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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 07:05AM

Revered Mormon apostle and author of “Jesus the Christ” and “The Articles of Faith”--James E. Talmage smoked cigars? Good Lord, say it ain't so, Joe!

Even in certain quarters of the “Mo'ism rocks!” world of LDS apologetics, it is being admitted that Talmage tried to calm himself down by smoking stogies on the advice of the First Presidency.

Holy smokes! Yes, what you read that right. This so-called “rumor” was a Talmage cigar habit and a a Fist Presidency prescription and an and historical annoyance that the Mormon Church would rather hide—all wrapped into one! Despite Talmage's apparent “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” approach to Gospel living, this secret cigar seduction story appears to be true,--if for no other reason that Talmage himself, in his personal diary, acknowledge how he reported the positive effects of his personal stogie-stimulated cure to—that's right, brothers and sisters--the First Presidency. As wryly noted by one commenter:

“Talmage did briefly smoke cigars as a remedy prescribed by a doctor for his nerves and--I’m not making this up-- constipation. Even the First Presidency agreed that it was sound medical advice . . . I’m frankly surprised the two legends about him weren’t combined, i.e,, that he was visited by Jesus while smoking a cigar (Talmage being the smoker, that is). Talmage never inhaled, I understand.”

(“The Top 10 Mormon Lesson Manuals… Ever,” by “bccedwardsnow,” 13 February 2006), at:

–--Talmage Talks Tobacco as Mormon Excusers Give Him a Pass on the Puff; Like the Smell of Stale Cigar Smoke, Attempts Are Made to Save Talmage from Both Himself and the Word of Wisdom

The fact that the hypocritical LDS Church apostle Talmage was granted an exception to the rule by the hypocritical LDS First Presidency was verified by Talmage himself in his personal journal entries, where Talmage wrote of reporting the positive effects of his personal cigar-chomping to, yes, the First Presidency. No matter. In a rather mamby-pamby in-house Signature Books treatment of a biography, entitled “The Essential James E. Talmage,” his private life is described as one that “rumored” to have included a taste for cigars while biographing the Savior:

“It has . . . been rumored that Talmage was a heavy smoker, that when he was writing 'Jesus the Christ,' temple janitors had to dispose of barrels of cigar butts.”

-Then comes the effort at damage control:

“ First, Talmage was a clear advocate of the Word of Wisdom, which prohibited smoking. In 1895 he was asked to speak in the Tabernacle on 'The Tobacco Habit.' In his journal he spoke of his concern with young people smoking. He also wrote about the dangers of 'Hot Drinks.' In the 'Articles of Faith,' he treated the Word of Wisdom and even mentioned it in 'Jesus the Christ.'”

-If that attempt at covering for tobacco-breath Talmage, blame his doctor:

"The rumors of his smoking originated in a remedy prescribed by a doctor, who believed that at one point Talmage was headed toward a nervous breakdown. He [Talmage] typically worked himself to exhaustion; in fact, one apocryphal story, holds that he told a mission president that sometimes his head hurt so much from studying that he would wrap it in wet towels to relieve the pressure. In 1896, Talmage presided over Latter-day Saints College, worked on 'The Articles of Faith,' taught a heavy course load and delivered lectures and completed various other Church assignments. He also suffered from insomnia and constipation.”

-Having trashed Talmage's medical provider, blame his stogie fix on the First Presidency:

"[Talmage] noted in his journal that it had been reported to the First Presidency that 'the moderate use of tobacco would have a good effect on me.' They told him, 'We give you this rather as an instruction as counsel' to take up smoking. Talmage subsequently found 'that a good cigar produced a marvelous quieting of my over-wrought nerves.' As medicine, this prescription was in keeping with the spirit of the Word of Wisdom, and Talmage did not prolong his use of it.” (Note: Talmage's cigar smoking was hardly a“rumor.” According to historian D. Michael Quinn's book, “The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power,” the “First Presidency,” on 12 March 1896, “[gave] James E. Talmage 'an instruction to smoke tobacco to relieve his persistent insomnia”).

(James E. Talmage, excerpted from his personal journals, quoted in “The Essential James E. Talmage,” James P.. Harris, ed. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997, pp. 10-11], as described by in-house “Signature Books Library,” and “Great Moments in LDS/Mormon Church History,” at:

--Covering Talmage's Tail: Mormon Apologists Also Defend Him by Desperately Dissing the Actual Content of Joseph Smith's 1833 Word of Wisdom

In a typical attempt to minimize Talmage's disregard for the LDS Church's doctrinal prohibition against human consumption of tobacco, true-believing Mormons (otherwise known as "TBMS," which stands for "Thinking Bothers Me"), dutifully discharge their supply of predictable smoke-bomb duds. As one TBM dutifully and uninformatively writes:

“I think things need to be considered in context. Is this [meaning Talmage's personal violations of the Word of Wisdom] any more outrageous than 'Joseph Smith drank alcohol' or 'Brigham Young chewed tobacco'? . . . [T]he Word of Wisdom was not made a condition for going to the temple until the 1920s. It was not the same binding commandment in [Talmage's day as] it has been since about 1925, so the actions of someone then have no bearing on the rightness of our actions today.”

(NOTE: Contrary to the above TBM's assertion, “[a]dherence to the proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom was . . . made a requirement for entry into LDS Church temples [in] 1902. However, even then, Church president Joseph F. Smith encouraged stake presidents to be liberal with old men who used tobacco and old ladies who drank tea. Of those who violated the revelation, it was mainly habitual drunkards that were excluded from the temple. Around the turn of the century, the proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom were not strictly adhered to by such notable C hurch leaders [as] Anthon H. Lund, a First Counselor in the First Presidency, [who]drank beer and wine; apostle Matthias F. Cowley [who] drank beer and wine; Charles W. Penrose, who also served as a First Counselor in the First Presidency, [who] drank wine; Relief Society general president Emmeline B. Wells [who] drank coffee; and Church president George Albert Smith [who] drank brandy for medicinal purposes. In 1921, Church president Heber J. Grant made adherence to the proscriptions of the Word of Wisdom an absolute requirement for entering the temple.” See “Word of Wisdom, “ under “Standards of Adherence,” at:

As expected of loyal LDS lapdogs, the go-to apologist group for all things mindlessly Mormon (i.e., the Moron gospel groupies at "FAIR," which stands for "Feeble Attempts in Reinvention")--also offers up a last-gasp effort in behalf of Talmage's sinful cigar seduction:

“The early LDS approach to tobacco was similar to that of their attitude to alcohol: it was avoided, but it was also believed on contemporary medical advice–to offer medicinal aid for things such as toothaches (as used by Brigham Young), and relief of fatigue, stress and headaches. James Talmage was counseled by the First Presidency ‘to try the effect of moderate smoking' for his nervous disorder.” Talmage wrote in his journal that ‘a good cigar produced a marvelous quieting of my over-wrought nerves.'”

(“Up In Smoke: A Response to the Tanners’ Criticism of the Word of Wisdom,” by Mike Ash, FAIR conference, August 2000 at:

--A Word to Mormonism's Willful Deceivers on the Word of Wisdom: Learn to Read

Despite Talmage's public “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” approach to gospel living, his devotion to the Mormon Church's command to treat his body like a temple apparently didn't apply when it came to privately tainting it with tobacco. Who cares if he wasn't a cow? Apostle Talmage's decision to defile his physical tabernacle was at clear odds with the Word of Wisdom, regardless of whether Mormons back in the day chose not to practice what Joseph Smith preached (and which Smith, in fact, himself did not practice, either More on that a bit later).

What constitutes Word of Wisdom no-nos to pro-Mos has been clearly stated by the LDS Church-approved-for-publication,"Encyclopedia of Mormonism,"

(Parenthetically, while the “Encyclopedia” does not technically constitute the Mormon Church's so- called “official” position, it nonetheless has the Mormon Church's backroom fingerprints all over it. Before proceeding to examine what the “Encyclopedia of Mormonism” says about the Word of Wisdom, it's worth noting that in September 1993, I met privately with LDS apostles Neal A. Maxwell and Dallin H. Oaks and in the Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, to discuss, at Maxwell's personal invitation, matters of LDS doctrine, practice and history. During our conversations, Maxwell—holding a copy of the “Encyclopedia of Mormonism”--told me that he and Oaks had been designated consultants on its volumes. He said that his and Oaks' approach and inclination were to, when approached by historians asking questions on various Church-related subjects, to include them in the “Encyclopedia,” Maxwell further said that he and Oaks had been working with Church Archives to ensure that a systematic procedure was in place to catalogue and "meter out" over time documents pertaining to these subjects).

What, then, does the “Encyclopedia of Mormonism” say about the Word of Wisdom? Answer: Faithful Latter-day Saints are to follow what this Joseph Smith-produced “revelation” says about tobacco—meaning don't smoke it:

"Devout Latter-day Saints do not use tobacco in any of its forms. They abstain because of an 1833 revelation [given to Joseph Smith] known as the WORD OF WISDOM [original emphasis], which states that tobacco is 'not for the body, neither for the belly, AND IS NOT GOOD FOR MAN' [emphasis added], except for as a poultice for bruises and treating of 'all sick cattle. (D&C 89:8)."

The "Encyclopedia of Mormonism" (about which, again, Maxwell and Oaks personally told me they worked with both the Mormon Church's Archives and the Mormon Church-chosen publisher for final release) further states that although the Word of Wisdom "was originally given to show the will of God but was not a commandment," it nonetheless makes clear "[a]bstience from tobacco was expected of all fully-participating Church members [pause . . . ] by the early 20th-century. . . .

"The Word of Wisdom came in response to the Prophet [Joseph Smith's] inquiry about tobacco, which was being used by some of the men attending the [S]chool of the [P]rophets] . . . [which] was meeting at his home in the Whitney Store [in Kirtland, Ohio]. The Word of Wisdom . . . noted tobacco as useful only for treating bruises and sick cattle. [ NOTE: It appears that Joseph Smith didn't read the memo he got from God] . . . Church members should not consume . . . tobacco . . . .

"The introduction to the 1835 printing of the revelation in the Doctrine and Covenants indicated that it was given as counsel or advice rather than as a binding COMMANDMENT [original emphasis], although the revelation states that it was 'adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints.' (D&C 89:3). Compliance with its teachings was sporadic from the late 1830s until the early years of the 20th century. The Church encouraged leads to be an example to the people in abstaining from . . . tobacco . . ., but no binding Church policy [regarding this official Church doctrine] was articulated during this time."

"Tobacco contains nicotine, which is a cerebral and vascular stimulant. The burning of the tobacco leaf also releases and produce a large number of chemical, many of which are absorbed by the body and known to cause cancer and other serious diseases." . . . "[T]he concept of the sanctity of the body and the deleterious effects of chemical substances on it have been emphasized as an extension of the Word of Wisdom." . . . "The association of . . . smoking with lung cancer until the latter part of the 20th century . . . . Since that time, many other diseases have been associated with . . . smoking, including cancers of the oral cavity, larynx, esophagus, kidney, balder and pancreases; peptic ulcers, coronary heart disease; chronic bronchitis, infant morality; and chronic obstructive airway disease."

(“Encyclopedia of Mormonism: The History, Scripture, Doctrine and Procedure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Daniel W. Ludlow, ed., Volume 4, under “Tobacco,” p. 1482, and “Word of Wisdom, pp. 1584-85 [New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992])

Moreover, in a Mormon Church-published pamphlet, “For the Strength of Youth,” portions of which are published on the Mormon Church's official website, a clear warning is issued against cigar smoking, within the context of the Word of Wisdom as it was supposedly revealed to Joseph Smith:
“Never use tobacco products, such as cigarettes, snuff, chewing tobacco, cigars, and pipe tobacco. They are very addictive and will damage your body and shorten your life.“

(“Physical Health,” excerpted from the pamphlet, “For the Strength of Youth: Fulfilling Our Duty to God,” 2001, at:

Keep in mind, as pointed out by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, that Joseph Smith's “Word of Wisdom” was considered a central part of Mormon Church “revelation” (despite the fact that even Joseph Smith didn't follow which, therefore, the Mormon Church has attempted to expunge from the available historical record:

(1) “The Word of Wisdom is considered to be one of the most important revelations in the Mormon Church.”

(2) “A Mormon who continues to break the Word of Wisdom is considered to be weak in the faith.”

(3) “Breaking the Word of Wisdom is considered a sin which can bar a person from the Temple.”

(4) “[A]lthough most members of the Church feel that Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon Church, 'carefully observed the Word of Wisdom,' research reveals just the opposite; [i]n fact, Joseph Smith, the man who introduced the temple ceremony into the Mormon Church, would not be able to go through the Temple if he were living today [because of his many violations of the Word of Wisdom and [because] he] continued to disobey the Word of Wisdom until the day of his death.”

The Tanners further observe for the historical record, that “Mormon leaders have made three important changes concerning the Word of Wisdom in Joseph Smith's [own] 'History of the Church':

“In one instance, Joseph Smith asked 'Brother Markam' to get 'a pipe and some tobacco' for Apostle Willard Richards. These words have been replaced with the word 'medicine' in recent printings of the 'History of the Church.'

"At another time, Joseph Smith related that he gave some of the 'brethren' a 'couple of dollars, with directions to replenish' their supply of 'whiskey.' In modern editions of the 'History of the Church,' 23 words have been deleted from this reference to cover up the fact that Joseph Smith encouraged the 'brethren' to disobey the Word of Wisdom.

"In the third instance, Joseph Smith frankly admitted that he 'drank a glass of beer at Moessers.' These words have been omitted in recent printings of the 'History of the Church.' “

The Tanners inconveniently point out that Smith owned a bar in Nauvoo that sold liquor, and that wine was widely used and abused in the Kirtland Temple three years before Smith's death (which mostly likely helped precipitate the production of under-the influence-of-booze “visions” during its so-called “dedication").

In making their case against Smith's hypocrisy, the Tanners highlight evidence clearly demonstrating that he as “the founder of the Mormon Church, did not keep the Word of Wisdom.” He not only “sold “whiskey in Nauvoo,” his supposedly divinely-inspired Word of Wisdom's denunciation of tobacco as not being fit for human consumption was both a principle that Smith personally failed to observe, and a so-called “revelation” that was not unique or divinely inspired. The Tanners note, for example, that “the 'Wayne Sentinel'-- a newspaper printed in the neighborhood where Joseph Smith grew up--published these statements [on 6 November 1829] concerning tobacco three years before Joseph Smith gave the Word of Wisdom: 'It is really surprising that a single individual could be found, who, after experiencing the distressing sensations almost invariably produced by the first use of tobacco, would be willing to risk their recurrence a second time: . . . . Tobacco is, in fact, an absolute poison . . . .'”

(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, “The Word of Wisdom,” Chapter 18, in “The Changing World of Mormonism,” at;

Trapped and trembling TBMs need to remember that this wouldn't be such a problem for the LDS PR department if Talmage hadn't admitted in his personal diary to having consumed tobacco in the first place, followed by the First Presidency then blowing off his cigar-chomping habit. (Damn history. Get's 'em every time). Too bad that today's Mormon Church doesn't provide the same escape hatch for its members who disobey the Word of Wisdom by smoking, One of them (who has previously posted on RfM in defense of his work with the Church's historical committee in relation to the release of its anonymous essays, see:,1144037,1144037#msg-1144037) , notes how the “little people” don't get the same benefit as the Big Insider Presiders:

“I'm a Joseph Smith-style Word of Wisdom practitioner. He [Smith] is supposed to be our Judge on the Last Day (not Jesus), being the Prophet of This Dispensation and all that. So, he's gotta cut me a little slack. And I have the same 'nervous condition' that James E. Talmage had, so I smoke a pipe as a remedy for it on occasion. I didn't get permission from the First Presidency like he did, but at least I don't smoke in the temple while writing books like 'Jesus the Christ.' It doesn't really matter for me one way or the other since I choose not to hold a temple recommend. haven't had one in many years.”

(“Answering Temple Questions as a NOM,” response by “epiginosko,” on “New Order Mormon,” 4 November 2010, at:

There is reason to hope that Joseph Smith would have cut Mormonism's rebels “a little slack,” since he himself smoked cigars. As the Tanners write:

“We do not know how often Joseph Smith used tobacco, but we do know that at one time 'he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar.'

("Joseph Smith As An Administrator," M.A. Thesis, by Dean Guthrie, Brigham Young University, May 1969, p. 161, quoted by Jerald and Sandra Tanner in “The Changing World of Mormonism.” Chapter 18, “The Word of Wisdom,” at:

Or put another way:

“It's good to remember that Joseph Smith is recorded as smoking cigars in front of lots of people. If Broseph can do it, you can do it, and it does help to have some ecclesiastical authority over the ladies too.”

(posted by “Elder Salamander.” under “I Smoked a Cigar Today,” 2014)

--Joseph Smith, Jr. and James E. Talmage: Both Cigar Smokers Who Are Cut a Believing Break by the Faithfully Fleeced

Wind-up soldier-saints for Kolob are overly anxious to preserve the “Model Mormon” myth of not only Mormon Apostle James E. Talmage, but also of Mormonism's inventor, Joseph Smith, Jr., Ironically, former Mormon apostles who have dared go public about Smith's cigar habit have been assigned to Mormon hell for spilling the beans. One of them deals with Smith's cited stogie scenes by attacking those who wrote about it all in their personal diaries as being nothing more than (a) disgruntled apostate members of the First Presidency or (b) faithful-to-the-end apostles who suffered from bad memories:

“The genesis of [the Joseph Smith cigar-smoking] story stems from a 1895 diary entry made by an active Apostle by the name of Abraham H. Cannon. This entry to Cannon’s diary was made a full 18 years after the death of the accuser, Amasa Lyman. Abraham H. Cannon is the only source stating that Amasa Lyman saw Joseph smoking the cigar. Mr. Cannon states that according to Joseph Smith's counselor in the First Presidency, Amasa Lyman, . . . he, Joseph Smith, gave a sermon on the Word of Wisdom and, 'immediately afterward . . . rode through the streets smoking a cigar.' Lyman said Joseph did this to try 'the faith of the Saints . . . . ' However, this behavior does not seem congruent and compatible with Smith’s . . . character. Thus far in his life, there is nothing to indicate that he [Joseph Smith] would be one to flaunt the idea of cigar smoking as being reputable, or ignore the revelation as it was revealed. Because of this, a couple of factual points need to be clarified here . . . :

-“Fact One: Amasa Lyman was Excommunicated and Bitter Against the Church

“It is important to ask the question, 'Why would Amasa Lyman state that Joseph Smith smoked cigars?' Mr. Lyman was stripped of his Apostleship and position in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for repeatedly teaching false doctrine. After Lyman was excommunicated from the LDS Church, he wrote that Joseph Smith smoked cigars.

-“Fact Two: The Diary of Abraham H. Cannon Those who are biased in either destroying the character of Smith or simply to prove a point are the first to use this document as authoritative, since it stems from an active Apostle of the LDS church who served faithfully till the end of his life. There are some factual points to consider here as well:

-”The personal diary of Abraham H. Cannon is... well... exactly that...his personal diary.

-”Amasa Lyman is somehow "quoted" but with no source as to where Mr. Cannon had either heard or read it.

-”Mr. Cannon is quoting a bitter excommunicated member of the LDS faith.

-”Mr. Cannon's journal entry was 18 years after the excommunication and death of Amasa Lyman . . . .

-"Fact Three: Almon W. Babbitt was Bitter Against the Church

“On the 19th of August 1835, Almon W. Babbitt was brought before the Church's High Council on three charges. One of the charges was 'not keeping the Word of Wisdom.' Babbitt stated 'that he had taken the liberty to break the Word of Wisdom, from the example of President Joseph Smith,Jr., and others, but acknowledged that it was wrong.'

-"Points for Consideration: After Mr. Babbitt blames Smith for not keeping the Word of Wisdom, Joseph Smith writes a complaint against him for slandering his character. On the 28th of December 1835, Joseph Smith 'submitted a complaint before the Church's High Council that Babbitt had been 'misrepresenting' him to a number of Latter Day Saints.' Joseph writes: 'Brethren, Almon Babbitt has been misrepresenting me to certain of the brethren. I therefore prefer a complaint to the Council that the subject may be investigated, that my character and influence may be preserved as far as it can in righteousness. Yours in the bonds of the New & Everlasting Covenant, Joseph Smith Jr."

“A unanimous vote: At the conclusion of the Council held against Almon W. Babbitt, the entire Council submitted that he, Almon Babbitt, 'has spoken things falsely to the injury of J. Smith Jr.'

-“Fact Four: Gary Dean Guthrie’s Master Thesis Quotes Cannon’s Diary

“Member of the LDS faith, Gary Dean Guthrie, wrote his 1969 M.A. thesis, "Joseph Smith as an Administrator.” In this thesis, Guthrie also wrote that Joseph rode through the streets smoking a cigar. However, Mr. Guthrie is quoting Abraham H. Cannon's hearsay of a bitter excommunicated Apostle named Amasa Lyman.”

Nice try, but if cigar-smoking wasn't really that bad under terms of the Word of Wisdom,, then why the effort by a Mormon Church General Authority (one later reportedly stopped by an LDS Apostle) to hide the cigar-smoking habits of prominent Mormon Church leaders, as reported below?”

“The 'Salt Lake Tribune' ran a couple of articles about the opening of Leonard J. Arrington’s massive 50-box 'diary' (really more of a scrapbook). . . .

“The first link [to the Arrington collection] contains the following quotation:

“'Susan Arrington Madsen said a General Authority asked her to remove about 40 entries her father had made in his diary. Many of them referred to things Arrington had learned --or at least heard--about men who potentially could become Church President.

“'For example, a now-deceased apostle used to smoke cigars earlier in his life when he was an inactive Mormon.'

“I was kind of stunned by that last line. We’re really missing a bet when we try to sweep something like this under the rug. Why is it a bad thing that an apostle used to smoke cigars? James Talmage did, and the world hasn’t ended. Wouldn’t allowing a story like that to circulate let the weakest among us realize that we all have our problems, and if a guy who used to smoke could become an apostle, then maybe we should go ahead and go to church, too? Have we learned nothing from the love and affection the Saints have for J. Golden Kimball even to this very day?

“Instead of trying to censor this story, the Church ought to have a special article on it in The Ensign and trumpet it from the housetops.

“(Update [by the writer]: An Apostle later reviewed the passages the first GA wanted to redact and had no problem with them. So, those passages were not actually censored. This post is about, to me, [the] inexplicable impulse of the first GA to hide what strikes me as a truly inspiring story.]”

(“Sometimes a Cigar Is Just a Cigar,” by Ken Barney, on “Common Consent,” 18 September 2010, at: )

At any rate, let s put it straight to the TBM currently in the cross-eyed hairs. (He identifies himself, by the way, as Michael A. Hickman--an openly unapologetic Mormon living in Spanish Fork, Utah, who has gone so far as to publish a photograph of his baptismal certificate on the Web; see:}. Why is Hickman going to such lengths as a member of The Personality Cult of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to protect Joseph Smith's mythical character?

Two answers:

-First, because it's God's Personality Cult, meaning that any and all who choose to challenge the officially-approved narrative are wrong and unreliable, even if they happen to have been devoted-to-the-death Mormon apostles.

-Second, because, by his own admission, Brother Hickman is an unabashed partisan believer—one who goes so far in his excuse-making for Joseph Smith to quote a devout Catholic professor who says it's always best to believe the believers:

“My Own Conclusion

“IN MY BIASED OPINION [emphasis added], Amasa Lyman said this about Smith [and his cigar smoking] because Mr. Lyman was stripped of his Apostleship and position in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for repeatedly teaching false doctrine. After Lyman was excommunicated from the LDS Church, he wrote that Joseph Smith smoked cigars. This is critical to note:

-”Why didn't Lyman make this statement during the time of his active service in the church?

-”Why did he reveal this after his excommunication?

“Catholic Harvard professor Krister Stendahl understood the inexorable importance of asking, 'the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.' It is critical to the religion and to yourself that when making judgments and conclusions--especially about a religion--that an inquiring person fairly formulates his evaluated conclusion based upon active practicing members of that religion and not by a biased enemy who has been released of his former membership practice.

(“Joseph Smith, Jr. Smoked Cigars: Probably Not,” by Michael A. Hickman, January 2013, at:

It's interesting that Hickman should appeal to a Catholic theologian for support of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith's cigar smoking, especially when it's been the Mormon Church's highest leaders (in latter-day league with its most prominent publications) who have historically condemned the Catholic Church (among all others non-Mormon) for being “The Whore” afflicting Planet Earth (not to mention calling it other nasty names). RfM poster “Deconstructor” makes due note of the Mormon Church's historical anti-Catholic record :

“Here are some references to Mormon leaders and scriptures that refer to the "Great and Abominable Church" and "Great Whore of All the Earth"

“What would you think of Catholicism if you believed this stuff? . . .

-"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon' whom the Lord denounces . . . as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act. If any penitent believer desires to obtain forgiveness of sins through baptism, let him beware of having any thing to do with the churches of apostate Christendom, lest he perish in the awful plagues and judgments, denounced against them. The only persons among all nations, kindreds, tongues and people who have authority from Jesus Christ to administer any gospel ordinance are those called and authorized among the Latter-day Saints. Before the restoration of the Church of Christ to the earth in the year 1830, there have been no people on the earth for many generations possessing authority from God to minister gospel ordinances. We again repeat. Beware of the hypocritical false teachers and imposters of Babylon!” (Mormon Church apostle Orson Pratt, “The Seer,” Vol. 2, No. 4, p. 255)

-"The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church is the great corrupt ecclesiastic power, represented by great Babylon which has made all nations drunk with her wickedness, and she must fall, after she has been warned with the sound of the everlasting gospel. Her overthrow will be by a series of the most terrible judgments which will quickly succeed each other,

"A great portion of the oriental country has been preserved from the grossest idolatry, wickedness, confusion, bloodshed, murders, cruelty, and errors in religion that have overspread the rest of the world, under the name of Christianity, or mystery of iniquity. An open defiance of God is no mystery; open drunkenness, and reveling debauchery, and all manner of wickedness and immorality professed by sinners who profess to be nothing else, are no mystery; they do not deceive anybody; but when all manner of wickedness, idolatry, drunkenness, and corruption is cloaked under a sacred name, under an outward sanctity and holiness, and under as high and dignified an appellation as Christian, it is a mystery of iniquity; and that has overspread a great portion of the world, and has borne rule until the present day, sometimes under the name of Roman universality, sometimes under the name of the Greek Church, and at other times under various classes and names."

"Many that were honest have been deceived by this mystery of iniquity, who have esteemed things to be sacred, which were abominably corrupt; and corrupt superstitions have been revered because of the great names and sanctified professions that were attached to them. If such institutions actually professed wickedness, they would go for what they were worth; but when a thing professes to be holy, and takes the name of Christ as its founder, and the holy Prophets and Apostles, to carry out all manner of oppression, all manner of idolatry and idol worship, all manner of priestcraft and kingcraft, and more or less instigating division among nations and governments, all to carry out bloodshed, cruelty, the rack, the inquisition, and holding of men in bondage, ruling them with a red of iron, it is a mystery of iniquity calculated to deceive millions."

"But returning to the general corruption that has prevailed nationally, politically, and religiously, under the name of Christianity, leaving out Christ and his Apostles, I do think there has been no idolatry in the world, under any form or system, that could surpass it. It is the mystery of iniquity, the great whore of all the earth. It has brought the whole earth under a lasting curse, having departed from the laws of God, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant, in consequence of which the earth is destined to be burned, and few men left." (Mormon Church apostle Parley P. Pratt, “Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 3, p. 41

-"How long has this order of things existed, this dreadful apostasy, this class of people that pronounced themselves Zion, or Christians, without any of the characteristics of Zion? It has existed for some sixteen or seventeen centuries. It has spread itself and grown and gone into the four quarters of the earth. It is the great ecclesiastical power that is spoken of by the revelator John, and called by him the most corrupt and most wicked of all the powers of the earth, under the name of spiritual Babylon, or in other words Babel, which signifies confusion. This great and corrupt power is also represented by John as presenting a golden cup to the nations, full of all manner of filthiness and abominations."

“She is termed, in other places, by the same prophet, 'The whore of all the earth,' making the nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication. Some three centuries ago there came out sortie excellent men, named Martin Lather, John Calvin and many others that might be mentioned, who protested against the wickedness and abominations of the Church wherein they had been educated, and of which they had been members. Because of their protestations against the mother Church, they were called Protestants. They pronounced her the whore of all the earth; they declared that she had no authority, that she had none of the blessings and gifts which characterized the ancient Christians. They came out and established other Churches... But among all these Churches where are the characteristics of Zion? We hunt for them in vain." (Mormon Church apostle Orson Pratt, “Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 14, p. 346)

-"Thrones shall be cast down, and the Ancient of Days shall sit, and the body of the fourth beast (or Babylon) shall be given to the devouring flame, and then shall the remnant of the heathen know that the Lord is God, for they shall see and hear of his judgments, which he shall execute upon the corrupt powers of the earth under the name of modern Christianity, scripturally called 'Babylon the Great--the whore of all the earth,' with whom the nations for centuries have committed fornication, and have drank out of her filthy cup. O Babylon! thou hast decked thyself with costly ornaments! Thou has clothed thyself with the most gaudy apparel! Thy seminaries of learning, and thy theological institutions have been multiplied far and wide. Thy priests are polished with all the refinements of a profound and extensive education. Thy costly and magnificent churches have been erected in great numbers throughout all thy borders. The merchants of the earth have made themselves rich through the abundance of thy luxuries. The learned, the great, the mighty, the kings of the earth, have glorified themselves in thy grand and superb palaces. Thou hast indeed enrobed thyself in the royal splendors of a queen. Thine external appearance has excited the admiration of all nations. But internally thou art rotten with the filth of thy whoredoms." (Mormon Church apostle Orson Pratt, “The Essential Orson Pratt,” p. 109)

(“Behold the Great and Abominable Church (references),” by “Deconstructor,” on “Recovery from Mormonism” discussion board, November 20:23 at: Deconstructor

But wait, there's more:

-". . . [A]ll the priests who adhere to th e sectarian religions of the day with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels." (Joseph Smith Jr., editor, and Mormon Church president, “The Elders Journal,” Vol.1, No.4 , p. 60)
"I was answered that I must join none of them (Christian Churches), for they were all wrong...that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight" (Mormon Church inventor Joseph Smith, “Joseph Smith History,” Vol. 1, p. 19)

-"The Christian world, so called, are heathens as to their knowledge of the salvation of God." (Mormon Church president Brigham Young, “Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 8, p. 171)

-"We may very properly say that the sectarian world do not know anything correctly, so far as pertains to salvation. Ask them where heaven is?- where they are going to when they die?-where Paradise is! -and there is not a priest in the world that can answer your questions. Ask them what kind of a being our Heavenly Father is, and they cannot tell you so much as Balaam's ass told him. They are more ignorant than children." (Mormon Church president, Brigham Young, “Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 5, p. 229).

-"The Christian world, I discovered, was like the captain and crew of a vessel on the ocean without a compass, and tossed to and fro whithersoever the wind listed to blow them. When the light came to me, I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness." (Mormon Church president Brigham Young, “Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 5, p. 73).

"What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute best." (eventual Mormon Church president John Taylor, “Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 13. p. 225)

-"Brother [John] Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth." (Mormon Church president Brigham Young, “Journal of Discourse,” Vol. 6, p. 176)

-"What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing...Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God." (eventual Mormon Church president, John Taylor, ”Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 13, p. 225)

-"Nothing less than a complete apostasy from the Christian religion would warrant the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Mormon General Authority, B.H. Roberts, ed., “Documentary History of the Church,” Introduction, p. xl)

-" . . . [O]rthodox Christian views of God are Pagan rather than Christian." (Mormon General Authority B.H. Roberts, “Mormon Doctrine of Deity,” p.116)

-" . . . [T]he God whom the 'Christians' worship is a being of their own creation . . . " (Mormon Apostle Charles W. Penrose, 'Journal of Discourses,” Vol. 23, p. 243)

-"Believers in the doctrines of modern Christendom will reap damnation to their souls (Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine,” p.177)

-"The Roman Catholic, Greek, and Protestant church, is the great corrupt, ecclesiastical power, represented by great Babylon.. . . . " (Mormon Church apostle Orson Pratt, “Writings of an Apostle,” under "Divine Authenticity," No. 6, p. 84)

-"And any person who shall be so wicked as to receive a holy ordinance of the gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent of the unholy and impious act." (Mormon apostle Orson Pratt, "The Kingdom of God," No. 2, p. 6)

-" . . . [A]ll other churches are entirely destitute of all authority from God; and any person who receives baptism or the Lord's supper from their hands will highly offend God, for he looks upon them as the most corrupt people." (Mormon Church apostle Orson Pratt, “The Seer,” p. 255)

-" . . . 'T]he great apostate church as the anti-Christ. . . . .This great anti-Christ. . . . .is the Church of the devil." (Mormon Church apostle Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine.” p. 40)

-"Evil spirits control much of the so-called religious worship in the world; for instance, the great creeds of Christendom were formulated so as to conform to their whispered promptings." (Mormon Church apostle Bruce R. McConkie, “Mormon Doctrine,” p. 246)

-"After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christiandom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common groin. They belong to Babylon." (Mormon Church Apostle George Q. Cannon, “Gospel Truth,” p. 324)

(“Quotations from Mormon Leaders on the Christian Faith,” by James White, excerpted at:


Choking on the Smokey Hokey Pokey: The Mormon Church's Shortness of Breath Brought on by Cigar-Chewing James E. Talmage and Joseph Smith. Jr,

Let's review the respiratory record:

-Mormon Church apostle James E. Talmage admitted in his personal journals that he smoked cigars.

-At Talmage's own acknowledged request, the Mormon Church First Presidency recommend that he smoke cigars.

-The act of cigar smoking is characterized by the Mormon Church as being a violation of Joseph Smith's “revealed” Word of Wisdom.

-Mormon Church apologists have unsuccessfully attempted to dismiss or deny that Talmage was guilty of smoking cigars.

-Like Talmage, Mormon Church inventor Joseph Smith also smoked cigars.

-As in the case of Talmage's cigar smoking, Mormon Church apologists have unsuccessfully attempted to dismiss or deny that Joseph Smith was guilty of smoking cigars.

-Mormon Church apologists have accused Mormon apostles-turned apostates who accuse Joseph Smith of being a two-faced, cigar smoking hypocrite as being “bitter," while dismissing Mormon apostles who were ever-faithful but who acknowledged that Joseph Smith was, in fact, a cigar smoker as being possessed of poor recall and/or judgment, and therefore couldn't be trusted.

-Mormon Church apologists defending Joseph Smith against charges of cigar smoking—(who, by the way, themselves happen to belong to a Church that has, historically and at its highest levels, publicly painted the Catholic Church as “the Church of the Devil,” “the Whore of Babylon,” etc.,)--have the gall to tell others to trust the views of Catholic believers when it comes to understanding the true nature of the Catholic Church. Why, you may ask? Because, according to these Mormon apologists, Catholics are the most reliable source for determining the accuracy of claims made about their Church's actual doctrine and history. Therefore, the story goes, it's always best to ask true-believing Mormons what the LDS Church is all about, rather than to bother asking non-Mormons, never-Mormons, ex-Mormons or memory-impaired faithful Mormons about cigar-smoking leaders of the Mormonism. (As if Mormon Church leaders have ever seriously bothered asking Catholics for their inputs on Catholicism before calling it a product of Satan). ''

Lordy, Mormons are loony.

Who knows what TBMs are sucking in (secretly, of course) or being suckered in by (in their pews, of course) but whatever it is, it appears to have sharply reduced their power to reason. For all you LDS lurkers out there, put that in your pipe (or, even better , wrap that in your cigar) and smoke it. It just might help you get out of your cult quicker.

Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2015 07:47AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: Left Field ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 10:45AM

Thank you JT for setting church precedent for the use of medical marijuana!

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 12:02PM

Great post Steve.

And maybe smoking a joint before going to the temple improves the experience?

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Posted by: BYU Boner ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 12:41PM

Really, Elder! Nothing could improve THAT experience. Boner.

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Posted by: BYU Boner ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 12:48PM

Frankly, I don't care about who broke the WoW--short answer they all did; go to the pioneer museum in SLC and note all the tea pots. These items were so important that they crossed the Plains.

What I'd like to see is Talmage's The Great Apostasy compared with the current LDS church. Yes, Catholicism had bad popes; Mormons have had bad prophets. The Harlot had many men claiming to be her pimp; the Morg has had demented leaders. There's a lot of similarities here. The Boner.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2015 12:49PM by byuboner.

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Posted by: exodus ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 02:04PM

"What is that?"

"The first token of the Aaronic Priesthood."

"Has it a name?"

"It has."

"Will you give it to me?"

"I will through the veil. Uhhhh.... uhhh... <snicker> ... hahaha... <loud laughter>"

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 02:05PM

The first toke of The Aaronic Priesthood is the most blest. I had my first toke when I only had The Aaronic Priesthood.

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Posted by: exodus ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 02:10PM


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Posted by: False Doctrine ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 03:56PM

I would say some joint smoking was involved in creating the experience.

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Posted by: Templar ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 12:41PM

OP wrote: "“In one instance, Joseph Smith asked 'Brother Markam' to get 'a pipe and some tobacco' for Apostle Willard Richards. These words have been replaced with the word 'medicine' in recent printings of the 'History of the Church.'"

Yet another one of Mormonisms little white lies! Why is it so damn hard for them to face the fact that their "sainted" leaders were human after all.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 01:50PM

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Posted by: Templar ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 03:55PM

Did I not reference that fact i.e. "OP wrote:"?

I copied your statement to comment on it which I did.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 05, 2015 06:05PM

I was simply noting that your observation about the word "tobacco" having later been replaced by the word "medicine" had already been stated in the OP. It sounded to me, at least, that you might have been adding something I night have missed putting in the OP.

What I missed was that you hadn't missed it. Oops. :)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/2015 06:05PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: funeral taters ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 12:52PM

On my mission (sorry for one of those "on my mission" stories) there was an Elder that liked to recount a much more palatable Mormon folklore story about Talmage. He said that oftentimes people would ask Albert Einstein what it was like to be the most intelligent man in the world. Einstein would always reply, "I don't know; ask James Talmage." Probably complete bullshit as everything else in Mormonism is. Interesting though.

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Posted by: thedesertrat1 ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 01:53PM

how does this knowledge affect my recovery?

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Posted by: Elder Berry ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 02:03PM

The word of wisdom stuff is a complete cancer to me. This helps my recovery in adding fuller historic (otherwise known as "flicks") details to my reasons for pointing out to the people I love how their God's health code is not inspired.

I was inculcated since birth to believe smoking was like having premarital sex. This information is very freeing to me. It shows me how Mormon inspiration is as morally relativistic as anything else. And Mormonism is all about absolutes when they are addressing their members.

Joseph Smith risked dying instead of taking whiskey remember?

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2015 02:03PM by Elder Berry.

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Posted by: False Doctrine ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 04:01PM

Tidbits like this lead many of us to the door of needing recovery. It is in the proper forum. If you don't need it don't read it.

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Posted by: up ( )
Date: January 05, 2015 05:48PM

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Posted by: USN77 ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 03:44PM

Steve Benson quoted Michael A. Hickman:
“Catholic Harvard professor Krister Stendahl understood the inexorable importance of asking, 'the adherents of that religion and not its enemies.' It is critical to the religion and to yourself that when making judgments and conclusions--especially about a religion--that an inquiring person fairly formulates his evaluated conclusion based upon active practicing members of that religion and not by a biased enemy who has been released of his former membership practice."

I was taught this argument as a missionary, but it never seemed quite right. Okay, if you're thinking about buying a Ford, it's possible that asking a GM dealer about the Ford will not yield accurate information. But it's ALSO possible (probable?) that you won't get the full scoop if you ask the Ford dealer.

In point of fact, consumers usually get their information about products and services from other people who have purchased them. Ever ask people how they like the cars they drive before going to shop for one of those cars? I have. In the Internet age, this practice has taken on a whole new form: online product reviews. LOTS of people read reviews of movies, games, clothes, you name it before buying.

SO...want to know about the LDS Church? Your best source of information is people who have bought the product. Are you going to be satisfied with the opinions of only the customers who say they LOVE the product (while their lives often shout the opposite message), or will you also want the opinions of unhappy former customers?

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Posted by: thingsithink ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 11:09PM

As Warren Buffet says, "you don't ask a barber if you need a haircut."

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 05, 2015 06:08PM

They could just tuck their locks up under the rim and get on with doing the Lord's non-buzzed biz. :)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/2015 06:08PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: Tal Bachman ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 04:15PM

Today he would have been prescribed medical marijuana (now that would have been something).

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Posted by: Shummy ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 07:43PM

Funny you bring that up Tal.....

History of the Word of Wisdom, Mar 17, 1884
-- Mar 17, 1884
Future apostle James E. Talmage, at Johns Hopkins University, writes in his journal: "Mar 17. I have been engaged some time in the study of the effects of Narcotics upon the system, i.e. studying the same theoretically only. Today I found a gentleman who works in the same Laboratory as I, and who has for 2 years been addicted to the habit of eating Haschich or extract of Cannabis Indica. He was very willing to give me any data from his own experience; and gave me such." Five days later he includes himself as a subject by taking "Cannabis Indica" himself. (1)

-- Mar 22, 1884
James E Talmage begins using hashish at Johns Hopkins University as "my physiological experiment" of its effects. He takes three doses of five grains each every hour "solid extract Cannabis Indica". By Apr 6 he is using twenty grains, "and the effect was felt in a not very agreeable way." Nevertheless, he intends to "vary the trial in the future." This is last reference in Talmadge's diary to using narcotics. Four months later he becomes member of stake high council. (1)

[Word of Wisdom] "This being Saturday, was the day I selected to study practically the effects of Hashish. This evening, after work and all was over, I took at 3 doses each hour after the preceding, 5 grains solid extract Cannabis Indica. At this writing â midnight â 5 hours since last does, I have experienced no effect whatever. The effect is said to be widely different in different people." (The Essential JamesE. Talmage, James P. Harris editor, Classics in Mormon Thought Series No. 5, Signature Books, Inc., 1997 pp. 11‐12.) (2)

-- Mar 23, 1884
The day after he took 3 "doses" 5 grains each of Hashish (Cannibas Indica) James E. Talmage writes in his journal: "Sunday. Spent quietly. Have had no result to be noted of my physiological experiment yesterday. I do not feel inclined to try again till the end of next week-as the realization of the effects of the drug are not desirable on working days." (1)

-- Apr 5, 1884
[Word of Wisdom] "This evening â first opportunity which has presented itself â I attempted my experiment on the effects of Hashish as referred to March 22(page 26). Took all 15 grains. No effects." (The Essential JamesE. Talmage, James P. Harris editor, Classics in Mormon Thought Series No. 5, Signature Books, Inc., 1997 pp. 11‐12.) (2)

1 - On This Day in Mormon History,
2 - Talmage journal entry

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Posted by: rt ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 06:11PM

Hey, whatever else can be said about Jim Talmage, a man who smokes cigars is OK in my book.

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Posted by: Searcher ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 06:29PM

Using the WoW as a tool of social compliance and manipulation is a relatively recent phenomena.

Look at the photos in the following link from Dialogue.

There used to be SPITOONS in the Salt Lake temple to accomodate the Q15 and others that chewed tobacco!

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Posted by: WestBerkeleyFlats ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 06:37PM

The Word of Wisdom, as well all know, was not mandated as commandment by the LDS church until the presidency of Heber J. Grant, who was a prohibitionist.

The LDS church could, if it so chose, return the status of the health code to a recommendation or more reasonably relax the prohibition again coffee and tea, which have been shown to have health benefits and are probably better for members than sugary sodas.

The reality is that informed members already know these things and don't have a probably with Talmage, or Smith, using tobacco, apart from the obvious health risks.

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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: January 05, 2015 05:56PM

The OP clearly notes that the Word of Wisdom wasn't mandated as a commandment for temple entrance until the Heber J. Grant regime.

It was also noted in the OP that many ranking LDS Church leaders over time did not follow the Word of Wisdom--supposedly revealed by God from the outset, in which it was declared through Joseph Smith that tobacco was "not good for man"--thus making all of these Word of Wisdom ignorers at the highest levels of Mormon Church government (including Joseph Smith) rank hypocrites.

Finally, I think you meant to say "informed members . . . don't have a PROBLEM" (not "don't have a PROBABLY") when it came to "Talmage, or Smith, using tobacco" (emphasis added).

Of course. most TBMs probably don't have a problem with it. They'll do anything to protect the beloved backsides of their two-faced leaders, including ignoring damnably inconvenient facts.


Edited 10 time(s). Last edit at 01/05/2015 09:31PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: sassenach ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 06:50PM

What I found interesting is that from a young age Talmage was trained in Astrology, and was even considered to be a "Master Astrologer"

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 01/02/2015 06:58PM by sassenach.

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Posted by: Saucie not at Home ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 07:02PM

The smokey hokey pokey..... I love it.

thanks for always informing us.

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Posted by: Shummy ( )
Date: January 02, 2015 10:36PM

Happy birthday Steve.

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Posted by: ex_sushi_chef ( )
Date: January 05, 2015 09:57PM

kinda liked this scene....

"It was at this juncture that Dr. Richmond reached Nauvoo, and went to the Nauvoo House.

He says: "As I entered the hall I saw a large, well-dressed individual seated on a trunk at the further end of the hall, quietly smoking a cigar, who was pointed out to me as Joseph Smith. He was over six feet tall, of heavy build, with broad shoulders light hair and complexion, light blue eyes, long nose, a retreating forehead, large brain and short neck. The impression on me was a mingled one. He was easy in his manners, and seemed sure of an acquittal if he could get a fair hearing. Presently he mounted a beautiful chestnut horse, ....

but neverheless clean air is good....

spittoons....janitors had to clean up it like dogs poops??!! ummmm....class society....

nazi germany made a success of anti-tabacco etc....nazi took the idea from??

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