Does Smith’s extensive ‘rap-sheet’ including his arrest, trial and likely conviction for money digging, treason, attempted murder and bank fraud comport with being a prophet of God?
STATE OF NEW YORK VS JOSEPH SMITH
“Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman, who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person and an imposter.”
Prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826.
Prisoner examined: says that he came from the town of Palmyra and had been at the house of Josiah Stowel in Bainbridge most of time since; had small part of time been employed by said Stowel on his farm and going to school. That he had a certain stone which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth were; that he professed to tell in this manner where gold mines were a distance underground, and had looked for Mr. Stowel several times, and had informed him where he could find these treasures, and Mr. Stowel had been engaged in digging for them. That at Palmyra he pretended to tell by looking at this stone where coined money was buried in Pennsylvania, and while at Palmyra had frequently ascertained in that way where lost property was of various kinds; that he had occasionally been in the habit of looking through this stone to find lost property for three years, but of late had pretty much given it up on account of its injuring his health.”
Copy of fees below:
The court record shows that Joseph Smith was involved in magic practices at the same time he was preparing himself to receive the plates for the Book of Mormon.
It is interesting to note that in the court record Joseph Smith confessed that “for three years” before 1826 he had used a stone placed in his hat to find treasures or lost property.
This means that in 1823, three years after he claims an angelic visitation and the same year he says he found the gold plates (September 22, 1823) he was still engaged in treasure hunting.
Before this discovery, LDS historian Francis W. Kirkham, couldn’t bring himself to believe that Smith was an other dishonorable con man. That he cheated people out of their money with assurances that he would find buried treasure using a peep stone in a hat.
Kirkham wrote, “If such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him…. How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been the superstitious fraud which ‘the pages from a book’ declared he confessed to being?”
A New Witness for Christ in America,
vol. 1, pp. 3, 85‐87 and pp. 486‐87
The late Hugh Nibley, perhaps the most prominent Mormon apologist ever stated,“…if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith.”
If the court record could be established it would be “the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered.”12
Well, Hugh, it was, and it is!
FairMormon suggests the proceedings did not constitute a trial, but rather more of a “preliminary hearing” where the accused is bound over for trial at a later date, and this may very well be the case.
This is why I said, ‘likely convicted,’ because the jury is still out. Although I am not sure it matters.
The LDS Church has not been forthcoming with the publication of a full and truthful history of this event. Their records would make the assessment more certain. Perhaps another example of Boyd Packer’s aphorism that, “some truths are not very useful.”
There is evidence that Justice Neely found Joseph Smith “guilty” of being a “disorderly person,” and that the judge could have immediately sentenced him to “sixty days” in the “Bridewell House of Correction, at hard labor,” but instead he bound him over to be tried by three justices at a later date.13
It may well be that Smith then left the jurisdiction, which was probably fine with the court, as the scoundrel was gone.
We have the following:
“And therefore, the Court finds the Defendant guilty. Costs: Warrant, l9c. Complaint upon oath, 251/2 c. Seven witnesses, 871/2 c. Recognizances, 25 c. Mittimus, 19 c. Recognizances of witnesses, 75 c. Subpoena, 18 c.—$2.68.”14
Further, On March 8, 1842, Justice Joel K. Noble, who acquitted Joseph Smith of some charges brought against him in 1830, wrote a letter in which he spoke of Joseph Smith’s “first trial” — i.e., the case before Justice Neely. According to Justice Noble, Smith “was condemned” at that time.
The seven known witnesses to the trial stated:
- Benton: tried and condemned … designedly allowed to escape
- Cowdery: honorably acquitted
- Noble: was condemned, took leg bail (escaped)
- Marshall: guilty?
- Tuttle: guilty?
- Purple: discharged
- Constable De Zeng: not a trial
I am not sure it matters, my best guess is there is about a 50/50 chance that there was some sanction. I feel that because of his age he was told to, “get out of town and don’t come back.”
Regarding Joseph Smith’s ‘money digging.’ There are only three explanations:
- God gave Joseph Smith the power to see treasures in his stone.
- Smith had a vivid imagination and the ability to convince other people and perhaps himself that he saw real treasure in his stone.
- Smith deliberately sought to mislead and defraud others.
Historians employed by the LDS Church have been excommunicated, but more commonly threatened with sanctions if they publish an objective history rather than a faith promoting rendition. Packer goes so far as to refer to objective histories of Mormonism as “disease germs.”4
Regarding Joseph’s efficacy in finding “buried treasure,” and Smith’s claim he could see anything when looking at the peep stone in his hat is contradicted by his statement to his father-in-law Isaac Hale as evidenced by the sworn statement of Peter Ingersoll, replicated below:
“In the month of August 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, PA from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money — pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.” Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false.”
“He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into magic stones. Mr. Hale told Joseph, if he would move to Pennsylvania and work for a living, he would assist him in getting into business. Joseph acceded to this proposition. I then returned with Joseph and his wife to Manchester.
One circumstance occurred on the road, worthy of notice, and I believe this is the only instance where Jo ever exhibited true Yankee wit. On our journey to Pennsylvania, we could not make the exact change at the toll gate near Ithaca. Joseph told the gate tender that he would “hand” him the toll on his return, as he was coming back in a few days. On our return, Joseph tendered to him 25 cents, the toll being 12 1/2. He did not recognize Smith, so he accordingly gave him back the 12 1/2 c. After we had passed the gate, I asked him if he did not agree to pay double gateage on our return? “No,”said he, “I agreed to hand it to him, and I did, but he handed it back again.”
“Joseph told me on his return that he intended to keep the promise which he had made to his father-in-law; “but,” said he, “it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose, as they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money.” And in fact, it was as he predicted. They urged him, day after day, to resume his old practice of looking in the stone. — He seemed much perplexed as to the course he should pursue. In this dilemma, he made me his confident (sic) and told me what daily transpired in the family of Smiths. One day he came and greeted me with a joyful countenance. — Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language: “As I was passing, yesterday, across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found, in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home.
On my entering the house, I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the golden Bible.
To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly, I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refused to see it, and left the room.”
“Now, said Jo, ‘I have got the d[amne]d fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.’ Notwithstanding, he told me he had no such book, and believed there never was any such book, yet, he told me that he went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his golden Bible. But, as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself, of clapboards, and put it into a pillowcase, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case.
In the fall of 1827, Joseph wanted to go to Pennsylvania. His brother-in-law had come to assist him in moving, but he was out of money. He wished to borrow the money of me, and he presented Mr. Hale as security. I told him in case he could obtain assistance from no other source, I would let him have some money. Joseph then went to Palmyra; and, said he, “I there met that d[am]n fool, Martin Harris, and told him that I had a command to ask the first honest man I met with, for fifty dollars in money, and he would let me have it. I saw at once,” said Joe, “that it took his notion, for he promptly gave me the fifty.”
Joseph thought this sum was sufficient to bear his expenses to Pennsylvania. So, he immediately started off, and since that time I have not been much in his society. While the Smiths were living at Waterloo, William visited my neighborhood, and upon my inquiry how they came on, he replied, “we do better there than here; we were too well known here to do much.” 5
I certify, that on this 9th day of December 1833, personally appeared before me the above-named Peter Ingersoll, to me known, and made oath, according to law, to the truth of the above statement.6
Joseph’s ‘rap sheet’ below comes from an article by Diane Tingen in Mormonism Schism.
1830 – New York
Smith reportedly, performed an exorcism in Colesville and was again tried as a disorderly person. He was acquitted. The account of the exorcism is in this article about the Knight family can be found on LDS.org. The article on LDS.org which also discussed the trial has been removed by the Church.
1837 – Kirtland, Ohio
In May 1837, Grandison Newell accused Joseph Smith of plotting to murder him. Joseph was eventually acquitted. Did he intend to have Newell killed? We don’t know, but the testimony of church leaders and employees revealed just how seriously the Prophet’s followers took his supposed off-hand remarks.
In either case, statements by two apostles and other close associates no doubt undermined Joseph Smith’s reputation. Wilbur Denton and Sidney Rigdon both testified that the alleged conspiracy took place in April or May of 1835. Orson Hyde testified that when rumors began circulating that Newell might sue the floundering Kirtland Safety Society, Joseph Smith “seemed much excited and declared that Newell should be put out of the way, or where the crows could not find him,” and he said that “destroying Newell would be justifiable in the slight of God, that it was the will of God, etc.”
1838 – Kirtland, Ohio
After a warrant was issued for Smith’s arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri under cover of nightfall on January 12th, 1838. This incident had to do with the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, and with charges of fraud and illegal banking, including the illegal purchase of Monroe Bank in Michigan by Smith and Rigdon. Oliver Cowdery was named the Monroe bank’s Vice-President which saw him move to Michigan to run that bank.
1838 – Missouri
On November 1, 1838, the Mormons surrendered to 2,500 state troops and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state. Joseph Smith was court-martialed and nearly executed for treason, but militiaman Alexander Doniphan, who was also Joseph Smith’s attorney, probably saved Joseph’s life by insisting that he was a civilian.
Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies, including Danite commander Sampson Avard, turned state’s evidence against him. Joseph Smith and five others, including Sidney Rigdon, were charged with “overt acts of treason,” and transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri to await trial.
In 1839, Smith tried to escape at least twice during his four-month imprisonment. On April 6, 1839, on their way to a different jail after their grand jury hearing, he finally escaped after bribing the sheriff.
As was his custom Joseph Smith, and the Mormons fled the state, this time moving to Illinois.
The Kirtland Bank was created in the State of Ohio by Joseph Smith who named himself Cashier and Sidney Rigdon as President. However, because the venture was under-funded, a Banking Charter was refused.
Not to be deterred, Joseph and Sidney declared it an “Anti-Bank,” and depositors were lured in because Smith told his followers that as a Prophet of God, the Bank could never fail.
Warren Parrish, who had been an officer in the bank and had apostatized from the Church, made this statement:
“I have listened to him [i.e., Smith] with feelings of no ordinary kind, when he declared that the AUDIBLE VOICE OF GOD, INSTRUCTED HIM TO ESTABLISH A BANKING-ANTI BANKING INSTITUTION, who like Aaron’s rod SHALL SWALLOW UP ALL OTHER BANKS (the Bank of Monroe excepted,) and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.”7
However, problems arose when merchants and businessmen began to redeem the ‘anti-banks’ notes. Joseph knew the Bank did not have enough cash to cover the paper and that an old-fashioned, “Bank Run”would ruin the bank. Smith and Rigdon quickly resigned as officers and the bank did in fact fail.
“If the bank needed a final blow to shatter what little prestige it still held among the faithful, it received it when Warren Parrish resigned as cashier, left the church, and began openly to describe the banking methods of the prophet. Parrish was later accused of absconding with $25,000, [$500,000 today] but if he took the sum it must have been in WORTHLESS BANK NOTES since that amount of specie in the vaults would have saved the bank”,8
Joseph Smith’s delusions resulted in many faithful Mormons losing their life savings and their faith. Many people, who were given worthless bank notes in exchange for gold and silver deposits, convinced that Joseph had intended to swindle them from the outset, attacked him verbally and threatened him physically. Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland under the cloak of darkness January 1838 to escape bank depositors.
“The toppling of the Kirtland bank loosed a hornets’ nest. Creditors swarmed in upon Joseph armed with threats and warrants. He was terribly in debt. There is no way of knowing exactly how much he and his leading elders had ‘borrowed’ since the loyal Mormons left no itemized account of their claims. But the local non-Mormon creditors whom he could not repay brought a series of suits against the prophet which the Geauga county court duly recorded. These records tell a story of trouble that would have demolished the prestige and broken the spirit of a lesser man.
Thirteen suits were brought against him between June 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totaling nearly $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits, only six were settled out of court foabout $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven, the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default.
Joseph had many additional debts that never resulted in court action. Some years later he compiled a list of still outstanding Kirtland loans, which amounted to more than $33,000. If one adds to these the two great loans of $30,000 and $60,000 borrowed in New York and Buffalo in 1836, it would seem that the Mormon leaders owed to non-Mormon individuals and firms well over $150,000.”9
Joseph Smith had fraudulently “capitalized his ‘Mormon bank‘ at $4 million. A huge sum of capital, when at the time, in the entire state of Ohio, the total capitalization of all banks was $9 1/3 million. Setting himself and those who trusted him up for failure.
To illustrate the extent of Smith’s dishonesty, casual observers wanting to see the Mormon banks assets, inside of the vault were shown many boxes “filled” with gold and silver coin. However, the boxes were first filled with sand, and then a thin layer of coin laid on top.
This is fraud, not just mismanagement.
“Lining the shelves of the bank vault… were many boxes, each marked $1,000. Actually, these boxes were filled with ‘sand, lead, old iron, stone, and combustibles’ but each had a top layer of bright fifty cent silver coins.”10
Joseph and Sidney Rigdon were tried in court for violating the law, were found guilty and fined $1,000, a huge penalty in those days.
As with many of Smith’s misadventures, this illegal bank began with Joseph Smith receiving a revelation from GOD himself. Wilford Woodruff, who later became the fourth President of the LDS church, confirmed that Joseph claimed to have had a revelation concerning the bank.
“During the summer of 1837, Joseph spent much of his time away from Kirtland to avoid these lawsuits…. Apostles Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and John F. Boynton were rejected and disfellowshipped. “The blame for the bank failure fell heavily on Joseph. He had issued a formal invitation to his followers to take stock in the venture, and the institution had been organized outside the law. Heber C. Kimball later was to comment that at this moment, ‘there were not twenty persons on earth that would declare that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.’ Six of the apostles came out in open rebellion.
…Joseph first established the bank by revelation and then had to admit later that because of poor management and other internal and external conditions the project was a failure.”11
FairMormon claims Joseph Smith was never convicted of a crime. Their website quotes Joseph Bentley, a lawyer who worked on the Joseph Smith Papers as saying:
“Joseph Smith was persecuted in courts of law as much as anyone I know. But he was never found guilty of any crime, and his name cannot be tarnished in that way.”
This is, of course, a out and out lie and another example of just how low FairMormon will stoop to protect the image of Smith. I just provided one example above of where he Smith was found guilty along with Sidney Rigdon for banking, “irregularities.’ There also absolutely no question that Joseph was arrested, and appeared before Judge Albert Neely.
There was another case where there is even stronger evidence that Joseph was convicted of the crime of assault. On August 1, 1843, Smith assaulted Hancock County tax collector Walter Bagby after he called Smith a liar.
An enraged Joseph Smith, according to witnesses, got out of the buggy in which he was riding, and either struck Bagby multiple times, or attempted to choked him.
William Clayton, one of Joseph Smith’s scribes was present and recorded what happened:
“P.M. went to Temple at four o clock J and Backenstos came up to the Temple. J began to tell me concerning a tax title which Hamilton had on me of the city lots he had got a Sheriffs Deed. J. told me to inquire of Bagby concerning it. While we were talking Bagby came up & J asked him concerning it. he denied all knowledge of it. J. told him that he had always been ready to pay all taxes when called upon & he did not think it good behavior to sell his lots when he was willing to pay the taxes whenever called upon. Bagby said he had done more for J. than for any other man in the County. J. reiterated that he had abused the citizens here and was always doing so. Bagby then told him he was a liar at which J. got out of his Buggy. When Bagby saw him get out he ran to pick up a stone to through at which J. was so enraged that he followed him & struck him two or three times. Esqr. Wells stepped between them & succeeded in getting them apart and J. told him to assess the fine and he was willing to pay it. J. rode down to Whitney’s & got the fine assessed & then returned to the political meeting. Bagby staid a while muttering that J. was a coward &c.”
This event was also recorded, in part, twelve days later in Joseph Smith’s journal which states:
“Mr. [Walter] Bagby. of Cartharge [sic]. who has exercised more despotic power over the inhibtants [sics] of this city & than any despot of the Eastern country. I met. he gave me some abusive language took up a stone to throw at me I siezd him by the throat to choke him off.”
The History of the Church recounts the incident, “Bagby called me a liar and picked up a stone to throw at me, which so enraged me that I followed him a few steps, and struck him two or three times. Esquire Daniel H. Wells stepped between us and succeeded in separating us…. I rode down to Alderman Whitney . . . he imposed a fine which I paid.” 12
Joseph Smith had an extensive number of ‘interactions‘ with the criminal justice system. His problems with the law were extensive from his first disorderly person/fraud trial in 1826 to his second arrest for treason and inciting a riot in 1844 in which he died in a gun fight.
March 1826 Disorderly person
June 1830 Disorderly person
June 1830 Disorderly person
February 1837 Illegal banking
June 1837 Conspiracy to Murder
January 1838 Banking fraud
August 10, 1838 Threatening Judge
Nov. 12, 1838 Treason
August 1842 Conspiracy to Murder
June 6, 1843 Treason
May 1844 Perjury
May 1844 Fornication & Adultery
June 11, 1844 Inciting a riot
June 24, 1844 Treason
These are just criminal matters involving Smith, there were also many many civil matters in which he was the defendant.
6 Th. P. Baldwin, Judge of Wayne County Court
7 Painesville Republican, February 22, 1838, page 297
8Fawn M. Brodie No Man Knows My History, page 198
9 Fawn M. Brodie No Man Knows My History, page 198
10C.G. Webb (W. Wyl, Mormon Portraits, 1886, p 36.
11 Joseph Smith As An Administrator,” M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, pp. 80, 81
12Hugh Nibley, The Mythmakers p. 142.
13Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials, by Wesley P. Walters, p. 109, reprinted in the Westminster Theological Journal.
14 (Fraser’s Magazine, February 1873, pp. 229-30).
15 From, “Occult to Cult with Joseph Smith, Jr.,” Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials, p. 123.
16 Boyd K. Packer, “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect,” 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259‐271
17 Affidavit of Wilson Law, June 20, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. II,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, February 22, 1845, 1
18Affidavit of John W. Putnam, August 13, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. IV,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, March 15, 1845.
19Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1845, 1, 6.
20Ayatullah Sayyid Imam RuhallaMusawi Khomeini, ‘Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist’, Jan 21, 1970.
213 Nephi 20: 15-17, 20
223 Nephi 21: 14-15, 18, 21
FairMormon’s Comment No. 12
Joseph Smith’s Money-Digging, Magic, and Criminal Behavior
FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA and SPIN – THE AUTHOR, OR THE AUTHOR’S SOURCE, IS PROVIDING INFORMATION OR IDEAS IN A SLANTED WAY IN ORDER TO INSTILL A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE OR RESPONSE IN THE READER
The author implies Joseph’s “almost certain conviction” despite the lack of evidence supporting this conclusion.”
OK, I made three assertions:
1. That Joseph Smith was a money-digger:
I think FairMormon will stipulate that Smith was engaged in the occupation of ‘money-digger.’ He earned more than fourteen dollars a month from this scam, more than workers on the Erie Canal were paid.
Remember, this took place before Smith’s claim to have found the ‘Gold Plates,’ and his methodology was the same he later employed in the translation of the Book of Mormon – placing a magic rock, he had found while digging a well, in his hat and then putting his head in that hat.
Scrying or money-digging is an inherently dishonest occupation, evidenced by the fact he never found anything. He took money from people lacking the wit to realize that if he had ‘the gift’ to see treasure below the ground, he would be engaged in unearthing the gold and silver for himself rather than being in their employ for a pittance. It is analogous to the modern-day snake-oil salesmen selling their courses on ‘How to become a millionaire by buying real estate with no money down,’ on infomercials in the wee hours of the morning or the professors of the ‘prosperity gospel,’ who ask the poor to give what little they have to receive a greater temporal reward.
John Oliver has provided a video on this predatory practice featuring many Mormon leaders:
There is compelling evidence that Joseph knew full well that he was engaged in a dishonest pursuit. Peter Ingersoll, a friend, and neighbor of Smith’s in an affidavit swears that Smith admitted privately to him he (Smith) could see nothing.
Peter further describes in sworn testimony, the heart-wrenching reunion of Smith and his father-in-law after eloping with his daughter, Emma:
“I was hired by Joseph Smith Jr. to go to Pennsylvania to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife was then. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s place [Isaac Hale, Emma’s father], in Harmony, PA, from which place he had taken his wife.
“His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: ‘You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money–pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.’
“Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor ever could, and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones.”
2. Smith was arrested and tried because of the activity.
STATE OF NEW YORK VS JOSEPH SMITH
Warrant issued upon written complaint upon oath of Peter G. Bridgeman,
who informed that one Joseph Smith of Bainbridge was a disorderly person
and an imposter. The prisoner brought before Court March 20, 1826.
3. He was almost certainly convicted.
As I stated in my letter, Justice Neely used the word “guilty.” Judge Neely could have sentenced him to “sixty days” in the “Bridewell House of Correction, at hard labor,” but instead bound him over to be tried by three justices at a later date.
I agree that this sounds like what today’s we might call a preliminary hearing. However, the record shows the judge spoke of guilt.
Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y. Court Trials,
by Wesley P. Walters, p. 109,
reprinted in the
Westminster Theological Journal.
In my letter I also presented the list of costs:
“And therefore, the Court finds the Defendant guilty. Costs: Warrant, l9c. Complaint upon oath, 251/2 c. Seven witnesses, 871/2 c. Recognizances, 25 c. Mittimus, 19 c. Recognizances of witnesses, 75 c. Subpoena, 18 c.—$2.68.”
Further and perhaps more damning, Justice Noble’s comment that Smith “was condemned,” referencing this trial.
PLEASE NOTE: My interrogative was, ‘Joseph Smith’s Money-Digging, Magic, and Criminal Behavior’ yet FairMormon has ignored the Magic and Occult connection or his extensive ‘Rap Sheet.’
Smith’s Final Arrest for Treason
Joseph Smith was a very ambitious man. Shortly before his death in 1844 he established a theocratic-political system which he called the Council of 50. and on April 11th, 1844 he anointed himself King and Ruler over all the earth with unlimited civil, military and ecclesiastical power.
This body met in Nauvoo seventeen times before he was killed, and at least one of those sub rosa meetings, Smith prophesied the entire overthrow of the United States within a few years.
Smith saw himself as reigning over all of America and eventually the entire world. Like so many things Joseph Smith did it was done covertly and undercover and those who were given knowledge of it or who was promised to become one of the ‘Princes’ were sworn to secrecy under penalty of death.
Wilson Law, the brother of William Law, the former second councilor in the First Presidency and the highest ranking Major General in the Nauvoo Legion, stated that Smith’s intended to:
“Set the laws at defiance; for the Government, he said, was corrupt, and ought to be overthrown, and he would do it, for he could get help plenty from the Indians, for he had communication with them all the time, and they were ready. And deponent further saith that he verily believes that said Joseph Smith is and has been, conspiring with the Indians against this Government, he having agents out among the Indians, passing to and fro ever since last summer; and that a number of Indians have come to Nauvoo, at different times, last winter and spring, and held secret councils with said Smith. And further, that Hyrum Smith, last winter, said to the affiant, that this Government must be changed; for it did not suit them, and they could never keep the revelations or build up the kingdom under the present form of Government.”
Affidavit of Wilson Law, June 20, 1844, published in
“Letters to Gov. Ford−No. II,” Alton Telegraph
& Democratic Review, February 22, 1845, 1
John W. Putnam. Putnam, a resident of Bear Creek, Illinois, a community not far from Nauvoo, stated on August 13, 1844:
“That he saw in the lodge at Nauvoo, a number of arms, and he understood that there were plenty of arms in Nauvoo. He further states that the Mormons are endeavoring to seduce the Indian tribes from their allegiance to the United States, and engage them to take up the hatchet against the people of the United States, and that white men are to lead them on to the conflict.”
He further states that “he has understood that Lyman Wight has already departed [to Texas] to stir up the savages and prepare them for the final struggle with the whites. He also understood that cannon had been received in Nauvoo, sent there in hogsheads of sugar, and also fire arms (sic) and ammunition. He further states … that in conjunction with the Indians [the Mormon plan is] to attack the people and subvert the government and establish Mormonism throughout the United States. He further states that…. the Indians had twice held their Powwows or war dances in Nauvoo.”
Affidavit of John W. Putnam, August 13, 1844,
published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. IV,” Alton
Telegraph & Democratic Review, March 15, 1845.
Smith’s determined goal of a theocratic-political empire is evident in the pretentious ‘Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To all the Kings of the World’which the Council of the Twelve (who are also all members of the Council of Fifty), addressed: “To all the Kings of the World; To the President of the United States of America; To the Governors of the several States; And to the Rulers and Peoples of all Nations.”
Smitheven had the cheek to send a copy of this ‘proclamation’ to Her Majesty Queen Victoria.
The pronouncement warned world leaders: “You cannot…stand as idle and disinterested spectators of the scenes and events which are calculated in their very nature to reduce all nations and creeds to one political and religious standard, and thus put an end to Babel forms and names, and to strife and war.”
Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1845, 1, 6.
There is no evidence I am aware of that Her Majesty ever read Smith nonsense, but as most of Smith ‘Prophecies’ nothing ever came of it.
But is this not precisely the form of government militant Islam longs for today?
“Islamic government does not correspond to any of the existing forms of government… Islamic government is neither tyrannical nor absolute, but constitutional. It is not constitutional in the current sense of the word… It is constitutional in the sense that the rulers are subject to a certain set of conditions in governing and administering the country, conditions that are set forth in the Noble Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Most Noble Messenger (Imam). It is the laws and ordinances of Islam comprising this set of conditions that must be observed and practiced. Islamic government may therefore be defined as the rule of divine law over men.”
Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhallah Musawi Khomeini,
‘Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist’, Jan 21, 1970.
If you replaced the word Islam with Mormonism and the word Imam for LDS church President you have Joseph Smith’s un-American dystopian society.
Smith’s goal of world domination echoes the message of the Book of Mormon:
15. And I say unto you, that if the Gentiles do not repent after the blessing which they shall receive after they have scattered my people-
16. Then shall ye, who are a remnant of the house of Jacob, go forth among them; and ye shall be in the midst of them who shall be many; and ye shall be among them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he goeth through both treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
17. Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
20. And it shall come to pass, saith the Father, that the sword of my justice shall hang over them at that day; and except they repent it shall fall upon them, saith the Father, yea, even upon all the nations of the Gentiles.
3 Nephi 20: 15-17, 20
12 And my people who are a remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles, yea, in the midst of them as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep, who, if he go through both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.
14 Yea, wo be unto the Gentiles except they repent; for it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Father, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots;
15 And I will cut off the cities of thy land, and throw down all thy strongholds;
18 And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee; so will I destroy thy cities.
21 And I will execute vengeance and fury upon them, even as upon the heathen, such as they have not heard.
3 Nephi 21: 14-15, 18, 21
Brigham Young speaking as a member of the Council of the Fiftyon March 11th, 1845:
“The gentiles (sic) have rejected the Gospel; they have killed the Prophets and those who have not taken an active part in the murder all rejoice in it, and that is saying that they are willing the blood of the prophets should be shed. The gentiles (sic) have rejected the Gospel [And] we will sweep them out of existence.”
Council of 50 Minutes, 300
Treason has ever been deemed the highest crime which can be committed in civil society and in the past, has been visited with the deepest public resentment and the greatest of penalties – death.
Were Smith’s actions treasonous? Black’s Law Dictionary: defines treason as “the offense of attempting to overthrow the state to which one owes allegiance, either by making war against the state or by materially supporting its enemies.”
Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution reads:
“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”
Nonetheless, had Smith not been killed in the gunfight at Cartage jail, I think, with good representation, he would not unlikely have been convicted of treason. Treason is a very high bar, ‘levying war against them.’
But the Jig was certainly up for Joseph Smith and his stupid order to destroy the Expositorand call out the Nauvoo Legion was serious stuff. Even more damaging was the public exposure of Smith’s plural marriages which would have been very upsetting to many of the good citizens of his community; especially since teenage girls, some as young as 14 as well as married women were among his ‘brides,’
Had he not been executed by his neighbors, I suspect this time he would have spent a considerable amount of time in the penitentiary.
It is perhaps telling that I have been unable to find any apologists having commented on Smith’s accusations of treason. Content to believe that he was a lamb being led to the slaughter. Smith was far from an innocent victim of religious bigotry and to compare his death to that of the Savior is obscene.
This is the second time that FairMormon has accused me of ‘propaganda.” Sadly the nameless individual penning their apology is ignorant as to what propaganda is.
Therefore on the next page, I will take an aside and not just explain what propaganda is but also provide evidence that the Mormon Church is perhaps the most accomplished practitioner of it since the days of another Joseph named Goebbels.
Propaganda and Undue Influence in the LDS Church
Dr. Joseph Goebbels was the Propaganda Minister for Hitler’s Third Reich. An evil genius, he is still recognized today as the master of propaganda largely because his principles on the subject were tested, perfected, and practiced on millions of Germans during the Second World War.
His work as a propagandist largely facilitated Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. From then until his death, one day after Hitler’s, Goebbels used all media and communication and every level of education to further Nazi propagandistic aims. He was successful in instilling in the German people the belief that their leader was a veritable god and that the destiny of the German people was to the rule the world.
The following are the four essential principles that Goebbels’ formulated:
Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda
1. Avoid abstract ideas – appeal to the emotions.
2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. ‘The Big Lie.’
3. Give only one side of the argument.
4. Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification and constantly criticize your opponents.
Let’s examine each of the above relative to my writing as well as the Mormon Church’s raison d’etre:
1. Avoid Abstract Ideas – Appeal to the Emotions.
I would suggest that contrary to FairMormon’s accusation, I have confronted what are often conjectural Mormon claims with specific and concrete facts. I provided the opinions of both Mormon and Non-Mormon archaeologists. I provided specific examples of Biblical archaeological finds. I provided detailed references. To be entirely fair-minded I even discussed the questionable evidence of the ‘Nahom’ stone or alter. I did not make an emotional appeal to the reader.
Let’s examine the Mormon Church’s use of this principle of propaganda.
The Mormon theology is anything but abstract. Its essence can be summed up in a few sentences:
Jesus Christ is the Savior of this world and the Son of God, both He and His Father were once men. Christ’s Atonement allows mankind to be saved from their sins and return to live with God and their families forever after they do all they can doto earn their reward, and yes, even becoming a god themselves.
The Mormon Church is a restoration of Christ’s original Church as allegedly as it was organized in the Savior’s day.
Specific ordinances performed in the temple are also essential to salvation as is paying a full tithe to the Mormon church.
There is no Nicene or Apostle’s Creed; there is no Catechism, no complicated and detailed Westminster Confession of Faith.
But emotion is at the core of Mormonism. Every convert is given Moroni’s promise, read the book and look for that feeling, that burning in the bosom to confirm that it is not false.
Investigators and new members are the objects of “Love Bombing.” This term, if you are not familiar with it, is where a group consciously and purposely applies friendliness, acceptance, and ego-stroking to win people over to their organization or philosophy. It fits well ‘with every member a missionary’ but lacks sincerity and provides members with another box to check off on their road to Godhood, like doing your home teaching.
Thomas Monson, not realizing the foolishness of what he was saying, liked to tell a story about how when visiting a Latin America ward, he noticed that some members were wearing a white carnation. He asked the Bishop what was the meaning and was told that “We give our investigators and new members, a white carnation so the members will know that these are they that we must fellowship (until the next general conference).”
I wonder how they were treated after the general conference when the members were no longer under any compulsion to give them the time of day?
Joseph Smith and his successors realized that we are emotional beings more than we are rational beings.
‘Fast and testimony’ meetings are all about giving a free reign to emotion. The carefully crafted touching general conference talks read in somber tones from the teleprompters in an exquisitely controlled subdued environment push all the right emotive buttons.
“Epistemology,” is the way we come to know and understand things. The Bible encourages the believer to use reason along with faith. For instance, Isaiah 1:18 tell us that the Lord invites us to “reason together” with Him. Mormons see reason as almost detriment to true faith. Ifvanything a threat to it. Converts who have doubts are often told that they are having difficulty in accepting Mormonism because they are using “man’s reasoning.”
Faced with overwhelming, compelling evidence assailing the Church’s trust claims, whether it be the absence of archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon; DNA evidence showing the true origin of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas; or Joseph Smith’s immoral, dishonest and criminal behavior; Mormons will always retreat to their “feelings” that the Church is true.
2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. ‘The Big Lie.’ Anyone who has ever attended a Mormon ‘fast and testimony’ meeting will hear almost every testifier say, ‘I know the Church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, I know president (fill in the current president) is a prophet of God today.’
Little children before they know their alphabet will have their dim-witted mothers whisper those words in their ears as they stand on their little ‘tip-toes‘ to reach the microphone.
It’s the big lie just as Goebbels preached it. Hitler himself said in ‘Mein Kampf‘ that through its constant repetition, eventually, the masses will come to believe no one “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
With the big lie, there is always an absolute believability. The masses are still more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than intellectually or logically; in the nascent simplicity of their minds, they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, as they often tell little lies in small matters themselves.
We also have the likes of Dallin Oaks saying things like,“We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it.”
What better example of Goebbels gospel could one find?
3. Give Only One Side of the Argument
“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Hinckley’s avowal, ignores the fact that members presenting ‘the other side of the story’ have been summarily excommunicated and clearly does not comport with the Mormon reality and it never has. From the days of Joseph Smith thousands have lost their membership from William Law to Kate Kelly, some well-known most not, for voicing an alternative view.
Some of the church’s defensiveness is understandable, in the 19th-century church members, were driven from state to state, for many reasons, but they were often victims of religious discrimination and hatred.
That being said, the Church has always carefully controlled the information it makes available to their members let alone the outside world.
It is ironic that Hinckley would mouth such a statement. He personally wrote checks to Mark Hofmann to acquire and secret away documents he believed were genuine and embarrassing to the Church.
Joseph Fielding Smith tore out the 1832 contradictory first rendition account of Joseph Smith’s ‘first vision’ from Smith’s letterbook and hid it in his safe for decades.
I grew up in the Church, I taught the gospel doctrine class, I served in various callings as a high priest, yet in all that time I never discovered from any Church source that Joseph Smith had at least 33 wives, some as young as 14 and many concurrently married to other men. I had never heard Joseph was a money-digger and tried for being a con man who used a magic stone found in a well to translate the Book of Mormon.
So regardless of what the Church says today, these things were hidden from the members.
Everything that appears in church publications is carefully correlated to ensure that one consistent and sanitized version of history is presented.
The school texts approved for Utah schools present a one-sided and sanitized version of Mormon history and Utah history in particular. The Mountain Meadows massacre, one of the greatest atrocities in American history is barely mentioned.
In similitude to the academic world of Nazi Germany, professors at BYU and other Church institutions, as part of their employment contract, must agree not to teach or discuss anything in opposition to the official teachings and policies of the LDS Church. Any violation can and often has led to the termination of their employment.
I would contend that the Church always has and continues to adhere to Goebbels second principle of propaganda – giving only one side of the argument, one side of the story.
4. Pick out One Special “Enemy” for Special Vilification and Continuously Criticize Your Opponents
While the target keeps moving, there has always been a Mormon opponent deserving of deep criticism. In Joseph and Brigham day, it was the Gentiles (All viewed as members of the church of the devil), and, of course, the state and federal governments.
Since the days of the ERA to the present, the women’s rights movement has been on the receiving end of criticism, and recently the LGBTQ community has become the Church’s whipping boy. In August 2018 the Mormon church sent an email to the LDS members in Utah directing them to vote in opposition to the proposition legalizing the sale marijuana in that state.
One must wonder how the church can keep it’s tax-deductibility with their direct involvement in prop 8 and this latest political cause.
For Hitler it was the Jews, for the first 148 years of the LDS Church, it was Blacks.
The racist statements of the Mormon Prophets and Apostles from Brigham Young’s time until the Church’s politically driven about-face in 1978 have been singularly cruel and hateful.
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
Brigham Young, ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’ shared his view of our African American brothers and sisters:
“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is bestowed upon humanity. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race — that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed.”
Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet.’
of the Mormon Church, 1844-1877
Quotation from Journal of Discourses
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so.”
Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet.’
of the Mormon Church, 1863,
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110.
“Not only was Cain called to suffer, but because of his wickedness, he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him, and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures…. they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning.”
Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith,
The Way to Perfection, p. 101, 1935
During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Mormon apostles and other leaders continued to preach racist and discriminatory Mormon doctrines affecting persons of color.
Bruce R. McConkie taught that,“Negroes are not equal with other races” in spiritual matters and that this is God’s law, not man’s. Mark E. Petersen proclaimed that “people are born black because of their inadequate performance in the pre-existence. “
McConkie didn’t make his hurtful racist statement back in the 1830s, but at a time when men and women of good will in this country were marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. seeking equal human rights for ALL of God’s children. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, even human secularist leaders spoke up, but not Mormons.
Incidentally, when McConkie heard of the ‘revelation’ ending the ban, he wrote,“Forget everything that I have said.” Now there is a man with spine!
Bruce R. McConkie, “The New Revelation,” Priesthood, p. 132
While McConkie was a fool and a coward, I am actually with him here and would recommend forgetting anything this guy ever said about anything!
And sadly, it was not just LDS leaders whose silence was deafening but also the Mormon rank and file, yet we know that the connection between religion, civil rights, and social justice found within “local people of faith” who do most of the actual work of the civil rights movement.
I regret the several derogatory terms of racial bigotry and hatred expressed in the following direct quotes by the ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ of the Mormon Church, but it is essential to show the level of intense racism, hatred, and the abhorrent demeanor of, the leadership of this relatively young church.
Former Mormon Bishop, Lee B. Baker has assembled, derogatory terms describing African Americans used by the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in official publications, scriptures, doctrine, and training for decades:
“Nigger” (89 times), “Darky” (15 times), “Sambo” (25 times) and “Skin of Blackness” (110 times).
Mormonism, A Life Under False Pretenses, Lee B. Baker
These are the men who purport to commune with Jehovah.
Today homosexuals have replaced Blacks as enemy number one.
It is interesting to me that in 1977 roughly the same time as the Church relinquished its ban on Blacks in the priesthood, the Church began a stealthful campaign against LGBTQ Americans. That was the year when Utah became the second state in the country to ban gay marriage. The Church did not stop there they continued to lead anti-LGBTQ campaigns in at least 27 states over the next four decades.
It seems as well that the Mormon Church would rather let hate crimes go unprosecuted than let gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people get extra protection under the law.
The church came out against a hate-crime bill, authored by a Mormon Republican, no less. The bill, SB-107, would have defined a hate crime in Utah as a criminal offense committed because of an individual’s“ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
But the church argued that the bill would upset the “balance” Church leaders had called for. With the considerable pressure, the church brought to bear, Utah rejected bill SB-107 and passed limited hate-crime legislation removing all protected classes.
Many Mormons, as well as non-Mormons, view the recent harsh administrative policies devastating the lives of many LGBTQ members sadly with many tragic results as un-Christlike.
This new policy calls for mandatory church discipline for LGBTQ individuals married to those of the same gender. It also bars the children of LGBTQ parents from baptism and other saving ordinances until they are 18 years of age, and then, in a rule that would have fit well within the ‘Nuremburg Laws’ of Nazi Germany – only if they openly disavow their parents’ relationship.
If the church chooses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, they have every ‘legal’ right at present to do so. But I have a problem with the children of gay or lesbian parents also being barred from membership in the church in the face of our Lord’s admonition to, “suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not.”
Wendy Montgomery, a co-founder of the Mama Dragons, a group of Mormon mothers with gay children, reported that she had been told 32 young LGBTQ Mormons have recently died by their hand.
While the families who have suffered these great losses requested privacy, given the tragedy of suicide and the alarm this report has raised in the LDS LGBTQ community, the Deseret News asked experts for insight and solutions. These experts explained that it’s all about support. Parents, friends and religious congregations could help prevent suicides by thinking carefully about what they say and do and by welcoming, accepting and supporting LGBTQ people.
The Utah Attorney General has commented that statistics show that“… Suicide is the number one cause of death of Utah children ages 10-17.”
This comes as no surprise when more LGBTQ youth find themselves disenfranchised even disowned by zealous religious parents, who now feel more compelled than ever to choose between their child and their church.
Many active church members, gay and straight, young and old, see this uncharitable, unkind and unloving move for what it is: another unabashed rejection of LGBTQ members.
And the cost in human terms is great. The evidentiary research was done by the Family Acceptance Project which tells us that children who experience high levels of rejection are:
More than eight times as likely to attempt suicide
Nearly six times as likely to report high levels of depression
More than three times as likely to use illegal drugs
More than three times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STIs
Hateful rhetoric has profound costs. Political science professor Benjamin Knoll discusses the link between Mormonism and teen suicide in his paper,“Youth Suicide Rates and Mormon Religious Context: An Additional Empirical Analysis,”
Knoll reports that youth in the 15-19 age group who live in states with heavy Mormon populations are at higher risk for suicide. As Knoll put it,“These are objectively small numbers, but it means that (again, controlling for other factors) youth suicides are twice as high in states with the highest levels of Mormon residents compared to states with the lowest levels of Mormon residents.”
This study shows definitively that youth who live in areas with higher Mormon populations are at a greater risk for suicide.
Boyd K. Packer, who called himself an Apostle of Jesus Christproudly repeated the story of his conversation with a young missionary in the field:
“While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.
After patient encouragement, he blurted out, ‘I hit my companion.’
‘Oh, is that all,’ I said in great relief.
‘But I floored him,” he said.
After learning a little more [his companion was gay], my response was
‘Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t have been well for [me] a General Authority to solve the problem that way.’’
What a Christ-like solution, I am sure that that young gay man’s parents would appreciate how their son was treated while trying to do his best for the Church.
I welcome your comments: