Mormon History Was Never Hidden
Built into the side of the Wasatch mountain range in Utah, is the Granite Mountain Records Vault. It is filled with artefacts, books, journals, boxes and old original documents and is located beyond the many chambers of genealogical microfilm and offices. It is tucked away at the rear of a corridor. It is known as Vault ‘F.’ No one is allowed in Vault ‘F’ without approval of the 1st Presidency. This is the same vault–shut off from public access and view–where Gordon B Hinckley presumably deposited the embarrassing Hoffman forgery documents, so they would not see the light of day.
Both Fawn Brodie – author of ‘No Man Knows my History’ (niece to President David O’McKay) and Michael Quinn – BYU Professor, had unprecedented access to historical documents stored in these Church Vaults and were punished by excommunication for daring to publish their findings.
“In a speech Quinn gave in 1981, he noted that he had “spent a decade probing thousands of manuscript diaries and records of Church history” that he “never dreamed” he would view.” (On Being a Mormon Historian. a lecture given by D. Michael Quinn, Brigham Young University, Fall 1981)
Wikipedia says of Fawn Brodie: “ . . . . she returned to Utah, where she did research in the LDS Church Archives, gaining access to some highly restricted materials by claiming to be “Brother McKay’s daughter,” a subterfuge that made her feel “guilty as hell.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fawn_M._Brodie)
After these two were excommunicated, Boyd K Packer shut down the level of access to the archives. Apparently, the volume of primary material stored in these depositories is simply colossal. Even if it were claimed that such material is kept under carefully guarded conditions to preserve and prevent deterioration, I ask the question: Why can’t it be methodically and systematically copied, studied and released to the public in an ongoing flow? Answer: Because it would totally destroy whatever credibility Mormonism had left. Speaking as the devil’s advocate – they would be mad to adopt total transparency – it would be organizational suicide. Vault ‘F’ has been referred to as ‘the ultimate ‘black hole.‘ Documents which are embarrassing to the Mormon Church disappear into this bottomless abyss and are seldom heard of again.” http://mormoncurtain.com/topic_churchvaults.html
Sometime between 1930 – 35 Church Historian Joseph Fielding Smith was going through ‘Letterbook 1’ (Nauvoo records) and discovered 3 pages, which were 100 years old. These pages were a hand written account by Joseph Smith of his 1832 First Vision account. The general records were placed in the Archives but the 3 page Vision account was torn out and put into JFS’s own office safe. And there they stayed for the next 30 years, till 1964. Word had been leaked out to the Tanners that such a document existed and they wrote to JFS requesting to see this 1832 account. He refused. Then, strangely, those 3 torn pages found their way back to ‘Letterbook 1’ and were carefully stuck back in from where they were torn, or cut out. In 2010 the Church finally publishes copies of Letterbook 1. Quite clearly, this document (like many thousands of others I suspect) were deliberately hid away to keep the same officially distorted view of their history unchanged and unchallenged. Virtually all important admissions by the Church, come about in order to limit greater damage, if they continued in their usual silence. Thus reducing the perception of secrecy and even more embarrassment.
The article kicks off by asserting that historical information generally (as for example, polygamy) has been readily available for anyone to read for decades. The author cites his own studies at BYU where he learnt many lesser known facts and declares that all a student needs to do is go and find it. I suggest in all seriousness, that this view fails to address the issue adequately. Of course source material is ‘out there,’ but a massive amount is still locked away in those vaults, for the very purpose of ‘protecting’ members from suicidal information on Church history. Yes, I knew about Polygamy years ago – including the 14 year old bride, so did many other members, but a vast proportion did NOT know. Such information was NOT taught to us at Church. I notice also, that the author did not claim that he learnt it at Church. Why did he not admit that the Church both avoids the subject generally and specifically in teaching manuals. President Young, for instance, is portrayed as a monogamous prophet – you would not know he was an ardent polygamist! And I don’t know what is celebratory about the openness of ‘Rough Stone Rolling.’ It only came out in 2005 and hardly tackled the subject of Polygamy at all? Through most of the slow 40 year ‘struggle’ with my own faith, I had no idea where to find more information? Perhaps somewhere deep in a large public library? The Church itself never raised it, taught it or wanted to answer questions on it. The standard explanations for the practice (as I mention later) were lies anyway. Perhaps living in Utah is really another planet, because I am suggesting that I must have belonged to a ‘different Church’ to the author? Any and all enquiries I have made over the last 50 years (most of that time before the Internet came on stream) with LDS leaders, with magazines, with approved books, etc., got me nowhere. D&C 132 is merely the mechanics of how polygamy was supposed to operate and its theological background. Then we had the spin – the entire list of justifying reasons given to members to quickly pacify them. These days I cannot think of one given reason that is not demonstrably false – if properly examined.
“If the members do know of these issues, they usually only know the glossed-over, incomplete versions told by the Church in lessons, articles and talks. Certainly, investigators are never told about any of these issues before they join. If the Church taught all of its history according to how the evidence indicates that history happened, then that would be a different story.” http://mormonthink.com/outline.htm
Ken Clark – a former Bishop and a fulltime CES employee for 27 years, compiled a list of 152 separate deceptions or lies perpetrated by the Church since it started. Deception was Smith’s ‘admitted’ stock-in-trade method in his treasure digging years, which still possessed him as a prophet in his pretended revelation of D&C111. It should not be surprising therefore, that it spilt over into the formation and continuance of his claimed religion. See this list at: http://www.mormonthink.com/lying.htm See also Richard Packham’s ‘Mormon Lying’ http://packham.n4m.org/lying.htm
We were side-tracked or misled, in assuming that what we were told about the history of the Church, really did happen. Naturally, the official leadership has selectively placed a seamless chronology of events in portraying the rise of the Church, but thanks to the meticulous work of historians like Quinn, we now know it was messy, contradictory and far from the truth. A lot more members walked with their feet than I had ever realized, but the Church will never tell you that. For instance: “Over sixty-eight-thousand people started out to cross the plains and it is estimated that the death toll was about ten percent, meaning that over six-thousand lives were lost. (Quinn 1997:527, n.108). Brigham Young’s ‘reformed’ Church was not the Mormon Church that the survivors had joined. Many who left the Church had emigrated from the United Kingdom, and back in the U.K., after Young’s 1852 admission of polygamy which had previously been suppressed and openly lied about – there followed mass apostasy.” (The Mormon Delusion’ Vol. 3 Discarded Doctrines and Nonsense Revelations)
And Christopher Ralph explained further:
“Only one-quarter of all British converts in the 19th century, managed to fulfill the desired objective of emigrating to America. Of those, a good many did not manage to complete the onward journey to Salt Lake City, and of those who did, a significant proportion became disillusioned, but found themselves so financially and spiritually mired in a strange and intolerant society, that they could not easily escape. They discovered when it was already too late, that ‘Zion’ was not as had been advertised. When the modern LDS church speaks therefore about its wonderful pioneer heritage, it attempts to infer that its neatly packaged accounts smoothed out through repeated telling, are representative of the whole, when in fact they are representative of perhaps no more than 15%. As marketing is the main purpose of the exercise, the version of early Mormon history told by the church today cannot be other than distorted, if not actually by deliberate sanitization, then by the inadequate sample size upon which that history relies. It is not good enough to say that the other 85% do not matter because they lacked faith. We cannot dismiss them in that way and pretend the resulting account is correct simply because we want it to be. The 85% had stories to tell as well, and good reasons for not being among the 15%, and those stories and reasons are as valid and material as any other. (Towards a More Fully Representative History of the British Mormon Experience )https://journeyofloyaldissent.wordpress.com/towards-a-more-fully-representative-history-of-the-british-mormon-experience/
Apart from these observations, my experience shows a provable atmosphere of suppressed freedom of expression everywhere within the Church system. That’s why the recent statement by the 1st Presidency declaring that members are ‘free to ask questions’ is rather laughable. Over my 40 years in the Church (which ended in 2006) all my questions have brought very difficult and uncomfortable reactions. This is something Quinn complained about. It is a thick and endemic sickness sustained by an arrogant leadership and will take a long time going.
Who, Really, Was Joseph Smith?
As the author explains – it is generally true that when we know a person well – I mean, really well; whatever critics may say about that person does not actually matter, because the knowledge we have of them allows us to make a more accurate judgment. Thus he claims and demonstrates by citing specific individuals who ‘came back’ to Joseph after falling away. Because, he says, “knowing him,” they could better discern his true character. Yes, that’s fine and good in principle, but in the case of Joseph Smith, whose religion has demanded so much from people and where thousands have suffered, it is not enough.
Firstly, what about the majority of those who walked away – did they come back? I think not. Consider William Law; he has always been made out to be ‘wicked’ by the Church – so much so, that I had an indoctrinated bias against him! I made myself read his side of the story. I discovered that he was a decent and respectable Christian who joined the Church with utter faith in Joseph and the restoration. He was also a successful business man (always an attraction to Smith, who bled people dry). As Smith’s shenanigans with women came to his attention; he pleaded and begged Joseph not to go down the road of Polygamy. Though on the Presidency of the Church and much-loved by the Saints, Law was excommunicated. True to his conscience, reason and sense of duty to God, he had no alternative than to expose the secrecy of Polygamy and in doing so, his printing business was destroyed and he felt in danger of his life. He and his wife Jane left the Church and even decades later in an interview he gave, his version of events remained the same. See: http://www.mrm.org/law-interview
But let us look at my assertion that just ‘knowing’ Joseph Smith, is not enough? This is because I want to know more about the people who said they trusted him? Are they, in turn, believable? Look at Heber C Kimball, an important figure in Mormon history. He and his wife Vilate loved Joseph and totally believed he was a prophet. In the spring of 1843 Smith approached Heber and asked for permission to marry his wife Vilate. He left Heber to torture himself over this demand for 3 days. It may or may not have been his plan all along, but when the two men meet again, it is agreed that Joseph would have Heber’s 14 year old daughter instead. Remember, Joseph Smith was 37 years old and as an already married man (plus a serial bigamist) and what he was doing was illegal. The daughter: Helen Mar Kimball, had no wish to marry Smith, but trusting her father and believing Smith to be a prophet, felt obliged to conform. A powerful lever was the bribe from Smith that her entire extended family would receive eternal life and exaltation, IF she agreed? This placed her in an intolerable position of anxiety to do the best for everyone she could (except herself). Further, she was given to understand the marriage would be dynastic (reserved for heaven and not sexual) in this, she later declared she had been deceived. I ask the readers to reflect on what they would do if a man–five years short of being three times your daughters age–asked you if he could marry her? (Remember, your daughter is only 14, despite what apologists are suggesting, that ‘it was different’ then. No, it was not; 20 to 21 was the average age to marry) Wickedness never was happiness.
What makes a parent, whose first priority should be the protection, happiness and safety of a daughter, (1) agree to hand her over to a man, already married to one woman and illegally to many others (2) who is nearly 3 times her age (3) when she did not love the man and was actually very fond of another boy of her own age (4) that had offered her (and her family) an impossibly arrogant, presumptive promise of the Celestial Kingdom, if she agreed? (5) That from the moment she agreed she would be prevented by Smith from dancing (her favourite pastime) and become–to all intents and purposes–a spinster reserved for Smith? What would you do or say to him? Any ‘normal’ parent would seriously threaten the man to never go near their daughter again and would probably inform the police. But not Kimball. The reason he settled for such an outrageous and abusive neglect – which literally defies imagination, was because he was CONDITIONED to surrender. He was INDOCTRINATED. And whenever an LDS member looks at this story and see nothing wrong with it – that is prove of their INDOCTRINATION, or abnormality. Smith was a past con-man, and he was still selling treasure, but in a different form. His incredible genius, was that he got people to believe him! Kimball proves that he did not ‘know’ Joseph very well at all, or he would not have remained in Nauvoo. What worries me about this argument is that those who did stick by Joseph were easily led and spiritually naïve – such as the witnesses. So, the reason ‘some’ may have returned to Joseph was due to heavy delusional thinking, despite some temporary disaffection.
Lastly, the ‘fruit’ of polygamy was simply appalling. It was an utter corruption of love. And I personally find it incredulous that Smith’s pursuit of it, is still being defended.
“It takes significant hubris and arrogance to proclaim that knowledge received from spiritual sources originates in the person having those experiences.”
That is the probably the daftest piece of nonsense in the article. It actually takes significant humility – not arrogance, for any member to finally admit they may not be correct in believing their testimony came from God. They are not boasting; they are in utter confusion and depression – declaring they know less, not more.
This brings me conveniently to the major thrust of this article, as well as too many other LDS admonitions: The major importance of a spiritual witness. From their point of view, it is an excellent method of determining truth, because it so easily fools and deceives people; the prove being – virtually all other denominational devotees have done the same thing with the same positive results. It’s wonderful; thank God He has told all of them that their particular religion is correct! God is either very stupid to suggest such a brainless technique to discover authenticity, or LDS leaders just want to stick with the successful built-in propensity of all people to dupe themselves?
C.S. Lewis said: Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than minority of them – never become conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?
Long ago, when I had severe doubts about the Church, my wife pleaded with me to re-read the Book of Mormon. She knew I loved the book. I had been carrying around many uncertainties for decades with no answers or help from the Church. I was tired of praying and wrestling. I was an emotional man and God was very real to me. As I tried to do as Norma suggested – it most certainly did bring back all those cosy emotional feelings. I looked at them, compared them and considered them… and I remember a moment – a red-hot memory; I KNEW that a decision to reject this emotional familiarity – what the Brethren would confirm to all potential converts as the Holy Spirit witnessing to their souls the restoration was true – was a false, misguided feeling, to trust ever again.
I came to understand, that simply trusting what I always had – feelings, just because they felt good (such as when reading verses from B of M) was a false answer and crashed heavily against an emerging conclusion, which had been forming – not over a few weeks, but over a life time, and suddenly it started to manifest itself in my mind and in my intelligence as an awareness of a reality I should trust. Although I knew virtually nothing about LDS history (compared to now) I nevertheless, had drawn sufficient conclusions to trust or believe in my own mental judgment… my God-given faculty – my ability to think through and reason it out – my autonomy.
Sometimes you so desperately want to return to that soft ‘cotton wool’ emotion of thinking you ‘KNOW’ it is true, because it is so reassuringly peaceful. I came to realise I could not trust those kind of emotional whisperings, without becoming fundamentally dishonest inside. I am a man who found huge poetic beauty in Mormon scripture. On this basis alone, my divergence proves something is seriously wrong. It is rather like being in love and adoring a woman – yet leaving her regardless! I should have found every justification for staying – not deserting!
Years have passed and slowly the HEAD KNOWS that credibility was once strained too far. When evaluation of all known facts and my very experience screamed of fraud – THEN, THE HEAD MUST TAKE CONTROL and override the heart, or emotional impulses.
The Astonishing Prophecy
“ . . . . my name should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.”
It is just as well to rejoice in the above fulfillment, because precious little else was fulfilled. What is often churned out is the prophecy on war and I don’t know why, because we are still waiting for much of that particular prophecy to transpire? The part that was fulfilled was predictable by any person at the time interested in the state of the country. According to Jim Whitefield’s 5th Volume of ‘The Mormon Delusion,’ there are 68 predictions found in the Doctrine and Covenants alone, which have not been fulfilled. I have read them and was shocked I had not noticed their absurdity. A single example of one of them is the following:
Joseph Smith said: “by the authority of Jesus Christ” that “not many years shall pass away” before the wicked “of this generation” will be swept from off the face of the land and the Lost Ten Tribes will be gathered to Missouri, and that “there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled.” Jan 4, 1833. HC 1:315-316.
Absolutely none of this has happened – none.
Richard Packham has a list of 60 unfulfilled prophecies by Smith out of roughly 65 http://packham.n4m.org/prophet.htm