Forgeries related to Mormonism

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Forgeries related to Mormonism

Summary: Throughout the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many individuals have forged revelations and historical documents. Their motivations were varied, and included lust for power or money, and a desire to embarrass the Church and its leaders. This article examines some of the more prominent forgeries in Church history, in chronological order.

Documents

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Forged artifacts that are sometimes associated with Mormonism

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Joseph Smith and the Kinderhook plates

Summary: A set of small plates, engraved with characters of ancient appearance, were purported to have been unearthed in Kinderhook, Illinois, in April 1843. The so-called "Kinderhook plates" have been something of an enigma within the Mormon community since they first appeared. While there are faithful LDS who take a number of different positions on the topic of these artifacts, most have concluded that they were fakes. This article summarizes some key information that critics often exclude from their discussion of the Kinderhook plates, and the extent of Joseph Smith's involvement.

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Personalities

Terrill R. Dalton, Geody M. Harman and the Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven

Summary: In about 1999, in Magna, Utah, Terrill Dalton supposedly started having intense spiritual manifestations. At first he claimed to have knowledge of the time of the Second Coming of Jesus, and his claims were not very spectacular. But from about 2001 to 2002, he started claiming that he was going to be the prophet of the Church, but kept those claims to himself mostly, and he was forming a secret group of followers over the Internet. Finally, in 2004, Dalton was excommunicated from the Church. He and his partner, Geody M. Harman (another former member of the LDS Church), claimed to be the Two Witnesses that are to be slain in Jerusalem at the Second Coming of Christ. They formed the Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven. Dalton's claims got more and more grandiose. In 2005, he claimed to have secret meetings with President Gordon B. Hinckley, and that President Hinckley considered him a "secret prophet." He claims to be the incarnation of the Holy Ghost, as well as the Father of Jesus Christ, and has the keys to time travel. Thus he claims that he is able to be in spirit form as the Holy Ghost, as well as the Holy Ghost incarnate at the same time, because he went back in time to be born. This group has come up with a bunch of fraudulent writings purporting to be Holy Scripture, such as the Sacred Stone, The Record of Romanicus, and so forth. Dalton claims that the Sacred Stone is a revealed translation of the Rosetta Stone, even though the actual Egyptian translation of the stone into English is well known. His excuse for this is that he says that science has got it wrong with their decipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphs. He uses the Book of Abraham Translation controversy as an excuse for his frauds. Dalton and Harman moved their group from Magna, Utah to Idaho in 2009, and then later to Montana. Now Dalton and Harman are facing charges of sexual assault. [1]

Ben Fuchs

Summary: On 14 January 1976, President Spencer W. Kimball and other Church leaders were told that a London man named Ben Fuchs had informed some LDS missionaries that he had artifacts which belonged to the Church. Investigation showed that Fuchs had some small and large ring-bound brass plates (weighing about 150 lbs), some strange spectacles, and a sword with gems in the hilt. Fuchs claimed he had received the items from his grandfather, who had gotten them from South America. Fuchs said that he was to give the plates to the church whose missionaries came to his door and said certain words. Fuchs and his family were baptized, and eventually came to Salt Lake City where they were sealed. Paul Cheesman of BYU retrieved the artifacts, and studied them closely. Anomalies in Fuch's story became evident, and the supposedly ancient 'plates' were determined to be of modern manufacture. The 'gems' in the sword hilt were made of glass. Fuchs "seemed motivated by material gain" and was excommunicated. [2]

Bishop John H. Koyle and the Dream Mine

Summary: This mine has been alternately called the Dream Mine, or the Relief Mine. Bishop John H. Koyle of Salem, Utah claimed that in 1894, an angel appeared to him and showed him a Nephite gold mine, just to the east of Salem. He claimed that he was commanded to tunnel into that mountain. Many years were spent in vain searching for the Nephite Gold, and he gathered a following. Koyle claimed that the purpose of the gold in the mine was to save the Church in some future time of need. He claimed to have prophetic gifts and revelations. Even at one point, Elder James Talmage warned Koyle and his followers that they had been deceived, and that by virtue of the fact that he was a geologist, he said there were no precious metals in the side of that mountain where they were digging. Koyle fooled many people into buying stock in the mine. He was persuaded to sign a statement in 1947 that was published in the Deseret News in which he repudiated his claims. His followers claim that he signed it under duress. Later, he backtracked from that statement, and was excommunicated in 1948. Some people still believe in that mine to this day, and some even still own stock in the mine. No gold has ever been found in that mountain, just as Elder Talmage stated it would not be, according to his knowledge, expertise and training, as well as his apostolic calling. [3]

Christopher Marc Nemelka

Summary: Former employee of Church security (and sometime self-professed atheist) Christopher Marc Nemelka has announced that he has been called to translate the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon plates. He has also produced a text purporting to be from the large plates of Nephi, which was lost by Martin Harris as the well-known "Lost 116 pages."

William Saunders Parrot

Summary: In the 19th century, forged metal plates and took them to Salt Lake City. His intent was to prove that Mormonism was a fraud. His daughter, F. Phyllis Parrot, donated the plates to the Bath library in England in 1975. Mr. Parrot also wrote two anti-Mormon pamphlets. Future forger Mark Hofmann displayed great interest in the plates during his LDS mission to England. [4]
  1. Link to Terrill Dalton's Scriptures off-site and also a KSL article off-site
  2. See Linda Sillitoe & Allen Roberts, Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders, 213–214.
  3. Salt Lake Tribune article on the Dream Mine off-site
  4. Linda Sillitoe & Allen Roberts, Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders, 212.