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Mormon Marketing: We are Mormon…


Michael Baker describes and defines marketing strategy as a process that can allow an organization to concentrate it’s limited resources on the greatest opportunities to increase sales and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage (2008).  Limited is not usually how one would typically describe a national organizations marketing budgets, but it does shed a bit of light on how they coordinate and plan their marketing efforts.  Marketing strategy determines an organization’s choice of target markets, their positioning within the marketplace, marketing mix, and obviously the allocation of resources.  When a strategy is effective it will determine how the organization will successfully engage it’s customers, audience, prospects, and competitors in the market place.

What does a strategy look like when one of those organizations is an international religion, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints?  The purpose of this article is not to engage in a doctrinal debate, nor does it  intend to cast any negative light on the LDS Church or Mormons in general, rather this article exists solely to rationally present the marketing tools, messages and mix that the LDS Church has and is now employing to strengthen it’s perception among non-Mormons and perhaps even it’s own membership.

According to a 1996 interview with the late LDS President, Gordon B. Hinckley, by CBS’s 60 Minutes, the LDS/Mormon Church hired a well known Jewish firm to handle their marketing effort, as confirmed by Mike Wallace in the following statement:

Gordon Hinckley prefers not to talk about Jesus returning to Missouri…He says that those points miss the point. He wants to portray Mormons as mainstream, not extreme. And for that Hinckley has hired a Jewish-owned public relations firm. Mormons hiring Jews to help spread the word?


Despite the impression that 60 Minutes gives, this push to mainstream the LDS/Mormon Church was well underway in the mid-1990’s.  It has been reported that this Jewish owned firm and others advised the Church that it was in their best interest to become more appealing to existing Protestants, Evangelicals, and Christians within the United States.  This point was perhaps a valid one since according to the most recent study by Pew Public Forum for Religion, over 50% of their annual converts come from these mainstream Christian backgrounds.  Richard and Joan Ostling noted this phenomenon in their 1999 book, Mormon America, writing, “Mormonism succeeds by building on a preexisting Christian culture and by being seen as an add-on, drawing converts through a form of syncretism. Mormonism flourishes best in settings with some prior Christianization.”  By changing their “on-boarding” process, image, and message they would make it far easier for Protestants, Evangelicals, and Christians to accept the LDS Church, tenets, and better assimilate into the culture.

This attempt to become more pleasing to mainstream Christians was beginning to take shape as early as the early to mid 1980’s.   For example in 1988 a survey was sent out to recent LDS converts and new temple going members asking about their experiences doing genealogical and temple work.  Below is a sample of this survey:

Survey question 28:
For a person who had been through the endowment ritual, “did you feel spiritually uplifted by the experience?” and “was the experience unpleasant?” and “were you confused by what happened?”

Survey question 29:
”Briefly describe how you felt after receiving your own endowment.”

Survey question 37-k:
”Did you find it hard to go to the temple?”

Survey question 39-b:
”have you ever fallen asleep during sessions?”

Survey questions 70-a and 70-b:
”Do you believe the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a prophet of God?”
”Do you believe The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church on the earth?”

Survey question 77-g:
”Do you have any doubts about specific LDS doctrines and teachings?”

A page at the end of the Survey was left blank in case the person had “any additional things to write about your feelings or activities in temple or genealogical work…”


It is not incredibly surprising that a short time later the more uncomfortable and controversial parts of their temple ceremony, and perhaps the most difficult parts for former Protestants, Evangelicals, and Christians to participate in, were redacted and discontinued, such as:

  • Protestant minister paid by Lucifer to preach false doctrine was eliminated.
  • All penalties (and gestures like throat slashing, chest slashing and bowel slashing) were eliminated.
  • Women’s promise to be obedient to husbands was modified.
  • The intimate position at the veil (foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, hand on shoulder and mouth to ear) was eliminated.
  • The strange words “Pay Lay Ale” (meaning “Oh God hear the words of my mouth”) were eliminated.

At this point I am sure you are asking, what does this have to do with marketing the LDS/Mormon Church and belief system?  It all plays a significant role in the LDS Church’s “marketing mix.”  This term, Marketing Mix, was one coined by Neil Borden in 1953, and later refined in 1960, by E. Jerome McCarthy.  Marketing mix involves the 4 P’s, which are: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.  Once again, you are most likely asking what do these 4 P’s have to do with a religion or the Mormon faith?  Great question!

The “product” that the LDS/Mormon Church is attempting to “sell” is their core tenets, lifestyle, and culture.  The “price” of this product is not money in the traditional sense, but rather what is the “investigator” or “prospective” Mormon going to have to sacrifice to become a member of the LDS/Mormon Church.  The “place” of the LDS Church involves the image or perception of the product in the mind of consumers.  The final P is “promotion” which encompasses, the total communications effort that an organization or marketer may use in the marketplace.

The changes that occurred within the LDS/Mormon Church in the 1980’s and 90’s was a clear attempt to correct some of the perceived shortcomings in their “product, place, and price.”  The amendments and changes made to their missionaries’ scripting, logo, and production and distribution of new Christ-centered films, such as the Lamb of God, were a clear attempt to change their “place” and “promotion” in the their chosen marketplace.  The changes made to the temple ceremonies, remodels of their church buildings that included more traditional “New England” style design, and greater emphasis on Jesus Christ provided a market correction to their “product” and “price.”  By tweaking the product to appear friendlier to mainstream Christians the LDS Church essentially lowered the “price” one pays to become and remain a member of the LDS Church.  These are all clear signs that the LDS Church saw a need to mainstream and “Christianize” for greater market appeal and potential.  For example, if being a Mormon does not feel and appear quite so peculiar there is the potential for greater societal and social acceptance by non-Mormons, thereby making it easier for individuals to consider Mormonism.



The fourth P, promotion, has perhaps been one of the LDS/Mormon Church’s greatest strengths and at times their greatest weaknesses.  Just about anyone who has turned on a television has seen a commercial for the LDS Church.  There have been heartwarming commercials regarding families and family values.  There have been commercials offering to give away a free Book of Mormons.  As the mainstreaming of the LDS Church took place in the late 1990’s, there were then TV spots offering free copies of the King James Version of the Holy Bible.  These commercials frequently featured a telephone number that would connect them to missionaries and church volunteers who would encourage a visit by the LDS missionaries to accompany their free book.  Their ability to “promote” or market via the television was brilliant and largely unparalleled by other denominations at the time, which allowed them to raise considerable market awareness surrounding their “product.”

Most marketing observers would agree that the LDS Church’s greatest marketing weakness has been their lack of or late involvement with orchestrating their efforts on the Internet.  It wasn’t until 2007 that LDS leadership began to openly address this area of need. While addressing Brigham Young University, LDS Apostle, M. Russell Ballard, stated, “We cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches” (LDS, 2007).  He further explains their intention, in 2007, was to employ a grassroots strategy, stating, “While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time” (LDS 2010).  Based upon the recent and significant redesign and restructuring of their online marketing strategy, this grassroots concept must not have been working quite as well as anticipated.

Until recently, the LDS Church and it’s leadership has seemed content with allowing LDS bloggers, Latter-Day Saint apologists, and Brigham Young University based apologists to do most of their online marketing and discussions.

That has recently changed as the LDS/Mormon Church has launched a new and very different marketing campaign that is going to leverage both the Internet and Television.  This new campaign ironically enough seems to take some cues from the Evangelical’s mega-church movements eschewing traditional religious imagery and typography for more modern and edgy graphic design, videography and typography.  The LDS Church has redesigned their once missionary centric website,, into a collection of hip videos and stories written and featuring the some of the more progressive Mormons available.  The LDS “Church News” reports the following,

“…originally launched in 2001, was designed to help people of other faiths learn more about the Church’s doctrines and beliefs. The revamped site, that launched midnight, July 15, still carries on the same purpose, but has been changed to incorporate more member involvement — especially in missionary work.

“We’ve tried to really brighten the site itself,” said Ron Wilson, manager of Internet and marketing for the Church’s Missionary Department. “We did a lot of user research and tried to find what would work best”

Research shows it is through the interaction with members that many myths and misconceptions vanish. Becoming interactive “friends” with people throughout the world is one way members are sharing their beliefs from the comfort of their own homes”  (Holman, 2010).

This site and these ads are seeking to further refine both the “product,” “place,” and “price” of Mormonism by attempting to show the general public how cool, normal, and progressive the Mormon population and culture has become. To say this is surprising from an organization as conservative as the LDS Church is an understatement.  Here are some examples of what is featured on the new site:


Meet Rose:  A painting teacher warned Rose that she was throwing away a promising career as an artist by getting married. A husband, four kids, a beautiful home and a remarkable body of work beg to differ. Rose’s spirituality infuses her work as an artist and a mother.

Meet Emily & Family:  He does PR for a UN foundation. She’s a global public health advocate. He speaks French, Italian, Spanish, Armenian and English. Her work helps people in 35 countries. He’s illustrious. She’s unstoppable. They have 3 kids. Their life is crazy, and they love it.

Meet Chris:  A husband, a father, a creative director at the US Library of Congress, a cyclist, a photographer, and a Mormon. Chris balances work, family and fun as gracefully as he rides his bike through Washington, DC.


The campaign, while certainly groundbreaking and seeks to dispel some longstanding myths and perception of members, is also drawing the ire of some within the LDS faith and blogosphere.  ABC News recently interviewed LDS blogger and popular host of “Mormon Stories,” John Delhin, stating:

“I think it’s fabulous. I think it represents in many ways the best impulses of the Mormon people,’ Dehlin says. ‘It represents tolerance. It represents multiculturalism. It represents an empowerment of women, inclusivity.'”

The report goes on: “But Dehlin says the ads do not reflect Mormon doctrine and teachings when it comes to race, gender equality and individualism. For example, he says, ‘the husband is supposed to work and the mom is supposed to stay home and take care of the kids. There’s a difference between what the prophets teach us and what this PR campaign is holding up.'”


Some of the church’s critics have expressed some frustration, noting that the message of the campaign does not necessarily correlate with the current Mormon experience at the local level in most cases.  Holly Welker, of the Huffington Post, expressed similar sentiments, writing,

“I’ve long appreciated the complexity of Mormon character and the uniqueness of individual Mormons, and I’m totally down with a project to reveal that to the rest of the world. I just wish the church hadn’t spent the last three decades encouraging, if not demanding, homogeneity and blandness — or, to use the official LDS term for the virtue of uniformity, correlation.

So the new ads, challenging the effects of correlation, are overdue. However, they’re not perfect. First, while profiles might feature hipsters with trendy clothes, the opinions and beliefs in a profile must be completely orthodox and thoroughly respectful, or it will be rejected by the site.

Second, as ECS of Feminist Mormon Housewives notes, there’s a bait and switch going on in the profiles of women: most featured profiles showcase “women with small children who choose to work outside the home in demanding careers,” which is not the ideal Mormon women are told to aspire to — instead, they’re encouraged to be stay-at-home-moms whenever possible. ECS concludes that if the church doesn’t address the discord between what it tells its own members Mormon families should be like, and what it tells the rest of the world Mormon families are like, then “this PR campaign is disingenuous at best, and just plain gross, at worst.”


According to Deseret News, in addition to the online component, “The LDS Church recently launched an advertising campaign in nine U.S. markets, including Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minn.; St. Louis; Baton Rouge, La.; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Rochester, N.Y.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Oklahoma City; Tucson, Ariz.; and Jacksonville, Fla. The campaign includes ads on television, radio, billboards, bus platforms and the interior of transit vehicles” (Campbell 2010).  Additionally, University of Central Oklahoma professor Sandra Martin noted that while the ads won’t accomplish everything the church seeks to do, “People are talking about it. They’ve been able to cut through the clutter which is the first step to get people to listen”  (Campbell 2010).

These ads are a significant departure in another respect; they are individual rather than institutional.  For example, in times past the advertising done by the church was meant to represent the whole church and it‘s institutional culture and beliefs.   The LDS Director of Media, Scott Swofford explains, “We have not made an effort to only show famous or perfect people. You are going to see warts in this campaign, and people aren’t used to that in Latter-day Saint communication and hope they will be patient and understand we are all fellow strugglers trying to align ourselves with the truth.”  Does this new approach to “message” and “promotion” equate to a greater understanding and “place” thereby generating demand for the “product?”

Several events have precipitated and necessitated this new advertising approach.  Consider the events of the last three years such as the failed Romney candidacy for president and the brutal fights for traditional marriage in California, Wyoming, and Massachusetts.  Most would consider these politically charged events to be largely failures from a public relations perspective for the LDS Church.  The mainstream press vilified the Church, it’s leadership, and often times the membership, as being closed minded white-racist-homophobes.  The voting public in the Southeast and Midwest turned out in to vote for Evangelical governor Mike Huckabee while making their outrage and displeasure with Mitt Romney’s membership in the LDS Church, known to the national media.  After four years of this rhetoric most would agree that there was significant need for a new marketing message regarding who and what the Mormon faith is all about.

Despite their current efforts, what is truly puzzling is that the LDS Church knew as early as 2007 that it was going to be facing greater scrutiny and pressure due to the coming political initiatives and Mormon candidates.  The following quote from Deseret News demonstrates the fact that they did acknowledge the challenge that Romney and Proposition 8 in California could pose to the public’s perceptions of Mormon and yet they are only now modifying their strategy.

“We have to walk a very fine line to stay away from political issues,” said Michael Otterson, Media Relations Director for the 12.6 million-member worldwide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “But it is clear that the profile of the church will be raised during this (campaign) period. All of the things that are going on will serve as catalysts to raise questions about us and who we really are.”

As you can clearly see the marketing approaches and strategies employed by the LDS/Mormon Church are varied.  It will be interesting to watch the affect and effectiveness of this most recent initiative.  Will it have an affect in terms of the LDS Church’s product, place, price and promotion?  It is interesting to note that the LDS Church has made the decision to abandon a focus on doctrine in it’s advertising instead focusing more on the people and culture.  This is similar to the approach that the Protestant/Christian/Evangelical community has chosen to embrace over the last 15 years with limited long-term success at retaining members.  There is currently a backlash underway within the Evangelical community as Christians decry the loss of deep doctrine in favor of greater emphasis on cultural and social initiatives and acceptance.  Only time will reveal the overall effectiveness of this most recent “I am Mormon” campaign.


Ostling, R. & Ostling, J.  (1999).  Mormon America:  The Power And The Promise.  HarperOne; 1st edition.

Baker, M.  (2008). The Strategic Marketing Plan Audit 2008. ISBN 1902433998. p.3

(2007).  Apostle Urges Students to Use New Media.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Newsroom.  Retrieved on:  August 20, 2010 From:

Welker, H.  (2010).  Mormon PR Campaign:  Do Good Individuals Equal A Good Church?  The Huffington Post.  Retrieved on:  August 21, 2010 From:

Campbell, J.  (2010).  Mormon Media Observer: Ad campaign gets mixed reviews. Deseret News:  Mormon Times.  Retrieved on:  August 25, 2010.  From:

Holman, M. (2010).  A New  Church News.  Retreived on:  August 25, 2010.  From:

Church as the Bank of Salvation


God’s truth is found in the living Word and the written Word.  It is revealed by God through His Holy Spirit, and confirmed by the Bible.  It is not found “in” Bayside, Reno Christian Fellowship, or Saddleback, but only by and through God.  This is one of the central issues that I have with the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church is that they view salvation and grace in terms of what the church has to bestow on it’s members.

Churches are not repositories of or for God’s saving Grace and do not impart salvation but rather they are commanded to be vessels to facilitate the fellowship of believers as found in the book of Acts and the Pauline books.  Reference 1 Corinthians, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ” (NASB).  No where in the New Testament does it state that the Church/Body of Christ is the “gospel” or meant be a vehicle for salvation, but rather a conduit to grow disciples of Christ and to use each persons spiritual gifts for the building of His Kingdom. (Romans 12:5-7)

People often gravitate to discussion involving the virtues of Catholic or Mormon emotion versus the emptiness of Protestant emotion.  Emotion should never be used as a gauge for truth or commitment.  Jeremiah was very clear in his warning that our heart is corrupted and is not be used to determine truth.  This is not to say that I am disputing the problems that are found in both faiths.  The struggle to bring today’s youth to Christ and devote their lives to His service is monumental and most faiths with the exception of the cults are finding it quite challenging.   Protestants in some cases have lost sight of what John called our “first love,” in Revelations, and instead are pressing on without a centralized focus on the One who both calls and saves us; Christ Jesus!  Without this focus we will continue to lose members and fail to permanently convert people to God with that solemn declaration the Christ is LORD and surrender their lives to His service!  I do not nor will I advocate for the Evangelical movement to abandon their progressive music, concerts, or even the mega-church phenomenon, but what they must do is refocus on Christ and the basics that existed with the early Church!

True growth in our relationship with God comes as a result of surrender, belief, studying and immersing ourselves in God’s Word, and establishing true fellowship with believers.  We need to quit relying on Pastors, Priests, Churches, and mass media to solely facilitate our relationship with God and get back to what is truly lasting and important.  In my walk with God, I have grown 1000% more in my relationship and understanding of God while in private study and in small group fellowship than I ever have in church based worship.  The world needs to quit equating church attendance, while important, to being the sole means for gaining a lasting relationship with God.

To Whom Are You Sealed?


To Whom Are You Sealed?  Such an easy question to propose, but the answer for some may be difficult to articulate.  While reading Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, I was struck by this very question and how it relates to our lives here in the 21st century.  Ephesians 1:13-14, reads:

In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (NASB)

These two rather simple looking verses contain matters of grave importance to those who profess a belief in the good news of Christ.  Consider the first part of verse 13, “after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”  There was a time when, as believers, we had first heard “the message of truth,” but Paul elaborates, stating, ”having also believed.”  He is referring to that incredible moment when we truly heard and understood.  It is the moment that we become transformed by God through Christ.  We are adopted into the family of God, becoming “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 NIV).  It is only then that we begin to understand the Cross to be so much more than just a formula for assuring our place in heaven, rather we begin to realize that our Creator came to Earth and allowed himself to be scoffed, scorned, tortured, and ultimately chose to sacrifice Himself for us!  It is this moment that we become sealed to Jesus Christ.

The importance of being sealed to Christ cannot be emphasized enough, particularly when we consider the state of mankind. Too many try to justify themselves with the lie that God somehow condones their sin.  The irony is that most know that God does not and will not condone their sin.  This deep realization drives many to suffer needlessly in guilt and frustration.  This guilt that to many know causes them to run from God, seeking refuge in alcohol, drugs, and other detrimental behaviors.  So many believing they can be justified by their own actions plunge further into darkness and despair.  Then there are those who seek to justify themselves by listening to sermons, attending church, or perhaps they explain that they are not as sinful that person next to them. Make no mistake that regardless of your sins, actions, or choice, WE ARE ALL BROKEN AND SINFUL PEOPLE.  We are all in desperate need of God’s love.  Don’t lose hope, brothers and sisters; we have message for these broken people.  It is the message of Jesus Christ.

To begin to better understand some of the sacrifices that God made for us, consider Abraham and Isaac’s situation.  In a monumental show of faith, Abraham and Isaac begin their assent to the alter at Mount Moriah.  Take a moment and consider the powerful emotion that Abraham must have felt on that hike.  Imagine the solemn and strained conversation between a father and son, and the terrible pain in this father’s heart as he bound his son.  Most Jewish scholars agree that Isaac was not a small boy at this pivotal event, but was most likely a grown adult.  Considering his age it is likely that Isaac could have successfully resisted his father’s effort, but instead he faithfully chose to submit to his father.  Now imagine as Christ in Gethsemane, is pleading with The Father to let this cup pass from Him, even asking if there be any other way!  Just as Isaac has the ability to successfully resist his father, so did Christ.  No one disputes that Christ had the divine ability to pick up and lay down His life at His discretion.  It is this power that makes the events leading to and on the Cross that much more powerful!  The Father and Son knowing of no other way to save their people allowed the Son to be sacrificed.  Our Creator submitted Himself to be killed, and as Hebrews 9:27 states: so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many…”

Will we not submit and surrender ourselves to the One that surrendered Himself?  There is no lasting peace and comfort outside of Jesus Christ!  Haven’t you been running from God long enough?  Lay your sins, mistakes, and pain at the foot of the Cross and take refuge in His blood and in knowledge that He is risen!

The next portion of the verses holds promise for those that have listened and now believe, when it states, “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.”  There are several important components to this powerful statement.  The first, we are all sealed.  Paul does not state that some are sealed, or a few were sealed, rather it is boldly stating that all who listen and believe are sealed!   By reading the previous 12 verses contained within this chapter we know this is a promise that God makes; He is facilitating this mighty sealing.  We are sealed by the Father, in and through Jesus Christ.  What is the importance of this sealing?  This sealing is a result of what Paul states in verse 7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”  Through His sacrifice and His grace we are redeemed, through this act of believing in His grace we become sealed to Christ.

This statement regarding our “sealing” may seem a bit abstract, but consider the importance of what Paul is attempting to teach.  In our current state, we are challenged in understanding the full scope and benefit of this “redemption through His blood…”   Paul speaks to our limited understanding and perspective in 1 Corinthians 13:12, stating:  “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (NASB)  Our position and nature in this life limits both our ability to see the bigger picture and for the most part beyond ourselves.   This principle is restated in 1 John 3:2, “…now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (NIV)  We can not truly grasp this concept of complete redemption, nor do we appreciate the true value of the “inheritance” that we have technically not yet fully received, as such it becomes necessary for us to be sealed in Christ Jesus through the “promised Holy Spirit.”  This sealing assures that we belong to God.  In the midst of this life’s sin, suffering, pain, and confusion we can be reminded that we are God’s; that we have been bought and paid for at a price, by our God.

Having dissected and gained a better understanding of the passages from Ephesians, I want to direct my next set of comments to the LDS readers of my blog.  The question, “To Whom Are You Sealed?” is an appropriate question no matter your religious affiliation, but if you are LDS/Mormon it takes on a different and greater significance.  In, Spencer Kimball’s book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, he states:

In order to reach the goal of eternal life and exaltation and godhood, one must be initiated into the kingdom …one must be endowed and sealed in the house of God by the prophet who holds the keys or by one of those to whom the keys have been delegated; and one must live a life of righteousness, cleanliness, purity and service… (p.6).

The irony of this statement is that no where does Kimball discuss or stress the importance of Jesus Christ in assuring one’s salvation but rather directs the reader to a set of works and ordinances that must be obediently completed in order to earn their place in God’s presence.  Some of you might be quick to point out that there is mention of a sealing in this statement but do not be mislead.  The sealing referred to by LDS/Mormon leaders is not the same that the Apostle Paul had written of in the book of Ephesians.  LDS/Mormon president, Howard Hunter, goes deeper into their concept of sealing, in the following way:

“…celestial marriage, where wife is sealed to husband and husband sealed to wife for eternity. We know, of course, that civil marriages end at death; but eternal marriages performed in the temple may exist forever. Children born to a husband and wife after an eternal marriage are automatically sealed to their parents for eternity. If children are born before the wife is sealed to her husband, there is a temple sealing ordinance that can seal these children to their parents for eternity, and so it is that children can be sealed vicariously to parents who have passed away (Ensign, Feb. 1995).”

Latter-Day Saints cling to the concept of sealing, not as a way of being assured of God’s love, but rather their ability to remain with their family members after death.  They practice and champion this doctrine as crucial to achieving their “glory” and “eternal life.”  Ultimately, it is an essential step in assuring their progression toward Godhood.  It also must be understood that through these sealings, faithful Mormon women are to be called out of their grave in order to be resurrected.  Without a sealed husband there can be no vehicle for a women to achieve her “glory” and “eternal life” according to Mormon doctrine.   Shockingly, for an organization that professes a belief in the risen Savior and even includes His name in their name, there is a fundamental disregard and lack of necessity for Christ, the Cross, and His blood!  There is more talk of ordinances, principles, and family than there is about our reconciliation and justification by and through Christ.

As a Mormon, it was my experience and observation that due to the prevailing theological, cultural, and societal conditions most members of the LDS Church are far more concerned about their family’s scorn and disapproval, than God’s.  Upon my leaving the church, and resigning my membership, I was frequently presented with the statement/question, “How can you turn your back on your family and your ancestors!?”  The more appropriate question should have been, “How can you turn your back on God or Christ!?”

It is truly frightening that my friends and family were more concerned about how my choice reflected and affected the family, than how it might have affected my eternal salvation!  This type of thinking is institutionalized and is systemic among the Latter-Day Saints due to their devotion to the concept of eternal marriage, sealed children, and endless genealogies.  I was taught growing up that my ancestors and deceased family were counting on me to earn my place in the Celestial Kingdom and would be actively viewing my life and choices here on Earth.  I was admonished to keep my behavior appropriate, as my great-grandparents would be “watching.”

The Bible provides clear rejection of these doctrines and attitudes.  In Matthew, Christ boldly answers and directs the Pharisees to a truth that is in opposition to the theology of the LDS/Mormon Church:

Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?” Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God…” (Matthew 22:28-30 NIV)

Again, I propose the question, to whom are you sealed?  Are you sealed to the One that provides everlasting peace, freedom, and refuge or do you seek the fleeting comfort and justification that the world provides us?  I would call on you and pray humbly that you seek Him this day!  Kneel down wherever you are and in your exhaustion stop running from God.  Embrace His love and comfort, he longs for your relationship and it is only He who can heal you.  Take all those burdens, mistakes, pain, suffering, sin, conflict and lay them at the foot of the Cross.  Paul reminds us in Colossians 2:13, “God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”  Our God has made us alive in Christ!

My Journey Out of Mormonism

A friend recently explained to someone that my conversion to Christ was similar to that of the Apostle Paul.  The weight of a comparison to Paul is a little embarrassing but I feel as though I, too, had scales that fell from my eyes.  While I am not new to the doctrines and philosophies related to Christianity, I have just recently surrendered to Christ and allowed Him to enter my life.  This year has been described as the worst year for Americans, in the last 50 years, but it has been incredible for me.  This year a miraculous change has occurred with my life, a change that has not only been revolutionary, but has resulted in what the Apostle Paul described in his second letter to the Corinthians as, “..a new creation” in and through Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  Just as Paul explained that the “old has gone, the new has come,” so has it in my life.  With this transformation, I have committed to turn my life over to God.

As many of you know, I was raised Mormon.  I was raised in a very devout home.  My dad was an Elders Quorum President, Bishop, High Counselor, and a member of a Stake Presidency.  We were raised with high expectations regarding our knowledge of the Book of Mormon, Mormon doctrines, and church history.  I started having doubts about Mormonism in my junior and senior year of high school but it started to boil over while I was at Ricks College/BYU, in Rexburg. During that time I was able to speak with many professors and church leaders, but never got adequate answers to my questions regarding the faith.

I came home from BYU, and received my mission call, but I felt incredibly dishonest having anything to do with a mission while I was undecided about my own faith. My dad was adamant that I needed to ignore my doubts, go on a mission, and I would be fully converted to Mormonism. I decided not go on a mission. I moved out of my parents house the night I decided not to go.  I took a step back from Mormonism for about 15 months, after this event, and attended Catholic and Christian services in an attempt to find truth elsewhere.  These services were interesting and I learn a great deal, but they did not result in any religious and spiritual changes in my life.

My wife and I got engaged a few months after I moved out.  Fourteen months later we were married.  The next month she converted to Mormonism.  I did not object as I clung to hope that with marriage and my own family I could come to some better agreement with Mormon doctrine and culture.  We were active in the church for the better part of the next 4 years.

In 2003 we went to the temple, where we were “endowed” and “sealed.” In the months prior to attending the temple many members explained that it would be a powerful spiritual experience that would strengthen my testimony and answer many of my questions regarding doctrine, but it instead left me with more questions and a shattered testimony.  As we drove home from the Oakland temple, I was not filled with reassurance or any confirmation of the Spirit that what I had just participated in was anything heavenly or God-like.  Instead, I was left wondering how costumes, signs, and tokens were anything other than fraternity-like rituals. Something inside me bristled at the notion that any of these temple rituals were needed to come closer to either Jesus Christ or our salvation.  Additionally, it was even more perplexing to learn that my wife needed me to attain her exaltation and glory.  This limit being placed upon the Blood of Christ seemed repugnant even before I had gained a witness of the true Jesus Christ.  I am not and cannot be anyone’s intercessory or savior.

In the aftermath of the temple experience I was largely ignored and was without anyone willing to provide any more concrete answers due to the “sacred” nature of these rituals.  I was left in confusion and chaos about my faith and membership in the LDS Church.  The only advice from my dad and my church leaders regarding the temple was to read my Book of Mormon and keep attending the temple; I was left without any other choice than to investigate these rituals, doctrine, and church history on my own.  What I found was utterly shocking and undeniable.  After a great deal of research I came to the conclusion that the LDS faith was nothing more than a distortion and a perversion of mainstream Christianity.  It is false, the history they teach is wrong, and there was no salvation in it

Once I left the church in 2006, I quickly realized that since I was born into it, I was left with little else to believe in.  While I had knowledge of Christian and Protestant doctrine I was still challenged by topics of God’s nature, Christ’s divinity, and salvation.  I became a self described “atheist” and “agnostic.” I avoided anything remotely religious during the two years after leaving Mormonism. I swore I would never step foot in a church.  I describe this as my journey in a desolate wilderness.  There was no joy or true happiness, only an attempt to fill the God shaped void in my heart and mind with worldly objects.

In late 2007, God had other plans, as my wife’s parents invited me to their First Presbyterian Church. I reluctantly agreed to attend. Their Pastor spoke of the historical accuracy and truthfulness of Jesus Christ, His sacrifice, and His resurrection. It was like being hit with a spiritual 2×4. I suddenly could not deny the existence of Jesus Christ nor could I deny that he was the Son of God. Despite this witness, in a moment of weakness, I decided to ignore this life changing information.

Over the next two years, as I look back, God was definitely knocking and pleading with me to turn my life over to Him. I guess he became impatient and decided to give me a louder wake up call. I lost my job in May 2009, and when it happened I thought it was devastating. Ironically, looking back over the last 8 months, it has been the greatest thing that has ever happened in my life. In late July, I began talking with 2 Christian friends from high school and a cousin. After talking with these people, I finally realized that I needed to give God an opportunity to flourish in my life, I was tired of running from Him.

My wife and I attended Bayside Church, in Granite Bay, within 15 minutes of taking our seats the Spirit grabbed a hold of me.  I can distinctly remember sitting there singing the chorus of Amazing Grace, and in my spiritual exhaustion I offered my life and myself to Him.  I was finished running away from God, and surrendered to the call to come to Him; I was finished trying to mask my need for God with worldly objects.  In that moment with tears streaming down my face, I knew with all of my soul and mind, through the Holy Spirit, that Christ is Lord!   In a split second I clearly knew, and now know, of the One and Everlasting, all-powerful, all-knowing God as explained to us in Isaiah 45, 1 John 3, and Revelations 1.  I gained a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ who is God come in flesh (John 1:14) to dwell with us; that it is only through Him that we come to the Father (John 14:6).  I gained a witness that through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross we have been given the ability to receive reconciliation. This ability to seek reconciliation is a free gift that must be embraced.  That morning I chose to embrace the gift!  I suddenly realized that there is nothing I could do to earn the favor of God, rather I put my trust in what Jesus did for us on the cross.

With this transformation has come the call to become a Pastor.  In His infinite wisdom, The Lord has seen fit to bestow upon me certain gifts and talents; I would be remiss if I did not dedicate those to both building the Kingdom of God, and protecting the “Body of Christ” from those that detract from the good news , which we know to be the birth, life, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:1-8).  It has been incredible what the Holy Spirit has done in my life and in my knowledge of the “Good News!”  I am in awe of the information and wisdom that has been imparted to me, after the “scales” have fallen from my eyes!

I am determined to live my life in the service of the One who called us, our Lord Jesus Christ.  I am rejoicing in the opportunities and callings to serve the Kingdom and God’s people.

Merry Smithsmas To All…

Did you remember to celebrate today!? Did you celebrate the baby laying in the cradle? Did you celebrate the nativity that BYU titles, “Bless Be His Name?” I am not speaking about Christmas, but rather December 23rd. Today is a sacred day indeed, it is the day when we should be giving solemn thanks for the birth of the man that has “has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.”, at least that is what LDS/Mormon scripture would lead us to believe. The Deseret News, LDS Church owned newspaper, boldly reminds us not to loose sight of this date with everything surrounding that other holiday we celebrate in December. The newspaper admonishes us, “However, another important December date is often forgotten in the rush of the season. On Dec. 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vt., the fifth child of Joseph and Lucy Smith, Joseph Smith, Jr., was born. “ (Kristine Frederickson, Deseret News 12/20/09) This newspaper for the Lord tells us to “acknowledge” Jesus Christ, but that we should “revere Joseph Smith.”
This admonition to “revere” Joseph Smith begs the question, what should we be celebrating? Should we be celebrating the polygamy, polyandry, the secret underwear, the constitutional crimes, or the incredible claims of seeing God The Father and Jesus Christ? Perhaps we should consider celebrating one of the more beautiful gifts that Joseph left with us, polygamy and polyandry. The church has never publicly acknowledged Joseph Smith’s participation and endorsement of polyandry and has done a phenomenal job keeping his polygamy a lesser-known fact to LDS membership.

Many have been told and taught that polygamy was necessary doctrine brought about by the senseless murders of too many Mormon males in the confrontations with mobs in the 1830-40 in Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio. Unfortunately this form of apologetics does not explain why it continued well into the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and why the US census has always demonstrated that in this period there was many more males than females in the Utah/Deseret Territory.

The creation of officially recognized polygamous marriage was bore out of the necessity to explain Joseph’s and many of the church leadership’s relationships and marriages to other women. The creation of this “new & everlasting covenant,” as the LDS scriptures refers to it as, allowed for the creation of many of the secret rituals of Mormonism including garments/underwear and temple rituals.

Even more shocking than the polygamy was perhaps the polyandry. By most historian accounts more than ten of his 33-48 wives were married to other men and continued to live with their original husbands, but frequently visited Smith overnight. It has been written that Smith claimed these marriages were required to test the commitment of those closest to him.

The best example of this testing is the demand placed on LDS Apostle and close friend of Joseph Smith, Heber C Kimball. Joseph demanded that Heber give him his wife, Vilate. According to Orson Whitney in his biography of Kimball, Joseph gave him an ultimatum, Mormonism or his wife. Kimball gave in and presented him with his wife on Smith’s doorstep. Perhaps we should commemorate this day in history by presenting our wives to our church leaders as an offering for our Smithsmas spirit.

Another lasting memory of the “Prophet Joseph” comes in the form of his momentous First Vision, in which he reports seeing two personages that informed him that all of Christianity was an abomination. Nevermind those pesky Biblical teachings about angels and personages of light coming from Satan… The late Gordon Hinckley, President of the LDS until his death, commented, “Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision…Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration.”

That is placing considerable weight and emphasis on something that has had a convoluted and unclear past. According to the LDS Church the First Vision occurred in 1820, but the first published account did not appear until early 1842. It is puzzling to say the least that if the Mormon Church was created upon a mandate from God The Father and Jesus, why was it not part of the original dialog or canon of the church?

Equally damning perhaps that in 1834-35 as the leadership of the church attended the “School of Prophets” there was no mention of the vision anywhere in the seven lectures included in the course. This school sought to teach church leadership the core doctrines and beliefs of the church. Despite these lectures’ discussions regarding the nature of God there is no mention of Joseph seeing or conversing with God or Christ.

During this same period, 1835, the LDS Church printed their canonized Doctrine & Covenants, a book of scripture that contains many of the churches most controversial and important doctrines. In the preface for this book it mentions that it includes, “the leading items of religion which we have professed to believe.” How does a religion supposedly built upon a heavenly mandate fail to mention that as a leading item of their belief?

The easiest answer to the above question is that is wasn’t important until it needed to be… At the time of the First Vision’s publication in the LDS periodical “Times and Seasons,” the Church was in a state of chaos. Members of the church’s leadership were being excommunicated and many more had become opponents of the church. Ironically, the first few handwritten accounts of the “First Vision” chronicle not a visitation from God and Christ but rather “angels” that gave Smith assurance that his sins had been forgiven. Considerably different that what is taught today…

The other interesting component of the “First Vision” story is the fact that most church leaders did not even teach this story until the mid-1870’s. In an 1850 letter by John Taylor, the third LDS President, wrote explaining that Joseph Smith was visited by “two personages” making no mention of God, Jesus Christ, nor any damnation of Christianity.

With so many questions and discrepancies surrounding this event why would church leaders place so much emphasis on this story? Again, Gordon Hinckley explains the paradox involved, “I would like to say that this cause is either true or false. Either this is the kingdom of God, or it is a sham and a delusion. Either Joseph talked with the Father and the Son, or he did not. If he did not, we are engaged in blasphemy” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Reports, October 1961, p.116).

In the second point made, Joseph Smith does in fact make overt gestures to join the Methodist Church in the Harmony Township, in 1828, by signing up for the probationary classes. This is less than one year since being lead to the Golden Plates by the “Angel Moroni.” Additionally, despite the alleged story of a visitation from God and Christ, his family in 1824 joins the Presbyterian Church. Further damning, according to Joseph’s father, Joseph Smith was “baptized, becoming thus a member of the Baptist Church” (Interview With The Father of Joseph Smith, The Mormon Prophet…1870).”

A celebration of Joseph Smith’s birthday would not be complete without a true look at the quotes, words and songs that Latter-Day Saints use to describe their founder. Many Protestant Christians might be familiar with the usage of the phrase or song, “Blessed Be His Name,” but they would be mistaken in thinking this is referring to Jesus Christ. Consider how the LDS Church thinks that famous title should be used. In 2005, Brigham Young University, official LDS college, setup a Joseph Smith nativity scene to commemorate the 200 year anniversary of his birth and titled it, “Blessed Be His Name.” I guess we should be careful not to lose sight of the blessed name of Joseph Smith during this busy Christmas season.


An LDS Hymn takes it another step further and declares: “His equal now cannot be found, By searching the wide world around. With Gods he soared in the realms of day, And men he taught the heavenly way.” With all that being said, perhaps my favorite way of reflecting on Joseph Smith this Smithsmas is by reading a quote from his own hand,

“I have more to boast of than any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I.” (History of the Church, Vol.6, pp. 408-09)

We should put our trust in the One and Everlasting God, and in the one that we come allows us to come to Him, Jesus Christ (John 14:6). Let us celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with full knowledge and appreciation for the immense sacrifice and freedom that He brings to us that seek and accept him! Remember that the Bible contains the everlasting message from God to his people. This Christmas season commit your life to following Christ. Christ boldly declares in John 11:25-26, while comforting Martha, “…I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Do we now believe in this? Will we not trust in Him that he alone has the power to conquer sin and death? As Christmas approaches let us heed the divine counsel of our God come in flesh (John 1:1, 14). I will close with the words of the Apostle Paul in his letter the Ephesus, “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (Ephesians 1:18-19).”