The following is the exit letter provided to our bishop in 2006. It describes the journey that resulted in our exit from the LDS church. My son is still active in the LDS church and we still love and support him in that, its is really his choice. I am sure that he thinks the same as I, where someday the other will recognize the error of their ways.
In my late forties, I read a book titled “The Blackfoot Journey” by Lee Nelson. This book detailed stories about the Indians in and around Sevier Valley Utah which is where I grew up. The stories seem to come to life because I had actually been at some of those locations. This stirred a thirst within to find out more about my family history. I started collecting personal histories of those who went before me and reading books about Church history. I read about Orrin Porter Rockwell and the how he was Joseph Smith’s body guard. I discovered that John Hammond (an ancestor of mine) was married in New York, had followed the saints to Illinois, and migrated to Utah in Brigham Young's company that left Winter Quarters on May 26,1848 What excitement this brought me to think that one of my ancestor had been there with Brother Joseph and Brother Brigham. However, the more I read, the more I discovered that things I had been taught in Seminary or in Sunday school really had not disclosed the whole story. I was sort of dismayed at first, but continued with my reading. I found that my ancestors had moved to St, George where they had prospered and that in this area was where the Mountain Meadow Massacre had taken place. I read about John D. Lee and felt like this man had gave his life to protect the church for following orders. I read about Bill Hickman who was referred to as Brigham’s Destroying angel. Then I started reading about polygamy and found that my ancestor had been practicing polygamy as well. This was probably a major turning point in my life but I did not realize it at the time.
Joseph Hammond (John’s son) had prospered in St. George and had raised a good family. But at the age of 56, Joseph had taken a 19 year old bride as his second wife. This was a little disturbing to me, especially when my father pointed out to me a scripture in the Book of Mormon. Jacob 2:24 “Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” And how this appears to conflict with D&C 132:1 which states: “Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand where in I, the Lord, justified my servant Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David, and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines “
Why would my Grandpa (a 56 year old man), want to wed a 19 year old girl? In Joseph Hammond’s case, her husband had recently been killed, but still this bothered me. So I focused my reading on polygamy and the wives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. What I was finding was the most disturbing thing that I have ever encountered. It was not that Joseph and Brigham had multiple wives, but that the church had misrepresented the facts, (growing up I always thought that this was called lying). Not only had the church misrepresented the facts, but was apparently actively trying to suppress information about church history. I do not know if rape is the right word, but for me, that is how I felt. How could a church that holds honestly and integrity as sacred principles, bow to such a level. Those principles are so sacred that they are asked of everyone who enters the temples, (Are you honest in your dealing with your fellowman?)
With this information my real search for the truth had finally begun. It had taken a real shock for me to wake up and find the desire to really find the truth. Through my life I had been taught that we should only study the faith promoting material which is what I had been doing. Now to find the real truth, I had to study material that had been considered anti-Mormon before. This was difficult at first because I had read some anti-Mormon literature early in my life and found it very distasteful. But I found out that there is Anti-Mormon literature and then there was literature that was searching for the truth. It became very easy to discern between the two and I quickly discovered a pattern which allowed me to focus on the material I considered to be searching for the truth. I found that to find the truth, one must look at both sides of the story. Who in their right mind would ever convict someone of a crime without hearing both sides? Essentially I had. I had elected to believe based on hearing one side of the story. Can you imagine a world where only the “faith promoting” aspects of Adolf Hitler where allowed to be discussed? You only see the true nature of the individual by looking at both the positive and negative aspects. Now I had a new mission regarding Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, (to search for the truth).
Much as a child who believes in Santa Claus, I found it very difficult to accept the reality of the things I was to discover. I found myself trying to grasp the “big picture” and not the minor details (such as all the toys on Christmas morning). I came to the realization that people have the right to believe in what they will, be it right or wrong. I developed a stronger sense that what one believes in should not be forced on anyone. I developed a stronger distaste for individuals or organizations that attempt to hide or misrepresent facts to promote their view. In this sense I found comfort in my belief that if any men were ever inspired by God, it was those who wrote the constitution of the United States of America. I feel much gratitude for those individuals who having been searching for and uncovering the truth and I was often touched by the heartache brought on by the careless and reckless action of those in authority.
In some way, writing this has been part of the healing process for me. I am still a member of church but it is only a matter of time before I sever those ties. Having a son serving a mission has been a real challenge to know when the right time will be to sever those ties. In reality, I guess this paper is for him as much as it is for me. It has allowed me to create a list of things for him to study himself such that both he and I can understand why I no longer believe as he does. A list of things that anyone can study to help them determine for themselves if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and if the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is indeed the only true church.
- Joseph Smith’s translation of The Book of Abraham does match modern day translations of the papyrus. Read: By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri by Charles Larson, ((Find it free on the internet))
- Joseph Smith's "Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar" and proof of this alphabet being bogus. By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri by Charles Larson ,(LDS author), A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1968, p. 98)
- Solomon Spaulding’s writings parallel the Book of Mormon story but predate the Book of Mormon.
Read: Book of Mormon Authorship by Vern Holley, An Insider's View of Mormon Origins by ; Grant H. Palmer, Studies of the Book of Mormon by B. H. Roberts, ((All LDS authors))
- Recent studies have claimed that Native Americans do not have certain genetic markers in common with modern Middle Eastern DNA samples, and genetic research shows that they are more closely related to people in Asia than anywhere else. A 500 year old Ice Maiden also supports the Asian linage. Read: Losing a Lost Tribe: by Simon G. Southerton (LDS author).
- The Joseph Smith’s translation of The Bible. In 1947 the discovery of Dead Sea Scrolls brought to light the oldest known copies of the Hebrew Bible, which are still some two hundred years distant from even the youngest of the Old Testament books. Modern day translation of these manuscripts are consistent with other Biblical translations and provide additional writings not included in The Bible, yet none of these support the arguments for the Joseph Smith Translation. Read The Joseph Smith Translation in Light of the New Testament An Examination of Key Passages in the Gospel of John , Institute for Religious Research
- The Kinderhook plates and Joseph Smith's "translation" of the fraudulent characters. Here is a version of Joseph’s translation as taken from the Journal of William Clayton, May 1, 1843; Bro. Clayton was Joseph's personal secretary. "I have seen 6 brass plates... covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh King of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth." Also read Improvement Era, Sept. 1962 and The Ensign, August 1981.
- The Book of Mormon (‘the most correct of any book on earth’), has more than 3900 revisions. Most corrections are associated with spelling and grammatical errors; however others appear to change doctrine. Read Where Does It Say That? by Institute for Religious Research
- Of Joseph Smith’s 33 wives, two were age 14 when married, and 11 were already married to and living with other men at the time. Read: In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith by Todd Compton.
- Book of Mormon denouncing polygamy and initially the Doctrine in Covenants. D & C changed to accommodate polygamy. In Jacob 2:23-24 we read: "But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. For behold, thus saith the Lord: This people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David, and Solomon his son. "Behold, David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord."
The first edition of the Doctrine and Covenants, printed in 1835, also denounced the practice: "Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." (Doctrine and Covenants, section 101, verse 4 1835 version)
- Joseph lying about his polygamous marriages. On May 3, 1844, the History of the Church, vol. 6, p.411, reported that Joseph Smith responded as follows to the accusation that he "kept six or seven young females as wives": "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.”
- Inhabitants of the moon? Article in The Young Woman's Journal, vol. 3, p. 263-264 (1892). Oliver B. Huntington writes - As far back as 1837 Joseph Smith said the moon was inhabited. "He described the men as averaging near six feet in height, and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style. In my patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I should preach the gospel before I was 21 years of age; that I should preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and — to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes. The first two promises have been fulfilled, and the latter may be verified."
- Gordon Hinckley lying to the press about the church's doctrinal stands on the divine potential of human kind. As quoted by Don Lattin in the San Francisco Chronicle 13Apr97
Question: “There are some significant differences in your beliefs. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?”
Answer: "I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, ‘As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become.' Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it. I haven't heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don't know. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it."
As quoted in by Richard N. Ostling in Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997.
Question: “... about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?”
Answer: “I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it. I haven't heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don't know. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it.”
- M. Dallin Oaks stating that it is acceptable to not tell the truth when it casts the church or its leaders in a bad light "My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors." - Apostle Dallin Oaks, footnote 28, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction p. xliii
- The church's paranoia about the truth where historical data is misrepresented or hidden from public scrutiny. In June 1986 the staff of the church historical department announced it was necessary to sign a form which according to Elder Packer gave the right of pre-publication censorship for any archival research completed before signing the form. “There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher Of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.“ The Mantle Is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect by Boyd K. Packer (A talk given at the Fifth Annual Church Educational System Religious Educators' Symposium, 22 August, Also read The Poet and the Murderer by Simon Worrall which tells the story of Mark Hofmann’s dealings with historical documents and the church.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has played a significant role in the life of my family. It has provided opportunities for myself, my wife and our children to grow, and for that we are indeed grateful. However, if one does not fit the mold that the church brethren have for you, activity within the church becomes a spiritual/emotional burden that is not worth bearing. Given that and the staggering amount of evidence that the church is not as advertised, we hereby request that our names and those of our dependent children (as listed below) be removed from the membership rolls of the church.
Jay D. Hammond