The Mormon Mirage: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church

The Mormon Mirage: A Former Member Looks at the Mormon Church

by Latayne C. Scott

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310291534
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 04/03/2009
Edition description: Revised & Updated
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Latayne C. Scott was a faithful and happy Mormon for ten years, attending Brigham Young University on a writing scholarship and working as a staff member for two of BYU’s weekly magazines. She is the author of fourteen published books, including Latter-Day Cipher, Why We Left Mormonism, and The Hinge of Your History: The Phases of Faith. She has also published articles and poems in secular magazines and in major Christian magazines, and she is the recipient of Pepperdine University's "Distinguished Christian Service Award" for her writing. Latayne is a representational thinker and a full-time writer, living in New Mexico with her husband of thirty-seven years, and has two married children. Her Web sites are and

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The Mormon Mirage

A Former Mormon Looks at the Mormon Church Today

By Latayne C. Scott
Copyright © 2009

Latayne Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-29153-4


Every Mormon, when he or she is about twelve years old, has the opportunity to go before a man of the LDS community who is revered for his wisdom and experience to receive a patriarchal blessing. I was about thirteen when I went before Garland F. Bushman, the patriarch of the stake, or region, in which I lived. Patriarch Bushman placed his hands on my head and said:

In the preexistence, you were one of the choice souls of heaven noted by Father Abraham. Your ancestors were noble people, of the tribe of Ephraim. You yourself have a great destiny to become a leader of women in the church and in the state where you will reside. You will meet a fine young man, be married in a temple of our Lord, and raise up righteous children. Finally, you will arise in the morning of the first resurrection, surrounded by your family.

These wonderful predictions made me weep for joy. The patriarch warned me, however, that Satan wanted my soul very much - so much, in fact, that he would try hard to deceive me. All the blessings promised me would therefore be conditional upon my resisting Satan, and my obedience to the precepts of Mormonism.

Now, years later, I have left Mormonism and I feel so strongly about it that I am writing a book telling why I have left.

It wasn't easy to leave. I owed, and still owe, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its members a great debt of gratitude. But I am regarded by them as a traitor and an apostate. I left Mormonism after tasting some of its sweetest fruits.

Though my parents were Baptists, we did not attend church regularly until my father was converted to Mormonism by missionaries. I gladly received the missionary lessons, and my younger brother and I were baptized into the Mormon Church when I was eleven. My mother, however, never accepted the Joseph Smith Story. Through the tumultuous years of my adolescence, the LDS Church was security. Teachers and counselors in the church were compassionate and truly interested in me. These people were bound together by great love for their families, the Church, and each other.

The excellent youth programs (including track meets, road shows, supervised dances, cookouts, camps, sports activities, firesides, work and ser vice projects, and much more) filled a gap in my life that might otherwise have been filled with early dating and associations in unsavory places. Through the LDS Church, I found a concrete way to express my fervent love for God and my desires to serve him. I gave love freely, and had it returned a hundredfold.

Some of Mormonism's blessings were even more tangible. I received an education of the highest quality at Brigham Young University, and through writing contests I was awarded scholarships that made it easier for me to attend. The part-time jobs I held while in school (dorm resident assistant, staff writer for the university's weekly magazines, translation and public relations work for a professor in the Latin-American Studies department, and counter work at the basketball arena's concession stand) were provided by the BYU board of trustees, who were deeply interested in the welfare of its students.

Once, even the food I ate was provided by the LDS Church. My father had undergone extensive surgery, and when the church officials heard of this, they brought hot meals to our home for several days and assessed our grocery supply to determine what we needed. They returned with sacks and sacks of groceries, and even offered to make car, house, and utility payments if needed.

I loved Mormonism for these things, and in return showed my love by living and serving as a "good Mormon." Each time that I was interviewed by my bishop (ecclesiastical leader of my local ward or congregation) and asked about such things as my attendance at meetings, payment of tithes, observance of the Word of Wisdom (health laws), sexual purity, and support of Church doctrines and leaders, I was awarded a precious "temple recommend."

During my young adulthood, I served as a teacher in Sunday school, Relief Society (a ladies' organization), and Primary (a children's organization). I was active as a speaker in Sacrament meetings and was often called on to prepare programs for the youths' "Mutual Improvement Association" and for special occasions. For a while, I worked as my ward's media aids supervisor, and in various other church "jobs."

I was never lukewarm. What I believed, I lived. I say all this because I believe that someone who has not lived a doctrine has no grounds to criticize it - just as a grade-school science student cannot reasonably speak with authority on nuclear physics. I lived Mormonism; I loved it - and I left it.

My "apostasy" did not happen overnight. Once the process began, however, it moved quickly. The summer after my junior year at BYU, I returned to my home in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to work. I was annoyed when my mother, a lukewarm Baptist who played ragtime piano at a local pizza parlor, suggested that I date non-Mormons that summer. A missionary I was "waiting for" was due to return that fall, and I just wasn't interested in a non-LDS "Gentile." But she introduced me to Dan Scott, the object of her praises, who started off our introductory conversation by saying, "So you're a Mormon. I've read the Book of Mormon. It was, uh, interesting."

Immediately I thought to myself, Maybe he could be converted. Then, more cautious, I stalled, searching for a reply. Everyone I'd ever known who'd read the whole Book of Mormon had become a Mormon. In fact, I reflected, I'd known plenty of faithful Mormons who had never read the whole thing unless and until required to do so in a religion class or while on a mission. Perhaps, I thought, this would be a good time to terminate this discussion, and I left quickly.

A few weeks later, a voice on the phone said, "Hi! Bet you don't know who this is!" His Tennessee accent had betrayed him. I said, "Yes - Dan Scott." He was crushed, his surprise foiled, but not crushed enough to forget to ask me out. I accepted against my better judgment.

Our first date was a disaster. He took me to midweek ser vices at his church where he announced, "She's a Mormon." I was stared at as if I were from another planet. (Mormons get accustomed, to a degree, to such treatment from curious non-Mormons. Once when I was in junior high, a sincere classmate asked me if something her mother told her was true: that Mormons didn't have navels. We quickly went into the girls' room, and I dispelled that myth with a tug of my blouse!)

Nonetheless, I was attracted by Dan's openness and decided to date him again if he asked, and he did.

I soon found Dan to be a true and warm friend with a sense of humor he could aim at himself as well as at others. Our only disagreements came when we discussed religion. He was so transparently shocked when I answered his questions about baptism for the dead, polygamy, treatment of Negroes, and the LDS priesthood that we made an agreement. He would study the Book of Mormon and other LDS scripture with me if I would study the Bible with him. I felt this to be a personal triumph, because I'd never studied Mormonism with anyone (except my mother) who did not join the LDS Church.

Soon Dan and I had to admit to ourselves the love that was growing between us. One thing we both agreed on: We could not take the chance of becoming more deeply involved with our hearts so near and our souls so far apart. We both acknowledged that our respective religions weren't just "versions" of each other. They were not just different; they were oppositional.

Our discussions usually put me on the defensive. I was knowledgeable about my religion, and what was more, I was stubborn. Add to that a strong dose of love for the doctrines and people of Mormonism, and you have an idea of the battle Dan had to fight. He didn't fight it alone, though; he had several powerful weapons.

One was his brother-in-law, Charles Williamson, a preacher of great intelligence and patience. One day Charles and I agreed to sit down and talk only about religion. We sat on opposite sides of a table, me with my Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and Principles of the Gospel; he with his Bible. Dan soon left the room, a scene he described as a "verbal ping-pong game." Both Charles and I were exhausted after about two hours of table-slamming debate. I was on the verge of anger. I learned later that Charles told Dan in confidence that I knew more than any Mormon elder he'd ever spoken with, and frankly he didn't know if there was any hope for me.

My recurring headaches signaled tension that had begun to grow as my doubts had. Dan and Charles didn't think their talks had served any purpose. I was filled with a sick dread that I then thought was a godly sorrow for the lost souls of people like Dan and Charles. Actually, I was beginning to fear that my soul might be lost, and I dared not voice this fear - not even to myself.

Another of the mighty weapons used by Dan in the battle for my soul was the literature he somehow managed to find. These books dealt objectively and factually with Mormonism, from the view of non-Mormons. I was blessed by the fact that Dan chose the books he did for me to read. Most writings that criticized LDS doctrine that I had previously read had had very little lasting effect on me.

There are many books and magazine articles written to convince Mormons of their doctrinal errors. Many of these, however, make at least one of two major mistakes. One is underestimating the intelligence, integrity, or character of the LDS people. Many times when I was a Mormon, I had read some otherwise factual literature against Mormonism which by its bitter or berating tone turned me off. The doctrinal point the writer was making never sank in. Such literature implies that Mormons believe as they do because they are stupid, narrow-minded, or satanic. Since I considered other Mormon friends and myself to be intelligent, open-minded children of God seeking to do his will, I would toss such offensive literature into the nearest trash can. Then I would offer a prayer to God for the soul of anyone who would tell such lies in print where they might be accepted as fact by someone who'd never met a good Latter-day Saint.

The other great error committed by many writers on Mormonism is that of not checking their facts. Like the mother of the girl who asked me about my navel, such writers discredit themselves with inaccuracies. Some writers, carried away in their enthusiasm, embellish facts - it's easy to do - but when I would run into such stretching or bending of the truth in writings critical of Mormonism, I would dismiss as also erroneous anything else I read there that didn't agree with LDS doctrines I had been taught.

When you confront many Mormons with, for example, copies of the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, or strange prophecies made by Joseph Smith which never came true, some will be dumbfounded. Often such things are unavailable to them through regular Church channels. If, therefore, a book errs when covering things they do know about, how can they trust new information on things they have never heard of?

The most effective weapon of all in Dan's armory was three-pronged. First was his overwhelming faith and confidence in the Word of God, the Bible. Second was the prayer that he continually offered for my soul's enlightenment. Third, and most penetrating, was the love he had for me. Had we not loved each other, I don't believe I would have had the courage to leave the comfortable LDS way of life. Had he ceased loving me before my conversion was completed, I fear I would have returned to the womb of Mormonism and lived ever an infant, frightened and dependent, but secure in my deliberate ignorance.

I finally came to an impasse in my spiritual progress. I was struggling against the bonds of Mormonism - tradition and heritage, doctrinal comfort and love. Yet I felt that something was terribly wrong there - why did my teachings and background in Mormonism conflict so sharply with my new knowledge of the Bible? Why the inconsistencies in LDS historical accounts and early documents?


Excerpted from The Mormon Mirage by Latayne C. Scott Copyright © 2009 by Latayne Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments 9

From Mirage to Reality 11

Part 1

1 A Gentle Apostasy 17

2 The Joseph Smith Story 28

3 The Book of Mormon: "The Most Correct of Any Book"? 61

4 One Bible, Two Books of Commandments, and Unlimited Wives 98

5 The Perils of the Pearl 124

6 The Precarious Summit of Continuing Revelation 148

7 The Mormon Pantheon 167

8 Salvation and Exaltation 195

Part 2

9 Issues and Challenges Facing Mormonism in the Twenty-First Century-Part One 231

10 Issues and Challenges Facing Mormonism in the Twenty-First Century-Part Two 252

11 Conclusion 269

Addendum-Evangelizing Mormons in the Twenty-First Century 297

For Further Reading 301

Notes 305

Subject Index 347

Mormon Scripture Index 357

Scripture Index 361

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Mormon Mirage 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
sswriter993 More than 1 year ago
The Mormon Mirage by Latayne C. Scott is not just a book, it is most decisively a mini encyclopedia of Mormon history and insights. When LaTayne asked me to review this new edition of her massive work I thought, "why not." The depth to which she has gone in finding historical documents is amazing. And for me, a former Mormon it was a look back into a life that I too left with "sadness". Latayne was once an ardent proponent of Mormonism. But a meticulous examination of Latter-day Saint (LDS) doctrines and practices convinced her that she and countless others had believed a lie. In the first edition of The Mormon Mirage, she shared her remarkable journey out of Mormonism as she uncovered shocking inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the faith she had loved and lived. Thirty years later, Mormonism and Mormon scholarship have evolved with the times. In this third, revised and updated edition of her well-known book, Latayne keeps pace with the changes and advances in Mormonism, and reveals formidable new challenges to LDS claims and teachngs. The first major change to strike me were terms such as Internet Mormons and Chapel Mormons. It is noted that those who get information from the Internet have a different approach and understanding of the Mormon faith than those who only have an understanding from the weekly chapel services. * There is a wonderful chronology of events from the era of Joseph Smith to the present * Historical statements from the general authorities stating that they were sorry for some of the statements made regarding previous "prophesy" which were now being changed * Exhaustive searches by archeologists and historians for artifacts or confirmation for anything in the Book of Mormon which would confirm that the people, places, and events actually took place * Subtle changes such as the Native American Indian previously was to change to a white(r) skin tone if they remained true to the teachings but was changed to a pure race * During the recent past the scrolls which were supposed to confirm doctrine, have been shown by experts to not have anything in agreement * Why did large numbers of Japanese members suddenly leave, including leadership? But above all and besides all, the fact remains that the Jesus that died on Calvary and was resurrected said that the Kingdom of God was established on the earth, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. If this is truth as written in the Bible, then the Book of Mormon and its doctrine is questioned since it states that the Kingdom that Jesus brought to the earth was taken away for over 1,700 years and was re-established under Joseph Smith. There are just too many notable events to list them all. This is a book not to be taken lightly, nor is it a book that bashes a religion but gives insights based on Mormon doctrine and changes throughout its history. For me, it was fascinating to find answers to things I had heard as a child but to actually read it as history was wonderful.
TexanForChrist More than 1 year ago
The Mormon Mirage presents an interesting insider's view into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Latayne Scott outlines a comprehensive history of the Mormon Church and provides factual information behind its numerous changes and inconsistencies. The book begins with a brief history of Lataynes's ten years as a member of the Mormon Church and describes what led to her difficult decision to leave the church she once trusted and a community she dearly loved. The author gives a factual, unfiltered account of the life of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, as well as the "cleaned-up and unrealistic picture" of him that is presented to and accepted by the LDS people. Latayne shares how the teachings of the Book of Mormon contradict not only the teachings of the Bible but also of itself! Throughout her book she cites Bible passages that Mormons take out of context to support the Book of Mormon and other Mormon documents. Latayne also points out the total lack of archaeological support for the Book of Mormon and lists several former LDS supporters who conclude that the Book of Mormon is a fictional product of the mind of Joseph Smith. After reading this amazing book I gained an increased understanding of the fallacies of the Mormon Church. Latayne's arguments are clearly laid out and her abundant sources of factual information are well documented. I highly recommend The Mormon Mirage to anyone who has even the slightest curiosity about Mormonism, is involved in Mormonism, or who has acquaintances, friends, or family members participating in it.
JANIS75 More than 1 year ago
Her book presents one of the most complete treatments of Mormon theology that I've read in some time. It is thorough, historically accurate, well researched and documented with up to date evidence that substantiates even further the falseness and deceptiveness of Mormonism. Her presentation of the errors of Mormonism is admirably balanced by her honest portrayal of not only the positive values of the Mormon Church, but in sharing her soul-wrenching resolve to leave the religion she had so loved, to embrace only Biblical truths--a heart-tugging decision that I can well identify with. Janis Hutchinson, author: The Mormon Missionaries and Out of the Cults and Into the Church.
Ross_Anderson More than 1 year ago
I was impressed by The Mormon Mirage. Latayne Scott is a gifted writer with a thorough, first-hand knowledge of Mormonism. The book is filled not only with excellent information, but keen analysis. Moreover, she demonstrates genuine kindness and empathy toward Latter-day Saints, based on her positive experiences growing up in the LDS Church. You will not find any bitter Mormon-bashing in this book. This newest edition is up to date on all the changes in Mormonism over the last three decades. The additional material provides excellent insight into current trends and problematic issues facing the Mormon world. Ms. Scott is very tuned in to the current climate, and she addresses all of the key issues and debates. As a pastor and former Mormon myself, people often ask me to recommended books about Mormonism. This one has risen to the top of my list.
Dina-ReviewTime More than 1 year ago
The Mormon Mirage is defiantly an interesting, and shocking book. According to Mrs. Scotts research the majority of Mormon beliefs are very different from traditional Christianity. Before writing this review I had never talked with a Mormon missionary, because of this I went to the LSD website and asked a Mormon missionary some questions. My questions were "What are your views of the Trinity?, Will faithful Mormons attain godhood after death? and does God the Father have a flesh and bone body?" the answers I was given were basically the scholarly version of what I found in Mrs. Scott's book. She encourages the reader to do their own research, and gives multiple references. Many of the references are Mormon books of scripture, such as the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. You can find my full review at
Thresholds More than 1 year ago
When I began The Mormon Mirage by Latayne Scott I had very little knowledge of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: The Mormon Church. I thought they were fellow Christians with some odd quirks. This organizations purposely presents the public face that I had seen--one that shares the Christian's language of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Scott's book clears the air of that false image, relates her difficult journey, and reveals the truth. Latayne Scott tells the profound story of her spiritual devotion and life-filling involvement with the Latter Day Saints. She trusted the Mormon doctrine as a source of salvation, but finally found that there was no saving reality behind it. Step by step, the Mormon revelations and teachings are proven to be scams marketed by con artists. Through years of scholarly research and multiple readings of the Holy Bible, Scott persevered, troubled by a broken heart at the loss of a beloved community, of a way of life, and even of a false god. The layers of lies cannot be conveyed any other way than by reading The Mormon Mirage itself. Latayne actually narrates two journeys: her own and then the historic development and changes of the Mormon Church from its founding right up to the Twenty First Century. The integrity and rigor of the research and scholarship are impressive. All sources are available to be rechecked by any skeptic. Even after being subjected to lies and vilification, Latayne's generous spirit extends affection to those left behind, still trusting the mirage. The map that guided her out of the wilderness is recommended to the reader with the intensity of a survivor: The Holy Bible does not waiver or fade in the light of archeological and linguistic research.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to been helpful in understanding more of about Mormonism. It is written in such a way that can be understood by people not familiar with the Mormon cult. Latayne informs her readers how Mormonism has misinterpreted the Bible and brought in ideas from their leaders. I found myself using the Book of Mormon and scribbling in the many inaccuracies that she points out. I enjoyed this book and recommend it to anyone who would like to learn more about Mormonism from someone who knows what they ae writing about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since we may have a Mormon president soon I thought I would read up on what they believed. I highly suggest this book as it very informative and a good read.
True54Blue on LibraryThing 28 days ago
This third edition of Latayne C. Scott¿s book updates the material on Mormonism to 2008. It was originally published as a response to her leaving Mormonism in 1973 and the second edition came out in 1984. She is of Baptist background but became a Mormon when she was twelve and believed and loved it through her teenage years and into university studies at Brigham Young University. This book¿s subtitle reflects that there have been a lot of changes in Mormonism in the last decades, especially since the 1990¿s.This book is comprised of two parts. The first part deals with the history and doctrines of the LDS and consumes most of the book. The second part looks at nine issues and challenges facing Mormonism in the twenty-first century. It actually covers more than nine issues because some are combined under one heading such as gender which covers Mormon positions on both women and homosexuality. The background information on Mormonism is quite complete, with many references for those who wish to be exhaustive. Scott is clear throughout in showing how Mormon doctrine relates to orthodox Christian theology and how the two departed from one another in the lives and practice of early Mormon leaders, particularly Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. She also summaries the beliefs of many of the Mormon splinter groups.The second part which lists the various issues that Mormonism is currently dealing with is quite helpful because one wants to know what Mormonism is actually doing today as well as what it has been doing in history. Scott is very helpful throughout the book in distinguishing between official Mormon doctrine and actual practice and folk belief. Apparently Mormonism has become less authoritative in its proclamations in recent decades. Scott explains that this is due to opposition from both within and without and because of accommodation to changing times. My only concern with this section is that she shows that the Mormon leadership is ¿out of touch¿ with society on some controversial issues such as gender and approval of homosexuality. These issues are fracturing many Christian denominations and therefore not something that traditional Christianity can criticise in Mormonism. Most Evangelicals would approve of the Mormon stance on the issue of homosexual marriage although they would base this on biblical exegesis, not revelation by Joseph Smith or any other latter-day prophet.I would highly recommend this book to those who know someone within the Mormon system or those who want to understand the importance of authoritative scripture for the Christian church. Although Scott does not set out to intentionally underscore the importance of biblical faith and proper exegesis and hermeneutical methods the evidence of what happens when those are not employed is very apparent. Her conclusion is also helpful in that she summarises the main points of disagreement between Mormonism and Evangelicalism and shows how the Mormon approach to the subject of truth differs radically from that of mainstream Christianity.
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Save your money she is not exactly truthful
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The only way then to know if the Book of Mormon is true or not is to read it and find out for yourself.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I a morman gosh.