Brian Hales uses supposition and deception to accuse an amateur of the same

There are few things that upset me more than a bully.  And by a bully, I mean one who is better equipped singling out and holding up for scorn someone who is not as gifted or skilled in order to make themselves look better to the world.

In Brian Hale’s latest blog post he first mocks Jeremy for not being an expert when Jeremy never claimed to be as much.  His “Letter to a CES director” was just that, a letter to ask questions that went viral.

“but when individuals attempt to expound and defend a specific historical interpretation before the public, it seems it would be wise to familiarize themselves with the latest research on the topic. “

By which of course he means HIS research. Continue reading

Posted in Apologetics, Current issues | 6 Comments

Boyd K. Packer and a Whole New Sin

Once upon a time, my father and I attended priesthood session.  On our way there, my father commented how bad he felt for Boyd K. Packer because he always had to take the “conversation to the young men”.  He was a junior apostle at the time and he assumed that the discussions of homosexuality and masturbation was handed down to him from everyone else who didn’t want it.

However, Boyd K .Packer is now the most senior apostle and he still speaks most frequently about homosexuality and masturbation.  This lead me to chase down a bit of why he talks about these things so frequently.

So I asked myself, what do the scriptures say about Masturbation?


That’s right, there is not a single instance of masturbation talk in the scriptures.  Not just the bible; but the scriptures for “our day” as well have no mention. There is one scripture about Onan who uses the pull out method of birth control and dies from it, but having sex with your brother’s wife (to fulfill a covenant) and masturbation are not even close to similar.

So what did Joseph Smith say about Masturbation?


Well, almost nothing.  He wrote in his 1838 version of  the first vision that

“the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God TO THE GRATIFICATION OF MANY APPETITES.”

– Times and Seasons, v. 3 pp. 748 – 749.

The next verse, verse 29, was added later after Smith’s death, which says he was merely guilty of “levity”.  The edit was made by Willard Richards, afraid it was too obvious that it meant masturbation, which was unseemly for a prophet to do. (Hey, he was a 14-year-old boy)

So when is the first mention of masturbation in the history of the LDS church?

18 June, 1870 -   George A. Smith tells Salt Lake School of the Prophets about “the evil of Masturbation” among Utah Mormons. Apostle Lorenzo Snow says that “Plural Marriage would tend to diminish this evil self-pollution,”  School of the Prophets record quoted in D. Michael Quinn’s “Extentions of Power” page 766)

A year later they discussed it again, with polygamy being the solution.  That’s 40 years of church history with nary a mention even at the top.  So maybe they just didn’t talk about sexual topics?

“During Brigham Young’s day, Mormons were unabashed and outspoken in discussing sexual health and morality issues such as adultery, fornication, and prostitution in print. For the first pioneer Mormons however, the question of masturbation was never discussed in the church press and the Mormon prophets took no official doctrinal position. No known early Mormon doctrinal statements from this period exist specifically on the topic.”

I think it should be mentioned that a bishop thought it okay to group masturbate with teenage boys, for which he was excommunicated in 1886.  So there is some precedent, but even then no literature or formal advice was produced

In 1902 George Albert Smith again spoke on the evils of masturbation; but nothing was done

“the practice of masturbation was indulged in by many young people in church schools. Pres. Smith remarked that this was a most damnable and pernicious practice, and the face of every apostle, president of a stake, and high council should be set as flint against it. The priesthood should be called together at the stake conferences and the brethren and parents should be instructed and warned in relation to this matter”” –1902 Mormon Apostle Rudger Clawson

Following the majority of the Brethren would have led one to think there was nothing wrong with having a wank.

In the 1920-30′s 

Official church manuals endorsed secular books about sexuality and suggested that sexual interests be guided rather than inhibited. During this time masturbation did not always carry the same onus that it does in the popular Mormon literature of today. Rather than focusing on abstinence supervision as is practiced today with current church youth interviewing policies, lessons instead warned parents that they could create emotional problems in their adolescents by an “unintelligent” over response to their masturbation (Bush, 1993).

Prior to the 1950s the sparse church literature specifically mentioning masturbation generally agreed with moderate views of secular medical authorities.

So we’re up to 120 years with no mention to the youth except to follow your doctor’s recommendation.  It’s not a sin, no youth talks, no pamphlets with smiling teenagers on them, nothing.

In fact, when medical science decided that masturbation did not cause insanity, the church published manuals stating “the pernicious fallacy that insanity is the result of excessive masturbation. The facts do not support any such view….”

So why is it a “sin” now?

In October 1953, [B.Y.U.] President Wilkinson, alarmed at the implications of Alfred Kinsey’s reports on male and female sexual behavior, appointed a faculty committee to determine if the school’s sex education program was providing a strong defense of chastity … at least two faculty committees were appointed to address the ‘Masturbation Problem’….” (Bergera & Priddis,1985, p.81).

Ah, you see there was this guy, Kinsey, and he ran some studies on what is “Normal sexual behavior” as well as what was abnormal, and he publisehd in 1948 (men) and 1953 (women).  But the normal behavior became sin when BYU president read the report that women did it too.

What follows is a set of speeches by apostles that ban more and more of the “normal” mentioned by the Kinsey Report:

“Petting is indecent and sinful, and the person who attempts to pet with you is himself both indecent and sinful and is likewise lustful… Is that what you want? Will you not remember that in the category of crime, God says sex sin is next to murder?” -Apostle Mark E. Petersen, General Conference, 3 October 1956

“To keep the Children of Israel from committing these sins, the Lord proceeds to name them and to prescribe penalties for their commission. I am going to name a few of them. First is incest. I am not enlarging on it. In the law incest included more than we now ascribe to it. It included marriage between people within prohibited relationships. The penalty for incest was death to both parties. Fornication-sometimes adultery and fornication are used interchangeably. But for most kinds of fornication, the penalty was death. For adultery, it was death for both parties. For homosexuality, it was death to the male and the prescription or penalty for the female I do not know.” – Apostle J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Conference Address, April 8, 1957.

“How like the mistletoe is immorality. The killer plant starts with a sticky sweet berry. Little indiscretions are the berries — indiscretions like sex thoughts sex discussions, passionate kissing, pornography. The leaves and little twigs are masturbation and necking and such, growing with every exercise. The full-grown plant is petting and sex looseness. It confounds, frustrates, and destroys like the parasite if it is not cut out and destroyed, for, in time it robs the tree, bleeds its life, and leaves it barren and dry; and, strangely enough, the parasite dies with its host.” – Prophet Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference Address, April 1, 1967.


That’s right, in 1967 masturbation is as “wrong as necking”.  Almost 140 years of the church’s history and it barely gets a mention.

So why were we chosen to live in an era with a “new sin”.  In 1975 Vaugh J. Featherstone gave a talk on masturbation at BYU.

Enter this guy, who takes it from “A stepping stone” to inventing a whole new sin”

In 1976, Boyd K. Packer gave a speech in priesthood session that was then printed out and distributed to young men entitled To Young Men Only” (Still hosted on  To be clear, Boyd K. claims that the Lord has given young men powers to procreate only to be used with their wives, a new doctrine not before stated by scripture, or any of the other brethren in the history of the church.  He is entitled to his opinions, but his decision to promote or proselyte them is in question.

This pamphlet is famous for the “little factories” analogy.

In 1980 Spencer W. Kimball gave a talk about it as well.  As a side note shortly after  LDS Psychiatrist Cantril Nielsen found himself caught between his conflicting religious and professional oaths. Nielsen paid a sizable wrongful death malpractice settlement in the masturbation-shame suicide of 16-year-old Kip Eliason. The lawsuit alleged that Nielsen violated professional standards of psychiatric care by prescribing that his patient should follow his Mormon bishop’s advice to abstain from masturbation in order to be “worthy,” rather than basing treatment on empirical medical evidence required by medical ethics. Medical experts in the case verified the empirical evidence that masturbation is not only harmless, but that masturbation abstinence has a documented history of suicidal risk (Eliason, 1983; Steckel, 1917/1953).

Despite a death and lawsuit in Sep 1981 – Branch presidents at the Missionary Training Center in Provo receive 21-point handout to help “both male and female” missionaries avoid masturbation.

From 1976 on, the act of masturbation became a “Sin” pretty much completely put into the minds of the LDS by recent leadership.  Further lawsuits of suicide victims discussing the feeling of unworthiness would come and still do against the church or specific local leaders over this invented sin.

For a complete list of talks regarding this sin since 1975:


After the church found out something was normal, and that women also enjoyed their bodies, the apostles started to discourage the practice that Joseph Smith himself thought no big deal, and God seems to not care about.  Boyd K. Packer,  pushed the correlation department to print out pamphlets that invented a sin, and then the leadership talked about it at almost every conference with Boyd K. being the foremost speaker for the rest of his life up until this point.

Death, shame, guilt for a “sin” so vile that God never mentioned it, and church history almost never speaks of it.  Now, who should be excommunicated for misleading members with personal doctrine?

More history available here:

Posted in GA Bullsh*t | 3 Comments

Accountability and the Church

On, a search for the term “Accountability” produces a huge number of results.  It is a central topic discussed by leadership in the church.   For example

This feeling of accountability, which is encompassed by the first great commandment to love God, has been described by some as “obedience to the unenforceable.” 3 We try to do what is right because we love and want to please our Father in Heaven, not because someone is forcing us to obey.

Mostly tied together with a feeling of the importance of agency and the concept of Stewardship, one would think that tracing the accountability of any action of the church would be a piece of cake.  And on the surface, that would be true, but peel back a layer or two and suddenly the accountability vanishes.

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Stop pushing the button

When I was in college I learned about a very particular experiment that changed my life:

The Milgram experiment in which volunteers were told the buttons they were pressing were harming another human, but were told to keep doing it by an authority figure (in a lab coat).

The results showed (consistently) that 61-66% of the people around us would push the button to fatal levels if told to do so by an authority figure.

After learning about this experiment I decided that I would not be one of those people who pushed the button.  I would value other humans more than obedience to authority.  I thought about guards around internment or concentration camps and why they would continue to do their job.  I decided I would be the person who wouldn’t be there doing that.

As I read the LDS members who are wildly opposed to Kate Kelly’s heinous crime of organizing women to ask a question, John Dehlin’s devious sin of saying we could be nice to gays, or Rock Waterman’s horribly question about “Could we start actually following doctrine”, I see a lot of pushing the button because leadership tells them to.

Most arguments invoke “I will follow the prophet”, or “They didn’t do what leaders said”, and I’m a little surprised and horrified by that in a church defined in its mythos by a boy asking a question challenged by religious leadership of his day, they are so unwilling to allow people to ask questions.  That the boy Joseph Smith from the mythos would be excommunicated by the current LDS church is no question in my mind.  This is a church that has woven into its DNA that it could change with the times via continuing revelation and yet when members ask for revelation, the Church excommunicates them; even when it was a prophet who prompted people to ask the question.

Many times people ask me why I resigned my membership.  I decided I would stop pushing the button.

I couldn’t be part of an organization that secretly experimented on Gays

I couldn’t be part of an organization that hides its history from its members

I couldn’t be part of an organization that hurts families and members while claiming to be about families and members.

Obedience to leadership is not a virtue if that obedience harms other humans.  Doing nothing is the same as approval of the behavior.  It’s time to stand up to authorities who are telling people to shun, harm, or debase others for their own gain.

A lot of members have stated they might resign as members over this issue.  I hope, they can find the courage to be part of the 33% who can no longer keep pushing the button too.

See Darren Brown convince a girl to electrocute a kitten in a similar experiment

(Don’t think about the church teaching about porn and masturbation  every time you see the kitten)

Posted in Current issues | 4 Comments


The beholder is a fictional monster in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Its appearance is that of a floating orb of flesh with a large mouth, single central eye, and lots of smaller eyestalks on top with deadly magical powers.

In a recently  published article, (renamed FAIRMormon and still not sued for it despite it being far more often taken as church sponsored when it isn’t than a dating site ever would be) contributor Kevin Christensen attacks Jeremy Runnells, the author of the CES Letter.

He asks a pertinent question and then uses his own thoughts mingled with Christ’s parables to answer it: Runnells is to blame.  He wasn’t good ground.  Or he didn’t look at it right.

The question he asks: In his Letter to a CES Director, Jeremy Runnells explains how a year of obsessive investigation brought about the loss of his testimony. In an LDS FAQ, LDS blogger Jeff Lindsay deals with all of the same questions… has not only an intact testimony, but boundless enthusiasm. What makes the difference?

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Modest Living Allowance for Mission Presidents – Everything covered

The Mission President’s Handbook page 80

Things covered 100%

  • Living expenses (Food, tourist spots, christmas presents, etc.)
  • Medical expenses
  • Mission expenses for children serving
  • One round trip per child to come out and visit you on your mission
  • K-12th school costs
  • College tuition for kids
  • A house with furnishings
  • A house keeper (20 hours per week)
  • All home maintenance
  • Babysitting
  • A car
  • Use of any mission car for the wife for “Shopping and Errands”
  • Fuel and Car Maintenance
  • Travel within the Mission
  • Life insurance

All this 100% tax free (There is a whole section on this)

All this 100% Tithing free

Average expenditures 

  • Food ……………….6,599
  • Housing …………16,887
  • Apparel……………1,736
  • Transportation…..8,998
  • Consumables…….3,556

On average, the Mission president would receive about an income of  37,776, although I would guess that the travel expenses and clothing would be higher expenses

Average cost of a Housekeeper per hour (U.S.) $30 an hour – $31,200

So a 68,976 living allowance add on  22.% for Federal and state taxes would be the same as an $84,495 income.  Add on 10% tithing that doesn’t need to be paid and you get


Now that’s assuming that the Mission president lives like an AVERAGE american.  I would guess that many of the homes/cars/details could cost more or less.  This also doesn’t count having family members fly (first class) to come and visit their family

Of course, each Mission President’s take will vary due to location, cost of maids in the country, cost of the mission home (Which is probably nicer than the average american home), cost of medical expenses (Which I didn’t include) in foreign countries, expense at eating, etc.

I think this is a VERY low estimate of the cost per mission president in the United States, but gives a good feeling to what a “Modest Living Allowance” probably means.

Posted in Church Finances | 2 Comments

Excommunications, some Perspective

Today is Friday 13th.  The only one, I’m told, that will have a “full moon” until 2049, or so I’m told, not that I understand why that would be significant.

But the story behind why we fear Friday the 13th, begins long before Jason Voorhees stepped on the big screen.

 On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France, an action apparently motivated financially and undertaken by the efficient royal bureaucracy to increase the prestige of the crown. Philip IV was the force behind this ruthless move, but it has also tarnished the historical reputation of Clement V. From the very day of Clement V’s coronation, the king falsely charged the Templars with heresy, immorality and abuses, and the scruples of the Pope were compromised by a growing sense that the burgeoning French State might not wait for the Church, but would proceed independently.[7] It is further said Jacques de Molay, Magister (Master of the Knights of the Temple) cursed King Philip IV of France and his descendants from his execution pyre. As he was about to be executed, he appealed “from this your heinous judgement to the living and true God, who is in Heaven”, warning the pope that, within a year and a day, he and Philip IV would be obliged to answer for their crimes in God’s presence. Philip and Clement V both died within a year of Molay’s execution. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention” “Friday the 13th” Retrieved 2007-03-26.

You see the Templar were a religious knighthood order, and as part of the religion, they had to take a vow of poverty.  It became the very “in” thing to do, and so wealthy lords and knights would give up their lands and money to the order and join up escorting people to the holyland.  Kind of like a high-fire power religious tour guide company.

Of course, there is any amount of superstition and myth about what they were “Really up to”, including digging up the the temple of Solomon.  Most of that information is pretty tainted because the source is unrelaiable.

You see, the King wanted the Land, and the Church hated competition.  And so, on Friday the 13th, the Templar were to assemble under a sacred tree in France but instead of meeting the authorities they expected, they were arrested.

Most of them were tortured.  The leader was burned at the Pyre, another was made to walk before the king while carrying his recently removed feet in a box.

Under torture they confessed to all kinds of things.  Worshipping Satan, penis-based rituals, finding secret documents, really all kinds of craziness, which was used to justify the torture and arrests made.

So despite all the hullabaloo over John Dehlin, Kate Kelly and Rock Waterman (and others) we can be grateful that torture and death are not on the table for heretics who ask questions these days at least.

(Sources for my knowledge come mainly from the BYU library where I researched the Templar in depth during my college days.  I didn’t write down the sources at that time, and this post isn’t meant to be perfectly historical, mostly just illustrative.


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Anyone who thinks the church isn’t trying to control the message

Okay so first they go after the tribune

Then they sue one of their own to get ownership of the word “Mormon”

Then they excommunicate bloggers and those with voices and followings

As well as the non famous  by lying directly with members that these were local decisions (Ballard met with Kate’s Stake President a week and a half prior to the notice being served)

And yet all I can think of is the wise words of an imp with two different colored eyes



Posted in Current issues | 2 Comments

A modest proposal that the church has not excommunicated enough

I’m sure everyone is aware by now that John Dehlin, softspoken P.H.D. who has the audacity to say that Gay people in the church should be respected and welcomed as equals, and Kate Kelly, a woman who claims that women and men are not treated equally in the church (Along with Rock Waterman) are in process of being excommunicated.

This has risen a cry from those who were moderates, or who agreed with John and Kate.  People who think about religious things and have come to conclusions are shocked the LDS church would threaten to excommunicate such individuals.

Well, I think the church hasn’t gone far enough.  There are a lot more individuals more prominent than these two, guilty of the same crimes that should be punished as well

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Elder Gene R. Cook and Mic Jagger

In 1989, Elder Gene R. Cook gave a speech at Ricks (Now BYU-Idaho) about a time he sat next to Mick Jagger on a plane.  I’m guessing in first class, as I have a hard time seeing the lead singer of the rolling stones in coach.  Most people don’t know it, but GA’s always fly first class on tithing dollars, coach is for missionaries.

Oh yeah, and he wears swaggy pants

In the talk, Elder Cook makes an astounding claim, that is pretty much all anyone remembers from the talk.

…What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people? He said, “Our music is calculated to drive the kids to sex.

What we’re going to do is re-write the talk as though Mic Jagger was telling the story.  And see why that exchange might have happened

“I was headed to Houston.  Maybe Dallas.  I don’t know I’d had a few quick drinks before I got on the plane, some place in Texas, I was blitzed I don’t know.  This old guy in a white shirt sits down, like next to me.  And he starts praying.  And I was like, oh dude, he’s scared of planes.  But no it was worse.  He was some kind of religious big-wig.”

“And he didn’t even recognize me.  Me.  Like, the guy has no clue what rock music is even.  So I showed him that I was in the plane’s own magazine, dude.  ”

“The the guy totally checks out my legs for a n awkwardly long time.  I have no clue why.  And even though I was reading a magazine the dude would not, shut, up.”

“So then he says ‘Can I ask you a question’, and I’m like, ‘Whatever’ ”  And then, get this, this is his question:

“I have opportunity to be with young people in many different places around the world, and some of them have told me that the kind of music you and others like you sing has no effect on them, that it’s okay, and that it doesn’t affect them adversely in any way. Then other young people have told me very honestly that your kind of music has a real effect on them for evil and that it affects them in a very bad way. You’ve been in this business a long time, Mick. I’d like to know your opinion. What do you think is the impact of your music on the young people?”

“So I think for a second, cause he really believes that music is like devil stuff.  I mean he had no clue who Mic Jagger was, ya know?  And so I *laughter* I totally told him it made kids have sex.  Now he’ll probably go and tell all the kiddies in his church they can have sex if they listen to my music, and my sales will probably go up.”

Cook then says:

I’m sure I had a real look of shock on my face in receiving such a bold response. He quickly added, “Well, it’s not my fault what they do. That’s up to them. I’m just making a lot of money.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is not the record of an honest response, a confession of the devil that rock and roll is bad.  This is a troll.  Before the internet, this is a rock star punking a religious old guy on a plane.  

After that, Mick Jagger ups the ante by explaining that music videos contained sex acts and he was on his way back from filming one in Mexico.

Let’s see, which Rolling Stones Music Video was filmed in Mexico

Ah yes, about a teenager and a femme fatal.  Clearly the ultimate in scandal.  Lyrics like “Strapped in a bed on life support tubes in my nose” so sexy.

Whatever I told him in our discussion was white he said was black. And whatever he said was white I told him was black.

The thing is, acting as a missionary, one meets people who have no interest in your particular brand of religion your selling, and they’ll try to turn things on their head because really, they want to enjoy their public transportation without a sales pitch.  And this sounds like a classic case of trying to spook the old guy to get him to go away, or at least provide 2 hours of amusement.

Mr. Cook also informs us of Mick’s scandalous out-of-wedlock children. I don’t know if Mick was pranking him there or not, or if Mr. Cook just decided to make that up to support his case.  We can read about his children in wikipedia with sources cited:

Jagger has seven children with four women (wikipedia sources even for them):

And there you have it.  Yes he has children by 3 different women by the time he was on that plane in 1989, but he had most of them with women he was married to.  Guess that bit needed to be left out, eh Mr. Cook?

He said, “As I listen to you Mormons, your problem is that you think you have things all figured out. Life isn’t that simple.” Then he would go on and explain some complex things, some theory of man. I would answer him in a very simple way from the scriptures, and he would say, “See what I mean?” He was always trying to make things much more complicated than they really were.

And I think this gives it away.  He was familiar with the sales pitch.  He knew what the church was selling, and even says he had taken  three discussions.  When he would bring up a deep thought, the leader of a church answering him would give a rehearsed, scripted  answer like “Pray”.  Mick new the result to whatever he was going to say before the conversation really got going.

So why should we expect Mick’s answers about the music to be sincere?

A little more about Mick, other than he is a scary musician that wants kids to have sex:

  • “one of the most popular and influential frontmen in the history of rock & roll” (wikipedia)
  • In 1989 Jagger was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with the Rolling Stones. 
  •  In 2003 he was knighted for his services to music.

Now I’m not saying that Mick is a good guy.  I’m not particularly a fan of his music.  I’m not saying his lifestyle wasn’t crazy.  All I’m saying is, that a general authority was probably being played, and instead of realizing it, he wrote a shocking talk to explain the wickedness of Rock and Roll to college students.

After all, Mick was known for songs such as “You’ll never make a saint out of me” (perhaps a response to Mr. Cook after hearing their conversation was published?) and putting imagery on albums that made southern baptists STILL make websites about it.

Basically, Mick drove his rock groups success on shock and counter culture; and Elder Cook played right into it.


Posted in GA Bullsh*t | 2 Comments