Mormon Leaders Grievously Lied and
Deceived From the Beginning
And their corrupt progeny continue to walk in their egregious perversion of truth to this very day.†
The writer seems to indicate in this piece that he is an outraged and broken hearted former Mormon.† Outraged that those who are the most trusted by the Mormon faithful [The founders of Mormonism, Mormonismís early leaders up through one of Mormonismís most current leaders] would so brazenly break one of the most basic building blocks of the Mormon faith, which is: Mormonís do not lie, Mormons do not deceive, Mormons always tell the straight truth regardless of personal cost.
The writer takes on a careful journey about recorded well documented Mormon lies from the beginning of the faith regarding polygamy, by no less than Joseph Smith, and those he surrounded himself with, Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders thereafter.
He then goes through the Mormon Massacre showing that Brigham Young engineered it, and lies concerning the heretical Mormon doctrine that states: ďGod was once a man like you and I, and that we are to become Godís like him.Ē Something that Mormonís vehemently deny, whenever the subject is skirted by a non-Mormon, whether it is a preacher, member of the press, or just the common non-Mormon.
The work that he has done in compiling this piece is nothing short of incredible. †This is this manís heart-cry, for his fellow Mormonís to somehow see a glimmer of light in his direct quotes from Mormon Sacred Texts and quotes written by Mormon leaders themselves, and in some cases those that were closest to them.
If Mormonism itself is not the "one true religion" as it claims to be, then that claim, of course is not true, and is a lie. If Joseph Smith did not really see angels, and if he did not really translate the Book of Mormon with divine help, then those claims are lies.
But the purpose of this article is not to deal with those broad issues, since the amount of evidence that would be required to demonstrate the falsity of those claims (and the other broad claims of Mormonism) is more than can be dealt with in a small space.
Rather, I will present here instances where Mormon leaders and the Mormon church can be easily and clearly proven to have lied intentionally in order to deceive, in the service of their religion.
Lying, I will show, although piously condemned by Mormon scriptures and in sermons by Mormon leaders, has been used by the church and its leaders from the very beginning to the present day. Such use of falsehood is completely incongruous with its claims of being led by God in righteousness, as the source of truth. Would God (or God's messengers) need to lie? Lying, "is not of God."
(Emphasis added in all cites)
17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
18 And if it be by some other way (In lies, deceit, deception, alteration, or in omission) it is not of God.
24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
25 And whatsoever is more or less than this (He who adds to or removes or omits the truth) is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.
26 The spirit of truth is of GodÖ
17 Wherefore, I, the Lord, have said that the fearful, and the unbelieving, and all liars, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie, and the whoremonger, and the sorcerer, shall have their part in that lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.
7 ...it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive;...
2 Nephi 9:34
34 Woe unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell.
2 Nephi 28:8-11
And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God -- (For) he will justify (You) in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little ...; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. ...
11 Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted.
So here the writer clearly establishes that in the book of Mormon and in the Mormon book of Doctrines and Customs that lying in any way shape of form is not permitted by God and any in doing, nor in Mormonism itself, and if so discovered those are to be unceremoniously cast out of Mormonism.
Jeremiah 48:10 Cursed be he that doeth the work of the LORD deceitfully...
Marvin J. Ashton made the following comments in his sermon "This Is No Harm" (from Ensign magazine 2000):
"A lie is any communication given to another with the intent to deceive." A lie can be effectively communicated without words ever being spoken. Sometimes a nod of the head or silence can deceive....
It is a tragedy to be the victim of lies. Being trapped in the snares of dishonesty and misrepresentation does not happen instantaneously. One little lie or dishonest act leads to another until the perpetrator is caught in the web of deceit. ...
A wise person will not allow himself to be victimized by the unscrupulous because of false pride. Oftentimes people are swindled because false pride prevents them from asking questions and seeking additional information. For fear of embarrassment or being thought ignorant, a prospect ofttimes nods his head in the affirmative when he really doesn't understand the glib salesman's line of chatter. "What does that mean?" "What are the risks?" "What are the pitfalls?" "What is the history of the company?" "What references do you have?" are questions worthy of pursuit. ....If prudent decisions cannot be reached on the basis of one's own expertise, advice should be sought from knowledgeable and trusted counselors. Offers that cannot wait or stand review are not worthy.
[My comment: Although Ashton is referring here to unscrupulous salesmen and promoters of business schemes, the advice would also be excellent for those who are investigating Mormonism, and listening to the deceptive pitch and pressure of the Mormon missionaries.]
... People of integrity will neither foster, nourish, embrace, nor share the lie.
Mormon Apostle Boyd K. Packer gave a talk to Mormon historians and teachers, titled "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than The Intellect," at the Fifth Annual Church Educational System Religious Educators' Symposium, 22 August, 1981, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, published later in Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1981 [emphasis added]:
There is no such thing as an accurate, objective history of the Church without consideration of the spiritual powers that attend this work....
Church history can he so interesting and so inspiring as to be a very powerful tool indeed for building faith. If not properly written or properly taught, it may be a faith destroyer.
If we who research, write, and teach the history of the Church ignore the spiritual on the pretext that the world may not understand it, our work will not be objective. And if, for the same reason, we keep it quite secular, we will produce a history that is not accurate and not scholarly
Packer cautioned his listeners about how they should present the history of the church:
There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.
Some things that are true are not very useful.
[My Comment: Apostle Packer seems to disagree with D&C 84:45, which says: "...whatsoever is truth is light..."]
Some time ago a historian gave a lecture to an audience of college students on one of the past Presidents of the Church. It seemed to be his purpose to show that that President was a man subject to the foibles of men. He introduced many so-called facts that put that President in a very unfavorable light, particularly when they were taken out of the context of the historical period in which he lived.
Someone who was not theretofore acquainted with this historical figure (particularly someone not mature) must have come away very negatively affected. Those who were unsteady in their convictions surely must have had their faith weakened or destroyed.
Teaching some things that are true, prematurely or at the wrong time, can invite sorrow and heartbreak instead of the joy intended to accompany learning.
What is true with these two subjects is, if anything, doubly true in the field of religion. The scriptures teach emphatically that we must give milk before meat. The Lord made it very clear that some things are to be taught selectively and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy.
It matters very much not only what we are told but when we are told it. Be careful that you build faith rather than destroy it.
[My Comment: In other words, don't tell the "whole truth" if it would lead anyone to doubt the claims of Mormonism.]
Packer had still another cautionary warning:
In an effort to be objective, impartial, and scholarly a writer or a teacher may unwittingly be giving equal time to the adversary.
In the Church we are not neutral. We are one-sided. There is a war going on and we are engaged in it. It is the war between good and evil, and we are belligerents defending the good. We are therefore obliged to give preference to and protect all that is represented in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have made covenants to do it.
Those of you who are employed by the Church have a special responsibility to build faith not destroy it. If you do not do that, but in fact accommodate the enemy, who is the destroyer of faith you become in that sense a traitor to the cause you have made covenants to protect....
There are plenty of scholars in the world determined to find all secular truth. There are so few of us, relatively speaking, striving to convey the spiritual truths, who are protecting the Church. We cannot safely be neutral.
[My Comment: In other words, church apologists must do whatever is necessary (it is "war," after all) to make certain that they are not impartial or objective; they must "protect" the image which the church wants to maintain of itself and its history.]
There are qualifications to teach or to write the history of this church. If one is lacking in any one of these qualifications, he cannot properly teach the history of the Church. He can recite facts and give a point of view, but he cannot properly teach the history of the Church. [Packer then lists the qualifications: all are questions regarding the loyalty, faith and testimony of the author.]
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy seems to disagree with Elder Packer:
We don t believe that there is anything in our current history or in our past history that is worrisome, so we are grateful for people to get to know it.
Perhaps the distinction is that Packer's statement was made to those who really know Mormon history, whereas Samuelson's was made for more public consumption, to lull the public (both non-Mormon and the average Mormon who only reads the Sunday School manuals) into believing that what the official histories say is in fact accurate.
In the book, The
Angel and the Beehive (1994),
Armand Mauss discusses the problems that the LDS
church faces with its intellectually inquisitive members. As the church
attempts to put forth a media-friendly image, it tries to hide its rather
unique past. Unfortunately, many young people grow up in the LDS faith and
learn only the homogenized version of Mormon history. Those who have
intellectual curiousity will inevitably run across
discrepancies and many of those will lose faith in a religion that claims to be
the "one true church" and yet lies about its own history. He laments
Mormon writer Robert J. Matthews says, in the October 1994 Ensign article entitled "Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness," that the ninth commandment is a
"strong declaration against ... gross understatements, fabrication, or the willful giving of any explanation not supported by the facts.... Even sharing the truth can have the effect of lying when we tell only half-truths that do not give the full picture. We can also be guilty of bearing false witness and lying if we say nothing, particularly if we allow another to reach a wrong conclusion while we hold back information that would have led to a more accurate perception. In this case it is as though an actual lie were uttered.... Lying and misrepresentation in all of their forms are wrong, no matter how they may be rationalized, and those who silently let these evils pass unchallenged are also doing wrong".
Thus it appears that some Mormon spokesmen are in favor of telling the truth, but others feel that the whole truth is dangerous.
One young Mormon who had very recently returned from his mission commented to me:
When I was on my mission I never felt truly that the church was true; to be honest, I just didn't know. For that reason something that M. Russell Ballard said [in a talk to the missionaries] really stuck out to me. He told a story of a missionary who came to him and said "I can't say that I know the church is true because I don't really know it and I feel guilty when I say it." Ballard (who was a mission president at the time) responded: "The way you gain a testimony is in the bearing of it." In other words he told this missionary and essentially all of us in the conference, if you don't know the church is true just keep lying to all of your investigators and tell them you do know, until you have said it enough times that you brainwash yourself into believing it is true.
One could hardly think of a more flagrant violation of the Commandment "Thou shalt not bear false witness."
For an assessment of the pervasive deceit in the church, from a former teacher in the church educational system, see this post on the Exmormon e-mail list athttp://groups.yahoo.com/group/Exmormon/message/86966.
In May 1844, Joseph Smith preached a sermon in Nauvoo:
[William Law] has gone to
May, 1844, Joseph Smith had "married" over thirty women, after
secretly instructing them that he had received a revelation from God commanding
him to practice "celestial marriage" (polygamy). The revelation now
is canonized as scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 132. The marriage
("sealing") ceremonies were performed in secret, with one of Smith's
church colleagues officiating. About one-third of the women had legal husbands
still living. Most of the women stated later that their relatiionship
to the prophet involved sexual intercourse. Since none of these marriages were
legal under the civil laws in effect at the time, all these relationships were
adulterous. For details, see Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural
Wives of Joseph Smith,
Joseph Smith kept almost all his polygamous marriages secret from his legal wife Emma; that is, he deceived her about them. In March 1842 he authorized her to organize the Female Relief Society, with one of the purposes of the organization being to investigate debauchery and to protect women's morals, specifically from men who would try to seduce them.
the women present at the organizational meetings of Emma's Society were at
least two plural wives of her husband (Louisa Beaman
and Agnes Coolbrith Smith), as well as several other
women to whom the secret doctrine had been taught. It was not until 1843 that
Emma was informed about the doctrine. By that time Joseph had married over
twenty women, including women and girls who had been living in the Smith home
as boarders or wards (Eliza Snow, Emily Partridge, Elizabeth
Partridge). For details, see Mormon
Enigma: [Biography of] Emma Hale Smith, by Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery,
The revelation under authority of which Joseph Smith married these women, clearly requires the consent of the first wife:
...if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent... then is he justified... (D&C 132:61)
Not only did Smith not have Emma's consent, he did not even inform her of most of them.
In the official Mormon periodical Times and Seasons, dated March 15, 1844, (Vol.5, No.6, p.474) Hyrum Smith, Joseph Smith's brother and Assistant President of the church, wrote:
To the brethren of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, living on China Creek, in Hancock County, Greeting: Whereas brother Richard Hewitt has called on me to-day, to know my views concerning some doctrines that are preached in your place, and states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrine, for there is no such doctrine taught here; neither is there any such thing practiced here, and any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about. [emphasis added]
the time he wrote this, Hyrum Smith had married at least five wives polygamously, most within the previous year (he was
converted to the secret polygamy doctrine in 1843). His polygamous wives were
Mercy R. Fielding, Catherine Phillips, Lydia Dibble, Louisa Sanger, a woman
named Perry and another woman named Derbot. (listed in D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power [Vol. 1],
public debate with Protestant ministers at
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; therefore... I shall content myself to 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, .... "we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband." (Three Nights' Public Discussion..., published by John Taylor, Liverpool 1850, photocopy in Sharon Banister, For Any Latter-day Saint, Fort Worth 1988, p. 289)
the time of this discussion, John Taylor was married to eleven wives in
addition to his first (legal) wife: Elizabeth Kaighin,
Jane Ballantyne, Anna Ballantyne,
Mary A. Oakley, Mary A. Utley, Mary Ramsbottom, Sarah
Thornton, Lydia Dibble (Hyrum Smith's polygamous widow), Ann Hughlings, Sophia Whittaker, and Harriet Whittaker. He had
also been married to Mercy R. Fielding Smith (Hyrum Smith's widow), but the
marriage had ended in divorce. (listed in D. Michael
Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power [Vol. 1],
"...we want nothing secret nor underhanded, and I for one want no association with things that cannot be talked about and will not bear investigation."
John Taylor, March 2, 1879, Journal of Discourses 20:264
of the most horrible events in
Brigham Young's official position on the massacre - a position which was followed by the church for many years - is typified by his remarks in a sermon five years later:
In 1857 it is estimated that
eleven thousand troops were ordered here; some seven thousand started for this
place, with several thousand hangers on. They came into this Territory when a
company of emigrants were traveling on the south route to
has now been established that the massacre was organized by white Mormons, and
that Brigham Young knew this by 1862. See Juanita Brooks, The Mountain
While Brigham Young and George A. Smith, the church authorities chiefly responsible, did not specifically order the massacre, they did preach sermons and set up social conditions which made it possible.....While he did not order the massacre, and would have prevented it if he could, Brigham Young was accessory after the fact, in that he knew what happened, and how and why it happened. Evidence of this is abundant and unmistakable, and from the most impeccable Mormon sources." (p. 219, emphasis added)
John D. Lee, who was the only person to be found guilty of the Massacre, wrote in his Confessions:
General George A. Smith held high rank as a military leader. He was one of the twelve apostles...and as such he was considered by me to be an inspired man. His orders were to me sacred commands, which I considered it my duty to obey, without question or hesitation.....The General told me to tell the Indians that the Mormons were their friends, and that the Americans were their enemies.....that the Indians must get ready and keep ready for war against all of the Americans, and keep friendly with the Mormons and obey what the Mormons told them to do---that this was the will of the Great Spirit; that if the Indians were true to the Mormons and would help them against their enemies, then the Mormons would always keep them from want and sickness and give them guns and ammunition to hunt and kill game with, and would also help the Indians against their enemies when they went into war.....I have always believed, since that day, that General George A. Smith was then visiting Southern Utah to prepare the people for the work of exterminating Captain Fancher's train of emigrants, and I now believe that he was sent for that purpose by the direct command of Brigham Young.
Lee further stated that after the massacre, stake president Isaac Haight told him:
I....should go to
Thus it seems clear that through Apostle George A. Smith and John D. Lee, Young knew very well that Mormons were deeply involved in the Massacre, and that it was not simply a matter of Indians attacking a wagon train.
Gordon B. Hinckley became head of the church in 1995, thus officially holding the titles "president, prophet, seer, revelator and translator" (D&C 107:91-92). Now (2001) in his nineties, he has spent a long life working on behalf of the church, much of it in the church public relations effort. In the years since he became head of the church, his administration has made special effort to present the church to the world in a favorable light. He has traveled all over the world and been interviewed extensively by reporters and television talk-show hosts.
Unfortunately, in his efforts to make the church
Don Lattin (religion editor, interviewing Gordon B. Hinckley, San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997, p 3/Z1)
Q: There are some significant differences in your beliefs
[from other Christian churches]. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God
was once a man?
Gordon B. Hinckley, as quoted in Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997:
"On whether his church still
holds that God the Father was once a man, [
spokesman for Hinckley, when questioned about the accuracy of the Time quotation, asserted that Hinckley's words were taken out of
context, and that
Q: Just another related question that comes up is the
statements in the King Follett discourse by the Prophet.
Q: ... about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?
Joseph Smith ("King Follett Discourse," Journal of Discourses 6:3-4, also in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 342-345):
"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret... It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know...that he was once a man like us.... Here, then, is eternal life - to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves,... the same as all Gods have done before you..." [emphasis added]
Brigham Young, successor to Joseph Smith (Journal of Discourses 7:333):
"He [God] is our Father - the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being." [emphasis added]
Milton R. Hunter, Mormon General Authority (First Council of Seventy) and theologian (The Gospel Through the Ages, p 104):
"Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar that through which we are now passing. He became God - an exalted being - through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey." [emphasis added]
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon apostle and theologian (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed p 250):
"...God...is a personal Being, a holy and exalted man..."
Joseph Fielding Smith, Mormon apostle and theologian, later President of the church (Doctrines of Salvation 1:10):
"God is an exalted man. Some people are troubled over the statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith ... that our Father in heaven at one time passed through a life and death and is an exalted man..."
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (published by the church as an official lesson manual 1997 [text "approved 10/95"], p. 29):
"President Brigham Young taught ... that God the Father was once a man on another planet who 'passed the ordeals we are now passing through...'"
Larry King (whose present wife is Mormon) interviewed Gordon B. Hinckley on his nationally broadcast television show Larry King Live on September 8, 1998. He asked Hinckely about polygamy:
KING: You condemn it [polygamy].
The Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of doctrine and revelations of equal importance to the Book of Mormon, still contains Section 132, as it has for about 150 years. This is the famous revelation on plural marriage. Pertinent passages are [emphasis added]:
1 Verily, thus saith
the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my
hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching
the principle and doctrine of their having
many wives and concubines--
2 Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.
3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory....
29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.
30 Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins-.... both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.
31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.
32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.
33 But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.
34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.
35 Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.
37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood--if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.
Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the church, emphasized the doctrinal necessity of practicing polygamy ("plural marriage"):
Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential to the salvation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my protest against this idea, for I know that it is false. ... Therefore, whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fullness of the blessings pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it. ... I understand the law of celestial marriage to mean that every man in this church, who has the ability to obey and practice it in righteousness and will not, shall be damned, I say I understand it to mean this and nothing less, and I testify in the name of Jesus that it does mean that. (Journal of Discourses 20:28-31.)
Actually, a form of polygamy is still practiced by
the church under very limited circumstances: if a man and woman are
"sealed" together on earth to be husband and wife in eternity, and
the wife dies, the man can remarry, and then have his second wife
"sealed" to him, so that in heaven he will be a polygamist. For
example, Joseph Fielding Smith, who was president of the church from 1970 until
his death in 1972, was technically a monogamist. But he was sealed for eternity
to three successive wives, each of whom left him a widower. Thus, he is now a
polygamist, supposedly living in the
the same interview with Larry King,
Mormons "came west" in 1847, after abandoning their headquarters in
It was the rampant but secret practice of polygamy
which led some prominent Mormons in Nauvoo, who believed the practice to be
false, to publish in 1844 a newspaper (the Nauvoo
Expositor) exposing and denouncing it. Smith's illegal destruction of
the newspaper's offices and press led directly to the state of civil war
between the Mormons and the non-Mormons, to Smith's arrest and death, and the
Thus, Hinckley's implication that it was not
practiced until the Mormon arrival in
The King interview continued, discussing polygamy:
KING: You could have a certain
was limited to the leaders at first simply because it was a secret doctrine,
and only the leaders knew of it. But among the leadership it was not at all a
"limited practice": D. Michael Quinn, in his book The Mormon Hierarchy: [Volume 1] Origins of Power, Appendix 6, gives
biographical sketches of all the men who were the leaders of the Mormon church between 1830 and 1847. He lists 51 men of leading
importance in the church during that period. Twenty-nine of them were
polygamists. Of the other 22 (monogamists) about a dozen either had left the
church before the 1840s (when polygamy became widespread among the intimate
associates of Smith), or were among those who actively opposed polygamy and
apostatized or were excommunicated for that opposition. Thus, a more accurate
figure of the number of men who practiced it even before the exodus to
In fact, every president of the Mormon church from Joseph Smith was polygamous through Heber J. Grant (who died in 1945, and who gave it up when he was 52 years old). The first monogamous president of the church was George Albert Smith, who succeeded Grant in 1945.
the same interview with Larry King,
Joseph Smith was the first Mormon to attack other religions. In his autobiography (now a part of Mormon scripture, in the Pearl of Great Price) he says:
"I asked the Personages [God the Father and God the Son] who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)--and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt;..." (Joseph Smith - History 1:18-19, emphasis added)
In the Book of Mormon we find the assertion that anyone who does not belong to the "true" church (i.e., the Mormon church) belongs to the "church of the devil":
"And he [God] said unto me:
Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of
God, and the other is the church
of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to
the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great
church, which is the mother of
abominations; and she is the whore
of all the earth." (1 Nephi 14:10, emphasis added; see also 13:6,
Brigham Young said the following about other churches:
"...the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth. They may be called cockatrices, for they sting wherever they go. " (Journal of Discourses 6:176, January 17, 1858)
"Whosoever confesseth that Joseph Smith was sent of God to reveal the holy Gospel to the children of men, and lay the foundation for gathering Israel, and building up the kingdom of God on the earth, that spirit is of God; and every spirit that does not confess that God has sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting Gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist" (Journal of Discourses 8:176, September 9, 1860)
Until 1990, the Mormon temple ceremony (the "endowment"), one of the most sacred religious rites in Mormonism, included a dramatization in which a Protestant minister was portrayed as a servant of Lucifer (Satan) and which mocked certain orthodox Christian beliefs as being absurd.
These facts would seem to contradict
Still in the Larry King interview:
KING: What's your role?
president of the church,
give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as
he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me
5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine [i.e., God's] own mouth, in all patience and faith. [emphasis added]
Deny not the spirit of revelation, nor the spirit of prophecy, for wo unto him that denieth these things;
Gordon B. Hinckley, in his talk at the April 2002 General Conference (Sunday afternoon, "We Look To Christ"), said:
"Our faith, our knowledge [of Christ] comes of the witness of a prophet in this dispensation [Joseph Smith, Jr.] who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. He spoke with Them. He testified openly, unequivocally, and unabashedly of that great vision." [emphasis added]
"Openly": The only evidence that Joseph Smith testified "openly" of this event which supposedly occurred in 1820 is his own statement, written eighteen years after the alleged vision and first published in 1840. Mormon scholars and historians have been unable to produce a single shred of evidence that the vision reported in Smith's "History" (Pearl of Great Price) was known until then. They have admitted as much, with the specific explanation that he did not like to talk of it publicly (Hugh Nibley, Improvement Era, July 1961, p 522), and that undoubtedly all the manuscripts, diaries and other earlier reports of the vision have been "lost" (Apostle John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, p. 334).
"Unequivocally": Before writing the Pearl of Great Price version, Smith produced at least two other versions, which differ significantly from the PoGP version and from each other. This fact is also acknowledged by church historians (Dean C. Jessee, BYU Studies, Spring 1969, pp 277-78, also Summer 1971, p 462). One of the accounts is in Smith's own handwriting, dating from about 1832, and the other - still different - is in Smith's diary for 1835.
In 1997 the church published a lesson manual of about 370 pages for use of its adult members in their weekly class meetings for the coming year. It was called Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young. It caused an immediate sensation, both in the non-Mormon world and among knowledgeable Mormons, because it did not accurately reflect either the man's life or his teachings, its editors obviously endeavoring to gloss over - or even omit completely - what many new or potential converts might find surprising or even objectionable.
For example, although the Mormon church was known throughout the world for its practice of polygamy during Young's entire leadership of the church, and although Young was a devout defender, proponent, and practitioner of polygamy, no mention is made of polygamy in this book, either of the doctrine itself, or of Young's harem of wives. Wherever Young is quoted on the subject of domestic relations, when he mentioned "wives" in his sermons, the editors have substituted "[wife]."
In the one-page "Historical Summary" which lists the supposedly important events of Young's life (page vii), beginning with his birth and concluding with his death, the editors list the coming of the railroad, the organization of the Mutual Improvement Associations, and his role in the building of two temples, but there is not a hint of Young's 52 wives, his 15 divorces/separations, or his 55 children. (For a listing, click here). Nor is any mention of Young's polygamy to be found in Chapter 1, "The Ministry of Brigham Young," even though on page 6 the opportunity was ideal:
Before the [Nauvoo] temple was completed, Joseph Smith privately introduced President Young and other members of the Twelve to temple ordinances, including baptism for the dead, the temple endowment, and family sealings...
Not a word about "plural marriage."
In the introduction of this church lesson manual, the editors caution against readers consulting source materials:
"...the sources [of the extracts from Young's sermons] will not be readily available to most members. These original sources are not necessary to have in order to effectively study or teach from this book. Members need not purchase additional references and commentaries to study or teach these chapters. The text provided in this book, accompanied by the scriptures [the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price], is sufficient for instruction."
Thus, a completely inaccurate picture of Brigham Young is being promulgated by the church.
a quote from the pamphlet "The Truth About the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" published by the Public
Affairs Department of the church in
"During the early years in
Here's my list of lies or half-truths that leave the uninformed reader with a false impression:
started in 1835 in Kirtland with Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger (his first
polygamous wife, according to the list compiled by Assistant Church Historian
Andrew Jenson in 1887), and really became widespread among Joseph's intimates
in Nauvoo by 1844, all well before the trek to
The polygamists at first were not just "members", they were the church leadership, and ONLY the church leadership (until 1852 the practice was kept secret from general church members).
And it wasn't just "some" - almost all of the church leaders practiced it, and after 1852 Brigham Young tried to get all members to practice it, by preaching that a monogamist would not be exalted in heaven like a polygamist. Almost all higher church leaders before 1890 were polygamists.
"...patterned after similar Old Testament practices..."
the Old Testament, polygamy was not a violation of the civil law, as it was in
"...which they considered..."
They were told, informed, and commanded that it was a religious principle. This sentence implies that those practicing polygamy were mistaken about its being a revelation to Joseph Smith and that polygamy was an idea which the members had come up with on their own. Why not say "it WAS" a religious principle revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith?
"...revealed by God to the Church founder..."
And still in the church's scriptures at Doctrine and Covenants 132...
"Wilford Woodruff announced the end..."
Although one is supposed to assume from this that Woodruff (then president of the church) was a foe of polygamy, he was not: he had been married to eleven wives, and it was with the greatest reluctance, and only because of the intense pressure of public opinion in the United States to end this "second relic of barbarism in America" (the other - slavery - having been only recently ended) that he announced that the church would no longer practice it.
But it did not end with that public announcement. Polygamous marriages were performed secretly by church leaders, for over a decade, at least until 1906 or 1907.
"The standard doctrine of the Church is monogamy, as it always has been, as indicated in the Book of Mormon (Jacob chapter 2[:27-30])".
basis for polygamy (described as "everlasting") is D&C 132. It is still
considered scripture. It was officially introduced in 1852, after polygamy had
been practiced secretly by leaders of the church for at least a decade. It was
the standard practice of the church until 1890, when it was officially
abandoned under pressure, in exchange for
Under certain circumstances, a Mormon man can still be "sealed" (married for eternity) to more than one woman at a time. A man who remarries after the death of his wife (or after divorce) can be sealed to his new wife and expect to live with both women in heaven.
Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth president of the church (1970-1972) married Louise E. Shurtleff in 1898. She died in 1908. In 1908 he married Ethel G. Reynolds, who died in 1937. In 1938 he married Jessie Evans, who died in 1971. He was sealed "for eternity" to each of those women. Now, paraphrasing what the Pharisees asked Jesus: Which woman will be Smith's wife in the celestial kingdom? According to Mormon doctrine, ALL THREE will be his wives. Smith confirmed "...my wives will be mine in eternity.Ē (Doctrines of Salvation, vol 2, pg 67.)
Harold B. Lee, the 11th president of the church, also remarried after his wife's death and anticipated his reunion with both women in poetry:
"My lovely Joan was sent
So Joan joins Fern
That three might be, more fitted for eternity.
'O Heavenly Father, my thanks to thee' "
(Deseret News 1974 Church Almanac, page 17)
Additional examples include Howard W. Hunter, the 14th church president, who married Clara May Jeffs in 1931. She died in 1983. He then married Inis Bernice Egan in 1990. Both were sealed to him for time and eternity. Hunter died in 1995, having stated that he was looking forward to being reunited with his two wives in heaven.
Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks, speaking at a BYU devotional, Jan 29, 2002:
"When I was 66, my wife June died of cancer. Two years later--a year and a half ago--I married Kristen McMain, the eternal companion who now stands at my side."
In April 2006, Church Apostle Russell M. Nelson
married for a second time. His first wife had passed away the previous year.
Both his first and second marriage were ďsolemnizedĒ
The following statement by Elder Alexander B. Morrison of the Seventy is fairly typical of statements by church officials for the last twenty years:
How grateful I am that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has from its beginnings stood strongly against racism in any of its malignant manifestations. (Ensign, Sept 2000, p 16)
Until 1978, the offical policy of the church was to ordain all worthy male members age twelve and older to the priesthood and to appoint them to hold offices in the church hierarchy, and to permit all worthy adult members of both sexes to participate in the most sacred of the temple rituals (the "endowment") except blacks, meaning any person who had the slightest trace of Negro blood.
By 1978 the church was being heavily criticized
for its racist practice. It wanted to get permission to build a temple in
However, in spite of the change in practice, there has been no change in the scriptures or doctrines by which the church had for so many years justified its racial stance. Those are still a part of the Mormon scriptural canon, and the statements of earlier prophets of the church have not been repudiated except in the most general way. In general, those doctrines are:
The earlier racial practices of the church were based on the following scriptures and pronouncements [emphasis added]:
Abraham 1:21-27 (Pearl of Great Price):
21 Now this king of
24 ...and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.
25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, ...
26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.
27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, ...
Moses 7:8, 12, 22 (Pearl of Great Price):
8 For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan,that they were despised among all people. ...
12 And it came to pass that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Canaan, to repent; ...
22 And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.
1 Nephi 12:23 (Book of Mormon):
23 And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.
2 Nephi 5:21 (Book of Mormon):
21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
2 Nephi 30:6 (Book of Mormon):
6 And then shall they [the dark-skinned Lamanites/Indians] rejoice; for they shall know that it [to receive the gospel] is a blessing unto them from the hand of God ; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people. [in editions after 1981, "white" was changed to "pure"]
also Jacob 3:89,
Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. (Journal of Discourses10:110, March 8, 1863)
You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un- comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race - that they should be the "servant of servants;" and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, [p.291] and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion. - (Journal of Discourses 7:290-291, October 9, 1859)
For more racist statements by Brigham Young, made from the pulpit, click here.
Until 1978, Mormon leaders and apologists defended this position vigorously. The First Presidency issued the following official "Statement... On The Negro Question" on August 17, 1951:
The attitude of the Church with
reference to negroes remains as it has always stood.
It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord,
on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its
organization, to the effect that negroes may become members of the church but
that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. [They then
quote Brigham Young's statement, above, and others, to defend the doctrine.]...
(cited by William E. Berrett,
vice president of
The newspaper Arizona Republic carried the following item in its issue of October 10, 1993, quoted in Issue 85 (Nov 1993) of the Salt Lake City Messenger:
Last month, John Beck, 33, of
Peggy Fletcher Stack, a co-founder and long-time editor of Sunstone Magazine (a liberal journal often critical of the church), and a reporter on religion for the Salt Lake Tribune, June 17, 2001, wrote in an article "Sunstone: The Cost of Intellectualism" about the founding of the magazine:
LDS Apostle Hugh B. Brown, a Democrat and liberal thinker, who told students at
...When I was editor/publisher [of Sunstone] from 1980 to 1986, it was an exciting time to be a Mormon intellectual. But our springtime of inquiry was about to take on a decided chill.
Sonja Johnson was excommunicated for publicly opposing Mormon leaders on the Equal Rights Amendment, Arrington's approach to church history was replaced by a more "faithful history" and the archives were once again closed to critical scholarship.
LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, an ardent defender of Mormon orthodoxy, described intellectuals as "dogs nipping at the heels" of true pilgrims. Nothing more than an irritant, he said, while "the caravan moves on."
... Now, some 25 years after Sunstone's founding, I am still in the church but less naive about fostering an open forum.
The church hierarchy continues to be preoccupied with presenting a seamless image and relegating to the margins Saints with a decidedly intellectual bent.
This article only scratches the surface of how deception and lies permeate Mormonism. After having read and heard hundreds of former Mormons tell their reasons for leaving the church, I find that by far the most frequent reason given, and often the only reason, is:
"The church lied to me!"