htm)Regarding the heavenly manifestations that accompanied the Kirtland Temple dedication, Mormonthink concludes that "It's likely that Joseph said he was seeing something angelic and told the congregation what he claimed to be seeing. Those in attendance relayed what Joseph said he saw. Everyone was so excited for this grand event, that they likely got caught up in the moment and imagined some extraordinary things."

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Overview of the MormonThink website

Summary: The web site MormonThink.com claims to be operated by active members of the Church with an interest in objectively presenting the "truth" about Mormonism. In general, the conclusions reached by the site reflect negatively on the Church. The best explanation of the purpose of the website is offered the words of its own webmaster, and by the testimonials of ex-Mormons who claim that the site caused them to lose belief and leave the Church.

Response to MormonThink's list of 25 items that would allegedly "make the Church true"

Summary: (http://www.mormonthink.com/endpage.htm) According to MormonThink.com, if the Church actually contained God's truth and authority, "we would expect the following things to have happened in this way." The following is a list of issues presented by the website followed by FairMormon's response. Most items on the list are standard anti-Mormon fare, issues FairMormon believes have been "asked and answered" many times. Nearly all points appeal to some type of intellectual or religious fundamentalism.

The FairMormon Blog responds to these questions

SteveDensleyJr,"A Yankee Lawyer’s Guide to the “Mormon Apocalypse”", FairMormon Blog, (February 17, 2014)


A British man named Tom Philips has filed a fraud action in England against President Thomas Monson and is claiming that it will bring on the “Mormon Apocalypse.” However, rather than inciting fear and panic among the faithful, if they know about the case at all, the most common response is one of bewilderment among Mormons and non-Mormons alike. That is due partly to the fact that it seems quite odd that someone would pursue a case for fraud that is based on faith claims and personal opinions. But, at least for Americans, the odd nature by which the claim has arisen procedurally is equally puzzling.


As an American civil defense lawyer, I think I have been as befuddled by this case as anyone. So I’ve consulted British lawyers and legal sources and come up with the following guide to what Phillips has called, the “Mormon Apocalypse.”

Click here to view the complete article

Notes

  1. Comment by MormonThink's founding editor, posting as "SpongeBob SquareGarments" on the ex-Mormon message board Recovery from Mormonism, Feb. 21, 2012 at 12:50PM. After FairMormon posted this quote, the original was deleted from the RFM board. The original thread in which it appeared, however, still exists here: Thread Anyone Fantasize About a Showdown with SP or Bishop?, Recovery from Mormonism, posted Feb. 20, 2012.
  2. Grant Palmer, John Whitmer Historical Association vol. 34 no. 1 Spring/Summer 2014