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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: April 11, 2011 06:12PM


Think of your favorite General Authorities' "revelatory" Conference talks and/or doctrinal writings.

Check their source references (if any), then think again.

What you'll find is certainly a, well, revelation.


First and foremost, of course, among Mormonism's persistent plagiarists was its charismatic charlatan and philandering founder, Joseph Smith (1805-1844).

Smith (with the conniving assistance of Sidney Rigdon) ripped off the fictional manuscript writings of Congregationalist minister Solomon Spaulding (1761-1816) for the purpose of creating the equally fictional Book of Mormon.

In his devastating expose' of Smith's theft of others' hard-earned intellectual property (since he had no honest intellect of his own), researcher Vernal Holley exposes the spawned-by-Spaulding connection:

"[There are] many similarities between Spaulding's 'Manuscript Story' and the Book of Mormon. These are not vague similariites also found in other adventure stories; they are unique only to the works in question.

"How many books exist that have the same story outline as the Book of Mormon? How many stories tell of a record being written by the ancestors of the American Indians and buried by them to come forth at some future time when other people inherit their lands? How many tell of the same worship ceremonies, cultural technology, seer stones, and give the same descriptions of their fortifications and war stories? How many novels tell of a white God person whose teachings brought about a long period of peace followed by a war between kindred tribes in which the losing people are exterminated? Many similarities in the literary style of the two works have also been identified including identical word combinations, and the geograhpical settings of the two stories appear to be in the same area?

"Most skeptical readers of Spaulding's 'Manuscript Story' encounter difficulty in recognizing similarities between it and the Book of Mormon because they expect it to be written in the King James style complete with sentences beginning with "And it came to pass" and personal names similar to those in the Book of Mormon. When they cannot find these elements, they may lost interest and find it difficult to complete even a first reading. The problem is compounded when the reader is not a veteran student of the Book of Mormon. For example, if the reader is unaware that Gazelem, the Book of Mormon servant of the Lord, possessed a seer stone, the Spaulding seer stone might be passed over as insignificant.

"I believe that anyone who carefully studies all the material in [my] report will see that a relationship does exist between Solomon Spaulding's unpublished writing, called 'Manuscript Story,' and the Book of Mormon. The only significant difference between the two story outlines is the inclusion of the romance between Prince Eleson and Princess Lamess in 'Manuscript Story.' There is no such romance in the Book of Mormon.

"All the same, [Hugh] Nibley's assertion that the similarities between the 'Manuscript Story' and the Book of Mormon 'add up to nothing' seems to me to be an unfair conclusion. I believe the application of Nibley's rule (the closer the resemblance, the closer the connection) leaves little doubt that a connection does exist between Solomon Spaulding's writing and the Book of Mormon.

"So the question remains: How did this relationship come about? And, was the unfinished Spaulding 'Manuscript Story'--or an enlarged version--used by Joseph Smith as the groundwork for the Book of Mormon?"

(Vernal Holley, Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look--A comprehensive study of the similarities between the Book of Mormon and the writings of Solomon Spaulding, 3rd edition, revised and enlarged [Roy, Utah: Vernal Holley, publisher, 1992], pp. 71-72)

For striking examples of parallel word usages, storylines, names, and geographic locales, see: and:

Wayne L. Cowdrey, Howard A. Davis and Arthur Vanick, Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon? (St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House, 2005)

"Book of Mormon stories that I cribbed--here, look and see . . ."


David O. McKay (1873-1970) is perhaps best known for his oft-quoted little couplet (which, come to find out, wasn't his after all):

"No other success can compensate for failure in the home."

(cited on an official LDS website, from J. E. McCullough, "Home: The Savior of Civilization" [1924], 42; Conference Report, April 1935, p. 116.)

McKay had, in fact, infamously ripped line off that famous line from Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), a renowned British politician, novelist and essayist who said:

"No success in public life can compensate for failure in the home."

**"No success can compensate for words that aren't my own."


In Mormon circles, one of the most beloved sermons attributed to the Mormon Church President Ezra Taft Benson(1899-1994) is the one entitled, "Beware of Pride" (which was actually read on 1 April 1989, at the Saturday morning session of the 159th semi-annual General Conference, not by Benson, but by First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley, who delivered it in the ailing Benson's behalf).

This talk by my grandfather has been described by LDS devotees as "[p}erhaps the best remembered of all Ezra Taft Benson's talks . . . [Church] [m]embers from all over the political spectrum love and agree with him here. This talk is . . . loved."

Moreover, in a glowing obituary of my grandfather, the sermon was mentioned as follows:

"Continuing to help set the Church in order and perfect the Saints, he delivered another landmark address entitled 'Beware of Pride' . . ."

Trouble is, much of Benson's pride sermon was a blatant exercise in plagiarism from the writings of Christian apologist C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), as found in Lewis' work, Mere Christianity, under the chapter heading, “The Great Sin” (C.S. Lews, Mere Christianity, revised and enlarged [New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1952]).

Not only was the sermon delivered by someone else, persuasive evidence has surfaced that a person other than Ezra Taft Benson actually researched and wrote the talk.

Significant portions of Benson’s pride sermon were directly lifted from, influenced by and cobbled together from the writings of Christian apologist C.S. Lewis--
A line-by-line comparison of the text of both documents provides clear and convincing evidence that a major source source for Benson's talk on pride was the earlier work of C.S. Lewis.

Moreover, this blatant and heavy borrowing, both in terms of wording and concept, was done without attribution.

Examples of these plagiarisms are listed below, by category.

--Pride is the Ultimate Vice


"The essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride." (p. 109)


"Pride is the universal sin, the great vice."

--The Competitive Nature of Pride


"Pride is essentially competitive--is competitive by is very nature . . .” (p. 109)

". . . Pride is essentially competitive in a way that other vices are not." (p. 110)

"Pride is competitive by its very nature." (p. 110)

“Once the element of competition has gone, pride is gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not.” (p. 110)


"Pride is essentially competitive in nature. . . .

”Our will in competition to God’s will allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled."

--The Proud See Themselves Being Above Others


"A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you." (p.111)


“Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us.”

--The Proud Also Look From the Bottom Up


“When you delight wholly in yourself and do not care about the praise at all, you have reached the bottom.” (p. 112)


“There is, however, a more common ailment among us and that is pride from the bottom looking up.”

--Pride Equals Enmity


"Pride always means enmity--it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God." (p.111)


"The central feature of pride is enmity--enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowman."

“Our enmity toward God takes on many labels, such as rebellion, hard-heartedness, stiff-neckedness, unrepentant, puffed up, easily offended, and sign seekers.”

“Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen.”

--Pride and Self-Value


"You value other people enough to want them to look at you." (p. 112)


"The proud depend upon the world to tell them whether they have value or not."

--Pride vs. Humility


"The virtue opposite to it [pride], in Christian morals, is called Humility." (p. 109)

“ . . . if you really get into any kind of touch with Him you will, in fact, be humble—delightfully humble, feeling the infinite relief of having for once got rid of all the silly nonsense about your own dignity which had made you restless and unhappy all your life. He is trying to make you humble in order to make this moment possible . . .” (p. 114)


"The antidote for pride is humility . . . "

“Choose to be humble. God will have a humble people. Either we can choose to be humble or we can be compelled to be humble.”

--Pride Not Admitted in Self


"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves." (pp. 108-09)


"Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves."

Only once in Benson's sermon was proper credit given to C.S. Lewis as a source:

"The proud make every man their adversary by pitting their intellects, opinions, works, wealth, talents, or any other worldly measuring device against others. In the words of C. S. Lewis: 'Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . . It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone' (Mere Christianity [New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109-10)."

All in the Family: The Identity of the Individual Who Researched and Wrote Ezra Taft Benson’s “Beware of Pride” Sermon

Several years ago, I visited with May Benson, wife of Reed Benson (Ezra Taft Benson’s oldest child), in their home in Provo, Utah, during which time the subject of pride and my grandfather’s sermon on the matter was a focus of conversation.

The first occasion was prior to the public delivery of Ezra Taft Benson’s sermon by Gordon B. Hinckley in the April 1989 General Conference and the second visit took place after the speech.

May said she had very strong feelings about the subject of pride. She was especially offended and concerned with what she regarded as the Benson family's own problems with pride.

(In fact, she had gotten up in disgust and walked out of a wedding breakfast for my sister Meg, when one of the daughters of Ezra Taft Benson, Beverly Benson Parker, as she was listening to the father of the groom, Cap Ferry, make some remarks to the assembled, leaned over and whispered self-righteously to others at the table, "Well, we know which family was blessed with the spirituality").

May further said that she had put together quite a few thoughts on the subject of pride that she hoped someday to compile and publish in a book.

However, after my grandfather’s pride sermon was delivered, May said that she no longer felt it necessary to publish her hoped-for book. Why? Because, she informed us, her husband, Reed, had spoken with Ezra Taft Benson about her research on the topic.

May was clearly indicating that her information and study efforts had been used in crafting my grandfather’s sermon on pride.

However, the true extent of May Benson's involvement in that effort was not shared by her and did not become evident until some time later.

Reliable sources in Provo subsequently informed me of rumors that May herself may have worked on Ezra Taft Benson’s sermon.

This I was able to confirm even more conclusively from a credible source inside the Benson family who knows May quite well, who was directly familiar with the situation and who wishes to remain anonymous.

The source told me in a face-to-face meeting that May Benson, daughter-in-law of Ezra Taft Benson through marriage to his son Reed, traveled to St. George, Utah, where over a period of several weeks “she wrote his talk.”

It appears that those responsible for the production and delivery of Ezra Taft Benson's "Beware of Pride" sermon were themselves too prideful to acknowlege that:

--(1) the sermon was largely plagiarized from the earlier works of a noted Christian writer; and

--(2) the sermon was actually ghost-written by a woman doing research on the talk for an uninspired Mormon "prophet."

**"Praise to the man who depends on a woman."


At a Sunstone Symposium a few years ago, LDS author Bryan Waterman critically noted the “reliance” of BYU President Merrill Bateman (1936- ) “on the work of [academic conservative] Gertrude Himmelfarb (1922- ) . . .”

Actually, Bateman’s supposed “reliance” took the form of blatant plagiarism.

On 25 April 1996, the then-incoming president of BYU/General Authority Bateman delivered his inaugural address to the student body assembled in the Marriott Center, entitled "Response to Change."

Bateman was subsequently accused of stealing--without attribution--portions of his remarks from an article published earlier the same year, authored by conservative philosopher Gertrude Himmelfarb, entitled, "The Christian University: A Call to Counterrevolution." (First Things, no. 59, January 1996, pp. 16-19)

The plagiarism accusation caused an uproar in academic circles, leading Bateman to deny the charge. The accusation was recently mentioned in an article appearing in the Mormon Church-owned Desert News, in conjunction with the end of Bateman's tenure as BYU president:

"Brigham Young University President Merrill J. Bateman . . . sent a letter to a neo-conservative scholar denying that he plagiarized her work in his inaugural address. An anonymous BYU faculty member made that charge last week."

Comparing Bateman's inaugural address with Himmelfarb's article proves that Bateman was, well, lying.

Although the manuscript copy of Bateman's 1996 inaugural address offered a single footnote reference to Himmelfarb's ideas (located on p. 18 of her article), Bateman failed in the spoken version of those remarks to acknowledge his reliance on Himmelfarb's ideas--thus, leaving the false impression that her words were his own.

A point-by-point, topical comparison of the Himmelfarb and Bateman texts raises serious questions about Bateman's intellectual honesty:

--On Disparaging Truth, Knowledge and Objectivity


"Today many eminent professors in some of our most esteemed universities disparage the ideas of truth, knowledge, and objectivity as naive or disingenuous at best, as fraudulent and despotic at worst."

"Above all, it is the truth that is denigrated."

"Finally, and most disastrously, the university, liberated from religious dogma, has also become liberated from the traditional academic dogma, the belief in truth, knowledge, and objectivity."


"During the past two decades, however, a number of well-known educators have begun to denigrate truth, knowledge, and objectivity."

--On Politicization of the University By Interest Groups


"It [the university] is also a highly politicized institution; no longer subject to any religious authority, the university is at the mercy of the whims and wills of interest groups and ideologies."


"The university becomes a politicized institution that is at the mercy and whims of various interest groups."

--On the Secularization of the University and Its Hostility to Religion


"For we are now confronted with a university . . . that has almost totally abandoned its original mission. It is now not merely a secular institution but a secularist one, propagating secularism as a creed, a creed that is not neutral as among religions but is hostile to all religions, indeed to religion itself."


"If university scholars reject the notion of ‘truth,’ there is no basis for intellectual and moral integrity. Secularism becomes a creed that is no longer neutral but hostile to religion."

--On the Rise of Radical Relativism


"The animating spirit of postmodernism is a radical relativism and skepticism that rejects any idea of truth, knowledge, or objectivity."


"The driving theory is a radical relativism and skepticism that rejects any idea of truth or knowledge."

Before giving his purloined speech, perhaps Bateman should have review BYU's own Honor Code.

This document on Integrity 101 has the following to say about academic standards:

”The first injunction of the BYU Honor Code is the call to ‘be honest.’ Students come to the university not only to improve their minds, gain knowledge, and develop skills that will assist them in their life's work, but also to build character. ‘President David O. McKay taught that character is the highest aim of education’ ('The Aims of a BYU Education,' p. 6). It is the purpose of the BYU Academic Honesty Policy to assist in fulfilling that aim.

”BYU students should seek to be totally honest in their dealings with others. They should complete their own work and be evaluated based upon that work. They should avoid academic dishonesty and misconduct in all its forms, including but not limited to plagiarism, fabrication or falsification, cheating, and other academic misconduct.”

Like any good power-mongering Mormon authority figure who couldn't give a flyin' fig leaf apron about adhering to moral principle, fellow Blue Suit Boyd K. Packer rode to Bateman's rescue with a divinely-sounded vengeance.

A few months after exposure of Bateman as a clunky plagiarist, Packer issued what was seen by many as a thinly-veiled attack against Bateman's Mormon critics.

At October 1996 General Conference, in a sermon unsubtley entitled, "The Twelve Apostles," Packer warned:

”Some few within the Church, openly or perhaps far worse, in the darkness of anonymity, reproach their leaders in the wards and stakes and the Church, seeking to make them ‘an offender for a word,’ as Isaiah said. To them the Lord said, ‘Cursed are all those that shall lift up the heel against mine anointed, saith the Lord, and cry they have sinned when they have not sinned before me, saith the Lord, but have done that which was meet in mine eyes, and which I commanded them.

"’But those who cry transgression do it because they are the servants of sin, and are the children of disobedience themselves . . .

"’Because they have offended my little ones they shall be severed from the ordinances of mine house.

"’Their basket shall not be full, their houses and their barns shall perish, and they themselves shall be despised by those that flattered them.

"’They shall not have right to the priesthood, nor their posterity after them from generation to generation.’

”That terrible penalty will not apply to those who try as best they can to live the gospel and sustain their leaders. Nor need it apply to those who in the past have been guilty of indifference or even opposition, if they will repent and confess their transgressions, and forsake them.”

For those concerned about fake prophets of God like Packer coming to the defense of other fake Mormon prophets like Bateman, they can rest assured that any LDS leader whom Packer defends probably has done something wrong.

**"(Organ music, please): 'Music and the Stolen Word'"


In eulogizing the by-then-dead Apostle/Fossil Bruce R. McConkie (1915-1985) at a BYU fireside, then-member of the First Quorum of the Seventy John K. Carmack offered this glowing tribute to Bruce the Prophetic Plagiarizer, comparing the Mormon Church to a steady-as-she-goes caravan moving forward into the eternal realms of glory:

” . . . [A]s an expression of his confidence in the Church, and as a seer whose words light the pathway we must travel as we endure to the end of that path, Elder McConkie saw the road ahead and the kingdom as a moving caravan triumphantly moving to its destiny.”

Carmack was borrowing his in-memorium caravan image from an earlier McConkie sermon entitled “The Caravan Moves On.”

Not to be outdone, McConkie himself had lifted the caravan metaphor (without attribution, of course) from an old Arab proverb.

McConkie’s sermon (which appeared in the November 1984 issue of the Ensign) likened critics of the Mormon Church to dogs yapping at the heels of the caravan of truth as it plodded ahead, undaunted and undeterred by apostate hounds of hell barking in the rear.

Declared McConkie in solemn, plagiarized tones:

”The Church is like a great caravan--organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of tens and captains of hundreds all in place.

”What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way?

"The caravan moves on.

”Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise.

"The caravan moves on.

”Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, and rivers to ford? Such is life in this fallen sphere.

"The caravan moves on.

”Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest.

"Thank God that the caravan moves on!

”In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.”

Not to put too much of an uninspired point on it, McConkie’s Christly caravan imagery was purloined from an ancient Arab proverb (which, of course, he didn’t have to give credit to because, thus saith the Lard, he was an Apostle of the Lard who didn't have to give credit to anyone if he didn't want to).

In reality, the caravan line has been a popular go-to image used through time to illustrate all kinds of points of view, McConkie’s anti-dog doctrine being just one of them.

In fact, the popularity of this well-known Arab proverb was recently illustrated when Russian President Vladimir Putin was mentioned in a news article as "recit[ing] a long list of Russia's economic accomplishments during his presidency, dismissing foreign critics of Russia's worthiness for Group of Eight membership with a proverb: ‘The dog keeps barking, but the caravan moves on.’"

But far from him to give thanks to some lowly, brown-skinned Arab. McConkie took the glory unto himself, although he's not named in history as the proverb's originator:

Old myths about supposedly inspired Mormon leaders die hard. (As they say, never let the facts get in the way of a good prophet).

In a talk delivered at a Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional, entitled “Obedience to the Commandments of the Lord,” Kim B. Clark soberly invoked the non-original words of non-inspired McConkie to make a nonsensical point.

" . . .I would like to marry Nephi’s metaphor of the iron rod and the strait and narrow path to another image given us by another prophet, seer, and revelator in our day. I think in so doing we may see new dimensions of the journey and gain deeper understanding of what we must do to obtain eternal life.

"The metaphor I have in mind was given to us by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in a talk he gave in general conference in the fall of 1984."

[Editor's note: No, it wasn't, but go ahead, anyway].

"Let’s listen to Elder McConkie:

"'The Church is like a great caravan--organized, prepared, following an appointed course, with its captains of ten and captains of hundreds in place.

"‘What does it matter if a few barking dogs snap at the heels of the weary travelers? Or that predators claim those few who fall by the way?

"The caravan moves on.

"'Is there a ravine to cross, a miry mud hole to pull through, a steep grade to climb? So be it. The oxen are strong and the teamsters wise.

"'The caravan moves on.

"'Are there storms that rage along the way, floods that wash away the bridges, deserts to cross, rivers to ford? Such is life in the fallen sphere. The caravan moves on.

“'Ahead is the celestial city, the eternal Zion of our God, where all who maintain their position in the caravan shall find food and drink and rest.

"'Thank God that the caravan moves on!'”

Sorry to burst your testimonial bubble, Sister Clark, but Bruce R. McConkie did not give you that inspiring metaphor.

In fact, Mormomonism's go-to prophets are Spaulding, Disraeli, Lewis, Himmelfarb and an unknown Arab proverb writer.

Please try again later.

Edited 12 time(s). Last edit at 04/11/2011 07:41PM by steve benson.

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Posted by: RAG ( )
Date: April 11, 2011 06:36PM

has been kept in the good old tradition. But, what do you expect when they're relying, not on "revelation", but on consultants and media analysts and pollsters and manipulative marketing and propaganda and stealing all of their ideas from their crazy evangelical cousins?

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Posted by: Just Thinking ( )
Date: April 11, 2011 07:07PM

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Posted by: student ( )
Date: April 11, 2011 10:31PM

Were they directed at you? Were you one of the people who identified the plagerism?

If not, my curiosity is still piqued. Have you ever been condemned by the lord's annoying (I'd like to point out that I did not come up with this saying-heard it at RfM)?

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Posted by: Eldermalin ( )
Date: April 11, 2011 10:46PM

Reminds me zone conference talks and spiritual messages of the week from my mission president. Early on in my mission I was so impressed by his abilities to come up with those messages and long sermons. It was only later that I discovered the messages for the week he ripped from the Church News that we wouldn't get out in the field till weeks later and from spiritual church books where he was essentially giving us an hour long book report.

In his defence, he often quipped in this mission "we borrow shamelessly." This referred to the missionaries who visa waited to borrow some of the good practices from those missions to incorporate in ours. He'd also resided in Hong Kong for several years where it's all about the counterfeit knock-offs.

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