Last Sunday (23 September 2007) the Phoenix East Valley Tribune ran a story about Lyndon Lamborn’s excommunication from the LDS Church. The article begins,
“Being excommunicated for apostasy by the Mormon church is one thing, but Lyndon Lamborn is livid that his stake president has ordered bishops in eight Mesa wards to take the rare step of announcing disciplinary action against him to church members today.
“’I thought if he could go public, so can I,’ said Lamborn, a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who said his research into church history gave him ‘thousands of reasons the church can’t be what it claims to be.’”
Mr. Lamborn has been an active Mormon. He served a mission. He was elders quorum president 4 times and has held several other callings in his local ward. But in 2005 a co-worker asked him a question about Joseph Smith’s wives, which sent Mr. Lamborn on a quest to research LDS history.
According to the article, the historical research “led [Mr. Lamborn] to question many church teachings.” He went to his stake president with questions, “but received no definitive answers.”
“’I was planning to leave the church quietly, but was denied that opportunity, presumably because I was speaking openly to other members about my findings and (was) writing things down,’ Lamborn said.
“Lamborn has compiled his research into a lengthy testament called, ‘Search for Truth 6/07,’ in which he states: ‘There comes a time in the life of many church members when the desire to know the truth about the church becomes stronger than the desire to believe the church is true.’”
In another online article that appeared on Sunday, Scott Tracy wrote “Why they leave” for the Utah State Valley College newspaper. In this opinion piece Mr. Tracy begins,
“Recently on a former-Mormons website, a poll was taken asking the question ‘Why did you leave?’ and the results might be somewhat shocking to most current members of the church.
“Kevin Whitaker, in his recent article on postmormon.org expressed the view that most members who leave the church are sinners, offended, or weak in the faith. This, while may be true for some, fails to cover the reasons that most people leave the faith, and reflects the most common misunderstanding between members of the LDS faith and their former Mormon counterparts…
“The number one reason listed by people who participated in the poll was ‘I found out about Mormon history’. In fact, this was the number one response at 67 percent and might be shocking to most faithful LDS.”
This certainly held true in Mr. Lamborn’s case. It also held true for his friends and family. The East Valley Tribune said,
“[Mr. Lamborn] said he learned that his five brothers ‘were doing the same research and arriving at the same conclusions’ and doubts, he said. The same was true for his best friend since childhood.”
Some might easily dismiss historical issues as unimportant in determining the truth of an organization; history isn’t doctrine and everyone has skeletons in the closet. I suggest that an important issue here is not necessarily the actual history, but rather the dishonesty and manipulation involved in covering up or changing history — keeping the truth hidden in order to deceive.
This makes me think of the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain. He ruled his world by convincing everyone that he was all-powerful; if they knew he was really a mind-mannered man who couldn’t find his own way home, he would lose his position and power.
I believe Mormonism is like that. It succeeds on faith-building historical tales of revelation, persecution and sacrifice. It’s a beautiful and inspiring façade, but don’t look behind the curtain. For if the curtain is pulled back, it becomes clear that the LDS Church has been engaged in some serious commandment-breaking about and throughout its entire history. Then the question arises, “Could this be ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased”? (D&C 1:30)
A majority of former Mormons conclude no, it couldn’t be.
Discussion Questions:• What role did history have in your disillusionment with the Mormon Church?
• Why is it important to give a “warts and all” account of history, if at all?
• Can Mormonism be divorced from its history like other religions can? Is there something particular about Mormonism that makes its history more crucial than church history would be for evangelical Christianity?
At postmormon.org Mr. Lamborn has made this generous offer:
If any of you would like to read my summary of searching for truth, e-mail me at lclamborn58[at]yahoo.com and I will be happy to e-mail you a copy… There is MUCH more to tell, as most of you know. Polyandry and Helen Mar Kimball are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg