Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt

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In the small but cohesive Mormon community where he grew up, Hans Mattsson was a solid believer and a pillar of the church. He followed his father and grandfather into church leadership and finally became an “area authority” overseeing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout Europe.


When fellow believers in Sweden first began coming to him with information from the Internet that contradicted the church’s history and teachings, he dismissed it as “anti-Mormon propaganda,” the whisperings of Lucifer. He asked his superiors for help in responding to the members’ doubts, and when they seemed to only sidestep the questions, Mr. Mattsson began his own investigation.

But when he discovered credible evidence that the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, was a polygamist and that the Book of Mormon and other scriptures were rife with historical anomalies, Mr. Mattsson said he felt that the foundation on which he had built his life began to crumble.

Around the world and in the United States, where the faith was founded, the Mormon Church is grappling with a wave of doubt and disillusionment among members who encountered information on the Internet that sabotaged what they were taught about their faith, according to interviews with dozens of Mormons and those who study the church.

“I felt like I had an earthquake under my feet,” said Mr. Mattsson, now an emeritus area authority. “Everything I’d been taught, everything I’d been proud to preach about and witness about just crumbled under my feet. It was such a terrible psychological and nearly physical disturbance.”

Written By: Laurie Goodstein
continue to source article at nytimes.com

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  1. Good for him ! At least he had the curiosity to go online and see for himself what all this was about, which is quite rare for someone so deeply religious. Most of them would’ve been content with simply dismissing this as anti-mormon propaganda as he first thought.

    Mormonism is easier to expose since it’s not even 200 years old. It happened in a time and place where we had records, litteracy, all that stuff. It’s harder to do that with older religions born in illiterate parts of the world more than a thousand years ago. It’s already been done, but the evidence is less… striking, let’s say. Not to mention that the religious authorities have used their propaganda for millenia.

      • In reply to #4 by IDLERACER:

        “I don’t want to hurt the church,” Mr. Mattsson said. “I just want the truth.”

        Um, sorry sir, but by definition, “the truth” hurts all churches.

        The truth burns through any falsehood. Unfortunately, I think he still has not accepted that he is standing in ashes.

  2. It baffles me as to how anyone could continue believing this tripe into adulthood; the Jesuit seven year threshold really works, but now we know how, so perhaps that’s an area which needs developing so that techniques can be created to help the afflicted escape.

    Anyway, well done Hans Mattsson and good luck in your new life!

  3. The need to belong is often greater than the need to discover the truth. This is true also for those believing in political ideologies.

    Just look at the reaction of those supporting Obama to the revelations of unconstitutional activities by his government, his executive orders to use deadly force without proof of wrongdoing against American citizens and people in occupied countries, the proposed use of the military against the US population etc.

    Imagine the outcry of those keeping quiet of those abuses had they been committed by a republican president.

    It is always easier to live in a bubble of contentment than critically examining the basis of your political or religious belief.

    • In reply to #3 by kraut:

      The need to belong is often greater than the need to discover the truth. This is true also for those believing in political ideologies.

      Just look at the reaction of those supporting Obama to the revelations of unconstitutional activities by his government, his executive orders to use deadly force w…

      Actually Mr. Kraut, the republicans started that shitstorm in 2002. It was called The Patriot Act, and THEY were called Cheney and Bush. Might want to check your facts. And nobody said shit. Obama is far from being what I’d call a good president. But, as far as I know, he hasn’t started a war on a blatant lie, but he does have another year or two. If he tries real hard he might be able to do as much damage as the last administration. I absolutely agree that the government is way out of bounds, but don’t blame all of it on this goof-us that’s in the white house right now.

  4. I can’t remember the comedian’s name, but “Grandpa told me that he was there and that’s just not true”. I can’t imagine anybody so blinded by faith that they would believe a word of that self-serving nonsense that old Smitty shoveled out. It stands to reason why the folks in PA., IL., MO., ect ran those moron’s, I mean mormon’s all the way across the country. The only reason they didn’t get run out of Utah was the natives felt sorry for them, being so weird and mildly entertaining. Any mormon that didn’t know Smith was a polygamist don’t know a damn thing about their cult’s history. Kinda makes you wonder just what they teach these sheep. Thankfully though, some folks are learning to ask the most basic questions. Man, talk about blind faith at it’s worst.

    • In reply to #5 by fishhead:

      I can’t imagine anybody so blinded by faith that they would believe a word of that self-serving nonsense that old Smitty shoveled out.

      I was watching a Youtube lecture given by a man billed as the worst creationist is the world, Doug Batchelor.

      He primes his audience by repeating that atheists rudely consider creationists to be ignorant. The audience is set up to reject evolution, because people who despise them think that way, and because they would have to admit to being ignorant to accept evolution. He explains what drives evolution is a desire to behave in a wicked way, so people pretend their is no punishment for sin. His argument is if you believe evolution, you are just trying to find an excuse to rape little girls.

      Our Mormon dismissed evidence as “anti-Mormon propaganda,” the whisperings of Lucifer. He meant that literally.

      • In reply to #14 by Roedy:

        In reply to #5 by fishhead:

        I can’t imagine anybody so blinded by faith that they would believe a word of that self-serving nonsense that old Smitty shoveled out.

        I was watching a Youtube lecture given by a man billed as the worst creationist is the world, Doug Batchelor.

        He primes his audience…

        Some of that is true. Every time one of these lame-brains knocks on my door, I do have an overwhelming desire to behave in a wicked way. But it involves their throat and my hands. It don’t have anything to do with his little girls. He can keep them safe and save them for Uncle polygamist…..I thought about watching the video you mentioned, but figured I’d just want to choke my computer out. Thanks though!

  5. Mormons are fairly tactical when denying inconvenient truths about their faith’s history. And the looming potential of becoming an outcast is plenty to keep their members from asking too many of these pesky questions in the first place. All one needs to do is briefly research the unscrupulous dealings of Mr. Smith to get a sense of the foundations of this burned-over religion. It’s encouraging to know that more of them are doing so

    • In reply to #6 by Kaiser:

      I had many of the same questions as Mr. Mattsson. I went through multiple levels of local church hierarchy including meeting with the local mission president. I was told it was best that I not know, I should just believe in the leaders and stop asking those questions. That didn’t sit well, and I began my own research using the Mormon scriptures and books. Within a year I was out of the church. Last meeting I had was with a local Stake counselor telling me if I left, I’d go to hell. I stood up, looked him straight in the eyes and said, see you there. I walked out and have never looked back.

  6. The article kind of glosses over the fact that Joseph Smith was also a well-known convicted con-artist in his home state of New York before he had his magical “revelation” from the aptly-named angel Moroni. There’s a reason the Mormons were run out of New York and Ililnois before settling in Utah, and it had more to do with the shady nature of its founder than actual religious differences with the locals.

  7. SG: “Anyway, well done Hans Mattsson and good luck in your new life!”

    I like to say the same to Hans. It really must be a new life. Not anymore a life of make-believe, but a life of facing reality. ‘Reality’ with many unknowns, but so much better than the religious fantasies.

    Phantom_scribbler also made this transition. Welcome to both.

  8. That makes no sense. Why would it be so upsetting that Joseph Smith was a polygamist/womaniser? Much of the early history of the church was about persecution of the Mormons for their adoption of polygamy.

    • In reply to #13 by Roedy:

      That makes no sense. Why would it be so upsetting that Joseph Smith was a polygamist/womaniser? Much of the early history of the church was about persecution of the Mormons for their adoption of polygamy.

      Much like the Scientologists don’t tell their own members all the wacky bits until they’re really deeply entrenched, the LDS church tends to cover up the embarrassing former positions they used to hold but don’t any more. It’s possible that people may have grown up in the church believing that all this talk about how the Mormons used to be polygamists to be merely hateful lies told by outsiders. (Much like how Scientologists will insist that their religion contains nothing about Xenu and ancient people’s souls dumped into volcanoes and how that’s all a bunch of made-up strawman fallacies for propaganda purposes told by those hating on the church. They say this because THEY haven’t been told that part yet.)

      • In reply to #15 by Steven Mading:

        In reply to #13 by Roedy:

        That makes no sense. Why would it be so upsetting that Joseph Smith was a polygamist/womaniser? Much of the early history of the church was about persecution of the Mormons for their adoption of polygamy.

        Much like the Scientologists don’t tell their own members all the w…

        I’d love to know just exactly what they teach about scientology to scientologists. My favorite part of Ron Hubbard’s history is the fact that at one point he worked for a lodge of Alister Crowley’s magical order, Ordo Templi Orientis and The Church of Satin until he and his girlfriend/secretary emptied the bank account and ran off to Florida. All while his wife and kids were living in another state. Or the sex magic ritual intended to summon an incarnation of Babalon. Or that he bigamously married his partner in crime, while still married to wife #1. The truth is better than fiction, even science fiction.

  9. So Hans “just wants the truth”. Glad to help, fella! Erm, let’s see:

    1: There’s no such thing as god, that’s just a primitive superstition.
    2: We evolved, we weren’t “created”.
    3: When you’re dead, you’re dead. You don’t exist anymore.

    I think that’s enough to be getting along with for now.

  10. I don’t remember where this notion comes from, but it applies here: “The truth shall set you free, but not until it’s done with you.” This may not be true at all, but an awful number of people fear it without knowing that the fear is in them.

  11. Around the world and in the United States, where the faith was founded, the Mormon Church is grappling with a wave of doubt and disillusionment among members who encountered information on the Internet that sabotaged what they were taught about their faith,

    Surely it’s their faith that is saboteur.

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