Tag Archive: church history

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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.” https://www.lds.org/ensign/1975/08/news-of-the-church?lang=eng

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.” http://www.lds.org/ensign/1978/11/news-of-the-church?lang=eng

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.” – http://www.lds.org/handbook/handbook-2-administering-the-church/meetings-in-the-church?lang=eng#185

2010- November, Ensign, “Because of Your Faith”, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland- “Not one of us could serve without your prayers and without your support.”- https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/because-of-your-faith?lang=eng

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.” http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/lds-women-are-incredible?lang=eng

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



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.

(Copied from a post on PostMormon/Facebook)

Many Mormons leaders and historians suggest that sexual relations and the marriage of Joseph Smith and his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball,

fourteen at the time was “approaching eligibility.” There is no documentation to support the idea that marriage at fourteen was “approaching eligibility.” Actually, marriages even two years later, at the age of sixteen, occurred occasionally but infrequently in Helen Mar’s culture.

Thus, girls marrying at fourteen, even fifteen, were very much out of the ordinary. Sixteen was comparatively rare, but not unheard of. American women began to marry in their late teens; around different parts of the United States the average age of marriage varied from nineteen to twenty-three.

In the United States the average age of menarche (first menstruation) dropped from 16.5 in 1840 to 12.9 in 1950. More recent figures indicate that it now occurs on average at 12.8 years of age. The mean age of first marriages in colonial America was between 19.8 years to 23.7, most women were married during the age period of peak fecundity (fertility).

Mean pubertal age has declined by some 3.7 years from the 1840’s.

The psychological sexual maturity of Helen Mar Kimball in today’s average age of menarche (first menstruation) would put her psychological age of sexual maturity at the time of the marriage of Joseph Smith at 9.1 years old. (16.5 years-12.8 years =3.7 years) (12.8 years-3.7 years=9.1 years)

The fact is Helen Mar Kimball’s sexual development was still far from complete. Her psychological sexual maturity was not competent for procreation. The coming of puberty is regarded as the termination of childhood; in fact the term child is usually defined as the human being from the time of birth to the on-coming of puberty. Puberty the point of time at which the sexual development is completed. In young women, from the date of the first menstruation to the time at which she has become fitted for marriage, the average lapse of time is assumed by researchers to be two years.

Age of eligibility for women in Joseph Smith’s timeframe would start at a minimum of 19 ½ years old.

This would suggest that Joseph Smith had sexual relations and married several women before the age of eligibility, and some very close to the age of eligibility including:

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
Melissa Lott 19
Nancy M. Winchester [14?]

Short Bios of Smith’s wives:

Did Smith have sex with his wives?:


Coale and Zelnik assume a mean age of marriage for white women of 20 (1963: 37). Sanderson’s assumptions are consistent with a mean of 19.8 years (Sanderson 1979: 343). The Massachusetts family reconstitutions revealed somewhat higher mean ages. For Hingham, Smith reports an age at first marriage of 23.7 at the end of the eighteenth century (1972: Table 3, p. 177). For Sturbridge, the age for a comparable group was 22.46 years (Osterud and Fulton 1976: Table 2, p. 484), and in Franklin County it was 23.3 years (Temkin-Greener, H., and A.C. Swedlund. 1978. Fertility Transition in the Connecticut Valley:1740-1850. Population Studies 32 (March 1978):27-41.: Table 6, p. 34).

Jack Larkin, The Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790-1840 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 63; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750 (NY: Oxford University Press, 1980), 6; Nancy F. Cott, “Young Women in the Second Great Awakening in New England,” Feminist Studies 3 (1975): 16. Larkin writes,

Dr. Dorothy V. Whipple, Dynamics of Development: Euthenic Pediatrics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966),

A partial re-posting of an article by Diane Tingen (Mormonism Schism)

I was shocked to discover how many times Joseph Smith was investigated for or charged with criminal activity, and how many times he was arrested.  Here is the result of my research:

Criminal Charges / Arrests

Joseph Smith

1.  1826 – New York

Tried in Chenango County, New York, for the crime of pretending to find lost treasure.  It appears that he was convicted of this crime and paid a fine (and may have even been “escorted by the Sheriff” out of the county per the verdict).  For more information on this arrest and trial, please read what is contained on the BYU Law Blog at this link – as well as what FairMormon.org has to say at this link.  Of particular interest is this portion of this blog entry is this statement:  “Reverend Wesley P. Walters of the United Presbyterian church in Marissa, Illinois, discovered some records in the basement of the sheriff’s office in Norwich, New York, which he maintains demonstrate the actuality of the 1826 trial and go far to substantiate that Joseph Smith spent part of his early career in southern New York as a money digger and seer of hidden treasures. A periodical in Salt Lake City which heralded Walters’s findings said they “undermine Mormonism” and repeated a statement by Hugh Nibley in The Myth Makers, “if this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith.”

2.  1830 – New York

 Smith reportedly performed an exorcism in Colesville, and he was again tried as a disorderly person but was acquitted.  The account of the exorcism is in this article about the Knight family on LDS.org.  The article on LDS.org discusses the trial as well.  (These articles have since been removed by LDS.org)

3.  1837 – Kirtland, Ohio

In May 1837, Grandison Newell accused Joseph Smith of plotting to murder him.  Joseph was eventually acquitted, but the testimony of church leaders and employees revealed how seriously the Prophet’s followers took his supposed off-hand remarks (or perhaps he meant them).  In either case, statements by two apostles and other close associates no doubt undermined Joseph Smith’s reputation.  Wilbur Denton and Sidney Rigdon both testified that the alleged conspiracy took place in April or May of 1835.   Orson Hyde testified that when rumors began circulating that Newell might sue the floundering Kirtland Safety Society, Joseph Smith “seemed much excited and declared that Newell should be put out of the way, or where the crows could not find him,” and he said that “destroying Newell would be justifiable in the slight of God, that it was the will of God, etc.”  

4.  1838 – Kirtland, Ohio

After a warrant was issued for Smith’s arrest on a charge of banking fraud, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled Kirtland for Missouri on the night of Jan. 12, 1838.  This incident had to do with the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company, and with charges of fraud and illegal banking, including the illegal purchase of Monroe Bank in Michigan by Smith and Ridgon.  After the purchase of Monroe Bank was complete, Oliver Cowdery was named as its Vice-President and as part of that deal and Oliver’s move to Michigan to run that bank, his Ohio company (O. Cowdery & Company) was dissolved and all assets were transferred to Jospeh Smith and Sidney Rigdon.  Of course, 1837 was filled with events that led to the banking failure and the fraud charges, and numerous events occurred during that time frame, culminating in Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fleeing Kirtland and heading for Missouri.  Please see the information contained on FairMormon.org at this link.  (This information has since been removed by the LDS church)

5.  1838 – Missouri

 On November 1, 1838, the Mormon surrendered to 2,500 state troops, and agreed to forfeit their property and leave the state.  Joseph Smith was court-martialed and nearly executed for treason, but militiaman Alexander Doniphan, who was also Joseph Smith’s attorney, probably saved Joseph’s life by insisting that he was a civilian.  Joseph Smith was then sent to a state court for a preliminary hearing, where several of his former allies, including Danite commander Sampson Avard, turned state’s evidence against him.  Joseph Smith and five others, including Sidney Rigdon, were charged with “overt acts of treason,” and transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri to await trial.

 In 1839, Smith and his companions tried to escape at least twice during their four-month imprisonment.  On April 6, 1839, on their way to a different jail after their grand jury hearing, they succeeded in escaping by bribing the sheriff.  Subsequently, Joseph Smith and the Mormons fled the state and moved to Illinois.


6.  1844 – Illinois

 Arrested for ordering the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press and the burning of building in which it was housed (after an article was written exposing the truth behind Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy and polyandry).  He was subsequently killed on June 27, 1844 while in Carthage Jail.  Interestingly, after the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor and the burning of the building, Joseph Smith fled the state, going across the Mississippi River into Iowa.  It was only upon the pleadings of Emma Smith (his fist wife) that he returned to Illinois to face the charges – and was arrested.  And of course, there is the famous statement that Joseph Smith made on his way to Carthage Jail – that he was going as a lamb to the slaughter.  Yeah, right!  I mean, he had a gun and shot it during the shoot-out.  How is that being like a lamb going to the slaughter?  And using that terminology would intimate that he was an innocent man, when that is the farthest thing from the truth. 

 My reaction to discovering all of the above (#1-6) was WOW!!  Of course, it also makes me sick to my stomach, especially since I was a member of this cult for over 50 years.  In researching all of this, I found so much that I never knew before, mainly because nothing about this type of information is ever discussed in Mormon Church meetings.  Like the Monroe Bank in Michigan.  Oliver Cowdery becoming its Vice-President and relinquishing the assets in his Ohio business to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in the process?  Interestingly, Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated from the Mormon Church in 1838 as well.  From what I have been able to discern, his excommunication was for speaking out against Joseph Smith and his practice of polygamy – but it appears now that it probably had something to do with the Monroe Bank and the banking failure of the Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company as well.  And perhaps appointing him as Vice-President of the Monroe Bank in Michigan was a way to get rid of him since he was being too vocal about Joseph Smith’s activities.

 Of course, I could go on and on about the many versions of the First Vision, the supposed “martyrdom” of Joseph Smith upon being killed while in Carthage Jail (and the fact that he had a gun with him during the shoot-out), the true origins of the Book of Mormon, and the supposed translation of the Book of Abraham, but since all of those topics are discussed in length in the book I have written which is posted on this blog, I won’t go into all that here (especially since this post has gotten so long).  Suffice it to say that Joseph Smith was a very busy boy in his gold-digging business, treasure-hunting, founding Mormonism, creating doctrine to add to it (like the Book of Mormon, Book of Abraham and the D&C), exorcisms, purchasing banks, founding new banking companies, getting arrested (and defending himself, as well as escaping and bribing his way out of jail), chasing women, trying to talk them into marrying him, having actual weddings, juggling all the women (I mean, 33 wives must have been a job all by itself), joining the Masons, stealing the Masonic ceremonies for use in the Mormon Temple in Nauvoo, designing special undergarments (with obvious Masonic symbols incorporated in them), and on and on.

 I have to admit that what Joseph lacked in credibility, he made up for in creativity, charisma, and chutzpah.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve become like a broken record, and that people who read this blog just think, “yeah, yeah… lies, deception, contradictions, blah, blah, blah…”  Of course, I’m sure that is pretty close to what TBMs who come here think (because some have actually told me so).  In fact, one TBM who came on here told me, “…your claim to intelligent reasoning seems a tad flat. It seems that your reasoning and investigations have developed a partisan approach that many disenchanted Mormons frequently and unintentionally employ. Your flippant discourse is telling.”  Like I responded to this person, I am not trying to be “flippant.”  I just think people should use their brains and not rely on what others have told them to believe.  And as far as the label of “disenchanted Mormon” goes, I am an ExMormon, having worked my way through the arena of “disenchantment” many years ago, arriving at the point where I saw Mormonism for what it is and opted against being further associated with a supposed religious organization that plays so fast and loose with the truth.

The fact is that Mormon doctrine is filled with lies, and so is its depiction of its history.  Because of that, I think it is important for everyone to examine the history and doctrine more closely, and not to simply accept what it is they are told to believe.  You know, the Mormon Party Line.  Deciding things for yourself is very important as is critical thinking.  When a person accepts what is told to them rather than doing any research or investigation on their own, they are giving up their own power.  If they decide to accept something despite the problems, at least they know the problems and are making a conscoius decision.  After all, some people are able to work their way through the problems and issus to arrive at conclusions that are suitable for themselves despite all the gray areas.  Others (like me) are more into black-and-white thinking and require factual justification for what they believe.  On a couple of the discussion boards that I visit from time to time, I’ve been told that simply because there are lies laced through Mormonism, including its history, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t a legitimate religion because all religions are composed of lies.  I don’t understand that logic, and I don’t see how that makes the lies okay, but at least these people are thinking and not simply relying on what others have told them.

Of course, in my opinion, the most blatant example of relying simply on what a person is told is LDS missionaries.  True, some of them know the actual truth and preach the gospel in spite of it, either due to family/social pressures or the “gray area” thinking I spoke about above.  But there are many, many missionaries out there who do not know the actual history of the Mormon Church or its actual doctrines.  For instance, most do not know the actual truth behind polygamy, the fact that Joseph Smith had 33 wives, or the fact that polyandry was practiced by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Parley P. Pratt, and others (in that they married women who were already married to living husbands).  When faced with this fact, they say it didn’t happen, and that polygamy started with Brigham Young on the Trek West to help widows and orphans (which is what I was told growing up and believed for way too long).  This false scenario came clearly into view one day when I went on http://www.mormon.org/ and visited the link to chat with missionaries.  During that visit, I chatted with a missionary named Elliott and asked him what could be the justification for polyandry being practiced – and he denied that it had ever been practiced.  When I told him that it is verified on the Mormon Church’s own genealogy website, http://www.familysearch.org/, he asked me for a link.  And when I gave it to him, he disappeared for over 5 minutes and then came back and said he was going to have to get back to me about that.  He was obviously blind-sided – and I can understand that feeling because I bought the official Mormon version of polygamy for many years, until I began doing my own research and discovered the truth behind it all.   I’m sure that if I were to go back on the missionary chat line again and ask about the varying version of the First Vision, mentioning the fact that there are at least 9 different versions that were told at various times, that I would get the same type of answer – “that’s simply not true, and if there are variations, it’s only because these versions were told to different people at different times who remembered them differently.”  Yes, that is what I was told for many years – and unfortunately, I bought that explanation until I began doing my own research on that topic as well as many others.

So my advice is this:  Do your own research.  Do not rely on what you are told.  And do not be a Mormon as depicted in the Book of Mormon Musical who “just believes” despite all the mounting evidence.

And in that vein, here is my latest hymn parody based (again) on this theme…

Sung to the tune of How Firm a Foundation, #85

How skewed is the doctrine presented as His Word,
And what Mormons preach is so patently absurd.
What more can I say than to you I have said,
Beware of the Mormons, beware of the Mormons,
Beware of the Mormons, and don’t be misled.
For most of my life, I adhered to what they taught,
But now, looking back, I can see that I was caught.
For I could not see that it’s simply not true.
The lies and deception, the lies and deception,
The lies and deception I finally saw through.
They’ll tell you that it is the one true church of God,
But if you look deeper, you’ll see that it’s a fraud.
Just look at the facts, and it all will be plain.
The truth is apparent, the truth is apparent,
The truth is apparent, no questions remain.
© Diane Tingen, 7/25/2011

Why I Left the Mormon Church

By TylerYoung


 My motives for writing this are as follows:

  1. I wish to completely describe to my friends and family all of my reasons for leaving the Church. I don’t want anyone to think that I left the Church for anything but what I believe to be unprecedented evidence showing that the Church is not what it claims to be. It has nothing to do with my desire to sin, or being offended, or anything of the like.
  2. I also wish to help members who have been given filtered information on the origins of the LDS Church a true account of what really happened. I know that the Church encourages us to avoid studying the real history of the Church, and prefer us to read their filtered version. I don’t believe this is ethical. If the Church is true as it claims, a full account of its history will support such a claim.

I realize that there is a strong chance that those who read this will have their testimony weakened greatly, which in turn might make their life difficult if they choose to stay in the Church. My personal belief is that it’s important to pursue truth in all its forms, even if it doesn’t line up with what I want to be true. Before beginning my study I had to ask myself, “Knowing the truth might make me unhappy. Am I okay with this?” I ultimately decided that truth, to me, is more important than being happy. I hoped that the truth would make me happy, but I couldn’t tell beforehand whether or not that would be the case. My dedication to the truth compels me to be honest with myself, no matter how much pain and unhappiness that might cause me. To me it in more important to believe in an uncomfortable truth than a comfortable fantasy.

At the time of writing this, I am pleased to report that I have never been happier.

A warning

Before reading any further, I would like to pose a few questions.

Have you decided in your mind that you are 100% sure that Church is true and that nothing will ever change that belief for you?

If you just answered “Yes” then I kindly invite you stop reading. With all due respect, this will just be a waste of your time.

Are you a thinker, or do you simply believe everything that is told to you by your church leaders?

This paper is for people who are willing to think about things and analyze the situation with great care, consider evidence, rationally weighing both sides of the argument in their mind. If you’re more of a believer than a thinker, I really don’t think there’s anything in this document that will impress you.

Finally, If the Church wasn’t true, would you want to know it?

If you don’t even want to know if the Church might be false, your own preconceptions will probably keep you from knowing that any way. You most likely won’t believe anything written here.


All of the sources I include in this document are provided as links to Internet sites. This so you can quickly check sources as you read. In doing this, I realize that sources from books would be considered more scholarly. Let me make something clear: this is not a scholarly paper, and is not to be intended as such. Many of the points I make in this document have come from my reading of many different books, some of which are as follows:

*Active members of the Church

I would never expect anyone to read just this document and then decide to leave the Church. That’s irresponsible and don’t you dare do it! To get a full feeling of what this Church is all about to be able to make an educated and well-informed decision on whether or not to stay, I strongly recommend doing hundreds of hours of research and reading as many books as you can, as I have. Leaving Mormonism, as all Mormons would agree, is serious business.

This document is meant to be read online since it is full of Internet links. If you are reading a print out, you will miss out on being able easily to check sources. I recommend reading it online. The link to do so is http://bit.ly/whytylerleft.

Making comments

While you are reading, if there is something you would like to comment about, please go to mycommentspage. You don’t have to leave your name, and I’ll try to respond to anything written there.

Sharing this essay with others

You are absolutely free to share this essay with anyone you’d like! My only request is that you share it using the shortened link http://bit.ly/whytylerleft. This is easier to remember, and it also gives me statistics as to how often people read it (but I am never alerted of who is reading it. Confidentiality is strictly maintained here).

Blank sections

As you read, you might see sections with titles but little to no content. This is because this essay is still in progress. My research is ongoing, and as I find new information, I add it to this essay. Sometimes I add a title just to remind myself to research that section later.

Why the Church discourages studying its true history

The short answer: it’s not faith-promoting. A cold, hard fact I have come to realize while studying these things is that the Church really doesn’t care if something opposed to the Church is true or not. What’s most important is whether or not it helps build a testimony of the gospel. If it doesn’t – no matter how true it is – Church leaders will discourage its members from looking into it. (I cannot express with enough vigor how opposed I am to handling the situation in this way.)

A good example of Church leaders expressing how they stress studying faith-promoting material over true material was given by Boyd. K Packer in a 1981 talk to LDS Church Educators at a CES conference:

“There is a temptation for the writer or teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful.”

The way I and just about every non-Mormon reads this quote is that the Church is keeping their members ignorant for their own good. If it’s true that Joseph Smith was a convicted impostor before he became a prophet, it isn’t “useful” to the progress of the Church, so Church teachers shouldn’t teach it. I believe this is wrong.

I have seen both sides

As you read, remember that I am not just some anti-Mormon who has focused entirely on the bad history, and now I am sharing it with you. I was a Mormon for 28 years and believed all of it. I have served an honorable full-time mission in Brazil. I have been through the temple many times. I have read tons of Church books and have spent thousands of hours of my life strongly defending the Church’s stance.

I have seen many arguments both arguing for and and against the Church, and this is the stance I have ultimately decided to take: the Church isn’t true.

I am not closed-minded, however. Although my current conclusion is that the Church isn’t true, I am open-minded to arguments for the contrary. I feel as if I have heard most of those arguments, but if a new one comes along that strongly supports the Church, I am happy to hear it and truly consider it.


I want to discuss what I believe truth to be. A lot of the wording here I get from ChrisJohnson, who quoted it in hisYouTubevideo on why he left the Church.

Some facts about truth

If you think about it, it’s really odd that the Church tells us to avoid studying non-Church approved materials about their history. The real truth has nothing to hide. Truth is not afraid of being discovered and examined thoroughly, rather it is darkness and deception that hides behind the shadows in hopes of never being “found out”. You can examine truth from any angle and it will always remain true. Falsehood on the other hand can only be examined a few different ways before it becomes increasingly obvious that it is false. Truth tends to fit all the facts, while falsehood only fits a portion of all the facts. Falsehoods that persist for long periods of time (generation after generation) tend to have a propagation mechanism that takes advantage of human purposes, fears and desires. Everyone around you believes, so it’s very easy to just keep on believing it.

Truth cannot contradict itself or reality. When your beliefs start contradicting reality, in any other arena besides religion, people will tell you why it’s silly to believe in such a thing, and a sensible person will indeed stop. For some reason, though, religion takes a different approach by using a simple yet highly powerful principle: faith. Religions use faith as a method to get people to believe in things in spite of contradictory evidence. Richard Dawkins wordedit very eloquently when he said:

“Faith (belief without evidence) is a virtue. The more your beliefs defy the evidence, the more virtuous you are. Virtuoso believers who can manage to believe something really weird, unsupported and insupportable, in the teeth of evidence and reason, are especially highly rewarded.”

In this way, religions actually try and make it seem like it’s the weak-minded that believe in evidence over faith and the heroes that are able to still believe in something even though there is no logical reason to.

Faith is applied generously and desperately as the “cure all” solution to the world’s failing belief systems. It can be fun for a while, but again, it is not a great tool in helping us determine the truth. In fact, faith is only required where the facts are unknown. When solid independent data contradicts a personal or religious belief, the belief should be tossed, not held on to with an ever tighter grip for the sake of “faith” alone. Wise people drop their falsehoods when confronted with solid indisputable data. But being wrong is the most difficult thing to admit, and herein lies the biggest hurdle in finding the truth.

When seeking truth, physical data is better than faith or personal testimony. Why? People make assumptions. People can be biased. People make mistakes. People can give in to societal pressures. People can hallucinate. People can unintentionally forget important facts. People can unintentionally fabricate false memories. People can lie. People can persuade each other. People can have fragile emotional conditions that affect their perception or judgment. Physical data on the other hand can be gathered by independent sources, repeatably scrutinized and rigorously tested, measured, checked, peer reviewed, experimentally replicated and analyzed independent of biases. In other words, if someone says there was no tsunami in Japan “because they were there and experienced it first hand”, the overwhelming physical evidence will trump and invalidate his testimony.

When determining whether something is true or false we must remove ourselves as far away as possible from known human biases, prejudices, logical fallacies and other phenomenon that are commonly used to deceive people. This even means possibly sheltering ourselves from all of the “noise” around us in our organization and instead facing it on our own. We must remove ourselves from subjectivity, and even understand human nature as best we can if we are to gain any real understanding of truth. For example, it is a common fallacy to believe that “other people hallucinate, but I do not” or “Other people are stupid, but I am not” or “My spiritual experiences are real but other people’s spiritual experiences of other faiths are not real”. In essence, we must always consider when we might be wrong about something while others might be right. We must be open-minded.

When determining whether or not an organization is true or false, we must first understand what true and false organizations look like. Organizations that have truth and integrity do not need to tell their members to avoid or fear information that is critical of the organization. True organizations have nothing to fear, while those organizations that are fraudulent have a tendency to persuade their members to avoid, label, fear or cause them to feel negatively towards critical people or anti-literature. This is how a fraudulent organization survives in a world where information is increasingly more available.

How do we find truth? If we assume we have the truth, and we shield ourselves from outside opinion and outside influence by repeating to ourselves “Nothing can persuade me to believe otherwise….” then we have closed off a valuable portion of our brain that could help us in the case we are wrong. We have become closed-minded.

If our brains get flooded with endorphins or other “feel good hormones” while reading a particular spiritual book, or praying, it is a natural consequence that we humans interpret that to mean that the book or experience is significant in a divine way. It is not until we find people having these very same spiritual experiences all over the world while reading books and ideas that completely contradict one another that we realize that our brain is a delicate beast to handle indeed. An atheist can read “The God Delusion” and feel an amazing spiritual experience, while a Muslim can receive a powerful spiritual experience from the Koran. Both books plainly contradict the truths found in the Book of Mormon, so what are we to conclude?

To find truth we must look at all the data and see which theory fits all the facts, then toss all the theories that don’t fit. False religions generally do the opposite by assuming their theory is correct and then seek after facts that fit their theory and toss all the facts that do not fit their theory. Picking facts that fit your theory is a good way to persuade people, but not a good way to determine the truth.

It is quite a mind labyrinth to figure all of this out, I know. This is by design; the LDS Church in particular makes the puzzle seem much too daunting. “The history is full of much too many details”, they say, “and you can’t know which of it is true and which is a lie, so just trust the Church and avoid all of it”. And if we start to look at it anyway, everyone we know tells us over and over “Stop looking into this! Focus on church approved material only. This other stuff is only laden with deception.” We get scared because doing this goes against everything we’ve been taught. The Church strongly implies that we should remain in ignorance and only trust the materials our leaders authorize as it’s for our own good. They also try to put us in a sense of security, that all is well and there’s not even a reason to look any further beyond what they want us to see. They want us to just continue bearing strong testimony because it helps us convince ourselves that the entire thing is solid truth.

There have actually done studies on this and the most efficient way to get someone to believe in something is to get them to tell others about it while they are unsure, and the more they tell it, the more they convince themselves of it. We will come to a point when we will swear up and down that we “know” something, even if we actually don’t know it. When applying this principle to a religion, it’s extremely powerful because besides convincing ourselves as we bear testimony, it also creates strong emotions within us, which is why a lot of people cry. It doesn’t matter if what we are saying is true or false, the strong emotions combined with telling others we know it’s true (even if we don’t), will slowly but surely get us to convince ourselves that it definitely is true.

Despite the apparent goodness of the Church, in my opinion it sadly fits the resume of a false organization as I’ve outlined. What it does do properly, however, is teach true principles about morality that help people live better lives. It creates strong family bonds (as long as everyone is a member). It is run (I think) by honest people. The apostles aren’t trying to deceive. They are simply deceived themselves, are passionately convinced of it, and use their wisdom to guide the Church. In their wisdom, they can observe that when people study Church history, they fall away. The apostles aren’t trying to trick people into staying in an organization they secretly know is false; they simply strongly believe the Church is true, observe people leave the Church when researching the history, and consequently tell us not to do that.

I want the Church to be true

Even though I don’t believe the Church is true, please understand: I absolutely want it to be true. And I haven’t just written it off in my mind as “no possible way this Church can ever be true.” Quite the contrary. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this experience, it’s to never be sure of things. Although the current evidence strongly shows that the Church is a fraud, I am open to new evidence refuting my current beliefs.

What’s important to remember is that it doesn’t matter what you or I want to be true. If the Church were true, it’d be awesome. Becoming Gods and having spirit children in our own worlds? What could be better than that? I want that to be true! But, like I said, it doesn’t matter what you or I want to be true; what matters is what is true. Whether it instills happiness within us or not is irrelevant. (And as the common phrase goes: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.)

My method for determining truth

This report is the result, as I stated earlier, of hundreds of hours of research. I have scoured the Internet, emailed BYU history professors, read thousands of pages in books (written by both Mormons, ex-Mormons, and non-Mormons), as well as compared a large portion of my research against official Church positions and publications, along with the apologetic sites mentioned above. I like to believe that my research was as unbiased as humanly possible.

Remember, I started this research fully believing the Church to be true. I thought that the more I researched, the more apparent it would be that the Church was still true. This turned out to not be the case at all. The evidence against the Church I found to be more and more damning. And when I looked for a pro-Mormon response to each issue, I found them to almost always be very weak in comparison.


Things aren’t always as they seem

Mormonism has become the ingrained way of life for millions of people around the world. Good, hard-working, honest people at that. The LDS Church boasts some of the most honest people I have ever met. For teaching me such moral principles, I am grateful and will carry on that character for the rest of my days.

Being ingrained in Mormonism does create a lot of cognitive problems for its members, however. Here are some common thought patterns among Mormons:

  • What the general authorities tell me is true. I therefore do not need to doubt it for even a second.
  • The Spirit has testified that the church is true. I don’t need to consider any other possible ways of living my life.
  • When the prophet speaks, the thinking has been done for me. I must accept what he says and believe it with all of my heart.

Most Mormons who think like this become so convinced that they are in the true religion, when presented with staggering evidence that the Church is in fact not true, they just can’t see it. Instead of accepting the evidence, they make several assumptions:

  1. This evidence was created by the Devil.
  2. This evidence was created by dishonest people who are out to destroy the Church.
  3. This evidence is nothing compared to the evidence for the Church.

Let me now explain why I believe those are incorrect ways to think about it:

  1. Believing this evidence was created by the Devil is equal to thinking your own history books in school were created by the Devil. All it is is history, supported by massive amounts of evidence. Real historians don’t report information with a hidden agenda based on their religious beliefs (contrary to a lot of Church historians). Real historians just report the facts, and let others consider the implications.
  2. I’m sure some of the evidence was in fact created by people that are out to destroy the Church. There are always dishonest people out there. That’s why when you look at evidence, you always need to consider the source and what their motives might have been. The evidence becomes very believable, however, when many different people from different locations, backgrounds, and beliefs all provide evidence that leads to the same conclusion.
  3. The evidence for the Church versus evidence against the Church can, in my opinion, be compared to comparing an ant hill to Mount Everest. You can choose to believe in the evidence for the Church if you want. If you’re looking to live your life modeled after the whole truth and not the partial truth, however, it’s pretty irresponsible. Do not based your life off of extremely biased opinions.

Mormonism is a personal narrative in our brain

I’d like to describe Mormonism as a “personal narrative” inscribed in a Mormon’s brain. Their entire thought patterns are modeled after what the LDS Church has taught them. As I said before, when a believing member is presented with an astounding amount of evidence against the Church, they just can’t see it. This is really interesting to me. I know I was guilty of it for many years.

Craig Criddle, Ph.D, is a former Mormon who also had trouble “seeing it” for many years, and gave agreatexample describing why this is so:

The classic example is a woman with a cheating husband. Presented with evidence of her husband’s infidelity, she is forced to decide between a personal narrative built on past expressions of her love from her husband and their shared interdependence and a narrative consistent with new and painful information indicating that her husband has been sexually unfaithful to her. The conflict between these narratives results in what psychologists call “cognitive dissonance.” When this occurs, the stronger narrative suppresses the weaker. The more that the woman with a cheating husband fears the consequences of his infidelity, the more likely she is to deny evidence pointing to it. Her irrationality is obvious to her friends. If the situation were reversed — and it was one of her friends faced with the same evidence, she could easily perceive it and draw the correct conclusion. But her brain does not function rationally when the evidence threatens to destroy a relationship so central to her personal narrative. She cannot “see” the evidence because her unconscious mind fears it.

Like all thoughts and cognitions, our personal narratives are encoded within webs of neurons with their dendrites, axons, and synapses. The organization and structure of these webs affects our ability to perceive and interpret the world around us. Cats raised in an environment with no vertical components lacked cortical detectors for vertical shapes — they could not see anything in the vertical plane. So they walked into table legs. Pygmies walking out of the forest for the first time were incapable of grasping the significance of animals grazing on a plain hundreds of yards away. Their brains had not developed the capacity to process perspectives of vast distance. So they saw miniature animals. […]

The way in which stories control our perception of reality has helped me to understand my inability for many years to “see” things that now seem obvious. […T]he effects of cognitive dissonance are like an old fashioned set of scales. I had a treasured personal narrative sitting on one side of the scales. On the other was disconfirming evidence that steadily accumulated. Eventually, the scales tipped. For me, the final push seems to have also required an emotionally jarring family crisis. In any case, about ten years ago, I passed the “tipping point.” When that happened, a new set of foundation narratives — previously held at bay by my unconscious mind — slid into place. Unlike the previous foundation narrative, these were consensus scientific narratives based on evidence and reasoning. I could finally understand the history of the earth, the relatedness of living things, the origin of the human species, and the origins of races. It seemed like a revelation, a kind of enlightenment. Facts that before had seemed so disconnected or conflicting and had to be suppressed by cognitive dissonance suddenly made sense. But the new narratives did not explain the foundation narrative of my Tribe — where did it come from? It has taken years to understand that to my own satisfaction.

The argument in favor of the Church being true is based on almost no evidence, but rather the stories of Joseph Smith and whether or not you believe them. The argument against the Church calls into question Joseph Smith’s stories based on a massive amount of evidence that his stories were likely made up. There are many in and out of the Church, however, that find themselves somewhere in the middle of both arguments, and are uncertain. Criddle continues:

Uncertainties force us to deal in probabilities in assessing past and present reality. The challenge comes in assigning values to those probabilities. For example, how likely is it that Joseph Smith spoke with God and translated The Book of Mormon from plates of gold? Devoted and thoughtful Mormons will feel that they have adequately reviewed the evidence and are justified in believing to a probability of near 100% that these events occurred. Virtually all non-Mormons who have reviewed the same evidence conclude that the probability is close to 0%. We can learn a lot from a careful examination of the reasoning processes that different groups use to answer the same question.

The popular TV show CSI illustrates the probability assignment process. Forensic researchers gather testimony, bits of cloth, blood and DNA samples, insects, notes, and other evidentiary fragments — all with the aim of assembling the best possible narrative. They may begin with no suspects, but the evidence eventually leads to the formulation of a narrative, and the narrative points to a suspect. A probability can be assigned. The narrative guides the search for further evidence and the search leads to modifications in the narrative. So the process has a feedback loop. With each additional clue, probabilities change, and the narrative may also change. But in the TV show at least — if not always in real life — evidence piles upon evidence, until a pattern becomes clear, and the probability of one narrative becomes much larger than the competing alternatives.

What are you able to see? Are you like the woman with a cheating husband who knew all evidence pointed to him being unfaithful, but couldn’t see it because of your “personal narrative” of his love for you? Are you like the cats who couldn’t see vertical objects (like table legs) because your brain wasn’t developed to see such things? Are you like the pygmies whose brains hadn’t developed a depth perception, so they interpreted far away objects as “miniature”?

Could it be that so many Mormons can’t “see” the strong evidence against the Church because their brains have been trained not to? I know I was for many years. I’m totally guilty of this.

After many months of constant research, I feel I have gathered sufficient evidence to change my own personal narrative that was indoctrinated into my brain for 28 years that I “knew” the Church was definitely true. And let me tell you, once I was able to shake off the “Church is true” trance I was in, my rational brain took over, and the evidence against the Church was so much stronger than the evidence for it. I hope this paper helps you to see that, but it might take a lot of thinking.

Starting over


A great philosopher named Rene Descartes once gave hisopinion on the best way to determine truth: discard all preconceptions and personal beliefs and look at the world with fresh eyes.

If you are a true-believing Mormon reading this, you are most likely heavily biased to supporting the Church no matter what since you’ve been raised that way for probably many years, and possibly since a young child. The information the Church has taught you has been filtered to make it seem like the Church must be true; they have carefully avoided telling you anything that might hurt your “testimony”. Your view of the world is, thus, heavily skewed in favor of how you’ve been raised and with a strong bias. It is therefore near impossible for you to approach the possibly of the Church not being true because of that bias. This is unfortunately just the nature of Mormon psychology – it doesn’t allow for questioning or uncertainty.

I really believe in Descartes’ advice. To really decide if something is true, you need to start over in your mind. Pretend, if only temporarily, that you were not converted to Mormonism. Examine all of the evidence with as little bias as possible. You were not well-informed when you were taught the Church was true. Change that for yourself. Go back to the beginning, except this time, become well-informed on what Mormonism is all about by studying both sides of the story, and then make the decision again as to whether you really want to follow it.


The Spirit

 While on my LDS mission, I wanted to know if the Church was true. It was described to me by the Church that to know this, I needed to pray and ask God with real intent and faith in Christ. I decided to do this.

I specifically asked God in three separate prayers the following three questions:

  1. Is the Book of Mormon true?
  2. Was Joseph Smith a prophet?
  3. Is Jesus Christ the Savior?

After asking these questions, I had an identical response each time. It was exactly how it was described to me in LDS scripture, that is, a burning in the bosom. I concluded that since I had followed the Church’s methods for discovering truth, I had, in fact, learned for myself that the Church was true.

For many years following I proclaimed to others that I “knew” the Church was true. This made me happy. Even in writing this, the strong feelings I felt come back to my remembrance.

The Spirit led me astray when I really needed it

My younger sibling Casey got married before me, which can be pretty embarrassing in LDS culture. Shortly after, she became pregnant and the whole family was excited to take on their new roles as parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.

One day she called me in tears and told me to come to her house to talk to her. She had just had a check-up in which the doctor was unable to find a heartbeat for the baby when listening with a stethoscope. He informed her that he was almost positive the baby had died. He also explained that the only way to be absolutely sure would be to get an ultrasound, something her and her husband’s insurance wouldn’t completely cover and would cost over $400.

Casey had received enough testimonies from other doctors and nurses that she was comfortable (yet mortified) with the conclusion that the baby was gone and was hesitant to pay for the ultrasound.

Disturbed by the terrible situation, I decided to pray about it. I specifically asked God if the baby was okay. To my great joy, I received a strong burning that the baby was in fact okay and an ultrasound would prove that. I left my apartment that day beaming with happiness as I felt like I “knew” everything was going to be alright.

After informing Casey and her husband Lukas about this, they agreed to get the ultrasound to prove to the doctors that the baby was in fact still there.

It wasn’t.

This might have been one of the most shocking moments of my life. The Spirit had strongly informed me that the baby was okay, and I felt like I knew that that was the case. Why did the Spirit trick me?

After talking to friends and church authorities, I was given several possible scenarios as to why I was misinterpreting the situation:

  1. It was in fact the Spirit, but it isn’t God’s plan at that time to let me know why he made me feel that way.
  2. I had been tricked by the Devil, who can mimic feelings of the Spirit.
  3. I simply wanted the baby to be there, so I let my emotions convince me it was still alive, when it really wasn’t.

These answers didn’t sit well with me, for these reasons:

  1. If it was the Spirit, God should have been able to see the future that sending me false feelings would lead me to doubt the Spirit as a reliable source for probably the rest of my life. Why would he do that?
  2. If it was the Devil, and his feelings can exactly mimic feelings from the Spirit, then what good is the Spirit anyway?
  3. If it was my emotions, why did God design the Spirit to feel exactly like my emotions? That’s not a reliable system for determining truth!

Once I realized that feelings of the Spirit had led me astray in this case, I wondered if the Spirit had led me astray in knowing the Church was true back on my mission when I prayed about it. While praying, I of course wanted it to be true very badly since I was about to serve a two year mission preaching it to be true. I realized that my desires for it to be true may have played a role in making me feel like it was true.

Despite what the Church had taught me, I had learned an importable principle: my feelings don’t make something true.

Using the Spirit to know the Church is true is circular reasoning

Look at this description of “circular reasoning” from Wikipedia:

Circular reasoning is a formal logical fallacy in which the proposition to be proved is assumed implicitly or explicitly in one of the premises. For example:

“Only an untrustworthy person would run for office. The fact that politicians are untrustworthy is proof of this.”

Such an argument is fallacious, because it relies upon its own proposition — “politicians are untrustworthy” — in order to support its central premise. Essentially, the argument assumes that its central point is already proven, and uses this in support of itself.

It is circular reasoning to use the Church’s instructions on finding out if the Church is true, since you need to already assume the Church is true before learning from the Church how to know it’s true. Here is a statement, parallel to the one above, to show how praying to know the Church is true is circular reasoning:

“The Spirit will manifest to you that the Church is true. The fact that the Church teaches to do it this way is proof that it works.”

This argument is fallacious, because it relies upon it’s own proposition – that the Church is true – in order to support its central premise – that the Spirit testifies that the Church is true. Essentially, the Church already assumes that itself true, and then uses its own instructions as a way to prove that it’s true.

This concept might be a little bit difficult to understand. Let me rephrase it.

Here are the steps the Church gives you to find out if the Church is true:

  1. Study out the doctrine of the Church in your mind and in your heart.
  2. Pray and ask God if the Church is true. If it’s true, you’ll feel a strong feeling in your heart.
  3. You now know the Church is true.

This sounds reasonable at first glance, but let’s reanalyze these steps.

  1. Study out the doctrine of the Church in your mind and in your heart.

○      This step makes sense. You should always study out everything you learn in your mind to decide if the data is valid.

  1. Pray and ask God if the Church is true. If it’s true, you’ll feel a strong feeling in your heart.

○      There is a big problem with this step, because for this to be a valid method for learning truth, you must already assume the Church is true since it’s the Church itself that teaches it. Since the only reason you’re doing this step is to learn if the Church is true, but the only way to trust this method is to already assume the Church is true as you’re doing it, the logic is faulty. It doesn’t make any sense! It’s circular reasoning.

  1. You now know the Church is true.

○      You feel like you know, but as described above, you can’t know it using this method. You really haven’t gained any knowledge at all.

Since next to no members notice this fallacy, Church leaders can come up with their own agenda to “prove” the Church is true based on what they know will already happen: people will pray and feel good about the Church since it teaches good principles. Whether Church leaders are aware of the fallacy or not, it is a trick.

Here’s a final example:

I know Joseph Smith is a prophet because the Spirit testifies.

I know it’s the Spirit testifying because of Moroni’s promise.

I know Moroni’s promise works because it’s in the Book of Mormon.

I know the Book of Mormon is true because the prophet Joseph Smith translated it.

And I know Joseph Smith is a prophet because the Spirit testifies.

Do you see how this type of logic doesn’t work?

The Spirit wreaks havoc on the world of religions

Why do other churches have members that feel the Spirit? As the LDS Church claims, all churches have some truth, so they will all feel the Spirit in some way. But is that really what’s going on here?

As I understand it, this is the situation of the religious world:

  • There are thousands of religions, of all sorts and sizes, all with conflicting doctrines.
  • Each one of them has many members in it who claim to know that their Church is the right one.
  • They “know” they’re right based on spiritual promptings in prayer.

All my life I thought I had had a special and unique experience that other people in other religions don’t experience. But that’s just not true. Mormonism isn’t special in its use of spiritual promptings as “proof” that the Church is true. That’s the method everyone uses in every religion.

Putting myself in a Muslim’s shoes

Coming to this realization was quite a shock to me: If I had been born in Saudi Arabia instead of Provo, Utah, I would have been raised a Muslim instead of a Mormon. Every night I would read the Quran instead of the Book of Mormon. I would follow the teachings of Mohammed instead of Joseph Smith. And I would believe it with the same exact same surety and conviction, using the Spirit and faith as my guide.

Likewise if a Muslim had been born into the Mormon Church, he would be a devout Mormon, read the Book of Mormon, worship Jesus Christ, and use the Spirit and faith as his reasoning.

Wow, following the religion you were raised in is really quite arbitrary. A person’s personal convictions to that religion don’t help their case either.

Testimonies from people in other religions

I don’t know why Mormons think that just because they feel the Spirit telling them that they’re in the right religion that that means it must be true. Look at these testimonies made by people of other faiths:


“But what can I say? How can I describe an experience so profound and so beautiful? Shall I say that it was the most blessed experience of my life? Shall I say that [God] touched my heart and gave me a feeling of peace I had not known before? Shall I describe the tears that flowed freely from my eyes, affirming my […] faith, as I […] beg[ged] [God’s] blessings for myself and for those I love?”


“As I read these books in a Roman bookstore, I felt a burning in my heart that I should come and investigate. My wife and I at that time had two children, and we made a decision that we should pray and fast for the four days that I would be gone […] I am reading now the writings of the Pope Benedict XVI regarding prophecy and private revelation. You find a beautiful bond between a proper caution regarding a reported message, and also openness to the Holy Spirit, and to prophecy and miraculous intervention. […] That tells us that the true position of the Church is caution, yes, but also openness to the Holy Spirit.”


“Young Shiva got his first revelation at age six. Without understanding much about the complex multitude of gods that make up the Hindu religion, he was attracted to temples. There he often felt a strong feeling of peace flowing through his body.”


“While on my journey, I was asking God what the truth was. I mean I was angry and I truly wanted to know. After a few weeks, I stumbled onto a web site that talked about the very things I was curious about. It answered my questions in a way that I had not heard of before. I read everything on the web site and I even tried the experiment of asking God for His love, His Divine Love. After about 6 weeks, I felt a burning in my chest and a sensation that was unlike anything I had ever felt.”


“The first time the missionaries gave me a copy of the Book of Mormon, it was like a jolt of electricity went though my body. From that moment, I knew that the Book of Mormon was the word of God. However, it was through study, prayer, and a confirmation from the Holy Ghost that I knew for certain this was true.”

All of these members of different religions are all feeling spiritual promptings that they’re in the right religion. How could they all be right, when all of these religions teach very different doctrines?

What is the Spirit then?

I, of course, don’t know. But as far as I can tell it’s one of two things:

  • It’s external: It really does come from God, but for some reason God is telling every last religion on earth that it’s the right one and they should stay in it. If Mormonism is the Church God wants everyone to join, this isn’t helping that goal in the slightest. I can’t believe God to be so wreckless and inconsistent.
  • It’s internal: It’s a biological function that our body creates. Nearly all active Mormons would definitely disagree with this. They will swear up and down that they “know” it’s coming from God because, well, they “just know”.

All I can say is, if God exists, I don’t believe he is using the Spirit to direct people. If I were to believe that, I would also have to believe in a God who doesn’t care about using his Spirit to lead people to the right Church. He’s leading everyone every which way into believing in many conflicting doctrines in many different religions.

Even if it made sense that God is simply sending his Spirit to testify of truth, wherever it may be, then how can Mormons be sure that it isn’t Mormonism that only has “partial truth” and that’s why we’re all feeling the Spirit about it, and really the “full truth” is in some other religion? Also, how can Mormons “know” that it isn’t internal?

The First Vision

I’d now like to begin the most lengthy part of this essay, and that is outlining evidence against the Church. Before I begin this first section on the First Vision, I’d like to share someimportantquotes by Gordon B. Hinckley, the late President of the LDS Church:

“Our entire case as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rests on the validity of this glorious First Vision. … Nothing on which we base our doctrine, nothing we teach, nothing we live by is of greater importance than this initial declaration. I submit that if Joseph Smith talked with God the Father and His Beloved Son, then all else of which he spoke is true. This is the hinge on which turns the gate that leads to the path of salvation and eternal life.” (Ensign Mag., Nov. 1998, pp.70-71)

“You and I are faced with the stark question of accepting the truth of the First Vision and that which followed it. On the question of its reality lies the very validity of this Church. If it is the truth, and I testify that it is, then the work in which we are engaged is the most important work on the earth.” (Fall Conference Address, 2007)

“Well, it’s either true or false. If it’s false, we’re engaged in a great fraud. If it’s true, it’s the most important thing in the world. Now, that’s the whole picture. It is either right or wrong, true or false, fraudulent or true. And that’s exactly where we stand, with a conviction in our hearts that it is true: that Joseph went into the Grove; that he saw the Father and the Son; that he talked with them; […] That’s our claim. That’s where we stand, and that’s where we fall, if we fall. But we don’t. We just stand secure in that faith.” (Interview “The Mormons”; PBS Documentary, April 2007)

Here is one final quote, this time from Joseph Fielding Smith:

“Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who wilfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188)

I believe that I have found many errors and contradictions in Joseph Smith’s amazing stories. I also found them easy to detect – it just took a lot of research. The only difficulty in detecting these contradictions I think would be when a true believer is unable to “see” it, as I described above. If you fear you may fall into that category, I invite you to open your eyes and read what everything here with an open mind and heart.

Problems with dates

During my research I have been able to closely study many details surrounding the story of the First Vision and try and put all the details together into a sensible timeline. What I came across was very troubling to me, as it seems all but sure that Joseph Smith’s First Vision story could not have happened in 1820 as he states, but must have happened (if at all) much later in at least 1824. The implications of this are not supportive of Joseph Smith’s honesty, as I explain later.

The following is a table comparing certain verses from his story of the events included in the Pearl of Great Price with actual historical data of his circumstances during that time.


Quote from “Joseph Smith – History” in the Pearl of Great Price

Actual circumstances

On when his family moved to Manchester

Verse 3: “In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario.”This is said to have happened prior to his First Vision, which means he is indicating that it happened during or before 1820. Joseph’s family wasn’t living in Manchester in 1820. They moved there in 1822.

On members of his family at the time

Verse 4: “[My] family consisting of eleven souls, namely, my father, Joseph Smith; my mother, Lucy Smith […]; my brothers, Alvin […], Hyrum, myself, Samuel Harrison, William, Don Carlos; and my sisters, Sophronia, Catherine, and Lucy. (Emphasis added.) He lists his sister Lucy here, yet she wasn’t born until 1821.

On a religious revival near his home

Verse 5: “Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester*, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion. It commenced with the Methodists, but soon became general among all the sects in that region of country. Indeed, the whole district of country seemed affected by it, and great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties […].” (Emphasis added.)*Although Joseph indicates this happened in 1820, “[s]ome time in the second year after [their] removal to Manchester” would have been in or after 1824. There was no religious revival in 1820 in Manchester or Palmyra. There was, however, a very strong religious revival in from 1824to 1825 when Reverend George Lane came to Palmyra, which is near Manchester. Joseph Smith frequently mentioned how much Reverend Lane influenced him. Membership data for this area:In 1820:Baptist: Gained 8 membersPresbyterian: Gained 14 members

Methodist: Lost 6 members

In 1824:

Baptist: Gained 94 members

Presbyterian: Gained 99 members

Methodist: Gained 208 members

On when members his family joined Presbyterianism

Verse 7: “I was at this time in my fifteenth year. My father’s family was proselyted to the Presbyterian faith, and four of them joined that church, namely, my mother, Lucy; my brothers Hyrum and Samuel Harrison; and my sister Sophronia.”Joseph Smith’s “fifteenth year” would have been in 1820. Lucy, Hyrum, Samuel, and Sophronia had not yet joined Presbyterianism in 1820. They did, however, jointhereligion sometime in or after 1824. This is when Alvin died and they were looking for solace through religion.

More on when his mother joined Presbyterianism

Verse 20: “And as I leaned up to the fireplace, mother inquired what the matter was. I replied, […] “I have learned for myself that Presbyterianism is not true.” Telling his mother that Presbyterianism is not true would not have made sense in 1820 since she wasn’t a member of that church until 1824.

On religious persecution against him

Verse 22: “[…] I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, […] yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sectsall united to persecute me.”Joseph Smith being fourteen or fifteen years of age would have been in 1820 or 1821. There is no record of Joseph having told his First Vision to anyone before 1835 – a full 15 years after 1820. There are no accounts in the newspapers, by neighbors, preachers or even by the members of Joseph’s own family. He received no persecution from any religious sect in 1820. He was receiving persecution in 1824, however, but this was from professing to have found gold plates.

His own mother Lucyconfirms that there was not a religious revival until after 1823 when Alvin died:

“[…W]e all wept with one accord our irretrievable loss and it seemed as though we could not be comforted because he was not. About that time there was a great revival in religion and the whole neighborhood was very much aroused to the subject and we among the rest flocked to the meeting house to see if their [sic] was a word of comfort for us that might relieve our overcharged feelings.” (Emphasis added.)

This once again pushes the revival to 1824, and subsequently the First Vision. Yet Joseph says that the revival (and First Vision) happened three years before Alvin died.


Likely Conclusion: If Joseph Smith really did have a First Vision, it must have happened at the earliest in 1824 and not 1820, making Joseph at least 18-years-old instead of 14.

My Personal Interpretation: When I read Joseph’s story in the Pearl of Great Price, I easily pick up on the sheer amount of detail. Joseph is very specific throughout his narrative, which makes me believe he had a clear recollection of the events during this time in his life. Without looking for verification elsewhere, the story by itself is very convincing to me, and obviously to many others of the Mormon faith.

A common “get to know you” game played among Mormons is one called “Two Truths and a Lie” where everyone in a circle takes turns telling three stories about their life, one of them not being true. Others in turn try and guess which one is the lie. I’ve never been good at lying, so this game is somewhat distressing for me. The strategy I’ve come up with is to actually tell three truths, but in one of the stories simply tweak a detail or two, ultimately making it a “lie” by definition.

Now, if I were Joseph Smith and wanted to increase my prophetic influence by stating I had seen God and Jesus Christ, even though I actually hadn’t ever seen them, I wouldn’t want to tell a completely made-up story. That’s too dangerous. I would use the strategy I use in the “Two Truths and a Lie” game, namely, modifying a true event until it fits with the lie I am trying to perpetrate. In this case, it appears Joseph decided to tell a story of real events from his life that occurred in 1824, not 1820. I don’t know why he felt it necessary to make the event seem like it happened when he was 14, but the facts indicate that he was at least 18. What’s distressing to me is that in 1823, when he was 17, he had already seen and spoken with the Angel Moroni about the gold plates. This would mean that if his Angel Moroni story is true, he must have had the First Vision after seeing Moroni. According to Joseph Smith, however, this isn’t so. Look at these two verses from “Joseph Smith – History” in the Pearl of Great Price:

Verse 29: In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September [in 1823], after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.

Verse 30: While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.

(Emphasis added.)

Verse 29 states that he was expecting a manifestation since he had already received one in his First Vision. This must mean that, according to him, the Angel Moroni appeared after he had had the First Vision. But when comparing the details of history with the details of his story (as described previously), this couldn’t be so.

There’s no wiggle room for dates in the Angel Moroni story either since he consistently stated that his first encounter with the angel was on September 21, 1823, and then it took four tries to get the plates each year on September 22, namely in 1824, 1825, 1826, and 1827, when he finally got them. He has specific stories for each one of these attempts to get the plates each of the four times. Consequently, Joseph would not budge on the September 21, 1823 date as the first encounter with Moroni since it would throw off the rest of his story of meeting him once every four years on the same day.


Well, his affirmation of that date really implicates him. I can’t make sense of this story without the admission that Joseph Smith is, for some reason or another, either lying outright, or seriously confusing the details of when he had his First Vision. I would like to hope that he is simply getting confused, but I can’t possibly see how Joseph could think he saw God and Jesus Christ at 14 which led to his prayer expecting a similar manifestation, resulting in seeing Moroni, when the historical details mean that if the First Vision happened, it must have been after he saw Moroni and when he was 18. Nothing makes sense, unless I consider the possibility that he lied.

Joseph lied about being persecuted for telling the vision to others

Joseph claims that he was heavily persecuted for telling others about his vision. Look at verses 22-23 from his personal history:

“I soon found, however, that my telling the story had excited a great deal of prejudice against me among professors of religion, and was the cause of great persecution, which continued to increase; and though I was an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequence in the world, yet men of high standing would take notice sufficient to excite the public mind against me, and create a bitter persecution; and this was common among all the sects all united to persecute me.

It caused me serious reflection then, and often has since, how very strange it was that an obscure boy, of a little over fourteen years of age, and one, too, who was doomed to the necessity of obtaining a scanty maintenance by his daily labor, should be thought a character of sufficient importance to attract the attention of the great ones of the most popular sects of the day, and in a manner to create in them a spirit of the most bitter persecution and reviling. But strange or not, so it was, and it was often the cause of great sorrow to myself.” (Emphasis added)

It’s interesting how clear he is trying to make it that he was heavily persecuting by “all the sects” and that they were “all united to persecute” him, yet this simply isn’t true at all. If his story were true, someone would have mentioned it in history – one of enemies, one of his friends, or one of his family members. No one ever mentioned it!

The first records we have of Joseph telling anyone about a vision is after he started claiming that the Angel Moroni appeared to him. Then and only then do we have records of persecution, and plenty of it. This is of course many years after 1820.

Think about that – he apparently sees God and Jesus Christ in a spectacular vision in 1820, lies in his history saying he told everyone about it, but actually doesn’t even tell his own family. Then he sees an angel 1823, and immediately he tells his family. Does this make any sense?

Problems with family members’ accounts

The fact that his own family had no idea about it is evidence enough that he never told anyone about this vision in the 1820s. His brother William and mother Lucy both have given personal accounts of what they understood the First Vision to be. We must seriously consider personal accounts from Joseph’s own family members since they obviously knew him very personally for many years. If anyone has the most first hand knowledge of what Joseph had told them concerning visions, they did.

Here’s his brother William’s account, taken from hisownautobiography:

“In 1822 and 1823, the people in our neighborhood were very much stirred up with regard to religious matters by the preaching of a Mr. [George] Lane, an elder of the Methodist Church…..The consequences [of this growing religious revival] was that my mother, my brothers Hyrum and Samuel, older than I, joined the Presbyterian Church.  Joseph, then being about seventeen years of age [1823], had become seriously inclined, although not ‘brought out’, as the phrase was, began to reflect and inquire, which of all these sects was right…..He continued in secret to call upon the Lord for a full manifestation of his will, the assurance that he was accepted of him, and that he might have an understanding of the path of obedience.

At length he determined to call upon the Lord until he should get a manifestation from him.  He accordingly went out into the woods and falling upon his knees called for a long time upon the Lord for knowledge.  While engaging in prayer a light appeared in the heavens, and descended until it rested upon the trees where he was.[…] An angel then appeared to him and conversed with him upon many things.  He told him that none of the sects were right; but that if he was faithful in keeping the commandments he should receive, the true way should be made known unto him; that his sins were forgiven, etc. […] The angel had also given him a sort account of the inhabitants who formerly resided upon this continent, a full history of whom he said was engraved on some plates which were hidden, and which the angel promised to show him[…].”

What would immediately draw the attention of anyone who is familiar with the Pearl of Great Price version of the account is that William’s account seems to be merging the First Vision with with the Angel Moroni story. He puts the religious revival in 1823, but specifically states that it was Reverend Lane that stirred his neighborhood in regards to religion and he didn’t visit Palmyra until 1824. William also describes how it was through Joseph’s desire to know the true Church which led him to pray and receive a visitation from “an angel”, who in turn tells him that no church was true, and then proceeds to tell him about the gold plates. God the Father and Jesus are not involved anywhere in the story.

And here’s his mother Lucy’s account, taken from herownautobiography:

“One evening we were sitting till quite late conversing upon the subject of the diversity of churches that had risen up in the world and the many thousand opinions in existence as to the truth contained in scripture. […] After we ceased conversation he [Joseph] went to bed and was pondering in his mind which of the churches were the true way but he had not laid there long till he saw a bright light enter the room where he lay.  He looked up and saw an angel of the Lord standing by him.  The angel spoke, I perceive that you are enquiring in your mind which is the true church.  There is not a true church on earth.”

Once again, like William’s account, Lucy’s account also merges the First Vision with the Angel Moroni story. Wanting to know which church to join is what led Joseph to pray, and have the angel appear to him in his bedroom to tell him no church was true.

Problems with accounts by early prophets and apostles


In complete agreement with Joseph’s family accounts above, all of the early church leaders also had no idea that Joseph had declared that God the Father and Jesus Christ had appeared to him. It seems that in the first 50 years since the First Vision was supposed to have happened, that whenever the church leaders referred to the First Vision, they were actually referring to the visit of the Angel Moroni and not the First Vision by God the Father and Jesus.

Look at the following accounts by early church leaders and notice how they are merging the First Vision and Angel Moroni story into one single account that it was the Angel Moroni that told Joseph to not join any religion, with no mention of God or Jesus at all:

Orson Hyde in 1854:

“Some one may say, ‘If this work of the last days be true, why did not the Saviour come himself to communicate this intelligence to the world?’ Because to the angels was committed the power of reaping the earth, and it was committed to none else.” (General Conference Address, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.335) (Emphasis added.)

Brigham Young in 1855:

“The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowledge of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith Jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him.” (Journal of Discourses 2:170-171) (Emphasis added.)

Wilford Woodruff in 1855:

“That same organization and Gospel that Christ died for, and the Apostles spilled their blood to vindicate, is again established in this generation. How did it come? By the ministering of an holy angel from God,… The angel taught Joseph Smith those principles which are necessary for the salvation of the world;… He told him the Gospel was not among men, and that there was not a true organization of His kingdom in the world.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.2, pp.196-197) (Emphasis added.)

Heber C. Kimball in 1857:

“Do you suppose that God in person called upon Joseph Smith, our Prophet? God called upon him; but God did not come himself and call, but he sent Peter to do it. Do you not see? He sent Peter and sent Moroni to Joseph, and told him that he had got the plates.” (Journal of Discourses, vol.6, p.29) (Emphasis added.)

John Taylor in 1863:

“How did this state of things called Mormonism originate? We read that an angel came down and revealed himself to Joseph Smith and manifested unto him in vision the true position of the world in a religious point of view.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p.127)

George A. Smith in 1863:

“When Joseph Smith was about fourteen or fifteen years old,…he went humbly before the Lord and inquired of Him, and the Lord answered his prayer, and revealed to Joseph, by the ministration of angels, the true condition of the religious world. When the holy angel appeared, Joseph inquired which of all these denominations was right and which he should join, and was told they were all wrong,…” (Journal of Discourses, Vol.12, pp.333-334) (Emphasis added.)

George A. Smith again in 1869:

“He sought the Lord by day and by night, and was enlightened by the vision of an holy angel. When this personage appeared to him, of his first inquiries was, ‘Which of the denominations of Christians in the vicinity was right?‘ ” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p.77-78 June 20, 1869)

At this point we are at 49 years after the date Joseph Smith pinned the First Vision, that is, 1820 and no church leaders seem to have any clue about it. Compare this with Joseph’s ownaccount, way back earlier in 1820, when he was telling everyone about the vision:

“So it was with me. I had actually seen a light, and in the midst of that light I saw two Personages, and they did in reality speak to me; and though I was hated and persecuted for saying that I had seen a vision, yet it was true; and while they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying, I was led to say in my heart: Why persecute me for telling the truth? I have actually seen a vision; and who am I that I can withstand God, or why does the world think to make me deny what I have actually seen? For I had seen a vision; I knew it, and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it; at least I knew that by so doing I would offend God, and come under condemnation.”

Since we have no newspapers, journals, official publications, testimonies from family members, church leaders, or anyone else that Joseph ever told his First Vision to anyone prior to at least 15 years after it supposedly happened, are we really to believe here that Joseph Smith told so many people that “this was common among all the sects—all united to persecute” him for saying he had seen a vision?  Joseph says, “they were persecuting me, reviling me, and speaking all manner of evil against me falsely for so saying […] that I had seen a vision”. We have not a single record of this happening, and church leaders didn’t have a clue about it for more than the first 50 years of the history of the Church.

Problems with Joseph Smith’s own accounts


I was surprised and excited (at first) to learn that there were multiple first-hand accounts of the First Vision from Joseph Smith himself. The most popular version is, of course, the version we find in “Joseph Smith – History” which was written in 1838 and published in 1842. The first known account we have was actually written in 1832 by Joseph Smith’s own hand and it contains many similarities to his 1838 account. It also, unfortunately, contains some glaring contradictions:


1832 account detail

1838 account detail

On his knowledge of religious truth

Before having the vision, he states “[…] by searching the scriptures I found that mankind did not come unto the Lord but that they had apostatised from the true and living faith and there was no society or denomination that [was] built upon the Gospel of Jesus Christas recorded in the New Testament” (Emphasis added and misspellings corrected.)In other words, he had already decided that all the churches were wrong before praying to have the vision. He discovered this from reading the scriptures. During the vision, he states “I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)” (Emphasis added.)In other words, he had no idea that all of the churches were wrong. He learned this from Jesus during the vision.

On who God is

“[…] my heart exclaimed all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power, a being who maketh laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity”(Emphasis added and misspellings corrected.)In other words, God is an omnipresent power and fills eternity. (I explain why this is clear later on.) “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. […] One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointingto the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Emphasis added.)In other words, God is man with a body of flesh and bones, and is physically separate from Jesus.

On who appeared to him in the vision

“[…] the Lord heard my cry in the wilderness and while in [the] attitude of calling upon the Lord <in the 16th year of my age> a pillar of light above the brightness of the sun at noon day came down from above and rested upon me and I was filled with the Spirit of God and the [Lord] opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lordand he spake unto me saying Joseph [my son] thy sins are forgiven thee.” (Emphasis added and misspellings corrected.)In other words, Joseph sees Jesus in the vision, but does not see God the Father (or at least fails to mention it – quite a large detail to omit). “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.” (Emphasis added)In other words, Joseph sees both Jesus and God the Father as two separate and physical men.

There are actually several other small contradictions, but I rather choose to focus on these three.

On his knowledge of religious truth – To me, it’s unacceptable that in one version he would state that he already knows all religions are false before praying, while in the other version he is surprised to learn this from Jesus. This fundamentally changes his reasoning for praying. In the 1832 account, he talks about needing forgiveness for his sins, then on the grandeur of God, then simply mentions praying to obtain mercy as his reason to pray. In the 1838 account, he feels like the true church is somewhere on earth, but doesn’t know which one it is, so he prays to specifically ask which one to join. These are very different reasons for praying.

On who God is – It is very telling when Joseph Smith describes God as an omnipresent power (meaning he is present in all places), also describing him as filling all eternity (once again stating that he thinks God is present in all places)…

On who appeared to him in the vision – …and then within the vision he clearly leaves out God the Father in his description of who appeared to him. I know many Mormon apologists will state that he didn’t say that God wasn’t there, he just didn’t mention him. I don’t buy that. If God himself clearly appeared to Joseph, that is the most important detail in the whole story. If there was ever a detail in any story in the history of the world NOT to leave out, this is it!

In December 1834, Oliver Cowdery – with the help and approval of Joseph Smith – published anaccount of the Angel Moroni in the Messenger and Advocate. One part is interesting, as he is talking about why Joseph was praying in his bedroom that night:

“And it is only necessary for me to say, that while this excitement continued, he continued to call upon the Lord in secret for a full manifestation of divine approbation, and for, to him, the all important information, if a Supreme being did exist, to have an assurance that he was accepted of him.” (Emphasis added.)

So he sees God face to face in 1820, yet in 1823 he’s praying to know if God even exists?

Here’s a review of the evidence that he didn’t see God in that vision:

  • In 1832 when he writes the account out, he describes God as an omnipresent power that fills eternity.
  • He only mentions seeing Jesus in the vision.
  • He has Oliver Cowdery publish an account in 1834 stating that he prayed in 1823 to know if God even existed – a full 3 years after he had apparently already seen God face to face.
  • He didn’t even believe God was physically separate than Jesus Christ until around 1837 (discussed later), so it would make sense that in 1832, if he was making up the First Vision story, he wouldn’t describe God and Jesus Christ as both being there. (And if he had seen God in 1820, I don’t see why he was even confused about this at all.)

These details seriously give credence to the fact that God wasn’t there because Joseph didn’t believe him to have a physical body at this point in his life.

Joseph joins the Methodist Church, even though God commands him not to

If you recall, God specifically told Joseph not to join any Church. Here is the verse from Joseph’s history:

“…I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)—and which I should join.

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt”

Yet Joseph didjoin with the corrupt Churches, specifically the Methodist one, and was asked to leave:

Emma’s uncle, Nathaniel Lewis, preached as a lay minister of the local Methodist Episcopal church. His congregation met in the homes of the members for Sunday services. On Wednesdays a regular circuit preacher visited Harmony. In the spring or summer of 1828 Joseph asked the circuit rider if his name could be included on the class roll of the church. Joseph “presented himself in a very serious and humble manner,” and the minister obliged him.

When Emma’s cousin, Joseph Lewis, discovered Joseph’s name on the roll, he “thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer” as a member. He took the matter up with a friend, and the following Sunday, when Joseph and Emma arrived for church, the two men steered Joseph aside and into the family shop. “They told him plainly that such character as he . . . could not be a member of the church unless he broke off his sins by repentance, made public confession, renounced his fraudulent and hypocritical practices, and gave some evidence that he intended to reform and conduct himself somewhat nearer like a christian than he had done. They gave him his choice to go before the class, and publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation.” Joseph refused to comply with the humiliating demands and withdrew from the class. His name, however, stayed on the roll for about six more months, either from oversight or because Emma’s brother-in-law, Michael Morse, who taught the class, did not know of the confrontation. When Joseph did not seek full membership, Morse finally dropped his name.”

God commanded Joseph to join none of the Churches of his day since they were an “abomination in his sight”. Yet Joseph defied a direct commandment God told him face to face to not do, and went ahead and did it. I guess God didn’t say it loud enough for Joseph to take him seriously.

Moroni or Nephi? A dream or a vision?

The following is alist of all the known accounts of people retelling the story of the Angel Moroni visit. Notice how often people are confused as to whether Joseph had a dream or a vision, or whether the angel was Nephi or Moroni.


Who said it


Who appeared and how

1827 Willard Chase Addidavit of 1833 A spirit in a vision
1827 Rev. John. A Clark Account of Martin Harris published in 1842 An angel in a dream
1828-9 Cousin of Emma Smith A letter A ghost in a dream
1829 Joseph Smith Palmyra Freeman A spirit in a dream
1830 Peter Bauder Interview with Joseph Smith published in 1842 An angel
1830 Parley P. Pratt Letter from Amherst An angel in a dream
1832 A History of the Life of Joseph Smith An angel
1834-5 Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith Messenger and Advocate An angel
1835 Olivery Cowdery and Joseph Smith Messenger and Advocate An angel named Moroni
1835 Joseph Smith His journal An angel
1838 Joseph Smith Joseph Smith – History An angel named Nephi (altered after Joseph’s death to be Moroni)
1838 Joseph Smith Elder’s Journal An angel named Moroni
1842 Joseph Smith Times and Season An angel named Nephi
1842 Joseph Smith Wentworth Letter An angel
1842 Millenial Star An angel named Nephi
1842 Millenial Star (Editorial) An angel named Nephi
1842 Martin Harris Gleanings, p. 226 An angel in a dream
1844 Joseph Smith An account written by Joseph Smith An angel
1845 Lucy Mack Smith Biography An angel
1851 Joseph Smith Pearl of Great Price (1st Edition; handwritten copies) An angel named Nephi
1853 Lucy Mack Smith History of Joseph Smith An angel named Nephi
1859 Martin Harris Tiffany’s Monthly An angel

Let’s look at the results from these 24 accounts:

  • All 24 agree that an angel, spirit, or ghost appeared.
  • 4 say it happened in a dream
  • 6 say the angel’s name was Nephi
  • 2 say the angel’s name was Moroni

Why do so many people think it was only a dream? Why do so many people (including Joseph) think the angel’s name was Nephi?

Here are direct quotes from the different publications of the Pearl of Great Price:

1851 Version


Page 41: He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi […]. Verse 32: He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from the presence of God to me, and that his name was Moroni […].

Joseph Smith’s changing view of the Godhead

 If you ask any Mormon today in what form God is, the answer will undoubtedly come that he is in man’s image with a physical body of flesh and bones. This is definitely what the Church consistently teaches, and has taught ever since the beginnings of the Church back in the 1830s.

In my studies, I learned that this doctrine doesn’t go back quite as far as 1830, however. It seems to go only as far as about 1837 when it shifts into a monotheistic belief, nearly identical to the Trinity belief common in the Catholic church.

It’s bad enough that Joseph changes his doctrine on the Godhead. The biggest problem with this is that he changed his First Vision story as his personal beliefs about God changed. This strongly indicates that the First Vision was never even a true story to begin with. (I explain this in a later section.)


Pre-1837 view of the Godhead

Many members are familiar with the church publication “LecturesonFaith” which used to be in the scripture canon up until 1921. The lectures were presented by Joseph Smith, Jr. to a group of elders in a course known as the “School of the Prophets” in the early winter of 1834-35 in Kirtland, Ohio. It is a great example of Joseph Smith’s theological views in 1835.

Lecture Five is the most intriguing to me since it describes the nature of God. I recommend reading the fullaccount, but here are some key excerpts I would like to focus on:

“There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things […] –They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image […] and is called the Son because of the flesh” (Emphasis added.)

Notice the part I italicized. Joseph Smith states that God is a personage of spirit, while Jesus is a personage of tabernacle, meaning he has a body.

Q. Was it by the Father and the son that all things were created and made, that were created and made?

A. It was. Col. 1: 15,16,17. Who is the image of the invisible God, the first born of every creature; for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible […].

Here he says that God is invisible. An apologist may state that this simply means that people don’t see him since he rarely manifests himself. Given Joseph’s other descriptions, I don’t think so. Here’s another example:

Q. Does [the Son] possess the fulness of the Father?

A. He does. Col. 1:19. 2:9. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. For in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Eph. 1:23. Which is his (Christ’s) body, the fulness of him that fills all in all.

He once again is implying that Christ represents the Godhead in body form, implying that God the Father does not have a body.

To the reader who is confused as to where the Holy Ghost plays into this primitive Church belief of the Godhead, look at the answers to these three questions:

Q. How many personages are there in the Godhead?

A. Two: the Father and the Son. […]

Q. Do the Father and the Son possess the same mind?

A. They do. […]

Q. What is this mind?

A. The Holy Spirit. […]

In summary, this lesson teaches the reader that there are two personages in the Godhead, the Father and the Son. The Father is a personage of spirit, while the Son is a personage of tabernacle, meaning he has a body. The Father and Son share the same mind, which is the Holy Spirit. This is all very different from what Mormons are taught today.

In 1830, Joseph wrote a book called the “Vision of Moses”, which would later become the Book of Moses and be included in the Pearl of Great Price. The creation of the earth is outlined in detail as being performed by God. The phrase “I, God” is used in the book 35 times starting in chapter 2, about once every verse, and several more times in chapter 3 (the final chapter in the book). There is no evidence whatsoever of a plurality of Gods being involved in the creation.

Heresanotherexample of Joseph Smith having a monotheistic belief prior to 1837. As most members know, he modified certain verses in the Bible into what he would call his “Inspired Version” in 1833. One verse in the Bible seemed to indicate that the Father and the Son were separate. Joseph Smith actually modified the verse to more clearly show that the Father and the Son are one! Remember, he has supposedly already seen both of them clearly as two separate individuals. Look:

Luke 10:22 – King James Version

Luke 10:22 – Joseph Smith Translation

All things are delivered to me of my Father: and 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. All things are delivered to me of my Father; and no man knoweth that the Son is the Father, and the Father is the Son, but him to whom the Son will reveal it.

Pay attention to what he changed. Originally it stated that only the Father and the Son fully understand each other. Joseph Smith changed it to mean that the Son is the Father and the Father is the Son, and only They understand how that works.

As already mentioned, in Joseph Smith’s 1832 account of the First Vision, he indicates that God doesn’t have a body. Here it is again for easy reference:

“[…] my heart exclaimed all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power, a being who maketh laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity” (Emphasis added and misspellings corrected.)

Joseph Smith’s monotheistic view is also apparent throughout the Book of Mormon which was first published in 1830:

Monotheistic Verses in The Book of Mormon

Mosiah 15:1-3

And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son — The Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and the Son.

Mosiah 16:15

Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.

Alma 11:39

Now Zeezrom saith again unto him: Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? And Amulek said unto him: Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth, and all things which in them are; he is the beginning and the end, the first and the last[.]

Ether 3:14

Behold, I am he who was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem my people. Behold, I am Jesus Christ. I am the Father and the Son.

Ether 4:12

[…H]e that will not believe me will not believe the Father who sent me. For behold, I am the Father, I am the light, and the life, and the truth of the world.

(There are actually many more monotheistic verses, but including them all would be repetitive.)

Curiously, there are only four verses which do indicate that the Father and the Son are separate beings. I discuss these in the next section.

Post-1837 view of the Godhead

For reasons that are difficult to know, Joseph Smith changedhismind on who the Godhead was some time around 1837. A great example of this are verses that he modified in the Book of Mormon from the original 1830 version to the 1840 version. Take a look:

Original 1830 Version

Revised 1840 Version*

1 Nephi 11:18

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh. Source And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. Source

1 Nephi 11:21

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Eternal Father! Source And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Source

1 Nephi 11:32

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world. Source And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world. Source

1 Nephi 13:40

These last records […] shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. Source 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. Source

*These verses also match the current version found at scriptures.lds.org.

He modified these verses because in 1830, he didn’t believe that God and Jesus Christ were separate physical beings. When he changed his mind, he was so embarrassed at his previous beliefs that he decided to go back and modify the Book of Mormon to fit his new beliefs. The newedition was published in 1840.

Notice also how all of these verses are in First Nephi. Joseph Smith most likely intended to modify all the verses, but was never able to finish. (He lived a very exciting and busy life.)

In 1835, Joseph Smith began writing the Book of Abraham, which was published in the Times and Seasons in three installments on March 1, 15, and 16 in 1842. Chapters 4 and 5 describe the creation story as he had outlined in the Book of Moses in 1830. The Book of Abraham, however, consistently describes the creation being effected by Gods in the plural, while the Book of Moses consistently describes God in the singular. Look at the following chart that compares similar verses from the first ten verses Book of Moses from 1830 and the same parallel verses in Book of Abraham from 1842:

The Book of Moses (from 1830)

The Book of Abraham (from 1842)

2:2 […] my Spiritmoved upon the face of the water; for I am God. 4:2 […] and the Spirit of the Gods was brooding upon the face of the waters.
2:3 And I, God, said: Let there be light; and there was light. 4:3 And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light.
2:4 And I, God, saw the light; and that light was good. And I, God, divided the light from the darkness. 4:4 And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright; and they divided the light, or caused it to be divided, from the darkness.
2:5 And I, God, called the light Day; and the darkness, I called Night […]. 4:5 And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night […].
2:6 And again, I, God, said: Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and it was so, even as I spake […]. 4:6 And the Gods also said: Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters […].
2:7-8 And I, God, made the firmament and divided the waters […a]nd I, God, called the firmament Heaven[.] 4:7-8 And the Gods ordered the expanse [..a]nd the Gods called the expanse, Heaven[.]
2:9 And I, God, said: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and it was so; and I, God, said: Let there be dry land; and it was so. 4:9 And the Gods ordered, saying: Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the earth come up dry; and it was so as they ordered;
2:10 And I, God, called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, called I the Sea; and I, God, saw that all things which I had made were good. 4:10 And the Gods pronounced the dry land, Earth; and the gathering together of the waters, pronounced they, GreatWaters; and the Gods saw that they were obeyed.

This goes on for much longer. I only include here the first ten parallel verses as to not bore you, but if you would like to compare the rest for yourself, it lines up perfectly like this for two chapters, the Book of Moses inferring one God and the Book of Abraham inferring multiple Gods for the same events.

Returning to the First Vision

Understanding now how Joseph Smith’s Godhead doctrine changed post-1837, we can now return to the topic of the First Vision. Let’s take a second look at the last two contradictions from the table outlined previously:


1832 account detail

1838 account detail

On who God is

“[…] my heart exclaimed all these bear testimony and bespeak an omnipotent and omnipresent power, a being who maketh laws and decreeeth and bindeth all things in their bounds who filleth Eternity”(Emphasis added and misspellings corrected.)In other words, God is an omnipresent power and fills eternity. “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. […] One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointingto the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Emphasis added.)In other words, God is man with a body of flesh and bones, and is physically separate from Jesus.

On who appeared to him in the vision

“[…] the [Lord] opened the heavens upon me and I saw the Lordand he spake unto me saying Joseph [my son] thy sins are forgiven thee.” (Emphasis added and misspellings corrected.)In other words, Joseph sees Jesus in the vision, but does not see God the Father (or at least fails to mention it – quite a large detail to omit). “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.” (Emphasis added)In other words, Joseph sees both Jesus and God the Father as two separate and physical men.

Remember, the 1832 account was written while he believed in the Trinity, namely, the Father and the Son are one. They would therefore not be separate physical beings under this doctrine, and Joseph Smith’s account portrays this clearly: only the Son appears because he represents the Godhead bodily while the Father fills eternity and is an “omnipresent power” (meaning present in all places at the same time). It agrees perfectly with his pre-1837 beliefs. The 1838 account was written when he believed that God the Father and the Son were separate physical beings. They would therefore both appear separately in that version of the vision, and that’s exactly what he describes.

Here are a couple of key points I would like to make at this point:

  1. 1.    If the First Vision is a true story, details cannot change as your personal beliefs change! Either God the Father was physically and visibly there, or he wasn’t. It doesn’t matter if in 1832 Joseph didn’t believe that God the Father was a separate being with flesh in bones. If God had appeared to him, Joseph would have had to have changed his mind on who God is. And he undoubtedly would have included such a key detail in describing the story. Unfortunately his story evolves as his personal beliefs evolve. True stories do not evolve.
  2. 2.    Also, if Joseph Smith really saw God and Jesus Christ as two separate physical beings, he shouldn’t have taught that there were one in the same up until 1837. He should have made it very clear in the Book of Mormon, Book of Moses, Lectures on Faith, the 1832 First Vision account, and his translation of the Bible (among many other sources not mentioned in this document) that they are separate beings. Having such a powerful experience should have inspired to always make it very clear to everyone that they were separate. Did he forget that he clearly saw them as two personages, as he so emphatically proclaimed in his 1838 account of the vision?

A chronology of Joseph Smith’s beliefs in the Godhead

1830 – Joseph publishes the Book of Mormon which consistently describes God the Father and Jesus Christ as the same being.

1830 – Joseph writes the Book of Moses and describes a single God creating the earth.

1833 – Joseph completes his translation of the Bible, changing verses to make it more clear to the reader that God the Father and Jesus Christ are one in the same.

1832 – Joseph writes a personal account of the First Vision, describing God as an omnipresent power that fills eternity, and Jesus as the only figure that appears to him in his vision.

1835 – Joseph gives his Lectures on Faith and describes God as an invisible personage of spirit, and Jesus as a personage of tabernacle who represents the body of the Godhead.

~1837 – Joseph changes his mind and decides that God and Jesus are separate physical beings. He starts “cleaning up” what he previously taught.

1838 – Joseph rewrites his First Vision to account for this change in belief and now includes God the Father in the vision as a separate Being than Jesus Christ. Note: This seriously calls into question whether or not the First Vision is even a true story at all.

1840 – Joseph publishes a new edition of the Book of Mormon adding “the Son of” to four verses to reflect his new belief that Jesus is separate than God the Father, while leaving many verses still indicating that there are one in the same. Note: This seriously calls into question whether or not the Book of Mormon really was translated by the power of God.

1842 – Joseph publishes the Book of Abraham and describes the creation story again (like he had in the Book of Moses), but this time describing the creation as being done by “the Gods” instead of “God”.

Joseph has created a lot of confusion on whether God and Jesus are one Being or two. The Church deals with this by saying that whenever the scriptures describe them as one, it merely means they are one in purpose. This covers all of their bases.

Joseph Smith made money by tricking people before he became a prophet

Before Joseph Smith became the prophet of Mormonism, his income came from tricking people. He would say that he knew where buried treasure was by looking in his seer stone, and gullible people would trust him. They would pay him money, he would look in the stone, and then he would tell them where they could dig to find buried treasure. No one ever found any buried treasure. Finally, for being such a public nuisance, in 1826 he was arrested for being a “disorderly person and an impostor” and was found guilty.

The first publication of the account was published by Abrahm W. Benton in Evangelical Magazine & Gospel Advocate in 1831. Hestates:

“For several years preceding the appearance of his [Book of Mormon], he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending, by means of a certain stone, or glass, which he put in a hat, to be able to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, &c. Although he constantly failed in his pretensions, still he had his dupes who put implicit confidence in all his words. In this town, a wealthy farmer, named Josiah Stowell, together with others, spent large sums of money in digging for hidden money, which this Smith pretended he could see, and told them where to dig; but they never found their treasure.

“At length the public, becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of Justice. But, considering his youth, (he being then a minor,) and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape. This was four or five years ago. From this time he absented himself from this place, returning only privately, and holding clandestine intercourse with his credulous dupes, for two or three years.”

Although I am not including any more sources here for reasons of brevity, this 1826 trial absolutely happened and he was found guilty of tricking people, i.e. being an “impostor”. Remember, 1826 is only one year before he begins translating the golden plates, another “treasure” he found. Guess what stone he used to translate the Book of Mormon? The same stone he used to trick people into digging for hidden treasures that got him arrested. The same stone that never revealed any truth to him about anything.

Joseph Smith’s polygamy and polyandry

My whole life I’ve known that early leaders of the Church participated in polygamy. It was of course pretty odd for me, but I was trained to treat the whole situation. For some reason I was never aware that Joseph Smith had practiced polyandry as well. Look at thischart, which was compiled by an active member of the Church:


Marriage to Joseph Smith


Living Husband at time of Marriage to Joseph Smith

Emma Hale Jan 1827 22
Fanny Alger 1833 16
Lucinda Morgan Harris 1838 37 George W. Harris
Louisa Beaman Apr 1841 26
Zina Huntington Jacobs Oct 1841 20 Henry Jacobs
Presendia Huntington Buell Dec 1841 31 Norman Buell
Agnes Coolbrith Jan 1842 33
Sylvia Sessions Lyon Feb 1842 23 Windsor Lyon
Mary Rollins Lightner Feb 1842 23 Adam Lightner
Patty Bartlett Sessions Mar 1842 47 David Sessions
Marinda Johnson Hyde Apr 1842 27 Orson Hyde
Elizabeth Davis Durfee Jun 1842 50 Jabez Durfee
Sarah Kingsley Cleveland Jun 1842 53 John Cleveland
Delcena Johnson Jul 1842 37
Eliza R. Snow Jun 1842 28
Sarah Ann Whitney Jul 1842 17
Martha McBride Knight Aug 1842 37
Ruth Vose Sayers Feb 1843 33 Edward Sayers
Flora Ann Woodworth Spring 1843 16
Emily Dow Partridge Mar 1843 19
Eliza Maria Partridge Mar 1843 22
Almera Johnson Apr 1843 30
Lucy Walker May 1843 17
Sarah Lawrence May 1843 17
Maria Lawrence May 1843 19
Helen Mar Kimball May 1843 14
Hanna Ells Mid 1843 29
Elvira Cowles Holmes Jun 1843 29 Jonathan Holmes
Rhoda Richards Jun 1843 58
Desdemona Fullmer Jul 1843 32
Olive Frost Mid 1843 27
Melissa Lott Sep 1843 19
Nancy Winchester 1843 14
Fanny Young Nov 1843 56

Some quick facts:

  • He had 34 total wives, only one of them being legal (his first with Emma)
  • 11 of them were already married at the time to other men
  • 10 of them were teenagers, 2 of them being only 14-years-old

Joseph seriously broke the law

Nearly all of Joseph’s wives married him while he was living in Nauvoo, Illinois. Polygamy was a violation of section 121 of Illinois State law, which provided a $500 fine and one year in prison for each wife. In Joseph Smith’s case, this would have amounted to over 30 years in prison and $15,000 in fines, which by today’s standards would have been over $300,000. Obviously he didn’t want to get caught. In light of this, here is the twelfth Article of Faith, written by Joseph Smith himself:

“We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.” (Emphasis added.)

Joseph did not follow his own doctrine in this regard in breaking laws that would have put him in prison for 30 years. This makes him a hypocrite in its purest definition. And to avoid getting arrested, he had to swear all of his wives to secrecy, inspiring them to be heavily dishonest with their family and friends. Another article of faith, this time the thirteenth one:

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men […]” (Emphasis added.)

I feel terrible for the women that Joseph had to convince to lie for him in order to keep him out of prison.

Joseph married eleven women who at the time were married to other men

The word “polyandry” may be a new word to you. It’s like polygamy, except it’s when one woman has multiple husbands. Joseph Smith engaged in both polygamy and polyandry. Both have always been against the United States law; the difference is that while polygamy is a once heavily practiced but now unpracticed Mormon doctrine (but still scriptural), polyandry has never been doctrine and probably never will be. Since it’s not doctrine, yet involves extramarital sex, it ranks up there with the most serious of sins in the Church. Any general authority who understands Mormon doctrine would agree with this. They would in turn agree that anyone who practiced it should be excommunicated both now and since the beginnings of the Church.

Many of these general authorities are unaware that the founder of the LDS Church practiced polyandry with eleven different previously married couples. Let’s break the previous table down to just the polyandrous affairs:


Marriage to Joseph Smith


Living husband at time of marriage

First husband knew about it?

Lucinda Morgan Harris 1838 37 George W. Harris Unknown
Zina Huntington Jacobs Oct 1841 20 Henry Jacobs Yes
Presendia Huntington Buell Dec 1841 31 Norman Buell Unknown
Sylvia Sessions Lyon Feb 1842 23 Windsor Lyon Unknown
Mary Rollins Lightner Feb 1842 23 Adam Lightner No
Patty Bartlett Sessions Mar 1842 47 David Sessions Unknown
Marinda Johnson Hyde Apr 1842 27 Orson Hyde Unknown
Elizabeth Davis Durfee Jun 1842 50 Jabez Durfee Unknown
Sarah Kingsley Cleveland Jun 1842 53 John Cleveland Unknown
Ruth Vose Sayers Feb 1843 33 Edward Sayers Unknown
Elvira Cowles Holmes Jun 1843 29 Jonathan Holmes Unknown

There are eleven of them, all historically supported and verifiable. Four of them the Church even (most likely reluctantly) included in Joseph Smith’s official FamilySearchrecord, namely, Zina, Prescendia, Sylvia, and Mary. Go ahead and use the Church’s own website to verify that these marriages to Joseph Smith occurred while they were still married if you need the proof. The Church is excluding the rest of the polyandrous marriages, for reasons I do not know.

I personally believe that even one polyandrous is completely unacceptable and excommunicable, four much worse, and eleven downright evil. Of course he was the president of the Church so he’s not going to excommunicate himself.

Joseph married ten teenage girls, which was not normal for his day

Joseph Smith married ten teenage girls while he was alive. Here is the original chart showing just the teenagers:


Date of Marriage to Joseph Smith

Age at Time of Marriage to Joseph Smith

Living Husband at Time of Marriage to Joseph Smith

Fanny Alger 1833 16
Sarah Ann Whitney Jul 1842 17
Flora Ann Woodworth Spring 1843 16
Emily Dow Partridge Mar 1843 19
Lucy Walker May 1843 17
Sarah Lawrence May 1843 17
Maria Lawrence May 1843 19
Helen Mar Kimball May 1843 14
Melissa Lott Sep 1843 19
Nancy Winchester 1843 14

When I learned that Joseph was marrying teenagers, my first gut reaction to defend him was “Well it was probably normal in that day to marry young.” I was disheartened to learn that that was notthecase. In the 1840s women married around age 21 to 22. Notice how none of his teenage wives had husbands at the time; this is because they were all too young for marriage and probably weren’t planning on doing it until many years later. Joseph Smith’s commandment from God to marry him coerced the young girls to go ahead with it.

What’s even more distressing was when I learned when menarche happened, meaning the time a woman has her first period and becomes fertile. While today that age is 12.8 years of age, back in the 1840s itwasaround 16.5. This means that by today’s standards, Joseph was marrying girls with the sexual maturity of around a 9-year-old.

Joseph consistently denied he was practicing polygamy while he was secretly doing it

The 1835 edition of the Doctrine Covenants includes a verse that was later taken out. This is what it reads on pg. 251:

“Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy; we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”

This is doctrine written by Joseph Smith in 1835, apparently commanded by God. At the time of publication, Joseph Smith already had practiced polygamy with Fanny Alger as his second wife in 1832. He restated this scripture on October 1, 1842 in the TimesandSeasons. At the time, he had seventeen wives.

Joseph was very dishonest publicly about being a polygamist. He never once admitted it, and several times publicly denied he was doing it. I include some examples below.

In 1838, Smith participated in an interview that was included in the EldersJournal. One of the questions was, “Do you Mormons believe in having more wives than one?” The answer was

“No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have the right to marry again.”

At the time of this interview, Joseph Smith had two wives, Emma Hale and Fanny Alger.

On February 1, 1844, Joseph and Hyrum Smith published the following in the TimesandSeasons calling for the excommunication of a man named Hiram Brown who had practice polygamy:

As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan. This is to notify him and the Church in general that he has been cut off from the Church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next to make answer to these charges.



Presidents of said Church

(Emphaisis added.)

Joseph is excommunicating a man for practicing polygamy. Yet, at the time of making this statement, Joseph Smith had thirty-four wives. He is excommunicating a man for doing what Joseph has already done thirty-three times! This is hypocrisy.

On May 26, 1844, Joseph Smith madethefollowingstatement from the stand to the Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo:

“…What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers.” (History of the Church, vol 6, p. 411)

At the time of making this statement, Joseph Smith had thirty-four wives.

Joseph was cruel and selfish when it came to polygamy

Joseph Smith was not well educated in writing, so he almost always had scribes write his ideas down for him. His most famous scribe was probably William Clayton.

Like Joseph, William Clayton was secretly practicing polygamy. He had already married two girls from the same family and now wanted to marry the third beautiful teenage sister named Lydia. William told Joseph Smith that he wanted to marry the young girl. Look at whathappened, according to William’s journal:

15 September 1843, Friday

Nauvoo 2

Friday 15th.

Prest.J[oseph] told me he had lately had a new item of law revealed to him in relation to myself. He said the Lord had revealed to him that a man could only take 2 of a family except by express revelation and as I had said I intended to take Lydia he made this known for my benefit. to have more than two in a family was apt to cause wrangles and trouble. He finally asked if I would not give L[ydia] to him I said I would so far as I had any thing to do in it. He requested me to talk to her.

Let’s break down what’s happening here. William wanted to marry Lydia, but Joseph wanted her instead. To stop William, Joseph used a revelation from the Lord that a man was only allowed to marry two sisters, but not three. (What a ridiculous revelation!) And after Joseph used this “revelation” to stop William, Joseph went ahead and tried to steal Lydia as a wife for himself instead! Not only that, but he had William go talk to her about it. William went to talk to her:

17 September 1843, Sunday

Nauvoo 2

Sunday 17. At home all day with M. I had some talk with Lydia. she seems to receive it kindly but says she has promised her mother not to marry while her mother lives & she thinks she wont

Lydia said no to Joseph’s request through William. Did this satisfy Joseph? No. He went to talk to her directly:

21 September 1843, Thursday

Nauvoo 2

Thursday 21. This A.M. he (Smith) came to talk with Lydia but she wont yet consent she wants to tarry with her sisters

Since Lydia wanted to “tarry with her sisters” who were married to William, this most likely means she wanted to marry William. But William couldn’t marry her anymore thanks to Joseph’s revelation. Since she didn’t want to marry Joseph, and was forbidden by God to marry William, here is what happened:

23 January 1846, Friday

Nauvoo 4

My sister in law Lydia is in the way of apostacy. She went to Burlington last year but previous to her going she agreed to be sealed to me for time and eternity. She refused to be sealed to Joseph.

While at Burlington she wrote pledging herself to her contract. When she came home she faultered [sic] and went out to fathers where she got entangled with my brother James and has resolved to marry him. She has lost her faith in the Church as is on the road to ruin, but so determined that no argument is of any use. The family feel sorry but cannot change her feelings. Her mother frets much about it.

So in the end, she married William’s brother James and later left the Church.

Analyzing Joseph’s character

There are certain aspects of Joseph’s character that we can draw from these stories.

If we assume that he actually was receiving real revelation from God to practice polygamy, we can draw the following conclusions:

  • Joseph Smith was dishonest – He made several statements that he wasn’t practicing polygamy when he actually was, and many times over. He also married other men’s wives, sometimes without telling their husbands beforehand.
  • Joseph Smith heavily broke the law – He practiced polygamy over 30 times in Nauvoo, Illinois when it was against the law at that time. The punishment called for one year prison time for each wife.
  • Joseph Smith disobeyed the commandments of his own religion – The original editions of the Doctrine & Covenants from 1835 and 1842 condemned polygamy as fornication, yet Joseph Smith practiced it with many different women. He also practiced polyandry, which had and has never at any point been Mormon doctrine. He also severely broke the law, which goes against his own Article of Faith, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
  • Joseph Smith was a hypocrite – He heavily practiced polygamy behind closed doors, but when he would hear about a member practicing it only once, Joseph would have them excommunicated.

The above points are true whether or not God commanded Joseph to practice polygamy (as Joseph claimed). But if God didn’t command it, the following additional conclusions can be made:

  • Joseph Smith was an adulterer – He slept with other women beyond his first and only legal marriage to Emma.
  • Joseph Smith was a pedophile – He married 14-year-old girls who hadn’t had their first period and consequently had not completed puberty.
  • Joseph Smith was selfish – He made up revelations from God to stop men like William from marrying teenage girls he wanted to marry instead.
  • Joseph Smith used ecclesiastical extortion for sex – He promised many of the women a guaranteed spot in heaven for them and their families if they married him. (This is called a bribe.) To others he explained that an angel with a sword would destroy him if they didn’t marry him. (This is called a threat.) In either case, he is exploiting these women’s feelings to get them to appease his physical desires.

The following is a chart I created which outlines the reasons given by Joseph Smith’s wives as to why they decided to marry Joseph Smith while knowing that he was already married. I also mention any evidence that intimacy was involved. Most of the information here was taken from thissite:



Reason for Marrying Joseph

Evidence of Intimacy

Emma Hale 22 She bore several of Joseph’s children.
Fanny Alger 16
Lucinda Morgan Harris 37
Louisa Beaman 26 John Bates Noble (who performed the ceremony) let them spend their wedding night in a bed at his house.
Zina Huntington Jacobs 20 Joseph told her an angel with a drawn sworn had threatened to take his life if she didn’t marry him.
Presendia Huntington Buell 31 She believed Joseph was a man of God and trusted him.
Agnes Coolbrith 33
Sylvia Sessions Lyon 23 On her deathbed, she told her daughter Philofreen that she was the daughter of Joseph Smith.
Mary Rollins Lightner 23 Joseph told her that she was the first woman God had told him to take as a plural wife. He also told her that an angel with a drawn sworn had threatened to take his life if she didn’t marry him.
Patty Bartlett Sessions 47
Marinda Johnson Hyde 27 She was told it was a revelation from God that Joseph should take care of her while her husband was away on a mission.
Elizabeth Davis Durfee 50
Sarah Kingsley Cleveland 53
Delcena Johnson 37
Eliza R. Snow 38 She believed it had been commanded by God.
Sarah Ann Whitney 17 She and her family were promised “immortality and eternal life” by Joseph if she would marry him.
Martha McBride Knight 37
Ruth Vose Sayers 33
Flora Ann Woodworth 16
Emily Dow Partridge 19 Joseph told her that God commanded him to take her as a wife. Emily stated that she “slept with” Joseph on several occasions and had “carnal intercourse” with him. Joseph’s property caretaker Benjamin Johnson also confirmed this, saying that he witnessed them occupy the same room and bed one night.
Eliza Maria Partridge 22 She believed Joseph was a man of God and trusted him.
Almera Johnson 30 Her brother and Joseph’s property caretaker Benjamin Johnson confirmed that Joseph occupied the same bed as his sister Almera in Macedonia, Illinois.
Lucy Walker 17 Joseph told her that God had commanded him to take her as a wife, and that if she refused “the gate [would] be closed forever against” her. She stated that she lived and cohabited with Joseph as a wife.
Sarah Lawrence 17
Maria Lawrence 19 She wanted to do the right thing, even if it was difficult for her to understand.
Helen Mar Kimball 14 Joseph promised her that if she married him, it would ensure a spot in heaven for both her, her family, and all her kindred. She also loved and trusted her father, who told her it was true doctrine.
Hanna Ells 29
Elvira Cowles Holmes 29
Rhoda Richards 58 She married him in accordance with celestial law and divine revelation.
Desdemona Fullmer 32
Olive Frost 27
Melissa Lott 19 She stated that she shared intimate moments with Joseph and was his wife “in very deed”.
Nancy Winchester 14
Fanny Young 56

The final point I would like to make is this: the only justification for Joseph being a threatening adulterous pedophile was his own personal unverifiable statements that God commanded it. Think about that.

And one final question to ask yourself: Would a prophet of God act like this?

Joseph Smith: the plagiarist

As I’ve researched the origins of the LDS Church, I have been impressed by the amount of plagiarism Joseph Smith is likely guilty of. Take a look at these.

Joseph plagiarized the Isaiah chapters from the Bible into the Book of Mormon

Most members are aware of the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon and how they closely parallel the Isaiah chapters in the Bible. If you compare these chapters, on your own, you’ll discover that they aren’t just similar, they are virtually identical. For example, Isaiah 10 is only 5 words different than 2 Nephi 20. Isaiah 11 is only 3 words different than 2 Nephi 21. Isaiah 12 has only 1 word that is different than 2 Nephi 22.

Some might say that the reason they are so similar is because they were both translated from the same source, that is, Isaiah’s original writings. I have worked in the translation industry for 5 years now. I have a degree in Linguistics, and another in Portuguese. I know how translation works, trust me. If two people translate the same document into the same language, the translations’ concepts should be identical, but not the syntax and vocabulary. A great example of this is the DeadSeaScrolls. These are ancient scrolls dating from 150 BC to 70 AD and are original transcripts of many Bible books, including all of Isaiah. When we translate these scrolls today, do the words match the Kings James Bible translations so closely as to only vary by a few words per chapter? Not at all! Almost every last sentence is worded totally differently. But what matches, of course, are the concepts behind these words and sentences. The meaning is the same, even though the wording is almost always totally different. It is natural for two different translators to always produce different wording when translating the same document.

The Book of Mormon Isaiah chapters, on the other hand, are copied directly from the King James Version of the Bible, with small modifications made here and there by Joseph Smith to make it look like it’s a new translation. He might fool the naive, but not anyone who actually understands how translation works.

I actually did amuchlargerstudy comparing the Isaiah chapters in the Bible, Book of Mormon and Dead Sea Scrolls that you are free to look at if you wish to.

Joseph conspired with Sydney Rigdon to plagiarize the historical chapters from the Book of Mormon using a stolen manuscript by Solomon Spalding

(in process)

Joseph plagiarized the names of Moroni and the Hill Cumorah from the city Moroni, being the capital of the Comoros Islands

Being raised in a poor household, Joseph and his family frequently fantasized about finding buried treasure. Perhaps one of the most famous treasure hunters in history was William “Captain” Kidd, and Joseph had access to reading his stories. In one of his tales he visits the Comoros Islands in 1696 where he is said to have buried treasure. The capital of the Comoros Islands at that time was (and still is) the city of Moroni.

The theory is that Joseph Smith named the hill where he found treasure (the golden plates) after the islands where Captain Kidd buried treasure – the Comoros Islands. (No one called the hill Cumorah until Joseph started calling it that after he “found” the plates there.) The person who buried the treasure at Cumorah was named Moroni, and the capital of Comoros is Moroni. Do you see the parallel?

Some have disputed the difference in spelling between the “Comoros” Islands and the Hill “Cumorah”. Look at this 1808 map of Africa which shows the Comoros Islands spelled as “Camora”:

Now look at how “Cumorah” wasspelled in Mormon 6:2 from the original 1830 Book of Mormon:

And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Camorah, by the hill which was called Camorah, and there we would give them battle.

The maps spelled it “Camora” and Joseph spelled it “Camorah”. Moroni buried treasure in Camorah and Moroni is a city in Camora. Joseph Smith loved buried treasure and these locales are right from the stories of one of the most famous treasure hiders. The parallels are striking.

Joseph plagiarized the temple ceremony from the Freemasonry ceremony

I realize that nearly all Mormons who have had their endowment hold what they experienced in the temple ceremony to be highly sacred. Out of respect for that, I won’t get into any specifics in this section.

What I will say is that Joseph Smith himself was a Freemason before he introduced the temple endowment ceremony. There are many Mormons who are also Freemasons and they concur – the rituals are largely identical (the signs, tokens, clothing, and symbols). Joseph Smith’s explanation for why they are so identical was that Freemasonry started in the days of Solomon and has become largely corrupt since then. All he did was maintain the parts that weren’t corrupt, and “restore” the parts that were, hence the similarities. [reference needed here!]

Unfortunately Joseph was dead wrong about the origins of Freemasonry. It wasn’t actually started in the days of Solomon, but rather inthe 16thcentury. It has no roots in Christianity at all, and is considered by many cult experts to be Satanic. Joseph Smith’s father was a Freemason, so he became one as well, assumed it was from Old Testament times, and incorporated it into his religion.

I never found the temple ceremony to be a gratifying experience. I always found it to be quite frightening (even before I knew it came from Freemasonry), and went through great efforts to avoid having to go with any frequency. I just could not see a loving rational Heavenly Father expecting his children to use weird clothing, special handshakes, and ritualistic chants as a prerequisite to heaven.

Joseph plagiarized different drawings from the Book of Abraham papyrus to fill in the lacunae and produce the facsimiles

This is discussed in detail in TheBookofAbraham section of this essay.

Joseph plagiarized his afterlife doctrine from the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

(in process)

Joseph Smith’s new scriptures don’t coincide with each other

(in process; use thissource as groundwork)

Joseph Smith

The Bible

3rd Nephi

History 1:37 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly shall burn as stubble; for they that come shall burn them, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. Malachi 4:1 For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. 25:1 For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
History 1:38: Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord 25:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord
History 1:39: And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming. Malachi 4:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. 25:6 And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
JST Matthew 6:14 And suffer us not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 13:12-13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
JST Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single to the glory of God, thy whole body shall be full of light. Matthew 6:22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 13:22 The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
JST Matthew 6:25-27 And, again, I say unto you, go ye into the world, and care not for the world; for the world will hate you, and will persecute you, and will turn you out of their synagogues. Nevertheless, ye shall go forth from house to house, teaching the people; and I will go before you. And your heavenly Father will provide for you, whatsoever things ye need for food, what ye shall eat; and for raiment, what ye shall wear or put on. (Does not appear.) (Does not appear.)
JST Matthew 6:33 Wherefore, seek not the things of this world but seek ye first to build up the kingdom of God, and to establish his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 13:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

Modifying the 1830 Book of Mormon text

Listen to theseaccounts from witnesses of the Book of Mormon as to how it was translated.

David Whitmer said:

“I will now give you a description of the manner in which the Book of Mormon was translated. Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.”

Martis Harris told his friend Edward Stevenson (a member of the Seventy at the time) how the translation worked. He said:

“Martin Harris related an incident that occurred during the time that he wrote that portion of the translation of the Book of Mormon which he was favored to write direct from the mouth of the Prophet Joseph Smith. He said that the Prophet possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone, Martin explained the translation as follows: By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear and were read by the Prophet and written by Martin and when finished he would say “Written,” and if correctly written that sentence would disappear and another appear in its place, but if not written correctly it remained until corrected, so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates, precisely in the language then used.”


The way the witnesses describe this makes it seem clear that the translation should really be perfect. As many members are aware, there are over 4,000 differences between the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon and the current edition. It was always described to me that these errors were simply grammatical and spelling errors at the fault of the scribes. If this were true, it would be simple to just fault the scribes as spelling words wrong. But among these 4,000 changes are some very peculiar changes that indicate the the translation wasn’t done by the power of God. I list them below.


Changes to the Godhead

As already described above, Joseph Smith changed four verses in the Book of Mormon once he changed his idea of the Godhead, going from a three-in-one Trinity God, to two physically separate Gods. Here is that table again for easy reference:

Original 1830 Version

Current Version

1 Nephi 11:18

And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of God, after the manner of the flesh. Source And he said unto me, Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh. Source

1 Nephi 11:21

And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Eternal Father! Source And the angel said unto me, behold the Lamb of God, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Source

1 Nephi 11:32

And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Everlasting God, was judged of the world. Source And I looked and beheld the Lamb of god, that he was taken by the people; yea, the Son of the Everlasting God, was judged of the world. Source

1 Nephi 13:40

These last records […] shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Eternal Father and the Savior of the world. Source 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. Source

I believe that as Joseph Smith was making these changes, he quickly became overwhelmed at the large amount of work it would take to consistently make these changes throughout the whole book. This is why all verses past 1 Nephi 13:40 indicate a monotheistic doctrine instead of polytheistic.

Changing Benjamin to Mosiah

King Benjamin dies in Mosiah 6:5:

“And king Benjamin lived three years and he died.”

In the original 1830 version of the Book of Mormon, however, he was accidentally referred to as alive 15 chapters after he had supposedly already died:


Original 1830 Version

Current Version

Mosiah 21:28

And now Limhi was again filled with joy, on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Benjamin had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice. And now Limhi was again filled with joy on learning from the mouth of Ammon that king Mosiah had a gift from God, whereby he could interpret such engravings; yea, and Ammon also did rejoice.

Ether 4:1

[…] and for this cause did king Benjamin keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ shew himself unto his people. […] and for this cause did king Mosiah keep them, that they should not come unto the world until after Christ should show himself unto his people.

Mosiah 21:28 was changed to avoid a plot hole in the story. And since Ether 4:1 was referencing the same event from Mosiah 21:28, it was also changed.

Introducing Christ

The name “Christ” is not used in the beginning of the Book of Mormon, it being explained that an angel finally identified the name at a later point in the story in 2 Nephi 10:3:

“Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ—for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name—should come among the Jews […].”

In the original edition of the Book of Mormon, however, Nephi accidentally referred to the Savior as Jesus Christ in 1 Nephi 12:18, which didn’t fit with 2 Nephi 10:3 as being the way the Nephites learned his name, that is, as specified by an angel to Jacob many years later, and not to Nephi.

Consequently, “Jesus Christ” was changed to “the Messiah” to avoid the chronological fallacy:

Original 1830 Version

Current Version

1 Nephi 12:18

[…] yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and Jesus Christ, which is the Lamb of God […]. […] yea, even the word of the justice of the Eternal God, and the Messiah who is the Lamb of God […].

Incorrect pluralization of “seraph”

A seraph is a mythological creature, commonly thought to be a winged serpent. The plural form of “seraph” is “seraphim”. In one of the few grammatical errors in the Bible, Isaiah 6:2 accidentally double-pluralized “seraph” to read “seraphims”:

“Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.”

This mistake remains in the most current edition of the King James Version of the Bible, although it is, indeed, incorrect.

In the Book of Mormon, there are several Isaiah chapters which strongly parallel chapters in the King James Version of the Bible. 2 Nephi 16:2 parallels Isaiah 6:2 in its reference of “seraphim”. In the original 1830 version, however, “seraphim” is incorrectly pluralized just as it is in the same verse in the Bible. Thus in the current version of the Book of Mormon, it has been corrected:

Original 1830 Version

Current Version

2 Nephi 16:2

Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. Above it stood the seraphim; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

Although this seems like a trivial correction, it’s not. If God was really dictating a new translation to Joseph Smith of the original source of Isaiah written over 2,000 years before the King James translation, why would he improperly pluralize “seraph” to read “seraphims”, which coincidentally is an exact mistake in the exact same verse from the Bible? This indicates that the Isaiah chapters in the Book of Mormon were based on the Bible and not golden plates which had copied the translation from brass plates, as indicated by Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

Archaeological evidence for the Book of Mormon

In the history of scholarly studies to find physical evidence that the characters in the Book of Mormon actually lived and the stories actually happened, no evidence has ever been found. Of course this is quite a heated topic, and Mormon apologists will readily state that they have found plenty of evidence. Not a single archaeologist outside of Mormonism (and many within) agree that there has ever been evidence found to support the veracity of the Book of Mormon.

Thomas Ferguson

Thomas Ferguson was a true-believing Mormon archaeologist who firmly believed that the Book of Mormon was true and wanted to prove it. He was so sure of it that he went to the prophet – David O. McKay at the time – and pleaded with him to give him a grant to be able to travel to South America and look for evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. McKay granted him $250,000 of tithing funds to do his research.

Ferguson spent the next 25 years of his life looking for evidence for the Book of Mormon. He never found any. His strong Mormon roots kept him from leaving the Church altogether, so he became one of those members who goes to sacrament meeting, sits in the back, and doesn’t believe anything he is taught. He tried to keep this a secret from his family, but we have letters he wrote to people where he revealed his disbelief:

“Perhaps you and I have been spoofed by Joseph Smith. Now that we have the inside dope–why not spoof a little back and stay aboard? Please consider this letter confidential–for obvious reasons. I want to stay aboard the good ship, Mormonism –for various reasons that I think valid. First, several of my dearly loved family members want desperately to believe and do believe it and they each need it. It does them far more good than harm. Belonging, with my eyes wide open is actually fun, less expensive than formerly, and no strain at all…. I never get up and bear testimony”

This is actually quite a long story that I have edited down too much. Please readthefullaccount so you can fully understand his position.

The Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian Institution is one of the most (if not the most) prestigious research institute on archaeological research in the world. They frequently get letters from Mormons asking for evidence that the Book of Mormon stories are true. Here is the response they have been giving:

Information from the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560

Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon

1. The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archaeologists see no direct connection between the archaeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.

2. The physical type of the American Indian is basically Mongoloid, being most closely related to that of the peoples of eastern, central, and northeastern Asia. Archaeological evidence indicates that the ancestors of the present Indians came into the New World — probably over a land bridge known to have existed in the Bering Strait region during the last Ice Age — in a continuing series of small migrations beginning from about 25,000 to 30,000 years ago.

3. Present evidence indicates that the first people to reach this continent from the East were the Norsemen who briefly visited the northeastern part of North America around A.D. 1000 and then settled in Greenland. There is nothing to show that they reached Mexico or Central America.

4. One of the main lines of evidence supporting the scientific finding that contacts with Old World civilizations, if indeed they occurred at all, were of very little significance for the development of American Indian civilizations, is the fact that none of the principal Old World domesticated food plants or animals (except the dog) occurred in the New World in pre-Columbian times. American Indians had no wheat, barley, oats, millet, rice, cattle, pigs, chickens, horses, donkeys, camels before 1492. (Camels and horses were in the Americas, along with the bison, mammoth, and mastodon, but all these animals became extinct around 10,000 B.C. at the time the early big game (sic) hunters spread across the Americas.)

5. Iron, steel, glass, and silk were not used in the New World before 1492 (except for occasional use of unsmelted meteoric iron). Native copper was used in various locations in pre-Columbian times, but true metallurgy was limited to southern Mexico and the Andean region, where its occurrence in late prehistoric times involved gold, silver, copper, and their alloys, but not iron.

6. There is a possibility that the spread of cultural traits across the Pacific to Mesoamerica and the northwestern coast of South America began several hundred years before the Christian era. However, any such inter-hemispheric contacts appear to have been the results of accidental voyages originating in eastern and southern Asia. It is by means certain that even if such contacts occurred; certainly there were no contacts with the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, or other peoples of Western Asia and the Near East.

7. No reputable Egyptologist or other specialist on Old World archaeology, and no expert on New World prehistory, has discovered or confirmed any relationship between archaeological remains in Mexico and archaeological remains in Egypt.

8. Reports of findings of ancient Egyptian, Hebrew, and other Old World writings in the New World in pre-Columbian contexts have frequently appeared in newspapers, magazines, and sensational books. None of these claims has stood up to examination by reputable scholars. No inscriptions using Old World forms of writing have been shown to have occurred in any part of the Americas before 1492 except for a few Norse rune stones which have been found in Greenland.

Asian roots

Consider the following points:

  • If American Indians are supposed to be descendants of Israelites, why does theDNA show that they are actually of Asian descent? Also, why do Indians absolutely look Asian?
  • If millions of people in ancient America spoke Hebrew and ReformedEgyptian, why hasn’t any archaeologist ever found any evidence for it in North, Central, or South America? Also, why do linguists find the roots of Indian languages to come from Asian languages and not Hebrew or Reformed Egyptian?

No non-Mormon Archaeologists accept the Book of Mormon as history

In 1973, Michael Coe, one of the best known authorities on archaeology of the New World, wrote an article for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. In this article he addressed the issue in a very forthright manner:

“Mormon archaeologists over the years have almost unanimously accepted the Book of Mormon as an accurate, historical account of the New World peoples…. Let me now state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true, and I would like to state that there are quite a few Mormon archaeologists who join this group….

“The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has even shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.” (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973, pp. 41, 42 & 46)

The Book of Abraham

The majority of members don’t know where the BookofAbraham (found in the Pearl of Great Price) comes from. Let me give a brief history (supported by Mormons and non-Mormons alike). From Wikipedia:

Several papyri and eleven mummies were discovered in Thebes by Antonio Lebolo between 1818 and 1822. Sometime between 1822 and his death on February 19, 1830, Lebolo arranged to have them sold. The mummies were shipped to New York, where they were purchased by Michael Chandler in 1833. Over the next two years Chandler toured the eastern United States, displaying and selling some of the mummies.

In July 1835, Chandler brought the remaining four mummies and associated papyri to Kirtland, Ohio, then home of the Latter-Day Saints. Although the Rosetta Stone had been discovered in 1799, the ability to read Egyptian wasn’t well developed until the 1850s. Chandler asked Joseph Smith to look at the scrolls and give some insight into what was written on them, due to Smith’s notoriety and claim to have translated the golden plates of the Book of Mormon. After examining the scrolls, Smith, Joseph Coe and Simeon Andrews purchased the four mummies and at least five papyrus documents for $2,400.

After Joseph died and Brigham Young went west with a large portion of the Saints, Emma Smith didn’t like Brigham so she chose to stay behind, and with her remained the papyri Joseph had said he translated to produce the Book of Abraham. She eventually sold them along with a certificate of authenticity to a museum in Chicago.

In 1871 was the Great Chicago Fire and the papyri were thought to have been lost. However, in 1966, the papyri were discovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They had luckily survived the fire mostly in tact. They were given to the Church as a gift from the museum.

The question on everyone’s minds at this point was “Does Joseph Smith’s translation match?” No, it didn’t. The papyri were actually just Egyptian funerary texts dating to around 100 BC, some 2000 years after Abraham had already died. Abraham isn’t mentioned once in any of the papyri. Many Egyptologists have looked at the papyri, and theirtranslations are scholarly.

This is quite a heated topic among Mormon apologists, which I have spent a lot of time studying. They come up with lots of excuses why the papyri don’t talk about Abraham. I find all of their reasoning very weak.

Let’s take a closer look at parts of the papyri and how they don’t coincide at all with Joseph’s interpretation of them.

Facsimile 1

This is Facsimile 1, located at the front of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. Joseph Smith described this scene as “The idolatrous priest of Elkenah attempting to offer up Abraham as a sacrifice,” meaning, the man with the knife is Elkenah and the man on the altar is Abraham.

But is that really what’s going on here?

Let’s look at the original. Here is a photograph:

There are a couple things a casual observer will instantly notice. First, there are some sections missing (which I will discuss later). Second, there are hieroglyphics on the papyrus that weren’t included in Joseph Smith’s publication.

Let’s take a look at what the hieroglyphics say.

The following translation is based on Dr. Robert K. Ritner’s (University of Chicago) translation published in the Journal of Near East Studies, September 2003, pp. 161-180. Missing sections are indicated with [brackets].

(I/1) [“Osiris, the god’s father], prophet of Amon-Re, King of the Gods, prophet of Min who slaughters his enemies, prophet of Khonsu, the [one who exercises] authority in Thebes, (I/2) [. . .] . . . Hor, the justified, son of the similarly titled overseer of secrets and purifier of the god, Osorwer, the justified, born by the [housewife and sistrum-player of ] (I/3) [Amon]-Re, Taikhibit, the justified! May your ba-spirit live among them, and may you be buried on the west [of Thebes].” (I/4) [“O Anubis(?),51 . . .] justification(?). (I/5) [May you give to him] a good and splendid burial on the west of Thebes as on the mountains of Ma[nu](?).” (Emphasis added.)

As I highlighted above, there’s a very important piece of information described in the Egyptian writing.

This isn’t the attempted sacrifice of Abraham, but rather the embalming of a man named Hor. Facsimile 1 has absolutely nothing to do with Abraham. One might ask, if this is merely an embalming of an already dead man, why is the priest holding a knife?

I now would like to discuss a point I addressed earlier: the missing sections.

Before the missing papyri were found, Egyptologists were always very confused with certain aspects of Facsimile 1.

  1. Problem 1: Human sacrifice was never practiced in Ancient Egypt, so it seemed very odd that an Egyptian vignette would feature such a display. The knife seemed completely out of place.
  2. Problem 2: The man with the man’s head (the “priest”) should almost certainly have a jackal head, since it was always Anubis, the Egyptian God of the Dead, who did the embalming.
  3. Problem 3: The bird up and to the right was almost certainly the soul of Osiris, which is the God of the Afterlife to Egyptians. He always has a human head and not a bird head.

Here are some examples of Egyptian art that show the scene the proper way:

Here are a couple more that show the soul of Osiris (the bird with the human head) as well:

This last one is particularly interesting. Look at the stripe on Anubis, and Joseph Smith’s “priest”:

Also notice that Anubis always has a black body. So does Joseph Smith’s priest all the way down to his feet except his head. The priest’s head looks very similar to the head of the man on the altar (which wasn’t missing on the original papyrus):

The left are the areas that Egyptologists questioned before the papyri were discovered; the right is the papyrus as it was found with the missing areas circled. It all makes sense now:

Here’s a reconstruction of what Egyptologists think they vignette actually looked like before the sections went missing:


  1. If Joseph Smith could read hieroglyphics, why would he avoid reading the hieroglyphics that were clearly to the left and right of what he included as Facsimile 1? He would have quickly learned that this was scene depicting the embalming of Hor, not the sacrifice of Abraham.
  2. If Joseph Smith was a prophet (and just didn’t notice the hieroglyphics, let’s say), why didn’t God tell him that this was an embalming ceremony, and that the man should have a jackal head, and shouldn’t hold a knife, and the bird should have a human head?

Hypothesis: Joseph Smith did not properly interpret this vignette in any way, shape, or form. He assumed it was Abraham being sacrifice because it looked that way. He filled in the missing sections without any knowledge of what should actually have been there. He tricked us.

Facsimile 2

Facsimile 2 is actually a representation of a “hypocephalus”. Egyptians would put these under the head of mummies, like a pillow. Here are lots of real hypocephali as they are in abundance:

You’ll notice that I’ve circled certain sections. Go back and study what’s inside the red circle first. Four ram heads, right? Now go back and study what’s in the green circle. Two boats with a beetle in the bottom one. Now the blue circle. A lizard holding something.

Let’s look at Facsimile 2 again, with the same areas circled.

1. Red circle: No ram heads, now there’s a strange figure standing there instead.

2. Green circle: Just one boat, and in the boat is nothing we’ve seen before in any hypocephali. There’s no beetle.

3. Blue circle: The lizard now has what looks like a bird body. There’s also a strange stick figure below him with his hands in the air.

While Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Abraham, he kept a journal of sorts in what is now known as the Kirtland Egyptian Papers. In it, he included a rough copy of what would later become Facsimile 2:

Obvious to the reader are the missing sections. Although we don’t have the original hypocephalus Joseph Smith used to create Facsimile 2, this drawing leads us to believe that it was copied into the Kirtland Egyptian Papers and that the original hypocephalus had sections that were missing or hard to read.

Remember the parts in Facsimile 2 that were different than real hypocephali? Let’s compare those sections with the early representation in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers:

As in Facsimile 1, the strange sections match the missing sections from the original. Let’s focus on just one hypocephali along side Facsimile 2:

The only section that seems that he got slightly right is the one within the green circle. He has the boat correct, but nothing inside the boat (or that there should be two). Remember, the drawing of Facsimile 2 in the Kirtland Egyptian Papers in digital format only shows black and white, not faint lines that may have existed on the actual hypocephalus Joseph Smith had. We can speculate that there was a faint outline of a boat.

As far as where he got the actual drawing inside the boat, that much is very obvious to me. If we look elsewhere in the papyri discovered in 1966, we find the drawing he copied from:

And where he got the head in the red circle is also fairly obvious – from the section just above it:


  1. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, why wasn’t he able to properly reproduce the missing sections?
  2. If he was being inspired by God to reproduce the missing sections, why did he copy from other sections to fill in the missing parts?

Hypothesis: Joseph Smith had never seen a hypocephalus before and so he didn’t know what was supposed to go there. He made those sections up.

Facsimile 3

Facsimile 3 is described by Joseph Smith as

“Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne, by the politeness of the king, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgment in his hand.”

Once again, this is not about Abraham at all, but is about Hor. And we don’t need the original to show this, since Joseph Smith included the hieroglyphics right in the Facsimile this time.

And that’s not all, there are plenty of other hieroglyphics in this one. What’s more is that Joseph specifies what the hieroglyphics mean. This is the only time (as far as I know) that Joseph Smith published something where he provided both the source and the translation.

Below I have circled the sections that Joseph Smith attempted to translate, with the translated parts color-coordinated in the “Explanation” section (which is included in the Book of Abraham). Make sure and match the colored words below with the circle of the same color in Facsimile 3:

Joseph’s Explanation

  1. Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne, by the politeness of the king, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgment in his hand.
  2. King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head. [look in the red circle above]
  3. Signifies Abraham in Egypt as given also inFigure 10 ofFacsimileNo. 1.
  4. Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand. [look in the green circle above]
  5. Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand. [look in the blue circle above]
  6. Olimlah, a slave belonging to the prince.

Let’s look at what real Egyptologists have to say about Joseph Smith’s translations:

Joseph Smith’s Explanation

Explanation by Egyptologists (quotes are from Robert K. Ritner)

General Comment

Abraham is reasoning upon the principles of Astronomy, in the king’s court.

“Invocation (text at bottom line below the illustration): O gods of thenecropolis, gods of the caverns, gods of the south, north, west, and east grant salvation to the Osiris Hor, the justified, born by Taikhibit.”

 Fig. 1

Abraham sitting upon Pharaoh’s throne, by the politeness of the king, with a crown upon his head, representing the Priesthood, as emblematical of the grand Presidency in Heaven; with the scepter of justice and judgment in his hand.

“Label forOsiris (text to the right of figure 1 of facsimile 3): Recitation by Osiris, Foremost of the Westerners, Lord ofAbydos(?), the great god forever and ever(?).”

 Fig. 2

King Pharaoh, whose name is given in the characters above his head.

“Label forIsis (text to the right of figure 2 of facsimile 3): Isis the great, the god’s mother.”

Fig. 3

Signifies Abraham in Egypt as given also in Figure 10 of Facsimile No. 1.

“Altar, with the offering of the deceased, surrounded withlotusflowers, signifying the offering of the defunct.” –Theodule Deveria

Fig. 4

Prince of Pharaoh, King of Egypt, as written above the hand.

“Label forMaat (text to the left of figure 4 of facsimile 3): Maat, mistress of the gods.”

Fig. 5

Shulem, one of the king’s principal waiters, as represented by the characters above his hand.

“Label for Hor the deceased (text in front of figure 5 of facsimile 3): The Osiris Hor, justified forever.”

Fig. 6

Olimlah, a slave belonging to the prince.

“Label forAnubis (text in front of figure 6 of facsimile 3): Recitation by Anubis, who makes protection(?), foremost of the embalming booth,…”

As you can see, he didn’t get any of the translations right. He thought Isis (a woman) was King Pharoah, Maat (another woman) was the Prince of Pharaoh, and Anubis was a slave. Let’s focus on Anubis, since it was previously established that he should have a jackal head.

Keep in mind that we definitely know that this should be Anubis since it says it right above his head “Label for Anubis”. Why it doesn’t exactly look like Anubis we can only speculate since we don’t have the original.

In Joseph Smith’s day, as you know, they didn’t have copying machines. What we have for Facsimile 3 is a trace of what the actual papyrus had. Judging the problems with sections being missing or hard to read for Facsimile 1 and 2, we can speculate that the source for Facsimile 3 was similarly difficult to make out. Besides the fact that they are both black, the most interesting clue we can draw from this poor representation of Anubis is the spike on the his head in Joseph Smith’s attempt to draw him. This is most likely a remnant of Anubis’ pointy ears.


  1. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, why wasn’t he able to accurately translate the hieroglyphics?
  2. If he was being inspired to fill in the missing sections, why didn’t he accurately portray Anubis?

Hypothesis: Joseph couldn’t read hieroglyphics at all, and had no idea what he was looking at.

Likely Conclusions

Joseph Smith saw the source for Facsimile 1. Anubis’ head and hands were torn away, so no one could tell if he was holding anything. Joseph remembered reading in the Bible that Abraham was almost sacrificed, so he speculated that this was a drawing of a priest trying to sacrifice Abraham. He filled in the missing sections putting a human head on Anubis and a knife in his hand.

After wrongly assuming that the source for Facsimile 1 was about Abraham, he went ahead and made similar assumptions for Facsimile 3, once again labeling the main character as Abraham. He couldn’t quite make out Anubis’ head in this one either, but he could tell the figure was black and had something on top of his head that looked like a spike. Confused by the spike but definitely seeing it, he included it in Facsimile 3 and said the figure was a slave (which I consider to be a short-sighted 19th-century interpretation that blacks are always slaves).

For Facsimile 2, there were more missing sections, including the main focus in the middle. He assumed a head should be there, and copied the head from another part of the vignette so it looked authentic. For the upper right missing section, he could faintly make out what looked like a boat, but couldn’t make out anything else. He found another drawing of a boat elsewhere in the papyrus, and copied that over.

Joseph then proudly put the original papyrus on display in Kirtland knowing that no one of his day could question his translation since no one could read Egyptian.

Final Thoughts

There are a lot more details involved here that I didn’t touch on simply to avoid making this essay any longer than it needs to be.

Facsimiles 1 and 3 are definitely about a man named Hor, not Abraham. There can be no question. It is written right there in hieroglyphics. The Egyptologist community is unanimous in their translation too. There’s no speculation in this regard, it’s about Hor, and Joseph said it was about Abraham. This completely calls into question his calling as a prophet. Prophets don’t act like they can read hieroglyphics when they really can’t. Prophets don’t fill in missing areas of Egyptian documents with made up drawings.

The most disturbing thought to draw from this whole essay is that if Joseph couldn’t read these hieroglyphics, what about the Reformed Egyptian on the golden plates? And if the Book of Mormon is made up, what is there to say about Joseph Smith’s calling as prophet? The First Vision? The entire truthfulness of the Church? This is all seriously thrown into jeopardy.


Brigham Young’s teachings

To be a good member of the Church, you must believe that Brigham Young was a prophet who was led by God. Many members acknowledge that he said many things that are now contrary to current doctrine, but believe that he was still a prophet who simply made some mistakes.

I’m going to list some quotes and stories about Brigham Young. Please decide for yourself if a man who was supposed to represent Jesus Christ in his calling would ever say or do these things.

Blood Atonement

Brigham Young heavily taught a doctrine that is not supported anymore by current Church doctrine, but Brigham sure made it clear that in his day, it was doctrine. It was called “Blood Atonement”. What Brigham Young believed was that there were certain sins that Christ’s Atonement did not cover, namely, adultery and murder. Since the Atonement didn’t cover these sins, if you committed one, the only way you could receive forgiveness for these sins was to atone for them yourself, i.e. you must die.

Although suicide was an acceptable way to atone for these sins, it was perfectly acceptable for someone else to take your life, as long as they knew for sure that you had committed adultery or murder.

Here is a directquote from Brigham Young where he supports this doctrine:

“There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins, and the smoking incense would atone for their sins.”

Getting weird yet? It gets worse. Look at thisquote by Brigham Young where he describes what you should do if you came home and found your wife in bed with your brother:

“[If] you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God.”

Let me break this down, and correct me if I’m wrong. Brigham Young is stating here that if you came home and found your brother in bed with your wife, you are free to murder both of them so that they can receive forgiveness for their adultery and go to heaven. So basically, murder people so they go to heaven. He goes on:

“[U]nder such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands.”

This is how I interpret this quote. He is saying that if his wife cheated on him, he would murder her and it wouldn’t be wrong at all, i.e. “with clean hands”. He continues to explain how murder is love:

“Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? That is what Jesus Christ meant. […If your neighbor] needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.”

To save your neighbor who has sinned, murder him out of love. Does this sound like a man who properly teaches what the Savior would teach?

Your first question might be, “Well did people actually do what Brigham Young said, that is, kill people who committed adultery or murder?” Here’s astory of such an occurrence:

Rosmos Anderson was a Danish man who had come to Utah…He had married a widow lady…and she had a daughter that was fully grown at the time of the reformation…

At one of the meetings during the reformation Anderson and his step-daughter confessed that they had committed adultery, believing when they did so that Brigham Young would allow them to marry when he learned the facts. Their confession being full, they were rebaptized and received into full membership. They were then placed under covenant that if they again committed adultery, Anderson should suffer death. Soon after this a charge was laid against Anderson before the Council, accusing him of adultery with his step-daughter…the Council voted that Anderson must die for violating his covenants. Klingensmith went to Anderson and notified him that the orders were that he must die by having his throat cut, so that the running of his blood would atone for his sins. Anderson, being a firm believer in the doctrines and teachings of the Mormon Church, made no objections, but asked for half a day to prepare for death. His request was granted. His wife was ordered to prepare a suit of clean clothing, in which to have her husband buried, and was informed that he was to be killed for his sins, she being directed to tell those who should enquire after her husband that he had gone to California.

Klingensmith, James Haslem, Daniel McFarland and John M. Higbee dug a grave in the field near Cedar City, and that night, about 12 o’clock, went to Anderson’s house and ordered him to make ready to obey the Council. Anderson got up, dressed himself, bid his family good-bye, and without a word of remonstrance accompanied those that he believed were carrying out the will of the “Almighty God.” They went to the place where the grave was prepared; Anderson knelt upon the side of the grave and prayed. Klingensmith and his company then cut Anderson’s throat from ear to ear and held him so that his blood ran into the grave. As soon as he was dead they dressed him in his clean clothes, threw him into the grave and buried him. They then carried his bloody clothing back to his family, and gave them to his wife to wash, when she was again instructed to say that her husband was in California …. The killing of Anderson was then considered a religious duty and a just act.

Wow. The things people will agree to when they believe their leader is led by God.

Interracial relations

Brigham Young made it quite clear throughout his life that black people were a cursed race, and if they ever mixed their seed with a white person, they must die. Look at thisquote by Brigham Young:

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

Brigham is stating here that the law of God is to instantly kill any black person who has sex with a white person. Death on the spot. Once again, did Mormons actually follow through with this doctrine and kill black people who slept with white people on the spot? Yes, theydid:

An example used by some to illustrate the alleged practice of blood atonement is the 1866 murder of the former-slave, Thomas Coleman (or Colburn), who was in good standing as a member of the LDS Church. As Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn has documented, Coleman was apparently secretly courting a white Mormon woman, contrary to both territorial law and Mormon teachings regarding people of African descent.

At one of their clandestine meetings behind the old Arsenal (on what is now Capitol Hill in Salt Lake) on December 11, Coleman was discovered by “friends” of the woman. The group of vigilantes hit Coleman with a large rock. Using his own bowie knife, his attackers slit his throat so deeply from ear to ear that he was nearly decapitated, as well as slicing open his right breast, in what some believe was a mimicry of penalties illustrated in the temple ritual. Not all of Coleman’s wounds correlated with the temple ritual, however, since he was also castrated. A pre-penciled placard was then pinned to his corpse stating “NOTICE TO ALL NIGGERS – TAKE WARNING – LEAVE WHITE WOMEN ALONE.” Even though it was the middle of winter, a grave was dug and Coleman’s body was buried. The body was disposed of in less than three hours after its discovery.

When Brigham Young heard about this murder, did he quickly relinquish what he had said earlier? Did he explain that he wasn’t serious about killing black people for this? No. He was completely silent and did nothing to redeem the situation. He approved of it by doing and saying nothing, and his silence showed that he wouldn’t mind if it happened again.

In fact, to further prove that he was totally okay with people being put to death for having sex with black people, he tried to make it a Utah state law! He said during the UtahTerritorylegislature in 1852:

“And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly [sic] way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground.  It would also take the life of his Children.”

and also:

“In the priesthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the priesthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an unguarded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoning for the sin. Would this be to curse them? no it would be a blessing to them.”

Notice how he is advocating not only killing the man (by cutting his head off, particularly), but also the woman and the child. Think of that, he is saying it’s okay to kill an innocent child simply because it was born from interracial relations! He is saying that if we come across a family – man, woman, and child – where the man and woman are of different races, and their child was born from their relations, we should kill the whole family! And it’s considered a righteous act, and we are helping them atone for their sins. Basically, “This whole family is so messed up, let’s just kill all of them, even the children. Don’t worry, we’re helping them.”

Listen to Brigham Young justify the murder:

“I put an end to the existence of the mortal tabernacle; but the life still remains. the body and the spirit is only seperated.”

Paraphrasing: “All I’m doing it taking their mortal lives. They still live on in the afterlife, so it’s okay.”

Thanks, Brigham, for making a great case as to why it’s okay to murder people, even little children. You proclaim yourself to be a representative of Jesus Christ, yet look whatJesuswoulddotoyou:

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

Brigham (like Joseph) was cruel and selfish when it came to polygamy

Brigham Young taught a doctrine of “preemptivewives“. This doctrine taught that any man in position of higher authority could take the wife of any other man below him in the Church. I’ll let Brigham explain this doctrine:

“The second way in which a wife can be separated from her husband while he continues to be faithful to his God and his priesthood, I have not revealed, except to a few persons in this Church; and a few have received it from Joseph the prophet – as well as myself. If a woman can find a man holding the keys of the priesthood with a higher power and authority than her husband, and he is disposed to take her, he can do so, otherwise she has to remain where she is.” (October 8, 1861, Salt Lake City Tabernacle)

Notice the part “and he is disposed to take her”. This “he” is referring to the man of higher priesthood, since he is the one taking. In other words, the man lower in the priesthood has no say in the matter. If someone higher than you in the priesthood wants your wife, you have to give her up.

Thirteen years later, he was still teaching this:

“It takes a higher power than a bill of divorce to take a woman away from a man who is a good man and honors his priesthood. It must be a man who possesses a higher power in the priesthood or else a woman is bound to her husband forever and ever.” (June 28, 1874, Brigham City, Utah, Bowery)

Did Brigham Young actually practice this doctrine? Yes. He decided that he wanted Henry Jacobs’ beautiful wife Zina. Brigham then exercised his priesthood authority to take the wife of any man lower than him in the priesthood (which was every man in the Church, since Brigham was the prophet). He not only took Zina from Henry, but ordered Henry to stand as witness to the wedding ceremony!

It gets worse. Brigham then sent the brokenhearted Henry on a mission to England. At the time he was so sick that he had to be carried in a blanket on his way to start his mission. Meantime, Brigham claimed ownership of Henry’s family and children. In April of 1850, Zina gave birth to Brigham Young’s daughter.

Henry still loved Zina very much even though he was no longer her husband by Brigham Young’s decree. Henry wrote her a touching letter expressing this love six years after her birth to Brigham’s son:

“Oh how happy I would be if I only could see you and the little children, bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh. I am unhappy, there is no peace for poor me, my pleasure is you, my comfort has vanished…Oh Zina, can I ever, will I ever get you again, answer the question please. Zina my mind never will change from worlds without ends, no never, the same affection is there and never can be moved. I do not murmur nor complain of the handlings of God no verily, no but I feel alone and no one to speak to, to call my own…I do not blame any person or persons, no – May the Lord our Father bless Brother Brigham and all pertains unto him forever. Tell him for me I have no feelings against him nor never had, all is right according to the law of the celestial kingdom of our God Joseph.”

If you recall, years earlier, Zina was also a secret wife of Joseph Smith whom he had married while she was still married to Henry. This poor man! Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young both took turns with his wife, using priesthood authority as the excuse! And look at his letter, he remained faithful to the Church, even after so much emotional and sexual abuse by church leaders against his family.

A history of confused Church leaders

Here is a timeline I put together in an effort to show that Church leaders throughout history have often made untrue declarations, many times in God’s name:

1830 – Joseph Smith prophesies that Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery would successfully sell a copyright of the Book of Mormon while on a mission to Canada. They failed in their mission to sell the copyright. (Interesting to note: When they asked Joseph why they had failed, he replied “Some revelations are of God, some revelations are of men, and some revelations are of the devil.” He is admitting here that he is susceptible to receiving revelations from man or the devil and passing them off as prophecy! If Joseph Smith can’t even tell whether revelations are from God or not, why should we trust any of them?)

September 22-23, 1832 – Joseph Smith prophesies that a temple would be built in Missouri saying “For verify this generation shall not pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord” (D&C 84). The Saints were forced out of Missouri, and a temple was never built during the lifetime of Joseph Smith or anyone from his generation.

September 1832 – Joseph Smith prophesies of the destruction of New York City and Boston if they reject the gospel saying “the hour of their judgment is nigh”. He goes to the cities and is largely rejected. The cities to this day have not been destroyed.

April 23, 1834 – Joseph Smith prophesies that the United Order (where the Saints gave all they owned to the Church, who would then give back what they needed) would be “everlasting”, and “immutable and unchangeable” to benefit the church until Jesus comes. The United Order was soon abolished and the Church adopted a tithing system instead.

1835 – Joseph Smith prophesies that the Second Coming would happen by 1891, saying “it was the will of God that they should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, for the coming of the Lord, which was nigh — even fifty six years should wind up the scene.” The Second Coming never happened before 1891, and still hasn’t happened.

August 6, 1836 – Joseph Smith prophesies that the Lord has treasure in Salem, Massachusetts for the Saints, and that the Saints would inherit the city (D&C 111). No treasure was found there, and the city was never given to the Saints.

1838 – Joseph Smith prophesies “…thus saith the Lord: It is wisdom in my servant, David W. Patten, that he settle up all his business as soon as he possibly can, and make a disposition of his merchandise, that he may perform a mission unto me next spring, in company with others, even twelve including himself, to testify of my name and bear glad tidings unto all the world.” David Patten died soon after this prophecy and never served this mission.

September 1, 1842 – Joseph Smith prophesies “…for to this day has the God of my fathers delivered me out of them all, and will deliver me from henceforth; for behold, and lo, I shall triumph over all my enemies, for the Lord God hath spoken it.” Less than two years later, his enemies stormed Carthage Jail and murdered him.

April 6, 1843 – Joseph Smith prophesies that “There are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death till Christ comes.” Everyone from that generation has died and the Second Coming has not happened.

May 6, 1843 – Joseph Smith prophesies that “in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the state of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted”. He also prophesies “by virtue of the holy Priesthood vested in me, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that, if Congress will not hear our petition and grant us protection, they shall be broken up as a government, and God shall damn them, and there shall be nothing left of them — not even a grease spot.” The US government never redressed the wrongs committed in Missouri, and the government was never overthrown.

Winter, 1843 – While preaching in a grove next to the Nauvoo temple, Joseph Smith tells a group of Saints “I have often been asked who would succeed me as the prophet to the church. My son Joseph will be your next prophet.” Brigham Young became the next prophet, not Joseph Smith’s son. (Interesting to note: The Reorganized Church did in fact name Joseph’s son to be the next prophet. This means that the only way this prophecy could be true would be if Brigham Young’s defection is not correct and the real true Church is the Reorganized Church, known today as the CommunityofChrist.)

April, 1844 – Joseph Smith prophesies that his unborn child will be called David, and will be “church president and king over Israel”. David never became church president or king, and was admitted to an insane asylum for the last 27 years of his life.

April 6, 1845 – Brigham Young reminds everyone of God’s promise that “as the Lord lives we will build up Jackson County in this generation”. The Saints were forced out of Missouri, and a temple was never built during the lifetime of Brigham Young or anyone from his generation.

January 23, 1852 – Brigham Young instructs Utah Legislature to legalize slavery because “we must believe in slavery.” Slavery goes against everything taught in the Church today.

December 12, 1854 – Brigham Young prophesies “Cain and his posterity will remain cursed and not receive the priesthood until all other children of Adam have had this privilege.” He is referring to black people, who received the priesthood in 1978.

September 6, 1856 – Heber C. Kimball prophesies that “Brigham Young will become President of the United States.” Brigham Young never became US president.

August 20, 1859 – Brigham Young gives his opinion of slavery: “We consider it of divine institution, and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants.” It was abolished by Abraham Lincoln in his Emancipation Proclamation, and is not supported by the current LDS Church.

October 6, 1863 – Brigham Young prophesies during general conference in reference to the Civil War: “Will the present struggle free the slaves? No.” The Civil War did in fact free the slaves. It resulted in the 13th Amendment, legally ending slavery in the United States in 1865.

May 5, 1870 – Orson Pratt reminds everyone of God’s revelation to Joseph Smith that “God promised in the year 1832 that we should, before the generation then living had passed away, return and build up the City of Zion in Jackson County.” The Saints were forced out of Missouri, and a temple was never built during the lifetime of Joseph Smith or anyone from his generation.

December 27, 1879 – Wilford Woodruff tells stake conference in Snowflake, Arizona, “There will be no United States in the year 1890.” The United States existed in 1890, as it still does today.

May 17, 1888 – At the dedication of the Manti Temple, Wilford Woodruff declares prophetically, “We are not going to stop the practice of plural marriage until the Coming of the Son of Man.” The Church stopped practicing polygamy in 1904.

Mar 2, 1904 – Before committee of U.S. Senate, Joseph F. Smith testifies: “I have never pretended to nor do I profess to have received revelations. I never said that I had a revelation except so far as God has shown me that so-called Mormonism is God’s divine truth, that is all.” The calling of an LDS prophet is to receive revelation directly from God to direct the people. To state that you don’t receive it is essentially stating that you’re not a prophet.

May 14,1961 – Joseph Fielding Smith announces to a stake conference in Honolulu: “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it.” He adds: “The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen.” In May 1962, he privately instructs that this view be taught to “the boys and girls in the Seminary System.” On 20 July 1969 US astronauts walk on moon. (Something funny: On September 14, 1971 Apollo 15 astronauts presented to President Joseph Fielding Smith a Utah state flag that had traveled with them to the moon.)

1969-1970 – Spencer W. Kimball publishes “The Miracle of Forgiveness” which condemns homosexuality as a “crime against nature” and encourages homosexual men to marry women in order to overcome their attractions. A year later, he published “New Horizons for Homosexuals” (later titled “A Letter to a Friend”) as an official Church pamphlet. It includes sections titled “It Is Curable” and “Multiply and Replenish” and encourages gay men to marry and father children as a sign of their efforts to overcome their homosexual tendencies. The Church today strongly discourages gays from getting married as a way to solve their homosexuality.

January 11,1983 – Gordon B. Hinckley pays document dealer Mark Hofmann $15,000 for an alleged Joseph Smith letter about his treasure digging activities. He has Hofmann agree not to mention the transaction to anyone else and then he sequesters the document in the First Presidency’s vault. Hinckley does not acknowledge its existence until Los Angeles Times is about to release story about the document. This document was a forgery by Mark Hofmann in an attempt to deceive the First Presidency. (Note: More details about this are discussed in the next section.)

Are Church leaders really inspired by God or are they actually just saying their opinions and saying it’s from God?

Mark Hofmann

I mentioned in the introduction how the Church doesn’t care if something is true or not, but instead focuses all of their energies on whether something is faith-promoting. A great example illustrating this point is the story of MarkHoffman.

One of the greatest forgers in history was Mark Hofmann, and his victims were the apostles and prophets of the LDS Church. Having left the Church, and wanting to embarrass it, Hofmann decided to create fake documents designed to look like they came from important moments in Mormon history. Church leaders spent tens of thousands in tithing purchasing the forgeries.

What made things more interesting were that these fake documents made the Church look bad. One of them was a forgery of Joseph Smith III’s partriarchal blessing, who was Joseph Smith Junior’s son. In it, he was identified as the next prophet of the Church instead of Brigham Young, which would, if it were real, make the Community of Christ (formerly RLDS Chuch) the real true Mormon sect instead of the LDS Church. Another forgery was a imitation of a document written by Joseph Smith describing his visit from the Angel Moroni, except instead of saying Moroni was an angel, the document had Joseph describing him as a white salamander.

In the end, authorities started to catch on to Hofmann’s scheme, and he ended up killing two people with bombs in an attempt to hide what he had been doing. He obviously wasn’t a very good person, but that’s not the point. The important thing to draw from this story is how the Church handled the situation.

  • Church leaders hide evidence showing their organization isn’t true – The Church isn’t interested in being forthright with their members about anything that makes the Church looks bad regardless if it’s true. When Hofmann showed these fake documents to Church leaders, they used tithing to purchase them, and then quickly hid them away. The problem was that Hofmann went to the media and told them what he had sold to the Church. Suddenly the Church was cornered and had to admit that they in fact had the documents. If Hofmann hadn’t have gone to the media, Church leaders would have had no interest in telling Church members about these documents. But what if the documents had solid proof that Joseph Smith was a prophet? Do you think the Church would have shied away from publishing them? Of course not.


  • Church leaders don’t have the Spirit of discernment – If the fact that the Church is interested in hiding important things that show Joseph Smith wasn’t a prophet is heart breaking enough, it gets worse. If Church leaders had the Spirit of discernment like they claim, why didn’t the Spirit tell Gordon B. Hinckley that Mark was a liar and a murderer? All Hinckley had to do when Hofmann walked into his office was to look at him, feel the Spirit that the man was evil, and say “Sorry, not interested” and send him on his way. Hinckley’s lack of spiritual discernment led to tens of thousands of dollars in tithing given to a liar buying fake documents that showed the Church was a hoax, untold media coverage putting the Church in a bad light, not to mention two murders! Yet, the Spirit was quiet.

Once Hofmann publicly divulged the letter with Joseph Smith describing the Angel Moroni as a salamander, everyone believed it, Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Everyone in the Church was talking about. Dallin H. Oaks decided to use “the Spirit” to decipher what Joseph meant by salamander. Look whathesaid to troubled members at a 1985 CES fireside in an attempt to explain the situation:

“One wonders why so many writers neglected to reveal to their readers that there is another meaning of ‘salamander,’ which may even have been the primary meaning. . . That meaning. . . is ‘a mythical being thought to be able to live in fire’. . . A being that is able to live in fire is a good approximation of the description Joseph Smith gave of the Angel Moroni. . . the use of the words ‘white salamander’ and ‘old spirit’ seem understandable.”

Notice how he starts off with a haughty comment about those who “neglected to reveal to their readers that there is another meaning of salamander”, as if anyone who questioned the salamander story was hiding this other “meaning” of a salamander being able to live in fire. This I have found is a common strategy for Church leaders when they question real history that makes the Church look bad – attack the character of those providing the history.

How embarrassing it must be for Oaks to have this quote on his permanent life record, using the Spirit to support a total lie that he completely believed through the Spirit.

The two great accommodations

Perhaps the two biggest doctrinal changes in the history of the Church are 1) The abandonment of polygamy and 2) the allowance for blacks to the receive the priesthood. Many members go through mental gymnastics trying to make sense of why these were ever considered doctrine since it’s strong evidence for sexism and racism.

Through lots of personal research, as a strong believing member I came to the following “conclusions” to justify these problems:

  • Polygamy is actually an eternal doctrine that isn’t practiced now but will be practiced either once it is no longer illegal, or in heaven. The reason it’s so important is because many more women will get into heaven than men. This means there will be a lot of unmarried women in heaven, so polygamy is necessary to make sure everyone is married.
  • Heavenly Father forbid blacks from getting the priesthood as a safety precaution for the Church. If He had allowed it, blacks would have been given leadership roles during an era were blacks were severely discriminated. It might have meant the end of the Church, just as it had ended in days of old from persecution.

Having come to these conclusions, I felt somewhat at peace. These conclusions I came to were based on filtered information given to me by the Church, however. Once I read the full account of the history of these doctrines, my perception changed dramatically. I realized that the reasons these doctrines were abandoned were not because God changed his mind, but rather the Church was under enormous pressure from the government.

The first great accommodation

In the drive for Utah statehood, Church leaders had decided that the time had come to enter the mainstream, to become respectable, and thus began the period known as the Great Accommodation. Topping the list of practices and teachings that the Church had to give up: polygamy.

Brigham Young maintained a polygamous household of 27 wives. While the rest of America considered the doctrine little more than prostitution, Young declared, “I live above the law, and so do this people.” He knew that polygamy was divinely ordained, and “no power on earth can suppress it, unless you crush and destroy the entire people. … A man that enters this Church ought to be able to die for its principles if necessary.”

Apostle Orson Pratt pitched the following argument in favor of the plural marriage doctrine:

“If the doctrine of polygamy, as revealed to the Latter-day Saints, is not true, I would not give a fig for all your other revelations that came through Joseph Smith the Prophet; I would renounce the whole of them. […]  The Lord has said, that those who reject this principle reject their salvation, they shall be damned, saith the Lord […].  I want to prophecy that all men and women who oppose the revelation which God has given in relation to polygamy will find themselves in darkness[,…] they will finally go down to hell and be damned if they do not repent.”

But then, Congress passed the EdmundsTuckerAct on February 18, 1887. This law dissolved the legal entity of the LDS Church, the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All funds were confiscated and the church was forbidden to collect tithing. All property valued at over $50,000 became property of the United States federal government. In order to circumvent this section of the law, the church had sold ZCMI, the telegraph, the railroad, and all other businesses, factories, and cooperative enterprises to members of the church. This left only Temple Square in Salt Lake City for federal troops to seize. Mormons could not vote, serve on juries, or hold public office. The Act also shut down Mormon schools and disinherited children of plural marriages.

Subsequently, God appeared to President and Prophet Wilford Woodruff. Although Joseph Smith had proclaimed that “the only men who become gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy,” and God had twice repeated to Woodruff that the doctrine of plural marriage was nonnegotiable, He had apparently changed His mind.

Woodruff publicly revoked this divine commandment by issuing the Manifesto of 1890 on September 24th of that year. This manifesto was just for public consumption; the Mormon Church itself had no serious plans to give up the practice. Clergymen continued to perform plural weddings, although the vows were now often read from behind a curtain. This official policy of “lying for the Lord” was designed to keep federal marshals from endangering Utah’s impending statehood. Eventually, in 1904, the Church gave in to outside pressure to make good on its word: excommunication became the official penalty for taking a second wife.

The second great accommodation

The Church’s policy of excluding blacks from the priesthood had stood against all attempts at reform during the civil rights movement. But then things happened to Brigham Young University’s basketball program in the 1970s. During a game at Colorado State University, a Molotov cocktail was tossed onto the court to protest the antiblack LDS tenets. A Stanford University official declared that if the BYU team ever wanted to play Stanford again, the Mormon Church would have to “reinterpret God’s word and establish doctrines compatible with Stanford’s policies.”

Shortly following this statement, Stanford indeed canceled all scheduled sports events with BYU, not just its basketball games. In fact, the Western Athletic Conference nearly disbanded over the furor. Additionally, anti-Mormons urged for boycotts of recordings of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the cancellation of vacations to Utah. The NAACP initiated several lawsuits against Mormon Boy Scout troops, charging that church policy was foisting racism on minority Scouts. Worst of all, the IRS suggested that the racial policies of the Mormon Church might justify a suspension of its tax-exempt status. Several professional consulting firms which the church had previously hired for other matters suggested to church leaders that they reconsider the status of blacks in the Mormon Church as part of a major overhaul of church policy.

Finally, on June 9, 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced to the Saints that he had received a new revelation which ended the ban on blacks in the priesthood. “That same revelation came to his counselors and to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Temple, and then it was presented to all of the other General Authorities who approved it unanimously,” stated Kimball. This revelation is known to Mormons as The Second Great Accommodation.

The third great accommodation – coming soon

We are currently seeing the beginnings of what will undoubtedly be the Church’s third great accommodation: allowing homosexuals to be married. Just as before, the government will intervene and start to seize assets and revoke tax benefits. The Church will buckle and change the doctrine, stating it to be a revelation from Heavenly Father. Mark my words – gays will eventually hold hands over the altar in the temple. It’s only a matter of time.

The Church today

I realize that Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were nothing like the prophets of today. The prophets of today don’t talk about seeing God and angels, they don’t have multiple wives and sleep with children, they don’t advocate murdering people out of love, and they don’t go around with a seer stone charging people money so they can lie to them about where treasure is, only to say it was “moved by the Devil” once the treasure isn’t found. If the prophets of today acted like this, I don’t think any sane person would consider them to be inspired by God.

But what’s important to remember is, the prophets of today didn’t start this religion. It’s the first prophets, i.e. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, who are responsible for the existence of this religion. If it wasn’t for them, (obviously) none of us would have been Mormon. Now, if Joseph and Brigham were wrong, then what can we say about the truthfulness of this whole religion? Does false doctrine of old become true as the reputation of the Church improves? Does the fact the the more recent prophets and apostles “cleaned up” the actions of the Church erase the fraudulent origins of the Church?

Many will argue that the Church is a great organization today, even if it might have an ugly past. Well, this isn’t some spiritual health club. This is supposed to be an organization run directly by God himself. If Joseph Smith made it all up, then the organization isn’t run by God at all, but rather just by old men who are making it up as they go. They may strongly believe they are being inspired, but if Joseph Smith made this all up, then they are making it up too.

The Church of today heavily edits the past in all of their publications so that all of the bad stuff I just described isn’t talked about anymore. We are encouraged to focus on the happy state of the Church today, and only remember the good stuff that Joseph and Brigham did. Let’s not focus on the negative they’ll say. Let’s focus on the faith-promoting stuff, because the other stuff will hurt your testimony. If you believe the other stuff, you’ll probably leave the Church, thinking it’s false.

Well, I’m sorry, but I don’t believe Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were prophets. I believe that they were bad people. Bad people who wanted power, and were willing to lie and take advantage of people to get it. And if they were liars, then I don’t think the First Vision happened. I don’t think the Book of Mormon is true. I cannot trust anything they ever taught. Which means, I can’t be Mormon, no matter how good the religion is today. I cannot support it, and I won’t.

How to get rid of the problems posed in this essay

Maybe after reading all of this, your head is spinning a little. Maybe you spent the entire time reading while concurrently trying to make justifications in your mind as to how the Church is still true, despite such a twisted history. I went through similar emotions as I found all of this out.

Let me tell you how easy it is to solve all of these problems. If you can simply come to the conclusion in your mind that the LDS Church is simply a man-made institution, all of these problems instantly disappear. If this is simply an organization started by normal people who weren’t actually led by God, then it makes sense that it would have all of these problems. Indeed, all of these problems are strong evidence that it really was just started by normal men.

Pretend you haven’t been converted yet

Take a moment and pretend that you are not a member of the Church yet. While remembering everything the Church has taught you, along with everything you have just learned, ask yourself: Do I trust in the teachings of Joseph Smith enough to dedicate myself to the religion he started?

How every religion sustains itself, true or not

I want to show you the system of how religion spreads all over the world for generations going back thousands of years. As a Mormon, this system was never revealed to me, but if you look at it, it starts to open your eyes as to what is really going on:

  1. Children are taught by their parents to believe in their same religion.
  2. These children start to believe in the religion before they develop critical thinking skills. They are strongly influenced to believe in it because their family and peers believe in it, but not because they fully believe in it themselves (yet).
  3. The more they are taught the concepts of the religion, the more they are convinced that it “must” be true. They see no other options. This is called “childhood indoctrination”.
  4. Once the children are older and start to develop critical thinking skills, they consider using them to verify the truthfulness of their religion. The religion teaches that this won’t work, however, because “There’s no evidence for any of this. There is only faith, which is believing without needing evidence. You don’t need evidence, only faith. And there is nothing wrong with this.”
  5. As faith keeps the children from analyzing anything, they continue to grow and believe, even the intelligent ones. They corroborate with their peers who also believe in the same thing, and they strengthen their testimony.
  6. As adults they have their own children. And as parents they do the exact same thing to their own children. (Return to step 1.)

Once again, this is not just the system for the LDS Church. This is how every religion in the world sustains itself for generations from parent to child, parent to child, over and over. This circle continues forever because what child wouldn’t believe his/her parents? Children believe in everything! If all of a child’s supporters teach him/her something – no matter if it’s true or not – there is no way for the believing child to escape indoctrination. He/she will believe it without a doubt. Children’s brains are shaped by the concepts that adults explain to them. And these concepts don’t have to be true or sensible. Children just believe. And once they believe it completely, they’ll hold onto it until they are adults, and then teach their own children. This system is incredibly effective.

In light of becoming aware of this system, I have decided that I think it’s very wrong to teach a child something is true when the only way you’ve “verified” it’s true is through how you personally feel about it. It’s in effect trapping them into believing a certain dogma. I think it’s a form of child abuse, and I won’t do this to my children. Instead of indoctrinating them into whatever my family’s religious traditions have been, I will teach them moral principles: to not lie, or steal, or cheat, or hurt others. I will indeed teach Jesus’ most important teaching: “Do onto others as you would have them do onto you.” I think that this is the greatest principle ever taught. If everyone follows this teaching, the world will be happy.


I don’t really know what I will do with my life as far as religion goes. In the mean time, I am fully dedicated to living the most important aspects of life taught to me by Mormonism, that is, a life of total morality. Indeed I will follow the counsel of Jesus from the Bible to love one another. This means I’m not going to lie to people. I’m not going to hurt people. I’m not going to steal from people. I have full respect for my fellow man in everything that I do and say. I have every reason to have full respect for everyone I meet, even those that I strongly disagree with, since I know that we’re all in this confusing world together. We’re all doing our best to procure truth the best way we know how.

Being “sure” of things

If there’s anything I learned from this whole experience, it has been to never be completely sure about anything. I will now base my life trusting everything based on probabilities.

For example, is the world round? All of the evidence these days points to yes, most definitely. But can I really be sure? I’ve seen plenty of pictures. I’ve heard eye witness testimony of people who have looked down from a space shuttle who saw it was round. Many people have gotten in boats and sailed all the way around the world back to where they started. Therefore it seems incredibly probable that the world is round, so I choose to believe it.

But I’ve never been up in a space shuttle. I’ve never sailed around the world. Really, I have to trust that the experts who are telling me that the world is round are educated in their conclusions. And I do trust them, but not to a 100% surety.

Here another example: was there nodeath before the Fall of Adam (as taught by the Mormon Church)? All of the evidence these days indicates that thisisnttrueatall. Archaeologists have studied the history of life on Earth extensively and have concluded that life has been on earth for billions of years, and trillions of things have died. We have endless records of this. The evidence in staggering. Therefore it seems incredibly improbable that there was no death before the Fall as the Church teaches, so I choose not to believe it.

But I’ve never dug a hole to look for biological artifacts. I’m not an archaeologist. Really, I have to trust that the experts who are telling me that things have been dying for billions of years are right. And I do trust them, but not to a 100% surety.

My point is, since you can’t ever be totally sure about anything, you have to base your knowledge on what is probably true. That’s the best any of us can ever due. The Church, as I believe I’ve shown here, is almost definitely not true. Therefore, it isn’t a smart decision in my opinion to follow it. There are so many other things that are much more probably true. Many beautiful things all over the world. Pursue truth wherever the evidence points to where it may be. Don’t follow your feelings, for feelings lead people astray. Follow the evidence.

In the beginning of this paper, I provided alink to a document that gives 100 reasons why the world is not round. I can assure you the author doesn’t actually believe the world is flat; he is simply making a point. That point is, just because someone has an argument for something, it doesn’t mean it’s a good argument.

All we can do in this life is research the evidence, analyze how reliable we think it is, and live accordingly. In your personal research on whether you believe the Church is true, please keep this in mind. You’ll find plenty of arguments from intelligent people who believe in the Church. They’ll show you things that seem convincing. Just make sure and read everything that anyone gives you – Mormon and non-Mormon alike – with a watchful eye and a rational analysis of all the evidence you can get your hands on.


Contact me

I am completely open to discuss anything included in this paper. Feel free to email me. If you found errors, by all means, let me know so I can fix them.

Other stories

There are, of course, many others in my same situation who have some very inspirational stories they have shared. Here are a few links:

  • www.iamanexmormon.com – This is a post-Mormon response to the Church’s “…and I’m a Mormon” campaign that is currently running on television commercials and YouTube. If you decide to watch some of the videos, be sure and also read their written response under the video which is them describing why they left in much more detail. Be sure and also read the “OlderEntries“; there is a link to them at the bottom.
  • www.exmormonscholarstestify.org – This is a post-Mormon response to the Church’s website www.mormonscholarstestify.com. Once again, there are some great stories here by very intelligent people who left the Church. Click the “Testimonies” link at the top.
  • www.newordermormon.org – This is a site full of people who are doubting the Church, but still think it is beneficial to maintain membership.
  • www.postmormon.org – This is a good-natured and inspirational website for people who have left the Church. I find the people here to be very rational, loving, and level-headed. There’s a link near the top where people describe their exitstories.

posted originally by canadianjohnson on http://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/

The following women refused Joseph Smith’s proposals, and this is only a list of those we have confirmed there is likely many more we do not have records of:

Rachel Ivins Grant

Esther Johnson

Eliza Winters

Emeline White

Pamela Michael

Athalia Rigdon

Lovina Smith

Caroline Grant Smith

Cordelia C Morley Cox

Leonora Cannon Taylor

Melissa Schindle

Mrs. Robert Foster

Lucy Smith Milligan

Miss Marks

(This list was found in Jim Whitefields book “The Mormon Delusion Vol. 1”)

I would like to take a minute and congratulate these forgotten women for refusing Joseph’s immoral advances (several of whom were already married). Most members have accepted polygamy as something in the past that must have been approved by God when it was practiced. However, I’m not sure how many Mormons realize how many women Joseph Smith married and at what frequency.

On October 25th 1841 Joseph Smith told a 19 year-old married woman that she must marry him or an angel with a sword will slay him. From this point until November 2nd 1843, when he married Fanny Young Murray, he married a total of 29 women.

Now, perspective: If we average out these 29 women over this time period we will find that Joseph Smith approached a new woman about every 25 days. He did so all in the name of God, in secrecy (even from Emma) and using his position of authority.

I would submit that if missionaries shared this information with every investigator, baptisms would plummet and church growth would begin to decline, as we have already seen in developed countries where access to this information is easily found. Historical fact is purposefully kept from the membership, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Here is a nice visual timeline for anyone who is interested: http://www.i4m.com/think/images/JS_Polygamy_Timeline.png

June 1, 1844 – Drank a glass of beer at Mooessers [2]

This entry was written in the personal journal of Joseph Smith eleven years after the Word of Wisdom was revealed to the Prophet. Instances like this may surprise some members of the LDS Church who, perhaps, remain unfamiliar with the “line upon line” process in which the Word of Wisdom developed over time. Other members, learning about the relaxed approach to the Word of Wisdom common during the early period of Church history feel history vindicates current disobedience to the Word of Wisdom, as well as other commandments as taught by the Church. Today the Word of Wisdom is taught as a commandment, and a requirement for entry to the temple, though this was not always the case.

Even at Carthage Jail the brethren, according to John Taylor, sent for some wine:

Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us. I think it was Captain Jones who went after it, but they would not suffer him to return.

I believe we all drank of the wine, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards. We all of us felt unusually dull and languid, with a remarkable depression of spirits. In consonance with those feelings I sang a song, that had lately been introduced into Nauvoo, entitled, ‘A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief’, etc. (History of the Church, Vol. 7, p.101).

These incidental occurrences are slight in comparison to Joseph Sr.’s struggles with alcohol; an aspect of the prophet’s father I was unfamiliar with until I read Richard Bushman’s biography of Joseph Smith. Fortunately he seems to have eventually put this habit down.[3]

Outside influences (temperance movements the opinions of physicians etc.) likely helped the Word of Wisdom along. Today it may be claimed that the Word of Wisdom preceded medical knowledge regarding the substances mentioned therein. Some scholars have argued otherwise. For example, in the 1830s temperance societies flourished, including one near Kirtland, helping to shut down a distillery. In New York, a society spearheaded by Sylvester Graham of “graham cracker” fame, spoke out against tobacco, alcohol, tea, coffee and harmful substances. It is very likely Joseph would have been familiar with the movements. Other influences included common physician opinions on temperance in eating habits, etc.[4]

This brings us to 1833 when, in the School of the Prophets, Emma had complained about the smoke-filled room and was tired of cleaning up tobacco juice. She importuned Joseph, who importuned the Lord, and Section 89 was born. [5]

The Word of Wisdom was instituted as counsel and “breaking” (in our modern understanding of the Word of Wisdom) was not extremely uncommon. Still, members of the Church were often called before a High Council over various offenses, the Word of Wisdom among, but not the chief, reasons. One such example was David Whitmer, who was excommunicated based on 5 different charges, one of which was breaking of the Word of Wisdom.

The Journal of Discourses occasionally contains references to the Word of Wisdom. On March 18, 1855 George A. Smith related the story of a particular family who apostatized after seeing what they believed was inconsistency in the application of the Word of Wisdom:

I know persons who apostatized because they supposed they had reasons. For instance, a certain family, after having traveled a long journey, arrived in Kirtland, and the Prophet asked them to stop with him until they could find a place. Sister Emma, in the mean time, asked the old lady if she would have a cup of tea to refresh her after the fatigues of the journey, or a cup of coffee. This whole family apostatized because they were invited to take a cup of tea or coffee, after the Word of Wisdom was given (JD 2:211).

In 1842 a small controversy over part of the Word of Wisdom led to an editorial written at Nauvoo by Hyrum Smith delineating tea and coffee as the specific substances referred to as “hot drinks” (see Times & Seasons, 3:800) indicating that the revelation was still being understood differently by various members of the Church.

The revelation was still seen as ‘non-binding’ to the Church as the Saints prepared to migrate from Iowa to the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 the Word of Wisdom was still seen as non-binding; on the list of required items for the journey tea and coffee were present. Because of the poor harvest of 1849 in the Salt Lake valley, a regulation prohibiting the use of corn in making whiskey was passed, any corn intended for that use was to be “given to the poor.” (Leonard J. Arrington, Great Basin Kingdom: An Economic History of the Latter-day Saints, 1830-1900, p. 59.) By 1850-51 overland travelers headed for the gold in California were stopping off in Utah, where the Saints accommodated them by establishing, or allowing for the establishment, of “a great many grog shops,” selling locally brewed whiskey, a “valley tan” rum, green tea, and a “very light and wholesome beer.” (ibid., 70).

At a conference of the Church September 9, 1851, John Smith, Patriarch to the Church and uncle of the Prophet, spoke on Word of Wisdom. Brigham Young stood during the address proposing that all Saints abstain fromall things mentioned in the Word of Wisdom.[6] With a “unanimous vote” the Word of Wisdom became binding on the Church. Still, even after that Pres. Young recommended tobacco be grown in the southern part of the territory to eliminate giving money to outsiders for the product, in addition to wine being manufactured in St. George (some for use in the sacrament) as late as 1861. The precise alcoholic content of wine prepared there is not known, as far as I have learned. In the 1860s especially, use of coffee, tea, tobacco, and alcohol were strongly discouraged. In several sermons by Brigham Young he tended to emphasize the economic aspect above the health aspect; using such products, which were usually imported, was wasteful and the money should be better used elsewhere.[7]

For years President Young and others struggled to adhere, and to get all Saints to adhere to the principle. Because the Word of Wisdom took time to implement fully, Brigham encouraged youth not to follow the bad example of those who broke the Word of Wisdom (additionally, he indirectly clarifies the commandment given through Moses, “Thou shalt honor thy father and mother, etc.”):

“Why,” say you, “I see the older brethren chew tobacco, why should I not do it likewise!”

Thus the boys have taken license from the pernicious habits of others, until they have formed an appetite, a false appetite; and they love a little liquor, and a little tobacco, and many other things that are injurious to their constitutions, and certainly hurtful to their moral character. Take a course that you can know more than your parents. We have had all the traditions of the age in which we were born to contend with; but these young men and women, or the greater part of them, have been born in the Church, and brought up Latter-day Saints, and have received the teachings that are necessary to advance them in the kingdom of God on earth.

If you are in any way suspicious that the acts of your parents are not right, if there is a conviction in your minds that they feed appetites that are injurious to them then it is for you to abstain from that which you see is not good in your parents (July 4, 1854, JD 2:16).

In April 1855 President Young discouraged mothers from using alcohol:

Some mothers, when bearing children, long for tea and coffee, or for brandy and other strong drinks, and if they give way to that influence the next time they will want more, and the next still more, and thus lay the foundation for drunkenness in their offspring. An appetite is engendered, bred, and born in the child, and it is a miracle if it does not grow up a confirmed drunkard (JD 2:266).

In December of the same year, apostle Amasa Lyman, in his typically blunt and animated prose, gave this secret to success regarding the promise in the Word of Wisdom that those who obey will walk and not be weary, run and not faint:

…if you want to run and not weary, walk and not faint, call upon me and I will tell you how-just stop before you get tired…

Elder Lyman said the Word of Wisdom ought to encompass the entire gospel, or that the gospel encompasses it:

The Word of Wisdom was given for a principle, with promise; as a rule of conduct, that should enable the people so to economize their time, and manage and control themselves, as not to eat and drink to excess, or use that which is hurtful to them; that they should be temperate in all things, in the exercise of labor, as well as in eating and drinking. Clothe yourselves properly if you can. Exercise properly if you can, and do right in everything…

Do not stay the work of improvement and reform to pay attention to small things that are beneath your notice, but let it extend through the entire circle of your being, let it reach every relationship in life, and every avocation and duty embraced within your existence…

The Word of Wisdom would itself save you, if you would only keep it, in the true sense and spirit of it, comprehending the purpose for which it was given (JD 3:176).

In 1867 Brigham Young discussed his personal difficulties with the Word of Wisdom::

It is our right and privilege to live so that we may attain to this [being of one heart and mind], so that we may sanctify our hearts before the Lord, and sanctify the Lord God in our hearts, but it is not my privilege to drink liquor, neither is it my privilege to eat tobacco.

Well, bro. Brigham, have you not done it?

Yes, for many years, but I ceased its habitual practice. I used it for toothache; now I am free from that pain, and my mouth is never stained with tobacco. It is not my privilege to drink liquor nor strong tea and coffee, although I am naturally a great lover of tea. Brethren and sisters, it is not our privilege to indulge in these things, but it is our right and privilege to set an example worthy of imitation (JD 12:27).

Indeed, Young returned to chewing after his toothaches came back, until eventually he had them all pulled and wore a set of false teeth for the rest of his life.

It wasn’t until about 1921 that Heber J. Grant made observance of the Word of Wisdom a requirement to enter the Temple. Joseph Lynn Lyon surmised the prohibition movement, “spearheaded by the Protestant Evangelical churches in America, focused on alcohol consumption as a political rather than a moral issue,” and brought the Word of Wisdom into Church limelight.[7]

Some people I’ve spoken with express concerns that the Word of Wisdom isn’t applied equally in all areas; that more emphasis could be put in the aspects of eating right, exercising, etc. I believe these aspects should be attended to by each individual, but the minimum requirements in the Temple recommend interview stick to the “spirit of the law” as was lived in the early days of the Church. Some early Church leaders put more importance on the issue of eating properly than others. For example, John A. Widtsoe wrote an entire book, The Word of Wisdom: A Modern Interpretation, which contained extensive chapters on diet. What about caffeine? (See FAIR’s “Ask the Apologist” selection by Suzanne Armitage regarding caffeine.) What about fad diets? I believe if one must listen to the Spirit, as well as pay attention to one’s body, to find the proper balance.[8]

Finally, what’s a post about the Word of Wisdom without a J. Golden Kimball anecdote?

Uncle Golden’s struggles with the Word of Wisdom sometimes forced him into ironic circumstances. On one occasion, he was asked to go to Cache Valley where the stake president had decided to call all the Melchizedek priesthood holders together for the purpose of emphasizing the importance of the Word of Wisdom. Uncle Golden didn’t realize this was going to be the theme until he got there. As a matter of fact, he didn’t know what he was to speak about until the stake president announced it in introducing Uncle Golden: ‘J. Golden Kimball will now speak to us on the subject of the Word of Wisdom.’

Uncle Golden didn’t know what to say. He stood at the pulpit for a long time waiting for some inspiration; he didn’t want to be a hypocrite and he knew he had problems with this principle. So finally he looked at the audience and said, ‘I’d like to know how many of you brethren have never had a puff on a cigarette in all your life. Would you please stand?’

Well, Uncle Golden related later that much to his amazement most of the brethren in that audience stood. He looked at them for a long time and then said, ‘Now, all of you that are standing, I want to know how many of you have never had a taste of whiskey in all your life. If you have, sit down.’

Again, to Uncle Golden’s amazement, only a few of the brethren sat down. The rest of them stood there proudly looking at him and then there was a long silence. I guess Uncle Golden thought they looked a little too self-righteous, because his next comment was, ‘Well, brethren, you don’t know what the hell you’ve missed’ (J. Golden Nuggets, More Words Of Wisdom By James N. Kimball, Sunstone 10:3/41 [Mar. 1985]).

As I discover more sermons regarding the Word of Wisdom I’ll continue to add them to this post.


An excellent overview of criticism- as well as the development of- the Word of Wisdom was written by Michael Ash, and can be found on the FAIR website. My post is a very brief sketch of a complex issue.

Source: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 486


Regarding the wine at Carthage Jail, Lester E. Bush, Jr. refers to a medical opinion of Joseph’s day stating that a “moderate quantity of wine” could be helpful in warding off sickness and distress when one is under the “influence of anxious and depressing watchfulness.” See Bush, “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” Dialogue 14 (Autumn 1981): 47-65; especially p. 51. Richard Bushman discusses Joseph Sr.’s intemperance:

“The vicissitudes of life seem to have weighed heavily on Joseph, Sr. In a patriarchal blessing given to Hyrum, Dec. 9, 1834, Joseph, Sr., commended Hyrum for the respect he paid his father despite difficulties: ‘Though he has been out of the way through wine, thou hast never forsaken him nor laughed him to scorn.’ (Hyrum Smith Papers, Church Archives.) Since there is no evidence of intemperance after the organization of the church, Joseph, Sr., likely referred to a time before 1826 when Hyrum married and left home” (Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism, p. 208)

See Lester E. Bush, Jr. “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” Dialogue 14 (Autumn 1981):47-65; Whitney R. Cross, The Burned-Over District, 235; Paul H. Peterson, “An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom,” M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972, p. 13.

This story regarding the Word of Wisdom in the school of prophets was recounted by Brigham Young, though he was not in attendance at the time, (see JD 12:157-158).

David Whitmer told a slightly different account in a newspaper article 50 years after the meeting. 

Quite a little party of the brethren and sisters being assembled in the Smith’s house. Some of the men were excessive chewers of the filthy weed, and their disgusting slobbering and spitting caused Mrs. Smith…to make the ironical remark that ‘It would be a good thing if a revelation could be had declaring the use of tobacco a sin, and commanding its suppression.’ The matter was taken up and joked about, one of the brethren suggest that the revelation should also provide for a total abstinence form tea and coffee drinking, intending this as a counter dig at the sisters. Sure enough the subject was afterward taken up in dead earnest, and the ‘Word of Wisdom’ was the result (Des Moines Daily News (Des Moines, Iowa), October 16, 1886; as quoted by Peterson, “An Historical Analysis,” 20-21, fully notated in 6 below).

It should be noted Whitmer had apostatized at the time of the articles publication, but the general feeling of his statements agree with Brigham Young’s account that Emma had some influence in the reception of the revelation.

Zebedee Coltrin, who was present at the school when the revelation was presented, recounted his experience in 1883 when the School of the Prophets was revived by President John Taylor:

When the Word of Wisdom was first presented by the Prophet Joseph (as he came out of the translating room) and was read to the School, there were twenty out of the twenty-one who used tobacco and they all immediately threw their tobacco and pipes into the fire.

According to Coltrin, it took longer for the school to refrain from tea and coffee:

Those who gave up using tobacco eased off on licorice root, but there was not easing off on tea and coffee, these they had to give up straight off or their fellowship was jeopardized. [Coltrin]never saw the Prophet Joseph drink tea or coffee again until at Dixon about ten years after (Source: Minutes, Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, October 3, 1883).

It has been suggested that President Taylor revived the school, in part, to encourage the brethren to obey the Word of Wisdom.

“Minutes of the General Conference,” Millennial Star, 1 Feb. 1852, p. 35

Peterson, op. cit. p. 64. A brief online historical sketch of St. George also mentions the wine. See Utah’s Dixie History, accessed Sept. 12, 2007. See also the online article by Joseph Lynn Lyon, “The Word of Wisdom,” accessed on Jeff Lindsay’s Light Planet, September 12, 2007. Leonard J. Arrington discusses the economic aspects in Great Basin Kingdom, p. 223, and in “An Economic Interpretation of the ‘Word of Wisdom.”‘ BYU Studies 1 (Winter 1959):37-49.


See “Healthy Outlook: Fad Diets and the Word of Wisdom,” by Dr. Stan Gardner. Accessed on the Meridian Magazine site, Sept. 12, 2007.

General Bibliography:

Leonard J. Arrington, “An Economic Interpretation of the ‘Word of Wisdom,” BYU Studies 1 (Winter 1959): 37-49.

Paul H. Peterson, “An Historical Analysis of the Word of Wisdom,” M.A. Thesis, Brigham Young University, 1972.

Lester E. Bush, Jr. “The Word of Wisdom in Early Nineteenth-Century Perspective,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14:3 (Autumn 1981):47-65;

Thomas G. Alexander, “The Word of Wisdom: From Principle to Requirement,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 14:3 (Autumn 1981) pp. 78–88.

Clyde Ford, “The Origin of the Word of Wisdom,” Journal of Mormon History 24:2 (Fall 1998), 129–54.

Paul H. Peterson and Ronald W. Walker “Brigham Young’s Word of Wisdom Legacy,” BYU Studies 42:3-4, 2003.

Orig. posted 9/12/2007. Updated and revised 7/2008.

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