Question: Did Elder David B. Haight make an astrological reference that people should 'do nothing without the assistance of the moon'?

Table of Contents

Question: Did Elder David B. Haight make an astrological reference that people should 'do nothing without the assistance of the moon'?

This claim has evolved over time due to successive misinterpretation of the original sources

It has been claimed that Elder David B. Haight "reinvoked the astrological principle that people should 'do nothing without the assistance of the moon'" in a talk that he gave during General Conference in 1998. One critic of Mormonism takes this a step further by claiming that the phrase "do nothing without the assistance of the moon" was deleted from the transcribed version of Elder Haight's talk. However, this claim has evolved over time due to successive misinterpretation of the original sources.

There is no question that grammar and phrasing of the talk was edited. The question is: where is the phrase "do nothing without the assistance of the moon" that the author highlighted twice before claiming that it had been removed from the printed version of the talk? There is no other portion of this talk which makes any reference to the moon.

The bottom line: this is a false claim and a false accusation.

Was an embarrassing phrase removed from Elder Haight's talk?

Becoming Gods makes this claim on page 352, endnote 155:

LDS Apostle David B. Haight "reinvoked the astrological principle that people should 'do nothing without the assistance of the moon'" (Quinn, Early Mormonism, p. 291). Haight's remark "do nothing without the assistance of the moon" was made during his lecture at the 168th Annual General Conference. But when the transcribed text of the speech was made available online through the LDS Church's official Internet site, the phrase had been deleted." (emphasis added)

Conference talks are routinely edited before they are printed. General Authorities may make off-the-cuff remarks or inject other comments that may not make it into the final printed version. But this accusation is different: the author of this book is asserting that there was something removed in order to hide it, despite the fact that the phrase would have been heard by the entire conference audience, and the video of the talk recorded. These recordings are easily accessible in many LDS meeting house libraries, so it is a relatively simple task to check the validity of this claim.

Was there a cover-up directed at removing an embarrassing 'magic related' remark made by Elder Haight in front of the entire Church during a General Conference? Note in the criticism that the suspicious phrase "do nothing without the assistance of the moon" is actually singled out twice. To resolve this claim, we will examine the published text of Elder Haight's talk and compare it to a transcript that was made from a video recording of the same talk.

The original talk

Transcription of live talk [April 1998 General Conference] from home recorded video in Rancho Cucamonga, CA Chaffey Ward church library. Talk as printed in the Ensign: David B. Haight, "Live the Commandments," Ensign (May 1998). Comments

And as we left that little meeting that evening and left that little farmhouse, there was a full moon shining down through the trees. And I said to Ruby,

As we left our meeting that evening and left that little farmhouse, there was a full moon shining down through the trees. I said to Ruby,

  • Some minor grammar cleanup to remove the repetition of the phrase "that little."

“I can imagine that on the night of April 6, 1830, after that small group had assembled, the Church had been organized, the six members had signed the necessary papers to see that it was recognized under the laws of the state of New York.

“I can imagine the night of April 6, 1830, after that small group had assembled, the Church had been organized, and six men agreeable to its organization were present to be in harmony with the laws of the state of New York;

  • The phrase "agreeable to its organization" was added.
  • The spoken phrase "recognized under the laws" was reworded to read "in harmony with the laws."

And of the occasion was said what was prophesied, the future of the church, the testimony that would have been born. I said I would imagine that the night of April the 6th, 1830, the moon was shining showing that our Savior smiled upon that occasion and upon that setting.

I can imagine what was said, what was prophesied about the future of the Church, and the testimonies that would have been borne.” Then I said, “I would imagine that on the night of April the 6th, 1830, there was a full moon shining, showing that our Savior was smiling upon that occasion and upon that setting.”

  • Grammar modifications.

And later I said that to the little group and Brother Chamberlain who then was the director of the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake heard me say that. And he was thoughtful enough to get in touch with our, with our observatory, naval observatory, to find out what might have happened on April the 6th, 1830.

Later I expressed that idea to a group where Brother Chamberlain, who then was the director of the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake, heard me say it. He was thoughtful enough to get in touch with the naval observatory to find out what might have happened on April the 6th, 1830.

  • Grammar cleanup

They didn’t have records back that far and so he was thoughtful enough to contact in England the Naval Observatory and the records that might have been available over there and he later sent me some document-- documentar-- documentary indicating what was happening in the horizon in that week of April the 6th, 1830 and indicating on there that there was evidence that there was a full moon those days before and after and during April the 6th, 1830, which I have now as a prized possession that there was a full moon. The glories of the Lord had been poured out upon the occasion.

They didn’t have records back that far, so he was thoughtful enough to contact the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in England for records that might have been available over there. He later sent me some documents indicating what was happening in the horizon that week of April the 6th, 1830, indicating that there was a full or beautifully beaming moon those days before and after April the 6th. The glories of the Lord had been poured out upon the occasion.

  • Grammar again.

So, where is the alleged remark "do nothing without the assistance of the moon" in the transcription? It is not there. It was never there.

As Elder Haight grew older, he was unable to use the teleprompter to effectively read his written text

As Elder Haight grew older, he was unable to use the teleprompter to effectively read his written text. He joked about this in the October 1995 General Conference, three years prior to his 1998 talk discussed above.

When Elder LeGrand Richards was getting along in years, he generally gave extemporaneous conference talks. As you know, we have some time restraints. There was concern as to how to notify him when his time was up. A little flashing light was put on the podium, and during one of his talks he said, “There’s a light here that keeps flashing.” The next conference they made the light red, but he just put his hand over it. So I might resort to some of that today. As we age, we get to the point where the teleprompter doesn’t work for us anymore; then the printers seem to be doing a poor job in printing the text; and then the ink doesn’t seem to be as good as it used to be, either! But I am honored and grateful to be here with you.[1]

It ought to be no surprise, then, that Elder Haight's spoken words differed somewhat from his written words.

Notes

  1. {{Ensign|author=David B. Haight|article=Seek First the Kingdom of God|date=Nov. 1995|pages=73