In this section, I present a few simple examples that demonstrate that the church is not completely honest about its history.

Selective History

Church leaders themselves encourage people to only focus on parts of history that are flattering. Take this quote from a church historian and general authority, as published in the New Era:

Like anything, you have to approach Church history with balance. The true Church has always been a minority, and it seems like we’ve always had a target on our back. We’ll always face adversity, and we might as well get used to that. The best way to deal with it is to make sure we’re personally worthy and that our testimony is strong. If you’re spending time on websites that criticize the Church and its history but aren’t spending time in the scriptures, you’re going to be out of balance, and those negative things may have an unduly strong effect on you. If you were in proper balance, they wouldn’t.1

As an aside, this article is also extremely manipulative:

I may be a simple guy in many respects, but I’m smart enough to know that my Heavenly Father loves me.1

I argue that a selective approach to history is extremely dangerous. I do not understand why the church would pour enormous amounts of resources into controlling the dialogue around their own history, since throughout history, God seems comfortable subjecting his people’s history to scrutiny.

Book of Mormon Translation

Throughout the church’s history, it has taught a variety of different things regarding the translation process for the Book of Mormon. I discuss this more in 2.2 Gospel Topics Essays, so I will not say much more here to avoid redundancy


The church teaches a great variety of details about early church leaders and their polygamous (both polygynous and polyandrous) practices. Church members often come away confused, and apologetic responses often offer little more than a shrug about the nature of these practices. Consider just a few church-published and apologetic resources, especially noting contradictions between them:

This topic has been beaten to death, so I am not going to address it more. In my opinion, there are many more significant arguments against the church than controversial marriage practices.


When Saints was published, it was surprising to many church members, including myself. I learned things about church history I had never been taught, even in seminary and institute classes. When I’ve read other literature, including Rough Stone Rolling, No Man Knows My History, and other historical literature, I have been shocked to see how much the church has disguised and hidden over the years.

Milk Before Meat

As a missionary, I was taught never to talk about church history, especially nothing more than was included in the first missionary lesson. I was given an abridged quote about the first vision to memorize, and I was not to try to answer any contradictory questions about Joseph Smith or church history.

I was not permitted to read anything that was not church-produced, and even then, my choices were limited to scriptures and a select couple of books. I was not to read Saints as it was published, despite the church telling us to encourage members to purchase a copy or read it online.

This was all done under the guise of helping people focus on what’s most important. We gave people milk before meat, we said. I personally believe this was a deliberate attempt from the church to hide negative portions of its history until well after people had committed to church membership.


It has been my experience that the church strictly controls its own narrative. I am disgusted to see how much effort goes into carefully protecting members from “anti-mormon” church history, and it is my opinion that the church hides its unpleasant history because they are confident it is enough to dissuade the astute reader from joining or remaining faithful.

  1. Snow, S. E. (2013). Balancing Church History. New Era, June 2013, 22–23. ↩︎ ↩︎