We should “give a break” to past prophets who used racist, sexist, violent, and doctrinally incorrect rhetoric, but modern members can get disciplined for speaking the truth or expressing their views?

It’s okay for Joseph Smith to break his own laws regarding polygamy, but members can get disciplined for breaking a non-scriptural rule against masturbation?

We should worry about exposed shoulders, two-piece swimsuits, and short shorts even though the only thing the book “written for our day” says about clothing is to beware of expensive, fine-quality clothes like those typically worn by church leaders?

Gay men can’t be Boy Scout leaders, but straight men are allowed to ask teenagers deeply personal questions about their sexuality behind closed doors?

Despite Judeo-Christian history being full of polygamy and concubinage, marriage has always been between one man and one woman?

Joseph Smith (“the man who communed with Jehovah”) and Jesus (Jehovah) frequently had alcohol and even drank wine shortly before their deaths, but alcohol today will keep somebody out of the temple?

A person must be honest in their dealings with their fellow men to get into a temple run by an organization that continues to obfuscate its history and practices, make demonstrably false claims, and hide its financial records?

Nephite prophets went through great pains to engrave their history on plates that were abridged, protected, transported, and buried by Moroni so that Joseph Smith could dictate the Book of Mormon without even looking at them?

Members can’t drink beer which is prescribed in the Word of Wisdom, but can eat meat excessively which is prohibited by the Word of Wisdom?

Joseph Smith saw God, Jesus Christ, and the angel Moroni but the plates were the physical evidence he needed in order to have faith in his calling. Yet the reason there is no physical evidence of the Book of Mormon is so that members can have faith?

The church always talks about protecting religious freedom, but its schools expel anyone who leaves the church?

A member must declare every year that they pay 10 percent of their money to a church that won’t declare what they do with their money?

Members must sustain church leaders as prophets, seers, and revelators despite the fact that leaders do not prophesy, “see,” or reveal?

Are you joking?

Tanner Gilliland is a writer, artist, and jazz hands enthusiast based in Salt Lake City, UT. Check out his art on Instagram: @tanner_gilliland, his jokes on Twitter: @tgilliland789, and his poverty on Venmo: Tanner-Gilliland
  • Shem

    You’re making too much sense. Now get on your knees and repent. Read the Book of Mormon cover-to-cover 5 times. Confess to your Bishop. You may get church discipline, but it will be in a court of love where your point-of-view will be disregarded because the thinking has been done… well… multiple times by multiple prophets… some which contradict each other…

    …anyway, that’s not the point. Oh, and read the D&C 3 times. Skip section 132 each time. Just pretend that isn’t in there. Then read the Pearl of Great Price 6 times. Yes, it’s short so 6 times isn’t much. When you get to the book of Abraham, just go right to Chapter 1. Disregard the intro about the papyrus. Don’t even look at the Egyptian pictures. It’s just outdated. Besides, it has nothing to do with your salvation. You need to read your scriptures the way I have instructed to get you out of spiritual jeopardy.

  • Jaredsbrother

    Weird right? it’s almost like the whole thing is just an elaborate sham.

  • jamesallred

    The mormon church is full of dichotomies and inconsistencies.

    Maybe it is intentional manipulation of the members. Kind of like a stock analyst who predicts both sides of a market so 10 months later so she can point to a correct prediction in the past and ignore where they were horribly wrong.

    Maybe it is because there is no paid clergy and every leader gets to say what they want. So despite decades of correlation, it has just been one massive fail to get all of the leaders and members on to the same page.

    Or maybe it is just because there is only one true doctrine in mormonism that doesn’t change. And that doctrine is obey and be loyal to the organization no matter what. And the leaders will say just about anything to keep this one, unchanging doctrine in force.

    Clearly it is not because they are loyal to truth.

  • Pink-lead

    Well done.
    In a world of shifting values and moral relatavism….But it was really hard for Joseph to implement polygamy. He didn’t want to do it! He wanted to tell Emma! It was just sooooo hard!

    And thank you for the tip to modesty as recorded in the BOM. That particular discussion gets pretty damn ridiculous. Supposedly he BOM was written for our day and for us, but we can never apply the warnings or denouncements introspectively towards our institution. Such condemnation applies to all the harlot churches out there who don’t read the book.

  • Arwen Undomiel

    Every year LDS leaders have the opportunity to repent and tell it like it is during general confeence. But no, they don’t. They never apologize for anything or make things right.

    Instead, they prefer to continue in their way to Babylon preaching ideas that oppose the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Every conference they become more spiritually impaired and come up with teachings that resemble more Mussolini than Jesus like:
    ” doubt your doubts, don’t doubt your faith”, “don’t criticize leaders even if what you said it’s true”, ” not all truth is uplifting”, and now ” just give Jose Smith a break”. What’s next? Just give us all a break? Why don’t they give US a break from their uninspired rethoric? I had it with these people.

  • fides quaerens intellectum

    You know your audience infinitely too well. It’s gotta be like giving candy to a baby. I’m glad this blog isn’t seeking confirming opinions! I much prefer this varied and multifaceted crew who frequently comment. Honestly, wanna know who watches Fox news? Right wing nutters. Wanna know who watches MSNBC? Left wing nutters. Wanna know who reads Zelph…?

    • Bob Smith

      To fill in your ellipses: “Those trying to navigate post-Mormon life”, as you said in your previous comment.

      Though I’m honestly glad that you continue to be a part of this audience to round things out, you should invite some of your friends to join in the fun!

  • fides quaerens intellectum

    And while I typically only comment once per hard-hitting article… I have to say, I’d love to see more articles targeting your alleged audience and purpose: “Zelph on the Shelf is a website community dedicated to helping those trying to navigate post-Mormon life.” If the target is post-mormons… You aint gotta convince no one! You’re writing a self help blog, not a persuasive piece! How bout more articles like “How to hold a polite conversation with an insane Mormon” or “How to productively use your extra 3 hours on Sundays” or “Recommended Coffee shops in SLC.”

    Granted, if your audience/purpose is slightly different than stated (which, well… mayyyybbbbeeee it is) continue to use the WTF Jackie Chan meme to politely call to question the intellect and rationality of non-post-Mormons. 🙂

    • Bob Smith

      It seems you have not experienced a transition to being post-mormon, so your lack of understanding can perhaps be excused… but please let me explain why this article fits perfectly in the stated purpose of Zelph.

      Finally coming to the conclusion that the Mormon church isn’t what it claims to be is the most painful thing I have experienced in my entire life (and I’ve experienced some pretty awful stuff). After coming to that conclusion, it is things like Brother Jake’s Youtube videos and posts like these on Zelph on the Shelf that have helped me cope with my transition. Being able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all has helped me come out of a really dark place. Granted, I believe focusing on Mormonism in this way is temporary (and I want that to be the case because do want to move on, and I’m getting there) but this kind of stuff, again, is very helpful during that transitioning time to blunt some of the pain with humor and pointing out the ironies. And you mustn’t forget that any fun that is poked at the intellect and rationality of “non-post-Mormons” is also fun poked at ourselves since we (most of us) were once there “true blue, through and through”. Being able to laugh at yourself — now that’s a valuable skill no matter where you are in your life.

      Hence the target audience can definitely appreciate and gain value from what is being shared in this blog article. I hope now you can appreciate that at least a little bit.

      Props on the suggestions for other post ideas — I love those ideas!

      • fides quaerens intellectum

        I can buy into that explanation, and re-reading this article in that light makes it infinitely more humorous. I think that sometimes the articles posted here tend to have statements like this: “If you want to know more about *something we think is crazy about mormonism* click HERE to find out!” which I feel is disingenuous to their stated purpose. I mean, if I have decided to remove my name from the Dart team cause I have determined I really don’t believe Darts is a sport, I don’t need anyone to feed me internet links on why Darts isn’t a sport. Lame analogy. I know. IF on the other hand, I’m still in the Darts lounge 3 hours every weekend convinced that Darts is God’s one true and living sport, then I need convincing. I just think those are two very different directions to be coming from.

        My point is, I think there should almost be a division on the blog: “Helping Post-Mormons,” “Trying to make MORE Post-Mormons” and “Cathartic Writings: Please signal your agreement.” Right now, all those topics get shoved under the “Helping Post-Mormons live happier lives!” when I think it is pretty clear there are more motives than one. I’m not dissing the motives; just the presentation and, how could one say it, the authors obfuscate their motives. A frustration I would hope people who deal with a lot of Mormons sympathize with 😉

        • Bob Smith

          I appreciate what you are saying. It seems to me that there are really 2 purposes to Zelph on the Shelf which may better capture Zelph’s mission than only “navigating post-mormon life”: (1) the purpose I described in the above comment (i.e. to blunt the pain of transitioning with humor) which definitely falls well into the “navigating post-mormon life” and (2) to present why deciding to become post-Mormon is a perfectly valid and sensible choice (both for the post-Mormon and the believing Mormon)

          Most of my family doesn’t know that I am now an “apostate”, and the difficulty I am faced with is that there is no way to present to them my reasoning without almost certainly damaging their faith to some degree and giving them things to put on their own shelves… which is a terrible burden (until their shelf breaks, if it ever does). And hence I either risk that or I stay quiet and be misunderstood. The Zelph crew clearly made a conscious decision to not stay quiet and to put out there what they see as the valid reasons to become post-Mormon. Unfortunately it’s not faith promoting. How can it be? But to my point: how could a believing Mormon actually understand a post-Mormon’s decision to leave the church without themselves looking into the issues that caused the dissension?

          The church continues to promulgate rhetoric that creates misunderstanding. “Being a skeptic is easy”, says Uchtdorf. No, it took a lot of work actually, in fact it was practically a part time job for me. “Those who leave Mormonism do it because they are offended”. Laughable. “They only leave the church because they want to sin”. Riiiight… “They didn’t have enough faith to keep searching for answers from God”. Honestly I gave it my best shot, certainly I believe it’s fair to say that I tried way harder than at least a majority of believing Mormons. And perhaps the best stuff which is even baked into the temple ceremony: “They criticized the leaders of the church so Satan has control of them.”… And yes I have actually been told that by a believing Mormon. And how do you think that “doctrine” looks from the outside looking-in? Very disturbing, that’s how.

          These are the perceptions the church consistently presents on “apostates”. And hence, if we keep quiet about the issues that are the actual source of our dissension, how can we be truly understood? We can’t.

          • fides quaerens intellectum

            Bob, you’re good at this. I’d vote for you, should you choose to run for office.

            My thought (and I could be totally wrong) is that those who leave usually do so for reasons they deem as “perfectly valid and sensible.” My experience is that people USUALLY have a rational reason to leave. What blogs like Zelph (and a few of my ex-Mormon friends) don’t like to acknowledge is that there are those of us who have “perfectly valid and sensible” reasons for staying! I totally agree that in order to better understand someone’s decision to leave the church one must have a knowledge of WHY they left. No argument there. Does that knowledge have to come in the form of intellectual snobbery? If you read Zelph from the perspective of an active Mormon, it is incredibly condescending and periodically rude. The clear implication is that anyone who “examines the evidence” as closely as they have will come to the same conclusion they have, and that if you don’t, you’re a misogynistic, bigoted, intellectually dishonest chunk of primordial mud. I can hardly stand the level of condescension some of my now ex-Mormon friends display when they talk about “well, if you can make the ‘mental gymnastics’ work for you, you go for it,” as if to suggest I have never had a faith crisis, or examined the evidence, or used my brain.

            So Zelph says the blog is for Post-Mormons trying to be happy, you say “that PLUS helping Mormons see our point of view.” I think that could be accomplished in a different way. To me… I think Zelph is pretty plainly hoping to “faith-shame” any believing Mormon who reads their blog. They are oh-so-critical of the Church for “doubt-shaming”, and yet engage (on a far more personal and attacking manner) in the same activity! I want them to acknowledge that (and maybe one or two things about their motivation) and I’ll be much more willing to let their sweeping generalizations go.

          • Bob Smith

            Thanks for your vote: Remember Bob Smith for President of the Church… by Common Consent, 2016. Here’s my campaign slogan: “I’m Bringin’ Smith’y Back… Them other brethren don’t know how to act”

            I can see where you’re coming from. Zelph without doubt (or reservation) does express the idea that “if you look deep enough, you simply won’t be able to believe anymore”, and I can definitely see how that is offensive to one who still believes and feels like they have looked deep into the problematic issues. Quite offensive indeed.

            But I have a question for you: From what I can tell you still “believe”, but how “orthodox” are you within Mormonism?

            I’m sorry for the upcoming wall of text, but I think that this issue you bring up is so important that it deserves our attention. If you don’t want to read the wall of text, at least I hope you will read the next paragraph and answer the above question.

            You don’t hear Mormons talk about orthodoxy because unfortunately there isn’t really a space for it in the church (seemingly by design — the church claims “literally true” pretty much everywhere). Examples of Mormon orthodoxy are: (1) the Book of Mormon is literally true — i.e. there was a real person named Nephi, Mormon, etc. (2) the church is the only organization that has the priesthood (restored by the hands of John the Baptist, Peter, James, & John, etc) that can officiate in saving ordinances including family sealings (3) the prophets and apostles “cannot lead you astray” (see Elder Ballards April 2014 talk for one of tons of examples). Those are only a few of the fundamental orthodox truth claims.

            Now, every one of those claims has a history and a level of credibility based on the available evidence. And I think it’s fair to say that anyone who has really looked thoughtfully and deeply into these issues from both sides INCLUDING the “faithful” responses to these issues is COMPELLED to one of two courses of action:

            OPTION A: Move away from orthodoxy TO SOME DEGREE (up to and including leaving the church).

            –>Perhaps this departure from orthodoxy is limited to you no longer accepting the “we can’t lead you astray” rhetoric” of the church leaders because it’s ridiculuously easy to prove that statement to be utter boloney with their own “church approved” statements…

            –>Perhaps it means you take the Book of Mormon to be symbolic and to have meaning but that it is not literally true (see the CES Letter AND the apologetic responses for a host of reasons that you should feel compelled to that conclusion based on the evidence). Of course, you might rely on a spiritual witness (in fact the Church essay on the Book of Abraham basically says that’s the only way to know the Book of Abraham is legit), but I think I addressed the reliability of such spiritual witnesses with you elsewhere though I can talk about it again if you want)

            The trouble with accepting any such unorthodox perspectives is that (1) everything is so interwoven — e.g. the Book of Mormon is the “keystone” of our religion, so that’s where the potentially insulting “mental gymnastics” idea comes in — i.e. trying to make things fit that simply don’t and (2) the church is NOT friendly to practically any unorthodoxy (except within a select few progressive wards). If you decide to believe the Book of Mormon is not literally true, you will still be confronted constantly with testimony of people who think it IS literally true and “sudden death” challenges even at the highest levels (for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMWK20vZFwQ ) . If you believe Joseph Smith was killed as a result of illegally destroying a printing press that was printing the truth about his polygamy & council of fifty, etc (which is by far the most historically accurate account of that event) then you will still be confronted with martyrdom accounts that make him out to be completely blameless — a lamb to the slaughter (indeed even in conference — from the prophet — I think within the last couple years), etc. i.e. you will consistently be presented information that you simply feel you can no longer accept as “true” based on the substantial evidence you have before you… and this from the “true” church, no less.

            After really looking into these issues, I personally couldn’t bring myself to actively attend church anymore. I honestly tried. Maybe you can, but I can’t. The correlated account of the church and its doctrine just has too many problems, and yet that account is parroted and testified of over and over and over from people who I simply know have NOT had full disclosure given to them of the facts. And of course, if I were to say what I’m thinking in the meetings it would only make people very uncomfortable.

            And here’s the real kicker: even the apologetic explanations are regularly “unorthodox” relative to the coorelated message of the “true” church. Isn’t that something? The only way these faithful members can make many of the problems “fit” to accept an unorthodox perspective that flies in the face of the “literally true” correlated message the church (who is supposed to be “true”) is always pushing is to believe something outside of the correlated message. That tells you a little something, doesn’t it? How can it not? This is the sort of thing that really gets under an ex-Mormon’s skin. For example: In the same year Elder Ballard said in conference “We cannot lead you astray”, you have the leaders disavowing the “theories” of the united voice of the first presidency in the 60’s going all the way back up to Brigham Young on race and the priesthood. The apologetic response to that IS unorthodox — it destroys their “we cannot lead you astray” claim! (If I’m missing something please correct me!)

            You don’t hear the poster-child Richard Bushman bearing his testimony that he “knows the church is true”. He’ll only say “it makes me a better person”. Highly unorthodox indeed.

            Option B: Accept the conclusion up-front that the church is literally true (BoM is historical, priesthood is real, prophets can’t lead you astray) and dismiss anything that goes against that conclusion while accepting those things that DO support that conclusion. If you didn’t know, that’s the textbook definition of “confirmation bias” which is one of the most powerful and engrained biases we all have as humans. I mentioned already spiritual witnesses, which fit perfectly into this option (did you ever feel disgusted by polygamy? Well it can’t be the spirit telling you what Joseph Smith did was wrong… of course it can’t! — dismiss that feeling because you know Joseph Smith is a “true” prophet, right?)

            And to be honest, I did this for almost 10 years before I REALLY explored the issues last year. That’s what this whole “on the shelf” thing is all about. “Hmm, this new information seems very credible but if it were true it would mean the church isn’t what it claims to be… I’m just going to put it on the shelf”, or my personal favorite “everything will make sense in the next life”. That’s the ticket, let’s just put off an unbiased hearing of the facts in this matter of eternal consequence until the next life. That’s what I did. And trust me, I wanted the church to be true. So again, I have to point out to you that anything that is said mocking the believing perspective is also mocking ourselves — because we were there!

            … and unfortunately the church doesn’t appear to be moving anywhere but deeper into “literally true” orthodoxy territory that is unfriendly to unorthodoxy. I don’t know how they can do that without undermining themselves. It’s actually pretty sad to watch their attempts to hold onto the orthodox belief in their authority. (If you haven’t listened to the “Boise rescue” talk by Oakes &Turley, you should)

            So to answer your concern that Zelph does not acknowledge that there are perfectly valid reasons for believing members to continue believing, I think it’s fair to say that (as I’ve explained) anyone who really takes a hard look at the issues with the foundational truth claims of the church can’t help but become unorthodox to some degree and no longer believe the coorelated way the church puts out there on some level (and if they then continue to believe the fundamental truth claims, they necessarily have lots on their shelf because everything is so interwoven as I previously explained). Sure, there are many great reasons to stay after that happens ( John Dehlin started staylds.com to explore that, and does a fantastic job of it no less) but the idea that the reason for staying is because they still see the church as “literally true” is simply not an option for practically anyone who has really dug into these issues.

            So that brings me back to the question: where are you on that orthodoxy spectrum?

          • fides quaerens intellectum

            A very fair question that I think I’m still exploring. I know that, like Bushman, the church makes me a better person, and I really do believe the Christian narrative, and I really do believe that the original church went awry, and I really do see a need for restoration… AND I really do think the Book of Mormon is GOOD, and I do think good things come from God… But I’m still exploring why I need to wear a white shirt to pass the sacrament/why we ought not pray to an equally powerful female Deity if she really is equally powerful/loving/godlike, etc…

            Excellent thoughts, Bob. Particularly your campaign slogan.

  • Marco Meiling

    Reading this I can´t help but wonder if the “Crazy Man” from Hurricane,UT really can wrap his head around all of this this.
    I don´t think so, while serving with him on the Stake High Council he couldn´t even understand how I could read Bill Clinton´s biography……..

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