Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 18

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 18: Cover-Ups, Conspiracies, and Controversies"

A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
One Nation Under Gods
Chart one nation under gods chapter 18.jpg

Response to claims made in One Nation Under Gods, "Chapter 18: Cover-Ups, Conspiracies, and Controversies"

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Response to claim: 402 (PB) - Does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "proselytize unsuspecting music lovers"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Does the Mormon Tabernacle Choir "proselytize unsuspecting music lovers"?

Author's sources: Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is simply an absurd claim. How does one "proselytize unsuspecting music lovers?"



Response to claim: 403 - "The general public, especially outside America, still possesses little knowledge of the unsavory nature of Mormonism"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "The general public, especially outside America, still possesses little knowledge of the unsavory nature of Mormonism."

Author's sources: Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This book's many errors and misrepresentations will not help anyone gain an accurate understanding of the Church.



Response to claim: 403, 605n9 (PB) - Baptisms for the dead were performed for Nazis, including Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Baptisms for the dead were performed for Nazis, including Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Was this done so that they could "thereby become gods?"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Members of the Church leave all judgment in God's hands. They are commanded to perform vicarious ordinances for all deceased persons for whom records exist. This is no way guarantees or implies Hitler's acceptance of Mormonism or forgiveness. Such matters are left to God. Does the author really wish to imply, though, that even the most wicked sinner might be beyond the reach of Christ's atoning grace? The Latter-day Saints do not.



Response to claim: 403 - Baptisms for the dead are incompatible with Christianity

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Baptisms for the dead are incompatible with Christianity

Author's sources: Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The Bible itself describes Christians carrying out this practice: 1 Corinthians 15:29. It may not be a practice found in the author's brand of Christianity, but it has ample precedent among early believers.
  • Hugh W. Nibley, "Baptism for the Dead in Ancient Times," Improvement Era (1948, 1949), multiple. off-site

Question: What is baptism for the dead?

Proxy baptism is a way to provide redemption for those who died without hearing the Gospel

Explained Elder G. Todd Christopherson:

Christian theologians have long wrestled with the question, What is the destiny of the countless billions who have lived and died with no knowledge of Jesus? [1] There are several theories concerning the “unevangelized” dead, ranging from an inexplicable denial of salvation, to dreams or other divine intervention at the moment of death, to salvation for all, even without faith in Christ. A few believe that souls hear of Jesus after death. None explain how to satisfy Jesus’ requirement that a man must be born of water and spirit to enter the kingdom of God (see John 3:3-5). Lacking the knowledge once had in the early Church, these earnest seekers have been “forced to choose between a weak law that [allows] the unbaptized to enter heaven, and a cruel God who [damns] the innocent.” [2]
With the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ has come the understanding of how the unbaptized dead are redeemed and how God can be “a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” [3]
While yet in life, Jesus prophesied that He would also preach to the dead [see John 5:25]. Peter tells us this happened in the interval between the Savior’s Crucifixion and Resurrection [see 1 Peter 3:18-19]...


D. Todd Christofferson (1998): "The principle of vicarious service should not seem strange to any Christian"

D. Todd Christofferson:

The principle of vicarious service should not seem strange to any Christian. In the baptism of a living person, the officiator acts, by proxy, in place of the Savior. And is it not the central tenet of our faith that Christ’s sacrifice atones for our sins by vicariously satisfying the demands of justice for us? As President Gordon B. Hinckley has expressed: “I think that vicarious work for the dead more nearly approaches the vicarious sacrifice of the Savior Himself than any other work of which I know. It is given with love, without hope of compensation, or repayment or anything of the kind. What a glorious principle.[4]


Question: Does the practice of baptism for the dead have ancient roots?

There is considerable evidence that some early Christians and some Jewish groups performed proxy ordinance work for the salvation of the dead

The most obvious of these is 1 Corinthians 15:29:

Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Attempts to shrug this off as a reference by Paul to a practice he does not condone but only uses to support the doctrine of the resurrection are indefensible. Paul's statement makes no sense unless the practice was valid and the saints in Corinth knew it. This is easily demonstrated if we just imagine a young Protestant, who doubts the resurrection, who goes to his pastor with his problem. The pastor answers him, saying, "But what about the Mormons who baptize for the dead? If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for the dead?" You know what the young doubter would say. He would say, "Pastor, they're Mormons! What's your point?"

In fact, we know that baptism for the dead was practiced for a long time in the early church. As John A. Tvedtnes has noted:

... historical records are clear on the matter. Baptism for the dead was performed by the dominant church until forbidden by the sixth canon of the Council of Carthage in A.D. 397. Some of the smaller sects, however, continued the practice. Of the [Cerinthians][5] of the fourth century, Epiphanius wrote:
“In this country—I mean Asia—and even in Galatia, their school flourished eminently and a traditional fact concerning them has reached us, that when any of them had died without baptism, they used to baptize others in their name, lest in the resurrection they should suffer punishment as unbaptized.” (Heresies, 8:7.) [6]

Thus, baptism for the dead was banned about four hundred years after Christ by the church councils. Latter-day Saints would see this as an excellent example of the apostasy—church councils altering doctrine and practice that was accepted at an earlier date.

Tvedtnes continues:

In early Judaism, too, there is an example of ordinances being performed in behalf of the dead. Following the battle of Marisa in 163 B.C., it was discovered that each of the Jewish soldiers killed in the fight had been guilty of concealing pagan idols beneath his clothing. In order to atone for their wrong, Judas Maccabaeus, the Jewish high priest and commander, collected money from the survivors to purchase sacrificial animals for their dead comrades:
“And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachmas of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection: for if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.” (2 Maccabees 12:43–46.) [7]


Response to claim: 404 - "It is possible that many readers of this book have had their deceased relatives baptized by proxy into Mormonism"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "It is possible that many readers of this book have had their deceased relatives baptized by proxy into Mormonism, even though such persons might not have wanted anything to do with Mormonism during their lives."

Author's sources: Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Certainly, it is possible. LDS proxy baptisms only give the dead the opportunity to accept it if they wish. They have no power on any who decline them. If one believes the LDS Church is false, then LDS proxy baptisms can have no power whatever, and the dead are completely unaffected thereby.



Question: Are the dead being "baptized into the Mormon faith?"

The ordinance is provided but is only contingent upon the dead accepting it

Some have misunderstood and suppose that deceased souls “are being baptised into the Mormon faith without their knowledge” [8] or that “people who once belonged to other faiths can have the Mormon faith retroactively imposed on them.” [9] They assume that we somehow have power to force a soul in matters of faith. Of course, we do not. God gave man his agency from the beginning. (See fn11) “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,” [10] but only if they accept those ordinances. The Church does not list them on its rolls or count them in its membership.
Our anxiety to redeem the dead, and the time and resources we put behind that commitment, are, above all, an expression of our witness concerning Jesus Christ. It constitutes as powerful a statement as we can make concerning His divine character and mission. It testifies, first, of Christ’s Resurrection; second, of the infinite reach of His Atonement; third, that He is the sole source of salvation; fourth, that He has established the conditions for salvation; and, fifth, that He will come again. [11]


Response to claim: 404, 605n14 (PB) - Latter-day Saints performed vicarious baptisms for Jews who had died in the Holocaust

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints performed vicarious baptisms for Jews who had died in the Holocaust.

Author's sources: Bob Mims, "LDS Try to End Unauthorized Work for Jews," Salt Lake Tribune, May 2, 2001.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Those who did so violated the Church's stated policies.



Question: Is temple work being performed for victims of the Jewish Holocaust?

While work toward the complete removal of all Holocaust victims' names from the Church's database continues, controversy and frustration may well continue to surface

It is claimed that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has done and continues to perform proxy baptisms (baptisms for the dead) in behalf of victims of the Shoah, the Jewish Holocaust. It is claimed that these baptisms continue to be performed despite repeated requests from the Jewish community to end the practice and remove all Jewish Holocaust names from the Church's genealogical records used for posthumous baptisms.

While work toward the complete removal of all Holocaust victims' names from the Church's database continues, controversy and frustration may well continue to surface. It is important to remember that progress has been made, and that as temple approval safeguards become more sophisticated, one can hope that misguided individuals will be much less able to violate the agreement.

Furthermore, now that it is clear that some few members are not respecting the agreement, the databases will doubtless be monitored by interested parties, who can bring violations to the Church’s attention.

Those of the Jewish faith are to be commended for the spirit of dialogue and cooperation in which they have approached this matter, and their willingness to work with the Church to solve it.

There have also been some moving expressions of friendship between Mormons and Jews; some Jewish authors have pointed out that belief and theology matter much less than behavior and brotherhood, and on this score Mormon-Jewish relations have always been excellent.[12]

History of the practice

In 1995—after it was learned that a substantial number of Holocaust victims were listed in the Church's temple records as having been baptized—an agreement was signed between the Church and leading Jewish authorities which officially ended baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims posthumously.

Controversy over the matter flared again in 2002 when it was found that there was still thousands of Holocaust victims’ names in the Church's records. The Church responded by re-enforcing its policy for temple work, which requires that members only perform proxy baptisms for ancestors to whom they can demonstrate a familial link. Furthermore, the Church established a committee with Jewish leaders to investigate why the names of Holocaust victims remained in the database.

More concern was expressed in 2006, when it was discovered that there were still many Holocaust victims' names in the database.

Mistakes in the database

Despite critics' claims, fingers should not be pointed at the institutional Church in this instance. Instead, the fault lies with a few misguided members, who took active steps to circumvent the Church’s policies:

Gary Mokotoff [...] who will head the Jewish side of the joint commission, said that individual church members had managed to circumvent the current monitoring process by misspelling names. "There's guaranteed to be a trickle going through the screen," he said, "but it's been very embarrassing for the Mormons." Mike Otterson, director of media relations for the church, told the Post that the church was working on creating a mechanism to prevent "overzealous members" from violating the agreement.[13]

Counsel of LDS leaders

Church general authorities have asked members to concentrate on completing the work for their own ancestors. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve taught:

Here, on this side of the veil, there are limitations of available time and temples. This means that choosing to identify and perform ordinances for our own kindred should receive our highest priority. The Spirit of Elijah will inspire individual members of the Church to link their generations, rather than submit lists of people or popular personalities to whom they are unrelated. Now, we are mindful of those not of our faith who are concerned about or even offended by the practice of temple ordinances for the dead. To them we say, our Heavenly Father directed the restoration of keys of priesthood authority and surely intended no offense to any of His children. Quite to the contrary. He intended to bless them. This doctrine and its ordinances are laden with love and are intended to perpetuate the sweetest of all relationships — in families forever.

Nevertheless, the Church is sensitive to these concerns. The First Presidency has asked that, as far as possible, individual rights of privacy be protected. In 1972, they wrote, "Persons submitting names for other than direct ancestors [should] have obtained approval from the closest living relative of the deceased before submitting records of persons born within the last ninety-five years." In addition, reminders of rights of precedence and privacy appear each time our computer programs are used.[14]


Response to claim: 405, 605n18-19 (PB) - Do LDS leaders suppress access to Church archives?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

*Do LDS leaders suppress access to Church archives?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author fails to note that Fawn Brodie worked in the 1940s, when the archives were less well-organized—her experience is irrelevant to the present-day.
  • Steven L. Olsen, "Is the Church Archives Closed?" (FAIR Conference, 2007). FairMormon link

Response to claim: 405, 607n21 (HB) 605n21 (PB) - "LDS leaders re-write historical documents, deny that other documents exist, create fictitious historical data..."

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "LDS leaders re-write historical documents, deny that other documents exist, create fictitious historical data, add words to update old revelations so that they conform to current events/knowledge, and delete various sections of divine pronouncements said to have been transcribe perfectly when originally delivered."

Author's sources: Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 249. ( Index of claims ), summarizing the views of Mark P. Leone, Roots of Modern Mormonism, 204, 211.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This claim is nonsense. Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable facts from its own history, yet they quote Church sources in order to provide proof of their claims.



Question: Has the Church "whitewashed" some of the information about its origins to appear more palatable to members and investigators?

Church historians and church hierarchy are fully aware of its history, yet they maintain strong testimonies of the authenticity and authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Some feel that this is done intentionally to hide negative aspects of church history. Others feel that it is done to focus on the good, but that it causes problems for believing members when they encounter these issues outside of church curriculum.

Church historians and church hierarchy are fully aware of its history, yet they maintain strong testimonies of the authenticity and authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Problems arise when faithful members can't reconcile a perfect Savior and his church being led by imperfect people. Developing an understanding that all people, even prophets of the Lord make mistakes. Only Jesus Christ himself was perfect.

The reality is that there are very few new discoveries related to Church history

Many critics will present a faithful member with some fact of church history and would have them believe that this is a new discovery. The reality is that there are very few new discoveries related to Church history. In fact, most, if not all of these documents have been well known to church historians for many years. Occasionally, a new document will be discovered which sheds additional light on some aspect of Church history. One such example is the discovery of documents that clarify that the Church was actually organized in Fayette rather than Manchester, as some have claimed. Situations such as this are rare, however. When the critic presents a "new" historical fact, you can rest assured that this very same "fact" has been discussed by LDS scholars for many years. There is truly little new information for the critics to draw from.

The critic presents these historical facts in order to shake the member's testimony, hopefully to the point of leaving the church. They attempt to present contradictions, such as "Joseph Smith drank wine at Carthage Jail, and therefore violated the Word of Wisdom." They attempt to catch Church leaders in deceit or portray them as hypocrites. Yet, there are many LDS experts on Church history that remain fully aware, faithful, actively attending church members. There are no facts that unarguably disprove the authenticity of the church. As always it comes down to faith and a personal witness between an individual and the Lord.

Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable facts from its own history, yet they quote Church sources in order to provide proof of their claims

Critics routinely accuse the Church of suppressing and hiding uncomfortable facts from its own history. Yet, these very same critics quote Church sources in order to provide proof of their claims. This concern often rests on a misunderstanding. It is true that the Church's teachings are primarily doctrinal and devotional—Church lessons are neither apologetic nor historical in scope or intent.

It is remarkable, however, how many of the issues which critics charge the Church with "suppressing" are discussed in Church publications. Various issues are listed in the subarticle below, with references to Church sources which mention them. So, has the Church been suppressing the truth? You might be surprised to find out where some of these facts are actually hidden.


Response to claim: 406, 605n22 (PB) - The History of the Church was mostly written after his death, but reads as if he wrote it himself

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The History of the Church was mostly written after his death, but reads as if he wrote it himself.

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

This is no secret; using Joseph's authorial voice was standard practice for the day. The history was completed up to 5 August 1838 under Joseph's direction (See Jesse, 466).



Question: Who is the author of History of the Church?

The History of the Church, though credited to Joseph Smith, was not actually authored by him

Dean C. Jessee wrote of this question [15]:

The History of the Church, which bears Joseph Smith’s name, was begun under his dictation and direction and completed after his death according to his instructions. The original sources used to compile the History were the Prophet’s own diaries, correspondence, and other documents. Those who may feel that the work is not a fundamental historical source because the Prophet did not personally write much of it are in error. The History, with its priceless collection of primary documents, remains the most important source of historical information on the life of Joseph Smith and early Latter-day Saint history.

The work presents the teachings and activities of the Prophet with a remarkable degree of accuracy. A look at how it was produced, and at the concepts that governed historical writing at that time, helps tell us the nature of the history.

Production of the history

Continued Jessee:

Among the difficulties encountered by Joseph Smith was his own lack of formal literary education. He wrote that it took the exertions of all his father’s family to sustain themselves, “therefore we were deprived of the benefit of an education. … I was merely instructed in reading, writing and the ground rules of arithmetic, which constituted my whole literary acquirements.” [16] Throughout his life the Prophet seemed to be concerned with his lack of literary training. In his extant correspondence he refers to his “lack of fluency in address,” his limited “ability in conveying my ideas in writing,” and “the imperfections of my writing.” [17]

The Prophet thus relied on others to write for him. More than two dozen clerks are known to have assisted him in a secretarial capacity. Of these, nine left the Church (typical of the challenges of those years), and four others died while engaged in important writing assignments.

A major inhibition of efforts to keep a record was the persecution the Prophet and the Church experienced. During the years in which the history was being written, the Latter-day Saints moved or were driven across two-thirds of the North American continent. Such unstable conditions resulted in the loss of some records and affected the accuracy of many of those that were preserved. In addition, the Prophet endured lawsuits and repeated arrests that took his attention from the history.

When Willard Richards took over the duties of Church historian in December 1842, a mere 157 pages of a work that eventually numbered 2,000 pages had been written.

On 1 March 1842, publication of the history in serial form commenced in the Nauvoo newspaper Times and Seasons. By 27 June 1844, the date of Joseph Smith’s death, the manuscript had been completed only to 5 August 1838 and published to December 1831. However, important source material had been preserved for completing the history. Shortly before his death, the Prophet wrote: “For the last three years I have a record of all my acts and proceedings, for I have kept several good, faithful, and efficient clerks in constant employ: they have accompanied me everywhere, and carefully kept my history, and they have written down what I have done, where I have been, and what I have said.” [18] Some have indicated that, prior to his death, the Prophet reviewed most of what his clerks had written.

While in Carthage Jail shortly before his death, Joseph Smith instructed the Church historian, Willard Richards, who was there with him, to continue the history. [19] This Elder Richards did, and for the next decade he was the custodian of the records and the architect of the history. After Joseph Smith’s death, work on the history continued, even as the Saints prepared to leave Nauvoo for the Rocky Mountains. With the addition of 674 pages to the manuscript, nearly as much work was done on the history in the period between the Prophet’s death and the departure of the Saints from Nauvoo as had been done in the preceding years.

At the time the records of the Church were packed at Nauvoo for the journey west in February 1846, Willard Richards had compiled the history to 1 March 1843. But in the disruptive years that followed, he was never able to complete that work. After Brother Richards’s death in 1854, George A. Smith and Wilford Woodruff continued work on the history. To assure accuracy, every effort was made to collect information. Late in 1845, for instance, an epistle to the Saints urged all who knew of “any fact, circumstance, incident, event, or transaction” that should be in the history to please report it. [20]

Finally, in August 1856, eighteen years after the history was begun, the work was completed to the death of Joseph Smith. The entire manuscript had been read in the hearing of the First Presidency and other witnesses for a general appraisal.


Response to claim: 406 - Was writing the History of the Church as if Joseph himself wrote it a "flagrant breach of standard protocol for persons producing historical works" as the book claims?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was writing the History of the Church as if Joseph himself wrote it a "flagrant breach of standard protocol for persons producing historical works" as the book claims?

Author's sources: No citation provided.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Using Joseph's authorial voice was standard practice for the day. The Jesse article cited above by the author demonstrates that no effort was made to hide who had written the history.



Question: Why is History of the Church written in first-person, as if Joseph Smith himself wrote it?

The common nineteenth-century format of writing was chosen by Joseph Smith, who directed his clerks to write a first person

Jessee described the differences between historical writing as practiced by a modern writer, and those practices in place in Joseph Smith's day:

Since none of the manuscript of the history is in Joseph Smith’s handwriting, and apparently not much of the text was actually dictated by him, why did those employed on the work write in first person, as though the Prophet himself were writing? That common nineteenth-century format was chosen by Joseph Smith, who directed his clerks to write a first person, daily narrative based upon diaries kept by himself and his clerks. In addition, since Joseph Smith’s diary did not provide an unbroken narrative of his life, the compilers of the history were to bridge gaps by using other sources (diaries, Church periodicals, minute and record books of Church and civic organizations, letters and documents kept on file, and news of current world happenings), changing indirect discourse to direct as if Joseph Smith had done the writing himself. Not uncommon according to the editorial practices of the day, this method of supplying missing detail had the effect of providing a smooth-flowing, connected narrative of events.

Many examples from other works of the period show that this was the historical standard of the time. Nineteenth-century American methods of historical writing and editing were very different from those of today. In 1837, for example, Jared Sparks—regarded as “the first great compiler of national records”—edited in twelve volumes the Writings of George Washington. When his work was later compared with original manuscripts, it was found that he had rewritten portions of letters, deleted or altered offensive passages, and changed irregularities in style and awkward modes of expression.

In his review of historical editing in the United States, Lyman E. Butterfield has noted that changing text and creating text faithful to the ideas of the writer were not uncommon in early years, and that seldom were original texts left to speak for themselves. [21] The History of the Church was written in the general literary and historical climate of its time.

New Testament parallels

Dean Jessee noted that this 19th century approach to historiography matches more ancient practices, such as those used by some Biblical authors:

New Testament writers apparently used a similar method in writing the Gospels. One Bible commentary records that Matthew and Luke borrowed from Mark (Interpreter’s Bible, 7:235–36) and omitted or altered what seemed to be critical of the Apostles. For example, Mark records that James and John came to the Savior and asked that he give them whatsoever they desired; whereupon, the Savior heard their plea that each might sit by his side when he came in glory. (Mark 10:35–37.) When Matthew recorded the event, he said that it was the mother of James and John who desired this privilege for her sons (Matt. 20:20–21.) This difference in recording the circumstances, presumably to place the Apostles in a better light, does not destroy the credibility of the Savior’s mission, nor may we believe that there was dishonesty in making the change.

Challenges with direct citation

Jessee cautions:

One of the challenges facing those who compiled the history was that of presenting the Prophet’s sermons and teachings. Since none of Joseph’s clerks had mastered shorthand during his lifetime, reports of what he said were made longhand. Many of these were smooth-flowing, well-connected summaries and were copied into the history almost as recorded. In some instances, however, it was necessary to reconstruct an address from brief notes and disconnected ideas. George A. Smith’s editorial work was careful, and when he was finished, each discourse was read to members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve, some of whom had also heard the original address. Their input proved invaluable. These measures no doubt guaranteed the doctrinal accuracy of such reporting of Joseph Smith’s discourses, but the result obviously would not reflect his personality and speaking style as accurately as a verbatim report would have done.

An analysis of the History reveals those portions obtained from material written personally by Joseph Smith. These clearly reflect his loving and warm spirit. For example, the following is an entry from the History stemming from a portion of Joseph Smith’s 1835 diary written by himself:

“September 23. I was at home writing blessings for my most beloved brethren, but was hindered by a multitude of visitors. The Lord has blessed our souls this day, and may God grant to continue His mercies unto my house this night, for Christ’s sake. This day my soul has desired the salvation of Brother Ezra Thayer. Also Brother Noah Packard came to my house and loaned the committee one thousand dollars to assist building the house of the Lord. Oh! may God bless him a hundred fold, even of the things of the earth, for this righteous act. My heart is full of desire today, to be blessed of the God of Abraham with prosperity, until I shall be able to pay all my debts, for it is the delight of my soul to be honest. O Lord, that thou knowest right well. Help me, and I will give to the poor.” [22]


Response to claim: 406, 608n23 (HB) 606n23 (PB) - Was a "forged prediction" added to the history that a "mighty people" that would dwell "in the midst of the Rocky Mountains"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was a "forged prediction" added to the history that a "mighty people" that would dwell "in the midst of the Rocky Mountains"?

Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

To accept a "forgery" theory, we must accept that all of the people listed who remembered Joseph speaking about the Rocky Mountains were lying or fabricating their experience



Question: Did Joseph Smith make "forged predictions" and add them retroactively to the history of the Church that a "mighty people" that would dwell "in the midst of the Rocky Mountains"?

To accept a "forgery" theory, we must accept that all of the people listed who remembered Joseph speaking about the Rocky Mountains were lying or fabricating their experience

Furthermore, we must also accept that Joseph was sending explorers to the west with no real expectation of moving, and the discussion of heading west by both members and enemies was all idle talk.

Furthermore, the mention of moving to the west is often incidental—Church leaders mention the matter as if many of their hearers from Nauvoo would recall it. No great effort is made to establish the truth of the matter; it is presumed to be too obvious to require much demonstration.

The source of the prophecy account

The prophecy source is the biography of Anson Call, in August 1842. The relevant section reads as follows:

"A block schoolhouse had been prepared with shade in front, under which was a barrel of ice water. Judge Adams, the highest Masonic authority in the State of Illinois, had been sent there to organize this lodge. He, Hyrum Smith and J. C. Bennett, being high Masons, went into the house to perform some ceremonies which the others were not entitled to witness. These, including Joseph Smith, remained under the bowery. Joseph as he was tasting the cold water, warned the brethren not to be too free with it. With the tumbler still in his hand, he prophesied that the Saints would yet go to the Rocky Mountains, and said he, 'This water tastes much like that of the crystal streams that are running from the snow-capped mountains. I had before seen him in a vision, and now saw, while he was talking, his countenance change to white, not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living, brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing upon something at a great distance and said, "I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains."

I had before seen him [Joseph Smith] in a vision [i.e., while seeing or reporting a divine vision or revelation], and now saw while he was talking his countenance change to white; not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing at something at a great distance, and said: "I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains." This was followed by a vivid description of the scenery of these mountains, as I have since become acquainted with it. Pointing to Shadrach Roundy and others, he said: "There are some men here who shall do a great work in that land." Pointing to me, he said, "There is Anson, he shall go and shall assist in building up cities from one end of the country to the other, and you, rather extending the idea to all those he had spoken of, shall perform as great a work as has been done by man, so that the nations of the earth shall be astonished, and many of them will be gathered in that land and assist in building cities and temples, and Israel shall be made to rejoice."

It is impossible to represent in words this scene which is still vivid in my mind, of the grandeur of Joseph's appearance, his beautiful descriptions of this land, and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from the glorious inspirations that overshadowed him. There was a force and power in his exclamations of which the following is but a faint echo: "Oh the beauty of those snow-capped mountains! The cool refreshing streams that are running down through those mountain gorges!" Then gazing in another direction, as if there was a change in locality: "Oh the scenes that this people will pass through! The dead that will lay between here and there." Then turning in another direction as if the scene had again changed: "Oh the apostasy that will take place before my brethren reach that land! But," he continued, "The priesthood shall prevail over its enemies, triumph over the devil and be established upon the earth, never more to be thrown down!" He then charged us with great force and power, to be faithful to those things that had been and should be committed to our charge, with the promise of all the blessings that the Priesthood could bestow. "Remember these things and treasure them up. Amen." [23]

Thus, the accusation must be not only that the Church decided to "forge" a prophecy by Joseph, but that Anson Call did as well. Can we assess how likely these claims are?

It could be, of course, that Anson Call forged his account, and all the Church leaders and members lied about remembering Joseph speak about the matter. But why then appeal to "many of you" remembering Joseph speaking about it? Why not claim it was a private, secret teaching given to the apostles—for, they certainly also reported these. If the claim was fraudulent, why risk exposure?

Or, the story could have started after the Saints reached the valley, and simply grown in the telling with members "remembering" the story as it was retold to them. But, the contemporary evidence would seem to argue against this, and witnesses often mentioned how struck they were by Joseph's remarks. They also described him discussing this idea in a variety of setting, which argues against an accumulated "folklore."

It is strange to see critics argue that Joseph would not prophesy about this—in their view, Joseph was always larding his ideas with prophetic pronouncement. And, is it any stretch to think that he would say that the people would grow "mighty" there. Would even a false prophet or charlatan tell his beleaguered followers that they were going into the wilderness to become weak and oppressed?

The simplest explanation seems to be that Joseph discussed moving to the west several times, and likely prophesied about it. Too many witnesses would have to collude or self-deceive for it to have no basis in fact. Whether the story grew in the telling, of course, is difficult to determine.

None of this, to be sure, proves that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. But, to claim that the account of him discussing and even prophesying a move to the west rests on nothing but "forgery" is to distort and ignore too many sources, from too broad a time period, over what is essentially a peripheral issue.

How have less friendly historians treated this prophecy?

We have seen that believing historians such as B. H. Roberts or Orson F. Whitney would be likely to accept this claim. How have less friendly historians treated it?

Hubert Howe Bancroft opined that "In 1842 an expedition had been planned to explore the country toward or beyond the Rocky Mountains; but when Joseph Smith put himself forward as a candidate for the presidency of the United States, all other matters were for the time forgotten." [24] Thus, Bancroft saw the move west as one long contemplated.

D. Michael Quinn, whose work has been repeatedly cited by the author of the critical work One Nation Under Gods, includes this in his Church timeline without comment or qualification, even using the date traditionally ascribed it in the History of the Church [25]:

6 Aug [1842]. While attending a Masonic ceremony Smith prophesies that Mormons would settle in the Rocky Mountains. [26]

Historian Dale Morgan, certainly not an LDS apologist or propagandist, wrote to a private correspondent who seemed to share the author's views of this account:

it is my understanding from reading controversial works involving the Reorganized Church that you have combatted the idea that Joseph Smith ever intended leading the Mormons out of the Mississippi Valley to the West, and that you tend to regard proofs advanced by the L.D.S. church as being revisions of original history to serve the propagandic purposes of this church. This is a matter to which I have given especial attention, and in the work on the Mormons that I have conceived, I believe I shall be able to demolish once and for all any argument that Joseph Smith did not entertain this purpose.

My materials have been drawn in some part, though by no means wholly, from the L.D.S. archives here, but I do not think historians of the Reorganized Church will seriously question my findings when I am enabled to publish them. I cannot speak so authoritatively about the authenticity of the Rocky Mountains prophecy, but I am by no means disposed to doubt it, in view of what I have learned about Smith's purposes in the winter of 1844. I cannot undertake to discuss the whole subject at length here, so for the present I must content myself with assuring you that the statements in the Utah Guide about the proposal to migrate to the Rocky Mountains have a firm factual foundation, and I will publish the proofs in due course. [27]

Thus, Morgan thought it clear that Joseph Smith had intended to go to the Rockies with the Saints, and felt it plausible that Joseph had made a prophecy to that effect. Thus, whatever the facts, it seems unlikely that a crude "forgery" is at work.

Many other Church members later wrote about Joseph's discussion of the Rocky Mountains area

Before the Nauvoo Expositor incident, Benjamin F. Johnson said,

...the Prophet had foreshadowed the close of his own earthly mission, and the near approach of the time when the Saints in tribulation would find a place of refuge in the far-off vales of the Rocky Mountains, which has already taken place; and also relating still to the future, when a path will be opened for the Saints through Mexico, South America, and to the center Stake of Zion.

These, and many more great things were given by him, some of which, as with the ancient disciples, we could not comprehend until fulfilled....It was now revealed to the Prophet that his only safety was in flight to the Rocky Mountains, and he crossed the river with a few faithful friends with a full purpose not to return. [28]

"These things did not come upon us unexpectedly," observed Wandle Mace,

--at least to those who were watching the signs of the times--the Prophet Joseph had told us that many of us would live to go the "Rocky Mountains', and there become a mighty people, therefore we were looking forward to this time. Some of us was afraid we would not have time to finish the [Nauvoo] temple before these things came upon us, they were coming so fast. [29]

Samuel W. Richards remembered being assigned by Joseph to "explore the Rocky Mountains with 23 other men to find a place where the Church could be established." [30]

In 1864, Brigham Young remembered:

In the days of Joseph we have sat many hours at a time conversing about this very country. Joseph has often said, "If I were only in the Rocky Mountains with a hundred faithful men, I would then be happy, and ask no odds of mobocrats." And neither do I. [31]

In 1880, Orson Pratt asked:

Was it upon our own natural judgment [that we came to the valley]? No; we founded our expectation upon that which God had spoken in the modern revelations which He had given to us as a people. He told us, by revelation, before our prophet was martyred, that we would have to leave the United States: go beyond the Rocky Mountains, and seek our home in the wilderness, and that we would have a great people gather with us. [32]

John Taylor spoke of Joseph's frequent mention of this idea:

Many a time have I listened to the voice of our beloved Prophet, while in council, dwell on this subject [the removal of the Saints to the Rocky Mountains] with delight; his eyes sparkling with animation, and his soul fired with the inspiration of the Spirit of the living God. It was a theme that caused the bosoms of all who were privileged to listen, to thrill with delight; intimately connected with this, were themes upon which prophets, patriarchs, priests and kings dwelt with pleasure and delight: of them they prophesied, sung, wrote, spoke and desired to see, but died without the sight. My spirit glows with sacred fire while I reflect upon these scenes, and I say, O Lord, hasten the day! [33]

As is often the case, Mosiah Hancock confirmed Joseph's Rocky Mountain destination in an off-hand manner:

Before the Prophet spoke from the frame [in his last speech before Carthage], he had started to go to the rocky mountains, and went as far a Montrose; but through the interference of some pretended friends, he returned. I was a witness to these things--and when the Prophet spoke from the frame, he spoke with power, and the people loved him. [34]

Some of these later witnesses discussed the matter under different circumstances, which strongly suggests that this was no "secret" teaching of the prophet's, but well noised about. For example, Bathsheba W. Smith remembered:

Joseph, the Prophet, said we would come to the Rocky Mountains, and he had a company of young men selected to hunt a location for a home for the Saints. Samuel Richards was one of that company. I heard of it when we were in Illinois, and I remember an old lady coming in and talking to mother about what Joseph, the Prophet, had said that we would be in the Rocky Mountains sometime. I said I would like the time to come soon, I would like to get away from our enemies. She gave me a right good scolding, saying it was terrible to think of going to the Rocky Mountains. [35]

Rachel Grant remembered that "It tried a great many people when the Prophet gave out the word that there was to be no more gathering at Nauvoo, as the people thought that was the place. He first told them to gather there, but later told them the Rocky Mountains would be the gathering place. It was his thought that they would come to the Rocky Mountains." [36]

Rudger Clawson's diary described a talk he heard:

Patriarch Jas. H. Leathead bore an interesting testimony. Said that he was a resident of [p.613] Nauvoo in the early days of the church and filled the position of drummer boy in the Nauvoo band. Said that he was present and heard the Prophet Joseph Smith predict that the saints would move to the Rocky Mountains. [37]

Wilford Woodruff reported the earliest account of Joseph's teaching on the west. He recorded one of his own addresses on 5 October 1884:

spok 10 M, & gave an Account of the first testimony of the Prophet Joseph in kirtland Aprail 1834 of filling the Rocky Mountains with the Saints of God. [38]

Woodruff would also copy Philo Dibble's record of Joseph's last address to the Nauvoo legion, noting that "Broth J Jaques this Book is W Woodruffs private Historical Book. I wish you to take special care of it yourself until I call for it. I wish you to copy last pages in red ink & file in the office as it is the Last Address of Joseph Smith before his death [from Philo Dibble] and I think we have no Copy of it in the office. The Book itself I wish locked up." [39]

Confirmatory witnesses

Other members also mentioned their own spiritual experiences about the west. Wilford Woodruff recalled that

When in the western country, many years ago, before we came to the Rocky Mountains, I had a dream. I dreamed of being in these mountains, and of seeing a large fine looking temple erected in one of these valleys which was built of cut granite stone, I saw that temple dedicated, and I attended the dedicatory services, and I saw a good many men that are living today in the midst of this people. [40]

The same or a similar account was also noted by L. John Nuttall on 7 October 1891 at a meeting

Over fifty years ago, while in Boston, he [Woodruff]...dreamed that the Saints migrated to the Rocky Mountains, built a Temple and dedicated it; that at the dedicatory services Elders were set apart to go among the Gentile nations to bind the law and seal the testimony. [41]

Other evidence from Joseph's lifetime

There is other evidence recorded during Joseph's lifetime that lends plausibility to the account given by Call and others.

For example, Elder Jonathan Dunham was sent to explore the western countries, and was "most probably prospecting a possible trail and locating resting places for the Saints when engaged in a great westward movement." [42] Why else would Joseph send Dunham—whom he later trusted to head the Nauvoo Legion during his final days before being taken to Carthage—on such a long and difficult journey, given all the pressing difficulties which remained in Nauvoo? As one author noted, "During the Council of Fifty's first meetings in March and April 1844, the Mormon prophet urged the exploration of the American West. In this region the Saints would make a settlement and raise "a standard and ensign of truth for the nations of the earth." [43]

Members of the Council of Fifty believed, in "a retrospective statement on Smith's purposes" according to William Clayton, that when Joseph

crossed the Mississippi River intending to go to the Rocky Mountains. Several hours before his departure, he asked his followers to make a sixteen-foot emblematic flag "for the nations," apparently hoping to take a Mormon, scripture-fulfilling banner with him on his journey. However after less than a day on the Iowa side of the river, he returned to Nauvoo and began his fateful journey to Carthage. The day prior to Smith's death, not fully understanding his danger, Nauvoo citizens responded to his earlier wish and began preparation of a flag of white cloth. The flag, said one of the Saints later, was not intended for Nauvoo. Smith undoubtedly meant the banner to be a tangible symbol of a restored latter-day Kingdom in the mountainous West. [44]

In a related vein, Lorenzo Snow later remembered that

On the 20th of February, 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith instructed the Twelve Apostles to send a delegation and make explorations in Oregon and California, and seek a good location to which we can remove after the Temple is completed, and "where we can build a city in a day, and have a government of our own....Previous to this, the Prophet had remarked to me that he anticipated moving to the Rocky Mountains with all his family, where he could live in peace and worship God unmolested. But other scenes and prospects awaited us. [45]

There is also a Times and Seasons newspaper account of a conference held on November 1, 1842 in Kirtland, Ohio by LDS missionaries. Reporting on their success, one wrote:

One woman, who at the commencement of the conference declared herself good enough without re baptism, has now come forward before the close and says that she would go to the Rocky Mountains if Joseph said so.... [46]

This might be a mere figure of speech, i.e., such as "to the moon and back if Joseph said so." On the other hand, it may be that Joseph's thoughts about the west were beginning to percolate among the Saints and even their enemies, so it can hardly have been much of a secret. Oliver Olney, an apostate member who was supporting John C. Bennett, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith on the matter on 20 July 1842:

"They say with your numerous wifes and maidens you are about to start west as far as the Rocky Mountains where you will raise up a Righteous Branch without being molested by the Laws of the Land." Olney later noted that the Saints "are fast a fixing to go West where they can live in peace without being molested By the laws of the land. They say soon to start If what I hear is correct as far West as Origen Territory and establish a stake of Zion." [47]

As we have seen above, there are accounts of Joseph discussing the matter at least as early as 1834.


Response to claim: 406, 606n23 (PB) - Was a "forged prediction" added to the history of the Church regarding the future political career of Senator Stephen A. Douglas?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:


  • Was a "forged prediction" added to the history of the Church regarding the future political career of Steven (sic) A. Douglas?
  • (Note: Should be "Stephen" A. Douglas)

    Author's sources:

  • History of the Church, vol. 5, 85, 393-394, 398.
  • No other citation is given to support this claim.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

In fact, the prediction was published more than a year before Douglas' attack on the Church; this was well-before his aspirations to the U.S. presidency or fall in political fortunes.



Question: Was a "forged" prophecy about Stephen A. Douglas added to the History of the Church?

Joseph Smith prophesied that Stephen A. Douglas would run for the presidency four years before he actually did

Joseph Smith told Judge Stephen A. Douglas four years before he was nominated for the Presidency of the United States:

I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, that unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in the State of Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers, that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted, and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, for their wickedness in permitting the murder of men, women and children, and the wholesale plunder and extermination of thousands of her citizens to go unpunished; thereby perpetrating a foul and corroding blot upon the fair fame of this great republic, the very thought of which would have caused the high minded and patriotic framers of the Constitution of the United States to hide their faces with shame. Judge, you will aspire to the presidency of the United States; and if ever you turn your hand against me or the Latter-day Saints, you will feel the weight of the hand of Almighty upon you; and you will live to see and know that I have testified the truth to you; for the conversation of this day will stick to you through life.” (History of the Church, 5:394

The claim that this prophecy was added after the fact is frankly false

As B.H. Roberts' editorial remark in the History of the Church noted:

There is, and can be no question about the prophecy preceding the event. The prophecy was first published in the Deseret News of September 24, 1856. It was afterwards published in England in the Millennial Star, February, 1859. The publication in the Deseret News preceding Douglas' Springfield speech, mentioned above, (June, 1857) by about one year, and about four years before Douglas was nominated for the presidency by the Charleston Democratic convention.[48]

This paper is available in digital form on-line. Screenshots are included in this article.

Page one of Deseret News (24 Sept 1856). Material on Stephen A. Douglas, at it appears in the History of the Church is outlined in read.
Detail of the Stephen A. Douglas prophecy, printed on 24 September 1856. This was nearly a year before Douglas would 'turn against' the Saints, and more than four years before he was nominated as President of the United States.


Response to claim: 407, 606n26 (PB) - LDS leaders claim that the "official history" is "the most accurate history in all the world"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Were over 62,000 words were added or deleted from the history of the Church? The endnote adds that LDS leaders claim that the "official history" is "the most accurate history in all the world."

Author's sources:
  • John Widtsoe, Joseph Smith-Seeker After Truth, 297.
  • Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 2, 199.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

President Smith does not claim that the multi-volume set of the History of the Church is "the most accurate history." He merely argues that "the history" of the LDS Church is most accurate, because it contains "revelation...in the Doctrine and Covenants, in the Book of Mormon" as well as other "revelation that comes to us through the servants of the Lord."

Response to claim: 407 - The minutes of a conference dealing with Sidney Rigdon discussed in Volume six of the History of the Church differs from the minutes originally printed in the Times and Seasons

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The minutes of a conference dealing with Sidney Rigdon discussed in Volume six of the History of the Church differs from the minutes originally printed in the Times and Seasons.

Author's sources:
  • History of the Church, vol. 6, 47-48.
  • Times and Seasons, vol. 4, 330.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The basic story is essentially unchanged—Joseph wanted to get rid of Sidney, and did not fully trust him or have much confidence in him even when he continued in his role as counselor. Joseph held out some hope that Sidney would rise to his calling, and it is this that is omitted in the History of the Church's version.



Question: Why does the account of Sidney Rigdon's 'trial' recorded in the Times and Seasons differs markedly from the version available in the History of the Church?

The history may have been modified by Joseph's successors for noble or base reasons, and they may have served or harmed historical accuracy in doing so

The basic story is essentially unchanged—Joseph wanted to get rid of Sidney, and did not fully trust him or have much confidence in him even when he continued in his role as counselor. Joseph held out some hope that Sidney would rise to his calling, and it is this that is omitted in the History of the Church's version.

The history may have been modified by Joseph's successors for noble or base reasons, and they may have served or harmed historical accuracy in doing so. It is difficult to determine which at this remove.

If those compiling the history did wrong, this simply demonstrates that fallible leaders are not without faults, flaws, or improper jealousies. Most members, however, would probably conclude that the History of the Church version removed the ambiguity in Joseph's initial response simply because Sidney had clearly failed to measure up—for the compilers, there was ambiguity no longer.

Needless to say, such a procedure does not meet modern historical standards, and ought not be undertaken today.

The two accounts are compared in the table below

The two accounts are compared in the table below (paragraphing has been slightly altered so the accounts will align better for comparison). Red italics have been added, the green text is italicized in the original History of the Church:

Times and Seasons version[49] History of the Church version[50]


MINUTES OF A SPECIAL CONFERENCE. Of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, held in the City of Nauvoo, commencing on the 6th of October, 1843.

Friday, October 6th, 10 o'clock A. M.

The weather proving unfavorable, the organization of the conference was postponed until the next day at 10 o'clock, A. M.

Saturday, 10 'clock A. M. Conference assembled and proceeded to business.

President Joseph Smith was called to the chair, and Gustavus Hills chosen clerk.

Opened with singing by the choir, and prayer by elder Almon Babbitt. The president stated the items of business to be brought before the Conference, to be,

1st. The case and standing of elder Sidney Rigdon, counsellor to the First Presidency.

2d. The further progress of the Temple; after which, any miscellaneous business.

Elder Sidney Rigdon addressed the conference on the subject of his situation and circumstances among the saints.

President Joseph Smith addressed the conference, inviting an expression of any charges or complaints which the Conference had to make. He sated his dissatisfaction with elder Sidney Rigdon as a counsellor, not having received any material benefit from his labors or counsels since their escape from Missouri. Several complaints were then brought forward in reference to his management in the Post Office; a supposed correspondence in connection with John C. Bennett, with Ex-Governor Carlin, and with the Missourians, of a treacherous character: also his leaguing with dishonest persons in endeavoring to defraud the innocent.

President Joseph Smith related to the Conference the detention of documents from J. Butterfield, Esq., which were designed for the benefit of himself, (President Smith,) but was not handed over for some three or four weeks, greatly to his disadvantage. Also, an indirect testimony from Missouri, through the mother of Orin P. Rockwell, that said Rigdon and others had given information, by letter, of President Smiths' visit to Dixon, advising them to proceed to that place and arrest him there. He stated that in consequence of those, and other circumstances, and his unprofitableness to him as a counsellor, he did not wish to retain him in that station, unless those difficulties could be removed; but desired his salvation, and expressed his willingness that he should retain a place among the saints.

Elder Almon Babbitt suggested the propriety of limiting the complaints and proofs to circumstances that had transpired since the last Conference.

President Joseph Smith replied, and showed the legality and propriety of a thorough investigation, without such limitation.

Elder Sidney Rigdon plead, concerning the documents from J. Butterfield, Esq., that he received it in answer to some inquiries which he had transmitted to him that he received it at a time when he was sick, and unable to examine it -- did not know that it was designed for the perusal and benefit of President Joseph Smith -- that he had, consequently, ordered it to be laid aside, where it remained until inquired for by Joseph Smith. He had never written to Missouri concerning the visit of Joseph Smith to Dixon, and knew of no other person having done so. That, concerning certain rumors of belligerent operations under Governor Carlin's administration, he had related them, not to alarm or disturb any one, but that he had the rumors form good authorities, and supposed them well founded. That he had never received but one communication from John C. Bennett, and that of a business character, except one addressed to him conjointly with Elder Orson Pratt, which he handed over to President Smith -- that he had never written any letters to John C. Bennett.

The weather becoming inclement, Conference adjourned until Sunday 10 o'clock A. M.


Sunday, 8th inst., 10 o'clock, A. M.

Conference assembled agreeably to the adjournment and opened with singing by the choir, and prayer by Elder William W. Phelps.

Elder Sidney Rigdon resumed his plea of defence. He related the circumstances of his reception in the city of Quincy, after his escape from Missouri the cause of his delay in not going to the city of Washington, on an express to which he had been appointed -- and closed with a moving appeal to President Joseph Smith concerning their former friendship, associations and sufferings, and expressed his willingness to resign his place, though with sorrowful and indescribable feelings. During this address, the sympathies of the congregation were highly excited.

Elder Almon Babbitt related a conversation he had had with Esq. Johnson, in which he exonerated elder Sidney Rigdon from the charge or suspicion of having had treacherous correspondence with Ex-Governor Carlin.

President Joseph Smith arose and satisfactorily explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with Ex-Governor Carlin, which wholly removed suspicion from elder Sidney Rigdon, and from every other person. He expressed entire willingness to have elder Sidney Rigdon retain his station, provided he would magnify his office, and walk and conduct himself in all honesty, righteousness, and integrity; but signified his lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.

President Hyrum Smith followed with appropriate and expressive remarks on the attribute of mercy in God, as that by which He influences, controls, and conquers -- and the propriety and importance of the saint's exercising the same attribute towards their fellows; and especially towards their aged companion and fellow servant in the cause of truth and righteousness.

Elder Almon Babbitt and pres't. Wm. Law followed with remarks in defence of elder Sidney Rigdon.

On motion by President William Marks, and seconded by President Hyrum Smith, Conference voted that elder Sidney Rigdon be permitted to retain his station as Counsellor to the First Presidency.




Singing by the choir prayer by pres't. Wm. Law.

Conference adjourned for one hour.

MINUTES OF A SPECIAL CONFERENCE. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Special Conference, held in the City of Nauvoo, commencing on the 6th of October, 1843.

Friday, October 6, ten o'clock, a.m.

The weather proving unfavorable, the organization of the Conference was postponed until the next day at ten o'clock, a.m.

Saturday, ten o'clock, a.m. Conference assembled and proceeded to business.

President Joseph Smith was called to the chair, and Gustavus Hills was chosen clerk.

Singing by the choir, and prayer by Elder Almon W. Babbitt. The president stated the items of business to be brought before the conference to be—

1st. The case and standing of Elder Sidney Rigdon, Counselor in the First Presidency.

2nd. The further progress of the Temple; after which, any miscellaneous business.

Elder Sidney Rigdon addressed the conference on the subject of his situation and circumstances among the Saints.

President Joseph Smith addressed the conference, inviting an expression of any charges or complaints which the conference had to make. He stated his dissatisfaction with Elder Sidney Rigdon as a Counselor, not having received any material benefit from his labors or counsels since their escape from Missouri. Several complaints were then brought forward in reference to his management in the post office; a supposed corespondence and connection with John C. Bennett, with Ex-Governor Carlin, and with the Missourians, of a treacherous character; also his leaguing with dishonest persons in endeavoring to defraud the innocent.

President Joseph Smith related to the conference the detention of a document from Justin Butterfield, Esq., which was designed for the benefit of himself, (President Smith,) but was not handed over for some three or four weeks, greatly to his disadvantage; also, an indirect testimony from Missouri, through the mother of Orrin P. Rockwell, that said Rigdon and others had given information, by letter, of President Smith's visit to Dixon, advising them to proceed to that place [p.48] and arrest him there. He stated that, in consequence of these and other circumstances, and Elder Rigdon's unprofitableness to him as a Counselor, he did not wish to retain him in that station, unless those difficulties could be removed; but desired his salvation, and expressed his willingness that he should retain a place among the Saints.


Elder Almon W. Babbitt suggested the propriety of limiting the complaints and proofs to circumstances that had transpired since the last conference.

President Joseph Smith replied, and showed the legality and propriety of a thorough investigation, without such limitation.

Elder Sidney Rigdon pleaded, concerning the document from Justin Butterfield, Esq., that he received it in answer to some inquiries which he [Rigdon] had transmitted to him [Butterfield]; that he [Rigdon] received it at a time when he was sick, and unable to examine it; did not know that it was designed for the perusal and benefit of President Joseph Smith; that he had, consequently, ordered it to be laid aside, where it remained until inquired for by Joseph Smith. He had never written to Missouri concerning the visit of Joseph Smith to Dixon, and knew of no other person having done so. That, concerning certain rumors of belligerent operations under Governor Carlin's administration, he had related them, not to alarm or disturb any one; but that he had the rumors from good authorities, and supposed them well founded. That he had never received but one communication from John C. Bennett, and that of a business character, except one addressed to him conjointly with Elder Orson Pratt, which he handed over to President Smith. That he had never written any letters to John C. Bennett. The weather becoming inclement, conference adjourned until Sunday, ten o'clock, a.m.


Sunday, 8th, ten o'clock, a.m. Conference assembled agreeably to adjournment.


Singing by the choir, and prayer by Elder William W. Phelps.

Elder Sidney Rigdon resumed his plea of defense. He related the circumstances of his reception in the city of Quincy, after his escape from Missouri,—the cause of his delay in not going to the city of Washington, on an express to which he had been appointed: and closed with a moving appeal to President Joseph Smith, concerning their former friendship, associations, and sufferings; and expressed his willingness to resign his place, though with sorrowful and indescribable feelings. During this address, the sympathies of the congregation were highly excited.

Elder Almon W. Babbitt related a conversation he had had with Esquire Johnson, in which he exonerated Elder Sidney Rigdon from the [p.49] charge or suspicion of having had a treacherous correspondence with ex-Governor Carlin.

President Joseph Smith arose and explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with ex-Governor Carlin, and expressed entire lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.


Patriarch Hyrum Smith followed with appropriate and impressive remarks on the attributes of mercy in God, as that by which He influences. controls and conquers; and the propriety and importance of the Saints exercising the same attribute towards their fellows, and especially towards their aged companion and fellow-servant in the cause of truth and righteousness.

Elder Almon W. Babbitt and President William Law followed with remarks in defense of Elder Sidney Rigdon.

On motion by President William Marks, and seconded by Patriarch Hyrum Smith, conference voted that Elder Sidney Rigdon be permitted to retain his station as Counselor in the First Presidency.

President Joseph Smith arose and said, "I have thrown him off my shoulders, and you have again put him on me. "You may carry him, but I will not." [Fn 2:This paragraph in Italics appears as footnote in the Ms. History.]

Singing. Prayer by Elder William Law.

Conference adjourned for one hour.

There are only two significant differences between the accounts

Thus, there are only two significant differences:

Times and Seasons version History of the Church version

President Joseph Smith arose and satisfactorily explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with Ex-Governor Carlin, which wholly removed suspicion from elder Sidney Rigdon, and from every other person. He expressed entire willingness to have elder Sidney Rigdon retain his station, provided he would magnify his office, and walk and conduct himself in all honesty, righteousness, and integrity; but signified his lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.

(Material in bold was removed from the History of the Church account.)

President Joseph Smith arose and explained to the congregation the supposed treacherous correspondence with ex-Governor Carlin, and expressed entire lack of confidence in his integrity and steadfastness, judging from their past intercourse.

(Material in bold was added to the History of the Church account.)

No corresponding text

President Joseph Smith arose and said, "I have thrown him off my shoulders, and you have again put him on me. "You may carry him, but I will not." [Fn 2:This paragraph in Italics appears as footnote in the Ms. History.]

A modern historian, of course, cringes at this modification of the original text

In both cases, it is clear that Joseph still does not trust Sidney, even after he has been cleared of the issue with Gov. Carlin's letters. In the contemporaneous text, however, Joseph does express willingness to keep Sidney as councilor if he will conduct himself properly (though he still expresses doubt that he will).

Since Sidney was kept on as councilor, for him to have any chance of success or influence, Joseph could not simply "cut him off at the knees"—that would guarantee Sidney's failure. Thus, the contemporary account allowed for the possibility of Sidney's proper functioning, though Joseph remained publicly dubious, and privately even more so.

By the time the History of the Church was printed, Sidney had nearly torn the Church apart. He had challenged the right of Brigham Young and the Twelve to lead after Joseph's death. Thus, those compiling the history were firmly convinced that Sidney had failed his chance. Those who compiled it may also have not wanted to portray Joseph as at all 'wrong' about Sidney—they may have known (or believed) that Joseph considered his conciliatory remarks to be of little hope. Or, on a more cynical interpretation, they may have wished to undermine Sidney's claims to leadership after Joseph's death.

It should be noted too that this account is not a verbatim transcript—it is an author's summary of what they heard. Some who compiled the history were doubtless present at the same meeting. They may have remembered the matter quite differently, especially with the passage of time and subsequent events which made them more hostile to Sidney. They may well have seen the Times and Seasons report as too biased in Sidney's favor, or (as discussed above) bending over backward to soft-peddle what Joseph had actually said. They may, then, have seen themselves as restoring accuracy which had been compromised.

The note about the Manuscript History is clearly marked as an addition, and was not included in the original account. It may represent:

(a) a properly-remembered public remark of Joseph's that was not inserted into the record at that time to spare Sidney's effectiveness;
(b) a properly-remembered remark of Joseph's to the Twelve or others; or
(c) a mis-remembered or deliberately fabricated remark inserted after Joseph's death to weaken Sidney's claims to the succession.

One's attitude to Joseph, Sidney, the Twelve, and the Church's truth claims will probably determine which explanation seems most plausible to each reader.



Response to claim: 412 - The book claims that there is "academic dishonesty foisted upon church members by LDS scholars"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The book claims that there is "academic dishonesty foisted upon church members by LDS scholars"

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is simply the author's opinion.



Response to claim: 412 - "Mormonism has been an emotion-based religion opposed to intellectual, rational thought"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Author's quote: "Mormonism has been an emotion-based religion opposed to intellectual, rational thought."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Many Mormons seem to have been able to use "intellectual, rational thought" to demonstrate the many errors, distortions, and misstatements in this work attacking their faith. LDS testimonies involve both mind and heart. Members of the Church become more active and committed to their faith as their degree of education increases: Education and belief. This does not prove the Church true, but it does put the lie to claims that members are ill-informed, uneducated, or ignorant.



Response to claim: 412 - Latter-day Saints are supposed to only rely on the "burning in the bosom" even if they are "faced with irrefutable facts that undermine the LDS church"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints are supposed to only rely on the "burning in the bosom" even if they are "faced with irrefutable facts that undermine the LDS church"

Author's sources: Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is simply the author's opinion.



Question: Is a "burning in the bosom" simply a subjective, emotion-based, unreliable way to practice self-deception?

It is a fundamental misunderstanding or misstatement to say that the Latter-day Saint revelatory experience is exclusively or primarily “emotional”

It is claimed by some that the Latter-day Saint appeal to "revelation" or a "burning in the bosom" is subjective, emotion-based, and thus ineffective, unreliable and susceptible to self-deception.

It is a fundamental misunderstanding or misstatement to say that the LDS revelatory experience is exclusively or primarily “emotional.” The united witness of mind and heart is key in LDS doctrine. Even the body is involved in many instances, hence the use of language exactly like “burning in the bosom.” The LDS concept of human experience is not one where we are carved up into separate, rigid compartments labeled emotional, intellectual, and physical. The LDS approach to human experience is holistic and involves all of our faculties operating simultaneously and inextricably. According to LDS scripture, “the spirit and the body are the soul of man.” D&C 88:15 We are greater than the mere sum of our inner and outer parts. Ordinarily, it’s not possible, nor is it desirable, to reject and shut down any one of our faculties. All of them combine to provide useful and valid ways of coming to know ourselves, the world, and God. All are involved in true spiritual experience.

A Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as emotional elements of peace or joy

Accordingly, a Latter-day Saint “spiritual” experience has intellectual content as well as emotional elements of peace or joy. In the early days of the Church, Oliver Cowdery received the following revelation through Joseph Smith:

Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? (D&C 6:22–23).

Notice the information is spoken to the “mind,” and the feeling of peace accompanies the intellectual gift. Further, the solution for later doubts or concerns is not reliance on “a feeling” alone but an admonition to recall specific information communicated earlier.

This matches the revelatory pattern later explained to Oliver Cowdery when he attempted to participate in the translation process of the Book of Mormon:

Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong… (D&C 9:7–9).

Again, the united witness of intellect and heart are essential. If either does not agree, then revelation has not yet confirmed the matter under consideration. Anyone who relies exclusively on any one faculty – either feeling or reasoning or physical sensation – does not properly understand the LDS approach to spiritual witnesses.

Talk of “feelings” does not mean simply experiencing an “emotion”

To be sure, many Church members will talk about how they “felt” when they prayed or had other experiences with God. However, it is to fundamentally misunderstand these experiences to assume (as critics often do) that talk of “feeling” means simply—or only, or primarily— experiencing an “emotion.” What's lacking from these descriptions is vocabulary. The problem with them is more semantic than it is substantial. The LDS member is stymied, in a sense, because there is no good, available word for what happens during a spiritual experience. These experiences are ineffable. By definition, they defy description. Since few of us have the poetic and metaphorical powers of prophets like Isaiah and John, we are left to try our best to convey what we've experienced in words laden with secular connotations which critics can misinterpret if they so choose.

LDS scholar,Hugh Nibley, hazarded a guess at what this process of willful misinterpretation might look like:

He cannot conceive how anyone could possibly acquire knowledge by any method other than his. He cannot believe that any man has experienced anything which he has not experienced. . . . ‘I have never seen a vision,' says the [skeptic], ‘therefore, Joseph Smith never had one. I have seen dreams [or had emotionally moving experiences], therefore, I will allow him that.'”[51]

Early Christians experienced similar feelings to a "burning in the bosom"

Justin Martyr wrote in his book Dialogue with Trypho, of his conversion that he was a philosopher until he met an old man who introduced him to the Hebrew Prophets when “a flame enkindled his heart” and he found “this philosophy (Christianity) alone to be sure and profitable.” [52]

The Shepard of Hermas, which was once considered scripture, reads “There are two angels with a man-one of righteousness, and the other of iniquity...The angel of righteousness is gentle and modest, meek and peaceful. When he ascends into your heart, he speaks to you of righteousness, purity, chastity, contentment, and every other righteous deed and glorious virtue. When all of these things come into your heart, know that the angel of righteousness is with you” [53]


Response to claim: 412, 609n34 (HB) 607n34 (PB) - Latter-day Saints are instructed to "simply not think and obey church authorities"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Latter-day Saints are instructed to "simply not think and obey church authorities." The endnote states that this message was never officially rescinded by the Church.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Actually, President George Albert Smith immediately repudiated this message:

Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts.

Question: In Mormonism, when our leaders speak, has the thinking been done?

The prophets themselves have counseled us to think for ourselves

It is clear the Church leaders counsel us to follow the guidance of the prophet. It is also clear that the prophets themselves have counseled us to think for ourselves. James E. Talmage summarized it well when he said that "God has not established His Church to make of its members irresponsible automatons, nor to exact from them blind obedience. Albeit, blessed is the man who, while unable to fathom or comprehend in full the Divine purpose underlying commandment and law, has such faith as to obey. So did Adam in offering sacrifice, yet, when questioned as to the significance of his service, he answered with faith and assurance worthy the patriarch of the race: "I know not, save the Lord commanded me."[54] Each one of us will ultimately be responsible for the decisions that we ourselves have made—not those that the prophet have made. As the Prophet Joseph Smith once said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves."[55]

Critics use a statement made in the Ward Teachers' Message published in the Improvement Era in June 1945 to claim that members must do whatever Church leaders say without question

Critics use a statement made in the Ward Teachers' Message published in the Improvement Era in June 1945 to claim that members must do whatever Church leaders say without question. The statement is presented by the critics as follows:

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy.... Lucifer ... wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to "do their own thinking."...

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan—it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy.[56]

We provide the complete quote below, with the phrases emphasized by the critics in bold type:

Any Latter-day Saint who denounces or opposes, whether actively or otherwise, any plan or doctrine advocated by the "prophets, seers, and revelators" of the Church is cultivating the spirit of apostasy. One cannot speak evil of the Lord's anointed and retain the Holy Spirit in his heart.

It should be remembered that Lucifer has a very cunning way of convincing unsuspecting souls that the General Authorities of the Church are as likely to be wrong as they are to be right. This sort of game is Satan's favorite pastime, and he has practiced it on believing souls since Adam. He wins a great victory when he can get members of the Church to speak against their leaders and to "do their own thinking." He specializes in suggesting that our leaders are in error while he plays the blinding rays of apostasy in the eyes of those whom he thus beguiles. What cunning! And to think that some of our members are deceived by this trickery.

The following words of the Prophet Joseph Smith should be memorized by every Latter-day Saint and repeated often enough to insure their never being forgotten:

I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 156-157.)

When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done. When they propose a plan--it is God's plan. When they point the way, there is no other which is safe. When they give direction, it should mark the end of controversy. God works in no other way. To think otherwise, without immediate repentance, may cost one his faith, may destroy his testimony, and leave him a stranger to the kingdom of God.

Response from President George Albert Smith regarding the statement: "The passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church"

When the ward teaching message was published, concerns were raised regarding how this statement would be interpreted. President George Albert Smith responded to a concern expressed by Dr. Raymond A. Cope of the First Unitarian Society:

The leaflet to which you refer, and from which you quote in your letter, was not "prepared" by "one of our leaders." However, one or more of them inadvertently permitted the paragraph to pass uncensored. By their so doing, not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed.

I am pleased to assure you that you are right in your attitude that the passage quoted does not express the true position of the Church. Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church, which is that every individual must obtain for himself a testimony of the truth of the Gospel, must, through the redemption of Jesus Christ, work out his own salvation, and is personally responsible to His Maker for his individual acts. The Lord Himself does not attempt coercion in His desire and effort to give peace and salvation to His children. He gives the principles of life and true progress, but leaves every person free to choose or to reject His teachings. This plan the Authorities of the Church try to follow.[57]

Finally, we should point out that, in a 1946 letter to Dean Brimhall, Elder Albert E. Bowen of the Quorum of the Twelve rejected the ward teachers' message even more forcefully than had President Smith and explained that it had been written by a young clerk in the Presiding Bishop's office and sent out without anyone in authority having approved it.[58]

Brigham Young: "I exhort you to think for yourselves"

Brigham Young made the following statements:

Ladies and gentlemen, I exhort you to think for yourselves, and read your Bibles for yourselves, get the Holy Spirit for yourselves, and pray for yourselves.[59]

The great masses of the people neither think nor act for themselves. . . . I see too much of this gross ignorance among this chosen people of God.[60]

Joseph Smith said the following:

All have the privilege of thinking for themselves upon all matters relative to conscience. . . . We are not disposed, had we the power, to deprive anyone of exercising that free independence of mind which heaven has so graciously bestowed upon the human family as one of its choicest gifts.[61]

Dallin H. Oaks: "We can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves."

Dallin H. Oaks shared the following in the April 2008 conference:

Members who have a testimony and who act upon it under the direction of their Church leaders are sometimes accused of blind obedience.

Of course, we have leaders, and of course, we are subject to their decisions and directions in the operation of the Church and in the performance of needed priesthood ordinances. But when it comes to learning and knowing the truth of the gospel—our personal testimonies—we each have a direct relationship with God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ, through the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. This is what our critics fail to understand. It puzzles them that we can be united in following our leaders and yet independent in knowing for ourselves.

Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. This channel, which has to do with doctrine, ordinances, and commandments, results in obedience. We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God. This has to do with His existence, our relationship to Him, and the truth of His restored gospel. This channel results in knowledge. These two channels are mutually reinforcing: knowledge encourages obedience (see Deuteronomy 5:27; Moses 5:11), and obedience enhances knowledge (see John 7:17; D&C 93:1).[62]

Additional quotes from both early and modern Church leaders may be found here.


Response to claim: 413-414, 609-610n39 (HB) 607n39 (PB) - Did Ezra Taft Benson's talk about "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" speech eliminate the possibility of Latter-day Saints exercising independent thought?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Ezra Taft Benson's talk about "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" speech eliminate the possibility of Latter-day Saints exercising independent thought?

Author's sources: Ezra Taft Benson, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," February 26, 1980.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Actually, the 14th point implies a choice: "The prophet and the presidency — the living prophet and the First Presidency — follow them and be blessed; reject them and suffer."

Response to claim: 414, 610n42 (HB) 608n42 (PB) - N. Eldon Tanner said, "When the prophet has spoken, the debate is over"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

N. Eldon Tanner said, "When the prophet has spoken, the debate is over"

Author's sources: Steve Benson, 60 Minutes, April 7, 1996.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The original claim that "the thinking is done" was made once in a church magazine, and the president of the Church immediately declared it to be false. Anti-Mormons continue to invoke it. N. Eldon Tanner did say the following in 1979 regarding moral issues:

Why should there be any debate over the moral issues which are confounding the world today? When the prophet speaks the debate is over. ("The Debate is Over", Ensign, August 1979} (emphasis added)

Question: Why did President Tanner say: "When the prophet speaks the debate is over"?

President Tanner's statement was referring to several specific moral issues

N. Eldon Tanner once said, "When the prophet speaks the debate is over." One critic of the Church even goes so far to state, "Some things that are true are not very useful + It is wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true + Spying and monitoring on members + Intellectuals are dangerous + When the prophet speaks the debate is over + Obedience is the First Law of Heaven = Policies and practices you’d expect to find in a totalitarian system such as North Korea or 1984; not from the gospel of Jesus Christ." [63]

President Tanner is speaking about several specific moral issues, which he outlines in his talk. He is not advocating that one should not think for themselves:

Why should there be any debate over the moral issues which are confounding the world today? From the beginning God has made his position very clear in regard to marriage, divorce, family life and love of children, immorality, chastity, virtue, and the high and holy role of women. Through his prophet today he reiterates the Old and New Testament teachings which are clear on these matters.
....
To gain these riches many engage in the debates on moral issues. The alcohol and tobacco industries and dealers in pornography are accumulating great wealth at the expense of the people and to the detriment of their health. With all the evidence of child pornography, it is deplorable that any parent would allow any child to be so exploited. Some children are being neglected and abused because their mothers are seeking worldly pleasures and careers outside the home. Many fathers are more concerned with their financial success than with the welfare of their wives and children.

We must turn all this about. We cannot serve God and mammon. Whose side are we on? When the prophet speaks the debate is over.


Response to claim: 415, 608-609n43-57 (PB) - Did the Church excommunicate a number of "dissidents"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did the Church excommunicate a number of "dissidents"?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

The Church did excommunicate several people for a variety of reasons, however, the label "dissidents" was not used.



Response to claim: 418, 611n58 (HB) 609n58 (PB) - President Hinckley said that "dissidents" that were excommunicated got what they deserved "as cursed servants of Satan"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

President Hinckley said that "dissidents" that were excommunicated got what they deserved "as cursed servants of Satan." President Hinckley said:

"I think the Lord had them in mind when he declared: 'Cursed are all those that shall life up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord.'...[T]hey are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author has distorted President Hinckley's words. He never referred to anyone as "cursed servants of Satan."



Response to claim: 418, 611n59-60 (HB) 609n59-60 (PB) - Is the "Strengthening Church Members Committee" is a group used to spy on members of the Church?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Is the "Strengthening Church Members Committee" is a group used to spy on members of the Church?

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The committee used publicly accessible documents, such as newspapers - it did not "spy" on members of the Church.

Question: What is the Strengthening Church Members Committee?

The SCMC was originally created as a "clipping service"

The Strengthening Church Members Committee has been described as a "clipping service" which kept track of public statements by Church members who openly criticized the Church in the media. Some have accused the committee of hunting down and exposing historians and intellectuals in order to subject them to Church discipline.

Although a "clipping service" probably made sense back in 1985, in the internet-rich world of the present, it seems somewhat anachronistic. Anyone with Internet access can likely find any information more quickly than it could have been "clipped" from newspapers in 1985.

The following is from the Church News, August 22, 1992 off-site

First Presidency statement cites scriptural mandate for Church committee

Generally, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not respond to criticism levied against its work. But in light of extensive publicity recently given to false accusations of so-called secret Church committees and files, the First Presidency has issued the following statement:

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in 1830 following the appearance of God the Father and Jesus Christ to the Prophet Joseph Smith in upstate New York. This sacred event heralded the onset of the promised `restitution of all things.' Many instructions were subsequently given to the Prophet including Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants:" `And again, we would suggest for your consideration the propriety of all the saints gathering up a knowledge of all the facts, and sufferings and abuses put upon them. . . .

" `And also of all the property and amount of damages which they have sustained, both of character and personal injuries. . . .

" `And also the names of all persons that have had a hand in their oppressions, as far as they can get hold of them and find them out.

" `And perhaps a committee can be appointed to find out these things, and to take statements and affidavits; and also to gather up the libelous publications that are afloat;

" `And all that are in the magazines, and in the encyclopedias, and all the libelous histories that are published. . . . (Verses 1-5.)'

"Leaders and members of the Church strive to implement commandments of the Lord including this direction received in 1839. Because the Church has a non-professional clergy, its stake presidents and bishops have varied backgrounds and training. In order to assist their members who have questions, these local leaders often request information from General Authorities of the Church.

"The Strengthening Church Members Committee was appointed by the First Presidency to help fulfill this need and to comply with the cited section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This committee serves as a resource to priesthood leaders throughout the world who may desire assistance on a wide variety of topics. It is a General Authority committee, currently comprised of Elder James E. Faust and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They work through established priesthood channels, and neither impose nor direct Church disciplinary action.

"Members who have questions concerning Church doctrine, policies, or procedures have been counseled to discuss those concerns confidentially with their local leaders. These leaders are deeply aware of their obligation to counsel members wisely in the spirit of love, in order to strengthen their faith in the Lord and in His great latter-day work."

- The First Presidency


Question: Does the Strengthening Church Members Committee still exist?

The Committee apparently still exists

The Committee apparently still exists, as noted in the Jeffery R. Holland BBC interview in March 2012. We do not know what function the committee performs, if any.

John Sweeney: What is the Strengthening Church Members Committee?

Elder Holland: The Strengthening Church Members Committee was born some years ago to protect against predatory practices of polygamists.

Sweeney: I asked what it is, not was

Holland: That is what it is…

Sweeney: So it does still exist?

Holland: It does still exist...it does still exist…

Sweeney: And it....looks at....it’s there to defend the church against polygamists?

Holland: Principally, that is still its principal task.

Sweeney: So what is its subsidiary task?

Holland: I just....suppose to....to be protective generally, just to watch and to care for any insidious influence. But for all intents and purposes, that’s all that I know about it....is that it’s primarily there to guard against polygamy. That would be the substantial part of the work. I’m not on that committee so I don’t know much about it.


Response to claim: 419 - The 1997 Relief Society manual makes it sound as if Brigham Young only had one wife and six children

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The 1997 Relief Society manual makes it sound as if Brigham Young only had one wife and six children

Author's sources: 1997 Relief Society manual.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

It is fairly common knowledge, both inside and outside of the Church, that Brigham Young was not a monogomist.

Question: Does Church manual, The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, attempt to "hide history" by portraying Brigham Young (a well-known polygamist) as having only one wife?

It is fairly common knowledge, both inside and outside of the Church, that Brigham Young was not a monogomist

Some would like to suggest that the Church has been attempting to "fool" its membership into thinking Brigham was a monogamist, when it is fairly common knowledge, both inside and outside of the Church, that he was not. Many US history textbooks used in public high schools mention Brigham's polygamy, for example, and most news stories and other mentions of the Church in modern media will mention polygamy, so it would seem odd (and a bit futile) for the Church to attempt to rewrite this aspect of its history by means of a single lesson in a single manual.

The use of square brackets is an accepted editorial convention when a later author wants to use an earlier author's words but change them slightly to fit a different purpose

Furthermore, the use of square brackets is an accepted editorial convention when a later author wants to use an earlier author's words but change them slightly to fit a different purpose without changing the overall message of the quote. In the case of the quote in question, Brigham Young is giving counsel to a group of men on how they can be good leaders in their families, which for many of them at the time would have included polygamous marriages. In the modern church, members would only have one spouse, yet the counsel on how to be good leaders of families is still relevant, though it would require an editorial change (clearly marked in square brackets) to change "wives" to "wife".

Brigham the monogamist.jpg


Response to claim: 420, 611n63 (HB) 609n63 (PB) - Gordon B. Hinckley tried to cover up the Church's polygamous past when he appeared on Larry King Live and said that only two to five percent of the early LDS practiced it

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Gordon B. Hinckley tried to cover up the Church's polygamous past when he appeared on Larry King Live and said that only two to five percent of the early LDS practiced it.

Author's sources: Larry King Live

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

It would take a lot more than a single statement from President Hinckley to hide the Church's involvement with polygamy. The author is assuming motive, and presuming that President Hinckley knew that his figure was wrong. The calculated incidence of polygamy varies depending on one's assumptions. The 2-5% figure is true if all polygamous males are divided by total members, but this is probably not the best measure to use.



Question: Did Gordon B. Hinckley claim that polygamy was "not doctrinal" on Larry King Live?

Hinckley said that he condemned polygamy as a practice because he thought that it was not doctrinal

Gordon B. Hinckley made the following statement on Larry King Live on September 8, 1998 with regard to the practice of polygamy:

I condemn it [polygamy], yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law.


Question: How can President Hinckley claim that polygamy is "not doctrinal" if it was a required practice in the 19th-Century Church?

The Church no longer teaches polygamy as doctrine, despite the fact that it was doctrine in the 19th-Century Church

Despite the fact that rules regarding polygamy are outlined in D&C 132, the Church no longer teaches it as doctrine. It was taught as doctrine in the 1800's, it is not taught as doctrine today. There is no doctrine that allows the present practice of plural marriage in the Church. Its practice is "not doctrinal."

Polygamy is illegal today, and Church policy is to respect the law on the matter

Polygamy is illegal today, and Church policy is to respect the law on the matter. For most of the practice of plural marriage, the Church fought the anti-polygamy laws, and regarded them as violations of the Constitution. Any decision to disobey secular law for conscience sake must be specifically commanded by the Church's leaders. At present, that has not happened.

Many constitutional law scholars--LDS and non-LDS--regard the Supreme Court decisions on the legality of plural marriage as clearly biased and motivated by religious prejudice. The nineteenth century Saints had good grounds for believing that the law was unjust and would eventually be overturned. [64]


Response to claim: 420, 612n68-71 (HB) 610n68-71 (PB) - Does the Book of Mormon claim that Native Americans will miraculously turn "white-skinned" by accepting "Mormon beliefs"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Does the Book of Mormon claim that Native Americans will miraculously turn "white-skinned" by accepting "Mormon beliefs"? Didn't Brigham Young and Spencer W. Kimball say that they would become "white and delightsome?"

Author's sources: *2 Nephi 5:21
  • Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:336.
  • Spencer W. Kimball, Improvement Era, December 1960, 922-923. Qjuoted in Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson, "Pure and Delightsome," Mormonism Researched, Spring 1994, 5.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Brigham Young and Spencer W. Kimball were unaware of a clarification on this issue which Joseph Smith had made to the Book of Mormon text. In any case, the LDS do not believe in prophetic infallibility.

Question: Did some Church leaders believe that the skin of the Lamanites would turn white?

Some Church leaders, most notably Spencer W. Kimball, made statements indicating that they believed that the Indians were becoming "white and delightsome"

Once such statement made by Elder Kimball in the October 1960 General Conference, 15 years before he became president of the Church:

I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today ... they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.... For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.... The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. [65]

President Kimball felt that the Indians were becoming a “white and delightsome” people through the power of God as a result their acceptance of the Gospel. This was not an uncommon belief at the time. At the time that this statement was made by Elder Kimball, the Book of Mormon did indeed say "white and delightsome." This passage is often quoted relative to the lifting of the curse since the phrase "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1840 (and again in the 1981) editions of the Book of Mormon. The edit made by Joseph Smith in 1840 in which this phrase was changed to "pure and delightsome" had been omitted from subsequent editions, which were actually based upon the 1837 edition rather than the 1840 edition. The modification was not restored again until the 1981 edition with the following explanation:

Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Is the lifting of the curse associated with a change in skin color?

The Lamanites are promised that if they return to Christ, that "the scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes:"

And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.

And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it 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 pure and a delightsome people.2 Nephi 30:5-6

The Book of Mormon indicates that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the "scales of darkness" from their eyes

It seems evident from the passage in 2 Nephi that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the "scales of darkness" from their eyes. It is sometimes indicated that Lamanites who had converted to the Gospel and thus had the curse lifted also had the mark removed. If the mark was more in the eyes of the Nephites than in a physical thing like actual skin color, its removal is even more easily understood.

And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year. 3 Nephi 2:15-16

As with the invocation of the curse followed by the application of the mark, this passage indicates that the curse was revoked and the mark was removed when the Lamanites' skin "became white like unto the Nephites." The Book of Mormon makes no mention of any change in skin color as the result of the conversion of Helaman's 2000 warriors, yet these Lamanites and their parents had committed themselves to the Lord, and were often more righteous than the Nephites were.

Thus, although a change in skin color is sometimes mentioned in conjunction with the lifting of the curse, it does not appear to always have been the case. And, as discussed above, it may well be that Nephite ideas about skin were more symbolic or rhetorical than literal/racial. This perspective harmonizes all the textual data, and explains some things (like the native Lamanite and his band of Nephite troops deceiving the Lamanites) that a literal view of the skin color mark does not.

Leaders were probably unaware of a change made by Joseph Smith to the first edition text

Joseph Smith altered the phrase "white and delightsome" (in 2 Nephi 30:6) to "pure and delightsome" in the second edition of the Book of Mormon. This change was lost to LDS readers until the 1981 edition of the scriptures. It may, however, demonstrate that Joseph Smith intended the translation to refer to spiritual state, not literal skin color per se.


Response to claim: 422, 612n75 (HB) 610n75 (PB) - Did the Church acquire the Hofmann documents (later discovered to be forgeries) in order to suppress them?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did the Church acquire the Hofmann documents (later discovered to be forgeries) in order to suppress them?

Author's sources: *Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Hofmann Talks," Salt Lake City Messenger (#64), January 1987, 7.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The Church never suppressed these documents. They talked about them publicly.



Question: Did the Church purchase documents such as Mark Hofmann's "Salamander letter" with the intent of hiding and suppressing them?

The historical record is clear that the Church did nothing to hide the Hofmann "Salamander Letter," even though to some it appeared to pose problems for the Church's story of its origins

One critic claims that the Church acquired Mark Hofmann's "Salamander letter" with the intent of suppressing it, or "hiding history." [66]

3 January 1984: Hofmann tried to persuade both President Hinckley and the Church Historical Department to purchase the "Salamander Letter." Both declined:

Lyn Jacobs [an associate of Hofmann's] visited the Historical Department to talk to don Schmidt. He showed Schmidt [the salamander letter]....Jacobs suggested it might be one the church would like to own. Jacobs said he wanted a ten-dollar Mormon gold piece for it. The most coveted item among collectors of Mormon money, the rare coin was extremely valuable. Schmidt thought Jacobs had an inflated idea of the letter's worth and told him he would never get what he was asking....Knowing that the price he was asking exceeded what Schmidt and [supervising general authority Elder G. Homer] Durham were authorized to spend for acquisitions, Jacobs had already made an appointment with Gordon Hinckley...

Jacobs again offered to give the letter to the church in exchange for a ten-dollar Mormon gold piece, whose value Jacobs would later approximate at from sixty to over one hundred thousand dollars. Like Schmidt and Durham, Hinckley said he felt the asking price was too high. Jacobs then offered to trade the letter for a copy of A Book of Commandments, valued by Jacobs at thirty to forty thousand dollars. Hinckley considered the offer briefly, then said of the letter, 'I don't know if we really want it.'

...After Jacobs failed to persuade Hinckley to buy the letter, he went back to see Schmidt [in the Historical Department]. Schmidt tried to convince Jacobs that he was asking too much for the document, explaining that only if he dropped his price to a reasonable figure would the church consider buying it.

'What's that?" Schmidt recalled Jacobs saying when he mentioned a 'reasonable figure.'

'Well,' Schmidt responded, 'you get down there, and I'll tell you when it's reasonable.'

'You have to have it,' Jacobs insisted of the letter.

'No, I don't have to have it,' Schmidt replied. 'No such thing.'

Later, Hofmann tried his own hand at offering it to the Historical Department through Schmidt. Hofmann left the document with Schmidt, who took it in to his supervisor, Earl Olson. 'He and I read it carefully,' Olson recalled. 'Remarked that it did not ring true, and that it bore too much resemblance to the story in Howe's 'Mormonism Unveiled' [sic; the actual title is Mormonism Unvailed]. We invited Elder Durham to sit down with us and read it, then brought out Howe's book and compared the stories. This was reported to Pres. Hinckley. It was decided that we should not purchase the letter....[67]

This is a strange series of events if the Church or its leaders were determined to suppress or hide the letter, or somehow impair its study.

President Hinckley at first refused to purchase the Salamander Letter

Note that President Gordon B. Hinckley first saw the Salamander Letter on this date, but refused its purchase. He wrote soon thereafter:

We have nothing to hide. Our enemies will try to make much of this letter, but any fair-minded individual who will read it in terms of the time it was written and the language of the day will not see it as detrimental to the history of those events connected with the restoration of the gospel.[68]

Thus, President Hinckley was aware that the letter could be used as a weapon against the Church, but he did not move to buy it, and did nothing to prevent it passing into other hands.

January - April 1984: Steven F. Christensen purchases the Salamander Letter and donates it to the Church

6 January 1984: Steven F. Christensen purchases Salamander Letter from Hofmann for $40,000.[69]

7 March 1984: Christensen issues a press release:

It is true that I am the owner of a letter written by Martin Harris to William W. Phelps, dated October 23, 1830. "While it is hoped that the letter is authentic, professional tests have not yet been performed on the document. Before I will release transcripts or photographs of the document to the public, I wish to first determine the document's historicity as much as possible. I have therefore sought the help and advice of competent historians to assist me in determining the reliability of the contents of the letter.

Until the above referenced research and tests have further progressed, I do not feel at liberty to share the full contents of the letter. It is unfortunate that publicity of the document has preceded its historical authentication. This has lead to some cases of misstatement as well as numerous phrases being taken out of context.[70]

12 April 1985: Steven F. Christensen, who had purchased the Salamander Letter from Hofmann on 6 January 1984, donated it to the Church. President Hinckley accepted the donation.

28 April 1985: The Church News published the full text of the Salamander Letter

The First Presidency included a statement, quoting President Hinckley:

No one, of course, can be certain that Martin Harris wrote the document. However, at this point we accept the judgment of the examiner that there is no indication that it is a forgery. This does not preclude the possibility that it may have been forged at a time when the Church had many enemies. It is, however, an interesting document of the times.[71]

23 June 1985: President Hinckley, at a Young Adult fireside broadcast from Temple Square: "I knew there would be a great fuss...They are interesting documents of whose authenticity we are not certain and may never be"

Gordon B. Hinckley:

As most of you know, recently there have been great stirrings over two old letters. One was purportedly written in 1825 by Joseph Smith to Josiah Stowell. If it is genuine, it is the oldest known product of Joseph Smith’s handwriting. It concerns the employment of Joseph by Mr. Stowell, who was engaged in a mining operation looking for old coins and precious metals. The other carries the date of October 23, 1830, and was purportedly written by Martin Harris to W. W. Phelps.

I acquired for the Church both of these letters, the first by purchase. The second was given to the Church by its generous owner. I am, of course, familiar with both letters, having held them in my hands and having read them in their original form. It was I, also, who made the decision to make them public. Copies were issued to the media, and both have received wide publicity.

I knew there would be a great fuss. Scholars have pored over them, discussed them, written about them, differed in their opinions, and even argued about them.

I am glad we have them. They are interesting documents of whose authenticity we are not certain and may never be. However, assuming that they are authentic, they are valuable writings of the period out of which they have come. But they have no real relevancy to the question of the authenticity of the Church or of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

Much has been said about the Martin Harris/W. W. Phelps letter. I ask: Shall two men, their character, their faith, their lives, the testimonies to which they gave voice to the end of their days, be judged by a few words on a sheet of paper that may or may not have been written by the one and received by the other?

If you have been troubled in any way by press reports concerning this letter, I ask only that you look closer at the man who presumably wrote it and at the man who presumably received it Martin Harris and W. W. Phelps.

The letter is dated subsequent to the declaration of the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, one of whom was Martin Harris. In language unequivocal and certain he and his associates had declared to the world: "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record,...And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.... And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon."

Would Martin Harris have mortgaged his farm, eventually losing it, to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon if he had thought of that book as a fraud? He endured ridicule, persecution, and poverty. He lived to the age of ninety-two and died in full faith, voicing his testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon to the end of his life.

What about W. W. Phelps? Five years subsequent to the date of the letter, he wrote: "Now, notwithstanding my body was not baptized into this Church till Thursday, the 10th of June 1831, yet my heart was there from the time I became acquainted with the Book of Mormon; and my hope, steadfast like an anchor, and my faith increased like the grass after a refreshing shower, when I for the first time, held a conversation with our beloved Brother Joseph whom I was willing to acknowledge as the prophet of the Lord, and to whom, and to whose godly account of himself and the work he was engaged in, I owe my first determination to quit the folly of my way, and the fancy and fame of this world, and seek the Lord and His righteousness."

This is the same man who wrote that majestic and marvelous hymn of tribute to the Prophet Joseph — "Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer. Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere."

He had no doubt concerning the divine origin of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of him who was the instrument in the hands of the Almighty in bringing it forth. William W. Phelps died as a high priest in Salt Lake City in full faith.

Marvelous and enduring love and loyalty of the kind shown by these two men do not come from an experience with a "salamander" as we generally interpret that word.

Would these two men have so endured, so declared their testimonies, and so lived out their lives in faith had there been any doubt about the way in which the Book of Mormon plates were received from the hands of Moroni and translated by the gift and power of God?[72]

16 August 1985: Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke to the issues raised by the documents (as yet unknown as forgeries): "Readers should be skeptical about the authenticity of such documents"

Dallin H. Oaks:

Some recent news stories about developments in Church history rest on scientific assumptions or assertions, such as the authenticity of a letter. Whether experts or amateurs, most of us have a tendency to be quite dogmatic about so-called scientific facts. Since news writers are not immune from this tendency, news stories based on scientific assumptions should be read or viewed with some skepticism...

The contents of most media stories are dictated not by what is necessary to a full understanding of the subject but by what information is currently available and can be communicated within the limitations of time and space.

As a result, the news media are particularly susceptible to conveying erroneous information about facts, including historical developments that are based on what I have called scientific uncertainties. This susceptibility obviously applies to newly discovered documents whose authenticity turns on an evaluation of handwriting, paper, ink, and so on. Readers should be skeptical about the authenticity of such documents, especially when there is uncertainty where they were found or who had custody of them for 150 years. Newly found historically important documents can be extremely valuable, so there is a powerful incentive for those who own them to advocate and support their authenticity. The recent spectacular fraud involving the so-called Hitler diaries reminds us of this, and should convince us to be cautious.[73]

October 1985 - August 1987: The forgery is exposed and the Church comments on it

15 October 1985: Two Hofmann bombs murder Steven Christensen and Kathy Sheets.

16 October 1985: Hofmann injures himself with one of his own bombs.

16 October 1986: After an exhaustive search of its holdings and archives, the Church denies possessing an "Oliver Cowdery history." (It would be learned the next day that Hofmann was the source of the rumor that such a history existed.)[74]

31 July 1987: The Church released a statement to the media after Hofmann's confession and interview with prosecutors.

6 August 1987: Elder Dallin H. Oaks gives an address at BYU on the Hofmann episode and the media and scholarly community's behavior.

October 1987: The Church publishes a list of forged documents that had been referenced in the Ensign so that readers would not refer to them in error

18 October 1995: President Hinckley states "I frankly admit that Hofmann tricked us"

After Hofmann's lies and murders were revealed, President Hinckley said:

I frankly admit that Hofmann tricked us. He also tricked experts from New York to Utah, however. We bought those documents only after the assurance that they were genuine. And when we released documents to the press, we stated that we had no way of knowing for sure if they were authentic. I am not ashamed to admit that we were victimized. It is not the first time the Church has found itself in such a position. Joseph Smith was victimized again and again. The Savior was victimized. I am sorry to say that sometimes it happens.[75]

It is clear that the Church did not seek to hide the potentially damaging letter or its text.


Response to claim: 424 - "Mormon leaders also blocked efforts by police to see exactly what documents were in LDS church vaults"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Author's quote: "Mormon leaders also blocked efforts by police to see exactly what documents were in LDS church vaults, apparently knowing that some of their authentic documents not yet released to the public might further damage the church's reputation if the contents of them were to be revealed."

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This claim is nonsense. This is pure conjecture on the part of the author.



Response to claim: 424, 612n78 (HB) 610n78 (PB) - LDS leaders should have been capable of detecting the Hofmann deception

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

LDS leaders should have been capable of detecting the Hofmann deception.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

LDS doctrine is very clear that prophets will not always know deception when they see it. For it to be otherwise would be to threaten moral agency. Said the Lord to Joseph Smith: "as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter" (DC 10:37).



Response to claim: 427 - "The Mormon habit of sometimes taking detours around truth to protect the church has not always led to murder"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "The Mormon habit of sometimes taking detours around truth to protect the church has not always led to murder."

Author's sources: Author's statement.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author seems to be implying that the Hofmann murders were the fault of the Church.



Response to claim: 428, n85 - Paul H. Dunn defended his embellishments in order to "illustrate his theological and moral points"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Paul H. Dunn defended his embellishments in order to "illustrate his theological and moral points."

Author's sources: Richard Robertson, Arizona Republic, February 16, 1991, B9.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Paul H. Dunn was disciplined by the Church, and required to apologize for his actions. This demonstrates that the Church does not endorse or support Dunn's choices. His decision to justify himself is immaterial. Ought we to judge Jesus and his teachings by the choices of one of his apostles, Judas?



Question: Who was Paul H. Dunn and what happened to him?

Elder Paul H. Dunn was a very popular speaker who told many faith-promoting stories about his days playing baseball and his service in World War II

Elder Paul H. Dunn was a very popular speaker during the 1970's and 1980's who told many faith-promoting stories about his days playing baseball and his service in World War II. Many people were inspired by his stories, and he was in much demand as a speaker. It was eventually discovered that Elder Dunn had exaggerated and conflated elements of his stories. He was given emeritus status as a General Authority on October 1, 1989.


Question: Many who listened to Elder Dunn's stories felt the spirit. Why would one feel the spirit upon hearing a story that was fabricated? Doesn't this confirm a lie?

Simply receiving a warm feeling about a speech or article is not enough to call it revelation or a confirmation of the spirit

Simply receiving a warm feeling about a speech or article is not enough to call it revelation or a confirmation of the spirit. One would need to properly study the issue, get an idea of what is correct, then ask for confirmation. The witness has to be consistent with other revelation and can be compared with others witness of similar events. In the case of Elder Dunn's stories, we felt good when we heard them. Boyd Packer pointed out that feelings and “spiritual” events can come from three sources: 1) your own feelings, 2) Satan, or 3) the Holy Ghost. You must use methods to properly confirm which is occurring in a particular event.


Question: Why did Elder Dunn exaggerate elements of these stories?

Elder Dunn responded to this issue himself

Regarding Elder Dunn's stories: he was human, just like the rest of us. He can speak for himself on this issue: "Elder Dunn Offers Apology for Errors, Admits Censure", Deseret News, Oct. 27 1991.

In an open letter to LDS Church members, Elder Paul H. Dunn apologized Saturday for not having "always been accurate" in telling his popular war and baseball stories, and he acknowledged being disciplined for it by church authorities.

Elder Dunn, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asked the church's First Presidency and Council of the Twelve for the opportunity to send an open letter to church members. The letter was published in Saturday's issue of the Church News."I confess that I have not always been accurate in my public talks and writings," Elder Dunn wrote. "Furthermore, I have indulged in other activities inconsistent with the high and sacred office which I have held.

"For all of these I feel a deep sense of remorse, and ask forgiveness of any whom I may have offended."

A former Army private and minor-league baseball player, Elder Dunn told riveting accounts of his war and baseball experiences that made him one of the most popular speakers in the church. According to the Associated Press, he was author or co-author of 28 books and is featured on 23 inspirational tapes. He served in the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1976 to 1980.

In 1989, Elder Dunn was placed on emeritus status for "reasons of age and health," the church said. In February 1991, the Arizona Republic reported that Elder Dunn had made up or combined elements of many of his war and baseball stories.

In his open letter, Elder Dunn, 67, said general authorities of the church have conducted in-depth investigations of charges that he had engaged in activities unbecoming of a church member.

"They have weighed the evidence," he said. "They have censured me and placed a heavy penalty upon me.

"I accept their censure and the imposed penalty, and pledge to conduct my life in such a way as to merit their confidence and full fellowship."

Church spokesman Don LeFevre said Saturday that the nature of the penalty is "an internal matter, and we don't discuss such matters" publicly.

Elder Dunn has an unlisted phone number and could not be reached for comment. He concluded his letter by pleading for the understanding of church members and assured them of his "determination so to live as to bring added respect to the cause I deeply love, and honor to the Lord who is my Redeemer."


Response to claim: 430-433 - Was the Salt Lake Olympic bribery scandal the fault of the Church?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was the Salt Lake Olympic bribery scandal the fault of the Church?

Author's sources: Various citations regarding the scandal.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

It is not clear what the actions of these individuals, despite the fact that some were LDS, has to do with the Church itself. Do we condemn other Christian faiths simply because their ministers may be found guilty of sex scandals, financial impropriety, or child abuse? Or, do we conclude that not all members of a faith live up to its precepts? The author ignores that a Church member, Mitt Romney, was hired to "clean up" the games and eventually stage a successful Olympics.



Response to claim: 434, 614n117-127 - Do Latter-day Saints believe they will rescue the Constitution from ruin, thus allowing "Mormonism" to take over the world?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Do Latter-day Saints believe they will rescue the Constitution from ruin, thus allowing "Mormonism" to take over the world?

Author's sources: *Joseph F. Smith, conference Report, October 1912, 11.
  • Melvin J. Ballard, Conference Report, October 1928, 108.
  • Mark E. Petersen, Conference Report, April 1946, 171.
  • Joseph Fielding Smith, Conference REport, April 1950, 159.
  • Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, October 1952, 18.
  • Senator Wallace F. Bennett, BYU Speeches, February 15, 1961, 13.
  • Dr. Ernest L. Wilinson, BYU speeches, April 21, 1966, 7.
  • Ezra Taft Benson, "Jesus Christ-Gifts and Expectations," New Era, May 1975, 19.
  • Ezra Taft Benson, Teaching of Ezra Taft Benson, 619.
  • Daniel H. Ludlow, ed. Selections from Encyclopedia of Mormonism, "The Church and Society," 122.
  • "Weatherman's politics cloud his role on TV," Seattle Times, November 24, 2000, 2.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

No, actually this isn't a LDS belief at all—it isn't even discussed in Church.



Question: What is the "White Horse Prophecy"?

Joseph Smith is alleged to have uttered a prophecy in 1843 alluding to the four horses in the Book of Revelation

Joseph Smith is alleged to have uttered a prophecy in 1843 alluding to the four horses in the Book of Revelation. This was recorded by two Church members, Edwin Rushton and Theodore Turley approximately ten years after Joseph's death. There is no contemporary account that was recorded during the Prophet's lifetime. According to the Book of Revelation:

1 And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2 And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. 3 And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4 And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. 5 And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6 And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine. 7 And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. Revelation 6:1-8

Alleged text of the prophecy

The following is an excerpt of the journal of Elder John J. Roberts. Roberts apparently entered it into his diary on Sunday, March 2, 1902 after returning, on February 4, 1902, from a mission to Samoa. He reported receiving it from Robert Pierce (sometimes incorrectly noted as Pace) on Friday, February 28, 1902. Thus, this account is at least second or third-hand:

...While this conversation was going on we stood by his south wicket gate in a triangle. Turning to me, [Joseph] said, “I want to tell you something of the future. I will speak in a parable like unto John the Revelator. You will go to the Rocky Mountains and you will be a great and mighty people established there, which I will call the White Horse of peace and safety.” When the Prophet said, “You will see it,” I said, “Where will you be at that time?” He said, “I shall never go there. Your enemies will continue to follow you with persecutions and they will make obnoxious laws against you in Congress to destroy the White Horse, but you will have a friend or two to defend you and throw out the worst parts of the law so they will not hurt you so much. You must continue to petition Congress all the time, but they will treat you like strangers and aliens and they will not give you your rights, but will govern you with strangers and commissioners. You will see the Constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread as fine as a silk fiber.” At that time the Prophet’s countenance became sad, because as he said, “I love the Constitution; it was made by the inspiration of God; and it will be preserved and saved by the efforts of the White Horse, and by the Red Horse who will combine in its defense. The White Horse will find the mountains full of minerals and they will become rich (at this time, it must be remembered, the precious metals were not known to exist in either the Rocky Mountains or California). You will see silver piled up in the streets. You will see the gold shoveled up like sand. Gold will be of little value then, even in a mercantile capacity; for the people of the world will have something else to do in seeking for salvation. The time will come when the banks of every nation will fall and only two places will be safe where people can deposit their gold and treasure. This place will be the White Horse and England’s vaults. A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America, such as has never been seen before; for the land will be left without a Supreme Government, and every specie of wickedness will be practiced rampantly in the land. Father will be against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother. The most terrible scenes of bloodshed, murder and rape that have ever been imagined or looked upon will take place. People will be taken from the earth and there will be peace and love only in the Rocky Mountains. This will cause many hundreds of thousands of the honest in heart of the world to gather there, not because they would be Saints, but for safety and because they will be so numerous that you will be in danger of famine, but not for want of seed, time and harvest, but because of so many to be fed. Many will come with bundles under their arms to escape the calamities for there will be no escape except only by escaping and fleeing to Zion... [76]


Notes

  1. John Sanders, introduction to What about Those Who Have Never Heard? Three Views on the Destiny of the Unevangelized, by Gabriel Fackre, Ronald H. Nash, and John Sanders (1995), 9.
  2. Mormonism and Early Christianity (Vol. 4 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by Todd Compton and Stephen D. Ricks, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 101.
  3. Alma 42:15
  4. D. Todd Christofferson, "The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus," Ensign (January 1998).
  5. The source erroneously refers to the "Marcionites" instead of the "Cerinthians".
  6. John A. Tvedtnes, "Proxy Baptism," Ensign (February 1977), 86. off-site
  7. John A. Tvedtnes, "Proxy Baptism," Ensign (February 1977), 86. off-site
  8. See Ben Fenton, “Mormons Use Secret British War Files ‘to Save Souls,’ ” The Telegraph (London), 15 Feb. 1999.
  9. Greg Stott, “Ancestral Passion,” Equinox (April/May 1998): 45.
  10. D&C 138:58
  11. D. Todd Christofferson, "The Redemption of the Dead and the Testimony of Jesus," Ensign (November 2000), 9. off-site (Footnotes have in places been integrated into the main text; citation for has been slightly modified.
  12. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, "The Mormons are Jews' brothers," Deseret Morning News (30 December 2003).
  13. Jerusalem Post, "Jews and Mormons tackle 'proxy baptism' controversy," jpost.com (accessed 2 June 2006).
  14. Russell M. Nelson, "The Spirit Of Elijah," Ensign (November 1994), 84.
  15. Text is from Dean C. Jessee, "I have heard that Joseph Smith didn't actually write his history—that it was prepared by clerks under his direction. If so, how reliable is it?," Ensign (July 1985), 15. off-site; headings and additional material have been added as noted.
  16. Joseph Smith (“Autobiography,” 1832), Kirtland Letter Book, p. 1, manuscript.
  17. Letters to Moses Nickerson, 19 November 1833; to Emma Smith, 6 June 1832, original in the Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, Ill.; and to Emma Smith, 21 March 1839.
  18. Joseph Smith address, 26 May 1844, reported by Thomas Bullock; published in Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 6:409. Volume 6 link
  19. George A. Smith to Wilford Woodruff, 21 April 1856.
  20. Manuscript History of the Church, 16 November 1845.
  21. L. H. Butterfield and Julian Boyd, Historical Editing in the United States (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1963), 19, 24–25.
  22. History of the Church, 2:281. Volume 2 link
  23. Tullidge's Histories, Vol I. History of Northern Utah, and Southern Idaho.--Biographical Supplement, p. 271. See History of the Church, 5:85, note. note Volume 5 link; Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report (April 1916), 66-67.
  24. Hubert Howe Bancroft, History of Utah, 1540-1886, 198.
  25. The History of the Church note by B.H. Roberts says of this matter: "While in Tullidge's biography of Call the date is given as the 14th of July, 1843, evidently an error. There is no entry in the Prophet's journal for the 8th of August, 1842, and the entries for the 8th of August, 1843, and the 14th of July, 1843, relate to matters of quite a different character. Tullidge, in relating Anson Call's recollection of the incident also says that J. C. Bennett was present on the occasion, which must also be an error, as the rupture between Bennett and the Church and its authorities occurred and he had left Nauvoo previous to the 6th of August, 1842. In the Call statement as published by Tullidge, the name of Mr. Adams, the Deputy Grand Master Mason in charge of the ceremonies, is given as George, it should be James."
  26. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), 635.
  27. Dale Morgan to S.A. Burgess, "Dear Mr. Burgess" (1 July 1842); citing in John Phillip Walker, editor, Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1986), 38. (emphasis added)
  28. Autobiography of Benjamin F. Johnson, from My Life's Review (Independence, MO: Zion's Printing and Publishing Co., 1947), 101.
  29. Autobiography of Wandle Mace, 188–189.
  30. Samuel W. Richards, cited in Autobiography and Diary Excerpts of Anthony W. Ivins (8 October 1905); compare similar story recorded by Diary Excerpts of Thomas A. Clawson, 1904-1906 Bk, p. 350 (Aug 6, 1906).
  31. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:16.
  32. Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses 21:274.
  33. B.H. Roberts, The Life of John Taylor, 179–180.
  34. Autobiography of Mosiah Lyman Hancock, 28.
  35. Bathsheba W. Smith, Young Woman's Journal 16 (1905): 549-58
  36. Rachel Ridgeway Grant, Young Woman's Journal 16 (1905): 549-58
  37. Larson, Diaries of Rudger Clawson, 612–613.
  38. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 8:279. ISBN 0941214133.
  39. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 8:appendix (journal entry dated 24 November 1878). ISBN 0941214133.
  40. Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses 21:299.
  41. L. John Nuttall Papers, Letter Press Book #4, 285.
  42. History of the Church, 5:xxviii. Volume 5 link
  43. Ronald W. Walker, "'A Banner is Unfurled': Mormonism's Ensign Peak," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 26 no. 4, 72.
  44. Walker, 72-73; citing Council Meeting, 26 Feb. 1847, Thomas Bullock minutes, LDS Archives.
  45. Biography and Family Record of Lorenzo Snow, 76.
  46. John P. Green, "Kirtland, October 28, 1842," Times and Seasons 4 no. 3 (15 December 1842), 39. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  47. Marvin S. Hill, Quest for Refuge, 120; citing Olney papers, #15 and #30.
  48. History of the Church, 5:393. Volume 5 link The History of the Church notes that the original source was taken "from the journal of William Clayton, who was present," though the prophecy against Douglas is in not the published portions of Clayton's journals (See Cecelia Warner, “The Tanners On Trial,” Sunstone: Review 4:4/6 (April 1984); Lawrence Foster, “Career Apostates: Reflections on the Works of Jerald and Sandra Tanner,” Dialogue 17/2 (Summer 1984): 48 and n. 28; James B. Allen, review of An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, by George D. Smith, ed., BYU Studies 35/2 (1995): 165–75). It is not known if more material is in the Clayton journals that served as a basis for the complete History of the Church entry. At any rate, the publication of the prophecy before June 1857 makes the point moot—the Church was claiming this as a prophecy well before it was fulfilled, and had no reasons before then to attack Douglas if the prophecy was unauthentic.
  49. Times and Seasons 4:330.
  50. History of the Church, 6:47–48. Volume 6 link
  51. Hugh W. Nibley, The World and the Prophets, 3rd edition, (Vol. 3 of Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, Gary P. Gillum, and Don E. Norton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1987), 31.
  52. Dialogue with Trypho 8, Ante-Nicene Fathers 1:198
  53. Shepard of Hermas, Ante-Nicene Fathers 2:24
  54. James E. Talmage, The Vitality of Mormonism, (Deseret News Press, 1919), 42.
  55. George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet (Salt Lake City, Utah: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1888), 529.
  56. Ward Teachers' Message for June, 1945, "SUSTAINING THE GENERAL AUTHORITIES OF THE CHURCH" Improvement Era, June 1945, p.354
  57. Letter from President George Albert Smith to Dr. J. Raymond Cope, Dec. 7, 1945 (emphasis added).
  58. Albert E. Bowen to Dean Brimhall, 26 October 1946, p. 1. Dean R. Brimhall papers, MS 114, box 12, folder 21, Manuscripts Division, J. Willard Marriott Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.
  59. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:107.
  60. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:295.
  61. Joseph Smith, Jr., Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 49. off-site
  62. Dallin H. Oaks, "Testimony," Ensign (May 2008).
  63. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director" (2013)
  64. Gregory L. Smith, "Polygamy, Prophets, and Prevarication: Frequently and Rarely Asked Questions about the Initiation, Practice, and Cessation of Plural Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," FAIR, 2005. describes these issues in detail.
  65. Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference Report, October, 1960
  66. Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (Anchor, 2004), xx.
  67. Richard E. Turley, Jr. Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 81, 83. ISBN 0252018850 Google books
  68. Gordon B. Hinckley Journal, 10 February 1984.
  69. Turley, Victims, 83.
  70. Cecelia Warner, "The "Martin Harris Letter": Fact, Fiction. . . Fate," Sunstone no. (Issue #50) (January 1985). off-site
  71. Church News, 28 April 1985.
  72. Gordon B. Hinckley, "First Presidency Message: Keep the Faith," Ensign (September 1985), 3.
  73. Dallin H. Oaks, Address to CES teachers, 16 August 1985.
  74. Dawn Tracy, “Hofmann Told Others He Was Shown Secret LDS History,” Salt Lake Tribune (17 Oct. 1986): C-13; see the belated admission of this connection, despite repeatedly using the claims about the Cowdery history without revealing its source in “Tried to Kill Self, Mormon Artifacts Dealer Says,” Los Angeles Times (1 Aug. 1987): 29.
  75. Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley, 18 October 1995.
  76. John J. Roberts, "Reminiscences and Diaries 1898-1902", Microfilm Manuscript, Church History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah. For the complete text, see Cobabe, below.