Section Four

Chapter 24

Is it not alarming that several witnesses to the Book of Mormon confessed that they did not see the plates with their natural eyes, but with “visions of the mind?”

threeFrom my perspective, the strongest proof of the truthfulness of the foundational claims of the church is the testimony of the witnesses, particularly the three witnesses, Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris and David Whitmer.

The following statements by the three are very convincing:

Martin Harris (1875):

“The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been willing to have perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true.”

David Whitmer (1881):

“I have never at any time, denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do now again affirm the truth of all my statement[s], as then made and published.”

Oliver Cowdery (1848):

“I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim, or as it is called by the book, Holy Interpreters. I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was transcribed. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the Holy Interpreters. That book is true.”

I also feel that there is no convincing evidence that these three individuals participated in a fraud, rather the evidence points to the fact that, at least at one time, they all honestly believed that Joseph was a true prophet and that the Book of Mormon is what it purports to be.

Nevertheless, there are a few problems.

I think we need to exercise some caution in judging the witnesses’ 1829 testimony by the rational worldview that most hold today. The three witnesses, like many, perhaps most people in the unsophisticated society of nineteenth-century rural America, viewed second sight, magic, spells, witches, and treasure digging as objective reality, and if anything, it drew them together as a society.

Where did the printed testimony of the ‘Three Witnesses’ Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, and David Whitmer come from? Did they write their own personal witness statements?

No!

It is believed that Joseph Smith composed the statement for them to sign. This appears to be evident since, at that time, he knew none of the witnesses had ever seen the plates with their natural eyes, a fact every one of them admitted at one point. Joseph’s wording however deliberately gives the impression that they had.

Stretching or twisting the truth seems to be no problem for Joseph Smith when it suited his purposes. There is clear evidence he altered other revelations and made numerous retroactive changes to the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. According to Apostle William E. McLellin, “the testimony of the Twelve Apostles contained in the Introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants was a ‘base forgery.’ David Whitmer himself, one of the Three Witnesses, alleged the same thing.”

Notwithstanding, their unsigned witness statement, carefully crafted by Joseph Smith does say they saw the gold plates as well as an angel. They attested to the same at other times that their experience with the plates and the angel were real in the sense that we would view something as ‘real’ today.

The problem is, there is also clear evidence that Cowdery, Harris, and Whitmer, made numerous contradictory statements and admissions, in which they also said that they saw these things only in a ‘visionary state,’ often after being prepared and probably coached by Joseph Smith.

The issue becomes, given this incongruity, which is true?

There is so much damning evidence that the Book of Mormon is nothing more than a work of 19th-century fiction – the lack of archaeological support, the anachronisms, the contrary DNA evidence, the rampant plagiarism, and the almost laughable means of translation – A magical peep stone in a top hat. 

This coupled with Smith’s history of money digging, his many run-ins with the law. His many false and failed prophesies, his inaccurate translations of the Egyptian Papyri, and the Kinderhook Plates and most of all his dishonesty and immoral behavior. Lying to Emma and the Saints about his polygamy and polyandry. Convincing teenage girls, some as young as 14, by the use of coercive psychological techniques to marry and have sex with him, must give anyone with an ounce of sense pause. 

Were it not for the testimony of these three men I think any reasonable person would be ready to proclaim that the LDS church is false, that Joseph Smith was a narcissistic con-man who used his superior intellect and charisma to acquire wealth, power, and most of all sex. 

If the testimony of these supposed witnesses is also highly suspect it must surely put the final nail in the Mormon coffin.

But there is Larry, Curly and Moe! – David, Martin, and Oliver.

I think we need to examine each of the three participants carefully, honestly and yes, judiciously, for I believe on them rests the veracity of the whole Mormon narrative.


Martin Harris

Background and Life Experiences

Things were going well for Martin Harris by 1827. He had built a comfy life for himself and his wife Lucy in Palmyra, New York. By all accounts, he was a hard worker and the half section of land he had acquired and worked over the previous 14 years, had made him, by rural New York standards, very close to being a wealthy man.

At age 26, Martin married Lucy Harris, his first cousin, and the couple had five children, three of whom lived to be adults.

But now at age 45, he received a visit from Lucy Mack Smith, the mother of Joseph Smith, Jr., that led to a series of events that would rock his world.

Lucy Smith had come to tell Martin that her son Joseph had finally obtained golden plates from an angel, with a message inscribed in an ancient language that would change the world. Lucy Mack Smith asked Martin if he would visit Joseph. He agreed and thus began their relationship. Joseph Smith and Martin appeared to become friends, at least Martin saw Joseph as his friend hiring Joseph as a day laborer on his farm. Joseph may have viewed Martin as a tool (and I mean that in every sense of the word) as compared to Smith, he was wealthy but none too bright.

Martin likely harbored some doubts about Joseph’s story, undoubtedly stoked by his wife, Lucy. But Martin was also a religious man, as well as a very superstitious one. Indeed some labeled him a “visionary fanatic.” This perspective explains Martin’s willingness to, not just consider, but accept the supernatural buying hook, line and sinker Joseph’s claims of angels and ancient buried golden plates. Martin was acting as a scribe for a time and, of course, he also journeyed to New York City in Joseph’s behalf seeking a reassurance from Professor Anthon, a well-known scholar that the plates were authentic. But Martin’s greatest contribution to the work was as a benefactor.

It is interesting that regardless of Professor Anthon’s caution to Martin, he still proceeded with his, “investment.”

Dr. Anthon’s account of his meeting with Martin Harris is certainly disimilar to the Church’s version of what transpired.

Professor Anthon described Martin’s visit as follows:

New York, Feb. 17, 1834

Dear Sir –

I received this morning your favor of the 9th instant, and lose no time in making a reply. The whole story about my having pronounced the Mormonite inscription to be “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics” is perfectly false. Some years ago, a plain, and apparently simple-hearted farmer, called upon me with a note from Dr. Mitchell of our city, now deceased, requesting me to decypher, if possible, a paper, which the farmer would hand me, and which Dr. M. confessed he had been unable to understand. Upon examining the paper in question, I soon came to the conclusion that it was all a trick, perhaps a hoax. When I asked the person, who brought it, how he obtained the writing, he gave me, as far as I can now recollect, the following account: A “gold book,” consisting of a number of plates of gold, fastened together in the shape of a book by wires of the same metal, had been dug up in the northern part of the state of New York, and along with the book an enormous pair of “gold spectacles”!.

The farmer added, that he had been requested to contribute a sum of money towards the publication of the “golden book,” the contents of which would, as he had been assured, produce an entire change in the world and save it from ruin. So urgent had been these solicitations, that he intended selling his farm and handing over the amount received to those who wished to publish the plates. As a last precautionary step, however, he had resolved to come to New York, and obtain the opinion of the learned about the meaning of the paper which he brought with him, and which had been given him as a part of the contents of the book, although no translation had been furnished at the time by the young man with the spectacles. On hearing this odd story, I changed my opinion about the paper, and, instead of viewing it any longer as a hoax upon the learned, I began to regard it as part of a scheme to cheat the farmer of his money, and I communicated my suspicions to him, warning him to beware of rogues. He requested an opinion from me in writing, which of course I declined giving, and he then took his leave carrying the paper with him. This paper was in fact a singular scrawl. It consisted of all kinds of crooked characters disposed in columns, and had evidently been prepared by some person who had before him at the time a book containing various alphabets. Greek and Hebrew letters, crosses and flourishes, Roman letters inverted or placed sideways, were arranged in perpendicular columns, and the whole ended in a rude delineation of a circle divided into various compartments, decked with various strange marks, and evidently copied after the Mexican Calender given by Humboldt, but copied in such a way as not to betray the source whence it was derived. I am thus particular as to the contents of the paper, inasmuch as I have frequently conversed with my friends on the subject, since the Mormonite excitement began, and well remember that the paper contained any thing else but “Egyptian Hieroglyphics.” Some time after, the same farmer paid me a second visit. He brought with him the golden book in print, and offered it to me for sale. I declined purchasing. He then asked permission to leave the book with me for examination. I declined receiving it, although his manner was strangely urgent. I adverted once more to the roguery which had been in my opinion practised upon him, and asked him what had become of the gold plates. He informed me that they were in a trunk with the large pair of spectacles. I advised him to go to a magistrate and have the trunk examined. He said the “curse of God” would come upon him should he do this. On my pressing him, however, to pursue the course which I had recommended, he told me that he would open the trunk, if I would take the “curse of God” upon myself. I replied that I would do so with the greatest willingness, and would incur every risk of that nature, provided I could only extricate him from the grasp of rogues. He then left me.

I have thus given you a full statement of all that I know respecting the origin of Mormonism, and must beg you, as a personal favor, to publish this letter immediately, should you find my name mentioned again by these wretched fanatics.

Yours respectfully, CHAS. ANTHON

Following a revelation from the Lord, given through Joseph Smith, Martin was commanded: “Thou shalt not covet thine own property, but impart it freely to the printing of the Book of Mormon.” Harris mortgaged his home and farm for $3,000, a generous loan in that era. By some estimates, comparing Martin’s wealth to the local economy at that time, his gift would be worth over a million dollars today.

Other Religious Affiliations

To say that Martin Harris was unstable religiously would be an understatement. He changed his religious affiliations 13 times. Even after his excommunication from the Mormon Church, he changed his religion beliefs eight more times.

Pick virtually any Protestant denomination, and Martin had at one time been an adherent!

Character, Gullibility and Mental Stability

His contemporaries found him to be somewhat odd, to say the least, “Once while reading scripture; he reportedly mistook a candle’s sputtering as a sign that the devil desired him to stop. Another time he excitedly awoke from his sleep believing that a creature as large as a dog had been upon his chest, though a nearby associate could find nothing to confirm his fears. Several hostile and perhaps unreliable accounts told of visionary experiences with Satan and Christ, Harris once reporting that Christ had been poised on a roof beam.” 1

Presbyterian minister Jesse Townsend of Palmyra called Harris a “visionary fanatic,” and Lorenzo Saunders said Harris was a “great man for seeing spooks.”

John A. Clark, reported that during the time the Book of Mormon was being translated, “on the way he met the Lord Jesus Christ, who walked along by the side of him in the shape of a deer for two or three miles, talking with him as familiarly as one man talks with another.”2

Martin Harris also testified that his testimony for Shakerism was greater than it was for Mormonism. The Shaker’s “Sacred Roll and Book” was also delivered by an angel. 3

Regarding his honesty, after getting in Smith’s bad books, the official Mormon newspaper of the day included Martin Harris with a few other men, as having, “a lying deceptive spirit attend them…they are of their father, the devil…the very countenance of Harris will show to every spiritual-minded person who sees him, that the wrath of God is upon him.” 4

In the Elder’s Journal for August 1838, Joseph Smith himself denounced Martin Harris as “so far beneath contempt that to notice him would be too great a sacrifice for a gentleman to make. The Church exerted some restraint on him, but now he has given loose to all kinds of abominations.“

Surprisingly, the non-Mormon press was more generous toward Martin:

“Mr. Harris was among the early settlers of this town, and has ever borne the character of an honorable and upright man, and an obliging and benevolent neighbor. He had secured to himself by honest industry a respectable fortune—and he has left a large circle of acquaintances and friends to pity his delusion. 5

“We have ever regarded Mr. Harris as an honest man. We first became acquainted with him at Palmyra, in the spring of 1828, shortly after the plates from which the Book of Mormon is said to have been translated, were found.. . . Though illiterate and actually of a superstitious turn of mind, he had long sustained an irreproachable character for probity. . . . By his neighbors and townsmen with whom he earnestly and almost incessantly labored, he was regarded rather as being deluded himself, than as wishing to delude others knowingly; but still he was subjected to many scoffs and rebukes, all of which he endured with a meekness becoming a better cause.” 6

Dan Vogel reports that a friend, who praised Harris as being “universally esteemed as an honest man,” also declared that Harris’s mind “was overbalanced by ‘marvellousness‘” (sic) and that his belief in earthly visitations of angels and ghosts gave him the local reputation of being crazy. 7

Education and Intelligence

Martin had what passed for a normal education for people who worked the land in rural upstate New York at that time, not unlike that which David Whitmer and Joseph Smith received. Oliver Cowdery’s formal education was a step above these three.

Motivations for His Involvement

Martin was deeply invested in the success of the Book of Mormon. He went as far as to mortgage his farm to make the publication of the Book of Mormon possible. If the book failed, Martin stood to lose the most.

I think we need to keep in mind that Martin’s motivation, as could be argued of Smith’s, was not altogether altruistic.

Abigail Harris, Martin’s sister-in-law, spoke to this important feature of his motivation:

“… Martin Harris and Lucy Harris, his wife, were at my house (1828).In conversation with the Mormonites, she [Lucy Harris] observed that she wished her husband would quit them, as she believed it all false and a delusion. To which I heard Mr. Harris reply: ‘What if it is a lie; if you will let me alone I will make money out of it!’ I was both an eye- and ear-witness of what has been above stated, which is now fresh in my memory, and I speak the truth and lie not, God being my witness.”

Nevertheless, one of the most powerful confirmations of Martin’s testimony was recorded by William Harrison Homer, which was replicated in the Improvement Era.
“Young man,” answered Martin Harris with impressiveness, “Do I believe it! Do you see the sun shining! Just as surely as the sun is shining on us and gives us light, and the [moon] and stars give us light by night, just as surely as the breath of life sustains us, so surely do I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God, chosen of God to open the last dispensation of the fullness of times; so surely do I know that the Book of Mormon was divinely translated. I saw the plates; I saw the Angel; I heard the voice of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. I might as well doubt my own existence as to doubt the divine authenticity of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of Joseph Smith.” 8

In law, a ‘deathbed’ confession or statement is given great credence as it should. The following is what amounts to Martin’s deathbed testimony:

“A few hours before his death and when he was so weak and enfeebled that he was unable to recognize me or anyone, and knew not to whom he was speaking, I asked him if he did not feel that there was an element at least, of fraudulence and deception in the things that were written and told of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and he replied as he had always done so many, many times in my hearing the same spirit he always manifested when enjoying health and vigor and said: ‘The Book of Mormon is no fake. I know what I know. I have seen what I have seen and I have heard what I have heard. I have seen the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon is written. An angel appeared to me and others and testified to the truthfulness of the record, and had I been perjured myself and sworn falsely to the testimony I now bear I could have been a rich man, but I could not have testified other than I have done and am now doing for these things are true.” 9

However, Martin also said repeatedly that he, and the other witnesses, only saw the plates in vision.

“Martin Harris, one of the subscribing witnesses, has come out at last, and says he never saw the plates, from which the book purports to have been translated, except in vision and he further says that any man who says he has seen them in any other way is a liar, Joseph [Smith] not excepted.” 10

In 1838 when the Church was in crisis and experiencing massive apostasy. Martin’s statement about not really seeing the angel and plates, was the final straw that caused apostles Luke S. Johnson, Lyman E. Johnson, and John F. Boynton, high priest Stephen Burnett and seventy Warren Parrish to leave the Church, Burnett comments:

“I have reflected long and deliberately upon the history of this church & weighed the evidence for & against it, loth to give it up, but when I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way, in my view our foundations was (sic) sapped & the entire superstructure fell a heap of ruins,…I was followed by W. Parish[,] Luke Johnson & John Boynton[,] all of the[m] concurred with me. After we done speaking M Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true, he said he had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or handkerchief over them, but he never saw them only as he saw a city through a mountain. And said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of him but should have let it passed as it was… “ 11

And a few more of many more statements by Martin:

“While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state, I saw the angel and the plates.” 12

“I never saw the gold plates, only in a visionary or entranced state.” 13

Harris’ myriad public statement that he and his fellow witnesses only saw the plates and the angel in a ‘visionary’ or ‘second sight’ way caused many to leave the church as this letter from Stephen Burnett shows:

“. . . when I came to hear Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither Oliver nor David & also that the eight witnesses never saw them & hesitated to sign that instrument for that reason, but were persuaded to do it, the last pedestal gave way, in my view our foundation was sapped & the entire superstructure fell in heap of ruins, I therefore three week since in the Stone Chapel…renounced the Book of Mormon…after we were done speaking M Harris arose & said he was sorry for any man who rejected the Book of Mormon for he knew it was true, he said he had hefted the plates repeatedly in a box with only a tablecloth or a handkerchief over them, but he never saw them only as he saw a city throught [sic] a mountain. And said that he never should have told that the testimony of the eight was false, if it had not been picked out of—[him/me?] but should have let it passed as it was…” 14

The foreman in the Palmyra printing office that produced the first Book of Mormon said that Harris “used to practice a good deal of his characteristic jargon and ‘seeing with the spiritual eye,’ and the like.” 1

Two other Palmyra residents said that Harris told them that he had seen the plates with “the eye of faith” or “spiritual eyes.” 16

John H. Gilbert, the typesetter for most of the Book of Mormon, said that he had asked Harris, “Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?” According to Gilbert, Harris “looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, ‘No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.” 17

When Martin Harris was asked, “But did you see them [plates] with your natural, your bodily eyes, just as you see this pencil-case in my hand? Now say no or yes to this.” Martin answered, “I did not see them as I do that pencil-case, yet I saw them with the eye of faith; I saw them just as distinctly as I see anything around me, though at the time they were covered over with a cloth.” 18

“Martin Harris later testified that he did not see the plates literally with his fleshly eyes: He said he saw the plates with ‘the eyes of faith and not with the natural eyes’. This we believe is the truth but it should eliminate him automatically as a witness none the less. This, of course, proves Mormonism is a fraud and that the Nephi Plates never existed and no one actually saw them.” 19

While Martin was not perhaps the smartest of men, I think he was a decent man. I think a case can be made that he might have been used and by a guileful and manipulative Joseph Smith. I think the conflicting statements Martin made throughout his life, his superstition, his magical mindset, and his mental instability coupled with his conflict of interest assail his credibility and must be discounted.

David Whitmer

Background and Life Experiences

David Whitmer was born near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, the fourth of nine children of Peter Whitmer, Sr. and Mary Musselman both of German ancestry. By the 1820s, the Whitmer family had moved to a farm in Fayette, New York. Whitmer and his family were among the earliest adherents to the Latter-Day Saint movement. Whitmer first heard of Joseph Smith and the golden plates in 1828 when he made a business trip to Palmyra, New York, and there talked with his friend Oliver Cowdery.

When the Church moved from New York to Ohio in 1831, the Whitmers went along as they did to Jackson County, Missouri the short-lived Zion or gathering place for the Saints. When the differences between the Latter-day Saints and their neighbors erupted again into open conflict. Driven from Jackson County, the Whitmers settled in adjacent Clay County, Missouri.

By 1838 things were going sideways quickly. David described the situation: “In the spring of 1838, the heads of the church and many of the members had gone deep into error and blindness. I had been striving with them for a long time to show them the errors into which they were drifting, and for my labors, I received only persecutions. In June 1838, a secret organization was formed, Doctor Avard being put in as the leader of the band; a certain oath was to be administered to all the brethren to bind them to support the heads of the church in everything they should teach. All who refused to take this oath were considered dissenters from the church, and certain things were to be done concerning these dissenters, by Dr. Avard’s secret band.”

In response to the Church’s threats against him as well as Oliver Cowdery, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps and Lyman Johnson, David left town and the Church.

This was Sidney Rigdon’s letter:

“To Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and Lyman E. Johnson, greeting: Out of the county you shall go, and no power shall save you. And you shall have three days after you receive this communication…for you to depart with your families peaceably;…and unless you heed us,…there shall be no escape; for there is but one decree for you, which is depart, depart, or a more fatal calamity shall befall you…we will put you from the county of Caldwell: so help us God.”

Whitmer went on to condemn Smith’s church and raise some question as to the validity of his Book of Mormon witness statement. “If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon,” wrote Whitmer, “if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838 God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens and told me to ‘separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so it should be done unto them.”

Religious Experiences

After Joseph’s death in 1844, many of Rigdon’s followers became disillusioned, and by 1847, William E. McLellin and Benjamin Winchester, remembering Whitmer’s 1834 ordination to be Smith’s successor, urged Whitmer exercised his claim to be Smith’s successor and the Church of Christ (Whitmerite) was formed in Kirtland, Ohio. However, Whitmer never joined the body of the new church, and it dissolved relatively quickly.

David Whitmer belonged to at least three Mormon splinter groups at different times, but he died still rejecting the LDS Church and its priesthood.

Like Martin Harris, David Whitmer later testified that he did not see the plates with his real eyes but, “by the eye of faith” handled by an angel. 20

During the summer of 1837, while in Kirtland, like Oliver and Martin, David pledged his loyalty and allegiance to a prophetess who used a black seer stone and danced herself into ‘trances.’ 21

Education and Intelligence

David also had what passed for a normal education for people who worked the land in rural upstate New York at that time. Somewhat like that which Martin Harris and Joseph Smith had received.

David Whitmer was excommunicated from the Church, and he never returned to it, nonetheless near the end of his life, he made the following statement in the Richmond, Missouri, Conservator on March 25, 1881:

“Unto all Nations, Kindreds, Tongues, and People, unto whom these presents shall come: . . . I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once [and] for all to make this public statement: That I have never at any time denied that testimony [of the Book of Mormon] or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that book, as one of the Three Witnesses. Those who know me best well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all my statements as then made and published. “He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear;” it was no delusion; what is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand. “And if any man doubt, should he not carefully and honestly read and understand the same before presuming to sit in judgment and condemning the light, which shineth in darkness, and showeth the way of eternal life as pointed out by the unerring hand of God?” In the Spirit of Christ, who hath said: “Follow thou me, for I am the life, the light and the way,” I submit this statement to the world; God in whom I trust being my judge as to the sincerity of my motives and the faith and hope that is in me of eternal life. My sincere desire is that the world may be benefited by this plain and simple statement of the truth. And all the honor to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen!”

However, again in the same document Whitmer testifies:

“If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens and told me to ‘separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so it should be done unto them.” In the spring of 1838, the heads of the church and many of the members had gone deep into error and blindness. I had been striving with them for a long time to show them the errors into which they were drifting, and for my labors I received only persecutions.” 22

Statements by Whitmer that He Saw the Gold Plates and the Angel in Vision

While more stable than Martin Harris, David also had a magical view of the world and spoke of seeing things with his “spiritual” eyes.

He was once asked to describe the angel who showed him the plates. He responded that the angel “had no appearance or shape.” When asked how he could then could bear testimony that he had seen and heard an angel, Whitmer replied, “Have you never had impressions?” To which the interviewer responded, “Then you had impressions as the Quaker when the spirit moves, or as a good Methodist in giving a happy experience, a feeling?” “Just so,” replied Whitmer. 23

James Henry Moyle, a Mormon lawyer, interviewed Whitmer in 1885 He asked him if there was any possibility that he had been deceived. “His answer was unequivocal…that he saw the plates and heard the angel with unmistakable clearness.” But Moyle went away “not fully satisfied…It was more spiritual than I anticipated.” 24

“While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state, I saw the angel and the plates.” 25

“I never saw the gold plates, only in a visionary or entranced state.” 26

“In regards to my testimony to the visitation of the angel, who declared to us three witnesses that the Book of Mormon is true, I have this to say: Of course we were in the spirit when we had the view, for no man can behold the face of an angel, except in a spiritual view, but ‘we were in the body also, and everything was as natural to us, as it is at any time. Martin Harris, you say, called it “being in vision.” We read in the Scriptures, Cornelius saw, in a vision, an angel of God, Daniel saw an angel in a vision, also in other places, it states they saw an angel in the spirit. A bright light enveloped us where we were, that filled [the woods as] at noon day, and there in a vision or in the spirit, we saw and heard just as it is stated in my testimony in the Book of Mormon.” 27

David Whitmer changed his story about seeing the plates and later told of finding them lying in a field and later still told Orson Pratt that they were on a table with all sorts of brass plates, gold plates, the Sword of Laban, the ‘Director’ and the Urim and Thummim. 28

David Whitmer informed Zenas Gurley Jr. on January 14, 1885, when asked if the witnesses touched “the real metal,” “We did not.” The witnesses handled “the plates” in a vision only, according to Whitmer. 29

Also, the eight witnesses did not “imagine” seeing the plates or an angel at the same time as most members believe and as is popularized in church paintings. Rather the plates were imagined in two groups of four. 30

Marvin S. Hill, an LDS writer, remarked:

“. . . there is a possibility that the witnesses saw the plates in vision only. . . . There is testimony from several independent interviewers, all non-Mormon, that Martin Harris and David Whitmer said they saw the plates with their “spiritual eyes” only. . . . This is contradicted, however, by statements like that of David Whitmer in the Saints Herald in 1882, “these hands handled the plates, these eyes saw the angel.” But Z. H. Gurley elicited from Whitmer a not so positive response to the question,” did you touch them?” His answer was, “We did not touch nor handle the plates.” So far as the eight witnesses go, William Smith said his father never saw the plates except under a frock…” 31

Oliver Cowdery

Background and Life Experiences

Of the three witnesses, Oliver played the most significant role in the creation of the Church. He is also the most likely co-conspirator with Joseph Smith if the Mormon Church is a fraud.

He was the principal scribe, was a member of the Congregational church where Ethan Smith, the author of the View of the Hebrews preached and Oliver attended, and no doubt had a copy of it, as well, he was Joseph’s cousin.

There is evidence that Oliver knew Joseph before the time the Church claims. Lorenzo Saunders placed Oliver Cowdery on the Smith farm in Palmyra several years earlier in 1826:

“As respecting Oliver Cowdery, he came from Kirtland in the summer of 1826 and was about there [i.e., the Smith’s farm] until fall and took a school in the district where the Smiths lived and the next summer he was missing and I didn’t see him until fall and he came back and took our school in the district where we lived and taught about a week and went to the school board and wanted the board to let him off and they did and he went to Smith and went to writing the Book of Mormon and wrote all winter. The Mormons say it wasn’t wrote there but I say it was because I was there…” 32

Oliver also claimed, “second sight,” he reports seeing convoy after convoy of angels at a worship service in Ohio.

It is rarely mentioned in the discussion of the veracity of the witnesses but should be remembered that we do not have an actual document of actual signatures of the Book of Mormon witnesses. The closest we have is a document in Oliver’s handwriting, providing the names of the Witnesses.

Without the original document, it is impossible to know with certainty whether the witnesses truly signed it.

As well, the Church is not forthcoming about the statements by the witnesses, who claim to have seen Smith’s gold plates and handled them. The faith-promoting accounts do not tell us that their experience was one that took place in their imaginations, that they saw with their, “spiritual eyes,” “visions of the mind,” or through the “eyes of our understanding.”

David Whitmer informed Zenas Gurley Jr. on January 14, 1885, when asked if the witnesses touched “the real metal,” “We did not.” The witnesses handled “the plates” in a vision only, according to Whitmer. 3

Other Religious Experiences

There are often statements made within the Church to the effect that none of the three witnesses recanted their statements and I have no reason to believe that is not the case. However, there is some evidence that Oliver Cowdery came very close.

When Oliver joined the Methodist Church later in his life, he apparently offered to repudiate his witness to the Book of Mormon in writing but was not required to do so by the elders of the Methodist Church.

“We accordingly waited on Mr. Cowdery at his residence in Tiffin, and there learned his connection, from him, with that order, and his full and final renunciation thereof.

We then inquired of him if he had any objection to making a public recantation. He replied that he would if it were required of him. The following I from a sworn statement by G.J. Keen, one of the elders who interviewed Oliver.

“In a few years, Mr. Cowdery expressed a desire to associate, himself with a Methodist Protestant church of this city. Rev. John Souder and myself were appointed a committee to wait on Mr. Cowdery and confer with him respecting his connection with Mormonism and the Book of Mormon had objections; that, in the first place, it could do no good; that he had known several to do so and they always regretted it. And, in the second place, it would have a tendency to draw public attention, invite criticism, and bring him into contempt.

“But,” said he, “nevertheless, if the church requires it, I will submit to it, but I authorize and desire you and the church to publish and make known my recantation.”

We did not demand it but submitted his name to the church, and he was unanimously admitted a member thereof. At that time he arose and addressed the audience present, admitted his error and implored forgiveness, and said he was sorry and ashamed of his connection with Mormonism.

He continued his membership while he resided in Tiffin, and became superintendent of the Sabbath-school, and led an exemplary the while he resided with us. I have lived in this city upwards of fifty-three years, was auditor of this county, was elected to that office in 1840.

I am now in my eighty-third year, and well remember the facts above related.

(Signed) G. J. KEEN.”

Sworn to before me and subscribed in my presence, this 14th day of April 1885. FRANK L. EMICH, Notary

The Mormon Church claims Oliver came back to the Church, but if he did, he might have left shortly thereafter as he was buried by a Methodist minister in Richmond, Missouri. 34

Motivations for his Involvement

What was Oliver’s motivation?

He was in on many of the most important policies and revelations of the Church, including:

An Angelic Witness of the Plates
Translation of the Plates
Restoration of Aaronic Priesthood
Restoration of Melchizedek Priesthood
Restoration of sealing keys and return of Elijah

When anything important happens, Oliver is there. When Smith hit a roadblock with Emma and Martin acting as scribes, Oliver shows up and gets things moving – quickly. Suddenly, hundreds of pages are translated in just a few months.

There are some suspicious actions involving Oliver and Sidney Rigdon. Upon the event of his death, Rigdon commanded his wife to burn all his papers, which were many. A man of letters does not destroy the collection of a lifetime unless there is something damning within it. Why else would he have had them burnt? I don’t imagine we will ever know what was so incriminating. Was there a reworking of the View of the Hebrews, or the Late War or was it a rough draft of the framework of the Book of Mormon, entitled Manuscript Found at Conneaut Creek by a failed preacher named Solomon Spaulding?

Spaulding failed at most everything he put his hand to, one of those flops was writing and selling novels. He wrote a story called Manuscript Found at Conneaut Creek but failed to get it published, as the story goes, Spaulding reworked the book and renamed it Manuscript Found. He took the manuscript to a publisher in Pittsburgh who agreed to publish it if he could come up with the money, but Spaulding never did find a backer, so the manuscript sat in the publisher’s office gathering dust.

At it happens somewhere in the 1810s, a man named Sidney Rigdon was visiting that same publisher’s office, and he came across Manuscript Found. By then Spaulding had died, so Rigdon takes it. Now Rigdon was also an adherent of Campbellism, which sought to restore Christianity to its first-century form and Rigdon sees an opportunity, a promote Campbellism and unite the various Christian denominations as well as Native Americans. He hatches a plan, an idea incidentally that he shares with his closest friends in and around 1825 to 1827 Rigdon tells his closest friends that soon a new book of scripture that would unite Christian Americans, convert Native Americans, and explain where the people who built the thousands of mounds around the eastern U.S. came from.

During this same period, Oliver Cowdery who lived in Rigdon’s area gets wind of Rigdon’s idea. Cowdery used to live in New York and at one point went back to New York to visit with Joseph Smith, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Speculation, certainly but not wildly so. Several of Spaulding’s relatives familiar with Manuscript Found in the Wilds of Mormon swore affidavits that The Book of Mormon was a rip-off of Solomon’s second, missing manuscript. In fact, they claimed that “Nephites,” “Lamanites,” “Lehi,” “Mormon” and “Moroni” – these exact words were found in Solomon’s novel.

As we saw with the Hoffman affair, the church is quick to purchase and stick away in their vaults anything casting doubt on the official story.

I often wonder what we would find if Jeraldo got into that their safe!

Cowdery publicly confessed his sorrow and shame for his connection with Mormonism. But did not go so far as to expose it as a fraud? Why would he not admit that his witness statement was false?

Obviously, no one relishes the admission that they have been deceitful, or that they have perjured themselves and lied under oath. Oliver may have been a lot of things, but he was not a fool. He understood that if he came clean, he would put himself in a very bad position. People had invested their fortunes, their time, even sacrificed their children to the carnal desires of the polygamists. Any admission on his part would certainly put him in legal jeopardy.

Is it not just easier and less trouble to just to stick to the original story? There are literally millions of people on the Mormon rolls today that do not believe the church is true and want nothing whatever to do with it but just move on without making a fuss like the one I am making here. Just look at the statistics I have presented in my letter. Oliver was interested in pursuing a political career, being associated with the Mormons was bad enough but admitting that he was involved in the creation of a fraud would be political suicide.

Education and Intelligence

The fact that Oliver accepted the position of teacher in a small rural school in Manchester  Township in 1828 and 1829 speaks to the fact that he was the better educated of the witnesses. We also know that after his disaffection with the Mormon church he became an attorney. 35

Oliver Opens His Heart

Oliver Cowdery published the following, “Defense in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter-Day Saints,”

“DEAR PEOPLE OF GOD: — I offer you a “Defense” which I am grieved to make, but my opposers have put me to the necessity, and so far as my memory serves, I pledge my veracity for the correctness of the account.

I deny that I have ever conspired with any, or ever exerted any influence to destroy the reputation of the First Elder [Joseph Smith], although evidence which is to be credited assures me that he has done everything he could to injure my standing, and his influence has been considerably exerted to destroy my reputation and, I fear, my life.

You will remember in the meantime, that those who seek to vilify my character have been constantly encouraged by him. There was a time when I thought myself able to prove to the satisfaction of every man that the translator of the Book of Mormon was worthy of the appellation of a Seer and a Prophet of the Lord, and in which he held over me a mysterious power which even now I fail to fathom; but I fear I may have been deceived, and especially so fear since knowing that Satan has led his mind astray.

When the Church of Christ was set up by revelation, he was called to be First Elder, and I was called to he Second Elder, and whatever he had of Priesthood (about which I am beginning to doubt).

But I certainly followed him too far when accepting and reiterating, that none had authority from God to administer the ordinances of the gospel, as I had then forgotten that John, the beloved disciple, was tarrying on earth and exempt from death.

I am well aware that a rehearsal of these things at this day will be unpleasant reading to the First Elder; yet so it is, and it is wisdom that it should be so. Without rehearsing too many things that have caused me, to lose my faith in Bro. Joseph’s seership. I regard his frequent predict devils nor the malice of men shall ever cause him to fall by the hand of his enemies until he has seen Christ in the flesh at his final coming, as little short of a piece of blasphemy; and it may be classed with that revelation that some among you will remember which sent Bro. Page and me so unwisely to (3) Toronto with a prediction from the Lord by Urim and Thummim that we would there find a man anxious to buy the First Elder’s copyright.

I well remember we did not find him, and had to return surprised and disappointed. But so great was my faith, that, in going to Toronto, nothing but calmness pervaded my soul, every doubt was banished, and I as much expected that Bro. Page and I would fulfill the revelation as that we should live. And you may believe without asking me to relate the particulars, that it would be no easy task to describe our desolation and grief.

Bro. Page and I did not think that God would have deceived us through “Urim and Thummim,” exactly as came the Book of Mormon; and I well remember how hard I strove to drive away the foreboding which seized me, that the First Elder had made tools of us, where we thought, in the simplicity of out hearts, that we were divinely commanded.

And what served to render the reflection past expression in its bitterness to me, was, that from his hand I received baptism, by the direction of the Angel of God, whose voice, as it has since struck me, did most mysteriously resemble the voice of Elder Sidney Rigdon, who, I am sure, had no part in the transactions of that day, as the Angel was John the Baptist, which I doubt not and deny not. When I afterward first heard Elder Rigdon, whose voice is so strikingly similar, I felt that this “dear” brother was to be in some sense, to me unknown, the herald of this church as the Great Baptist was of Christ.

I never dreamed, however, that he would influence the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator to the Church of Latter Day Saints, into the formation of a secret band at Far West, committed to depredations upon Gentiles and the actual assassination of apostates from the church, which was done in June last and was only one of many wrong steps.

These are facts which I am rehearsing, and if they shall be called into question, I am able to establish them by evidence which I can bring forward in abundance. Still, although favored of God as a chosen witness to bear testimony to the divine authority of the Book of Mormon, and honored of the Lord in being permitted, without money and without price, to serve as scribe during the translation of the Book of Mormon, I have sometimes had seasons of skepticism, in which I did seriously wonder whether the prophet and I were men in our sober senses when we would be translating from plates through “the Urim and Thummim” and the plates not be in sight at all.

But I believed both in the Seer and in the “Seer Stone,” and what the First Elder announced as revelation from God, I accepted as such, and committed to paper with a glad mind and happy heart and swift pen; for I believed him to be the soul of honor and truth, a young man who would die before he would lie.

Man may deceive his fellow man, deception may follow deception, and the children of the wicked one may seduce the unstable, untaught in the ways of righteousness and peace, for I felt a solemn awe about me, being deep in the faith, that the First Elder was a Seer and Prophet of God, giving the truth unsullied through “Urim and Thummim,” dictated by the will of the Lord, and that he was persecuted for the sake of the truth which he loved. Could I have been deceived in him?

I could rehearse a number of things to show either that I was then deceived, or that he has since fallen from the lofty place in which fond affection had deemed him secure.

I remember his experience as he had related it to me, and lacking wisdom, I went to God in prayer. I said: “O Lord, how dark everything is! Let thy glory lighten it, and make bright the path for me. Show me my duty. Let me be led of thy Spirit.”

Shall I relate what transpired? I had a message from the Most High, as from the midst of eternity; for the vail was parted and the Redeemer Himself, clothed in glory, stood before me. And He said:

“After reproving the Latter-Day Saints for their corruption and blindness in permitting their President, Joseph Smith, Jr., to lead them forth into errors, where I led him not, not commanded him, and saying unto them, Thus saith the Lord,’ when I said it not unto him, thou shalt withdraw thyself from among them.”

And I testify that Jesus, whose words I have been rehearsing, hath even so commanded me in an open vision.

The Lord revealed to me that the First Elder is leading the Saints astray, and ordered me to quit them after delivering the message which this “Defense” delivers. I shall ever remember this expression of the Saviour’s grace with thanksgiving, and look upon his amazing goodness to me with wonder.

When I had sufficiently recovered my self-possession to ask in regard to the errors into which Joseph Smith, Jr., was taking the Saints, the Redeemer instructed me plainly: “He hath given revelations from his own heart and from a defiled conscience as coming from my mouth and hath corrupted the covenant and altered words which I had spoken. He hath brought in high priests, apostles and other officers, which in these days, when the written word sufficeth, are not in my church, and some of his deeds have brought shame to my heritage by the shedding of blood. He walketh in the vain imaginations of his heart, and my Spirit is holy and does not dwell in an unholy temple, nor are angels sent to reveal the great work of God to hypocrites.”

I bowed my face in shame and said: “Lord! I entreat thee, give me grace to hear thy message in print where I fear to take it by word of mouth.”

And he said, “The grace is given thee,” and he vanished out of my sight.

Prepare your hearts, O ye saints of the Most High, and come to understanding. The prophet hath erred and the people are gone astray through his error. God’s word is open. We may read it.

There is no “First Presidency” there, no “High Priesthood” save that of Christ himself, no Patriarch to the Church, and wonderful to tell, the “First Elder” hath departed from God in giving us these things, and in changing the name of the church.

Oh, the misery, distress and evil attendant upon giving heed unto the “doctrines of men”! The gospel has been perverted and the Saints are wandering in darkness, while a full cup of suffering is poured upon them. A society has been organized among them to inflict death upon those who are deemed apostates, with the knowledge and sanction of the First Elder.

This, I confess, is a dark picture to spread before those whom I am to warn, but they will pardon my plainness when I assure them of the truth of what I have written.

Bearing this message to them is the hardest work of my life, although many have been the privations and fatigues which have fallen to my lot to endure for the Gospel’s sake since April 5th, 1829.

It is disgraceful to be led by a man who does not scruple to follow his own vain imagination, announcing his own schemes as revelations from the Lord. And I fear he is led by a groundless hope, no better than the idle wind or the spider’s web. Having cleared my soul by delivering the message, I do not deem it necessary to write further on the subject now.

Jesus has saved men in all ages and saves them now, and not by our Priesthood either. The “First Elder” errs as to that. The Lord has said, long since, and his word remains steadfast as the eternal hills, that to him who knocks it shall be opened, and whosoever will, may come and partake of the waters of life freely; but a curse will surely fall upon those who draw near to God with their mouths, and honor him with their lips, while their hearts are far from him.

I no longer believe that all the other churches are wrong.

Get right, O ye people, get right with God, and may the Lord remove his judgments from you, preserve you in his kingdom from all evil, and crown you in Christ. Amen.

  1. COWDERY, March 3, 1839.” 35

In 1841 the Mormons published a poem which stated, “Or Book of Mormon not his word because denied by Oliver.”

A poem of the time declares that Cowdery denied his Mormon testimony:

“Amazed with wonder! I look round
To see most people of our day
Reject the glorious gospel sound
Because the simple turn away:
But does it prove there is no time,
Because some watches wilt not go?

“Or prove that Christ was not the Lord
Because that Peter cursed and swore,
OR BOOK OF MORMON NOT HIS WORD
BECAUSE DENIED BY OLIVER?

Or prove that Joseph Smith is false
Because apostates say ’tis so?” (emphasis added) 36

The Church and her apologists quote David Whitmer’s account of Oliver’s alleged death-bed revival. Whitmer is reported to have told Apostles Joseph F. Smith and Orson Pratt the following on September 8, 1878, regarding Cowdery’s death: “Oliver died the happiest man I ever saw. After shaking hands with the family and kissing his wife and daughter, he said, ‘Now I lay down for the last time; I am going to my Savior,’ and he died immediately with a smile on his face.’” Forgive me, but this has a Paul Dunn ring to it.
Oliver Cowdrey is an enigma. He certainly gave testimony that he had seen an angel and the golden plates, yet he was excommunicated, fought with Joseph Smith accusing him of adultery with a teenage girl. After leaving the Church, he moved his devotion to a competing seeress, who like Joseph saw much in her ‘magic stone.’ He became a faithful member of the Methodist Church.

He stated publicly that he was ashamed of his association with the ‘Mormons’ and there is at least the suggestion that he admitted that it was all a fraud to his closest friend and law partner. Oliver was a political man, and one must wonder if his rejoining the LDS Church was to attempt to wrest control of it away from Brigham Young and take authority unto himself. On July 28, 1847, Cowdery wrote to David Whitmer that ‘we have the authority and do hold the keys. It is important, should we not be permitted to act in that authority…,”
Oliver Cowdrey’s funeral and burial were conducted by a Methodist minister.

Martin Harris stated in public that he never saw the plates with his natural
eyes only in vision or imagination and that neither did Oliver or David see
them except in vision.

If the golden plates did exist and were real, why would the witnesses make
the following kinds of statements:

“While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state, I saw
the angel and the plates.” 37

“I never saw the gold plates, only in a visionary or entranced state.” 38

“He only saw the plates with a spiritual eye.” 39

“As shown in the vision.” 40

“Never saw the plates with his natural eyes but only in vision or imagination.” 41

“I did not see them uncovered, but I handled them and hefted them while wrapped in a tow frock.” 42

There are also several other things that call the witnesses’ reliability and trustworthiness into question. We know that all the witnesses had close ties to Joseph and his family. Some like Martin Harris had a substantial financial investment in the success of the Book of Mormon.

“The witnesses” experiences may have only been visionary in nature. There are many statements given by the witnesses that indicate they only saw the angel and the plates in a visionary experience. Why would people need to see real, physical plates in a vision or a real angel that was physically on the earth? There are also several statements saying that the only time they saw the plates was when the plates were covered with a cloth or tow frock.

The three witnesses did not all see the plates or angel at the same time. Only David Whitmer and perhaps Oliver Cowdery saw the angel together. Martin Harris removed himself from the group and did not see the angel until perhaps three days later.” 43

FAIR says that this is well-documented in official Church sources but why then do the clear majority of members not know of this? Every
Painting and image of the three witnesses have them all together – does this constitute ‘well-documented.’

These men lived in the early 1800s and believed in magical things as many people did during that time-period such as divining rods, second sight, magic, dreams, seer stones, etc. Some of the witnesses, especially Martin Harris, were easily swayed by tales of the supernatural, especially in a religious context.

Many of the witnesses ended up leaving the church and following other leaders and religions such as James Strang, the Shakers, Methodists, etc. By 1847 not a single one of the surviving eleven witnesses was part of the LDS Church.

“Of the witnesses that left the church, most believed that Joseph was at best a fallen prophet, the church changed its doctrines in error and changed revelations against God’s will.

The witnesses, who have been heralded as good, honest, Abe Lincoln-type of men were later called liars, counterfeiters, thieves, etc. by Joseph Smith himself.

The “testimony of the witnesses” is similar to testimonials which were commonly included in books etc. in those days to help spur sales. And of course, the BOM’s producers originally intended to sell copies for $1.75 each.

All three witnesses believed that God Himself had told them (through Joseph Smith) that they had been specially chosen to testify to the world that they had seen the angel and the plates –– if they had enough faith. Martin Harris was even told the exact words he must use: Joseph Smith said he had a revelation in which the Lord commanded Harris to say, “I have seen the things which the Lord hath shown unto Joseph Smith Jun., and I know of a surety that they are true, for I have seen them.” And just to clinch the command, God threatened Martin Harris, saying, “But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned.” A personal promise (and a threat of condemnation) coming directly from God is bound to have a powerful influence on a person’s thinking! 44

Fred Anson remarks that if Joseph Smith’s goal was to provide truly convincing witness statements, there were several things he SHOULD NOT have done:

  1. None of the witnesses should have been related to Joseph or each other. Most of the witnesses were either related or good friends. Having unrelated people as witnesses would be far more effective than using your brothers and father.
  2. The witnesses should not have already been eager believers.
    There should have been some skeptics.
  3. There should have been no financial motive. Martin Harris mortgaged his farm and invested at least $3,000 of his own money into printing the Book of Mormon, so of course, he had incentives to ‘promote’ the book.
  4. Each of the witnesses should have written their own testimony instead of merely signing a prepared statement written by Joseph. If the prepared document wasn’t 100%, accurate many people would simply sign it anyway as it would be too much of a hassle to have it completely rewritten by hand – especially in the 1800s.
  5. The witnesses should have been much more detailed about this amazing event. What did the angel look like? What exactly did he say? How did he speak? There are almost no details provided which can be analyzed and compared. If each witness had simply written their own account and provided significant details, then their testimonies could corroborate each other.
  6. The witnesses should have been interviewed independently immediately after going public. They should have been interviewed the same way police do with witnesses to crimes or that investigators do with UFO cases. Ask questions to see if their stories match; How was the angel dressed? How tall was he? How did he speak?
  7. The witnesses should not have used subjective language and say strange things like comparing seeing the plates with seeing a city through a mountain or using spiritual eyes instead of their natural eyes to view physical plates.
  8. The witnesses should not have been gullible people that believed in things like ‘second sight,’ divining rods, finding treasure by placing a rock in a hat, etc. That the Three Witnesses were a gullible sort is illustrated by an incident in July 1837. Joseph had left on a five-week missionary tour to Canada, only to find on his return that all three of the Witnesses had joined a faction opposing him. This faction rallied around a young girl who claimed to be a seeress by virtue of a black stone in which she read the future. David Whitmer, Martin Harris, and Oliver Cowdery all pledged her their loyalty, and Frederick G. Williams, formerly Joseph’s First Counselor, became her scribe. The girl seeress would dance herself into a state of exhaustion, fall to the floor, and burst forth with revelations. See Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, pp. 211-213).
  9. All the witnesses should have been much more vocal and been interviewed much more often. There are very few interviews done with the witnesses that provide any additional information or corroboration of their statements. You would think that these people, after seeing such a magnificent sight, would spend their time testifying to the world about their experience instead of largely just signing a prepared statement and avoiding interviews by the media. Only three of the eight witnesses made separate statements that they had handled the plates. They were Joseph’s two brothers, Hyrum and Samuel, and John Whitmer.
  10. And of course, it would have helped had all the witnesses remained loyal to the Church for the rest of their lives instead of having most of them abandoning it. It doesn’t make much sense to leave the one, true Church of God if you have received an indisputable witness that it was true. Why would these people risk being cast in Outer Darkness for all eternity for denying what they KNEW to be true unless they maybe had some doubts? 45

And then there is Hypnotism

hyp

The 2014 American Psychological Association definition of hypnotic suggestibility;

“An individual’s ability to experience suggested alterations in physiology, sensations, emotions, thoughts, or behavior during hypnosis.” (APA, 2014)

A man they called Reveen, one of the world’s greatest concert hypnotists, put on a brilliant hypnotism show in the 1960s and 1970s. I attended more than a few of his performances and was greatly impressed by his ability to get regular people to do crazy things under a state of, “hypnosis.” He would have people shake hands and then tell them their hands were cemented together, and sure enough hard as they tried, they couldn’t separate them. I remember him telling a rather portly gentleman he was a famous ballerina after which he danced across the stage and doing pirouettes!

Incidentally, I was sitting in a typically dull sacrament meeting in Edmonton, Canada one Sunday when Raveen and his family walked in! Yes, he was a Mormon (at least for a time), and while touring would attend church.

We have often heard Joseph Smith described as charismatic and captivating, having a magnetic personality. Is it not possible that Joseph Smith understood the principles of hypnosis or mesmerism as it was called then? The English translation of Frans Anton Mesmer’s ground-breaking book, Mesmerism: The Discovery of Animal Magnetism (1779), was certainly known and available in the United States in Joseph’s day. No less than George Washington discussed Mesmer’s theories in a letter to the Marquis de Lafayette on November 25, 1784.

Put yourself in Martin’s place, you have a little formal education; you live in a place where news from the broader world is limited. Many perhaps most of your friends and family see the world as almost a mystical place. You believe in God, but you also believe in evil spirits and demons and witches and buried treasures. You have been affiliated with many churches and denominations, but none have excited you as much as Joe’s religion. You have invested heavily in this divine work, your time, your treasure, even your relationship with your wife have been sacrificed to the cause. You know the work is true. You know Joseph talks with God.

It is a beautiful warm morning as you go to the woods with David and Oliver and the Prophet. You have all knelt in prayer asking that the Lord will show you the plates, but nothing is happening. It must be you. You know how weak you are. You lack the faith of the others. You need to leave; you are ruining the experience for Oliver and David. Your heart aches as you walk on alone to another opening in the woods, where you again prey to your God for faith and forgiveness. Then suddenly Joseph is with you, comforting you and together you again knell down in prayer, with the prophet at your side, with your eyes closed.

You desire with all your heart, more than anything to have ever wanted to have the sure witness promised by a man you ‘know’ to be a true prophet of God, if only you could have enough faith.

Joseph begins, slowly, in that monotone ‘conference-ease’ voice that all of today’s general authorities seek to emulate. Joseph prays, “Oh God, our heavenly Father, we come to you in fervent prayer and petition that you will show your dear and faithful servant, Martin the golden plates of which are spoken. Lord, I ask that you send an angel from your presence to show your loving servant Martin the same vision that your servants Joseph, David, and Oliver have been blessed with. That he may know the truth.”

“And Martin my brother, have faith in our Lord. Martin concentrate on the glory of God, forget all your daily cares, the Lord will take care of all your needs, put these foolish things out of your mind as you pray to our God to show unto you the golden plates, Martin with every breath you take feel the spirit fill you, Martin, the veil begins to lift, see the veil between this world and the heavens parting and behold…” and on and on and on.

Joseph goes on until he feels Martin is ready. Then Joseph declares, “Oh Martin can you see the angel, in that dazzling robe, so gloriously white? Martin can you see, look, he turns over the leaves one by one so that we can see, and discern the engravings thereon distinctly? He is talking to you, can you hear him, he says, ‘Martin, blessed is the Lord, and he that keeps His commandments;’ listen Martin, to that voice declaring, ‘These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of what you now see and hear.’ Oh Martin, blessed are you can you see, can you see?

Yes, Yes, you cry out in an ecstasy of joy, ’Tis enough; ’tis enough; mine eyes have beheld; mine eyes have beheld;’ and jumping up, you shout, ‘Hosanna,’ I bless God, I bless God.”

Was what Martin and the others saw a product of their own mind? Remember, by Harris’ own admission, everything he and the others saw came as a vision. Historical accounts reflect that the witnesses could very well have been induced to see the plates in a vision because of Smith’s mesmerizing methods.

Smith persistently badgered them that only the faithful could see them. A persuasive but illogical technique Mormon missionaries still use today when they direct prospects to Moroni’s promise at the end of the Book of Mormon, which says that if one, “asks God, in the name of Christ, with a sincere heart, the truth will be manifest by the Holy Ghost.”

One of the weakest arguments that members of the church too often make is that if a person sincerely prays to Heavenly Father, he will not be deceived, again the Holy Bible never gives that assurance. 2 Cor. 11:14 says that Satan often transforms himself into an angel of light, and 1 Timothy 4:1 warns of seducing spirits.
Did Smith use this same wily manipulative manner of intimidation? Did he pray upon these simple witnesses’ emotions, inducing them to conjure up a vision by telling them that God was not allowing them to see the plates because they were ‘not worthy’ and needed to ‘repent,’ and have ‘greater faith? Under this kind of pressure, is it possible that individuals will see exactly what they are expected to see?

We know that Joseph had from an early age what only the most gifted revivalist preacher could boast of, the talent for making men see visions.

“An example of how Smith coerced the ‘Eight Witnesses’ to see a vision was told to the Governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford, by more than one of Smith’s key men:

‘They [Smith’s men] told Ford that the witnesses were “set to continual prayer and other spiritual exercises.” Then, at last “he assembled them in a room and produced a box which he said contained the precious treasure. The lid was opened; the witnesses peeped into it, but making no discovery, for the box was empty, they said, “Brother Joseph, we do not see the plates.” The prophet answered them, “O ye of little faith! how long will God bear with this wicked and perverse generation? Down on your knees, brethren, every one of you, and pray God for the forgiveness of your sins, and for a holy and living faith which cometh down from heaven.” The disciples dropped to their knees and began to pray in the fervency of their spirit, supplicating God for more than two hours with fanatical earnestness; at the end of which time, looking again into the box, they were now persuaded that they saw the plates.”

That they saw the plates in vision, or with their ‘spiritual eyes,’ rather than their natural eyes, makes it more likely, as Fawn Brodie notes in her book, ‘No Man Knows My History,’ ‘that the men were not conspirators but victims of Joseph’s unconscious but positive talent at hypnosis.’

The Three Witnesses and Hypnotic Susceptibility

Hypnotic susceptibility is a personality trait which remains remarkably stable over time. Hypnotizability, if I can call it that, or suggestibility have certain predictors.

Predictors and Correlates of Hypnotic Susceptibility

Absorption: Absorption is a disposition or personality trait in which a person becomes absorbed in their mental imagery, particularly fantasy. This trait thus correlates highly with a fantasy-prone personality. The original research on absorption was done by American psychologist Auke Tellegen.

Fantasy Proneness: Fantasy Proneness: ‘Fantasy-prone personality’ (FPP) is an expression coined by psychologists Cheryl Wilson and Theodore Barber in a 1983 paper based on a small study on hypnotic susceptibility. Their work developed a theme put forth by Josephine R. Hilgard, a pioneer in the study of hypnosis. FPP is a personality peculiarity in which a person experiences a lifelong extensive and deep involvement in fantasy. This disposition is commonly described as having an “overactive imagination” or “living in a dream world.” An individual with this trait (termed a fantasizer) may have difficulty differentiating between fantasy and reality and may experience hallucinations, as well as self-suggested psychosomatic symptoms. This is closely related psychological constructs include absorption and eidetic memory.

Graham Wagstaff cautions against using the terms “suggestible” and “susceptible” interchangeably, about the extent to which one individual responds to incoming suggestions from another.

“The two terms are not synonymous, however, as the latter term carries inherent negative bias absent from the neutral psychological factor described by suggestibility.”

In scientific research and academic literature on hypnosis and hypnotherapy, the term “suggestibility” describes a neutral psychological and possibly physiological state or phenomena. This is distinct from the culturally biased common parlance of the term “suggestible”. Both terms are often bound with undeserved negative social connotations not inherent in the word meanings themselves.

To be suggestible is not to be gullible. The latter pertains to an empirical objective fact that can be shown accurate or inaccurate to any observer; the former term does not. To be open to suggestion has no bearing on the accuracy of any incoming suggestions, nor whether such an objective accuracy is possible (as is with metaphysical belief).” 46

Hypnotic State, Suggestion, and Hypnotic Suggestion

Matthew Whalley provides clarification between a hypnotic state, suggestion and hypnotic suggestion. He holds simply that a suggestion is hypnotic if it is delivered in the context of hypnosis. For example, if it is delivered after a hypnotic induction. The same suggestions can also be delivered outside of hypnosis, to an unhypnotized individual. In this, the latter case, it is known as a non-hypnotic suggestion or an imaginative suggestion. There is considerable research showing that hypnotic suggestions are only marginally more effective than imaginative suggestions. A fact that may be significant as we evaluate the three witnesses’ susceptibility.

This brief discussion on hypnosis has shown that is not about a ‘battle of wills.’ People feel more comfortable when receiving positive suggestions in the understanding framework or context. People are less likely to resist the ideas for optimism or a positive perspective if they:

  1. Correspond with other ideas already held
  2. Contain positive rather than negative enforcement toward something good rather than away from something bad
  3. Flatter our self-identity to a level we accept.

Clearly, all three of these features were present regarding the ‘Three Witnesses.’ In fact, in every way, the position of the ‘Three Witnesses’ was ideal for a hypnotically-induced illusion or “vision.”

Was Smith trained in hypnosis or mesmerism, of course not, but neither were the magicians, priests, sorcerers or other charismatic individuals in the past who discovered it by accident?

How could the witnesses all make statements that suggest that their experience with the gold plates and the angel were visionary and later vehemently state they were real as you and I understand that word?

Remember a hypnotically-induced hallucination is very real to the person having it. In fact, it is only identifiable as a hallucination by someone other than the person hallucinating. If the individual having the hallucination recognized it as a hallucination, it would not then be a hallucination. It is almost impossible to convince a hallucinator that his or her experience is not real.

It is not that difficult to understand. Think of someone who witnesses a heated argument after school. When later asked about the “huge fight” that occurred, they recall the memory, but unknowingly exaggerate or distort it, because they now think of the event as a “huge fight” instead of a simple argument and the further away they get in time from the original event, the greater the distortion. There was no conscious attempt to mislead; it is just a feature of memory and the human mind.

There are, of course, examples of where suggestibility can also be seen in extremes which result in negative consequences.

Witness testimony is altered because the police make ‘suggestions’ during an interview, which causes that individual’s already uncertain observations to become distorted memories.

Another example might be a young girl suffering migraine headaches leading to sleep deprivation and depression. Her therapist, a specialist in child sexual abuse, repeatedly asked her whether her father had sexually abused her. This persistent suggestion causes the young girl to fabricate memories of her father molestation, which leads to her being placed in foster care and her father being tried on charges of abuse.

Were the ‘Three Witnesses’ targets of hypnosis or suggestion? We can only speculate, but one must consider the power Joseph Smith had over his followers and the differential in intellect and authority between these simple men and an ambitious, self-assured Svengali.

The subject’s attitude towards authority plays an important part as well. It has been long known that army officers are much more difficult to hypnotize than enlisted men and women. Why? Because enlisted men and women, through the process of indoctrination and training, are taught to obey and follow orders without thought or reason. The transference of authority by Smith was readily accomplished then as it is now through the authoritarian construction and structure of the Church.

Apologists Responses to the Witnesses to the Book of Mormon

In what I assume was a presentation delivered at the FairMormon Conference in 2004, this apologist begins with the comment, “Columbus started on faith, Edison started on faith, and it’s that faith that is called a hypothesis in this scientific method. You have to conceive of something in terms of imagination and logical extension, extrapolation before you ever really verify something beyond your little reality and so we’re really dealing with that basic issue below.”

Well, where do I start? The writer does not understand the scientific method nor for that matter faith. Faith and a hypothesis are not the same thing. A hypothesis is where – after doing your research, you try to predict the answer to your problem. Another term for a hypothesis is an ‘educated guess.’

Merriam-Webster defines ‘Faith’ as “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof.”

Columbus was a self-taught man, but he was not an ignorant man, ‘after doing his research,’ he set out to find to find a western sea route to China, India, and the fabled gold and spice islands of Asia.

He was aware that Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C. proved the earth was round, and that Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. provided the physical evidence, such as the shadow of the Earth on the moon, and like all sailors, he witnessed the curvature of the Earth approaching land.

I would suggest to you that my approach to the ‘witnesses’ to the Book of Mormon is a true application of the scientific method. I didn’t start with ‘faith’ I started by doing my research. Then I formulated the hypotheses that the ‘witnesses’ did not see the plates, angels, et cetera, with their ‘real’ eyes and/or they, for reasons best known to themselves, were not truthful.

The author of this article I quoted above goes on to beg the question, “Why in their personal statements do the eight witnesses consistently use the formulaic language that they ‘saw’ and ‘hefted’ and ‘handled’ rather than using other language or giving greater detail? Doesn’t this suggest a conspiracy?” Which he then goes on to answer his own question, “I come back to this issue where John Whitmer said if you doubt what happened… if you want my testimony go read it. I don’t see ‘hefted’ as formulaic. I think that’s, as I said, a very specific term of the period meaning they tried to estimate their weight. And whether it’s William Smith estimating the weight when he got handed the plates in a sack or the tow frock in the house when Joseph brought them home; or Martin Harris estimating the weight as he held the plates in a box, 40 to 60 pounds is basically what anybody who lifted the plates say.” 47

All this is, of course, meaningless as Joseph Smith carefully crafted the witness affidavits, which the individual witnesses simply signed.

The witnesses are a hard call. They clearly state they saw the plates and the angel. But there are also many statements made by the witnesses themselves that their admissions were more visionary than real. The Witnesses,’ particularly Martin Harris’s, use of terms such as, ‘second sight,’ ‘with spiritual eyes,’ ‘visions of the mind,’ or through the “eyes of our understanding,” certainly give one pause.

I think to truly understand the Book of Mormon witnesses; one must appreciate the magical worldview people held in early 19th Century in the backwoods of New England. Many folks believed in folk magic, visions, glass looking, divining rods, second sight, peep stones, treasure hunting and so on.

Additionally, several issues call into question the witnesses’ independence. All had close ties to Joseph and his family. Martin Harris had a substantial financial stake in the success of the Book of Mormon. And to be kind, the witnesses were not society’s ‘cream of the crop.’

As well they all left the Church at some point and most held Joseph Smith in very low esteem as he did them. Joseph Smith said Dec 16, 1838, “Such characters as McLellin, John Whitmer, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris are too mean to mention; and we had liked to have forgotten them.” 48

David Whitmer—like the other witnesses—had been charged with being deluded into thinking he had seen an angel and the plates. Joseph Smith III remembered when David was such accused and said:

“How well and distinctly I remember the manner in which Elder Whitmer arose and drew himself up to his full height—a little over six feet—and said, in solemn and impressive tones: ‘No sir! I was not under any hallucination, nor was I deceived! I saw with these eyes, and I heard with these ears! I know whereof I speak!’.

Martin Harris used the same qualifying statements to describe his experience in 1829:

“In introducing us, Mr. Godfrey said, ‘Brother Harris, I have brought these young men to hear your statement as to whether or not you believe the Book of Mormon to be true.’ His face was turned to the wall. He turned and faced us and said, ‘Now I don’t believe, but I know it to be true, for with these eyes I saw the angel and with these ears, I heard him say it was a true and correct record of an ancient people that dwelt upon this the American continent’. 49

As I had mentioned above, a hypnotically-induced hallucination is very real to the person having it. In fact, it is only identifiable as a hallucination by someone other than the person hallucinating. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, if the individual having the hallucination recognized it as a hallucination, it would not then be a hallucination. It is almost impossible to convince a hallucinator that his or her experience was not real.

References

1 Ronald W. Walker, “Martin Harris:

John A. Clark letter, August 31, 1840, in EMD, 2: 271

3 Martin Harris-Witness & Benefactor, BYU 1955 Thesis, Wayne C. Gunnell, p.52.)

4 Latter-Day Saints, Millennial Star, Vol 8 pp124-128

5 Wayne Sentinel, May 27, 1831, as quoted in Richard Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, 1981

6 Rochester Daily Democrat, June 23, 1841, as quoted in Richard Anderson, Investigating the Book of Mormon Witnesses, 1981

7 Pomeroy Tucker reminiscence, 1858, in Vogel & 1996-2003, 3: 71 Education and Intelligence

8 “The Passing of Martin Harris,” in the Improvement Era Vol. 29, No. 5 (March 1926):

9 George Godfrey, “Testimony of Martin Harris,” from an unpublished manuscript copy in the possession of his daughter, Florence (Godfrey) Munson of Fielding, Utah; quoted in Eldin Ricks, The Case of the Book of Mormon Witnesses (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1971), 65–66 (Is that third hand?)

10 Warren Parris to E. Holmes, August 11, 1838.

11 Stephen Burnett, Early Mormon Documents, 2:288-93

12 Martin Harris, (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71

13 Early Mormon Documents, 2:346-47

14 Letter from Stephen Burnett to “Br. Johnson,” April 15, 1838, in Joseph Smith Letter Book, p. 2

15 Mormonism: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress, p.71

16 Early Mormon Documents 2:270 and 3:22

17 Eric Nelson, Leaving the Church, Part 9 Oct. 24, 2015

18 History of the Mormonites, Kirtland, 1831. Josiah Jones, The Evangelist (1 June 1831) p.40

19 The Braden & Kelly Debate, p. 173

20 Palmyra Reflector, March 19, 1831

21 Biographical Sketches, Lucy Smith, pp. 211-213

22David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ
Statements by Whitmer that He Saw the Gold Plates and the Angel in Vision

23 Interview with John Murphy, June 1880, Early Mormon Documents 5:63

24 Moyle diary, June 28, 1885, in Early Mormon Documents, Dan Vogel, Signature Book, Salt Lake City, October 1996

25 Early Mormon Documents, Dan Vogel, Signature Book, Salt Lake City, October 1996, 2:346-47

26 Early Mormon Documents, Dan Vogel, Signature Book, Salt Lake City, October 1996, 2:346-47

27 David Whitmer, to Anthony Metcalf, 2 April 1887; printed in A[nthony] Metcalf, Ten Years before the Mast (Malad City, Idaho: n.p., 1888, 73-74

28 Millennial Star, vol. XL, pp. 771-77

29 Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, Chapter 6

30 Deseret Evening News, 6 Aug. 1878

31 Marvin S. Hill, “Brodie Revisited: A Reappraisal,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, (Winter, 1972): pp. 83-84

32 Early Mormon Documents, 3:177-79

33 Grant Palmer, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins Chapter

34 The True Origin of The Book of Mormon, Charles Shook, 1914, pp. 58-59

35 Defense in a Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the Latter-Day Saints,” Presley Job Office, Norton, Ohio, 183

36 Seasons and Times, Vol 2, p. 482

37 Martin Harris, (Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71)

38 Early Mormon Documents, 2:346-47

39 “He only saw the plates with a spiritual eye

40 Joseph Smith Begins His Work, Vol. 1, 1958

41 Letter from Stephen Burnett to “Br. Johnson,” April 15, 1838, in Joseph Smith Letter Book, p. 2.

42 Early Mormon Documents 1:497

43 Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70

44 Facts on the Book of Mormon Witnesses, Jole B. Groat, July 8, 2011, Institute for Religious Research The Book of Mormon Witnesses, Recovery From Mormonism, http://exmormon.org/d6/drupal/file9

45 September 7, 2014, in Book of Mormon, Fred Anson, Mormon Studies

46 Wagstaff, Graham F. (1991). “Suggestibility: A social psychological approach.” Florence Kentucky: Taylor & Frances/Routledge. p. 141

47 Unnamed source, 2004 FairMormon Conference

48 History of the Church, Vol 3, p232

49https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Could_Joseph_Smith_have_hypnotized_the witnesses.

FairMormon’s Comments

Several witnesses to the Book of Mormon confessed that they did not see the plates with their natural eyes, but with ‘visions of the mind.’

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Again, FairMormon, as is their custom, talks about errors and suggests there is erroneous or incorrect information without providing any collaborating evidence or details.

yelloww

 

 

Chapter 25

Joseph Creates a Witness Affidavit for Signature

Old Letter With Handwritten Text. Grunge Vintage TextureI think the testimony of the witnesses would be more credible if they had written their own accounts instead of merely signing a prepared statement carefully crafted by Joseph Smith.

As well, we now know that the three witnesses did not all see the plates or angel at the same time. Only David Whitmer and perhaps Oliver Cowdery saw the angel together. Martin Harris removed himself from the group and did not see the angel until perhaps three days later. 1

Joseph Smith was very charismatic and we know was quite persuasive, we have very little to go on in terms of how Joseph got them to sign.

Remember too that all the witnesses had very close ties to Joseph and his family. Some like Martin Harris even had a substantial financial investment in the success of the Book of Mormon.

The witnesses were a product of the early 1800s and believed in magical things – second sight, witches, dreams, seer stones, etc. It would seem that at least some of the witnesses were easily swayed by stories of the supernatural, especially in a religious context.

Most of the witnesses ended up leaving the church and many followed other leaders and other religions such as James Strang, the Shakers, the Methodists, etc. By 1847 not a single one of the surviving eleven witnesses had anything to do with Mormon Church.

Many of the witnesses who left the Church, believed that Joseph was at best a fallen prophet, who changed the church’s doctrines and revelations against God’s will.

Apologists Responses to Joseph Smith’s Creation of a Witness Statement for the Witnesses to Sign

There is very little from the apologists on this issue, Each of the witnesses should each have written their own testimony instead of merely signing a carefully prepared statement written by Joseph Smith. If the signatories did not find the document 100% accurate, it would have to be completely rewritten by hand – no mean feat in the 1800s.

As well we know there was not a signing ceremony, it was not like the signing of the Declaration of Independence. They did not all sign at the same time.

Had the witnesses written their own statement, perhaps we would have learned, what the angel looks like, what if anything did the angel say?

References

1 Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, nd., microfilm copy, p. 70-71).

FairMormon’s Comments

Again FairMormon has nothing.

 

32. Why were words such as Baptism, Bible, Crucifixion & Synagogue Used Before Their Existence?

bapt

Baptism

The word “baptism” found in 2 Nephi 31:13 and other places. But this cannot be an actual translation of a word found on ancient plates, because “baptism” is a transliteration of the Greek word baptisma, and peculiar to the King James version.

Likewise, the word “epistle” in 3 Nephi 3:5 is an obvious copy of the King James Version. The word “epistle” (epistolos) was left in its original Greek form, but given an English ending; and, the words “alpha” and “omega” which appear in 3 Nephi 9:18, are, of course, English spellings of Greek words found in the Bible (Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13).

Bible

2 Nephi 29:3 reads, “A Bible, A Bible, we have got a Bible,” referencing the Jewish Old Testament, which dates to 550 B.C. However, the word “Bible” is the English transliteration of the Greek term “biblos,” which came into parlance a millennium and a half later.

Crucifixion

Crucifixion was unknown to Jews in Palestine in 600 B.C. It became first known to Jews in Palestine in the late fourth century B.C.

Synagogue

The word ‘synagogue’ or some derivative of it occurs more than 25 times in the Book of Mormon. In Alma 16:13, we read, “And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews.” This statement assumes that Nephites were aware of how the Jews built their synagogues.

But how could Alma and Amulek know how the Jews built their synagogues when the Jews themselves didn’t build them before Lehi (supposedly) left for the Americas in 600 BC?

FairMormon’s Comments

Again nothing from FairMormon.

 

 

Chapter 26

Why does the Book of Mormon incorrectly state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem?

beth

We know, of course, that the Lord was born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is located on the southern portion of the Judean Mountains.The city is situated 73 kilometers (about 44 mi) northeast of Gaza City and the Mediterranean Sea, 75 kilometers (46 mi) west of Amman, Jordan, 59 kilometers (37 mi) southeast of Tel Aviv, Israel and 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) south of Jerusalem.Jesus was born from the tribe of Judah and Bethlehem is in the territory of Judah.Jerusalem is in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin, which would make Jesus having been born of the tribe of Benjamin!Apologists claim that Bethlehem is essentially a suburb of Jerusalem. There is not a single non-LDS expert who will state any such thing. Bethlehem is not Jerusalem. A big issue, perhaps not, but it casts additional doubt on the veracity of the Book of Mormon because God is not in the habit of just being close, He is perfect.

FairMormon’s Comments

Why does the Book of Mormon incorrectly state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem?

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The Book of Mormon does not claim that “Jesus was born in Jerusalem”. It claims that Jesus was born “at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers.” It is referring to the land of Jerusalem.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

We could accept this as a reasonable explanation, were it not for the fact that Joseph Smith in his arrogance made the fanciful and demonstrably false statement that the Book of Mormon is ‘the most correct book on earth.’

But to state that I have stated ‘erroneous or incorrect information’ by pointing out Smith’s mistake says a great deal about FairMormon’s raison d’être.

yelloww

 

Chapter 27

The Council of 50 and An Accusation of Treason

Treason Law Concept 3D Illustration

Joseph Smith was a very ambitious man. Shortly before his death in 1844 he established a theocratic-political system which he named the Council of 50. And on April 11th, 1844 was named 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.

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 counselor 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.” 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 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.” 2

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.”

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.” 3

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.” 4

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 simply echoes the message of the Book of Mormon:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. Thy hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off.
  4. 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. 5

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 Fifty on March 11th, 1845:

“The gentiles 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 have rejected the Gospel [And] we will sweep them out of existence.5

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 – usually death.

Were Smith’s actions treasonous?

Probably. 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.”

Had Smith not been killed in the gunfight at Cartage jail, I think it would have been unlikely that he would have been convicted of treason.

Treason is a high bar, ‘levying War against them.’

But the Jig was up for Joseph Smith and his illegal order to destroy the Expositor and call out the Nauvoo Legion was serious stuff. Even more serious, Smith’s adulterous affairs with other women and his now public revelation of plural marriage was very upsetting to many of the good citizens of his community; especially since teenage girls and married women were involved.

Had he not been killed, 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 directly on Smith’s accusations of Treason. 

References

1 Affidavit of Wilson Law, June 20, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. II,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, February 22, 1845,

2
Affidavit of John W. Putnam, August 13, 1844, published in “Letters to Gov. Ford−No. IV,” Alton Telegraph & Democratic Review, March 15, 1845.

3 Liverpool: F. D. Richards, 1845, 1, 6.

4 Ayatullah Sayyid Imam Ruhollah Musawi Khomeini, ‘Islamic Government: Governance of the Jurist’, Jan 21, 1970.

5 Council of 50 Minutes, 300

FairMormon’s Comment

Again, no specific comment on what I have written.

 

35. How can we Account for the Astounding Population Growth Spoken of in the Book of Mormon?

How do we overcome the problem of large populations and armies arising in such a short period; from a handful of people to many millions?

The unparalleled population growth suggested in the Book of Mormon is also problematic. Could huge populations and armies arise in such a short period; from a handful of people to many millions?

The Book of Mormon tells us that in less than 30 years from the time Lehi arriving in America, their population multiplied so rapidly that they had to be divided into two ‘great nations.’ Nations? Even if they reproduced like rabbits they could only produce several dozen offspring in that amount of time. 

Professional demographers agree that this population growth rate would have to be about thirty times the rate that existed in the world as a whole during the same era to reach anything close to the numbers spoken of in the Book of Mormon.

Population growth during this pre-agricultural period was virtually nonexistent, roughly .0001 percent per year or less. This is an established fact that can easily be confirmed.

“For the Amlicite-Nephite war of 87 B.C.E., Alma 2:17-19 reports a total of 19,094 fatalities. On the basis of these figures John Sorenson, a professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University, estimated the total Nephite-Lamanite population to be over 600,000 at that time (about 200,000 Nephites-Amlicites and over 400,000 Lamanites). For an original band of thirty reproductive individuals in 590 B.C.E. to proliferate even to 19,094 by 87 B.C.E. would require an average annual growth rate of 1.3 percent sustained over the span of five centuries. To reach the 600,000 level Sorenson determined to have existed at that point; the growth rate would have had to be 2 percent, again maintained for five centuries. This is a level never reached on a global scale until C.E. 1960 and fifty times the actual world rate of the pre-industrial epoch.” 1

Also, who was producing the food for the hundreds of thousands, even millions of soldiers, so they could wage war? It is estimated that just 100,000 soldiers would need 400,000 farmers to produce enough food for them. As well, it would take thousands of tradesmen to produce weapons of war, armor and other tools, and basic needs – barrels, clothing, lumber, etc. Not to mention the thousands of workers dragging everything around on wheel-less carts dragged by tapirs!

FairMormon’s Comments

“How do we overcome the problem of large populations and armies arising in such a short period?

Question: Was the Lehite colony too small to produce the population sizes indicated by the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon contains many overt references, and some more oblique ones, to ‘other’ peoples that were part of the demographic mix in Book of Mormon times

A superficial reading of the Book of Mormon leads some to conclude that the named members of Lehi’s group were the only members of Nephite/Lamanite society.

The Book of Mormon contains many overt references, and some more oblique ones, to ‘other’ peoples that were part of the demographic mix in Book of Mormon times. Indeed, many Book of Mormon passages make little sense unless we understand this. The Nephite record keeps its focus on a simplistic “Nephite/Lamanite” dichotomy both because it is a kinship record, and because its focus is religious, not politico-historical.

But, as one author observed, it is inescapable that there were substantial populations in the “promised land” throughout the Nephite record, and probably in the Jaredite era also. The status and origin of these peoples are never made clear because the writers never set out to do any such thing; they had other purposes. We cannot understand the demographic or cultural history of Lehi’s literal descendants without taking into account those other groups, too.

Hereafter, readers will not be justified in saying that the record fails to mention “others” but only that we readers have hitherto failed to observe what is said and implied about such people in the Book of Mormon.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

As I say in my letter, the population growth suggested in the Book of Mormon is unrealistic. If we work from the assumption the western hemisphere was empty when the Book of Mormon peoples arrived. Professional demographers agree that the population growth rate indicated would have to be about thirty times the rate that existed in the world as a whole during the same era to reach the numbers spoken of in the Book of Mormon. This suggests other preexisting populations.

This. however, conflicts with The Book of Mormon which seems to claim that the hemisphere was empty at the time of Lehi’s arrival. 2 Nephi, Chapter 1:

8 And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.

9 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever. . . .

This NEW theory of other populations may help the apologists deal with their DNA problem.

yelloww

Chapter 28

Does Smith’s Murder Make Him a Martyr?

Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum Smith were murdered on June 27, 1844, by an armed mob, an event that has prompted many Mormons to classify them both as martyrs.

A close analysis of the term and even a superficial examination of the circumstances of Joseph Smith’s demise suggest that he was no martyr. To be labeled a martyr one must meet specific criteria, for example, the reasons why one is put to death and the way one faces that death.

An examination of the reasons why Smith was murdered and the actions he took to avoid this fate makes it problematic to maintain that Smith was like that, “lamb led to the slaughter.”

As I discussed previously Joseph Smith was properly arrested on the charge of treason for his destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor and the calling out of the Nauvoo Legion. These were not trumped up charges as many Church members have been taught.

Prior to his arrest, he fled the jurisdiction to avoid justice, only returning after his wife informed him that many of his followers viewed him as a coward for running away and leaving them to their own devices.

When Smith, who was also Nauvoo’s mayor, realized that several former members were planning to publish an exposé of his polygamy, polyandry, sex with young girls, dishonesty and political machinations in the Expositor, he convinced the Nauvoo City Council to declare the paper a “nuisance” and order the destruction of its press and type.

Then, on June 19, Smith declared martial law and put his four-thousand-member Nauvoo Legion on alert before he and his brother Hyrum Smith left town. When Joseph and Hyrum returned, they were arrested, charged with treason and placed in a minimum-security cell at the Carthage Jail. According to History of the Church 6:605, Smith had Emma tell church leader Jonathan Dunham to tell the people to just stay home and to “let there be no groups or gathering together, unless by permission of the governor.”

However, Smith’s biographer Fawn Brodie writes that Smith “hastily scribbled an order to Dunham to bring in the Legion, break the jail, and save him at all costs. Within seconds two messengers bearing this order and the letter to Emma were off at a frantic gallop on the fifteen-mile trip to Nauvoo.1

While Smith, Hyram and the others were drinking wine and singing, a mob storms the jail and rushed up the stairs to the room where Joseph was being held.

Hyrum approached the door as a volley of balls came through it. One struck him on the left side of his nose, and he fell on his back on the floor supposedly uttering, “I am a dead man!”

He was.

Joseph reached round the door casing, and discharged his six-shooter into the passageway, discharging all the bullets it contained. Reportedly he shot two men, one of whom may have died from his wounds.

Realizing any further resistance was hopeless, he attempted to jump out the window when two balls pierced him from the door, and one entered his right breast from the mob below, and he fell outward into the hands of his murderers, exclaiming. “O Lord, my God!”

As he fell to the ground below, he was propped up and shot again and died.

How did Smith come to have a weapon in jail?

Early LDS Church leader Cyrus H. Wheelock smuggled the six-shooter to him during a visit to the Carthage Jail. As Wheelock was about to leave, he took the gun out and said, “Would any of you like to have this?”

As Taylor writes: “Brother Joseph immediately replied, ‘YES, give it to me,’ whereupon he took the pistol, and put it in his pantaloons pocket.” 2

To say that Joseph Smith was martyred rather than simply murdered is important to many Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young University professor Robert Millet explained how Mormons consider Smith’s death to be like the death of Jesus when he wrote: “The life of Joseph Smith was in some degree patterned after that of the Master, Jesus Christ. That pattern holds true even when extended to its tragic conclusion. Like his Master, Joseph Smith also shed his blood so that the final testament, the reestablishment of the new covenant, might be in full effect.” 3.

A famous LDS hymn references Smith’s death this way:

Hail to the Prophet ascended to heaven!
Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.
Praise to his memory, he died as a martyr;
Honored and blest be his ever-great name!
Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
Plead unto heaven while the earth lauds his fame.

Joseph and Hyrum’s murder was a cruel, barbarous act but I do not believe it is accurate to classify Smith as a martyr.

Firstly, a martyr is one willing to die for his faith. Smith certainly did not die willingly; he engaged in a gunfight with his assailants after he had pleaded with his associates to ‘break him out’ and after he had first chosen to run away.

A true martyr would not have attempted to call on the Nauvoo Legion, nor shoot at, injure and possibly kill his attackers.

I am not suggesting that Joseph Smith or anyone else is not morally justified in defending themselves, however, Smith’s behavior can hardly be compared to Jesus who reprimanded Peter, saying “for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.”

Secondly, Joseph Smith did not die so much for his faith but rather to prevent a newspaper from going public with an exposé of his illegal sexual behavior and treasonous political ambitions. It was Joseph Smith’s deeds – not his Mormon beliefs that led to his murder.

Can we honestly put Joseph Smith in the same company as Saint Stephen who falsely accused, could have avoided his stoning had he just denied the Lord and whose last words were, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit…Lord, lay not this sin to their charge?

Can we honesty put Joseph Smith in the same company as the Lord Jesus Christ who wouldn’t allow His disciples to fight, but rather reprimanded Peter for resisting?

He could have called down angels and destroyed His accusers. But No, he suffered, bled and died for you and for me, whose last words were, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do?”

There have been many who have died for their Christian faith since the days of Jesus and the Apostles. Sadly, there are hundreds around the world who give their lives even today as true Christian martyrs.

Father Ragheed Ganni was born in 1972 in Iraq. After studying in Rome, Father Ganni requested to be sent back to Iraq to serve his country as a Catholic priest. As a priest who spoke four languages, he worked with “Asia News” as the Pontifical Institute Foreign Missions Correspondent.

One night, after celebrating Mass where his three cousins served as deacons, as the four men left the Church. A man approached the group and told Father Ganni to shut down the Church, to which he responded, “How can I close the house of God?”

Father Ganni and his three deacons were told to convert to Islam or die. They bravely refused and were then all shot to death, their bodies being placed in a car full of explosives so if anyone attempted to remove the bodies, they would also have been destroyed.

Father Ganni was a martyr.

Born in 1943 in Italy, Annalena Tonelli was a lawyer who at age 25 moved to Africa to work with the Committee Against World Hunger, an organization she helped found.

Later she moved to Borama, where she founded a tuberculosis hospital, whose $20,000 monthly maintenance bills were funded by her friends and family back in Italy.

She brought HIV/AIDS patients to the Borama hospital because she believed they deserved to be treated like human beings and children of God. This move was not received well, and protesters routinely threw stones breaking the windows of the hospital, chanting “Death to Annalena.”

On October 5, 2003, Annalena was shot in the head and killed while working in the hospital she founded.

Annalena was a martyr.

Considering Smith’s conduct, sleeping with other men’s wives as well as a small class of ‘Mia Maids’ and then lying about it to his only legal wife and his faithful followers. Considering his ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor, the newspaper intent on exposing him. I think it borders on blasphemy for Smith to compare the situation he got himself into to the pure and innocent sacrifice made by the Lord Jesus Christ by allegedly saying, “I am going like a lamb to the slaughter.”

Just because a person is murdered does not make them a martyr. Mormons are free to venerate, exalt and worship their religion’s founder as they need, but it is simply not correct to refer to Joseph Smith’s death as a martyrdom.

References

1 Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Vintage, 1995), 391–392.

2 History of the Church 7:100.

3 Robert L. Millet, “Joseph Smith among the Prophets,” Ensign, June 1994, 22

redd

 

Chapter 29

Contemporary Issues

The Leadership of the Church’s Lack of Discernment

hoffman

I feel the leaders of the Church showed a clear lack of discernment by paying almost a million dollars to Mark Hoffman, to keep embarrassing documents out of circulation. Documents that were later shown to be forgeries, but not before several Church leaders had given talks rationalizing them.

I was led to believe that the President of the Church holds all the keys to this dispensation, including the keys of discernment. In a now famous Church News photo, President Kimball is shown posing with a magnifying glass while snuggling up to Mark Hofmann, a liar, forger, and murderer.

Doctrinal Changes in Response to American Political Pressure

flagCan it not be argued that changes made to core doctrines of the Church were in direct response to American political pressure – the ending of polygamy, Blacks in the priesthood?

While the tone of the following letter to the editor is somewhat mocking, it nevertheless summarizes the view that many people had about the Church’s about-face when President Carter made it clear they would not allow the Church’s tax-free status to continue if they did not change their racist policies.

“What’s done is done. There no longer is any prejudice against blacks in the Mormon church, the power of money took care of that. Back in 1978, the federal government informed the LDS Church that unless it allowed blacks full membership (including the priesthood), they would have to cease calling themselves a non-profit organization and start paying income taxes. On $16.5 million a day in tithing alone, that’s a lot of tax monies that could be better used in building up the Kingdom of God.

The church immediately saw the error of its ways, and the brethren appealed to God for a revelation; it came quickly. God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform, and today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has nothing but love for all races of people on Earth.” 1

in 1968, ten years before the Church saw the light, John Lund wrote the following:

“Those who would try to pressure the Prophet to give the Negroes the Priesthood do not understand the plan of God nor the order of heaven. Revelation is the expressed will of God to man. Revelation is not man’s will expressed to God. All the social, political, and governmental pressure in the world is not going to change what God has decreed to be.”

John L. Lund, The Church and the Negro, page 109

Yet ten years later, when the Church’s status as a tax-exempt organization was in question, and shortly after President Jimmy Carter discussed the Church’s racist policies with Spencer Kimball, the Heavens opened and ban was lifted.

Incidentally, there is no written record of Spencer W. Kimball’s supposed 1978 ‘revelation’; reversing the priesthood ban on African-Americans?

Why was this not important enough to make it into the D&C?

The Church’s apologists deny that President Carter’s candid message to Kimball had anything to do with this timely, ‘revelation.’ Some even claim that the President never broached the subject.

This is not true.

Below I have replicated a note President Carter sent to me in response to my letter to him:

carter

Becoming Gods gods

I only met Gordon Hinckley once. He didn’t make much of an impression on me one way or the other. I certainly didn’t get any loving or Christ-like vibe from him, I don’t think that arrogant is the right word to describe him but it’s close. He had what I would call an imperial manner, but that is only human with all the bowing and scraping he was the recipient of by his fawning TBMs and other sycophants who counted on him for their lavish lifestyles.

I certainly can’t form an opinion based on that brief encounter, if he was an honest or truthful man but many of his public dishonest statements and questionable actions would indicate he was far from being an honorable man.

There is ample evidence that he was well practiced in gaslighting and lying for the Lord, often electing to provide misleading and untruthful answers when confronted with difficult issues.

Like many, I remember reading in Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997, his response, when asked, “… Whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, his answer was uncertain and equivocal:

“I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it… I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don’t know a lot about it, and I don’t think others know a lot about it.”

“I don’t know if we teach it?”

There seems to be a considerable amount of evidence, starting with Joseph Smith and continuing up to Hinckley’s day, that it is certainly taught as I believe Hinckley well knew.

“I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God, from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. … It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God, and to know…that he was once a man like us…. 2

“He [God] is our Father – the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being.” 3

“Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar that through which we are now passing. He became God – an exalted being – through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey.” 4

“God is an exalted man. Some people are troubled over the statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith … That our Father in heaven at one time passed through a life and death and is an exalted man…“ 5

“…God…is a personal Being, a holy and exalted man…” 6

And of course, Lorenzo Snow’s famous little couplet:

“As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become.” 7

He was asked on German television why the Church does not publish its financial records, to which he replied, “We believe that that information belongs to those who made the contribution, not to the world, that’s the only thing.”

This is not a truthful statement, members have no more access to the Church’s financials than the German interviewer.

When Hinckley was questioned by police during the Mark Hofmann murder investigation in the mid-1980s, he first denied he knew Hofmann, then amended his statement to say he barely knew him. The truth is Hofmann had Hinckley’s private phone number and met with Hinckley alone in his office at least 50 times. We know that Hinckley wrote checks to Hofmann.

President Uchtdorf, you have to admit that these types of prevarications give one pause. But you knew him, were these just a few examples of where ‘lying for the Lord’ was the expedient thing to do?

Racism

racismWhile today racism is no longer a major issue in the Church, it has certainly had a very ugly history of it.

“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.” 8

There is rabid Racism in the Book of Mormon and throughout the Church’s history. Why would a Church led by the Savior have allowed so much of this unbridled abhorrent behavior go on for so long in His Church?

The Book of Mormon paints a very narrow viewpoint regarding the concept of beauty. It seems, that anyone who is non-Caucasian, whose skin pigmentation is darker, is also “filthy”, “loathsome” or “not enticing.”

“21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; 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.

Second Nephi; Chapter 5, Verse 21

6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

Alma; Chapter 3, Verse 6

15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

Third Nephi; Chapter 2, Verses 15

“…their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people.”

2 Nephi 30:6

What a toxic, counter-intuitive perspective, Does not every reasonable person recognize that natural beauty is inherent in all humanity – inclusive of all and exclusive of none.

Are the racist statements contained in the Book of Mormon Christ-like or do they represent moral depravity? Is the condemnation of another human being, solely because of the color of their skin, something the Lord would give such prominence to in ‘another testament to Him?’

Sadly, Mormon racism does not end at the Book of Mormon, there have been so many disgusting statements made by Mormon Prophets and Apostles who claim not just to be disciples of, but spokesmen for, the Master.

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 generally bestowed upon mankind. 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.9

“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.”
10

“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.” 11

Lovely!

As well, rather than being a leader in human and civil rights, the Church did very little.

The Church did not support the civil rights movement, in fact, Black leaders urged the boycott of Mormon Tabernacle Choir products and the NAACP brought discrimination charges against the Utah Boy Scouts for forbidding black members from assuming senior patrol positions. Many college athletes refused to even play Brigham Young University teams, and protestors picketed the Church’s twice-yearly general conferences in Salt Lake City.

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 in 1830, but at a time when men and women of good will in this country were matching 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. And sadly, it was not just LDS leaders whose silence was deafening but also the Mormon rank and file, yet it was the connection between religion, civil rights, and social justice found within “local people of faith” who did 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 I think it is important to show the level of intense racism, 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). 12

It is also of value to note that while almost all other denominations have apologized for their past racism, in contrast, LDS Church leaders, while generically criticizing past racism, have carefully avoided any criticism of past Presidents and Apostles very carefully.

Having said that, the Church needs to be given credit for trying to put an end to any systemic racism, as this message delivered by Gordon B. Hinckley, at the April 2006 General Conference illustrates:

“Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.

Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?

Throughout my service as a member of the First Presidency, I have recognized and spoken a number of times on the diversity we see in our society. It is all about us, and we must make an effort to accommodate that diversity.

Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.”

LGBTQ Policies

lgbtq

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.

The 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 rights 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 my 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 own 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.13

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 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

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 association did not exist in any statistically significant way in 2009. There is a greater frequency of teen suicide in 2014 versus 2009 in Mormon-heavy states such as Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, and Alaska. In those states, teen suicide is increasing at higher rates than it is in many (not all) other states; in Utah, the rate has doubled since 2009.

This study shows definitively that youth who live in areas with higher Mormon populations are at a greater risk for suicide.

IMPORTANT: If you or someone you know are suffering because of the LDS Church’s policies toward sexual orientation, please reach out for help call: 1-800-273-8255, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, or call 911.

If you are in pain because of issues relating to your sexual orientation and your Mormon faith, please recognize that a suicidal crisis is almost always temporary. Although it might seem that your unhappiness and your hurt will never end, it will end. Don’t let suicide rob you of the better times that will come your way. Regardless of what the Mormon church teaches, you are as God made you and are of great value.

Please believe me that your perspective will broaden and “a year down the road,” the problems that currently seems catastrophic will have passed and you will go on to have the wonderful full life you deserve.

But most of all do not keep suicidal thoughts to yourself.

Help is available for you, call a friend, a family member, teacher, a therapist. Find a nonjudgmental individual you trust and let them know how bad things are. This can be your first step on the road to healing. You are a child of God, and HE loves you unconditionally. Hang in there.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.”

Psalm 34:18

Take courage too from the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a tendency to suddenly reverse its policies when enough outside pressure is applied. The Church’s major revisions were clearly driven by cultural, economic, legal and political changes, even though the church attributes them to ‘revelation.’

The most recent past injunctions to be overthrown, of course, was the ban on Blacks holding the priesthood and barbaric practice of polygamy. This pattern suggests to me that eventually, the church will likewise change its stance on homosexuality.

Equal rights issues are significant to Americans and in the future, perhaps not even that distant a future, the church’s discrimination against an identifiable minority will result in not just sanctions being applied to it, but devastating public relations emerging from it.

Today the LDS church’s forbids “same-sex attracted” individuals, as they like to call them, to love and marry or even retain their membership or that of their children. But the top of any large organization is a very political place.

The old right-wing white men at the top the hierarchy, Boyd Packard, and his ilk are departing, at an almost acceptable rate, and hard as it might seem when we witness Dallin Oaks being promoted to the first presidency, appear eventually wiser and more inclusive men will emerge.

When there is the right mix of political, legal and most of all economic pressure, the time will be ripe for a revelation.

They are already opening the door. In its essay on polygamy, while the Church affirms its defense of traditional marriage, “Marriage between one man and one woman is God’s standard for marriage,” it also provides the caveat, “unless He declares otherwise.”

I believe that when the ‘brethren’ pray hard enough for what they want to hear, they will hear it.

The Role of Women in the Church

woman.jpgSome would argue, that women are given a structurally subordinate role in the LDS Church.

While most religions are attempting to equalize the roles and responsibilities of men and women, Mormonism is one of the exceptions. Indeed, the role of women in the Church has not changed significantly since Joseph Smith’s day.

As Bruce R. McConkie put it, “… Woman’s primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband.”

Wow!

When it comes to gender roles, the Mormon Church still clings to the increasingly outmoded beliefs of the nineteenth century.

Mormon women are still discouraged from seeking full-time employment, particularly in any career that might demand large amounts of time away from home. No such constraint, of course, on men.

Being an unmarried Mormon woman is especially problematic. They are counseled to seek marriage to a worthy man, failing which, they are told they will be married in the after-life, presumably to a man who has at least one other wife, or to one of the “odd” Mormon men who did not marry in this life. Now there is something to look forward to!

LDS theology is right wing and socially conservative. The Church actively supported the 2008 Proposition 8 in California, which banned same-sex marriage in the state. This proposition was eventually ruled unconstitutional. The Church also opposed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s.

A careful review of official LDS Church literature, including conference talks and articles from the Church’s Ensign magazine, by Professor Ryan Cragun, a sociologist of religion at the University of Tampa in Florida found that despite shifting mores in the rest of American society between the 1970s and today, the LDS Church’s views toward gender roles remain unchanged.

“We thought for sure they were going to soften the way they think about this [gender roles] — maybe they won’t talk about gender differences as innate and essential,”

“One of the things that really did surprise us is that there hasn’t been a shift in gender discourse in the Mormon Church over the last 40 years,” Cragun commented.

A convincing argument can be made, that the leadership roles that women play in the Church are, if anything, is being diminished. As late as 1946 women used to be “allowed” to give blessings to other women. That is, until Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith wrote the Relief Society, saying it would be “far better for us to follow the plan the Lord has given us and send for the Elders of the Church to come and administer to the sick and afflicted.”

In 1995, the First Presidency of the Church issued what it rather hyperbolically entitled a “Proclamation tothe World,” in which it states that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual pre-mortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.” Fathers are to “preside over their families in love and righteousness and are to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

The Relief Society was never consulted nor did it participate in the crafting of this Proclamation.

Sadly, Mormon women who, too visibly or vocally seek a greater role for women in the Mormon Church, are quickly silenced by the all-male leadership, often through excommunication. Lynne Kanavel Whitesides, Avraham Gileadi, Maxine Hanks, Lavina Fielding Anderson the four female members of the “September Six” were disfellowshipped or excommunicated in 1993.

One of the most recent examples is the excommunication of Kate Kelly, a feminist whose organization, Ordain Women, had lobbied for women’s’ admission to the Mormon priesthood.

But the greatest harm and abuse the Mormon Church brought to the lives of women was the practice of polygamy. It was a cruel practice that destroyed the lives of many women. One only need to read the diaries of the poor souls who fell victim to this evil practice that Gordon Hinckley merely dismisses as, “not doctrinal.”

Larry King asked Hinckley during an interview on his television program September 8, 1998, about the Church’s history of polygamy. His response was:

“I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law.”

If, in the name of Christ, it is not doctrinal? Does this mean then that the DOCTRINE and Covenants is not inerrant? Is Section 132 just an erroneous revelation, like the one directing Oliver Cowdery, et al. to travel to Canada to sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon?

Granted, Hinckley was an old man even then and probably not anticipating any probing questions from a softball reporter like Larry King, but not doctrinal?

Section 132:4 doesn’t say this is a covenant for 165 years and then will be expunged. It says it is an ‘everlasting covenant’ and “no one (Gordon Hinckley) can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my [the Lord’s} glory.”

Why couldn’t Hinckley have just been honest and have said, yes, it is part of our doctrine and beliefs but we no longer practice it because it is illegal or even, Joseph Smith got it wrong, and it was a disgraceful practice which we now correctly disavow. But to say it is non-doctrinal leads to the inimitable conclusion that Smith then must have created it as a cover for his sexual cravings and proclivities.

Regarding these last two points, LGBTQ and women’s rights, it would seem like the Church still holds the view, expressed by Boyd K. Packer that the three “enemies” of the Church are, “…the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, and the ever-present challenge from ‘so-called’ scholars or intellectuals.” 14.

The Church’s Secrecy when it Comes to its Finances

money

While it is difficult to accurately determine the wealth of the Mormon Church as, unlike other nations, United States legislation does not require transparency and the Church certainly does not volunteer any financial information. There are however jurisdictions outside of the United States that require financial reporting if not accountability, and from those data, we can extrapolate.

In Canada, there are about 185,000 members, mostly in the Western provinces. If we take the reported Canadian donations (approximately $500,000,000) and divide by the number of active members, it shows that Canadian members gave a little less than 8% of their income to the Church.

If we were to assume that active U.S. members give at a similar rate as Canadians, total U.S. tithing would be more than $6 billion. Members from the rest of the world, where donation rates are much lower would add another ½ billion in total donations. So, we have a reasonable estimate of $7 billion each year in tithing income alone.

Likewise, by using statistics from Canada and other countries that also require disclosure of the value of the Churches assets and spending. The total value of church buildings, temples and meeting houses would be about $35 billion.

The Church has, of course, substantial for-profit business concerns which include among many other things, a $2 billion megamall in Salt Lake City, an insurance business with assets worth $3.3 billion, a media organization with 17 radio and at least one TV station and an agricultural company that owns reportedly 1 million acres in the United States alone.

The Church does, however, provide greater transparency when it comes to its charitable contributions. Since 1985 the church has spent a total of $1.4 billion on relief for disasters such as Japan’s earthquake and Ethiopian famine. A great deal of money, yes but less than it spent to build one super-mall in Salt Lake City and far less than 1% of the likely $200 billion the Church made from tithes in those thirty-two years.

How much do Church leaders make? It is very difficult to say, due to the extreme culture of secrecy surrounding finances in the Church, these estimates can only be treated as speculative.

We know however that in Canada where disclosure is required by law, in 2009 the average salary paid to Church employees was $ 83,000 ($95,300 in today’s dollars). Two of the Church employees earned between 80,000 and $120,000, 6 between $120,000 and $160,000 and the two at the top between $160,000 and $200,000 ($230,000 in 2017 dollars).

One would assume that senior Church leaders in the United States would make substantially more than mid-level ‘managers’ in Canada. It has been estimated to be in the range of $300,000 to $800,000 per year, but this is just speculation, we really don’t know.

How much is paid by way of covered expenses and how much in cash? We don’t know.

But it is a fact that Apostles serve on the boards of the many of the Church controlled multi-billion dollar for-profit entities, such as Deseret Management Corp. ($1.2 billion in annual receipts), AgReserves, Hawaii Reserves, Polynesian Cultural Center ($59 million in annual profits), Beneficial Life Insurance (a $3 billion-dollar fund insurance company), Intellectual Reserve Inc., Deseret Trust Co., Ensign Peak Advisors, etc.

What are the directors’ fees paid to the Church leaders? We Don’t know.

Are stocks and shares are distributed among the many General Authorities.? We don’t know.

All financial records of these corporations are closed to public scrutiny by deliberate legal constructs the Church has designed. By forming the Corporation Sole of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is a separate entity than the Church, it makes the discovery of these board payments nearly impossible.

The point is, however, not how wealthy the Church is, although it might be argued that in a world where children still starve to death, this wealth might be better used than buying $2 billion malls, but the total lack of transparency.

If I invest a $100 in Exxon, I have a right to view that corporation’s financial statements. Why when I contribute a good deal more in tithing, to the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints am I refused any accountability?

If there were just one or two issues that would be one thing, but are many.

Max Weber also noted, that there is a tendency for those at the top of bureaucracies to lose touch with what is going on below, after all where is the problem? Life is very good at the top.

 Mormon apostles don’t live the humble life Christ’s apostles did. They live very ‘high on the hog.’ They are given a generous salary, great benefits, prestige, and the fawning adoration of true believers, sycophants and those whose livelihood depends on remaining in the power brokers good graces.

As well, in real “Emperors’ New Clothes” fashion, even constructive criticism or bad news from below is carefully vetted and filtered by minions and underlings who fear being shot as the messenger.

I have been told that my letter will not reach you President Uchtdorf. I will be sorry if it does not because I want to add my voice to the many others who could tell you that all is not well in Zion.

The Titanic cannot be turned around quickly, but it is not too late to enter that turn, for the Lord knows that a change in direction is dearly needed. An enormous iceberg looms on the horizon, and that berg is named truth.

The Mormon Church has done much good and helped many people through its well-publicized humanitarian efforts over the years. and I believe you cannot find better, more honest, decent people than Latter-Day Saints.

But I feel that if those at the helm do not embrace a new, more open and less defensive approach, these dear souls may eventually be harmed.

If I didn’t care about the Church, the truth and most of all the members I would not have gone to all this trouble.

Thomas Jefferson taught that “However discomfiting a free exchange may be, the truth will ultimately emerge the victor.”

There have been many leaders in the Church that have given at least lip service to the diligent search for truth;

“If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.”

Reuben Clark

“If a faith will not bear to be investigated: if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundationmust be very weak.”

George Albert Smith

“This book [“The Book of Mormon”] is entitled to the most thorough and impartial examination. Not only does it merit such consideration, it claims, even demands the same.”

James E. Talmage

“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book…”

Gordon B. Hinckley

Why not prove them right?

Questioning, doubt, critical thinking, and yes, even debate should be tolerated, not discouraged or punished as it is now.

The growth the Church experienced in the last century shows the bureaucratic structure has served the Church well, but this organizational form, that has functioned so effectively in the past may now actually destroy it.

I think dramatic new and open approaches are called for. I don’t presume to know what form this should take. Perhaps a series of informal, unrehearsed, unscripted televised round tables with a free exchange of ideas and concerns might be a step in the right direction. If done honestly, these ‘town hall’ type of meetings which would include the participation of the brighter general authorities as well as faithful members, questioning members and non-members – both men and women.

Would that take courage? Yes. Would it make some members aware of issues they are unaware of presently? Unquestionably.

But, you must surely be aware of all these issues. It would be truly frightening if, in the position, you find yourself, you have not thoroughly investigated each of them.

I assume that despite having done so, you are still a believer.

President Uchtdorf, how can you possibly hold a sincere “testimony” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Gospel it proclaims in the face of these challenging questions unless you have compelling answers to them?

In the name of Jesus Christ, and on behalf of the growing number of members who are hungering and thirsting for the truth, I am asking you, if in fact, you have any answers, share them.                

A real spiritual witness is powerful and important, but If we have serious, reasoned objections that fairly and wholly take into consideration the available evidence surely a “burning in the bosom” cannot negate those legitimate concerns. Proverbs 28:26 teaches that; “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.”

There is considerable evidence that ‘feel good feelings’ are not always reliable as a means of determining veracity.

Unlike the Book of Mormon, the truth of the Bible does not require that we abandon critical thinking and just pray for a ‘good feeling’ to prove it true.

The truthfulness of the Holy Bible is obvious to anyone willing to investigate it. Unlike the Book of Mormon, the Bible is self-consistent and extraordinarily authentic. Its geography exists, many of its characters have been verified. Unlike the Book of Mormon, the Bible has been confirmed countless times by archaeology and other sciences. It possesses divine insight into the nature of the universe and it has made correct predictions about future events with perfect accuracy.

I don’t doubt you must have strong feelings about the Church. However, I question whether these feelings are enough to suspend all application of intellect.

People from all religions report having the same feelings that witness to them that their religion and beliefs are true.

Aliza Kim a young devout Muslim shares her testimony:

“After reciting the Shahadah, what I felt cannot be accurately described. I felt a rushing sensation go through me which felt like a thorough cleansing. I felt pure and was given lightness, peace and genuine happiness. I had never felt such innocent gladness like that in my life. And, those feelings have stayed on till this day, and I know they will be with me until my last day in this world. I am happy with Allah, my Maker and with my chosen religion.” 15

If Moroni’s challenge works for Mormons and their faith, certainly the same principle must work for Moslems and theirs, Jews and theirs and Catholics and theirs. Surely you are not so arrogant to claim exclusivity when it comes to gifts of the spirit.

Indeed, many non-Mormons would describe this ‘burning in the bosom’ sensation as simply “heartwarming,” a warm feeling related to an emotional response or passionate elation. The event or drama which generates it need not be true. It may come from watching a ‘tear-jerker’ movie where the protagonist dies saving his friend or listening to a rousing rendition of the National Anthem or the Battle Hymn of the Republic or just reading one of Paul Dunn’s, ‘war stories.’

Like other members, I had viewed your calling to the first presidency as a breath of fresh air. But as I see it, you now have a choice. You can continue to attend temple dedications and appear on the scene at American natural disasters and cut the ribbons at new malls and continue to live a life of privilege, wealth and ease. You can continue to go along and get along with your Church broke colleagues, or you can lead and make a difference by addressing the legitimate questions I have enumerated here.

I hope you will take this in the spirit it is given,

I have been direct, even blunt, but you strike me as a man who would prefer candor to approbation. If it was wrong to ask why I will know soon enough.

While it should not be necessary to say it, my faith crisis is based solely on the problems and issues I have identified in this letter. While I have been told I don’t suffer fools gladly, my misgivings do not represent hostile aggression on my part or come in response to someone looking at me the wrong way at church.

My misgivings with the LDS Church, have come after examining and researching Joseph Smith and the history of the Church from LDS-friendly sources. Sources such as the Journal of Discourses, Lectures on Faith, official Church records, documents, talks, letters and the scriptures themselves, and thoughtfully, even prayerfully asking for help, as I am doing here.

Dr. John Dehlin has done work exploding the following five most common myths associated with why faithful members leave the church:

  1. Someone offended them: No one hurt me, I love and respect my friends and family many of whom are committed members.
  2. A desire to sin: I am 70 years old, so it’s a little late for that!
  3. Never had a testimony in the first place: Again wrong, I wouldn’t have served in various callings, paid my tithing or attended the temple if I had never believed.
  4. Lazy, not reading the scriptures: I love the New Testament and read it often; admittedly the Book of Mormon, not so much.
  5. Studying anti-Mormon literature: While we might disagree as to what anti-Mormon Literature is, I certainly have not gone down that rabbit hole. It is easy to identify people who hate or those whose agenda is to destroy. I would not, however, consider the work of Richard Bushman, Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Fawn Brodie, B. H. Roberts, Dan Vogel or Grant Palmer, Mormon Stories or even Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the creators of South Park, and the award-winning Broadway hit “The Book of Mormon.” as anti-Mormon.

As it happens, and quite unintentionally, I am writing this letter to you on Father’s Day 2017. My father, Thomas Douglas was a truthful and honorable man. He taught me in his humble way that truth is essential, it endures forever, and we should dauntlessly seek to know it. The Lord too admonished us to pursue the truth, for “… the truth will set you free.”

I cannot dishonor my father’s memory by placing all these weighty problems on my drooping shelf and then just walk away.

You will remember that Christ told Pilate before his agonizing death, “… for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth.”

There is a wonderful allegory in Book Seven of Plato’s; The Republic often referred to platoas ‘Plato’s Cave.’         

It tells the story of many men held prisoner, chained and shackled such that they cannot look to their left or their right or behind themselves but only forward at the wall in front of them. Behind them is a blazing fire and between them and the fire is a walkway where men carry statues and other large objects.

All that the prisoners can see is the shadows of the objects that appeared on the cave wall in front of them which they then talk to each other about. Some of the older prisoners, ‘the elders,’ have developed explanations as to what these shadows represent; what their meaning is.

Then one day, a prisoner is released. Now free to wander around the cave, he sees the fire, and many of the objects moved in front of it. This former prisoner finally comes to understand the origins of the shadows, and to his amazement, he sees that the shadows were often misinterpreted.

He hurries back to share with his fellow prisoners the true meaning of the shadows, what the truth is.

But rather than welcome and embrace the reality, many of his former friends ridiculed him, particularly the elders, who even seek to take his life.

Finally, the freed prisoner is let out of the cave into the world beyond, a world filled with radiant sunshine where he can now see the fullness of reality illuminated by the brilliance of the sun.

I am speaking to my dear brothers and sisters here, you and I are like those prisoners. We see as it says in Corinthians, through a glass darkly. We live in a world where, like the prisoners, our knowledge is imperfect, a world of conjecture and illusion.

Some elders presume to know what the shadows mean, but they too are prisoners, and their shackles are just as firmly in place as are our own.

I don’t presume to be that prisoner freed from his chains who now longs to share the truth that only he can see. I am just a fellow prisoner, viewing the shapes and shadows on the wall, but seeking the truth by asking those questions that ‘the elders’ hope the prisoners dare not ask.

We will all leave the cave one day. Will we find in that day, as we enter that new world filled with the dazzling brightness of truth, that we had spent our time in the cave wisely or foolishly?

I hope that what I have written might provide greater clarity regarding the shadows that animate our actions and beliefs. At least it will show that there are alternative interpretations to those presented by the ‘elders.’

On a more optimistic note, the LDS Church has shown that, while rare, it can change. Thousands of changes have been made to the Book of Mormon.

Some of those changes to make it more politically correct, “White and delightsome,” to “Pure and delightsome.”

Others to reflect doctrinal changes; “…beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.” to “…beheld the Lamb of God, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.”

Others in response to American political pressure. Witness the suspension of polygamy, and acceptance of Blacks into the priesthood.

So, I would say to anyone reading this, fresh courage take, for when the pressure is on, the ‘Brethren’ receives revelation.

Just my opinion but, if in the future, the United States Government, moves to disallow tax deductibility for organizations discriminating against LGBTQ people as it was moving to do during the Jimmy Carter’s administration for organizations discriminating against African Americans; in that day, the heavens will open!

And while I have my head in my hat, let me say that I believe that women will finally be invited to play a meaningful leadership role in the Church, that an accommodation will be made for same-sex unions in some manner, practicing gay men and women will find a home in the Church and the ill-conceived policy of banning the children of Gay parents from Church membership will be lifted.

Why? Because the principal goal of any bureaucracy is viability – survival, and the LDS Church is certainly no exception.

None of these changes will make the Mormon Church any more or less true they will just advance the Church’s desire to be viewed as a mainstream Christian religion.

President Uchtdorf truth matters; it is a value, not an issue as the Church too often seems to view it.

I wrote to you asking these difficult questions not solely for myself, an insignificant sinner, but for of the myriad credulous men and women who put their unwavering faith in you and your colleagues. Particularly I wrote this in behalf of the generation of innocent little children who deserve to grow up knowing what is true.

If you ever read this open letter to you, I would still like to hear from you.

Let me end by offering you all my very best wishes for your future and leave you with this quote by Thomas Jefferson:

“Better a cruel truth than a comfortable delusion.”

Pauly

Your brother,

Paul Douglas

Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Galatians 4:16

References

1 Kathy Erickson, letter to the Salt Lake Phantom or Ex-Mormons (difference) Tribune, 11 March 11, 2001.

2 Joseph Smith “King Follett Discourse,” Journal of Discourses 6:3-4,

3 Brigham Young – Prophet, 2nd President, Journal of Discourses 7:333.

4 Milton R. Hunter, General Authority “The Gospel Through the Ages”, 1945, p 104).

5 Joseph Fielding Smith, Prophet, 10th President Doctrines of Salvation 1:10,

6 Bruce R. McConkie – Apostle Mormon Doctrine, 1966 edition p. 250.

7 The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1984], 1.

8 Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:21

9 Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet’ of the Mormon Church, 1844-1877 – Quotation from Journal of Discourses

10 Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet’ of the Mormon Church, 1863, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110.

11 Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p. 101, 1935

12 Mormonism, A Life Under False Pretenses, Lee B. Baker

13 Ted Walch & Lois M. Collins, Deseret News, January 28, 2016

14 Boyd K. Packer, Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council, 5/18/93.

15 The Truth That Found Me by Aliza Kim (January 2014) LGBTQ Policies.

 

 

Chapter 30

Response to “A Letter to an Apostle”

Summary: A Letter to an Apostle is an online document which is critical of Latter-day Saint truth claims. The document is comprised of a list of issues that the author states are related to “specific questions I had and still have with the truth claims of the Church”. [1]

About this work

The text of the July 2017 version of the document is generally respectful in tone, significantly more so than the “Letter to a CES Director,” and generally covers much of the same material.

Mockery comes into play, however, when the document relies heavily upon provocative images to illustrate the points that the author is making and generate emotional triggers, thus destroying any semblance of respectability. Given that the author complains at one point in his document that the Church utilizes “bogus pictures and hangs misleading paintings,” the use of the artwork described below seems hypocritical.

  • Image of a Nez Perce war chief riding a tapir – The image is used in several locations within the “Research document” without explanation (pages 16, 53, 58). The original image of a War Chief on a horse is hosted on the First People web site Nez Perce War Chief, with specific instructions that it is “Not to be used on file sharing sites.” Despite this prohibition, a member of the ex-Mormon subreddit modified the image to exchange the horse for a tapir. This is the image that the author includes three times in his letter. It is intended to be a mocking reference to the popular ex-Mormon notion that apologists believe that Native Americans rode tapirs, despite the fact that no such apologetic claim actually exists. The idea of tapirs as a possible “loan-shift” for horses in the Book of Mormon originated with anthropologist John Sorenson. Apologists don’t even claim that Book of Mormon people rode horses.
  • The wolf in sheep’s clothing – The author uses a photograph of a wolf wearing sheep’s clothing (pages 19 and 118) when he talks about Joseph Smith being a false prophet.
  • The rape victim – The author uses a stock photograph representing a rape victim (page 24 and 166) with a torn nightgown and a large bruise on her arm to illustrate his claim that Joseph Smith bragged that he had “whipped” seven men at once and again later when the author discusses “Joseph’s coercive stratagems,” the implication being that Joseph abused women.
  • Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice – The author uses a picture from the 1969 movie “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” (pages 25 and 180) showing two couples in bed together when he discusses Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, William Law and Jane Law.
  • Image of Joseph and Emma Smith with a naked woman on the bed in the background – The image is used when the author discusses Fanny Alger (page 150). This image is popular on ex-Mormon web sites.
  • Image of a young girl in a nightgown with an adult hand grasping her neck – The author uses a stock photo of a young girl with an adult hand grasping her neck (page 154), listed on the web as “Oppressive man behind a female victim of domestic violence or abuse,” to illustrate Joseph Smith’s marriages to young women.

The following links respond to individual claims contained in the following document:

Response to claims made in “A Letter to an Apostle” by Paul A. Douglas

JUMP TO SUBTOPIC:

Response to claims made in “A Letter to an Apostle: The Letter”

Summary: This section responds to claims made in the actual letter which was sent to President Uchtdorf’s office.

JUMP TO SUBTOPIC:

Chapter 31

Recently FairMormon has published a response to ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ on their website, www.Fairmormon.org.

The direct link is:

https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/A_Letter_to_an_Apostle

I think their comments have value even through they have chosen to present them in the form of a rebuttal rather than a conversation.

Nevertheless, in the interest of fairness and openness, I have added their confutations at the end of each of my interrogatives. I do so in the hope that this might help the reader by presenting another perspective as it is now clear that President Uchtdorf is unable or unwilling to tackle the thorny issues and difficult questions I have raised in my letter to him.

Unlike FairMormon’s site which disallows any opposing viewpoints I include them as I am searching for the truth, not pursuing an agenda.

I have put FairMormon’s commentaries in RED.

FairMormon has chosen in many cases rather than address my specific questions to provide scores of links to previous generic apologies.

I have only responded to comments specific to my interrogatives.

FairMormon describes my letter to President Uchtdorf as,  “A Letter to an Apostle is an online document which is critical of Latter-day Saint truth claims.”

I would contend that my directness in asking WHY or discussing troubling and contridictory evidence associated with the Church’s history is not, as FairMormon suggests, prima facie evidence of criticism. I feel FairMormon is perhaps being a little thin-skinned and defensive here.

I will attempt to respond to each of FairMormon’s comments here, but I hope not in an hostile or unfriendly way. I accept that the nameless apologists at FairMormon are doing the best they can to defend their beliefs and the Church which has inculcated them. 

As I say in my letter to President Uchtdorf I have always found that, with very few exceptions, Latter-Day Saints are honest, sincere and decent people.  

I do not doubt that those volunteering their time and talents to FairMormon likely believe the things they have been taught. 

But ignorant fervor, or a strong, “testimony” should not be our standard. Romans Chapter 10, Verse 2 tells us, “For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.”

I have been around long enough and have studied history and human nature long enough to feel that well-meaning zealots can do much harm. 

I would contend that FairMormon’s conclusions have been set before they have even given ear to any research or evidence and that, my friends, is intellectual dishonesty.

 

The other concern I have with FairMormon’s apologetic efforts, which follows from their Mormon mindset, is that feelings, always trump facts. FairMormon prefers to speak about possibilities than probabilities.

The publishing of  ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ is a result of my frustration at being unable to get straight answers from local Priesthood leaders or the Apostle Uchtdorf himself.

Unhappily, it seems that the comment by Uchtdorf’s secretary that I am, “asking the wrong people” extends to FairMormon as well.

It is obvious that FairMormon is preaching to the choir.  Their purpose is to justify any and all statements and actions taken by Church leaders past and present.

You will never hear FairMormon say, ‘that was a mistake,’ or ‘ Dallin Oaks is no expert in that area,’ rather they boldly dispense superficially plausible apologetic ‘snake oil,’ that is cheerfully swallowed by members just craving a cure for their bothersome cognitive dissonance. 

Therefore I will comment where I feel that FairMormon’s biases are too egregious to ignore or where they have failed to adequately deal with the real issues and not those of their own creation, or where they are simply being illogical or dishonest.

My standard is simply – what would a reasonable man or woman find more compelling – the evidence, facts and first-hand statements I have uncovered in my research or the best arguments rebuttals, and repudiations, the Mormon Church, and her apologists have proffered.

With this in mind, I have devised a rating system for LDS apologist’s responses based on Occam’s Razor.

As you are no doubt aware, Occam’s Razor (also Ockham’s Razor) or sometimes the “law of parsimony,” is a philosophical problem-solving principle first attributed to William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher.

His ‘law’ can be interpreted simply as ‘From among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected.” It is the same principle taught in medical school, “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras!”

One consequence of this methodology is the idea that the simplest or most obvious explanation of several competing ones, is the one that is most likely to be the true or at least the most correct – until proven otherwise.

My assessment of their apologetic responses are indicated in the graphic below is then:

occam

The reader should note that I raised a number of significant issues in my letter that FairMormon has chosen, for reasons best known to themselves, not to address in any way, including:

The Stagnation in the Church’s Growth
The Increasing Bureaucratization within the Church
The Leadership of the Church’s Lack of Discernment
The Church’s Ambiance on the ‘Becoming Gods’ business
The Church’s history of Racism
The Church’s LGBTQ Policies
The Role of Women in the Church
The Church’s Secrecy when it comes to its Finances

It is unfortunate that they have not even attempted to address these important issues. Nevertheless, let’s look at what they have responded to:

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

“ABOUT THIS WORK

The text of the July 2013 version of the document is generally respectful in tone, significantly more so than the “Letter to a CES Director,” and generally covers much of the same material.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon says ‘2013’ but of course, it should read ‘2017,’ a simple mistake on FairMormon’s part, but this error, six words in, is a precursor to FairMormon’s inaccuracies further on in.

I agree my, ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ does hit on many of the concerns that Jeremy Runnells presented in his CES Letter. Perhaps this is evidence of the fact that the questions Mr. Runnells,’ myself and many others are raising are not being addressed, at least to the satisfaction of those of us raising them.

** Update FairMormon has now changed 2013 to 2017 **

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

“Mockery comes into play, however, when the document relies heavily upon provocative images to illustrate the points that the author is making and generate emotional triggers, thus destroying any semblance of respectability. Given that the author complains at one point in his [Douglas’] document that the Church utilizes “bogus pictures and hangs misleading paintings,” the use of the artwork described below seems hypocritical.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

While my intent was, attention-getting not mockery, I think to apply the label ‘hypocrite’ is a little harsh and unfair in that the images I had chosen are largely metaphorical. For example, the picture of a wolf in sheep’s clothing is an altogether fitting metaphor for a false prophet. One the Lord used himself.

I would also caution FairMormon about bringing up the word respectability in any discussion concerning Joseph Smith. That is a rabbit hole you really don’t want to go down.

The Church’s continuing use of images portraying a squared-jawed Joseph Smith running his finger over reformed Egyptian characters on ‘Gold Plates’ as his faithful scribe seated across the table from him records the inspired words.

This is not metaphorical. This is misleading.

translation

Nevertheless, I can agree with FairMormon that some of the images used may act as emotional triggers or may be a little too provocative for some more sensitive members:

 

Image of a Nez Perce war chief riding a tapir.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I was unaware of the original source of the unaltered image, and while the altered version added a little humor to the preposterous suggestion that Book of Mormon horses may have been deer or tapirs, I have removed it

With regards to FairMormon’s contention that, “…despite the fact that no such apologetic claim (BOM horses being tapirs or deer) exists,” while I do agree it is a half-witted assertion, the two quotes below show this apologetic claim has certainly been made.

I think John L. Sorenson was the original ‘tapir whisperer,’ in 1984 he suggested the possibility of “loan-shifting” of the word “horse” to “deer” or “tapir.” Also in 1992, he wrote:

Is “horse” in the Book of Mormon merely a matter of labeling by analogy some other quadruped with the name Equus, the true horse, or does the scripture’s use of “horse” refer to the actual survival into very recent times of the American Pleistocene horse (Equus)? If, as most zoologists and paleontologists assume, Equus was absent from the New World during Book of Mormon times, could deer, tapir, or another quadruped have been termed “horse” by Joseph Smith in his translating?

John L. Sorenson, “Once More, The Horse,”Reexploring the Book of Mormon (1992).

As well, Dan Peterson has stated:

“it remains possible that the term horse in the Book of Mormon which, by the way, does not occur very often, and even then in rather puzzling contexts refers simply to deer or tapirs or similar quadrupeds thought by the Nephites to be analogous to the horse….”

Daniel C. Peterson, “Yet More Abuse of B. H. Roberts (Review of The Disappointment of B. H. Roberts: Five Questions That Forced a Mormon General Authority to Abandon the Book of Mormon),” FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 69–86

FairMormon is it now your contention that Dan Peterson is not now, nor ever was, an apologist for the LDS Church?

 

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

It was the Lord Himself that used this metaphor to caution His followers of liars that would take advantage of them by extending vain and false prophecies, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” (Jesus, Matthew 7:15). What a perfect metaphoric similitude for a man who gets rich off the backs of his followers, who procures, often through coercive means, a plethora of sexual partners, many of them mere children and then lies to his follows and his one legal wife about these ‘marriages.’  

Therefore in this case, even if it upsets FairMormon’s ‘tender sensibilities,’ it stays.

 

The Rape Victim?

“The rape victim – The author uses a stock photograph representing a rape victim (page 24 and 166) with a torn nightgown and a large bruise on her arm to illustrate his claim that Joseph Smith bragged that he had “whipped” seven men at once and again later when the author discusses “Joseph’s coercive stratagems,” the implication being that Joseph abused women.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

The photo FairMormon refers to is an image licensed to me by BigStockPhoto and does not use the word ‘rape’ in its description as FairMormon incorrectly states, but I will concede that while it is thought-provoking, it is a little too stark for some members and I have removed it.

FairMormon claims that this photo was chosen, “to illustrate his (Douglas’) claim that Joseph Smith bragged that he had “whipped” seven men at once,

FairMormon however is confused here; as anyone reading my letter will see, this image was not used in the section on Smith’s bragging and self-aggrandizement. This photo was used only for the interrogatory, “Does Smith’s use of coercive stratagems to get girls and women to ‘marry’ and sleep with him show a lack of character or even common decency?”

Nonetheless, I think a solid case could be made that Joseph Smith did abuse women.  You are no doubt aware of the time when Emma discovered that sixteen-year-old Flora Woodworth was carrying a gold watch that Joseph had given her.

Emma realizing the implications demanded Flora return the watch. William Clayton, Smith’s secretary recorded in his journal that Smith told him that Emma wouldn’t stop complaining about it and he had to employ, “harsh measures” to stop her. Sounds a little like spousal abuse to me. Mind you this pales compared to some of the points I raise under the correct interrogative: Does Smith’s use of coercive stratagems to get girls and women to ‘marry’ and sleep with him show a lack of character or even common decency?

 

Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice

The author uses a picture from the 1969 movie “Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice” (pages 25 and 180) showing two couples in bed together when he discusses Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, William Law, and Jane Law.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Again, sense of humor. I have purchased the rights to this photo, it is apropos, and it stays.

Image of Joseph and Emma Smith with a
naked woman on the bed in the background

The image is used when the author discusses Fanny Alger (page 150).

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Agreed, accurate but not in the best of taste and it’s out.

 

Image of a young girl in a nightgown with an adult hand grasping her neck

The author uses a stock photo of a young girl with an adult hand grasping her neck (page 154), listed on the web as “Oppressive man behind a female victim of domestic violence or abuse,” to illustrate Joseph Smith’s marriages to young women.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

The picture is of a young girl with an older man stroking her neck and as uncomfortable as it may make us, it fits the seduction of a 14-year-old girl by a 37-year-old man and it stays.

While FairMormon may find this acceptable and justifiable, the recent outrage over the alleged inappropriate behavior by Weinstein, Moore, Rose, O’Reilly, Louis C.K, Lauer, Spacey, and Mormon Rob Porter the American people do not.

 

FairMormon’s Comments on my questions relating to the Dearth of any Archaeological, Anthropological or Linguistic Evidence

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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

Simply repeating assertions by ex-Mormons and critics of the Church that there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon does not make their assertions true. Those that look for such evidence can find it.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I disagree that questioning why, during the past six hundred years, we have not found any archaeological, anthropological or linguistic evidence to support the BOM narrative is propaganda or spin.

I presented a considerable number of comments from noted experts – Mormon and non-Mormon alike to substantiate this assertion.

FairMormon says, “Repeating the assertions that there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon does not make the assertion true,” Agreed, but also does it make it false.  

FairMormon’s failure to provide any meaningful affirmative evidence to the contrary would lead any reasonable person to conclude that there is likely none. All they can say is. “you can find it (evidence) if you look for it.”

Well I am looking where is this and why can you not be specific about what and where it is?

FairMormon please, if you have any evidence why do you not share it?

FairMormon cannot share it because it does not exist as I have rightfully stated.

FairMormon also goes on to suggest that it is the questioner’s lack of knowledge about a very specialized academic area that is the problem. They say that “Some people might suggest that finding the existence of horses or chariots would constitute proof for the Book of Mormon. This is doubtful. Finding such items would merely demonstrate that such things existed in the ancient New World, and while such discoveries may be consistent with the Book of Mormon, they hardly amount to ‘proof.’”

Well it would be a step in the right direction. Consistency is better than nothing which is all we have now. As it is, not only is there no proof, there is also no consistency.”

The apologist then goes on to do a little nonsensical dance around epigraphic and iconographic evidence which might have some relevance if there were either – there is not and FairMormon’s intent here is purely intended to obscure.

FairMormon in their unfamiliarity with logic or philosophy moves to that old chestnut, “The absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence,” which has an attractive ring to it,ignores the reality of negative evidence.

Negative evidence refers to evidence with a negative value, or null result equivalent to evidence of absence and can be used to deduce or infer the non-existence or non-presence of something.

If for example, a surgeon does not find a malignant tumor or any malignant cells in a patient this represents a null result (finding nothing) and is evidence of the absence of cancer, even though the physician has not actually detected anything per se. Such inductive reasoning is important in the world of science and our understanding of reality.

Unsubstantiated claims and statements such as, “Newer archaeological finds are generally consistent with the Book of Mormon record even if we are unable (as yet) to know the exact location of Book of Mormon cities,” are meaningless absent affirmative examples of such.

Where are these, “Newer archaeological finds.”

I have shown you mine, now show me yours!

I would suggest that a reasonable person would agree that FairMormon’s response earns them an ‘F.’

redd

 

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

FairMormon’s response to: Would we not find some evidence of the battles in which supposedly more than 2 million soldiers died at the Hill Cumorah – bones, swords, armor, even hair.

“FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The Book of Mormon text does not support the 110-foot tall hill in New York as being the “Cumorah” described in the Book of Mormon.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

How foolish of me to have assumed that the Hill Cumorah where the battles took place was the one in New York state. However, there are a few others, it would seem, that are also under this incorrect assumption, including:  Oliver Cowdery, Heber J. Grant, Martin Harris, Heber C. Kimball, J. Golden Kimball, Moroni, Orson Pratt, Parley P. Pratt, B. H. Roberts, Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith Jr., Joseph F. Smith, Joseph Fielding Smith, Lucy Mack Smith, James E. Talmage, Wilford Woodruff and Brigham Young.

As well, in his comprehensive history of the church, Church Historian Elder B. H. Roberts wrote:

Encouraged by this repetition of the vision of the previous night, and strengthened by the assurances of his father that the visitation was of God, Joseph repaired that same day to the hill he had seen in vision, the place where the sacred record was concealed, some two miles distant from the Smith home. The hill is about four miles south of the town of Palmyra, in Wayne county. (sic) It stands on the east side of the Canandaigua road and is the most conspicuous landmark in all that section of New York. In the Book of Mormon, the hill is known as Ramah, and Cumorah, referred to more frequently, however, by the latter name.”

(B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Century 1, Brigham Young University Press, Vol. 1, 1965, pg. 75)

“This time it will have to do with so important a matter as a war of extinction of two peoples, the Nephites, and the Jaredites, on the self-same battle site, with the same ‘hill’ marking the axis of military movements. By the Nephites this ‘hill’ was called the ‘Hill Cumorah,’ by the Jaredites the ‘Hill Ramah’; it was that same ‘hill,’ in which the Nephite records were deposited by Mormon and Moroni, and from which Joseph Smith obtained the Book of Mormon, therefore the ‘Mormon Hill’, of today—since the coming forth of the Book of Mormon—near Palmyra, New York.

 (B.H. Roberts, Studies of the Book of Mormon, p.277)

But even if it was some other hill in some other part of North or South America, is it not reasonable to expect that at least one sword, shield, a piece of armor, coin or human skeleton would have been unearthed during the six hundred years that have past since the first European occupation of the Western hemisphere?

Remember we are talking about battles where supposedly millions perished.

 

redd

FairMormon’s Comment No. 3

Is it not disconcerting that virtually every non-Mormon archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist and even some funded by the Mormon Church declare that there is no evidence to support the Book of Mormon narrative?

“FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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

Why would a non-Mormon archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist have any interesting in searching for any evidence proving the Book of Mormon? It should be obvious that any archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist interested in the subject would themselves be Mormon.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Really, does it follow then that  ‘it should be obvious’ that any historian interested in the Third Reich must be a Nazi or anyone studying serial killers ‘would themselves be’ one?  

What a ridiculous statement to make.

The point is that archaeologists, anthropologists or linguists need not be searching for evidence proving the Book of Mormon authenticity. The fact is that their broad research has simply not discovered any evidence consistent with, or in even in a tangential way supportive of, the Book of Mormon narrative.

I am sure that most, archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists haven’t given a moment’s thought to the Book of Mormon or its claims. But, as my research shows, those who have, have spoken loudly against its claims.

These scholars don’t have any theological ax to grind. Their agenda is neither to defend or to attack the Book of Mormon. They are looking at data. And these data simply do not fit with the Book of Mormon story.

It seems to me that this, if anything,  lends an extra level of credibility to their work.

Again, I am being accused of, “slanting my comments in order to instill a particular attitude.” I think this is more defensiveness on FairMormon’s part than any intent on mine.

 

redd

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 4

Thomas Stuart Ferguson…had to admit that, ‘you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional.’

Question: Was Thomas Stuart Ferguson an archaeologist?

Ferguson never studied archeology at a professional level – he was self-educated in that area.

“As John Sorensen (sic), who worked with Ferguson, recalled:

[Stan] Larson implies that Ferguson was one of the “scholars and intellectuals in the Church” and that “his study” was conducted along the lines of reliable scholarship in the “field of archaeology.” Those of us with personal experience with Ferguson and his thinking knew differently. He held an undergraduate law degree but never studied archaeology or related disciplines at a professional level…”

“Ferguson was never an expert on archaeology and the Book of Mormon (let alone on the book of Abraham, about which his knowledge was superficial)…”

Ferguson was never an expert on archaeology and the Book of Mormon (let alone on the book of Abraham, about which his knowledge was superficial). He was not one whose careful “study” led him to see greater[,] light, light that would free him from Latter-day Saint dogma, as Larson represents. Instead[,] he was just a layman, initially enthusiastic and hopeful but eventually trapped by his unjustified expectations, flawed logic, limited information, perhaps offended pride, and lack of faith in the tedious research that real scholarship requires. The negative arguments he used against the Latter-day Saint scriptures in his last years display all these weaknesses.

“Peterson: “Thomas Stuart Ferguson’s biographer…makes every effort to portray Ferguson’s apparent eventual loss of faith as a failure for ‘LDS archaeology.”

“Daniel C. Peterson:

In the beginning[,] NWAF was financed by private donations, and it was Thomas Ferguson’s responsibility to secure these funds. Devoted to his task, he traveled throughout California, Utah, and Idaho; wrote hundreds of letters; and spoke at firesides, Rotary Clubs, Kiwanis Clubs, and wherever else he could. After a tremendous amount of dedicated work, he was able to raise about twenty-two thousand dollars, which was enough for the first season of fieldwork in Mexico. “

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

There is really no need to throw Brother Ferguson under the bus.

I never said that he was an archeologist, but rather just that ‘Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a faithful member of the Church, [who] in 1952 single-handedly founded the New World Archaeological Foundation (NWAF).’

The point is that the Church obviously saw some value in his work insofar as they funded it – twice. “NWAF finally received $15,000 from the First Presidency in 1953, but with the strict provision that there was to be absolutely no publicity. In 1955 the First Presidency pledged another $200,000 to NWAF to sponsor four years of field work.” $200K in the 1950’s is a lot of tithing dollars!

If the point that FairMormon is trying to make is that since Thomas Ferguson, the founder of NWAF was not ‘a professional archeologist’ therefore his work lacks credibility, let me quote from an article written by LDS apologist Dan Peterson who confirms, that while Ferguson himself was not an archeologist, NWAF was staffed by professional archeologists:

“Several relevant facts stand out from this bare-bones recital of the earliest history of the New World Archaeological Foundation. First, non–Latter-day (sic) Saint  archaeologists were prominent—in fact, dominant—from the beginning, not only in choosing central Chiapas as the geographical focus of its excavations…”

On the New World Archaeological Foundation
Daniel C. Peterson FARMS Review 16/1 (2004): 221–33.

Secondly, FairMormon’s choice of John Sorensen, as a ‘respected archeologist’ to make your point is unwise.

In a blistering review of Sorenson lack of scholarship and dishonest referencing, Del Dowdell comments on the stuff Sorenson has published in several Mormon publications:

“John L. Sorenson, in his book, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, writes (p278) “The earliest piece so far probably dates to around the first century B.C. It is a bit of copper sheathing found on top of an altar at Cuicuilco in the Valley of Mexico.”

However, a search of his reference and allied articles turns up no such piece. “…there is a singular mention of copper, such as copper rattles found in Mexico dated to the Post-classic period, which is after 1000 A.D. “

Sorenson also wrote:

“There have proved to be several hundred such specimens dating from 400 B.C. to AD 900, 153 of which were excavated by professional archaeologists,” referencing, you guessed it, his own work.

John L. Sorenson, Metals and Metallurgy
Relating to the book of Mormon Text, FARMS, Provo, 1992.

It is amazing that Sorenson’s most quoted reference is himself.  Not just that, he is almost always the only referenced source regarding Book of Mormon metallurgy in Mesoamerica.

As an example, in an article: “Metals and Weapons in the Book of Mormon: Mormon Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,” Sorenson references himself 27 times as the source material for information regarding metals in Mesoamerica.

“Since Sorenson is neither a metallurgist nor one who has searched ancient sites and digs looking for artifacts and evidence of metal in the ancient Americas, there is no possible way he should be the source material for “proof” that metallurgy existed in the ancient Americas. Such ludicrous sourcing and citing are neither scholarly nor helpful, and it certainly is not suggestive to critics of the Church and the Book of Mormon that any written material with such referencing is either accurate or honest.”

Del Dowdell Who Really Settle Mesoamerica

I had expressed caution previously regarding the level and quality of scholarship at BYU, at least in the fields of archaeology and anthropology. As professor emeritus of anthropology at Brigham Young University, for well over 50 years, Sorenson had immersed himself in every aspect of Book of Mormon life and history, yet I cannot locate ONE article by Sorenson published in the big three, peer-reviewed, scholarly journals on anthropology or archaeology in the United States – The American Journal of Archaeology, American Anthropological Association or the Archaeological Institute of America.

Let me repeat that, in 50 years not a single peer-reviewed article.

BYU is ranked so low in Archaeology that it does not even appear on the 2016 World University Ranking of faculties of Archaeology. BYU itself comes in at 113th. SmartClass ranks BYU archaeology at 153rd. Hardly stellar. 

The BYU archaeology department also has the dubious distinction of having its excavation license revoked by the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry for falsely claiming it had discovered “one million mummies.”

The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry took umbrage with the BYU claim that all the remains belonged to mummies. Not only did they grossly exaggerate the numbers found, the Ministry had to explain to the BYU archeologists what a mummy is, as not one of the ‘millions’ BYU claimed to have discovered was, in fact, a mummy.

Youssef Khalifa, the head of the Ancient Egypt Department, said:

“What [BYU] published in the newspaper is not true, A mummy by definition to begin with means a complete mummified body and there is only one mummy found at the site of Fag el-Gamous in 1980, [and not by BYU] which is at the Egyptian Museum since then,” he added, before describing the bodies at the site as “only poor skeletons and plenty of bones, some of which are wrapped in textiles.”

Dan Peterson is perhaps the most well-known Mormon apologist today,

Like Thomas Ferguson, he is not an archeologist, but that has never stopped him from writing about things archeological.

Mormon historian and legitimate scholar Dan Vogel shared his thoughts after reading Peterson’s FairMormon mean-spirited and ad hominem filled response to Jeremy Runnells CES Letter:

“Peterson is a polemicist, not a scholar of early Mormonism. While you have merely listed your objections, he didn’t do much different by countering with an apologetic bibliography. However, the nature of your letter implies that you considered the apologetic and rejected it. Your purpose as I see it was to list the problems, not defend them against the apologists. Each issue would require a pretty hefty essay to resolve Peterson’s complaint. Ironically, Peterson’s Ensign article listing confirmations for the Book of Abraham ignores the problems and therefore is guilty of the same shortcoming Peterson sees in your paper. I find his critique silly in the extreme. It makes no sense to criticize a summary list as being too simple when that is the purpose.”

I agree, as FairMormon’s choice of ”experts” well demonstrates, we must be careful who we look to for knowledge and enlightenment.

In that regard, for generations, Mormons, many of them amateur ‘archeologists,’ have written books containing photographs of ancient ruins, artifacts and so on, advancing the claim that these things prove that the Book of Mormon is true. Their findings, however, can be summarized as – wrong time, wrong place, wrong people!

Sadly, the Church has knowingly provided and possibly still does supply its young missionaries with archeological slides of some of this material which can mislead investigators.

A slide or picture portraying a Mayan temple has nothing whatsoever to do with the Book of Mormon story. 

Finally, it is worth noting that FairMormon in responding to what I have written, does not attempt to assail the comments and statements of the following legitimate archeologists I spoke to:

Dr. Ray Metheny
Dr. David Johnson
The Ulster Archaeological Society
Michael Coe
Dee F. Green

Therefore President Uchtdorf I stand by the fact I expressed in my letter to you, that there is no evidence that any legitimate non-Mormon archeologist could point to that supports the validity of the Book of Mormon. None, die Nonen!

redd

FairMormon’s Comments on my Questions about Anachronisms

Anachronisms claimed to exist in the Book of Mormon

Summary: “Anachronism” = out of time; something which is not in its proper historical context. It is claimed that a number of items or concepts in the Book of Mormon are not consistent with what is known about ancient American geography, history, or anthropology. These “errors” used as evidence that the Book of Mormon is a 19th-century work rather than an ancient record.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon has chosen not to respond directly to what I have written here but rather provides fifteen more generic links to previously written apologies, nine of which are irrelevant to this interrogatory.

Climate in the Book of Mormon
Cultural issues in the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon Geography
Items described in the Book of Mormon
Language questions related to the Book of Mormon
Freemasonry and the Book of Mormon
Materials described in the Book of Mormon
Plants or fibers in the Book of Mormon
Population and demographics in the Book of Mormon
Scientific questions related to the Book of Mormon
Book of Mormon textual issues
Warfare in the Book of Mormon

Again, I would say to FairMormon, if you intend on taking the lazy man’s approach to responding to my thoughtful comments by just providing links to your previous rather lame general apologies, then my response to you is:

MormonThink

• Anachronisms
• Knowledge of the Wheel?
• Archaeology
• Scientific community
• Non-LDS archaeologists
• Nahom
• Linguistics
• Hill Cumorah
• DNA
• Population problems
• Impossible events
• King James Bible
• Nature of God
• The most correct book?
• Racism
• BOM lacks doctrine
• The Anthon visit
• Literary value
• More BOM difficulties
• Six sources used
• Response by the Church
• Ending summary by critics
• Editor’s comments
• Sunstone BOM debates

www.mormonthink.com

 

redd

FairMormon’s Comments on my questions on DNA Issues

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

Response to claim: “Why do all recent DNA studies conclusively and without exception indicate that Native Americans are of Siberian/Asiatic and not of Hebrew origin.

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

DNA evidence cannot be used to either prove or disprove the Book of Mormon.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I agree that DNA evidence in itself cannot be used to either prove or disprove the Book of Mormon, but it is another arrow in our quiver.

Here again, the Mormon Church’s apologists are on the defensive because they have no affirmative arguments to the implications that this science has on the Joseph Smith’s ‘story.’

DNA is a well understood and established science. The criminal justice system accepts it as reliable and its identification so accurate that people are often convicted of capital crimes on the basis of it. So when the best DNA researchers say that 99.4% of Native populations in North, South and Central America have Eastern Asian DNA, we need to sit-up and listen

FairMormon however suggests that the currently accepted conclusion that the ancestors of the indigenous peoples of North and South America migrated from Asia is tentative.

If by tentative FairMormon mean the absence of absolute certitude, then the currently accepted conclusion that DNA represents our genetic building blocks can also be considered tentative or for that matter that the ‘theory’ that the Earth is round is tentative.

The conclusion FairMormon calls tentative is based on evidence. Evidence that shows that here have been NO middle-Eastern markers found in the more than 12,000 samples taken from North and South American aboriginal populations.

I can’t seem to find anywhere in the reams of FairMormon musings where they present any affirmative evidence showing “Middle Eastern” or “Jewish/Hebrew” DNA in native populations.

Secondly, to say that nothing is known about the DNA of Book of Mormon people is disingenuous. We know, according to the story that Joseph Smith tells that they were Jews, from the Middle-East. We know what Middle-Eastern Jewish DNA looks like. There are unique markers. And none of those markers have been found.

Recent DNA testing conducted on 150 tribes located across the Americas have shown conclusively, that contrary to traditional Mormon claims, their ancestors migrated from Asia between 7,000 and 50,000 years ago.

They got to North America across the 50-mile gap in the Bering Strait between the Chukotka Peninsula in Russia and the Seward Peninsula in the U.S. state of Alaska. Indeed, this 50 aperture almost certainly was closed in the day. NOT by traveling more than 6,000 miles on a home-made boat from the Arabian peninsula to somewhere in the Americas.

Mormon anthropologist Thomas W. Murphy commented on these findings:

“Some Latter-day Saints have expressed optimism that DNA research would lead to a vindication of the (Book of Mormon) as a translation of a genuine ancient document… The results, though, have been disappointing… Genetic data repeatedly point to migrations from Asia between 7,000 and 50,000 years ago as the primary source of Native American origins. DNA research has substantiated the archaeological, cultural, linguistic, and biological evidence that also points overwhelmingly to an Asian origin for Native Americans.”           

 From an essay entitled, “Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics.”

Investigation of mitochondrial DNA of more than 5,500 living Native Americans reveals that 99.4% can be traced back to Asia… Only 0.6% came from Africa or Europe, most likely after 1492.

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

“The Church quietly made yet another change to the Book of Mormon, in 2006 shortly after the irrefutable DNA results were first published by the scientific community

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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

How can one claim that the Church “quietly” changed the introduction to the Book of Mormon when they published news of the change in the Church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News in 2007? From the Deseret News, 8 Nov. 2007:”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon takes umbrage with my comments that, “The Church quietly made yet another change to the Book of Mormon, in 2006 shortly after the irrefutable DNA results were first published by the scientific community.” They assert:

You say that they published news of the change in the Church-owned newspaper, the Deseret News in 2007?” referring to an article by Carrie Moore entitled, “DNA claims rebutted on Book of Mormon.”

Is the “they” you refer to here the First Presidency of the Church?

Am I correct in assuming that this “one-word” change was not announced officially by the First Presidency other than in this Deseret News article that “they,” apparently instructed (or directed or allowed) Ms. Moore, to write?

If I am mistaken, please share with me the official pronouncement.

Quietly is a relative term. The circulation of the Deseret News is advertised in their ‘2015 media kit’ as being 84,891 (In-State: 34,838 Out-of-State: 50,053). Far less in 2006.

Does the publication of an article in a periodical with a very limited circulation, many of which reside in Utah constitute a ‘quiet’ announcement of a fairly significant change to the Book of Mormon?

 

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comments on my questions on the Age of the Earth

FairMormon’s Comment

2 Nephi 2:22 asserts as does Alma 12:23 24 that there was no death of any kind upon the earth before the “Fall of Adam,” which the D&C indicates was about 6,000 years ago

There is overwhelming archaeological evidence of death having occurred on the earth for many millions of years. For example, oil deposits are formed from the decomposed remains of ancient plants and animals. This is where Church teachings appear to contradict science since many Latter-day Saint leaders and Church manuals have taught that there was no physical death on the entire earth prior to the fall of Adam. For example, this view is taught in the LDS Bible Dictionary:

Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on this earth for any forms of life before the fall of Adam. Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the fall (2 Nephi 2:22; Moses 6:48).

This interpretation has been shared by many Church authors, including President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Bruce R. McConkie. Consequently, the concept of no death before the Fall on the entire earth has made its way into many Church instructional manuals. For example, the LDS Bible Dictionary, which was included as an addition to the LDS edition of the King James Bible in 1979, includes the following statement that “death entered the world” as a result of the Fall:

The LDS Bible Dictionary states that “Latter-day revelation teaches that there was no death on this earth before the Fall of Adam. Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the Fall (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48).”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

It is hard to defend the indefensible.

I accept that this is as close FairMormon can come to saying,  ‘yeh, your right,’ without getting a call from their masters in Salt Lake.

 

yelloww

FairMormon’s Comment on the Issue of Plagiarism

“How do you explain the large volume of material in the Book of Mormon lifted directly from the Bible and the presence of numerous errors found in the Book of Mormon unique to the 1769 King James edition of the Bible

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM IS BASED UPON (sic) CORRECT INFORMATION – THE AUTHOR IS PROVIDING KNOWLEDGE CONCERNING SOME PARTICULAR FACT, SUBJECT, OR EVENT

 FairMormon’s has proposed:      

“Some of the Book of Mormon Isaiah passages generally match the version of Isaiah found in the Bible of the time. However, not all of them do.”

FairMormon also states:

“We do not know the specific mechanism by which the biblical passages were included in the translation, therefore we cannot answer this question based upon (sic) current historical information. The only description of the translation process that Joseph Smith ever gave was that it was performed by the “gift and power of God,” and that the translation was performed using the “Urim and Thummim.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I interpret FairMormon’s response here as saying essentially; we don’t know why King James Bible Version errors would appear in the Book of Mormon because no one reports Joseph using it or source materials while he translated.

This is, of course, a very weak argument. I acknowledge all the quotes FairMormon includes from witnesses to the translation, indicating that Joseph had his head in his hat and/or behind a curtain during the translation.

The apologists also use the following statement by Emma Smith as ‘proof ‘that her husband couldn’t have possibly copied from a Bible:

“I know Mormonism to be the truth, and believe the church to have been established by divine direction. I have complete faith in it. In writing for [Joseph] I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he is sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”

Q: Had he not a book or manuscript from which he read, or dictated to you?
A: He had neither manuscript or book to read from.

Q: Could he not have had, and you not know it?
A: If he had anything of the kind he could not have concealed it from me.”

Yes, Emma tells us she never saw her husband referencing anything and I believe her.

But let’s get serious. The fact that Emma did not see Joseph referencing notes or the Bible certainly doesn’t mean he didn’t use these aids.

After all, if Joseph was wily enough to engage in dozens of sub-rosa sexual liaisons, ‘marriages’ for goodness sake, without Emma having a clue, surely it makes his ability to hide his referencing the Bible and/or other materials seem like child’s play.

As well, we know that Emma did not act as scribe for most of the translation and certain not when 2 Nephi, the portion containing many of the plagiarized chapters from Isaiah were being ‘translated.’ Emma’s involvement was very limited. She and her brother Reuben Hale acted as scribes between December 1827 and February 1828.4

Most of the plagiarism of Isaiah occurred in 2 Nephi:

BIBLEBOOK OF MORMON

Isaiah 2                                  2 Nephi 12
Isaiah 3                                  2 Nephi 13|
Isaiah 4                                  2 Nephi 14
Isaiah 5                                  2 Nephi 15
Isaiah 6                                  2 Nephi 1
Isaiah 7                                  2 Nephi 17
Isaiah 8                                  2 Nephi 18
Isaiah 9                                  2 Nephi 19
Isaiah 10                               2 Nephi 20
Isaiah 11                               2 Nephi 21
Isaiah 12                               2 Nephi 22
Isaiah 13                               2 Nephi 23
Isaiah 14                               2 Nephi 24
Isaiah 48                               1 Nephi 20
Isaiah 49                               1 Nephi 21
Isaiah 50                               2 Nephi 7
Isaiah 51                               2 Nephi 8
Isaiah 52                               3 Nephi 20
Isaiah 53                               Mosiah 14
Isaiah 54                               3 Nephi 22

We also know that chronologically 2 Nephi was written last – between June 12th and June 21st, 1829.

dates

Elden J. Watson, Approximate Book of Mormon
Translation Timeline
, April 1995

Oliver Cowdery was the exclusive scribe during all of the plagiarized chapters of Isaiah. Indeed, as this quote by Royal Skousen indicates, Oliver was also the principal scribe for the production of the Printers Manuscript (P):

“The other manuscript, the printer’s manuscript (P), is virtually intact. Only three lines of its text, from the first leaf of the manuscript, have been worn away. This manuscript is owned by the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints). Oliver Cowdery is the main scribe for P: 5

Oliver Cowdery              84,6 percent

Scribe 2 of P.                   14.9 percent

Hyrum Smith.                  0.5 percent

We do not know which portion of the Book of Mormon was translated behind the curtain. It is far from inconceivable to believe that Joseph may have secreted a copy of the Bible and other reference materials to his side of the curtain which separates him from his scribes.

I think we also need to ask, why the use of a curtain? It is not that Joseph was referencing the ‘gold plates.’

We know from numerous sources that Joseph translated through a stone in his hat. We are also told that the Gold Plates were not used directly in the translation process and indeed were often not even present.

Also, if fraud was at play, Oliver Cowdery, the principal scribe may have been in on it.

That said, why then was a physical separation from the scribe necessary other than to provide an opportunity to refer to other materials.

FairMormon’s attempts to justify Smith’s extensive Bible plagiarism by stating that, “New Testament writers literally quoted hundreds of Old Testament scriptures including 76 verses from Isaiah”

That is true, the Savior Himself often quoted the Old Testament Prophets, but I see this as somewhat different, the Lord let us know when he was quoting the Prophets and where it came from:

Mark 12:26

And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’?

Mark 10:19

You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’

Mark 7:10

For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’

Matthew 5:21

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, you shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’

Matthew 5:38

You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’

Luke 19:46

“… saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Luke 4:8

And Jesus answered him, It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and he only shall you serve.’

Can you see the difference?

In the case of the Book of Mormon, we have large tracts of material copied almost verbatim without and citation.

But again, I think this distracts us from the bigger question, which bears repeating; how could the Book of Mormon contain anything whatsoever from the King James Version of the Holy Bible?

Moroni supposedly buried the gold plates in 421A.D. The King James Bible came out 1,190 years later.

With regard to the King James Version errors appearing in the Book of Mormon, it seems to me there can only be two possible explanations:

  1. Joseph Smith or someone else in 1829 took passages from the Bible, errors and all and copied them into the Book of Mormon.
  2. God for reasons best known to Himself put the unique 1769 KJV edition errors as well as the translator’s italic clarifications into the ‘most correct book on this Earth.’

The second conclusion is, of course, absurd but the first is also highly problematic.

First, because so much has been made of the fact that Joseph did not use reference materials to aid in his translation.

And, second, the method of translation according to Smith himself, as well as many observers, saw English words or sentences appearing on the rock in his hat which Smith would then announce to the scribe.

We know from numerous sources that Joseph translated through a stone in his hat. We are also told that the Gold Plates were not used directly in the translation process and indeed were sometimes not even present. That said, why then was a physical separation from the scribe necessary other than to provide an opportunity to refer to reference material.

It is also worth noting that FairMormon failed to address the significant problem of the copying of the italicized words from the King James version of the Bible into the Book of Mormon. I think this was worthy of comment.

Why does the Church not concede that Joseph or his scribe – likely Oliver Cowdery who, as I have shown fulfilled that role when the majority of the Bible plagiarism took place?

After all, this in itself is not terribly damaging. It is reasonable that when Joseph could see that the words of Isaiah were coming up passage after passage, why not then just speed things along by just reading from his Bible to the scribe. Perhaps he was even inspired to do so.

I believe the reason this concession is not forthcoming is that the Church realizes that this admission opens the door to Joseph’s possible use of other resource materials behind the curtain; – The Late War, The View of the Hebrews, and so on. They just can’t afford to go down that rabbit hole.

 

Joseph Smith’s Money-Digging, Magic, and Criminal Behavior

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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.”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

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.’ That this took place before his claim to have found the ‘Gold Plates.’ And that the methodology was the same he later employed in the translation of the BOM – a rock in his 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 really 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 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. If they had the ‘secret’ why would they not be out there doing it!

There is also ample evidence that Joseph knew 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 that he (Smith) could not see anything.

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. He was arrested and tried as a result 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 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. 

I agree that this sounds like a finding that this was analogous to today’s 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 find[s] 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.’

Joseph Smith’s problems with the law were extensive and continuous between from his first disorderly person/fraud trial in 1826 to his second arrest for treason and inciting a riot in 1844.

redd

FairMormon’s Comments on Joseph’s False Prophesies

FairMormon’s Comment No. 1

How can we reconcile Joseph Smith’s numerous false prophecies, with the test of a true prophet as found in Deuteronomy 18?

“Deuteronomy 18 states that if a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord that something will happen, and then it does not happen, that the prophet has spoken “presumptuously.”

Missouri suffered greatly during the Civil War. Over 1,200 distinct battles or skirmishes were fought on Missouri soil; only Tennessee and Virginia saw more action on their soil.

Between 1862 and 1864, the western parts of Missouri endured guerrilla warfare. Although guerrilla warfare occurred throughout much of the state, most of the incidents occurred in northern Missouri and were characterized by ambushes of individuals or families in rural areas. These incidents were particularly nefarious because their vigilante nature was outside the command and control of either side and often pitted neighbor against neighbor.

Among the more notorious incidents of guerrilla warfare were (sic) the Sacking of Osceola, burning of Platte City and the Centralia Massacre.

In 1863 following the Lawrence Massacre in Kansas, Union General Thomas Ewing, Jr. accused farmers in rural Missouri of either instigating the attack or supporting it. He issued General Order No. 11 which forced the evacuation of all residents of rural areas of the four counties (Jackson, Cass, Bates, and Vernon) south of the Missouri River on the Kansas border to leave their property, which was then burned. The order applied to farmers regardless of loyalty, although those who could prove their loyalty to the Union could stay in designated towns and those who could not be exiled entirely.

LDS readers will recognize that Jackson county was notorious for its treatment of the Saints, and it was among those counties from which inhabitants were evacuated and a “scorched earth” policy implemented. The commanding general ordered his men not to engage in looting or other depredations, but he proved unable to effectively control his soldiers, who were mostly Kansans eager to exact any revenge possible upon their Missouri neighbors. Animals and other property were stolen or destroyed, and houses, barns, and outbuildings burnt to the ground. The area affected quickly became a devastated “no-mans-land”, with only charred chimneys and burnt stubble remaining where once-fertile farms had stood.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon is grasping at straws here. As the highlighted portion of Smith’s prophecy clearly shows he was talking about the United States being utterly overthrown and wasted, not Missouri.

When someone claims to be speaking as instructed by God and then makes a false statement, that person “has spoken presumptuously” and is not God’s prophet. There are then, according to the Lord, three elements that we can rely upon to prove a false prophet.

1. The individual claiming to be a true prophet of God, did, in fact, say it. I think FairMormon will stipulate that Smith said it, as it is recorded in the History of the Church, Vol 5, Page 394.

2. That he made clear in his prophecy that he was speaking for the Lord.

‘I prophecy (sic) in the name of the Lord God of Israel….’

3. The prophecy failed to come true.

I simply repeat, it has been more than 170 years since Smith uttered this vengeful prophecy and our great country and its government still stand.

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

Question: Was Joseph Smith’s prophecy that the Independence, Missouri temple “Shall be reared in this generation” a failed prophecy?

Jesus Christ used the very same terminology in Matthew 24:34: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled”

There is a double standard of interpretation that critics use against Joseph Smith since Jesus Christ used the very same terminology. Matthew 24:34 quotes Christ as saying, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Luke 21:32 repeats this prophecy. The term “these things” refers to wars, famines, the sun being darkened, and even the “stars falling from heaven.” Some of “these things” occurred during Christ’s time period. Some have continued since then. Some have escalated into our time. Some have not occurred yet.

So we must ask since Joseph Smith is charged with a false prophecy concerning “this generation,” did Jesus Christ utter a false prophecy? Absolutely not! So, if Joseph Smith uttered a false prophecy about “this generation,” then so did Christ. It has been many centuries longer from the time of Christ until now than it has been from the 1830’s until today.

The word “generation” has different meanings. According to scripture, the word “generation” can have reference to a time frame, a people, or even a dispensation. Without specific wording which would indicate exactly what the word “generation” means, it is dishonest to accuse one (Joseph Smith) of false prophecy while accepting another (Jesus Christ) when both use it in a general form.

Joseph Smith’s revelation in D&C 84 may appear on the surface to be a failed prophecy, but a more informed reading reveals that it may not have been a prophecy, and if it is, its fulfillment is still in the future.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

OK, I personally don’t feel that Joseph was speaking about all time here, but I accept that some could interpret it as such.

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “all nations would be involved in the American Civil War.”

Following the Civil War, many nations entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations

Following the Civil War the nations, in their great alarm because of the new methods of warfare which were being developed and their fear of other nations, entered into alliances and secret agreements in order to protect themselves from other nations. At the outbreak of the World War, these alliances had reached proportions never before known, and during the war other alliances were made until nearly every nation on the earth had taken sides with the Triple Alliance or the Triple Entente. It was during the period of the World War, 1914-1918, Great Britain made her appeal to the nations to come to the defense of the standard of Democracy. Her pleadings were heard round the world. And what is still more remarkable, the entire procedure conforms exactly to the prediction made by Joseph Smith, viz: “they shall also call upon other nations in order to defend themselves against other nations.” A plurality of nations aligned and allied on both sides of the deadly conflict.

This revelation was not just about the American Civil War

The revelation makes that very clear by first stating in verse one, “thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly come to pass.” Notice that the word used is wars (plural), not war (singular), thereby “suggesting not one war but a continuum of conflict. Thus, like chapter 24 of Matthew, this scripture covered things both imminent and distant.” Of course, in our own time, we could add the war in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq, civil wars in Central America, Lebanon, the British-Argentine conflict, Desert Storm, etc.

In our several Indian uprisings since the close of the Civil War, many see the fulfillment of that part of the prophecy which declares that the “remnants who are left of the land [the American Indians] will marshal themselves, and shall become exceeding angry, and shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation.” 1:303

World history since 1861 demonstrates that armed conflict widened and persisted since the American Civil War. There is nothing in the prophecy that claims that the Civil War must be the direct cause of on-going war, merely that on-going war will occur. And, it will happen after “Great Britain” “shall…call upon other nations, in order to defend themselves”:

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon is side-stepping the issue here. Joseph did not prophesy that nations would “entered into alliances and secret agreements” after the Civil War; or that armed conflicts would widen and persist after the American Civil War. He prophesied that “all nations would be involved in the American Civil War.

FairMormon’s Comment No. 3

“Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “he would find treasure in Salem, Massachusetts”

Joseph and several other leaders traveled to Salem hoping to find money that could be used to satisfy some of the Church’s outstanding debt

The trip was apparently made on their own initiative and was not commanded by the Lord. Joseph did not “prophesy” (sic) that they would find money in Salem, but instead made the trip because he became convinced that the story that the treasure existed might true. Upon failing to locate the money, they spent their time preaching to the people in Salem.”

“I, the Lord your God, am not displeased with your coming this journey, notwithstanding your follies. I have much treasure in this city for you, for the benefit of Zion, and many people in this city, whom I will gather out in due time for the benefit of Zion, through your instrumentality. Therefore, it is expedient that you should form an acquaintance with men in this city, as you shall be led, and as it shall be given you. And it shall come to pass in due time that I will give this city into your hands, that you shall have power over it, insomuch that they shall not discover your secret parts; and its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours. Concern not yourselves about your debts, for I will give you power to pay them.”

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Salem, Massachusetts, August 6, 1836. HC 2:465-466.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

You provide no evidence that “The trip was apparently made on their own initiative and was not commanded by the Lord,” as you contend. The language of the prophecy indicates quite the opposite, “I, the Lord your God… I have much treasure in this city for you…Therefore, it is expedient that you should form an acquaintance with men in this city…I will give this city into your hands,… its wealth pertaining to gold and silver shall be yours.

FairMormon again throws words like ‘apparently,’ out there without and any discussion or evidence as to why it is apparent.

Let me give you one more time; God’s determining criteria for identifying a false prophet. When someone claims to be speaking as instructed by God and then makes a false statement, that person “has spoken presumptuously” and is not God’s prophet.

There are then, according to the Lord, not Thomas Monson or FairMormon, but the Lord, thy God, three elements that we can rely upon to prove a false prophet.

1. The individual claiming to be a true prophet
of God, did, in fact, say it.

      History of the Church, 2:465-466, August 6, 1836.

2. That he made clear in his prophecy that he was
speaking for the Lord.

      “I, the Lord your God…”

3. The prophecy failed to come true.

Thetreasure in this city,” was not Smith’s, and it did not come to pass in due time that [God put] this city into [Smith’s] hands,” or that he had, “power over it,” or that it’s, gold and silver shall be [Smith’s].

This is another false prophecy by Joseph Smith.

PLEASE NOTE: I think it is telling that FairMormon has chosen NOT to comment these false prophecies, I also spoke to in ‘A Letter to an Apostle.’

Coming of the Lord
David W. Patten to go on a mission
Congress to be broken up as a government
Hail, Pestilence, Famine & Earthquake to Destroy the Wicked

The eight false prophesies I listed were just a sampling.  There are many more including:

THE CONVERSION OF THE INDIAN PEOPLES
INDIANS SKIN COLOR CHANGING TO MAKE THEM WHITE AND DELIGHTSOME
THE EARTH SHALL SHAKE AND REEL AS A DRUNKEN MAN

THE UNITED ORDER TO STAND UNTIL THE LORD RETURNS
JOSEPH SMITH TO TRIUMPH OVER HIS FOES
NATIONS BOWING TO THE MORMON GOSPEL
THE “UTTER ABOLISHMENT” OF NEW YORK AND BOSTON
THE NAUVOO HOUSE TO BE SMITH’S FAMILY’S FOREVER

 

redd

FairMormon’s Comment&on Changes to the D&C

When the Book of Commandments was rewritten as the D&C after apostles apostatized, etc., many revelations were modified and failed prophecies removed.

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The Saints have never believed in inerrant prophets or inerrant scripture. The editing and modification of the revelations was never a secret; it was well known to the Church of Joseph’s day, and it has been discussed repeatedly in modern Church publications, as well as extensive studies in Masters’ and PhD (sic) theses at BYU.

If Joseph could receive the Doctrine and Covenants by revelation, then he could also receive revelation to improve, modify, revise, and expand his revelatory product. The question remains the same—was Joseph Smith a prophet? If he was, then his action is completely legitimate. If he was not, then it makes little difference whether his pretended revelations were altered or not.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Speaking to this, the Mormon writer John William Fitzgerald made this statement:

“Differences in wording that change the meaning have occurred in certain sections that appeared first in A Book of Commandments published in 1833 and that appeared later in The Doctrine and Covenants published in 1835.”

(“A Study of the Doctrine and Covenants,” Master’s thesis, Brigham Young University. 1940, p. 329)

David Whitmer made this statement:

“Some of the revelations as they now appear in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants have been changed and added to changed and added to. Some of the changes being the greatest importance as the meaning is entirely changed on some very important matters; as if the Lord had changed his mind a few years after he gave the revelations, and after having commanded his servants (as they claim) to print them in the “Book of Commandments;” and after giving his servants a revelation, being a preface unto His Book of Commandments, which says: “Behold this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the Book of my Commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, oh inhabitants of the earth.” Also in this preface, “Behold I am God, and have spoken it; These commandments are of me.” “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful.” The revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments correctly! This I know, and I will prove it to you.

These revelations were arranged for publication by Bro. Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Orson Hyde and others, in Hiram, Ohio, while I was there; and were sent to Independence to be published, and were printed just exactly as they were arranged by Bro. Joseph and the others. And when the Book of Commandments was printed, Joseph and the church received it as being printed correctly. This I know. But in the winter of 1834, they saw that some of the revelations in the Book of Commandments had to be changed, because the heads of the church had gone too far, and had done things in which they had already gone ahead of some of the former revelations. So the book of “Doctrine and Covenants” was printed in 1835, and some of the revelations changed and added to.”

(Letter written by David Whitmer, published in the Saints Herald, February 5, 1887)

Here is a change Joseph made to revise and broaden his ‘gifts.’

“And he [Joseph Smith, Jr.] has a gift to translate the book [of Mormon], and I have commanded him that he shall pretend to no other gift, for I will grant him no other gift.”

Book of Commandments, Ch. 10

Changed to:

“And you have a gift to translate the plates, and this is the first gift that I bestowed upon you, and I have commanded that you should pretend to no other gift until my purpose is fulfilled in this; for I will grant unto you no other gift until it is finished.”

Doctrine and Covenants, Ch. 5, verse 4

“Is it possible that the minds of men can be so blinded as to believe that God would give these revelations – command them to print them in His Book of Commandments – and then afterwards (sic) command them to change and add to them some words which change the meaning entirely? As if God had changed his mind entirely after giving his word? Is it possible that man who pretends to any spirituality would believe that God would work in such a manner?”

David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, Saint’s Herald, Feb. 5, 1887

Joseph Smith can change anything he wants, but I agree with David Whitmer that numerous and seemingly frivolous changes make the Lord look a little ‘flakey.’

The following passage from the ‘original’ section 137 of the D&C is an example of where the Church simply pulls things out of the Doctrine and Covenants or the Book of Commandments when they no longer serve their current narrative or agenda or where the Smith’s prophesies were blatantly false.:

….I saw the Twelve Apostles of the Lamb, who are now upon the earth, who hold the keys of this last ministry, in foreign lands, standing together in a circle, much fatigued, with their clothes tattered and their feet swollen, with their eyes cast downward, and Jesus standing in their midst, and they did not behold him. The Saviour looked upon them and wept.

I also beheld Elder M’Lellin in the south, standing upon a hill, surrounded by a vast multitude, preaching to them, and a lame man standing before him supported by his crutches; he threw them down at his word and leaped as a hart, by the mighty power of God.

Also, I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head with a drawn sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it.

And I finally saw the Twelve in the celestial kingdom of God. I also beheld the redemption Zion and many things which the tongue of man cannot describe in full”

This one ‘revelation’ alone is full of false prophecies, and no wonder the Church just chose to remove it altogether from the D&C.  Too much, ‘splaining to do Lucy!’

At least seven of the twelve were soon excommunicated or apostatized from the church: John F. Boynton & Luke S. Johnson (1837), Lyman Johnson (1838), William E. M’Lellin (c.1838), Thomas B. Marsh & Orson Hyde (1838), and William Smith (1845)’

How could Boynton, et al. have attained the celestial kingdom according to Smith’s rules?  Not only  were they accursed by their very acts of apostasy or excommunication but fell victim to the LDS Church’s own scriptural denunciation in D&C 84.40-41 which, as far as I know, has not been removed or revised:

“Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved. But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.”

Also, the vision of “M’Lellin’s preaching and working miracles in the south” (sic) never came true because he apostatized from the church without ever doing it!

And, although Brigham Young did bring the Mormons West and was a great colonizer, the vision of Young preaching to “men of color” in their own language (whatever that means), in some ‘strange and faraway place in the south-west’ never took place not surprisingly as by any measure Brigham Young was an unmitigated racist.

Finally, “Zion” (Independence, MO.) has never been redeemed in the 170+ years since the prophecy was made. Again, it is not surprising that the ‘Brethren’ chose to remove whole chunks of this “inspired” revelation? 

 

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comment on Smith’s Changing View of Godhead

“Response to claim: “why would Joseph Smith have written a Trinitarian view of the Godhead in the first edition of the Book of Mormon?”

The author(s) of A Letter to an Apostle make(s) the following claim:

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The mistake: The author starts with the assumption that Joseph held a Trinitarian view. The facts: Even before any edits were made, there are plenty of verses in the first edition of the Book of Mormon that support the concept that the Father and the Son are separate entities, just like the Bible does”.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

As is their custom, FairMormon makes a claim without any substantiation, “Even before any edits were made, there are plenty of verses in the first edition of the Book of Mormon that support the concept that the Father and the Son are separate entities.”

In contrast, let me provide evidence to the contrary.

The following references clearly and authoritatively show Smith held a Trinitarian view which admittedly he later modified.

In 2 Nephi 31:21 as well in the document he prepared for the “Three Witnesses” to sign, we read, “the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

We also read in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 11: 16, 18, 21, 32; 13:40: “Knowest thou the condescension of God? … [Mary] is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh. … The Lamb of God, yea even the Eternal Father …. was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world [crucified]. … The Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world.”

In Mosiah 7:27; 13:34, Abinadi tells us “that Christ was the God, the Father of all things”and “that God should come down among the children of men, and take upon him flesh and blood”; also “that God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man.”

In Mosiah 16: 15, Abinadi’s doctrine is summarized: “Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, which is the very Eternal Father.”

In Alma 11:28-29, 38-39, 44, we learn: “Now Zeezrom saith, Is there more than one God? And he [Amulek] answereth No … Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek saith unto him, Yea, he is the very Eternal Father. … Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God.”

And, Joseph’s Trinitarian perspective at that time, could not be made more abundantly clear than, 3 Nephi 11:27, 36; 28:10, we read “that the Father, and the Son, and Holy Ghost are one” in thought and purpose;or in Mormon 7:7, where we read: “The Father, and unto the Son, and unto the Holy Ghost, which is one God.”

In Mormon 9:12, we read: “Because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son,” or in Ether 3:14 and 4:12 where we again read, “Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son,””As well, in the Book of Commandments 24:18 (1833) we also read: “Which Father and Son and Holy Ghost is one God.”

Doctrine and Covenants 20: 28.

In the Book of Moses, found in the Pearl of Great Price we read: “The Savior, he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and. … this one God only will I worship.”

 Moses 1:6, 20; 7:11, 35 (June–Dec. 1830

In Joseph Smith’s 1832 rendition of the First Vision, (November 1832)  one Godappears.

How much more evidence do you need?

This new view of the Godhead, however, called for a retro fit had to be made to the Book of Mormon and Book of Commandments.At the time of the formation of the Church, there is considerable evidence that Joseph had a Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

Not that further evidence is necessary, It is abundantly clear that Joseph’s view of the Godhead changed after 1834. This new view of the Godhead calls for his new view required a retro fit and revision to earlier versions where Joseph could. For example, in 1 Nephi 11:1 Joseph rewrites:

Original 1830 Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest, is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh.

Current, Changed Text

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God. (1 Nephi 11:1

Original 1830 Text

Edit Page ‹ A Letter to an Apostle — WordPress.comAnd the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Eternal Father!

Current, Changed Text

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father! (1 Nephi 11:21)

Original 1830 Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world.

Current, Changed Text

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god (sic), that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world. (1 Nephi 11:32)

Original 1830 Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Fatherand the Savior of the world.

Current, Changed Text

These last records …. shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. (1 Nephi 13:40)

Smith also made retroactive changes to the KJV of the Bible in the JST of Luke 10:22 to reflect the abandonment of his initial Trinitarian view of the Godhead.

King James Version

“No man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.”

Joseph Smith’s Translation

“No man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.”

redd

FairMormon’s Comment on the Scant Mention of Jewish Customs and Laws

Response to claim: “the Book of Mormon claims to be the story of religious Jews, yet there is scant or no mention of Jewish customs or laws”

The author(s) of A Letter to an Apostle make(s) the following claim:

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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 portions of the Book of Mormon that describe Lehi’s family in the Old World do reflect Jewish customs or laws.

There is strong evidence of a Year of Jubilee in the King Benjamin address.

There is the covenant emphasis from King Benjamin that is evidence of Hebrew influence.

The Book of Mormon was edited and compiled by people living post-Christ.

The Book of Mormon lists sins which are consistent with the Ten Commandments.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

The above qualifies as scant, so let’s go with that!

The Book of Mormon gives a few superficial mentions of the intricate and rich religious heritage enjoyed by the Jewish people since the days of Moses. 

I also understand what FairMormon is suggesting when it says, “The Book of Mormon was edited and compiled by people living post-Christ.” Are they suggesting the editors striped out Jewish references? 

The most common biblical terms used to describe Jewish customs or laws, holy days, feasts, the concept of clean/unclean, observances, dietary restrictions, religious ceremonies as well as Old Testament priesthood are entirely missing from the Book of Mormon. I have listed in my letter nine examples of important Jewish biblical terms with their relative frequencies, which simply never appear once in the Book of Mormon as well as how often they appear in the Bible as well as a list of other significant Jewish features that one would expect to see in an authentic Jewish history. 

Perhaps the Mormon apologist at FairMormon who wrote this critique should get out and actually meet a jew.

 

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comments on the Method of Translation

 

Response to claim: Joseph Smith “used a rock; he found while digging a well” to translate the Book of Mormon

Question: Did Joseph Smith use his own seer stone to translate the Book of Mormon?

Many eyewitness accounts confirm that Joseph employed his seer stone during part of the translation process

Joseph was given a set of Nephite interpreters along with the gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was produced. In addition, Joseph already possessed and utilized several seer stones. Although Joseph began translating the Book of Mormon using the Nephite interpreters, he later switched to using one of his seer stones to complete the translation. Critics (typically those who reject Mormonism but still believe in God) reject the idea that God would approve the use of an instrument for translation that had previously been used for “money digging.”

If one stops assuming that Joseph was a liar and deceiver, we can consider the matter from Joseph’s point of view:

He’s being called upon to reveal things that are hidden and to translate an ancient record.

Joseph is painfully aware that he cannot do these things.

How could Joseph know that he wasn’t going crazy or being delusional? Tying his early prophetic work to something with which he had already had objective success (the use of the seer stone) allowed Joseph to trust both God and himself.

The Lord seems to have used Joseph’s preexisting beliefs about how the world worked (The point is not necessarily that the stone had the same ability, but that it provided a means for Joseph to exercise his spiritual abilities.including seer stones to reveal hidden things) to help Joseph gain confidence in his own abilities.

With time, Joseph was able to translate with his “original” stone—thus, his own ability had increased, because he no longer needed the “stronger” Nephite stones.

Eventually, he did not require the “prop” or “crutch” of the stone at all—his faith and experience had grown.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon says, “If one stops assuming that Joseph was a liar and deceiver, we can consider the matter from Joseph’s point of view.”

That is a little silly if we are required just to accept Smith’s view of things this whole exercise becomes moot. 

The ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ is an important element of the search for truth. It is only by reading texts between the lines, cataloging their omissions and laying bare their contradictions, that we can discover what is true.

Is it not be more reasonable to allow the reader to objectively look at the information I have provided and your comments on it and allow them to decide.

As well, your following statements seem to be saying that Joseph’s  ‘treasure hunting rock’ is like a ‘security blanket?’

“He’s being called upon to reveal things that are hidden, and to translate an ancient record.”

“Joseph is painfully aware that he cannot do these things.”

“How could Joseph know that he wasn’t going crazy or being delusional? Tying his early prophetic work to something with which he had already had objective success (the use of the seer stone) allowed Joseph to trust both God and himself.”

“The Lord seems to have used Joseph’s preexisting beliefs about how the world worked (The point is not necessarily that the stone had the same ability, but that it provided a means for Joseph to exercise his spiritual abilities including seer stones to reveal hidden things) to help Joseph gain confidence in his own abilities.”

Ok, I now hear you now as saying that, the seer stone wasn’t that important to the translation process, just like the ‘gold plates’ themselves were not essential, nor the Urim and Thummim.

FairMormon now accepts the reality of the ‘rock in the hat’ methodology and moves the discussion to whether Smith was provided with the exact wording of every sentence in the Book of Mormon or simply given impressions which he then dictated within the context of his understanding? 

Then in a statement reminiscent of Hillary Clinton’s infamous, “What difference does it make!” response when pressed in the Benghazi hearing, those champions of truth at FairMormon reveal their frustration:

“Scholars have examined and debated the issue of a ‘tight’ versus ‘loose’ translation method for many years. Although it is an interesting intellectual exercise, the exact process by which words and sentences were formed has no bearing upon the fact that the book was dictated by the ‘gift and power of God.’ 6

I think that seeking to know what is true is more than just an interesting intellectual exercise. I think these things are important.

“The Lord provided a set of seer stones (which were formerly used by Nephite prophets) along with the plates. The term Nephite interpreters can alternatively refer to the stones themselves of the stones in conjunction with their associated paraphernalia (holding rim and breastplate). Sometime after the translation, early saints noticed similarities with the seer stones and related paraphernalia used by High Priests in the Old Testament and began to use the term Urim and Thummim interchangeably with the Nephite interpreter sand Joseph’s other seer stones as well. The now popular use of the term Urim and Thummim has unfortunately obscured the fact that all such devices belong in the same class of consecrated revelatory aids and that more than one were used in the translation.”

“The Nephite interpreters were intended to assist Joseph in the initial translation process, yet the manner in which they were employed was never explained in detail. The fact that the Nephite interpreters were set in rims resembling a pair of spectacles has led some to believe that they may have been worn like a pair of glasses, with Joseph viewing the characters on the plates through them. This, however, is merely speculation that doesn’t take into account that Joseph soon disassembled the fixture, the spacing between seer stones being too wide for his eyes. The accompanying breastplate also appeared to have been used by a larger man. Like its biblical counterpart (the High Priest’s breastplate contained 12 gems that symbolized him acting as a mediator between God and Israel), the Nephite breastplate was apparently non-essential to the revelatory process.”                                                   

Certainly, there was a change related to the use of the Urim and Thummim after the loss of the 116 pages, Joseph rarely used the Urim and Thummim, opting for his magic seer stone.

Which begs the important question, that I don’t feel the apologists have dealt with; why was this wonderful apparatus preserved for 1,500 years to serve such a limited purpose?

FairMormon also has commented:

The stone is mentioned occasionally in Church publications, but is rarely (if ever) discussed in the 21st century in venues such as Sunday School, nor is it portrayed in any Church-related artwork. This is the conflation of the Nephite interpreters and the seer stone under the name “Urim and Thummim.” In church, we discuss the Urim and Thummim with the assumption that it is always the instrument that Joseph recovered with the plates. Only those familiar with the sources will realize that there was more than one translation instrument.

That said, the Church has been very frank about the seer stone’s use, though the product of the translation of the Book of Mormon is usually given much more attention than the process. Note the mention of the stone in the official children’s magazine, The Friend (available online at lds.org):

OK, we need a reality check here. I am seventy years old, I grew up in the Church, and I believe that like many, perhaps most members I did not hear of the Magic stone in the hat method of translation until quite recently, certainly within the last decade.

It is a little silly for FairMormon to explain this away by saying, “no look we donated a line to it in the Children’s Friend in 1974.”

It should also be noted that Joseph would often correct his own translation on the fly. For example, Mosiah 7:8.

“…they were again brought before the king.. and were permitted or rather commanded that they should answer the questions.”

Are we to believe that this error came across Joseph’s magic rock? Remember he tells us words or sentences would appear, he would speak them to the scribe (usually Oliver Cowdery) who would read it back and only when verified would it disappear and another word or line appears.

Another example is Alma 10:”

“Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous power. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.”

Or, Alma 24:19

“And thus we see that, when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin; and thus we see that they buried their weapons of peace, or they buried the weapons of war, for peace.”

A suspicious person would say that Joseph was working from an outline behind the curtain and simply misspoke.

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comment on the Bogus Images

“Response to claim: “Why does the Church continue to print bogus pictures and hang misleading paintings in Church buildings showing Joseph running his fingers over “Reformed Egyptian” characters on gold plates?”

All art, including Church art, simply reflects the views of the artist: It may not reflect reality.”

“Why, then, does the art not match details which have repeatedly been spelled out in LDS publications?

The simplest answer may be that artists simply don’t always get such matters right. The critics’ caricature to the contrary, not every aspect of such things is “correlated.” Robert J. Matthews of BYU was interviewed by the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, and described the difficulties in getting art “right”:

Even this does not tell the whole story. “Every artist,” said Henry Ward Beecher, “dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” This is perhaps nowhere more true than in religious art…”

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I am sorry, but I don’t buy that. Decision-making in the Mormon Church is more centralized than it is in the Kremlin.

Also, you just said the, “A common complaint is that Church materials usually show Joseph translating the Book of Mormon by looking at the golden plates…” If that is the case, and it has been the case for decades, then why doesn’t the Church do something to correct it.

 

redd

 

FairMormon’s Comments on Smith’s Marriages to Young Girls


“Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages to young women may seem difficult to understand or explain today, but in his own time such age differences were not typically an obstacle to marriage.”
11

“The plural marriages were unusual, to say the least; the younger ages of the brides were much less so. Critics do not provide this perspective because they wish to shock the audience and have them judge Joseph by the standards of the modern era, rather than his own time.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon; please. ‘… Difficult to understand and explain today.’ Look at Warren Jeffs, the jury that put him away had little difficulty ‘understanding’ why, like Joseph Smith, Jeffs married very young girls. As the prosecution ‘explained,’ with little difficulty, it was all about SEX.

I am sorry but a 37-year-old man ‘marrying’ a 14-year-old girl was exceedingly rare and viewed with a jaundiced eye even in upstate New York in the 1830s and 1840s. And let’s not forget it was also illegal.

As the census data below shows, less than 1% of all brides in Smith’s day were 14 years old and 37 year-old grooms was about the same. As I will show below, the 14/37 cohort is astronomically small. Fanny/Smith was likely the only 14/37 bride/husband combo that year in the entire state of New York. FairMormon’s attempt to make it sound like young girls barely out of puberty marrying middle-aged men was commonplace is yet another example of their deceitfulness.

chart2

census

Incidentally, Joseph doesn’t hold the record for the age gap when marrying teenage girls.Those bragging rights go to Mormon President Lorenzo Snow, who married a 16-year-old girl when he was 57 years old. Let me again assure you that people of Snow’s time didn’t view sixty was the new twenty!

The most conservative estimates indicate that Joseph entered into plural marriages with 29–33 women, 7 of whom were under the age of 18. The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of LDS apostle Heber C. Kimball, who was 14. The rest were 16 (two) or 17 (three). One wife (Maria Winchester) about which virtually nothing is known, was either 14 or 15.

Helen Mar Kimball

Some people have concluded that Helen did have sexual relations with Joseph However, historian Todd Compton does not hold this view; he criticized the ‘anti-Mormons’ Jerald and Sandra Tanner for using his book to argue for sexual relations and wrote:

“The Tanners made great mileage out of Joseph Smith’s marriage to his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball. However, they failed to mention that I wrote that there is absolutely no evidence that there was any sexuality in the marriage, and I suggest that, following later practice in Utah, there may have been no sexuality. (p. 638) All the evidence points to this marriage as a primarily dynastic marriage.”

Exactly what type of evidence of sexual activity would you expect to find?”

FairMormon has commented:

“A middle-aged man ‘marrying’ a 14-year-old girl, was far from normal. Joseph Smith’s marriage to Helen Mar Kimball was likely the only 37/14 marriage in New York State that year.  Joseph Smith was sealed to Helen Mar Kimball in 1843 during the time that the Saints lived in Nauvoo, Illinois, not New York State. And, in fact, Illinois Governor Thomas Ford at age 28 was married to 15-year-old bride Frances Hambaugh in 1828, and had five children by her. William Clark, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, married a 16-year-old girl in 1808 when he was 37 years old. When his wife died young, Clark married his wife’s cousin. By this time, Clark is in his 50s, marrying a woman in her late 20s. Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages to young women may seem difficult to understand or explain today, but in his own time such age differences were not typically an obstacle to marriage. The plural marriages were unusual, to say the least; the younger ages of the brides were much less so. Critics do not provide this perspective because they wish to shock the audience and have them judge Joseph by the standards of the modern era, rather than his own time.”

First, Governor Thomas Ford 28/15 cohort is not equivalent to Joseph’s 37/14 – 10 years different. But that in itself does not prove anything.

As the chart above, built from 1840 census shows, a small fraction of 1% of all were 14 years old. It also shows that less than 1% of all grooms are 37 years of age.

We don’t have any statistics on the 37/14 Groom/bride combos, but simple arithmetic and a little common sense would predict it would be extremely small. The probability of a 14/37 cohort is .005 (14-year-old brides) x .01(37-year-old grooms) = .00005 or stated as odds, that is 1 in 20,000. There were 12,000 37 year old men and 22,000 14 year girls in New York State and they certainly didn’t all marry that year.

With the odds of 1:20,000 clearly Joseph/Helen was the only 37/14 cohort in New York that year. 

FairMormon’s statement that “plural marriages were unusual, to say the least; the younger ages of the brides were much less so…” Yes, plural marriages were unusual because they were illegal.

I am not sure what point FairMormon is trying to make by stating that this child was instructed to marry a portly middle-aged man by Dad.

“My father was the first to introduce it to me, which had a similar effect to a sudden shock of a small earthquake. When he found (after the first outburst of displeasure for supposed injury) that I received it meekly.” 12

But then this was the guy who made the statement, “I think no more of taking another wife than buying a cow.”

What a poor child. What a Dad! 13

The Church’s apologists have also commented:

“There is, despite the critics’ insinuations, no evidence that Helen Mar Kimball’s marriage was consummated. (Consummation would not have been inappropriate since this was a marriage, but the critics are too anxious to find problems where no evidence for such exists. Helen did have some disappointments—these mostly revolved around being less free to participate in parties and socials, not at being physically joined to an older husband.”

Here we go again.

Yes, there was no physical examination of Helen after the ‘Honeymoon,’ and as far as we know Smith’s sexual proclivities didn’t favor Ménage à trois so we don’t have any witness to the act.

But here is what Helen Mar Kimball, a girl of just 14 confided to a close friend in Nauvoo about her marriage to Joseph Smith:

“I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.”14

It is an extreme apologetic position to suggest that we cannot make reasonable inferences. That Smith didn’t have sex with Helen or the many other teenagers he married or the twelve married women he polyandrously married because we cannot produce both first-hand and explicit evidence of sexual intercourse.

FairMormon’s tendency to discount all second-hand evidence as being  “hearsay” and therefore need not be addressed, confuses the rules of the courtroom with the rules of historical scholarship. Something FairMormon is obviously ignorant of.

Obviously, any reasonable person knows that Helen meant it was sexual. As Jeremy Runnells puts it, “This is Warren Jeffs territory,” and had Joseph Smith conducted himself in this manner today, he would have rightfully been imprisoned as Jeffs has been.

The sexual nature of plural marriages should also be acknowledged as the LDS scripture repeatedly stress it:

“… for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth and to bear the souls of men.” 15

Also, let’s not forget that Helen was but one of many teens targeted by Smith:

Fanny Alger, 16

Sarah Ann Whitney, 17

Lucy Walker, 17

Flora Ann Woodworth, 16

Emily Dow Partridge, 19

Sarah Lawrence, 17

Maria Lawrence, 19

Helen Mar Kimball, 14

Nancy M. Winchester, 14?

Clarissa Reed Hancock, 19

Malissa Lott, 19

Joseph Smith may have been a pedophile

FairMormon asserts: “No, actually it wasn’t pedophilia. The facts: Joseph being sealed to Helen does not meet the definition of “pedophilia.” The term “pedophilia” is defined by the Encyclopedia Britannica as “psychosexual disorder in which an adult has sexual fantasies about or engages in sexual acts with a prepubescent child of the same or the opposite sex”. (sic) Pedophilia requires that the adult involved have sexual acts with a prepubescent child. The term was not even coined until 1896 or broadly utilized until around 1920.”

The essential part of this definition is: “engages in sexual acts with a prepubescent child of the same or the opposite sex.” Pedophilia requires that the adult involved have sexual acts with a prepubescent child.”

OK, two things must be shown to label Joseph Smith, a pedophile:

  1. Helen Kimball (or Nancy Winchester) was fourteen.
  2. Joseph Smith, an adult male had sexual intercourse or engaged in other sexual acts with either of them.

Let’s examine the first condition.

FairMormon makes the irrelevant point that Helen continued to live with her parents after marrying Smith. It is necessary to tell them that pedophilia has to do with sex, not residency.

I will stipulate that Helen was 14.8 years of age when she married Smith. She was born August 22, 1828, and it is thought she married Joseph Smith on May 28, 1843, the date of her father’s blessing.

I am not altogether satisfied with your age of menarche in America in 1840 has a normal distribution close to a mean of 15.2 years and a standard deviation of 1.85. I believe your citation is using European, not US data.

My research (North American girls Boaz (1999) puts menarche at 16.5 in 1840.

Nevertheless, even accepting your numbers, menarche in Helen’s day was between and 13.35 and 17.05.

This means that at 14.8  the odds are 60/40 that she was prepubescent.

To the second point, the assumption, of course, is that marriages are consummated.

As well, as I have indicated previously, Helen indicated sex was involved:

“I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.” 16

By FairMormon’s own statistics and definition then, there is a 60% chance Joseph Smith was a pedophile.

Was he a pedophile? Maybe, but probably not, however the fact that a middle-aged man was marrying teenage girls is troubling enough.

Today Joseph Smith would also be labeled a child rapist and would be a registered sex offender.

Between adults, most sexual activity does not constitute a criminal offense, unless one of the adults does not consent to the activity.

However, minors are unable to give consent under the law. Indeed, the term “minor” refers to a person who has not yet reached the age of “majority, “where they can give consent in any legal matter (for example, a minor cannot make a valid contract). However, actual laws and the maximum ages that constitute a breach of law vary by state but in no case in the United States, today is that age 14. A person engaging in sexual activity with a minor below these proscribed ages – 16–18 is guilty of an offense. As well there are age gap laws that aggravate. A 17-year-old boy while still guilty, would be treated more leniently than a 37-year-old man engaging in sexual activities with a 14-year-old child. In New York State, today a man over 21 who has sex with a girl of 14 is guilty of third-degree rape.

I stand by my statement that Joseph Smith may have been a pedophile.

redd

 

FairMormon’s Comments


Joseph’s use of coercive stratagems to get women, often young girls, to enter plural marriages with him, including the promise of eternal life in the Celestial Kingdom for her and her family

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

FairMormon provided boilerplate responses not specific to my comments.

I am disappointed in this as the issue of men using their positions of power to abuse and harrass women is such an important matter in the United States today and should have been addressed.

 

FairMormon’s Comments


“Why was the restoration of the priesthood not reported by Joseph and Oliver Cowdery until years later and then earlier revelations changed to match that account?”

We don’t know when Oliver first mentioned the priesthood restoration to anyone – we only know when he first put it in print. But consider this: If Oliver was covering up a fraud on the part of Joseph Smith when he talked of receiving the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods, then why didn’t he expose the fraud after he fell into disagreement with Joseph Smith and was excommunicated from the Church? Why, in fact, did Oliver continue to insist that the events related to the restoration of the Priesthood actually happened?

The implication is that Oliver was dishonest, yet his associates during the time that he was a lawyer after leaving the Church viewed his character as “irreproachable.” 5

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Is this the same Oliver Cowdery that Joseph described as, “…too mean to mention, and we had liked to have forgotten.”

Is this the same Oliver Cowdery that Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency called, “…a lying, thieving, counterfeiting man who was ‘united with a gang of counterfeiters, thieves, liars, and blacklegs in the deepest dye, to deceive, cheat, and defraud the saints out of their property, by every art and stratagem which wickedness could invent…”6

 

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comments


“Joseph and Emma’s disturbing attempts…to partner swap with William and Jane Law

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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

This question arises because of a somewhat opaque verse in the Doctrine and Covenants section on plural marriage. (The revelation was written down at Hyrum Smith’s request, who believed that he could persuade Emma Smith of the doctrine’s provenance from God.) The verses in question read:

No one is certain as to what this refers. William Clayton, Joseph’s scribe, and secretary wrote in his contemporaneous journal:

This A.M. President Joseph took me and conversed considerable concerning some delicate matters. Said [Emma] wanted to lay a snare for me. He told me last night of this and said he had felt troubled. He said [Emma] had treated him coldly and badly since I came…and he knew she was disposed to be revenged on him for some things. She thought that if he would indulge himself she would too.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

It would appear there is more than just smoke here. William Law, who was at that time Smith’s counselor in the First Presidency, described the “offer” Smith used to appease Emma:

“Joseph offered to furnish his wife, Emma, with a substitute for him, by way of compensation for his neglect of her, on condition that she would forever stop her opposition to polygamy and permit him to enjoy his young wives in peace and keep some of them in her [mansion] house and to be well treated, etc.”

Letter by William Law, on 7 January 1887, Salt Lake Daily Tribune, July 3, 1887

Combined with this report by William Clayton, Joseph’s scribe and secretary, written in his contemporaneous journal also builds the case.

And finally, Smith puzzling round-face revelation below written after the Law’s rejection of the Smith’s indecent proposal fits the story very well.

51. Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice

54. And I command mine handmaid, Emma Smith, to abide and cleave unto my servant Joseph, and to none else.

I believe this story has ‘legs.’

Is it just me or does it seems absurd that the God of the universe would be occupied with sending Joseph Smith revelations on his petty marital affairs?

yelloww

FairMormon’s Comments

FairMormon’s Comment No.1

The many similarities between the Book of Mormon and The View of the Hebrews

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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

It is claimed that a 19th-century work by Ethan Smith, View of the Hebrews, provided source material for Joseph Smith’s construction of the Book of Mormon.

Some also postulate a link between Ethan Smith and Oliver Cowdery, since both men lived in Poultney, Vermont while Smith served as the pastor of the church that Oliver Cowdery’s family attended at the time that View of the Hebrews was being written.

The theory the Joseph Smith plagiarized View of the Hebrews was never advanced during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I can’t seem to find your arguments here other than to draw attention to the fact that Joseph knew of the book as he quoted from it and that Oliver Cowdery not only came from the small town where the author lived but attended the church where Ethan Smith, the author, was the pastor.

Absent any argument on FairMormon’s part, I would again point to similarities I detailed above.

FairMormon’s Comment No. 2

The many similarities between the Book of Mormon and
The Golden Pot

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The “Golden Pot” theory by Grant Palmer is claimed to be a source for the story of Moroni’s visit to Joseph Smith, not a source text or inspiration for the Book of Mormon text.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

I am a little confused as I don’t think I suggested in my letter that the Golden Pot was a likely reference source for the Book of Mormon. Perhaps you meant to discuss the Westminster Confession of Faith where there was considerable plagiarism.

redd

FairMormon’s Comment No. 3

The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain; used in New York state schools which Joseph Smith likely was exposed to, that reads very much like and has staggering parallels and similarities to, the Book of Mormon

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS PROPAGANDA AND/OR 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 spin: The “staggering” parallels aren’t so “astounding” once you take a closer look at them. The facts: The critic scours a book in order to extract similar phrases, then declares that this proves that this book was a source for the Book of Mormon.

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Again, FairMormon does not deal with my concerns but provides thirty-two links to prior generic apologies they have made on this subject. This lazy-man’s approach is similar to the way Uchtdorf handles questions directed at him.

Before I comment further on this topic I would invite the reader to compare the form-letter response I got from Uchtdorf in 2017 with the form-letter response Jennifer received from him in 2014:
reply

jennifer

I don’t think I used the word, “astounding “ to describe the similarities between The Book of Mormon and The Late War between the United States and Great Britain, but I agree they are astounding.

This textbook, written by Gilbert J. Hunt in scriptural style discussed, among things, the War of 1812.  It was published in New York in 1816 and marketed as “for the use of schools throughout the United States” under the title, The Historical Reader. It was used in the schools that both Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery attended, and it is also highly likely that Oliver Cowdery taught from it.

Yes, there are staggering parallels and similarities between it and the Book of Mormon. FairMormon has not provided any explanation. Are we to write it off as another coincidence? 

As I have detailed in my letter, both books contain numerous common terms, devices of “curious workmanship,” “Stripling soldiers,” “rod of iron.” These are unusual terms.  

There is a relatively new and powerful technique in the field of computational linguistics and probability called n-gram analysis.

The concept itself is quite simple but its application all but impossible until the advent of powerful computers. An n-gram is a contiguous sequence of items from a given arrangement of text or speech.

The items can be words, letters, or syllables. The ‘n’ in n-gram represents the number of elements of the sequence, for example, 4-gram would be four words in sequence, ‘now is the time.’

With the aid of modern, powerful computers, we can compare two documents regarding how often the same four (or three words in the case of 3-gram, five words in the case of 5-gram, etc.) words in the same sequence or order appear in both. When two books have a high relative frequency of n-grams the greater the probability that plagiarism has occurred. I say relative because the n-gram finding is compared to n-gram frequencies found within other documents from the same period.

An example would be comparing the Book of Mormon (1830) with Pride and Prejudice (1813). You would expect that the 4-gram would show a very low frequency. This is, in fact, the case. In October 2013, researchers Chris and Duane Johnson conducted an n-gram analysis of The Book of Mormon comparing it to over 100,000 books from the pre-1830’s era. They found that a book called The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain had a very high n-gram score.

In fact, the computer algorithm found over 100 rare 4-grams shared by both The Book of Mormon and The Late War. To put this into perspective, they found that The Late War contained more 4-gram connections to The Book of Mormon than 99.999% of the other books published before 1830.

These findings are highly significant because they show beyond any reasonable doubt that the author(s) of the Book of Mormon plagiarized from The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain published in 1816, just fourteen years before the Book of Mormon.

Does this in itself prove that Joseph Smith consciously, purposefully and with fraudulent intent copied material from The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain?

While most likely, I don’t think we can go quite that far.

In 1976, former ‘Beatle’ George Harrison was sued by Bright Tunes Music, the publisher of “He’s So Fine,” on behalf of Ronnie Mack, the songwriter who had died in 1963, shortly after his tune became the No. 1 hit in the United States. Harrison testified at trial, “I wasn’t consciously aware of the similarity between ‘He’s So Fine’ and ‘My Sweet Lord’ when I wrote the song, as it was more improvised and not so fixed.”

Judge Owen, who analyzed the music of both songs, ruled that “it is perfectly obvious to the listener that in musical terms, the two songs are virtually identical.”

The judge found that Harrison “subconsciously” plagiarized “He’s So Fine.” He also stated that, “…I do not believe he did so deliberately,”’ but “under the law, infringement of copyright is no less so even though subconsciously accomplished.”

It is impossible for us to know what went on in Smith’s head, perhaps we can best determine his motivations by examining his conduct and the worth of his character in other matters.

 

yelloww

 

FAIRMORMON COMMENTS


“The core of Mormon doctrine is centered wholly in Christ and his atonement. Without the foundation which the Book of Mormon lays, the other LDS teachings are meaningless. The Book of Mormon itself defines “the gospel” as simply the doctrine of Christ, faith in him, repentance, and the introductory ordinances. (What are these introductory ordinances?)

There are many religious topics and doctrines which The Book of Mormon does not discuss in detail (e.g., the premortal existence, see Alma 13:), and some which are not even mentioned (e.g., the ordinance of baptism for the dead).

This is unsurprising since the Book of Mormon’s goal is to teach the “fullness of the gospel”—the doctrine of Christ.”

DOUGLAS’ COMMENTS

FairMormon says, “The core of Mormon doctrine is centeredwholly in Christ and his atonement. Without the foundation which the Book of Mormon lays, the other LDS teachings are meaningless.

Fine, except we are not speaking of ‘centrality;’ we are taking about ‘fullness.’

The difference is shouldn’t be too difficult for you to grasp if we use an example.

The central focus of the US Bill of Rights is the protection of individual rights and freedoms. The fullness would, however, include the ten amendments to the United States Constitution.

  1. Freedom of speech
  2. Right to bear arms
  3. Protection against housing soldiers in civilian home
  4. Protection against unreasonable search and seizure, protection against the issuing of warrants without probable cause
  5. Protection against trial without indictment double jeopardy self-incrimination property seizure
  6. Right to a speedy trial. Right to be informed of charges Right to be confronted by witnesses. Right to call witnesses. Right to a legal counsel
  7. Right to trial by jury
  8. Protection against excessive bail excessive fines cruel and unusual punishment
  9. Rights granted in the Constitution shall not infringe on other rights
  10. Powers not granted to the Federal Government in the Constitution belong to the states or the

Can it be argued that it is enough that our fellow citizens know that the US Bill of rights affords them certain rights without knowing what those rights are?

No, to bring any benefit to the citizens of this great nation, to make our sacred freedoms come to life, we require the ‘fullness’ or the legislation.

Likewise, the efficacy, that is, that which animates the ‘Gospel’ comes from the fullness of it.  The most important thing being is our Dear Lords atonement, our faith in him and the repentance of our sins.

But my friends are these are the just those things that all true Christians and their Church’s belief.

You need to ask yourself the question:

“Is it possible that the Book of Mormon cannot contain “the fullness of the gospel” because it doesn’t teach certain unique LDS doctrines, such as baptism for the dead, the Word of Wisdom, the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, vicarious work for the dead, and the corporeal nature of God the Father?”

I think with a little thought you will agree that it cannot contain the fullness of the Gospel, without those things that make the Mormon religion unique.

If you answer it is yes, that the Book of Mormon can contain the fullness of the Gospel that baptism for the dead, the Word of Wisdom, the belief in three degrees of glory, and knowledge of celestial marriage, the importance of vicarious work for the dead, etc. are not significant, essential or even necessary to the Gospel.

I invite you to make that comment in the next Gospel Doctrine class you attend:

“Brothers and Sisters, the Word of Wisdom, the three degrees of glory, celestial marriage, and the work for the dead, are not part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as they are not found it the Book of Mormon, so conduct yourselves accordingly!”

References

1 Ray Anderson, The Book of Mormon, A Voice From 19th Century Dust, Seattle, WA, 2007, pp. 41-42

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comments


Several witnesses to the Book of Mormon confessed that they did not see the plates with their natural eyes, but with ‘visions of the mind.’

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES


DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

Again, FairMormon as is their custom talks about errors and suggests there is erroneous or incorrect information without providing any collaborating evidence or details.

yelloww

 

FairMormon’s Comments


Why does the Book of Mormon incorrectly state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem?

FACT CHECKING RESULTS: THIS CLAIM CONTAINS MISTAKES AND/OR ERRORS – THE AUTHOR HAS STATED ERRONEOUS OR INCORRECT INFORMATION OR MISINTERPRETED THEIR SOURCES

The Book of Mormon does not claim that “Jesus was born in Jerusalem”. It claims that Jesus was born “at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers.” It is referring to the land of Jerusalem.

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

We could accept this as a reasonable explanation, were it not for the fact that Joseph Smith in his arrogance made the fanciful and demonstrably false statement that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on Earth.

But to state that I have stated ‘erroneous or incorrect information’ by pointing out Smith’s mistake says a great deal about FairMormon’s raison d’être.

 

yelloww

FairMormon’s Comments


“How do we overcome the problem of large populations and armies arising in such a short period?

Question: Was the Lehite colony too small to produce the population sizes indicated by the Book of Mormon?

The Book of Mormon contains many overt references, and some more oblique ones, to ‘other’ peoples that were part of the demographic mix in Book of Mormon times

A superficial reading of the Book of Mormon leads some to conclude that the named members of Lehi’s group were the only members of Nephite/Lamanite society.

The Book of Mormon contains many overt references, and some more oblique ones, to ‘other’ peoples that were part of the demographic mix in Book of Mormon times. Indeed, many Book of Mormon passages make little sense unless we understand this. The Nephite record keeps its focus on a simplistic “Nephite/Lamanite” dichotomy both because it is a kinship record, and because its focus is religious, not politico-historical.

But, as one author observed, it is inescapable that there were substantial populations in the “promised land” throughout the Nephite record, and probably in the Jaredite era also. The status and origin of these peoples are never made clear because the writers never set out to do any such thing; they had other purposes. We cannot understand the demographic or cultural history of Lehi’s literal descendants without taking into account those other groups, too.

Hereafter, readers will not be justified in saying that the record fails to mention “others” but only that we readers have hitherto failed to observe what is said and implied about such people in the Book of Mormon.”

 

DOUGLAS’ RESPONSE

As I say in my letter, the population growth suggested in the Book of Mormon is unrealistic. If we work from the assumption the western hemisphere was empty when the Book of Mormon peoples arrived. Professional demographers agree that the population growth rate indicated would have to be about thirty times the rate that existed in the world as a whole during the same era to reach the numbers spoken of in the Book of Mormon. This suggests other preexisting populations.

This. however, conflicts with The Book of Mormon which seems to claim that the hemisphere was empty at the time of Lehi’s arrival. 2 Nephi, Chapter 1:

8 And behold, it is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance.

9 Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever. . . .

This NEW theory of other populations may help the apologists deal with their DNA problem.

 

yelloww

While every effort has been made to provide accurate citations and footnotes and provide credit where possible, ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ may make use of copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. As provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law, this constitutes a “fair use” of any such copyrighted material. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this website is offered to the public without profit, to the public users of the internet for comment and nonprofit educational and informational purposes. Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. In such cases, fair use is permitted. No copyright(s) is/are claimed. The content is broadcasted for study, research, and educational purposes. The authors gain no profit from content. This document falls under “Fair Use” guidelines: www.copyright.gov. 

 

 

——————————————————————————————

 

Please feel free to share the content of this document with proper credit and according to the following restrictions:

Sharing the content

You may share, disseminate, distribute, and/or comment on this work providing you respect the following:

  • Do give credit to the numerous authors and sources contained in the  ‘A Letter to an Apostle’ or myself if you are quoting my commentary.
  • Do not imply however that I support or endorse your new paper in any way.
  • Do not use “A Letter to an Apostle” or “LTA” or imply that your work a sequel (example: LTA Letter – Part 2) in your new paper.
  • Do not sell, print or offer the “A Letter to an Apostle” or your new work for profit or commercial purposes.
  • Do not set up or provide, “A Letter to an Apostle” for mass print on com or any other printers.
  • Do respect the art work by keeping intact its URL links acknowledging its owners

 

 

 

 lettertoapostle.org