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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 14, 2014 01:28PM

Part 1

--Joseph Smith: the Non-Pious Fraud for God

One of the biggest promoters of the "Joseph Smith-as-a-Pious Fraud" theory is Dan Vogel who, in his book, "Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2004) attempts to make the case for such fact-thin spin--and even at one point a few years back, came on to the “Recovery from Mormonism” forum peddling that position, leading him to basically getting his clock cleaned. Vogel eventually went elsewhere for sympathy--and to complain about the debate that he helped spark in the first place by strolling on to the board and attempting to defend his peculiar notion that Smith was a knowing religious fraudster who sincerely believed that God was commanding him to bring people to Christ by deceiving them. RfM response to Vogel's preposterous proposition wasn't exactly positive, leading him to depart, claiming that he had been ex-Mo mugged. Here's his off-board appeal for love and support:

"Hi folks,

"I thought some here might be amused by my . . . experiences at the 'Recovery from Mormonism (RfM)' board. I saw a thread about the upcoming PBS documentary by Helen Whitney and Co. and wanted to post some of thoughts on it, when I was jumped by some of the more vocal and extreme critics of Mormonism for believing Joseph Smith was what might be termed a 'pious fraud,' or someone who uses deception to achieve religious goals. These extreme critics of Joseph Smith and Mormonism insisted that Joseph Smith had no good intentions because he did it only for greed, power and sex. [NOTE: That's right, Dan. Joseph Smith certainly didn't do it for God].

"[Vogel}: Those who are not familiar with my views on 'pious fraud' can read my 1998 essay, '`The Prophet Puzzle' Revisited" at:

"In the course of the debate, several of the[m] would refer to Joseph Smith as a rapist and murderer. So, I asked on what grounds they accused Joseph Smith of rape. It came down to his having sex with 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball. I agreed that it probably wasn't Joseph Smith's best move. [NOTE: "That probably wasn't Joseph Smith's best move." The understatement of the year]

" . . . [B]ut I [Vogel] asked the question: Are we judging Joseph Smith by the standards of our time? [NOTE: How about judging Joseph Smith by basic standards of moral decency that one would expect from both an eternally-unswerving God and the supposed "prophet" under modern-day revelatory guidance from the Almighty Himself?]

"[Vogel}: Long story short, it was discovered that Illinois law in the 1840s didn't consider this statutory rape (actually, the law allowed marriage for females 10 [years of age] and above, although it didn't allow for polygamy). Some said it was rape by deception. But the law was meant for people like John C. Bennett who proposed marriage to a woman in Nauvoo, while he was secretly already marri[ed] to a woman in another state. Besides, there was no deception since Helen Mar and her parents knew the exceptional circumstances and were willfully defying the law. [NOTE: In fact, Helen Mar Kimball later wrote that she had no idea that her secretly- arranged, parentally-expedited, willfully-illegal polygamous "marriage" to Smith included sex as part of the package].

"I [Vogel] argued that taking such extreme positions and using inflammatory language only discredited them. [NOTE: Stay focused, Dan. It is the historical facts pointing to Joseph Smith being an unpious sexual abuser of young woman that discredit Smith. For you to suggest otherwise is the extremist position].

"[Vogel}: Eventually, Steve Benson backed off the term ['rape']and charged Joseph Smith with being lecherous. [NOTE: In our RfM debate, I never used the term "rape" in the criminal-code sense but, rather, as a descriptor of sex forced on a female against her will].

"[Vogel}: Now, the surprising outcome of this debate is that some have charged me with being a Joseph Smith apologist. In a recent post, Steve Benson stated: 'I recently told Vogel that I did not think he was necessarily a Joseph Smith apologist'I was wrong.' He is. [NOTE: Unsurprisingly, Vogel conveniently fails to mention that, in fact, I did tell him during the course of this highly-animated RfM rumble over Vogel's highly-suspect "pious fraud" notion that I very much appreciated his criticism of Joseph Smith in his volume, "Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon"].

"[Vogel]: Benson again: 'No one hates Vogel. They love . . . picking apart his apologetic arguments for Joseph Smith, though.' [NOTE: That's right, Dan. Get over your persecution complex, please].

"[Vogel]: [RfM poster] 'Deconstructor' says: 'Vogel is a Church apologist. I don't know why his [bleep] is allowed here.'

"[Vogel}: Again, 'Deconstructor' says: 'He [Vogel] may not be a believer, but he is an apologist for Joseph Smith." .

"[Vogel quoting 'Deconstructor again]: 'Vogel doesn't seem to deny Smith deceived and abused, but paints his motives as purely unselfish and well-intended. If that's not apologetic, I don't know what is.'

"[Vogel]: Actually, 'pious fraud' pertains to the Book of Mormon and establishment of the Church. I don't think plural marriage was a pious fraud. But my objection to harsh and inaccurate language is enough to be labeled an apologist. [NOTE; Actually, history demonstrates quite vividly that Vogel's depiction of Joseph Smith as a "pious fraud" is soft and excusing].

"I [Vogel] think this is all rather funny but I wanted to know how the real apologists felt about having me in their camp?

"[Vogel]: And to the critics here: Do you think such extreme positions taken by some posters on the RfM board discredit them as serious students of Mormon history? [NOTE: Dan, I'd be more concerned about your "rather funny," swiss-cheesed and historically discredited "pious fraud" theory if I were you]."

(posted by Dan Vogel, "MDD board," 23 January 2007)

P.S.: In subsequent personal correspondence some six years later with Brian Hales (a well-known Mormon apologetic historian)--correspondence that Vogel has allowed to be published on the web with his (meaning Vogel's) permission--Vogel sings a far different tune. Vogel lays out to Hales what he (Vogel) apparently sees as his personal duty of being sympathetic, understanding and non-condemning of Joseph Smith the unpious con man. Vogel even confides to Hales that he doesn't mind--and is, in fact, quite pleased--to be labeled a "Joseph Smith apologist":

"Although I don’t believe Joseph Smith’s claims about the Book of Mormon, I have tried to be as sympathetic to what I believe was his reality. I’m trying to understand him, not condemn him. I have been accused by the harsher anti-Mormons of being a Joseph Smith sympathizer. Steve Benson even accused me of being a Joseph Smith apologist. Nothing pleases me more than to be accused of such things. I definitely am not interested in telling Mormons to leave the Church and become like me. That’s not what I’m about. I’m just trying to be the best historian I can."[NOTE: Dan, you can do better]. . . .

"When I [Vogel] was accused of being a Joseph Smith apologist because I rejected extremist views of Joseph Smith as a simple conman or pedophile online at [the] RfM site, I went to the real apologists at [the] FAIR board and held a survey of how many considered me an apologist. Well, you can guess the outcome of that. It seems believers only hear 'fraud' and Joseph Smith haters only hear 'pious.' The subtle nuances escape those involved in polemics. [NOTE: So, those who refuse to defend or apologize for Joseph Smith's pedophilia, polygamy, deception and lying are "Joseph Smith haters." Talk about simplistic].

(Prefatory website notice: "The following correspondence occurred between Brian Hales and Dan Vogel discussing several different topics. It is reproduced here with Dan’s permission," email from Dan Vogel to Brian Hales, "Re: stuff," 17 May 2013; and email from Dan Vogel to Brian C. Hales, "Re: stuff." 26 May 2013, under "Joseph Smith's Polygamy," at: sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CCAQFjAA&

Before proceeding to further dismantle Vogel's theory of the supposed "piousness" of the huckster Joseph Smith, I do want to once again emphasize, for Vogel's benefit, that I have, openly given credit to him where I think it has been justifiably earned. One of the elemental and genuine eye-openers for me coming to the realization that the Book of Mormon was a 19th-century, man-made creation rooted in early American Native American lore mixed with Biblical myth was Vogel's powerful, exceptionally well-documented "Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1986); see: I highly recommend it to those interested in history, archaeology and how frontier America "explanations" of supposed Native American origins were slapped together by Smith & Co. in a work of clumsy fiction, otherwise known as the Book of Mormon)

Now, back the Vogel's pious-fraud "stuff." He argues that Smith was a well-intentioned deceiver whose saving grace was that he believed God was inspiring him to do goodly works through the tactics of ungodly deception. In other words, forget the Devil. Jesus made Joe do it.

Vogel makes his pitch as follows:

" . . . I would suggest that [Joseph] Smith really believed he was called of God to preach repentance to a sinful world but that he felt justified in using deception to more fully accomplish his mission. Like the faith healer who uses plants or confederates in his congregation to create a faith-promoting atmosphere in which the true miracles can occur, Smith assumed the role of prophet, produced the Book of Mormon, and issued revelations to create a setting in which true conversion experiences could take place. It is the true healings and conversions that not only justify deception but also convince the pious frauds that they are perhaps after all real healers or real prophets."

Vogel concludes his case for cutting Smith a break by asking:

"What did Smith hope to accomplish by his pious fraud? One goal of Smith's deception, as the March 1830 revelation shows, was to bring humankind to repentance even if by misdirection or dishonesty. Initially, Smith hoped to frighten his fellow humans into repentance and therefore help them avoid the torments of even a temporary hell. Later, he will use the incentive of higher rewards. Meanwhile, if mankind were saved by incorrectly believing in an eternal hell, to that end Smith perhaps believed his method was justified. Whatever the means, Smith believed his followers would be saved as long as their repentance and faith in Christ were sincere.

"Smith's March 1830 revelation, the Book of Abraham, the story of Nephi and Laban, and the fortunate Fall demonstrate that Smith believed that God sometimes inspires deception, that some sins are according to his will, or that occasionally it is necessary to break one commandment in order to fulfill a higher law. We may never know exactly Smith's reasoning, but the least that can be said is that if he wrote the Book of Mormon, became a prophet, and founded the [Mormon] Church as a pious fraud, it is quite evident that he had the psychological means of justifying such an act."

("'Prophet Puzzle' Revisited," by Dan Vogel, paper delivered at Mormon History Association meeting, 18 May 1996, Snowbird, Utah, at:

Vogel's theory of "Joseph Smith the Good-Hearted Liar" is further outlined below. David Azzolina, in his review of Vogel's Smith biography, writes:

"Vogel is up front in asserting a naturalistic interpretation, labeling Joseph Smith variously as a 'pious deceiver,' 'sincere fraud,' 'pious fraud,” and 'religious pretender . . . . But at the same time, he presents Smith as the sincere religious leader he claimed to be. In Vogel’s words, the Mormon prophet 'believed he was called of God, yet occasionally engaged in fraudulent activities in order to preach the word of God as effectively as possible . . ."


("Reviews--Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet," by David Azzolina, "Library Journal," at:

Here's a further explanation of Vogel's curious take on slippery Smith, one that notes how Vogel's views have received their fair share of criticsm from across the spectrum:

"In [his] Smith biography, Vogel argues that . . . Smith was a pious fraud--that he essentially invented his religious claims for what he believed were noble, faith-promoting purposes. Vogel identifies the roots of the pious fraud in the conflict between members of the Smith family, who were divided between the skepticism and universalism of Joseph Smith, Sr. and the more mainstream Protestant faith of Lucy Mack Smith. Vogel interweaves the history of Joseph Smith, Jr. with interpretation of the Book of Mormon, which is read as springing from the young man's psychology and experiences.

"Vogel's scholarship on the topic has come under fire by Mormon apologists who allege he is biased and critical of Mormon faith claims. ] He is sometimes also criticized by ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons for not being sufficiently critical of Joseph Smith."

Ya think?

("Dan Vogel," under "Joseph Smith Biography" and "Reception," at:

Nonetheless, semi-sympathetic author, Dale R. Broadhurst, offers the following observations about Vogel's notion of "Joseph Smith-the-Pious Fraud":

". . . Dan Vogel . . . sees the Book of Mormon story as a reflection of the mind and early life of its sole author, Joseph Smith, Jr. For Vogel, the founder of Mormonism was a 'pious fraud,' who engaged in a few secretive and dishonest practices in order to promote a noble religious cause. In short, his Joseph Smith, Jr. was another, more successful Lorenzo Dow--a self-promoter and attention-seeker whose basic purpose was saving souls and building the Kingdom of Heaven.

"The major difference being [between Dow and Smith was] that Elder Dow never felt compelled to fabricate new divine revelations or new sacred scriptures. Dow never instituted a 'gathering,' organized an armed militia, nor had himself crowned king by a secretive shadow government.

"We might here ask, does the 'pious fraud' tenet of Fawn Brodieism go so far as to define Smith as a confidence man? Perhaps not: this revised, pious impostor is something far grander than a flim-flam man promoting heavenly ends. As 'holder of the keys to the last dispensation,' Vogel's Smith totally transcends James G. Bennett's 1849 cynical view of 'The Confidence Man on a Large Scale.' . . .

"Dan Vogel's 'pious fraud' category merges into the definition of 'prophet;' and the term 'con man' can be extended to the pretensions of 'religious fraud.' Between the religious fraud of an unbeliever and the pious fraud of an unscrupulous believer, is there any place for Joseph Smith, Jr.? Upon careful consideration, there appears to be no simple definition for the man--that is, no credible

"Perhaps the best explanation useful for those outside the ranks of the Latter-day Saints, is that Smith was continually evolving in his faith-promoting role--his confidence-building role. At times his methods appear to overlap those of a con man, or a religious fraud. At other times his professed sincerity and seemingly selfless actions elevate the man to some indeterminate position overlapping a pious fraud and a would-be prophet. The Joseph Smith of modern reflection is a moving target and observers will discern what they will from the motion blur he has left in his wake. He presents to the non-Mormon observer the phenomenon that Jan Shipps might call a 'prophet puzzle.' . . .

"The revised Joe Smith is all good and well for propagation among the unbelieving Gentiles. He may even merit the reputation of a great religious genius and ecclesiastical architect but this pious, evolving new Smith still looks too much like an impious 'conscious impostor' for any official integration with latter-day doctrine. Besides which, it may not bother religious liberals like some of the Reorganized LDS, that Smith is credited with authoring the Book of Mormon but such a notion can never be allowed to take root among "God's peculiar people," headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. No, something must be done about Vogel's 'pious fraud' of a Prophet. And so, Richard L. Bushman, Reid Larkin Neilson and Jed Woodworth devote a little attention to the matter in their 2004 'Believing History.' [Bushman writes]:

"'[A new breed of "tolerant" readers], . . . may not be satisfied with the choices that Dan Vogel . . . offers to readers of Joseph Smith biographies. In describing some of the supernatural events in Joseph's early life, Vogel says that we have three choices:

“'(1) Joseph Smith consciously deceived people by making up events and lying about them;

“'(2) he unconsciously deceived people by imagining events and calling them real;

“'(3) he told the truth. Vogel asserts that we cannot believe that Joseph told the truth without abandoning all "rationalist categories of historical investigation."

"' . . . Like Brodie, Vogel leans toward conscious deceit. Vogel believes Joseph Smith knowingly lied by claiming that he translated the Book of Mormon when in fact Joseph was making it up as he went along. For my hypothetical body of 21st-century readers, Vogel's alternatives represent a hard choice. Readers are being asked to consider the revelations as either true or a form of deception. Joseph Smith either spoke for God or duped people. There is no middle ground . . . .

"'Vogel thinks of Joseph Smith as a sincere deceiver. He sympathetically concludes, 'I suggest Smith really believed he was called of God to preach repentance to a sinful world but that he felt justified in using deception to accomplish his mission more fully.' (Vogel, pp. 266-67, duplicated online in Bushman's "A Joseph Smith for the 21st Century, Part 2") . . .

"'Was Joseph Smith, Jr. a 19th-century con man? A religious fraud? A pious fraud? If he was any of these, he possessed an "imagination" greater than Mohammed's and perhaps greater than St. Paul's . . . .

"Craig Criddle, in his examination of Smith's probable contribution to bringing forth the Book of Mormon, . . . focus[es] attention only upon Smith's activities prior to the publication of that book. He says:

"'The "Smith-as-Sole-Author Theory" asserts that Smith produced the Book of Mormon with or without supernatural assistance. This theory can be based on any of the following premises:

"'(1) Smith was a prophet of God as he claimed;

"'(2) Smith had a gift of some kind, perhaps like that attributed to certain artists and mystics and sometimes described as 'automatic writing,' and he was sincere in his belief that this was a gift from God that enabled him to translate the golden plates that he saw in visions;

"'(3) Smith was a pious fraud who was trying to bring people to Christ by making up scripture that would support Christian belief;

"'(4) Smith was a successful con man who needed to find a new gig after his treasure seeking business tailed off after skirmishes with the law.'

("Sidney Rigdon: Creating the Book of Mormon," section 1)

"'There is abundant evidence that during the same time period that Smith claimed to be entertaining annual visits by an angel, he was also making a living as a con man. . . . [H]e was found guilty of perpetrating a money-digging scheme. . . . Smith was no run-of-the mill con man. He was actually a talented magician, with an act that included seer stones, fortune telling, palm reading, divining rods, amulets, incantations and participation in rituals to summon spirits, and showed a remarkable ability to induce and retain belief. The Bainbridge trial transcript describes some of the ruses used by Smith to con people, and it includes testimony that he was a fraud. . . . . It is important to reiterate that Smith claimed to be receiving an annual angelic visitor in anticipation of the Book of Mormon at the very same time he was also engaged in activities that show him to be a con man. . . . .

"'[Any] evidence that shows Smith to have been an honest man is also consistent with the con man theory because that is precisely how many successful con men normally present themselves. A successful con man must pass himself off as trustworthy in order to gain the "confidence" of his marks so that he can then take advantage of them. Con men may even believe at some level that they can actually do the improbable things they claim to be able to do. . . . [T]he likelihood of former con men becoming real men of God and performing miracles is less than the likelihood of them remaining con men and performing tricks that appear to be miracles in support of some con.

("Sidney Rigdon: Creating the Book of Mormon," section 2, Part 6')

". . . Criddle's estimation of Joseph Smith being a purposeful deceiver still allows for him to have been the sole author of the Book of Mormon (though Criddle elsewhere argues against the Smith-alone authorship theory). It also allows for Smith to have been sincerely convinced of his purported supernatural powers and to have evolved into a miracle-worker. But even after these theoretical concessions, Criddle still labels the Mormon leader as a con man, due the 'ruses used by Smith to con people.' In other words, Joseph Smith, Jr. was something much more complex than a 'run-of-the mill con man,' and he may well have believed in his own seership. The distinguishing feature which, nevertheless, marks Smith as a probable confidence man was his 'remarkable ability to induce and retain belief' in his followers, by 'performing tricks that appear[ed] to be miracles.'

". . . Criddle thus makes no claims for Smith having been a confidence man in his post-1830 career. What Criddle is interested in are Smith's 'ruses' and 'tricks,' whereby he maintained himself as a confidence man in the period before the Book of Mormon was printed.

"Could the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon be the practicable justification for Smith's earlier deceptions? Clearly, he could not see treasures buried under the ground--and just as clearly he supplemented his income by wrongly telling people he actually could locate such riches. On the other hand, millions of people now living profess to have God-given testimonies that the Book of Mormon is not only an authentic ancient American record, but that it is also latter-day revelation which provides the 'fulness of the gospel.' Either Smith's original deceptions have been multiplied millions of times to produce colossal deluded testimony; or else the Palmyra farm boy really did progress from confidence man to divine prophet. But which of those possibilities is true and which is false?"

("Joseph Smith: Nineteenth-Century Con Man?," by Dale R. Broadhurst," at:

Given the possibilities proposed, RfM poster "Uncle Dale" asserts, ". . . [W]e will never know for sure how much [Joseph] Smith believed in himself, or his magic, or his destiny."

("Re: Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith," posted by "Uncle Dale," on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, 29 April 2013, at:,878818,878839#msg-878839)

Actually, based on the historical evidence, we can know with a reasonable degree of certainty just how deeply Smith “believed” in his poppycock. (Hint: It wasn't very deep). Despite all the convoluted speculations about Joseph Smith being a pious, sincere, religious fraud, in reality, the stark historical record bears witness to Smith's life as that of a conniving crook who used God as a constant and convenient cover for his crimes.

Let's review a few persuasive examples of that undeniably demonstrated and centrally-cemented fact.

Exhibit A: Joseph Smith Himself Acknowledged That He Was a Con Man

RfM poster “Deconstructor” lists the proofs:

"Smith once broke down and admitted he was a fraud. [Here is] [t]estimony of [a] Smith family neighbor and friend of Joseph Smith:

“'In the month of August, 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was. When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, PA. from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money--pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.”

"'Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones. Joseph told me on his return, that he intended to keep the promise which he had made to his father-in-law; “but,” said he, “it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose, as they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money.” And, in fact, it was as he predicted. They urged him, day after day, to resume his old practice of looking in the stone.”

(Peter Ingersoll affidavit, Palmyra, Wayne County. New York, 2 December 1833, at:

"Isaac Hale, Joseph Smith’s father-in-law separately testified:

“'Emma wrote to me inquiring whether she could have her property consisting of clothing, furniture, cows, etc. I replied that her property was safe and at her disposal. In short time they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersoll and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out and resided upon a place near my residence.

“Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called “glass-looking,” and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so.”

(Affidavit of Isaac Hale, given at Harmony Township, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, 20 March 1834, at:

"[The] [w]atered-down version found in the official 'History of the Church':

“'Joseph secured the services of a neighbor, Peter Ingersoll, to assist and accompany him in acquiring Emma’s property. In August 1827, eight months after their marriage, Joseph and Emma returned with Ingersoll to face Isaac. Ingersoll reported that Isaac exclaimed in a flood of tears, "You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time digging for money–pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.” Yet, on that visit there was an attempt to reconcile Joseph and his father-in-law, for an invitation was extended to Joseph and Emma to make their home in Harmony. Isaac, with evident paternal concern and with some compassion, indicated to Joseph that if he would move to Pennsylvania and work, giving up “his old practice of looking in the stone,” Isaac would assist him in getting into business. Isaac claims, “Smith stated to me he had given up what he called "glass-looking," and that he expected and was willing to work hard for a living.'

("History of the Church," Volume 1, Chapter 2, at:

"In response to denials of Joseph Smith’s confession, [RfM poster] Randy Jordan explains:

"1. Mormon apologists saying that Ingersoll was an 'aggrieved former neighbor of the Smiths' has no foundation in truth. Ingersoll’s attitude when swearing his affidavit was more of bemusement than bitterness over the way Smith transformed himself from a poor-man’s fortune-teller to a Biblical-style 'prophet.'

"2. Mormon apologist allegations that Hurlburt gathered his affidavits with 'malicious intent' is moot because of the fact that the affidavits were sworn before justices of the peace and the testators were legally responsible for their statements.

"3. Ingersoll’s account of the confrontation between Smith and Isaac Hale is corroborated by Hale’s own affidavit. Also, Hale swore his affidavit at Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Ingersoll swore his at Manchester, New York (where he lived, some 80 miles away). Mormon apologists cannot claim that the two affidavits were contaminated by the 'malicious' Hurlburtt, because Hurlburt never went to Harmony and never met Hale. But because they were sworn independently of each other, and yet corroborate each other, they are highly credible.

"4. Ingersoll’s, Hale’s and numerous other affidavits from Smith’s 1820’s acquaintances were published in Eber D. Howe’s 1834 'Mormonism Unveiled' (which can be read in full (which can be read in full on at

"5. Ingersoll’s affidavit was quoted in the official 'History of the Church.' In addition to that, both Ingersoll’s and Hale’s affidavits were quoted in the February 2001 'Ensign' magazine, in an article dealing with Smith’s Pennsylvania experiences. . . .

"Although the 'Ensign' article is careful to not quote the parts of those affidavits telling of Smith’s glass-looking' or his admission of fraud, the very fact that Church apologists use those affidavits as credible historical sources negate any attempts to wholesale dismiss them as unreliable (in other words, 'cherry-picking'). Therefore, when Mormon apologists opinion[ate] that the affidavits have been 'discredited at worst, not taken seriously at best,' perhaps they should tell that to the GAs and scholars who approve material for publication in the 'Ensign.'

"6. While Mormon apologists contend that Smith never outright admitted his fraud--or at least argue that that admission came via the hearsay testimony of Ingersoll, Hale, etc.--the fact that Smith’s 'peep-stoning' was a fraud is evidenced by the fact that Smith never found any buried treasures or anything else of value.

"Also, another instance of Smith’s admission of fraud is the account of his 1826 'glass-looking' trial at Bainbridge, where he admitted that his activity was a fraud, expressed contrition and promised the judge to cease the activity--and yet, a mere two years later, he was claiming to translate the 'golden plates' with the same 'peep-stone-in-the-hat' business he had used in his glass-looking scam, according to eyewitnesses such as Emma Smith, David Whitme, and Joseph Knight.


"7. For decades, Mormon apologists have attempted to discredit the numerous affidavits concerning Smith’s 1820’s peep-stoning and money-digging activities by attacking Hurlburt's or Howe’s motives or character—opining that Hurlburt 'invented' the affidavits or 'coached' the testators. However, that argument is negated by the fact that Hurlburt never even joined the Mormonite Church until March 1833, in Ohio, and he didn’t travel to New York to interview Smith’s acquaintances until the following November. The reason that’s relevant is that many, many accounts of Smith’s peep-stoning, money-digging, occult activities, and details of how he produced his “Gold Bible” had been published by 1830-31--before Hurlburt or Howe were even factors in history.

(posted by "Deconstructior," on "Recovery from Mormonism" discussion board, as quoted under "Evidence Against Mormonism: Joseph Confesses," on"Questioning Mormonism: Reposting the Best of,” at:

Exhibit B: Joseph Smith's Bogus Bible "Translation"

RfM poster, Randy Jordan, in his assessement titled "'Yeah, The Bible Prophesies of Joseph Smith, All Right.” (20 June 2006), demonstrated just how pathetically unpioused Smith was, noting:

". . . [This Bible] 'prophecy' can only be found in the 'translation' of the Bible that Joseph Smith himself produced: 'And that seer will I bless, and they that seek to destroy him shall be confounded; for this promise I give unto you; for I will remember you from generation to generation; and his name shall be called Joseph, and it shall be after the name of his father. . . . '

(Genesis 50:33, 'Joseph Smith Translation')

"Look at your King James Bible and note that the 50th chapter of Genesis has only 26 verses. Smith concocted 12 more verses and 'miraculously' included himself in them.

"If you want to be really mean, the next time you discuss this with your TBM friend, take out your KJV [King James Version] and ask him to show you the prophecy about Joseph Smith. If he's like most TBMs, he will assume it's in there. When he sees that it's not in there, show him that it's only in the version of Genesis which Joseph Smith himself wrote.

"The TBM will probably respond with, 'Well, Joseph was inspired to add that, because it's one of the parts of the Bible that was removed by wicked anti-Mormon priests.' If he says that, then point out to him that a copy of the entire Book of Genesis was found intact among the Dead Sea Scrolls [DSS], and it is virtually identical to the KJV, and does not include any of the parts which Joseph Smith added. Then sit back and watch the look on your friend's face as he struggles to come up with some explanation. If he's like one of our former TBM friends when my wife and I showed her that, he will probably change the subject or leave your house in a huff.

"This item demonstrates Joseph Smith's narcissism like none other--the very haughtiness of altering the Old Testament to include himself in it.

"Over the years, I have watched various documentaries about the DSS, wherein I thought that was said. Having skimmed over a few articles, it appears that the fact is that 'portions' of all the books in the Old Testament, rather than the entire books, are represented in the DSS, save a couple. The DSS version of Genesis appears to be a sort of commentary. However, nothing in the DSS, nor any other authentic ancient Biblical manuscripts, include anything like the portions that Joseph Smith self-servingly interpolated into the Book of Genesis regarding his alleged divine coming forth in the latter days.

"Readers who are wondering if Smith was a 'pious fraud' or a conscious, narcissistic, pompous fake might want to consider this in their deliberations. Inserting himself into the Bible via his 1831 'translation' does not sound very 'pious' to me.

"And let's also remember that Smith made many alterations in his own alleged 'revelations from God' between their original 1833 publication and their re-issue just two years later. This illustrates how he was not hesitant to alter 'holy scripture' as his attitudes and worldviews changed."

Exhibit C: Joseph Smith Admits that the Book of Mormon Isn't True and Isn't Worth Further Effort from Him

When it came to his supposed “translation” of the Book of Mormon, Smith The evidence of Smith being a conscious, compulsive charlatan is obvious and compelling. To be sure, Smith's invented Book of Mormon was so problematic for him that he wanted to dump it early on and, in fact, did--literally. In truly ironic fashion, Smith got rid of the Book of Mormon by reburying it.

When helping to lay a cornerstone for the Nauvoo House on 2 October 1841, Smith approved the placement of an original Book of Mormon manuscript (composed mostly in the handwriting of Oliver Cowdery and, appropriately enough, written on foolscap paper) into the Nauvoo House cornerstone with the following send-off comment (made a short time earlier by Smith to another prominent Mormon leader):

"I have had trouble enough with this thing."

Say amen to the fraud of that man.

(see Ernest H. Taves, "Trouble Enough: Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon" [Buffalo, New York: Prometheus Books, 1984], p. 160)

Indeed, William Alexander Linn, in his book, "The Story of the Mormons: From the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901," sets the stage for Smith's deep-sixing of this supposed "sacred scripture":

"[P]roof [that] . . . a second [manuscript] copy [of the Book of Mormon] did exist [is found in the account of Ebenezer Robinson]. . . . Robinson, who was a leading man in the [Mormon] church from the time of its establishment in Ohio until Smith's death, says in his recollections that, when the people assembled on October 2, 1841, to lay the cornerstone of [the] Nauvoo House, Smith said he had a document to put into the cornerstone, and Robinson went with him to his house to procure it. Robinson's tory proceeds as follows:

"'He got a manuscript copy of the Book of Mormon and brought it into the room where we were standing and said, "I will examine to see if it is all here;" and as he did so I stood near him, at his left side, and saw distinctly the writing as he turned up the pages until he hastily went through the book and satisfied himself that it was all there, when he said, "I have had trouble enough with this thing;" which remark struck me with amazement, as I looked upon it as a sacred treasure."

(William Alexander Linn, "The Story of the Mormons: From the Date of Their Origin to the Year 1901" [New York, New York: The MacMillan Company, 1902], p. 44; original text at: "Google Books" link to the page at:

Smith also admitted he made the whole thing up. One shouldn't be surprised by Smith's abandonment of the so-called "keystone" of the Mormon religion; nor should one be surprised by Smith's utter disdain for what he regarded as the simple-minded stupidity of those who actually bought into his lies. You see, Smith had a habit (about which he privately boasted to his friends) of making up stories about imaginary "golden Bibles," then deciding to play out his yarn even further for his incredulous associates when Smith discovered that they actually swallowed his tall tales hook, line and sinker.

Case in point--as one of Smith's close acquaintances, Peter Ingersoll, testified in an affidavit certified by a local judge:

"One day he [Smith] came and greeted me with a joyful countenance. Upon asking the cause of his unusual happiness, he replied in the following language, 'As I was passing, yesterday, across the woods, after a heavy shower of rain, I found, in a hollow, some beautiful white sand, that had been washed up by the water. I took off my frock, and tied up several quarts of it, and then went home.

"'On my entering the house, I found the family at the table eating dinner. They were all anxious to know the contents of my frock. At that moment, I happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the golden Bible. To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refuse to see it, and left the room.'

"'Now, said Joe, 'I have got the damned fools fixed, and will carry out the fun.' Notwithstanding, he told me he had no such book and believed there never was any such book, yet, he told me that he actually went to Willard Chase, to get him to make a chest, in which he might deposit his golden Bible. But, as Chase would not do it, he made a box himself, of clapboards, and put it into a pillow case, and allowed people only to lift it, and feel of it through the case."

("Peter Ingersoll Statement on Joseph Smith, Jr.," sworn affidavit, Palymra, Wayne County, New York, 2 December 1833, affirmed as being truthful by Ingersoll under oath and in a personal appearance before Thomas P. Baldwin, Judge of Wayne County Court, 9 December 1833; for Ingersoll's entire affidavit, see:

Questions have arisen from some quarters about the credibility of Ingersoll's affidavit with regard to his above claim. Let's examine the matter a bit more closely. Rodger I. Anderson, in his book "Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Re-examined" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1990), lists certain noteworthy (and controversial) particulars of Ingersoll's affidavit, then addresses them:

1) Ingersoll's assessment of Smith and his family reflected similar conclusions from affidavits taken from several members of the Palmyra community in which Smith lived.

"[Ex-Mormon and affidavit collector Philastus] Hurlbut's question, 'Was digging for money the general employment of the Smith family?,' repeated to each witness, would explain Peter Ingersoll's 'The general employment of the family was digging for money' . . . "

Anderson: "Even if Hurlbut did contribute to the style and structure of the affidavits, it does not necessarily follow that he 'contaminated' them by interpolation. Similarities such as those noted by [Mormon critics] may only mean that Hurlbut submitted the same questions to some of the parties involved." (p. 28)

2) Ingersoll's statement was a sworn legal document affirming to facts which Ingersoll asserted were true.

Anderson: "Even if Hurlbut had written out some of the statements after interviewing those concerned, the individuals either signed the statements, thus affirming their supposed accuracy, or swore to the statements before a magistrate. For example, Peter Ingersoll appeared before Judge Thomas P. Baldwin 'and made oath according to law, to the truth of the above statement.'" (p. 29)

3) Ingergoll's affidavit cannot be dismissed as completely non-evidentiary.

Anderson: In countering the argument from Mormon apologists that Ingersoll's testimmony deserves to be dismissed because it "consists not in observation, but supposed admissions in conversation," he observes that "[o]f these criticisms, some are based on entirely erroneous information and some reflect partial truth and partial error. But none justify [the] conclusion that the affidavits are essentially 'non-evidence.'" (p. 43)

4) The larger content of Ingersoll's affidavit as described by Anderson.

Anderson: "In his deposition, Ingersoll rehearses various efforts of the elder Smith to make him [Ingersoll] a money digger, recalls conversations with him about divination and money digging and relates an episode in which Joseph Smith, Sr., found some lost cows by means of a witch hazel stick. Ingersoll dismisses this later accomplishment as a trick to test his credibility.

"Ingersoll tells of being hired by Joseph Smith, Jr., to go with him to Pennsylvania to help move Smith's new wife Emma's furniture back to Manchester, describes an episode along the way in which Smith supposedly displayed some Yankee ingenuity to avoid paying a toll, repeats an alleged confession that the business of the gold plates was nothing more than a ruse to deceive his parents, recounts Smith's successful effort to get $50.00 from Martin Harris and narrates a number of other episodes said to have been drawn from his personal knowledge of the Smith family."

"According to Ingersoll, Smith told him that he had discovered some white sand that had been washed out after a storm. Impressed with the beauty and purity of the sand, Smith tied several quarts of it up in his farmer's smock and carried it home. His response when his parents expressed curiosity about what he had in his smock, according to Ingersoll, was '[I] happened to think of what I had heard about a history found in Canada, called the golden Bible; so I very gravely told them it was the golden Bible. To my surprise, they were credulous enough to believe what I said. Accordingly, I told them that I had received a commandment to let no one see it, for, says I, no man can see it with with the naked eye and live. However, I offered to take out the book and show it to them, but they refused to see it and left the room.' Now, said Joe, 'I have got the damned fools fixed and will carry out the fun.'"

5) Anderson has doubts about the "white sand" story in several respects but concludes that it confirms, in the larger sense, important elements of Smith's questionable reputation and character.

Anderson: "Of all the information volunteered by Hurlburt's witness, Ingersoll's story is the most dubious for a number of reasons.

"First, Ingersoll represents the incident as unpremeditated deception on Smith's part. Aside from all other considerations, there exists ample evidence that Smith had been talking about the gold plates some time before the date Ingersoll attaches to this prank.

"Second, Smith's known regard for his parents makes it unlikely that he would deceive them for the sheer fun of it, call them 'damned fools' and perpetrate the hoax for the rest of his life.

"Third, Ingersoll records that after this confession of duplicity he offered to loan Smith sufficient money to move to Pennsylvania, which is unlikely if Smith was, in fact, the knave Ingersoll knew him to be.

"Last--and perhaps the most significant consideration--Pomeroy Tucker remembered that Ingersoll 'was at first inclined to put faith in his [Smith's] "Golden Bible" pretension.' If Tucker's statement can be trusted, it seems likely that Ingersoll created the story as a way of striking back at Smith for his own gullibility in swallowing a story he later became convinced was a hoax."

Anderson suggests that the claim that Ingersoll may have "perjured" himself by "knowingly swearing to a lie" was "possible." Nonetheless, at the end of Ingersoll's sworn affidavit, Dufrey Chase (a local citizen who knew both Ingersoll and the Smith family) affirms in a statement dated 13 December 1833 the following: "I certify that I have been personally acquainted with Peter Ingersoll for a number of years and believe him to be a man of strict integrity, truth and veracity."

6) Anderson notes that much of Ingersoll's affidavit rings true.

Anderson: "The 'white sand' story casts a shadow of suspicion over Ingersoll's entire affidavit but it does not follow that every part of his statement is false.

"For instance, according to Ingersoll, Smith promised Isaac Hale 'to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones' and gratefully accepted Hale's offer of financial support if Smith 'would move to Pennsylvania and work for a living.' According to Hale's independent account of the same conversation, 'Smith stated to me that he had give up what he called "glass-looking" and that he expected to work hard for a living and was willing to do so,' and Hale's son Alva remembered Smith as saying 'that he intended to quit the business (of peeping) and labor for his livelihood.'

"Ingersoll also stated that on this same occasion, Smith 'acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor ever could.' This was remembered by Alva Hale, who quoted Smith as sayng 'that this "peeping" was all d--d nonsense. He (Smith) was deceived himself but did not intend to deceive others.'

"These parallels do not substantiate Ingersoll's 'white sand' story but they confirm that Smith publicly acknowledged his career as a 'glass looker' and money digger. . . .

"Other parts of Ingersoll's affidavit can also be independently confirmed.

"His claim that he was hired by Smith to go to Pennsylvania and move Emma's furniture back to Manchester was confirmed by Isaac Hale; his account of Smith's unsuccessful attempt to get Willard Chase to make a box for the gold plates was confirmed by Chase; and his report that Smith approached Martin Harris with the remark, 'I had a command to ask the first honest man I met for $50.00 in money, and he would let me have it' was confirmed by both Chase and Jesse Townsend. More significant that these confirmations, however, is his claim that Joseph Smith, Sr., possessed a magical rod. This is significant not only because many others mention the elder Smith's rod but also because it can now be shown that the report by no means originated with Ingersoll or even the vitriolic editorials of Abner Cole in 1831. . . . " (pp. 55-58, 61-62n, 70; for Ingersoll's full affidavit--which Anderson notes is "reproduced exactly as [it] appear[s] in the original published or unpublished sources, with the exception of arranging them either alphabetically or chronologically"--see pp. 134-139)

Given the evidence, it clearly appears that the cranial case on Joseph Smith's conscious fraud is open and shut.

--Exhibit D: Joseph Smith's and Co-Con Man Oliver Cowdery's Cahooting Conspiracy to Consciously Create the Founding Fairy Tales of Mormonism.

*Let's start with Cowdery's role in concocting, with Smith, the First Vision story:

Mormon historian Fawn M. Brodie points in her "No Man Knows My History" to a noticeable omission by Cowdery--one where he fails to mention the First Vision in the initial versions of LDS Church history. Brodie explains the reason for its absence: It hadn't been made up yet by the Smith/Cowdery team:

“The earliest published Mormon history, begun with Joseph's collaboration in 1834 by Oliver Cowdery, ignored [the 'First Vision'] altogether, stating that the religious excitement in the Palmyra area occurred when [Joseph Smith] was 17 (not 14). Cowdery described Joseph's visionary life as beginning in September 1823, with the vision of angel called Moroni, who was said to have directed Joseph to the discovery of hidden gold plates.”

*Next, Cowdery ends up in an argument with Smith over the invented story of John the Revelator's whereabouts:

Prior to the formal crank-up of the Mormon Church, Cowdery found himself at odds with Smith over the particulars of how to spin a tale about the supposed appearance of heavenly messengers carrying God's priesthood power back to the Earth. Gramt Palmer, in his "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins," describes how Smith ultimately came up with a storyline to end the disagreement: “Shortly after becoming Joseph Smith's full-time scribe in April 1829, . . . a disagreement [arose] between the two men over whether John the Revelator was on earth or in heaven[.] Joseph, through a stone, 'translated' the answer from 'a record made on parchment by John and hidden up by himself' somewhere n the Middle East . . . .”

Cowdery, with Smith's approval, was involved in repeatedly rewriting the “Restoration” over the objections of other eearly Mormon leaders:

For Cowdery and Smith, the story of Mormon restoration glory was ever-changing--and ever getting better. LDS Church claims of God's messengers bringing the authoritative priesthood power to Smith and Cowdery were, in fact, not in the original script but instead were added later, as needed. It was a tactic of Cowdery's and Smith's that irked other early Mormon Church leaders.

As Palmer points out, the diaries from 1831 to 1836 of William E. McLellin (an early LDS convert and apostle) contain virtually no mention of Smith and Cowdery being the recipients of what Palmer calls “angelic priesthood ordination.” As McLellin noted: “I joined the Church in 1831. For years I never heard of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver. I heard not of James, Peter and John doing so.”

Palmer further reports:

“McLellin provided later additional details about the absence of such stories from the early versions of Mormon Church history: 'I heard Joseph tell his experience of his ordination [by Cowdery] and the organization of the Church, probably more than 20 times, to persons who, near the rise of the Church, wished to know and hear about it. I never heard of Moroni, John or Peter, James or John.'” McLellin further noted, “ . . . [A]s to the story of John the Baptist ordaining Joseph and Oliver on the day they were baptized, I never heard of it in the Church for years, although I carefully noticed things that were said.” McLellin wasn't alone. Another skeptical assessment of the priesthood power play described by Smith and Cowdery came from another key source: David Whitmer (one of the three “special witnesses” to the Book of Mormon gold plates). Whitmer, in an 1885 interview with Zenas H. Gurley, Jr.,(an apostle with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), politely blew the lid off Cowdery's fabrications: “. . . Oliver stated to me . . .that [he and Joseph] had baptized each other seeking by that to fulfill the command . . . . I never heard that an angel had ordained Joseph and Oliver to the Aaronic priesthood until the year 1834, 1835 or 1836--in Ohio. . . . I do not believe that John the Baptist ordained Joseph and Oliver as stated and believed by some. I regard that as an error, a misconception.”

Palmer reinforces the suspicion that these purported events were invented additions, on account of the fact that Cowdery's own actions seemed strange for someone who supposedly had been ordained by heavenly messengers to restore God's Church. Especially odd in that regard was Cowdery's acceptance of “revelations” coming from an early LDS convert who held lower rank than Smith but, who like Smith, claimed to be able to read peepstones: “There is . .. . corroborating evidence in an episode that occurred in September 1830 when Hiram Page, who held the office of teacher, claimed to receive revelations for the Church through a seer stone. Many, 'especially the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery,' accepted Page's revelation as authoritative for 'the upbuilding of Zion, the order of the Church [speaking for God], etc., etc. ' If Cowdery's authority came literally from the hands of John the Baptist and Peter, James and John in an unequivocal bestowal of apostolic keys of priesthood succession, . . . it should have been obvious to Cowdery that Page's claims lacked comparable weight. If this restoration of authority and truth which had been lost for centuries occurred dramatically and decisively in a show of glory in 1829, then it seems unlikely that a year later Cowdery would accept Page's authority over that of Joseph Smith. “Why,” Palmer asks, “would those claiming to hold the exclusive keys of apostolic succession from Peter, James and John seek direction and revelation from one holding the office of a teacher in the Church? It seems more likely that simply and undramatic commandments were the source of these early authority claims.”

Palmer's assessment that Mormonism's founding narrative was a series of unfolding make-overs receives further weight from the fact that “[t]he first mention of authority from angels dates to 22 September 1832.” Even that mention, however, does not include any reference “to the actual physical laying on of hands by an angel, but one sees the seeds of a concept here.” Further undermining Oliver's credibility as an inspired storyteller is Palmer's observation that “an unequivocal assertion of authority by angelic ordination” did not come until “Oliver Cowdery's 7 September 1834 letter in the October issue of the 'Messenger and Advocate' [in which] Cowdery tells a highly dramatic, if poetic, version of how he and Joseph received the priesthood from an unnamed angel.” Significantly, as Palmer writes, these visiting angels finally got their names and priesthood-granting powers “[w]hen Joseph and Oliver . . . were facing a credibility crisis that threatened the Church's survival.”

The affidavit-collecting activities of D.P. Hurlburt were by that time casting growing doubt over the character and motivations of Smith and Cowdery, as well as raising suspicions about their fanciful tales of Mormon origins. Hurlburt's damning affidavits were followed by devastating claims made in E. D. Howe's book, “Mormonism Unv[e]iled.” Faced with growing disillusionment among the faithful, Cowdery's initially unnamed angel miraculously morphed into John the Baptist. The pumped-up tale of Peter, James and John descending from heaven with outstretched hands to ordain Smith and Cowdery to the priesthood (together with the newly-formed John the Baptist account), were trotted out to improve the earlier, less dramatic storyline. Writes Palmer: “Thus, by degrees, the accounts became more detailed and more miraculous.

In 1829, Joseph said he was called by the Spirit; in 1832, he mentioned that angels attended these events; in 1834-35, the spiritual manifestations became literal and physical appearances of resurrected beings. Details usually become blurred over time; [but] in this case, they multiplied and sharpened. These new declarations of literal and physical events facilitated belief and bolstered Joseph and Oliver's authority during a time of crisis.”

Casting even more shadows on the authenticity of Smith and Cowdery's Mormon sensational storyline, Palmer points to another glaring omission:

“No contemporary narrative exists for a visitation to Joseph and Oliver by Peter, James and John. In fact, the date, location, ordination prayer and other circumstances surrounding this are unknown.” Instead, “[t]he earliest statement about the higher priesthood being restored in a literal,physical way, including the naming of angels, appears in the September 1835 Doctrine and Covenants.”

Palmer notes:

“It may be more than a coincidence, that in February 1835 when the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was organized, the details regarding Peter, James and John were added to the revelations. It was sometime between January and May 1835 that Peter, James and John were first mentioned as the restorers of apostolic keys to Joseph and Oliver. This new link of succession undoubtedly bolstered President Smith's and Assistant President Cowdery's authority in the eyes of the new Quorum of the Twelve and the Church.”

Palmer's assessment of the ever-changing Mormon narrative does not speak well for the credibility of conman Smith and his cohort Cowdery:

“As in his accounts of an angel and the gold plates, Joseph was willing to expand on another foundational narrative. The events surrounding the priesthood restoration were reinterpreted, one detail emphasized over another. A spiritual charged moment when participants felt the veil between heaven and earth was thin became, in the retelling, an event with no veil at all. The first stories about how Joseph received his authority show that, like other prophets and religions founders throughout history, he and Oliver first received their callings in a metaphysical way. Within a few years, their accounts become impressive, unique and physical.”

Palmer explains that the ultimate (and deceptive) purpose behind the Smith-Cowdery re-tooling of Mormonism's make-believe beginnings was to plant the Church roots and subsequently expand its ranks:

“The foundation events [of the Mormon Church which including the First Vision; the historicity and translation of the Book of Mormon gold plates; the Angel Moroni; and priesthood restoration] were rewritten by Joseph and Oliver and other early Church officials so the Church could survive and grow. This reworking made the stories more useful for missionary work and for fellowshipping purposes.”

Palmer concludes that this approach of Smith and Cowdery was fundamentally dishonest: “. . . [I]s this acceptable? Should we continue to tell these historically inaccurate versions today? It seems that, among the many implications that could be considered, we should ask ourselves what results have accrued from teaching an unequivocal, materialistic and idealized narrative of our Church's founding. . . . [I]s it right to tell religious allegories to adults as if they were literally true?”

Smith's conscious, ongoing reinvention of the basic Book of Mormon/Mormon Church storyline is convincing proof, in and of itself, that Smith unpiously knew it was an utter and complete fraud. Historical data simply reinforce that reality.

(for a wake-up call on that score, fans of the "Joseph Smith-as-Pious-Fraud" notion are urged to read "Joseph Smith: Nineteenth-Century Con Man?," by Dale R. Broadhurst, at:

(Part 2 follows)

Part 1:,1377578

Part 2:,1377578,1377792#msg-1377792

Part 3:,1377578,1377862#msg-1377862

Edited 49 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2014 05:47AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 14, 2014 07:08PM

Part 2

--Exhibit E: Hugh Nibley is Hung Out to Dry on Con Man Joseph Smith's Authenticated Arrest and Conviction Record on "Galss-Looking" Charges

For the record, go-to Mormon Church excuse-maker Hugh Nibley had serious warnings about the serious nature of con charges against Smith, should they be proven true (and they have, in fact, been proven true).

What is particularly damning about certain press revelations is that they further validate the devastating nature of the crimes that Smith committed--as, in fact, admitted by nont-so-nimble Nbley himself. In 1961, Nibley authored a book entitled "The Mythmakers," in which he ventured to boldly debunk (at least so he thought) assertions that Joseph Smith had committed, or had been arrested for, the con-job crime of "glass-looking." Nibley (in words he probably later wished he could retract) went so far as to declare that if, in fact, Smith was actually proven guilty of such nefarious activity, it would constitute the most damning blow that could be imagined to Smith's claim of divine prophetship.

Derick S. Hartshorn, in his work, "Bearing the Testimony of Truth," reviews the history of apologetic denials uttered by Mormonism's stoutest defenders--and then compares those desperate defenses to the actual evidence found--evidence that cuts Smith off at the knees. Under the sub-section, "Guilty! Next Case!," Hartshorn exposes the serious nature of the charges against Smith and how they have plunged a dagger into the heart of Smith's claims to divine guidance:

"It was charged that Joseph Smith was accused and found guilt of parting a local farmer from his money in a less than honest scheme, commonly known as 'money-digging' or 'glass-looking.' It was reported to have been an activity that brought him rebuke from his soon-to-be father-in-law, Isaac Hale. It is also historically recorded that he was removed from membership in a local Methodist church because of the activity and trial results.

"Joseph Smith skims over the specific event leading to the trial in the Pearl of Great Price, explaining that he was only a day worker for the man so engaged and not personally involved.

"Mormon writers have continually challenged its doubters to find the records (seemingly lost) and prove Joseph Smith a liar or stop the attacks. Mormon writer Hugh Nibley, the most prolific defender of the Mormon faith, used almost 20 pages in his book, 'The Mythmakers,' in an attempt to discredit this 'alleged' court trial. On p. 142 we find:

"'. . . If this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith' and would be 'THE MOST DEVASTATING BLOW TO SMITH EVER DELIVERED.' [emphasis added]

"Of course, when that was first published back in 1961, Dr. Nibley undoubtedly felt that after 130 years no such record would turn up in 1971. Once again, the actual evidence, which the Mormon Church had denied ever existed came to light in 1971. You can read about how it was discovered, as well as the relevance of other historical documents of that time that Joseph used a 'seer' stone to find money, etc. in the 54-page brochure 'Joseph Smith's Bainbridge, New York, Court Trials.'

"One might wonder why this should be cause for concern among investigators of Mormonism. The fact is the up to then, the Mormon Leaders had denied that there WAS such a trial. Indeed, they claim that the story of Joseph's arrest was a 'fabrication of unknown authorship and never in a court record at all.'

"The charge that Joseph was known to hunt treasure with 'peep' or 'seer' stones, etc., was serious enough that Mormon scholar Francis W. Kirkham stated that if the court record could be found, it would show that the Mormon Church was false:

"'Careful study of all facts regarding this alleged confession of Joseph Smith in a court of law that he had used a seer stone to find hidden treasure for purposes of fraud, must come to the conclusion that no such record was ever made, and therefore, is not in existence . . .

"'If any evidence had been in existence that Joseph Smith had used a seer stone for fraud and deception--and especially had he made this confession in a court of law as early as 1826, or four years before the Book of Mormon was printed, and this confession was in a court record--it would have been impossible for him to have organized the restored Church.'

"Later, in the same book, Mr. Kirkham states:

"'. . . [I]f a court record could be identified, and if it contained a confession by Joseph Smith which revealed him to be a poor, ignorant, deluded and superstitious person unable himself to write a book of any consequence, and whose Church could not endure because it attracted only similar persons of low mentality if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him. . . . How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been superstitious fraud which the pages from a book declared he confessed to be? . . . '

"Well, in spite of 140 years of silence, the records did surface. Rev. Wesley Walters discovered the documents in the basement of the Chenango County, New York, jailhouse at Norwich, New York, in 1971. The records, affidavits and other data show conclusively that Joseph Smith was arrested, went to trial, was found guilty as an imposter in the Stowell matter of 'glass-looking.' It is not a matter of debate, opinion or religious preference. It is a proven historical fact.

"Initially Mormons denied that Joseph ever participated in 'money-digging' activities, saying that would invalidate his claim as a prophet. Now that indisputable evidence confirms that Joseph was a convicted 'money- digger,' Mormons have taken a 'so what' attitude. At least one says, now that the evidence proves that Joseph was a 'money-digger,' that it really doesn't matter. (What could a BYU professor say?) Mormon scholar Marvin Hill says:

"'There may be little doubt now, as I have indicated elsewhere, that Joseph Smith was brought to trial in 1826 on a charge, not exactly clear, associated with money-digging.' Brodie's thesis that the prophet grew from necromancer to prophet assumes that the two were mutually exclusive, that if Smith were a money-digger he could not have been religiously sincere.

'This does not necessarily follow. Many believers active in their churches, were money-diggers in New England and western New York in this period. Few contemporaries regard these money-diggers as irreligious, only implying so if their religious views seemed too radical. . . . For the historian interested in Joseph Smith the man, it does not seem incongruous for him to have hunted for treasure with a seer stone and then to use with full faith to receive revelations from the Lord.'

"Marvin Hill's appraisal of the treasure-seeking activities makes it appear that contemporaries of Joseph Smith treated this enterprise with a casual air. One such contemporary, that was closer to Joseph than most, could hardly disguise his disdain. This was Isaac Hale, father of the girl that Joseph would later elope with. In an affidavit signed by Hale and published in the Susquehanna Register, May 1, 1834, Joseph's father-in-law said:

"'I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called "money diggers"; and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by what means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure.

"'Smith and his father, with several other money-diggers boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards. Young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused . . . [H]e was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve. . . . Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called "glass-looking" and that he expected to work hard for a living . . .

"'Soon after this, I was informed that they had brought a wonderful book of plates down with them . . . The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods.'"

(“The Arrest Records of Josepth Smith from 1826 to 1830 are Rediscoverd and Given to the Mormon Church,” at:; and

--Exhibit F: Joseph Smith's Attempt to Join a Methodist Sunday School, AFTER God and Jesus Told Him Not To

Some years ago I was in a small Utah town, where my faithful LDS host was driving me around pointin out what was described to me as the oldest non-Mormon church building in the entire state—It happened to be a Methodist one. (Note: Although that is what the LDS host claimed to me, the actual history of that particular church structure is somewhat different. According to the Utah State Historical Society, the structure in question is the oldest Protestant church building in Utah that is still in use--and it happens to be Methodist). The host also informed me that this Methodist edifice is still actively being used by members of the town for various social functions, including weddings.

The mention of a Methodist church within the context of Mormonism brought to mind at that moment a matter of historical relevancy, so I proceeded (albeit delicately) to inform my host that Joseph Smith (subsequent to having experienced the First Vision where he was told by God and Jesus in no uncertain terms to join none of the churches of his day), nonetheless applied for and became a member of a Methodist Sunday School in his area. I added that Smith was ultimately stripped of that membership by the Methodist elders of the local congregation because they considered Smith to be a disreputable character (due to his involvement in occultic, digging-for-buried-treasure necromancing activity--none of which I chose to bring up in detail to my host at that time). Still, I proceeded to gently point out the curiosity of Smith trying to join the Methodist church after God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ told him in no uncertain terms in that grove of trees that day not to do anything of the sort.

The response of my host was (and I quote):

"You need to get over it."

(Me, get over it? Hey, I wasn't the one who brought up the oldest non-Mormon/Methodist church in Utah. Donchya just love it when you venture into the LDS Church-State, where Mormons bring up religion to you? You respond to their comments by politely attempting to add to their knowledge base with some interesting and relevant Mormon history pertaining to the founder of their Church. They bristle and essentially tell you to shut up, thereby sternly reminding you that they are the ones who set the terms and conditions for dialogue on such matters--at least when you're in Utah).

Provided below is some historical background on Joseph Smith, Mormonism and the Methodist church that I was not able to share with my host at the time, given that my host was not inclined to hear any of it:

"'The Mormon Prophet Attempts to Join the Methodists,' by Wesley P. Walters:

"In June 1828 Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, joined the Methodist Church [probationary class] in Harmony, Pennsylvania. This was a strange thing for this prophet of a new religion to do, and seriously challenges the story he put out ten years later about the origin of his work.

"That later story claims that in 1820 Joseph Smith had seen two glorious personages, identified as the Father and the Son, and was informed that the creeds of all the 'sects,' or various denominations, 'were an abomination' and he was twice forbidden to join any of them.

"In retelling this same tale to Alexander Neibaur on May 24, 1844, Joseph specifically singled out the Methodist church as being unworthy of his membership. Mr. Neibaur's diary recorded the divine warning as related by Joseph: 'Mr. Smith then asked must I join the Methodist Church - No - they are not my People. They have gone astray there is none that doeth good no not one.' (quoted in 'The Improvement Era,' April 1970, p.12).

"Perhaps the death of his first-born son on June 15, 1828 induced him to seek membership in the church his wife had belonged to since she was seven years old. Joseph had told his neighbor, Joshua McKune, that 'his (Smith's) first born child was to translate the characters and hieroglyphics upon the plates, into our language, at the age of three years.' ('The Susquehanna Register,' May 1, 1834, p.1).

"When this child died at birth instead, and his wife's life also hung in danger, Smith may have considered entirely abandoning his project of writing a book and decided to join the Methodist Church.

"'At least Martin Harris later told Rev. Ezra Booth that when he went to Pennsylvania to see Joseph about the translation that 'Joseph had given it up on account of the opposition of his wife and others,' and Martin 'told Joseph, "I have not come down here for nothing, we will go on with it."' ('The Story of the Mormons,' by William Alexander Linn, New York: Macmillan Co. 1902, p.36).

"The young prophet's rol[e] as a Methodist member did not last very long, however - only three days according to statements made by his wife's cousins, Joseph and Hiel Lewis. In their local newspaper at Amboy, Illinois they told of their earlier years with Joseph Smith in Pennsylvania and of his uniting with their Methodist class:

"'He presented himself in a very serious and humble manner, and the minister, not suspecting evil, put his name on the class book, in the absence of some of the official members. ('The Amboy Journal,' Amboy, Illinois, April 30, 1879, p.1).

"When Joseph Lewis, who was twenty-one at the time (about a year and a half younger than Smith), learned of this act, he felt that Joseph's manner of life rendered him unfit to be a member and told him either to 'publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation.' Mr. Lewis gave further details about the incident a month after the first article appeared in the Amboy paper, and he wrote:

"'I, with Joshua McKune, a local preacher at that time, I think in June, 1828, heard on Saturday, that Joe Smith had joined the church on Wednesday afternoon, (as it was customary in those days to have circuit preaching at my father's house on week-day).

"'We thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts, in it.

"So on Sunday we went to father's, the place of meeting that day, and got there in season to see Smith and talked with him some time in father's shop before the meeting. Told him that his occupation, habits, and moral character were at variance with the discipline, that his name would be a disgrace to the church, that there should have been recantation, confession and at least promised reformation-. That he could that day publicly ask that his name be stricken from the class book, or stand an investigation. He chose the former, and did that very day make the request that his name be taken off the class book.' ('The Amboy Journal,' June 11, 1879, p.1).

"Like so many of the early Methodist records, the early class books of the Harmony (now Lanesboro) Church are lost, so we will never know for certain whether Joseph Smith remained a member for only three days or six months. However, there was never any dispute that he had become a member, and by this one act he undercut the story he later put forth that God in a special vision had instructed him specifically not to join the Methodist Church." [end of Walters' article]

"This event is also mentioned in 'Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith,' by Linda K. Newell and Valeen T. Avery, University of Illinois Press, 1994, p. 25:

";Emma's uncle, Nathaniel Lewis, preached as a lay minister of the local Methodist Episcopal church. His congregation met in the homes of the members for Sunday services. On Wednesdays a regular circuit preacher visited Harmony.

"'In the spring or summer of 1828 Joseph asked the circuit rider if his name could be included on the class roll of the church. Joseph 'presented himself in a very serious and humble manner,' and the minister obliged him.

"'When Emma's cousin, Joseph Lewis, discovered Joseph's name on the roll, he "thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer" as a member. He took the matter up with a friend, and the following Sunday, when Joseph and Emma arrived for church, the two men steered Joseph aside and into the family shop. 'They told him plainly that such character as he . . . could not be a member of the church unless he broke off his sins by repentance, made public confession, renounced his fraudulent and hypocritical practices, and gave some evidence that he intended to reform and conduct himself somewhat nearer like a christian than he had done. They gave him his choice to go before the class, and publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation." Joseph refused to comply with the humiliating demands and withdrew from the class. His name, however, stayed on the roll for about six more months, either from oversight or because Emma's brother-in-law, Michael Morse, who taught the class, did not know of the confrontation. When Joseph did not seek full membership, Morse finally dropped his name.'

“('Amboy Journal,' p. 311, fn 2, 11 June and 30 April 1879. In 1879 Joseph and Hiel Lewis, sons of Uncle Nathaniel Lewis, debated with a Mormon named Edwin Cadwell over events in Harmony while Emma and Joseph lived there. The 'Amboy Journal' reproduced their letters.'" [end of "Mormon Enigma" excerpt]

"Another LDS historian, Richard L. Bushman, referred to Smith's involvement with the Methodists in his book 'Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism,' University of Illinois Press, 1984, pp. 54, 94-95. Below is the complete quote from 'The Amboy Journal,' Amboy, Illinois, Wednesday, April 30, 1879, p. 1.

"'Statements of Joseph and Hiel Lewis, sons of Rev. Nathaniel Lewis, concerning what they saw and heard of the sayings and doings of the prophet Joseph Smith, jr. while he was engaged in peeping for money and hidden treasures, and translating his gold bible in our neighborhood.

"'And that during all the time that said Smith was engaged in the above named business, in the township of, Harmony, Susquehanna Co., Pa., our home and residence was within one mile of where he lived and transacted his business.

"'First, we would add our testimony to the truthfulness of the statements of Isaac Hale, Rev. Nathaniel Lewis, (the letter "C" in his name was inserted by mistake of the person copying the affidavit); Alva Hale, Levi Lewis, and Sophia Lewis, as contained in a somewhat abbreviated form in a book entitled 'Mormonism and the Mormons,' by Daniel P. Kidder, and published by Lane & Scott, (pp. 30-35) 200 Mulberry St., New York, 1852. Also, the statements of Joshua McKune and Hezekiah McKune, as found in the history of Susquehanna County, PA., p. 579, by Emily C. Blackman, and published in 1873.

"'According to our recollection, the starting point of the money-digging speculation in our vicinity, in which Joseph Smith, jr. was engaged, was as follows:

"'We are unable at this time to give precise dates, but some time previous to 1825, a man by the name of Wm. Hale, a distant relative of our uncle Isaac Hale, came to Isaac Hale, and said that he had been informed by a woman named Odle, who claimed to possess the power of seeing under ground, (such persons were then commonly called peepers) that there was great treasures concealed in the hill north-east from his, (Isaac Hale's) house.

"'By her directions, Wm. Hale commenced digging, but being too lazy to work and too poor to hire, he obtained a partner by the name of Oliver Harper, of York state, who had the means to hire help. But after a short time operations were suspended for a time; during the suspension, Wm. Hale heard of peeper Joseph Smith, Jr., [He] wrote to him and soon visited him; he found Smith's representations were so flattering that Smith was either hired or became a partner with Wm. Hale, Oliver Harper and a man by the name of Stowell, who had some property.

"'They hired men and dug in several places, as described in the history of Susq. Co., p. 579. The account given in the said history at p. 580, of a pure white dog to be used as a sacrifice to restrain the enchantment, and of the anger of the Almighty at the attempt to palm off on him a white sheep in the place of a white dog, is a fair sample of Smith's revelations, and of the God that inspired him.

"'Their digging in several places was in compliance with peeper Smith's revelations, who would attend with his peep-stone in his hat and his hat drawn over his face, and would tell them how deep they would have to go; but when they would find no trace of the chest of money, he would peep again and weep like a child, and tell them the enchantment had removed it on account of some sin or thoughtless word; finally the enchantment became so strong that he could not see, and so the business was abandoned. Smith could weep and shed tears in abundance at any time, if he chose.

"'But while he was engaged in looking through his peep-stone and old white hat, directing the digging for money and boarding at Uncle Isaac Hale's, he formed an intimacy with Mr. Hale's daughter Emma, and after the abandonment of the money-digging speculation, he consumated the elopement and marriage with the said Emma Hale, and she became his accomplice in his humbug golden bible and Mormon religion.

"'The statement that the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., made in our hearing, at the commencement of his translating his book, in Harmony, as to the manner of his finding the plates, was as follows. Our recollection of the precise language may be faulty, but as to the substance, the following is correct:

"'He said that by a dream he was informed that at such a place in a certain hill, in an iron box, were some gold plates with curious engravings, which he must get and translate, and write a book; that the plates were to be kept concealed from every human being for a certain time, some two or three years; that he went to the place and dug till he came to the stone that covered the box, when he was knocked down; that he again attempted to remove the stone, and was again knocked down; this attempt was made the third time, and the third time he was knocked down.

"'Then he exclaimed, "Why can't I get it?" or words to that effect; and then he saw a man standing over the spot, which to him appeared like a Spaniard, having a long beard coming down over his breast to about here. (Smith putting his hand to the pit of his stomach) with his (the ghost's) throat cut from ear to ear, and the blood streaming down, who told him that he could not get it alone; that another person whom he, Smith, would know at first sight, must come with him, and then he could get it.

"'And when Smith saw Miss Emma Hale, he knew that she was the person, and that after they were married, she went with him to near the place and stood with her back toward him, while he dug up the box, which he rolled up in his frock, and she helped carry it home. That in the same box with the plates were spectacles; the bows were of gold and the eyes were stone, and by looking through these sbectacles [sic] all the characters on the plates were translated into English.

"'In all this narrative, there was not one word about "visions of God," or of angels, or heavenly revelations. All his information was by that dream, and that bleeding ghost. The heavenly visions and messages of angels, etc, contained in Mormon books, were after-thoughts, revised to order. The moving of Smith from York state to Harmony, PA., has been stated by Mr. Hale and while he, Smith, was in Harmony, PA., translating his book, he made the above statements in our presence to Rev. N. Lewis.

"'It was here also, that he joined the M. E. [Methodist] church. He presented himself in a very serious and humble manner, and the minister, not suspecting evil, put his name on the class book, in the absence of some of the official members, among whom was the undersigned, Joseph Lewis, who, when he learned what was done, took with him Joshua McKune, and had a talk with Smith.

"'They told him plainly that such a character as he was a disgrace to the church, that he could not be a member of the church unless he broke off his sins by repentance, made public confession, renounced his fraudulent and hypocritical practices, and gave some evidence that he intended to reform and conduct himself somewhat nearer like a christian than he had done.

"'They gave him his choice, to go before the class and publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation. He chose the former and immediately withdrew his name.

"'So, his name as a member of the class was on the book only three days. It was the general opinion that his only object in joining the church was to bolster up his reputation and gain the sympathy and help of Christians; that is, putting on the cloak of religion to serve the devil in.

"'We will add one more sample of his prophetic power and practice, while translating his book. One of the neighbors whom Smith was owing, had a piece of corn on a rather wet and backward piece of ground; and as Smith was owing him, he wanted Smith to help hoe corn.

"'Smith came on but to get clear of the work, and the debt, said, 'If I kneel down and pray in your corn, it will grow just as well as if hoed." So he prayed in the corn and insured its maturity without cultivation, and that the frost would not hurt it. But the corn was a failure in growth and was killed by the frost.

"This sample of prophetic power was related to us by those present, and no one questioned its truth.


"Joseph Lewis,

"Hiel Lewis."

(“The Mormon Prophet Attempts to Join the Methodists,” by Wesley P. Walters, at:

Try telling any of the above to a devout Mormon driving you past a Methodist church in Utah and see how far it gets ya. :)
It's gets even better—or worse, depending on one's point of view.

*Forget the FAIR Apologists' Predictable Response--Two Mormon Apostles Secretly Acknowledge Joseph Smith's Flirtation with the Methodists but Try to Spin His Disobedient Dance with Another Church

When I met privately with Mormon Apostles Dallin Oaks and Neal Maxwell in Salt Lake City's LDS Church Administration Building on 24 September 1993 to talk Mormon doctrine and history, Oaks informed me that the LDS Church did not (at least not at the time of our conversation) regard abandoning the Mormon religion in favor of another demonination as grounds, in and of itself, for excommunication.

Oaks' claim was in response to me asking him and Maxwell why Smith had joined a local Methodist Sunday School in 1828, after being told by God and Jesus Christ in the First Vision not to join any of the churches, given that they were all false. Oaks replied that Smith's "state of knowledge was much deeper than mine" (meaning Oaks's). Oaks added that because after receiving the First Vision Smith "could not meet with others of his own faith," he therefore "would want to meet with other Christians."

Really? Did Joseph Smith wanting to do meet-and-greets with other Christians mean that God and Jesus were telling him he could join their membership ranks?

Oaks described Joseph Smith as a "friendly" person, one who was "interested in sampling what others taught."

Really? Did God and Jesus tell Joseph Smith that he could engage in post-First Vision sampling of other churches, just as long as he didn't join up and as long as he was friendly about it?

Maxwell added that Smith was "social" and "gregarious" and that, at any rate, his joining with the Methodists was "brief."

Really? Did God and Jesus tell Joseph Smith that he could join other churches because he was an easy mixer and an outgoing guy, but only on the condition that he didn't join for very long?)

Oaks further noted that just as people were "moving in out and out of marriage in the Utah period,' so, too, on the New York frontier during the 1830s, an attitude prevailed requiring "no formal divorce in church membership."

Really? Did God and Jesus tell Joseph Smith that because others in his day were moving on and off various church membership rolls, he could, too?

Oaks added that, according to the LDS "General Handbook of Instructions" (at least at that time), "joining other churches is not, by itself, a sign of apostasy."

Really? Did God and Jesus tell Joseph Smith that if he violated their command not to join any of the other churches, they wouldn't consider him an apostate if he did, even though they had told him in the grove of trees that they were all an "abomination"?

Neither Oaks or Maxwell adequately explained to me why Joseph Smith--God's prophet on Earth who restored the one and only true church to the planet, i.e., the Mormon one--flagrantly disobeyed his Sacred Grove orders from God and Jesus by going ahead and joining a Methodist Sunday School.

Oh well, it didn't work anyway. The Methodists knew a fraud when they saw one and kicked him out.

Yes, really. Which, of course, means but Joseph Smith was a fraud but at least he wasn't a pious one.

--Exhibit G: The Affidavits Sworn Out Against Joseph Smith Don't Lie

Anderson, in his above-cited book, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Re-Examined,” tackles the significant number of legal affidavits (over 80) that were sworn out against the character and conduct of Joseph Smith’s by his neighbors, associates and fellow citizens of New York state.

*The Damning Nature of the Affidavaits Against Joseph Smith

Anderson (who provides exact copies of the affidavits as well as other statements and interview) describes the affidavits’ contents, which were originally published by Eber D. Howe in his book, “Mormonism Unvailed” (Painseville, Ohio: Eber D. Howe, printer and publisher, 1834):

“In affidavit after affidavit the young Smith was depicted as a liar and self-confessed fraud, a cunning and callous knave who delighted in nothing so much as preying upon the credulity of his neighbors.

“A money digger by profession, Smith spent his nights and his days lounging about the local grocery story entertaining his fellow tipplers with tales of midnight enchantments and bleeding ghosts, the affidavits maintained. . . .

“In a statement dated 4 December 1833 and signed by 51 residents of Palmyra, New York, Smith was described as being ‘entirely destitute of moral character, and addicted to vicious habits.’”

Moreover, Smith, as noted by Anderson, was portrayed by his affidavit-signing critics as being “animated by no loftier purpose than the love of money”–“a money digger who told marvelous tales of enchanted treasure and infernal spirits.”

(Anderson, pp. 2-3, 8)

*Reaction by Smith the the Affidavits Denouncing them as the Work of the Devil

Anderson describes Smith’s desperate response to the release of the troublesome affidavits:

“Once published in 1834 [after being collected by Dr. Philastus Hurlbut, 'a one-time Mormon who was excommunicated in 1833 for, among other things, saying "that he deceived Joseph Smith's God, or the spirit by which he was actuated"'], Hurlbut’s affidavits became especially dangerous to the newly founded church and its leader.

“To defuse the potentially explosive documents, Smith read them aloud at public meetings, denouncing them as the work of Satan. More importantly, Hurlbut’s affidavits stimulated Smith to publish the first official history of the new church, ‘Early Scenes and Incidents in the Church,’ authored by Smith’s closest associate at the time, Oliver Cowdery.”

(Anderson, pp. 2-3)

*Failure of Early Smith Apologists to Effectively Deny the Affidavits

Anderson reports on an “ambitious” attempt by William and E.L. Kelley to refute the affidavits–claiming in their own published report that they “could find virtually no one who knew anything firsthand against the Smiths and a number who remembered the family as being quite respectable.”
In this effort, the Kelleys produced less than impressive results.

The credibility of the Kelley claims were strongly disputed by even some of those to whom the Kelleys spoke during their dubious effort to build a chase for Smith.

Anderson, for instance, reports that “[a]t least three of those interviewed were so incensed with the published [Kelley] report that they produced affidavits of their own charging the Kelleys with misrepresentation.”

The complaints included Palmyra resident John H. Gilbert, who according to Gilbert’s affidavit on file in the clerk’s office of Ontario County, New Jersey, responded by appearing before a judge to state that he was “designedly” and “grossly misrepresented in almost every particular . . . .” Along with the affidavits of others, Gilbert’s complaint was subsequently published in local area newspapers.

(Anderson, pp. 5-6, 8)

*Taking on the Affidavit Attackers

Anderson notes that Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley, in his 1961 book, “The Myth Makers” (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, p. 6)--together with fellow Mormon defender Richard L. Anderson, in his 1970 article, “Joseph Smith’s New York Reputation Reappraised” (“Brigham Young University Studies,” 10, pp. 283-314)--have attempted “to discredit the Smith family neighbors.”

Nibley contends that the affidavit signers “told the best stories they could think of, without particularly caring whether they were true or not” (brushing them off as “trumped-up evidence”). Richard L. Anderson claims that the Kelley report was supposedly more objective and based on positive testimony from people who claimed to have known the Smiths personally.

Roger I. Anderson remains unpersuaded by such apologetic efforts. He exhibits particular disdain for the tactics of Nibley, whom he regards essentially as an unprofessional hit man for Smith. His list of academic crimes against Nibley are substantive.

First, Anderson says Nibley’s book suffers from the “unqualified scope of its generalization” in concluding that because he claims to have found “some writers who were lass than careful with the truth, . . . all such writers must have been similarly careless, a conclusion that is simply not justified.”

Second, Anderson says that Nibley’s book is characterized by its “use of arguments which are non sequiturs.”

Third, Anderson notes that Nibley is ‘mistaken when he charges that those who testified to Smith’s character were themselves disreputable,” rebutting Nibley by pointing out that “[w]itnessing a deed is not the same as committing it, and hearing a man boast of some act does not necessitate participation in it.” Anderson further points out that “[e]ven if it could be demonstrated that Smith’s accusers were in fact involved in the same practices they related, it would not mean their testimony was for that reason suspect. Defending the accused by pointing to the imperfections of their accusers is fallacious and only serves to deflect attention from the original issue.”

Fourth, Anderson point out what he calls “[a]nother significant defect of Nibley’s analysis”--namely, “its frequent high-handedness in dealing with testimony unfavorable to Smith. Rather than consider whether similar testimony from more than one person might indicate that what they report is true, Nibley often dismisses the topic with flippant and unsupported assertions.”
Fifth, Anderson criticizes Nibley’s repeated charge that Smith is supposedly the victim of exaggerated hearsay by noting that Nibley makes that unconvincing charge through the use of selective quotations and historically uninformed assumptions.

Sixth, Anderson notes that Nibley’s “Myth Makers” is “marred by numerous factual errors, exacerbated by “a tendency to suppress information potentially harmful to traditional interpretations of the Mormon past.” Anderson goes so far as to say that “Nibley’s suppression of vital information . . . seems intentional.”

Seventh, Anderson debunks Nibley’s apologetics by arguing that it is burdened by “a lack of scholarly standards in evaluating sources.” In criticizing Nibley on this score, he notes that “[f]irsthand accounts are impeached because they are not consistent with anti-Mormon fulminations of a century later, and contemporary accounts of episodes in Joseph Smith’s life are discredited almost wholly on the basis of later secondary reports.” Anderson criticizes Nibley for his “indiscriminate use of sources [which] enables him not only to oppose witnesses with non-witnesses but also to introduce sources whose only merit is that they make others appear unreliable by comparison.”

Eight, Anderson chides Nibley for his “failure to consider Mormon sources when they concur with non-Mormon accounts,” further observing that “’The Myth Makers’ tends to disregard context” driven by Nibley’s “earnestness to impugn the whole corpus of non-Mormon literature.”

Finally, Anderson sums up his critical assessment of Nibley’s multi-leveled demonstration of unprofessionalism by writing that “Nibley’s method of analysis is arbitrary” and “only proves what no one ever thought of denying, namely that not all historical documents are of the same evidential quality.”

Concludes Anderson:

“. . . Nibley’s argument fails on every significant point. Illogic, unsupported speculation, specious charges, misrepresentation, factual errors, indiscriminate and arbitrary use of sources, disregard of context, and a lock of scholarly standards characterize the book advertised by its publisher as a ‘masterful expose . . .[of] the makers of myths who told their untruths about Joseph Smith.’
“If Joseph Smith’s neighbors are to be discredited, it must be on the basis of better evidence than that advanced by Nibley.”

*The Fundamental Reliability of the Affidavits

Despite efforts by Nibley and other Mormon defenders to deny historical reality on the reliability of the affidavits in question, Anderson says:

“I believe that the testimonials collected by Hurlbut, [Arthur Buel] Deming, and others are in fact largely immune to the attacks launched by Nibley, Anderson, and others. . . . [T]here can be no doubt that these reports [from Hurlbut’s collected affidavits], in early twentieth-century German historian Eduard Meyer’s words, ‘give us the general opinion of his [Smith’s] neighbors in their true, essential form’”

(quoted in Heinze F. Rahde and Eugene Seaich, trans., “The Origins and History of the Mormons . . . “[Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah, n.d., p. 4])

“ . . . [I]t is clear that a broader picture of Joseph Smith emerges from these early affidavits and interviews than is otherwise available from [Smith’s] family and followers.”

(Anderson, pp. 6-12, 14, 16-18, 20-22)

*Wider Scholary Assessemtn that the Affidavits are Authentic and Believable

Predictably, Mormon apologists have relied on their traditional limited circle of Mormon defenders in unconvincing attempts to repudiate the affidavits. Anderson writes that because of “the questionable reliability of the Kelley report and the lack of credible testimony discounting the affidavits collected by Hurlbut and others, most scholars outside of Mormonism have tended to accept the non-Mormon side of the issue. The number of witnesses, the unanimity of their testimony, the failure to impeach even a single witness, and the occasional candid reminiscence by Martin Harris, Brigham Young, Joseph Smith,. Lucy Mack Smith, William Smith, Joseph Knight, or other early Mormons have contributed to the conclusion that Hurlbut and his followers were probably reliable reporters.

Citing the work of J. H. Kennedy, “Early Days of Mormonism . . . “ (New York, New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1888, pp. 17-18), Anderson observes that “[e]ven those who suspected that the witnesses against Smith may have been motivated by more than a simple desire to inform have not questioned the depictions of Smith as a basically self-seeking charlatan.”

(Anderson, pp. 6, 9)

*In the End, the Affidavits Hold Up

Anderson crystallizes his assessment of the affidavits reliability as follows:
“First, I can find no evidence that the primary source affidavits and other documents collected by Philastus Hurlbut, Eber D. Howe, and Arthur B Deming are other than what they purport to be. The men and women whose names they bear wither wrote them or authorized them to be written. Ghost-writing my have colored some of the testimony, but there is no evidence that the vast majority of testators did not write or dictate their own statements or share the attitudes attributed to them.

“Second, every contemporary attempt [in Smith’s era to impugn these accounts failed. Book of Mormon witness Martin Harris’s effort to prove Isaac Hale’s letter a forgery was contradicted by Hale himself. The attempts by Lucy Mack Smith and William Smith to exonerate the Smith family of certain charges were undone by the more candid admissions of friends or other family members. And RLDS apostle William Kelley’s report, designed to discredit Joseph Smith’s debunkers was itself discredited by many of those contacted by Kelley. The fact that these efforts resulted in impeaching not a single witness who testified against Smith, though many of these same witnesses were still alive and willing to repeat their testimony, supports the conclusion that the statements collected by Hurlbut and Deming can be relied on as accurate reflections of their signers’ views.

“Third, with the possible exception of Peter Ingersoll, there is no evidence that the witnesses contacted by Hurlbut in 1833-34 and Deming in 1888 perjured themselves by knowingly swearing to a lie. In fact, existing evidence goes far to substantiate the recorded stories. The harmony of the accounts, the fact that they were collected by different people at different times and place, and the sometimes impressive confirmations supplied by independent witnesses or documents never intended for public consumption discredit the argument that the work of Hurlbut and Deming contains nothing but ‘trumped-up evidence.’

“Fourth, there is no evidence that the majority of witnesses indulged in malicious defamation by repeating groundless rumors. Many based their descriptions on close association with the Joseph Smith, Sr., family. They did not always distinguish hearsay from observation, fact from inference, but they generally state whether or not the source of the information is firsthand, and several witnesses provided enough information to demonstrate that much what was previously thought to be popular rumor about the Smiths was not wholly groundless.

“Having survived the determined criticism of Mormon scholars Hugh Nibley and Richard L. Anderson, the Hurlbut-Deming affidavits must be granted permanent status as primary documents relating to Joseph Smith’s early life and the origins of Mormonism.”

*The Affidavit Signrs' Final Assessment of Joseph Smith

“In general terms, the Hurlbut, Howe, Deming and Kelley testimonials paint a portrait of a young frontiersman and his family, struggling to eke out a minimal existence in western New York, facing the discouraging realities of life on the margins of society.

“Intelligent and quick-witted, if not always a hard worker, Joseph Smith, Jr., had been brought up by parents who believed in angels, evil spirits, and ghosts; in buried treasures that slipped into the earth if the proper rituals were not performed to exhume them; in diving rods and seer stones, in dreams and visions, and that despite their indigent status, theirs was a family chosen by God for a worthy purpose. . . .
“Whether hunting for buried treasure or the ancient record of a lost civilization, neither Joseph nor his family saw any conflict between the secular pressures of earning a living, even by so esoteric a means as money digging, and a religious quest for spiritual fulfillment. If they could accomplish one goal by pursing the other, so much the better.”

“Nondescript and of little consequence until he started attracting others to his peculiar blend of biblical Christianity, frontier folk belief, popular culture, and personal experience, Joseph Smith was an enigma to his incredulous New York neighbors.

“For them, he would always remain a superstitious adolescent dreamer and his success as a prophet a riddle for which there was no answer.”

(Anderson, pp. 113-116)

(Part 3 follows)

Part 1:,1377578

Part 2:,1377578,1377792#msg-1377792

Part 3:,1377578,1377862#msg-1377862

Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2014 12:22AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 14, 2014 09:15PM

Part 3

--Exhibit H: Joseph Smith was an Unpioused Pervert, as Confirmed by Even Mormon Sources

Like Warren Jeffs, Joseph Smith engaged in sex with underage girls (despite what robo-Mos dependent on FAIR propaganda may wish to believe--and as proven by Mormon history itself).

*Smith's Well-Earned Reputation for Being a Sex-Obsessed, Self-Possessed Philanderer

As a baseline (and as known in Mormon circles of his day), Smith was legendary for his sexual attraction to women.

In fact, the official LDS publication, “History of the Church” (vol. 5, p. 53), acknowledged the lore of Smith's attraction to females, as described in 'The Wasp,” a LDS newspaper published in Nauvoo, Illinois:

“[On 2 July 1843], the [Mormon] Church newspaper 'The Wasp' publishe[d] a phrenology chart of Smith's head and personality. The first trait [was] 'Amativeness-11, L[arge]. Extreme susceptibility; passionately fond of the company of the other sex.' The official 'History of the Church' still publishes this chart, along with the caution that such a high score indicates 'extreme liability to perversion' in the trait.”

Perversion is right.

Smith's moves to seduce other men's wives were so brazen and notorious that they led one distraught husband--Orson Pratt--to attempt suicide in Nauvoo on 15 July 1842:

“Thousands of Nauvoo Mormons search[ed] for Orson Pratt after discovering a suicide note. They find him distraught because Smith, according to Pratt's wife, had tried to seduce Pratt's wife Sarah.”

Not only did Smith have a reputation as a ladies' man, he also had a record of defending friends of his who were sleeping around.

According to the “Minutes of the High Council of the Church of Jesus Christ of Nauvoo Illinois” (6 February 1841), Smith directed “the Nauvoo high council not to excommunicate Theodore Turley for 'sleeping with two females,' requiring him only to confess 'that he had acted unwisely, unjustly, imprudently, and unbecoming.'”

Eventually, Smith's sexual excess caught up with him in court. On 23 March 1844, William Law filed suit against Smith for committing adultery with Smith's foster daughter and plural wife:

“William Law file[d] a formal complaint with the Hancock County [Illinois] circuit court charging Smith was living 'in an open state of adultery' with Maria Lawrence, Smith's foster daughter and polygamous wife. Maria Lawrence was a teenaged orphan who was living in the Smith household. In fact, Smith had secretly married both Maria, age 19, and her sister Sarah, age 17, on 11 May 1843 and was serving as executor of their $8,000 estate.

"William Law apparently hoped that disclosing Smith's relationship with the young girls might lead him to abandon polygamy but Smith immediately excommunicated Law, had himself appointed the girls' legal guardian and rejected the charge in front of a church congregation on 26 May 1844, denying that he had more than one wife.”(Joseph Smith, “History of the Church,” vol. 6, p. 403; and Richard S. Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polygamy: A History,” p. 66)

(all preceding and subsequent citations and quotes are found in “Joseph Smith's Polygamy Chronology,” at:

*Smith and 16-year-old Fanny Alger

Smith's first known sexual affair was with a teenager named Fannie Alger, who was living with Smith and his first wife Emma in their Kirtland, Ohio, home. Fanny was also Smith's first confimred plural wife. Smith “came to know [her] in Kirtland during early 1833 when she, at the age of 16, stayed at his home as a housemaid. Described as 'a very nice and comly young woman,' according to Benjamin Johnson, Fanny lived with the Smith family from 1833 to 1836.”

Fanny eventually became the target of Smith's sexual advances, with Smith's predatory behavior soon becoming the talk of the town:

“Martin Harris, one of the 'Three Witnesses' to the Book of Mormon, recalled that the prophet's 'servant girl' claimed he had made 'improper proposals to her, which created quite a talk amongst the people.' Mormon Fanny Brewer similarly reported 'much excitement against the Prophet . . . [involving] an unlawful intercourse between himself and a young orphan girl residing in his family and under his protection."

Emma discovered the sexual affair between Smith and Fanny and exploded in anger. Caught with his hand in Fanny's cookie jar, Smith confessed. A noticeably pregnant Fanny eventually was kicked out of the house by Emma, as reported thusly:

“Former Mormon apostle William McLellin later wrote that Emma Smith substantiated the Smith-Alger affair. According to McLellin, Emma was searching for her husband and Alger one evening, when through a crack in the barn door she saw 'him and Fanny in the barn together alone' on the hay mow. McLellin, in a letter to one of Smith's sons, added that the ensuing confrontation between Emma and her husband grew so heated that Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and Oliver Cowdery had to mediate the situation.

"After Emma related what she had witnessed, Smith, according to McLellin, 'confessed humbly and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him.' While Oliver Cowdery may have forgiven his cousin Joseph Smith, he did not forget the incident. Three years later, when provoked by the prophet, Cowdery countered by calling the Fanny Alger episode 'a dirty, nasty, filthy affair.'

“Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship: 'Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house' . . .

“' . . . Webb, Smith's grammar teacher . . . reported that when the pregnancy became evident, Emma Smith drove Fanny from her home. . . . . Webb's daughter, Ann Eliza Webb Young, a divorced wife of Brigham Young, remembered that Fanny was taken into the Webb home on a temporary basis . . . . . Fanny stayed with relatives in nearby Mayfield until about the time Joseph fled Kirtland for Missouri.

“Fanny left Kirtland in September 1836 with her family. Though she married non-Mormon Solomon Custer on 16 November 183614 and was living in Dublin City, Indiana, far from Kirtland, her name still raised eyebrows. Fanny Brewer, a Mormon visitor to Kirtland in 1837, observed 'much excitement against the Prophet . . . [involving] an unlawful intercourse between himself and a young orphan girl residing in his family and under his protection.'”

(Van Wagoner, “Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait in Religious Excess,” p. 291; and Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polygamy: A History,” p. 8; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 19-year-old Zina D. Hunington

Smith further cemented his reputation for fooling around by making moves on a then-married teenager, Zina D. Hunington, who he asked on 25 October 1841 to become another of his multiple wives. Smith informed her (using a line he also employed with Emma and others) that he was ordered to do so by a sword-wielding angel who was threatening to kill him if he disobeyed:

“Already married, 19 year-old Zina remained conflicted with Smith's polygamy proposal 'until a day in October, apparently, when Joseph sent [her older brother] Dimick to her with a message: an angel with a drawn sword had stood over Smith and told him that if he did not establish polygamy, he would lose “his position and his life.” Zina, faced with the responsibility for his position as prophet, and even perhaps his life, finally acquiesced.' They were secretly married within days “

(Todd Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith,” pp. 80-81, cited in ibid).

*Smith and 19-year-old Nancy Rigdon

Smith also secretly hit on another teenager, 19-year-old Nancy Rigdon, daughter of his close confidant Sidney Rigdon, in Nauvoo on 10 April 1842.

Nancy was not amused:

“ . . . Smith invited Nancy Rigdon, 19-year-old daughter of his close friend and counselor, Sidney Rigdon, to meet him at the home of Orson Hyde. Upon her arrival Smith greeted her, ushered her into a private room, then locked the door. After swearing her to secrecy, wrote George W. Robinson, Smith announced his 'affection for her for several years, and wished that she should be his . . . [T]he Lord was well pleased with this matter . . . [T]here was no sin in it whatever . . . but if she had any scruples of conscience about the matter, he would marry her privately.'

“Incredulous, Nancy countered that 'if she ever got married she would marry a single man or none at all.' Grabbing her bonnet, she ordered the door opened or she would 'raise the neighbors.' She then stormed out of the Hyde-Richards residence.

“The next day, Smith wrote Nancy a letter, where he justified his advances, saying, 'That which is wrong under one circumstance may be, and often is, right under another . . . . Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. . . . even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.' This is his first written statement of theocratic ethics.”

(“Official History of the Church,” vol. 5, p. 134-36; and Van Wagoner, “Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait in Religious Excess,” p. 295; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 17-year-old Sarah Ann Whitney

Prior to wedding Sarah in Nauvoo on 27 July 1842, Smith conveniently received a “revelation” for the benefit of Sarah and her parents, essentially condoning his adultery in the name of polygamy:

“ . . .Smith received and recorded [this] revelation on polygamy, which remains in LDS church archives. Although recorded in the official 'Revelation Book' of the time, the revelation was not canonized as scripture. In this revelation, the Lord reveals a plural marriage ceremony, which would later be altered and become the sealing ceremony in the temple . . . :

“'Verily, thus saith the Lord, unto my servant Newell K. Whitney, a revelation to Newell K. Whitney, 27 July 1842, and Joseph Smith, Elizabeth Ann Whitney and Sarah Ann Whitney

"Verily, thus saith the Lord unto my servant N[ewell]. K. Whitney, the thing that my servant Joseph Smith has made known unto you and your family [his plural marriage to Sarah Ann Whitney], and which you have agreed upon is right in mine eyes and shall be rewarded upon your heads with honor and immortality and eternal life to all your house both old and young because of the lineage of my priesthood, saith the Lord. It shall be upon you and upon your children after you from generation to generation, by virtue of the holy promise which I now make unto you, saith the Lord.

"'These are the words which you shall pronounce upon my servant Joseph and your daughter Sarah Ann. Whitney. They shall take each other by the hand and you shall say, “You both mutually agree," calling them by name, “to be each other's companion so long as you both shall live, preserving yourselves for each other and from all others and also throughout all eternity, reserving only those rights which have been given to my servant Joseph by revelation and commandment and by legal Authority in times passed.”

“'If you both agree to covenant and do this, then I give you Sarah Ann Whitney, my daughter, to Joseph Smith to be his wife, to observe all the rights between you both that belong to that condition. I do it in my own name and in the name of my wife, your mother, and in the name of my holy progenitors, by the right of birth which is of priesthood, vested in my by revelation and commandment and promise of the living God, obtained by the Holy Melchizedek Jethro and others of the Holy Fathers, commanding in the name of the Lord all those powers to concentrate in you and through to your posterity forever.

“'All these things I do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that through this order he may be glorified and that through the power of anointing David may reign King over Israel, which shall hereafter be revealed. Let immortality and eternal life henceforth be sealed upon your heads forever and ever. Amen."

(original manuscript of “Kirtland Revelation Book,” Church Historical Department, Ms f 490 # 2; “The Historical Record,” vol. 6, p. 222 (1887 edition); and Compton, “In Sacred Loneliness,” p. 348-49; all cited in ibid)

Smith then made secret arranegements to have a sexual rendevous with Sarah, without Emma finding out. On 19 August 1842, he wrote the following love letter to Sarah, laying out his plans to meet up with her:

“To arrange [a] night liaison with [his] plural wife--Newell K. Whitney's daughter Sarah Ann--Smith writes: ' . . . [T]he only thing to be careful of is to find out when Emma comes, then you cannot be safe but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safety. . . .

“'Only be careful to escape observation, as much as possible. I know it is a heroic undertaking; but so much the greater friendship and the more joy; when I see you I will tell you all my plans. I cannot write them on paper. Burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep [it] all locked up in your breasts, my life depends upon it. . . . .

“I close my letter, I think Emma won't come tonight. If she don't, don't fail to come tonight. I subscribe myself your most obedient, and affectionate, companion and friend. Joseph Smith."

(“Joseph Smith, Jr., to Newell K. Whitney, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, etc.,” 18 August 1842, George Albert Smith Family Papers, Special Collections, Marriott Library, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, text and signature of this document in the handwriting of Joseph Smith, Jr.; this document has been reproduced in Dean C. Jessee's “The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 1984], pp. 539-40; and Compton, “In Sacred Lonliness,” pp. 349-350; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 19-year-old Emily Dow Partridge

Smith secretly took Emily as another of his wives in Nauvoo on 4 March 1843, with Elder Heber C. Kimball officiating the ceremony.

Emily later reported in sworn testimony that she had honeymoon sex with Smith the next night:

“Emily D. Partridge Smith testified that she 'roomed' with Joseph the night following her marriage to him and said that she had 'carnal intercourse' with him.

(“Temple Lot” case, complete transcript, pp. 364, 367, 384; Foster, “Religion and Sexuality,” p. 15; Andrew Jenson, ”LDS Biographical Encyclopedia” [1951], vol. 1, p. 697; S. Easton, “Marriages in Nauvoo Region 1839-45;” “Civil Marriages in Nauvoo 1839-45.” Lyndon Cook, “Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register 1845-46; Mormon Manuscripts to 1846;” cited in ibid).

*Smith and 16-year-old Flora Ann Woodworth

Smith married Flora in April 1843 (exact date unknown).

(Elder William Clayton affidavit, in “Historical Record,” vol. 6:, p. 225; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 17-year-old Lucy Walker

Smith married Lucy on 1 May 1843, in the Smith's store, Nauvoo, officiated by William Clayton

( record for Joseph Smith, Jr.; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 19-year-old Maria Lawrence

Smith married Maria on 11 May 1843.

(“Historical Record,” vol. 6, p. 223; Lucy Walker Smith Kimball, in “Temple Lot” case, full transcript, p. 461, LDS archives; Helen Kimball Whitney, “Woman's Exponent,” 15 February 1886, p. 138; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 17-year-old Sarah Lawrence

Smith married Sarah the same day he married Sarah Lawrence's sister Maria, 11 May 1843.

( record for Joseph Smith Jr., “Historical Record,” vol. 6, p. 223; Lucy Walker Smith Kimball, in “Temple Lot“ case, full transcript, p. 461, LDS archives; Helen Kimball Whitney, “Woman's Exponent," 15 February 1886, p. 138, cited in ibid)

*Smith and 16-year-old Nancy Maria Winchester

Smith married Nancy in Nauvoo on 28 July 1843:

“According to Mormon Church Historian Andrew Jenson, Nancy married Joseph sometime before his death in June of 1844. In addition, Orson Whitney, son of Nancy Maria's friend, Helen, also identified her as Smith's wife. These two witnesses, taken together, make a good case for Nancy as a plural spouse of Joseph. Though there is no exacT date for her marriage to the prophet, the best hypothosis is that the ceremony took place in 1843.”

(Andrew Jenson, “LDS Biographical Encyclopedia” [1951], vol. 1, p. 697; “ Marriages in Nauvoo Region 1839-45;" and Compton, “In Sacred Lonliness,” p. 606; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 19-year-old Melissa Lott

Smith married Melissa in Nauvoo on 20 September 1843, with Hyrum Smith officiating:

“Melissa testified that her marriage to Smith included sex.”

( record for Joseph Smith Jr.; and Affidavit of Melissa Willes, 3 Auust 1893; cited in ibid)

*Smith and 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball

As part of Smith's brimming quiver of teenager brides, in May 1843, in Smith's Nauvoo store, he married an underage 14-year-old female named Helen Mar Kimball. Helen's father, Heber C. Kimball, officiated the wedding of his underage daughter to Smith.

Helen was the youngest of Smith's brides--and according to Helen, he had sex with her.

Helen wrote about how her marriage to Smith was orchestrated by her father:

"Having a great desire to be connected with the Prophet, Joseph, he (my father) offered me to him; this I afterwards learned from the Prophet's own mouth. My father had but one Ewe Lamb, but willingly laid her upon the altar: how cruel this seemed to my mother whose heartstrings were already stretched unil they were ready to snap asunder, for she had already taken Sarah Noon to wife and she thought she had made sufficient sacrifice but the Lord required more."

Smith pressured Helen to marry him, giving her only 24 hours to give him answer.

Helen wrote:

"[My father] left me to reflect upon it for the next 24 hours. . . . I was skeptical--one minute [I] believed, then doubted. I thought of the love and tenderness that he felt for his only daughter and I knew that he would not cast me off, and this was the only convincing proof that I had of its being right.”

The next day, Smith came by to explain to Helen the “Law of Celestial Marriage,” and, having done that, to take her as his latest bride.

Helen described Smith's pitch:

“After which he said to me, 'If you take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation and that of your father's household and all of your kindred.' This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward."

Helen's mother was none too pleased with the marriage, as Helen explains:

"None but God and his angels could see my mother's bleeding heart. When Joseph asked her if she was willing, she replied 'If Helen is willing I have nothing more to say.' She had witnessed the sufferings of others, who were older and who better understood the step they were taking, and to see her child, who had yet seen her fifteenth summer, following the same thorny path, in her mind she saw the misery which was as sure to come as the sun was to rise and set; but it was hidden from me."

Helen was under the unfortunate misimpression that her marriage to Smith was merely “dynastic.” She was to discover soon enough, however, that it was sexual.

Helen later confessed to a close friend in Nauvoo:

"I would never have been sealed to Joseph had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and they deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it.”

(Helen Mar Whitney journal: Helen Mar autobiography: “Woman's Exponent,” 1880; reprinted in “A Woman's View;” record for Joseph Smith, Jr.; and Van Wagoner, “Mormon Polygamy: A History,” p. 53; cited in ibid)

RfM contributor "Deconstructor" on his own website asks---then answers--the question: "Was it normal to marry 14 year-old girls in Joseph Smith's time?"

To set the stage, he first quotes from Smith's Mormon scriptural justification for polygamous sex as a general principle required for Mormon exaltation (the same scriptures, by the way, faithfully cited and espoused by Warren Jeffs, as well):

"And I will bless Joseph Smith and multiply him and give unto him an hundredfold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds."

"And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified."

"But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused [to Joseph Smith], shall be with another man, she has committed adultery and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto Joseph Smith to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified." ("Doctrine and Covenants Section" 132:55, 62-63)

Now, for the evidence that Smith, like Jeffs, had sex with his own underage child victims:

"Many LDS Church leaders and historians suggest that sexual relations and the marriage of Joseph Smith and his youngest wife, Helen Mar Kimball, 14 at the time, was 'approaching eligibility.'

"There is no documentation to support the idea that marriage at f14 [years of age] was 'approaching eligibility.' Actually, marriages even two years later, at the age of 16, occurred occasionally but infrequently in Helen Mar's culture. Thus, girls marrying at 14, even 15, were very much out of the ordinary. 16 was comparatively rare but not unheard of. American women began to marry in their late teens; around different parts of the United States the average age of marriage varied from 19 to 23.

"In the United States the average age of menarche (first menstruation) dropped from 16.5 in 1840 to 12.9 in 1950. More recent figures indicate that it now occurs on average at 12.8 years of age. The mean age of first marriages in colonial America was between 19.8 years to 23.7, most women were married during the age period of peak fecundity (fertility).

"Mean pubertal age has declined by some 3.7 years from the 1840’s.

"The psychological sexual maturity of Helen Mar Kimball in today’s average age of menarche (first menstruation) would put her psychological age of sexual maturity at the time of the marriage of Joseph Smith at 9.1 years old. (16.5 years-12.8 years = 3.7 years) (12.8 years-3.7 years = 9.1 years)

"The fact is Helen Mar Kimball's sexual development was still far from complete. Her psychological sexual maturity was not competent for procreation. The coming of puberty is regarded as the termination of childhood; in fact the term 'child' is usually defined as the human being from the time of birth to the on-coming of puberty. Puberty [is] the point of time at which the sexual development is completed. In young women, from the date of the first menstruation to the time at which she has become fitted for marriage, the average lapse of time is assumed by researchers to be two years.

"Age of eligibility for women in Joseph Smith’s time-frame would start at a minimum of 19-and-a-half years old.

"This would suggest that Joseph Smith had sexual relations and married several women before the age of eligibility, and some very close to the age of eligibility including:

"Fanny Alger, 16

"Sarah Ann Whitney, 17

"Lucy Walker, 17

"Flora Ann Woodworth, 16

"Emily Dow Partridge, 19

"Sarah Lawrence, 17

"Maria Lawrence, 19

"Helen Mar Kimball, 14

"Melissa Lott, 19

"Nancy M. Winchester, [14?]

"And then we have these testimonies:

"'Joseph was very free in his talk about his women. He told me one day of a certain girl and remarked that she had given him more pleasure than any girl he had ever enjoyed. I told him it was horrible to talk like this.'

(Joseph Smith's close confidant and LDS Church First Councilor, William Law, interview in 'Salt Lake Tribune,' 31 July 1887)

"'When Heber C. Kimball asked Sister Eliza R. Snow the question if she was not a virgin although married to Joseph Smith, she replied, "I thought you knew Joseph Smith better than that."'

(Stake President Angus M. Cannon, statement of interview with Joseph III, 23, LDS archives)"

"Short Bios of Smith's wives:

"Did Smith have sex with his wives?:

"Whatever the average age of menarche might have been in the mid-19th-century, the average age of marriage was around 20 for women and 22 for men. And a gap of 15 to 20 years or more between partners was very unusual, not typical. Whatever biology might have to say, according to the morals of his time, several of Joseph Smith's wives were still inappropriately young for him.

"It is a pure myth that 19th-century American girls married at age 12-14.

"For example, Laura Ingalls Wilder, from 'Little House on the Prairie' fame, was born in 1867, which puts her later than Joseph Smith but still in the 1800s. She tells of hearing of the marriage of a 13-year-old girl, and being shocked. She also notes that the girl's mother 'takes in laundry' and is sloppy and unkempt--implying that "nice" people don't marry off their teenaged daughters. Laura herself became engaged at 17--but her parents asked her to wait until she was 18 to marry.

"You merely need to go to your local courthouse and ask to see the old 19th century marriage books. Take a look at and pay attention to the age at marriage. Sure, a very few did but it was far from the norm. The vast majority of women married after the age of 20.

"In fact, look up the marriage ages in the Smith family before polygamy. You'll find that one of the Smith girls was 19. The rest of them, and their sisters-in-law, were in their early 20s when they married. The Smith boys' first wives were in their 20s. The same pattern was true for . . . the rest of American society at the time.

"On the extremely rare occasions women younger than 17 married, it was to men close to their same age, not 15 to 20 years older.

"The case is even true in pioneer Utah among first marriages. Mormon men in their 20s started out marrying someone their own age. Then later, these older men married girls under 20 to be their plural wives. But the first wives were the age of the husband and married over the age of 20. This is still the case is the rural Utah polygamist communities.


"Coale and Zelnik assume a mean age of marriage for white women of 20 (1963: 37). Sanderson's assumptions are consistent with a mean of 19.8 years (Sanderson 1979: 343). The Massachusetts family reconstitutions revealed somewhat higher mean ages. For Hingham, Smith reports an age at first marriage of 23.7 at the end of the 18th century (1972: Table 3, p. 177). For Sturbridge, the age for a comparable group was 22.46 years (Osterud and Fulton 1976: Table 2, p. 484), and in Franklin County it was 23.3 years (Temkin-Greener, H., and A.C. Swedlund). 1978. 'Fertility Transition in the Connecticut Valley:1740-1850m' 'Population Studies' 32, March 1978, 27-41.: Table 6, p. 34.

"Jack Larkin, 'The Reshaping of Everyday Life,' 1790-1840 (New York: Harper & Row, 1988), 63; Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, 'Good Wives: Image and Reality in the Lives of Women in Northern New England, 1650-1750' [NY: Oxford University Press, 1980], 6; Nancy F. Cott, 'Young Women in the Second Great Awakening in New England,' 'Feminist Studies' 3 [1975] 16; Dr. Dorothy V. Whipple, 'Dynamics of Development: Euthenic Pediatrics' [New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966]"

("Was It Normal to Marry 14 year-old Girls in Joseph Smith's Time?," by "Deconstructor," at:

Below is more data from Joseph Smith's Time Linking Him to sexual abuse of young girls:

RfM poster "TLC," in observations entitled "Joseph Smith, Menses, Pedophilia, Etc.," writes:

". . . In our efforts to sort through the wasteland that is Mormon history (fact vs. fiction), it's worthwhile . . . to have some context within which to make our judgments.

". . . The statistics are very clear [on] the notion that the age of sexual maturity among women has changed or is still changing. . . . The age of menarche is dropping in virtually all areas of the world. More on that below.

"[A] claim being disputed is that Joseph Smith was a pedophile. While it's easy to throw that word around in light of today's problems with child abusing priests in the Catholic clergy, the fact remains that 'pedophilia' is defined as '[t]he act or fantasy on the part of an adult of engaging in sexual activity with a child or children.'

"Furthermore, the pathology of pedophilia is understood to be an attraction or activity that is limited to pre-pubescent children. It's been well-established that true pedophiles lose interest almost immediately when a boy or girl exhibits the first signs of sexual maturity.

" . . . [A] quick Googling of the word 'pedophilia' will take you to the professional community's definitions. They are very clear as to what does and what doesn't constitute pedophilia.

"By today's definitions, when it comes to the pathology of pedophilia, Joseph Smith would probably not be considered a true pedophile. [It] doesn't mean however, that he wasn't a lecherous scumbag who would stop at nothing to bed any young woman who captured his fancy.

"More on sexual maturity among women.

"As closely as I can tell from investigating the median age of menarche (first menses) in Joseph Smith's time, it is possible that one or two of the girls he married and/or had relations with might not have been sexually mature. All of the research I've been able to find . . . indicates that the average age of menarche in the mid-1800s was 17.

"What that might tell us about a girl who was 14 or 15 back then is hard to determine because of the nature of averages. In any event, it does make it clear that Joseph Smith was treading a very fine fine when it came to the sexual maturity of the girls he courted and/or married.

"There is a lot of research in this arena because of the alarming shift in menarchal age from the 1800s to present day where the median onset of menarche has now dropped to age 12:

"' . . . In 1840, the average young woman in Europe and the United States menstruated for the first time at the age of 17; her modern counterpart reaches the age of menstruation at about 12. Well known to biological anthropologists as the "secular trend," this crash in the age of sexual maturity has proceeded at the rate of four months per decade and, in most populations, continues. . . .'

"'Boys and girls now experience puberty at younger ages than previous generations. In general, girls enter puberty between ages 8 and 13 and reach menarche (first menstruation) several years later, while boys enter puberty between ages 9 and 14 . . . . The reasons for earlier menarche in girls are not well understood. Most of the change is attributed to better health and nutrition. . . . In North America age at menarche decreased by three to four months each decade after 1850; in 1988 the median age at menarche was 12.5 years among U.S. girls. . . . In some developing countries age at menarche appears to be decreasing even faster. For example, in Kenya average age at menarche fell from 14.4 in the late 1970s to 12.9 in the 1980s . . . .'

"So, . . . it helps to understand the context from within which we assess the lecherous scumbag known as Joseph Smith. We don't know if he had sex with pre-pubescent children, therefore we don't know if he was truly a pedophile. We don't know if the teenaged girls he married and/or had sex with were sexually mature or not.

"But regardless of whether they were sexually mature or not, something in us is sickened by the thoughts of them being coerced into any kind of relationship with this lecher who was pretending to use God as his motivator.

"Joseph Smith was not the first--nor will he be the last--to prey upon young girls for sexual gratification. And that in no way justifies his actions. But in aiming for accuracy in trying to describe Joseph Smith, there are a lot of words other than 'pedophile' that do the job more saliently and succinctly. . . .

"What one of us as fathers here today would hesitate for a second to deck [someone] like [Joseph Smith] if he so much as glanced in any of our daughters' directions? I know that my response would be visceral and swift.

"Makes you wonder what kind of men Smith had around him that they would so willingly hand over their young daughters to him. Therein lies the true pathology of Mormonism."

("Joseph Smith, Menses, Pedophilia, Etc.," by "TLC," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 9 August 2003, at:

Deconstructor concurs with the above assessment, declaring its findings to be "absolutely correct."

("TLC Is Absolutely Correct; Here's a Repost on This Subject," by "Deconstructor," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 9 August 2003, at:


--Conclusion: Joseph Smith, a Pious Fraud for God?


As the historical record abundantly demonstrates, Joseph Smith was a cynical, conniving, morally corrupt charlatan from the beginning. The facts are clear and the verdict is in. He started out a fraud and he died a fraud. There was nothing pious about his life or his purposes. The Mormon Church cannot bury that fact, as hard as it may unpiously try.

Part 1:,1377578

Part 2:,1377578,1377792#msg-1377792

Part 3:,1377578,1377862#msg-1377862

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2014 02:44PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: quinlansolo ( )
Date: September 15, 2014 02:12PM

to Joseph's behavior.
When you guys got into this argument first time, I didn't understand completely.
Thanks for re_publishing.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2014 02:14PM by quinlansolo.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 15, 2014 02:25PM

. . . in his published personal correspondence that nothing pleases him more than being accused of being "a Joseph Smith apologist." The fact that Vogel would assent to the release of this confession of his might indicate he knows that he really is one and that he knows he's been caught. (Personally, I don't know how so-called "historians"--meaning ones who are determined to cut Smith breaks that, based on the historical record, he does not deserve--keep from going crazy). I mean, how could anyone seriously deny Smith's long record of being a non-pious fraudster? The history is out there for all to see, in damning black and white--If you can just get past the apologists first.

Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2014 02:42PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: archytas ( )
Date: September 15, 2014 08:47PM

I like Vogel's work, and I wish he would still come around here. It's strange that you brought out the pitchforks and torches over an issue of semantics.

You seem to be fixated on the literal meaning of the modifier in the term "pious fraud".
This is a mistake. It's like complaining about the fact that "buffalo wings" do not contain any buffalo.

Pious frauds throughout history have done some very impious things. This is only shocking to someone who takes the first word in the term literally.


I find it ironic than an advocate of the Spaulding theory is criticizing other people over supposed errors in historical methodology.

Do you believe in all conspiracy theories or just the Spaulding theory?

Edited 9 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2014 09:01PM by archytas.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 15, 2014 11:22PM

You know, the "pitchforks," "torches" and all. This is not the "Woe-Is-Me Hour," brought to you by persecuted Mormons everywhere, despite your desire to, in the final act, collapse on the stage floor in your fully-orchestrated death scene.

The historical record shows that Joseph Smith was anything but pious. He knew, for instance, that he was bamboozling the hometown folk (including his own family), and took great delight in not only doing so, but in privately mocking them for being so gullible.

As to the meaning of the term "pious fraud" it (with emphasis on the modifier "pious") was defined more than once in the OP by others (whom I quoted and referenced) from their critical analyses of Vogel's shaky hypothesis (you might want to go back and check the sources, since it appears you skipped over them). You need to read more--and to quit being so piously pouty about your historically-decimated position. At least Vogel admits that nothing could please him more than to be labeled "a Joseph Smith apologist." Put a proud smile on your face, therefore, and march to his drummer. :)

Before you fall in line, however, try yet another example of Prophet Joe's "pious fraud" on for size:,1378745

Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 09/15/2014 11:55PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: archytas ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:34AM

I don't march to anyone's drum, not even yours.

I'm not contesting that Joseph Smith was involved in many cons, but one of his motives seems to be an attempt to resolve religious differences in his family. People can have multiple, sometimes conflicting, motivations.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 10:36AM by archytas.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 03:57PM

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 05:41PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 04:04PM

. . . Joe Smith the Unpious Fraudster.

To borrow from South Park, "Dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb, dumb dumb, dumb, dumb . . ."

So what if Joe lied, deceived and made up Mormonism in order to bring his feuding family into line on religion, and deliberately did it all in the name of his folklore-magic God, laughing all the way to the bank? That makes him no different than history's unending stream of religious con jobs.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 04:07PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: archytas ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 08:41PM

I can't believe you're having a meltdown over the distinction between pious fraud vs religious fraud (and the gray area between).

In either case it casts JS in a pretty bad light. Pious frauds are not the pure in heart that you take them for.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 08:45PM by archytas.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:17PM

. . . thereby making you the meltdown calling the kettle in which you are melting black. :)

(BTW, I am not making a distinction between "pious" and "religious" frauds. If you would bother to read Part 1 in this thread, you would see that those two descriptors are treated as synonyms).

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 01:00AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 07:08PM

A roll in the hayloft with a willing religious young thang might offer some "religious relief."

JS: "I prayed, oh lord, not to be led into temptation, but yon maiden Alger appeared, and what was I to do? I could not scold her and treat her in an unbecoming and un-Christian fashion, could I? The fault was not hers."

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Posted by: archytas ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 08:32PM

I think a lot of this back-and-forth has to do with the fact that "pious" appears in the word of the term. Pious fraud isn't good, noble, or pure as benson seems to believe.

To use another example, that doesn't generate such strong emotions, let's look at Padre Pio. He is the text book case for a pious fraud, but I don't think that excuses his behavior or makes it less of a crime. I actually think his actions are more damaging than a run-of-the-mill shell game huckster who manages to win a dollar off you.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:05PM

"Pious fraud isn't all that good, noble, or pure as Benson seems to believe."

Sheesh, guy, and here you were attacking everyone for "dichotomous thinking"; better take a good look at your finger-pointing actions with that one...

And you've decided, all by yourself, who the archetypal example of "pious fraud" is (and used that as your strawman).

I don't have enough familiarity with the history of that subject in toto, but I know there are countless examples. I did research the "Newark Holy Stones" extensively because Jeff Lindsay, Rodney Meldrum, Wayne May, and Glenn Beck have used them to justify their utter nonsense, but as Ohio State archaeologist Brad Lepper pointed out, they were probably fashioned "as evidence" their creators thought would help stem the tide of genocide against Native Americans.

Those were some reasonable altruistic motives; Joseph Smith saw Native Americans as mere pawns for his own agendas.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:24PM

a) piously, sincerely, religiously and in the belief that they are doing God's will, commits fraud but is genuine in their view that the fraud in which they are engaged is being done with heaven's blessing; or

b) piously, religiously and sincerely believes that their fraud is actually true.

The overwhelming evidence indicates that Joseph Smith was a knowing fraud who perpetuated his deceit for personal gain--not because he actually, piously believed God was guiding him in committing fraud for a greater good, Neither did Smith believe his claims were actually true. Smith was a hoaxer and a charlatan who clearly knew his "truth" claims were, in fact, false and, on that basis, took advantage of the gullibility of his believers in pretending for his audience that that they were true.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 10:32PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 07:39PM

There seems, among certain posters, to be a rather peculiar conviction that Joseph Smith was possessed with a pure and pious heart (meaning he was truly trying to do right) while knowingly lying, cheating and defrauding people for the higher godly good. Hence, the "pious fraud" claim.

In reality, while Smith was obviously a fraud, he certainly was not a faithful one. His chicanery in the Kirtland banking scandal is ample proof of that. Examine the history of this unsaintly scam of Smith and see for yourself:

Bank on This from Joe and Ollie: Smith's Kirtland Financial Scam and Cowdery's Infatuation with a Local Kirtland "Seeress" While Smith Was Fleeing from Fleeced Mormons

Let's keep it simple: Smith created the Kirtland mess and the Mormon Church created the Kirtland myth. In a nutshell, after Joseph Smith temporarily fled Kirtland, Ohio, to avoid rising discontent over his notorious banking swindle that victimized members of his own flock, Oliver Cowdery's loyalties were tested--and found wanting (as he stayed behind in Kirtland and decided to follow someone else).

--Background on Smith's Kirtland Bank Heist

Smith's criminal conspiracy in setting up a bank swindle was aimed not only at the general public, but at his own flock.

In 1837, Smith faced the wrath of his local Kirtland following due to of his clumsy financial scheming, otherwise known as the “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company.” The Ohio state legislature had refused Smith's request to incorporate this trash-cash creation of his but a determined Smith chose to illegally run it anyway. It soon went under and Smith, along with co-criminal Sidney Rigdon, were eventually found guilty of violating state banking laws, fined and ordered to pay court costs.

Author Richard Abanes explains why the scam failed:

“Smith actually believed that his debts, along with those of his followers, could be wiped out by merely printing . . . notes [i.e., paper currency] and using them to pay creditors. The bills, however, were practically worthless because Smith had virtually no silver/gold coinage to back up the paper he issued. His entire capital stock consisted of nothing but land valued at inflated prices. . . . He pleaded with followers to support the financial association, leading them to believe that God have given hm the idea and that it would 'become the greatest of all institutions on Earth.'

"To augment their confidence in the organization, Smith resorted to a rather ingenious deception: 'Lining the shelves of the bank vault . . . were many boxes, each marked $1,000. Actually these boxes were filled with 'sand, lead, old iron, stone ad combustibles,' but each had a top layer of bright 50-cent silver coins. Anyone suspicious of the bank's stability was allowed to lift and count the boxes. 'The effect of those boxes was like magic,' said C.G. Webb. 'They created general confidence in the solidity of the bank and that beautiful paper money went like hot cakes,. For about a month it was the best money in the country.'”

Smith's financial shenanigans led to him being sued by several non-Mormon creditors, while some of his LDS followers saw their invested monies evaporate before their eyes.

Historian Fawn Brodie reports in "No Man Knows My History" that Kirtland Saints began attacking Smith, whose “prophesy” (so described by the local LDS newspaper the “Latter-day Saint Messenger and Advocate,” which had declared that those who contracted with him on speculative land deals would get rich) was proven by events to be an uninspired flop. Half the Quorum of the Twelve went into open revolt, with Apostle Parley P. Pratt labeling Smith as “wicked,” accusing him of taking “[him]self and the Church . . . down to hell,” and threatening to sue Smith if he didn't pay Pratt what he was owed. Smith responded by counter-threatening to excommunicate any Mormon who filed suit against a fellow Church member and tried unsuccessfully to have Pratt stand trial before a divided High Council.

Writer Arza Evans, in his "The Keystone of Mormonism" under the subheading, "An Illegal Bank," observes:

"In November of 1836, Smith decided to start his own bank and print his own currency. This new bank was to be called the Kirtland Safety Society. When the Ohio legislature denied Smith's petition for an act of incorporation, he didn't let this stop him from organizing his bank and printing money. He simply ignored the laws of Ohio and went ahead with his bank.

"Smith even had a convenient revelation from God advising Church members to buy stock in his illegal enterprise:

"'It is wisdom and according to the mind of the Holy Spirt, that you should . . . call on us and take stock in our Safety Society.' [see "The History of the Church of Jesus Ch+rist of Latter-day Saints," vol. 2, pp. 467-73].

"About one year later Smith's bank went broke, costing some of his gullible followers their life's savings. Smith blamed this failure on the state of Ohio, his enemies and almost everyone else. He took no responsibility and made no apologies. Apparently, he couldn't even seem to understand why many of those who lost all of their money were angry at him. Ironically, Smith's Saftey Society proved to be anything but safe.

"When Ohio authorities finally realized what Smith had done, they sent a sheriff and a deputy to arrest Joseph Smith, Sidney Rigdon and other Church leaders who had violated Ohio state laws. Smith and Rigdon escaped arrest by secretly leaving for Missouri in the middle of he night of January 12, 1838. Other officials in the bank were were not so lucky. Josiah Butterfield, Jonathan Dunham and Jonathan Hale were arrested and thrown into jail for circulating illegal currency and for other unalwful banking activies."

The hounded, debt-ridden Smith's ultimate solution to this mounting mayhem was to make himself scarce, opting to leave on a five-week proselytizing mission to Canada--a ploy which historian Brodie described as Smith's hope “that in his absence the enmity against him would be still[ed].”

--Cowdery Compounds Smith's Criminal Kirtland Mess by Hooking Up with a Kirtland "Seeress" After Smith Bolts Kirtland

Smith's hopes that things would cool down over his Kirtland-cooked banking scamwere in is absence were not exactly realized.

Brodie reports that upon returning, he discovered that while he was gone the magic-minded Cowdery had (along with fellow Book of Mormon witnesses David Whitmer and Martin Harris) become enamored with “a young girl who claimed to be a seeress by virtue of a black stone in which she read the future. . . . [Cowdery], whose faith in seer stones had not diminished when Joseph stopped using them, pledged her their loyalty, and F. G. Williams, formerly Joseph's First Counselor, became her scribe. Patterning herself after the Shakers, the new prophetess would dance herself into a state of exhaustion before her followers, fall upon the floor and burst forth with revelations.“ Brodie writes that “before long Smith effectively silenced the dancing seeress” and managed to bring Cowdery's wandering eye back into line. But Cowdery wasn't exactly the model of repentance. He (along with Whitmer) “came back into the fold half-contrite, half-suspicious and shortly thereafter went off to Missouri.


--Richard Abanes, “One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church”[New York, New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2002]

--Fawn Brodie, “No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet,” 2nd ed. [New York, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1983]

--Arza Evans, "The Keystone of Mormonism" (St. George, Utah: Keystone Books, Inc., 2003)


--Summing Up

For Joseph Smith and his band of bumbling connivers, Kirtland served as:

--first, a place for Smith to fleece his flock; and

--second, a hot spot from which Smith was forced to flee, whereupon it became The Land of Happy-Dance for his Book of Mormon witness friends who, in Smith's fugitive absence, decided to team up with a young prophesying "seeress."

Joseph Smith and his role in Mormon history is, like, so inspiring. So, pious. So, "yeah, right."

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Posted by: The Unpersuaded ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:22PM

Psychology is rarely binary. Confidence, deceit, malevolence ebb and flow.

If we define "pious fraud" as requiring permanent and complete believe in the fraud one is committing, there is probably nobody who fits that term. If we conversely define a "fraudster" as someone who always knows precisely that he is doing evil, then there are probably very few people who belong in that category.

Most people are mixtures of good and bad, honest and dishonest, sincere and mendacious. I think there is good evidence that JS was in that territory. He was probably much closer to the "fraud" end of the spectrum than the rest of us, but he seems at times to have believed deeply in the purpose (if not the actual actions) of what he was doing. That may apply also to Cowdery and Rigdon.

These guys were not mere thieves. They failed to run off with the loot.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:38PM

--Definition of a sociopath:

--Definition of a narcissist:

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 01:26AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 08:03AM

Let's see if UP can see the irony in his claims with this one:

"Psychology is rarely binary."

Yet his definition of thieves is exactly that with the claim "They failed to run off with the loot."

Nobody of course, was claiming JS was a mere thief (more irony in your accusations involving straw man below) except you when you fashioned the statement into a disingenuous argument of convenience (see my my remarks on the Gish Gallop below).

BTW, as a historical note, Joseph Smith fled town at least twice, once from Kirtland when he absconded to Missouri with Sidney Rigdon, and also right after the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 05:03PM

The other thread of Steve's was closed, and I wanted this background information to be out there. BTW, Dan Vogel isn't the only author who "ran aground" here; years ago, Richard Abanes had a hard time as well when he resorted to a bit of sermonizing, and folks got a bit hostile. I think that might've even been before Steve started posting here; I know I was a newbie...

(referring to Will in response to a post by "Archytas")

He's busy but was available for lunch today, but I worked late, so we'll have to wait until next week for new information on that guy Orrin Porter Rockwell who worked for both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young...

Rockwell's attempted assassination of Governor Boggs kind of puts a bit of impiety in Joseph Smith's "pious nature," and there's pretty strong circumstantial evidence Rockwell did the deed at JS's behest (why else was Rockwell in Independence?), and afterwards the normally impoverished Rockwell was pretty flush for a time.

Incidentally, I saw your "hope" that Dan Vogel might contribute to this discussion, but he came here in the past and found the waters way too rough for his soapbox to navigate. You can perhaps find him over on Mormon Dialogue, the successor to the old FAIR and Mormon Apologetics and Discussion boards.

Thing is, he blames me for his troubles here because folks wouldn't buy into his "pious fraud" ideas, and I offered some some information on how narcissistic disorders preclude such notions. And seriously, I consider myself an expert on narcissistic stuff; they were the subject of a grad class in addictions I took years ago, and nowadays, the taxi business is chock-full of them. I've got the road rage ulcer to prove it. Okay, I made that last bit up, but I do a fair amount of screaming in an empty taxi cab as a catharsis. And I take medication for my high blood pressure.

Per a PhD psychologist who used to post here: "Anyone who thinks narcissists believe in God has never met one. They believe they are God."

Perpetrators of pious frauds, on the other hand, do demonstrate a religous faith; the fraudulent artifacts of medieval times, bones of saints, thorns from Jesus' crown, pieces of the cross, were imbued with powerful religious elements, and the goal was to augment people's faith, and not replace it with one the narcissist had fashioned from their own imaginative yet deluded reality.

Google up the Newark Holy Stones as one example of a more modern pious fraud...

Finally, when Vogel came here, Steve Benson defended a lot of his work, particularly as it related to Native Americans, but the aburdity of the notion that JS's agenda was the way he described it brought "the wrath of RFM" down around Vogel's ears.

I was accused, incidentally, of orchestrating Vogel's tar-and-feathering, when in fact, all I did was give him some schooling on Joseph Smith as a sexual predator and let the board processes flow in the direction they were going to anyway. Group processes are another area I've had clinical training in, BTW, and I know better than to try to manipulate them to my own agendas.

Ultimately, Vogel concluded (on the old MA&D board) that posters here rejected his "pious fraud" theory because they were all wedded to the Spaulding/Rigdon belief involving BOM authorship. Of course in the years since, others such as Craig Criddle and brothers Duane and Chris Johnson--to name just a few--have contributed some powerful evidence pointing to other authors besides JS, whose writings were incorporated into the BOM. I suggest those conclusions are just unsupported beliefs that prop up his own denial of JS's actual nature; there was a whole lot of monster and very little martyr in JS's being.

Oh, and the relevance to Bagley? Well, he offered a "quick summary" of the Smith family a few weeks ago, saying it was essentially a "textbook example of a crime family."

Our three minute conversation yesterday included that theme. I added that the dynamics "included huge elements of insanity," and offered my old observation, "Sane people have a difficult time grasping and processing insanity."

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 05:53PM by SL Cabbie.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 05:37PM

. . . Vogel's "Indian Origins and the Book of Mormon," which historically demonstrated how Smith used arcane and mythologized 19th-century religious notions about the supposed Semitic origins of Native Americans to construct his Book of Mormon fantasy. (see Part 1 in this thread, where I commend Vogel for that masterpiece of solid and compelling research, at:,1377578,1377578#msg-1377578)

On the other hand, Vogel's "Joseph-Smith-as-pious-fraud" hypothesis is heavily over-rated and substantially under-demonstrated.

(P.S.--and I do remember when Abanes came to this board, where he wasn't exactly received with showers of flower petals)

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 05:46PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: Nightingale ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 07:28PM

Why was Abanes not well greeted when he showed up here? I forget. Because he was seen as an apologist?

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 07:32PM

. . . "One Nation Under Gods," plus, did not seem particularly connected to or well-suited for the ex-Mo dynamic on this forum. He came and left pretty quickly.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 01:38AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 09:55PM

That went way wrong. I've always sought to mitigate the pain of exiting Mormonism with humor (and I know Steve and others do the same, and humor can be terribly subjective), and so I borrowed a page from Ken Kesey's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" about a need for a "Bull Goose Loony," and noted there were quite a few in competition for that job and his resumé was being considered. I included myself in that one; my "taxi persona" is legitimate, but obviously I've got some "intellectual bona fides" (including coming from three generations of apostates on my mother's side). For years I listened to the Packerites attack "so-called intellectuals" with their tactics, and I decided early on a "cabdriver philosopher" was a nearly ideal foil to counter their disinformation tactics.

The term "loony" obviously didn't sit well...

Yesterday talking with Will, I formally "asked if I could be his apprentice" (He's got more honors coming for his newest books; the guy is unbelievable), but as a historian-in-training, I'm not sure if I'll ever read Abanes' book simply because I already understand evangelical causes, and they are definitely a mixed bag in my book.

As for what's on my reading list now, well, things got personal because my daughter's English teacher assigned Card's "Ender's Game," and that author's blatant homophobia sickens me. I met Card years ago (he has the typical Mormon arrogance he projects onto everyone else when he's challenged), and so I'm reading EG and deciding whether to do the sort of job on it that Mark Twain did on Walter Scott's "Deerslayer" books...

In the meantime, while I'm not hauling drunks around, I'll be trying to do some historical research of my own...

The site was also trolled heavily back then, and it wasn't just TBM's who saw it as their calling. There were those who'd left the church who still persisted in inflicting their pain on others (and I've been guilty of that myself, which is why I've generally kept a few "third base coaches" handy). Remember Anti-shock, NG? Case in point...

My take is a couple of trolls, probably TBM's fueled that one; I didn't have the perspective I acquired a bit later (and I'm here so rarely now that I don't have one I'm comfortable with at present). I went to work for a shift and came back and things had blown up for him, and I may have been identified as one of the members of the mob.

I didn't intend that to be my role, but there are forces that exist that neither I nor Steve nor ADMIN nor anyone else can control, and I think it's wisdom to acknowledge that reality.

I do recall you, NG, as an evangelical Christian, essentially "seeing Mormonism deconstructed" often kept individuals away from any religious beliefs. I think that's an accurate observation, and I leave it to others to debate the merits thereof. I've ruminated on that for over forty years as it is, and I'm not sure of all the answers; I know I've changed my mind a number of times...

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Posted by: The Unpersuaded ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:06PM

Steve, I never denied JS was a fraud. He was totally a fraud. But sometimes people who are frauds are also delusional. All people act from a mixture of motives, including a desire to do right, to get rich, to save their loved ones, to get lots of sex and yes even to be famous. The mixture changes over time, but with narcissists there is a grandiosity and self-delusion that masks most self-doubt. That is what JS was. My saying so in no way excuses or justifies what he di.

Now, how do I know that he was more complex than just a self-interested conman? Because he never ran. He thought God (or the reflection of his own ego that he took for God) would ensure that the money arrived. So rather than taking the several thousand dollars in the Kirtland anti-bank and running, he sat around until the thing collapsed. If he were simply a thief, he would never have done that. What is so hard about believing that a con man is also stupid and narcissistic enough to believe that he is mankind's savior?

Then comes SLCabbie who recalls my wishing that Dan Vogel would enter the conversation--a recollection that is false. I never either said or thought Vogel could add to our conversation. I alluded to Van Wagoner's bio of Sidney Rigon, which was great on Rigdon and on the Kirtland anti-bank, but said nothing about anh other author. Which makes me wonder why SLCabbie is so sensitive to Vogel that he reads him into conversations that don't reference him (other than Benson's original choice of the word "pious").

But SLCabbie is also the man so certain of his understanding of narcissism that he applies it to random cab drivers and, if I remember correctly recently challenged someone who called Winston Churchill a narcissist, saying that a narcissist could not have accomplished so much. You know, narcissists like Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Mohatma Ghandi, and Charles De Gualle. In fact, successful leaders of political and cult movements are very often high-performing narcissists--to the point where Psychology Today recently asked whether narcissism was a prerequisite for superior leadership skills. Remember, narcissists appear at a rate of 1-2% in our society and and tend to congregate in medicine, finance, law, politics, and religion--places where they have power over other people's lives andr resources.

But putting aside misdefinitions of psychological terms and the discussion of people whom I never invoked, let's distinguish two issues. 1) Was JS a bad man? Absolutely. He lied, cheated, stole, philandered, and created a totalitarian organaization that has done untold harm. He should have spent his life in prison. 2) Did he know that he was so bad? Did he even care I think the evidence is that he vacillated between a transitory messianism and occasional moments of self-doubt and guilt. Sometimes he knew he was looking in a hat and lying, sometimes he thought he was doing God's will and would at the final judgment receive a few stripes and then be admitted into the pearly gates. There's nothing surprising in that inconsistency; that's how cult leaders very often think and act.

There self-deception and grandiosity, however, are no excuse for what they do. Their actions dictate that they should be removed from society.

Self-deception is common to all humans in one degree or another. It does not justify evil.

Am I saying JS was not a fraud? No. That he should not have been arrested and thrown in jail for most of his adult life? NO. Being a

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Posted by: The Unpersuaded ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:10PM

I should have excised the last two lines--from "self deception is common.." onward.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 16, 2014 10:41PM

I never said you did not regard Smith as a fraud; but you sure weren't showing acceptance of the historically-verified fact that Smith was not pious--meaning that Smith absolutely knew he was promoting false claims.

So, in a nutshell: Smith was not a pious fraud. He was a knowing fraud.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/16/2014 10:44PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: baura ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 05:50AM

steve benson Wrote:
> I never said you did not regard Smith as a fraud;
> but you sure weren't showing acceptance of the
> historically-verified fact that Smith was not
> pious--meaning that Smith absolutely knew he was
> promoting false claims.
> So, in a nutshell: Smith was not a pious fraud.
> He was a knowing fraud.

My reading of Dan Vogel's "Pious Fraud" theory is that it
assumes that Joseph Smith was a KNOWING fraud both with the
early money-digging and later with the Book of Mormon, etc.
My understanding is that Vogel's theory assumes "that Smith
absolutely knew he was promoting false claims."

Maybe you and Vogel are using the word "pious" differently.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 07:32AM

--" . . . I would suggest that [Joseph] Smith really believed he was called of God to preach repentance to a sinful world but that he felt justified in using deception to more fully accomplish his mission. Like the faith healer who uses plants or confederates in his congregation to create a faith-promoting atmosphere in which the true miracles can occur, Smith assumed the role of prophet, produced the Book of Mormon, and issued revelations to create a setting in which true conversion experiences could take place. It is the true healings and conversions that not only justify deception but also convince the pious frauds that they are perhaps after all real healers or real prophets."

--"What did Smith hope to accomplish by his pious fraud? One goal of Smith's deception, as the March 1830 revelation shows, was to bring humankind to repentance even if by misdirection or dishonesty. Initially, Smith hoped to frighten his fellow humans into repentance and therefore help them avoid the torments of even a temporary hell. Later, he will use the incentive of higher rewards. Meanwhile, if mankind were saved by incorrectly believing in an eternal hell, to that end Smith perhaps believed his method was justified. Whatever the means, Smith believed his followers would be saved as long as their repentance and faith in Christ were sincere.

"Smith's March 1830 revelation, the Book of Abraham, the story of Nephi and Laban, and the fortunate Fall demonstrate that Smith believed that God sometimes inspires deception, that some sins are according to his will, or that occasionally it is necessary to break one commandment in order to fulfill a higher law. We may never know exactly Smith's reasoning, but the least that can be said is that if he wrote the Book of Mormon, became a prophet, and founded the [Mormon] Church as a pious fraud, it is quite evident that he had the psychological means of justifying such an act."

("'Prophet Puzzle' Revisited," by Dan Vogel, paper delivered at Mormon History Association meeting, 18 May 1996, Snowbird, Utah, at:

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 02:21AM

You didn't express a desire for Dan Vogel to put in an appearance here; poster "archytas" did, in the thread I essentially copy-and-pasted from the other thread which I acknowleged was closed. Here's the original, and my reply was intended to archytas; I note from his post above:

"I like Vogel's work, and I wish he would still come around here. It's strange that you brought out the pitchforks and torches over an issue of semantics.",1377578,1378592#msg-1378592

If you'll look at his post in the closed thread, you'll see your one word reply "Agreed" appears under his post that I intended my reply for. I can't explain the possible software glitch, and it's easily possible I misplaced my reply, but I intended my "repost" notation to explain that possibility, but in your haste to engage in your smear-mongering, you overlooked that possibility.

In fact, I noted in the "Repost" above that it was addressed to Archytas. It's clear you didn't do me the courtesy or reading it.,1377578,1379160#msg-1379160

You would be well advised to explore the evidence more thoroughly.

That essentially reduces your attacks against me to to roadkill, but if you're detecting something in my views that is "sensitive" to Vogel, well, my sources tell me he is a really nice guy (and friends with Bagley), and he posted here about his dysfunctional childhood. He might've been okay, but he used that to claim some authority about the subject of alcoholism, and well... I know a little about that one, more so than history or narcissistic disorders.

As for your utter ignorance about narcissism, the less said the better, Among the crowd I used to hang with, Psychology Today was regarded as little more than rhetorical toilet paper.

Here's a list of criteria I just lifted from someplace reasonable rather than parroting one of the buzzword jockeys that apparently inhabit your reading menu.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder--Psych Cental

• Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)

• Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

• Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)

• Requires excessive admiration

• Has a very strong sense of entitlement, e.g., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations

• Is exploitative of others, e.g., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends

• Lacks empathy, e.g., is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

• Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her

• Regularly shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

Steve Jobs had some narcissistic tendencies, and I'm old enough to remember de Gaulle (but much of his was cultural, and if you want to discuss the French, bear in mind I earned a teaching certificate in that subject). As for the others, one characteristic of narcissists is that interpersonal relationships such as marriages, tend to be transitory or volatile (Joseph Smith's marriage to Emma was certainly the latter). Churchill was married to only one woman, his wife Clementine. Roosevelt had a mistress, yes, but to suggest our 32nd President was devoid of empathy is to ignore the historical reality of the New Deal. Mohondas Ghandhi (Mahatma was a title bestowed upon him; you appear unaware of that as well) had an arranged marriage as a teen, and yet they remained together until her death in 1944. De Gaulle also only had one wife.

Oh, there we go... I had to look up who Elon Musk was, but yes, he's on his second marriage. Why you included him in this illustrious company is a bit of a mystery, however.

Other than your excursions into fantasy, your arguments don't have much "factual meat," and you engaged in personal attacks rather than do your homework. And those references to 20th Century economics having any relevance to the Kirtland Anti-Banking Scandal are pretty much out there as well.

The bank was denied its charter. Joseph Smith went ahead and opened it anyway. The operating motif for narcissists is "The rules don't apply to me."


Sucks to be a shinola shipper in the Internet Age...

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 02:24AM by SL Cabbie.

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Posted by: The Unpersuaded ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 04:07AM

Yes, you are right. Psychology Today is not a rigorous publication. But in that last discussion you said that Churchill could not possibly have been a narcissist because narcissists can't be as successful as he. Your argument was wrong on two counts. First, the majority of serious scholars of Churchill consider him a narcissist--a diagnosis which is also standard for FDR although there is a subset of experts, including Black, who view him as a high-functioning sociopath. Second, narcissists are frequently very high achievers, particularly in politics, religion, medicine, and law.

I'm surprised at the degree of self-confidence you show. You did a bit of graduate work in psychology, so you dismiss others as "ignorant" about personality disorders without knowing anything of their academic backgrounds. You have a teaching certificate in French and assure us that that makes you an expert on French politics and de Gaulle's personality. You assume that because I used the honorific title for Ghandi, I do not know his actual name. You have a law degree, if I remember correctly. And you feel qualified to pronounce on the narcissism of fellow cab drivers. That's a remarkable degree of self-confidence.

Perhaps the inverse of that self-confidence is a lack of respect for others. Because I disagree with you, I am "smear-mongering" and my arguments are "road-kill." Well, I guess you win the argument. After all, you are employing superior logic.


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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 04:17AM

Admit it, you're hooked. Any attempt by you to insist otherwise is entirely unpersuasive.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 07:50AM

NT but typo corrected in sub-line

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 07:52AM by SL Cabbie.

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Posted by: The Unpersuaded ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 04:23AM

It's not the subject matter that has me bored, Steve, but rather the rhetorical techniques that you and Cabbie are using.

You insist on using polarized terms so that you can ignore the more nuanced views present by others. And of course you keep posting the same things as if repetition somehow makes a weak statement stronger. Cabbie meanhile just substitutes assurances of his own intelligence and insults to others as if those were arguments.

It's sad to see important and potentially enlightening discussions buried in such cant.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 07:12AM

This is, after all, an opinions-driven forum. Strongly-expressed opinions, by their very nature, tend to polarize (especially when one fundamentally disagrees with them). As to what is acceptable or unacceptable "rhetoric," that, of course, is a matter of personal opinion. Same goes for the term "polarizing." (By the way, when have I said anything disparaging about polar bears?)

Furthermore, if you don't like seeing me reiterate the same points, then simply don't read them. After all, no one is forcing you to open my posts.

(Oh, and your use of the word "Yawn" was curt and dismissive).

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 07:12AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: SL Cabbie ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 07:50AM

That was a weird statement where he claimed I "had a law degree"; nope, never said anything of the sort, and no, I don't.

Evocative memory issues, there? Might explain the debating/rhetorical style I'll identify shortly.

He did send me to look up those references identifying FDR and Churchill as narcissists. The author of the FDR howlers is Scott Lilienfeld, identified as a "psychological scientist" (there's another buzzie in the making, no doubt).

The story appeared a few years ago, and it has all the makings of a drama llama operation. My only reaction is to conclude Lilienfeld can't do history,and he can't do psychology.

Exhibit A: FDR is listed higher on the given scale than Richard Nixon (so is JFK, who did have some strong characteristics, but our guy never mentioned him). And the other Roosevelt comes in at number two; the problem is, the example of TR cited by one reviewer (linked) is utterly asinine (and historically incorrect): " The macho TR, the youngest and most popular president sworn into office, was ultimately rejected by the nation."

TR declined to run for a third term (he would've won easily), probably because of an early commitment not to do so; when he did run again, it was as a third party candidate (with a predictable split in the Republican party), and that "ultimately rejected" amounts to a noxious over-simplification (often others can't do history either).

Anyway, I promised I would comment on the debate style; it's one I've encountered lately in those with pronounced trollish tendencies.

It's been labeled the "Gish Gallop" after Young Earth Creationist Douglas Gish who popularized it.

>The Gish Gallop is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of small arguments that their opponent cannot possibly answer or address each one in real time. More often than not, these myriad arguments are full of half-truths, lies, and straw-man arguments — the only condition is that there be many of them, not that they be particularly compelling on their own.

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Posted by: The Unpersuaded ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 08:43AM

Thanks for correcting me on the law degree. I had thought you'd claimed one of those in the past.

On your actual argumentation, I appreciate your refraining from overt ad hominems. That is progress.

As for the descriptions of Churchill and FDR as narcisssists, you have both of your sources (well, the sources you ascribe to me) wrong. It's interesting that you did not try to disprove my allegation that Churchill was a narcissist, presumably because your web search showed too many results from credible sources supporting my position. Best to choose one's battles, right? My initial source on that was actually Manchester, who wrote the best biography of WC. The description of his narcissistic personality disorder is woven through the first two volumes, each of which approaches a thousand pages.

The source for my comment about FDR was not what you propose but, again initially, Conrad Black's eponymous biography. Black thinks that FDR perhaps went beyond the narcissism category and was a sociopath.

As for your discussion of Nixon, JFK and Teddy Roosevelt, is that an example of what you mean when you accuse me of dragging in topics that no one raised? Is that what you called "troll-ish" behavior?

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 09:52AM

. . . and the two Roosevelts, under the subject heading of narcissism.

Wasn't this thread's subject Joseph Smith?

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 09:54AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: The Unpersuaded ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 10:12AM

Can a narcissist be a good leader? Absolutely. They often prove very successful in several prominent fields, especially those in which public adulation, status and money are the rewards.

Can narcissists be deluded enough to believe their own propaganda? Yes, sometimes people like David Koresh and Jim Jones move in and out of consciousness of their own deceit. Evidence that JS was probably such a narcissist includes the section in the D&C saying that if a saint commits some sins for a good cause, he'll be beaten with a few stripes and then let into heaven; the section (121 or 122?) in which JS is obviously depressed and feels guilt; his failure to prepare for the collapse of his fraudulent ventures in treasure seeking and banking. If he were fully aware that his efforts must fail, he would have socked away the money and have planned a secure escape.

Was he a fraud? Surely. Did he know that? Certainly regarding elements of his fraud but probably not all the time for all of his crimes. How intoxicating it must have felt to have people see the visions he told them they were seeing, tell him that he really was a prophet, and give him the money and women he requested. For a man with a weak sense of self (which underlies NPD), such adulation must have come close to giving him an identity. I don't want to get caught up in semantics, so I won't use the word "pious." Maybe it would be better to say he was a fraud who sometimes got caught up in his own rhetoric.

Such narcissists, such fraudsters, are not rare.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 17, 2014 10:25AM

. . . into actually believing his own whole-cloth horse pucky ignores accounts provided by those who knew him well.

Indeed, to suggest that:

(1) he was a believing or pious fraud only after, say, concocting the Book of Mormon in a deliberately deceitful way while mocking those who were hoodwinked by his claims of divine guidance; and that

(2) he suddenly became a believer in the idea that he was being led by God in his post-Book of Mormon publishing days is to:

(3) stretch credulity to the breaking point.

Joe hatched his lies:

(1) at the very beginning with his Book of Mormon fairy tale driven by treasure-seeking, astrology and animal sacrifice;:

(2) continued to string along his followers with manufactured stories about being led by angels, God and Jesus; and

(3) died, with the frantic last words coming from his mouth being the Masonic cry of distress--not a plea to his Heavenly Father. That final act alone should be enough to dispel any doubts about his unpious character from start to finish.

Edited 7 time(s). Last edit at 09/17/2014 10:37AM by steve benson.

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