Friday, March 27, 2015

A Fairly Short History of Mormonism — Part 5 - Utah Period

The LDS had no idea where to go - only westward.  Once in Iowa, they formed orderly companies for the journey.  The lead unit left several small camps where they built shelters and planted crops along the way for the following units' benefit.  Their first stop was at Sugar Creek, with -20 degrees and snow.  They remained there for about a month before moving on, adding to their numbers through many children being born.  The first unit was hampered in their travel by the winter weather and took until July before they arrived at Council Bluffs.  They planted several camps on both sides of the river, with the main camp being just north of Omaha, known as Winter Quarters.

The last company leaving Nauvoo endured the most hardships since they were forced out without adequate provisions.  They arrived at Council Bluffs on November 27th.

In April of 1847, Young and a pioneer band headed out of Winter Quarters.  At Grand Island they decided not to cross to the Oregon trail so as to be able to have their own route without interference.  However, at Ft. Laramie they decided to cross the Platte and join with the Oregon trail.  At the next Platte crossing the Mormons established a ferry for travelers, by which the Mormons were paid in goods.  The site was established by the Mormons for the permanent benefit of the companies that would be following.  The pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley on July 22nd and decided that would be their destination.  The town was laid out immediately.

In February 1848 emigrants began leaving England again; gross misrepresentation enticed thousands.  By September 1850 a fund was established to assist poor emigrants.  Keokuk, IA became a point of departure from the river in 1853; in 1854 Independence, Missouri became point of departure for the west.

In 1855 financial problems forced Young to develop a scheme for immigrants to cross the country with handcarts.  In 1856 Iowa City was named as the terminus of the railroad trip and the point of departure for the handcart trip.  This scheme led to mismanagement and disaster for some of the companies that ended up being trapped in the mountains in blizzard conditions without provisions.

Young set up the government in Utah and in 1849 appealed for statehood (as the State of Deseret) because that would give them more autonomy than being a territory.  However,  in 1850 the government organized it as a territory with Young as the governor in 1851.  

Brigham Young was very much a dictator and made polygamy official.  Pilgrims passing through the territory to California were often mistreated and sometimes killed, especially if they were from Missouri.  They were taxed heavily, and some wagon trains were plundered, and the mail often robbed.

Dissenters from the church were executed under the new doctrine of Blood Atonement.  Anyone wanting to leave the church and Utah were threatened and sometimes killed, although there were those who were able to escape.

The Mormons held the Federal Government in contempt.  As a result, in 1856 the Danites attacked Federal surveyors, and Young repudiated US authority.  At the same time, he continued to seek statehood for the sovereignty it would give "Deseret" over being a territory.  

In June 1857 Young wanted a mail contract from Independence to Salt Lake City, but the government couldn't trust the Mormons because evidence showed that they examined the mails, so the government denied the contract, which inflamed the Mormons.  In July, troops were dispatched to Utah to enforce the law and bring in a new governor.  When Mormons heard about them coming, Young announced to his people that the US was invading them.  Over the next few weeks threats were made against the troops in sermons and editorials.  The Legion was mobilized and Young declared Utah under martial law.

On September 11, 1857 the Mormons committed what has become known as the Mountain Meadows Massacre.  Thirty families were traveling in a wagon train to California; they were people of means, some traveling in private carriages, mostly Methodists and mostly from Arkansas.  Mormon leader Parley Pratt had been killed in Arkansas for seducing another man's wife, so the Mormons held all of Arkansas responsible for the act and sought revenge on this wagon train. 

Mormons led Indians in an attack on the train, but the train was well organized and circled for protection and dug in.  During the attack the train lost 7 dead and 16 wounded, while the Indians lost 3 dead.  The defenders lasted four days before Mormons approached them with a flag of truce, claiming that if they left their wagons and arms to the Indians, the Mormons could escort them to safety.  The Arkansas group trusted the Mormons and followed them away.  The Mormons then massacred 132 men, women and children, with at least one teenage girl being raped first.  The Mormons took 17 surviving children, aged 2 months to 7 years, and gave them to Mormon families.

On September 15th  the Mormons forbade troops from entering Utah and attacked and burned supply trains.  Because of the winter weather, the Army retreated to Ft. Bridger, with loss of over 90% of their horses.  The Legion set up camp and entrenched near enough to scout and they eventually burned Ft. Bridger.

After many negotiations, Young surrendered in June 1858, but said that the troops could only pass through.  The troops marched through and encamped just inside the city limits and the war was over.  Young was not officially governor any more, but he was recognized as such by his people.

In 1859 the Mormons sold weapons to the Navajos, and tried to unite them against the US Army.  They told the Navajos that they were being cheated out of their land, grass, timber and livestock.  Then, during the Civil War, Young consistently spoke against the Union.  Meanwhile the government passed several laws against polygamy and would not allow Utah statehood.

By 1866 more non-Mormons had moved into Utah and murders by Mormons increased.  The governor finally established peace and disbanded the Legion in 1869.

Young died of cholera on August 29, 1877 and was succeeded by John Taylor, who had been in the jail with Joseph Smith when he was killed.  Several more anti-polygamy laws were passed and prosecutions began in 1884.

Taylor died in 1887 and the position of "Prophet, Seer, Revelator and President" was vacant until 1890 when Wilford Woodruff took over.  On  September 25, 1890 Woodruff issued the Manifesto ending polygamy, and Utah gained statehood six years later.  However, polygamy continued in semi-secret into the early 1900s, when most still practicing it went secretive.

Since the early 1900s, there has been little change in the doctrine of the LDS.  They will officially deny many of the doctrines brought in by Brigham Young, deny historical events, and even claim polygamy was misunderstood, in that it was only a spiritual marriage in the resurrection, as they currently teach.  While the LDS historically wanted to remain a distinct religious belief not associated with Christianity, claiming they were the true Christian faith, over the past few decades they have been trying to establish themselves as just another Christian denomination, albeit the only one with the entire truth.  This leads them to do a lot of deceiving of the media and public in general.

Having read this short history, you can readily see that this religion is not of God.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.

Part 3 of this series can be found here.

Part 4 of this series can be found here.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Fairly Short History of Mormonism — Part 4, Nauvoo Period

Brigham took over leadership and guided the exodus of 12-15,000 persons to Quincy, IL.  On April 6, 1839 the prisoners were taken to Gallatin.  While there, they requested a change of venue and escaped in transit, joining with the remnant leaving Far West for Illinois.
Mormons then built Nauvoo, Illinois, losing many to disease during their first year, including Joseph Smith, Sr., Joseph’s brother Don Carlos, and Joseph’s son Don Carlos.  Brigham Young and other apostles were sent to England that summer (1839) for missionary duty.  Brigham Young set up a highly efficient immigration system bringing thousands into Nauvoo from England.

The Nauvoo Legion was established and became a well-drilled, well-equipped army, with 2000 troops by 1842.  Joseph even got a commission from the governor as a Lieutenant General.  Mormons then made many threats to Missouri for redress of their grievances.

At Nauvoo the Mormon theology was developed and firmed-up.  Articles of Faith were written and temple rituals established.   Smith became a Freemason and borrowed heavily from them for his temple endowment ceremony.  He set up his own lodge in March 1842 and it quickly grew to be half of all Illinois membership.

Also in 1842, Smith began playing with politics, giving the Mormon bloc vote to the party which did the most for them.  Meanwhile, just down the road the town of Warsaw became upset with the Mormon takeover, and opposed and feared their politics.  Smith, as leader of the church and the Nauvoo legion, was very authoritarian and operated Nauvoo as a state within a state.  

Smith’s closest friend and confident since their meeting in the summer of 1840 was Dr. John C. Bennett, general of Nauvoo Legion.  He was a womanizer, seducing many women in Smith’s name.  In May of 1842 he and Joseph both vied for Rigdon's 19-year-old daughter, and this led to open scandal.  Bennett had set Smith up so Joseph blamed the scandal on Bennett.  They made a deal that Bennett would confess his sins before the church and sort of disappear from the scene.  Unfortunately,  information on his abortions and fornication became well known, and Bennett hung around as more gossip surfaced about polygamy.  Bennett was then excommunicated in June 1842.

Bennett went to the press with stories of polygamy and church-sanctioned prostitution and fornication.  Because he overstated and sensationalized the problems, Smith easily discredited him by denouncing him for seduction, pandering and abortion.  He also got 12 men and 12 women to sign affidavits that polygamy didn't exist, some of the women having been married to him at that time!

As time went by, babies began to show up by supposedly single women, and talk of polygamy became open.  Surrounding communities also began talking about the immorality at Nauvoo.

Hyrum asked Joseph to write down the revelation on "celestial marriage" and he'd take it to Emma.  Joseph then dictated Doctrine & Covenants section 132 to William Clayton, which threatened Emma’s life if she didn't accept it.  By the Spring of 1843 Joseph finally convinced Emma about polygamy, but she demanded to choose who he was to take as wives (she did not know he was already practicing polygamy).  Emma chose two of their boarders (not knowing they were already married to Joseph), but several months later she threw them out.  Emma felt D&C 132 was a concoction of Bennett’s.

On August 12, 1843,  Joseph had Hyrum read D&C 132 to members of the High Council.  Three opposed it and put the council into confusion.  The church hierarchy divided into factions, pro- and anti-polygamy.  William Law was the champion for the opposition.  

Most Mormons were still in the dark and only knew of rumors about polygamy, but  Smith excommunicated anyone teaching or practicing polygamy without his permission.  However, the town of Warsaw was very familiar with the stories and evidences for polygamy.  (The text of D&C 132 was mocked in their newspaper, in a poem published on February 7th, 1844.)

William Law was Smith’s best friend until Smith approached William’s wife for "celestial marriage."  Law approach Smith and demanded his confession and reformation to end polygamy.  Law then joined other disgruntled Mormons, several of whom had wives Joseph had made plays for.  Scandals began and Joseph began having all dissenters excommunicated.

In December 1843 Joseph sent a petition to Congress demanding Nauvoo be made independent of federal territory, with the Legion incorporated into the US Army and the mayor having power to call up US troops.  This request was eventually denied.

On March 11, 1844 Joseph began selecting his "Council of 50" to form the "highest court on earth."  They ordained and crowned him "King of the Kingdom of God."  The Legion now numbered 4000 men and alarmed many of the local populace.  Also in March, Joseph petitioned Congress to appoint him as an officer in the U.S. Army, with power to raise 100,000 volunteers to patrol and police the western borders of the US, from Texas to Oregon.  (This again was denied.)

By May of 1844 Joseph was deeply involved in politics and became a presidential candidate.  One of his platforms was the abolition of slavery.

Meanwhile, Law had set up his own church, seeking reformation, believing that Joseph was a fallen prophet.  Law also founded the “Nauvoo Expositor” newspaper.   He then sued Joseph for adultery and polygamy, the latter of which was attacked in his newspaper.  The “Expositor” also attacked Smith’s character and abuse of power.  Those who did not previously believe the gossip were now overwhelmed with shock, while those practicing polygamy feared there would be a massacre by anti-Mormons.

Joseph declared the “Expositor” a public nuisance and he ordered its destruction; the Legion complied.  The apostates then fled to Warsaw and Carthage.  The Warsaw paper then published a list of crimes attributed to Smith by the apostates, and an editorial on June 12th raised a war cry against the Mormons.  This raised fear in the Mormons, and all outlying members came into Nauvoo for protection.  Smith called out the Legion to defend the city.

Warrants were let out for Smith’s arrest for riot and destruction of Law’s press.  Angry crowds swarmed Warsaw and Carthage, and armed bands crossed the Missouri River.  Local sheriffs and constables called up militia and prepared to attack Nauvoo.  Gov. Ford then wrote Smith, demanding his surrender for trial.  He said if Smith refused to submit, Nauvoo would be destroyed.

Rigdon had previously taken 300 defectors to Pennsylvania, and now Joseph, Hyrum, Rockwell and Willard Richards escaped across the Mississippi River, with some families being sent on a river boat to the Ohio River and east.

Ford sent word that he would protect Joseph for trial, but if he didn't surrender the town of Nauvoo would be ravaged.  Joseph agreed, knowing that he'd probably be killed.  Ford then ordered disbandment of the Legion and the  return of all state-supplied arms.

On June 24, 1844 Joseph headed for Carthage with Hyrum and other men for trial; they were met and escorted by troops from McDonough County.  At Carthage, Warsaw and Carthage troops argued for control, threatening death to the Mormons. 

At the hearing all but Joseph and Hyrum were released on bail.  The next day Ford disbanded all militia except the Carthage Greys, who were left to guard the jail.   Ford then had McDonough County's troops escort him to Nauvoo, not believing the threats against Joseph were serious..

When Joseph learned that Ford was gone, he sent word to have the Legion come to his rescue, but the message was never delivered.  Joseph and Hyrum then had guns smuggled to them.  Willard Richards and John Taylor were also in the cell.  All visitors were forced out at bayonet point.

As soon as Ford left, the Warsaw militia returned and stormed the jail.  A gunfight ensued and Taylor was wounded and Hyrum killed.  Smith emptied his gun and jumped to the window; he was shot in the back and fell to the ground wounded.  He was then dragged against a well-curb in the yard and several men shot him.  The militia then scattered.  The Mormons decided that peace was the best course of action, and voted to depend on the law for retribution.

The First Presidency had been Joseph, Hyrum and Rigdon; now Rigdon attempted to take over the church and move them to Pennsylvania.   However, Brigham Young established the authority of the 12 Apostles, of which he was the President.  In September the Apostles ousted Rigdon, who then went back to Pittsburgh and established the "Church of Christ."  (A remnant of his church still exists in the Pittsburg area.)

James Strange was the head of a stake in Wisconsin and he made the claim that Joseph gave him a vision that he was to take the leadership.  He drew considerable numbers to follow him, including Bennett and Martin Harris.  Strange also sent missions to England.  He was crowned "King in Zion" in 1850 on Beaver Island in Lake Superior and advocated polygamy.  He was shot in 1856 and his sect died out.

Emma fought for Smith’s son, Joseph III, to be made the leader, but Young stated that no one should know he had been appointed heir or his life would be in danger.  Young stated that Joseph III would be placed at the head in the future.  William Smith claimed he had a revelation giving him succession until Joseph III grew up.  

Emma remarried a Gentile and always denied that Joseph taught or practiced polygamy.  The legend then began that Bennett, Young and Hyrum developed polygamy without Joseph’s knowledge.  Joseph III was placed as the head of the Reorganized LDS in 1860 in Amboy, IL.  They moved their headquarters to Lamoni, IA in 1881, and finally to Independence, MO.

Charles Thompson claimed he had revelations giving him the leadership, but he was also ousted by the Apostles, taking some followers to St. Louis.

Young exerted his authority over the Apostles as their President, and as such took over leadership of the church.  Lyman Wight resented the takeover and led a small group to Texas, near Austin.  He died in San Antonio in 1858 and his band split up.

In January 1845 the Mormons began making speeches and writing editorials advocating rebellion against the law until all parties responsible for the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum were executed.  In the spring a murder by the Danites took place across the river in Iowa, and other killings in Nauvoo raised fears in the "Gentiles."  In April, Governor Ford suggested to Brigham that the Mormons go elsewhere, such as California.

In May 1845 the temple was completed and endowments were held up to the time of all departing Nauvoo the following year.  The oath associated with the endowment is quite revealing.  Elder Hyde said, "We were sworn to cherish constant enmity toward the United States Government for not avenging the death of Smith, or righting the persecutions of the Saints; to do all that we could toward destroying, tearing down or overturning that government; to endeavor to baffle its designs; to frustrate its intentions; to renounce all allegiance and refuse all submission.  If unable to do anything ourselves toward the accomplishment of these objects, to teach it to our children from the nursery, impress it upon them from the death bed, entail it upon them as a legacy."  A portion of the oath is as follows: "To obey him, the Lord's anointed, in all his orders, spiritual and temporal, and the priesthood or either of them, and all church authorities in like manner; that this obligation is superior to all the laws of the United States, and all earthly laws; that enmity should be cherished against the government of the United States; that the blood of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and Apostles slain in this generation shall be avenged."

More outbreaks of violence began.  On September 24, 1845 the citizens of surrounding counties sent a delegation to Nauvoo to see about the Mormons departing Illinois. Young stated his proposal to leave in the spring, but he wanted hostilities to end until they left.  During the first week of October, Gov. Ford accepted Young's proposals and kept the militia there to maintain law and order.  European immigration was suspended.

In February 1846, when the river froze, the first party headed west.  By May, ferries at Nauvoo and Ft. Madison were operating almost 24 hours a day, but some anti-Mormons decided this wasn't fast enough.  In June hostilities broke out, and over the next month several Mormons were killed while their enemies had many wounded.   A mass evacuation began without adequate shelter or provisions.  Many Warsaw people pillaged and harassed those departing; the last leaving on September 18th were actually driven out.

After the Mormons left, the temple was desecrated.  It was torched in November 1848, and was finally destroyed by a tornado in 1850.  In 2002 a newly-built replica opened there.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.

Part 3 of this series can be found here.

Part 5 of this series can be found here.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Fairly Short History of Mormonism — Part 3, Later Missouri Period

Kirtland began falling apart with bankruptcies.  Families with means moved to the Missouri settlements.  Smith went to "Zion" for two months and in his absence Kirtland completely fell apart with lawsuits flying and a separate church set up.  Brigham Young and other leaders fled to Missouri to avoid arrest.  Smith returned to take over and was brought before a church trial in the temple; things went badly for him.  Smith and Rigdon then fled to Zion the 2nd week of January 1838.  The leaders in Kirtland seized the temple and denounced Joseph, proclaiming his depravity.

When Smith arrived in the town of Far West they were all glad to have him.  Far West was in Caldwell county and became prosperous.  Many of the Kirtland saints became disgruntled and also arrived at Far West, forgetting Smith’s crimes.   Smith then began surveying for expansion in Missouri.  He had previously said that Independence was the site of Eden, Daviess County was where Adam lived after expulsion, and Far West was where Cain killed Abel.

While the mission in England sent hundreds of poor converts,  Rigdon was blamed for the Kirtland debacle.  

By mid-June 1838 Joseph had secret bands organized as armies, with the primary band known as the Danites.  Rigdon inflamed the Danites against dissenters, and he issued threats against anyone opposing Smith.  Beginning in July, Far West operated as a co-operative farm, but few were happy with this, and Lyman Wight preached for war against the Missourians.  On July 4, 1838 Joseph had a parade to celebrate laying the cornerstone of the temple.  The army was impressive and Rigdon's speech threatened Missourians with extermination.

When election day arrived on August 6, 1838, the Missourians didn't want Mormons to vote and a riot ensued wherein Mormons prevailed.  Of course this led to increased hatred against Mormons.  Millers wouldn't grind grain and armed bands raided farms, burning, stealing and beating the men.  Caldwell County became the only safe place, and Smith built his army now from every able-bodied man.

Missourians demanded that Mormons leave DeWitt by October 1st.  Instead, Smith reinforced the town with 200 immigrants.  Missourians then laid siege, shooting at anyone coming near.  Smith snuck in for a visit in time to see men caught foraging severely beaten.  He then led them all out under a flag of truce, with the loss of one woman dying in childbirth, and settled them in Far West.

Daviess County then began moving against other settlements.  On October 14, 1838 Smith gave a speech with the intent to defend Adam-ondi-Ahman with his army, threatening confiscation of property for any dissenters (Rigdon threatened dissenters with death).  The next day Smith had 100 men march in, reinforcing Lyman Wight's 250 men.  Lyman preached for an attack.

Missourians heard of the movement and threats, and they began abandoning towns.  When the Mormons invaded Gallatin it was deserted, so they plundered and burned several buildings.  They pillaged three other towns without burning them.  When Mormons in Far West saw the booty, many were appalled and packed up and left.  Rigdon put a stop to the exodus with the threat of them being brought back dead or alive, and he threatened death to anyone caught preparing to leave.  Within a week Missourians retaliated and every isolated Mormon cabin was burned.  Far West was threatened with destruction.  Smith then called all Mormons to go to either Far West or Adam-ondi-Ahman.

By the end of October 1838 there began exaggerated stories of Mormons massacring Missourians, which led to a panic.  Gov. Boggs stepped in to stop the Mormons and wrote out an order to treat the Mormons as enemies and to exterminate them.   Far West then prepared for a siege and built breastworks.  By October 29th,  all but one outlying settlement was abandoned:  Jacob Haun had just finished his flour mill and refused to leave it. 

The next day a large militia approached Far West.  A message was smuggled in to Far West with a copy of the extermination order and word of 10,000 troops enroute.  A large contingent arrived and halted just outside of Mormon gun range.

At this time a wounded man arrived from Haun's Mill, reporting that they were attacked by 200 militia and 17 of 38 persons, including women and children, were killed, with 15 wounded escaping.  Unconfirmed stories said that some of the women were gang-raped.

On October 31st delegates met to discuss terms.  Smith, Rigdon, Wight, Parley Pratt and George Robinson were taken by the militia as hostages.  The Mormons were to sign over their property to the Missourians, give up their weapons and pack up and leave the state; if they failed to do so they would be annihilated. The prisoners were told they were to be shot at dawn, but dissension among the commanders halted the execution.

Brigham Young, Edward Partridge and Heber Kimball escaped when no one was allowed to leave.  During the week 6000 militia raided Far West, killing livestock and leaders, and gang-raping some of the young women.  56 men were jailed and the Mormons were told to leave as soon as possible, although they were not expected to do so in the winter.  They were told staying beyond spring would bring about their extermination.

Meanwhile, the prisoners spent a day in Independence jail before being shipped, shackled together, to Richmond for trial.  On November 30th all but 10 were released, with six kept in Liberty and the other four in Richmond.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Part 2 of this series can be found here.

Part 4 of this series can be found here.

Part 5 of this series can be found here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

A Fairly Short History of Mormonism — Part 2, Kirtland, Ohio & Early Missouri Period

A mission was sent to Kirtland, OH, where Sidney Rigdon had a commune which had broken away from Alexander Campbell's Disciples of Christ.  Rigdon was converted to Mormonism and had his whole commune baptized.  Rigdon then went to New York to visit Joseph, and Smith gave him a revelation.  Rigdon decided that he needed Joseph in Ohio and Smith received a revelation to move his church there in January 1831.  Rigdon and Smith became close friends.

Smith organized Rigdon's commune and took over what became an economic/communistic order.  Many more converts were made and a mission was even sent to the Indians in the west.   Joseph then announced the restoration of the Melchizedik priesthood and ordained several key men.

There were many troubles with the Ohioans so Smith began seeking a place for Zion.  A revelation directed him, Rigdon and 30 men to go to Independence, Missouri; the revelation said that the temple would be built there.  Joseph and Sidney returned to Kirtland, while Cowdery stayed and established the colony of Zion.

During the winter of 1831 Joseph revised the Bible while living at the home of John Johnson and family in Hiram, 40 miles southeast of Kirtland.  However, the Hiram populace began speaking against Smith.  Ezra Booth, who left the church, published letters in the newspaper speaking against the church.  Meanwhile, word arrived in Kirtland of rebellion in Missouri.

In March 1832 a drunken mob pulled Joseph from his bed.  Eli Johnson wanted to castrate Joseph because he thought Joseph was too intimate with his sister (he had been - she was later one of his wives).  Smith and Rigdon were stripped, severely beaten, tarred and feathered.  A week later Emma moved to Kirtland and Joseph and Sidney went to Independence, where Joseph reorganized Zion. 

The church growth irritated old-time Missourians, but by the time Smith went back to Ohio in May 1832 there were 300 members in Independence, and missionary journeys bore fruit as converts filled Kirtland.  It was in  November 1832 when Joseph first met the new convert Brigham Young, who spoke in tongues.

Building the temple in Kirtland began in 1833.  

The Missourians became upset that Mormons were preaching to Indians and restoring them to the land that Missourians had taken away, while at the same time the Mormons prospered in their farming.  Mormons also preached that any non-Mormon (“Gentiles“) would be cut off from the land and that their property would go to the Mormons.  Adding to this insult, Mormons preached against slavery and advertised for free Blacks to emigrate.

The Missourians offered to buy out the Mormons or force them out.  When asked for time, mobs began attacking Mormons and destroying their property, injuring the men; leaders were tarred and feathered.  Three days later they returned and threatened total destruction.  Nine of the leaders agreed to lead the first half of the colony out of Jackson County at the beginning of the next year (1834), while promising to take the remainder out that spring.

Meanwhile, Smith sent a delegation to the Missouri governor demanding justice.  Otherwise, Smith took no action except to tell the colony to "turn the other cheek."  The colony asked the governor for troops for protection and sued for property damages.  The governor told them to take their grievances locally.

Over the next few months there were several clashes between the Mormons and the Missourians, usually instigated by the latter.  Some on both sides were killed and many wounded in these actions.  The Missourians treated the women and children poorly, driving them out like cattle.  At one point 1200 Mormons were driven out of their homes and into a storm.

During this time, Mormon lawyers got Gov. Dunklin to give the Mormons permission to organize into a militia and apply for public arms.  Many of the Mormons moved into the surrounding counties, but most remained camped in the river bottoms.  By mid-December 1833 most of the Mormons were settled in Clay county, given temporary shelter by sympathetic citizens.  Smith ordered them to stay near Jackson county and not to sell out.

Mormons wanted action on the Missouri problem and Parley Pratt and Lyman Wight returned to Kirtland from Zion with demands for help.  They wanted to raise an army for the rescue and began recruiting, but by the end of April they only had 200 volunteers.  Word now arrived that there was mob rule and Mormons in Independence were beaten.

On May 4, 1834 the church was renamed as "Church of Latter Day Saints."  The next day the army (“Zion's Camp”) set out for Missouri in good order.  Although Dunklin had been working cautiously to restore the Mormons, when word of the Army arrived mobs stole Mormon arms that were at Independence (for their Mormon militia), and between the 24th and 30th of April the mob burned 150 homes.  Dunklin gave up his efforts.

Fearing an invasion, the militia from four counties were called up to meet Zion's Camp.  Mormons in Clay County constructed makeshift weapons and prepared for war.  As Zion's Camp arrived at the river bordering Clay County, cholera hit the camp.

Of Zion's Camp, 68 men were victims of cholera, of which 14 died.  Smith led his army cautiously into Clay County and told them he would return to Kirtland to raise money to buy out the enemy in Jackson County.  He advised them to hold no public meetings.  On July 4, 1834 he led the army back to Kirtland.

Smith told Kirtland that Zion would be in bondage until the temple was completed.  In the spring of 1835 Joseph added a quorum of 70 to his original 12 apostles.  The 70 were all from his Army.  His title now became "President of the High Priesthood."

A problem that developed in Kirtland was that there were many converts who had spouses left behind, women and men.  These converts were unable to get divorces, but had relations with Mormon people anyway.  This led to many adultery charges being brought by Gentiles. 

A significant event in LDS history took place in the summer of 1835.   Michael Chandler was touring with Egyptian mummies and several papyri.  He had heard of Joseph’s reputation with Egyptian and came to ask him to decipher the papyri.  Smith declared one to be the writings of Abraham and one to be from Joseph of Egypt.  He translated only "The Book Of Abraham," and dictated the translation directly from heaven.

By the summer of 1835 Kirtland became associated with the word "polygamy."  In August, during Smith’s absence, the church issued a statement against polygamy, but it became a constant murmur against the church.  On top of this, Smith got involved in land speculation with church credit.  Financial problems began by March of 1836.

Meanwhile, Mormons in Clay County over-stayed their welcome and Clay County residents began antagonistic actions.  On June 29, 1836 they had a general meeting, asking the Mormons to leave.

Back at Kirtland Smith was deep in credit debt, so he organized a bank.  He printed money to pay his debts, and they floated with no backing, although he claimed they had good coin behind them.  Many notes came back and Smith was taken to court and fined in March 1837; the bank failed by June.  Because of the debt on his church and self, Smith was jailed 7 times between June 1837 and April 1839, and his followers paid over $38,000 to bail him out.  His total debt amounted to about $150,000, most of which he used to purchase land; the owners got basically nothing for the land because Smith's money was worthless.

Part 1 of this series can be found here.

Part 3 of this series can be found here.

Part 4 of this series can be found here.

Part 5 of this series can be found here.

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Fairly Short History of Mormonism — Part 1

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”  Galatians 1:8

“For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness.”  2 Corinthians 11:14-15

The Mormon church, unlike any other cult, is extremely conscious and proud of its history.  This is necessarily so because their doctrine is thoroughly entangled with their origins and historical progress.  For that reason, it is important that we look at some highlights of their history in order to understand this false religious system which claims to be Christian.  This history will be a bit long, but you should find it interesting.  (This information is gleaned from several books I have on hand.)

I am breaking this series into the following parts so as to keep each “chapter” a reasonable length:

Part 1 - New York Period
Part 2 - Kirtland, Ohio & Early Missouri Period
Part 3 - Later Missouri Period 
Part 4 - Nauvoo Period
Part 5 - Utah Period

New York Period

Joseph Smith, Jr. was born December 23, 1805, in Vermont and grew up near Palmyra, NY.  As an adult Joseph was over 6' tall, judged to be handsome, and had lots of friends.  He was considered "a great favorite with the ladies."

Smith was a likeable, never-do-well, known for his tall tales and necromancy.  He was said to have had a fertile imagination and could embellish normal happenings.  According to his mother, Lucy, Joseph would tell tales describing stories of past inhabitants of the U.S.  He was described as a good orator and was charismatic.  All this is good to remember when looking at further events.

As an occupation, Joseph would dig for buried treasures that seemed to always sink deeper in the ground when he dug for them.  By age 19 (1825) he was well known as a necromancer and had people coming from as far as Pennsylvania for his services.  His father and brother, Hyrum, were also involved in this scam.

One day Joseph found a "seer stone" 24' down while digging a well.  It was black or very dark.  He claimed he could see "ghosts, infernal spirits, mountains of gold and silver."  He used it quite often.  (This is necromancy.)

When he was 20, Joseph met Emma Hale, his future wife; she was one year older than he.  Emma's father, Isaac, helped subsidize Joseph’s search for gold, but quit doing so when the expeditions failed.  He then considered Joseph a fraud and refused his request to marry Emma, so on 1/18/1827 Joseph and Emma secretly married and went to live with Joseph’s parents.  Eight months later he made peace with Emma's father.

In 1827 Joseph started telling stories about finding a book.  He claimed that seven years earlier he had been told that it would be given to him, but he never mentioned any religious significance.  After his "acquisition" of these Book Of Mormon plates, he moved to the Hale farm to begin translation, with the operation being financed by Martin Harris, who was a man of substantial means.  Emma was his first scribe, but she never saw the plates.  She stated that the plates were wrapped in a linen cloth while Joseph looked through his stones.

Martin Harris wanted to see the plates since he was financing he operation.  When he couldn't persuade Joseph to show him the plates, he asked for a copy of the characters for scholarly examination.  Joseph wrote out what he claimed were "reformed Egyptian" characters (the Rosetta stone, which could prove him wrong, wasn’t deciphered until late 1837).  Harris took them to Charles Anthon, professor of Greek and Latin at Columbia College.  When Harris returned home he stated that Anthon had certified that the characters were "Egyptian, Chaldaic, Assyriac and Arabic," but when Anthon was interviewed about the matter he stated the claim was untrue and that he had told Harris the whole thing was a hoax.

In April 1828 Martin took over scribe duties from Emma.  He claimed that a blanket separated the two the entire time.  When they had 116 pages finished in June, Harris begged to show them to his wife.  Joseph relented and Lucy Harris  stole the pages, which were never found; she claimed she burned them.  Lucy stated that if they were truly from God, Joseph would be able to replace them.

In July 1828 Smith got a "revelation" from God that he would be unable to retranslate the original 116 pages because Satan would alter the original ones so as to cause conflict and doubt.  God had known this would happen and He had a shortened version of the first part of the book.  After the revelation about the missing 116 pages, Martin Harris was converted to the faith that was beginning to develop into a religion.

The original 116 pages supposedly covered the political history of the people in the plates, but the new, shortened version covered religious history.  Smith started translating again in late 1828, with Martin joining him in the winter of 1828-29.

In April 1829 Oliver Cowdery took over transcribing.  He was one year younger than Joseph and was a schoolmaster who had been boarding with Smith’s parents.  Oliver had heard about Joseph’s "golden bible" from Lucy Smith.  Oliver was a better scribe than Martin, but he thought it was odd that Joseph translated with “Urim and Thummin” without ever looking at the plates.  Oliver's friend, David Whitmer, visited and watched the translation.  David said, "Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine.  A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing.  One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English.  Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery who was his principal scribe, and then it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct.  Then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear.  Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man."  (If this was true, then there would be no mistakes in the Book of Mormon; remember that.)

In May 1829 Joseph discussed starting a church.  Oliver Cowdery was disturbed because Smith was not a preacher.  After discussing authority and ordination, they decided to go to the woods to pray about it.  The two claimed they had a vision of the "angel" John the Baptist.  Oliver's report was very elaborate, but Joseph’s was simple.  John the Baptist conferred the Aaronic priesthood on them and then ordered them to baptize each other.

The manuscript was finished in July 1829, and published in March 1830.  Two weeks after the Book Of Mormon was published, Smith called himself "seer, a translator, a prophet, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, and elder of the church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ."   The new religion was off and running.  Originally it was called the "Church of Christ," and was established on April 6, 1830 with six members.  Within a month it had 40.

Townsfolk who knew of Smith’s necromancy called him a fraud and blasphemer, and they tore out a dam that was built in a stream to provide baptisms.  A mob came to his house and arrested him on an old disorderly conduct charge.  When he was acquitted on that one, they hauled him to the next county for another charge and he was again acquitted.  Both trials had lots of witnesses to his necromancy.  Many folks in the villages he was taken through cried out, "False Prophet!," but apparently no one took the time to debate his theology in public.

After his trials in 1830 in New York for disorderly conduct, Smith went back to farming in Pennsylvania  for a time.  Money troubles beset the family, but Joseph had many revelations, especially for Emma.  It was almost three months from the church founding before she joined.  Joseph and Emma moved to Harmony, NY to live with the Whitmers.   Emma's father was against the whole thing and Emma never saw him again.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Mormons Compromising With the Homosexual Agenda

An interesting article crossed my path this morning, in regards to law giving special rights to those who practice various sexual perversions.   The last three paragraphs are the ones I found most interesting:

So when the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) announced today that it wants to strike a balance between sexual orientation and religious liberty, those of us closest to the issue understand how impossible that is. "Gays win; Christians lose." Those were the words of the White House's own Chai Feldblum. An open lesbian, Feldblum has been candid about the LGBT agenda and its impact on faith. When homosexuality clashes with religious liberty, she was clear: "I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win."

While the Mormon Church should be applauded for trying to find a happy medium, its position is untenable. The legislation it unveiled today -- which supports Houston-type sexual orientation/gender identity ordinances -- is based on the flawed assumption that religious liberty can co-exist with government sanctioned and celebrated sexual immorality. Former Salt Lake City policeman Eric Moustos's case is just one example among a growing number of individual Americans being punished by the government because they exercised their freedom to believe. Like Atlanta's Kelvin Cochran, he lost his job because he refused to check his beliefs at the door to public service.

And the casualties are only climbing. In the Left's crusade, there are no Barronelle Stutzmans -- only militant, hard-lined activists willing to destroy anyone and anything in their way. To suggest that it's possible to compromise with that, however noble the intent, is at best naïve -- and at worst, deadly to our First Freedom.

I don’t understand the LDS’ position of compromise, unless it is furthering some agenda they have yet to reveal.  Perhaps fostering all this will aid in sanctioning polygamy as a legal marriage and they want that back?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Book of Mormon vs Archaeology

The following is the text of the tract, Testing the Book of Mormon, produced by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, who gave me their gracious permission to publish it here.


Some members of the Mormon Church have made fantastic claims about archaeologists using the Book of Mormon. For example, one letter written by a prominent Mormon, dated May 3, 1936, maintained that the Book of Mormon was used by "the government to unravel the problem of the aborigines.… it was 1920 before the Smithsonian Institute officially recognized the Book of Mormon as a record of any value.… it is true that the Book of Mormon has been the guide to almost all of the major discoveries.... This record is...recognized by all advanced students in the field.” (Mormonism—Shadow or Reality?, Tanners, p.97)

Because of many false statements disseminated by members of the Mormon Church, such as the one cited above, the Smithsonian Institution has been forced to publish a statement concerning these matters. The four-page statement begins with a denial of the claims put forth by Mormon enthusiasts:

”1.The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book." ("Statement Regarding The Book of Mormon," Smithsonian Institution, Spring 1986)

In 1973, Michael Coe, one of the best known authorities on archaeology of the New World, wrote an article for Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1973. After telling of the Mormon belief in Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, he frankly stated: 

"Let me now state uncategorically that as far as I know there is not one professionally trained archaeologist, who is not a Mormon, who sees any scientific justification for believing the foregoing to be true,... nothing, absolutely nothing, has ever shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon... is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere." (pp.42, 46)

Some Mormon scholars are beginning to publicly admit that archaeology does not furnish any significant evidence for the Book of Mormon. Dee F. Green, who at one time served as editor of the University Archaeological Society Newsletter, published at the church’s Brigham Young University, made it plain that archaeological evidence did not prove the Book of Mormon: 

"The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists…. If one is to study Book of Mormon archaeology, then one must have a corpus of data with which to deal. We do not. The Book of Mormon is really there so one can have Book of Mormon studies, and archaeology is really there so one can study archaeology, but the two are not wed. At least they are not wed in reality since no Book of Mormon location is known with reference to modern topography. Biblical archaeology can be studied because we do know where Jerusalem and Jericho were and are, but we do not know where Zarahemla and Bountiful (nor any other location for that matter) were or are. It would seem then that a concentration on geography should be the first order of business, but we have already seen that twenty years of such an approach has left us empty-handed." (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Summer 1969, pp. 77-78)

Thomas Stuart Ferguson was one of the most noted defenders of Book of Mormon archaeology. Mr. Ferguson planned the New World Archaeological Foundation which he hoped would prove The Book of Mormon through archaeological research. The Mormon Church granted hundreds of thousands of dollars to this organization, but in the end, Thomas Stuart Ferguson admitted that although the Foundation made some important contributions to New World archaeology, all his work with regard to the Book of Mormon was in vain. He admitted, in fact, that he had wasted twenty-five years of his life trying to prove the Book of Mormon. In 1975 Ferguson prepared a 29-page paper in which he wrote:   "I'm afraid that up to this point, I must agree with Dee Green, who has told us that to date there is no Book-of-Mormon geography." In a letter to Mr. & Mrs. H.W. Lawrence, dated Feb. 20, 1976, Thomas Stuart Ferguson plainly stated: "…you can’t set Book of Mormon geography down anywhere - because it is fictional and will never meet the requirements of the dirt-archeology.”

Dr. Ray T. Matheny, professor of Anthropology at the church’s Brigham Young University, admitted that he has a difficult time reconciling New World archaeology with the Book of Mormon:

"I really have difficulty in finding issue or quarrel with those opening chapters of the Book of Mormon [i. e., the first 7 chapters which only relate to Lehi and his family around the area of Jerusalem]. But thereafter it doesn't seem like a translation to me.... And the terminologies and the language used and the methods of explaining and putting things down are 19th century literary concepts and cultural experiences one would expect Joseph Smith and his colleagues would experience. And for that reason I call it transliteration, and I’d rather not call it a translation after the 7th chapter. And I have real difficulty in trying to relate these cultural concepts as I've briefly discussed here with archeological findings that I'm aware of….

"If I were doing this cold like John Carlson is here, I would say in evaluating the Book of Mormon that it had no place in the New World whatsoever. I would have to look for the place of the Book of Mormon events to have taken place in the Old World. It just doesn't seem to fit anything that he has been taught in his discipline, nor I in my discipline in anthropology, history; there seems to be no place for it. It seems misplaced. It seems like there are anachronisms. It seems like the items are out of time and place, and trying to put them into the New World. And I think there’s a great difficulty here for we Mormons in understanding what this book is all about." ("Book of Mormon Archeology," Response by Professor Ray T. Matheny, Sunstone Symposium, August 25, 1984, typed copy transcribed from a tape-recording, pp. 30-31)

Three years after speaking at this symposium, Dr. Matheny wrote a letter in which he made it clear that there was still no Book of Mormon archaeology:

"While some people choose to make claims for the Book of Mormon through archaeological evidences, to me they are made prematurely, and without sufficient knowledge.

"I do not support the books written on this subject including The Messiah in Ancient America, or any other. I believe that the authors are making cases out of too little evidence and do not adequately address the problems that archaeology and the Book of Mormon present. I would feel terribly embarrassed if anyone sent a copy of any book written on the subject to the National Museum of Natural History - Smithsonian Institution, or other authority, making claims that cannot as yet be substantiated.… there are very severe problems in this field in trying to make correlations with the scriptures. Speculation, such as practiced so far by Mormon authors has not given church members credibility." (Letter by Ray T. Matheny, dated Dec. 17, 1987)

While there is no archaeological evidence to support the Book of Mormon’s claim that there were Nephites in the New World, the existence of the Israelites in the Holy Land is verified by a great deal of evidence. The "earliest archaeological reference to the people of Israel" is a stele of the Egyptian ruler Merneptah, dated about 1220 B.C. Many ancient inscriptions mentioning the Israelites have been found, and some inscriptions even give the names of kings or other people mentioned in the Bible. The New Testament mentions a number of rulers that are known to have lived around the time of Christ. The fact that the Jews were in Palestine at the time the Bible indicates is proven by hundreds of ancient Hebrew inscriptions. Portions of every book of the Old Testament, except for the book Esther, have also been found in the manuscripts known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. When we turn to the Book of Mormon, however, we are unable to find any evidence at all that the Nephites ever existed. 

Go to Smithsonian Letter

Mailing Charge: 30 copies for $1.00 - 100 copies for $3.00

For more information on the Book of Mormon and many other subjects see the book Major Problems of Mormonism available from Utah lighthouse Ministry.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Did They Really Say That?!?

No man can be perfect without the woman, so no woman can be perfect without a man to lead her.  I tell you the truth as it is in the bosom of eternity.  If he wishes to be saved, he cannot be saved without a woman by his side.

Brigham Young, as cited in "The Miracle of Forgiveness," p.245

I'm assuming from the context that this teaching by Brigham Young, "prophet of God," would be the same for a woman, which means without a man she cannot be saved.

Can someone please show me from the Bible where anyone's salvation depends upon their being married?  By this statement, Young has eliminated all single people from being saved!

REAL Christians know that salvation is dependent only upon faith in Jesus Christ (the REAL Jesus Christ) and His payment for our sins.