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”. 
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:
- Paul A. Douglas, A Letter to an Apostle (Research Document) (July 2017)
Response to claims made in “A Letter to an Apostle” by Paul A. Douglas
JUMP TO SUBTOPIC:
Summary: This section responds to claims made in the actual letter which was sent to President Uchtdorf’s office.
JUMP TO SUBTOPIC:
- Response to claim: “The dearth of any archaeological, anthropological or linguistic evidence of the Book of Mormon chronicles”
- Response to claim: “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”
- Response to claim: “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?”
- Response to claim: “Thomas Stuart Ferguson…had to admit that, ‘you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere – because it is fictional'”
- Response to claim: “how can we account for the numerous anachronisms in the Book of Mormon – chariots, horses, goats, wheels, elephants, steel, wheat, etc.?”
- 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?”
- Response to claim: “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”
- Response to claim: “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”
- Response to claim: “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”
- Response to claim: “how is it that some verbatim sections of the New Testament appear in the Book of Mormon at a date reported to be some eighty years before the birth of the Savior?”
- Response to claim: “Joseph’s money digging and his arrest, trial and almost certain conviction for being a “glass looker,” imposter and disorderly person by a justice of the peace in Bainbridge, New York, in 1826”
- Response to claim: “How can we reconcile Joseph Smith’s numerous false prophecies, with the test of a true prophet as found in Deuteronomy 18?”
- Response to claim: Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “the US government would be, ‘utterly overthrown and wasted'”
- Response to claim: Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “a temple would be built in Missouri within Smith’s generation”
- Response to claim: Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “all nations would be involved in the American Civil War”
- Response to claim: Joseph Smith’s prophecy that “he would find treasure in Salem, Massachusetts”
- Response to claim: “when the Book of Commandments was rewritten as the D&C after apostles apostatized, etc., many revelations were modified and failed prophecies removed”
- Response to claim: “Joseph Smith’s various and differing first vision accounts”
- Response to claim: “no one – including Joseph Smith’s family members or the Saints – had ever heard about the First Vision for twelve to twenty-two years after he had said it occurred”
- Response to claim: “in the first ‘History of the Church,’ written by Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith in 1834, why was there no mention of” the First Vision
- Response to claim: “why would Joseph Smith have written a Trinitarian view of the Godhead in the first edition of the Book of Mormon?”
- 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”
- Response to claim: Joseph Smith “used a rock; he found while digging a well” to translate the Book of Mormon
- Response to claim: Joseph Smith used “the same stone” to translate the Book of Mormon that “he employed in his treasure hunting career”
- Response to claim: “What then was the point of the golden plates and the Urim and Thummim being preserved for 1,500 years, if never to be used in translation?”
- 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?”
- Response to claim: “Why did Joseph Smith’s polygamy pre-date any revelation sanctioning it?”
- Response to claim: “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”
- Response to claim: “FairMormon’s attempt to make it sound like young girls barely past puberty marrying middle aged men was quite common place is deceitful”
- Response to claim: “Joseph Smith may have been a pedophile”
- Response to claim: “Mormon apologists…focus now on the lack of direct evidence that he actually have sex with them. What evidence are they looking for?”
- Response to claim: “Emma was unaware of most her husband’s marriages, and she certainly did not consent to most of them as required by D&C 132”
- Response to claim: “three weeks after his secret wedding to Sarah Ann Whitney age 17, she received a letter from Joseph instructing her to come to this house that night”=Response to claim:
- Response to claim: “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”
- Response to claim: Joseph Smith’s “arrogant and boastful behavior, trumping the Savior himself”
- Response to claim: “Why was the restoration of the priesthood not reported by Joseph and Oliver Cowdrey until years later and then earlier revelations changed to match that account?”
- Response to claim: “Joseph and Emma’s disturbing attempts…to partner swap with William and Jane Law”
- Response to claim: “Joseph’s ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor for unmasking his polygamy”
- Response to claim: “the many similarities between the Book of Mormon and The View of the Hebrews”
- Response to claim: “the many similarities between the Book of Mormon and ..The Golden Pot”
- Response to claim: “the many similarities between the Book of Mormon and…The First Book of Napoleon”
- Response to claim: “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”
- Response to claim: “when Joseph Smith wrote the JST of the Bible, he also went back and corrected Christ’s Sermon on the Mount passage in the Book of Mormon”
- Response to claim: “Joseph’s gross mistranslation of the Egyptian papyri that formed the basis of the Book of Abraham”
- Response to claim: “The embarrassing Kinderhook Plates episode wherein primary sources show that Joseph “translated” forged items with meaningless symbols”
- Response to claim: “Why did Joseph Smith misidentify a simple Greek Psalter, as an Egyptian document?”
- Response to claim: “Was it pure coincidence that Freemasonry symbols, signs and tokens were incorporated into the temple ceremonies shortly after Joseph becomes a Mason?”
- Response to claim: “The Church speaks of the “Fullness of the Gospel” in the Book of Mormon, but many essential elements are not contained therein”
- Response to claim: “Why was it necessary to make thousands of changes to the Book of Mormon, ‘the most correct book in the world?'”
- Response to claim: “Can it not be argued that changes made to core doctrines of the Church such as outlawing polygamy and Blacks in the priesthood, were in direct response to American political pressure?”==
- Response to claim: “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'”
- Response to claim: Martin Harris “tells us that because they had not seen a physical object, only a vision of them, some balked but were eventually persuaded by Smith to sign the document he had prepared”
- Response to claim: “Why does the Book of Mormon mention the …use of the word Bible, crucifixion, and synagogue?”
- Response to claim: “Why does the Book of Mormon incorrectly state that Jesus was born in Jerusalem?”
- Response to claim: “How do we overcome the problem of large populations and armies arising in such a short period?”