Internet Threatens Mormons


Mormons have apparently just discovered the Internet, a decades-old platform containing information.

NYT (“Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt“):

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.


Every faith has its skeptics and detractors, but the Mormon Church’s history creates special challenges. The church was born in America only 183 years ago, and its founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, and his disciples left behind reams of papers that still exist, documenting their work, exposing their warts and sometimes contradicting one another.

“The Roman Catholic Church has had 2,000 years to work through the hiccups in its history,” said Terryl L. Givens, a professor of English, literature and religion at the University of Richmond and a Mormon believer. “Mormonism is still an adolescent religion.”

Apparently, they don’t get cable television in Utah, either, as South Park pointed this all out years ago.

FILED UNDER: Religion, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. MikeSJ says:

    If I had to pick between believing a story about the “seer stones” and Jesus in North America or Wizards and House Elves….well I’m going with the Wizards every time.

  2. the Book of Mormon and other scriptures were rife with historical anomalies

    Of course, nearly every religion’s scriptures are full of historical anomalies. The only difference is that Mormonism comes from a recent enough time that we have enough contemparaneous sources to make them more obvious than in other cases.

  3. aFloridian says:

    Whenever I find out someone is a Mormon, it really changes the way I look at them, given that they are able to believe such a transparently fraudulent religion. I realize when you are raised in a belief system, it is hard to move on, but the religion is so painfully phoney. I feel really bad for the converts. How can you be THAT stupid? Mormonism fascinates me, and I have found myself doing a lot of reading about its early history and the many, many splinter groups. I’ve been meaning to sit down and sit through one of the “cam” versions of a Mormon service that are posted on the internet, since one can’t otherwise attend.

    At least mainstream Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, and so on have history and tradition on their side

  4. gVOR08 says:

    James, the link at the end of the post is blocked. A shame. That straight retelling by Southpark of the Mormon origin story was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen on TV.

    The easiest way to deal with uncomfortable facts is always to ignore them. I expect that for a consulting fee the Schlafly kid would be willing to help set up Mormonapedia. Out of curiosity I checked. Conservapdia’s “Book of Mormon” page is reasonably respectful. Anybody know if they changed it when Romney began to rise?

  5. Brett says:

    So the New York Times just discovered “Jack Mormons”, who have been around since . . . forever (disclosure: I’m an ex-Mormon). Seriously, the former Mayor of Salt Lake City (Rocky Anderson) is a Jack Mormon, and not even the most prominent one in Utah history.

  6. michael reynolds says:

    All religions are ridiculous. Mormonism is just too recently ridiculous. One needs a few centuries to obscure the absurdities.

  7. ernieyeball says:

    All religions are ridiculous.

    All of them except mine of course.
    I am a Sun Worshiper.
    My Holy Book is Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
    The Enabling Scripture is the footnote on page 18:

    Although it’s hard for me to see a more profound cosmic connection than the astonishing findings of modern nuclear astrophysics: except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make each of us up – the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains – were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light years away in space and billions of years ago in time. We are, as I like to say, starstuff.

  8. SafeTea says:

    The internet, like television, has its good and bad points.

    Revealing the truth to deceived individuals just happens to be one of the good points.

  9. mantis says:

    @michael reynolds:

    One needs a few centuries to obscure the absurdities.

    And they’re not even well obscured!

  10. ernieyeball says:

    @aFloridian: Be sure to check out A Study in Scarlet.

    Per WikiP: “A Study in Scarlet is a detective mystery novel written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, introducing his new character of Sherlock Holmes,..”

    I read it years ago and either did not know or forgot is was the debut of Holmes.

    According to a Salt Lake City newspaper article, when Conan Doyle was asked about his depiction of the Latter-day Saints’ organisation as being steeped in kidnapping, murder and enslavement, he said: “all I said about the Danite Band and the murders is historical so I cannot withdraw that,…(WikiP)

  11. ernieyeball says:

    At least mainstream Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, and so on have history and tradition on their side.

    How long does any institution have to exist before history and tradition are on their side?

  12. Me says:

    Been there for 16 years. Free from slavery at last!!!! Thanks, Mr. GOOGLE.

  13. sam says:


    At least mainstream Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, Muslims, Jews, and so on have history and tradition on their side

    Ah, yes, said the old pagan. But all that happened a long, long time ago.

  14. Tony W says:

    @michael reynolds:

    All religions are ridiculous.

    That fact does not keep me from continuing to seek the True Faith that will one day lead me to tax-free riches!