Were you warned against reading “anti-Mormon literature”? Some people say they were taught to avoid “anti-Mormon” materials with the same intensity they were taught with to avoid sexual sin. That’s BIG.
Not long after I left the church, I told my Mormon friends that I lost my testimony by reading the church website and NOT by reading “anti-Mormon” stuff.
You see, I still believed there was something inherently wrong about reading “anti-Mormon” material and I didn’t want my friends to think I did anything like THAT!
Through a variety of techniques, the church teaches people to ignore information which is critical of Mormonism. Anything labeled as “anti” is automatically discounted. Anyone who reads “anti” is discounted. Anyone who loses their testimony is discounted.
This is a BIG RED FLAG that Mormonism functions as a closed, authoritative structure. You can ask questions within the system but as soon as you believe that leaving the organization is a valid choice, you get labeled.
However, leaving is a valid choice! If you’ve made that choice, you need time to recover from the indoctrination. It’s time to read and learn “outside the box”!
Reading beyond the church-approved material means opening yourself up to information you previously didn’t allow yourself to look at. This can be highly therapeutic and cathartic, so be sure to allow yourself all the time you need to read and study. If you feel fear or guilt for reading, don’t take it as a sign you are on the wrong track. Take it as a sign you are recovering from an authoritative religion.
No one should ever be afraid of information.
Reading those materials you’d been told to avoid is a critical step in giving yourself permission to be your own authority. You get to decide what you believe about anything and everything you read.
Here are 10 books you may find useful as you strive to figure out what you now believe:
- When Mormons Doubt: A Way to Save Relationships and Seek a Quality Life
by Jon Ogden and Tia Rider Sorensen. Believing Mormons, doubting Mormons, and post-Mormons would all benefit from reading this book. This book offers insights into why reasonable people doubt while simultaneously recognizing beauty and goodness within Mormonism. If you are in the midst of a faith transition and are concerned about how to talk to believing family members about your changing beliefs, this book is a MUST READ.
- Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts
by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. This book concretely explains cognitive dissonance, the theory that shows how two people with only slight differences in thinking can end up with polar opposite views. Although this book doesn’t specifically discuss Mormonism, it offers significant insights about why we maintain belief in spite of contradictory evidence.
- Standing For Something More: The Excommunication of Lyndon Lamborn.
This book is so much more than a story of excommunication. Using logic and reason, Lydon Lamborn explores the psychology that keeps LDS people from thinking critically about their religion. This book is packed with information that every member, non-member, or anyone ever connected to the church would benefit from reading. Exceptionally well-written, well-researched, and insightful.
- Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control
by Luna Lindsey. This book takes well-researched methods of mind control and provides specific examples of how they are used in the LDS church. This book also explains why many post-Mormons experience irrational fears and find it hard to trust their own decisions.
- Studies of the Book of Mormon
by B.H. Roberts. This is the story of what happened when in the early 20th century, LDS apologist and historian B.H. Roberts found disturbing evidence that led him to question the validity of the Book of Mormon.
- An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins
by Grant Palmer. The well-documented, readable and thorough history of the origins of the church that you won’t hear about in Sunday School. Straightforward and well-cited without apologetics.
- Leonard Arrington and the Writing of Mormon History
by Greg Prince. Relying on Leonard Arrington’s rich journals, Greg Prince shares the joys and challenges he faced as the one-and-only LDS Church Historian. If you want to better understand the conflict within the church hierarchy about whether the church should be transparent about its history, read this book!
- Early Mormonism and the Magic World View
by D. Michael Quinn. A scholarly, well-sourced history of early Mormonism. If you think it’s a coincidence that Joseph got the plates on the autumnal equinox, think again. This book shows how 19th-century superstitions influenced Joseph and his peers.
- In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith
by Todd M. Compton. This book won’t be an easy read if you think polygamy started with Brigham Young. The well-documented stories in this book show not only that Joseph practiced both polygamy and polyandry, but that he did so while using coercive methods and while keeping Emma in the dark.
- No Man Knows My History
by Fawn M. Brodie. The niece of David O. McKay writes a page-turning account of the history of Joseph Smith. Her research is well-documented, compelling, and full of the facts you were NOT told at church.
Enjoy these, knowing you have the right to read anything you want and to come to your own conclusions.
Disclaimer: I am NOT an Amazon affiliate and get nothing when you click on the links. 😉