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My priorities in life continue to evolve, subtly shuffling now as I progress along my path. My views on the pursuit of personal happiness remain unchanged, but have taken on greater clarity wherein they fit into the larger whole of family, community and society in general. Finding the courage to question everything arose from my emerging ability to detach my personal identity from my beliefs, instilled by religion, family and my own limited social group from within Mormonism. Realizing that I exist outside the beliefs and culture of Mormonism freed me to explore who I really was. Loving myself as I am honors myself beyond the benefit of following any doctrine, or the hollow promises of “what is to come”. Loving myself now, gives me the freedom to be myself, to question, grow, and evolve. I put no external hope or meaning on being authentically me. I simply have learned to value the moment. I no longer live under the pall of regret or with the forward gaze of what is to come. I simply live in the moment, and have discovered this is the secret of happiness, true freedom.

Understanding myself, accepting and loving myself, and allowing myself to continue being me, has laid the groundwork for my evolving ideas of how my philosophy and myself, for that matter, fit into the larger scale of family and society. As a child, my family traveled quite a bit by plane. I remember watching the stewardess go through the familiar routine of emergency procedure instruction. Her spiel included the harsh instruction to parents to secure their own oxygen mask before seeking to aid their children with securing their oxygen masks. I found the instruction curious as an 8 year old child, and felt somewhat betrayed by the glossy stewardess. It wasn’t until I was a few years older, that I fully understood the wisdom behind the instruction. In order to benefit anyone else, we first need to make sure that we are ok. Before we can be a strength, or any true value to another person, we need to proactively take responsibility for our own well-being. In other words, our greatest benevolence is to ourselves. Only then, are we any value to another.

A popular belief, and one that has been loudly expressed to me, is that “when one loses religion, one loses the ability or desire to do good in the world”. I have found the opposite to be true. As I have exited the culture of Mormonism, I have done a lot of introspection as well as objective observation of the world around me. I came to know myself outside the definitions provided by a strict Mormon upbringing. I have learned to honor myself. Once afraid of never knowing community or family again, I’ve found myself surrounded by the best friends of my life. I’ve found a community of like-minded, loving, thinking, questioning, adventurous, and authentic friends. My family has reformed. My children are individual thinkers, each unique and colorful! They bow to no one. They conform to no one. They are finding their own paths in understanding, accepting, and allowing themselves to be: to be whomever they are, right now. I could not be more proud. I offer my children the greatest gift I have to offer: unconditional love and acceptance of who they are. I have found peace in letting go of my parent’s and sibling’s reactive emotion and behavior to my choices. I have learned to let go of things that do not work for me and hold onto all that honors me, such as authentic, loving and open friends. Honoring myself has attracted a wealth of healthy relationships into my life. The only thing that changed was me, and I’ve never been happier.

One lesson from my days as a Mormon that continues to ring true: Do what is right, and everything WILL work out. Not in some imaginary far off place in the future, though, right here. Right now.

So, I offer the world my authenticity and personal responsibility for happiness. I do not seek it in religion or in the store. I do not seek it in family, work, or any substance. I have found it within myself. I have found it in the moment. Imagine a world where everyone did this. Imagine how that would look and feel. No entitlement. No blaming. No judgement. It would be a very good foundation to build a new society. I offer my enlightenment, and the light that is carried forward as I connect with other enlightened people. I offer letting go. I offer healing. I offer love.


(reposted from:

Those with nothing to hide, hide nothing

23 Jul 2013

The LDS church has recently (July 13, 2013) unveiled a new search engine powered by Google and censored by LDS inc.

The Church has revamped the search function and features to include Google’s powerful search technology, harnessing its signature ability to find relevant information.

Relevant information? What does that mean?

That means: Official, Safe Content

Official? Safe?

The new search provides a more safe and Church-specific search experience than Google, said Brother Ward. When you search from Google’s website, the results you get back may or may not be official content, he explained. Some results might be links to members’ personal blogs or even anti-Church sites.

The search, however, only returns links to official Church-approved content that is currently available on and other Church websites. And even though Google’s technology is used, no user information is provided back to Google. “It provides a safe, private, shock-free environment to search for approved gospel resources,” said Brother Ward.

So you can search only church approved sources and get only church approved answers to all your gospel questions.

Why is that needed? Because people (good, faithful LDS people) are searching Google for help with their lesson plans for Young Women’s, Priesthood, Seminary…. and getting back “shocking” information about the church. Shocking because it’s information they’ve never heard before that it true- and the more and more they search the more and more they learn about this information- and then they leave the LDS church because they feel lied to and betrayed. So how does the Church deal with this problem? Not by being more open and honest and teaching this information themselves- no- they deal with it by trying to bury it further.

For example- let’s search polyandry. Now we know that polyandry is when a man marries a woman that is already married. Joseph Smith did this 11 times before he died. Let’s see what the search on turns up. (You can use Ctrl + to zoom in)

The first result is D&C 132:51. Not bad considering that the entire section is about plural marriage. Let’s see which verse specifically it found.

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 aprove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.

Hmm. Nothing explaining polyandry, mentioning Joseph and polyandry- instead it’s a verse threatening Emma that if she were to engage in polyandry herself (with William Law specifically) then she would be disobeying God. But you’d only know that’s what this verse was referring to if you’d read lots of other church history. But it shows that the search function knows what you’re talking about.

What about the other search results? Do they go into more depth? Explain polyandry with a definition? Mention any one of the 11 women who sacrificed and married Joseph in polyandry?

No. You get an I’m a Mormon profile with no mention, two Seminary lessons with no mention and that aren’t relevant to the search, and then a list of feel good church magazine articles that aren’t at all relevant.

So how did Google do? (Once again Ctrl + to zoom in)Google polyandry1Google polyandry

Google leads with to a page specifically about polygamy, polyandry and a helpful infographic of the wives of Joseph Smith.

The next link is to FAIR- a site considered to be friendly to tough LDS questions. They define polyandry, discuss how it relates to Joseph’s marriages and then give links to other questions you may have about polyandry in general.

Following that is a link to a FAIR conference talk by Brian Hales who is known for his research into polygamy and polyandry and has released a couple of books exploring the topics. While I disagree with his conclusions (and so do most notable historians) it’s still relevant information if you want a well rounded picture about polyandry.

Then there is a youtube video, an article from Dialogue, and a blog post by Times and Seasons.

Eighth on the list is

So maybe there is a search result on that the search function before didn’t find! So I clicked on it. This is what came back.

The exact same search I’d already done on

There is some text in the Google search under that result that says this:

LDS Mormons do not currently practice polygamy, polygyny, nor polyandry. The principles of this biblical practice were revealed to Joseph Smith Jr. from 1831.

So if you want to know what polyandry is- or why it’s relevant to the history of the church won’t tell you anything. It doesn’t even say it was practiced by Joseph Smith- just that the principles were revealed to him.

What you will find is:

The Church has revamped the search function and features to include Google’s powerful search technology, harnessing its signature ability to find relevant information.

So relevant information? What does that mean?

It means that the church is still hiding information the best they can. It means that knowledge is power- and the church- LDS Inc. is trying to take that power away from you.

When are they going to stop trying to hide the truth and just come clean? When are they going to start being ‘honest with their fellowmen’?

recopied from:

3 Meetings with an LDS General Authority, 2012/2013 ~ Grant H. Palmer
April 6, 2013
The following very interesting memorandum was received recently from Grant H. Palmer, the renowned LDS historian, and is shared here with his permission.

Please leave your comments below:

Three Meetings with a LDS General Authority, 2012- 2013

Grant H. Palmer

In mid-October 2012, a returned LDS Mission President contacted me to arrange a meeting. Several days later, he called again and said that a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy also wished to attend. He said the General Authority would attend on condition that I not name him or repeat any stories that would identify him. He explained that neither of them, including the GA’s wife, believed the founding claims of the restoration were true. He clarified that they had read my book, An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins, and had concluded that the LDS Church was not true; was not what it claimed to be. The GA often went to the website for information and there discovered my book. The Mission President said he received my book from the GA.

We have at this writing met three times. We first met on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 and again February 14, 2013 at my house. On March 26, 2013 we convened at the GAs house. Upon entering my home for the first meeting the GA said, “We are here to learn.” I recognized him. He has been a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy for a number of years. He has served in several high profile assignments during this period. The following are the more important statements made by the GA during our first three meetings. We now meet monthly.

He said that each new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is given one million dollars to take care of any financial obligations they have. This money gift allows them to fully focus on the ministry. He said that the overriding consideration of who is chosen is whether they are “church broke,” meaning, will they do whatever they are told. He said the senior six apostles make the agenda and do most of the talking. The junior six are told to observe, listen and learn and really only comment if they are asked. He said that it takes about two to three years before the new apostle discovers that the church is not true. He said it took Dieter F. Uchtdorf a little longer because he was an outsider. He said they privately talk among themselves and know the foundational claims of the restoration are not true, but continue on boldly “because the people need it,” meaning the people need the church. When the Mission President voiced skepticism and named ___ as one who surely did believe, The GA said: “No, he doesn’t.” The one million dollar gift, plus their totally obedient attitude makes it easy for them to go along when they find out the church is not true. For these reasons and others, he doesn’t expect any apostle to ever expose the truth about the foundational claims.

When I asked the GA how he knew these things, he answered by saying that the Quorum of the Twelve today is more isolated from the Quorums of the Seventies now because there are several of them. When only one Quorum of the Seventy existed, there was more intimacy. During his one on one assignments with an apostle, conversations were more familiar. He said that none of the apostles ever said to him directly that they did not believe; but that it was his opinion based on “my interactions with them.” Also, that none of the Twelve want to discuss “truth issues,” meaning issues regarding the foundational claims of the church. He said that the apostle’s lives are so completely and entirely enmeshed in every detail of their lives in the church, that many of them would probably die defending the church rather than admit the truth about Joseph Smith and the foundations of the church.

The GA stated that my disciplinary action (which would have occurred on the final Sunday of October 2010 had I not resigned), was mandated/ordered/approved by the First Presidency of the Church. I said that if the apostles know the church is not true and yet order a disciplinary hearing for my writing a book that is almost certainly true regarding the foundational claims of the church, then they are corrupt even evil. He replied, “That’s right!”

The GA said the church is like a weakened dam. At first you don’t see cracks on the face; nevertheless, things are happening behind the scenes. Eventually, small cracks appear, and then the dam will “explode.” When it does, he said, the members are going to be “shocked” and will need scholars/historians like me to educate them regarding the Mormon past.

The Mission President and the GA both said they attend church every Sunday and feel like “a hypocrite and trapped.” The GA said his ward treats him like a king and when he gives firesides and speaks to LDS congregations they have high expectations of him. He would like to do more in getting the truth out besides raising a few questions when speaking and gifting my book to others when feeling comfortable. Perhaps this is why he has reached out to me. The GA is a man of integrity and very loving. Upon leaving each time, he always gives me a big hug.

Do the Following Statements Support the Disclosures of the GA?

Apostle Boyd K. Packer said to Michael Quinn when interviewing him for a history position at BYU in 1976, “I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth. The truth is not uplifting, it destroys,” quoted in, Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History, editor, George D. Smith, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1992), 76n22.

Gregory Prince, who wrote a seminal biography of President David O. McKay, related to me that when he interviewed Hugh Nibley, a professor at BYU in 1995, that “At one point in the interview he [Nibley] asked that I turn off the tape recorder, which I did. He then related a curious anecdote relating to McKay and the Book of Mormon,” indicating that McKay did not believe in the historicity of the Book of Mormon (emails exchanged between me and Greg Prince on June 22, 2005. These documents are located in The Grant H. Palmer Papers, Accn 2071, Manuscripts Division, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah).

Thomas Stuart Ferguson, a California lawyer, church member and avid amateur archeologist, took the Egyptian papyri that was gifted to the church in 1967 to several Egyptologists at Berkeley, and as I recall Brown University and had them independently translated. All said the papyri were common funerary rites from the Book of the Dead. Ferguson then took their statements to apostle Hugh B. Brown, and after reviewing the evidence “with Brother Brown he said that Brother Brown agreed with him that it was not scripture …. that Hugh B. Brown did not believe the Book of Abraham was what the church said it was” (Journal entry of Ronald O. Barney concerning Thomas Stuart Ferguson on 19 April, 1984. Barney, now retired, worked at the LDS Library and Archives at Church headquarters, in Salt Lake City). Ferguson also said the same to Gerald and Sandra Tanner on December 2, 1970: “Mr. Ferguson had just visited with Mormon apostle Hugh B. Brown before coming to our house, and said that Brown has also come to the conclusion that the Book of Abraham was false” (Letter of Gerald Tanner to Dee Jay Nelson, December 10, 1970, published by Modern Microfilm Co., SLC, Utah).

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A (short) timeline on women and General Conference

1967- July- The “Priesthood Bulletin”, a church-wide newsletter for priesthood leadership, prohibits women from praying in sacrament meeting. (“Mormon Hierarchy-Extensions of Power”, By D. Michael Quinn)

1968- General Handbook of Instructions, pp 44- “Prayers in Church Meetings Prayers in all Church meetings should be brief, simple, and given as led by the spirit by the one who is voice. Their content should pertain to the particular matter at hand. Brethren holding the Melchizedek or Aaronic Priesthood should offer the prayers in sacrament meetings, including fast and testimony meetings. Those praying should use the pronoun forms of Thy, Thee, Thine, Thou in addressing the Lord.”

1975- June- Ensign, “News of the Church”- “Prayers in Sacrament and Priesthood Meetings: Attention is called to the following instruction which appeared in the July-August 1967 Priesthood Bulletin. The First Presidency recommends that only those who bear the Melchizedek Priesthood or Aaronic Priesthood be invited to offer the opening and closing prayers in sacrament meetings, including fast meetings. This also applies to priesthood meetings.”

1978- November- Ensign, “News of the Church”- At a Regional Representatives seminar on September 29 President Kimball said- “The First Presidency and Council of the Twelve have determined that there is no scriptural prohibition against sisters offering prayers in sacrament meetings. It was therefore decided that it is permissible for sisters to offer prayers in any meetings they attend, including sacrament meetings, Sunday School meetings, and stake conferences. Relief Society visiting teachers may offer prayers in homes that they enter in fulfilling visiting teaching assignments.”

1980- The general presidents of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary are invited to sit on the stand during general conference. (“Lengthen Your Stride”, Edward L. Kimball, pp. 167)

2010- Church Handbook of Instructions – “Men and women may offer both opening and closing prayers in Church meetings.” –

2010- November, Ensign, “Because of Your Faith”, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland- “Not one of us could serve without your prayers and without your support.”-

2011- May, Ensign, “LDS Women Are Incredible!”, Elder Quentin L. Cook- “From our earliest history both men and women pray, perform the music, give the sermons, and sing in the choir, even in sacrament meeting, our most sacred meeting.”

2013- Letters are sent to General Authorities, asking that women be allowed to pray in General Conference.

Opened on December 21, 2012

This petition is designed to demonstrate the level of support there is within the Mormon Community for a change in the leadership’s approach to dealing with the difficult questions in Church history.

Please sign & promote this petition so we get the attention from those who can make a difference.(The Mormon Community includes everyone & anyone who is still a member or who has been a member in the past & still feels they identify with this community)

To the First Presidency & Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We, as members of said Church, give this our Proclamation:
Let it be known that we twelve members of the Church represent many thousands of other members all over the world who are honest, faithful & sincere. We, in good conscience, have served faithfully in the Church giving much of our time, talents & financial resources to build up the Church, believing it to be the Kingdom of God on earth. Many of us have served faithfully with all our hearts, might, mind & strength all our lives.
WHEREAS, we believe in honesty & integrity, we expect God’s Kingdom on earth to be led by God’s authorised servants who epitomise these same values in their leadership. Yet we find it is not so. We find instead that loyalty & obedience is valued more highly by them than integrity to the truth.
WHEREAS, we believe in truth, we expect the Church of the One True God to be built on truth. We expect no pretence, nor corruption, only honesty & openness, having nothing to hide, displaying a willingness & desire to declare all the facts in a full & frank disclosure. Yet we find an unwillingness to discuss difficult areas of Church history, with the excuse that some aspects of Church history are not faith promoting.
WHEREAS, we expect that when the Church claims to be “The One and Only True Church of Jesus Christ on the face of the whole earth”, we expect the Church bases this claim on facts which are true & verifiable. There should be no truth claim which under the ‘full light of day’ is proven to be otherwise. Yet we find many of the truth claims to be based not on substantive facts, but on an altered narrative crucially lacking in historical accuracy, with uncomfortable, yet context altering details suspiciously ignored, even hidden from the membership.
WHEREAS, we have been perpetually taught that the divine authority of God had been established through the restoration of the Holy Priesthood with the calling of Prophets & Apostles, therefore we trusted that God would lead & direct his servants. It followed that when prophets, seers & revelators, addressed us under inspiration, their words would be the mind & will of God. We were assured that God would never let them lead the Church astray. Yet we find many failed or changed prophetic pronouncements of the past suspiciously declared as “folklore” & just “personal opinion”.
WHEREAS, many faithful members are seekers after truth & desperate to receive honest, full & frank answers to their sincere questions, we find that instead of being assisted, they are ignored at best, or at worst ostracized for simply wanting to know the full facts about the origins of their Church. In most cases Stake Presidents & Bishops are ill-equipped to answer their questions.
Brother Chris Ralph from the UK recently sent two Open Letters to the Europe Area Presidency with vital questions which needed to be answered in order for the authority of the Church to continue to be justified in its claim to be of divine origin. The Open Letters were sent to the Europe Area Presidency in August and October and as of now remain not only unresolved, but without response. As a group of twelve concerned members we also sent a letter to the Area Presidency on the 3rd December pleading for a response. We have received no response.
Therefore, we APPEAL to the highest authority of the Church for answers to these vital questions. Brethren your response to these questions will not only show sincere concern, but could potentially resolve the painful religious trauma syndrome many members suffer from as a result of the cognitive dissonance they face as they encounter historical facts completely in contradiction with the story told them by the Church. We can attest that the pain we and many, many others are experiencing upon discovering that our faith is not based on truth, is an emotion akin to feeling like we have been deceived by those we respect & love.
Brethren, we DECLARE this day, the 21st December 2012, that without a formal public pronouncement of the answers to these crucial questions in a full, frank & honest manner, that you as leaders of this Church be held responsible for the continued wilful deception of many millions of faithful Church members. The Church membership needs its leaders to show integrity, humility & absolute honesty if this Church is to continue to provide the sense of purpose & security which the faithful members deserve.
Belief in a fanciful lie, no matter how consoling, is a damnable false hope. The Church can continue to provide security & meaning for its followers, but only if it is based on truth. Please consider your positions of trust & have the integrity we all hope you have by telling us the truth we need to hear, rather than just hoping we will all just go away. We will not go away, and there are thousands of others also ready to speak as we do. Truth will win out in the end, we hope you have the courage to follow that truth no matter where it may lead.
We affirm to you that humility, honesty, integrity & authenticity is a far greater & more rewarding path to follow than blind obedience & meaningless loyalty can ever be.
Yours faithfully
Martha Bache
David Bloor
Steve Bloor
Jeremy Brown
Lisa Campbell
Pip Chapman
Damian Mitchell
Tim Morgan
Tom Phillips
Sophia Ralph
Ted Ralph
Ken Smith

A courageous, on-the-fence Mormon woman, faces the loss and scorn of family for opening her mind and her legs.


How the Mormons Make Money

Late last March the Mormon Church completed an ambitious project: a megamall. Built for roughly $2 billion, the City Creek Center stands directly across the street from the church’s iconic, neo-Gothic temple in Salt Lake City. The mall includes a retractable glass roof, 5,000 underground parking spots, and nearly 100 stores and restaurants, ranging from Tiffany’s (TIF) to Forever 21. Walkways link the open-air emporium with the church’s perfectly manicured headquarters on Temple Square.Macy’s (M) is a stone’s throw from the offices of the church’s president, Thomas S. Monson, whom Mormons believe to be a living prophet.


On the morning of its grand opening, thousands of shoppers thronged downtown Salt Lake, eager to elbow their way into the stores. The national anthem blared, and Henry B. Eyring, one of Monson’s top counselors, told the crowds, “Everything that we see around us is evidence of the long-standing commitment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to Salt Lake City.” When it came time to cut the mall’s flouncy pink ribbon, Monson, flanked by Utah dignitaries, cheered, “One, two, three—let’s go shopping!”


Watching a religious leader celebrate a mall may seem surreal, but City Creek reflects the spirit of enterprise that animates modern-day Mormonism. The mall is part of a vast church-owned corporate empire that the Mormon leadership says will help spread its message, increase economic self-reliance, and build the Kingdom of God on earth. “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attends to the total needs of its members,” says Keith B. McMullin, who for 37 years served within the Mormon leadership and now heads a church-owned holding company, Deseret Management Corporation (DMC), an umbrella organization for many of the church’s for-profit businesses. “We look to not only the spiritual but also the temporal, and we believe that a person who is impoverished temporally cannot blossom spiritually.”


McMullin explains that City Creek exists to combat urban blight, not to fill church coffers. “Will there be a return?” he asks rhetorically. “Yes, but so modest that you would never have made such an investment—the real return comes in folks moving back downtown and the revitalization of businesses.” Pausing briefly, he adds with deliberation: “It’s for furthering the aim of the church to make, if you will, bad men good, and good men better.”


It’s perhaps unsurprising that Mormonism, an indigenous American religion, would also adopt the country’s secular faith in money. What is remarkable is how varied the church’s business interests are—and, at a time when a former Mormon bishop is about to receive the Republican Party’s presidential nomination, that so little is known about the church’s financial interests. Despite a recent public-relations campaign aimed at combating the perception that it is “secretive,” the LDS Church remains tight-lipped about its holdings and offers little financial transparency, even to its members, who are required to tithe 10 percent of their income to gain access to Mormon temples.


The Mormon Church is hardly the only religious institution to be less than forthcoming about how it amassed its wealth; the Catholic Church has been equally opaque throughout its history. On the other hand, says historian D. Michael Quinn, who is working on a book about the LDS Church’s finances and businesses, “The Mormon Church is very different than any other church. … Traditional Christianity and Judaism make a clear distinction between what is spiritual and what is temporal, while Mormon theology specifically denies that there is such a distinction.” To Latter-day Saints, opening megamalls, running a Polynesian theme park, and operating a billion-dollar media and insurance empire are all part of doing God’s work. Says Quinn: “In the Mormon worldview, it’s as spiritual to give alms to the poor, as the old phrase goes in the Biblical sense, as it is to make a million dollars.”


Mormons make up only 1.4 percent of the U.S. population, but the church’s holdings are vast. First among its for-profit enterprises is DMC, which reaps estimated annual revenues of $1.2 billion from six subsidiaries, according to the business information and analysis firm Hoover’s Company Records (DNB). Those subsidiaries run a newspaper, 11 radio stations, a TV station, a publishing and distribution company, a digital media company, a hospitality business, and an insurance business with assets worth $3.3 billion.


AgReserves, another for-profit Mormon umbrella company, together with other church-run agricultural affiliates, reportedly owns roughly 1 million acres in the continental U.S., on which the church has farms, hunting preserves, orchards, and ranches. These include the $1 billion 290,000-acre Deseret Ranches in Florida, which, in addition to keeping 44,000 cows and 1,300 bulls, also has citrus, sod, and timber operations. Outside the U.S., AgReserves operates in Britain, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. Its Australian property, valued at $61 million in 1997, has estimated annual sales of $276 million, according to Dun & Bradstreet.

(copied from:


Most Americans know very little of the The Church of Latter Day Saints, or theMormon Church, and even less about its founder, the religious megalomaniac, con artist, tyrant and mentally unstable “prophet” Joseph Smith. The Mormons will most likely be solemnly celebrating the day in which their founder, their prophet, was killed, treating the occasion as though he were a lamb taken to slaughter like Jesus Christ. And so a little biographical detail and history lesson is in order.

A good resource for an objective chronology of Joseph Smith’s Illinois perambulations lies in the book “A History of Illinois: From its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847.” The book’s author was Thomas Ford, the Governor of Illinois at the time. Ford, naturally, is not a little harsh with the Mormons, but how else could someone have responded when a treasure-hunting failed businessman attempted to set up a religious state in Nauvoo, Illinois. Perhaps Ford was wrong to entrust Smith and his brother Hyrum’s lives to the Carthage Greys, an anti-Mormon faction, but things then were not as they are now. Mob justice was always a possibility, especially during the time of Manifest Destiny.

Another good point of reference is John Krakauer’s “Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith.” Krakauer is known for his non-fiction prowess, and what readers will not get is the Mormon white-washing and distortion of historical events. “The Maze of Mormonism” by Dr. Walter Martin is also highly useful in understanding LDS.

In this article, however, we are only interested in the events leading up to Smith’s execution. Even a brief look at Smith’s chronology of travels across the midwest reveals failure after failure in creating a Mormon “Zion.” Indeed, “If at first you don’t succeed…” must have been Smith’s primary operating principle throughout his adult life. To be fair, however, the Mormons did suffer their fair share of scorn from non-Mormon; but the reaction to the scorn should have in no way led to a theocratic city-state with a standing army.

And, remember, America has always been a country rich in a variety of religious movements, most of which sprouted like tendrils from the protestant reformation. None seem to have attempted to create a theocratic city-state that would establish a state (or city) religion and abridge the First Amendment, as the early days of LDS shall illustrate.

In 1831, several years before heading to Illinois, Smith and LDS leaders set up a Mormon community in Kirtland, Ohio, hoping to establish the form of society they had envisioned. It was here that Smith and other church leaders attempted to establish a bank backed by real estate that Mormon followers would be encouraged to use, according to Fawn Brodie’s biography “No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith.” (Rather good idea for a money-making venture, no?)

Brodie writes:

“The toppling of the Kirtland bank loosed a hornets’ nest. Creditors swarmed in upon Joseph armed with threats and warrants. He was terribly in debt. There is no way of knowing exactly how much he and his leading elders had borrowed, since the loyal Mormons left no itemized account of their own claims. But the local non-Mormon creditors whom he could not repay brought a series of suits against the prophet which the Geauga county court duly recorded. These records tell a story of trouble that would have demolished the prestige and broken the spirit of a lesser man.

Thirteen suits were brought against him between June 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totaling nearly $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits only six were settled out of court-about $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default.” (pp. 198-202)

After fleeing from Kirtland following a warrant issued on account of bank fraud and multiple lawsuits, Smith moved to Far West, Missouri to establish yet another Zion, which is where the religion received its new name—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

It was in Far West where Smith and some of his followers become more militant in their faith, adopting a paranoia of persecution by non-Mormons and disaffected Mormons alike—something typical of a great deal of revealed religions. A series of events during this time led to the 1838 Mormon War, which saw Mormons and Non-Mormons raiding each other’s towns, ultimately leading to the Battle of Crooked Creek, which found Smith and his Mormon army attacking a state militia—yes, a state militia. Smith’s army eventually surrendered and were tried for treason, but Smith was spirited away in April of 1839, thus avoiding trial.

Next stop: Nauvoo, Illinois.

Once in Nauvoo, Smith and his followers (those who hadn’t sensed his long con), made some friends in the Illinois government and received a charter for the city that would allow him to make it something of a city-state, or an autonomous zone, where the “oppressed” Mormon minority could feel safe and escape persecution. They were also granted a militia, the Nauvoo Legion, with John C. Bennett (a Mormon convert), and former member of the Illinois legislature, installed as Mayor. It was in Nauvoo that Smith introduced the concepts of polygamy and bigamy (revealed by God, of course). By 1842, Smith was intent on making Nauvoo the capital of a great American theocratic state. Good times.

Missouri officials attempted to have Smith extradited for the charges of treason, but Smith escaped on a writ of habeas corpus specifically designed for the city of Nauvoo. As Gov. Ford wrote in his book:

They enacted that no writ issued from any other place than Nauvoo, for the arrest of any person in it, should be executed in the city, without an approval endorsed thereon by the Mayor; that if any public officer, by virtue of any foreign writ, should attempt to make an arrest in the city, without such approval of his process, he should be subject to imprisonment for life, and that the Governor of the State should not have the power of pardoning the offender without the consent of the Mayor. When these ordinances were published, they created general astonishment. Many people began to believe in good earnest that the Mormons were about to set up a separate government for themselves in defiance of the laws of the state. (pg. 320)

With Missouri unable to extradite Smith, the LDS founder attempted to get guarantees of assistance from federal politicians. When these efforts failed, Smith announced his candidacy for the Presidency of the United States. Megalomania anyone?

At this point, according to ex-communicated author LDS member D. Michael Quinn, Smith organized the secret Council of Fifty to decide which state and federal laws the Mormon church would obey, but also find locations for a new Mormon theocratic state (California, Texas and Oregon were early candidates—Utah, of course, would become the ultimate site). Richard Ostling, a respected writer on religion in America, noted in his book “Mormon America: The Power and the Promise” that Smith and church leaders were intent on setting up a “theodemocracy” with Smith installed as ”Prophet, Priest, and King” of the Mormon Church, according to church leader William Clayton.

As Ford wrote:

It seems, from the best information which could be got from the best men who had seceded from the Mormon church, that Joe Smith about this time conceived the idea of making himself a prince as well as a spiritual leader of his people… He caused himself to be crowned and anointed king and priest, far above the rest… To uphold his pretensions of royalty, he deduced his descent by an unbroken chain from Joseph to the son of Jacob…” (Ford, pg. 322)

As in the monarchies of Europe, Smith was accumulating a divine mandate for kingly power, which had long been a repugnant idea to Americans, who had abhorred the tyranny of King George. One must wonder at this point if the real goal wasn’t so much to give the people divine revelation, but to simply accumulate power and money, to say nothing of a king’s ready access to a harem. Smith’s actions were more likely an admixture of religious delusion and greed.

By this time, John Bennett had been excommunicated for sexual indiscretions (a victim of a double standard it would seem), and so Smith was now both Mayor and President of LDS, making Nauvoo officially a theocratic city-state. How it was that Smith and company escaped state and federal law up until this point is truly astonishing: the political situation was a clear violation of the separation of church and state.

At this point, Smith’s doctrine of polygamy and power began to unsettle certain of his followers. Some were none too disposed toward adopting polygamy, nor in bestowing such political and religious power upon Smith. These critics created a newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor, which published opinions that Smith was a false prophet, too powerful and had corrupted women by forcing them into plural marriages.

Naturally, Smith had the paper censored after just one issue since he believed it was creating a threat to his person. Smith was quoted as saying in the City Council’s minutes, “…would rather die tomorrow and have the thing smashed, than live and have it go on, for it was exciting the spirit of mobocracy among the people, and bringing death and destruction upon us.”

Soon after, warrants from outside Nauvoo were issued against Smith, which he countered with his writ of habeas corpus, believing himself to be beyond the laws of man. On June 18, according to Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Smith declared Martial law and raised an army of 5,000 men.

A trial was to be held in the County seat of Carthage, and Smith eventually opted to face trial after Gov. Ford guaranteed his safety. They were brought to trial on the crime of treason against the State of Illinois; which, of course, was a capital offense in the United States at that time. Smith, however, would never make it to trial. Ford left Carthage and Smith in the hands of the anti-Mormon Carthage Greys. The jail was stormed by a 200-strong mob, where Smith and Hyrum were killed. (The Nauvoo Legion, it should be noted, was never summoned to defend Smith and company.)

Though Smith’s end was unfortunate, credit must be given to Ford for averting all-out war by convincing Smith to surrender. Remember, Smith had raised an army of 5,000 from the Nauvoo Legion and basically invited the Illinois Governor to put down the insurrection, which he had every right to do. Smith’s actions before and during the revolution displayed a fundamental disregard for the very idea of America’s freedom from any official religion.

If the State of Illinois had nipped the problem of Smith and his militarized theocratic Nauvoo city-state in the bud early, Smith’s execution might have been averted. And while Governor Ford may have had it in for Smith and the Mormon Church, and could have addressed problems differently, he did ensure that the First Amendment, which Smith necessarily despised, still meant something.

And one can’t help thinking that Smith’s aim all along was to create a situation by which his opponents, whether non-Mormons or his Mormon critics, would create a contemporary persecution and execution that was Christ-like, delivered by the hands of American Pontius Pilates and Jewish analogues. As he said,  ”I am going like a lamb to the slaughter; but I am calm as a summer’s morning; I have a conscience void of offense towards God, and towards all men. I shall die innocent, and it shall yet be said of me — he was murdered in cold blood.”

And this is the story that the LDS church has propagated—that Smith was a religious martyr. Yes, a martyr who trampled on the U.S. constitution, committed various acts of treason, engaged in censorship, all in an effort to create a militarized theocratic city-state somewhere, anywhere, and at all costs. He was the very definition of a tyrant. And tyrants, as history has so often shown, meet their ends at the hands of a mob.

They can call it an “assassination” all they want, but the fact remains that Joseph Smith was a violator of the U.S. constitution. If he’d respected it and not gotten caught up in religious fanaticism, he might have lived—in which case, the Church wouldn’t have its martyr.

Now readers know a little bit more about the church of which Mitt Romney is a member.

Knowing Oneself

I’ve written a bit about knowing oneself, as a big part of my journey has been getting to know myself and being true to myself. As I’ve gone along, the process has seemed ever more simple, and actually less of a “process” and more of an “awareness”.

I wrote a post last Fall on “True Happiness”, for which I’ve received a considerable amount of feedback, both positive and negative. My own journey has given me greater clarity on the subject. Rather than expounding or amending the previous post to address all of the emails and my own evolution, I chose to just create another post on the subject: Knowing Oneself.

What does that mean: Knowing Oneself? I am no expert on the matter, by any means, but I will share what I’ve found to be true for myself. See my opinion, just as that: an opinion. Only you can find what resonates as truth for yourself.  One helpful thing I’ve learned is not to necessarily “seek truth”, but to let go of the importance that I assign to the opinions of others. Letting go of my “thinking” has allowed my true self to emerge.

As I go along (or life goes along), I’m finding that knowing myself and being true to myself involves giving up roles that define me. It also involves giving up finding peace in “the doing”. I’ve discovered that peace exists in “the being”, not “the doing”. Peace is in being fully present in the now. Life is in the now, not the past or the future. Now is life. Being aware of who I am now, not back then or later on, has been key for me. This is also an awareness of who I am independent of others feelings and opinions.  Becoming aware of where I am in the moment has helped set me free from the external pressures from others and my own mind. I’ve gained a greater sense of who I am as I’ve become more aware of the separation of who I am as a consciousness (true self) vs who I am as thinking brain (motivated by the external). I have shifted from thinking and being entangled in the reality of others, to separation, letting go, and becoming aware of my own consciousness in the moment.

As a young artist, I learned that the secret to my talent was in the seeing rather than the creating. When I ceased to see the subject as a familiar form and simply became objectively aware of light, shadow, and emotion, my talent was unleashed. Identification with form, however familiar and meaningful, can hold our inner peace hostage. Objective awareness is essential to gaining true peace and unleashing the beauty of our true self.

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