Monday, June 27, 2011

Is Mormonism a Cult? A Stake President Responds

A student named Alethea contacted me saying she was studying cults and wanted to write a page about Mormonism in her report.  I was quite taken back until she clarified that she didn’t know whether our religion had cultish traits or not and simply wanted to meet with a leader to get clarification.  I invited her to meet with me personally explaining that while I don’t speak for the church as a whole, I would be happy to attempt to answer her questions as accurately as I knew how. 

She emailed me this link ahead of the interview saying that it listed the common characteristics of cults and that her questions would be based thereon:

For those not wishing to click on the link, here are the first few characteristics mentioned on the site:
  1. The group is focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.
  2. The group is preoccupied with bringing in new members.
  3. The group is preoccupied with making money.
  4. Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished………….etc
Alethea also told me in that email that most people in cults (including many who are very intelligent) don’t realize it and would think the idea absurd. She said that people who join cults gradually lose their free-agency to conformity.  (Thankfully this is not something that we see at all in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). 

When Alethea arrived at my home I offered to get something for her to drink and she asked for a cup of coffee.  I said that coffee was not permitted in Mormonism as part of our health code which greatly intrigued her. Our conversation went something like this:

Alethea: So if a Mormon were to drink coffee would there be a punishment attached?

Bill: Well they wouldn’t be allowed to hold a recommend which allows members access to the most sacred places on the earth, our temples.  Also certain positions in the church require one to have this recommend as a basic show of worthiness; so someone who partakes would be relieved of that position. 

Alethea: ….and this is all for just drinking an occasional cup of coffee? You know rigid rules and regulations are mentioned on the site I emailed you as common characteristic found in cults.

Bill: Obedience is a very important principle Alethea.  We follow this and many other teachings given to us by our leaders.

Alethea: I understand; may I have a cup of tea instead then?

Bill: Well the thing is Alethea, we don’t drink tea either.

Alethea: Oh. Well to be honest I’ll be just fine with my bottle of water, assuming that is permitted?

Bill: Of course. 

Alethea: Bill you mentioned obedience to leaders earlier which leads me to a question I had in mind to ask you. As per the website I sent you cult leaders often claim new revelation from God and that they, alone, speak for God. Is this the case in Mormonism?

Bill: Keep in mind that the adversary mimics God in many ways Alethea. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living church upon the face of the earth according to our holy scriptures.  New revelations from God with regards to mankind as a whole come only through our prophet.

Alethea: I see.  Bill please tell me a little bit about the person who leads the Mormon religion. Would you say that Mormons are focused on a living leader to whom they display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment? 

Bill: We are not excessive at all towards our leader Thomas S. Monson, but we do accept him as a prophet of God. In fact we raise our hands to sustain him several times a year (General Conferences, Stake conferences, Ward Conferences, and this is confirmed in temple recommend interviews etc) as a prophet seer and revelator and as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all the priesthood keys necessary for the salvation of mankind.

Alethea: I see.  Are members expected to obey his counsel?

Bill: Absolutely.  Apostle Robert D. Hales in his 2010 General Conference talk entitled ‘Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life’ asked the following question:
My brothers and sisters, are we hearkening with exactness to the voice of the Lord and His prophets?

Alethea: And how do members in general feel about this prophet?

Bill: We love him dearly. A favourite hymn of mine that we often sing has these words “We thank thee O God for a prophet to guide us in these latter days….”

Alethea: So Mormons sing this song of worship regularly?

Bill: We do indeed.

Alethea: If ever the group or the leader is criticized or questioned is this characterized as "persecution" Bill?

Bill: It is. And we are very used to this sort of persecution. 

Alethea: Calling it persecution is a common trait mentioned on the website I sent you, but let’s move on to another subject. We have found that cults have a preoccupation with bringing in new members.

Bill: Well I wouldn’t call it a preoccupation so much as I would call it a duty. Every member is a missionary and is encouraged to talk to his friends and neighbours about the church Alethea.  We encourage all families to have a mission plan where they plan how many people they will invite to church. In addition our young men consider it an honour as priesthood holders to serve the Lord full time for two years throughout the world as missionaries.
 
Alethea: Yes I have encountered these young men from time to time! Another cultish trait we find is that groups are preoccupied with making money. How does your church finance its operations?

Bill: Well we are certainly not preoccupied with money in our church.  The Lord doesn’t require our money, just our faith. 

Alethea: Well that’s good. Most cults withhold certain privileges to people who aren’t willing to fund the operation.

Bill: That’s terrible. Our faithful members willingly obey the law of tithing paying 10% of their incomes to the Lord.  They also have the option of giving even more money to assist other inspired church programs.

Alethea: That is wonderful Bill.  May I ask if this 10% is mandatory or in other words are there any punishments to not paying for example?

Bill: Oh it is definitely not mandatory, but members who don’t pay simply don’t get the same blessings as those who do.

Alethea: What sort of blessings?

Bill: Well God promises blessings to the obedient Alethea.  Plus access to our temples and the holding of certain leadership positions require members to pay this tithing.

Alethea: What if someone feels like they can't quite afford 10% and they 'only' give 9% of their income to the Mormon church - would they be able to hold leadership positions and enter the temples?

Bill: I have never come across this specific situation but the answer is no; the Lord requires us to have the faith to pay a full tithe Alethea.

Alethea: So can I write down that someone who doesn’t pay 10% of their income to the Mormon Church cannot hold certain positions and cannot attend the most holy places? And can I accurately add that this would affect their standing within the community?

Bill: Well, yes if you want to put it that way.

Alethea: Well how would you put it Bill?

Bill: Those who do not pay tithing are welcome in the church but do not enjoy all the blessings the Lord would give unto them.

Alethea: I see. Another thing I wanted to ask you about is that as per the link I sent you “no cult wants its inner workings exposed, although sophisticated cults may curry media interest or even employ public relations consultants and ad agencies to manage their image”.

Bill: Well I don’t see what’s so cultish about using ad agencies to manage our image.

Alethea: Do you know the inner workings of the church from a financial perspective?

Bill: I do.  The church discloses everything online here in the UK and over in Canada.

Alethea: Well it is by law that this is done in the UK, though I can’t speak for Canada. The head quarters of the Mormon Church are in America where the law doesn’t require disclosure of financial details. Do they disclose them anyway?

Bill: We get a confirmation at world wide General Conferences to the effect that all the money is accounted for and has been used legally and properly.

Alethea: But you don’t get to see details such as how much money leaders take as incomes or anything like that?

Bill: No we don’t see any of that.  I wish we did as there are many critics who claim that the top leaders are highly paid (half a million dollars a year according to one person who said they used to be in a position to know such things).  I would like to see the look on their faces when they see that the hard earned tithing money of church members would never go to help enrich those good honest men leading the church.  

Alethea: Of course.  Another thing that happens in some cults is that individuality is removed. This is often done by demanding conformity to the group dress code.  I have noticed that Mormons tend to look alike.  The men for example are all clean shaven and wear business suits with white shirts – is this conformity mandatory?

Bill: No not at all. There are many members that do not conform to the inspired guidelines given by our loving leaders, but they are still welcome among us.  Leadership positions in the church are not given to those who do not conform and I personally released one of my leaders as a stake high councilman for growing a beard recently, but I understand other stake presidents are not so strict.  As a people we try to emulate our prophets and apostles in the way we think, talk, act and look all the while maintaining our individuality.

Alethea: Right. Moving on then; another trait we often see is that questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished. How does your church deal with those who leave?

Bill: Well we have an extensive reactivation program in place and do all we can to lovingly help people overcome their weaknesses so they can be brought back to the fold.  

Alethea: So someone who leaves Mormonism is considered to have a weakness?

Bill: Oh absolutely. Satan works hard on our weaknesses and doubts and we must ever be watchful lest we fall away.
 
Alethea: Very well.  This leads me to another question from the website I sent you; if someone provides sound evidence against the groups teachings, are members taught to question the motivation of the presenter? In cults we often find that sound verifiable documentation is ignored because of doubts over the presenter's motives.

Bill: Well I consider myself an apologist (defender of the faith), and one of the main things apologists do is verify the background and motivation of the person presenting the evidence in order to show their personal weaknesses.  This helps most faithful members decide to ignore the lies being presented. 

Alethea: Can you give an example?

Bill: Well I’m not too familiar with all the details but there is a man called D. Michael Quinn who wrote some books that ‘apparently’ contain accurate but damaging information about the church.  The church excommunicated him, which surprised some people but we now know that he is in fact gay. 

Alethea: and…

Bill:  So if a member were to express an interest in reading his books I would be able to state that I have not read the books and nor would I since he is homosexual and has been excommunicated by righteous church leaders. 

Alethea: Okay so if a former member presented good, solid, well researched evidence that showed a flaw in the way Mormons think or in a particular teaching you would be more interested in the personal life and the motivation behind the presenter than the actual evidence.

Bill: You cannot get good fruit from a bad tree Alethea.  If the presenter has left the church or been excommunicated it can only be at the instigation of the evil one and I would do all I could to expose the person and the weaknesses that led to his demise. 

Alethea: Some would see this as attacking the messenger rather than dealing with the issue.

Bill: Well it’s important that information comes to us from faithful members Alethea.  We have a living prophet and authorized leaders who act as “watchmen on the tower” for us.  We want members to see church teachings from the church’s point of view and not from the view of those who would harm and deceive.
  
Alethea: I was always taught that in order to find truth one should consider all points of view, but let’s move on. One trait from the site I sent you is that the group and its leader are the exclusive means of knowing "truth", no other process of discovery is really acceptable or credible.

Bill: Well our leaders are inspired men Alethea and we are all encouraged to pray and obey their counsel until we receive a personal testimony of their divine calling. Once this testimony has been achieved we come to know that the Lord would never allow our leaders to lead us astray. 

Alethea: I completely understand. Well I think I have a pretty good idea now of where Mormonism fits with regards to my project and would like to thank you Bill for taking the time to meet with me.

Bill: It was my pleasure Alethea.  I realize there are many destructive groups that try to control people and I am happy to have had the opportunity to clarify the teachings of our church in order to show that we are not to be associated with such groups.

Alethea: It is much appreciated.

Bill: Oh and Alethea if in your research you come across anyone that is in a cult and doesn’t realize it, as is usually the case, please let me know so I can send our missionaries over to teach them the truth. 

Alethea: Umm I will keep that in mind Bill.  Thanks again for all your help today.

49 comments:

morgbotalpha said...

Did we ever find out which "anti" group Alethea represented? Her obvious self satisfaction and disbelief are key indicators that she believed she was in a better position to judge the church than those of us who have been born into the "convenant". What arrogance! I'm glad you set her right President Paternoster!

Molly Smith said...

Thanks for the info. It's good to know I'm not in a cult and we are lead by a modern day prophet, even Thomas S. Monson.

Stake Pres. said...

morgbotalpha I didn't find out which group she belonged to, but I was glad to be able to put her skepticism to rest.

I couldn't agree more Sister Smith.

Suspicious Minds said...

If only Alethea would humble herself, be baptized and walk the Mormon way, then she would understand. Thank you President for guiding her to help her in a small way see that we as a Church are misunderstood because of the the simple truths that you eluded to that are taken out of context. President, you do us all proud and we would do well to emulate your example. :-)

Karin said...

You are so right, pres. Paternoster. AFter all, it is because of the scriptures that we know we need to strictly follow one man. It says in D&C 1:37-8:
What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same. And in Nephi 22:2 it says:
And I, Nephi, said unto them: ...for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh.

Thus our modern prophets gave us scriptures that tell us how important it is that we obey the prophets so we can live better lives. Aren't we blessed? Poor Althea who has to do so much research to know how to live. We have it so much better as members of God's true church.

Anonymous said...

The Prophet always gives us the truth and leads the way for us, just as God led the way for Nephi. With all happiness I give 10% of my earnings to tithing. Recently I gave a further 10% when I attended fast and testimony meeting because I lost my job and know the Lord will bless me.

I may have to move and bills are adding up, but I already feel blessed because I have good health and know I am in the true church.

Thank you for all you do, President Paternoster!!

Brother Korne

Chris S said...

President,

I am sure that this wasn't your intention, but as I read this post, it seemed that according to the definition that Alethea was using, the Church does sound a little cultish. This just makes me think that her definition of a cult is wrong. Where does she get her authority to say what counts as a cult and what does not?

Brother Heber said...

If you speak with Ms. Alethea again I would encourage you to present her with Ezra Taft Benson's talk on the 14 Fundamentals of Following the Prophet.
Surely she will feel the spirit when she reads about how the true prophet of the Lord is the final word on all subjects, not just religion.
How blessed we are to have a man living on earth that can do the thinking for us. For truly when the prophet has spoken the thinking has been done.

Anonymous said...

Is this website a joke? She just laid out to you how much of a cult this church really is!

Brother Mobegone said...

Let us never claim that the devil isn't a crafty one! He has quite obviously inspired the hearts of wicked men to create the definition of "cult" to match just closely enough to the Lord's true gospel, so as to deceive even the very elect!

No doubt Alethea will write a scathing report on the church, and no doubt that as always it will only inspire people to seek the truth and to question why the LDS church is so very persecuted. I foresee many baptisms from this "project"! President, if just one soul comes to the truth of the gospel because of this, how great shall be your joy in the eternities!

Let us all follow the example of our dear Stake President, even President Paternoster, and share the light of the gospel whenever possible.

Anonymous said...

The President has given the key at the beginning: "the adversary mimics God in many ways". Naturally the cults attempt to imitate certain features of the True Church. Sadly the imitation, having the form of Godliness but denying the power thereof, leads men away from Truth and Light.

What the anti-cultists and anti-Mormons both fail to understand is that the same teachings and practices which lead to destruction when based on falsehood, lead to salvation when based on truth.

President, may I say how greatly I admire the boldness of your testimony, and the simple way in which you outlined some of the most salient principles of the gospel in our day: obedience, persecution, missionary work, tithing, faith in and emulation of our leadership, testimony, character of our persecutors, and the sinful nature of homosexuality.

[SAM] said...

I'm concerned with the way you are all viewing Alethea. You seem to think that she's part of an "anti-mormon" group. She seems to be just a student researching and because of that she has to refrain all her own bias and look at all views. That is the way of the scientific method which she must abide.

Alethea does not at all seem pretentious and far from arrogant. She was simply asking reasonable questions which the Stake President answered. I think you will all feel better if you cease to vilify honest questioning which is in fact one of her characteristics of a cult; "Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished………….etc"

As far as whether she can say what a cult is or not, she cannot. However, she researched to find similar characteristics in cults of the past which I believe you would consider to be cults too. She is doing a simple research project and also may have found criteria of a research project before hers and could have used that as a precedent for her own criteria.

Also, having one person do all your thinking is against the teachings of the church and is criteria for being a cult. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints teaches their members to pray and read the scriptures to find their own answers and reasons for belief; this is a characteristic that points to the church not being a cult. Simply allowing the Prophet Thomas S. Monson to dictate all your beliefs and write your testimonies for you is slothful. You have to reason and think for yourselves or you will never have your own testimony.

kolobian said...

This reminds me of my younger, more worldy days as a teenager living in a predominantly evangelical christian community.

My friends would tell me I belonged to a cult, to which I would respond "no, I would know if I was in a cult."

I confronted my mother about the fact that most of our community thought we were cult members and she encouraged me by reminding me that ours was the one true church and that people cannot view zion clearly through babylon's eyes.

I admitted my testimony was not as strong as hers, and she reminded me of Elder Boyd K Packer's inspired words: "A testimony is found in the bearing of it." Every morning, from that day forward I would repeat to myself in the mirror "I know the church is true, I know the church is true, I know the church is true." I would do this 5 times each morning and 5 times each night for the next several years without fail.

As my mission approached, I closed my eyes and asked Heavenly Father if the church was true. What a magnificent feeling of peace I felt! I can say with confidence and honesty, brothers and sisters, that I know the church is true and is not a cult. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Anonymous said...

I for one would be lost wthout the words of our prophet. The sprit has confirmed to me that every word from his mouth is the truth!!! I would walk to the ends of the earth for him because he speaks for the Lord. Its true that we as Mormons are persicuted for our beliefs. As the recent anti-Mormon broadway musical depicts us falsely. What would you expect from the creaters of that vile cartoon show. I hear they are homosexuals too.

Captain Flowers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Liz Godkin Marsh said...

We don't focus only on Thomas S. Monson... we also obey the First Presidency, the Apostles and even the 70s. Where would we be without the guidance of these inspired men? I'm telling you: there would be sisters all over the globe wearing flip flops to Sacrament Service! Can you imagine the horror? *shudder*

H. Farber Jensen said...

I would assume that Alethea was not modestly dressed. Anti-Mormons tend not to dress modestly. She probably had those lascivious legs that anti-Mormon women often have and was displaying them to distract the Stake President from receiving the inspiration he needed. So didn't work, Alethea. You and your lascivious legs. I know that the LDS Church is not a cult. When I was cleaning back splatter off of one of the toilets during a volunteer Saturday cleaning job at church, I realized this. I once worried that it was. I hated acting out the slitting of my throat and my own disembowlment in the Mormon temple. But in 1990, the leaders said I didn't have to anymore. That's how I know it's not a cult.

Brother Heber said...

Sam,
I must respectfully disagree with you on two counts.
First, I think you are mistaken in assuming that Alethea had noble intentions. I believe that anyone that is so full of hate and spite must have some egregious sin they are covering up (or perhaps she was offended by a member of the church). I hate to judge, but forced to do so to defend zion, I would guess she is either a homosexual or is addicted to pornography. It is sad and I will pray for her to have her homosexuality cured.
Finally, I issue you a word of warning. Insinuating that we need not follow every word of our beloved Prophet, even Thomas S. Monson, is the first step in apostasy. The spirit has confirmed to me that, should you remain on your present course, the holy spirit of promise will withdraw itself from you and you shall begin posting on anti mormon message boards.
Please follow the words of the prophets and understand that once that sacred man has spoken, the thinking has been done.

Brother Heber said...

Sam,
I felt inspired to return and remind you of the words of our prophet Ezra Taft Benson.

"The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are rich."

I feel you should ask yourself which group you belong to? Are you cursed with the pride of intelligent? Or the pride of money? Humble yourself brother Sam, for if the learned and rich have the greatest difficulty following the prophet, we should strive to be ignorant and poor.

Porter said...

President, although I am not always as faithful as I should be, I too am concerned that the definition of a cult that Alethia used sounds very familiar. But I dont think that is a good source. I looked at Wikipedia, which has all the answers, and found a different definition that clearly shows that Mormons are not a cult:

1. People are put in physical or emotionally distressing situations;
2. Their problems are reduced to one simple explanation, which is repeatedly emphasized;
3. They receive unconditional love, acceptance, and attention from a charismatic leader or group;
4. They get a new identity based on the group;
5. They are subject to entrapment (isolation from friends, relatives and the mainstream culture) and their access to information is severely controlled.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cult

I think you should have pointed her to this other definition of a cult.

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

Well done our good and faithful President Paternoster. The spirit confirmed the truthfulness of each of your responses. I must admit that the church does seem to fit the worldy definition of a cult on more than a few points. This certainly does boil down to the fact that Satan does like to mimic the ways of the Lord. It's fascinating really. I know Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics who all "know" that their respective religions are true because they have fasted, prayed and read scriptures. They also believe that they are led by inspired leaders who are directed by God. Now obviously we, as Mormons, know that these people have been tricked by Satan into their respective cults. The truth is, the spirit that tells us that the Mormon church is true is a little more specialer (is that a word?) than the satanic spirit that leads people into cults. Perhaps Alethea's study would be greatly improved by interviewing members of one of these true cults.

Although I have shared this before, I feel it is important to share it again. Here is a clear example of how Satan likes to imitate the ways of the Lord in drumming up support for his leaders.

A beautiful peace bursting with the true spirit (Start at the 3 minute mark)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOwb5UK8z4Q

And here is Satan imitating the ways of the Lord as he tries to drum up support for the leader of a cult

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ObK3CUM994&feature=related

There is even a sustaining vote at the 1:43 mark. Can you believe millions of people fell for this crap.

Anonymous said...

She probably had those lascivious legs that anti-Mormon women often have and was displaying them to distract the Stake President from receiving the inspiration he needed. So didn't work, Alethea. You and your lascivious legs.

Very true, Brother Jensen. I testify that faithful brethren are sometimes made immune to feminine wiles, doubtless by means of a divine gift.

By the way, have you noticed the much greater modesty of the young men in this regard? It is quite rare to see young men's legs exposed to the same extent. The young women would do well to learn from their example. Of course there is probably a happy medium. It wouldn't hurt for the young men to be a bit less conservative. No, it wouldn't hurt at all...

Silly Girl said...

Reading this blog post and the comments has been an extremely confusing experience for me.

I honestly can't tell who's being serious and who's just joking. Save for Sam, I really enjoyed your post.

I'm glad I read this though, if it was being serious and actually reflecting the thoughts of a Stake President (same with the supposed religious comments, I'm still not sure who's being serious or not). It really puts things into perspective for me, and the responses he gives actually gives me a ideas to put on my resignation letter.

Thank you, good sir.

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

Silly Girl,
You are clearly looking for excuses to sin. A resignation from the church is nothing more than an admission of one's inability to live up to the commandments of the Lord. I pray that you will repent and return to the fold before you are brought to stand before the bar of Jesus, Joseph Smith, President Paternoster, your husband and other faithful priesthood holders. The Lord loves you sister, but he is probably weeping for you right now.

Anonymous said...

Dear President Paternoster,

I can't stomach some of the comments allowed to remain on here. I think some of the comments made have really detracted from the spirit of what you are trying to accomplish (although I was glad to see one comment removed since it was probably full of vile untruths!). I think you should follow the example of the Facebook page for Joseph Smith, the prophet and promptly delete those comments that do not promote the faith or help others to feel the spirit. Just a thought to help us all move closer to being more like the city of Enoch. Thanks for addressing such an extremely difficult topic that no member likes to talk about in a way that helps to clarify our position in support of the truth! Faithfully yours in the gospel of our Lord and Savior Even Jesus Christ, Amen.

Anonymous said...

Silly girl. This is SATIRE! They are all joking. This should be obvious. The biggest joker, of course, is President Paternoster. It is meant as a subtle dig to the Mormon church. Please don't take it seriously. 99% of the posters are going along with the ruse. They are not being serious.

President Paternoster is clearly no longer a believing member of the church and is using this blog as a way to point out some of the more absurd things with the church. Unfortunetly the church has plenty of absurd things to point out.

For the record, I am an active Mormon. I am unorthodox in my belief, but I am active none the less. I am dumbfounded how anybody could actually believe that this site is serious.

Chris S said...

Silly Girl,

Please do not resign from the Church. Jesus taught that the only unforgivable sin is denying the Holy Ghost. By resigning, you will reject your testimony and become a son (daughter) of perdition, from which there can be no salvation. Only by repenting and getting rebaptized and living the commandments can ex-mormons be forgiven. Remember that King David will never be able to inherit the Celestial Kingdom because he committed the unpardonable sin of shedding innocent blood. If you resign, you will be spiritually shedding your own spiritual blood.

R. Nephi Samuelson said...

Dear Brother Anonymous,

I was greatly troubled as I read your recent post. To detract and defame the work of the Lord and one of his choice servants is the easiest way to find yourself in opposition to this great work and on to the high road to apostasy.

I testify that President Paternoster has done right by his sacred calling in both testifying of the sacredness of this work and bringing the simple truths to the world through his internet ministry.

I know this work is true. I know President Paternoster is a true servant of the Lord and I would admonish you to follow his counsel as he follows the counsel of the Father.

In the sacred name of the Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, amen.

-R. Nephi Samuelson

Joseph K. Packer said...

Our beloved Prophet even thomas S. Monson guides us humbly through the difficult latter days. To pass judgement saying that we are a cult is an insult to god and his Prophet. I learned from a friend in a Federal Agency position that President Obama consulted the prophet regarding Osama Bin Ladin, and after 4 days of fasting and humble prayer of the prophet and apostles, Elder Monson handed a report of where Bin Ladin was. God told our prophet how to capture the terrorist. Part of the deal was that Elder Monson and the quorum of the twelve did not want any of this to be mention in the report. That is how humble our leaders are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Brother Packer, for relating the edifying background on the behind the scenes contributions of our leaders to the Global War on Terror.

I am reminded of another aspect of this great struggle in which a younger generation of valiant saints were instrumental in victory.

Also, I have it on good authority that the military dog involved in the Bin Laden raid was fostered in an LDS stake president's home. I cannot help but think how fitting it would be if this heroic canine had once lived with our beloved President Paternoster. As the President does not live in the United States, it is unlikely to be so, yet it is uplifting to reflect that there are brethren of such caliber among the leaders of the stakes of Zion.

Andrew Ainsworth said...

President Paternoster,

I commend you on your research about cults. I too have performed some research. In fact, I have a FAQ response to this very question on my profile at mormon.org, which summarily refutes the absurd suggestion that Mormonism is at all similar to a cult. You can view it here: http://mormon.org/me/1XG8/Andrew

Stake Pres. said...

That is an excellent profile Brother Ainsworth which I would encourage all to read.

Thank you everyone for your thoughts and feedback.

kolobian said...

Our faithful spirit brother, even Brother R. Nephi Samuelson has courageously testified to the truthfulness of this work and I humbly submit my own testimony that I know President Paternoster is truly an instrument in the hands of the lord in these Latter-Days.

Out of the mouths of two or three witnesses shall ever word be established.

Brother Anonymous is no doubt a rabid anti-mormon who either left the church due to sin or pride. You can leave the church, brother Anonymous, but you apparently cannot leave the church alone. This is a sure sign of your guilt.

This work is not a satire, President Paternoster speaks only truth, and no amount of lying or obfuscating the truth will hinder the progress of the Lord's internet ministry. There is just too much information out there.

I pray that the spirit of our Lord touches your heart in ways you can only imagine, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Anonymous said...

I am not a Mormon, but I do live with them. I don't see them as being anything different or "cultish" however, and don't freak out about this because I'm not looking for a debate. Freedom of speech. I believe that she mentioned new members aren't welcome, something along those lines. I have felt excluded from my fellow neighbors because I'm not the same religion. My neighbor won't let her children play with mine because we aren't the same religion. I come from a Part of the world and I was always tought that even if two people disagree, yes you should try to teach truth, but no you shouldn't not love them.

And she was a student doing research. She asked tough questions, he responded with respect. If mormons question other religions like she did...why can't Mormonism be questioned?
With love.

TuNeCedeMalis said...

Andrew,

I loved your profile... but I would not expect it to stay up much longer once someone from the Church office building actually learns to read between the lines.

Thanks!

TuNeCedeMalis

Thayne said...

Not only are all the tithes accounted for, but the membership gets the opportunity to agree with how the money is spent -- if only by raising the right hand once a year.

R. Nephi Samuelson said...

Dear Sister Anonymous,

While I do appreciate your concerns regarding the prohibition of Mormon children playing with other non-member children, it is simply a matter of understanding how we as Latter-day Saints approach this subject from an eternal perspective.

Latter-day Saint youth are instructed to associate with, play and eventually date only those who would be worthy to partake of the sacred blessings of the Holy Temple; meaning only those who maintain a level of righteousness in their lives, in concert with the teachings of the Lord and His servants would be considered worthy of our association as followers of Jesus Christ.

As our dear Apostle, even Russell M. Nelson has stated,
"Divine love is also conditional. While divine love can be called perfect, infinite, enduring, and universal, it cannot correctly be characterized as unconditional. The word does not appear in the scriptures. On the other hand, many verses affirm that the higher levels of love the Father and the Son feel for each of us-and certain divine blessings stemming from that love-are conditional."

As you can plainly see, love is of a conditional nature and with this understanding, greater light and knowledge should now be available to you as to why your children are not worthy to play or associate with those of righteous Latter-day Saints.

These dear sisters who refuse to allow their children to associate with your children is a fruit of following this sacred teaching. For we as Latter-day Saints are taught not to hide our light under a bushel so that we may be a beacon of light and truth unto the world. And by so doing and so associating, we do indeed avoid even the appearance of evil and the potential threat such might serve in bringing our tender youth under the Lord's condemnation and resulting withdraw of celestial love.

We are a peculiar people Sister Anonymous. The ways of the world are not our ways, for ours is an eternal journey of achieving exhalation, and the first steps on that sacred journey are directly linked with those whom we and our youth call "friends."

I hope this has been a help to you in understanding why we Latter-day Saints strive so hard to keep ourselves in the world, but not of it.

I testify that these blessings can be yours if you but search and in your humility seek out His righteous servants who will lead you to the path of eternal happiness, eternal life and true and abiding friendship.

In the sacred name of Jesus Christ, even the redeemer of the world, amen.

-R. Nephi Sameulson

jen said...

interesting that "alethea" is the koine greek word for "truth"...

Cindy said...

This was an excellent post President. Your answers were very well done. I've never really understood why others would even view us as a cult. It seemed to me that Alethia was pretty much describing all organized religion. The definition from Wiki seems a little more accurate.

Cults really are a danger to others. Often the leader of the cult will get his followers to do things that they normally would not do and that are degreading or harmful to themselves and others. He often will not only dominate in the capasity of a leader, making the rules for belief and conduct, but also sexually. He may force men to give over their wives or take young girls for himself. Requireing the life of ones followers are also an indicator of a cult.

I see none of this happening in the Mormon church. I've aften wondered how the prophet can have such power with in the church and yet only use it to serve, lead and guide in a loving way. The only explaination that I can come up with is that he must really be working under the direction of Christ. This is not man's church, it is God's.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous-I'm not a mormon"


I am a mormon & I feel just like you! I have for years! I guess it means you must be a "certain kind" of mormon before love is extended. Go figure!

- sister sweetie

Anonymous said...

Should all women be so vilified for asking questions? I was born in the church, raised in the church, trusted the church with body, mind and soul. I have been to the temple. To see this attack on Alethea, simply because of the lack of information about her personal beliefs, dress, or actions sums up exactly why I left the church, as an adult. Note, I still live my life conservatively, as I was raised, and many people assume that I am Mormon. (I live in outside of Salt Lake City, where those who know I am no longer a Mormon consider me a novelty and treat me like a pet of sorts.)

But you might ask why I am no longer a Mormon. I will tell you I questioned my faith. I stepped back and asked "Why?" I read the set of scriptures I was given when I was baptized at 8. I prayed. I cried. Then, I was persecuted out of the church. I was told that I was being evil, that I should not question, that I am supposed to believe and accept, and to do anything less meant that I had no testimony. All this came from my leaders, my bishop, and my father himself, an Elder of the church.

When I discovered there was no room to question or doubt, I left.

I am married, raising 2 beautiful children, I do not smoke, drink or use drugs. I am an active member of my community, I dress modestly, even by Mormon standards. Now, let's see how I am vilified...

Anonymous said...

Is mormonism a cult? Is the pope catholic? Is the sky blue? Is water wet? Was the seer stone a rock? Do the twelve wear garments? Do LDS like to see people stop smoking and drinking coffee? Is a temple recomend nice to have? Did Brother Brigham have over 40 wives? Did Bishop Snow practice surgery? Did Porter Rockwell get a special blessing? Are there 9 versions of the first vision? Are the facsimiles interesting? Have the temple oaths changed? Are there more questions than Carter has liver pills?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure they're a cult, I've been a member all my life and can't get out, it must be a cult...mind you I'm not trying too hard to get out neither! What do you think they would do if I asked them to force me out? would they reduce my tithing quota because I asked to leave, or would they cancel my recommend? hmmm, wonder what would happen?

Anonymous said...

pa·ter·nos·ter
   /ˈpeɪtərˈnɒstər, ˈpɑ‐, ˈpætər‐/ Show Spelled[pey-ter-nos-ter, pah‐, pat-er‐] Show IPA
–noun
1.
( often initial capital letter ) Also, Pater Noster. the Lord's prayer, especially in the Latin form.
2.
a recitation of this prayer as an act of worship.
3.
one of certain beads in a rosary, regularly every 11th bead, differing in size or material from the rest and indicating that the Lord's Prayer is to be said.

I thought Catholics were not Mormons?

Alyssa said...

Ether 12:26

Mariano said...

Romney, and any Mormon offended by being referred to as cultists, need to be asked why they adhere to a religion whose prophet, Joseph Smith, referred to Christianity, in general, as being cultic.
He actually, claimed that God Himself referred to Christianity as “all wrong,” an “abomination,” “all corrupt” and “far from me”—this is the very foundation of the Mormon religion.
Pardon the spam-like URL but, see: http://www.examiner.com/messianic-jewish-in-national/rick-perry-on-robert-jeffress-mormonism-as-cult

Anonymous said...

Are these comments real? They sound like a bunch of loons. Or are they made up to show how stupid the church members are, in a satirical way?

Anonymous said...

You're missing an apostrophe in your blog title. "Stake President's Blog" would be the correct form seeing as how you're the only stake president contributing to this blog; unless, of course, you co-write with other stake presidents. In that case the correct form would be thus: " Stake Presidents' Blog."

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