Spiritual murder: allegations of wrongdoing by the LDS church
December 12, 2012
Stephen Stone, RenewAmerica President

The Mormon church has long shown itself inordinately sensitive to public opinion, often inclined to embrace accepted societal norms only as adverse publicity requires it to do so to "protect its good name."

This was certainly true of the church's early polygamy; a coinciding massacre of "gentiles" in a mountain valley; and an embarrassing cover-up of forged documents in modern times. Today, the church's overbearing, even outlandish tendencies continue to demand the light of day.

Take polygamy...please

Ultimately, it was public outrage that led the church to drop its practice of polygamy (euphemistically called "plural marriage") a little more than a century ago, for the obvious threat the practice posed to traditional family life — the very foundation of civilized society.

Whereas the Bible condoned polygamy on a limited scale, the Mormon leadership sought to make the practice a cultural standard distinctive to "Mormonism," on the grounds it was necessary for "exaltation" in God's heaven, a premise found nowhere in scripture. That lifestyle matched privileged Mormon priesthood bearers with as many women as were willing, as though women were collectibles. In many documented cases, Mormon leaders laid claim to other men's wives because the leaders possessed more authority than these wives' husbands.

Shades of "might makes right," we might say.

Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others used their authority and influence to persuade married women (along with single ones) to become these men's eternal "possessions," and had children with them. Early church leaders are recorded to have taught that only as "worthy" men took multiple wives in this life could they go to the "highest heaven."

This, of course, was a doctrinal absurdity alien to the saving gospel of Jesus Christ and unsupported even by the LDS canon. Thankfully, public opinion — and the resultant outlawing of such a lifestyle — rescued American society from the normalization of such naughty nuttiness.

Mountain Meadows Massacre

At the height of early antagonism toward Mormonism — not long after its polygamous premises were becoming known outside LDS culture — a terrible incident occurred that forced the church to be more respectful of those outside the faith.

It occurred in southern Utah in 1857, at a place southwest of Cedar City called Mountain Meadows.

At the time, tensions were high in Utah because federal troops were preparing to suppress a perceived "rebellion" among Mormons who populated the Intermountain West. With the region's Mormons having been instructed by Brigham Young not to sell even one particle of grain to non-Mormons passing through on their way to California, local settlers took this and other instruction from the church president to mean they were to be unfriendly, even hostile, to those passing through.

A particularly rowdy company of travelers from Arkansas reached Cedar City that September and sought grain and supplies, only to be turned down. At some point, one of their group reportedly claimed to "have the gun that killed Joseph Smith" years earlier in Illinois. The fact that these "gentiles" were from a state where Mormon apostle Parley P. Pratt (an ancestor of both Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman) had just been murdered a few months earlier by a non-Mormon whose wife Pratt had added to his stable of polygamous possessions aggravated things.

In this climate, the deep-seated authoritarianism (and often-paranoid defensiveness) ingrained in Mormon culture took over, and otherwise peaceful Mormon leaders and members conspired to have the entire wagon train killed, with the exception of small children who were too young to be witnesses. 120 men, women, and children perished in a massacre. The main instigator was the local stake president, who happened also to be the town's mayor and local militia major.

Some involved no doubt considered it payback for the much less horrific crimes perpetrated against the Mormons in their early history before they settled in Utah.

That's what a Mormon-sponsored website appears to suggest.

It has taken the church many years, while enduring much adverse publicity, to accept the basic scenario of what happened at Mountain Meadows — if with an eye to blaming the incident on the "locals" and absolving the church itself of any responsibility. Nonetheless, there can be no question that the church's inordinately leader-dependent culture spawned the massacre, both directly and indirectly — and as a result, the church has been forced to temper its public rhetoric and behavior since that time.

If you think LDS culture is excessively authoritarian now, which it is, bear in mind that it was much worse back then, as the written confession of Sen. Mike Lee's ancestor, John D. Lee — the only perpetrator convicted and executed for his crimes at Mountain Meadows — suggests.

Mark Hofmann forgeries

In the early 1980's, the church found its claimed history rocked by an explosion of forged early Mormon documents that cleverly challenged the official version of the church's origins, even threatened to destroy the church's foundations. The church suffered unprecedented embarrassment throughout the charade, not only because of the supposedly authenticated documents, nearly all of which were designed to undermine the church's history, but because of the church's reaction to the documents prior to their exposure as fake.

The church's highest leaders literally made fools of themselves throughout the episode — a fact calling into question their prophetic claims and underscoring their gullibility.

The forger, a young man named Mark Hofmann who feigned belief in the church while on his LDS mission — which he performed out of social pressure, since he'd apparently become an atheist at an early age — has been called by a renowned rare-documents expert the most skilled forger in American history.

With uncanny ability to create documents of all kinds, some appearing to be hundreds of years old, and then find scholars willing to certify their legitimacy for potential buyers, Hofmann succeeded mainly not by proving his products authentic, but by drawing upon experts who could find nothing wrong with them. It was a masterful sales promotion that ensured the documents were taken as genuine for lack of evidence to the contrary.

Ironically, two well-known critics of the LDS church, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, were the first to declare one of Hofmann's LDS-related documents a forgery, although it was another year before experts conducted sufficient analysis of church-acquired forgeries to reveal them as fraudulent. By then, LDS leaders had been cruelly tricked by Hofmann into buying several particularly-damaging documents he sold them over a period of years just so he could embarrass them. Knowing the church's intent was to pay whatever he asked and then hide the unflattering items from the public, he often foiled the church by leaking the damaging documents to the media after a sale, despite agreeing to keep things confidential. He thus not only discredited the church's authorized history, but revealed its leaders to be paranoid and untruthful.

Acting president of the church at the time Gordon B. Hinckley even bought one fake document himself — one portraying church founder Joseph Smith as immersed in black magic and treasure-seeking years after claiming to speak with the Father and the Son — purchased with the intent to suppress it. He later claimed hardly to know Hofmann, even though phone records showed he was in frequent contact with him at one critical point.

The whole absurd tale came crashing down on both Hofmann and LDS leaders when Hofmann got so deep in debt (even though he was paid handsomely for his forgeries), and also got so far behind in producing documents he'd promised potential buyers, that he murdered two people to cover up his delays and indebtedness. A bomb-maker from the time of his youth, he killed them with pipe bombs. The lid on his schemes, however, blew off the next day when he accidently detonated a third bomb inside his car, slightly injuring himself. The trail of forged confetti landed him in prison — and sent church officials and scholars scrambling to explain their own attempts at deception.

At a press conference just after the truth of Hofmann's deceptions came to light, acting church president Hinckley was asked how such a devilish personality could fool even the highest leaders of the church, with whom Hofmann had met repeatedly face to face — leaders who professed to be called of God and inspired of Him — and Hinckley said, "We're human."*

The moral of the story, of course, is that such an admission should guide and govern everything and everybody in any institution that claims to represent Jesus Christ. It is Christ who saves, not men, and those who profess belief in Him must rely on Him for knowledge and wisdom — not on human authority — according to scripture.

Modern mayhem

30 years later, a somewhat chastened church still perpetuates the undoctrinal myth that its leaders are called of God and endowed with special gifts and knowledge. Nowhere in the LDS canon is such a belief substantiated. The most that can be established by the church's scriptural canon is that some LDS leaders may be so called and inspired — but certainly nothing in the canon suggests all are, or even most.

It's not there.

In practical reality, the same could be said of any organization, no matter how admirable or evil. In any culture or group, God may call certain individuals (those prone to rely on Him) to represent Him in some way, and inspire such exemplary people with knowledge others around them tend to lack because of their own sloth. The idea, however, that any organization on earth is overseen by leaders who all, or generally, have been specially chosen by God and led by him is not found in scripture — and in fact, such elite utopianism is inherently impossible, given human nature, and by extension, the realities of institutional behavior.

Predictably, the LDS church's mythical belief that its leaders are called of God and guided by Him comes from those leaders themselves — those who have a stake in controlling and influencing the culture. Since the Mormon canon doesn't teach such authoritarianism, it's left to the leaders themselves to impose and perpetuate it.

And they do. Very little that is taught or done in the LDS church, in my experience, is actually grounded in clear teachings and statutes from the church's canon. Most that occurs is "extra-doctrinal" — man-made. To most Mormons, that's no problem, since they are taught to believe the obviously undoctrinal notion that whatever their highest leaders say is automatically the word of God, and supersedes the canon. According to the canon, such thinking is godless heresy that will result in the damnation of all who "so continue" in such lawlessness. (See D&C 42:59-60.)

That's what God plainly says, if the LDS canon is to be believed.

The un-American church

This brings us to the most egregious ongoing abuse of authority in modern LDS history, in my judgment. It centers in the church's unlawful interference with America's political process in its unending — and continually self-justifying — persecution, literally for no reason, of the Stephen Stone family and its work.

That would be me, my wife, and our kids — and our longstanding work for the articulate and courageous pro-life advocate Alan Keyes, primarily through the auspices of RenewAmerica, an activist organization/media website we created to support Dr. Keyes and restore respect for America's founding principles.

For more than twelve years, without letting up, the LDS church has taken upon itself to harass, even torment, our family and intimidate us into dropping our political activism. Because we've repeatedly resisted, the church has increasingly heightened its institutional and cultural pressure — along with intense psychological and mental abuse — to induce us to conform.

All to no avail. The preservation of the United States is more important to us than the bullies who represent the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We've never given an inch.

Based on my fairly comprehensive knowledge of Mormon history and tradition, there has never been anything to compare with this sustained antagonism by the institutional LDS church toward a dedicated family for its political work. Never. It's the strangest thing I've ever heard of in the church's 180-year existence.

In some ways — at least in its obstinate recurrence and official toleration — this errant behavior rivals the crazy things the church is most ashamed of, cited above. Consider it the Mountain Meadows Massacre meets Bill Murray's "Groundhog Day," only no one dies physically, and all murders that occur are fundamentally spiritual.

It's bad enough the church would so torment and persecute a principled family for no definable reason — but to do so for their self-sacrificing, highly influential and talented political activism is an affront to America's representative political system itself and makes the sustained abuse damnable in every important cultural and societal sense.

It's an affront to thinking Americans who love their country and do not like to see any powerful institution — no matter its name or nature — weaken it or arrogantly mistreat it as though it were a thing of naught.

Here's a play-by-play of the outrageous bullying we — and unavoidably, the work and causes of Alan Keyes — have been forced to suffer at the hands of power-imbibed LDS leaders at every level, including the Office of the First Presidency (as you will see). It's indescribably derelict and self-contradictory for the church to do what follows, and to never show any regret or restraint in so doing, or any respect for our family or the patriotic work we've sacrificed for more than a decade to keep alive.

Yet every word that follows is true — and verifiable.

The family's complaint against the LDS church

I, Stephen Stone, do hereby charge the LDS church with the following un-American, un-Christian, and ungodly wrongdoing — wrongdoing undertaken in blatant disregard for the church's own professed rules and policies, its official laws and doctrines as published in its canon, and the protections of federal and state law. (For more details, see A Mormon Story.)
  1. For over a decade, the LDS church has intentionally, maliciously, and repeatedly intruded into the political work of the Stephen Stone family — work that has centered in assisting national pro-life leader (and three-time presidential candidate) Alan Keyes as members of his national staff, and which has expanded to include working for numerous other state and national candidates for a variety of offices.

    The resulting damage to the Stone family's work, and to those individuals and causes they've assisted in the political arena, has been considerable, far-reaching, and irreparable. Additionally, the reputation of members of the Stone family has suffered significantly.

  2. The interference began in August 2000, when the church demanded that the Stone family quit their work for Alan Keyes, which they refused to do; and then — without ceasing — the church began threatening, intimidating, and harassing family members for their refusal to comply, doing so in violation of national and state statutes and rules that protected the Stone family's political activism and choice of livelihood.

    The threats, harassment, and intimidation initiated that day over the family's political work have never ended.

  3. Barely a month after insisting "God wants you to quit working for Alan Keyes," the church threatened Stephen Stone with "excommunication" — a form of shunning reserved for serious wrongdoers that typically causes them to be seen by those around them as anathema and deserving of censure — for his refusal to obey the counsel of his bishop and stake president to drop his work for Dr. Keyes.

    The effect of this unwanted, capricious threat — issued the first week of October 2000 — was to heighten the church's escalating psychological and mental pressure on Stephen and his family to abandon their lawful political work, preventing them from devoting their full energies to this high-intensity, demanding public relations enterprise.

  4. During the first several weeks of its harassment of the Stones, the church nearly sabotaged an event the family was arranging for Utah's "Constitution Week" — an event involving Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, Sen. Orrin Hatch, conservative author W. Cleon Skousen, and numerous Republican leaders, candidates, and officials, with Alan Keyes as keynote speaker, staged at a large arena in Utah. The event went on in the face of intense mental and emotional abuse of the Stones that came close to destroying the event, which was delay-telecast nationally by C-Span just days before the November 2000 election under the title "America's Unity Call."

    The Stones also created a 30-minute audio version of the speech and distributed copies to 1,500 Christian/conservative radio stations nationwide, including several in Florida, in the weeks prior to the election. Conceivably, the powerful, persuasive speech — at a time when Keyes was held in highest esteem by Christian conservatives for his strong advocacy of moral principle during the 2000 GOP primaries — had a small hand in the outcome of Florida's unusually-close election, determined by only a few hundred votes.

  5. The church additionally interfered with the development of RenewAmerica from the time the church began harassing the Stone family in August 2000 until the website's inauguration in January 2002 — preventing the Stones from focusing on the immense task of designing, preparing, drafting, editing, and refining this innovative vehicle for advancing the work of Alan Keyes, with the result unnecessary delays in launching the site.

    The church's interference also hindered the site in fulfilling its initial purpose: building support and viewership for Keyes' new live MSNBC-TV talk show, "Alan Keyes Is Making Sense," launched the same week as RenewAmerica. (See "6," below.)

    Thereafter, the church has hindered the normal improvement and maintenance of RenewAmerica from that time until now, restricting the growth of the site's traffic and influence. (Even with such harassment, RA is nonetheless considered among the top ten conservative websites in America by the New York Times Company's About.com — a testament to the tenacity of the Stones.)

  6. In February 2002, the church disfellowshipped Stephen Stone at a disciplinary council meant to result in his excommunication — imposing this lesser form of shunning for lack of sufficient cause, for the clear purpose of heightening the pressure on Stephen to conform to church leaders' demands regarding Alan Keyes. This wrongful action took place the same day the Stones were informed by the Keyes organization that RenewAmerica was its number one priority in support of Dr. Keyes' new MSNBC-TV show, "Alan Keyes Is Making Sense."

    The 12-hour "disciplinary council" amounted to little more than a kangaroo court, following virtually none of the church's rules for such councils, and allowing Stephen to present his defense only after the court had reached its decision. Following Stephen's testimony of the facts, many council members looked obviously ashamed at what they'd done, as they filed out.

  7. Three days after Stephen Stone's disfellowshipment, the church — through its local stake president — informed Stephen on official church letterhead that the sole reason for this extreme action was his refusal to drop his work for Alan Keyes, stipulating that if he continued his refusal to comply, he risked the ultimate penalty of excommunication.

    Note that Stephen has never complied with this attempt at coercion, leaving the threatened penalty in force until its ultimate fulfillment years later. (See #11, below.)

  8. Within days of the above letter, the church — through the same stake president — told Stephen and his son Ethan that the ultimate reason for Stephen's disfellowshipment was that he "won't obey [his] leaders," an arbitrary, controlling response to lawful behavior by the Stone family that arguably is typical of the extreme authoritarianism that pervades the LDS church.

    No decent human being, and certainly no decent American citizen, would tolerate such interference with Stephen's God-given political rights, or his chosen work for Alan Keyes.

  9. For more than a year afterward, the church withheld the "emblems of the Lord's supper" from Stephen Stone as the main punishment affixed to his disfellowshipment for his refusal to comply with church demands that he quit working for Alan Keyes — an obvious perversion and prostitution of the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, an institutional error that calls into question the claim by the LDS church that it is Christian. Were this error readily correctable upon appeal, we might conclude differently. But it took Stephen 15 months of tenacious, time-consuming effort to have this punishment successfully overturned for lack of grounds. The sacred emblems of Christ's flesh and blood obviously should not be so lightly used to enforce church leaders' dictatorial demands.

    True disciples of Christ, it's reasonable to say, would consider such disrespect for Christ's crucifixion evidence of serious apostasy that warrants the shunning of any church that sanctions it.

  10. In a landmark proclamation titled "Address to the World," issued in 1907 at the height of public controversy over the church's perceived threat as a "menace" to society, the church declared that it does not interfere with the political or employment rights of its membersyet it has done just that with the dedicated Stone family, refusing to let up at any time from August 2000 to the present, despite countless appeals for relief from the Stone family to the highest authorities of the church.

    This definitive public declaration is arguably the most important in the church's history, eclipsing even the more recent and widely-disseminated "Proclamation on the Family." Today it's generally ignored, however, explaining the church's indifference to the Stone family's lawful rights.

  11. Within days after the church's presiding First Presidency overturned Stephen Stone's wrongful disfellowshipment in April 2003 on appeal (an unheard of outcome, we might add, in Mormon culture), local church leaders revived their longstanding threat of excommunication against Stephen — and kept that threat constantly in front of him until it was finally actualized in October 2009 for no definable reason.

    As a matter of fact, Stephen has never been informed by church officials of exactly what he did to warrant such maximum censure — effectively precluding any possible "repentance" by him, or restoration of membership. For the record, the essential facts have remained unchanged from the outset of this controversy; thus Stephen was excommunicated for the same groundless basis upon which he was wrongfully disfellowshipped, an action, as stressed, that was overturned for lack of justification.

  12. At critical points throughout this controversy, church leaders have solicited the Stone family's opinion of the malicious persecution they've suffered at the hands of the church (in standard procedures in which church members are asked either to "sustain" or "oppose" those placed over them in the church hierarchy, in accordance with the church's canonized "Law of Common Consent"), and then these leaders proceeded to threaten the family with further punishment for voting against those who've most harmed them. Such institutional intimidation of faithful members — experienced repeatedly by the Stones throughout this controversy — is in direct violation of the Law of Common Consent, and abrogates the Stones' purportedly God-given rights under that law.

    It's also alien to the well-established American principle of voting one's conscience, when given the opportunity, and brings into question the church's respect for the foundational principle upon which representative self-government rests.

  13. Church officials have repeatedly slandered Stephen Stone and other members of the Stone family from the beginning — in internal communications among church members, local officers, and high leaders — falsely demonizing and mischaracterizing the family in the minds of a widening circle of the membership, inhibiting any timely or reasonable cessation of the persecution the family has suffered from the outset of this controversy. There is ample evidence to indicate that Stephen has been portrayed throughout this ordeal as mentally ill, emotionally unstable, and obsessive — an apt description, we might suggest, of a few of those who have persisted in tormenting the family (as directors of two LDS counseling centers concurred when Stephen discussed the matter with them).

    As a result of this slander, in 2006 members of the Stone family lost their longstanding leadership positions in their neighborhood Republican Party caucus, of which Stephen had served as precinct chair during several election cycles before being replaced by those involved in his family's persecution, who acted in bad faith and disregarded party rules.

  14. At one point in all this, an influential representative of the church's Office of the First Presidency baselessly labeled a bishop who was supportive of the Stone family "an apostate" — after this bishop sided with the family following his thorough investigation into the family's charges against his predecessor, concluding the family had "proven their case" against the man (and by extension, against the church itself).

    The Office of the First Presidency shockingly ignored the conclusions of this bishop — whose customary role, we should stress, included acting as a "judge in Israel," and who had, as a matter of record, been assigned by a high-level church authority specifically to investigate the matter.

  15. In 2002 and 2003, the church severely damaged Stephen Stone's work in behalf of Utah Republicans in his role as a member of the Utah Republican Party's Central Committee. The psychological and mental interference by the church intruded into his efforts to faithfully fulfill his duties — though he did his best under the degrading circumstances.

    It should be noted that when Stephen was disfellowshipped, he was given only three days' notice prior to his malicious "disciplinary council." He had literally no time to prepare for his trial, therefore, since a major meeting of the GOP State Central Committee was scheduled for the day before the council, and the meeting itself required him to spend the whole day in distant Ogden.

    There can be no question the church's interference created an unfair, intolerable, and distracting conflict with Stephen's priorities on this difficult occasion.

  16. Likewise, the church severely damaged daughter Stefani Stone's work on behalf of Utah Republicans in her role as a member of the Utah Republican Party's Executive Committee in 2001 and 2002, by virtue of her position as head of the Utah Young Republicans.

    At one point during Stefani's important activism, the local stake president pushed his face within inches of Stefani's and screamed at her — calling her a liar for quoting him as saying in two prior encounters that "the whole church would fall apart if members were taught to follow the Holy Ghost" (something he claimed he'd learned on his LDS mission). On this occasion, he verbally abused Stefani in a meeting Stephen had arranged between family members and the stake presidency to resolve the growing conflict — just after he was served notice of his scheduled excommunication.

    Such psychological and mental abuse by the church intruded into Stefani's efforts to fulfill her official duties — although she endeavored to do her best under the distracting circumstances.

    After the meeting, we should note, Stefani's mother DeeAnn confided, "Now I know that President [name withheld] is an evil man."

  17. In 2001, the church similarly damaged the family's work in behalf of Stefani Stone's candidacy for Vice Chair of the Utah Republican Party, a bid she lost in a three-way contest.

    Again, the church's distracting psychological and mental interference intruded into the family's efforts to assist her, yet they did their best to compensate under the demeaning circumstances.

    It's noteworthy that new party rules enabled Stefani's candidacy to help a conservative Keyes supporter defeat the establishment favorite — effectively turning the opposition she faced from a variety of sources, including the LDS church, into a positive.

  18. In 2001 and 2002, the church severely damaged the family's work in behalf of conservative Utah congressional candidate John Swallow, whose website they designed and oversaw, and for whom they brought Alan Keyes to the state, not long before the election, to expose the pro-choice votes of Rep. Jim Matheson in three major events sponsored by the Stones, widely covered by the Utah media.

    As before, the psychological and mental interference by the church hindered the family's efforts to assist John Swallow — though they did what they could under the intolerable circumstances, helping to bring him from 15 points back just weeks before election to even on election day, when he lost by only 1604 votes.

    In such a close race, the loss of focus and creative intensity among key staffers or supporters can make a difference in the outcome. Did the church's sustained harassment of the Stones harm John Swallow's race for Congress? It would be irrational to argue otherwise.

  19. In 2003 and 2004, the church severely damaged the family's work in behalf of conservative Utah gubernatorial candidate Parley Hellewell, whose campaign the Stones oversaw in every essential detail. On several occasions, Stephen was called upon to stand in for Parley at formal speeches and debates, alongside the other eight candidates or their representatives. The Stones designed and oversaw Parley's plan, literature, signs, banners, displays, grassroots organization, public relations, website, and other major details of the campaign, and traveled with him to several dozen county and statewide events.

    As with other efforts by the Stones, the psychological and mental interference by the church intruded profoundly into the family's efforts to assist then-State Sen. Hellewell. Of course, they did all they could to bear up under the circumstances, but the church is hardly blameless for the unnecessary difficulties the campaign endured. The race was won by a member of the billionaire Huntsman family, Jon Huntsman, Jr.

  20. In 2004, the church severely damaged the family's work in behalf of Alan Keyes when he ran against Barack Obama for an open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. The family designed and oversaw Alan's website, assisted with research, wrote news articles, transcribed speeches, helped organize grassroots efforts, and performed other duties in a cause that saw Alan enter late due to the resignation of the Republican nominee and face an uphill battle against the notorious Chicago political machine and media. Alan took on Obama in part because he was incensed that the communist-mentored community organizer refused, as a state senator, to support the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, a bill prohibiting the killing of babies who survive abortion.

    The psychological and mental interference by the church once again intruded into the family's efforts to assist Alan — for whom they worked as hard as they could under the oppressive circumstances.

  21. In 2005, the church severely damaged the family's work in behalf of Southern California congressional candidate Jim Gilchrist. In this off-year special election, which focused on illegal immigration, the Stones created and maintained Gilchrist's website, wrote text for various purposes, and helped with public relations.

    The church's tiresome psychological and mental interference hampered the family's efforts to assist Jim Gilchrist as they tried their best to cope with the degrading circumstances.

  22. In 2007 and 2008, the church severely damaged the family's work in behalf of presidential candidate Alan Keyes, whose campaign the family coordinated and directed, with Stephen Stone serving as CEO, DeeAnn Stone as Director of Communications, Ethan Stone as Webmaster, and other family members assisting with events, technical work, and public relations.

    The family oversaw the campaign's fundraising, finances, logistics, organizing, and unique website, and family members traveled with Alan throughout the country; worked tenaciously to get him on state ballots; handled correspondence, mass emailings, media inquiries, and press releases; helped mobilize supporters; transcribed speeches; and disbursed the campaign's funds.

    Unfortunately, the campaign got a late start due directly to church leaders' heightened threat late in 2006 to excommunicate Stephen and son Ethan for voting repeatedly against those leaders who had harmed the Stone family, votes cast during normal "sustainings" when members of a congregation are invited to register their approval or disapproval of proposed or current leaders. The threat — which came a day after Alan decided to pursue the possibility of running for president, and which was issued in a way that was tantamount to serving notice of intent to proceed, in a room full of sullen-looking local leaders — so distracted and intruded into the work of the Stones that Stephen was forced to spend literally hundreds of hours preparing a defense for his and Ethan's imminent trial for apostasy. Given the many years of church persecution by that point, the mounds of evidence in Stephen and Ethan's defense required considerable reading, sifting, organizing, preparing, and writing. Meanwhile, the campaign season was soon in full swing, and the delay hampered Alan's launching of his campaign. He entered nine days after Fred Thompson, on September 13, 2007, and was promptly ignored by the state and national GOP for "entering too late."

    Alan was kept from national debates on that basis, and in the critical Iowa caucuses, his votes (which were twice those of Duncan Hunter) were ignored and unreported. His campaign was effectively over, as far as the media, the GOP, and most Americans — unaware of Alan's candidacy — were concerned. The unjust, undemocratic outcome can be laid at the feet, in large measure, of the LDS church and its baseless harassment of the Stones, including a disciplinary council for excommunication that never materialized.

    The psychological and mental interference by the church deeply undercut the family's efforts to assist Alan — though they did their utmost to deal with the debasing circumstances. Alan spent the next two months focusing his efforts on Texas before dropping out of the Republican primaries, unsuccessfully pursuing the Constitution Party's nomination in April (at the party's invitation), then running in the general election as largely a write-in candidate.

  23. Regarding political work beyond particular candidacies they assisted or Republican Party offices they held, the Stones, in 2003 and 2004, were severely hindered by the church as they promoted a nationwide effort led by Alan Keyes to keep the Ten Commandments and other long-accepted expressions of devotion to God in the public square. This effort began in the wake of the court-ordered removal of a popular Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court Building in the summer of 2003. Dr. Keyes publicly defended the center of the controversy, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was responsible for placing the monument in the judicial complex, and spoke at numerous rallies throughout the country in support of public displays of the Ten Commandments and other God-centered plaques, monuments, and expressions of America's religious heritage. Keyes based his position, which represented the view of most Americans, on the clear language of the First Amendment.

    Throughout the controversy, and during the year that followed, the Stones tenaciously supported and publicized Dr. Keyes' First Amendment effort until he announced his decision to run against Barack Obama for the Senate in August 2004. In their work to protect religious liberty, the family devoted a large portion of RenewAmerica's website space to fostering public awareness of the threat to First Amendment rights posed by activist judges; coordinated with other Christian-conservative organizations a nationwide campaign in defense of those rights; and helped publicize upcoming rallies and events featuring Dr. Keyes, of which there were many. The creative effort required considerable time and energy by the family — all the while the family was being harassed and persecuted by the LDS church for their political activism.

    The irony that, from the beginning, the single biggest adversary to the Stone family's righteous political work has been the LDS church was not lost on the family during this difficult defense of America's very foundations.

  24. The LDS church severely hindered a large public event the Stone family sponsored July 5, 2004, as part of their work to promote religious liberty — a "Family Freedom Fair" that centered on the theme "One Nation Under God." The family made extensive preparations under intolerable conditions created by the church to stage a major celebration of the First Amendment at the McKay Events Center in Orem, Utah. They presented several concurrent attractions — including live musical performances, both inside and outside the building; puppeteers; booths by a large number of conservative and family-based organizations; a panel discussion by national dignitaries in remembrance of Ronald Reagan, who had just died; workshops for children and youth; live radio interviews featuring among others Alan Osmond; special performances by the Osmonds — Second Generation; a press conference to promote a statewide "War on Pornography"; and a series of speeches by state and national leaders on the importance of freedom of religion.

    In addition to publicizing the event by radio and attractive fliers, the Stones entered a float — themed around God-ordained marriage — in Provo's Fourth of July parade (attended annually by over 200,000), and performed live music on the float behind outwalkers carrying large banners promoting the Fair.

    The event was the most comprehensive and costly undertaking by the Stones in their political activism, and they did their best to succeed while psychologically and mentally undermined and distracted by the church. The event drew only a modest crowd, and left the family with considerable indebtedness that took a major fundraiser (and some degree of forgiveness by the facility) to clear out.

  25. The church additionally harmed the Stone family's efforts in behalf of brain-damaged Terri Schindler Schiavo, who was ultimately euthanized in 2005 at the insistence of her adulterous husband — widely suspected to be the cause of her longtime injury — while her family's exhaustive efforts to keep her connected to a simple feeding tube were turned down. (She required no costly or elaborate "life support system," a fact few Americans realized.) The test case was the most publicized incident of forced euthanasia in modern U.S. history. Sadly, godless "medical ethicists" and other corrupt activists favoring euthanasia successfully manipulated the courts, the media, and public opinion to ensure Terri's "judicial murder."

    The Stone family, well-informed of this complex issue, fought hard to prevent Terri's unwarranted death — working with Alan Keyes and a representative of the Schindlers (Terri's family), and utilizing the communications platform enabled by RenewAmerica — to preserve her life by pursuing every option available. Terri died of court-ordered starvation March 31, 2005. The Stones were devastated.

    The unremitting psychological and mental impediments imposed on the Stone family by the church made this tragic outcome doubly difficult for them.

  26. The church's interminable persecution of the Stone family has resulted in three outrageous occasions when the family has been deliberately and arbitrarily excluded from the weddings of three family members. The sole reason? Voting against abusive leaders when invited to do so during routine sustainings — something the church's Law of Common Consent guarantees them the right to do, but which the church's First Presidency considers grounds for exclusion from church temples, where only the most "acceptable" marriages are performed (and where most active members aspire to be married).

    Doctrinally, this disregard by the governing leadership for the God-given "Law of Common Consent" amounts to serious apostasy and transgression, and throws the whole church into confusion. It also, understandably enough, insulates leaders from any accountability to the membership — despite the fact the law is obviously intended to ensure proper "order" in the church by subjecting leaders periodically to free and open evaluation by those voting. The law is clearly meant to keep current leaders on their toes, as well as ensure that new leaders are held to the same scrutiny.

    The church's 1907 "Address to the World," cited earlier, argues that the church cannot be considered a "menace" as long as it requires its leaders — the president of the church included — to be voted upon freely and regularly by the membership without any intimidation. Take away this right, or treat it punitively as the church now does, and the church can indeed be considered a menace for its exceptional authoritarianism, cultishness, and control over members' minds, hearts, and choices.

    Being unfairly barred from the weddings of three family members has been the single most painful and unacceptable abuse the Stone family has been made to suffer in this protracted litany of cruel psychological and mental mistreatment by the church. It suggests the church's outward focus on "families" is little more than public relations designed to erase the world's memory of Mormon polygamy. Else why the obvious self-contradiction between rhetoric and reality regarding the importance of families?

    Stephen Stone, we should add, was barred from the first two weddings referred to solely for his negative votes. He was barred from the third because he'd been excommunicated by that time — as a result of seeking to resolve this whole longstanding controversy between the Stone family and the church so he might, in good conscience, be able to "sustain his leaders" and thus attend the wedding.

    For this good-faith effort, he was punished with the church's ultimate penalty: eternal damnation, in the church's view.
____________________

*Witnessed firsthand by the author.
Signed,

Stephen Stone
President, RenewAmerica

December 10, 2012
[Note: The above article was significantly updated and improved Dec. 12 to include a few additional links, some clarifying text, a handful of corrections, and an improved graphic. Of particular importance are two links to analysis of the LDS church's 1907 "Address to the World" at A Mormon Story, online. Those links can be accessed separately here and here. The article was also updated Dec. 28 to include a link regarding the church's claim that its leaders are called of God and inspired of Him.]


STEPHEN STONE, RA PRESIDENT — As the gay agenda rolls forth unchecked in fulfillment of its published goals and tactics — dragging Western Civilization down more predictably than the Muslim Brotherhood is likely ever to do — rational Americans need to come to grips with one of the most damnable frauds in the world's history: the belief that there is such a thing as "being gay."... (more)
© Stephen Stone

 


They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. —Isaiah 40:31