Randy Jordan's Tom Brady Eyes
Randy Jordan dissects Mormon apologetics the same way Brady dissects the opposition defense. This song taken from Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" is dedicated to Randy's years of presence in the Ex-Mormon community.
His wit is exmo gold,
His lips speak no lies
His take on LDS is bold
He's got Tom Brady eyes.
He'll take BYU's defense on
You won't have to think twice
He's pure as Palmyra snow
He's got Tom Brady eyes
And he'll tease you
He'll unease you
All the better to inform you
And he know just what it
Takes to make a G.A. blush
He exposes all of Joe Smith's lies,
He's got Tom Brady eyes
He makes Mopologist groan
He whets intellegent appetite
He'll Mormonism bemoan
He's got Tom Brady eyes
He'll take on flamers too
Roll them like they're dice
Until they see what's true
He's got Tom Brady's eyes
He'll inform you
When GA's snow you
Off your feet with the B.S. they throw you
And he knows just what it
Takes to make a GA blush
The FAIR boys want his demise,
He's got Tom Brady eyes
And he'll tease you
He'll unease you
All the better just to amuse you
And he know just what it
Takes to make a GA blush
The FAIR boys want his demise,
He's got Tom Brady eyes
He'll tease you
He'll unease you
Just to amuse you
He's got Tom Brady eyes
He'll inform you
When GA's snow you
It's a privilege to speak to you tonight. It's nice to be able to put faces with the names of people I've corresponded with over the years. This is my first visit to Salt Lake City since I went through the old Mission Home here in 1974, and my wife Carrie has never been here before. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that my next visit here would be to attend a conference of Ex-Mormons. (audience laughter)
Having been told that I was going to be the after-dinner speaker, I originally considered doing some humor, but then I realized that I may never get to another one of these conferences, so I thought I'd better talk about some things of a more serious nature. Maybe with a little humor mixed in along the way.
So, the planning committee asked me to speak about my experiences in researching Mormon origins and history and debating that subject with Mormon apologists on internet forums over the years. I enjoy what I do, and I'm enthusiastic about it, and I've gotten a lot of compliments over the years on my writings. The committee asked me to title my remarks, so I've chosen to call them "faith versus facts."
First, a little personal background information: As Richard said, I'm from Montgomery, Alabama, the youngest of 12 children, six boys and six girls. My Mormon mother married my non-Mormon father in 1937, and they were married for 53 years until his death in 1990. My father was basically irreligious, and he declined to join the LDS Church in spite of my mother's efforts. When I was young, our family only attended church sporadically. By my high school years, I didn't care much for church, being more interested in cars, sports, and girls, like most guys. But I graduated from high school and got a job, and my school friends and I went our separate ways. Thus, I lost my social group, so I went back to church to regain one. After a few months, I had got religion and became all fired up about the church. I started reading things like LeGrand Richards' "Marvelous Work and a Wonder" and Gordon B. Hinckley's "Truth Restored." The next logical step was to go on a mission, so I put in my application and got sent to Brisbane, Australia. Having matured somewhat since then, I now realize that my subconscious motive for going on a mission was to get away from my abusive, controlling father, and a negative family situation, so at least that worked out well. (audience laughter.) By the way, for those who haven't heard, Dr. Simon Southerton here was just two or three years ago a bishop in one of the wards in Brisbane I was a missionary in back in 1975.
My mission was a generally good experience, although a few things happened there which later caused me to question the system. The most memorable incident involved one of my fellow greenie missionaries. Just a few weeks after we had arrived in Brisbane, I heard from other missionaries that he and his trainer, an Aussie, had met with some people who had shared some of the Tanner's materials with them. Although I didn't learn the details until later, the gist of the incident was that both the trainer and the greenie had allegedly lost their testimonies. The trainer was busted back down to junior companion, and the mission president put the greenie on his office staff so he could keep an eye on him. Towards the end of our missions, we were in the same district together, and I asked him about the incident. He was reluctant to share much about it, but he did let on that these anti-Mormons had told them about how the "Book of Abraham" could not have come from the Egyptian papyrus Joseph Smith claimed it did. The missionary told me that our mission president had explained to him that ancient Egyptian was a 'dead language', and couldn't be translated, so therefore no one could dispute Joseph Smith's interpretations. Of course, being 20 years old at the time, and never having heard of the Rosetta Stone or Egyptology or anything, I assumed that our mission president's remarks were truthful and accurate. I now realize that he just made up those remarks to quiet the missionaries' doubts and to keep them on their missions, which is still done every day in some mission throughout the world, I suppose.
Being a naive, trusting young TBM (True Believing Mormon), I dutifully buried that incident in the back of my mind. I had a largely good and productive mission, and I came home ready to devote the rest of my life to the church.
Two weeks after I returned home from my mission, I was made a counselor in the elder's quorum presidency, which assured me that I would become a general authority by age 30 or so. When I was 23 and still single, I was made the ward clerk, which caused me to believe that I would surely achieve apostle level by no later than age 40. (audience laughter.)
My wife Carrie and I met in 1978, we married in '79, and began having babies and living our lives as good little Mobots. Carrie served in all the women's groups and the activities' committee, and I was ward clerk in three different wards under six different bishops, counselor to five elders' quorum presidents, elders' quorum president myself for a year, Young Men's president, ward mission leader, and finally, was bishop's counselor for two years. I served in ward leadership positions for almost 13 straight years, from 1976 to 1989. I also worked extensively on the stake welfare farm and helped to build several chapels over the years, the usual things.
So, what was it that caused us to begin to question the church? For starters, maybe it was that 13 straight years of serving in leadership positions. (Audience laughter.) I've never taken the time to write our story of leaving the church to put on the exmormon website. But our questions and doubts were among the same ones that many of you have had, and I'll briefly touch on a few things that helped us to see the light, as my experiences tie in to the subject of my talk.
My oldest brother Jimmy married a Baptist girl in the late '50s, and he converted to her faith. So, he was excommunicated in the '60s for apostasy. He was the first person I knew who had left the LDS Church, and of course it upset my TBM mother terribly. Jimmy and his wife had taught their children a little about the dubious origins of Mormonism. When I was 22 or so, and a returned missionary, Jimmy's teenage daughter tried to tell me about Joseph Smith being a money-digger, but I arrogantly brushed her off, telling her that I was a Mormon and a returned missionary, and therefore she couldn't possibly know more than I did about Joseph Smith. I had never heard anything about money-digging from church-approved sources, so therefore, it must be false, right? So there was another incident that I buried in the back of my mind.
My wife Carrie had been raised in rural Protestant churches. She and her best friend had joined the LDS church together as teenagers, largely because of the church's family image, the Osmonds, etc. The old joke is that a lot of girls back in the '70s weren't baptized, they were Osmondized. She doesn't like me to say that, so that's why I say it. (audience laughter.)
But shortly after they joined, Carrie's friend began reading books like Discourses of Brigham Young, Doctrines of Salvation by Joseph Fielding Smith, McConkie's Mormon Doctrine, etc., which contained material on some of the deep dark doctrines like Jesus being married, polygamy, God having sex with Mary to conceive Jesus, the Negro issue, etc. Carrie would ask me about some of those teachings, but I would just brush her off and explain them away with "That was just those guys' opinions," or "That's not essential to your salvation," or "We'll find that out someday,"---the usual put-offs, which is what we hear from Mormon apologists now.
Although I was able to push those things to the back of my mind at the time, what really got me questioning the church's validity was our own negative personal experiences. To touch on a few---Carrie and I decided to get married civilly rather than in the temple, because she hadn't been a member for a year yet, so her non-Mormon family could attend, and then go get sealed four months later, after Carrie had been a member for a year. When we informed our bishop of our plans---now, this guy had spent four years at BYU and was a stake Institute director for eight years---he replied, and these are his exact words, which we will never forget: "I want to counsel you to not consummate your marriage until after you've been sealed in the temple, so that your children will be conceived in the covenant. " (audience laughter.) Well, you know I've heard everybody else's crazy stories about their experiences with church leaders, and this was one of our biggies.
Well, we were so taken aback that we couldn't come up with a response to that, so we just muttered something like "We'll think about it." What he thought we were supposed to do for the first four months of our marriage, I don't know. Read the Book of Mormon, I guess. (audience laughter)
Of course, I've since learned that the bishop's counsel was merely following Joseph Smith's "revelation on celestial marriage," which says that you weren't really married in the eyes of God until you were sealed in the temple "in the everlasting covenant." That incident gave us first-hand experience with the way some church leaders try to manipulate members' emotions and control the most intimate reaches of their private lives.
Another big negative experience occurred when I was 27 and a ward clerk. Our very nice bishop was transferred away in his job. The new man they called as bishop was a guy I just had a really bad feeling about. He hadn't said or done any specific thing that caused me to have those feelings, but you know how you sometimes have intuition or hunches about certain people. I felt so negatively about him that when he was announced as bishop, I was sitting at the clerk's table up front, and I didn't raise my arm to sustain him. I just pretended that I was writing something, and nobody noticed me not raising my arm. I made up my mind that I'd give it six months to see if I felt better about him, but I never did. About the same time, I got a job offer in Tennessee, and we were looking for greener pastures anyhow, so I resigned as ward clerk and we moved. Then, a few months later, we heard from a friend in our former ward that the bishop had been excommunicated. We later learned that the bishop had been having an affair with the young, pretty woman whom he had called as Relief Society President, who lived just down the block from him, and whose husband was working out of the country. The bishop didn't confess the affair to stake leaders, the woman did out of her own guilt. So they were both excommunicated.
Now, those events alone confirmed my negative intuition about the guy, but there are two postscripts to the story: First, we learned a couple of years later that the bishop had also molested a teenage babysitter during the same period. He didn't confess to that, and the girl didn't tell anyone, so he was never punished or prosecuted for that crime. He supposedly repented of the affair with the woman, and was re-baptized without ever confessing to the molestation. We later learned that the girl grew up to have four children by three different men.
Secondly, the stake president who handled that case was himself later excommunicated, reportedly for having an affair with his secretary. When I heard that, my first thought was "Was the stake president having an affair with his secretary during the same time when he was excommunicating other people for adultery?"
As Mormons, we were all taught that leaders are called by inspiration, that bishops, stake presidents, etc., are called to those positions because they're who the Lord wants there at that time for a particular purpose, and all that. But those incidents were some of the biggies that caused me to begin questioning the inspiration of the church as an institution. We've all heard that "the gospel is perfect, but the people aren't." But if high leaders are supposed to be called of God, through the prophet, it should follow that revelation should supposedly prevent people who have immoral leanings from from being called to those positions.
The incident made me ask myself, "If I had negative intuition about the new bishop, then why couldn't other ward or stake leaders feel that too? Am I the only one who had the 'power of discernment' to know that the guy was likely to go that way?" Those events helped me to realize that the whole "power of discernment" business is a sham.
Another big negative experience for me was the Mark Hofmann scandal. I was a 27-year-old elders' quorum president when the Church News and Ensign began publishing the wonderful new discoveries which helped to prove that the Joseph Smith story was really true. I even departed from my regular priesthood lesson one Sunday to talk about the newly-discovered 1828 letter from Lucy Mack Smith to a relative, where she talked about the angel and the gold plates, which proved to the anti-Mormon world that Joseph Smith really WAS having those visions in the 1820's, rather than being a peep-stoning fraud artist as his critics had alleged.
But then shortly after that came the 'Salamander letter,' which once again cast Joseph Smith as an occultist, and then came the spin-doctoring from the church's apologists, who said that "salamander was a quaint term that also meant heavenly messenger." Even as a trusting TBM at the time, that explanation bothered me a little. And then came the bombings, the murders, church leaders' scrambling and back-pedaling, and the ensuing scandal. So once again I was asking myself, "Where's the inspiration?"
By 1989, I was a bishop's counselor, and I was so bothered by those types of issues, as well as by the politics and hypocrisy I experienced in my ward, that I resigned. I never accepted another significant calling after that, although our family still attended church most of the time, and Carrie continued to serve in positions.
Then, in 1990 came another blow to my testimony, when church leaders made sweeping changes in the temple endowment. For me, the changes weren't as big an issue as the fact that when I went through the Salt Lake temple in 1974, our group of missionaries was taken to the upstairs assembly room where we had a question-and-answer session with one of the general authorities, whose name was O. Leslie Stone, if you remember that name. One of the missionaries asked him if the endowment ceremony had ever been changed, and Stone replied emphatically that it had not, and that church leaders kept the original scripts of the ceremony to ensure that it was repeated correctly, much like the sacrament prayer and baptismal prayer are maintained and required to be repeated verbatim.
So, when I learned of the 1990 changes, my mind immediately went back to Stone's emphatic remarks to us naive missionaries 16 years earlier about the accuracy and unchangeability of the ceremony. Of course, I've since learned that the ceremony has undergone numerous significant alterations since its 1842 inception, and that those changes, including the 1990 ones, were made because of political or social correctness issues, rather than out of doctrinal need. That was my first personal experience with a general authority being less than totally honest about the facts of church history. The promise in the D&C that church leaders would never lead us astray was beginning to unravel, in my mind.
In the South, we don't hear much news about the LDS Church other than what we'd get from church publications. But in 1993, I read a review in the religion section of my local paper of a new book titled "New Approaches to the Book of Mormon." The book, written by Mormons, rather than so-called anti-Mormons, advocated the concept that the Book of Mormon was not an authentic literal history, but was rather "a product of the 19th century" but which still had value as "inspired writings." Reading that review shocked me, because I had never before heard of any church members disputing or denying the historicity of the Book of Mormon.
Like most of us here, I had assumed that the Book of Mormon was authentic, and that archaelogical evidence had proved the issue years before. I had never personally done any serious research on the subject; like most Mormons, I just accepted the works of church scholars like Milton Roberts, Jack West, Hugh Nibley, John Sorenson, etc., on the Book of Mormon as the "gospel truth." I had believed that all people who challenged the authenticity of the Book of Mormon were anti-Mormons who were the minions of Satan out to destroy the church. But when I read that active, faithful church members were challenging the Book of Mormon's historicity, that was a revelation that I couldn't shove to the back of my mind as I had other previous issues.
Then several other things happened in quick succession which created a snowball effect on my belief in the church. For one, in my local public library I happened across the books "The Mormon Murders" and "A Gathering of Saints," which detailed the Mark Hofmann incident. I was sickened to read of church leaders' closed-door deals to acquire potentially damaging historical documents and put them where "they would never see the light of day," as the saying went. All the maneuvering seemed more like what a giant corporation would engage in to protect its secrets, rather than what leaders of a Christian church should do as part of ministering to their flock. I was disgusted to learn how Hofmann had met with high church leaders, earning their trust, and learning how he completely snookered them and made a mockery of their supposed "powers of discernment."
Also in 1993, I read how several high-profile church scholars were excommunicated because they wrote or stated things which allegedly contradicted church teachings. One of those scholars was Lavina Fielding Anderson, who had been an associate editor of the Ensign, and whose articles I had read and enjoyed for years. That incident made me think "What in the heck is going on here? What did all these scholars say or write that was so awful that church leaders felt the need to kick them out?" Those excommunications of the so-called "September Six" reminded me of the purges of intellectuals which have occurred in totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union. I began to realize that there is something seriously wrong with an organization that claims to advocate the concept of "free agency," but then censures or excommunicates its members for merely expressing contrary or unorthodox opinions.
Then on the heels of that came the fall from grace of general authorities George P. Lee and Paul H. Dunn. Like thousands of other young Mormons in the '70s, I had enjoyed tapes of Dunn's inspirational speeches, and I thought that he must have been superhuman and protected by God, to have survived all his combat ordeals. Then in 1996, I read of how Dunn had wildly exaggerated or invented many of his personal experiences, and how he was put out to pasture as a Seventy Emeritus. During a moment of twisted humor, I combined Dunn's folksy story-telling style with his embarrassing fall from grace to write a ditty about him which I call "The Ballad of Paul H. Dunn". So, with apologies to Paul Henning of 'The Beverly Hillbillies', I present:
Come 'n listen to mah story 'bout a man named Paul,
A man who said he'd done thangs he hadn't done at all.
Then some reporter wrote it up in the news,
And ol' Paul Dunn came out a babblin' fool.
War hero, he'd said.....major league baseball star.
Well the first thang yuh know ol' Paul is outta thar.
Hinckley told him "Get yer butt off Temple Square!
A Seventy Emeritus is what you oughtta be,
Re-thinkin' and re-writin' yore pers'nal history!"
Buck private, that is.....minor league washout.
Then, after Dunn died a couple of years ago, I wrote a postscript to the ballad:
Well now it's time to say goodbye to this authority,
Ol' Paul has gone and left us for the Spirit World, you see.
He'll preach the gospel there for all those dead guys to believe,
So they can be good Mormons too, for all eternity.
I have to believe that the years from about 1985 to 1993 might have been the very worst in terms of P.R. for the church, with all those negative incidents coming in seeming waves. I wonder just how many thousands of Mormons left the church over some or all of those incidents.
In 1996, I discovered internet articles and forums which discussed Mormonism, including the exmormon e-mail group. Prior to that, I had no idea that any such places existed where people could discuss things and ask questions about topics which were taboo in church settings. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the man who runs the Recovery from Mormonism website and e-mail group, Eric Kettunen, lives just 100 miles down the road from me. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to Eric for taking his time and energy to implement and maintain a site where we can discuss our experiences and feelings and ask questions about Mormonism, where no church "authorities" can invade and try to control the dialogue. (audience applause.) I called Eric up and we talked for an hour or two the first time, and we've had several get-togethers since.
I also subscribed to and began posting on the Mormons in Transition and the Free-Saints internet forums. I think that Brian Madsen may be the only one here who posted on the Free-Saints forum when I did around '97 and '98. During that time, I began to learn a lot more about Mormon origins and Joseph Smith's life. I was particularly disgusted to learn that Smith had plural married girls as young as 14. I made an offhand sarcastic comment on the Free-Saints forum about Smith's affair with the 14-year-old Fannie Alger, and the response I got to that comment was what inspired me to begin a serious study of Mormon history. One of the posters on Free-Saints was an Institute instructor here at the University of Utah, and I assume he still is. He replied to me that Fannie Alger was 16, not 14, when she was plural married to Smith, and therefore my error gave me, in his words, "the credibility of a peeled zero." Well, I KNEW that I'd read about Smith and a 14-year-old girl somewhere, so I looked it up and found that the girl wasn't Fannie Alger, but was instead Helen Mar Kimball, the daughter of Heber C. Kimball. Being new to such matters of Mormon history, I simply confused the two girls and their ages when writing about it from memory.
But that incident gave me my first exposure to the creature known as the "Mormon apologist." At that time, my family and I were still semi-active in church. The stereotypical image of Mormon leaders and scholars is supposed to be friendly, helpful, and missionary-minded. But that guy's unnecessarily hostile response to my honest mistake on a trivial point contradicted that image. What was disturbing to me was not being wrong on this minor point, but rather that a person who apparently knew details about Joseph Smith's relationships with teenage girls was still an active Mormon and an Institute director.
Like most other naive Mormons, I had believed that rumors of Joseph Smith's extra-marital affairs were just anti-Mormon lies told to destroy Smith's reputation. When I first began learning the facts about those affairs, I was disgusted, and I came to realize that Joseph Smith was a lecherous fraud and perhaps a sexual predator. But here was an active, believing Mormon who knew about those relationships, and yet it apparently didn't bother him in the least. Having been raised with morals, I wrongly assumed that any church member who discovered the facts about Smith's sexual habits would surely question the church or consider abandoning it. But those facts apparently didn't faze this guy.
Of course, now I've learned pretty much everything there is to know about Joseph Smith's relationships with 30 to 50 different women. I was really disgusted to learn of his unsuccessful attempts to seduce such young women as Helen Kimball, Martha Brotherton (who was a convert just in from England), and Nancy Rigdon, the 19-year-old daughter of Sidney Rigdon.
You know, Sometimes you learn of situations that are so despicable that you can't help but make it the object of humor or satire. I thought to myself, "What thoughts must have gone through the mind of the average teenage Mormon girl of Nauvoo in 1842 upon hearing of Joseph Smith's revelation on celestial marriage, and his claim that 'an angel with a flaming sword' had commanded him to enter plural marriage?" That thought inspired me to write another sarcastic parody, which I call "Lament of a young Nauvoo girl". You might know the tune.
I looked out the window and what did I see,
The Prophet Joseph making eyes at me.
It shouldn't come as a complete surprise,
The angel told him "Try HER on for size!"
Now, I could take a powder and leave the scene,
But he'd probably send Porter out to take care of me.
I guess it must be so,
But I don't wanna be,
The prophet's wife number thirty-three.
(audience laughter and applause)
You're too kind. Carrie, you can crawl back out from under the table now. This is the humor part of my speech, if anyone was wondering. (audience laughter)
The Institute director with whom I'd debated later boasted that he had been studying anti-Mormon claims for 20 years, and that he hadn't found a single one that he couldn't reconcile in his mind. I now realize that his boast wasn't a statement of fact, but was instead merely the workings of what Steve Lowther, who is in the audience with us here, has termed the Mormon Denial Mechanism, or MDM.
The Mormon Denial Mechanism works like this: Whenever a TBM is presented with any information which challenges his preconceived notions about Mormon history or teachings, he simply rejects all sources of contrary information until the only sources he's left with are those which support his preconceived notions. Of course, that activity is nothing more than self-deception, or I've also compared it to the syndrome of 'jury nullification,' that we learned about in the O. J. Simpson trial, where jurors that are biased reject all evidence which contradicts the way they want the case to turn out.
What that arrogant Institute instructor didn't realize is that his nasty, condescending response not only helped to push me further out of the church, he also unwittingly inspired me to make a lifelong avocation of researching Mormon origins and history. I made it my goal to study Mormonism to the point that there were no issues that I couldn't address, no question I couldn't offer comment on, and no claims of apologists that I couldn't refute with documentation from legitimate scholarly sources. Having satisfied myself that Mormonism was a fraud, I decided to devote the same level of time and energy into exposing it that I had put into advocating it. Minus paying 10% of my income for life for the privilege of doing so, that is. (audience laughter)
Many people who leave the church want to get rid of all books and things that deal with Mormonism. But I realized that to become knowledgeable of sorts on Mormonism, that I needed to keep all that material. The knee-jerk reaction of most Mormons is to reject any negative information as being 'anti-Mormon literature,' so I knew that I needed to research and quote material from pro-Mormon sources. The fact is, that some of the best 'anti-Mormon' material ever published is some of those old books and magazines. I kept the old 'Improvement Era' and 'Ensign' magazines from the early '60s. I raided my elderly mother's bookshelves for old books she no longer reads. I've also found many books on Mormonism in used bookstores, even in Tennessee.
I brought a few of my books which you guys can look at if you like afterwards. Most of you would be familiar with some of them. This one is Lamarr Peterson's "The Creation of the Book of Mormon." Peterson was a lifelong Mormon, and he shows from original sources how the church was basically invented---how Joseph Smith made up things several years after they had supposedly occurred, then interpolated them back into the history. Like, Lamarr Peterson shows how there was never any actual evidence that the visit of Peter, James, and John ever occurred. This is Todd Compton's "In Sacred Loneliness: The Plual Wives of Joseph Smith." You can see I've done a little bit of work in there.
This is LDS scholar Dean Jessee's "The Papers of Joseph Smith," volume two. I like it because you know Joseph Smith denied that he was the instigator of the Danite society in Missouri in 1838. But Dean Jessee has got Joseph Smith's actual papers here, and one journal entry there in 1838 where Joseph Smith is remarking that 'we have a company of Danites in these times to put right things physically which are not right in the church.' And of course when he was arrested in Far West that fall in October he denied all responsibility for the Danites and tried to slough them off on an underling named Sampson Avard. It's good to see that even some church scholars are restoring journal entries to their original state and to have church-published sources that you can share with Mormon apologists and say "Look, this is from your own stuff, this is not from the Tanners, or any other anti-Mormon sources."
And this is one I got from my mother's shelves, Lucy Mack Smith's 'History of Joseph Smith,' which is of course the revision, but it's the 1958 Bookcraft edition. Here's B. H. Roberts' "The Rise and Fall of Nauvoo." This little one here is one that there's not too many around, "Mormonism and the Negro," by John J. Stewart, which features Brigham Young's prophecy that the Negroes wouldn't get the priesthood until the millenium and all that good stuff. Here's Cowdery, Davis, and Scales' 1977 "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon."
You know, the whole story that Mormon apologists tell about Philastus Hurlbut making up all these affidavits about Joseph Smith's peep-stoning and money-digging in 1833, this opened my eyes to the fact that all that was known about two or three years before that. And of course Dale Broadhurst has done tons more research along those lines, along with some other scholars. Here's my 1920 copy of the Book of Mormon. This one here is one of my favorites, it's "The Story of the Pearl of Great Price," by James R. Clark, who was a former vice-president of BYU. Sandra I know is very familiar with this book and this author. A couple of the most interesting things in it, it's all about the Book of Abraham, Book of Moses, and all that. A lot of the arguments modern apologists make to support the Book of Abraham are actually contradicted by what Clark said in his book years ago. For instance, the argument that we still don't have the papyrus that Joseph Smith actually translated the Book of Abraham from.
Well, Clark furnished a couple of photocopies of a catalog list written by an early Egyptologist, Gustavus Seyffarth, from about 1859-60, that describe the papyrus, and the descriptions of them match the papyrus that was donated back to the church from the Metropolitan Museum in 1967. So it basically destroys the Mormons' argument that we still don't have the source material.
This one here is another funny one. If I'd had time I would have blown some of these up. This is a copy of a letter from Joseph Fielding Smith to brother Clark. Now James R. Clark was an associate with the late Sidney B. Sperry, if you recall that name. They worked on these ancient documents, Joseph Smith's Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, things having to do with the Book of Abraham and all of that for years. Well, Joseph Fielding Smith found somewhere a picture of an old Egyptian glyph. He thought that this glyph depicted the serpent giving Eve the apple in the Garden of Eden.
But what Smith was too ignorant to know is that this was a very typical scene in Egyptology, in the funerary rites. And the biggest kick I get out of it, either Joseph Fielding Smith, or somebody who copied this, if you're familiar with the Egyptological issues at all, and the significance of the erect phallus in mummification, etc., is that this picture here is actually not a female, Eve, as Smith thought, but a male. But right about his groin area, is about an eighth of an inch space that is just missing. There's nothing there. They have castrated this poor god. (audience laughter.) I don't know if it was Joseph Fielding Smith or wherever he got it from, but somebody removed this poor man's organ in order to try to make it appear that it depicted the serpent giving the apple to Eve. You might want to take a peek at that.
Here's a very old copy of Parley P. Pratt's 'Voice of Warning,' 1895. Here's Fawn Brodie's 'No Man KNows My History,' which should be in every good anti-Mormon's collection (audience laughter.) You know, this was one of Joseph Smith's few fulfilled prophecies. He said "No man knows my history," and he was right, it took a woman to learn his history. (audience applause.)
Here's a few other books, such as Jan Shipps' book on Mormonism, and former BYU professor Richard Bushman's book "Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism," this is very valuable to me because it is a BYU professor who tells all about Joseph Smith's money-digging and peep-stoning even though these Mobots on the internet deny that it ever happened. Anyway, that's the kind of stuff I've collected over the years.
Oh, a couple of other things. My dear mother, TBM, 86 years old, still keeps me a subscription to the Ensign, though I rarely read them. Sometimes I'll go through them, and I brought these two because they are recent editions. One of them features an article on the life and ministry of Joseph Smith, and the other on the ministry of Brigham Young. And neither of them mentions so much as one word about guess what? (Audience replies: "Polygamy.") Not a single word. This is just another example of how the church is trying to forget all about their history of polygamy.
I later unsubscribed from the Free-Saints and Mormons In Transition e-mail groups because of time constraints. I began dialoguing on the alt.religion.mormon (ARM) newsgroup because it has a larger number of subscribers and a greater cross-section of posters from varying backgrounds of Mormonism. As I began researching and posting my findings, I decided to forward posts of dialogue from ARM to exmormon and other groups so that I could reach a wider audience, and to keep from having to constantly repeat the same material to different forums.
In December of 1998, Carrie and I decided to resign our church memberships. Old-timers here are familiar with the ordeal we went through in resigning, where our stake president tried to excommunicate me three months after we sent in our letter of resignation. I won't bore you with the details of that again, but I've brought copies of the correspondence here that you can look over. It might help some of you out who haven't yet resigned. We received our confirmation of name removal in April of 1999, and we have never regretted our decision for one instant.
Early in my readings about Mormonism on the internet, I came across a statement that really influenced me. I can't even remember the exact statement or where I read it. It may be from one of the ex-Mormon stories. But the statement was talking about faith, and it said something to the effect of, "Faith can do a lot of things for us. Faith can help us through bad times in life, and help us to go on living. But one thing faith cannot do is alter facts." That statement hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought to myself, "You know, that's what the church asks its members to do. It asks us to believe in the concept that faith can alter facts---facts of history, facts of science, facts of time and space. If facts of history, science, etc., contradict our faith, the church expects us to ignore or deny facts and live by faith, or other words, to suspend disbelief. It then dawned on me that that is exactly what magicians and con artists do---they need their audiences or dupes to suspend disbelief, ignore facts, and instead rely completely on 'faith' for our 'truth.'
We have a saying down South about people who are trying to con us. The saying is, "You're trying to pee on my leg and tell me it's raining." (audience laughter.) The con artist wants you to exercise faith in his claim that it's raining, but you know there's not a cloud in the sky, and the only precipitation in the area is from a small stream emanating from the vicinity of the con artist. I realized that that is all Mormon leaders and apologists are doing.
Along those lines----early in my studies, I came across a speech by LDS apostle Dallin Oaks which was published on the FARMS website. The speech was titled "The Historicity of the Book of Mormon." At that time, I was still wavering on whether the whole Mormon thing was true or not. So when I saw that title, I thought, "Well now, here's an apostle, and a respected attorney and state supreme court justice. He's going to talk about some of the historical evidence that those anti-Mormons say doesn't exist." But when I read the speech, I was sadly disappointed. There wasn't a single word of "historicity" in the entire speech. Instead, it read more like a lawyer's plea to a jury to exercise reasonable doubt in a case wherein the facts were overwhelmingly against his client---his client being the Book of Mormon. To quote from Mr. Oaks' speech:
"In this message I have offered some thoughts on about a half-dozen matters relating to the historicity of the Book of Mormon." Actually, he didn't state a single fact concerning the Book of Mormon's historicity, only his "thoughts." Then he said: "On this subject, as on so many others involving our faith and theology, it is important to rely on faith and revelation as well as scholarship. I am convinced that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon have the difficult task of trying to prove a negative."
Upon reading this, my first thought was, "Wait a minute here. He said he was going to talk about the 'historicity of the Book of Mormon.' But now he's saying that you have to rely on 'faith' and 'revelation' to prove the authenticity of a supposedly historical document? I'm sorry, Mr. Oaks. Either the Book of Mormon is authentic history or it isn't. One shouldn't have to rely on 'faith' or 'revelation' to know if the Book of Mormon is authentic history, any more than you should have to rely on faith or revelation to know that the Romans invaded Britain, or that King Tut was fond of gold. Historical items should be verified by historical and/or physical evidence.
Mr. Oaks' comments about "proving a negative" were actually the opposite of the way that principle operates. Oaks asserted that it is up to those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon to prove that it isn't. To the contrary, the burden of proof of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon is on its advocators, rather than on its detractors.
Mr. Oaks also stated: "Honest investigators will conclude that there are so many evidences that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text that they cannot confidently resolve the question against its authenticity, despite some unanswered questions that seem to support the negative determination. In that circumstance, the proponents of the Book of Mormon can settle for a draw or a hung jury on the question of historicity and take a continuance until the controversy can be retried in another forum."
Did you get that? Oaks boasted that there are many evidences that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text---but he neglected to mention a single one of them. And then, he sums up his argument by declaring that the debate over the Book of Mormon's authenticity is a draw or a hung jury! Of course, Oaks' remarks were nothing more than doublespeak, which lawyers and politicians are expert at. He wants you to think he's saying something of substance, when he really isn't.
In contrast to Dallin Oaks' call to rely on faith, I came across some comments from two other Mormon apologists which unwittingly undermine the Book of Mormon's case for authenticity. The first is from John Sorenson: "There are those who say, 'I believe that doctrine is all that is important in the Book of Mormon. We do not need to worry about its history.' We are faced, however, with the fact that most of the Book of Mormon IS history.....The history is a convincer of the authenticity of the book as much as the doctrine is."
The problem with your statement, Mr. Sorenson, is that there isn't any historicity of the Book of Mormon TO convince anyone of its truthfulness. I've read some of Sorenson's books, and they are sorely lacking in any demonstrable evidence.
The second quote is from Robert L. Millett: "The historicity of the Book of Mormon is crucial. We cannot exercise faith in that which is untrue, nor can 'doctrinal fiction' have normative value in our lives."
Perhaps Dallin Oaks should call those two brethren in for a little heart-to-heart talk. (audience laughter)
Another pro-Mormon article I read which helped to doom the Book of Mormon's authenticity in my mind was by apologist William Hamblin, also on the FARMS website. This article discussed the controversy over the Book of Mormon's geography. The one detail in this article that really influenced me was where Hamblin quoted another scholar's statement that about 55% of all the geographical sites mentioned in the Bible had been located and identified. Conversely, not a single geographical site exclusive to the Book of Mormon has been discovered nor identified. Several Mormon apologists have provided hypothetical locations and rough maps based on the text of the Book of Mormon, but none of those have been tied to any actual physical locations. The best that the apologists can give us is "vague parallels" and "interesting possibilities."
One of the diehard apologists on ARM, who claimed to be a seminary principal, boldly proclaimed that there was more evidence for the Book of Mormon than there is for the Bible. When I asked him to share his evidence, he replied with the "testimony of the three witnesses." I should have known better than to expect him to show some actual evidence. (audience laughter)
By the way, does anybody here know the difference between Joseph Smith and Elvis? You can actually SEE Elvis' gold records. (audience laughter)
As I've written many times on the exmormon group and ARM, the Book of Mormon provides specific details about the cultural aspects of its claimed inhabitants, and specific population figures of those inhabitants in specific historical times. The Book of Mormon claims that some 230,000 light-skinned, Hebrew-descended, Christ-worshipping, horse-training, chariot-pulling "Nephites" were wiped out by the dark-skinned, savage "Lamanites" about 400 A. D., all in one general location. But the fact is that beginning with John Lloyd Stephens' explorations in Central America and the publication of his travels there in 1842, and with all the numerous archaelogical explorations since that time until today, there still isn't any physical evidence to prove that those people and cultures existed anywhere in the Americas in the numbers and timeframes that the Book of Mormon claims they did. And
I submit that the day has long passed wherein solid evidence for it should have been found. There simply isn't any rational reason why archaelogists have been able to find 55% of sites mentioned in the Bible, yet not a single one for the Book of Mormon. Of course, this lack of physical evidence is exactly why Mormon leaders and apologists have begun to downplay physical evidence, and now emphasize "textual evidence" or "spiritual evidence" instead. In 1978, the 'Church News' carried an article which discouraged readers from even studying about geographical evidence for the Book of Mormon, to quote:
"The geography of the Book of Mormon has intrigued some readers of that volume ever since its publication. But why worry about it?.....To guess where Zarahemla stood can in no wise add to anyone's faith. But to raise doubts in peoples' minds about the location.....is most certainly harmful. And who has the right to raise doubts in anyone's mind? Our position is to build faith, not weaken it, and theories concerning the geography of the Book of Mormon can most certainly undermine faith if allowed to run rampant. Why not leave hidden the things that the Lord has hidden? If he wants the geography of the Book of Mormon revealed, He will do so through his prophet....."
Here again, church leaders ask their flock to ignore the lack of facts and rely on faith. Unfortunately, when church leaders admit as they did here that there is no physical evidence to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, they are in effect admitting that their belief system is in the same category as other beliefs for which exists no physical proof, such as belief in UFOs, ghosts and goblins, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Scientology, the Heaven's Gate cult, et cetera. Most Mormons would be upset if you compared the evidence for the Book of Mormon to those beliefs, but painful as it is to hear, the comparison is valid. I hope I haven't offended anyone here who may be members of those groups. I guess there wouldn't be any Heaven's Gaters in here, would there. (audience laughter)
Mormon leaders and apologists have a perfect right to exist in that category if they so desire, but unfortunately, they are terribly hypocritical in doing so. To explain: When I first began posting on ARM about five years ago, it was routine for pro-Mormon debaters to call for references and quotes for all the claims or statements that "anti-Mormons" would make. As I studied and learned more, I became more able to provide those references and quotes to the point of after a couple of years, most of the Mormons stopped demanding references and quotes, in part I suspect because they grew tired of me providing them. Many of the Mormons who constantly demanded those references when I began posting there have unsubscribed. Only a handful are left. Most of those who remain have changed their tactics to where they no longer call for references; instead, they question the credibility or the authoritativeness of the sources, or the interpretation of the data. But their hypocrisy is demonstrated by the fact that when we "anti-Mormons" ask them to provide references for their assertions, they respond with something like "You have to take it on faith" or "You need to pray for the Holy Ghost to reveal the truth of that to you." In other words, the Mormon apologists hold the statements and claims of "anti-Mormons" to a different of provenance than they do the statements and claims of Mormon leaders and writers.
As an example of this, some of the apologists attack Fawn Brodie's credibility and scholarship by criticizing her "methodology" or "motives" or "conclusions" rather than the actual facts she presented. In all my years on ARM, I have only come across one actual fact in Brodie's book which an apologist attacked, which was an apparent trivial error concerning a trip Joseph Smith took. The triviality of the mistake, and the undue import the apologist gave it, is actually more of a testament to Brodie's scholarship than it is a discreditation, because such minor, unintentional errors can be found in practically any work of history. But the hypocrisy comes in when an "anti-Mormon" brings up any one of a great number of incorrect, indefensible, or downright wacky statements or claims of Mormon leaders, the apologist responds with something like "That statement was only his opinion, and wasn't official church doctrine," or "the prophet is only a prophet when he's speaking as a prophet" or "We don't believe in the infallibility of the prophet." Or, sometimes, the defense is that the leader was misquoted by a scribe or some such excuse.
Of course, we ex-Mormons don't expect Mormon leaders to be infallible either. But the problem is that the apologists expect the statements and claims of "anti-Mormon" writers to be absolutely error-free, and if they make any mistake, no matter how trivial, the apologists feel free to reject the entire work out-of-hand, as in my mistake in Fannie Alger's age which gave me the credibility of a peeled zero, in that institute director's mind. (audience laughter)
But if you're a Mormon prophet, and supposedly commune with the Creator of the Universe on a regular basis, you can say all sorts of wacky, indefensible things, and your credibility doesn't suffer a bit, in the eyes of the faithful apologists. Maybe the fact is that Mormon leaders said all those wacky things while the Holy Ghost was on vacation or something. In my opinion, Mormon apologists' use of double standards of proof for pro-Mormon claims versus anti-Mormon claims discredits all of their efforts. They don't play on a level playing field.
One more comment on double standards and credibility of sources: Just a couple of weeks ago, LDS historian Dennis Lythgoe wrote a review of Will Bagley's "Blood of the Prophets" in the Deseret News. Lythgoe alleged that over half of Bagley's sources were "anti-Mormon in nature." Uhhh, excuse me, Mr. Lythgoe, exactly who determines what sources are "anti-Mormon in nature," and how are such determinations made? Is there some guy in the church office building who reviews each and every item of information concerning anything to do with Mormonism, and he has two rubber stamps, one labeled "pro-Mormon," and the "anti-Mormon," with which he stamps them either one or the other? (audience laughter)
Mr. Lythgoe then wrote a poster on the ex-Mormon group that "I'm a historian and I believe in truthful history - and this one [Bagley's book] does not qualify." Excuse me Mr. Lythgoe, but a historian is someone who examines ALL of the data, from ALL sides of the issues, and he compiles his work and draws his conclusions based on ALL the evidence, and NOT just from those sources which happen to support his agenda. A person who draws conclusions based only on those sources which agree with his pre-determined biases and conclusions is not an historian, but an apologist. And of course, Mormon apologists reject sources which reflect negatively on Mormonism claims alone, rather than by whether the information is credible, verifiable, and corroborated by other accounts, which is the proper historical method. Lythgoe may believe that he's a "historian" by Utah Mormon standards, but he isn't one by any professional standards, at least not in this redneck plumber's opinion. The truth is that "anti-Mormon material," in the eyes of the apologists, is material which hasn't yet been filtered, filtered, and spin-doctored until it reflects positively on the church.
In addition to their habit of rejecting facts which do not comport with their biases, some Mormon apologists misstate or outright fabricate facts in order to maintain their "faith." One recent example of this was BYU assistant history professor Kathryn Daynes' speech at the latest F.A.I.R. convention, which is an organization of Mormon apologists, sort of like an "anti-Ex-Mormon convention." (audience laughter)
As reported in the Salt Lake Tribune, Ms. Daynes repeated the the myth that 19th-century Mormons entered into polygamous marriages because so many Mormon men were either killed by "persecutors," or died on the pioneer trek west from one cause or another, which created a shortage of men and left a lot of widows and single women who needed husbands to care for their families.
Contrasting with Ms. Daynes' assertions, in the first place, it's been nearly 100 years since LDS apostle John A. Widtsoe debunked the myth that there was EVER a shortage of men in 19th-century Utah, in his book "Evidences and Reconciliations." Widtsoe cited Utah census records which showed a consistent greater number of men than women.
Secondly, although it's true that a certain number of Mormon men died from various causes, about the same number of women died right along with them, so the proportion of males to female would have remained about the same.
Thirdly, Joseph Smith's polygamy practice was supposedly a "revelation from God," which Smith first began hinting at as early as 1831, long before there were any "persecutions" or deaths to speak of among Mormons.
And fourthly, Mormon polygamy as taught and practiced was actually a method by which higher-ranking Mormon leaders could accumulate large number of wives for themselves, for the ostensible theological purpose of increasing the greatness of their "celestial kingdoms" in the hereafter. Joseph Smith himself "plural married" at least three dozen women, and dozens more were sealed to him "by proxy" after his death, to become his "eternal companions" in the afterlife, to procreate "spirit children" with him and populate new planets. The great majority of the women Joseph Smith "plural married" were not widows, but were instead young, marriageable women, including several teenagers and at least eleven women who were currently married to, and living with, their legal husbands. Brigham Young "plural married" more than 50 women, and other high-ranking leaders also married numerous women.
Also, 19th-century church leaders taught that plural marriage was an "eternal principle," and an "everlasting covenant" that would never be rescinded; that polygamy was God's true order of marriage, was essential to their salvation, and that monogamy was the product of wicked Gentiles and Roman pagans. Church leaders only backpedaled on those teachings, and the practice of polygamy, when the U. S. government forced them to in the 1890s.
The point being, that Ms. Daynes attempted to paint a picture that showed polygamy to be a noble and welcomed social device which was implemented on a short-term basis to provide for widows, orphans, and single women. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Mormon polygamy as practiced was anything but noble. In fact, polygamy was specifically prohibited by the LDS church's 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, as well as being against anti-bigamy laws of the state of Illinois.
Joseph Smith and his fellow polygamists operated in secret, behind closed doors and spoke of it in hushed tones, even using code names, darkened rooms, and veiled faces to disguise identities. Whenever any opponents sought to expose pooygamy, Smith and his brethren steadfastly denied it, and called those people false accusers. Smith's secret practice of polygamy was a major factor in his 1844 murder, and the Mormons never even admitted to being polygamists until 1852, when they were ensconced in Utah, and seemingly safe from prosecution on bigamy charges.
The point to all of this being, that if Mormon apologists have to invent or misrepresent facts of history in order to maintain their faith, then exactly what is the worth of that alleged faith? Earlier, I cited Robert Millett's opinion that Mormons cannot have faith in doctrinal fiction. I would paraphrase Millett's comment to submit that Mormons also cannot have faith in historical fiction. But the problem is that so much of what Mormons believe to be historical fact about their religion is either exaggerations, misrepresentations, or outright fabrications; and the reason those things are perpetuated is because Mormon leaders and apologists allow them to be. In other words, the only way Mormons can maintain their 'faith' is to massage the facts until they comport with their beliefs. And that, of course, is intellectual dishonesty.
And that brings us to the crux of the issue: We Ex-Mormons know that Mormonism as a belief system cannot hold up, if its true origins and history are publicized to the world. Mormonism can only continue to thrive if its true history is suppressed, and replaced with an assortment of "faith-promoting" myths or misrepresentations. It is only through the misrepresenting of history, and through church leaders' and apologists' calls for the rank-and-file members to ignore facts, and rely on "faith," that Mormonism will continue to flourish. And the LDS church has a reported wealth of 30 billion dollars which it can use to help perpetuate those myths and further its agenda.
So, where do we Ex-Mormons fit into all of this? As concerns me personally, this is the first ex-Mormon conference I've been able to attend. I came to this one because I wanted to meet all of you, and take part in the Ex-Mormon movement. I believe in this movement. I'm enthusiastic about it. I believe that because of the free flow of information on the internet, that the future will bring a flood of Mormons questioning the church, wishing to leave, and wanting to know what to do and where to go next. Do you remember Joseph Smith's "revelation" that said "You might as well try to stop the Missouri River in its decreed course, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-Day Saints?" To paraphrase that statement, LDS leaders might as well try to stop the Missouri River as to hinder people from learning the true origins, history, and motives of Mormonism. The internet is like the proverbial open barn door, and the horses are out. Someone once commented that no good Mormon would be caught dead walking into the Tanners' bookstore and perusing anti-Mormon material, but nowadays you can sit in the privacy of your own home and have free access to all the information about Mormonism you desire. And that access, I believe, is what is going to force changes in Mormonism.
A couple of weeks ago on the ex-Mormon e-mail list, one poster commented that we shouldn't expect to be able to destroy Mormonism. I actually don't believe that there are many Ex-Mormons who want to see Mormonism eradicated from the planet; rather, I think that most people just want the LDS church to be honest about its origins and history, and disavow its dubious teachings and oppressive practices and policies. I believe that our mission should be to educate people about Mormonism so that they can make informed decisions, rather than to call for its destruction. But then I also thought that we shouldn't be totally shocked if at some point in the future, Mormonism ceases to exist as we know it.
Case in point: How many people had any idea in the year 1970, for instance, that the Soviet Union would cease to exist by 1990? I don't recall any Mormon prophets predicting that to happen, at least. (audience laughter)
What tactics did leaders of the Soviet Union use to maintain their empire for 75 years? Suppression and punishment of dissenters, censure and punishment of intellectuals, propagation of the concept that the state is all-knowing and has the peoples' best interests at heart, and requiring the people to have faith in the system.
Now, what was it that brought the Soviet Union and other Communist regimes down? The free flow of information and communication and the desire for individual freedoms.
Now, transferring the example of the Soviet Union to Mormonism: Although it's a fact that the free world sought to bring down the Soviet Union for decades, it ultimately fell because its own citizens came to realize that it was an oppressive, unworkable system, compared to what they saw from the free world. It turned out that there were many millions of people in the various Soviet states who wanted change, but it took a massive, overwhelming snowball effect of courageous people acting together to overthrow the system. Those memories of watching the Berlin Wall come down, oppressive dictators in various regimes being ousted and some actually executed, millions of people suddenly being free to determine their own destinies after decades of oppression, is one of the great history-changing events of our lifetimes.
Now, who is to say that the same kind of thing can't happen to Mormonism? Just a few years ago, the directors of the Worldwide Church of God, the unorthodox church started by Herbert W. Armstrong, ousted his son, Garner Ted Armstrong, repudiated all the Armstrong's cultish teachings and practices, and declared that they were becoming a mainstream Christian group. Who's to say that the same thing can't happen to Mormonism at some point in the future? No one knows, but I'd be interested to see it happen. Like the man said, "You can't fool all of the people all of the time." And I hope that many of us here will live to see the time when Mormonism is no longer able to fool ANYONE.
Thank you very much. (audience applause)
In honour of Randy J., who has spent so many hours online discussing Mormonism with members, many of whom are incredibly ignorant of church history and doctrine, I submit my own version of the Sam Cooke song, "Wonderful World".
Don't know much about polygamy
Don't know much about theocracy
Don't know much about Elohim
I've never even heard of “Kokaubeam”
But I know that Joseph never lied
Cos when you feel you're right – it means you're right
What a wonderful church this has been
Don't know much about DNA
Don't know much about being gay
Don't know much about electroshocks
I barely listen to the conference talks
But I know the scriptures are all true
Even though I've never read them through
What a wonderful church this has been
Now I don't claim to be a big expert
And I'm not trying to be
Cos I know through the power of the spirit
That one and one make three
Don't know much about Peterson
Don't know much about Sorenson
Don't know much about Midge or Gee
Don't know much about Hugh Nibley
But I know folks rode on tapirs and goats
And Jaredites survived in upside down boats
What a wonderful church this has been
Now I'm not trying to cause irritation
I'm just stating facts
Every church but mine is an abomination
Run by Satan's hacks
Don't know much about reality
Don't know much epistemology
Don't know much about the mental states
That make somebody “see” invisible plates
(multiple repeat on the this last B section)
I've never heard of Zina Huntington
I've never heard of Wild Bill Hickman
I've never heard of Hoffmann's clever fakes
That fooled “the seers” and made them look like flakes
And what is more, is I don't even care
Cos I've been broken like an old brood mare
I'll send my kids on missions even though
If I was wrong, I wouldn't want to know
And if they die for what is someone's fraud
I'll keep imagining they died for God
Cos Mormonism is my “heritage”
My group of friends, my bloated self-image
My “paradigm”, my favourite fantasy
I rather like the group security
And even when the prophet's wholly wrong
I'll keep obeying like a slavish drone
So you can stuff your comments, Randy J.
I won't listen to a word you say
You can keep your facts, your logic, too
Cos in the end, this isn't 'bout what's “true”
In the name of truth, I fear the truth
So I don't wanna hear your “solid proof”
All I wanna do is close my eyes
Shut my ears, and tell myself I'm right
What a wonderful church this has been
Thanks for all those great posts, Randy J. - 06/15/2006
Balance between good and evil. What does the LDS church do?
It brings people/neighbors together in love, fellowship, and service. It teaches them to live by a very strict set of moral values.
Why do you try to destroy this? Is it anarchy that you desire?
If so, that is fine too. Because we also teach they you have a choice in all things. But we also teach that it is never too late to change.
You are only in my prayers with love. 10/18/2010 - Sasha
Well, it's been 8 years since you spewed your hatred for the church with this particular lecture. What progress have you made in destroying it? In that time the church has added nearly 40 new temples around the world and there are more missionaries now than ever before. You better "lengthen your stride" a bit if you want to achieve your goal. - 08/10/2010 - justme
You have become quite a good public speaker since leaving the church. I just read your lecture as posted and kept waiting to read in your own words how you feel personally about the Savior and his atoning sacrifice. Frankly, I was a little disappointed that you did not teach me more about Christ and how I can have a closer relationship with him. It seemed to me the more I read the more convinced I became that you are not really interested in saving souls or bringing men to Christ. Your mission is simply to promote a smear campaign against the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If your "hope" is to see a time when Mormonism is "no longer able to fool anyone" perhaps you should think about changing your hope. Perhaps it would be better to hope for a time when all the world will turn to Christ for a remission of sins. Maybe we could take the counsel of Gamaliel:
"Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye can not overthrow it." (Acts 5:38,39).
Are you teaching as Christ would teach? Can you imagine Jesus standing upon the mount and publicly making fun of another person in song? Would Jesus spend his energy trying to discredit another faith or would he be about his Father's business? Randy, I see in your words bitterness and vengeance. With your talent to deliver a speech why don't you use it to preach from the pulpit salvation through Christ. - 08/08/2010 - Rick
Who's really manipulating who? I just read 9 pgs of you whining.Give it a break.You spent the better part of your life believing and now your lost.Why blame the Church b/c you lost faith? YOU changed directions.YOU wont be missed.Maybe you should email Tom Cruise he might have a spot for you. - 06/08/2010 - mitch. Buna TX
Thank you for publishing your speech. I found your speech interesting and your arguments well presented. I'm an active LDS member, and have read widely on what we could loosely classify as 'Anti-mormon' material (no slight intended). Through out this I've found a mix of content, so obviously biased, some downright lies, and some well founded and giving genuine cause for concern. I would classify your remarks as very fair and as far as I am capable of judging, well founded.
I'm sure you can sense the pending however'. I fully accept your argument that little or no archaeological evidence has been found for the BOM. Equally, having read so many negative historical statements about Joseph Smith and counter Church arguments, I find it easy to conceive of him being either a total villain or a saint. Truth be told, I find it very difficult to reach a full conclusion based on the weight of evidence. That said, I feel that since there is such as apparent weight of evidence against the church, were the decision to be based on evidence alone, I would find the Church position greatly lacking in a robust and viable defence.
I have a few experiences that retain me as a fully active LDS member that I would simply ask you to reflect on for a moment. All are based on personal tangible experiences. I'm not citing these to convince your readers. I'm not offering to reference them or provide video evidence. I'm merely sharing the experience, and am happy if your readers wish to offer an alternate interpretation. Where argument is presented without malice and with a fair and open mind approach (as I feel you have done in this speech) you will find me receptive, respectful, and considerate of your views:
I'm a rational, degree educated, partner in a management consultancy firm. The collection and evaluation of evidence is vital to my work, and forms the basis of my ability to draw conclusions and make recommendations. That said, experience has taught me that the apparent evidence is not always as overwhelming or as conclusive as at first it might seem. Apparently conclusive evidence (which your speech appears to contain) can upon occasion lead to false conclusions (at not point am I stating that I feel your conclusions are false, I'm open minded about that).
In this instance your arguments are well thought out and compelling. However, what causes me real concern is that after 20 years in the church I can recall 6 major spiritual experiences that anchor me very firmly to the view that there is far more to this than meets the eye. I am not talking about a 'burning in the bosom' sensations, as were it this alone, I would happily discount it as being a placebo. These experience were very tangible. I don't wish to bore you by recount them all (I'm happy to if you wish to do so offline) but will offer the concise version of two if you would permit:
ONE: When I met and dated the girl I later married, I reflected long and hard on whether she was the one for me'. I was absolutely attracted to her and in love with her, but was conscious that that, in an of itself, could blind me to making a rational balanced decision (I'm often criticised by friends for over intellectualising, and not acting with sufficient emotion). So, I prepared and went to the temple. As sat in an extremely busy celestial room, I sought guidance in prayer. During the prayer I explained to the Lord that i sought his guidance for a significant life stage decision. I asked that the witness be clear, tangible, and undeniable. The prayer was given in silent thought, so it was impossible for another to overhear what was said. I sat waiting for an answer for just a few minutes. A temple worker approached me and asked for me to participate in a proxy sealing. I explained that I felt uncomfortable doing so having never seen a sealing before. He countered that he'd entered the room and ask for guidance on who of the many occupants to ask, the spirit told him to ask me. I felt a little cornered, but accepted. I knelt at the alter in the sealing room and participated in the proxy ceremony. I was greatly surprised to find that I was being proxy sealed to a deceased sister that bore the same family name as my future wife's (My wife's family name is French and highly uncommon Š infact, she was the first person I'd ever met with this family name). I was stunned by what you may view as a coincidence. It struck me, and I hope it will you, that the chances of me entering the temple on that day and being asked to participate in that ceremony, and then being sealed to a woman with the same family name as my wife must be astronomical. That is the only time I've ever been asked to come into the sealing room by a temple worker to assist in the performance of a proxy sealing.
TWO: The second incident involved the birth of my daughter. My wife's mother was taken I'll and rushed into hospital. She sat there for two weeks as she recovered from very severe pancreatitis. Her recovery seemed to be going well. On the day my wife was due to give birth (in the same hospital) we visited her mother who was still retained on the ICU ward. We were met at the door by a nurse who had the difficult job of telling us that our mother had taken a dramatic turn for the worse, and that the crash team were trying to revive her. My wife was in great distress, we had other family with us, and my wife insisted I got to her mothers side. And shall never forget walking into that room and seeing the crash team working on her, trying to revive her, pushing so forcefully on her chest as she lay motionless on the bed. The lead doctor looked at me wondering who I was and why I was permitted to enter when the crash team were working. I told him. He accepted my presence, and explained in a consoling tone that they had been trying for more than 15 minutes to get any kind of response from her and had nothing. He told me that he was sorry, but that he was about to call time. The nurse checked against for a pulse and there was nothing. He was about to call time. Recognising this I gripped her hand in mine, and performed the shortest and fastest blessing I've ever delivered (this was done on my own, without oil). The wording consisted of me calling her by name, the priesthood authority, and the name of the saviour, followed by the words I command your heart to beat' and the close. As I said this her heart gave its first beat. I felt in absolute shock, despite the fact that the situation was already distressing. I'm shaking now recording this for you. She had been without a heartbeat during that entire period. After I spoke with the doctor and he looked very surprised but very pleased to have helped bring her back (and I do not detract from their efforts at all). I ask him how common that was for someone to be out for so long and still recover. He told me it is uncommon, not unknown, but uncommon for that length of time. That night my friend and I gave her another blessing promising a full recovery. The lead consultant told me that after 15 plus minutes without a heartbeat, it was highly likely that she will have suffered significant brain damage. He also explained that her condition was so serious that she was still unlikely to make it through the night. I explained to him that I had just given her a blessing and told him that she would make a full recovery. He was very accepting of my faith, but warmly told me that he considered that a near impossibility since she was on a ventilator on 100% oxygen receiving 9 different drugs sustaining her life, and that even if through a miracle she made it through the night, she would probably have suffered serious brain deterioration. Needless to say, that woman came home and now frequently visits my house to sit on the couch and read books to my children having made a full recovery.
I submit these accounts to you for your consideration. These are two of six. I can only offer you my word as to their truth, which you are free to accept or reject as you wish.
I offer these, not to convince you that the LDS church is true, but to perhaps for a moment give you food for thought that perhaps all is not what it seems, and that maybe something greater is going on. I will happily engage in further correspondence with you should you feel it worth your time, and would be willing to share these experiences over the phone. Again, my intention is not to argue that you are wrong, merely to explain my own circumstances; that despite your evidence and argument appearing to be overwhelming, and me being willing to happily concede that you have the stronger case in terms of pure logical, and apparently factual arguments (which under normal circumstances would be sufficient to persuade me to your cause), I must balance those logical arguments against collection of incredibly powerful personal experiences that have left an overwhelming impression on my mind, to such effect that I find myself unable to side with your evidence purely based on my own tangible experience.
Others may wish to make light of these experiences. I can't help that. I'm not writing this as an overly religious super LDS member. That would not be an accurate description of me. Closer to the truth would be someone with a questioning scientific mind that frequently ponders the things that just don't seem to add up at church. The reality is, my experiences have been such that I find myself in a quandary. The evidence apparently proving the church false, when personal experience has frequently provide experiences supported by astronomical odds that testify that it is indeed true.
I respect your arguments and wish you well in life's journey. If it turns out the Church is true, I hope that the sincerity of your search and your arguments will hold a good and fair account of you in the last days.
Open Minded - 02/03/2010
Is Randy Jordan really the best you guys can do? - 07/29/2009 - jmason
You're an idiot. One day you'll realize the mistakes you've made in alienating your children and family from the Church, and you'll see that the only thing that turned you away was your stubborn pride and stupidity. You nitpick at the church members, but you fail to see yourself for what you truly are. Instead of seeking justice, you seek vengeance, but only your downfall will come of it. I feel for your mother; you probably don't harbor bad feelings to her because of the church, but probably because she was too busy to notice your whining. Get a life, and a real job, too. There are better thigns to do in life than bash things you don't and won't understand. - 05/19/2009 - anon
Absolutely a fantastic read. Randy..........Well said. Now if True Believing Mormons could just read this and pray about it. - 12/15/2008 - Mark Long
Good to see some southern common sense applied to this cult. I am SO glad to be out. Life is much better, family closer, 10% more income--now using that to take family vacations. Thanks for your studying and explaining all of this so clearly. - 12/15/2008 - Texas Exmo
You may wish do dig into Joe Smith's (that criminal hustler) spooky parentage. Joe's Maw and Paw were clasic deadbeats while Joe was a kid in the Upper Connecticut Valley. Both Joe and Lucy visioned all sorts of bogymen while bouncing from one tenant farm to another. Joe Sr., usually after his daily dose of hard cider. That crap rubbed off on Junior to the point where he could hustle the poor saps digging "Clinton's Folly" (Erie Canal) with a rock in his hat. There were all kinds of hustlers along the Erie Canal stretch in those days some even claiming to be Messiah. Joe's gimick just seemed to be one that took.
That Mormon stuff is proven to be so ridiculous, it isn't even worthy of an argument and yet we've got prominent intelectuals pretending to accept it as fact. Yes, I said PRETENDING! Right Gov. Romney? - 12/16/2007 - Johnny Putt
What I find so difficult to believe about those who swallow that Mormon phonyness, is how so many supposedly brilliant amongst us can be faithful followers. Since the BoM is such an obvious fairy tale, spotted by the likes of a dolt like me, I can only assume that those of influence simply pretend to believe. Not to, would weaken the impact LDS's political and financial clout has. Joe, Brigham and other LDS "prophets" have expressed desires for complete political control of North America. A scheme that would reward those obvious pseudo faithful with power positions.
Just a maybe. Perhaps they truly believe. - 10/20/2007 - johnnyputt
Randy J., I always enjoy your southern sensibility. - 08/25/2007 - eighthman
I find this quote very interesting, and very telling, "Having satisfied myself that Mormonism was a fraud, I decided to devote the same level of time and energy into exposing it that I had put into advocating it. Minus paying 10% of my income for life for the privilege of doing so, that is."
If you like your house blue, and I like my red, what difference does it make, as long as you like your house. If you are a follower of Christ, then what difference does it make to you, what other people decide to believe? Every other religion that I know of, has offerings, and tithes, and tithe is a 10th. So if you still beleive in Christ, where do you worship, and pay your tithe? How do you support whatever it is that you believe now?
I read most of it, some of your talk made me wonder, when you 19 yrs old,you went on a mission for the church, and now "Having matured somewhat since then, I now realize that my subconscious motive for going on a mission was to get away from my abusive, controlling father, and a negative family situation, so at least that worked out well.", why did you not get job, and fund your own living? Like the rest of your siblings, or was easier to live off somebody else's blood, sweat and tears?
No where did you talk about the doctrines of the church, no where do you talk about Jesus Christ, and what if any relation you have with Him. If you did, I didn't find it in the first half. It is very easy to try destroy what others have accomplished, and very hard to do anything new. Most of what you have talked about, I have read in Church History. You appeared to live off others testimonies, and when you were required to use your own, and maybe pay tithe, well, it easier to just walk and bash.
It has been almost five years since your talk, and the church has not fallen as a "house of cards" as you predicted. But in the end,
"If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference." The Inner Life of Abraham Lincoln: Six Months at the White House by Francis B. Carpenter (University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1995), pp. 258-259.
You could make better use of your life and time, to help others, in any capacity, than to continue to try to make a mockery of things that others hold sacred. - 06/04/2007 - anon
Dear Mr. Jordan, Thank you for your enlightening article. I don't know how much of it is true, (I haven't yet had the time to research it for myself.) but I now know that all callings are not inspired and I would think that that of bishop would be as important as that of prophet on a local level. I am planning to write my story and post it on exmormons.org as soon as I can. - 03/27/2007 - from ecrasba
Oh Randy, you have convinced yourself. God convinced you of the truth, and you convinced yourself otherwise... You will not be forced to accept the truth. These "facts" you have are just reasons for you to believe one way as "faith" is reason for you to believe another. It was and is your choice, and you have made it. I hope it's a good one. - 03/27/2007 - me
Thanks for this website... This comment isn't worth putting up there, but I just wanted to say thanks. I'm trying to get over more than 45 years in the church. This site helps. - 12/29/2006 - Fenster
I am a born-again Christian, and I stumbled upon this website by accident. It is a Godsend, in any event. I left the Mormon Church in '92 after much reading up on the teachings that were supposed to be real and absolute, and we were definitely required to just blindly go along with it, but I know now that all of us were duped, had our chains jerked. My complete exodus was based not solely on the Book of Mormon and the fact that it's a badly written piece of science fiction, but also because the Jesus that the Mormons worship and believe in is not the Jesus of the Bible.
One of the 10 Commandments is "Thou shalt not commit adultery" and this was clearly from God. Why was it OK then, for Joseph Smith to do so, and coerce many women (young and old) to commit adultery as well? I was under the distinct impression that what God had commanded to mankind was what He meant, in no uncertain terms. I guess JS missed that one in seminary class. If they don't have the right God, or the right Jesus, all TBM's are doomed. Jesus gave His life for us on THE CROSS, not in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn't go to the Americas, He descended into Hell to rescue Abraham's Bosom, the people who were alive and believed and followed God long before Jesus arrived. Jesus wasn't married. Adam was not God. Etc, etc, etc.
I could go on and on; I just hope I've made some kind of point. I felt a huge burden lifted off my shoulders when I left the Mormon Church. I don't have to worry amd wonder if I am good enough for the Lord. The plain truth is I am not worthy to tie the laces of Jesus' sandals, none of us are, but He still took the weight of the world on His shoulders when He died for me (for us all), and if that isn't LOVE, I don't know what is. I am not worthy, but He still loves me no matter what, and that's all I need to know about whether or not I'm "good enough." - 12/21/2006 - LGC
I was baptised in TN and wernt on a Mission to Oakland, CA in 79. Your post here is so good! Thanks for making it! Great Post! 09/17/2006 - Don in Las Vegas
OK. I just found this site and I must say, that song gave me a much needed laugh! How true, how true. I read it to my husband and the comic relief helped a lot. I have been studying the Mormon faith "religiously" to help family and friends. Solid proof do I have? Yes. Can they explain? No. Will they try? With all their might.
I love my Lord, my Abba, Elohim, YHWH and Adonai. All one and all wonderful. I pray someday, in the name of our Almighty Jesus, that my family and friends will feel the same someday. God Bless - 09/10/2006 - Katherine - 1ofHissheep
Thank you for that splendid lecture. I continue to be amazed at how the "Book of Mormon" tries to out-do the Holy Bible for miracles (amongst other things). I fell around laughing when I read in Ether 15: 31 "And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died." I bet he did. Even more wonderful is Ether 15:2. I one battle, we are informed, nearly two million men had died, plus wives and children. Allowing for one wife and one child each, this could be 4,000,000 (four million) people; maybe more. In the First World War of 1914-1918, eight million people died. Have any remnants of those millions of pre-Mormons ever been found ? - 09/07/2006 - swithin
Loved the speech! Wish I could get my family to read it! Your words help me so in my discussions with my family, as I am not very elegant in speech, (or clever!) as you are. Its one thing to know the facts- its another to be able to present them clearly. I truly appreciate all of your hard work. - 03/26/2006 - from dancing_lamanite_daughter
Thank you thank you thank you. Following 23 yeas of being brainwashed I left the LDS, and that was 11 0r 12 years ago. I recollect on those years, and realize how the Mormon Church is a canned organization for societal cliques, as well as brow beating leaders. I thank you for your post. - 03/26/2006 - Judith Nees
Hi Randy-just wanted you to know that I have e-mailed this to seeral friends who were thinking of becoming Mormon which helped them to make a decision with some of their ownn research.I even referred it to a friend for her Sunday school class when they were discussing Mormons after her teacher said he knew nothing about Mormons. She's going to send it to a friend who is a former Mormon. - 03/06/2006 - Sonya,your sister-in-law
Hi Randy-just wanted you to know that I have e-mailed this to several friends who were thinking of becoming Mormon which helped them to make a decision with some of their ownn research.
I even referred it to a friend for her Sunday school class when they were discussing Mormons after her teacher said he knew nothing about Mormons. She's going to send it to a friend who is a former Mormon. - 03/06/2006 - Sonya,your sister-in-law
This splendiferous representation of the discernment of the Mormonistic practices enlightened me and simultaneously encouraged me to further pursue my tumultuous magnification of the CULTISH faith. - 06/05/2005 - anon
I loved reading this. Unfortunately, with all the research I did on Mormons, I was not able to convince my niece of these lies. She became Mormon and married a year later in the temple. (Without OUR family of course)
She was basically brainwashed as cults do. She never saw that her young man would NOT have asked her, had she not changed to Mormon. Keep on speaking and addressing these issues. I pray that some day, she will again see the truth and the truth WILL set her free. - 03/25/2005 - from 4jk in Lubbock
I'm sorry your experiences in the church proved so overwhelming. Life is tough. Having put all your reasons down on paper, did you notice a pattern? I did. Most of your reasons have to do with people disappointing you.
Randy's response: This Mormon obviously didn't read my remarks very closely. The majority of my speech detailed the various doctrinal and historical issues which made me conclude that the church is false. If I had left the church solely because people disappointed me, I would have left it 15 or 20 years sooner than I did. The personal experience I had where the bishop committed adultery was a big issue for me, but it showed that the institutional church's claimed "power of discernment" is a sham, as I clearly stated in my speech.
No one is perfect. Did you ever have a PERSONAL, private, individual spiritual experience that could not be denied. I have.
Randy's response: I did too, but after I learned the church's *real* origins and history, the logical conclusion was that the "spiritual experiences" I had while a Mormon did not translate into "the church is true." Such "spiritual experiences" are not a valid means of determining truth, because adherents of many other belief systems besides Mormonism have them too, and they interpet them as being the fruit of the validity of their belief systems, just as Mormons do.
That's why I titled my presentation "faith vs. facts." My point was that no amount of faith or spiritual feelings can cancel out scientific or historical facts. I find it ironic that this anonymous critic ignored the very premise of my presentation, and the vast majority of my remarks, in order to make his false assertion that I left the church because some members disappointed me.
This is what keeps me in an imperfect church. The gospel is perfect even with our limited understanding of it. The church is often flawed because we are imperfect beings trying our best. - 03/11/2005 - anon
Please send me a list of "anti" Mormon material that I might purchase to assist my daughter in leaving that CULT. She is currently very blinded and will not read anything I've suggested. Great speach! Loved it! Wish I had been there!! - 01/03/2005 - from otismac
Randy, I love your style and swagger. My interest is always piqued when I see that you have posted on RfM. I have read your arguments with TBMs when you posted links to them. Well done, and keep up the good work. - 10/01/2004 - John
Hi Uncle Randy
I'm sorry to have to admit that I've never read this entire speech until now! On Friday I had a colleague at University here in Brisbane turn up late for class because he was momentarily delayed by Mormons! I was reminded to search for this speech - it's very, very good by the way - so I could email him some excerpts. It's the first time I realised I was mentioned!
Love, Jimmy's teenage daughter
PS I now live two streets off Enoggera Road and have been in Southeast Queensland for over 18 years. - 05/08/2004
Randy great job I would like to put you in a room with my tbm (True Believeing Mormon) wife for a couple of hours. - 10/30/2003 - from jeepcrusher
I laughed, I cried. I had several visions. - 01/25/2003 - Dangerous1
i think your speech says it all. the thing that encouraged me to join the church in 1977 was the fact it was supposed to be 'truth'. the only saddest thing for me is leaving something where i had friends. it would be nice to belong to something where the people are not bothered about the truthfulness. there are many churches that exist that don't go around based on 'truth' or were started because someone wanted to. it doesn't take away from the joy the group of people have from coming together and working together. this to me is the saddest loss of all. all of this crap the church promotes about the 'truth' or not the 'truth' really takes away from what could be a lovely gathering place. mormons overall....normally the ones without any power. i have enjoyed friendships and learning experiences and just loveliness in general; this to me is my greatest loss.
thanks for your thoughts and your hard work.... - 01/25/2003 - julie
Great thoughts Randy. Wish I could have been there in person to see your wife ducking in and out from under that table.
I have often felt that the internet will be the eventual undoing of Mormonism - so much information aailable to so many people. This is one arena the church can't control or manipulate. It's amazing to watch what's happening as the church continues to lose control.
Mormonism is being unraveled from so many different directions that it's going to take an army of PR firms to keep it going. Like many, I don't necccessarily want to see the church destroyed as much as I want to see them come clean about their history and their beliefs.
Thanks for the work you're doing in terms of calling them on their claims. And thanks for the laughs! - 01/25/2003 - Tom Clark
A nitpick: the OJ Simpson jurors thinking "I know OJ didn't do it, so I'm going to ignore anything that suggests otherwise" isn't jury nullification, it's just stubborn ignorance. Jury nullification is when jurors believe that the defendant did commit the actions he is accused of, but vote not guilty because they believe those actions should not have been criminal. To keep this on topic, I've heard that the acquittal of Parley Pratt's murderer happened because the jury knew he did it, but believed that shooting someone who took your wife to Utah and came back for your kids was justified. - 01/25/2003 - anon
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