On September 9, 2014 the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a letter to all Priesthood leaders. The letter instructed Priesthood leaders to send doubting or inquisitive members to a series of essays recently published in the Gospel Topics section of The following is an excerpt from the letter:

"The purpose of the Gospel Topics section is to provide accurate and transparent information on Church history and doctrine within the framework of faith…when Church members have questions regarding Church history and doctrine, possibly arising when detractors spread misinformation and doubt, you may want to direct their attention to these resources."

In 2013, the current Church historian, Elder Steven E. Snow of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy, said the following in regards to this effort:

"I think in the past there was a tendency to keep a lot of the records [of the Church] closed or at least not give access to information. But the world has changed in the last generation-with the access to information on the internet, we can't continue that pattern; I think we need to continue to be more open."

The move toward transparency and discussion can be seen in the Joseph Smith Papers project and other sites maintained by Church members such as Joseph Smith's Polygamy. Many of the essays discuss controversial events or topics that haven't previously been addressed by the governing body of the church. Some of these topics include the practice of Polygamy by the church's founder Joseph Smith, the previous ban that prevented African males from receiving the Priesthood, Book of Mormon translation and DNA research, and the Book of Abraham translation. The efforts to be more open with the complete history of the Church will lead to a better understanding of the founding events for both members and investigators.

The complete list of essays is also available on the Mormon Newsroom site and the Gospel Topics Essays home page.

The Essays

Click on the links below to read the entire essay on