Regarding false prophets, Jesus allegedly said in Matthew 7:16: “you shall know them by their fruits.” In other words, are their prophecies fulfilled? If not, you can probably assume that they not “true” prophets.
The same might also be said about religions. What are the “fruits” of that religion? Does it make its members better, happier, more well-adjusted people? While I would hesitate to say that positive fruits are indicative of truth, I tend to believe that negative fruits are a sign of malignancy. If God really did exist and actually established a “true” church, would that church be worse in almost every category than other churches?
In analyzing the LDS religion, I will consider two examples of the negative “fruits” of Mormonism. The first relates to the directly observable effects of Mormon doctrine on LDS thought and behavior. The second relates to the probable negative effects of Mormonism as observed in predominantly Mormon Utah.
1. Negative Effects of Mormon Doctrine
- Mormons are taught that skin color is an indicator of worthiness. As I detailed in my article on Mormon racism, the LDS church has taught for over a century that people with darker skin are “cursed” because of the sins of their parents (Native Americans) or their actions before birth (African Americans)
- Mormons believe that they are superior to non-Mormons or those who are now “cursed” with dark skin. Mormons believe they are God’s “Chosen” people because the Jews rejected Christ.
- Mormons take pride in their dietary restrictions (including no alcohol, tobacco, etc.) and look down upon people who don't share their beliefs.
- The strong anti-female leanings of the LDS church is described in my article on Mormon sexism.
- Black and white thinking
- Mormons are extremely judgmental. Everything is either right or wrong. There are no shades of gray. “Each of us has to face the matter. Either the Church is true, or it is a fraud. There is no middle ground. It is the Church and kingdom of God or it is nothing." Gordon B. Hinckley, April 2003 Conference.
- Magical thinking
- Mormons believe in a "magic" world view. Jonah was able to survive in the whale’s stomach by magic. God cleaned up the effects of Noah's flood by magic so that it cannot be detected by modern archeology. If you are sick, God can heal you by magic, etc.
- Apocalyptic thinking
- Mormons have been taught that the world was coming to an end since the time of Joseph Smith. Every generation has believed that they are the last generation. Because the end times are supposed to be horrible, many Mormons live in fear. They are told to have a year supply of food in order to survive the devastation preceding Christ’s return.
- Mormons are less likely to care about issues such as the environment or overpopulation because they believe that Jesus will return their lifetimes.
- Mormons are taught that being intelligent is bad. Thinking for oneself is discouraged. Blind obedience to authority is encouraged.
- Boyd K. Packer, one of the Mormon Twelve Apostles, has indicated that the three biggest dangers to the church are "the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement ..., and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals."
- The church teaches that homosexuality is a personal choice, and a grievous sin. For many years, gays at BYU were subjected to shock therapy to help them overcome their “addiction.”
- Mormons claim to be family oriented. However, if a family member leaves the church, Mormons are taught to ostracize them. Mormonism puts family second behind faithfulness and loyalty to the Church and it’s leaders.
- Mormon marriages are frequently broken up (at the encouragement of church leaders) if one spouse becomes disaffeted.
- Gospel of fear
- As a missionary, I had to first convince happy people that they were, in fact, unhappy in order to sell them on the LDS church. I had to convince people who believed that they would be with their loved ones in heaven that they would be separated forever if they didn’t get sealed in the Mormon temple. The doctrine of fear (fear of hell, fear of separation from family), is still taught throughout Mormon doctrine. President Spencer W. Kimball told the following "true" story:
- “A few years ago a young couple who lived in northern Utah came to Salt Lake City for their marriage. They did not want to bother with a temple marriage, or perhaps they did not feel worthy. At any rate, they had a civil marriage. After the marriage they got into their automobile and drove north to their home for a wedding reception. On their way home they had an accident, and when the wreckage was cleared, there was a dead man and a dead young woman. They had been married only an hour or two. Their marriage was ended. They thought they loved each other. They wanted to live together forever, but they did not live the commandments that would make that possible. So death came in and closed that career. They may have been good young people; I don’t know. But they will be angels in heaven if they are. They will not be gods and goddesses and priests and priestesses because they did not fulfill the commandments and do the things that were required at their hands. In Conference Report, Japan Area Conference 1975, pp. 61–62.
- Guilt and shame
- While not exclusive to Mormonism, the Church reinforces beliefs with guilt and the threat of damnation. I have personally known people who have attempted suicide because of the guilt induced by Mormon teachings.
- Mormonism is opposed to all forms of sexuality except between married men and women. This includes masturbation. Even in marriage, there are limits. It is still church doctrine that oral sex is an "unnatural and impure practice," although the church does not currently discipline members who engage in it. The church's stand on sex instills guilt and shame, which causes people to have dysfunctional sexual lives, and has contributed to a culture of lying.
- Sexual sins are ranked next to murder in seriousness. "We desire with holy zeal to emphasize the enormity of sexual sins. We hold that sexual sin is second only to the shedding of innocent blood in the category of personal crimes.” Prophet Joseph F. Smith, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 18: Chastity and Purity, From the Life of Joseph F. Smith Lesson Manual, page 155, Published and taught during 2000-2001 Church-wide Priesthood and Relief Society classes.
- Mormon garments (see my article on magical Mormon underwear) are extremely unattractive and contribute to sexless or near sexless Mormon marriages.
- In a typical Mormon marriage, a couple's sexuality will be based on the strictest partner's concept of what the Lord expects them not to be doing. Unfortunately, many of the things a healthy couple would do to meet the need for sexuality are explicitly off-limits. As one LDS woman explained :
How to Destroy a Temple-Married Woman's Sex Life
a. FIRST: Tell her she must wear unattractive long underwear "at all times" thus avoid being naked with her husband.
b. SECOND: Tell her that masturbation is wrong which eliminates a great deal of foreplay opportunities and affectionate non-penetration options.
c. THIRD: Tell her that she may not use "lewd language" during intimate relation with her husband. No talking dirty, ever.
d. FORTH: Insist that oral sex is forbidden in marriage because it is "an unnatural, unholy act."
e. FIFTH: Tell her that stimulation from any erotic written or visual imagery is forbidden.
f. SIXTH: Remind her that she will be interviewed regularly, and separately, by local church authorities and asked if she has committed sexual sin. She or her husband are also obligated to inform on the other at any time in between officially-scheduled worthiness interviews for disobedience.
g. SEVENTH: Warn her that the Lord Himself is always watching her and her spouse in the bedroom. Thus, they risk offending The Spirit and losing eternal blessings just by doing something privately intimate with each other.
h. EIGHTH: If there's any wrongdoing discovered, there may be social humiliations that range from not being allowed to participate in family weddings to excommunication (at which time she must describe her sexual transgressions in detail to an all-male church council).
i. Other than that -- ENJOY!
- Probable Negative Effects of Mormon Doctrine/Culture. (While the following cannot be conclusively shown to be the effects of Mormonism, the fact that Utah is 70% Mormon suggests the possibility of a causal connection).
- Suicidal Thoughts
- One in 15 Utah adults seriously considered suicide in the past year, the highest rate in the nation. Deseret News, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011.
- Antidepressant drugs are prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, at a rate nearly twice the national average. Utah's rate of antidepressant use was twice the rate of California and nearly three times the rates in New York and New Jersey, the study showed. "I think it's the cultural environment," said Helen Wright, whose three grown children also take antidepressants. "Most men here would just as soon their wives take pills than bother to delve into the problems, and maybe find out they might have something to do with the problems." Salt Lake Tribune, Nov 23, 1998--A9.
- Prescription Drug Abuse
- Utah leads the nation in the use of narcotic painkillers such as codeine and morphine-based drugs, the study found. "It's like Happy Valley here," Cindy Mann said, describing the Salt Lake Valley. "It's a scary place sometimes. People don't talk about their problems. Everything is always rosy. That's how we got ourselves into this mess--we're good at ignoring things. Salt Lake Tribune, Nov 23, 1998--A9.
- Domestic Violence
- "...The 2004 Utah Domestic Violence Annual Report, created by the state Domestic Violence Cabinet Council...In 2001, the report notes, Utah's rate of females murdered by males in one-on-one incidents was 23% higher than the corresponding national rate." Salt lake Tribune, Feb 17, 2004.
- Utah ranks No. 1 in subscriptions, according to Benjamin Edelman, who reported his findings in the article "Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?," published in the most recent edition of the Journal of Economic Perspectives. While I do not see pornography as a serious societal problem, Mormons do. The fact that Mormons watch porn at a greater rate than the national average is likely the result of the anti-sexuality rhetoric of the LDS church.
- Utah also ranked No. 1 or 2 in most searches for porn. Deseret News reporter Lee Davidson in 2007 found that Utahns were more prone to search for words like "topless" and "pornography" (as well as "Jesus" and "home storage"). Deseret News, March 3, 2009.
- A federal report shows that one in five adult women in Utah—or a total of 157,000 women in the state—has been forcibly raped at least once in her lifetime. The report comes from the South Carolina-based National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center, giving Utah the top spot in the continental United States for its estimated percentage of rape victims. "Our findings clearly demonstrate the fact that Utah has a substantial rape problem," said the report from the research group, which was established and is partly funded by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "I was shocked to see this," said Jamee Roberts, executive director of the Salt Lake City-based RapeRecoveryCenter. "I knew we were bad; I had no idea we were this bad. We should be hanging our heads in shame." She added that the numbers are reliable and can be trusted. Only Alaska (20.9% of its women raped versus 20.6% in Utah compared to 13.4% of all women nationally) has a higher rate in the United States. The estimates are said to be conservative because they do not include the cases of women who have experienced attempted rape; rapes where the women were unconscious or impaired by drugs or alcohol; or statutory rape where there was no force. (Salt Lake Tribune, 7/12/03).
- Bankruptcy and Mortgage Fraud
- Utah’s foreclosure rate is almost double that of the national average. The only alternative [for some people] to save their home is filing for bankruptcy–another inauspicious category in which Utah leads the nation. Utah is also No 1 in Mortgage Fraud. Salt Lake City is ranked No. 1 in early payment defaults. Tuesday, October 30, 2001, USA Today.
- MLM and Ponzi schemes
- While investment fraud, including Ponzi schemes, result in losses of tens of millions of dollars, Utah-based MLM fraud has led to aggregate annual losses totaling billions of dollars worldwide. Utah leads the world in concentration of these schemes. Deseret News, March 19, 2008.