Monday, January 11, 2016

Wimmer Returns to the Capitol

Since leaving politics in 2012, I have been asked numerous times when I am coming back. There is no doubt that I have a passion for public policy, and for mixing it up in the political arena.  Regardless of party affiliation, I have the highest respect for those who put their name and reputation out there for the public to judge.

Each time I am asked if I am coming back into politics I have mixed feelings. While I deeply cherished my time representing the people of Utah, I am not overwhelmingly in love with all aspects of the person I became when doing so. I was brash at times, and I was puffed up with the image of my own importance; I loved being in the spotlight.  While I am not too eager to revisit that person, I do indeed have a desire to serve, and I still have a heart for those in political office. 

Anyone who knows me, knows that in the past couple of years I have changed dramatically as a person. While I used to think the most important fight was within the political arena, I have since had a change of heart. I am now fighting for a different kingdom...The kingdom of God.

In 2013 my life was forever changed as I came to an understanding of who Jesus Christ was in my life. The change was so dramatic, that today my daily focus centers around how I can best serve and honor God.  2 Corinthians 5:17 seems to describe this change quite well when it says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” I love talking about Jesus, the Bible, theology, and the change that can come to a surrendered life in Christ; it is my consuming passion. I also enjoy politics, an arena that may be viewed as anathema to a deeply held spiritual worldview, but I would disagree.

I was recently in Washington D.C. where I heard a man refer to elected officials as “precious politicians.” This was not in a comedy night club, and the speaker was not engaged in raillery. He was a religious leader, one to whom I have tremendous respect, and he was serious.  I was in D.C. at the request of a Christian ministry called Capitol Ministries. Capitol Ministries was founded in 1996 by former professional basketball player Ralph Drollinger who has a passion for politicians and the Lord. 

Ralph and his wife Danielle hold a weekly Bible study in Washington D.C. for members of Congress. They pass out copies of Bible studies to those who cannot attend.  The ministry has grown exponentially; currently there are ministries set up in over 40 state capitols, as well as several different national capitols throughout the world.

Ralph had contacted me about the possibility of starting a chapter of Capitol Ministries here in Utah, and for a variety of reasons I thought he was nutty for asking. But as I have learned over the past few years, God gets what God wants. As much as I tried to avoid the idea, I could not deny the call from God to minister to the elected officials in Utah’s Capitol, so I am now the State Director for Utah Capitol Ministries.  What does this all mean and what does it look like? I do not really know at this point, but I am stepping out in faith, and hope to be a blessing to the elected senators and representatives of Utah.

Like Paul who was a tent maker and a minister, I will continue my work as a police officer in order to support my ministry. I have been praying for all 104 members of the state legislature, and I will continue to do so every single day.  I have talked to some members of leadership from both houses, and so far the reception has been very warm and inviting. I plan to meet with the rest of the leaders from both parties to discuss my ministry and vision.

Will I be running Bible studies for the legislature this year? Not likely. There is simply too much to do, and a very short amount of time in which to do it. I will however have a small presence at the capitol, as I plan to be there at least once per week this session. I will hand out prayer request forms for any legislator who has a specific need, and I will be passing out short Bible studies that are applicable to elected officials. Mostly, I will just be there for fellowship and prayer, and to offer love and support as law makers do the public's business.
-Carl Wimmer

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Do we all worship the same God?

“You shall have no other gods before me…. “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…” (Ex. 20:3).

God is a jealous God, He does not fancy nor appreciate idolatry. Yet the painful reality is, many people today including many self-labeled Christians, whether knowingly or not, are engaged in idol worship.  This is a tough subject to discuss amongst polite company, because there is so much at risk when discussing certain aspects of life; a wayward comment, a statement taken out of context, or something said in haste can cause a lifetime of hurt feelings. An abundance of tender care must be used when approaching topics of religious belief, but approach them we must, due to the critical importance of “getting God right.”

            A Google search for idolatry reveals several definitions such as: “excessive devotion to something,” and “extreme admiration, love or reverence for something or someone that is not God.” In reality, an idol can be anything that takes priority over the one true God.

Many people unwittingly replace God with the idol of their choice. Whether it is something dark and insidious like pornography, and drug addiction, or something much nobler, such as a career, spouse, children or family; anything that a person loves or gives devotion to more than God is an idol.

While I could write an entire post about this type of idolatry, and I may someday, I will defer. I wish to focus on another type of idolatry, one that is just as nefarious, and one that happens to be taking the world by storm; it is the idolatry known as syncretism.

Recently, Wheaton Christian College made headlines when they suspended a professor for claiming that the God of Islam and the God of Christianity are one and the same. Quickly the syncretic media scrambled to castigate Wheaton as intolerant, bigoted and exclusionary[1], and social media became inundated by religious pluralists joining hands in unity against what they viewed as mean-spirited divisiveness by Wheaton College.  

Make no mistake, tolerance and unity are wonderful things, and in today’s world it is no surprise that people are grasping for ideas which will bring peace amongst the various people groups. The sad irony however, is that in their quest for peace, humanist Christians and pluralists are deforming the only thing that can bring lasting peace: Jesus Christ.

 While respect should indeed be shown for people and their various belief systems, Christians should not distort the reality of who God is in order to accomplish a false sense of unity.  The yearning for unification goes too far when it turns into the second form of idolatry---making God into our own desired image.

When people make God into something He is not, they are telling Him they do not love Him as He really is. For example, when someone makes God all about love and mercy, but dismiss His judgement and wrath, they are taking parts from the true God, and forging a false god into their own desired liking. They are making an idol.

When people say “all Gods are the same,” or “we all worship the same God,” they are merging the one true God with false gods and again are creating an idol. But does it really matter? Let’s consider the practical aspect for a moment. Imagine the response you would get from your spouse, if you continually promoted the idea that “all wives are the same.” No, they are not. Your wife is a special gift from God, given to you and you alone, they are not all the same.  Saying “all gods are the same,” is far worse than the wife comparison however, because while there are in fact “other wives” that exist, there is only one God!

Dr. Bryan Hurlbutt says, “According to the Bible, getting Jesus (God) right is quite literally a matter of life and death. In fact, in an important Pauline text and in a text from the pen of the apostle John, the importance of an accurate Christology is emphasized well beyond its cognitive impact.”[2]

Getting God right is indeed a matter of eternal life and death, and while maintaining love and respect for Islam and other non-Christian religions, let there be no doubt—we do not worship the same God.

 John 1:1 says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (my emphasis).  John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

These two verses clearly tell us two critical things: First, “the Word” that became flesh is Jesus Christ. This human incarnation is why we celebrate Christmas. Secondly, “The Word was God.” Jesus IS God. Jesus is not the un-divine, subservient Prophet to Allah as viewed by Islam. Jesus is not lesser in any way to The Father, rather, Jesus is one-third of the biblical, triune God; Jesus is God in the flesh.

But what about those who say the Old Testament God is worshipped by all “religions of the book?” This, of course, is referring to the Pentateuch or first five books of Moses which is religious canon for Christians, Jews and to some extent, Muslims. This idea insinuates that Jesus is an afterthought, or at least a completely different entity, having no relation to the Old Testament God. A cursory read of the Bible in context refutes this absurdity.

In Exodus 3, God calls Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. When Moses asks how he should refer to God, he is told, “Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you” (v.14b). Moses was talking to “I AM.”

Fifteen-hundred years later, when Jesus was talking to the Jews in John chapter 8, He told them, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day,”(v.56) to which the Jews began to mock him saying, “you are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” So Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM” (v. 58).

The Jews recognized that Jesus was literally saying that He is the “I AM” from the Old Testament, the “I AM” who spoke to Moses, the God of Abraham. The Jews viewed this as blasphemy worthy of death, so they picked up stones to kill Jesus. While the Bible clearly shows that Jesus is part of the Old Testament triune God, Muslims and other non-Christian religions do not worship Jesus as God, therefore, Christians and non-Christians categorically do not worship the same God.

The other side of the same coin is the post-modern mantra that says, “It does not matter what you believe, there are many roads that lead to God.” This may sound magnanimous and noble, but it is patently false.

The message of Jesus Christ is certainly open to all people everywhere, but if a person does not believe in the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, they are not a Christian, and have once again engaged in idol worship by creating a morphed, unrecognizable god. Jesus Himself refutes the idea that there are “many roads to heaven.” In John 14:6 he says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Period. End sentence.

This is offensive to people who are not Christians, but as Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved it is the power of God.”  It is not the Christian’s place to apologize for Jesus Christ, it is our job to know who He is, and to preach the good news. The message of Christ is the only message that can bring peace to a broken world, yet people run from the truth, hide the truth, and worse yet, they distort the truth.

Romans 3:23 says that all of us are sinners, and fall short of the glory of God. We are in a fallen, broken world to which the penalty is spiritual death (Rom. 6:23). Spiritual death would have been the end for man due to our sinful behavior, but God…

“But God showed His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God did not leave us in our lowly state, He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for all who would believe on His name alone (John 1:12, John 3:16).

Jesus Christ suffered intensely, and sacrificed way too much for anyone to try to meld him into a pluralistic God no different than Allah, Krishna, or millions of other false gods. To hold God as anything less, is the height of disrespect and idolatry.



Hurlbutt, Bryan F. Tasty Jesus: Liberating Christ from the power of our predilections. Eugene, OR: Resource publications, 2013.


All Biblical references are from the English Standard Version, ESV Study Bible. Copyright 2001 by Crossway publishing, all rights reserved.

[1]. Dahleen Glanton, “Religious bigotry is a dangerous weapon,” Chicago Tribune, December 21, 2015, accessed December 29, 2015,
[2]. Bryan F. Hurlbutt, Tasty Jesus: Liberating Christ from the power of our predilections. (Eugene, OR: Resource publications, 2013), 2.

Monday, December 28, 2015

A Cabin Christmas to Remember

I craved a retreat from the usual holiday bustle and so I made a proposal to the family. I offered the opportunity to escape to a cabin in the woods for an unforgettable experience, but in exchange they would have to give up their "wants" for Christmas. Without hesitation, they were all in!

When I set out to rent a cabin, I had just two expectations. First, it had to be in a location where there would be plenty of snow. Second, there had to be a Christmas Eve candlelight service nearby, because that is our favorite tradition of all. Duck Creek Village, which sits 30 miles up the mountain from Cedar City, Utah, had both, and it proved to be an amazing location for our family get-away!

Books and Christmas socks are another tradition for our family when the holiday arrives, and so I packed each family member a "cabin survival bag" which included both.

We had plenty of fun activities to do indoors...

...and we enjoyed the beautiful snow outdoors.

We cut down a tree, decorated, and ate delicious foods.

The Christmas Eve service at Duck Creek Community Church was a blessing. There's nothing quite like worshipping the Savior at Christmas time!

Everything about our cabin retreat was perfect and cozy...

...even when the power went out one morning and we had to cook our breakfast on top of the wood fireplace. It was an adventure that added to our old-fashioned Christmas theme.

As I mentioned, the kids gave up their "wants" for Christmas in order to keep things simple and financially manageable. They each received gifts from each other, and a small stocking full of creative surprises from Santa. Nothing more. And, they were perfectly content; imagine that! (I've decided that no "wants" means no lists, which means no expectations, therefore no let-downs. It's a brilliant maneuver!)

We met up with Pastor James Bowen the day after Christmas, rode his snowmobiles and then invited him to our cabin for a leftover feast. It was interesting to learn about his ministry in Duck Creek.

We spent four and a half days on the mountain and cherished every minute. We ended our stay with Sunday services at the beautiful snow-covered church.

I can't even begin to describe how special this Christmas was for our family! Escaping the world for a few days meant no distractions, uninterrupted family time, and a more meaningful focus on Christ as we celebrated His holy birth. It was just what I had envisioned.

We will forever cherish the memories of our old-fashioned cabin Christmas at Duck Creek Village.


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Role of The LDS Church in Utah's Politics

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints just passed a pro-LGBT piece of legislation in Utah. 

Does that sound odd to you? It does to me, but it is essentially true.

For years, there have been those in the Utah legislature who have pushed for statewide legislation that would prevent businesses and landlords from prohibiting homosexuals from working at their business or renting a home from them; they called it a “statewide anti-discrimination” bill.

And for years the legislation failed.

Year after year the bill sponsor would bring the bill forward simply to have it die before it got off the ground, but this year was different. This year the most powerful entity in the state of Utah, the LDS Church, endorsed the legislation.

This year the legislation passed.

Having served in the Utah legislature, I have been asked several times what role the LDS Church really plays when it comes to Utah politics, and until now I have remained largely silent. While in the legislature I was a faithful member of the LDS Church; to speak of things that might bring embarrassment to the church would have been unwise, not to mention political suicide. Today, the issue is very topical with the recent passage of the pro-LGBT legislation, and I feel it is time to break the silence and provide some insight.

Carl with LDS Apostle L. Tom Perry; 2011 at Dulles Airport

A common question from people is whether or not the LDS Church leadership gets whatever they want when it comes to Utah politics, and the answer is a resounding, “Yes; if the LDS Church wants something in Utah politics, they get it.

To be absolutely fair, they rarely want things badly enough to engage openly.  The church is very selective regarding the legislation they engage.  This is due to the fact that because most of Utah’s legislators are LDS members, the majority of legislation already aligns with the LDS Church position without their influence.  During the three terms I served in the Utah House of Representatives, I was only approached twice by the LDS lobbyists for a vote.  

John Taylor and Bill Evans are full-time employees of the LDS Church and their job is to monitor the Utah Government, and to act as the paid lobbyists on behalf of the church. They regularly meet with legislators behind closed doors, (as do other lobbyists, this is nothing nefarious or unusual,) to push the agenda of their employer.

When the LDS lobbyists contact a legislator, the conversation goes like this:

We are here to discuss such-and-such bill. We have received our orders “directly from the top,” and we want you to vote for this bill.

They mention that they received their orders “from the top,” so that the legislator would know unequivocally that the LDS Church’s First Presidency sent them.

The first piece of legislation they contacted me about dealt with alcohol. For better or worse, it is an unarguable fact that legislation regarding alcohol never gets passed without the express consent of the LDS Church. They control all changes to the state alcohol laws.

In 2008, SB 211 was proposed to remove “flavored malt beverages” from grocery stores and place them for sale in state liquor stores only. The day the bill was to be heard in the House of Representatives, I was summoned to the hall, where I was met by the LDS lobbyists. They gave me the “from the top” introduction, and then asked me to support the bill. I told them no. Although not a drinker, I simply could not bring myself to take a profit-producing legal product out of the hands of private business owners and give it to the state to sell. It was wrong then, and it is wrong now.

Keep in mind, that in 2008 I was a faithful Mormon with a current temple recommend, and had only recently been released from my LDS leadership position as an Elders Quorum President. To tell my church leaders “no,” was anathema to how I was raised. As I turned to walk back into the chambers, one of the lobbyists said to me, “Don’t worry, voting against us will not affect your church membership status,” I was relieved.

SB 211 passed.

Learning how powerful the LDS Church was politically, several pro-life legislators and I set up a meeting in my office with the two LDS Church lobbyists. Our intention was to recruit the LDS Church in the battle for the right-to-life.  For weeks we had worked on legislation that would prove to make Utah the leader in the fight against abortion.  We presented our idea and expressed our eagerness to have the LDS church help in the fight to pass a bill that had failed the year before. They turned us down flat, telling us that “the First Presidency has made it clear to them that they will not engage on abortion issues.” 

We asked them why they had come out so strongly on alcohol use, but would not engage in the fight for the life of a baby. And in what can only be described as a brief, unguarded moment, the head lobbyist expressed his confusion as to the apparent misappropriation of priorities, but they stuck to their guns. 

Then came 2011; the year my rose colored glasses regarding the LDS Church got scratched a bit.

HB116 was an extremely controversial bill dealing with illegal immigration and proposed issuing state worker cards to illegal immigrants. For at least two weeks prior to the final passage of HB116, the two church lobbyists practically lived in the back halls of the state capitol and in the office of house leadership. I was vocally opposed to the legislation, but was still contacted repeatedly by both lobbyists who attempted to change my opposition. The calls became frequent enough from the LDS Lobbyists, that I stopped taking them.

What bothered me most was when my local ecclesiastical leader contacted me and attempted to persuade me to vote for the bill as well. When I asked him, “Who from the Church headquarters had asked you to contact me?” he simply confirmed that he had been asked, but would not say by whom. 

The night HB116 was debated for final passage was insane. There was intensity I had never felt before or after on the house floor. It was the intensity that comes only from political bullying, and it killed me to know that this time the “bully” was my own church.

I was approached by a younger representative who was on the verge of tears. He expressed to me that he had just gotten out of a “PPI meeting” and asked if I had had mine yet.  I knew what he meant and I was sorry for him. 

A legitimate “PPI” or “Personal Priesthood Interview” is conducted within the confines of the LDS Church. It is an ecclesiastical meeting between an LDS leader and a male member under their “authority.” When I was an Elders Quorum President, I held PPI’s with the elders under my charge.  A PPI is used to check on the spiritual welfare of the man being interviewed, and to make sure they are on the “straight and narrow.”  But that is not what this legislator meant…

What he had just experienced was an intense, closed-door meeting with select members of house leadership and the LDS Church lobbyists who made it abundantly clear that when HB116 came up for a vote, he was to support the bill, period.

Sometimes, if the legislator felt strongly enough about the legislation, they would allow him to vote against it, but ONLY after the bill had the necessary votes recorded to ensure passage.  This was the deal this particular representative was under, and both he and I knew it. He was clearly shaken and expressed that he had no idea that his “church would do this kind of thing.” I hurt for him.

House leadership was split on HB116, so when I saw a member of house leadership who I knew was opposed to the bill walk onto the house floor, I went up to him and engaged him in conversation. The following is our word-for-word conversation:

Me: Hey, (name of House leader) how much of what is going on tonight regarding HB116 has to do with the LDS church?

Him: All of it; I hate this.

Me: It’s going to pass isn’t it?

Him: Yes, and in fact if the vote is close, I have to vote for it, I have no choice.”

Me: You had a PPI?

Him: Yep…(walks away).

HB116 passed as the LDS Church lobbyists looked on from the gallery.

I was not in the legislature this year, but the look and feel of the passing of HB116 and the current non-discrimination bill are quite the same. One can only guess how many legislators had “PPI’s” before the vote on the church-endorsed LGBT legislation, but there is no doubt in my mind, that as legislators read this blog, one or more of them will know precisely what I am talking about.

So, what role does the LDS Church really play when it comes to Utah politics? From my experience, it all depends on how badly the church wants a specific piece of legislation passed.  


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Jesus Paid it All!

"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6

A few months back, I was challenged by a dear friend to share my beliefs, rather than tear others down for theirs. It is never my intention to make others feel this way. I pray that this message is received not as an attack, but as a comparison on how I once believed and how I now believe.

I once believed that my salvation was determined through judgement of my works. I believed that I could only receive everlasting life in the arms of our Father if I earned it. ( 3 Nephi 27:13-16, Third Article of Faith and 2 Nephi 25:23.) After studying the New Testament and discovering it to be the Word of God, I no longer believe this way. Allow me to explain...
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent NOT his Son into the world TO CONDEMN the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

We are all sinners. Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Sin results in spiritual death that alienates us from God and will last an eternity: Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, it can’t be earned: Romans 3:24 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”

When Jesus died on the cross He paid sin's penalty. Romans 5:8 "God [demonstrates] His love for us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us!"

The only condition is that we must believe in Him: Romans 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth [resulting in] righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made [resulting in] salvation.”

We are not justified by our works: Ephesians 2:8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Gal. 2:21, “I do not nullify the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the Law [works], then Christ died needlessly.” Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

The law is not for justification, but rather to provide us knowledge of sin:  Romans 3:20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Gal. 3:24 “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.”

The Bible teaches us that although we are not saved BY our good works, we are saved FOR doing  good works on His behalf. Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

Accepting Jesus Christ into your life results in a changed life: 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”

This new creation as a believer in Christ inevitably results in a life of good works: Titus 2:14 “[Jesus Christ] gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Galatians 5:22 "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

A lack of works is a sign of dead faith: James 2:17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”

We are not judged by our works for salvation, but rather through our faith in Him: Romans 10:4 “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.”

Why did Christ come to earth? Christ came to pay the price of our sins on the cross! This free gift of grace is not given to everyone, only to those who accept it and believe on Him.

It is honorable when a church congregation is service-oriented. However, we must recognize teachings that state a person’s salvation is dependent upon works; this is not what Christ taught, and it greatly diminishes His work on the cross.

For me, the weight of sin has been lifted and I am now free in Christ! This knowledge has changed my selfish desire to “earn” salvation into a pure desire to serve God for His glory alone. There is joy and freedom in knowing that there is nothing I can personally do to gain eternal life with the Father. The rat race of endless works is over; I've thrown those "filthy rags" away. The checklist of striving to become perfect is no longer. The fear of failure is gone. The accountability to man is a thing of the past because I now believe what the Bible teaches: that Christ is the only mediator between me and God. My forgiveness is complete; my sins are paid for and there is no condemnation in Him.

Our Father sees past my imperfection, my failures, and my filth, and loves me deeply. He does the same for the beggar on the street, the prostitute who cries herself to sleep, and the drunkard who stumbles time and time again. This knowledge has greatly changed the way I look at others and encourages me to serve them without judgment and with pure love.  God never intended our works to be done out of selfish motivation to gain eternal life, but rather out of gratitude and love for Him giving us eternal life.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple--that Jesus came to die for our sins so that we will inherit eternal life with God the Father. There is no other condition but to believe.

"Oh praise the One who paid my debt!"


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Using Critical Thinking in Faith

"Discernment is needed in every area of our lives, but the path to discernment is through critical thinking." (Consider, Dr. Lew Weider and Dr. Ben Gutierrez; p. 18)

Apostasy is a hot topic in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact it is so hot that in recent LDS biannual conferences there is an increased focus on those who leave the faith. The leaders of the church are aware of the high attrition rate and are are working overtime at retaining the members they have. Members are heavily cautioned about using non-LDS internet sites that speak of Joseph Smith, LDS Church history, or anything else in regards to the church or its teachings because they may be filled with half-truths or falsehoods. They are also warned that spiritual damage can occur when one begins to go down the path of researching from anything other than LDS approved sources which are carefully crafted by church apologists and historians then proofread and given a stamp of approval by LDS church leaders.
The critical thinker in me asks, "Why would any church discourage critical thinking outside its traditional belief system or attempt to control the information used by its members?" 

Followers of Christ are commanded to test everything we hear against God's Word in order to know the truthfulness of it. 1 Thessalonians 5:21, says, "Prove [test] all things and hold fast to that which is good." 1 John 4:1 says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try [test] the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world." In the beginning of Revelations 2, Christ commends the church in Ephesus for it's doctrinal vigilance.

It is essential to test everything we are taught so that we do not become like children, "tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive," (Ephesians 4:14.)  Part of testing is to discover what it is that we just don't know.

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.” --Donald Rumsfeld

Carl often reminds me that many people simply "do not know what they do not know." They have developed their belief system through a lifetime of religious traditions and have never honestly tested the truthfulness of it. This is blind, unchallenged faith. I know exactly what he means; for years, I would study out my faith with the preconceived notion that what I was taught as a Mormon was absolute truth. Therefore, anything contrary to my beliefs were tossed aside, and anyone who disagreed with my beliefs was pitied because they did not understand what I knew "beyond a shadow of a doubt" to be true.

Before Carl and I moved to Gunnison, I didn't just accept all the good things I heard about the town. Instead, I was on the internet researching everything I could about the community, its people, medical services, stores, restaurants, parks, churches, recreational opportunities, etc.... I wanted to know if it would be a good place to raise our kids.  We drove around the town and visited with a few people. We weighed the advantages with the disadvantages. We learned as much as we could before we committed to the move, knowing that it was a very important decision, a life-changing decision that we were making. Does this mean I didn't use prayer or faith in this decision? Absolutely not, that was actually a huge part of it all. But it wasn't the only part.

Now, if I'm going to go through all that effort to find a place to reside temporarily on this earth, why in the heck would I not make at least the same amount of effort to research where I'll be residing for eternity?

We use critical thinking in all aspects of our lives, so why would we not use it to test our Christian belief system--the very system in which our salvation is dependent upon? Why do we choose to blindly adhere to tradition and pretend to know what we really do not know? 

The verb "test" is certainly not passive. It requires action. It requires critical thinking. A person must ask questions and seek answers. They must set aside presuppositions--something they believe to be true, but have not studied it out for themselves--and honestly search for truth. They must be willing to listen to all sides of an argument, even if its difficult to hear and challenges their faith. A person must find out what it is that they just don't know. 

You would never be a juror who ignored some or all of the evidence in an important trial. Instead, you would pay close attention to both sides of the argument, no matter how disturbing the details are. You would carefully weigh all of the information and evidence you are given, and you would attempt to comprehend the facts. Why would you risk your eternal salvation by not being willing to use this same method of critical thinking? 

"If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed." --J. Reuben Clark

I have quickly learned that LDS family and friends will not talk to me about their faith, nor will they ask about mine. A part of this has to do with my in-your-face approach I attempted right after leaving the church, (I don't recommend that approach, by the way,) but a larger part has to do with fear. Let's face it, we often fear the unknown.  But, does God want our fears to hinder our relationship with him? Of course not! We have been commanded to test our belief system. After all, truth cannot be "harmed by investigation."  

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: But fools despise wisdom and instruction," (Proverbs 1:7.) God equipped us with awesome thinking caps for a purpose. He asks us to use them to continually test everything we are taught.

“The invitation to trust the Lord does not relieve us from the responsibility to know for ourselves. This is more than an opportunity; it is an obligation---and it is one of the reasons we were sent to earth. Latter-day Saints are not asked to blindly accept everything they hear. We are encouraged to think and discover truth for ourselves. We are expected to ponder, to search, to evaluate, and thereby to come to a personal knowledge of the truth.” --Dieter F. Uchtdorf

There you have it folks, permission from LDS church leadership to begin an investigation to discover truth for yourself! Set aside everything you think you know about God, Jesus, and religion, gather information from several sources, grab your scriptures, and get to work! Ask God to provide clarity because He is not the author of confusion (1 Corinth 14:33.) Ask God to speak to your mind because your heart can be deceived (Jeremiah 17:9.) Read your Bible because it is God's Word, (Can the Bible be Trusted?)

And finally, stop judging, and stop showing pity for those who are currently researching, or have done research and no longer believe in the LDS Church or its leaders. You will never understand, unless you take the time to listen and learn for yourself.