Question: How did the story of "drunken behavior" at the Kirtland Temple dedication originate?

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Question: How did the story of "drunken behavior" at the Kirtland Temple dedication originate?

The first mention of "drunken behavior" came from John Corrill, an LDS dissenter

John Corrill, an LDS dissenter, wrote a book in 1839 that described the Church's history and gave his reasons for leaving. Of the Kirtland dedication, Corrill wrote:

At length the time arrive for this [solemn] assembly to meet, previous to which, Smith exhorted the elders to solemnize their minds by casting away every evil from them in thought, word, or deed, and let their hearts become sanctified, because they need not expect a blessing from God without being duly prepared for it; for the Holy Ghost would not dwell ini unholy temples....

The sacrament was then administered, in which they partook of the bread and wine freely, and a report went abroad that some of them got drunk; as to that every man must answer for himself. A similar report, the reader will recollect, went out concerning the disciples, at Jerusalem, on the day of penticost. This was followed by a marvellous spirit of prophecy. Every man's mouth was full of prophecying, and for a number of days or weeks their time was spent in visitng from house to house, making feasts, prophecying, and pronouncing blessings on each other, to that degree, that from the external appearance, one would have supposed that the last days had truly come, in which the spirit of the Lord was poured out upon all flesh....[1]

When this account was written, Corrill had already decided that Joseph Smith was a false prophet

This account is significant because of what Corrill does not say. At this writing, Corrill was disenchanted with the Church, and had decided that Joseph Smith was a false prophet. Corrill acknowledges that some charged that the Saints were merely under the influence of wine; he notes that each person would have to respond for themselves, but does not seem to give this story much credence. Corrill even goes so far as to point out that the pentecost at Jerusalem had similar charges made—a strange claim to make if he wishes to claim that Church members were drunk. Corrill goes on to say that to all outward appearances, "the last days had truly come"—i.e., there was nothing about the conduct of the members in those days to suggest that they were not having revelations, prophecies, etc.

Corrill would have had motive for disparaging the Saints' claims to revelations

Indeed, he insisted that he did not believe the Church's revelations, but this was because of the difficulties which the Church encountered up to his departure. He no where blames wine for the Kirtland events.[2]


  1. John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (Commonly Called Mormons;) Including an account of their doctrines and discipline; with the reasons of the author for leaving the church (Published for the author, St. Louis, Mo., 1839), 23.
  2. Corrill, Brief History, 48, gives as his reasons for leaving that "I can see nothing that convinces me that God has been our leader; calculation after calculation has failed, and plan after plan has been overthrown, and our Prophet seemed not to know the event till too late....But where now may you look for deliverance? You may say, in God; but I say, in the exercise of common sense and that sound reason with which God has endowed you; and my advice is to follow that, in preference to those pretended visions and revelations which have served no better purpose than to increase your trouble...."