I wish I could help them. I wish I could help them understand that not everything negative they read "proves" the Book of Mormon false, that Joseph Smith Jr was a lecher, and so forth. I wish I could open up their eyes to the incredible information in the Book of Mormon. I wish I had more knowledge - and the power of convincing people to believe and know the truth. Below is one of my recent attempts to share.
[name of poster]: Why would any loving personal god allow truth to be mixed up with lies and pollution to the extent that "his children aren't even aware and have no method of waking up" except randomly a few may wake up? That is an unreasonable definition of a "loving god" at least for me.
How exactly are we supposed to discover mysteries for ourselves if we can't tell truth from the lies we are swimming in? How do we wake up? Are we supposed to rely on god's special messengers? If so why aren't we all special messengers so we don't have to be confused by special messengers who are murderers in their hearts? In your assertions (in my unlearned opinion) the result is god is either a trickster who mixes truth and error for fun, an absentee watchmaker, or not at home. But maybe I am too blinded by the error I am swimming in to see another alternative.You have a lot of good questions.
I think we are given inklings that things are not right, but we ignore them because we think the church is right and we are wrong.
I think if we read the BofM, doing all we can to ignore everything we have been taught it says and means, that we will probably understand God better.
Some things that come to mind:
Lehi was not a "special messenger" even though we are taught at church that he was a duly appointed prophet of God, legally put into the hierarchy of his day. In fact, he was an apostate (which is probably why two of his sons kept wanting to kill him). The people at Jerusalem were righteous, according to Laman and Lemuel. "Our father hath judged them."
I see a parallel to us. The LDS people are righteous. The NOMs have judged them.
"Why have you polluted the holy church of God?" Moroni asks us who believe the book (e.g. "Mormons"). He calls us wicked, perverse, and stiffnecked, and asks, "Why have ye built up churches to yourselves to get gain?" "Why have ye transfigured the holy word of God, that ye might bring damnation upon your souls?"
He says we walk in the pride of our hearts. Mentions very fine apparel, envying, strifes, malice, persecutions - that every one of our churches have become polluted because of the pride of our hearts.
I have been quoting from Mormon 8, and in verse 35, Moroni tells us he's speaking to us as if we were present because he has seen us. Us. Mormons. Us. All of the offshoots that hold the BofM to be a sacred book.
If we read that as it says, we see that our church is polluted, greedy, and changing God's words. We, according to the book as I read it, are about to lose the gospel because we have rejected the truth, we have rejected the fulness.
It is a scathing rebuke. So is some of what Nephi says when he notes that in our day people will say, "All is well in Zion. ... Zion prospereth." He knew full well it wouldn't be Zion, but that we would consider ourselves as such. (2 Nephi 28)
I honestly believe that the answers to your questions lie in the book that tells us (all who are offshoots of JS) we are not as good as we think we are, and answers lie in realizing that there is no middle-man between you and God. False prophets in sheep's clothing, even if they think they are not, are never going to give us true answers. They don't know the true answers - or feel threatened by the true answers.
And, in regards to the sanitized idea that God will never speak to a man outside the duly organized hierarchy: Jesus was considered apostate. Samuel the Lamanite was a total outsider. Abinadi was not part of the religious hierarchy. Abraham looks to me like he started his own church. Joseph Smith was outside that church (the last "duly authorized" one being what became the Catholic church, near as I can discover, and all other Christian religions being offshoots of that church).
Anyway, the answers are inside of us, if we can cut out the jibber-jabber. We each are connected to God, and it doesn't matter if someone disagrees with our path.
The actual right each person possesses is the right to live and believe as they think God (however they determine who or what s/he is) would have them live and believe, and no more. I should not be telling you what to think or be. Neither should a church - or any individual or entity be telling you that. The idea that there is a man who has all the answers has caused a tremendous amount of damage, both physical and spiritual/emotional.
I don't know if I have answered your questions, but that is the best I can do.