Why are people leaving the Mormon Church?  A document from MormonLeaks has caused a stir this week, attributed to Church employee Clint Melander as a Powerpoint for a meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

The most controversial and interesting part of this Powerpoint presentation was a slide titled “Issues and Ideas Leading People Away from the Gospel” with 17 bubbles in four different colors ranging from left (liberal/secular) to right (conservative/fundamentalistic).

Orange — representing liberal/secular

  • Disagree with current policies
  • Incredulity over Church history
  • Ordain Women
  • Secular
  • John Dehlin

What is the church doing to minister to and retain the people in this group?  I see three main issues.

1. Disbelief over historicity of scripture and foundational events.  I believe we have a clear path on how to overcome this issue.  It’s not easy but the path is there.  We need to get open and honest about church history.  I think the church is doing this, but it will be a slow, painful process.  The Gospel Topics Essays are a big start.  Integrating this and the new work “Revelations in Context” into the Gospel Doctrine lessons this year is a big deal.  We see new art work coming out depicting proper Book of Mormon translation with the seer stone.  The church is moving in the right direction.

A big next step on this, in my opinion, is going to also require a change in our doctrine becoming more humble.  We will likely need to back off the exclusivity claims a bit.  We will likely need to accept views of non-historicity of scripture, especially Book of Mormon.  We will likely need to repurpose the First Vision as the founding event of the LDS church, which has an important inspired work to do, but back off the claims that this is a restoration of God’s one and only exclusive true church.  I call this faith reconstruction.  How do we reconstruct faith into something that works after faith crisis destroys the “dominant narrative”.

 

2. LGBTQ policies and doctrine.  This is a huge one.  This could kill the church if we let it.  For those in my generation and older, sexuality was suppressed by our gay peers.  It was pushed away, to the underground, in the closet.  It was easy for us to marginalize those who came out.  The most common view was to view sexual behavior among gay people, even committed relationships, as evil and debased.  Not so, anymore.  Our children all have gay friends.  They see them the same as everyone else.  Some good, some bad.  Some selfish, some pure.  Their sexuality has nothing to do with this.  We don’t see gayness as a virus you can catch and watch it spread if you don’t stamp it out.  We know there’s going to be a few or a handful or whatever it is out of a hundred in every sampling you take, whether you suppress it and force them into anonymously acting out or whether you accept them and allow them to have normal relationships.  I hope and pray we can move forward in a direction that can undo some of the harm we’ve caused to the LGBTQ community.  I understand our current position.  I support and sustain the brethren in “patience and faith”.  I’m not calling them out, but I hope we can move in this direction.  I think there is doctrinal, historical, and Biblical support for doing so.  I expect it to happen, but how long it will take is a big question.

 

3. Female equality.  This is also very important.  I do see the church making progress here, and I look forward to more progress.  The females in our church need to be equal.  We have inherited a patriarchal system, and it’s difficult to sort out as a church what’s doctrine and what’s cultural attitudes that we can let go of, without moving away from God’s will.  I think we as a society in general and a church in specific, have a lot of work to do.  I think we have the organizational structure with the belief in modern revelation to help us lead on these issues in the world.  I hope we will do that.  If you’re struggling to have empathy on this topic, I highly recommend this eye opening blog post from Amy McPhie Allebest.  I’ve raised daughters in this church that have served missions and are strong and capable, and see themselves as not a single bit less than their male peers in the church.  But that’s not the experience all females have, and we can improve here.

 

Blue — representing Apathy, Boredom, “I can’t live the commandments”, what we call “Jack Mormons”

  • Pornography
  • Lack of Righteousness
  • Lack of Commitment
  • Sabbath
  • Chastity

Ugh, I don’t like the way this comes across.  “Lack of Righteousness”.  Eek.  We might need a refresher here.

Romans 3:9-12

9 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin;
10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Isaiah 53:6

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

From Elder Renlund:

After apartheid ended in South Africa, some Church members struggled with integrating black and white congregations, Elder Renlund said. Thoba, a black convert, vented to her mother, Julia, about the mistreatment she felt from white members one day at church. Her mother said, “Oh, Thoba, the Church is like a big hospital and we are all sick in our own way. We come to church to be helped.”

 

This group has always been there.  If you look at the colors.  The green group has always been there to some degree.  The orange group I think is the one that has grown the most.  The blue group has always been there.  We’ve always had inactives, and most of those if you ask them, didn’t have a lot of issues with church politics or doctrine or belief.  Most of them just didn’t care enough to attend church.  Or they feel judged.  Or they knew they were not keeping Word of Wisdom or Law of Chastity and just didn’t feel comfortable.  A lot of this group can be reactivated with good local leaders and members who can show empathy and support.

I think the church has done a good job in a lot of ways to address some of the issues here.  I understand excommunications and disciplinary courts for sin are down quite a bit.  I believe bishops are not grilling and guilting kids over masturbation as much as back when my generation were youth and earlier.  Pornography is an emphasis, but even that seems to be viewed a little more realistically, generally speaking.  We could use some standardization on this, because like many other issues, the way local leadership (ie leadership roulette) interprets things makes a big difference.

But in general, and I mostly blame the members not the leadership for this, we need to stop acting so Pharisaical.  Church is not a contest to see who is the best.  We are all sinners.  We come to church to be healed.  We have standards and we shoot for the best.  But we expect to fail.  Jesus threw out the old law that said it was a sin to commit murder and adultery.  He said he wants our hearts.  It’s now a sin just to lust or become angry.  That doesn’t mean he expects us to live lust and anger free, though that’s a good ideal.  But rather, he wants us to know we’re sinners.  We need to toss out the term “Lost Sheep”.  All we like sheep are lost and gone astray.  None of us are found.  If we all took this approach to the gospel, I think those sitting outside thinking they can’t join us because they can’t keep the commandments would immediately feel more welcome.

 

The red group.  International challenges.

  • Language and cultural problems “-ites”

 

As an international church with its core in the Wasatch front, the church obviously struggles with cultural and international issues.  I don’t have anything to add here, but Gina Colvin in this podcast interview makes some good points.

 

Now, the green group.  The Ultra-orthdox and Fundamentalistic LDS.

  • Church has lost its way or is deficient
  • False prophets
  • Last days/end of world predictions
  • Need “something more”
  • Denver Snuffer
  • Robert Norman

 

Again, this group has always been there.  I’m not sure it’s any bigger than it ever has been.  Denver Snuffer has taken a few from the church.  Julie Rowe and the tent city group appears poised to take a few more.  This is the hardest group for me to understand.  These are the people that want more church.  They think the church is weak because we’re not more strict or the prophet doesn’t speak directly for God.  They view scripture as God’s God-breathed handbook for man..  They look at prophets as super humans that talk to God.

I made this graphic to illustrate an orthodoxy spectrum within religion.  I would say the “Left” the church’s Powerpoint refers to in orange is anywhere from 0 to 60 on this scale.  The “Right” in the Powerpoint is more in the 90 -100 range.  This side is more likely to believe scriptures are literal, such as the Earth is 6,000 years old.  I think the brethren would prefer is to be in the 60-90 Traditional Mormonism range, and those on either side can be perceived as threats.

 

 

Fundamentalism is two edged sword for the church.  On the one hand, it commands respect and obedience from followers.  These people tend to be very, very serious about religion.  Not a lot of Jack Mormons in this group.  Not a lot of people that think they can skip church and get their spirituality with a hike in the mountains.  But on the other hand, it requires literal truth of scripture and factual historicity of church foundational events in a way that doesn’t fit the facts that are coming to light in the internet world.  Attacks on the church like the CES Letter, are very successful, if one is trapped in that literal-fundamentalistic paradigm.  So, the solution is to move away from Fundamentalism, but then you have two problems.  How to get people to still be that committed.  And what to do with all these nutso’s that have a real need for a prophet who walks and talks with Jesus and love to analyze the scriptures for clues about the end of the world?

I want to call out a few of my friends on the liberal side of things who criticize the church at both ends.  If you criticize the church for scripture historicity and lack of humility in prophetic authority, etc, all those criticisms on the left side of the spectrum, please don’t pile on the right side also.  Please don’t jump in with the Rock Watermans and Denver Snuffers criticizing the church for the lack of real prophecy in recent history.  We all know what a prophet is and isn’t, so please take one side or the other.  Don’t give these crazies on the right any more firepower.  They are the dangers to progress in the church and society in general.

 

 Symptoms not Root Cause

The consensus of a lot of analysis on this chart from Church Headquarters is that it seems to be focusing on symptoms and not the root cause.  I created this chart that I think shows both.  I redid the size of circles to show what I think is the real impact, the overlap, and relabeled the categories a little.  I also added a new bubble, which strikes more at the root cause and which spans across all categories.

 

Why People Leave the LDS Church

The big overlying issue here, touching all the other categories, the elephant in the room, is the disbelief and lack of trust that is what I believe is the growing area here that the church has never quite had to deal with in this big of a way.

Information in the internet age is exploding and causing many to doubt the dominant narrative of scripture historicity, factual accuracy of church foundational events, God speaking directly and specifically to prophets.  This is pushing people into categories they might not ordinarily fall into.  The new information is causing some to doubt the prophet’s ability to lead on progressive topics like LGBTQ issues and female equality.  The new information doesn’t seem to agree with science, so those that can’t harmonize them, are leaving and embracing secularism.  Not seeing the possibility for the harmonization of both.  All these trends are causing the church to mainstream a little and move towards progress in these areas (a good thing).  Ultra-Orthodox don’t like this, so they are more apt to believe the church is in apostasy and look for alternatives.

 

Communities 

The last thought I wanted to share in this post is about communities.  John Dehlin has his own bubble here.  The Preppers have their own bubble (Last Days).  These are communities that have a high risk factor to the church.  We naturally seek out communities when our needs aren’t being met.  Those with real big issues on the historicity/belief side of things are looking for communities.  The John Dehlin Mormon Stories community seemed to start out neutral towards the church, with intent to work out problems in a healthy way regardless if the path was in or out of the church.  Now, that community seems to be promoting the “out of church” path.  I hope some of us covering that spectrum can join together to create a new community in place of this.  One where those that are on that left side of the spectrum can discuss issues and support each other, from a pro-church position, like the original Stay LDS community tried to do.  Those of you in communities on the far right side, I hope you can find a way to make it work within the church.  I’m sorry I called you crazy.  Variety and diversity is good.

 

Conclusion

I’m glad church leadership is talking about this.  I hope they’re reviewing good information like Jana Riess published in a recent article.  I think they are showing a lot of signs of progress.  The brethren have a tough job to keep all this together, while moving it in the right direction.  I don’t envy them.  I look to them with faith and optimism.  But it’s not just their problem.  It’s a church problem.  I want to help and be part of the solution.  We have a great heritage.  We have a great church.  It’s worth committing to, and giving our best to help it overcome these hurdles and reach out and minister to all members, becoming a “mighty power for good” in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

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  • bwv549

    Great analysis. Thank you.

  • Scott Stover

    Oh, My! I’m, I guess, one of those who was “led away” by Denver Snuffer. Actually, I wasn’t led away from anything – I was led toward truth. I was led toward the scriptures. I was led to the gifts of the spirit, which are all but absent in the church today. I’m not looking for a prophet. I agree with Moses, “Would that all God’s children would be prophets”. I don’t want ANY man telling me that he has the right or the authority to control my salvation. Only Christ has that authority, and he employeth no servant at the gate. Unfortunately, from the time of Joseph’s death and the presidency of Brigham Young, the LDS church has become a church of men. This is called idolatry. This piece confirms that you have no idea what this problem is with the church. It is simply that it is not Christ’s church.

    I was unceremoniously asked to not report to my shift at the Salt Lake Temple, and my recommend was taken away. Why? Because I questioned whether or not the brethren were PS&R’s. Furthermore, I was told that if I continued to claim that THE LORD TOLD ME that Denver was a true messenger (not a prophet, simply a messenger), I could not have a recommend. So here are two counts where my worthiness to enter and serve in the HOUSE OF THE LORD was dependent upon my testimony of men. So, I ask – whose house is it?

    There is so much that is amiss with the church, and someone tries to sum it up with trite labels such as on this power point and your new “Disbelief, Lack of Trust” label. I don’t have disbelief in the Savior. I don’t have a lack of trust in the Savior. What about you? Is your trust in the Savior, or is it in a group of men, in an institution of men – a corporation of men?

    • losangelesute

      How do I put this. If you know the history of the LDS church and believe Snuffer is less of a misguided con man than Joseph Smith, you deserve each other. Mormonism, in all its iterations, is a verifiable fraud. Period.

      • Card Carrying Libertarian

        What is your smoking gun?

    • LB35

      Scott, you said you were led towards the scriptures. Were you led far enough to get to 3 Nephi 28:34?

      “And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day.”

      It says clearly right there that if you reject those the Lord sends, then you are rejecting Him. So, yes, you do have to sustain the brethren as prophets, seers, and revelators in order to have temple recommend and enter the Lord’s house. Nearly everything on this chart can be summed up with “Rejecting the Lord’s Anointed”.

      I hope you will humble yourself and make your way back when you have repented.

      • Scott Stover

        LB35, thank you for what I know you believe are kind thoughts, even though you are calling me a sinner, or even worse – apostate – one who is need of repentance. I have called you no such thing, but you have certainly judged me – by your own standard…a standard that truly has no validity in the scriptures. The LDS Church today is very much like the Pharisees and Sadducees in Christ’s day. You have put God in a box, and anyone who suggests that perhaps this box is incomplete or slightly distorted is judged and condemned as apostate. You cannot see that, though, any better than the Pharisees could. Your argument concerning “those whom he has sent” has one problem. You are assuming that those 15 men are indeed called by God – that they are indeed among those whom “the Lord sends”. I do not believe that – I see no evidence of it, and I see plenty of evidence that the exact opposite might be true. I don’t want to go into the details – it will only turn negative. We are at an impasse, as your logical argument only holds water if we agree on that first assumption, which we do not.

        I will say, though, that all of these arguments that the church is true, that the brethren are PS&R’s are circular arguments. You say, “Well, you must follow the brethren, and you must stay in the church, well, because it’s true.” Why is it true? “Well, because it’s true. I have a testimony of that”.

        I will ask you to consider one time in the scriptures where the Lord chose a prophet from among the elite of the society, yet these men are almost always chosen from the ancestors of the original pioneers – Dieter F. Uchtdorf being an obvious exception. I also invite you to read 2 Nephi 28 as if it applied to the LDS Church. Nephi called this church out way back then, but most LDS choose to think it applies to everyone else in the world – not to them.

        Honestly, we have both gathered what we believe to be factual knowledge and we have made our decision. It is truly impossible that I could worship Christ with full purpose of heart, that I could be a “humble follower of Christ” (2 Nephi 28:14) without believing that these men are PS&R’s? Is my testimony of Christ REALLY conditional upon my testimony of men? I don’t think so, and I think your worship of them is idolatry – the exact idolatry that Nephi warned us about.

        So, please – don’t be so condescending and judgmental. I have no doubt that you are sincerely doing what you believe is right according to your knowledge. Can you not grant me and others the same courtesy?

      • Steven Black

        I like it when we “wo be unto people”…. we should do it more.

    • LB35

      Scott, We are all sinners, myself included. I was a bit sarcastic in the way I put things, and I apologize for that.

      Sustaining the brethren is not worshiping them as idols.

      You asked me to consider when has the Lord ever chosen the “elite” people as his prophets. Well, the Book of Mormon is full of a line of prophets who came from the same family and they were prominent in the government as well as the church. From Alma the Elder, his son Alma, then Helaman, Helaman, and then Nephi. Six generations of prophets from one family. A couple chief judges and a general in the army among them. I’d call them all “elite”.

      I can see elements of personal apostasy among members of the LDS Church, for things that are described in 2 Nephi 28. But not the entire Church as apostate.

  • John Shaw

    I think your graph isn’t right, I’d rather see this on a bell curve that likely represents the distribution better. Sometimes we skew it because of the over vocal loudness of the progressive side.

    • http://www.churchistrue.com/ churchistrue

      You think I have the left over represented compared to the right? Could be. I’d love to see real data. My logic: I personally if I left it would be on the left side. I know some people in my personal life that have left the church, it was on the left side. I don’t know anyone who left on the right side. The left side does seem to dominate the Exmo communities online. But as you say, that could be just because they are more vocal. I’m not really in touch with the right hand side. Would love to see real data.

  • Dennis Lange

    I don’t understand the term “progressive Mormonism”. Why not just call it secularism, since both progressives and reactionaries, liberals and conservatives, can be secular, and would fit into this category that you have dubbed “progressive”.
    Such an erroneous nomenclature causes some politically conservative Mormons to look at politically liberal Mormons, as less committed to the church, or less believing. Where the truth is, that Mormonism, specifically, and Christianity in general, if practiced the way that it is taught, would cause someone to migrate to the left of the political spectrum.

    • http://www.churchistrue.com/ churchistrue

      The term is borrowed from “Progressive Christianity” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Christianity or “Progressive Judaism”. Basic idea here is: more likely to view scripture as having metaphorical value and not being literal, more likely to be more open to change related to social issues like racism, sexism, anti-homosexuality, etc, due to not seeing scripture and doctrine as being God-breathed and more likely to be somewhat wrapped up in antiquated cultural attitudes.

  • Brad Kramer

    Are the size of these circles significant? Do they represent numbers of people? And if so, how did you arrive at these numbers?

    I think you are on to something with your ideas of disbelief and lack of trust. Anecdotally, I think this is particularly a characteristic of millennials who seem very reluctant to commit to relationships beit with a religious group, a political group, a social group, and educational group, or even a person (i.e, marriage). This age group seems to be much more comfortable with boycotting, divesting, sanctioning, protesting, and otherwise distancing themselves from groups than influencing them from within in a constructive, participative way. They do not seem to trust groups and have little tolerance for people who do not see the world in precisely the same way they do. As a result, as I see it from my admittedly limited perspective, it seems very easy for them, reared on social media, to “unfriend” groups in general, not just the LDS Church.

    • http://www.churchistrue.com/ churchistrue

      I assume the sizes the circles was significant to the person who created the original chart from the leaked Powerpoint. The one I did, yes, they are meant to represent the size of the category in numbers. I don’t have any hard data, just my gut feel.

  • Lane

    Thank you this analysis is exactly why I quit this church.

  • Loren Evans

    A great analysis. I would postulate that the church will need to evolve soon and quick before it becomes ever more irrelevant in most peoples lives. There is much good the church does, there is much good that members derive and for that reason there will always be a core that believe and follow. However, the same can be said for just about every other church. The problem, from my perspective, is church leadership as leaders in most other church’s, do not want the body of the church to mature in spirituality. If members get too far they realize that they no longer need expensive buildings or men to intercede in their behalf communing with God because they discover the divine within themselves. I am grateful for my rearing as a Mormon, to the end of my life I will always be a cultural Mormon. I have moved on and upward because the church no longer offered enough to meet my spiritual needs. The pettiness and purposeful repression was enough, now I am free to love, give, cry, feel, and serve as I choose. Much the same as all the Masters have taught us for millennia, buildings and leaders are not relevant…Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and many others gave us simple truths to find the divine within.

  • Karl Christen

    #2 will never be considered “normal relationship” in the eyes of the LDS mainstream church. And really it should not
    be considered a marriage. I’ve disliked the fact that the government ever was involved in a religious act in the first place. Marriage is a RELIGIOUS ordinance and should NEVER have been legislated by government.

    • Curtis Hight

      Why is marriage only a religious ordinance?

      Here is another view:

      “One of the reasons they had been forced to leave England was that King James had used the ecclesiastical courts to impose his own religious beliefs. In Holland, they had enjoyed the benefits of a society in which the division between church and state had been, for the most part, rigorously maintained. They could not help but absorb some decidedly Dutch ways of looking at the world. For example, marriage in Holland was a civil ceremony, and so it would be—much to the dismay of English authorities—in Plymouth Colony.”

      Nathaniel Philbrick, Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War (New York: Viking, 2006), 40.

  • Steve Lowther

    As a former member, I can very much appreciate your self-reflective approach. You lack the defensiveness, dismissal, and denial that I found so alienating soon after my delving into the issues decades ago.

    I have admired many of the Church’s apologists including Dr. Daniel Peterson. I appreciate their approach in many ways, yet there is excessive tribalism that keeps many from embracing humankind outside of the boundaries of the devout.

    • trytoseeitmyway

      The last phrase in the second paragraph (“yet there is excessive …”) is incoherent. If you ask three people to try to guess what you mean, you’ll get four answers.

      • Ashley Oviatt

        “I think he’s talking about the Mormon culture where you don’t know your across the street neighbor if they’re in a different ward than you. Tribalism. “They ain’t in my tribe, (errr, ward,) so I don’t need to know them.” It’s even worse if they aren’t members of the “church” tribe. I’m pretty sure that’s what he means. It’s generally a Utah phenomenon. Outside of Utah you have to know your neighbors who aren’t members, or your world will feel VERY small.

        Surprisingly, there are very Christ-like non-members! :D

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Well, I think that’s my point. You’re guessing he’s referring to something you tell me exists (does it really?) in Utah. I don’t live in Utah but I’ve also never heard of that phenomenon before. So if I comment that the reference to “excessive tribalism” is incoherent (possibly “opaque” would be a better word), the observation still seems fair.

      • cjb

        r/iamverysmart

  • Matthias Cole

    You seem to think that we should be distancing ourselves from the scriptures in order to become more progressive as a church.

    If you don’t believe in holding the scriptures as God’s word then what purpose do the scriptures have?

    In the vision of the tree of life the word of God is compared to an iron rod that we are suppose to hold on to to get us through Satan’s deceptions, referred to as a mist of darkness.

    If the word of God is not the scriptures, what is it? Whatever we believe and feel is right? Whatever society tells us? Something else?

    If the scriptures are not true and cannot be trusted what do we use as our guiding light?

    How can anyone ever know what is real? If the scriptures aren’t true is there even a God? Is Christ our savior? Will there be a second coming of Christ?

    I think minimizing the scriptures is the last thing we should be doing to navigate the turbulence that is surrounding the church these days. Without them we truly have nothing to guide us.

  • Adele Lewis

    I would like to respectively address three points in your comments.
    1. The role of art. Art is just one vehicle for bringing a message forward or presenting a narrative. Artist’s concerns are very rarely centered on historical accuracy but much more invested in visual considerations. If individuals are learning history from images then they need to use some common sense. One brief example will suffice. If you look up Edward Poynter’s 1867 painting Israel in Egypt you will see many quite flagrant chronological and geographical distortions. Poynter was no doubt aware of these but used what sources he had at his disposal and tried to create a powerful image. Again, one should not assume the painting faithfully and factually recreates the story. It would, in any case, be impossible–which brings me to my other point.
    2. History. History, as we understand it is an intellectual construct—we ourselves create it. Like a weaver sitting at a loom, history is woven from threads of primary and secondary sources—those that are available (and some simply are not). The weaving invariably assumes the subjective form of the weaver as even the most rigorous attempts at complete objectivity are impossible—as what could that product even be measured against? So to claim that there is (out there) a completely honest and objective history if we would only have courage to present it– is a misunderstanding of what history is. Every generation re-writes history. It is fluid and ever changing.
    3. The scriptures. Though the scriptures originate in a specific historical context, and though they include narratives grounded in place and time. They ARE not, however, and were never intended to be history. That is not the role of scripture. So to find historical discrepancies and anachronisms is a futile task. So is arguing against the historicity of scripture. On the other hand the scriptures do not just appear within a revelatory vacuum. The scriptures are written by men and subject to the same objective/subjective and primary/secondary source issues mentioned above. But they differ in the fact that a revelatory process IS involved with the Holy Ghost being a primary contributor. The role of scripture is to help us believe in God and understand his dealings with man. If we try to force scripture into providing evidence of historical events or seek for external evidence to verify them—we are going to be frustrated. That is apparently NOT how God works.

    • Curtis Hight

      The following buttresses point #2, and subtly speaks to points #1 and #3.

      “William Hesseltine, an earlier biographer, attributed the denigration of Grant’s presidency to the fact that his enemies wrote better than his friends. ‘Consciously or unconsciously, they stuffed the ballot boxes of history against Grant.’ Modern historians followed along. Grant did not look like a president any more than he looked like a general. Seedy, careworn, always slightly rumpled and reeking of cigar smoke, he was easy to put down. Those who saw Grant for the first time during the Civil War often made the same mistake. But it was difficult to dismiss Donelson, Vicksburg, and Appomattox. Presidential accomplishment is more ambiguous, and there is always room to disagree about what constitutes political success.…

      It was not just Grant’s appearance, or his manner, or the fact that his enemies wrote better than his friends. Grant was condemned because of what he stood for. As president, he fought for black equality long after his countrymen had tired of ‘the Negro question.’ He defended the rights of African-Americans in the South with a tenacity that held the Union line at Shiloh. For Grant, Reconstruction meant a new order, with the freedmen integrated into the social and political fabric of the South. By the late 1870s that view was no longer fashionable. And for almost a hundred years, mainstream historians, unsympathetic to black equality, brutalized Grant’s presidency.”*

      Your words: “Every generation re-writes history.” is represented in an endnote:

      “According to the 1930 Dictionary of National Biography, edited by Dumas Malone, ‘no one did more than Dunning to rewrite the history of the generation following the Civil War.’ Dunning saw Reconstruction in starkly racial terms and believed that white graduate students from the South were best qualified to write about it because of their personal experience and ‘empathy.’ Known as ‘the Dunning School’….”**

      Jean Edward Smith, Grant (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2001), *14–15, **699.

      • Adele Lewis

        A great example—thanks for sharing.

  • Curtis Hight

    churchistrue,

    I have a quibble with your blog title. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ and is called in His name, not the name of the members. If you wish for an acronym, then I humbly present “The CJCLDS is True Blog.” :-)

  • Malcolm McLean

    “Attacks on the church like the CES Letter …”

    I see this statement as rather unfair. You know the history of the letter.

    • churchistrue

      Regardless of the history, the CES Letter and the way it is marketed is no doubt an attack on the church.

  • Bill Parker

    You mention early on in this discussion about the possibility of the Mormon church backing off on its claim of being EXCLUSIVELY the one and only true church of Jesus Christ, the one and only church authorized and recognized by God himself. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING !!! Were any general authority or higher-up leader of the LDS church to even ever HINT at this as a possibility would mean the utter collapse of the organization, and rightly so !!!!!!!!!!! Get a grip, man !!!

  • jaronbs

    The LDS church needs to develop a sense of humor. Here’s my contribution.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgQREan3N3Q