“Why didn’t the Church teach me this stuff?”: "I’ve not been overly patient when newly-minted apostates complain that the Church hasn’t taught them about Joseph Smith practicing polygamy, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, accounts of the First Vision beyond the one canonized in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith’s using a stone in a hat during the translation of the Book of Mormon, and so forth.
First of all, many of these things have been taught by the Church. The four items above, for example, are, respectively, (1) obviously implicit in Doctrine and Covenants 132 (what on earth is it talking about in the early 1830s, if not plural marriage?), (2) discussed in Seminary and Institute manuals, (3) published in Church magazines and in books printed and distributed by the Church’s wholly-owned publishing company, and (4) mentioned in at least one General Conference talk that I can think of just off the top of my head.
I don’t fault people for not being scholars. I’ve publicly lamented the fact that the Saints by and large don’t know their scriptures and their history better than they do, but I know and readily admit that many such members of the Church are far better Saints and disciples of Christ than I am. What I object to, though, is when certain people loudly abandon their faith, claiming that the Church kept such things from them. This simply isn’t true."
'via Blog this'
I like Dan Peterson's blog. I find interesting information there. He is insightful. We mostly agree on politics. But on this issue, I just think he is totally wrong. I endorse Bill Reel's comments in this thread.
The church obscured a number of topics from the view of the average church member, including Fannie Alger, the secret practice of polygamy, polyandry, peep stones, and treasure seeking. As Reel says, you could learn about these topics, but not in any official church publication. The church was happy for church members not to learn about them. Not only that, but church members were generally warded off critical sources exploring these topics as anti-Mormon literature analogous to "spiritual pornography." Of course there are faithful members who write on these topics, too, but it is very unlikely you would ever come across the information without a church critic introducing you to the topic.
I wouldn't say the failure to deal with these issues is a "lie," but it's certainly misleading. In the legal profession, the model rules of professional conduct prohibit applicants not only from lying, but also from "fail[ing] to disclose a fact necessary to correct a misapprehension. . ." The Gospel Principles manual uses a similar definition.
The church has been failing to disclose a number of facts necessary to correct misapprehension on the part of members. I suspect this happens in part because people in the church may not be aware of the real history, although, certainly there are historians creating church curriculum who have decided to include all the faith-promoting stories and skip all of the troubling ones.
I think another reason we skip certain topics is we just don't have good answers to the questions.
I'm glad about recent church efforts to deal with these topics openly--although honestly, I think the internet and social media have forced the issue. Members that feel like they were deceived because they didn't know about these topics earlier are justified in their feelings. Telling all the faith-promoting parts of church history and skipping all the parts that detract from that story is not being totally honest. Even a lawyer could tell you that.