Criticism of Mormonism/Books/The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power/Index

Table of Contents

Index to claims made in The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power

A FairMormon Analysis of: The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, a work by author: D. Michael Quinn

This is an index of claims made in this work with links to corresponding responses within the FAIRwiki.

Response to claim: 20 - Apostle Neal A. Maxwell said that Boyd K. Packer "has grown" out of such behavior

The author(s) of The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power make(s) the following claim:

The author states, "While they acknowledge that Packer previously was "less than diplomatic," "dogmatic, bigoted," "offended people," and got "agitated and lashed out" as a church administrator, his biographer and Apostle Neal A. Maxwell have recently said that Packer "has grown" out of such behavior."

Author's sources:
  1. Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1995), 264.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author attributes such claims to the biographer and another apostle; in fact, the biographer notes that "in the minds of some few" this has been the case. Reading the entire chapter conveys nothing like the author's version. One wonders if the author's problems with the Church, which became more prominent after he publically attacked a talk given by Elder Packer, explains his current animus and willingness to distort what others have said.

From the cited source:

[President Packer's] talks have been listened to and appreciated by members throughout the Church. But in the minds of some few he has been viewed as controversial, dogmatic, bigoted.

  • See also: Duane Boyce, "A Betrayal of Trust (Review of: The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 9/2 (1997): 147–163. off-site

Response to claim: 20 - The author claims that Elder Maxwell said Elder Packer might have been "'agitated and lashed out' as a church administrator"

The author(s) of The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Elder Maxwell said Elder Packer might have been "'agitated and lashed out' as a church administrator."

Author's sources:
  1. Neal A. Maxwell, cited in Lucile C. Tate, Boyd K. Packer: A Watchman on the Tower, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1995),162; citing Neal A. Maxwell interview, 8 December 1989.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Elder Maxwell's praise of Elder Packer is clear. The author omits the indication that any lashing out is against a thing, not a person. He also ignores key attributes of patience, meekness, anxious concern for the right, and willingness to suffer for the truth, since these are not the characteristics which he wishes to ascribe to Elder Packer. Text without context results in error and misrepresentation of Elder Maxwell's intent. From the cited source:

Whereas Boyd formerly might have been agitated and lashed out against something that wasn't right, he has grown. With his increased spiritual composure his influence and impact are quiet, steady, and deep. He does not simply point out problems; he reconnoiters them perceptively, then in a prophetic, apostolic way he becomes a clarifier, a mover, and a resolver. In patience and meekness he uses his insights and influence to bring about what needs to be done.
Boyd possesses another attribute that relates to the one just mentioned. He is quite unconcerned with self. He is anxiously engaged in good causes, and if issues require him to stand alone until others catch the vision, he'll pay the price and doesn't worry about the consequences for him. He takes the eternal view that if what you have done is right, the fact that you got bruised a bit in the process doesn't matter much; the bruises will heal and the progress will have been made.


Response to claim: 349 - The author claims that David O. McKay liked his "celebrity status"

The author(s) of The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power make(s) the following claim:

"a First Presidency secretary acknowledges acknowledged that [David O.] McKay liked his ‘celebrity status,’ and wanted ‘to be recognized, lauded, and lionized."

Author's sources:
  1. Francis Gibbons, David O. McKay: Apostle to the World, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1986), 347, 263.

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Quinn twists his source beyond recognition, inverting its meaning from praise of McKay's humility and kindness into a claim of ego and pride.


Question: Did David O. McKay like to be "recognized, lauded, and lionized"?

It takes a certain talent to transform an account that praises McKay as a “modest, private person,” into an “admission” that McKay “liked” his celebrity

Some claim that David O. McKay "liked his ‘celebrity status’ and wanted ‘to be recognized, lauded, and lionized'."[1]

<onlyinclude>Snuffer quotes D. Michael Quinn: “a First Presidency secretary acknowledged that [David O.] McKay liked his ‘celebrity status,’ and wanted ‘to be recognized, lauded, and lionized’” (349). He cites Quinn’s Extensions of Power volume, which gives as its source a book by secretary Francis M. Gibbons.[2] A check of these references is discouraging, but not surprising for those familiar with Quinn’s methods.[3] The actual text of Gibbons’ volume for the pages cited reads:

[263] The encroachment on [McKay's] private life that celebrity status imposed...was something President McKay adjusted to with apparent difficulty. He was essentially a modest, private person, reared in a rural atmosphere, who at an early age was thrust into the limelight of the Mormon community. And as he gained in experience...as wide media exposure made his name and face known in most households, he became, in a sense, a public asset whose time and efforts were assumed to be available to all. This radical change in status was a bittersweet experience. To be recognized, lauded, and lionized is something that seemingly appeals to the ego and self-esteem of the most modest among us, even to David O. McKay. But the inevitable shrinkage in the circle of privacy that this necessarily entails provides a counter-balance that at times outweighs the positive aspects of public adulation. This is easily inferred from a diary entry of July 19, 1950....The diarist hinted that it had become so difficult to venture forth on the streets of Salt Lake City that he had about decided to abandon the practice. For such a free spirit as he, for one who was so accustomed to going and coming as he pleased, any decision to restrict his movements about the city was an imprisonment of sorts. But the only alternatives, neither of which was acceptable, were to go in disguise or to ignore or to cut short those who approached him. The latter would have been especially repugnant to one such as David O. McKay, who had cultivated to the highest degree the qualities of courtesy and attentive listening.

It was ironic, therefore, that as the apostle's fame and influence widened, the scope of his private life was proportionately restricted.... [347]

Everywhere he traveled in Australia, or elsewhere on international tours, President McKay received celebrity treatment. Enthusiastic, cheering, singing crowds usually greeted him at every stop, sometimes to the surprise or chagrin of local residents. A group of well-known Australian athletes, about a flight to Adelaide with President McKay's party, learned an embarrassing lesson in humility. Seeing a large, noisy crowd at the airport, and assuming they were the object of its adulation, the handsome young men stepped forward to acknowledge the greeting [348] only to find that the cheers and excitement were generated by the tall, white-haired man who came down the ramp after them.

It takes a certain talent to transform an account that praises McKay as a “modest, private person,” (whose privacy and personal convenience suffered because of how unwilling he was to appear rude or short with anyone) into an “admission” that McKay “liked” his celebrity. The original line about being “recognized, lauded, and lionized” is obviously intended to point out that such things are a danger to anyone because they appeal to the ego, and all would be tempted by them—but it is likewise clear that Gibbons does not think that McKay succumbed to that temptation. Snuffer is helping Quinn bear false witness against both McKay and Gibbons.

Response to claim: 757 - Brigham Young tells this special conference that Joseph Smith disobeyed revelation by returning to Nauvoo to stand trial

The author(s) of The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power make(s) the following claim:

"Mar 21,1858 - Brigham Young tells this special conference that Joseph Smith disobeyed revelation by returning to Nauvoo to stand trial, that the church’s founding prophet lost Spirit of God the last days of his life, and died as unnecessary martyr. He published this talk as pamphlet"

Author's sources:
  1. No citation given

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - 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

Joseph no doubt would have sought the Lord's guidance before returning to Nauvoo


Question: Did Joseph "defy" a warning from God to flee to the west?

Vilate Kimball described Joseph's pause as his stopping to compose his mind and getting the will of the Lord concerning him, that will of course being that he should return and face his fate

D. Michael Quinn makes the following claim:

Mar 21,1858 - Brigham Young tells this special conference that Joseph Smith disobeyed revelation by returning to Nauvoo to stand trial, that the church’s founding prophet lost Spirit of God the last days of his life, and died as unnecessary martyr. He published this talk as pamphlet. [4]

Joseph's mind was made up. Vilate Kimball described Joseph's pause as his stopping to compose his mind and getting the will of the Lord concerning him, that will of course being that he should return and face his fate. "Their giveing [sic] themselves up," says Vilate, " is all that will save our city from destruction."[5] Thus, although Joseph disregarded the Lord's warning to leave, he sought the Lord's will concerning his decision to return in order to save Nauvoo. There is no indication that he sinned or lost the Lord's guidance by doing so.

Did Joseph return to Nauvoo contrary to Lord's instruction?

Danel Bachman discussed this issue at the Joseph Smith Symposium in 1992:

Vilate Kimball adds a unique perspective to the Prophet’s return across the Mississippi on 24 June. Some accounts say that Joseph had a revelation directing him to head west (HC 6:545-46). But Vilate wrote to her husband that, “Joseph went over the river out of the United States, and there stoped [sic] and composed his mind, and got the will of the Lord concerning him, and that was, that he should return and give himself up for trial” (Esplin 235). Was there a revelation? Were there two revelations? No one knows, but I do not doubt the possibility.[6]

Joseph no doubt would have sought the Lord's guidance before returning to Nauvoo. The Church held a conference in Boston shortly after Joseph's death, with much of the Quorum of the Twelve being present.[7] Elder Woodruff arrived in Boston on July 10th, and Orson Hyde arrived on the 18th. According to Elder Woodruff, Elder Hyde "had advertised to Preach upon the murder of Joseph and Hyram Smith."[8] Woodruff provided in his journal a synopsis of Elder Hyde's comments,

A word about Br Joseph being killed. Some have thought he could not be killed. But the Lord never said so neither did Joseph say so. So did Peter say to Jesus when he told him that he would be slain or offered, far be it from thee. This shall not come upon thee. Jesus said get the behind me Satan. Thou savoreth not the things that be of God but of men.

In the first instance The Prophet crossed the river to Iowa & while there he inquired of the Lord what he should do and the Lord told him to return and give himself up. He appeared to be aware that he would be slain.[9]

Examination of sources used to support the critical claim

From History of the Church, Vol 6, Ch. XXIX:

Saturday, June 11 [22], 1844.--About 9 p. m. Hyrum came out of the Mansion and gave his hand to Reynolds Cahoon, at the same time saying, "A company of men are seeking to kill my brother Joseph, and the Lord has warned him to flee to the Rocky Mountains to save his life. Goodbye, Brother Cahoon, we shall see you again." In a few minutes afterwards Joseph came from his family. His tears were flowing fast. Be held a handkerchief to his face, and followed after Brother Hyrum without uttering a word. (emphasis added)

According to this, Hyrum said that the Lord warned Joseph to flee to the Rocky Mountains. When Joseph ultimately turned back toward Nauvoo, he was turning away from safety toward likely death.

Brigham Young expressed his view on this action. From the journal of Charles Walker:

21 March 1858

Bro. Brigham spoke a little on the rise and persecution of the Church said that if Bro. Joseph Smith had been led by the Spirit he had, he would never given himself up and gone to Carthage but he would have gone right to these mountains and would have been alive today to lead this people. Said the sheep must follow the shepherd not the shepherd follow the sheep. Said it was not policy to shed the blood of our enemies and was better to leave our homes than to be driven from them spoke of us burning our houses. . . said he was going to send 500 families across the Desert to the White Mountains as soon as possible. Said some might think he was mistaken says he is the voice of God to this people and their salvation and you can do as you darn please but I am going there when the time comes. (emphasis added)
—Charles Walker Journal p3[10]

Examination of Quinn's claim relative to the source used

Based upon the Brigham Young source shown above, D. Michael Quinn claims:

  1. That Joseph Smith disobeyed revelation by returning to Nauvoo to stand trial.
  2. That the church’s founding prophet lost Spirit of God the last days of his life.
  3. That Joseph died as unnecessary martyr.

Examining the Brigham Young quote that Quinn used as his source, it is clear that Brigham believed that if Joseph had "been led by the Spirit he had," that he would have not returned to Nauvoo and that his life would have been spared. Thus Brigham felt that Joseph's death was not necessary. This could be used to support Quinn's claims #1 and #3.

Quinn's claim #2, that Joseph "lost the Spirit of God the last days of his life," is clearly not supported by Brigham's statement. In fact, it states quite the opposite—that if Joseph "had been led by the Spirit he had," that he would not have returned to Nauvoo and ultimately been killed.

Why did Joseph return to Nauvoo?

Why did Joseph turn around and return to Nauvoo? In response to the accusations of abandonment from Emma and some in his party, Joseph said,

"'If my life is of no value to my friends it is of none to myself.' Joseph said to Rockwell, 'What shall I do?' Rockwell replied, 'You are the oldest and ought to know best; and as you make your bed, I will lie with you.' Joseph then turned to Hyrum, who was talking with [Reynolds] Cahoon, and said, 'Brother Hyrum, you are the oldest, what shall we do?' Hyrum said, 'Let us go back and give ourselves up, and see the thing out.' After studying a few moments, Joseph said, 'If you go back I will go with you, but we shall be butchered.' Hyrum said, 'No, no; let us go back and put our trust in God, and we shall not be harmed. The Lord is in it. If we live or have to die, we will be reconciled to our fate.' After a short pause, Joseph told Cahoon to request Captain Daniel C. Davis to have his boat ready at half-past five to cross them over the river."[11]


Vengeance hymns

Summary: D. Michael Quinn cites several LDS hymns as evidence that the Saints encouraged vengeance against their enemies. The hymns ask instead for God to revenge them of their wrongs in the coming judgment—they do not anticipate taking matters into their own hands, and in some cases even explicitly rule it out.

 [needs work]

Further reading

A FAIR Analysis of Critical Works
  • Denver C. Snuffer, Jr., Passing the Heavenly Gift (Salt Lake City: Mill Creek Press, 2011), 348, citing D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Signature Books, 1997), 363 ( Index of claims ) Quinn cites Francis Gibbons, David O. McKay: Apostle to the World, Prophet of God (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1986), 347, 263..
  • The citation is from Quinn, Extensions of Power, 363. Quinn cites Francis Gibbons, David O. McKay: Apostle to the World, Prophet of God (Deseret Book 1986), 347, 263.
  • See note 55 herein.
  • D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power (Signature Books, 1997), 757 ( Index of claims )
  • Danel Bachman, “Joseph Smith: A True Martyr,” given at the Joseph Smith Symposium, 22 February 1992, in Susan Easton Black & Charles D. Tate, Jr., eds., Joseph Smith: The Prophet (BYU Religious Studies Center 1993), 315-32
  • "Joseph Smith, a True Martyr," 328, cited from Ronald K. Esplin, "Life in Nauvoo, June 1844: Vilate Kimball’s Martyrdom Letters," Brigham Young University Studies 19 no. 2 (Winter 1979), 235.
  • Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 2:414. ISBN 0941214133. Woodruff notes: "There being present a majority of the quorum of the Twelve viz seven as follows: B. Young H. C. Kimball, O Hyde O. Pratt Wm. Smith, L. Wight & W. Woodruff, And a large number of Elders. Elder B. Young took the Chair. Conference opened by Prayer."
  • Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 2:420,423. ISBN 0941214133. Woodruff notes in his July 10th entry: "I here took the Cars for Boston. Arived at 9 oclock with Elder Stodard. Distance 100 miles. Sister Foss gave me $1 Calvin 50 cts Rhoda Scammans $2.50 cts to help bear my expenses home. I had to pay $2.75 cts to Boston."
  • Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 2:427 (journal entry dated 18 July 1844). ISBN 0941214133.
  • Eldon Watson (editor), Brigham Young Addresses (1982), 3:87. and Richard S. Van Wagoner, Complete Discourses of Brigham Young 5 vols. (Signature Books and Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2010), 3:1418. See here for addenda and review.
  • Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), {{{vol}}}:547-550.