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Revisiting the LDS excommunication of Lyndon Lamborn who talked too much

Posted by on July 4, 2011 – 8:16 am

Lyndon Lamborn (East Valley Tribune)It was nearly four years ago that a Boeing engineer, Lyndon Lamborn, contacted me at the East Valley Tribune to tell me the Mormon Church was excommunicating him and making it quite public — as a kind of warning to the rest of the flock that his ideas and criticism of the church were too explosive.

I especially remember my front-page Sunday morning article for the huge reaction — more than 18,000 hits on the Website story (the newspaper’s record at the time) and hundreds and hundreds of  reader comments.   I did a number of follow-up stories and was amazed by the public interest in the controversy about the 49-year-old life-long Mormon, who had previously devoted his time, energy and resources to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Lamborn’s intellect, predisposition for exhaustive research and grit prompted him to share his findings with his fellow Saints.  Church authorities labeled that apostasy.

While excommunication itself in the church is not uncommon, Lamborn’s stake president informed Lamborn in a letter, dated Sept. 2, 2007, that because of “the nature of your excommunication and your involvement with the people of this area, an announcement will be delivered” to the priesthood quorum and Relief Society of each of eight wards in the Mesa Arizona Salt River Stake on a forthcoming Sunday.  They would be told that “you have been excommunicated for apostasy,” said that letter from State President R. James Molina.

Lamborn was offended that authorities chose to make him a public exhibit, so he came to the Tribune to trump them and get it announced publicly, on his own terms, in the press.  Certainly, once I called Molina for the church’s side of the issue for the article, he pondered whether to go forward with the announcements. He subsequently abandoned the plan of mass notification at the wards, but, by then, the story was out there.

I had all but forgotten that Lamborn intended to write a book about that experience.  Recently a friend told me he checked out the book from the Mesa Public Library and found me mentioned several places in the book, “Standing For Something More: The Excommunication of Lyndon Lamborn.”  I ordered the book (AuthorHouse, 278 pages, 2009), and emailed Lamborn that I looked forward to reading the book.  He has laid out his story also online. He also speaks out on videos there and on YouTube.

“Standing for Something More” is a bold, courageous and compelling book. It chronicles the awakening of  a once-earnest and devout Mormon who had never before acted on the inconsistencies and troubling aspects of the history and teachings of the 13 million worldwide church founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr. in New York State.   He tells in detail how he grew up in an obedient Mormon family with seven children.  Lamborn went on a two-year Mormon mission to Belgium, returned to get his two university degrees, married and had three children, and took on the demanding church assignments for decades including teaching priesthood classes.   He adhered to the 10 percent tithing to the church and said the church received more than $100,000 in giving by his family.  He was fully part of the subculture that Mormons live in, much of it apart from non-believers.

When Lamborn read Jon Krakauer’s book, “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith,” it triggered more personal research.  A work colleague asked him about the polygamous wives of  Joseph Smith, some 33 by one account. Lamborn couldn’t answer her, but what he found in his research incensed him — that the Saints were woefully uninformed about the true history of the church and that information is manipulated to keep members in the dark.

Lamborn was a bulldog in going into the darkest history of the church and raising questions. He was troubled how the church has shut its archives to researchers and how authorities purchased many forgeries of church documents lest they be seen by members and open doors of doubt.   Lamborn has mounted a long list of unreconciled issues in the church, especially the Book of Mormon’s authenticity.  Why did it so much resemble and parallel portions of  Ethan Smith’s “A View of the Hebrews,” published just seven years before in a town not far from Joseph Smith’s home in New York. Why are mistakes in that book repeated in The Book of Mormon?  He questioned the timeline of events in The Book of Mormon, which is said to recount the transplantation of a Hebrew tribe in the Americas.  It talked of steel spears long before steel was developed in Europe, and there was no evidence of steel remnants from battles in America.  The Book of Mormon suggested domesticated animals in the Americas, but none was found in the fossils.  The Laminite people of America were said to be descendants of the Hebrews of Israel, but physiologically the American Indians did not match, and anthropologists generally believe Indian tribes were ancestors of eastern Asians.  There were reports of  massive four-digit battle deaths when other accounts suggested a population  of two digits.

“Standing for Something More” is a title take-off of the late Mormon President and Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley’s “Standing for Something.”  Lamborn said the prophet had been in the position to have reformed the Mormon church and corrected falsehoods and ambiguities.  Much of the book rightly goes after all formal religions for mind control, imparting guilt, groupthink, shunning and ostracizing those who break out and the pressures on families and individuals to meet unreasonable expectations.  Mormons especially work their members to a tired pulp — keeping them so occupied they aren’t disposed to probe, study and question history and teachings.

Lamborn didn’t rebound to other faiths. Many who leave Mormonism move on to conventional Christian churches, with mixed experiences.  Lamborn’s evolution out of the Mormon way of life allowed him the extensive research on the methodology of faiths and the strategies most traditions use for recruitment and retention.  He describes himself as a “naturalist” where “there is a natural explanation for everything; there is no supernatural anything … The naturalist eliminates a vengeful, capricious and judgmental God concept. The naturalist does away with the wrong motivations for treating other people well, such as the promised rewards in heaven  or to please God.”

Lamborn opens his chapters with powerful indictments of  religion, theology, mind control and the damage done by religious ideology.   Here are some of those statements:

– Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.  — Blaise Pascal.

— He who know only his own faith knows no faith.  — Anonymous

–Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions.  — Frater Ravus.

–In comes ideology and out goes common sense. This is my experience of life — Doris Lessing

–Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned.  — Anonymous.

— When one person suffers from delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called religion.  — Robert Pirsig

— A man is accepted into a church for what he believes and he is turned out for what he knows.  — Mark Twain.

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  • Dale Whiting says:

    Lyndon,

    I’d like to get to know you better. From the description I read, I think I know you pretty well already. You do fit the classical mold of a truth seeker. Perhaps others of us who have sailed your course but not jumped ship could have helped you.

    I expect I am aware of all of the inconsistencies and even cover ups you have found. I have found them, too, as have others, many others. But the saying of Joseph Smith, Jr. which I most treasure is, in effect, that absolute truth is independent of the sphere [subject] it addresses. There is not one scientific truth, one historical truth, one religious truth, one social truth, one economic truth, and certainly not one political truth. There is one and only one truth and we all ought to search for it. Where truth in one sphere appears to conflict with truth in another, one or the other or both are not truth. And to knowing the truth does make us free.

    I recall my great uncle pronounce that the fossels in eastern Utah were all a hoax of the devil. He could not absorb that truth. He was Joseph Fielding Smith. And having studied geology and evolution at Brigham Young University, I know Uncle Smith had more truth to absorb.

    Lyndon, I wish you and your family well on your continuing search for the truth. I hope you find it in rich abundance. For those of your former associates, i.e. Latter-day Saints, who have stopped searching for truth, I suspect we both have only pitty.

    I see you as having made one mistake. Where so many of our fellows have stopped searching for truth, exposing them to conflict is unsettling, deeply unsettling. Therefore we have to keep the conflicts we observe to ourselves, speaking softly, knowing that eventually “all things will be revealed” to everyone. Just ask William Richardson [commenter above] about how softly I speak of the conflicts I observe. Bill knows we quite well.

    • I have continued seeking the truth with great enthusiasm. I recently completed my second Master’s Degree, this one in Secondary Education from ASU.

      With each passing hour, each passing day, the evidence is mounting ever higher that organized religion is an invention of man. In 50 years, Mormonism will be a footnote in history books. In 100 years, I expect Christianity will be in its death throes. True and real spirituality, which is being in complete harmony with our environment and our fellow humans, can only be perfect when delusions are eradicated. With every falsehood humans embrace, their life experiences are commensurately diminished. Mormonism is rooted deeply and completely in falsehood. It is relatively easy to disprove. The older religions take a bit more work, but for the objective researcher they all fall apart.

      I am studying evolution, gender roles, gene and meme selection, game theory, and other realities which have led to the world we observe today. It is wonderful and glorious. I have never been happier. The search for truth goes on in overdrive with afterburners!

      Mormonism to me now is a negligible thread of delusion in the large fabric of humanity. I agree with the PBS assessment of Joseph Smith. By every measure we have, he WAS a prophet. His writings, his following, etc. all say ‘prophet’. And just like all prophets since the beginning of time, he was either a fraud or delusional and deceived many.

      Religion filled a needed role in human psychology for eons, and had become instinctual to a large degree in humankind. But just like the instinct we have to eat all the fat and sugar we can lay our hands on, it is an instinct which has outlived its usefulness.

      We needn’t resort to the worst in mankind (delusion) to bring out the best in mankind. (Sam Harris paraphrased)

  • lillith70 says:

    Pity the poor soul. He among others outsmart themselves. Pride is the universal sin.

    From the article “Lamborn didn’t rebound to other faiths. Many who leave Mormonism move on to conventional Christian churches, with mixed experiences. Lamborn’s evolution out of the Mormon way of life allowed him the extensive research on the methodology of faiths and the strategies most traditions use for recruitment and retention. He describes himself as a “naturalist” where “there is a natural explanation for everything; there is no supernatural anything…”

    Really did himself a favor, didn’t he. And when the devil is through with those who follow him, he destroys them.

    I’d rather be a believer–a believer in something greater than oneself.

    • Yes, good point, I really should be pitied. Consider my plight:

      1. The last day I had a financial worry was the last day I paid tithing. Like Forrest Gump said: “We don’t have to worry about money anymore. One less thing.”
      2. I don’t have to worry about being in the power of Satan anymore, because there is no such entity.
      3. When I do something nice for another human, I am not doing it for a reward in heaven or to please an imaginary being. It is 10X more satisfying to do it just ‘because’. In the final analysis, the most important thing in life is how we have treated other people. Pure. Simple. Beautiful.
      4. I am not fearful of empowering gays and lesbians. All of a sudden I realized they are equals and not evil to the core as I was taught. They are wonderful people.
      5. I do not have to try to understand all the atrocities God perpetuated on humans in the Bible, or why God would select a money-digging womanizing charlatan to re-establish God’s kingdom, and wait until the 1820-1830 timeframe.
      ….. etc.

      I could go on, but yes, I need pity. Please send a heaping amount my way.

  • darrylsh61 says:

    why did the Joseph Smith marry women who were currently married and living with there husnads. Before you answer, realize that after Joseph Smith dies in a gun battle where he killed two men(martyrdom?), Then B. Young married them. Who will they be married to in heaven? ProphetA,
    Prophet B or their husband? I have verified on family search but have NEVER gotten an answer?

  • darrylsh61 says:

    Many mormons leave and become atheist or nonbelievers because mormonism
    using christian terminology with different definition. Ex: salvation
    to mormons means resurection pf all. This makes it harder for them to understand the truth. Why doesnt JST book of ISAIAH match dead sea scrolls? The devil is a liar! Truth invites investigation and applauds discovery! The internet is to mormons and jehovah witnesses what the printing press was to the catholics!

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