Further to my November update; subsequent to extensive international media coverage regarding the polygamy issues, the Mormon Church Newsroom issued a statement on 11 November. This excellent response from ‘Mormon Think‘ is well constructed and I consider it a must read. Please do.
Comments on ‘The Mormon Delusion’ series from Robert Bridgstock, author of ‘The Youngest Bishop in England.’
I am seriously impressed by his 1st Volume: ‘The Truth behind Polygamy and Secret Polyandry.’ Jim is a stickler for detail and a bit of a perfectionist – he wants to get things right and this volume does just that. Packed with detailed information – much of which I never knew before; it is painstakingly laid out, covering the entire early history of polygamy and polyandry – right up to, and past the Manifesto era. I highly recommend it as a serious study of polygamous Mormon history.
Apart from what I once believed to be scripture; I have been influenced by a number of books in my life – regretfully, not the great classic philosophers, but still… men like CS Lewis, the scientist and Christian – Henry Drummond, the Lutheran minister – Richard Wurmbrand, the priest – Richard Rohr, Father Daniel O’Leary, Eckhart Tolle, M Scott Peck, the contemplative – Thomas Merton and the Celtic Poet John O’Donohue. All these and many others, have helped shape my views about the meaning of life and God, because these authors–like me–have believed in some form of divine cause and purposeful existence… but then, I read all 5 volumes of Jim Whitefield’s ‘The Mormon Delusion’ and found myself reassessing and re-evaluating ‘what’ and ‘who’ this God is – especially the God of Mormonism. I appreciate, that within the soul of each LDS member, God may vary widely, therefore, I qualify my meaning by saying that the ‘institutional God’ revealed through countless LDS scripture, manuals and sermons is greatly in question and convincingly challenged by Jim Whitefield. I think his first 3 volumes are just packed with well resourced historical information and I defy the average LDS member who needs to seriously review Mormonism, not to be shocked to the core – should they read with ‘a sincere heart – with real intent.’
When I then glanced at the contents of his last 2 volumes (Vol. 4 The Mormon Missionary lessons and Vol. 5 The Doctrine and Covenants) I thought they would be boring! I thought: ‘Why should I want to read about the Missionary Discussions?‘ And, ‘Reading about the Doctrine and Covenants will also be tedious?’ But I did, and was amazed. If I had to read again any of his books, it would be those last two. Jim brings some very interesting angles and background information on the lunacy of basic Church teachings that we old LDS members once thought were so true. I particularly found his challenges and the scolding of Smith’s absurd god (with a small ‘g’) to be profound as well as hilarious. Seeing through Jim’s eyes, I discovered that the god of the Doctrine and Covenants (Smith invented Revelations) was petty, vengeful, nasty, petulant, arrogant, small minded, deceptive, violent, inconsistent and wholly unreliable… and far from convincing.
Jim repeats himself quite a bit, but the thing is – he is aware of it and tells you the page where he last dealt with the subject properly and then proceeds to give a slightly new angle to the same subject. I personally like repetition; it helps to reinforce things I so easily forgot I had read.
Jim calls himself a ‘Bright.’ A term describing a form of atheism where the naturalistic world view is accepted and the supernatural and mystical, dismissed. What I noticed about all of Jim’s writings through all the volumes, is that he is much restrained with his atheism, which makes me think he holds a very tolerant respect for different beliefs. In only one or two pages in only ‘one’ of his later volumes, does Jim go off in a rant about God or religion and in my opinion, a very justified rant anyway! He calls into question–as I have previously mentioned–the ‘nasty’ ‘vindictive’ attitude of the god that supposedly spoke through Smith… on page 445 of Volume 4, he describes in frustration about the god that never seems to stop blaming and threatening his own people as well as constantly labelling the entire human race as ‘evil’…. “Why can’t the Mormon God, just for once, be NICE – ever?” (My bold emphasis)
Although I have penned my own book on the subject (The Youngest Bishop in England), I would seriously prefer a doubting and serious searcher of truth to read Jim’s volumes before mine as they contain more information and evidence of the hoax.
The author’s grasp and knowledge of science, physics, geology, archaeology and biology, is evident throughout his writings. His journey has been a hard and cruel discovery of facts and like many honest and utterly devout souls who can no longer live a lie, has incurred alienation from his family with suffering and rejection. His books stand as a supreme achievement and offer a light and warning to the world of the real history and face of Mormonism. For me personally, they stand as a major resource and comprehensive evidence to the great Mormon deception; every important issue is there and written with painstaking meticulous care and correctness.
Robert Bridgstock. November 2014.
Two new essays were issued by the Mormon Church during October. As usual, these have been buried, undated, in the ‘Gospel Topics’ section of lds.org without any further public comment or explanation – although the media has picked up on many of the new and controversial disclosures. They are just ‘there’ so the Church can claim more ‘transparency’ when questions arise. The problem is that the new essays, as ever, still cloud some issues with half truths and deliberately omit some of the important lies and deceptions of the past.
Meanwhile, a letter confirming that many essays exist under the ‘Gospel Topics’ section of lds.org has now been distributed to leaders and read to members throughout the Church. But, it makes no reference whatsoever to the thirteen essays that have been issued during the past year or so, so why did they bother? The reason is simple – and all too obvious. The letter (copy below) refers members to just one ‘faith promoting’ essay: “Gospel Learning: Seek Learning by Study and Also by Faith”, which, it claims “explains principles of seeking truth”, in order to condition members’ minds before they may possibly locate and read the new and devastating material now hidden in plain sight among almost two-hundred-and-fifty other essays.
As my friend, Robbie Bridgstock (author of ‘The Youngest Bishop in England’), commented, the letter and essay keep coming back to “faith”. This is Robbie’s emotive comment to me:
“…there is a great play on seeking truth through church related processes, i.e. scripture, prayer, obedience, the words of prophets – always ‘inside’ the LDS faith, but in each case it keeps coming back to FAITH; faith in what they already know, faith in eternal truth, faith (hope) in their eternal future (where all will be revealed!), FAITH, FAITH, FAITH! What about the faith, trust, confidence, hope and expectation of all those who doubt and are searching beyond or behind the facade of Mormonism? They are still actually living-out or enabling themselves – yes, even actualising the principle of faith. To me, it is the self same principle in operation –trusting self, trusting science, trusting others, or even trusting God, to lead them back, or out of Mormonism, when enough solid evidence is discovered. To me, this is a real dynamic and cogent faith.”
I am sure Robbie didn’t expect me to quote him verbatim, but he is of course quite right and his frustration is evident, eloquently expressed, and more than justified. This made me think more deeply about the attempted control over the minds of members as the Church attempts to stop the outflow of so many of the faithful when they learn the awful truth about their once beloved Church. What does the Church have left? The trouble is that there is nothing left and the Church is doomed to continue losing members (and therefore income), and eventually become yet another mediocre has-been religion like the Methodists and Presbyterians which have long been in steady decline.
Admission of lies and cover-ups of the past and a plea for faith that it doesn’t actually matter is not good enough for anyone who thinks beyond ‘BLIND faith’ and employs even a little ‘reason’. The letter brings members back to “faith” in whatever the Church wants them to accept and thus away from science and the discovery of evidence based truth. In the referenced essay, which naturally has “faith” in the title, in five short paragraphs, the word faith appears no less than seventeen times. The essay uses the word ‘reason’ in conjunction with faith three times, but cleverly prompts members: “If from our limited perspective reason appears to contradict faith, we continue our study while steadfastly holding to our faith.” Read that again! Our reason is “limited perspective” (rather than reliable), so if it “appears” to contradict our faith, we should continue our study (of gospel material – not science; that word doesn’t appear), while “steadfastly holding to our faith.” “Appears to contradict”? What about when it really does contradict? This is carefully constructed and deliberate brainwashing. Keep the faith.
Reason, then, may not just ‘appear’ to contradict faith; in many cases, within Mormonism, it positively does contradict it and it is then that faith must be questioned, rather than reason. At a recent Church conference, one speaker advised members to “doubt your doubts” before doubting faith, in another ploy to control the minds of the faithful. As ‘reason’ must ultimately be employed in order to determine anything, if indeed it really is a “limited perspective”, then reason must be equally as inadequate in sustaining faith in something that has no evidence to support it. What it should say is that when reason contradicts faith, then faith must, must, be questioned, as faith is only valid where evidence does not exist. When reason confirms validity of evidence against something that previously required faith in order to believe it, then it is faith that must be abandoned – not reason. I will come back to that at the end of this update. Look out for “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…”
Why did the letter not inform members of the ‘transparency’ contained in the new essays? They claim transparency yet clearly hope most members will never actually look for it. This is real brainwashing on a global scale. Why didn’t they give a list of all the new essays? Is this more ‘milk before meat’ – read this and it will soften the blow when you discover what we have been lying about all these years? The one essay that is referred to, actually states that learning is a “commandment” – twice. Seek by learning; but science and empirical evidence are not mentioned; just “eternal truth” (and we know what that implies), by Study (which apparently does require “reason” among other things), by Faith, and The Word of God – and guess what, there is a promise – knock and it shall be opened. Uh-huh. This is a link to the one and only essay that members are referred to in the letter.
Note the rider that leaders may want to direct members to ‘Gospel Topics’ “when detractors spread misinformation and doubt.” They know very well that much information now available is not misinformation; and it ignores the fact that the Church itself has now published essays admitting to many of the things that the so-called ‘detractors’ have been drawing attention to for years. Some contain the very same information that a number of scholars (the ‘September Six’ for example) were excommunicated for, as they revealed hidden aspects a few years ago.
The Church coming a little cleaner (but still manipulating the truth and desperately trying to paper over the cracks), on the issues covered by the various essays published over the last year or so, does nothing for Mormon leaders’ credibility and everything to confirm that Smith created a complete hoax, entirely based on lies and deception from the start. It would be impossible to address all the problems created in these two essays here so the following will be limited and for more information, I would refer readers to ‘The Mormon Delusion Volume 1 – The Truth Behind Polygamy and Secret Polyandry’ which covers empirical evidence of the truth of this area in extensive detail.
Truth and integrity are two words the Church still doesn’t seem to understand or apply when they feel they have no choice but to at least admit to some of the things they have hidden and lied about for so long. The essay claims the Lord “…did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment.” Had polygamy been a genuine revelation, of course the Lord would have laid out clear ‘rules’ for his plan, but they have to claim there were no “exact instructions” because they cannot remotely explain (or justify) Joseph Smith’s paedophilia or bigamy; and “…participants were asked to keep their actions confidential” translates to, ‘they were to deny and lie about it.’ The essays do not explain how any God could or would ever condone the many now admitted lies, including quoting false scripture (old D&C 101, since removed), about a doctrine. Any truth, not that there ever was any, ends where lies begin.
Apostles, including Lorenzo Snow and John Taylor, lied outright when in England, convincing new converts that the rumours about polygamy were just malicious lies. Converts, Fanny Stenhouse and Mary Burton, heard these talks first hand, which were recorded.
This is an extract from The Mormon Delusion, Volume 1:34-35:
As late as 1850, Apostle John Taylor, later to become the third President of the Church, and who had regularly denied the rumours of polygamy in his sermons abroad, in a tract published in England, insisted that Mormons did not believe in or practice plural marriage:
“We are accused here of polygamy… and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such that none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief… I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us containing some of the articles of our Faith. ‘Doctrine and Covenants,’ page 330… ‘Inasmuch as this Church of Jesus 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…’” (A tract published by John Taylor in 1850, page 8; found in Orson Pratt’s Works, 1851 edition).
Apostle John Taylor was not telling the truth. He later became the prophet and President of the Church. At the time of his published denial of polygamy in 1850, John Taylor himself had already married eleven polygamous wives who had at that time, already borne him eight of the total following children:
Leonora Cannon, married 1833, 4 children
Elizabeth Kaighin, married 1843, 3 children
Jane Ballantyne, married 1844, 3 children
Anna Ballantyne (Allen), married 1844, separated 1845, divorced 1852
Mary A. Oakley, married 1845, 5 children
Mary A. Utley, married 1846
Mary Ramsbottom, married 1846
Sarah Thornton (Coleman) married 1846, div 1852
Lydia Dible (Granger Smith), married 1846
Ann Hughlings (Pitchforth), married 1846
Sophia Whittaker, married 1847, 8 children
Harriet Whittaker, married 1847, 3 children
(Dialogue: Spring 1985:23. LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890-1904. D. Michael Quinn; Also: Quinn 1994:597).
Apostle Taylor lied. He had in fact been involved in, as he described it, “…the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such that none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief…” and yet he preached that “…we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband.” On the strength of Taylor’s witness as an apostle of the Lord, many women emigrated from England to America, only to discover upon their arrival in Salt Lake, that he had lied. A life of bondage in polygamy awaited many of them. The notion that any God would approve, is preposterous.
A reading of the first few chapters of ‘Tell it All’ by Fanny Stenhouse will confirm the secrecy and denials in England regarding polygamy, including recollections of talks given by Taylor in which he denied its existence. When I first learned of this, I felt just as Mary Burton must have felt when she expressed herself so eloquently and yet so distressingly in a letter to Fanny Stenhouse when, after all the rumours and denials, they were faced with the publication of the revelation in the Millennial Star.
“…Who could believe that Orson Pratt or Lorenzo Snow knew nothing of Polygamy? And yet they denied it in the most solemn way. And, oh, Sister Stenhouse, think of the Apostle Taylor calling God to witness his truth when he proved from the Book of Covenants that there was no such thing as Polygamy: and all the while he had himself five wives in Salt Lake City! Oh, my! This is dreadful. Whether the doctrine is true or not, I can never believe that God would forgive all that abominable lying about it.” (Stenhouse, F. 1874).
[End of TMD extract].
The first essay goes on to try to excuse Smith’s actions thus: “The revelation, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 132, states that Joseph prayed to know why God justified Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Solomon in having many wives. The Lord responded that He had commanded them to enter into the practice.”
Naturally, the essay does not tell the rest of the story from other Mormon so-called scripture. The Book of Mormon explains that the actions of David and Solomon were an abomination. But Smith wrote the BOM before he invented the ‘restoration’ of polygamy which covered up his adulterous affairs.
“For behold, thus saith the Lord: this people begin to wax in iniquity; they understand not the scriptures, for they seek to excuse themselves in committing whoredoms, because of the things which were written concerning David and Solomon his son. Behold David and Solomon truly had many wives and concubines, which thing was abominable before me, saith the Lord.” (Book of Mormon. Jacob 2: 23-24).
The Book of Mormon twice confirms the practice “abominable” and the D&C twice states that the practice was “justified” (see TMD Vol.1). Both refer to the wives of David and both are preceded by “Thus saith the Lord”. In a letter to Morris L. Reynolds dated 14 July 1966, Apostle LeGrand Richards said: “I am afraid I can’t adequately reconcile these two statements… If the one in Doctrine and Covenants 132:1 had omitted the names of David and Solomon, then I think I could reconcile the two statements.” (Tanner 1987:205). The essay does NOT mention this incredible (double) contradiction by the Mormon God.
No one can justify contradicting statements, especially when they are both purported to have come from God, prefixed by “Thus saith the Lord.” The notion is simply farcical. As it happens, the names of David and Solomon were not omitted, so not only could Richards not reconcile the statements, we have absolute and conclusive proof of Smith’s complete hoax right there in Mormon ‘scripture’. There is no argument left that can be made. Game over.
God, if one exists, is accepted as never changing; if something is an abomination, he cannot change his unchangeable mind about it later. It was not God; it was Smith who later changed his mind about it, in order to accommodate the perverse sexual behaviour he embarked on. The Church constantly excuses Smith and other past leaders as being ‘only human’ but they cannot use the same argument on behalf of their God when he says “Thus saith the Lord.”
In the essay, the Church admits Smith tried to persuade women to accommodate his sexual advances using an ‘angel with a sword, threatening to kill him’ approach. They try to cover up Smith’s first documented affair thus: “Fragmentary evidence suggests that Joseph Smith acted on the angel’s first command by marrying a plural wife, Fanny Alger, in Kirtland, Ohio, in the mid-1830s.”
Fragmentary nothing! No, Smith did not act on an angel’s command; he had yet to invent the angel with a sword idea. He did not marry Fanny, he had a well documented affair with her; and it was not exactly the mid 1830s, he was eventully ‘caught in the act’ with Fanny, during an ongoing affair that had started in 1832-1833. Note the sly manipulation of half truths into a convenient less troublesome storyline in one sentence. That is the way Mormon leaders work. The Fanny Alger affair is further examined below.
The essay continues: “Several Latter-day Saints who had lived in Kirtland reported decades later that Joseph Smith had married Alger, who lived and worked in the Smith household, after he had obtained her consent and that of her parents. Little is known about this marriage, and nothing is known about the conversations between Joseph and Emma regarding Alger. After the marriage with Alger ended in separation, Joseph seems to have set the subject of plural marriage aside until after the Church moved to Nauvoo, Illinois.”
Back to that in a moment. Note the devious manipulation of the truth in this essay statement: “Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.”
While Smith claimed (and backdated) the idea that an angel conveniently appeared between 1834 and 1842, the essay does not mention that the monogamy revelation (D&C 101, since removed), appeared in the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants and was in regular use to disavow polygamy for the next seventeen years, until the Church went public on polygamy on 28-29 August 1852, when the doctrine was first announced. At a special conference in Salt Lake City, over eight years after Smith’s death, the secrecy finally ended. Despite major inflow to the Church in 1853 and 1854, word started to penetrate to all levels of the Church. Many thousands then rejected polygamy and left the fold. By the end of 1857, despite many thousands of new converts, overall, there were over 13,000 fewer members than in 1854, a drop of over 19% in Church membership. (Statistics from Church Almanac 2006:652).
Also, no ‘sealing power’ was claimed until 1836, so where did Smith’s authority come from? Nothing fits, unless it is manipulated for convenience, and even then it is wishful thinking by the Church. It may well be that due to the unprecedented admission of such devastating historical evidence of lies and deception, that the already large stream of members leaving the Church will develop into yet another surge – a tide of devastated Mormons voting with their feet. Their Church is not only supposed to be true, its leaders are also assumed to be the epitome of integrity and beyond reproach. They are clearly not – and never have been.
If you can believe the Church spin on Smith’s ‘angel with a drawn sword threatening his life’ story, you will no doubt believe anything – but for many who leave the fold in disgust, discovery of that statement causes a defining moment – their final epiphany that the whole thing was indeed a complete hoax. The essay’s claim that Smith’s ‘marriage’ to Fanny Alger was in the “mid 1830’s” is another attempted misdirection, as Smith’s claims that an angel commanded him to enter polygamy, are confirmed as between 1834 and 1842. They hope readers will assume the first visit was before the Fanny Alger period. However, there was no marriage, her parents did not record approval and the ongoing affair was discovered and admitted (and forgiven by Emma), before the backdated period of Smith’s invention of the angel with a sword. In any event, it would be entirely impossible to convince any sane person that Smith getting caught in a barn, having his way with a sixteen-year-old housemaid, was the result of an angel threatening to kill him if he didn’t do it. To believe that to be the case, which is what the Church is now asking, does not require faith – it doesn’t even need a deep seated delusion – it takes complete and utter madness.
They don’t mention the fact that the ‘angel with a sword’ idea was first invented and shared when Smith used it on Zina Huntington in 1841, in order to finally convince her to marry him after she had denied his advances three times. She had by then married someone else. Even then, the devious Smith sent Zina’s brother to convince her about the angel and sword con rather than go himself. We could ask why the angel didn’t just go and explain it all to Zina in the first place. Smith used it again on Emily Partridge in March of 1843. What need would an angel even have for a sword? It is a purely human invention. Anyone can backdate a claim for convenience – and it had nothing whatsoever to do with the Fanny Alger affair.
So, there is no documented mention of an angel with a sword until long after Fanny Alger; no ‘fragmentary evidence’ that remotely credibly ‘suggests’ anything – no evidence that Smith ‘married’ Fanny or that her parents ever ‘consented’ at all; it is sheer conjecture, but there is well documented (and conveniently unmentioned) evidence of the affair, commencing in 1832-1833 – and the uproar it caused, including Emma later throwing Fanny down the stairs and out of the house when she may have caused Fanny to have a miscarriage. Think about it. If Smith actually had asked Fanny’s parents if he could bed her, surely he would have also sought Emma’s permission, especially if a sword wielding angel really had demanded he do so and would ‘run him through’ if he didn’t; and in a barn? It was an ongoing affair and he simply got caught.
Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith’s third cousin, one of his scribes and a witness to the Book of Mormon, couldn’t cope with Smith’s affair with the sixteen-year-old Fanny. In a letter to his brother, Oliver Cowdery commented on Fanny and Joseph: “in which in every instance I did not fail to affirm that what I had said was strictly true. A dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s was talked over in which I strictly declared that I had never deserted from the truth in the matter, and as I supposed was admitted by himself.” (Brodie 1963:182). Smith admitted the affair but there was never any mention of a ‘marriage’ during those early years recorded anywhere by anyone that I could locate. The Church is well aware of all that but now (for claimed transparency) chooses to reinvent history by manipulating the angel with a sword story. The Church has a long history of being devious and manipulative. Nothing has changed.
Cowdery paid the price for not lying for Smith and was later excommunicated. Among other things it was for “insinuating that the prophet had been guilty of adultery” (HC 3:16). That he actually was guilty did not seem to matter to Smith at all, so despite the faithful service he had given to Smith in so many areas, and despite the fact that he was Smith’s third cousin, Cowdery’s integrity cost him his membership in the Church. For Smith, Oliver Cowdery’s usefulness had ended, while his own sexual advances and activities continued and expanded.
For quite some time, Emma had no idea that Joseph was having an affair with Fanny. She reportedly found out by catching them together in their barn, when Joseph humbly confessed and was forgiven. Later, when Fanny was obviously pregnant, Emma threw her out. It happened when Fanny was “unable to conceal the consequences of her Celestial relationship”, according to Chauncey Webb, whose family offered to take Fanny in. This is not ‘fragmentary evidence’ from ‘decades’ later (hearsay); it is well documented, first hand, eye witness evidence, yet the Church chooses to ignore it and clutch at virtually invisible straws that are more convenient for their desired storyline. (See TMD Vol. 1 for much more on polygamy and polyandry that the Church still contrives to hide from its members).
The admission that Smith’s youngest conquest was just fourteen years old has reportedly already caused quite a stir among Church members – and the wider world as well. But once again, even then, only part of the truth is revealed. The essay claims “The youngest was Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Joseph’s close friends Heber C. and Vilate Murray Kimball, who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday. Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens. Helen Mar Kimball spoke of her sealing to Joseph as being “for eternity alone,” suggesting that the relationship did not involve sexual relations.”
Marriage at that age, although unusual, was indeed quite legal but the essay fails to mention, at that point (where, to claim ‘transparency’, it really must), that Smith was of course already married – and bigamy (and polygamy) were anything but legal – at any age. Smith’s lurid actions can never be excused by such devious misdirection. “Several months before her fifteenth birthday” is a blatant attempt to soften the fact that Helen was just fourteen years old when Smith got his hands on her. In trying to make Smith sound less of a paedophile by saying it was before her fifteenth birthday, rather than that she was just fourteen, the Church must think people are stupid. Additionally, the suggestion that it was for “eternity alone”, attempts to exclude the reality that Smith had sex with her – and he forbad her from attending weekly dances held at the Smith home – she had to stay home while her brother attended. They do not admit that Helen Mar Kimball herself later personally confirmed that she, seventeen-year-old Lucy Walker, and also sixteen-year-old Flora Ann Woodward, had sexual relations with Smith as his plural wives. (See Quinn 1994:639). Evidence of Smith ‘grooming’ another girl from an even younger age and more confirmed sexual relationships with several other wives appears in The Mormon Delusion Vol. 1.
The essay conveniently ignores Helen’s own admission as well as her personally recorded anguish “…he [Joseph Smith] said to me, ‘if you take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household and all of your kindred.’ This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward…” Despite the essay’s weak attempt at covering up the sexual context, one should ask why it does not incorporate Helen’s own words which include: “…no girl liked dancing better than I did…and like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur. I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.” (Van Wagoner 1989:53 c: Lewis 1848:19). The essay is more than selective and deviously manipulative with many details it provides – and still hides.
In fact, not just one, but two of Smith’s wives were about fourteen years old. One of them was Helen and the other was Nancy Maria Winchester (who by my research was fourteen, but may have just turned fifteen). He also married three sixteen-year-olds, two seventeen-year-olds and two nineteen-year-olds. By the time the 1842 polygamy revelation was written down, Smith had married about thirty women. This included at least four sets of sisters, a mother and her daughter (who were both already married), and nine other married women. (See TMD Vol.1 Apx A & B for full details of Smith’s known wives and their families).
There are numerous nonsense statements in this essay, such as “Joseph Smith’s sealings to women already married may have been an early version of linking one family to another. In Nauvoo, most if not all of the first husbands seem to have continued living in the same household with their wives during Joseph’s lifetime, and complaints about these sealings with Joseph Smith are virtually absent from the documentary record. These sealings may also be explained by Joseph’s reluctance to enter plural marriage because of the sorrow it would bring to his wife Emma.”
Claiming “complaints about these sealings… are virtually absent…” is actually an admission that there were at least some very upset first husbands. One victim was Orson Hyde, whose wife, Marinda Nancy Johnson, was paired up with Willard Richards by Smith after Hyde was sent on a mission; that is, until Smith decided he wanted her for himself and he married her. The devastating story of Marinda is detailed in TMD Vol.1:146-151. The real explanation is evidenced by the several married women he seduced and Smith didn’t seem reluctant at all. He tried to seduce dozens of women; he ‘married’ well over thirty and was rejected by quite a few others whom he then threatened, should they ever expose him. Rejections came from Sarah Kimball, Sarah Pratt, Jane Law, Nancy Rigdon (to whom Smith wrote a love letter which fully exposed his advances, which he then had to admit), and at least fourteen others. (See TMD Vol.1 Ch. 6 – and Apx M for the text of the Nancy Rigdon letter). If it was his God’s will, why did these faithful women all refuse Smith and why the need to then threaten them?
It seems Smith just tried to seduce anyone he could. Add together the known ‘wives’ and the several ‘probable wives’, where there actually is what the essay earlier labelled ‘fragmentary evidence’, plus the known refusals and we find that Smith tried his luck with at least sixty-four women and probably many more. Reluctance doesn’t come into it. Joseph Smith was a well practiced con artist and the ‘angel with a drawn sword’ story sometimes worked on reluctant victims. He also told some women that God didn’t mind if they had a little fun – so they did. TMD 1 provides further fully referenced details of Smith’s antics and methods of seduction.
When I approached the Church during 2006-7, at a time when they perhaps thought that no one would ever know the truth, Church leaders confirmed to me personally that “polyandry was and is contrary to doctrine” and “those who participated would have to account for it.” Of course, that was long before the essays were considered. I provided evidence that Smith, Young and Kimball all practiced polyandry and that Young and Kimball had children by polyandrous wives (see TMD Vol. 1, Ch. 9), yet one General Authority had no idea polyandry had even been verified. I pointed out that doctrinally, Smith, Young and Kimball therefore forfeit their eternal salvation. With nowhere to go, having confirmed polyandry was contrary to doctrine, he said “It doesn’t matter; the Church is still true; Joseph still saw God and Jesus and still translated the Book of Mormon.” *
But the polyandry does matter – the new essay now openly admits that it occurred – and the Church can’t simply ignore inconvenient facts. They must be faced and dealt with. Naturally, the essay does not confirm that polyandry is contrary to doctrine, even though the Church confirmed it to me just a few short years ago, as to do so now would mean they also have to admit that doctrinally, Smith, Young and Kimball are all indeed doomed. Smith, and the others, did some terrible deeds; he did not see God and Jesus as claimed (see ‘The First Vision’ article on themormondelusion.com sidebar), nor did he ‘translate’ the Book of Mormon (see TMD Vol. 2). It is all fiction – all of it – and conclusively provably so.
Smith kept knowledge of most of his liaisons from Emma – and what ‘reluctance’ did Joseph show? He married over thirty women between 1841 and 1844 and Emma was apt to throw them out when she found out what he was doing with some of them in her house. Some of Emma’s married friends became Smith wives and she never knew about them. Following his death, Emma lied about her husband’s polygamy, pretending that it never happened – to the extent that even her children believed her. (More details in TMD Vol. 1).
There is so much evidence now confirming the Church has lied about everything from the start that the fallback statement: “it doesn’t matter; the Church is still true”, has more than worn thin. It really does matter; it matters a great deal, and the Church simply isn’t true. It cannot possibly be, no matter how much we would like it to be, as no God could or would ever be involved in or endorse such constant denials of (some now admitted) disgraceful duplicity and debauchery, lies and deception. There is much more nonsense in the essay and I would again refer the reader to TMD Vol. 1 where the subject is covered in detail.
“Like the beginning of plural marriage in the Church, the end of the practice was a process rather than a single event. Revelation came “line upon line, precept upon precept.”
Not until now has the cessation of polygamy been considered a ‘process’ rather than a single event. It is now admitted, simply because of abundant evidence that polygamy continued well into the twentieth century – even though the Church had committed to the government that it would cease the practice completely and immediately when the manifesto was issued. Now there is no choice but to face and admit the facts – although, even then, the new essay is somewhat more than economical with that truth and completely ignores important evidence.
In what is now ‘Official Declaration 1’ (OD1) in the D&C, Wilford Woodruff claimed charges of post manifesto polygamy were false: “…as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice.” The new essay confirms otherwise, which means lies are canonized in scripture. In TMD 1:209, I coined the phrase: “You can pretend to live according to the law but you cannot hide all the babies.” I list well over a hundred children conceived and born to Mormon leaders’ polygamous (not first) wives, post Manifesto. Yet, the agreement with the government was that they would cohabit with only one wife each, post Manifesto.
The OD1 includes later notes from Woodruff in which he claims: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme.” And “The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for … any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion.” … “I should have gone to prison myself, and let every other man go there, had not the God of heaven commanded me to do what I did do…” He meant that the government had seized Church assets and the only way to get them released was to issue the Manifesto.
Yet, in reality, he did not do “what the God of heaven commanded me to do.” The Manifesto was initially drafted by lawyers. Woodruff and the other leaders did not stop the practice at all. Woodruff himself entered a further plural marriage several years later. On 19 August 1897, the prophet of God, Wilford Woodruff, married his sixth wife, Lydia Mountford, some seven years after he had solemnly declared that God Himself had informed him (Woodruff) that it was against God’s will and that he intended to obey the law. He was ninety years old when he married Lydia, who was fifty-one years his junior, aged thirty-nine. He died just over a year later. He was as duplicitous as the rest – but the essay does not disclose any of that. (And no, marrying her ‘at sea’ did not circumvent the law).
The essay is honest enough to state that “Both President John Taylor and President Wilford Woodruff felt the Lord directing them to stay the course and not renounce plural marriage.” But then the later change of heart is ‘excused’ in the essay with “This inspiration came when paths for legal redress were still open. The last of the paths closed in May 1890, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Edmunds-Tucker Act, allowing the confiscation of Church property to proceed.”
“…felt the Lord directing them” should equate to revelation, not just “inspiration” when paths were still open. This is more misdirection. What they do not mention is that John Taylor, as prophet, also declared that the principle would NEVER be taken from the earth. Some fundamentalists claim that it wasn’t and trace their practice back to a claimed but disputed Taylor revelation. And why was the Lord “directing them to stay the course” when he must have known it couldn’t happen? The essay stating that “this inspiration came” when paths were still open, is a very lame excuse for so-called prophets getting things very wrong. If they were prophets, the change of heart must have been their God’s change, otherwise it was not his ‘direction’ or even ‘inspiration’ – it was just wishful thinking, and they were indeed leading people astray – one way or the other. If polygamy was that important and expected never to be taken from the earth, why did God not simply have the Church locate to a suitable country where it could be practiced without interference – instead of Salt Lake? We know the leaders expected the second coming at any time, certainly by 1892, though the Church now denies it.
The essay claims “The Manifesto declared President Woodruff’s intention to submit to the laws of the United States. It said nothing about the laws of other nations. Ever since the opening of colonies in Mexico and Canada, Church leaders had performed plural marriages in those countries, and after October 1890, plural marriages continued to be quietly performed there.”
This statement implies that polygamy was actually legal in Mexico and Canada and it is left to readers to discover the truth, buried in a footnote, which admits that such marriages were just as ‘illegal’ in Mexico and Canada as they were in the United States, but the authorities there tended to turn a blind eye. That is not exactly in concert with the laws of those lands, Article of Faith 12 (or 13 for that matter), or obedience to the declared new laws of the Mormon God.
Heber J. Grant was the last polygamous Mormon apostle to become President, in 1918. He died in 1945. Grant also had three post Manifesto children by his third wife. Luckily for him and for the Church, he only had one surviving wife when he was called as President, so his crimes of the past simply passed by unnoticed. However, the fact is that after the Manifesto, by 1897, he felt incapable of obeying the law, and Grant himself recorded when he decided to start sleeping again with Emily, his third wife. In so doing, he violated the law of the land and although not enforced, the law of the Church and thus the absolute Law of his God.
Although not included in the published Manifesto, the leaders all knew their agreement with the government included cohabiting with only one wife, but of the big fifteen, Lorenzo Snow was apparently the only one to comply. He lived with his youngest wife, Minnie, who was forty-three years his junior. Grant himself referred to the ‘laws against cohabitation’ thus:
“I spent the night at Emily’s. I have not been living with Emily for a number of years on account of the laws against cohabitation, but I have felt for some time that it was not the right thing for me to fail to live with her as a wife and I have made up my mind to change my manner of living in this particular no matter if I do get into some trouble. I am sure that the Lord and my brethren will approve of my change, and I know that I will feel better satisfied with myself to say nothing of the better feeling that Emily will have to be treated in all respects as a wife.” (Heber J. Grant Diary 24 May 1897).
It seems an extreme of rationalisation to assume the Lord would approve, unless Grant knew full well that the Lord had nothing to do with the whole idea of the Manifesto in the first place. (See TMD Vol.1: Ch.14 for the full Manifesto story). He may well have felt satisfied, but in consequence of this decision, in 1899, Grant was arrested and entered a plea of guilty to the charge of unlawful cohabitation. He was fined $100. (Salt Lake Tribune 9 Sep 1899).
The essay admits leaders did not act in compliance with terms agreed with the government. “After the election of B. H. Roberts, a member of the First Council of the Seventy, to the U.S. Congress, it became known that Roberts had three wives, one of whom he married after the Manifesto. A petition of 7 million signatures demanded that Roberts not be seated. Congress complied, and Roberts was barred from his office.”
Mormon Church leaders were branded as liars and deceivers by Congress; their ‘word’ was unreliable in the extreme – and worthless. There was no honesty or integrity then – and there is none now; the same old tricks are being played out on the faithful in this essay, with half truths and excuses which would offend any God – or any moral mortal for that matter.
The essay mentions the ‘second manifesto’, issued by the sixth prophet, Joseph F. Smith, in 1904. This was to be a ‘watershed moment’ after which everyone would obey the law or be disciplined. Yet in 1906, the prophet himself fell foul of the law. The essay fails to mention that having issued the so-called second manifesto, despite his own public affirmation of obedience to the law in 1904, Smith, who was President from 1901-1918, had himself not only authorised many polygamous marriages, either personally or by proxy, but he had also consistently been illegally cohabiting with several wives of his own, ever since the 1890 Manifesto. He had fathered many children by five plural wives, post Manifesto, and he continued to do so after his 1904 statement. He actually had 13 children between 1891 and 1906, by five polygamous wives. (See TMD Vol. 1:224). The last one, born several years after he became the President of the Church, was to be his legal undoing.
Following the birth of Royal Grant Smith on 21 May 1906, born to Mary Taylor Schwartz who was wife number six, Church President, Joseph F. Smith, was arrested. The charge could have been much worse but was reduced to that of unlawful cohabitation with four women in addition to his lawful wife. When the case went to trial on 23 November 1906 Smith pleaded guilty and was fined $300 which was the maximum penalty permitted under the law. (Deseret Evening News 23 Nov 1906; Salt Lake Tribune 24 Nov 1906). The Prophet of God admitted to being guilty of knowingly and wilfully breaking the agreed law of the land, the Church Articles of Faith, and violating the laws of the God he represented and had spoken for just two years earlier. This really does disqualify someone from being a true prophet but the essay ignores this and many other equally damning issues completely.
There is so much more nonsense and meaningless excuses in these two essays that another book could be written about the continuing conspiracy to deceive members through cleverly manipulated and sparingly covered detail in further so-called ‘admissions’ of Mormon history. Make up your own mind about these things, but if you had known all this detail – and that discussed in earlier essays, prior to joining the Church, would you have even considered it?
Faith is the substance of things hoped for…
The (now discarded) Mormon ‘Lecture First of Faith’, as it was originally known (See TMD Vol. 5), cites Hebrews 11:1 in this manner. “Now faith is the substance [assurance] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The word ‘assurance’ does not appear in the KJV but does now appear in the American Standard Version instead of ‘substance’, and it also has ‘conviction’ rather than ‘evidence’. This seems logical, as there can be no ‘evidence’ of things not seen. That surely is the whole point of faith – it exists only as long as there is no evidence to support (or refute) the thing you have faith in. Once evidence (of either persuasion) is available, faith in the matter is rendered redundant. … In the final analysis, only evidence counts. (TMD Vol. 5:17).
The concept that: “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” has bothered me greatly, as “faith” and “evidence” are two words that are entirely incompatible. One can only exist when the other is absent. The incompatibility and absurd claim bothered me so much, that (supposed scripture or not), in TMD Vol.5:23, I took the liberty of saying that I think Hebrews 11:1 might more appropriately be rephrased this way:
“Faith is the unquantified anticipation of things hoped for, the unsubstantiated conviction of things not seen.” (Jim Whitefield). And I defy any rational thinking person to argue with that.
Only when there is absolutely no evidence for something can ‘religious faith’ be called upon to believe in it. That is the very basis of religion. (The word ‘faith’, in a secular context, has an entirely different meaning and can be replaced with other words). Where and when empirical evidence becomes available – religious faith is at once obsolete in respect of that matter.
Just as “atheism” describes “an absence of belief” in deities,
So “faith” describes an absence of “evidence” for something.
Such is the case, for example, regarding the pseudoscience of creationism vs. evolution. The Mormon Church recently confirmed continued belief in both creationism and no death before 6,000 years ago (see earlier updates), while the Pope has just announced that he now understands God did not have a magic wand and that the big bang and evolution are true. He made that admission in light of compelling and overwhelming evidence that is stronger than any other scientific theory (and I am sure, if you have read my earlier notes, you know that in science, ‘theory’ does not mean ‘hypothesis’; it simply describes the ‘explanation’ of ‘facts’ that have been verified and established as true through extensive and ongoing observation and testing).
Once conclusive evidence is established which contradicts something that someone (or an organisation) previously required faith to believe in, then that faith is obsolete and redundant. They must accept the factual information – just as the Pope has had the courage to do. To continue to assert faith and belief in something that has been proven not to be the case, as the Mormon Church so clearly has, when the evidence against the belief is so conclusive, is not just irrational, it is completely delusional – so much so that the Mormon Church has effectively signed its own death warrant. Future leaders, who realise what damage has been done, will be hard pushed to find a way out of the hole that has been dug for them. They are well practiced at obfuscation and misdirection but ‘creationism’ instead of evolution and ‘no death before 6,000 years ago’ are two steps too far, one hole too deep, and lies that are far too obvious to ever recover from – and their God can’t help them now.
* Finally, for those who expect full disclosure, whilst I have no desire to embarrass men who once claimed to be my friends, and I would rather not have included this, I felt obliged to reveal who the GA’s were in TMD Vol.1. This is the substance of page 108, with a few words added for clarification.
“My first approach to the Church regarding my devastating, albeit accidental, discovery of polyandry, was to Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland who replied in writing: “There is much that can be said on this subject, there are some things we don’t know and therefore can’t be said…” (11 Aug 2006). [In response to the question “What is the official Church position on polyandry?” – Apostle Holland answered on behalf of the Church via a member of the 1st Quorum of Seventy who confirmed]: “It was and is absolutely contrary to Church doctrine.” “Those who participated would have to account for it.” (Elder Kenneth Johnson of the 1st Quorum of Seventy (now emeritus), in a telephone conversation with the author, 8 September 2006). With no definitive answer from the General Authorities, following almost a year of waiting for a promised response: “…it may well be that you and I will have to wait until we stand face to face beyond the veil of death to obtain a complete understanding of purported events and associations.” (Elder Kenneth Johnson of the 1st Quorum of Seventy, in correspondence with the author, dated 7 August 2007). [A year after asking], in April of 2007, the Church (Jeff Holland through Ken Johnson), had asked for more time to research my findings on polyandry, as: “…it is not easy to find or validate information such as this without conducting meticulous research.” The promised response regarding the results of research concerning what comprises much of the evidence presented in the following chapters on polyandry is still awaited. As I was no longer receiving replies to letters sent to Kenneth Johnson, in June of 2008, I wrote once again to Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, requesting the promised results of Church research and also an answer to my questions. To date, I have not received a reply. Jim Whitefield – September 2010” (TMD Vol. 1:108).
It later became clear from other ex Mormons who had approached Jeff Holland before I did (and who had similar experiences with him), and also from apologetic articles I then discovered, that polyandry had already been fully evidenced and documented, exactly as per the evidence I had submitted, so clearly Holland lied about the Church undertaking further research on my behalf and never did intend to respond. I can only conclude that Church leaders will bluff, lie (for the Lord?), and ultimately ignore such problems and hope they will eventually go away.
Jim Whitefield. Copyright © November 2014.