Tag Archive: joseph smith


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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:
http://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/

Did Smith have sex with his wives?:
http://www.think-link.org/think/history/joseph_smith_sex.htm

References:

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…

HOW SKEWED IS THE DOCTRINE
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

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.



Footnotes:

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.

[2]
Source: The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith, edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 486

[3]

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)

[4]
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.

[5]
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.

[6]
“Minutes of the General Conference,” Millennial Star, 1 Feb. 1852, p. 35

[7]
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.

[8]

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.

The more I learn about Mormonism as a whole and the deeper symbolism of temples and what goes on in temples, the more I question just what is at the root of it all.

Members of the LDS church all have the ultimate goal of receiving their temple endowment. What does this entail? Basically it involves watching movies which depict the Earth’s creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, followed by taking sacred oaths including blood oaths. During the sacred oath and blood oath process, the individual dons an elaborate costume. When I went through the temple to receive my endowment, we pantomimed our death by horrific means (throat slitting, disembowelment, etc) as a penalty for disobedience. We also learned the “true order of prayer”. This involved raising our hands over our heads and lowering them as we chanted, “Pay Lay Ale”. (these elements were removed from the temple ceremony in 1990.) Recently, I discovered that these words, very similar to the Hebrew words, Pele Heylel, mean “wonderful Lucifer” (Strong’s Concordance, Hebrew dictionary, items # 6382 and 1966) Is it any wonder that Lucifer answers this prayer of Adam in the temple film?

On this note, another thought struck me: Why is it that we listen and obey Satan in the temple film. Several times, Satan tells us to do something, the film stops and we do it. For example, he tells us to put on our fig-leaf apron, the film stops, and we do it. (an apron, interestingly, similar to the one Satan is wearing in the film which he says, himself, is a representation of his power). Kinda freaky, if you think about it. In fact, throughout the film, we see far more of Satan depicted than of Jesus Christ. Why do you think that is? In fact, several times during the film, Satan looks directly into the camera and addresses the congregation. That is something to think about.

Origins of the temple endowment

Why are there blood oaths in the temple ceremony?

20 questions from a true-believing Mormon about what goes on in the temple

One Mormon’s first temple experience and responses from others

The temple endowment ceremony with it’s changes

Occult symbolism of temples

Captain Morgan and Masonic Influence

More on Temples:

Participation in what is called the temple “endowment” ceremony is an important facet of the LDS faith since it is in this ritual where Mormons learn secret “key words,” “signs” and “tokens” that they hope will help them return to God’s presence.
Brigham Young, Mormonism’s second president, claimed,

“Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being able to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 416).

Without their temples, Mormons are told that exaltation (or Godhood) in the next world is an impossibility. By completely obeying various laws and ordinances, faithful Latter-day Saints hope that they too can achieve the status of “Gods” and “Goddesses.”
Since its founding in 1830, the LDS Church has caused quite a controversy among Bible-believing Christians. While Mormons have every right to believe as they may, many leaders of the LDS Church have made some serious accusations against what millions of Christians hold dear. These statements must be challenged in light of history and the Bible.
Latter-day Saints are told that their temples restore temple worship as discussed in the Bible. Mormon Apostle Mark E. Petersen claimed the LDS ceremony actually follows the pattern of biblical days when he wrote:

“In Biblical times sacred ordinances were administered in holy edifices for the spiritual salvation of ancient Israel. These buildings thus were not synagogues, nor any other ordinary places of worship… Following the pattern of Biblical days, the Lord again in our day has provided these ordinances for the salvation of all who will believe, and directs that temples be built in which to perform those sacred rites” (Why Mormons Build Temples, p. 2).

To test what Mr. Petersen has said, all one needs to do is examine the temple ceremony as it was practiced during biblical times. If the LDS temple ceremonies had their precedent in the Bible, it would be logical that today’s rites would be similar to what took place in Israel until AD 70 when the Jerusalem temple was destroyed. But there are many difference, including:

  • The Mormon Church has more than 100 other temples scattered across the globe; the Jews recognized only the temple in Jerusalem.
  • The primary activity at the Jerusalem temple was the sacrifice of animals as atonement for the sins of the people. Worshipers in ancient Israel went to the temple with an attitude of unworthiness before an all holy God. They approached His temple with humility as they looked to have their sins covered. In stark contrast, Mormons enter their temples with a positive sense of worthiness. A person cannot enter a Mormon temple (after it is dedicated) unless he or she is considered “worthy.”
  • The priests officiating in the Jerusalem temple had to be from the tribe of Levi. This was commanded in Numbers 3:6-10. The Mormon Church ignores such commands and allows its “temple-worthy” members who have no such background to officiate in its temples.
  • Wedding ceremonies never occurred in the Jerusalem temple, yet this is a common practice in LDS temples.
  • Baptism for the dead is the most common activity in Mormon temples. No such practice was ever performed in the Jerusalem temple.
  • While many Mormon families have been “sealed” for time and eternity in LDS temples, the Jerusalem temple provided no such ordinance.
  • There is no evidence that “endowments” of any kind, especially anything resembling Mormon temple ceremonies, occurred in the Jerusalem temple.

Mormons are told that the temple ceremony came by way of revelation to Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith, Jr. According to Mormon Apostle John Widtsoe, “Joseph Smith received the temple endowment and its ritual, as all else he promulgated, by revelation from God” (Joseph Smith-Seeker After Truth, p. 249). Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie echoed this same thought when he said the temple ordinances were “given in modern times to the Prophet Joseph Smith by revelation, many things connected with them being translated by the Prophet from the papyrus on which the Book of Abraham was recorded” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 779). This is quite a statement since the Book of Abraham (regarded by Latter-day Saints as sacred scripture) has been shown to be an inaccurate translation of an ancient Egyptian funeral text.

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