FARENHEIT LDS: Book Burning, Racism & the KKK?


Mormon_Doctrine-Burning

CONTENTS:

Part I. Bigotry in Ignorance?
Part II. The “Sensible” Klu Klux Klan
Part III. Nameless Oracles

Introduction

pingbackIn the diverse world of the Blog-o-sphere we are sometimes linked in ways that might be new to some. One of these links is called a “pingback”. This occurs when someone links to a Blog Article. Most of the time I don’t bother investigating them, I just approve them and go about my business. But I recently got a pingback on one of my articles and the title of the piece that it linked to was,

Blacks and the Priesthood: Burn McConkie Now!

With that title burned into my mind, I set about reading the article that had linked to one of mine, and it was so inaccurate and full of bigotry that I decided to take the time to respond to it. The Author, who goes by the moniker  “IrWhitney” or the “Phantom Saint”, starts off by telling everyone to burn any copies of Bruce R. McConkie’s book, Mormon Doctrine, and then asks his audience to throw another on the pile:  Answers to Gospel Questions, by  Joseph Fielding Smith.

The Phantom claims that the reason that people should burn these books is because they are “officially shameful and embarrassing”.  This line of reasoning advocates that anything written by Mormon “Authorities” that is deemed shameful and embarrassing to the Mormon Church should be burned.  Now that’ll solve any problems, won’t it? It worked for Nazi Germany, didn’t it? Well… maybe not.nazi_book_burning

What I do find shameful and embarrassing is that the Phantom would actually post a defense of Mormon racism on the day we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday; as if that would somehow assuage his conscience or bolster his fantastical claim that “’the Brethren’ in their more subdued fashion essentially agree with all my various arguments, officially, and in public.”

Since he speaks of Mormon “authorities” pulling doctrine out of their backsides… well, if the shoe fits…

Seriously though, far from setting the record straight about Mormon racism, the Phantom only makes it worse, because the arguments that he claims “the brethren” are down with, don’t really explain anything; and the Phantom’s are (for the most part) simply speculations he has gathered from the four corners of the internet, into which he mixes a strong dose of his own bigotry towards Christians.

I. Bigotry In Ignorance?

And those arguments? To put Mormon “authorities” institutional racism and bigotry “in perspective”.  This is nothing new of course. Isn’t that what the skinheads try to do with Adolf Hitler’s bigotry? Put it in perspective? After all, they still admire the guy, just like Mormons still admire Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and every other racist “prophet” that inherited the mantle of Smith. But Mormon “authorities” did one better than Adolf Hitler, they made God himself into a bigot:

The attitude of the Church with reference to the Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord… (First Presidency Declaration, 1949)

Poor Phantom, don’t you know that “the Brethren” aren’t agreeing with anything that you say? If one goes to the link provided by the Phantom that accesses the article he referenced above one reads,

The Church acknowledges the contribution of scholars to the historical content presented in this article; their work is used with permission.

Their work. Nameless “scholars”. Have the very oracles of God been turned over to nameless scholars? It appears so, if one is to believe Phantom, since he thinks that these are “the brethren” (or Mormon General Authorities).

And when all else fails, put the blame on those horrible Christians as Phantom does with this rant:

For the anti-Mormons out there, and certainly the non-Mormons in general: I’m not defending the bigotry in early LDS leadership at all. Just putting it into perspective. Neither am I defending the racism apparent in the writings and sermonizing of many LDS leaders over the generations. I can only offer that it was always ever based upon ignorance rather than malice, and that it never even slightly attained the level of contempt and hatred, the outright damnation of the “Negro” race as openly practiced and professed by most of “historic” Christianity over the last 2014 years. Not even slightly. It wasn’t the Mormons who brought slavery to America. That was “historic” Christianity. It’s hard to take criticism from Christian sects who were the religious arm of the KKK for generations, or tolerate the tongue clucking of other Christian denominations like the now often very liberal Lutherans, who’s founder Martin Luther (the original)  clearly and openly denounced the Jews as a filthy, contemptable race that needed extermination. Or for that matter, compared to some pretty inane reasoning relative to the Curse of Cain over the years from various Mormon leaders, I feel no moral equivalence between that and a Holy Roman Empire that slaughtered “barbarians” and “savages” all over the globe, tortured generations of mankind through ruthless rule and Inquisition, and attempted to exterminate the Jews to “liberate” the Holy Land over the course of hundreds of years and a score of centuries. Brigham Young wasn’t invented in the hills of Utah. He came from respectable Quaker stock. He and his brethren brought the Curse of Cain and all its attendant racism and bigotry from “historic” Christianity–it was never an invention of Joseph Smith or his newly “restored” One True Church. (the Phantom)

slaveryGee, if the criticism is valid, (as Phantom seems to agree with, sorta) then why not take criticism from Christians? He can’t, because he is too bigoted to do so. What he needs to do is a little more research about the affects of the Great Awakening on the problem of slavery in the United States.

But this really isn’t about taking criticism from Christians because he’s really not “defending the bigotry in early LDS writings at all”, he’s just telling us all that it was bigotry in ignorance, (an oxymoron if there ever was one) bigotry without malice, (ditto) and that it was just all those crazy Christians who are really to blame for Mormon racism (which he can’t seem to make up his mind about), not the Mormons themselves who picked up that evil doctrine and ran with it, and then had the audacity to tell everyone that it all came from God himself. Funny, how doctrines like this are classed as “carry overs”, and statements like this one from Joseph Smith are subsequently ignored,

As Paul said, “The world by wisdom know not God;” so the world by speculation are destitute of revelation; and as God in His superior wisdom has always given His Saints, wherever he had any on the earth, the same spirit, and that spirit, as John says, is the true spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus. I may safely say that the word “Mormon” stands independent of the wisdom and learning of this generation. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 5, p.400)

Or this,

Joseph Smith, Kirtland Ohio, 1836 by grindael

Joseph Smith circa 1836

It is in the order of heavenly things that God should always send a new dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood; but when men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without: authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust.

Did I build on any other man’s foundation? I have got all the truth which the Christian world possessed, and an independent revelation in the bargain, and God will bear me off triumphant.  (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p.479)

I don’t think anyone would consider the Curse of Cain doctrine one of those “truths” by any stretch of the imagination. So Joseph got it from God. So he says. Brigham Young echoed this in 1855:

Brigham-Young

Brigham Young, circa 1860

The American Government is second to none in the world in influence and power, and far before all others in liberal and free institutions. Under its benign influence the poor, down trodden masses of the old world can find an asylum where they can enjoy the blessings of peace and freedom, no matter to what caste or religious sect they belong, or are disposed to favor, or whether they are disposed to favor any or none at all. It was in this government, formed by men inspired of God, although at the time they knew it not, after it was firmly established in the seat of power and influence, where liberty of conscience, and the free exercise of religious worship were a fundamental principle guaranteed in the Constitution, and interwoven with all the feelings, traditions, and sympathies of the people, that the Lord sent forth His angel to reveal the truths of heaven as in times past, even as in ancient days. This should have been hailed as the greatest blessing which could have been bestowed upon any nation, kindred, tongue, or people. It should have been received with hearts of gratitude and gladness, praise and thanksgiving.

But as it was in the days of our Savior, so was it in the advent of this new dispensation. It was not in accordance with the notions, traditions, and pre-conceived ideas of the American people. The messenger did not come to an eminent divine of any of the so-called orthodoxy, he did not adopt their interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. The Lord did not come with the armies of heaven, in power and great glory, nor send His messengers panoplied with aught else than the truth of heaven, to communicate to the meek, the lowly, the youth of humble origin, the sincere enquirer after the knowlege of God. But He did send His angel to this same obscure person, Joseph Smith jun., who afterwards became a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and informed him that he should not join any of the religious sects of the day, for they were all wrong; that they were following the precepts of men instead of the Lord Jesus; that He had a work for him to perform, inasmuch as he should prove faithful before Him.

No sooner was this made known, and published abroad, and people began to listen and obey the heavenly summons, than opposition began to rage, and the people, even in this favored land, began to persecute their neighbors and friends for entertaining religious opinions differing from their own. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p.171, Feb. 8, 1855)

So much for “folklore” being carried into the Mormon Church from the Christians, Mormon “prophets” deny it. As for malice, one striking example is that of John Taylor, who left us with this rant about Horace Greely:

The majority of the people think you [The Mormons] are a most corrupt people, following a doctrine something like those Free Love societies in the East. Greeley, the editor of the New York Tribune, was associated with one of those societies, and was its principal supporter.

John-Taylor

“Apostle” John Taylor

That is what is called a virtuous kind of an abomination, used under a cloak of philosophy, a species of philosophy imported from France. Hence they call Greeley a philosopher; and, in writing about him, I have called him the same. I believe him to be as dishonest a man as is in existence.

These are my sentiments and feelings. I have examined his articles, watched his course, read his paper daily, and have formerly conversed with him a little; but lately I would not be seen in his company. I was thrown in his society in traveling from Boston, and occasionally met him afterwards; but I would not talk to him. I felt myself superior to such a mean, contemptible cur. I knew he was not after truth, but falsehood.

This Greeley is one of their popular characters in the East, and one that supports the stealing of niggers and the underground railroad. I do not know that the editor of the Herald is any more honest; but, as a journalist, he tells more truth. He publishes many things as they are, because it is creditable to do so. But Greeley will not; he will tell what suits his clandestine plans, and leave the rest untold. I speak of him, because he is one of the prominent newspaper editors in the Eastern country, and he is a poor, miserable curse. (Journal of Discourses, Volume 5, pp. 118-119)

Not only does Taylor’s malice show in this rant towards the blacks as well as Greely, Taylor has to be dishonest to make his point. Instead of speaking to the man, he claims superiority over such a “contemptable cur”. If he had spoken to him, he might have realized that Greely didn’t advocate “free love”. Or maybe Taylor did speak to him. He lied about polygamy, didn’t he? This arrogance on the part of Taylor spilled over into his religious beliefs, too. Abraham H. Cannon recorded that,

Father [George Q. Cannon] holds that we who live on the earth now and are faithful, will stand at the head of our lineage and will thus become Saviors as has been promised us. Pres. John Taylor was not sealed to his parents though they died in the Church, as he felt that it was rather lowering himself to be thus sealed when he was an apostle and his father was a high priest… (Diary of Abraham H. Cannon, Thursday, Dec. 18th, 1890)

Horace_Greely

Horace Greely

Greely didn’t support the “Free Love” movement at all, he in fact destested it as this letter to M.A. Townsend in 1860 shows:

When we were publishing Judge Edmond’s series of articles commending and extolling Spiritualism, I never heard complaints from you or other Spiritualists that we did not comment on and dissent from their inculcations. I do not see why we should do so when it proves to be your bull that is gored and not t’other fellow’s ox. Your letter is arrogant in its tone and sheds no light on the subject; so I have thrown it aside. I do not take ground for or against what is called Spiritualism, but it is my definite judgment that the abominable sophistry and lechery termed “Free Love” has received decided aid and comfort from Spiritualism. That I don’t like; and it is my sorrowful conviction that there are more adulterers and libertines, harlots and false wives in the country today than there was before or would have been but for the advent of Spiritualism. If there be any truth in Spiritualism, I am afraid the spirits who visit us mainly tenanted bad bodies while on earth and have not improved since. (Horace Greely to M. A. Townsend, March 1, 1860)

Even Brigham Young had more tact when speaking of the blacks, he knew that the word “nigger” was a slur:

Ham will continue to be the servant of servants, as the Lord has decreed, until the curse is removed. Will the present struggle free the slave? No; but they are now wasting away the black race by thousands. Many of the blacks are treated worse than we treat our dumb brutes; and men will be called to judgment for the way they have treated the negro, and they will receive the condemnation of a guilty conscience, by the just Judge whose attributes are justice and truth.

Treat the slaves kindly and let them live, for Ham must be the servant of servants until the curse is removed. Can you destroy the decrees of the Almighty? You cannot. Yet our Christian brethren think that they are going to overthrow the sentence of the Almighty upon the seed of Ham. They cannot do that, though they may kill them by thousands and tens of thousands. (Journal of Discourses Vol. 10, p.250)

And,

Brother Taylor says that language cannot express the conduct, the feelings, and the spirit that are upon the people in the States. Well, suppose you take up a labour and swear about them, what are the worst words that can be spoken? ‘Nigger stealing,’ Mobs or Vigilance Committees, and Rotten-hearted Administrators of a Government are three of the meanest and wickedest words that can be spoken. I expect that somebody will write that back to the States, as being treasonable, because spoken by a Latter-day Saint. (Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p.127, August 9, 1857)

They knew. In spite of all that Brigham and his apostles said, overthrowing the sentence of the Almighty upon the supposed seed of Ham is exactly what the Federal Government did. And yes, thousands upon thousands died to make that happen. Even Wilford Woodruff showed that he was not not above demeaning the blacks:

We had a Great Celebration of the 4 to day as the 4 Came on Sunday. We had a great display of all the Mechanics Artizens tradesmen & Farmers school Children &c & A Long windy speech from Judge [Cyrus M.] Hawley on the Nigger Question & severall Edifying speeches from others.(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.485, July 5, 1869)

Cyrus Hawley was a Federal Judge appointed by President Grant. Of course what he advocated about the blacks would stick in the craw of the racist Mormons. Still, Mormons (according to the Phantom) are bigots only in ignorance, simply because they didn’t invent what they chose to believe (written into scripture by their founding “prophet”); and because the Christians are definitely the ones to blame for every racist and evil act since the time of Christ.

Case in point:

While many LDS detractors try to claim that anti-Negro racism is an essential doctrine of LDS theology, and that the basis for this prejudice is found in the uniquely Mormon, Book of Abraham, in the canonical “Pearl of Great Price,” the truth is that Christianity had been condemning Negroes to hell as the irredeemable, inherently damned seed of Cain for some 1820 years before Joseph Smith was ever in a position to give it a thought. Likewise, in Smith’s time, many of the most fundamentalist and adamant progenitors of today’s Christian critics of Mormonism’s “racism,” were eagerly buying and selling Cain’s children, forcing them into a lifetime of starvation and crippling hard labor, raping slave women for sport and breeding them for profit. Even more ironically, while the parents of the German commentator who accused Gordon B[.] Hinckley of “racism” were learning how to spot non-Aryans in the Hitler Youth, and his grandparents were burning Jews in ovens and excusing the Third Reich’s humiliating defeat in 1932 to black Olympic champion Jesse Owens by claiming it was an unfair match between God-created man and a half-evolved ape, Mormonism had by way of comparison, merely interpreted its own available canonical evidence to mean that blacks were to barred from the priesthood, at least in this lifetime. (The Phantom)Scenes in Memhis, Tennessee, April 30, 1866-001

How could it be “their own” canonical evidence if it came from the Christians? The bigotry in this paragraph is simply stunning. So all Germans were burning Jews in ovens? All Christians before the time of Joseph Smith were condemning Negroes to hell, and advocated the Curse of Cain doctrine? The hatred here of Christians by Phantom is palpable. But you can’t blame this only on the Christians. According to Historian David M. Goldenberg,

“The notion that all humanity is color coded is expressed in Jewish, Christian, and Muslim biblical interpretations that see Noah’s sons as representing the three human skin colors of the world’s population. “ (David M. Goldenberg, The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, pp. 184-185)

He quotes Jewish and Islamic writings that show this, and then says

“in the third century story it was Ham who was darkened and became the ancestor of all dark-skinned people, by the eight to ninth century in Islamic sources and the ninth to eleventh century in Jewish sources it was understood that it was really Kush, one of Ham’s four sons, who was darkened and became the ancestor of dark-skinned people. In the Islamic version we can actually see how the Kush interpretation is grafted onto the earlier story mentioning only Ham: “When Noah awoke … he said to God, “Allah, blacken his face and the face of his descendants of the one who disobeyed. [i.e., Ham] and had intercourse with his wife.” So Ham’s wife had a black son and he named him Kusha (Ibn Hisham). Noah curses Ham and his descendants but the result is a blackening of Kush alone.  (pp. 186-7)

And,

This new Arabic-Islamic way of looking at the world’s population was then incorporated into the thinking and literature of others in the Near East, whether they be Jewish, such as the authors of Tanhuma and Pirqei R. Eliezer, or Christian, such as Bar Hebraeus. (p. 193)

Seems like just about everybody picked on the poor dark skinned Africans. Although the issue of slavery through the ages was complicated, (especially in the Catholic Church) there were Papal decrees against it, and in 1839 Pope Gregory XVI issued In Supremo, which cited earlier Bulls against slavery and added,

gregory xvi

Pope Gregory XVI

“The slave trade, although it has been somewhat diminished, is still carried on by numerous Christians. Therefore, desiring to remove such a great shame from all Christian peoples … and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors, We, by apostolic authority, warn and strongly exhort in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to bother unjustly, despoil of their possessions, or reduce to slavery (<in servitutem redigere>) Indians, Blacks or other such peoples. Nor are they to lend aid and favor to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not humans but rather mere animals, having been brought into slavery in no matter what way, are, without any distinction and contrary to the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold and sometimes given over to the hardest labor.”

But the Mormons are ok, they only had racist attitudes towards the blacks in this life, and unlike those he mentions like Johanna Southcott, their “interpretations” aren’t done in malice, but hers certainly must be, because she was a Christian. Funny that.

It’s obvious that the Phantom didn’t really comprehend the article that he linked to his article that explains all about this. Hint: yes some Christians had problems with accepting the Curse of Cain doctrine and used it to justify slavery, but many did not and worked hard to change it. Funny how the Mormons would defy the Federal Government’s laws when it came to polygamy, but would not when it came to slavery. (see quote from the 1835 D&C below).

And… actually, it was not just in this life that the blacks were to be second class citizens. Brigham Young taught,

Adam had two sons Kane & Abel. Cain was more given to evil than Abel. Adam was called to offer sacrifice also his sons. The sacrifice of Abel was more acceptable than Canes & Cane took it into his heart to put Abel out of the way so he killed Abel.

The Lord said I will not kill Cane But I will put a mark upon him and it is seen in the face of every Negro on the Earth And it is the decree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cane & the Curse untill all the seed of Abel should be re[deem]ed and Cane will not receive the priesthood untill or salvation untill all the seed of Abel are Redeemed. Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him Cannot hold the priesthood & if no other Prophet ever spake it Before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ. I know it is true & they know it. The Negro cannot hold one particle of Government But the day will Come when all the seed of Cane will be Redeemed & have all the Blessings we have now & a great deal more. But the seed of Abel will be ahead of the seed of Cane to all Eternity.

Let me consent to day to mingle my seed with the seed of Cane. It would Bring the same curse upon me And it would upon any man. And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children.

It is said if a man kills another that he takes that that He cannot give. If a mans head is cut off [p.98] his life is not destroyed or his spirit that lives. His tabernacle is destroyed But I can make as good tabernacles as I can destroy. If you do not believe it look at my Children. Much blood was shed in ancient days both of man & Beast. The firstlings & best of the flock was sacrafized on the Altar & in some instances many men & almost whole Nations were sacraficed or put to death because of their sins & wickedness. This was the ownly way they could be saved at all. If Jesus Christ had not had his Blood shed the Blood that He received from his Mother Mary the world would not have been saved.

There is not one of the seed of old Cane that is permitted to rule & reign over the seed of Abel And you nor I cannot Help it.

Brigham Young 1851

Brigham Young Circa 1850

Those that do bear rule should do it in righteousness. I am opposed to the present system of slavery. The Negro Should serve the seed of Abram but it should be done right. Don’t abuse the Negro & treat him Cruel.

It has been argued here that many of the Jews were Black. Whenever the seed of Judah mingled with the seed of Cane they lost their priesthood & all Blessings.

As an Ensample let the Presidency, Twelve Seventies High Priest Bishops & all the Authorities say now we will all go & mingle with the seed of Cane and they may have all the privileges they want. We lift our hands to heaven in support of this. That moment we loose the priesthood & all Blessings & we would not be redeemed until Cane was. I will never admit of it for a moment.

Some may think I I know as much as they do But I know that I know more than they do. The Lord will watch us all the time. The Devil would like to rule part of the time But I am determin He shall not rule at all and Negros shall not rule us. I will not admit of the Devil ruling at all. I will not Consent for the seed of Cane to vote for me or my Brethren. If you want to know why we did not speak of it in the Constitution it was because it was none of their Business. Any man is a Citizens Black white or red and if the Jews Come here with a part of the [p.99] Canaanite Blood in them they are Citizens & shall have their rights but not to rule for me or my Brother. Those persons from the Islands & foreign Countries know nothing about Governing the people. The Canaanite cannot have wisdom to do things as the white man has. We must guard against all Evil. I am not going to let this people damn themselves as long as I can help it. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 4, p.97-99, February 4, 1852)

The Negroes could not hold the Priesthood because according to Young they would never rule over the seed of Abel (the whites), and that would be for “all eternity”. The whites would always “be ahead” of the Negroes “for all eternity”. But according to those like the Phantom, Brigham only spoke in ignorance, there was no malice at all to what he said above. Tell that to Jane Manning and Elijah Abel and thousands of others who were denied the blessings reserved only for white people. Imagine going through this interview with then “prophet” Wilford Woodruff:

We had Meeting with several individuals among the rest Black Jane wanted to know if I would not let her have her Endowments in the Temple. This I Could not do as it was against the Law of God. As Cain killed Abel All the seed of Cain would have to wait for Redemption untill all the seed that Abel would have had that may Come through other men Can be redeemed.(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 9, p. 322, October 16, 1894).

Not policy, but the law of God. What was stopping Woodruff from getting his own revelation? He had no problem doing it with polygamy. I guess the plight of the black man wasn’t very high up on his “to-do”list. Even with Jane Manning knocking on his door.

For a great read about how racism is justified by ignorance and stupidity, enjoy the exploits of one Petroleum V. Nasby in “Swingin Round the Crinkle”. President Lincoln loved his exploits, and used to quote him often.

"...in their enthoosiasm five nigger families were cleaned out"

“…in their enthoosiasm five nigger families were cleaned out”

I guess the Phantom must think that getting your head cut off for “mingling seed” is an act of love. At least that’s how Brigham Young described it once. Really. (See, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p.220)Go to the Top

II.  The “Sensible” Ku Klux Klan

The Phantom then tries to enlighten us with another rant, this time against the “lefty’s” or all who advocate Civil Rights and dare to call racism what it truly is:

It’s easy for the ignorant and self-interested to paint Mormonism with the Lefty’s favorite tar brush of common racism. In fact, since the Civil Rights Movement set upon the mission of bringing down the LDS church, it is even held that Mormons are close friends with the KKK, the favorite bugaboo of the “enlightened” Left. These slanders, when repeated widely, naturally become the assumptions of rational, fair-minded people as well. Frankly, Mormonism has given even the most forgiving investigator cause for suspicion. But Mormonism and its attitude toward the Negro, isn’t really a Right-Left, racist/colorblind debate in the usual Christian American sense. (The Phantom Saint)

Ku Klux Klan circa 1870

Ku Klux Klan circa 1870

So, what kind of racism did the Mormons practice, uncommon racism? To Phantom, racism just isn’t really racism if Mormon leaders are involved. Why? Because those damn Christians did it first. (It’s all Joanna Southcott’s fault) He then gives us this whopper:

Many of the members of the anti-Mormon mob that murder the first President of the Church, Joseph Smith, are members of a secret racist society called the “Knights of the Golden Circle.” After the Civil War the organization is outlawed. A few members of the Knights of the Golden Circle found a new organization called the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.—1844 (See BlackMormon)

I’ll get to the Ku Klux Klan below. But the Knights of the Golden Circle didn’t even come into existence until 1854, ten years after Joseph Smith’s death. I don’t know where BlackMormon got their information from, but they are wrong about this, and many other things. For more information on the Golden Circle, see this article by the Texas State Historical Association.

I just have to sigh when I read this next bit of information that Phantom unloads on the unsuspecting public, that the Church outright rejected the KKK, from the beginning (1868). They later actually lauded what they called “Another Ku Klux Klan”, which was what they deemed the original Ku-Klux Klan, said by them to be full of “sincere men” who “saw no other way of remedying the existing evils that threatened moral and financial ruin.” This sounds just like Joseph Smith’s Danites, who he wrote about in his diary, which said:

We have a company of Danites in these times, to put to right physically that which is not right, and to cleanse the Church of very great evils which hath hitherto existed among us inasmuch as they cannot be put to right by teachings & persuasions. (Scott Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p. 198).

This describes the KKK to a tee. But before I go into that, let’s see some of the Phantom’s quotes that are supposed to enlighten us about how Mormon racism “isn’t really a Right-Left, racist/colorblind debate”:

Soon after its formation, an LDS apostle writes that the KKK will prove a “curse” upon America.—1868  (See BlackMormon)

There is absolutely no documentation to back up this quote.  In fact, in 1868 Mormon “Apostle” George Q. Cannon claimed that the Klan was less dangerous than other secret societies. (see below)

The KKK holds anti-Mormon meetings and, in the south, kills and in some cases tortures Mormon missionaries.—1870s-1890s (See Blazing Crosses, pp.11ff)

From the Silent Film, "Birth of A Nation"

From the Silent Film, “Birth of A Nation”

This is just ill-informed. And if you pick up the book Blazing Crosses in Zion: The Ku Klux Clan in Utah,  by Larry R. Gerlach,  you might want to keep in mind that he was denied access to the Church archives, which makes it a very flawed work, according to this review by John R. Sillito, who writes,

Not only does Gerlach’s study suffer because he was denied access to these important documents, but as long as key materials are denied to scholars, efforts to chronicle Utah history and the history of the LDS church will be seriously hindered. A final irony is that if these documents were unavailable for fear they might be used to discredit the church, Gerlach’s study, and the efforts of most scholars, suggest the opposite result. (Dialogue, Vol.17, No.1, p.166, Spring 1984)

As Historian Patrick Mason writes,

“Strictly speaking, it is anachronistic to speak of Mormons being attacked by the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1870’s or 1880’s, as federal legislation and military enforcement had outlawed and effectively disbanded the paramilitary organization in the early 1870’s. Vigilante violence persisted throughout the South, or course, often led by former Klan members, and the Klan became something of a generic brand for all southern vigilantism.” (The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South, page 147).

As Mason also points out, the Klan did leave a legacy of violence that many in the South perpetuated against blacks, Mormons and other minority groups. But there was no official Ku Klux Klan during this period.  Though two Mormon Missionaries were murdered in 1884 at Cane Creek—by men wearing “masks and colorful disguises, this was a vigilante killing that had nothing to do with an official Klan, even though the Mormons later blamed it on them. Still, there is nothing here to show that the Mormons were in the least bit concerned about the Klan’s racism.

The Phantom then gives a series of quotes from the Deseret News about the resurgent Klan of the early 20th Century and how it was “rejected” by them (remember, this is all about racism now):

When a nation-wide tour of the stage version of “The Clansman,” a story that insults blacks and glorifies the KKK as white heroes, arrives in Utah, the anti-Mormon “Salt Lake Tribune” praises the production. The Church-owned “Deseret News,” however, while recognizing that the play is well done in technical terms, states that the Klan is not to be praised, for it “rode about the country at night killing or torturing negroes and their sympathizers…[and] became a band of idle, dissolute and vicious individuals who entered upon a career of brutality and violence that appalled the country.”—1908  (See Deseret News, Nov. 2, 1908)

This is a very interesting quote, mostly because it is excised out of a larger article to make it appear that the Church (or the Deseret News which is the Church according to BlackMormon) had always come out against the Klan. Perhaps a full reproduction of the article is in order:

Deseret News Another Klan

Deseret News, Nov. 1908

ANOTHER KU KLUX KLAN.

“The Ku Klux Klan movement which has been so forcibly represented to the public at the Salt Lake Theater in the excellent performance of “The Clansman,” began in 1868, for the purpose of breaking up negro suffrage in the South. In many states negroes were members of the legislatures, and in some they were in the majority. Most of the negroes were ignorant and they were controlled by “scalawags,” and “carpet baggers,” that is to say, by white politicians who used the negro vote for the furtherance of their own personal ends. The result was that taxes were increased, public debts ran up, and the extravagance and corruption of legislatures were almost beyond belief. The state debt of Alabama increased from $8,000,000 to $25,000,000, in six years, and the legislature of South Carolina spent $350,000 in one session, for “supplies, sundries and incidentals,” alone. Such fearful exactions came after the exhaustive war and the taxpayers became exasperated.

Then the Ku Klux Klan was formed. The people undertook to break up negro suffrage. Young men, masked and disguised, rode about the country at night, killing, or torturing negroes, and their sympathizers. The “carpet baggers”—Northern adventurers who had gone to the South in order to make a living out of politics—were often caught and driven out by violent means.

There is no doubt that the Klan was at first formed by sincere men who saw no other way of remedying the existing evils that threatened moral and financial ruin. It was founded by men who believed they had a patriotic purpose in view. But when the reign of terror was over, honest men with-drew from the Klan, content with the development of society under a regime of law and order. The Klan minus its respectable, peace-loving members became a band of idle, dissolute and vicious individuals who entered upon a career of brutality and violence that appalled the country.

The so-called night riders that now infest some of the Southern states may be considered as the successors of the terrorists of thirty years ago. In fact the ghastly procession of night riders in Georgia a short time ago exceeded in malignant wickedness the most lurid orgies of reconstruction. And laxity in dealing with these outlaws who claim to act under the authority of a “higher law” is having its dire effects.

Quentin_Rankin&R_Z_TaylorThe atrocious murdering of Capt. Rankin at Walnut Log, Tenn., and the narrow escape from a similar fate of Col. Taylor, both noted attorneys in the section, may be traced directly to the indifference which the authorities manifest toward this latest form of terrorism.

The night riders began by burning the warehouses of tobacco growers who persisted in selling their product at a price below that dictated by them. When the firebugs first showed their hands some effort was made by state officials to the end of running them down. But soon the interest of the law waned and the spirit of wantonness blazed up more fiercely than before. Murders were committed with impunity and the campaign of fright by gun and firebrand resulted in dozens of growers abandoning their properties or obeying the commands of the night riders in fear of their lives.

The decent citizens of the south will have to put down this lawlessness, by the application of law. If they do not do so without delay, the evil will grow beyond their control. (Deseret News, 11-2-1908, page 6)

La Clansman Play asked to be supressed

LA Herald, October 16, 1908.

Notice that the News states that the play is an “excellent performance”, and goes on to laud the Klan that was set up to destroy Negro Suffrage.  An article from the Los Angeles Herald reported that some in the country had a different take on the play:

The fact that “The Clansman” is to be produced at one of the local theaters has aroused the indignation of a large number of the best negro citizens, and they yesterday sent a petition to the mayor to have the play suppressed. . . . they say “The Clansman” . . . deals with features of the negro national life in such a way as to reopen wounds that have cost the life blood of the nation in their healing. They claim it excites race prejudice by portraying one of the most brutal of crimes [rape] and the triumph of mob law. The petitioners feel race prejudice should not be excited, in view of the friendly relations which exist between the races in Los Angeles. Other cities have suppressed the play, they declare, and they ask that the mayor do likewise. Mayor Harper will investigate before acting on the petition. (Los Angeles Herald, October 16, 1908)

The Deseret News was hardly denouncing the play, or what they deem as the original Ku Klux Klan, which they praise, saying that “There is no doubt that the Klan was at first formed by sincere men who saw no other way of remedying the existing evils that threatened moral and financial ruin.”

What they are denouncing in the article are the “successors of the terrorists of thirty years ago,” who they say have become “a band of idle, dissolute and vicious individuals who entered upon a career of brutality and violence that appalled the country.”The Clansman 1905 Title Page

Why? Because it was a movement that stank of vigilantism, which soon turned on the Mormons and anyone else the vigilantes didn’t like. But it was ok when it was used to stop the Negroes from gaining political power in the South or to better themselves through equal rights.  The Phantom then once again shows off his bigotry against Christians with this gem:

The Salt Lake Tribune and the Deseret News are fascinatingly blatant records of Mormon-v-anti-Mormon, meaning Christian populations of the State of Utah:

1908: The stage version of Thomas Dixon’s bestselling novel The Clansman, which portrayed blacks as ignorant and ravenous brutes, and glorified the KKK as white heroes, had toured all over the United States. Finally, the tour came to Salt Lake City. The Gentile (non-mormon) newspaper in the city, The Salt Lake Tribune, praised both the play and its message. The Mormon paper, the Deseret News, said that while the play itself was “an excellent production” in technical terms, the Klan was not a heroic organization as the play portrayed, but “rode about the country at night killing or torturing negroes and their sympathizers” in a “reign of terror” and “became a band of idle, dissolute and vicious individuals who entered upon a career of brutality and violence that appalled the country.”(Deseret News, Nov. 2, 1908).Clansman Troupe

1916: The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s Gentile (non-mormon) and Anti-Mormon newspaper (which almost daily contained anti-Mormon articles) wrote a critique of the silent movie Birth of a Nation; which was a film version of the play The Clansmen. The Tribune wrote that “Mob violence and outlawry [by blacks] are depicted, followed by spectacular vies of the Ku Klux Klansmen who organized secretly to control the negroes through their superstitious fears. The Klansmen were fearless night-riders and they wore white shrouds. Acts of vengeance were perpetrated [upon blacks] under the cover of darkness, and the pictures show clearly why such extreme measures were necessary for the continuance of law and order.” (Salt Lake Tribune, April 2, 1916)

SL Tribune Apr 2, 1916 Header

Salt Lake Tribune Section Banner

Actually, the Tribune Review appeared in the News and Gossip of the Stage section of the Newspaper, and was simply a review of the movie. Not exactly front page news. It describes the movie exactly, and how the Klan was depicted in the movie and states that the movie “shows clearly why such extreme measures were necessary…”

But Phantom has to bigotize the whole of this, not realizing that the Deseret News also published a favorable review about The Birth of a Nation:

“The Birth of a Nation” is a thrilling and awe-inspiring revisitation of war—war in all its cruelties; we behold not only the tragedy on the field of battle, where fall the dead and dying, but in the home where wait the aged parents and little brother and sister, or daughter or son, for the message that too often comes telling that the dear one has died for the flag—the Stars and Stripes, or the banner of the blue with the single star. There is a great 30 piece orchestra to aid in the interpreting this photo-drama. Suffice to say, about this organization that it is one of the best musical organizations that has ever visited Salt Lake City. There are only three more performances, tonight and two on Saturday. Those who miss it will always have something to regret.  (Deseret News, April 17, 1916).

Deseret News, April 7, 1916 with favorable review of "Birth of a Nation"

Deseret News, April 7, 1916 with favorable review of “Birth of a Nation”

Don’t miss Birth of a Nation! It’s thrilling and awe-inspiring! If there were any objections to the Ku Klux Klan by the Deseret News, they are not in this article, which says that anyone who doesn’t get to see the film would regret it.  It was a favorable review of the picture, just like the Tribune’s. Funny that. The Birth of a Nation was spectacular and groundbreaking, and many people bought into it’s message, including (say it ain’t so!) many Mormons, just like (yup) many Christians.

The whole point of the movie was to promote the Klan, which it did very effectively. As for The Clansman,  we have already debunked that part of the Phantom’s argument. So much for Mormon vs. Critics in this instance, eh Phantom?

Perhaps The Phantom (or BlackMormon) are also unaware of an interesting article from the Deseret News written by George Q. Cannon from 1868 about the Ku-Klux Klan. It seems that there is more to the story than just the rejection of the Klan by Mormon “Authorities”.

DN, Apr 23, 1868 George Cannon, KKKCannon mentions the murder of George. W. Ashburn, who was assassinated by the Klan on March 30, 1868, who was the first murder victim of the Klan in Georgia.

At the end of the Civil War, Ashburn was appointed a judge by the military Governor of the state, George G. Meade, and was instrumental in authoring provisions in the new Constitution that assured civil rights for blacks. He even lived among the blacks, which infuriated the Klan. After his murder, he was vilified by his enemies, who even accused him of living with a black woman in a house of prostitution.  As Historian David Rose writes,

Historical events do not become flashpoints of contested memory without good reasons. One of the explanations for the posthumous vilification of G. W. Ashburn is the political struggle of which his murder formed a significant part: the largely successful terrorist campaign to limit or remove the rights of Georgia’s African-Americans. This “required” their most important white Columbus advocate to be demonized, and at the same time to be seen as having acted over many years against their real interests. In Telfair’s phrase, the purpose of Ashburn’s assassination was “merely to remove a public menace.” Generations after his death, the guardians of white Southern memory found that the bleakest assessments of his life and character still fitted with their overall view of Reconstruction as a time of Northern cruelty and injustice. (The Big Eddy Club: The Stocking Stranglings and Southern Justice, by David Rose, pages 69-70)

George Q. Cannon (then Managing Editor of the Deseret News) writes that,

The conclusion in many quarters seems to be that the action in the case of Ashburn [against the Klan] has been deliberate and concerted, and it is thought that it may and will be repeated, more or less generally, throughout the Southern States. Those who thus think say the motive of the act is not confined to that locality, nor to the individuals who perpetuated this particular crime. It extends, they say, throughout the Southern States, and influences to a greater or less extent the mass of the white population. Of course there are many who differ from this view, and who assert that there are other organizations in the South, which are more dangerous than the Ku-Klux Klan. There are “Loyal Leagues” and other secret organizations among both whites and blacks—organizations armed and oath-bound all over the country, which have for their object, they state, the elevation of the negro and the subjugation and abasement of the whites.Murder_Of_George_W._Ashburn-001

The condition of the affairs in the South is deplorable. Nearly all concur with this opinion. Thinking men in the North fear that the murder of Ashburn, and the other acts of the Ku-Klux Klan, are but precursors of the “war of races” in the Southern States, of which so much had been said during the last two or three years. Many of the opponents of the reconstruction measures of Congress appear to be of the opinion also that a war of races is inevitable. They expect to see internecine conflicts, and a harvest of blood and rapine follow the policy pursued at present in the South. The organizations of these secret associations are very suggestive at the present time.  (Deseret News, April 23, 1868)

According to Cannon, the Loyal Leagues, (also known as the Union League) were more dangerous than the KKK. And what was the Union League? According to wiki,

Freedman's_bureau

Anti-Black Propaganda 1869

The Union Leagues were a group of mens clubs established during the American Civil War to promote loyalty to the Union, the Republican Party, and the policies of Abraham Lincoln. They were also known as Loyal Leagues. They were composed of upper middle class members who provided financial support for organizations such as the United States Sanitary Commission, which provided medical supplies to treat wounded soldiers after battle. The Clubs supported the Republican Party, with funding, organizational support, and political activism.

During Reconstruction, Union Leagues were formed across the South after 1867 as working auxiliaries of the Republican Party. They mobilized freedmen to register to vote and to vote Republican. They discussed political issues, promoted civic projects, and mobilized workers opposed to certain employers. Most branches were segregated but there were a few that were racially integrated. The leaders of the all-black units were mostly urban blacks from the North, who had never been slaves. Foner (p 283) says “virtually every Black voter in the South had enrolled.”

The Union or Loyal League

The Union or Loyal League had a dual agenda that caused problems

The activities of the Union League in the defeated South during the early Reconstruction years did not meet with much favor among local whites. There, the Union League was dominated by Radical Republicans intent on controlling the black vote and disenfranchising white Democrats, in particular former Confederate soldiers whom they characterized as traitors. Historian Walter Lynwood Fleming asserts that the Union/Loyal League was successful in driving a wedge between blacks and Southern whites where little animus had existed, and used methods of political and violent intimidation—similar to those later used by the first Ku Klux Klan—to destroy the influence of Southern whites in politics and with blacks.

Interesting that Cannon would say that the organization that supported “the elevation of the negro” or civil rights for blacks, (and was not accused of being behind any murders) was more dangerous than the one that did not.

Also interesting, is that the Church thought it important enough to publish a “manifesto” devoted to rationalizing the Ku-Klux Klan in The Millennial Star a month after Cannon’s article appeared in the Deseret News.  This article claims that,

Millennial Star, May 15, 1868

Millennial Star, May 15, 1868

While citizens of the United States can only become members of the Ku Klux Klan, radicals, infidels, and negroes cannot become members of the Ku Klux Klan; for the meaning of the term is a Circle of Friends, the sole object of which is the perpetuity of constitutional liberty. The organization of the Ku Klux Klan originated from a necessity—the result of radical legislation and the formation of the secret political orders of the “Loyal League” and the “Grand Army of the Republic;” consequently the Ku Klux Klan is the effect of radical despotism and injustice. … The Ku Klux Klan is, therefore, a secret political organization, the result of necessity, the sole object of which is to thwart radicalism, arrest negro domination in the South, negro equality in the North, perpetuate the Federal Union, and preserve the constitution as the fathers made it. And whoever asserts to the contrary utters falsehood. That the Ku Klux Klan have secrets unknown to the uninitiated is not denied; so have the ancient orders of Free Masonry, Odd-Fellowship, and other secret orders and societies; but like Free Masonry and Odd-Fellowship the objects of the Ku Klux Klan have thus far been for the first time promulgated. The incredulous and guilty may carp and misrepresent; but the wicked, the ungodly, and perjured, will soon feel the keen edge of the sickle and the invisible boring of the white ant. (Millennial Star, Vol. 30, No. pp. 342-343, May 15, 1868).

Harper's Weekly, November, 1869

Harper’s Weekly, November, 1869

On May 30th, the Star published another article on Secret Societies in which they mention the Ku Klux Klan, along with the proclaimed enemies of the Klan, The Grand Army of the Republic and the Loyal League.  The Grand Army of the Republic was a fraternal organization that was composed of Civil War Veterans, (hardly a secret society) and was never linked to any violence, though it did back the Republican Party.

Though the intentions of the Union League were good, the movement in the South was mostly dominated by radical Republicans, who used some of the same tactics as the Klan (such as violent intimidation), but it died out as a political organization by 1870. It is simply illogical to say though, that this organization was involved in “subjugation and abasement of the whites, since that would go against their own interests. In fact, the term “scalawag” or “carpetbagger” meant someone who was only out for their own interests (mostly northerners) and they were for the most part, white men. Obviously, to Cannon, racial equality meant that the whites would be subjugated and abased.

Chapters of the Union League in the United States continue to exist, and have been instrumental in promoting charity work and projects like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, funding the Statue of Liberty pedestal, and Grant’s Tomb.Freedman's_Bureau_Rations

The existence of these organizations according to the Star article was a “sure sign, among others, of the speedy downfall of that once prosperous and mighty Republic “(the United States). “The Ku Klux Klan, the Loyal League and the Grand Army of the Republic” the article claims, “all secret, oath-bound orders, are spreading fear and dismay through the North and South” and “the overthrow of any nation where they are allowed to exist is only a matter of time.”

The article then mentions the murder of Mr. Ashburn, who was killed by armed and masked men “supposed to be members of the Ku Klux Klan.” It then states that “The Grand Army of the Republic and the Loyal League appear to be in the interest of the Radical party [Republicans], and we shall doubtless soon hear of dark deeds and bloody reprisals on their part.” The article tells “the Saints of God to keep free from all secret combinations and political associations” and that if the United States only repents the Lord will “give them power to search out and destroy those secret combinations.”

This article also states that God “permitted” Satan to work among the Nephites and Jaredites with his “secret and wicked suggestions and deceptions by which such bands as Gadiantons were organized, and the same measure which a guilty people had meted out to God’s Prophets, was measured to them again pressed down and running over.”

Freedmen's Bureau_whites&blacks

A Race War seemed inevitable, but never happened in spite of Mormon prophecy

The article also states that “the United States is guilty of shedding the innocent blood of the Prophet Joseph Smith and many of the Latter-day Saints, and of striving to accomplish the destruction of the people of God,” and that “the Lord is now bestowing upon them the reward of their wickedness.” They predict that if the United States continues “in their present course, their present troubles will increase, secret combinations will multiply among them, their leaders will fall by the hand of treachery, party feuds and a war of races will waste them away.”

The article also links these secret societies to Cain, claiming that “the oaths and covenants of the secret order which was established among the Jaredites, and afterwards among the Nephites and Lamanites, were the same that were had in the days of Cain, who received them from the Father of Evil.”

“It is interesting”, claims this article “to watch the progress of events in the United States, the great nation of the Gentiles, so frequently referred to in the Book [of Mormon] and to see in the gradual fulfilment of its predictions, a repetition of the same incidents and occurrences which it describes. The old secret combinations of the Gadiantons are revived, and an era of bloodshed and terror is re-inaugurated. The Chief Magistrate of the nation was smitten down in the midst of his friends in the very hour of his triumph, like Pahoran upon the judgement seat, and secret, oath-bound orders, like that which planned his death, are now bringing about similar destruction to that which overtook the Jaredite and Nephite nations upon the same land.”

Assassination of Lincoln, Currier & Ives

Assassination of Lincoln, Currier & Ives

So what is this article decrying then? So called secret societies that “lead to the shedding of blood”; certainly not racism. Joseph Smith had himself predicted that “slaves shall rise up against their masters” which would be part of a war that would be “poured out upon all nations” (D&C 76). It seems that they would help sweep the “wicked Gentiles” off the American Continent, until there were non left but the Mormons and the Indians. Parley P. Pratt was so certain that this would happen by the date Joseph Smith gave for the return of Jesus Christ that he gave a prophecy about it, declaring that if it did not come true, the Book of Mormon was false:

Concerning prophecy, he [LaRoy Sunderland – Zion’s Watchman] remarks that “it cannot be proved, that one prediction in that book, which is not taken from the bible, was written before the event, said to be described.” Again he says, “there are no predictions, peculiar to this book, yet to be fulfilled, no names of persons or places, or periods of time, are referred to, by which anything definite can be known, as to what is meant by the jargon of Mormon Prophets.” Now, Mr. La Roy Sunderland, we will prove to the world that this in one of the most barefaced falsehoods ever uttered by man. The Book of Mormon contains many prophecies, yet future, with names, places, and dates, so definite, that a child may understand; indeed, it is one of the peculiar characteristics of the Book of Mormon, that its predictions are plain, simple, definite, literal, positive and very express, as to the time of their fulfilment. Notice a prediction of Nephi, page 125, second edition. “For after the book of which I have spoken, shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many, which shall believe the words which are written, and they shall carry them forth, unto the remnant of our seed, (the Indians) and then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us; how that we came on from Jerusalem; and that they are the descendants of the Jews; and the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be declared among them; wherefore they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers; and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers; and then shall they rejoice for they shall know, that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God. And their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people. And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ, shall also be a delightsome people; and it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth. * * * For the time speedily cometh, that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy, and he will spare his people.”

Also page 121, 2d edition. “Behold that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof: for the kingdom of the devil must shake; and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance. or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger and perish; for behold at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.”

Also, page 122 2nd edition. “Woe unto all those who tremble and are angry, because of the truth of God; for behold he that is built upon the rock, receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth, lest he shall fall.” Also. page 123 2nd edition. “Woe be unto the Gentiles, says the Lord God of Hosts; for notwithstanding I shall lengthen out my arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me.” See also, page 514, and read the fate of our nation, and the fate of the Indians of America; in the day that the Gentiles should reject the fullness of the gospel.–(The Book of Mormon.) See also, page 526, where a sign is given, and the time clearly set for the restoration and gathering of Israel from their long dispersion, namely, the coming forth the Book of Mormon, should be the sign; and in the day this work should come forth, SHOULD THIS GREAT EVENT COMMENCE among all nations. Also, p. 527, where all who will not hearken to the Book of Mormon, shall be cut off from among the people; and that too, in the day it comes forth to the Gentiles and is rejected by them. And not only does this page set the time for the overthrow of our government and all other Gentile governments on the American continent, but the way and means of this utter destruction are clearly foretold; namely, the remnant of Jacob will go through among the Gentiles and tear them in pieces. like a lion among the flocks of sheep. Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off. This destruction includes an utter overthrow, and desolation of all our Cities, Forts, and Strong Folds–an entire annihilation of our race, except such as embrace the Covenant, and are numbered with Israel.Parley_P_Pratt_Predicts_End_Of_The_World

Now, Mr. Sunderland, you have something definite and tangible, the time, the manner, the means, the names, the dates; and I will state as a prophecy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown, within five or ten years from this date, then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false. And furthermore, as Mr. LaRoy Sunderland has lied concerning the truth of Heaven, the fulness of the Gospel; and has blasphemed against the word of God, except he speedily repent, and acknowledge his lying and wickedness, and obey the message of eternal truth, which God has sent for the salvation of his people. God will smite him dumb, that he can no longer speak great swelling words against the Lord; and a trembling shall seize his nerves, that he shall not be able to write; and Zion’s Watchman shall cease to be published abroad, and its lies shall no longer deceive the public; and he will wander a vagabond on the earth, until sudden destruction shall overtake him; and if Mr. La Roy Sunderland enquires, when shall these things be? I reply, it is nigh thee–even at thy doors; and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I hope Mr. Sunderland, will no more complain of the jargon of the Mormon Prophets being unintelligible or indefinite. (Parley P. Pratt, Mormonism Unveiled, 1838, p.14 – p.16)

There never was any interest in rebutting the admitted aim of the Ku Klux Klan, which their manifesto stated was to oppose “negro equality and negro domination”, and to promote “white men, and white men alone [who] are the comprehensive exponents of constitutional liberty, and must and will exclusively rule and govern the American republic.” This is exactly in line with what Brigham Young stated when he said that,

There is not one of the seed of old Cane that is permitted to rule & reign over the seed of Abel And you nor I cannot Help it. … The Devil would like to rule part of the time But I am determin He shall not rule at all and Negros shall not rule us. I will not admit of the Devil ruling at all. I will not Consent for the seed of Cane to vote for me or my Brethren. If you want to know why we did not speak of it in the Constitution it was because it was none of their Business. Any man is a Citizens Black white or red and if the Jews Come here with a part of the [p.99] Canaanite Blood in them they are Citizens & shall have their rights but not to rule for me or my Brother.  … The Canaanite cannot have wisdom to do things as the white man has. We must guard against all Evil. I am not going to let this people damn themselves as long as I can help it.

This was the reason for the Priesthood ban, which went hand in hand with the doctrine that Joseph Smith was teaching from the Bible since 1836:

“DEAR SIR: —This place (Kirtland) having recently been visited by a gentleman who advocated the principles or doctrines of those who are called ABOLITIONISTS, and his presence having created an interest in that subject, if you deem the following reflections of any service, or think they will have a tendency to correct the opinions of

"let loose upon the world"

“let loose upon the world a community of people who might… overrun our country and violate…chastity and virtue…”

the Southern public,…you are at liberty to give them publicity… I FEAR that the sound might go out, that ‘an Abolitionist’ had held forth several times to this community,…all, except a very few, attended to their own vocations, and left the gentleman to hold forth his own arguments to nearly naked walls. I am aware that many, who PROFESS to preach the Gospelcomplain against their brethren of the same faith, who reside in the South, and are ready to withdraw the hand of fellowship, because they will not renounce the principle of slavery, and raise their voice against every thing of the kind. This must be a tender point, and one which should call forth the candid reflections of all men, and more especially before they advance in an opposition calculated to lay waste the fair states of the South, and let loose upon the world a community of people, who might, peradventure, OVERRUN OUR COUNTRY, AND VIOLATE THE MOST SACRED PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN SOCIETY, CHASTITY AND VIRTUE…. I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall. “How any community can ever be excited with the CHATTER of such persons, boys and others, who are too indolent to obtain their living by honest industry, and are incapable of pursuing any occupation of a professional nature, is unaccountable to me; and when I see persons in the free states, signing documents against slavery, it is no less, in my mind, than an army of influence, and a DECLARATION OF HOSTILITIES, against the people of the South. What course can sooner divide our union? “After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling, unkind, and wholly unacquainted with the Gospel of Christ….the first mention we have of SLAVERY is found in the Holy Bible,… And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the DECREE OF JEHOVAH, to the shame and confusion of all who HAVE CRIED OUT against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in SERVITUDE…. I can say, the CURSE IS NOT YET TAKEN OFF FROM THE SONS OF CANAAN, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who INTERFERE THE LEAST WITH THE PURPOSES OF GOD in this matter, will come under the LEAST CONDEMNATION BEFORE HIM; and those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the DECREES OF THE LORD, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his own work, without the aid of those who are not dictated by His counsel.” (Letter from Joseph Smith to Oliver Cowdery, April 9, 1836, for the Messenger and Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 7, pp. 289-291. See also, History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, Vol. 2, pages 436-438)

The Phantom blames the whole Priesthood Ban on events that involved William McCary, but if that is so, then how did this article appear in the Times and Seasons only 8 months after Joseph Smith’s death:

After the flood and after Ham had dishonored the holy priesthood, Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his younger son Ham, had done unto him. And, as the priesthood descended from father to son, he delivered the following curse and blessing, as translated by King James’ wise men and recorded in Genesis:

“And he said, cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.”

“And he said, blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

“God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”

History and common observation show that these predictions have been fulfilled to the letter. The descendants of Ham, besides a BLACK SKIN which has ever been a curse that has followed an apostate of the holy priesthood, as well as A BLACK HEART, have been servants to both Shem and Japheth, and the abolitionists are trying to make void the curse of God, but it will require more power than man possesses to counteract the decrees of eternal wisdom.

Again Shem or his descendants were blessed with receiving the revelations, prophets, and Savior:-A blessing truly which even the most sagacious infidel has not been able to explain away.

Again, Japheth has dwelt in Shem’s tent, both in the land of Canaan and in America; for “tents” is a figurative expression which in Hebrew, would signify the residence or abode.

noahs-sonsNow our short chapter will soon end, for the Savior said Jerusalem should be trodden down till the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, and the very movement of every nation shows the eternal truth of the above quoted passage of scripture. It frustrates the designs of sectarians; it chokes the deists; astonishes the world, and delights the saints-Amen. (Times and Seasons, April 1, 1845, Vol. 6 No. 6, pg. 857)

At that time John Taylor was the editor of the Times and Seasons. The Phantom then tries to enlighten us with a little history lesson:

Well, that was then and this is now. Except the LDS church has never authoritatively justified, apologized for, or retracted the many boldly racist theories and observations its leadership at least in singular cases has made over the generations. Was it racism in the dictionary sense? Yes, in many cases it was, but not because of the priesthood restriction itself so much, as Mormon leadership’s clearly human and bigoted attempts to rationalize this vaguely canonical restriction by inventing supplemental folk-doctrine and applying faulty and biased “scientific” or “empirical” evidence to prove the Negro race deserving of the ban. They did this, because otherwise, the[y] knew either they or God would look petty and unfair.

The curse of Cain is however, still stuck solid in the Christian canon. Christians interpreted the curse to be a black skin and being a perpetual slave. It’s clarified to mean only a restriction from the priesthood in Mormon canon. But you’re stuck with a scriptural curse on Cain and his descendants either way. If none of the Mormon canon existed you’d still have an accursed Cain. God’s curse was indeed Biblically argued as justification for institutionalizing American slavery–but not by Joseph Smith or the Mormons. That was Christian America who did that. Until they killed him for it, Ol’ Joe Smith was in fact running for US president on an Abolitionist platform.

DetailPortRoyalSouthCarolinaSlaveQuartersLOCLC-DIG-cwpb-00806sliderpanelActually, I just proved that Joseph Smith taught the Curse of Cain from the scriptures in 1836, and was against Abolitionism. And isn’t the curse of the black skin still in the Book of Mormon, and the curse of Cain doctrine still in the Book of Abraham? In fact, Smith would repeat his views against Abolitionism in 1838:

“Are the Mormons abolitionists?” No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan, should be considered abolition. But we do not believe in setting the negroes free (History of the Church, vol. 3, p. 29).

And this view was even canonized in 1835:

12. We believe it just to preach the gospel to the nations of the earth, and warn the righteous to save themselves from the corruption of the world; but we do not believe it right to interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them, contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor to meddle with, or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men: interference we believe to be unlawful and unjust, and dangerous to the peace of every Government allowing human beings to be held in servitude. (1835 Doctrine and Covenants, Section CII. Of Governments and Laws in General.)

sustain the prophetAs for his presidential platform, that too is a myth. Smith actually opposed Abolitionism, even then:

“On the annexation of Texas, some object. The anti-Mormons are good fellows. I say it in anticipation they will repent. {page 23} Object to Texas on account of slavery. Tis the very reason why she should be received.

“Houston says, ‘Gentleman, if you refuse to receive us we must go to the British’ and the first thing they will do will be to set the negroes and indians [against us] and they will use us up. British officers running all over Texas to pick a quarrel with us — more honorable for us to receive them [Texas]and set the negroes free and use the negro and indians against our foes.

“Don’t let Texas go lest our Mother and the daughters of the land will laugh us {page 24} in the teeth. If these things are not so God never spoke by any prophet since the world began. I have been [several lines left blank] ] south held the balance of power &c. by annexing Texas, I can do away this evil liberate 2 or 3 states and if that was not sufficient, call in Canada.

Send the negroes to Texas [and] from Texas to Mexico where all colors are alike. Notice was given for the Relief Society to meet Saturday 2 P.M. to adopt “the voice of Innocence from Nauvoo” (Joseph Smith Diary, Feb. 8, 1844, Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.456-7)

negro-soldiers-fort-wagner“Use the negro and indians against our foes”. Make them equal, but separate. Of course this would not really be equal if they were forced from American Society and restricted to a country of their own, would it? He even disses the Hispanics. This is ample proof that Joseph’s views about equalization were simply politics.

Texas came into the Union as a Slave State. Smith was all for it. Smith claimed that some “objected” to Texas being admitted to the union on account of slavery, but said that “THIS WAS THE VERY REASON WHY SHE SHOULD BE RECEIVED”, and was for freeing the slaves ONLY to use against a British Invasion. And how would Smith use the negroes and Indians against our foes if they did not want to fight? Make it a condition of freedom? How is that not slavery? But he was still against intermarriage, so he was still a racist:

Thursday, Feb[ruary] 8[th] 1844 [several lines left blank] Court trial on 2 negroes trying to marry white women. Fined 1, $25.00 and 1, $5.00. Evening had a political Meeting in the assembly room and Br[other] Phelps publicly read my views of the Gen[eral] Government for the first time. Elders Hyde and Taylor made a speech and myself also.(An American Prophet’s Record)

A 19th Century interracial familyHad anything changed by 1920? No, the Church was still against any political organizations that used violence to promote their agendas, not because of racism, but because they were linked to the political secret societies mentioned in the Book of Mormon, which were supposedly all “of the devil”.  We then have the Phantom giving us a few snips from a Deseret News article from 1920. Will it condemn racism? Or will it only condemn methods? Here is what Phantom writes,

The Church owned “Deseret News” calls the KKK “an insult and a menace to orderly government” that would lead “to riot and bloodshed.”—1920s  (See Deseret News, 23 Dec., 1920)

The article states that,

“The organization is being worked out along somewhat different lines than was its predecessor of the same name years ago, but its object is avowedly the same—to maintain white supremacy. What means may be taken to attain this object will depend upon circumstances.”

The article then goes on to describe the methods of the “new” Klan, which they say “keep the superstitious negroes trembling with fear.”

The article then states that “In Virginia, for example it is pointed out that the negroes are for the most part well behaved and peaceable. Revival of the Ku Klux Klan will stir up far more trouble than it will cure—trouble that may speedily develop into riot and bloodshed.”Killing Blacks Antebellum South-001

Nowhere does the article state that the Deseret News condemns the racism of the Klan or their white supremacy views, only their methods, and even adds that the Klansmen “should realize they are proceeding in a wrong way to attain these ideals and that the method they seem to have adopted, following the same lines as the organization of years ago, is an insult and a menace to orderly government.” Again, method was at the heart of the objections to the Klan.

By 1921, the Klan had made inroads into Utah, and so Church “Authorities” spoke up. The Klan was not rejected by the Mormon people outright. As Kerry William Bate writes,

The Ku Klux Klan first organized in Utah in 1921, and after some initial struggles, false starts, and internal feuding, chapters sprung up statewide. There were fiery evidences of its success; crosses were burned in Ogden and on Salt Lake’s Ensign Peak, as well as in little hamlets and burgs throughout the state: Eureka, Tooele, Dividend, Centerville, Magna, Brigham City, Bingham, West, Jordan, Helper, Spring Glen, Richfield. The movie Birth of a Nation perpetuated the Klan’s mystique: the “problems” facing native Utahns in the 1920s gave it an immediate and practical impetus.

One of the first causes of Klan activity was hatred of southern European immigrants who were seen as Catholic, heavy drinking, whoring unionists who, if allowed to run lose, would bring Bolshevism or worse upon the state. Consequently, the KKK was most successful in areas where mining had attracted immigrants. Working closely with Masonic orders, the Klan had such a high profile that Cedar City’s college debated it as a timely issue of the day.

Once organized, the Ku Klux Klan began a campaign to gain political power in the state. On the surface, it might have seemed an easy thing, for besides the xenophobia of the local culture, racism was so acceptable that social clubs held “Nigger Night” in LDS wardhouses, and it was commonly believed that Anglo-Saxons were morally, mentally, and socially superior. The emergence of a successful immigrant entrepreneurial class further fueled resentment and seemed to guarantee Klan success in the Beehive state.

In some ways it was successful. Plenty of cross burnings indicated to immigrants that life in Utah meant they should be quiet, submissive, and fearful. Blacks were terrorized. Catholics intimidated, and in Price it was demanded that only “American” be spoken. (Perhaps English was too difficult for Utah natives.)kkk-cross-burning

Politically, the Klan made some impressive inroads. They helped defeat an Ogden mayor and were credited with a sweep of their candidates in Salt Lake City. They controlled Helper’s government, infiltrated the Salt Lake County Republican Party (pro-Klan editorials appeared in one Republican newspaper), and there were Klan sympathizers or members in several different law enforcement agencies.

These frightening successes mobilized anti-Klan sentiment. The objects of Klan hatred responded with outrage. A rally in Ogden was disrupted: despite secrecy and masks, many Klan members were identified and their businesses boycotted; the Klan’s concrete platform in Carbon County was dynamited; and Catholics burned circles in contempt for the blazing crosses.

Newspapers joined in the castigation of KKK activities. The unrelenting hostility of the Ogden Standard-Examiner practically destroyed it in that community. The Logan Journal classified the Klan with “anarchists and Bolshevists. Other papers ran letters from missionaries serving in the South, who pointed out that the Klan in that region was still harassing Mormons.

Ogden, Salt Lake City, and Logan passed anti-mask ordinances which were more successful in interrupting Halloween and de-bearding Santa Claus than they were in unmasking the KKK. but which resulted in giving the Klan the unenviable reputation as the organization that banned Santa.

One is tempted to believe the Klan was laughed out of existence, but it was not that simple. Another, stronger power structure took on the Utah Klan and overpowered it. That power structure was Mormonism. (Sunstone, Volume 7, September-October 1982, p. 66)birth-of-nation-movie-poster-big

But what exactly did they object to? The Klan’s racist ideology? Here is Charles Nibley at the October General Conference of 1921:

There are great problems also before our nation, which demand solution; they are burning, pressing questions which must be solved, and which can only be solved on the principles of righteousness. These principles will help to adjust the jarring, warring, contentious problems which selfishness very largely produces, and which can only be solved through the principles that the Lord has revealed. It is not in man that walks, to guide his steps aright. It is not in man of his own power to solve these problems, nor can any man do it of himself alone. It is only by the help of the Spirit of the Almighty that will bring us to the point where justice and righteousness can at least approximately be approached. We have had contentions in our own nation during the recent months of railroad strikes, coal strikes, and other contentions that have threatened the very existence of our government; and also there have grown up in our nation, secret organizations, combinations of men, no doubt desiring to protect their own selfish interests, even though those interests should conflict with the strict principles of justice. Some of these organizations like the Ku Klux Klan have undertaken to administer what they call justice, independent of Constitutional law, and the rights of men, and they have taken the law into their own hands and have dealt with certain people in a way which can only result in disorder, turmoil, strife, and in the breaking down of Constitutional law. For these Secret organizations undertake to administer punishment upon men and women, irrespective of the laws of the land.negroes-discussing-political-rights

It has been the counsel of the leaders of this Church from the beginning, to observe the Constitutional law of the land, and it is stated in the revelations that whatsoever is more than this or less than this, cometh of evil. We do not need anything outside of this strict letter of the law, for if we do go beyond it, or come tardy of it, we are liable to make a mistake. The agency that the Lord has given to his sons and daughters was given to all — the free agency to choose between right and wrong, and that agency makes us free, for the Lord has said, “If ye abide in my truth, then are ye free indeed.” Now, whenever any man enters any organization, secret or otherwise, that takes from him a certain degree of that free agency to choose between right and wrong, and makes of him a servant, to do as he is told in certain matters, quite irrespective of the righteousness or justice of the case, or of the right or wrong of the case, then that man surrenders that much of his free agency which he ought not under any circumstances to surrender. (Charles W. Nibley, Conference Report, October 1922, p.37)

Nibley does not mention anything about the Klan’s racist agenda. He only mentions that they take the law into their own hands, and therefore this is what results in “disorder, turmoil, strife and the breaking down of Constitutional Law. The Phantom then give us this quote by the Deseret News from 1921:

“So far as its operations are known–its secrecy, its mummery, its terrorism, its lawlessness–it is condemned…These mountain communities of ours have no place whatever for it in their social scheme of things…[he who tries to establish it among us] should be made emphatically to understand that his local endeavors will be worse than wasted, and his objects [goals] are detested, and his [absence] is preferred to his company. The people of Utah have no taste or patience for such criminal nonsense…”—1921 (See Deseret News, July 23, 1921)

Lots of ellipses in this quote. Seems to be a trend with the Phantom. The relevant section of the article without the ellipsis reads,

So far as its operations are known—its secrecy, its mummery, its terrorism, its lawlessness- it is to be condemned as inimical to the peace, order and dignity of the commonwealth.

Nothing here about racism. Again, this addresses the Klan’s methods, (as Charles Nibley did in Conference) not their racism. We are then told, according to the Phantom:

Because of the Church’s condemnation of the KKK, the KKK “Grand Wizard” of Wyoming considers the Church it’s “greatest enemy.” “In the Realm of Utah and scattered over the West in general, we have another enemy, which is more subtle and far more cunning [than other anti-KKK groups] in carrying its efforts against this organization…the Latter-day Saint Religion!”—1923 (See Papers Read at the Meetings of Grand Dragons, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, 1923, pp.112-3)Papers Read at the Meeting of Grand Dragons Knights of the Ku Klux Klan at Their First Annual Meeting Held at Asheville, North Carolina, July 1923, pages 112-113.

Here we have another case of misquoting. If one reads what is actually written in the Book cited, there is no way that the Klan considered the Mormon Church to be its “greatest enemy”, and the Grand Wizard says nothing at all about the Church’s “condemnation” of the Klan:

In addition to the Roman Catholicism, in the Realm of Utah and scattered over the west in general, we have another enemy, which is more subtile and far more cunning in carrying out his efforts against this organization.

They have excellent schools, well conducted but build their church in the same yard with the school and where this is not possible use the schoolhouse itself for religious purpose, teaching the Latter Day Saints religion constantly in the class room, ever keeping in mind the power that is exerted on American youths, yet avoiding all external appearance of being un-American.

The Mormons are unlike the Catholics in marriage, seeking rather than avoiding, the inter-marriage of their women with Protestant men, thereby hoping for conversions and the concentration of capital into their strongholds. Let us study this situation and make a decision just what is the best method to pursue.

The history of Mormon political activity has always been along the line of showing favors where something was to be obtained for their personal benefit. The first marked recorded instance of this action occurred at Nauvoo, Ill., back in 1841 when the Prophet Joseph Smith and Dr. Bennett a smooth politician, secured the Charter for the city of Nauvoo and the Nauvoo Legion, giving them military control greater than in any part of the state as though they were a separate part of the state of Illinois.

They set at naught the laws of the land when the same conflict with their teachings even going so far as to practice polygamy and other things that are equally distasteful to the majority of American citizens. Claiming they have a right to do so because the head of their church, according to their belief, is in direct communication with God.

A case is now on trial in the state of Utah to test the law with regard to whether a candidate who has been elected to office through ecclesiastical influence can hold the office to which he has been elected. Through intrigue it now looks as though the law has a good chance to be set aside in order to carry out the wishes of the heads of the Mormon church.

Instead of including the entire paragraph, Phantom (and whoever originally put this quote together) just uses ellipses to make the KKK say what he wants them to say. Some would call this dishonest.Go to the TopBirth_of_a_Nation_poster_2

III. Nameless Oracles?

In 1870, Brigham Young preached a sermon to the assembled Latter-day Saints in the newly constructed Salt Lake Tabernacle, and said:

“I will make a statement here that has been brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of the nations—that Brigham Young has said “when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture.” I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God…” (Brigham Young, October 6, 1870. Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 264)

As far as the Tabernacle (this place) is concerned, in 1952 Stephen L. Richard, then First Councilor to David O. Mckay, stated:

“In the providence of the Lord, this pulpit has never been any one man’s forum. Rather it has been the oracle of a divine dispensation where the cause has overshadowed the man, where humility has higher rating than self-assurance, where worship is measured in deeds rather than protestations.

Ponder for a moment, my brethren and sisters, and all who listen, the glorious and vital truths which have been proclaimed in this building — the nature and composition of the Godhead, the organization of the universe, the history and placement of man in the earth, his purpose in living, and the divine destiny set for him, the laws governing his conduct and his eligibility for exaltation in the celestial presence the true concept of family life in the eternal progression of the race, the truth about liberty and the place of governments in the earth, the correct concept of property, its acquisition and distribution, the sure foundations for peace, brotherhood, and universal justice. All these elemental things, and many others incident thereto, have been the burden of the message of truth which has come from this building through the generations.

…What confidence and assurance it brings to us to know that our men and women of today, surrounded by an environment radically different from that of our forebears who brought this great building into existence, proclaim the same doctrine as did they. How upsetting it would be if we had to choose between the principles and doctrines of their time and ours. We in this Tabernacle hear the same message as did the people in Kirtland and Nauvoo.Salt Lake Tabernacle

It is true that methods and practices change. They have done in the past, and they may be expected to in the future. It is within the province of a receptive priesthood, obedient to the inspiration of our Father, to adopt and adjust methods, looking toward the advancement of his kingdom. It is also within the province of his chosen servants to interpret and apply the law, but they will never change it, for the law of God is eternal.

… In all humility I bear witness that here is the seat of the government of the kingdom of God, here is the place where the authorized servants of our Lord are sustained and confirmed by the voice of the people. Here in this venerated Tabernacle has every President of the Church, save only one been upheld as prophet, seer, and revelator, and President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From here has gone forth the law out of Zion, and the blessings, the love and compassion of the servants of the Lord for his children.

Every portion of the building was dedicated that it might fulfill its sacred purpose. Listen to the words regarding this historic rostrum, where my associates of the General Authorities of the Church now sit in your presence: “And we dedicate and consecrate that portion of this house where our president and thy servants now are, to be a holy and sacred place wherein thy servants may stand forth to declare thy words and minister unto thy people in the name of thy Son forever….

“May thy holy angels and ministering spirits be in and round about this habitation, that when thy servants are called upon to stand in these sacred places, to minister unto thy people, the visions of eternity may be open to their view, and they may be filled with the spirit and inspiration of the Holy Ghost and the gift and power of God; and let all thy people who hearken to the words of thy servants drink freely at the fountain of the waters of life that they may become wise unto salvation, and thereby overcome the world and be prepared for an everlasting inheritance in the celestial kingdom of our God….

“We pray thee to bless the Twelve Apostles; fill them with the spirit of their office and calling, clothe them with the intelligence of heaven, the light of revelation, and the gift and power of God.”  (President Stephen L. Richard, Conference Report, April 1952, p.43-49).

As for the changing nature of Mormon Doctrine mentioned by Richard, see Salt Lake City Messenger, Joseph Smith’s Changing Scriptures, no. 116 (May 2011).

This claim to know the mind of God and that his discourses were “good as scripture”, was not an idle boast by Brigham Young, who made this claim on more than one occasion.

In an earlier address, Young said:

Well, brethren and sisters, try and be Saints. I will try; I have tried many years to live according to the law which the Lord reveals unto me. I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom, as I know the road to my office. It is just as plain and easy. The Lord is in our midst. He teaches the people continually. I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually. In the days of Joseph, revelation was given and written, and the people were driven from city to city and place to place, until we were led into these mountains. Let this go to the people with “Thus saith the Lord,” and if they do not obey it, you will see the chastening hand of the Lord upon them. But if they are plead with, and led along like children, we may come to understand the will of the Lord and He may preserve us as we desire. (Journal of Discourses Vol. 13,  p.139, January 2, 1870).

But do the collected sermons of Brigham Young and other Mormon ‘General Authorities’, compiled in the Journal of Discourses and other publications qualify as Mormon doctrine? As with many other aspects of the Mormon Church, this view has changed over time. In recent years, the Mormon Church has made official declarations concerning the Journal of Discourses, (one of the greatest collection of early sermons in print) the most recent of which can be found on the Church’s official website:

“The Journal of Discourses is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a compilation of sermons and other materials from the early years of the Church, which were transcribed and then published. It included some doctrinal instruction but also practical teaching, some of which is speculative in nature and some of which is only of historical interest.” ( This quote can be found here).

But this has not always been the case, as we shall see below. Most Mormons today have a view of the Journal of Discourses as untrustworthy, error-filled, second-hand speeches that are of little consequence except perhaps for their historical value. In comparing them to recent General Conference Addresses, a poster on an LDS Social Network Forum put it this way:

The JOD are not necessarily the same as conference talks. They were written by second hand witnesses, and not by the speaker. Nor were they approved or edited by the apostles, and they were never sustained or approved by the body of the church. So, they are useful from a historic standpoint, but are in no way considered declarations of truth, as the Ensign transcripts are.(This quote can be found here).

Mormons seem to have convinced themselves that the Journal of Discourses are no longer a “vehicle of doctrine”, as Brigham Young Jr. attested they were in 1867. He said,

Brigham Young, Jr.

Brigham Young, Jr.

Each successive year the power of God is manifestly increasing upon his people, and more especially upon His ministers in the Holy Priesthood, whose duty it is to build up and instruct the Church in His most holy will. The “Journal of Discourses” is a vehicle of doctrine, counsel, and instruction to all people, but especially to the Saints. It follows, then, that each successive volume is more and more valuable as the Church increases in numbers and importance in the earth, and its doctrines become more abundantly developed and are brought into practical exercise by His peculiar people. Every step of its advancement is fraught with the greatest possible importance to the human family. No Saint can afford to do without these precious precepts until they are able to exemplify them in their daily lives and conversation.(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p. iii (1867)

But a thorough study of their historical background, and the statements of Mormon Authorities will show that this (that they are not doctrine) is not the case.

On January 2, 1870 Brigham Young said that “the Lord is in our midst”, and that ‘the people have the oracles of God continually.”

Just what are the “oracles of God,” and what is the significance of this expression? The Apostle Paul, in the Book of Romans explains:

“What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God. For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” (Romans 3:1-3 (KJV)

The New International Version of the Bible translates verse 2 as “the words of God”. So Brigham Young is telling the Saints that they have the words of God continually. Paul’s words in verse three become very important, because it goes to the heart of how the early Mormons viewed their prophets and apostles. Paul tells us, “for what if some did not believe, shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?”

In the above quote about the Journal of Discourses by our Mormon friend, we read:

“Nor were they approved or edited by the apostles, and they were never sustained or approved by the body of the church. So, they are useful from a historic standpoint, but are in no way considered declarations of truth, as the Ensign transcripts are.”

We shall find that the first part of this statement is untrue (they were approved and edited as attested to by George D. Watt, See Chapter 6 of The Mormon Passage of George D. Watt), but it is the second part of the statement I wish to focus on.

Does the fact that they were “never sustained or approved by the body of the church” make them any less “declarations of truth”? Are the Conference addresses printed in the Ensign any different in this regard? Paul answers this question with his declaration that “shall their unbelief” (or lack of a church vote) “make the faith of God” (or the statements of His ‘oracles’) “without effect”? Not according to the early Mormon Authorities.

On March 8, 1833 Joseph Smith recorded a “revelation” that has become Section 90 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Here, Smith writes that he has the ‘keys to the kingdom’ and the ‘oracles’:

“Thus saith the Lord, verily, verily I say unto you my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers and the prayers of thy brethren have come up into my ears. Therefore, thou art blessed from henceforth that bear the keys of the kingdom given unto you; which kingdom is coming forth for the last time. Verily I say unto you, the keys of this kingdom shall never be taken from you, while thou art in the world, neither in the world to come; Nevertheless, through you shall the oracles be given to another, yea, even unto the church. And all they who receive the oracles of God, let them beware how they hold them lest they are accounted as a light thing, and are brought under condemnation thereby, and stumble and fall when the storms descend, and the winds blow, and the rains descend, and beat upon their house.”  (Doctrine & Covenants, Section 90:1-5.  See also, D&C 21:1, 2, 4-6, 5:10, 1:4-5).

Daniel H. Well, Apostle and Second Counselor to Brigham Young explains that Church Authorities are ‘living oracles’:

Daniel Hamner Wells

Daniel Hamner Wells

“We are blessed in having the living oracles in our midst, and in having a standard erected around which we can rally. The Bible is good, and we believe in it more than any other people. The Book of Mormon and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants are the word of God, and they contain many precious gems; every line is full of knowledge, intelligence, and truth, and is calculated to be a benefit to us; but yet, above and far beyond all, we have the living oracles in our midst to tell us what to do to-day. A great portion of the Scripture we have was the living oracles to the people in the day in which it was given, and it has become Scripture because it was given by the inspiration of the Almighty. It was applicable to the day in which it was given. We have the living oracles in our midst to give us that which is applicable to our day. Let us make our ways correspond to the Lord’s, for we read that “as high as the heavens are above the earth so are His ways higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts.” We are blessed in having His ways made known to us, because He knows best. He has more knowledge and understanding and greater ability, and can perform and accomplish more than any other power that exists; and that people only may be said to be blessed who walk in His ways and do His bidding.” (Daniel H. Wells, Journal of Discourses Vol. 13, pages 28-29).

This is not a light claim. The “living” words of God. Marion G. Romney would make perfectly clear what this meant:

“What we get out of general conference is a build-up of our spirits as we listen to those particular principles and practices of the gospel which the Lord inspires the present leadership of the Church to bring to our attention at the time. He knows why he inspired Brother Joseph F. Merrill to give the talk he just gave. He knows why he inspired the other brethren who have talked in this conference to say what they have said. It is our high privilege to hear, through these men, what the Lord would say if he were hereIf we do not agree with what they say, it is because we are out of harmony with the Spirit of the Lord.” (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1950, p.126)

Apostle John Taylor gives the criteria for all who would “teach the things of God”:

“Well, who were the ancient Apostles? They were men chosen and selected by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Who were these Prophets? Men who were in possession of the spirit of prophecy; and you show me a man who is called and inspired of God to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I will show you a Prophet, for we are told that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy;” and if a man has not the spirit of prophecy and revelation he is not the man to teach the things of God, for that is the principle by which all God’s chosen and authorized ministers in every age have been inspired, and by which they have taught the things of eternal life to the children of men.” ( Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16, page 372).

Taylor would also expound on the other ‘General Authorities’ of the Church, and their responsibility:

“And then come the general authorities, who preside over and minister in the affairs of the Church in all the earth. These general quorums are not local, are not limited to any particular Stake or quorum. Their business is to see that the Gospel is preached to the whole world; to impart counsel by the spirit of revelation according to the spirit of their apostleship and calling, as special witnesses and messengers to the world of mankind. These are the First Presidency, and the Twelve Apostles and the Seventies, whose calling and duty is to labor under the direction of the Twelve and bear the gospel to all nations and to regulate the affairs of the Church in all the world. These general authorities are therefore brought before the general conference assembled, for their approval and for them to uphold and sustain by their faith and prayers; and in like manner are they presented at the several Stake conferences so as to reach the masses of the people, to insure the confidence and prayers of the whole people, for whom they minister, and whose eyes are upon them, who are criticising their teachings, their walk and conversation before God and man.

For God proposes to deal with His Church as a whole, and as a whole to hold them responsible to work the works of righteousness and to defend the faith of the everlasting gospel committed to them, and to purify and sanctify the whole Church and see that evil is put away from our midst, whether it be in the family circle or private walks of life, or in its high officials and those who minister in public capacites; in like manner he requires of them to see that all our organizations and municipalities are in a wholesome condition, and are administered with integrity and uprightness before God and the people.

And as mouthpieces of the Almighty and as watchmen upon the walls of Zion, God requires of us his servants, the Apostles, the Elders, the Presidents of Stakes, and the Bishops everywhere, not only to minister in their several callings in a church capacity, but also to instruct officers of every kind intrusted with the municipal affairs of life, that they may be found faithful in magnifying the law and discharging the trust reposed in them in secular affairs as well as ecclesiastical; for civil organizations and powers of civil government are also appointed and ordained of heaven for the welfare of mankind, for the protection of all flesh. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20, p. 183-4, Apr. 7, 1879).

Wilford Woodruff circa 1880

Wilford Woodruff circa 1880

Wilford Woodruff, would take this thought to the entire Church in 1880:

The Lord, in a revelation given to Orson Hyde and William McClellan in the early days of the Church, in sending them out to preach the Gospel, told them that when they preached they should speak as they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and that if they did not have the Holy Spirit to direct them, they were told not to teach. “And,” said the Lord, “when you do speak as you are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, your words are the words of God, they are scripture, and they are the mind of the Lord to the people.” (Sec. 68.) Many have an idea that it is something very strange for men now-a-days to have revelation, and that nobody should have revelation excepting Brother Taylor.

Here, my brethren and sisters, you are upholding the quorum of the Twelve twice a year in General Conference, besides doing so at your quarterly conference, as prophets, seers and revelators, and you pray for them twice a day, and perhaps oftener, and should it be anything very strange if they should receive a revelation? How strange, indeed! There are in this Church some six thousand seventies, and four thousand high priests, and for thousand elders, who hold the Melchisedec priesthood, which is after the order of the Son of God, besides many thousands of priests holding the Aaronic priesthood, and I would like to ask, if it was wrong to desire revelation? What business have we with this priesthood, if we have not power to receive revelation? What is the priesthood given for? If we do not have revelation, it is because we do not live as we should live, because we do not magnify our priesthood as we ought to; if we did we would not be without revelation, none would be barren or unfruitful.

We have one man who holds the keys of the kingdom of God upon the earth, and it is his business to give the word of the Lord for the guidance of the Church. But here we have apostles and men of God, holding the holy priesthood, acting in behalf of the Church in different parts of this Territory, and also in different parts of the earth; and we have men, say, acting as Church agents in Europe, part of whose business it is to charter ships for the transit across the ocean of tens of thousands of the people of God; is it the right of such men to have revelation from the Lord to guide them in their operations? Yes, it is; and no man should undertake to act in positions affecting the interests of Zion, unless he lives so as to be guided and directed by revelations of God.

And every man who presides over a temple should live day by day in the revelations of Jesus Christ. And every seventy, and every high priest, and every man bearing the holy priesthood should live in that way to get revelation to guide and direct him in his labors. This idea that no man has any right to call upon God and receive revelation is wrong, and it has been wrong wherever it has existed in any age of the world. As was said of old, when a complaint was made concerning certain of the elders prophesying in the Camp of Israel, so say I: “I would to God that all were prophets;” because the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus.” (Wilford Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 21, p. 297-98, August 1, 1880).

There is no room in this equation for “folklore”. None. Unless these men are not what they claim to be. Doctrine & Covenants, Section 68, verses 1-5 read:

My servant, Orson Hyde, was called by his ordination to proclaim the everlasting gospel, by the Spirit of the living God, from people to people, and from land to land, in the congregations of the wicked, in their synagogues, reasoning with and expounding all scriptures unto them. And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth—And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants.

Orson F. Whitney

Orson F. Whitney

In 1916 Apostle Orson F. Whitney would explain “the great distinguishing feature that differentiates God’s Church [Mormonism] from all other churches under the sun”, and that, he says, is “that while they are founded upon books and traditions and the precepts of men, this Church is built upon the rock of Christ, upon the principle of immediate and continuous revelation.” He then concludes:

“The Latter-day Saints do not do things because they happen to be printed in a book. They do not do things because God told the Jews to do them; nor do they do or leave undone anything because of instructions that Christ gave to the Nephites. Whatever is done by this Church is because God, speaking from heaven in our day, has commanded this Church to do it. No book presides over this Church and no book lies at its foundation. You cannot pile up books enough to take the place of God’s priesthood, inspired by the power of the Holy Ghost. That is the constitution of the Church of Christ.” (Orson F. Whitney, Conference Report, October 1916, p.56)

Whitney would go on to say,

In saying this, I speak with all due reverence of the written word of God, that which is printed in the books part of which may be obsolete, having fulfilled its purpose and been laid upon the shelf, while the other part is virile, full of life, and applicable to our present state–our present degree of development. But even this part must be interpreted aright. No man ought to contend for what is in the books, in the face of God’s mouthpiece, who speaks for him and interprets his word. To so contend is to defer to the dead letter in preference to the living oracle, which is always a false position. What the Lord said to the Jews and Nephites, two thousand years ago, or what he said to the Latter-day Saints fifty or sixty years ago, has no force whatever at this time, unless it agrees with present-day revelation, with the Lord’s most recent instructions to his people through his chosen or appointed servants or servant; and they who ignore this fact are liable to get into trouble. It is the latest word from God that must be heeded, in preference to any former revelation, however true. The same God who says do thus and so today, can repeal that commandment tomorrow, without being changeable or inconsistent. The legislature, meeting every two years, repeals old laws, or such of its former enactments as have served their purpose; but no one thinks of charging the law makers with inconsistency or self-contradiction. How then can God be considered inconsistent if he says one thing today, and changes it tomorrow, or next month, or next year, in order to suit altered circumstances? He commanded Abraham to slay his son, and Abraham was about to do so, when the same God said: “Lay not thy hand upon the lad.” Abraham was under obligation to carry out the first command, until the second one was given, and then he was under obligation to obey the second command instead of the first; and he would have been a transgressor had he failed.” (ibid, p.57).

This of course is a false dichotomy, because how can you repeal “truth”? This idea of “folklore” simply dismisses the whole reason the church was supposedly set up with “prophets” and “apostles”, and that living “prophets” can repeal truths given by dead “prophets”. This idea has been denied by those very “apostles” and “prophets”. Take this example, given by George Q. Cannon:

When I think of the mighty men that have stood in our midst, filled with the power of God—Prophets and Apostles, whom God chose and whom He honored, and upon whom He bestowed His gifts and graces; and how many of them have worn themselves out preaching to this people, entreating them in the most eloquent

George Q. Cannon

George Q. Cannon

manner, adducing the greatest and strongest reasons that could appeal to our human natures, and revealing to us the mind and will of God, it does seem to me that a terrible responsibility rests upon us if we depart from the path which God has marked out. We can never say we have not been taught, that we have not had opportunities. We can never blame our Father for not imparting to us, in the utmost plainness, and through the demonstration of His Holy Spirit, His word and His counsel. President Young, while he lived, labored indefatigably to the utmost of his ability; never sparing himself, but constantly teaching the people, teaching them with his counsels, and giving them suggestions that are unequalled. I do not know such a record anywhere to be found as even the record of his discourses to this people; and then, think of President Taylor, and the others associated with President Young, and the effect their labors have had in teaching this people.

Now we are brought face to face with this question, shall we take these counsels to heart, shall we listen to the voice of God through his servants which we have heard now these 42 years in these valleys, and follow the direction which they have given concerning the people of Zion, or shall we make a new departure? Shall we throw aside all that we have heretofore been taught as the correct course and policy to be adopted in building up the kingdom of God, shall we throw it aside, cast it behind us and adopt some new principles, some new policy and practice concerning the Zion of our God in the earth? This is a question that is forcing itself upon us. I have seen things already which I never believed I would see; I have witnessed conduct I never believed I would witness. I had hoped better things. I have observed a disposition to disregard the counsels of the servants of God, to turn aside from the path that God has marked out, to spurn that authority which He has said shall reign. I have seen a disposition to bend and bow to the wishes of the world, to take to heart and to partly believe as true the accusations and the misrepresentations and the charges that have been made by the enemies of the Kingdom of God against the [p.349] Kingdom of God and its policy, and against the men whom God has chosen. And today in our midst there is a great amount of falsehood in circulation concerning the truth, concerning the work of God, and concerning the servants of God; and a disposition to believe evil and to misconstrue conduct and counsel and various things of this character.

If this spirit should prevail among the Latter-day Saints it will certainly prove disastrous to those who receive it and afford it a lodgment in their hearts.

I do not think that those who are present today are the ones who are susceptible to this influence—at least very few, if any. Many of those that are absent I am afraid are the ones who ought to be talked to and reasoned with upon this point. The men and women who attend meetings regularly, and who think it important to come here to receive instructions are not the ones, as a rule, who require censuring or reproof; as a general thing they are found in the path of duty and are walking in the ways of the Lord.

One of the speakers at our meeting last evening called your attention to and spoke upon the subject of union. Whenever the Latter-day Saints become divided; whenever you see one Latter-day Saint arrayed against another, you may know that one or both are in the wrong. When they become divided in their interest, when they seek their own aggrandizement, careless about the rights of their fellowmen; whenever you see this spirit prevail, then it betokens trouble among ourselves and we shall lose power. Let me ask you what is it that gives us strength? Are we numerous? Why, we are but a small handful of people; our opponents outnumber us by millions. Are we wealthy? Our wealth is not to be mentioned in comparison with the wealth that is opposed to us. Are we learned? We do not compare in worldly learning with those who are arrayed against us. In what then does our strength consist? It consists in the union of the people, and their faithfulness in keeping the commandments of God; it consists in our obedience to the counsels of God’s servants. Whenever this people shall fellowship a spirit to disregard the counsels of the Priesthood, seeking to accomplish ends by methods that are popular in the world, then they become like other people, and their strength leaves them. Samson, after he disregarded certain commandments to him personally by shaving his head and divulging the secret of his wonderful strength, easily fell a prey to the Philistines. This will be the case with us if we take the course advocated by many so-called Latter-day Saints, and which they think it right to take. I will tell you, and risk my reputation as a prophet upon it, although I don’t often talk about being a prophet; I say, I am willing to risk my reputation as a prophet upon this, that the man who takes this course, the family or the community that takes it will become as weak as water, and eventually become part of the world for departing from the way that God, through his servants, has pointed out. Our strength consists not of being part of Babylon, but the very opposite of that. Our strength consists in God; and the fact that this is so has made us a peculiar people. Divest ourselves of this peculiarity and we then become like the rest of the world, no better, no stronger than they are; and we will be overcome by them, for their forces are stronger and greater than ours. Can you not see this? To me, it is as clear as the light that shines. If we are strong at [p.350] all, we are strong because we are Latter-day Saints. That is the cause of our strength—the strength which God has given unto us through His Gospel. Whenever we depart from that policy we become weak like other men. It is time we understood this; it is time we looked at it in its true light. We are going arm and arm with the world, are we? We are going to be like them? Whoever has that spirit will apostatize as sure as God lives, unless he repents. I do not mean by this to say there is any antagonism between us and the world. We have no warfare to wage, none whatever. All we have to do is to be true to our principles. If our enemies conspire against us, let us be true to our God, true to Zion, true to the methods that God has revealed unto us for the building up of His Kingdom, and take the course that will be right and pleasing in the sight of God. I do not mean by this that I wish to put myself in opposition to the laws, or to that which is now the counsel concerning matters. I want to define my position so you will understand it, that no advantage be taken of it.

God has established His Zion, and He is building it up in the way He has revealed and that He communicates to His servants from time to time. (Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol. 1, p. 348-50, Salt Lake City, Monday Afternoon, September 2nd, 1889).

What Cannon describes above is what we see now with the Curse of Cain and Priesthood Ban doctrine, Mormons pitted against Mormons. So according to Cannon both are wrong. This presents quite the dilemma, as it does with other issues.

Brigham Young taught that the father was Adam, and said it was true by revelation. How does one repeal a revelation on the nature of God and then supplant it with another (that renders the previous false) that is also the truth? Of course this statement came at a time when the church was re-inventing the Godhead, claiming that Jesus was now Jehovah, and backpedaling from Brigham Young’s “revelations” about Adam. This quote is very instructive though, because it gives us the modern Mormon stance on why they no longer accept some of the doctrinal statements of previous “prophets”.

Apostle Alonzo A. Hinckley (uncle of Gordon B. Hinckley) would speak of the ‘oracles of God’ in a 1935 General Conference Address. He states that “my brethren live in the love and favor of God and that they carry their responsibilities with fidelity.” He recognized the “unswerving integrity under every condition of life,” of President Heber J. Grant, and that his counselor J. Reuben Clark, was “a born straight thinker, a righteous defender of the truth, is a man of undeviating and unfaltering devotion to the Church” and that David O. McKay with his “manly physique, a perfect physical specimen,” was “presided over by a trained and a keen mind,” and that “he enjoys a spirituality that has made him, not of his own volition but by common consent, the idol of youth.” He then concludes that,

Alonzo Hinckley

Alonzo Hinckley

“These men constitute the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the oracles of God chosen to receive the mind and the will and the word of the Lord and to impart it unto the people. I bear testimony that the avenues of revelation are open. The brethren are worthy. Jesus is at the helm. This is his work and he leads his servants.”

“God bless the leaders of Zion and bring into our hearts a renewed felling of reverence, that henceforth their voices, as they speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost, shall be unto us as the voice of God.” (Alonzo A. Hinckley, Conference Report, October 1935, p. 24).

These are the very men who made the First Presidency Statement about the Negro Doctrine that banned them from the Priesthood, and agreed with Young that they would not be able to have it until all the seed of Abel did first. Apostle George F. Richard made it clear that,

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God. When a man speaks by the power and authority of the Priesthood of the Son of God and under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, what he speaks will be scripture; it will be the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, the word of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. (George F. Richard, Conference Report, October 1939, p.107).

Milton R. Hunter

Milton R. Hunter

In 1948, Milton R. Hunter of the First Council of Seventy declared,

“I wish to emphasize the fact that this revelation [D&C 68] is not limited to Joseph Smith and the other great prophets who preceded him. We have standing at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today living oracles through whom God reveals his will. Certainly the words of this revelation apply to President George Albert Smith, to his Counselors, to the Twelve Apostles, and to me Patriarch to the Church just as much as they did to Joseph Smith, or to Isaiah, Jeremiah, Moses, Nephi, Alma, Peter, Paul, or to all of the other ancient prophets of God.” (Milton R. Hunter, Conference Report, April 1948, p.31).

He would add,

The greatest job that a prophet has to accomplish is to be teacher of the divine truths revealed to him from on high. He is God’s mouthpiece here on earth–God’s spokesman, the revelator of the plan of salvation. Through the keys and power of the priesthood which he holds, the kingdom of God is established upon earth and all the ordinances requisite for the salvation and exaltation of the human family are performed. It is in their capacity of teacher and dispenser of the mind and will of God  that the holy prophets in all ages have made their greatest contributions.” (ibid, page 32).

On January 27, 1860, Orson Pratt met with the First Presidency and most of the Authorities of the Church to discuss certain of Pratt’s teachings, especially some found in his periodical, The Seer. The meeting did not go well, because Pratt could not agree with two of Brigham Young’s doctrines, that God was Adam, and was still progressing in knowledge. But a few days later, Pratt had come around, and made this statement to the assembled Church:

“This I consider is a very important item—Behold, “I say unto you, Be one; and if ye are not one, ye are not mine.” This is very pointed, plain, and definite language, that no man can misunderstand. Upon what principle are we to he one? It is by hearkening in all things to that eternal and everlasting Priesthood which has been conferred upon mortal man upon the earth. When I say that Priesthood, I mean the individual who holds the keys thereof. He is the standard—the living oracle to the Church.

“But,” says one, “suppose that we hearken to the word of God in the Old and New Testament—suppose that we hearken to the word of God in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants—suppose we hearken to the word of God in the Book of Mormon, and at the same time we feel disposed in our hearts to lay aside the living oracles, what then? I would answer, in the first place, that the premises are false. Why? The very moment that we set aside the living oracles we set aside the revelations of God. Why? Because the revelations of God command us plainly that we shall hearken to the living oracles. Hence, if we undertake to follow the written word and at the same time do not give heed to the living oracles of God, the written word will condemn us: it shows that we do not follow it according to our profession. This is what I wish to bring home to myself as an individual; and if the same thing will suit any other person in the congregation, I hope that he will take it home to himself.

Orson Pratt

Orson Pratt

“But,” inquires one, “how is it that you are going to apply this to yourself?” I will tell you. But first let me quote from another revelation contained in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. [Section 21:1-5] Perhaps I had better read the passage which I wish now to bring to your understanding:—”Behold, there shall be a record kept among you; and in it thou shalt be called a Seer, a Translator, a Prophet, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, an Elder of the church, through the will of God the Father and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, being inspired of the Holy Ghost to lay the foundation thereof, and to build it up unto the most holy faith; which Church was organized and established in the year of our Lord, eighteen hundred and thirty, in the fourth month, and in the sixth day of the month which is called April. Wherefore (meaning the Church,) thou shalt give heed unto his words and commandments, which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me; for his word shall ye receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”

Here, then, we perceive what is binding upon the Church of the living God, what was binding upon them thirty years ago, and what has been binding upon them ever since, from the day that it was given, until the day the Prophet was martyred, down until the year 1860, and until the present moment of time. All this time there have been a kingdom and Church of the living God on the earth, and a man placed at the head of that Church to govern, direct, counsel, preach, exhort, testify, and speak the truth to the people, and counsel them in the things pertaining to their duties and pertaining to the kingdom of God.”  (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p.372-73 January 29, 1860).

How did an apostle of Jesus Christ, directed by his prophet Brigham Young to teach doctrine in a publication go so wrong? Funny that it was Pratt’s views about Adam and God not progressing, that were later taken up by the Church, not “the living prophet” Brigham Young. A few months later, Apostle Heber C. Kimball would declare,

Heber C. Kimball

Heber C. Kimball

“This is the religion of Jesus Christ as taught in these books—the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and it is in accordance with that which is in my breast and which is a better book, for it is life in Christ; and that living being that receives light and intelligence from the heavens through the revelations of the Holy Ghost is a living oracle. It is the living Oracle that is within us that will guide us in the way of life.

Now, you require brother Brigham to live in that manner that he can hold the oracles of God and be to you a living oracle—the mouthpiece of the Almighty, to communicate line upon line, and precept upon precept and have the word of truth constantly on hand. Now, why should you require more of the head than of the other members? The Lord has said that upon those members that you consider the least honourable he has conferred the most honour; and he will confer upon every man and woman that honours the Priesthood, the Presidency, the Bishops, and all the members of the body. We cannot honour God except we honour his authority: there is no possible way of honouring the kingdom of God only by honouring its authorities. (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8,  p. 86, June 3, 1860).

As early as 1843 Brigham Young emphasized that the Quorum of the Twelve should follow their superiors without asking questions:

In the evening I met with the Quorum; Bro. Joseph was not present. B. Young was called to the chair who addressed the meeting in a very feeling manner and interesting to our minds. He reasoned clearly that we should follow our file leaders and our Savior in all His laws and commandments without asking any questions why they were so. (Wilford Woodruff Journals, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.331, December 10, 1843)

With this in mind, now read the Phantom’s take on how this all works:

What Joseph Smith actually restored was the “Church,” a system of mortal government, through which allows man to regulate man’s own participation in God’s Kingdom. God doesn’t need the Church. Man needs the Church. The Church is a mortal institution run by and for mortals. The difference between Mormonism and any other “Christian” church, is authority. Mormonism, if you care to buy it, claims to have direct authority from Jesus Christ to administer to His believers in His name. That’s authority mind you. Along with authority comes power and inspiration, and there’s where it gets a bit sticky. The Mormon hierarchy holds the “keys,” which means the token authority to talk directly to God, to commune with angels, the Holy Spirit, or see visions, heal the sick, raise the dead, any of all that miraculous stuff. I fully believe that the current LDS president for example, could talk to Jesus personally. I take that on faith. But I don’t have to believe that he doesn’t do that however, because he has said he doesn’t. I therefore know he doesn’t talk to God and Angels. That is not faith based. So what I know for a fact is, that Jesus doesn’t sit in the Salt Lake Temple and directly administer HIs church. And more to the point, Jesus isn’t up in the Church Office Building passing on daily lessons to the Brethren about bigger and bigger doctrinal concepts just for entertainment purposes. The Church is about salvation. It’s about serving Christ and feeding His sheep. You just don’t need to know that much to accomplish this mission. Jesus doesn’t need to come down and micromanage the operation. And sure, by the time you read this some LDS “Prophet” may say he’s had a face-to-face with Jesus, and I’ll gladly accept this as the truth if and when it happens. It simply hasn’t happened since Joseph Smith to date. (The Phantom)

It is so easy to rationalize anything, isn’t it? So easy. What the Phantom does here is say that God gave the “keys” to His kingdom on earth and “authority” to act in his name to a bunch of liars who don’t really talk to Him at all. They just kind of make up things as they go along, and that is all right, because they have supposedly been given the “authority” to save people by a guy who doesn’t have a track record any better than his successors.

They could talk to Jesus if they really want to, but yet “it simply hasn’t happened since Joseph Smith”. This is the kind of convoluted thinking that one has to go through to try and give “perspective” to the men that claim that Jesus gave them authority to act in his name. Kind of boggles the mind, doesn’t it?

And then it comes back to those hateful “Christians”:

The problem we have with Mormonism in the area of ongoing prophecy, is that starting with Joseph Smith, you do now in fact have a highly structured bureaucracy leading a permanently constituted organizational “Church” structure. Its president takes upon himself the title of “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” and then uncomfortably waits for the next church-related job God feels a need to personally take an interest in. It’s like the Book of Mormon system only it happens in real-time. You end up with caretakers making perfunctory notes for posterity just to say they did something, as did Omni and Jarom and Enos, just handing down the book generation after generation, sometimes adding a note about how nothing much was happening so they’re just passing down the records like they were told to do. This, honestly speaking, is exactly what the “Restored” Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) has become since the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. This is not necessarily a reflection upon LDS leadership. Joseph Smith was shot all to hell by Christian mobs to shut him up and kill the movement, and perhaps that was part of God’s plan, but it is mostly a good indication that God generally calls any given “major” prophet to do a specific job and then whatever happens to him afterward just happens, because the job is done. In Smith’s case the claimed job was “Restoration,” and having “Restored” the structure and key doctrines necessary, we can assume that not only was Joseph Smith done with the assignment, but God was fairly happy with the wisdom and knowledge He’d revealed in the process, and therefore Smith’s successors could expect not a whole lot of additional conversation with Deity until conditions according to God’s timetable and desires warranted it. (The Phantom)

Just throw everybody after Joseph Smith under the bus. They don’t matter. A bunch of monkeys could run the church (and probably do it better) because they don’t talk. They wouldn’t be able to embarrass the church with what comes out of their mouths. And they don’t know much, either. A perfect solution to the Phantom’s problem.

Christians killed Joseph Smith. Great job at broad brushing that incident. But I’m not surprised that the Phantom thinks so; they’re so obviously to blame for every thing else, aren’t they? Well folks, I’m about done here. I think you have enough to go on, to realize that the Phantom is the one who is really pulling things “out of his backside”.

Perhaps the Phantom can benefit from the words of James E. Faust,

I do not believe members of this church can be in full harmony with the Savior without sustaining his living prophet on the earth, the President of the Church. If we do not sustain the living prophet, whoever he may be, we die spiritually. Ironically, some have died spiritually by exclusively following prophets who have long been dead. Others equivocate in their support of living prophets, trying to lift themselves up by putting down the living prophets, however subtly. In our lifetime we have been favored with ongoing communication from the heavens, which have been open to the prophets of our time. (James E. Faust, Continuous Revelation, Conference Report, October 2013)

As Phantom says folks, don’t expect a lot. As James E. Faust says, Phantom is dead spiritually. This is the dilemma of Mormonism. Thankfully, I leave that to those who are still members of the Church to try and figure out. And whether to start burning books. I’ll be keeping mine, and encouraging every one I know to read them.

Joseph Fielding Smith & Bruce R. McConkie

Joseph Fielding Smith & Bruce R. McConkie

Go to the Top

Playing F.A.I.R.

Really?

I often come across this scenario on Mormon Facebook Pages and other sites as I browse the internet:

Self-proclaimed Mormon “apologists” using material from F.A.I.R (Foundation for Apologetic  Information and Research) to “prove” that critics of Mormonism are dead wrong about issues (that the critics prove) the Church has manipulated or lied about in telling its history.

Case in point – This alleged “prophecy” recorded in the History of the Church they claim was given by Joseph Smith:

“I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.”[1]

I. CHALLENGING THOSE DAMN “ANTI-MORMONS”

On a Facebook Page titled “Challenging Anti-Mormon Apologetics”,[2]I came across the following post:

“LDS Honesty: Lying for the Lord (Link provided in the previous post) also says the following:

4. The famous Rocky Mountain Prophecy was a later addition to the official church history and not uttered by Joseph Smith as a prediction that the Mormons would inhabit the Salt Lake Valley. Despite the fact it is not authentic; the church presented it as such for more than a century. The ‘Rocky Mountain Prophecy’ was added after the Mormons arrived in Utah. (The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 406) The church had no intentions of giving this information to members, in order to make their history appear more faith promoting.

Contemporary documentation says otherwise. [3]

What is this “contemporary documentation” they speak of? If one pursues the F.A.I.R. link that the Facebook Page mentioned above provides, one comes upon the “Official Mormon Apologist” response to the above allegations: that Smith’s famous Rocky Mountain “prophecy” was inserted into the Manuscript History of the Church at a later date.

And what is this “contemporary documentation”? Let’s start with their conclusion and work our way back. F.A.I.R. states,

“To accept a “forgery” theory, we must accept that all of the people listed above who remembered Joseph speaking about the Rocky Mountains were lying or fabricating their experience. Furthermore, we must also accept that Joseph was sending explorers to the west with no real expectation of moving, and the discussion of heading west by both members and enemies was all idle talk.”[4]

This is a classic case of diverting the issue. Jerald and Sandra Tanner actually state in The Changing World of Mormonism,

“In our book Falsification of Joseph Smith’s History, page 10, we stated concerning this prophecy:

There is some evidence that Joseph Smith considered going west to build his kingdom, but since we now know that the Mormon Historians actually compiled Joseph Smith’s History after his death and that they drew from many sources, we cannot help being suspicious of the authorship of this prophecy.[5]

Jerald & Sandra Tanner

We see that the Tanners did indeed admit that “there is some evidence that Joseph Smith considered going west”, so why does F.A.I.R. state,

“But, to claim that the account of him discussing and even prophesying a move to the west rests on nothing but “forgery” is to distort and ignore too many sources, from too broad a time period, over what is essentially a peripheral issue.”

Notice F.A.I.R. trying to tie this specific “prophecy” to any discussion about the Rocky Mountains, and that any discussion of moving west by Smith must also be classed as spurious. Then, if they can show that Smith discussed it, this makes the Tanners deceptive.  F.A.I.R. is trying to set their own criteria here, but this is not what the Tanners claim at all, as I have shown above. Is the fact that someone discussed something likely to be made into an issue?

The Tanner’s claim was not that Smith ever discussed the Rocky Mountains, or moving the church west; it was that a false prophecy was fabricated by Mormon Historians (most likely based on exaggerations by contemporary Mormons well after the fact) and placed in the official History of the Church as an actual specific statement (prophecy) that Joseph Smith made.  The specific charge made by the Tanners was this,

“Important evidence concerning Joseph Smith’s prophecy that the Mormons would come to the Rocky Mountains has recently come to light. This prophecy was reported to have been given in 1842 in Illinois. Joseph Smith himself was supposed to have said:

“While the Deputy Grand-Master was engaged in giving the requisite instructions to the Master-elect, I had a conversation with a number of brethren in the shade of the building on the subject of our persecutions in Missouri and the constant annoyance which has followed us since we were driven from that state. I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 85) …

The situation, then, boils down to the following: we have two handwritten [history]manuscripts, books D-1 and D-2. Neither of these books were even started until after Joseph Smith’s death. In both cases the prophecy concerning the Mormons coming to the Rocky Mountains was interpolated in a smaller handwriting. From this evidence we can reach only one conclusion: the famous “Rocky Mountain Prophecy” is not authentic.” [6]

F.A.I.R singles out the book One Nation Under Gods, and Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s book The Changing World of Mormonism, (and since they imply that Richard Abanes probably got his information from the Tanners –  I will focus on the argument made in Changing World). F.A.I.R.  makes these points of criticism:

Jerald and Sandra Tanner claim that a prophecy from Joseph about the Saints’ move to the Rocky Mountains was forged after the fact and inserted into the History of the Church. They provide the following sources for this claim:

  • History of the Church 5:85.
  • Joseph Smith’s Manuscript History, Book D-1, page 1362
  • Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, p.469
  • Davis Bitton, Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory, The John Whitmer address, delivered at the Second Annual Meeting of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Lamoni, Iowa, September 28, 1974, unpublished manuscript, p.16″ [This article is now available in “Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory,” in Restoration Studies, ed. Maurice L. Draper, vol. 1, (Independence, Missouri, 1980).]

And conclude, “This use of sources is dishonest and misleading.”[7]

II. FAIR OR UN-F.A.I.R.?

The Tanner’s sources are “dishonest” and “misleading”? Let’s take this point by point and see if they are.  F.A.I.R. states,

None of these sources support the argument:

  • The BYU Studies article from 1971 is Dean Jessee’s account of the authorship of the History of the Church. It says nothing about adding a “Rocky Mountain Prophecy,” and the Tanners neglect to provide the perspective on authorship practices in 19th century history that Jessee provides. They thus hide the material that answers their objection. Readers can fortunately access these ideas on the FAIR wiki.[8]

Dean C. Jessee

Can we point out that F.A.I.R. doesn’t acknowledge that the History of the Church also doesn’t acknowledge that Joseph Smith really didn’t “first-person” his own history either?  And they must have missed the Tanners when they explained,”since we now know that the Mormon Historians actually compiled Joseph Smith’s History after his death and that they drew from many sources..” Do all the Mormon “Authorities” who quote this “prophecy” bother to explain the background behind it? That this quote is used by the Church as a bona fide “prophecy” of Smith, and in using it this way they tout Smith’s prophetic powers?  But the real question that F.A.I.R. doesn’t address about this source is why the Tanner’s used it. Not only does F.A.I.R. does not explain this, they don’t even offer a link or internet address to the Book! They don’t even bother to quote what the Tanner’s said! Here is the Tanner’s explanation:

“We are now happy to announce that a photograph of the portion of the original handwritten manuscript containing this ‘prophecy’ has been located at the Visitor Center in Nauvoo, Illinois. Wesley P. Walters of Marissa, Illinois, has sent us a photograph of this page…. This photograph is taken from ‘Joseph Smith’s Manuscript History,’ Book D-1, page 1362.”

An examination of the photograph revealed that the part concerning the Mormons becoming “a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” was crammed in between the lines of the text in a much smaller handwriting. This indicated that the famous prophecy had been added to the manuscript sometime after this page had originally been written. When we published an enlarged edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? we stated that “Dean C. Jessee’s study proves that this prophecy could not have been written in ‘Joseph Smith’s Manuscript History’ until at least a year after Joseph Smith’s death. He shows that page 1362 of the Manuscript History—the page containing the prophecy—was not even written until July 4, 1845!”

We reasoned that if the page was not written until July 4, 1845, then it was likely that the interpolation containing the prophecy was not added until after the Mormons came to Utah. We have recently found new evidence which further undermines the authenticity of this prophecy. Fortunately, in 1845 Brigham Young had ordered the scribes to make a “duplicate handwritten copy of the History” (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, p. 469). We examined this second manuscript, Book D-2, p. 2, and found that the “Rocky Mountain Prophecy” was written in very small handwriting between the lines. In other words, it was obviously added at a later time to this manuscript.” [9]

So the reason that the Tanners quoted Jessee from his 1971 article, was to prove that Brigham Young had ordered a duplicate made of the Church History, and that the Manuscript History wasn’t written until after Smith died. They quoted Jessee to verify this, and found that the “prophecy” was inserted into Smith’s history well after the fact.  They also included a photo (in their on-line version of the book) of the page in question from the Manuscript History, which can be found here, and below. This source absolutely supports the argument.

F.A.I.R. is not playing fair, because they are not telling you why the Tanners used the source.  How many Mormons are going to go to the trouble of reading what the Tanner’s wrote? Especially when F.A.I.R. doesn’t quote them, has this disclaimer at the beginning of nearly every book they review that is critical to Mormonism:

“Those who do not wish to examine the claims contained in what some would consider an “anti-Mormon” work are advised to proceed no further.” [10]

F.A.I.R. then goes to the Davis Bitton source and states,

  • Davis Bitton’s article specifically rejects the Tanners’ claim:

Two errors have been made regarding this Rocky Mountains prophecy. The first is to reject it out of hand as a later invention of the Utah Mormons. There is enough discussion of possible westward moves during the later Nauvoo period to think that Joseph Smith, in one of his prophetic moods, might well have said something of the sort. The second error, even more serious, is to seize upon these fragments as the basis for concluding that Joseph knew exactly what the future held in store for the Saints down to every last detail. Like the constitution-by-a-thread prophecy, the Rocky Mountains prophecy probably had a basis in an actual statement. The two prophecies are alike, too, in the fact that they were extremely popular later on when they served the needs of the Saints for encouragement.[11]

First, the Tanners did not “reject it out of hand as a later invention”, they show credible evidence that it was.  Second, might and probably don’t make it so. A statement that one is thinking about moving west someday, or sending out exploration parties, is far different from prophesying that one will, with specific details about what happens before and after.  Thirdly, (and most important) it is the Mormons that are “seizing upon these fragments as the basis for concluding that Joseph knew exactly what the future held in store for the Saints down to  every last detail,” and that is why this is not a “peripheral issue”.  Here is a little more of Davis Bitton quoted by the Tanners,  that F.A.I.R. doesn’t quote,

“The situation, then, boils down to the following: we have two handwritten manuscripts, books D-1 and D-2. Neither of these books were even started until after Joseph Smith’s death. In both cases the prophecy concerning the Mormons coming to the Rocky Mountains was interpolated in a smaller handwriting. From this evidence we can reach only one conclusion: the famous “Rocky Mountain Prophecy” is not authentic. The church historical department has Joseph Smith’s diary for 1842-43, but the first entry does not appear until December 21—some four months after the prophecy was supposed to have been given. Mormon scholars have been unable to come up with anything to support the authenticity of this prophecy.

Davis Bitton, an assistant church historian, has written almost five pages concerning this matter. He frankly states that “there is no such prophecy in the handwriting of Joseph Smith or published during the Prophet’s lifetime, but it was referred to in general terms in 1846 during the trek west. After the arrival in the Salt Lake Valley the prophecy was frequently cited and became more specific as time went on” (“Joseph Smith in the Mormon Folk Memory,” The John Whitmer address, delivered at the Second Annual Meeting of the John Whitmer Historical Association, Lamoni, Iowa, September 28, 1974, unpublished manuscript, p. 16).

Davis Bitton goes on to state that “The manuscript history covering this period was written in 1845….” This is, of course, a year after Joseph Smith’s death. Mr. Bitton then admits that the prophecy is an “insertion” which was added into the manuscript as “an afterthought” (p. 18). Although Davis Bitton cannot find any real evidence that Joseph Smith made the famous “Rocky Mountain Prophecy,” he does feel that there was “a time when something like this might have been said by Joseph Smith with considerable plausibility. Anytime during the last four years of his life, … the Prophet had good reason to consider possibilities for relocation. It can be demonstrated that he considered the possibility of settling in Oregon (or on Vancouver Island). He was attempting to negotiate some kind of colonization venture in Texas …” (p. 17).

Mr. Bitton admits that other changes were made in Joseph Smith’s documents to support the idea that he knew the Mormons would come to the Rocky Mountains:

And in February 1844 the Prophet was organizing an exploring expedition to go to the West. There are some interesting changes in the way the description of this expedition was written by Willard Richards, secretary of Joseph Smith at the time, and the later revisions. The original, handwritten version reads: “Met with the Twelve in the assembly room concerning the Oregon Expedition.” This has been modified to read “the Oregon and California Exploring Expedition.” Continuing, the Richards manuscript reads, “I told them I wanted an exposition of all that country, “—which has been changed to “exploration of all that mountain country.” There are other such changes that make one suspect that the later compilers of the history, notably George A. Smith and his assistants in the 1850s, were determined to have Joseph Smith contemplating the precise location where the Saints had by then settled. Oregon would not do; Oregon and California as then defined at least included the Rocky Mountains. If the Prophet could be made to say “mountain country” instead of just “country,” it would appear that he clearly had in mind the future history of his followers (pp. 17-18).[12]

If we go by what F.A.I.R. states, we have Bitton refuting himself! They have to perpetuate an outright lie, to make their point (that Bitton’s article specifically rejects the Tanner’s argument). Bitton’s article in no way rejects the Tanner’s claim, that the specific prophecy, recorded in the History of the Church was an insertion after the fact. It was, and Bitton agrees that it was, stating that “there is no such prophecy in the handwriting of Joseph Smith or published during the Prophet’s lifetime”.  The Tanners also reveal Bitton’s speculation that the prophecy might be based on something Smith might have said. But the bottom line is Smith didn’t say it, and there is no proof that he did.  Is F.A.I.R.’s claim that the Tanner’s use of this source is “dishonest” fair? We see that it is not, and that the Tanner’s are more fair than F.A.I.R., admitting that Smith “considered going west to build his kingdom”.

III. EVIDENCE IS NO EVIDENCE

F.A.I.R. also attacks the Tanners for the use of the History of the Church source. They quote a footnote by B.H. Roberts, where he supports the authenticity of the “prophecy” with a quote by Anson Call. Their main objection is “The author[s] provide only the History of the Church reference, but provide no evidence of [their]claim.”

No evidence? Here is F.A.I.R.’s “evidence”. F.A.I.R writes,

The prophecy source is the biography of Anson Call, in August 1842. The relevant section reads as follows:

“A block schoolhouse had been prepared with shade in front, under which was a barrel of ice water. Judge Adams, the highest Masonic authority in the State of Illinois, had been sent there to organize this lodge. He, Hyrum Smith and J. C. Bennett, being high Masons, went into the house to perform some ceremonies which the others were not entitled to witness. These, including Joseph Smith, remained under the bowery. Joseph as he was tasting the cold water, warned the brethren not to be too free with it. With the tumbler still in his hand, he prophesied that the Saints would yet go to the Rocky Mountains, and said he, ‘This water tastes much like that of the crystal streams that are running from the snow-capped mountains. I had before seen him in a vision, and now saw, while he was talking, his countenance change to white, not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living, brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing upon something at a great distance and said, “I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains.”

Anson Call

I had before seen him [Joseph Smith] in a vision [i.e., while seeing or reporting a divine vision or revelation], and now saw while he was talking his countenance change to white; not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living brilliant white. He seemed absorbed in gazing at something at a great distance, and said: “I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains.” This was followed by a vivid description of the scenery of these mountains, as I have since become acquainted with it. Pointing to Shadrach Roundy and others, he said: “There are some men here who shall do a great work in that land.” Pointing to me, he said, “There is Anson, he shall go and shall assist in building up cities from one end of the country to the other, and you, rather extending the idea to all those he had spoken of, shall perform as great a work as has been done by man, so that the nations of the earth shall be astonished, and many of them will be gathered in that land and assist in building cities and temples, and Israel shall be made to rejoice.”

It is impossible to represent in words this scene which is still vivid in my mind, of the grandeur of Joseph’s appearance, his beautiful descriptions of this land, and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from the glorious inspirations that overshadowed him. There was a force and power in his exclamations of which the following is but a faint echo: “Oh the beauty of those snow-capped mountains! The cool refreshing streams that are running down through those mountain gorges!” Then gazing in another direction, as if there was a change in locality: “Oh the scenes that this people will pass through! The dead that will lay between here and there.” Then turning in another direction as if the scene had again changed: “Oh the apostasy that will take place before my brethren reach that land! But,” he continued, “The priesthood shall prevail over its enemies, triumph over the devil and be established upon the earth, never more to be thrown down!” He then charged us with great force and power, to be faithful to those things that had been and should be committed to our charge, with the promise of all the blessings that the Priesthood could bestow. “Remember these things and treasure them up. Amen.” (Tullidge’s Histories, Vol I. History of Northern Utah, and Southern Idaho.–Biographical Supplement, p. 271

 Thus, the accusation must be not only that the Church decided to “forge” a prophecy by Joseph, but that Anson Call did as well. Can we assess how likely these claims are?[13]

We sure can assess them, because F.A.I.R. is not really being fair here either. The first thing they want you to believe is that the source is from the biography of Anson Call is “in August 1842”. There are all kinds of problems with this, which B.H. Roberts mentions in that Church History footnote that F.A.I.R. quotes.  Here are some of the problems that Roberts encountered,

“It is thought important that the following statement from a biography of Anson Call, by Edward Tullidge, should be made part of the history of this prophetic incident, as doubtless the testimony of Brother Call relates to the same incident as that described in the Prophet’s text of the History, notwithstanding some confusion of dates that exists in the Call testimony. It will be seen that the Prophet fixes the date of his prophecy on Saturday, the 6th of August, 1842. In Whitney’s History of Utah, Vol. IV.—(Biographical section of the history, p. 143), the date on which Call heard the prophecy, is given as the 8th of August, 1842. While in Tullidge’s biography of Call the date is given as the 14th of July, 1843, evidently an error. There is no entry in the Prophet’s journal for the 8th of August, 1842, and the entries for the 8th of August, 1843, and the 14th of July, 1843, relate to matters of quite a different character. Tullidge, in relating Anson Call’s recollection of the incident also says that J. C. Bennett was present on the occasion, which must also be an error, as the rupture between Bennett and the Church and its authorities occurred and he had left Nauvoo previous to the 6th of August, 1842. In the Call statement as published by Tullidge, the name of Mr. Adams, the Deputy Grand Master Mason in charge of the ceremonies, is given as George, it should be James.”[14]

B. H. Roberts

Tullidge’s biography of Call was written in 1889. So when did Call actually first write down the prophecy he claimed that Smith made? Certainly not when it happened (August 1842), since he is wrong about so many details.  Notice that even in his notes, Roberts tries to make it seem as if Smith wrote the prophecy and put it in his history himself.

It seems that Anson Call kept a journal, but the prophecy is not found there. He wrote an autobiography taken from his journals that ended at the year 1839. He later wrote what he called a “Life Sketch”.

The following is taken from Anson Call: Excerpts from his Autobiography:

“Almost the last journal entry that Anson makes shows his love and his respect for Joseph Smith by as indicated by the following:

About the middle of May I was one day traveling to Warsaw when to my great surprise I met Brothers Joseph and Hyrum. I asked him when and how he had made his escape from Missouri. He said, ‘I am in a great hurry, for my enemies are pursuing me…I will say in short to you, the prayers of the brethren brought me her” He then inquired of me where I lived. He said, ‘in about a week I will be at your house; then I will relate the whole matter to you.’ He passed on in great haste. I was filled with great joy to see our prophet after more than six months. Suffering by chains and dungeons once more in the enjoyment of liberty.

He came to my house about the appointed time, had his dinner and spent the principle part of the afternoon in conversation. Hyrum, Sidney Rigdon, and Vincent Knight were with him. He related to some of the circumstances of his escape from Missouri. He also stated that he had purchased a tract of land in Commerce. A place for the saints to gather to, now called Nauvoo. In the course of the summer my wife had a very severe sickness, chills and fever from which she would probably have died had it not been for her being healed by the laying on of hands. Worked for the Carthaginians and supported our families. I preached to them a few times in the court house but they were not very religious and did not wish to inquire much about Mormonism. (Call, pp. 18 & 19.)

Anson moved West with the rest of the saints. He was assigned by Brigham Young to settle Bountiful. He settled down on a 300 acre farm and raised 18 children with the help of four wife’s. He was the bishop of the Bountiful Ward. He built the Bountiful First Ward by order of Brigham Young.

One of the most lasting contributions that Anson made, other than his prodigious posterity, are a few tibbits of  historical information that he recorded. One of which is the prophecy that Joseph Smith made of the saints moving west.

Joseph Smith by Sutcliffe Maudsley

The “Life Sketch” has the same text as the “Autobiography”, but it is written in 2nd person, with the exception of this quote.)

On the 14th of July, 1843, with quite a number of his (Joseph Smith brethren, he (Joe) crossed the Mississippi River to the town of Montrose to be present at the installment of the Masonic lodge of the ‘rising sun, A block school house had

J.C. Bennett

been prepared with shade in front, under which a barrel of ice water. Judge George Adams was the highest Masonic author in the state of Illinois and had been sent there to organize this lodge He (Joe), Hyrum Smith and J.C. Bennett, being high masons, went into the house to perform some ceremonies which the others were not entitled to witness. These, including Joseph Smith remained under the bowery. Jose] as he was tasting of the cold water, warned the brethren not to be fret with it. With the tumbler still in his hand he prophesied that the Saint would yet go to the Rocky Mountains; and, said he, ‘this water tastes much like that of the crystal streams that are running from the snow capped mountains’ we will 1st Mr. Call describe (sic) this prophetic scene: I had before seen him in a vision and now saw while he was talking his countenance changed to white: not the deadly white of a bloodless face, but a living brilliant white. He

seemed absorbed in gazing at something at a great distance and said, ‘I am gazing upon the valleys of those mountains’. This was followed by a vivid description of the scenery of these mountains as I have since become acquainted with it. Pointing to Shadrach Roundy and others, he said, ‘There are some men here who shall do a great work in that land.’ Pointing to me he said, ‘There is Anson, he shall go and shall assist in building cities from one end of that country to the other, and you’ rather extending the idea to all those he had spoken of, ‘shall perform as great a work as has been done by man, so that the nation of the earth shall be astonished and many of them will be gathered in that land and assist in building cities and temples, and Israel shall he made to rejoiced’.

S. Roundy

“It is impossible to represent in words this scene which is still vivid in my mind, of the grandeur of Joseph’s appearance, his beautiful descriptions of this land and his wonderful prophetic utterances as they emanated from the glorious inspirations that over shadowed him. There was a force and power in his exclamations of which the following is but a faint echo. ‘Oh the beauty of those snow capped mountains. The cool refreshing streams that are running down through theose (sic ?) mountains gorges’ Then gazing in another direction, as if there was a change and locality; ‘oh the scenes that this people will pass through’ The dead that will lay between here and there.’ Then turning in another direction as if the scene had again changed: ‘Oh the apostasy that will take place before my brethren reach that land’. But he continued, ‘the Priesthood shall prevail over all it’s enemies, triumph over the devil and be established upon the earth never more to be thrown down.’ He then charged us with great force and power, to be faithful in these things that had been and …???

[Written at bottom of page “THIS CONCLUDES ALL WE HAVE OF THIS COPY”, Alice Maud Call Burton Afton, Wyo.] (Life Sketch of Anson Call 1810-1890, Pioneer in the building of the west.)”[15]

The “prophecy” that Call records here, is obviously written well after the fact, because of the problems with the historical data that B.H. Roberts notes in his History of the Church. Also, the “almost the last journal entry” was when Smith escaped from Liberty Jail in 1839! The “prophecy” was obviously written later, and appears to be unfinished in the copy that Alice Burton had in her possession because it breaks off mid sentence near the end.

F.A.I.R.’s sarcastic comment that Call “forged” his “prophecy”, is the most realistic conclusion, because the historical details don’t line up with the facts.

Since F.A.I.R. has no evidence that there was an actual specific Rocky Mountain prophecy uttered by Smith in his lifetime, they choose to befuddle the issue with a series of quotes that they claim bolster the premise that there was probably a prophecy, therefore there must have been some kind of a prophecy. Most of these are remembrances of Mormon authorities long after the fact – which prove nothing at all.

One interesting quote they use, is from Wilford Woodruff’s Journal. On November 24, 1878 Woodruff wrote on the” Inside Front Cover Fly Sheet” of one of his Journals some “true sayings” of the “Prophet Joseph” that he says he copied from Philo Dibble’s “record”. These “true sayings” are supposedly Dibble’s recollection of Smith’s last address before the Nauvoo Legion. It is obvious from a quick reading that these are not journal entries from the period, or even written on those dates or shortly after the events because like Call’s account, they are so full of inaccuracies.

Philo Dibble

Dibble first gives the date of the 22 of June and says that Smith “called us [The Nauvoo Legion] out in order and to my astonishment Counselled us to give up our arms” and then prophesied to them that they would “gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a centre for the Gathering of the people.” He then thanked them, dismissed them and told them to “take care of your wives, Children and homes.” But the Legion did not give up their arms until June 24, six days after Smith’s last address to the Nauvoo Legion.

Dibble then gives a date for the next day, and has Smith giving his last speech to the Nauvoo Legion. If he had dismissed them the day before, (as Dibble attests)and said his obvious farewell (take care of your wives, children and homes) why would he give them a “last speech” the next day? Also,  Dibble’s date for the “last speech” of Smith before the Nauvoo Legion as the 23 of June, 1844 is incorrect. The actual date of that event was on the 18 of June, and it is well documented. Dibble uses parts of Smith’s speech as recorded by those who were there and later published in the History of the Church, and then has Smith repeating his prophecy about the Rocky Mountains that he supposedly told them the day before.

F.A.I.R. concludes with,

“It could be, of course, that Anson Call forged his account, and all the Church leaders and members lied about remembering Joseph speak about the matter. But why then appeal to “many of you” remembering Joseph speaking about it? Why not claim it was a private, secret teaching given to the apostles—for, they certainly also reported these. If the claim was fraudulent, why risk exposure?

Or, the story could have started after the Saints reached the valley, and simply grown in the telling with members “remembering” the story as it was retold to them. But, the contemporary evidence would seem to argue against this, and witnesses often mentioned how struck they were by Joseph’s remarks. They also described him discussing this idea in a variety of setting, which argues against an accumulated “folklore.”[16]

F.A.I.R. thinks it “strange to see critics argue that Joseph would not prophesy about this,” because they claim that critics say he “was always larding his ideas with prophetic pronouncement,” and I agree. He did.  I have furnished some of that “larding” below in the next section.  I will also show that the accumulated “folklore” argument fits the evidence perfectly.

Again we see F.A.I.R. combining two different issues and tying them together; implying if the prophecy itself was fraudulent that Smith’s discussing the matter must also be based on something “fraudlent”. The Tanners do not say that Smith never spoke about it, they admit that he did. The Tanner’s “evidence” is legitimate though, while F.A.I.R.’s evidence doesn’t appear to be any evidence at all.

Also, Call’s appeal to “many of you” was made because Smith did in fact make vague statements about the west.  This obviously grew into a full blown “folklore” “prophecy” as did the story about Brigham Young transforming into Joseph Smith while he was making the case for claiming leadership of the Church.

I do agree with one point that F.A.I.R. makes: that Smith “discussed moving to the west several times, and likely prophesied about it.” Given the Mormons history of being driven out of every place they settled in, it sure wouldn’t be bad odds to do so and get that right.  But it wasn’t this particular “prophecy” given in those words on that date; the details are completely different, and he made other “prophecies” about the west and Nauvoo that were completely false. This makes Smith a good guesser, but a bad prophet.

IV. ROCKY MOUNTAIN ZION?

“But the Colorado Rocky Mountain high
I’ve seen it raining fire in the sky,
You can talk to God and listen to the casual reply:
Rocky Mountain high” [17]

***

“Men profess to prophecy. I will prophesy that the signs of the coming of the Son of Man are already commenced, one pestilence will desolate after another, we shall soon have war & bloodshed. The Moon will be turned to blood. [Matt. 24]I testify of these things, & that the coming of the Son of Man is nigh even at your doors.–If our Souls & our bodies are not looking forth for the coming of the Son of Man, & after we are dead if we are not looking forth, &c we shall be among those who are calling for the rocks to fall upon us &c– There will be here & there a stake &c. for the gathering of the Saints Some may have cried peace, but the Saints & the world will have little peace from henceforth. Let this not hinder us from going to the Stakes, for God has told us to flee not dallying, or we shall be scattered, one here, another there. There your children shall be blessed & you in the midst of friends where you may be blessed. &c  …

The Gospel net gathers of every kind. I prophecy that the man who tarries after he has an opportunity of going will be afflicted by the Devil. Wars are at hand we must not delay, but we are [are we] not required to Sacrifice.[?] We ought to have the building up of Zion as our greatest object.–when wars come we shall have to flee to Zion, the cry is to make haste.

The last revelation says ye shall not have time to have gone over the Earth until these things come. It will come as did the cholera, war, & fires burning earthquake, one pestilence after another &c  the Ancient of Days [will] come then judgment will be given to the Saints.

 Whatsoever you may hear about me or Kirtland, take no notice of, for if it be a place of refuge the Devil will use his greatest efforts to trap the Saints. You must make yourselves acquainted with those men, who, like Daniel pray three times a day to the house of the Lord. –Look to the Presidency &c & receive instruction. Every man who is afraid, covetous &c will be taken in a snare.–The time is soon coming when no man will have any peace but in Zion & her Stakes. I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, & brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters & daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies I saw blood, desolations, & fires &c,–The Son of Man has said that the mother, shall be against the daughter, & the daughter against the mother &c, &c–these things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from City to City—

goya-yson-tan-fiera

Satan will rage & The Spirit of the Devil is now enraged, &c I know not how soon these things will take place, and with a view of them shall I cry peace? No! I will lift up my voice & testify of them. How long you will have good crops, & the famine be kept off. I do not know. When the fig tree leaves, know then that the summer is nigh at hand. we may look for Angels &c. & receive their ministering but we are to try the spirits & prove them. for it is often the case that men make a mistake in regard to these things.”~Joseph Smith, July, 1839[18]

This “prophecy” was given a few months after Smith escaped from jail in Missouri, when he was well aware that the possibility of returning was dismal. Here, he mentions “stakes” of Zion that would be the only safe havens for the “saints”. These “stakes” would be an important part of Smith’s plans for a westward expansion of the church.

Let’s consider some of the accounts that speak of “the Rocky Mountains”, including some of those mentioned in the F.A.I.R. article’s “Other Evidence From Joseph’s Lifetime” section.   In an article titled “The Far West”, which appeared in the Evening and Morning Star in October of 1832, we are told about the lands from the Mississippi River to the Rockies in the far west:

“The far west, as the section of country from the Mississippi to the Rocky Mountains may justly be styled, is not only distant from the Atlantic States, but different. Its principle river, running rapidly from the 48th to the 39th degree of north latitude, is always rily, always wearing away its banks and always making new channels: It is rightly named Missouri; for in plain English, it looks like the waters of misery,-or troubled water:-even as the sea which the prophet said, Casts up mire and dirt…”[19]

United States 1832

In 1821 the Missouri Territory stretched all the way from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. After 1821 and Missouri statehood, it was renamed the Arkansaw Territory and the northern part went unnamed.  In 1834 during the “Zion’s Camp” march, Smith claimed to see a vision of a white Lamanite named Zelph who he described as a great general under one “Onandagus”, known from “Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains”.  As the article in the Star explains,

“this beautiful region of country is now mostly, excepting Arkansas and Missouri, the land of Joseph or the Indians,” and though “the world will never value the land of Desolation, as it is called in the book of Mormon, for any thing more than hunting ground, for want of timber and mill-seats: The Lord to the contrary notwithstanding, declares it to be the land of Zion which is the land of Joseph, blessed by him, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and fulness [fullness] thereof…”[20]

But 1832 would be a bad year for Mormonism in Missouri, for Smith would underestimate the old settlers there, along with their patience in dealing with a large group of what they deemed religious fanatics who thought they were justified in “consecrating the riches of the Gentiles”[21] to themselves as their God given due.  Of course the Mormons thought that the backlash was only religious persecution as Francis Bishop wrote in 1839, who blamed it all on,

“a rumor [which] was likewise raised and carried abroad through the papers, that the church in Missouri, who had purchased lands there and were peaceably settled on them, were intending to drive the inhabitants out of the State, upon the ground that they claimed the country as a promised land.”[22]

It would be hard to read the above “revelation” about consecrating the riches of the Gentiles and not get that impression. Smith would later change that verse in the 1835 expanded edition of the Book of Commandments, renamed the Doctrine and Covenants. Returning for a moment to B. H. Roberts and  New Witnesses for God, we find Roberts mentioning another “prophecy” (as he calls it) in connection with the alleged 1842 “prophecy” that is a part of Doctrine and Covenants, Section  49. It reads,

“But before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites [the American Indians] shall blossom as the rose. Zion shall flourish upon the hills and rejoice upon the mountains, and shall be assembled together unto the place which I have appointed.”[23]

The problems with tying this “prophecy” to the 1842 Rocky Mountain prophecy should be obvious, for the place that was “appointed” (to gather) was not in the Rocky Mountains, but in the state of Missouri:

“Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”[24]

1838 United States (click to enlarge)

But you may say, the land of Missouri stretched all the way to the Rocky Mountains! Perhaps if the old settlers had known about Smith’s plans for the Rocky Mountains they would have been less recalcitrant. Then again, they probably read the next verse of this “revelation” penned by Smith:

“And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.”[25]

By 1832 the State of Missouri was the little boot of the former Missouri Territory. The Mormons were coming in droves, and as we read in the rest of that Star article on the Far West,

“When we consider that the land of Missouri is the land where the saints of the living God are to be gathered together and sanctified for the second coming of the Lord Jesus, we cannot help exclaiming with the prophet, O land be glad! and O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the Lord: For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou [Jerusalem] shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land [Zion] any more be termed Desolate… “[26]

Driven out of Jackson County into neighboring counties, the Mormons for a time lived in peace with the Missourians.  But “the gathering” and visions of destruction were still Smith’s primary focus. In 1833, Smith says he is inspired “by God” to write to N.C. Saxton,

“The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians; having been found through the ministration of an holy angel, and translated into our own language by the gift and power of God, after having been hid up in the earth for the last fourteen hundred years, containing the word of God which was delivered unto them. By it we learn that our western tribes of Indians are descendants from that Joseph which was sold into Egypt, and that the land of America is a promised land unto them, and unto it all the tribes of Israel will come with as many of the Gentiles as shall comply with the requisitions of the new covenant. But the tribe of Judah will return to old Jerusalem. The city of Zion spoken of by David, in the one hundred and second Psalm, will be built upon the land of America, “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads” (Isaiah xxxv: 10); and then they will be delivered from the overflowing scourge that shall pass through the land. But Judah shall obtain deliverance at Jerusalem. … These are testimonies that the Good Shepherd will put forth His own sheep, and lead them out from all nations where they have been scattered in a cloudy and dark day, to Zion and to Jerusalem, besides many more testimonies which might be brought.

And now I am prepared to say by the authority of Jesus Christ, that not many years shall pass away before the United States shall present such a scene of bloodshed as has not a parallel in the history of our nation; pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake will sweep the wicked of this generation from off the face of the land, to open and prepare the way for the return of the lost tribes of Israel from the north country. The people of the Lord, those who have complied with the requirements of the new covenant, have already commenced gathering together to Zion, which is in the state of Missouri, therefore I declare unto you the warning which the Lord has commanded to declare unto this generation, remembering that the eyes of my Maker are upon me and that to him I am accountable for every word I say wishing nothing worse to my fellow-men than their eternal salvation; therefore, “Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come.” Repent ye, repent ye, and embrace the everlasting covenant, and flee to Zion, before the overflowing scourge overtake you, for there are those now living upon the earth whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, which I have spoken, fulfilled. Remember these things; call upon the Lord while He is near, and seek Him while He may be found, is the exhortation of your unworthy servant.” [Signed] JOSEPH SMITH, JUN.[27]

Smith was telling everyone to flee to Missouri! And he was apparently soon to bring the lost Tribes with him. Smith declares here that “the city of Zion … will be built upon the land of America” and that “there are those whose eyes shall not be closed in death until they see all these things, including the city of Zion being built, fulfilled. By mid 1834 Smith had gathered up a group of Mormon menfolk and they made their way to Missouri to take back their lands in Jackson County.

But before leaving to “redeem” Zion in May 1834, Smith gave a “revelation” in response to Parley Pratt and Lyman Wight’s arrival in Kirtland with questions on what they should do about their lands in Jackson County. Smith’s reply was that if they “hearken from this very hour” to the counsel they are given from Smith, they would “begin to prevail against” their “enemies from this very hour.”[28]

Hearken they did, answering Smith’s call to arms with enthusiasm.  How could they not be excited when they had received this promise supposedly by God himself,

“Behold, this is the blessing which I have promised after your tribulations, and the tribulations of your brethren–your redemption, and the redemption of your brethren, even their restoration to the land of Zion, to be established, no more to be thrown down. Nevertheless, if they pollute their inheritances they shall be thrown down; for I will not spare them if they pollute their inheritances. Behold, I say unto you, the redemption of Zion must needs come by power; Therefore, I will raise up unto my people a man, who shall lead them like as Moses led the children of Israel. For ye are the children of Israel, and of the seed of Abraham, and ye must needs be led out of bondage by power, and with a stretched-out arm. And as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be. Therefore, let not your hearts faint, for I say not unto you as I said unto your fathers: Mine angel shall go up before you, but not my presence. But I say unto you: Mine angels shall go up before you, and also my presence, and in time ye shall possess the goodly land.[29]

Arriving in Missouri with much bickering and squabbling among them on the way,

“A possibly decisive battle with the “Jackson Countians” was aborted 19 June by a devastating thunder-and-hail storm which the Mormons ascribed to divine intervention. Three days later, near Liberty, Joseph Smith issued the “Fishing River Revelation,” chastising the Saints for disobedience and disbanding the camp, thereby postponing indefinitely the eventual Mormon reclamation of Jackson County. Zion’s Camp never officially fired a shot upon its enemies. The few deaths reported among the Missourians came mainly by drowning, and those among the Mormons from cholera.”[30]

Did the Mormons “pollute their inheritances”? With Zion’s Camp having been decimated by cholera, and Smith himself being struck with it while claiming he could “heal the sick”, all of his previous violent rhetoric from his February “revelation” was tossed aside, like these promises made in that very “revelation”,

“Verily, verily I say unto you, that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., is the man to whom I likened the servant to whom the Lord of the vineyard spake in the parable which I have given unto you. Therefore let my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., say unto the strength of my house, my young men and the middle aged—Gather yourselves together unto the land of Zion, upon the land which I have bought with money that has been consecrated unto me. And let all the churches send up wise men with their moneys, and purchase lands even as I have commanded them. And inasmuch as mine enemies come against you to drive you from my goodly land, which I have consecrated to be the land of Zion, even from your own lands after these testimonies, which ye have brought before me against them, ye shall curse them; And whomsoever ye curse, I will curse, and ye shall avenge me of mine enemies. And my presence shall be with you even in avenging me of mine enemies, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. Let no man be afraid to lay down his life for my sake; for whoso layeth down his life for my sake shall find it again. And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple.”[31]

Smith instead, gave his Fishing River Revelation, where he blames his own failure on the church,

“were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.”[32]

Yet, Smith was supposed to be “the man like unto Moses” and lead them “with power” and “a stretched out arm”. And as the followers of Moses were led, “so shall the redemption of Zion be”.  Did Moses have those in his camp who griped? Yes. But did that stop Moses from destroying the Egyptians? Not at all. Remember, Smith doesn’t liken the redemption of Zion to the possessing of the promised land of Israel, he likens it to when Israel was leaving Egypt, “and as your fathers were led at the first, even so shall the redemption of Zion be.” This included all the gripers, backbiters, and those who had committed “transgressions”.  These were individuals, not the entire church.  Smith had been so confident in his power that he wrote another earlier revelation which stated,

“And, behold, there is none other place appointed than that which I have appointed; neither shall there be any other place appointed than that which I have appointed, for the work of the gathering of my saintsUntil the day cometh when there is found no more room for them; and then I have other places which I will appoint unto them, and they shall be called stakes, for the curtains or the strength of Zion.”[33]

This pretty much states that it’s Missouri or nothing. “Zion shall not be moved out of her place,” says Smith, even though “her children are scattered”.[34] Smith tells us that God “reveals” to him that there is “none other place appointed” and that “neither shall there be until the day” comes that “there is found no more room for them” and then, only then, will there be “other places” which would be called “stakes”.

Smith knew what he had written, and so after blaming this failure on others, decides to set the date for the “redemption of Zion” and try again. On August 16, 1834 he writes to the leaders of the Church in Clay County, Missouri,

“use every effort  to prevail on the churches to gather to those regions  and situate themselves to be in readiness to move  into Jackson Co. in two years from the Eleventh of  September next which is the appointed time for the  redemption of Zion.[35]

This would set the date for the “redemption of Zion” at September 11, 1836. A diary entry by Joseph Smith that was made on September 25, 1835 shows that he was still intent on fulfilling this, and that it was indeed “the voice of the spirit of the Lord, that those “driven out”  should be set back on their lands by the spring of 1836:

September 24th 1835 This day the High Council met at my house to take into consid[e]ration the redeem[p]tion of Zion. It was the voice of the spirit of the Lord that we petition to the Governer [of Missouri]. That is those who have been driven out /should/ to do so to be set back on their Lands next spring. We go next season to live or dy [die] to this end so the dy is cast  in Jackson County.

We truly had a good time and Covena[n]ted to strug[g]le for this thing u[n]till death shall desolve [dissolve] this union. And if one falls that the rest be not discouraged but pe[r]sue this object until it is a[c]omplished. Which may God grant u[n]to us in the name of Christ our Lord.

September 24th 1835 This day drew up an Arti/c/le of [p.35] inrollment for the redem[p]tion of Zion that we may obtain volunteers to go next spring /to M[iss]o[uri]/. I ask God in the name of Jesus that we may obtain Eight hundred men /or one thousand/ well armed [men] and that they may ac[c]omplish this great work. Even so. Amen.[36]

But the Mormons couldn’t even hold on to their lands in Clay County, and were expelled by the citizens there and were forced to regroup in Ray (Caldwell) County.  John Corrill writes that

“Friendship began to be restored between them and their neighbors, the old prejudices were fast dying away, and they were doing well, until the summer of 1838.”[37]

What happened was Joseph Smith. Having made a mess of things in Kirtland with the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society,[38]Smith was forced to flee Kirtland in the middle of the night in January of 1838 and arrived in Far West, Missouri in the spring of that year. He subsequently ex-communicated all of the leaders of the Church there, and as John Corrill writes, told the “saints” that,

“in order to get protection and favor from God, they must become one, and be perfectly united in all things; cleanse themselves from every kind of pollution, and keep the whole law of God; and, if they would do this, God would strengthen them against their enemies, his arm should be their arm, and the time was not far distant when, if they purified themselves properly, one should be able to choose his thousand, and to put their ten thousand to flight.[39]  

This was the same rhetoric used in the journal entries of 1835. It again amounted to nothing. In Caldwell County tensions mounted, and a secret band of Mormon “enforcers” [40] was formed called the Danites, which Smith described in his diary:

“We have a company of Danites in these times, to put to right physically that which is not right, and to cleanse the Church of very great evils which hath hitherto existed among us inasmuch as they cannot be put to right by teachings & persuasions.[41]

Open war soon erupted between the Missourians and the Mormons, with Smith promising to those that fought with him that,

“he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky mountains to the Atlantic ocean; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, ‘the Alcoran or the Sword.’ So should it be eventually with us, ‘Joseph Smith or the Sword.’”[42]

Ordering the Mormon apostle David W. Patten to attack State Militia, Smith outraged the Governor, who issued an Extermination Order against the Mormons. Patten was killed in the Battle of Crooked River, and Smith was captured and charged with treason and murder.  Sent to Richmond and then Liberty Jail, Smith bribed his guards and left the state, and soon thereafter made Commerce Illinois the new gathering place for the “saints”.[43] It is here, that we have some more mention of the Rocky Mountains.

About a year after his “leg bail” from the Missourians, Smith sent Jonathan Dunham on a mission to New York to proselyte the Indians there. Smith had suspended his plans to intermarry with the “Lamanites” in Missouri because govern­ment regulations enforced by Indian agents forbade dwelling among the Indian Tribes, and the Missourians were suspicious very early on of supposed Mormon interaction with them. It seems that the conversion of an Indian and his family, who was “an Interpreter of six tribes” generated excitement among the Mormons to renew their efforts in fulfilling Smith’s prophecy that the “Lamanites” would “blossom as the rose”.[44]

On July 19, 1840 Smith would embellish his concept of Zion once more, claiming that “When all this comes true–and it surely will–then they will know that a prophet has been among them,”[45] before he launched into a “prophetic” speech that would set the stage for the coming “Lamanite” uprising. Howard and Martha Corey reported that Smith,

“read the parable of the 12 olive trees  and said speaking of the Land of Zion that It consists of all N. & S America but that any place where the Saints gather is Zion which every righteous man will build up for a place of safety for his children that The olive trees are 12 stakes which are yet to be built not the Temple in Jackson [County, Missouri] as some suppose for while the 12 olive stakes are being built we will be at peace but the Nations of the Earth will be at war”[46]

Having failed twice at Zion’s redemption, Smith was now claiming that twelve “stakes” must be built up first, but in 1837 told something quite different to some in his inner circle like Mary Fielding, who mentions them in a letter to her sister written in 1837:

“Some important things were shown to Brother Joseph in vision previous to his going off relative to the enlargement of our borders which has indeed become indispensably necessary for the inhabitants of Zion both here [Ohio] and in the west [Missouri]are crying the cities are too strait for us give place that we may dwell. The people are crowding in from all parts and as President Rigdon said in his last discourse here they will gather and earth and hell combined cannot hinder them for gather they will. Hence the necessity of planting new stakes which they received a command to do before they left and it is expected that after they have set in order the Church in the west they will fix upon 11 new stakes before they return but this is not spoken of in public for reasons you will be aware of. If this were generally known it would probably make there way much more difficult.”[47]

Forced out of Missouri without redeeming Zion, Smith reverses himself, and claims,

“The redemption of Zion is the redemption of all N & S America and those 12 stake must be built up before the redemption of Zion can take place and those who refuse to gather and build when they are commanded to do so cease to be Saviours of men and are henceforth good for nothing but shall be cast out and trodden underfeet of men for their transgression…”[48]

We then have Smith claiming that the Mormons would save the Constitution after the desolation that the “Gentiles” would suffer (for rejecting the Book of Mormon)[49]and Smith gives a timeframe for when all this happens, and does it by way of a “prophecy”,

“We shall build the Zion of the Lord in peace untill the servants of that Lord shall begin to lay the foundation of a great and high watch Tower and then shall they begin to say within themselves what need hath my Lord of this tower seeing this is a time of peace & Then the Enemy shall brak come as a thief in the night and scatter the servants abroad when the seed of these 12 Olive trees are scattered abroad they will wake up the Nations of the whole Earth Even this Nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to peices and tumbling to the ground and when the constitution is upon the brink of ruin this people will be the Staff up which the Nation shall lean and they shall bear away the constitution away from the very verge of destruction Then shall the Lord say go tell all my servants who are the strength of mine house my young men and middle aged &c come to the Land of my vineyard and fight the battle of the Lord Then the Kings & Queens shall come then the rulers of the Earth shall come then shall ail saints come yea the Foreign saints shall come to fight for the Land of my vineyard for in this thing shall be their safety and they will have no power to choose but will come as a man fleeth from a sudden destruction But before this the time shall be when these who are now my friends shall become my enemies and shall seek to take my life

But brethren come ye yea come all of you who can come and go to with your mights and build up the cities of the Lord and whosoever will let him come and partake of the poverty of Nauvoo freely for those who partake of her poverty shall also shall also partake of her prosperity. And it is now wisdom in God that we should enter into as compact a city as posible for Zion and Jerusalem and must both be built up before the coming of Christ How long will it take to do this 10 years Yes more than 40 years will pass before this work will be accomplished and when these cities are built then shall the coming of the Son of man be”[50]

It would be hard indeed, to imagine Smith prophecying (and really believing) that the saints would be “driven” from Nauvoo, in 1842 when he “prophesied” in 1840 that it would become the greatest city in the world,

And I prophecy in the name of the Lord that the state of Illinois shall become a great mountain and mighty mountain as city set upon a hill that cannot be hid and a great that giveth light to the world and The city of Nauvoo als[o] shall become the greatest city in the whole world. Now from this hour bring every thing you can bring and build a Temple unto the Lord a house into the mighty God of Jacob. We will build upon the top of this Temple a great observatory a great and high watch tower and in the top thereof we will Suspend a tremendous bell  that when it is rung shall rouse the inhabitants of Madison wake up the people of Warsaw and sound in the ears of men [in] Carthage Then comes the ancient records yea all of them dig them yea bring them forth speedily

Then shall the poor be fed by the curious who shall come from all parts of the world to see this wonderful temple Yea I prophecy that pleasure parties shall come from England to see the Mamoth and like the Queen of Sheba shall say the half never was told them. School houses shall be built here and High schools shall be established and the great men of the [earth] shall send their sons here to board while they are receiving their education among us And even Noblemen shall crave the priviledge of educating their children with us and these poor saints shall chink in their pockets the money of these proud men received from such as come and dwell with us”[51]

Not finished, Smith again gives a “ prophesy” that “these saints” will return to Missouri,

“Now brethren I obligate myself to build as great a temple as ever solomon did if the church will back me up. Moreover it shall not impoverish any man but enrich thousands I prophecy that the time shall be when these saints shall ride proudly over the mountains of Missouri and no Gentile dog nor Missouri dog shall dare lift a tongue against them but will lick up the dust from beneath their feet and I pray the father that many here may realize this and see it with their eyes. And if it should be (Stretching his hand towards the place and in a melancholly tone that made all hearts tremble) will of God that I might live to behold that temple completed and finished from the foundation to the top stone I will say Oh Lord it is enough Lord let thy servant depart in peace, which is my ernest prayer in the name of the L[ord] Jesus Amen.”[52]

We now return to Jonathan Dunham and his mission to the “Lamanites”, who left Fort Leavenworth where he was residing, and wrote a letter to Hiram Kellogg in Kirtland to ask for assistance, signing it “Jonathan Dunham, Lamanite”. After he arrived in Kirtland, one of the leaders there, Thomas Burdick wrote a letter to Joseph Smith, quoting some of Dunham’s letter and asking about his “mission”, which they thought odd in the light of Dunham’s subsequent explanations upon his arrival there. Dunham initially wrote Kellogg,

“Dear brother in the gospel and new Covenant, I feel it a duty to inform you that I am on  my way and mission to the State of New York, I have  just returned from the Far West! by way of Commerce  Nauvoo, Springfield &c. I started in company with three other Elders who have all got sick & I have been obliged to leave them, two of whom have gone back &  the other I left in Covington K.Y. opposite Cincinatti.  My mission is urgent indeed. I am now left alone”  I did want you to select out if possible three or four Lam anite preachers and have them ready when I arrive to  go to Catteraugus Buffalo Tonawanda, Tuscaroras  Alleganys Onendagas and Oneidas:— I want the  bretheren if possible to assist me in getting to the Onida  Castle by water for I am in haste to return to Nauvoo  at Oct. Conference, & then to my station in the Terri tory of Missouri 9 miles from the Garrison (Leving worth), from whence, I have just come. A new  scene of things are about to transpire in the west, in fulfilment of prophecy, &c I want your prayers & also  the prayers of the bretheren that I may have my health to  accomplish my mission. I am not sent to the Gentiles  neither to the Cities of the Sameritans, but to the promised  people of the house of Jacob, who if they go through &c”[53]

While in Kirtland, Burdick reports that Dunham preached in public that,

“This nation is about  to be destroyed” and suggests to the bretheren that there is a place of safety preparing for them away towards  the Rockey mountains they may have a long and croo ked Road to go to get there” and says but few will  be preserved to arrive there, he suggests that twelve  stakes may be built up & again thrown down—  That the ten tribes are somewhere on a Planet taken  from this Plannet which when it comes back will cause  this earth to reil to and fro like two Boats meeting—  that Adam had 15 or 16 sons before Cain &c.”[54]

Dunham had obviously heard Smith’s “prophetic” speech in July, or reports of it. His “towards the Rocky Mountains”, could mean anywhere between the western boundary of Missouri and the Rockies, and as we shall see, there was never any specific destination Mormon “prophets” had in mind, only vague references to the Rocky Mountains, as this was.  In 1841, the “saints” were told,

“all places of gathering are discontinued, excepting Hancock county, Illinois, and Zarahemla, in Lee county, Iowa territory, opposite Nauvoo…”[55]

Regardless, this was in direct contradiction to a “revelation” that Smith wrote in 1830 where he states,

“And ye are called to bring to pass the gathering of mine elect; for mine elect hear my voice and harden not their hearts; Wherefore the decree hath gone forth from the Father that they shall be gathered in unto one place upon the face of this land, to prepare their hearts and be prepared in all things against the day when tribulation and desolation are sent forth upon the wicked. For the hour is nigh and the day soon at hand when the earth is ripe; and all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, saith the Lord of Hosts, that wickedness shall not be upon the earth; For the hour is nigh, and that which was spoken by mine apostles must be fulfilled; for as they spoke so shall it come to pass; For I will reveal myself from heaven with power and great glory, with all the hosts thereof, and dwell in righteousness with men on earth a thousand years, and the wicked shall not stand.”[56]

And in 1831,

“Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints. Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.”[57]

Smith’s modus operandi was to entrench himself in a place, until driven out when his dishonest dealings were exposed. In 1842 he came close to leaving Nauvoo over the defection of John C. Bennett and his revelations about Smith’s spiritual wifeism, and so the Rocky Mountains and the “stakes” were again discussed. This was mentioned by Oliver Olney, a convert from the Kirtland days who had weathered the Missouri storm, but had recently apostatized.

“Also twelve Stakes of Zion on its borders that was to be reared by the Latter Day Saints, in the due time of the Lord, as the way opened it for them to perform.”[58]

Marvin S. Hill in “Quest For Refuge” explains,

“For a time, in response to the criticism in local and national press due to Bennett’s allegations, Smith entertained the idea of finding refuge further west. Oliver Olney learned of this and wrote him a letter dated 20 July 1842 from Quincy. He inquired, “They say with your numerous wifes and maidens you are about to start west as far as the Rocky Mountains where you will raise up a Righteous Branch without being molested by the Laws of the Land.” Olney later noted that the Saints “are fast a fixing to go West where they can live in peace without being molested By the laws of the land. They say soon to start If what I hear is correct as far West as Origen Territory and establish a stake of Zion.” But Willard Richards indicated in a letter to James Arlington Bennett of New York, written in November, that the Saints desired to go no further west unless compelled, so that by the latter date they felt reasonably certain that they had weathered the storm stirred by Bennett.”[59]

1846 Texas Territory

Since Missouri was now off limits to the Mormons, the Territory beyond Missouri – which was Texas and encompassed part of the Rockies – would be considered by Smith and others as an additional refuge for the “saints”.  This fits in with Smith’s plans to proselyte the “Lamanites” and set up the twelve “stakes”  (or cities) in the Texas Territory, as recorded by William Clayton:

[January 1, 1845. Wednesday.]…The organization of the Kingdom of God on 11th March last is one important event. This organization was called the Council of Fifty or Kingdom of God, and was titled by revelation as follows. “Verily thus saith the Lord, this is the name by which you shall be called, the Kingdom of God and his Laws, with the Keys and power thereof, and judgment in the hands of his servants, Ahman Christ.” In this Council [p.154] was the plan arranged for supporting President Joseph Smith as a candidate for the presidency of the U.S. President Joseph was the standing chairman of the Council and myself the Clerk. In this Council was also devised the plan of establishing an emigration to Texas, and plans laid for the exaltation of a standard and ensign of truth for the nations of the earth. In this Council was the plan devised to restore the Ancients to the Knowledge of the truth and the restoration of Union and peace amongst ourselves.  In this Council was President Joseph chosen our Prophet, Priest and King by Hosannas. In this Council was the principles of eternal truth rolled forth to the heavens without reserve and the hearts of the servants of God made to rejoice exceedingly. I was admitted a member of the first quorum and a member of the council of fifty. I have received two companions, received two children and buried one.”[60]

A month later, Wilford Woodruff mentions California as a place to set up “a city”,

“I met with the Quorum of the Twelve at Joseph’s Store and according to Joseph’s counsel, we selected a company to go on an exploring expedition to California and pitch upon a spot to build a city. The following persons were named: Jonathan Dunham, David Fulmer, Phineas Young, Alphonzo Young, Yearsley and Emmet.”[61]

Wilford Woodruff

What is interesting, is that Smith’s Presidential Platform included the annexation of Texas, and he still had plans for the territory.  In the History of the Church Smith’s plans were revealed,

7 Mar 1844 – At a meeting at the Nauvoo Temple, William W. Phelps read Smith’s presidential platform and he was “unanimously, with one exception” nominated as a candidate for President of the United States.   Explaining his views on slavery and westward expansion, Smith said that he would free the slaves from a few states, compensate their owners, annex Texas, and settle the freed slaves in Texas, where they would act as a buffer of human flesh against the British, who were also attempting to gain control of Texas:

British officers are now running all over Texas to establish British influence in that country…. It will be more honorable for us to receive Texas and set the negroes free, and use the negroes and Indians against our foes….How much better it is for the nation to bear a little expense than to have the Indians and British upon us and destroy us all…. The South holds the balance of power. By annexing Texas, I can do away with this evil. As soon as Texas was annexed, I would liberate the slaves in two or three States, indemnifying [i.e. compensating] their owners, and send the negroes to Texas, and from Texas to Mexico, where all colors are alike. And if that was not sufficient, I would call upon Canada, and annex it.”[62]

Aside from the racism here, Smith’s plans to use the “negroes and Indians against our foes” as “a buffer of human flesh” is reprehensible for one claiming to follow Jesus. A year later, after Smith’s death, Clayton mentions Lewis Dana, an Indian (Lamanite) who they had admitted to the Council of Fifty, and the Council’s plans to use him to help them find a place to settle in the “west”,

[March 1, 1845. Saturday.] At 10 A.M. met at the Seventies Hall in the Council of Fifty. The following brethren were taken into fill up the Quorum viz; Joseph Young, John E. Page, David Fullmer, Theodore Turley, Albert P. Rockwood, Jonathan Dunham, and Lucien R. Foster. They subscribed to the laws of the Council and covenanted before God with uplifted hands to maintain all things inviolate agreeable to the order of the Council. Brothers Daniel Spencer, Isaac Morley, and Shadrack Roundy were selected to make up the number of 50 but they were absent and sick. Brother John Pack was admitted to sit in the place of Wilford Woodruff, John D. Lee in the place of Ezra Thayer, and Lewis Dana in place of Amos Fielding they being absent on business. Lewis Dana is a Lamanite of the Oneida nation and the First Lamanite who has been admitted a member of any Quorum of the Church.

The object of the Council was to decide whether we shall send out a company of men with Brother Dana to fill Josephs measures originally adopted in this Council by going West to seek out a location and a home where the Saints can dwell in peace and health and where they can erect the ensign and standard of liberty for the nations, and live by the laws of God without being oppressed and mobbed under a tyrannical government, without protection from the laws. Many able speeches were made on the subject and the Council finally agreed to send out a company with Brother Dana to accomplish this important object.”[63]

Just as Smith dreamed of being the head of God’s political kingdom on earth, so did Brigham Young, who left the United States and to start an independent nation, which he named Deseret.[64]The plans for this political kingdom was to befriend the Indians, who the Mormons expected to “rise up” against the people of the United States and help them destroy themselves.[65]

Some months before the his diary entries of September 1835 which outlined the plan to redeem Zion by 1836, Smith called  a special conference of those who had been members of Zion’s Camp, and told them that “God had commanded it and it was made known to him by vision and by the Holy Spirit” that “it was The Will of God that they should be ordained to the ministry and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last times, or the coming of the Lord which was nigh, even fifty six years, should wind up the scene.”[66]

This timeframe would figure prominently in a tract that Parley P. Pratt would publish in a rebuttal of claims made by LaRoy Sunderland who had denounced Mormonism in his publication, Zion’s Watchman. In his tract, called Mormonism Unveiled, Pratt stated that the Book of Mormon prophesied this very scenario, (involving the “Lamanites”) and Pratt also “prophesied” that it would happen in less than 50 years from that date (or the Book of Mormon was false), which was also the same timeframe that Smith would repeat in July of 1840,

LaRoy Sunderland

The Book of Mormon contains many prophecies, yet future, with names, places, and dates, so definite, that a child may understand; indeed, it is one of the peculiar characteristics of the Book of Mormon, that its predictions are plain, simple, definite, literal, positive and very express, as to the time of their fulfilment. Notice a prediction of Nephi, page 125, second edition. “For after the book of which I have spoken, shall come forth, and be written unto the Gentiles, and sealed up again unto the Lord, there shall be many, which shall believe the words which are written, and they shall carry them forth, unto the remnant of our seed, (the Indians) and then shall the remnant of our seed know concerning us; how that we came on from Jerusalem; and that they are the descendants of the Jews; and the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be declared among them; wherefore they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers; and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers; and then shall they rejoice for they shall know, that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God. And their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people. And it shall come to pass that the Jews which are scattered also shall begin to believe in Christ; and they shall begin to gather in upon the face of the land; and as many as shall believe in Christ, shall also be a delightsome people; and it shall come to pass, that the Lord God shall commence his work among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, to bring about the restoration of his people upon the earth. * * * For the time speedily cometh, that the Lord God shall cause a great division among the people, and the wicked will he destroy, and he will spare his people.”

Also page 121, 2d edition. “Behold that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof: for the kingdom of the devil must shake; and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance. or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger and perish; for behold at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.”

Also, page 122 2nd edition. “Woe unto all those who tremble and are angry, because of the truth of God; for behold he that is built upon the rock, receiveth it with gladness; and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth, lest he shall fall.” Also. page 123 2nd edition. “Woe be unto the Gentiles, says the Lord God of Hosts; for notwithstanding I shall lengthen out my arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me.” See also, page 514, and read the fate of our nation, and the fate of the Indians of America; in the day that the Gentiles should reject the fullness of the gospel.–(The Book of Mormon.) See also, page 526, where a sign is given, and the time clearly set for the restoration and gathering of Israel from their long dispersion, namely, the coming forth the Book of Mormon, should be the sign; and in the day this work should come forth, should this great event commence among all nations. Also, p. 527, where all who will not hearken to the Book of Mormon, shall be cut off from among the people; and that too, in the day it comes forth to the Gentiles and is rejected by them. And not only does this page set the time for the overthrow of our government and all other Gentile governments on the American continent, but the way and means of this utter destruction are clearly foretold; namely, the remnant of Jacob will go through among the Gentiles and tear them in pieces. like a lion among the flocks of sheep. Their hand shall be lifted up upon their adversaries, and all their enemies shall be cut off. This destruction includes an utter overthrow, and desolation of all our Cities, Forts, and Strong Folds–an entire annihilation of our race, except such as embrace the Covenant, and are numbered with Israel.

Parley P. Pratt

Now, Mr. Sunderland, you have something definite and tangible, the time, the manner, the means, the names, the dates; and I will state as a prophecy, that there will not be an unbelieving Gentile upon this continent 50 years hence; and if they are not greatly scourged, and in a great measure overthrown, within five or ten years from this date, then the Book of Mormon will have proved itself false. And furthermore, as Mr. LaRoy Sunderland has lied concerning the truth of Heaven, the fulness of the Gospel; and has blasphemed against the word of God, except he speedily repent, and acknowledge his lying and wickedness, and obey the message of eternal truth, which God has sent for the salvation of his people. God will smite him dumb, that he can no longer speak great swelling words against the Lord; and a trembling shall seize his nerves, that he shall not be able to write; and Zion’s Watchman shall cease to be published abroad, and its lies shall no longer deceive the public; and he will wander a vagabond on the earth, until sudden destruction shall overtake him; and if Mr. La Roy Sunderland enquires, when shall these things be? I reply, it is nigh thee–even at thy doors; and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I hope Mr. Sunderland, will no more complain of the jargon of the Mormon Prophets being unintelligible or indefinite.”[67]

Brigham Young elaborated on those plans for the Lamanites in July of 1847 as WIlford Woodruff records in his Journal,

“all the governors–and presidents of the U.S.A. had rejected all our petitions from first to last, that when the Saints were driven from Illinois and perished as it were on the prairies, then President Polk sends for a draft of 500 men to go into the Army. What for? That they might be wasted entirely wasted away as a people. If the brethren had not gone, they would have made war upon us and the Governor of Missouri would have been ordered not to have let us cross the Missouri and the raising of the battalion was our temporal salvation at the time and said Polk would be damned for this act and that he with many of the government men had a hand in the death of Joseph and Hyrum and that they should be damned for these things and if they ever sent any men to interfere with us here, they shall have their throats cut and sent to hell, and with uplifted hands to Heaven swore by the Gods of Eternity that He would never cease His exhortation while he lived to make every preparation and avenge blood of the Prophets and Saints, that he intended to have every hole and corner from the Bay of Francisco to Hudson Bay known to us and that our people would be connected with every tribe of Indians throughout America and that our people would yet take their squaws, wash and dress them up, teach them our language and teach them to labor and teach them the gospel of their forefathers and raise up children by them and teach the children and not many generations hence they will become a white and delightsome people and in no other way will it be done and that the time was nigh at hand when the gospel must go to that people.”[68]

In his book Establishing Zion, Eugene E. Campbell writes,

“When the Mormons began their emigration from Nauvoo, Illinois, in 1846, their destination was California. The Great Basin, which was part of the Mexican province of Upper California, was to be the site of the first colony, but as Apostle Parley P. Pratt wrote in September 1846, “I expect we shall stop near the Rocky Mountains about 800 miles nearer than the coast … and there make a stand until we are able to enlarge and extend to the coast.”[69]

This didn’t happen, not because of prophetic vision, but because they did not have the means. Campbell again explains,

“Young had also notified Brannan as late as 6 June 1847 that “the main [camp] will not go to the west coast, or to your place at present, as they do not have the means.” This implied that Young’s contingent would have followed Brannan’s example, if they had had the means. Young continued in the same letter, “Any among you who may choose to come over into the basin, or meet the camp, are at liberty to do so, and if they are doing well where they are, and choose to stay, it is quite all right.” However, after church authorities established the Great Salt Lake Valley as the headquarters of the church, the policy emerged of requiring that all loyal church members gather to that region, help to build it up, and secure it for the church.[70]

There is ample evidence to show that neither Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young had any specific places in mind when it came to setting up “stakes” or cities in the west, hence there was no “vision” or “prophecy” that described anything in detail, as Anson Call would claim years after the Mormons built up the Salt Lake Valley.  Having been driven out of every place they had previously settled, and with tensions rising in Nauvoo in 1842, it is quite plausible that Smith mentioned the Rocky Mountains as his next place to escape to.  His plans for the Presidency of the United States only go to show that Smith intended to stay in Nauvoo, and keep it intact as one of the “stakes” of Zion, along with establishing other “stakes” in the “far west”.  But his timeline changed with every new move and every new city he built up, all the while “prophesying “ “greatness” for those cities, none of which ever came to pass[71]

Addendum:

I found this recently posted by rare document and book collector Rick Grunder  on his website where he lists some “past treasures” he has sold, and one of them was a broadside that was published by the Church in 1845. Grunder writes,

The first printing of news that the entire Church will go West, published at Nauvoo in October, 1845.  A spectacular Mormon broadside (Flake 1339; Crawley 284; Byrd 945), of which only five examples are recorded. This sixth example appears to be the only copy in private hands.

Our houses, our farms, this Temple and all we leave will be a monument to those who may visit the place of our industry, diligence and virtue. . . .  Wake up, wake up dear brethren . . . to the present glorious emergency . . . The exodus of the . . . only true Israel from these U. S. to a far distant region of the West . . .  Let all wagons that are hereafter built be constructed to the track of five feet width from centre to centre. . . . There are said to be many good locations for settlements on the Pacific, especially at Vancouver’s Island, near the mouth of Columbia.  BRIGHAM YOUNG, Pres’t.  WILLARD RICHARDS, Clerk.

The Huntington Family copy, with notarized provenance. Sold to a private collector.

V. THE REAL ISSUE

What is the real issue that the Tanners and Richard Abanes and others are getting at here? It is this:

That there were changes made in Joseph Smith’s history after the fact and written in as his actual words, without any documents to authenticate them.  As B.H. Roberts writes in New Witnesses,

“At that date, August 6th, 1842, the Rocky Mountains seemed like a country afar off to the people of Illinois. The Missouri River was the extreme frontiers of the United States. All beyond that was well nigh an unexplored wilderness filled with savages. The church was fairly settled at Nauvoo, the state authorities were apparently very friendly, the future of the Saints in Illinois seemed propitious. Yet in the midst of all these favorable circumstances the Prophet predicted much affliction for some of the Saints, death from persecution for others, apostasy for many, and for the great body of the church an exodus to the Rocky Mountains, where some of those present who were listening to the prediction, should live to assist in making settlements and building cities in the Rocky Mountains where they would see the Saints become a mighty people.

There can be no question as to the reality of these two predictions, the one of March, 1831, and the other of August, 1842, or of their being of a character to test the divine inspiration of him who uttered them. That they were proclaimed some years before the events predicted in them began to be fulfilled, or even there was any thought or prospect of such events taking place, is well known; that the latter prophecy has been fulfilled to the uttermost, the whole history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from August, 1842, until now witnesses. The Saints suffered many afflictions in Illinois. Their homes, fields, stacks of grain, stock and other property were destroyed; their prophets and a number of others were killed outright by mob violence; many more perished from exposure and disease occasioned by being driven from their homes at an inclement season of the year. In those trying times, following the martyrdom of the Prophet and the expulsion from Nauvoo, many turned away from the faith, and it is too generally known to need comment, that the great body of the church made its way to the Rocky Mountains, where cities, towns and villages have been founded, the wilderness subdued, and the Saints are fast becoming a mighty people.”[72]

Even knowing the problems with Call’s recollection of Smith’s “prophecy”, Roberts still insists that “the latter prophecy has been fulfilled to the uttermost”, and touts it as a test of “the divine inspiration of him who uttered them.”  In 1891 Assistant Church Historian Andrew Jensen repeats the “prophecy” to a group of students,

“I need spend no time to prove the fulfilment of this remarkable prophecy. All of you who are present in this hall tonight can testify to its literal fulfilment. The Latter-day Saints have indeed become a mighty people in these mountains, numbering as they do now about two hundred thousand souls, organized into thirty-two stakes of Zion, or nearly five hundred wards and branches; and this does not include the Saints in Mexico and Canada. It is also a matter of history that the Saints, for years after the prediction was uttered, continued to suffer persecution and affliction from their enemies; that many apostatized, while others, who proved faithful and true to their covenants, were put to death for conscience’ sake, and the remainder were driven by a ruthless mob from the beautiful city of Nauvoo into the western wilderness in the year 1846.”[73]

Apostle Erastus Snow would add to the folklore in 1916:

“Joseph Smith, when he uttered this prophecy, when he beheld this vision, was standing upon the banks of the Mississippi River, fifteen hundred miles from where we now are. Yet he saw the Rocky Mountains, and the crystal streams flowing from yonder canyons, and I doubt not that if he had led his people to this land, as he once purposed doing, he would have recognized it as a familiar scene, having beheld it in vision, by the seeric gift, before he saw it with the natural eye. But the Prophet was not destined to fulfill his own prediction; his martyrdom prevented; and the Lord raised up another mighty man to carry out the project, to become the founder of Utah, and the redeemer of the Great American Desert.”[74]

On the Churches official site, under “Teachings of the Presidents of the Church” they are still pedaling the folklore,

“The Prophet was well aware that he and all of the Saints living in Nauvoo were in an increasingly dangerous situation. As Nauvoo grew larger, some of the people who lived in the area began to fear the growing political and economic power of the Saints, and mobs began again to harass them. The Prophet was in particular danger, for authorities from Missouri made repeated efforts to capture him, and apostates from the Church became increasingly hostile in their efforts to destroy him. On August 6, 1842, the Prophet declared that the time would come when Church members would be forced to leave Nauvoo:

“I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.”[75]

The footnote they give for the quote references the same interpolated manuscript that the Tanners expose as having been doctored after the fact:

History of the Church, 5:85; from “History of the Church” (manuscript), book D-1, p. 1362, Church Archives, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. [76]

In July of 1997, M. Russell Ballard once again references the same spurious prophecy in a New Era article,

“The pioneer exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, began on February 4, 1846. Nearly four years earlier, in August of 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith shared his foreknowledge of the trek west: “I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some [would live to] build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, 1976, 255).[77]

“Apostle” M. Russell Ballard

The impression the Church today gives is not that this “prophecy” is a conglomeration of various and sundry statements by Smith, or even an amalgamation of them crafted into a coherent “prophecy”, but a valid, specific statement uttered by Smith on a particular day and inserted by Smith himself into his own history.  What the evidence shows is that this is not only an interpolation, but it is an insertion of something that there is no evidence that Smith ever said in those precise words, and was in fact a contradiction of previous prophecies that were recorded! The Tanners are absolutely correct in their use of sources to prove this, and their conclusion that this “prophecy” is “not authentic”.

CONCLUSION

The shoddy and deceptive “apologetics” of F.A.I.R. are demonstrated here for what they are. If one were to systematically go through each of their reviews, one can come to the same conclusion for the majority of their efforts. Their vilification of the Tanners as “dishonest” is especially disturbing, for as we see by the evidence from this one instance, the Tanners are vindicated by the facts, and it is F.A.I.R. who is shown to be dishonest and misleading.

F.A.I.R.’s disclaimer at the bottom of each of its articles is a fascinating puzzle in and of itself. They claim,

“The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) is not … affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided on this site … should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief, or practice.”

How can an organization that consists of members of the Mormon Church not be affiliated with it? Affiliated means to be formally or informally associated.  Are we to believe that “faithful members” of a church are not affiliated with it? In a press release to promote their newly published book Shaken- Faith Syndrome (distributed by the Church owned Deseret Book) in 2008, F.A.I.R. describes itself as,

“a  tax-exempt 501 (C) 3 Corporation staffed by faithful members of the Church of Jesus  Christ of Latter-day Saints who seek to defend the Mormon Church, its leaders,  teachings, and practices….”[78]

Good for them. But they don’t play fair.

NOTES

[1] History of the Church , Vol.5, Ch.4, p.85.

[2] Challenging Anti-Mormon Apologetics is a Facebook Page that describes itself as “A group where the members discuss issues brought up by critics of Mormonism on Face Book”.  Their Rules of the Page include,

3. Personal attacks (a.k.a. ad hominem attacks) will not be tolerated. Friendly jabs, however, are allowed.

4. Hostility toward any given religious group is forbidden. Disagreements are to be expected, but this is no excuse for hostility.

In a post made on February 6, 2012 we read,

“Lion Leviticus – your end will be near if you continue to disrespect and post your Anti-Mormon Rhetoric here. Consider this your fair warning from this Admin – Timothy. If you disagree then you can go somewhere else and post your poisonous bigotry elsewhere. One more post from you that disrespects, condemns, state we are going to hell or are children of a False Prophet then you will be banned and you will no longer enjoy the privileges of posting on this page. Consider this fair warning you lying serpent of the Devil and False prophet who possesses a contentious spirit.”

And in a follow up,

“Any other apostates, ex-mormons, athiests, or Anti-Mormons do not like this decision, you all can go to other places on the web where you are more than welcome to gnash, rant, rail, and deceive one another. Your days are numbered, and you will be called out. I am tired of your evil rantings and your destruction of testimonies and slandering of the Prophets and the Apostles. I will start calling you out by name and calling you out and expose you for who you are. Want to discuss my faith, you will discuss it with due respect and disagree honorably. If you act like a child and want to through mud, use slander, call us names then you will be called a child of Satan, children of lies, deceiving and lying spirits who are bent on one thing and one thing only. YOU DO NOT HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO CONDEMN US AND OUR TESTIMONY STANDS AS A WITNESS TO YOUR LIES AND DECEPTIONS AND YOUR ANGER TOWARD THE TRUTH, RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LIBERTY WE HAVE IN CHRIST AND IT WILL LEAD YOU TO BONDAGE AND THERE YOU WILL BECOME A SERVANT OF YOUR FATHER!” ~~Timothy [Berman] (Page Administrator, emphasis all his).

I think that will suffice as to how well they “challenge” anything on that Page, and the top-notch scholarly approach they use there. Still, the story surrounding the Rocky Mountain “prophecy” is interesting, which prompted this article. Note: This post was subsequently removed from the page, but here is a screenshot of the post as it appeared:

[3] Fair Article: Criticism of Mormonism Books One Nation Under Gods, use of sources, forged Rocky Mountain prophecy, hereafter, Criticism.

[4] ibid.

[5] The Changing World of Mormonism by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, page 405, emphasis mine, hereafter Changing World.

[6] ibid, pages 404-05, emphasis mine.

[7] Fair Wiki Article: Joseph Smith prophecies, Forged Rocky Mountain prophecy, Tanners use of sources, hereafter, Tanner’s sources.

[8] ibid.

[9] Changing World, pages 405-406, emphasis mine.

[10] The full warning reads,

“This is a review of claims and/or responses to misrepresentations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found in this work. The inclusion of an author’s work here does not imply that he or she is “anti-Mormon,” or that none of his or her work(s) have value. Those who do not wish to examine the claims contained in what some would consider an “anti-Mormon” work are advised to proceed no further.”

Almost all of their “reviews” of books critical of Mormonism, contain this “Note”, and it is even applied to authors that are members of the Church. I guess if you are critical of Mormonism in any way, even if you are a member, you are an “anti-Mormon”. That must be fair, since it’s coming from F.A.I.R., right?

[11] Fair Article Criticism of Mormonism Books One Nation Under Gods, use of sources, forged Rocky Mountain prophecy, op. cited, hereafter, Criticism.

[12] Changing World, pages 405-406, emphasis mine.

[13] F.A.I.R. Article, Criticism, op. cited.

[14] History of the Church vol. 3, page 85, emphasis mine.

[15] http://user.xmission.com/~plporter/lds/ansoncall.htm

[16] Fair Article, Criticism, op. cited.

[17] John Denver, lyrics from the album Rocky Mountain High, RCA, 1972.

[18] Joseph Smith, August 8, 1839, Willard Richards Pocket Companion, emphasis mine (probably copied in part from notes of John Taylor & given sometime in July). Smith would later claim that the “whole of America” is Zion, but if it is, then where do you flee to? He mentions “stakes” that will provide some protection. But Smith had already revealed that Zion was a specific place, and the only place that fits his end of the world scenario is Jackson County Missouri. Salt Lake City would be a “stake” of Zion, and would not fit this scenario in the timeframe that Smith gave over and over, that the end would come in fifty years from the time of this statement. This has been borne out by historical events.

[19] The Evening and the Morning Star, Vol. 1 No. 2 October 1832, page 37, hereafter Star.

[20] ibid. Wilford Woodruff wrote an account of the “Zelph vision” that warrants inclusion here,

“While on our travels we visited many of the mounds which were flung up by the ancient inhabitants of this continent probably by the Nephites & Lamanites. We visited one of those Mounds and several of the brethren dug into it and took from it the bones of a man.

[Interlinearly after “We visited one of those Mounds”:] considerd to be 300 feet above the level of the Illinois river. Three persons dug into the mound & found a body. Elder Milton Holmes took the arrow out of the back bones that killed Zelph & brought it with some of the bones in to the camp. I visited the same mound with Jesse J Smith. Who the other persons were that dug in to the mound & found the body I am undecided.

Brother Joseph had a vission respecting the person. He said he was a white Lamanite. The curs was taken from him or at least in part. He was killed in battle with an arrow. The arrow was found among his ribs. One of his thigh bones was broken. This was done by a stone flung from a sling in battle years before his death. His name was Zelph. Some of his bones were brought into the Camp and the thigh bone which was broken was put into my waggon and I carried it to Missouri. Zelph was a large thick set man and a man of God. He was a warrior under the great prophet /Onandagus/ that was known from the hill Camorah /or east sea/ to the Rocky mountains. The above knowledge Joseph receieved in a vision.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.10)

[21] Book of Commandments, 44:32 reads,

“For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles, unto my people which are of the house of Israel.”

Smith would change this in 1835 to read,

“For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel.”

While there have been a few Mormon writers who have been willing to admit that Joseph Smith’s revelations have been changed, many have not been that honest. Mormon Apostle John A. Widtsoe said that the revelations “have remained unchanged. There has been no tampering with God’s word” (Joseph Smith—Seeker After Truth, p. 119).

Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth president, said that “there was no need for eliminating, changing, or adjusting any part to make it fit; but each new revelation on doctrine and priesthood fitted in its place perfectly to complete the whole structure, as it had been prepared by the Master Builder” (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 170).

For an indepth study of all the changes made in the Book of Commandments,  go here.

[22] A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints, by Francis K. Bishop, 1839 page 1.  A good article on some of the reasons behind the Mormon War can be found here.

[23] B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.1, Ch.22, p.300, bracketed words are in the original. For more on the “Lamanites” see note 65.

[24]  Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Section 57:1-2, hereafter D&C, emphasis mine.

[25] ibid, verse 3.

[26] Star, page 37, emphasis mine.

[27] JS, letter, Kirtland, OH to N. C. Saxton, Rochester, NY, 4 Jan. 1833; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams, with insertion in handwriting of William W. Phelps; in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 14–18; JS Collection, CHL.. See also, History of the Church, vol. 3:311-15.  My question when reading why Smith wrote this letter is – why is this not canonized? Smith wrote a follow up letter to N.C. Saxton, the editor of the American Revivalist, and Rochester Observer where only part of the letter had been published and claimed,

“The letter which I  wrote you for publication I wrote by the commandment of God, and I am quite anxious  to have it all laid before the public for it is of importance to them …” (JS, letter, Kirtland, OH, to N. C. Saxton, Rochester, NY, 12 Feb. 1833; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 27–28; JS Collection, CHL., emphasis mine)

[28] D&C 103:6-7.

[29] ibid, 13-20.

[30] Dialogue, A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol.19, No.4, p.196, hereafter Dialogue, emphasis mine.

[31] D&C 103 21:28, emphasis mine

[32] History of the Church, vol. 2:108-11. Also, D&C 105:2.

[33] D&C 101: 20-21.(16 December 1833)

[34] ibid, verse 17.

[35] Joseph Smith Jr. (Kirtland, OH), to Lyman Wight, Edward Partridge, John Corrill, Isaac Morley, and others, Clay County, MO, 16 Aug. 1834; handwriting of Frederick G. Williams; in JS Letterbook 1, pp. 84–87; JS Collection, CHL.

[36] Scott H. Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p.34-35, emphasis mine.

[37] John Corrill, A Brief History of the Church, page 26.

[38] http://mormonthink.com/glossary/anti-banking.htm

[39] ibid, page 29, emphasis mine.

[40] Corrill, p. 46.

[41] Joseph Smith diary, Missouri Journal, 1838, March to September, under July 27, 1838; Scott Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p. 198, emphasis mine.

[42] History of the Church 3:167

[43] Reed Peck was a follower of Joseph Smith from the time of the Church’s organization until the summer of 1838 when he became “opposed to the wicked transactions in Davies and the oppressive influence by which the church is led”. He directly tied Smith to the Danites by eyewitness testimony. Reed Peck left the Mormons and returned to South Bainbridge, (Afton, New York) farmed, and was a Justice of the Peace. In 1839 Reed Peck wrote an account of the events of the Mormon War, which has become known as the Reed Peck Manuscript,or History. Concerning the Danites he writes,

“A few individuals of us [p. 36] were ever after this opposed to the rule of the presidency perceiving that all spiritual and temporal affairs were under their control and no monarch on earth ever had supreme power over his subjects more than they over the inhabitants of Caldwell County only they durst not exercise it to so great a degree Their word was law in religious civil and military matters, but the secret springs of their power and influence we did not yet understand…

[p. 38] Some time previous to this Secret meetings had been held in F West that excited much curiousity among those that had not been permitted to attend as it was easily discovered that something more than ordinary was in progress among the male members of the church Ignorant of the nature of these meetings I attend one about the last of June, and heared a full disclosure of its object=Jared Carter Geo W. Robinson, and Sampson Avard, under the instructions of their presidency, had formed a secret military Society, called the “daughter of Zion” and [p. 39] were holding meetings to initiate members The principles taught by Sampson Aard as spokesman, were that “as the Lord had raised up a prophet in these last days like unto Moses it Shall be the duty of this band to obey him in all things, and whatever he requires you shall perform being ready to give up life and property for the advancement of the Cause When any thing is to be performed no member Shall have the privilege of judging whether it would be right or wrong but Shall engage in its accomplishment and trust God for the result [p. 40] It is not our business or place to know what is required by God, but he will inform us by means of the prophet and we must perform If any one of you see a member of the band in difficulty in the surrounding country contending for instance with an enemy, you shall extricate him even if in the wrong if you have to do with his adversary as Moses did with the Egyptian put him under the Sand and both pack off to Far West and we will take care of the matter ourselves. No person shall be suffered to speak evil or disrespectfully of the presidency The secret signs [p. 41] and purposes of this society are not to be revealed on pain of death” &c &c About 50 persons were initiated into the Society at the time I was introduced and to sam time the oath was administered to all the novices at once of which I took advantage by remaining silent and accordingly avoided taking it

I was appointed Adjutant of the band in consequence I suppose of my holding that office in the 59th Reg Missouri Militia I did not think it policy to regect the appointment though I declared to my society friends that I would never act in [p. 42] the office — All the principles of the Society tended to give the presidency unlimited power over the property, persons and I might say with propriety lives of the memebrs of the church as physical force was to be resorted to if necessary to accomplish their designs The blood of my best best friend must flow by my own hands if I would be a faithful Danite should the prophet command it Said A McRae in my hearing “If Joseph should tell me to kill Vanburen in his presidential chain I would im [p. 43] mediately start and do my best to assassinate him let the consequences be as they would–Having been taught to believe themselves invincible in the defence of their cause though the combined power of the world were in array against them, and the purposes of God were to be accomplished through their instrumentality, the wicked destroyed, by force of arms the “nations subdued,” and the Kingdom of Christ established on the Earth, they consider themselves accountable only at the bar of God for their conduct, and consequently [p. 44] acknowlegded no law superior to the “word of the Lord through the prophet” Do you suppose said a Zealous Danite at a time when the Sheriff of Daviess county held a State’s warrant against Joseph Smith that the prophet will condescend to be tried before a judge? I answered that Smith would in all probability submit Knowing that in case resistence was made the officers would call in the strength of other counties to enforce the law “What, said he, do we care for other counties or for the state or whole United States.” [p. 45] The independence of the church was to be supported it laws and the behests of the presidency enforced by means of this layal band of Danites, under command of Jared Carter, the terrible brother of Gideon became the additional title of “Captain Genl of the Lords hosts” His subalterns were Maj Genl Sampson Avard Brigd Genl C. P. [-] Coln Geo W. Robinson also a Lieut Coln Maj. Secretary of War an Adjutant, Captains of fifties & captains of tens and all these officers with the privates were to be under the administration of [p. 46] the presidency of the church and wholly subject to their control

At a meeting for the organisation of the Danites Sampson Avard presented the society to the presidency who blessed them and accepted their Services as though they were soon to be enployed in executing some great design They also made speeches to the Society in which great military glory and conquest were represented as awaiting them, victories in which one should chase a thousand and two put ten thousand to flight, were portrayed in the most lively manner, the assistance of [p. 47] Angels promised and in fine every thing was said to inspire them with Zeal and courage and to make them believe that God was soon to “bring to pass his act, his strange act” or by them as instruments to perform a marvelous work on the Earth In the fore part of July the “brother of Gideon” or Jared Carter Capt Genl of the Danites having complained to Joseph Smith of some observations made by Sidney Rigdon in a Sermon, was tried for finding fault with one of the presidency and deprived of his station and Elias Higbee was appointed in his stead

[p. 48] Carter’s punishment according to the principles of the Danites Should have been death In the evening after the trial I was in company with Maj Genl Sampson Avard Dimick B Huntington Capt of the Guard, Elias Higbee the new capt Genl and David W. Patten one of the twelve apostles and member of the high counsel of the church all of whom had sat with the presidency on the trial. D. B. Huntington stated that Joseph declared during the examination that he should have cut Carters throat on the spot if he had been alone when he made the complaint [p. 49] Huntington also Said that on his trial Carter came within a fingers point of losing his head Sampson Avard related at the same time the arrangements that had been made by the presidency and officers present at the trial respecting the dissenters.–Said he, “All the head officers are to be furnished by the presidency with a list of dissenters both in Ohio and Missouri and if for example I meet with one of them or who is damning and cursing the presidency, I can curse them too and if he will drink I can get him a bowl for brandy and after a while [p. 50] take him by the arm and get him one Side in the brush when I will into his guts in a minute and put him under the Sod. When an officer had disposed of a dissenter in this way he shall inform the presidency, and them only with whom it shall remain an inviolable Secret In July the law of consecration took effect which required every person to give up to the bishop all surplus property of every description, not necessary for their present support Sampson Avard the most busy actor and sharpest tool of [p. 51] the presidency informed John Corrill and My self that “all persons who attempted to deceive and return property that should be given up would meet with the fate of Ananias and Saphira who were Killed by Peter”” 

[44] See Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.484, July 13, 1840.

[45] Ezekiel 33:33

[46] Coray Notebook

[47] Mary Fielding to Mercy Rachel Fielding Thompson,  October 7, 1837, LDS Archives, Kenneth W. and Audrey M. Godfrey, Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982), pp. 60-68.

[48] Howard and Martha Coray Notebook, July 19, 1840. Dean C. Jessee, gives the background here.

[49] See Note 65.

[50] Coray Notebook. On April 6, 1843 Smith gave a sermon and promised,

If I had not actually got into this work, & been called of God, I would back out. but I cannot back out. I have no doubt of the truth. were I going to prophecy I would prophecy the end will not come in 1844 or 5 or 6. or 40 years more there are those of the rising generation who shall not taste death til christ comes. I was once praying earnestly upon this subject. and a voice said unto me. My son, if thou livest til thou art 85 years of age, thou shalt see the face of the son of man.–I was left to draw my own conclusions concerning this & I took the liberty to conclude that if I did live til that time Jesus he would make his appearance.–but I do not say whether he will make his appearance or I shall go where he is.-

I prophecy in the name of the Lord God.–& let it be written. that the Son of Man will not come in the heavens till I am 85 years old 48 years hence or about 1890.–the Read 14 Rev. 6 verse another angel fly in the midst of heaven; for the hour of his judgment is come. to extermination–from commencement. commence when angel commences preaching this gospel 1 day–1000 years. 1000 years as 1 day.–41 yrs 8 months.– only 6 years from the voice, saying. if thou live till thou art 85. years old. Hosea 6th chapter after 2 days &c 2520 years which bring it to 1890.–the Son of man never will be, never can be till the judgments spoken of for this hour are poured out, which judments are commenced. (Smith diary)

[51] ibid.

[52] ibid.

[53] Thomas Burdick, letter, (Kirtland, OH), to JS, Nauvoo, IL, 28 Aug. 1840; handwriting of Howard Coray; in JS Letterbook 2, pp. 174–176; JS Collection, CHL.

[54] ibid, page 174-75. See note 65 for more on the Ten Tribes.

[55] History of the Church, Vol. 4, p.410.

[56] D&C 29:7-11

[57] D&C 57:1. The introduction to Section 97 Reads, “Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, 2 August 1833 (see History of the Church, 1:400–402). This revelation deals particularly with the affairs of the Saints in Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, in response to the Prophet’s inquiry of the Lord for information.” Smith at that time wrote,

“Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that a house (temple) should be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you. Yea, let it be built speedily, by the tithing of my people…And now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible, and the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there; and he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower” (Verses 10-11, 18-20).

Smith though, was in Kirtland Ohio when he wrote this, and had no idea that just ten days previous to making an “inquiry of the Lord for information”, that the “saints” had agreed to leave Jackson County Missouri. Certainly God must have known this, but he obviously didn’t relate it to Smith. In the History of the Church, they record the incident this way,

“Early in the morning of the 23rd of July, the mob again as­sembled, armed with weapons of war and bearing a red flag; whereupon the Elders, led by the Spirit of God, and in order to save time, and stop the effusion of blood, entered into a treaty with the mob, to leave the county within a certain time” (History of the Church, vol. I, p. 394).

[58] The Absurdities Mormonism Displayed, by Oliver Olney, 1843, pg. 4.

[59] Marvin S. Hill, Quest For Refuge, page 120.

[60] George D. Smith, An Intimate Chronicle; The Journals of William Clayton, p.153-4, emphasis mine.

[61] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, February 21, 1844

[62] History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 244

[63] An Intimate Chronicle, p.158-9, emphasis mine.

[64] Wilford Woodruff gives a succinct account of “Deseret” and what they wished to accomplish in doing so, in his Journal entry of October 13, 1849:

“I wrote two letters to day one to Allexander Badlam at San Francisco & one to Orson Pratt of Liverpool. I sent A Copy of the New York Herraid Weekly of Oct 13 to Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, Allexander Badlam, & Joseph Russell. This Paper Contained An account of the Saints organizing themselves into An Independent Sovreign State called the state of Deseret And appointing their Govornor & other officers. Brigham Young was Elected Governor. This is certainly an important erie in the History of the Church & kingdom of God.

There has been more written in the New York Herrald, Tribune, Sun, Boston papers & many papers in the United States in favor of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints than has been written before for many years. The Editors of papers begin to see that the saints will prosper, rise up & build Zion, nowithstanding all there Efforts to crush us & destroy us from off the Earth, when they now find us organized into a State Government holding in our hands the Key of the North American Continant And that we will not die but live & rise up in the midst of all our oppressions they begin to speak in our favor & the world marvel at our prosperity. And One remarkable fact is that thousands of men who had A hand expelling us from the United States & drove us into the wilderness have this season while on there way to the gold digings have had to come bending unto the saints & have had to look to them to save them from starvation & death” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 490, emphasis mine.)

[65] “…We know the Gospel has to be offered to the Gentiles first, we have offered it to them for the space of twenty five years, that we may be prepared to go to the house of Israel,” announced Wilford Woodruff in a Conference address in 1857,

“The Gentiles in a great measure, have rejected it; we have borne a faithful testimony to the nations of the earth, and they prefer to take their own course, and act on their own agency; they would rather build themselves up than the kingdom of God. The consequence is, it will soon be taken from the Gentile nations, and it will not be long before the judgments of God are abroad among them, and those bitter branches will be taken off the tree.

Now there is no personage, or subject, or work upon the face of the whole earth, but what is more popular than the Lord, and His Gospel, and kingdom; His name is dishonored and blasphemed, with impunity by nearly all the inhabitants of the earth and in the midst of every nation under heaven, but the day is nigh at hand when He will make bare His arm of power, and show the world that there is a God in Israel, who will no longer bear the blasphemies of the wicked without bringing them to judgment, but He will send forth those angels, those messengers who dwell in the presence of God, who are waiting with their sharp sickles in their hands to reap down the earth; but this will not be until the Gospel has been fully offered to the Gentiles; then the bitter branches will be broken off.

This kingdom will go forward, for the Lord God has decreed it, and Zion will arise and be adorned with beauty and power, and true refinement, in light and knowledge, and in every good gift that will prepare the minds of men for the Society of their Heavenly Father and of celestial beings. These lessons have got to be given, and we have got to learn them, and we have got to bring ourselves to the celestial law of God; we have to be quickened by the Spirit and power of the kingdom of God and its righteousness, that we may be prepared to carry out the purposes of the Lord; then this kingdom will be borne to the house of Israel, and they will receive it.

The door has already been unlocked to the Lamanites in these mountains, and they will begin to embrace the Gospel and the records of their fathers, and their chiefs will be filled with the Spirit and power of God, and they will rise up in their strength, and a nation will be born in a day, because they are of the seed of Abraham, and God has promised to bless the descendants of Abraham, and they will be saved with the house of Israel, for the Lord has spoken it, and made those promises unto them through their fathers.

Again, here are the ten tribes of Israel, we know nothing about them only what the Lord has said by His Prophets. There are Prophets among them, and by and by they will come along, and they will smite the rocks, and the mountains of ice will flow down at their presence, and a high way will be cast up before them, and they will come to Zion, receive their endowments, and be crowned under the hands of the children of Ephraim, and there are persons before me in this assembly today, who will assist to give them their endowments. They will receive their blessings and endowments, from under the children of Ephraim, who are the firstfruits of the kingdom of God in this dispensation, and the men will have to be ordained and receive their Priesthood and endowments in the land of Zion, according to the revelations of God.”(Journal of Discourses, 4:231-32)

Woodruff also noted that “President Young said he herd Joseph Smith say that the Ten Tribes of Israel were on a Portion of Land separated from this Earth.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 6, p.363, September 8, 1867).

Orson Hyde declared that the gospel had been preached to the world, and that the “saints” were being gathered to Utah, to escape it:

“These missionaries and labourers are now called home. The Lord says, ‘It is enough.’ ‘Come out of her, my people,’ is now the voice of God to his servants in every land and nation. The vials of his wrath cannot be poured out until you, like Lot, flee from the countries doomed to feel the vengeance of God. To you, my faithful brethren abroad, the Spirit of Christ has often whispered, during the last six months, ‘Go home—go home.’ Your guardian angels have said it to you in dreams and in visions, and we expect to see you come. Scores have already arrived. God bless them and you too, if you listen to the whisperings of that voice that speaks truth to the heart.

“What now remains to be done? Your testimony is borne—your words have gone into all the earth. Read in the Book of Covenants, page 102, and you will find the answer in part—‘After your testimony cometh wrath and indignation upon the people; for after your testimony cometh the testimony of earthquakes, that shall cause groanings in the midst of her; and men shall fall upon the ground and shall not be able to stand. And also cometh the testimony of the voice of thunderings, and the voice of lightnings, and the voice of tempests, and the voice of the waves of the sea heaving themselves beyond their bounds; and all things shall be in commotion; and surely men’s hearts shall fail them, for fear shall come upon all. people,’&c.

“Again, the sign gives in the Book of Mormon, showing when the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled and they abandoned to the judgments and wrath of Almighty God, and showing also when the covenants of the Father with the house of Israel shall be fulfilled, is this important declaration—‘I will take the fulness of my Gospel from among the Gentiles,’&c. It might be considered treason to quote further. With our Elders and missionaries comes the fulness of the Gospel from among the Gentiles, who, like the leaky ship, are abandoned to the mercy of the winds and the waves.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p.16)

Why does Orson Hyde speak of treason? Because they believed that the United States was to be broken up and Brigham Young would be installed as President (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 5, p.219). In 1857, Wilford Woodruff records Brigham Young saying about then President Buchanan, “I should not wonder if we heard he was dead soon” (Wilford Woodruff Journal,Vol. 5, p. 72).

By the end of 1857, Brigham Young and the Mormons could “foresee” only the sure and swift destruction of the United States. In an address to the Legislative Council Young declares,

“When Our Fathers set in solumn Convention upon the subject of our Declaration of Independance they knew well that their Cause was just. Yet it required the strongest talent and argumet and language was exherted to bring that august body of senators to agree as a unit in putting their names to that Sacred instrumet. The speech of Sir Patrick Henry was a masterly Effort of talent & oritory upon that solumn occasion.

It does not require any argumet with this body of men to Convince them what Course to persue. What Causes this difference? They were inspired by the Lord to step forth to esstablish an Independant Government in America, but this body of Men [the Mormons] are far more inspired by the same God to esstablish the Kingdom of God upon the Earth and lay a foundation for the Liberty and salvation of our Children and to lift up a Standard for the oppressed of all nations. Our path is marked out as plain to our view as is our broad street or the missippi River to the natural Eye.

The Same God who inspired our Fathers to Esstablish a Free government said through the prophet Joseph Smith that if ever the Constitution of the United States or its principles were ever preserved it would have to be done by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints even the servants of God Holding the Holy priesthood. That day has now Come & the day is dawning when we are Called to act. The Same God who has destroyed two Nations who have dwelt upon this Continent because of their iniquity, has also said that all other Nations who should occupy this Continent when they were ripened in iniquity should in like manner be Cut off from the earth and not left to pollute the Land of Joseph or the Land of Zion. I do not know what Els our Nation can do in order to fill up their Cup of iniquity than what they have done and are doing. I do not know of any other key [p.142] the United States Can turn to seal fast their Condemnation than the Exertions which they are makeing to destroy the Saints of God for their religion. I am in For the measure because it is right.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 141-142, emphasis mine).

Wilford Woodruff referred to himself as a “Prophetic Historian”(Journal, Vol. 5:615), and at the end of 1857 declares,

“Eighteen hundred and fifty Seven has past and gone to return no more forever. It has borne its report to heaven of all men and Nations. It has been an important year to Zion and the world. 1857 will be the year on histories page which will be dated the Commencement of the downfall of the United States For it is during this year that they have entered the field as the open Enemies & persecuters of the saints of the Most High god and have sent an Armey of 2,500 men 1,000 miles for the purpose of laying a foundation for the destruction of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints called Mormons who have setled in the great Bason of North America Called Utah Territory of the State of Deserett. Here is esstablished the kingdom of God as Daniel saw it by vision, and the people of the United States are Determined to destroy the kingdom of God from off the Earth. For these things the Judgments of God will now begin to rest more fully upon that Nation and will be increased upon them year by year untill they are broaken up and wasted away from under Heaven and Cease to become a Nation. And this Calamity will begin to Come spedily [speedily] upon them. And they will be visited with thunder, lightning, storm, whirl winds Earthquakes floods, pestilence plagues, war and Devouring fire and the wicked will slay the wicked untill the Nation is wasted away and broaken up.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 145, emphasis mine).

Such were the sentiments of Mormon “prophets” about the Nation of America. In his first entry for 1858 Woodruff writes “that they know not the thoughts of the Lord neither understand they his ways” and pens this prophecy,

“…Prepare yourself O Land of America for the judgments of the God of Heaven await you and are nigh even at your doors. For the Lord hath looked down from his Holy habitation and hath beheld all your wickedness and abomination and all the Evil designs of your hearts and all your secrets plans for the destruction of the Saints of the Most High. For all these things God will bring you into Judgment and He will require the stewardship at the Hands of the President of the United States and at the Hands of the Senators, and Representatives, and Govornors, and Judges, and all the Rulers of the Land will all be held responsible for the use they make of the liberties & blessings put into their hands and the whole people of the Land who Elect the officers of Government will be held responsible for the conduct of those officers as well as their own Conduct in their dealings with the Church and kingdom of God upon the Earth.Let us watch the signs of the times of 1858 and we shall find that the Lord will soon Come out of his hiding place and in his fury he will vex the Nation and in his hot displeasure he will begin to Cut off the wicked and unjust stewards and appoint them their portion with hypocrites and unbelievers. Let the Saints of God prepare for that which is to come”. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 151, January 1, 1858, emphasis mine).

[66] Remarks delivered on February 14, 1835, Kirtland Council Minute Book, LDS Archives.

[67] Parley P. Pratt, Mormonism Unveiled, pages 14-16.

[68] Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, July 28, 1847.

[69] Establishing Zion, by Eugene E. Campbell, page 42.

[70] ibid.

[71] An example of this is Smith’s comments about the Kirtland Safety Society and the city of Kirtland, Ohio:

“I also herd President Joseph Smith jr. declare in the presence of F Williams, D. Whitmer, S. Smith, W. Parrish, & others in the Deposit Office that he had receieved that morning the Word of the Lord upon the Subject of the Kirtland Safety Society. He was alone in a room by himself & he had not ownly the voice of the Spirit upon the Subject but even an audable voice. He did not tell us at that time what the LORD said upon the subject but remarked that if we would give heed to the Commandments the Lord had given this morning all would be well. May the Lord bless Brother Joseph with all the Saints & support the above named institution & Protect it so that every weapen formed against it may be broaken & come to nought while the Kirtland Safety Society shall become the greatest of all institutions on EARTH.”(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.120, January 6, 1837)

“But by January 23, the Safety Society stopped redeeming its notes for specie, or hard-money. During its brief operation,

“Brigham [Young] was reported to have deposited marked script in the bank and was shocked several days later to receive one of his marked notes as part of a commercial transaction. He apparently thought that banks simply stored deposits and that because [his] notes were circulating, something dishonest was going on in the bank.” (Chartering the Kirtland Bank, by Dale W. Adams, BYU Studies, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1983).

There obviously was, and regardless of who was to blame, bad judgement on Smith’s part, led to the Kirtland Safety Society’s demise:

“The founders of the bank must have known they were skating on very thin legal ice when they began to issue script without either a state bank charter or at least a corporate charter that might be loosely interpreted as authorizing circulation of company debt notes.” (ibid, page 477)

By April, Smith was still hoping for an positive outcome, according to Woodruff, and made this boast,

“President Hiram Smith followed Joseph with many useful remarks. He also was Clothed with much of the spirit of God. Joseph desired us to give heed to his words & teaching this once & be wise that Zion & her stakes might spedily be redeemed. He instructed us to be sure & ask those that enter the Kingdom to send up their wise men to Kirtland with there money to counsel with the presidency & purchase an interitance before they move their families or bring the poor to the places of gathering for to suffer. Also that we must keep in view the institution of the Kirtland Safety Society & if the Elders of Israel would be faithful & do what was in their power this once Kirtland should spedily be redeemed & become a strong hold not be thrown down.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.134, April 6, 1837)

But just three days later, Smith was obviously angered by the “saints” lack of faith in his bad decision. But this only strengthened Woodruff’s belief in Smith’s prophetic abilities,

“Sidney Closed and Joseph arose & like the lion of the tribe of JUDAH he poured out his Soul in the midst of the Congregation of the Saints. But who can find languague to write his words & teachings as with an iron pen in a rock that they may stand for future generation to look upon? A fountain of knowledge rolled from his mouth to the people which was the word of God. Yea in the name of God he proclaimed that Severe Judgment awaited those Characters that professed to be his friends & friends to humanity & the Kirtland Safety Society But had turned tritors & opposed the Currency & its friends which has given power into the hands of the enemy & oppressed the poor Saints. Such have become Covenant Breakers for which they will feel the wrath of God as true as Joseph is a prophet.

“Joseph uttered the feelings of his Soul in pain while viewing the poverty & afflictions of Ephraim or the Saints in Kirtland at least that fals brethren should be whited walls & bring perrils upon the Saints. Joseph is as a father to Ephraim & to all Israel in these last days. He mourns because of unbelief & the negligence manifest with many who have receieved the gospel in obeying the commands of God. He fears lest but few be left to receieve an  inheritance. There is not a greater man than Joseph [p.139] standing in this generation. The gentiles look upon him & he is to them like bed of Gold conceled from human view. They know not his principle, his spirit, his wisdom, virtue, phylanthropy, nor his calling. His mind like Enochs swells wide as eternity. Nothing short of a God can comprehend his Soul.”(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 1, 1833–1840, p.138 April 9, 1837)

Another interesting “prophecy” by Smith, but unrelated to Kirtland, had to do with the Relief Society and Nauvoo. Again, if Smith had seen the demise of Nauvoo in August 1842, why did he ‘prophecy’ this just a few months before that?

“I now deliver it as a prophecy that before ten years shall roll round, the queens of the earth shall come and pay their respects to this Society – they shall come with their millions and shall contribute of their abundance for the relief of the poor – If you will be pure, nothing can hinder it.” (A Record of the Organization, and Proceedings of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, Illinois, 1842-44, April 28, 1842)

For more folklore about Mormon Prophets and the Salt Lake Valley, see: Post Mortal Appearances of Joseph Smith, by Sharon Lindbloom.

Brigham Young’s “vision” of Ensign Peak has been claimed to have been a “secret” that Young didn’t let on about (one of those scenarios that F.A.I.R. mentions). In his excellent article, A Banner is Unfurled, by Ronald W. Walker, he explains,

“As the pioneer party traveled into the Great Plains, led by Young and the other main leaders, members were anxious about where they were going. Where was the gospel flag to be lifted? While leaders had bandied about such places as Oregon, California, Texas, and Vancouver Island, by 1846 they had fixed their eyes on the Great Basin interior, most specifically the Bear River, Salt Lake, or Utah Lake valleys. Each of these valleys answered the requirements of Young’s earlier statements about settling in the West’s “beautiful” but “barren” hills or his still more revealing passage of placing the gospel flag above a “perfect Sea of water.” But during the final stage of the trip, Young had still not named the precise place. As he told his brother, Lorenzo, who was worried by Brigham’s poor health and his failure to declare a destination: “Brother Lorenzo, when we reach the end of our journey I shall know it; AND I DON’T KNOW IT.”

Several of the pioneers thought Young’s indecision lay with his inner or spiritual seeking. “Brigham Young did not tell us whither he was leading us,” said one. “Perhaps he did not know it himself. He confined himself to telling us that God, in a vision, had caused him to see the spot where we were to stop.” Churchman Erastus Snow, also along on the pioneer trip, gave the same report. “Said the Prophet Brigham [to the camp]–`I have seen it [the promised location], I have seen it, in vision, and when my natural eyes behold it, I shall know it.'”

Young was looking for Ensign Peak, or at least this is what Mormon believers would later claim. After visiting Utah in 1866 and interviewing Brigham Young, British author and critic William Hepworth Dixon said that this was the report he had heard from the prophet himself. “Brigham Young tells me,” he wrote, that when coming over the mountains, in search of a new home for his people, he saw in a vision of the night, an angel standing on a conical hill, pointing to a spot of ground on which the new Temple must be built. Coming down into this basin of Salt Lake, he first sought for the cone which he had seen in his dream; and when he had found it, he noticed a stream of fresh hill-water flowing at its base, which he called the City Creek.

If Young failed to record such a “vision of the night” in his own records, there is evidence of his spiritual groping about where to settle. By early July 1847, perhaps as the result of their interview with mountaineer Jim Bridger, Young and the Mormon leadership increasingly looked on the Salt Lake Valley as the place for their settlement. But Young wanted confirmation. His own diary tells of his first view of the valley from Big Mountain. Turning the carriage in which he was riding to see the vista to the west, he felt “the spirit of light” resting on him and hovering “over the valley.” “I felt that there the Saints would find protection and safety.” (Dialogue, Vol.26, No.4, p.78, Winter 1993, emphasis mine).

Though we have no contemporary evidence of a “vision”, or Smith or an angel appearing to Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff mentions Young’s “vision” of Ensign Peak on “Pioneer Day” in 1888, found in:  Brian Stuy, Collected DiscoursesVol. 1, p. 165. Also, George Albert Smith mentions it in 1927, found in: Conference Report, April 1927, p.86.

[72] B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.1, Ch.22, p. 303

[73] A Lecture Delivered by Elder Andrew Jenson before the Students’ Society, in the Social Hall, Salt Lake City, Friday Evening, January 16, 1891. Brian Stuy, Collected Discourses Vol.2, p. 161.

[74] Conference Report, April 1916, p.66

[75] Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith.

[76] ibid.

[77] Faith in Every Footstep by Elder Russell M. Ballard, New Era, July 1997.

[78] http://shakenfaithsyndrome.com/press.pdf