Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Chapter 9

Response to claims made in "Chapter 9: March to Martyrdom"


A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods
A work by author: Richard Abanes
Claim Evaluation
One Nation Under Gods
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Response to claim: 171 epigraph, 542n1 (HB) 540n1 (PB) - Joseph Smith said ""I combat the errors of the ages..."

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

*Hardback edition:

"I combat the errors of the ages;...I solve mathematical problems of universities, with truth—diamond truth; and God is my 'right hand man.'...[God] will make me be God to you in his stead,...and if you don't like it, you must lump it....I have more to boast of than ever any man had....I boast that no man ever did such a work as I."
Joseph Smith
History of the Church, 1844

  • Paperback edition:

"I combat the errors of the ages;...I solve mathematical problems of universities, with truth—diamond truth; and God is my "right hand man" [1843]. God made Aaron to be the mouth piece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead [1844]. I have more to boast of than ever any man had....I boast that no man ever did such a work as I [1844]."
Joseph Smith
History of the Church



Author's sources: *History of the Church, 6:78, 319-320, 408-409. 319-320, 408-409 Volume 6 link

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Note the corrections made between the hardback and the paperback. This was originally presented as a single quote. Joseph used these phrases in a letter, responding humorously to something his correspondent said.

Question: Did Joseph Smith believe that he was better than Jesus Christ?

Joseph was not a man who believed himself to be better than Christ

Consider the following excerpt from a letter Joseph wrote to his wife Emma:

I will try to be contented with my lot, knowing that God is my friend. In him I shall find comfort. I have given my life into his hands. I am prepared to go at his call. I desire to be with Christ. I count not my life dear to me [except] to do his will.[1]

These are not the words of a man who believed himself to be better than Christ. Joseph loved Christ and throughout his life strove to follow him. These words written in private to his wife demonstrate that Joseph was not so prideful as to think himself better than Christ. Consider also the following statement, made in public, by Joseph Smith:

I do not think there have been many good men on the earth since the days of Adam; but there was one good man and his name was Jesus. Many persons think a prophet must be a great deal better than anybody else....I do not want you to think that I am very righteous, for I am not.[2]

Both in private and in public Joseph Smith demonstrated his humility before the Lord.


Stephen H. Webb: "Evidence That Demands Our Amazement... Joseph Smith was a remarkable person"

Non-LDS Christian Stephen H. Webb wrote:[3]

By any measurement, Joseph Smith was a remarkable person. His combination of organizational acumen with spiritual originality and personal decorum and modesty is rare in the history of religion. He was so steadfast in his ability to inspire men and women through times of great hardship that none of those who knew him could claim to fully understand him. He knew more about theology and philosophy than it was reasonable for anyone in his position to know, as if he were dipping into the deep, collective unconsciousness of Christianity with a very long pen. He read the Bible in ways so novel that he can be considered a theological innocent—he expanded and revised the biblical narrative without questioning its authority—yet he brusquely overturned ancient and impregnable metaphysical assumptions with the aplomb of an assistant professor. For someone so charismatic, he was exceptionally humble, even ordinary, and he delegated authority with the wisdom of a man looking far into the future for the well-being of his followers. It would be tempting to compare him to Mohammed—who also combined pragmatic political skill and a genius for religious innovation—if he were not so deeply Christian. [Title is Webb's.][4]:95

Question: Was Joseph Smith prone to boasting?

Joseph made a statement that sounded boastful, and unbecoming a prophet

Joseph Smith is reported as saying:

I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam... Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.” (History of the Church, 6:408–409. Volume 6 link

This attitude strikes some as boastful, and unbecoming a prophet.

There are two issues here:

Joseph's quote, if accurate, is taken out of context

Assuming that the quote is accurate in History of the Church, it is evident that Joseph's quote is taken out of context. What was Joseph's intent, and why did he use this approach? As it turns out, he was drawing from the Bible and applying its lessons to his own situation. In the original context, Joseph was facing intense persecution by many people, including some he had previously considered to be his friends. The statement about "boasting" was supposedly made about a month before he was killed. He made it after reading 2 Corinthians 11: to the congregation. Note the following statement by Paul, in this scripture:

Paul: "let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little"

Again I say, let no one think me foolish; but if you do, receive me even as foolish, that I also may boast a little. That which I am speaking, I am not speaking it as the Lord would, but as in foolishness, in this confidence of boasting. Since many boast according to the flesh, I will boast also. For you, being so wise, bear the foolish gladly. (2 Corinthians 11:16-19, NASB)

Paul then launches into a literary tirade where he claims many things to make himself look the fool, to contrast himself with those who the Corinthians were listening to for their words of salvation, instead of to him. His words were meant to compare and contrast what the Saints at Corinth were doing against what he was offering.

Joseph employed the exact same literary approach that Paul the Apostle did

Do the critics dismiss the words of Paul and deny his calling as an Apostle because he used such a literary approach that included boasting? No, they do not. Yet, they dismiss Joseph Smith when it is clear by his own statements, in context, that he engaged in the exact same literary approach. Consider the words of Joseph right after reading this chapter of Paul's to the congregation:

My object is to let you know that I am right here on the spot where I intend to stay. I, like Paul, have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted, I have suffered more than Paul did, I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted. If oppression will make a wise man mad, much more a fool. If they want a beardless boy to whip all the world, I will get on the top of a mountain and crow like a rooster: I shall always beat them. When facts are proved, truth and innocence will prevail at last. My enemies are no philosophers: they think that when they have my spoke under, they will keep me down; but for the fools, I will hold on and fly over them.[5]

It would appear that Paul recognizes the necessity of boasting at times against the wicked and hard-hearted

Joseph then makes the statements that the critics attack, in the same way that Paul made outrageous "boasts" to contrast his position with the position of those who the Corinthians were starting to listen to. Paul starts the next chapter of 2 Corinthians with the statement "boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable." So, it would appear that Paul recognizes the necessity of boasting at times against the wicked and hard-hearted (though it may do little good, being unprofitable), yet the critics do not allow Joseph to follow Paul's advice and, of necessity, boast at times.

Perhaps the critics are unaware of Paul's advice? Or perhaps they apply a double standard where Paul is allowed such literary and rhetorical license, but Joseph is not?

Such double standards are, sadly, the stock-in-trade of sectarian anti-Mormonism.

In short, Joseph is using the scripture in Paul as a counter-argument (or a rhetorical device)--he is responding to his critics, and demonstrating that (as with Paul) true messengers from God are often persecuted by those who should listen, while the false and apostate are praised.


Response to claim: 172 - "intellectual reasoning and logical thought never had played more than a minor role in their belief system"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "...for Joseph, his followers were more than willing to accept any excuse he might give them...intellectual reasoning and logical thought never had played more than a minor role in their belief system."

Author's sources: N/A

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is one of many instances in this work which employ loaded or prejudicial language in order to lead the reader to a specific conclusion.


Response to claim: 174, 541n17 (PB) - Did Brigham Young actually say that Joseph Smith's character "was easily on par" with Jesus Christ's?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham Young actually say that Joseph Smith's character "was easily on par" with Jesus Christ's?

Author's sources: Brigham Young, (August 13, 1871) Journal of Discourses 14:203.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Brigham was comparing Joseph Smith against other prophets, not Jesus Christ.

Question: Did Brigham Young state the Joseph Smith's character was easily on par with that of Jesus Christ?

Brigham was comparing Joseph Smith against other prophets, not Jesus Christ

Brigham did not say Joseph's character was "easily on par with Jesus Christ's"...he said that Joseph's character "stands as fair as that of any man's mentioned in the Bible." Brigham was comparing Joseph Smith with other prophets. (see below):

"Well, now, examine the character of the Savior, and examine the characters of those who have written the Old and New Testaments; and then compare them with the character of Joseph Smith, the founder of this work —- the man whom God called and to whom He gave the keys of Priesthood, and through whom He has established His Church and kingdom for the last time, and you will find that his character stands as fair as that of any man's mentioned in the Bible. We can find no person who presents a better character to the world when the facts are known than Joseph Smith, jun., the prophet, and his brother, Hyrum Smith, who was murdered with him." (emphasis added)

Brigham Young: "I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ, excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth"

Elsewhere, Brigham also said:

Who can justly say aught against Joseph Smith? I was as well acquainted with him, as any man. I do not believe that his father and mother knew him any better than I did. I do not think that a man lives on the earth that knew him any better than I did; and I am bold to say that, Jesus Christ, excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth. I am his witness. He was persecuted for the same reason that any other righteous person has been or is persecuted at the present day.[6]

President Young's meaning is clear; those who claim otherwise have distorted this text and Brigham's intent.


Response to claim: 175, 543n21 (HB) 541n21 (PB) - The author claims that Joseph Smith is considered as important to Latter-day Saints' spirituality as Jesus Christ

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:


  • The author claims that Joseph Smith is considered as important to Latter-day Saints' spirituality as Jesus Christ.
  • Did Levi Edgar Young say that the "grandeur of Joseph Smith's life" was "the all-important truth that the world needed to hear" and that "thousands would turn not to God, but to Joseph."

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Under no circumstances would Latter-day Saints be encouraged to "turn not to God, but to Joseph." This is a highly pejorative and offensive statement.

Question: Did Levi Edgar Young state that his prayer was that "thousands would turn not to God, but to Joseph"?

The Levi Edgar Young quote is taken out of context - it says nothing about turning "not to God"

One critic of Mormonism asserts that "Levi Edgar Young--an LDS official of notably high rank--the "grandeur of Joseph Smith's life" was noted as the all-important truth that the world needed to hear. Levi's prayer was that thousands would turn not to God, but to Joseph." [7]

The Levi Edgar Young quote is taken out of context. The charge that Levi Edgar Young prayed "that thousands would turn not to God, but to Joseph" Smith is false.

First, let's look at the quote as it appears on page 252 of Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (The bold text below is quoted by the critic.)

In a letter to us, dated April 14, 1961, Levi Edgar Young, one of the First Seven Presidents of Seventies, made this statement: "The granduer [sic] of Joseph Smith's life must become known to the people of the world, and I am praying daily that people by the thousands may turn to him." (Letter photographically reprinted in our Case, v. 1, p. 75.)

The primary source for this quote originates with a letter sent by Sandra Tanner to Church leaders in 1961

Now let's turn to the primary source for this quote: The Case Against Mormonism, v. 1, p. 75 (Salt Lake City: ULM, 1967), beginning with Sandra Tanner's letter sent to most all of the First Presidency, Twelve, and Seventy. The letter was the same in each case, and formed as follows:

April 7, 1961

Dear Mr. -----,

The Apostle John A. Widtsoe once stated, 'The best place to obtain information for and against the Church is the Library of the Church Historian.' (A New Witness For Christ in America, preface, p. vii.)

We are writing a book and we need some of this information. As we know that the Church makes microfilms, we would like the following things microfilmed.

  • 1. Joseph Smith's history of the church in the original handwritten form.
  • 2. All of Joseph Smith's journals.
  • 3. The Far West Record.
  • 4. The original handwritten manuscript of the Book of Mormon.

Enclosed is ten dollars for this work. We are sending this same letter to several other authorities in the church. Therefore, there should be enough money to cover the cost of this work.

If there is any possible reason why we cannot obtain microfilm copies, can we come to the Historian's Office and examine these manuscripts?

Sincerely, Mrs. Jerald Tanner

The following is Levi Edgar Young's reply to Sandra Tanner, in The Case Against Mormonism, v. 1, p. 75 (Salt Lake City: ULM, 1967). The bold text is quoted by the author of ONUG:

Levi Edgar Young Salt Lake City

April 14, 1961

Mrs. Jerald Tanner 319 North Fifth West Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Mrs. Tanner

Your letter of April 7 was received and the content of it was very interesting. I am very glad to know that the Prophet Joseph Smith's history will be put into a form that the original handwriting of the Book of Mormon will be seen by people in general.

I am enclosing the $10 that you put in your letter, because I have not understood exactly why you sent it. I appreciate your thoughtfulness of me and hope that your desires may be realized.

The granduer [sic] of Joseph Smith's life must become known to the people of the world, and I am praying daily that people by the thousands may turn to him.

Again let me thank you for your thoughtfulness of me and hope that your ideas will be successfully realized.

Sincerely yours, Levi Edgar Young

LEY:sh

Levi Edgar Young was "very glad to know that the Prophet Joseph Smith's history" would be accessible to "people in general"

We now have the quote in context and can read for ourselves that Levi Edgar Young, 87-years old and senior member of the First Council of the Seventy, was "very glad to know that the Prophet Joseph Smith's history" would be accessible to "people in general". With this in mind, he closes his letter with "The granduer [sic] of Joseph Smith's life must become known to the people of the world" and that "people by the thousands may turn to him". This reader is left to wonder what, in this letter, is adverse in hoping that people will read about Joseph Smith? Indeed, Levi Edgar Young, a former university professor, esteemed books and inspired all to study and "to read better books than we could digest . . . raising us to ever higher levels". [8]

To support his opening statement -- that Mormons view Joseph Smith "as important to their spirituality as Jesus Christ" -- the author of ONUG embellishes Young's words by adding "was noted as the all-important truth that the world needed to hear" thus misrepresenting Levi Edgar Young's intent when he wrote the letter.

There is nothing in Levi Edgar Young's reply to Mrs. Tanner to support the author's claim that "Levi's prayer was that thousands would turn not to God, but to Joseph"

In fact the opposite is true. Time and again we read in Church literature the words of Levi Edgar Young admonishing the Saints to turn to God and to be mindful of our Redeemer: "May we turn to the glorious doctrines of the resurrection, and give our hearts to God, that He may give us life everlasting." [9] "As Latter-day Saints, we should know and keep ever in mind the teachings of the Savior of mankind, and let Jesus Christ be our Guide and our Light. We all realize that life is a struggle, and is filled with so many hardships and pains; so many sorrows and trials. So the supreme power in all this struggle is prayer -- the turning to God through Jesus Christ, and adding the force of the eternal to the petty cares of life." [10]

"Elder Young was appointed to represent the Church on the local ministerial association of the Protestants and Jews. His conciliatory attitude during these years gained many friends and served to reduce prejudice." [11] How disheartening that the author of ONUG would use Levi Edgar Young, a man who "was instrumental in cementing friendly and happy relations with many who had opposed the Church," [12] to further his countercult [13] agenda against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Response to claim: 175, 541n23 (PB) - Did Brigham Young "twist" John 4:3 in order to apply it to Joseph?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Brigham Young "twist" John 4:3 in order to apply it to Joseph?

Author's sources: Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:176..

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Brigham did not "twist" the scripture to apply to Joseph. The scripture in 1 John applies to Joseph because Joseph is a prophet—and prophets testify of Christ. To reject Christ's prophets is to reject him.

This claim is also made in Becoming Gods, p. 28

Question: Did Brigham Young commit blasphemy by applying 1 John 4:3 to Joseph Smith?

The scripture in 1 John applies to Joseph because Joseph is a prophet—and prophets testify of Christ

It is claimed that Joseph's place in LDS theology is blasphemous and even idolatrous. As evidence for this, they cite Brigham Young's application of 1 John 4:3 to Joseph.

The scripture in 1 John applies to Joseph because Joseph is a prophet—and prophets testify of Christ. To reject Christ's prophets is to reject him. One can no more, in Brigham's mind, reject Joseph Smith and claim to obey Christ than one could reject Peter, James, John, Paul, or Matthew and consider oneself a faithful Christian. The application of 1 John to Joseph Smith applies only insofar as Joseph is an apostle and witness of Christ.

Brigham Young said:

For unbelievers we will quote from the Scriptures—"Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God." Again—"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God." I will now give my scripture—"Whosoever confesseth that Joseph Smith was sent of God to reveal the holy Gospel to the children of men, and lay the foundation for gathering Israel, and building up the kingdom of God on the earth, that spirit is of God; and every spirit that does not confess that God has sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting Gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist....

Brigham does apply 1 John to Joseph—but interestingly insists that to deny Joseph is to "Antichrist." That is, to reject Joseph is to reject Christ. Critics rarely provide this perspective, which Brigham makes more clear as he continues:

They may say that they acknowledge Him [Jesus and His Father] until doomsday, and he will never own them, nor bestow the Holy Spirit upon them, and they will never have visions of eternity opened to them, unless they acknowledge that Joseph Smith is sent of God. Such people I call unbelievers. They tell about believing in Jesus Christ, but they might as well talk about birds understanding the Hebrew language. This statement is no more positive than true. All whom I call unbelievers, if they will repent of their sins, obey the requirements in the New Testament, be baptized for the remission of sins by a man who holds the key and authority to lead them into the waters of baptism, and receive the laying on of hands for the Holy Ghost, shall receive a witness that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that he was sent of God to build up his kingdom in this last dispensation. You will receive a Spirit that will bring all things to your remembrance, past present, and to come, teaching you all things necessary for you to understand. There are but a few in this generation who will do this.[14]

Brigham makes it clear that a belief in Joseph's prophetic mission springs from a willingness to accept God in faith, repent, "obey...the New Testament," be baptized for the remission of sins, and receive the Holy Ghost.


Response to claim: 175, 542n24 (PB) - The author claims that Joseph suffered from narcissism

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph suffered from narcissism.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author claims to be able to deduce Joseph's mental state years after his death.

Question: Is it possible to deduce Joseph Smith's thoughts and dreams years after his death?

Some critics of the Church attempt to discern Joseph Smith's motivations, thoughts and dreams, in order to explain the rise of the Church

Secular critics face a tough challenge when attempting to explain the foundational stories of Church—the primary sources from Joseph Smith and his associates do not provide them with any useful information. The only explanation left to them is that Joseph must have been lying about everything that he said. Authors then resort to fabricating Joseph's thoughts and dreams, and deducing his motivations based upon his surroundings. As one reviewer of Vogel's work puts it, "if no evidence can be gathered to demonstrate that a historical actor thought what you attribute to him or her, no conjecture can be beyond the realm of hypothetical possibility—just make things up, if you need to."[15]:326 This technique allows secular critics to quite literally create any explanation that they wish to account for Joseph's ability to restore the Church.

Creating a "psychobiography" by putting thoughts into Joseph's head

Secular critics, as a result of their inability to accept what they call "paranormal experiences," must come up with explanations for why Joseph Smith was able to create and grow the Church. Since many of the primary documents from Joseph and his associates accept evidence of spiritual experiences and angelic visitations as normal, secular critics look at Joseph's surrounding environment in order to deduce his thoughts and dreams, thus creating a "psychobiography" of the Prophet. A well-known critical work in which this technique is heavily employed is Fawn Brodie's No Man Knows My History. Consider the following:

But the need for deference was strong within [Joseph]. Talented far beyond his brothers or friends, he was impatient with their modest hopes and humdrum fancies. Nimble-witted, ambitious, and gifted with a boundless imagination, he dreamed of escape into an illustrious and affluent future. For Joseph was not meant to be a plodding farmer, tied to the earth by habit or by love for the recurrent miracle of harvest. He detested the plow as only a farmer's son can, and looked with despair on the fearful mortage [check spelling] that clouded their future.[16]:18

Brodie's prose is very readable, and would be well suited to a fictional novel. Unfortunately, nothing in the paragraph quoted above is referenced to any sort of a source. According to Dr. Charles L. Cohen, professor of history and religious studies, and director of the Lubar Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

This habit of insinuating herself into historical actors' minds constitutes the second part of Brodie's method. "For weeks" after learning that Martin Harris had lost the 116-page translation of the golden plates, she stated, "Joseph writhed in self-reproach for his folly." Lucy Smith described her son's distraught reaction when Harris told him the bad news, but, though one can well imagine Joseph agonizing over what to do, there is insufficient evidence to say in an unqualified declarative sentence what he actually did.[17]

The speculation of one author becomes a later author's "fact"

Since Brodie's work is heavily referenced by critics, Brodie's opinions eventually become considered to be "fact" by those who wish to tear down the Church. Brodie's pronouncements regarding Joseph's motives are then passed along to the next anti-Mormon writer. Consider how the following claim evolves from speculation to "documented endnote," when Brodie states:

The awesome vision he described in later years was probably the elaboration of some half-remembered dream stimulated by the early revival excitement and reinforced by the rich folklore of visions circulating in his neighborhood. Or it may have been sheer invention, created some time after 1830 when the need arose for a magnificent tradition to cancel out the stories of his fortune-telling and money-digging. Dream images came easily to this youth, whose imagination was as untrammeled as the whole West (emphasis added).[16]:25

Now observe how author Richard Abanes treats this quote in his book Becoming Gods (retitled Inside Today's Mormonism):

Such a theory boldly challenges LDS apostle James Faust's contention that critics of the First Vision "find it difficult to explain away." His assertion is further weakened by yet another theory of Brodie's, which posits that Smith's story might have been "created some time after 1830 when the need arose for a magnificent tradition to cancel out the stories of his fortune-telling and money-digging" (emphasis added).[18]

Here we have an unsupported theory by Brodie being confirmed by another author to "further weaken" LDS claims about the First Vision. Brodie's speculation of "was probably" and "it may have been" now becomes a cited endnote in Abanes' work. The speculation of one author has become the documented fact for the next author down the line.

Deducing Joseph's thoughts from his environment

Another author who takes great liberties in deducing Joseph's thoughts and dreams is Dan Vogel. Vogel's book Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet liberally assigns motives to the Prophet which cannot be backed up with any primary source. Instead, the author must interpret the meaning behind second- and third-hand sources that agree with his point-of-view.

Frankly admitting his "inclination . . . to interpret any claim of the paranormal . . . as delusion or fraud" (p. xii), Vogel refuses to accept Joseph's and his supporters' autobiographical statements—most of which grant, either explicitly or implicitly, such "paranormal" phenomena as angels, revelation, visions, and prophecy—at face value. Vogel's Joseph opens his mouth only to lie and deceive; and whatever he might be experiencing, or trying to do, or thinking about, one can rest assured that it's not what any record generated by him or his sympathizers would have us believe.[19]:206

When an author disregards the primary sources—the statements made by Joseph Smith himself—it becomes possible to create any story, motivation, thought or dream which suits the author's purpose. Responding to Vogel's description of Joseph's prayers and thoughts on September 21, 1823 leading up to the visit of Moroni, BYU professors Andrew and Dawson Hedges note:

What more could a student of early Mormon history possibly want? Here, in a crisp three pages, is a detailed account of what Joseph Smith was thinking about, praying about, and hesitating about over 180 years ago during one of the most significant 24-hour periods in church history. And not just what he was thinking about, in general terms, but how and when, within this 24-hour period, his thoughts evolve! And Vogel gives us all this without a single source to guide his pen—indeed, in direct contravention of what the sources say! One might chalk up this ability to navigate so confidently and so deftly through Joseph's mind to some type of clairvoyance on Vogel's part—"clairvogelance," we could call it—were it not that he himself protests so loudly against anything smacking of the "paranormal."[19]:211

Again, as with Brodie, and freed from the constraint of having to use actual sources, the author can attribute any thought or motivation to the Prophet that they wish in order to explain the unexplainable.


Response to claim: 176, 542n26-28 (PB) - Joseph claimed that he was "nearly equal to" or "as good as" Jesus Christ

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Why did Hezekiah McKune, Sophia Lewis and Levi Lewis state that Joseph claimed that he was "nearly equal to" or "as good as" Jesus Christ.

Author's sources: Eber D. Howe, Mormonism Unvailed (Painesville, OH, 1834), 268-269. (Affidavits examined)

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

These statements originate with several hostile critics who delivered affidavits several years after the Book of Mormon was published. These particular individuals delivered their statements at the same time and their stories sound suspiciously similar.

Question: What do the Hurlbut affidavits say about Joseph Smith claiming that he was "as good as Jesus Christ"?

Three individuals who made their depositions together said that Joseph Smith claimed that he was "as good as Jesus Christ"

Claimant Claims Comments

Levi Lewis

  • Claimed that Joseph Smith, Jr. and Martin Harris said that "adultery was no crime."
  • Claimed that he "knows Smith to be a liar."
  • Claimed that he heard Joseph Smith say that he "was as good as Jesus Christ."
  • Claimed that Joseph Smith, Jr. told him "[w]ith regard to the plates, Smith said God had deceived him."
  • Martin Harris would later be charged with slander for accusing a woman (Eliza Winters) of having a "bastard child." He was acquitted of this charge, but it is inconsistent with Lewis' claim for Martin to suffer jail and risk slander charges over an issue which he regards as "no crime." The story is implausible.
  • Joseph repeatedly testified (as did others) that he had the plates, and that others and seen them. That Lewis claims otherwise is likewise implausible.
  • Joseph's early private letters reveal him to be humble and painfully aware of his dependence on God. The claim about him being "as good as Jesus Christ" is inconsistent with this private, contemporary evidence.
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

Sophia Lewis

  • Claimed that Joseph Smith, Jr. said that he "was as good as Jesus Christ."
  • Claimed that Joseph Smith, Jr. said that "the Book of Plates could not be opened under penalty of death by any other person but his (Smith's) first-born, which was to be a male."

Hezekiah M'Kune

  • Claimed that Joseph Smith said "he was nearly equal to Jesus Christ."
  • Joseph's early private letters reveal him to be humble and painfully aware of his dependence on God. The claim about him being "as good as Jesus Christ" is inconsistent with this private, contemporary evidence.
  • Gregory L. Smith, A review of Nauvoo Polygamy:...but we called it celestial marriage by George D. Smith. FARMS Review, Vol. 20, Issue 2. (Detailed book review)

Hezekiah M'Kune, Levi Lewis and Sophia Lewis went together to make their depositions before the justice and their testimonies bear a remarkable similarity

  • Hezekiah M'Kune, Levi Lewis and Sophia Lewis went together to make their depositions before the justice. Their testimonies bear a remarkable similarity and contain the unique claim that Joseph claimed to be "as good as Jesus Christ." This claim is not related by any other individuals who knew the Prophet, suggesting that these three individuals planned and coordinated their story before giving their depositions. [20]


Response to claim: 177, 544n29 (HB) 542n29 (PB) - Joseph Smith boasted: "I am the only man that has been able to keep the whole church together....Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Joseph Smith boasted: "I am the only man that has been able to keep the whole church together....Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it"?

Author's sources: History of the Church, 6:408-409. Volume 6 link

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Joseph wasn't actually boasting - he was emulating Paul's boasting in order to make a point to his listeners.

Question: Is the quote of Joseph Smith's "boasting" of keeping the Church intact accurate?

The entries in History of the Church were made by scribes after Joseph's death

There are two issues here:

  • The accuracy of the quote in History of the Church, since it is based upon a synopsis of Joseph's remarks by Thomas Bullock.
  • Assuming that the quote is accurate, it is evident in any case that the quote has been removed from its larger context. For more detail on this aspect, see "Question: Was Joseph Smith prone to boasting?".

Even in the History of the Church (where the speech is recreated in 6:408-409), it is described as resting upon a "synopsis" by Thomas Bullock. Is it, therefore, a primary source? Arguably not.[21]

But there are further questions. The date of the sermon is 26 May 1844. A month later, the Prophet was dead. Did he supervise this entry? No. The last years of his entries in the History of the Church were actually made by others after his death.[22] It was common at the time for other authors to write as if someone else was speaking. So, these are not Joseph's words--they are the words which others (who admired him enormously after his murder) put in his mouth. The basic content is more likely to be accurate than the subtle details of tone and style.

This point is vitally important to keep in mind when trying to assess the character of Joseph Smith, his moral and spiritual quality, through the so-called "Documentary History." Even when it seems to have Joseph Smith speaking in the first person, the History of the Church may or may not actually be representing Joseph Smith's actual voice. (Dean Jessee's "Preface" to his collection of The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith specifically addresses the issue of the seeming egotism that entered into Joseph's later statements which was quite foreign to the man himself--this came not because Joseph suddenly became egotistical, but because the voice we hear is no longer Joseph's: it is the work of scribes following his death. They felt comfortable "praising" Joseph in ways which he would probably not have used.)

The impression which one gets of Joseph Smith from reading his authenticated personal statements is that of a humble and sincere man, struggling to do the will of God as he understood it. However, even if a note of proud defiance had crept into Joseph's tone during a speech in Nauvoo, at a time when both city and Church were under threat and pressure from gangs of unprincipled bigots, such a moment of weakness would be understandable.

But, there is more to the story than this. What was Joseph's intent in his speech? We can guess, even from the reconstruction that is available to us, as we will see in the next section.

First, though, we must address an issue which the above answer raises—does this mean the History of the Church is not reliable?

Is the History of the Church unreliable, then?

It worth saying that in the general reliability of the History of the Church, in view of the way it was put together, it is not the overall thrust or narrative that is likely to be inaccurate, but the nuances, the tone, the details. This is precisely the opposite problem from that which anti-Mormon critics would have us see in it: they think the overall story of the History incorrect (e.g. divine intervention, revelation, Joseph Smith's prophetic calling, etc.), but they want us to accept the details of tone and mood that it furnishes—or at least they do when those details seem to put the Prophet in a bad light.

It's amusing that the very same people who vehemently reject the History of the Church as an unreliable source when it seems to support the LDS position clutch it to their bosoms as an unparalleled historical treasure when they think they can use it as a weapon against the alleged errors of Mormonism.[23]


Response to claim: 178, 544n34 (HB) 542n34 (PB) - The author claims that Joseph Smith boasted of his "violent deeds"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph Smith boasted of his "violent deeds." Was Joseph boasting of violence when he claimed: "I wrestled with William Wall, the most expert wrestler in Ramus, and threw him?"

Author's sources: *History of the Church, 5:302. Volume 5 link

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Joseph was talking about the recreational sport of wrestling, not violence.

Question: Did Joseph Smith boast of his "violent deeds"?

The quote makes no reference at all to fighting, nor an attempt to harm another individual: Joseph is simply speaking of the recreational sport of wrestling

One critic of Mormonism claims that Joseph Smith boasted of his "violent deeds." He offers this example from History of the Church:

In the History of the Church, for example, under the date of March 13, 1843, we find this entry: "I wrestled with William Wall, the most expert wrestler in Ramus, and threw him." [24]

According to the critic, this is an example of Joseph Smith "boasting of his violent deeds." Such a reference is evidently intended to support the thesis found in the subtitle of Chapter Nine; that Joseph was "America's Fighting Prophet." [25]

The truth of the matter is that the words make no reference at all to fighting, nor an attempt to harm another individual. On the contrary, the quote is simply speaking of the recreational sport of wrestling.

George Q. Cannon spoke of the above-mentioned occasion, saying,

On Monday, the 13th day of March, 1843, Joseph met William Wall, the most expert wrestler of Ramus, Illinois, and had a friendly bout with him. He easily conquered Wall who up to that time had been a champion. [26]

There is no account describing this event as being anything other than fun and games. The quote the author cites is certainly of no exception. The snip comes from Joseph's journal, and all that is written there is,

Monday, 13.--I wrestled with William Wall, the most expert wrestler in Ramus, and threw him. [27]

That is it. The other events of the day are then recorded (i.e., Almon W. Babbitt was appointed as a Presiding Elder, 27 children were blessed in the evening, weather in Nauvoo was very cold… etc.).


Response to claim: 179, 544n36 (HB) 542n36 (PB) - The author claims that Joseph boasted of his fighting skill and his strength

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph boasted of his fighting skill and his strength. Did Joseph boast of his fighting skill and his strength when he said: "I feel as strong as a giant....I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up."

Author's sources: History of the Church, vol. 5, 466.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

Joseph was talking about his skill in a game called "stick pulling".

Question: Did Joseph Smith brag about his strength and prowess in fighting?

Joseph was talking about his skill in a game called "stick pulling"

Consider these two quotes from Joseph Smith provided by the author of the critical book One Nation Under Gods:

On June 30, 1843, Smith fought and boasted again of his strength, saying: "I feel as strong as a giant....I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up."36 (emphasis added) [28]

And,

On June 30, 1843, he wrestled and bragged again of his prowess, saying: "I feel as strong as a giant....I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up."34 (emphasis added) [29]

In both quotes above, the author seeks to illustrate a violent personality in Joseph Smith. Notice that both quotes contain an ellipsis. What do you suppose the critic of the Church removed from the quote?

In fact, if one reads these quotes carefully, it might strike the reader odd that the struggle between Joseph and his 'opponents' did not involve something like tackling, hitting, or throwing down--which are typical action words used when describing a fight. On the contrary, the struggle involved a "pulling up" motion--a description that would, in fact, fit one of Joseph Smith's favorite recreational games: Stick-pulling.

Perhaps if we were to look up the passage, we might be able to see the proper context. Take a look at the whole quote, omission and all (the bold portion was not included in the author's quote):

I feel as strong as a giant. I pulled sticks with the men coming along, and I pulled up with one hand the strongest man that could be found. Then two men tried, but they could not pull me up.

This is not a violent description at all! "Pulling sticks" is a game of sitting on the ground, facing one another, placing feet together, grabbing forward to a stick, and attempting to pull the other person up from the ground.


Response to claim: 178, 544n39 (HB) 542n39 (PB) - Did Jedediah Grant say that Joseph hit a Baptist preacher and and then throw him to the ground?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Jedediah Grant say that Joseph hit a Baptist preacher and and then throw him to the ground so violently that he "whirled round a few times, like a duck shot in the head?"

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Note that Joseph challenged the preacher to a wrestling match, which shocked the sanctimonious man—the "duck shot in the head" does not describe the result of a blow, but is a colorful simile describing how shocked the preacher was at Joseph's remark.

Question: Did Joseph Smith hit a Baptist preacher and throw him to the ground?

Jedediah Grant says nothing about Joseph Smith actually wrestling, much less 'hitting,' the Baptist preacher. He only states that the preacher was "shocked" at the Prophet's proposal

One critic of the Church claims that Jedediah Grant said that "Smith hit the [Baptist] preacher and threw him to the ground so violently that the minister 'whirled round a few times, like a duck shot in the head'" (emphasis added) [30]

However, the critic fails to tell us that this was in the context of the preacher being shocked by his senses, not "hit" by the Prophet.

Let's look at what Jedediah Grant actually said (the portion extracted by the author is highlighted in bold):

Before the Baptist priest, I have referred to, came to Nauvoo, he had heard brother William O. Clark, who could preach a bible and a half at a sermon, and could use the fashionable old tone, the blessed old tone. This Baptist imbibed a notion that we were as much ahead of his ideas of piety, and that our tone was as much longer than his, as the strength of the arguments produced by Clark were stronger than his; and supposed that our sanctimoniousness was co-equal with what he considered the merits of our doctrine.

Under these impressions he came to Nauvoo, and was introduced to the Prophet. In the meantime some person came up that brother Joseph would have a talk with, but while doing this he kept his eye upon the stranger, on this priest. After he got through chatting, the Baptist stood before him, and folding his arms said, "Is it possible that I now flash my optics upon a Prophet, upon a man who has conversed with my Savior?" "Yes," says the Prophet, "I don't know but you do; would not you like to wrestle with me?" That, you see, brought the priest right on to the thrashing floor, and he turned a summerset right straight. After he had whirled round a few times, like a duck shot in the head, he concluded that his piety had been awfully shocked, even to the centre, and went to the Prophet to learn why he had so shocked his piety. The Prophet commenced and showed him the follies of the world, and the absurdity of the long tone, and that he had a super-abundant stock of sanctimoniousness. [31]

This source says NOTHING about Joseph Smith actually wrestling, much less 'hitting,' the Baptist preacher. It only states that the preacher was "shocked" at the Prophet's proposal -- evidently because he could not imagine that a prophet of God would do such a thing as engage in physical sports. This apparently softened his outlook sufficiently for Joseph to have a talk with him about avoiding "the long tone" and sanctimony.


Response to claim: 181-182 - The author claims that the commissioned officers in the Nauvoo Legion were granted "law-making powers"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that the commissioned officers in the Nauvoo Legion were granted "law-making powers"

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author's source is not specified. Some officers in the Legion were also civic lawmakers (e.g., mayor, councilors, alderman, etc.) but it is not clear what lawmaking powers the author is claiming for militia officers as such.

Response to claim: 182, 542n46 - Was the Nauvoo Legion simply a "resurrection" of the Danites?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was the Nauvoo Legion simply a "resurrection" of the Danites?

Author's sources: *Hosea Stout, On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout, Juanita Brooks, ed., vol. 1, 140-141, 197, 259.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is incorrect. In what ways were they similar to the Danites? The militia was organized with the sanction of the Illinois legislature, the state supplied arms, and its officers received commissions from the state. [32]

Response to claim: 183 - "Where were all those rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence?"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Where were all those rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence?"

Author's sources: None

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

One would assume that the author probably meant to say the "Constitution" or the "Bill of Rights."

Response to claim: 186-187, 544n70 (PB) - Joseph set up a "shadow-government" called the "Council of Fifty"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph set up a "shadow-government" called the "Council of Fifty" for the purpose of organizing the "political kingdom of God in preparation for the second coming of Christ"

Author's sources: Woodruff, in Kenny, under March 11, 1844, vol. 2, 366.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Calling the Council of Fifty a "shadow government" is prejudicial. The Council of Fifty was designed to serve as something of a preparatory legislature in the Kingdom of God on earth.

Question: What was the Council of Fifty?

Joseph Smith received a revelation which called for the organization of a special council

On 7 April 1842, Joseph Smith received a revelation titled "The Kingdom of God and His Laws, With the Keys and Power Thereof, and Judgment in the Hands of His Servants, Ahman Christ," which called the for the organization of a special council separate from, but parallel to, the Church. Since its inception, this organization has been generally been referred to as "the Council of Fifty" because of its approximate number of members.

The Council of Fifty was designed to serve as something of a preparatory legislature in the Kingdom of God

Latter-day Saints believe that one reason the gospel was restored was to prepare the earth for the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as the Church was to bring about religious changes in the world, the Council of Fifty was intended to bring a political transformation. It was therefore designed to serve as something of a preparatory legislature in the Kingdom of God. Joseph Smith ordained the council to be the governing body of the world, with himself as chairman, Prophet, Priest, and King over the Council and the world (subject to Jesus Christ, who is "King of kings"[33]).

The Council was organized on 11 March 1844, at which time it adopted rules of procedure, including those governing legislation. One rule included instructions for passing motions:

To pass, a motion must be unanimous in the affirmative. Voting is done after the ancient order: each person voting in turn from the oldest to the youngest member of the Council, commencing with the standing chairman. If any member has any objections he is under covenant to fully and freely make them known to the Council. But if he cannot be convinced of the rightness of the course pursued by the Council he must either yield or withdraw membership in the Council. Thus a man will lose his place in the Council if he refuses to act in accordance with righteous principles in the deliberations of the Council. After action is taken and a motion accepted, no fault will be found or change sought for in regard to the motion.[34]

What is interesting about this rule is that it required each council member, by covenant, to voice his objections to proposed legislation. Those council members who dissented and could not be convinced to change their minds were free to withdraw from the council without repercussions. Thus, full freedom of conscience was maintained by the council — not exactly the sort of actions a despot or tyrant would allow.

The Council never rose to the stature Joseph intended

Members (which included individuals that were not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) were sent on expeditions west to explore emigration routes for the Saints, lobbied the American government, and were involved in Joseph Smith's presidential campaign. But only three months after it was established, Joseph was killed, and his death was the beginning of the Council's end. Brigham Young used it as the Saints moved west and settled in the Great Basin, and it met annually during John Taylor's administration, but since that time the Council has not played an active role among the Latter-day Saints.


Response to claim: 188, 544n78 - Did the Council of Fifty ordain Joseph to be "King and Ruler over Israel"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did the Council of Fifty ordain Joseph to be "King and Ruler over Israel"?

Author's sources: John Taylor, "A Revelation on the Kingdom of God in the Last Days given through President John Taylor at Salt Lake City," June 27, 1882, reprinted in Fred C. Coliier, ed., Unpublished Revelations, vol. 1, 133.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph was never anointed King over the earth in any political sense.

Question: Was Joseph Smith anointed to be "King over the earth" by the Council of Fifty?

Joseph was never anointed King over the earth in any political sense

Some people claim that Joseph Smith had himself anointed king over the whole world, and that this shows he was some sort of megalomaniac.

The Council of Fifty, while established in preparation for a future Millennial government under Jesus Christ (who is the King of Kings) was to be governed on earth during this preparatory period by the highest presiding ecclesiastical authority, which at the time was the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph had previously been anointed a King and Priest in the Kingdom of God by religious rites associated with the fullness of the temple endowment, and was placed as a presiding authority over this body in his most exalted position within the kingdom of God (as a King and a Priest).

Joseph was anointed as the presiding authority over an organization that was to prepare for the future reign of Jesus Christ during the Millennium

The fact that Joseph's prior anointing was referenced in his position as presiding authority over this body creates the confusion that he had been anointed King of the Earth. He was in fact only anointed as the presiding authority over an organization that was to prepare for the future reign of Jesus Christ during the Millennium. The fact that Joseph had submitted his name for consideration as President of the United States during this same period adds fodder for critics seeking to malign the character of the Prophet.


Response to claim: 189, 545n83 - The author claims that Latter-day Saints believe that "the only acceptable government" would have to be in the form of a global theocracy

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Latter-day Saints believe that "the only acceptable government" would have to be in the form of a global theocracy. Joseph said "It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is his purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world...to stand as head of the universe, and take the reigns of government into his own hands"

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ will return to rule the earth. However, it is absurd to claim that Latter-day Saints believe that the only acceptable government is a "global theocracy."

Response to claim: 189 - Was Joseph Smith crowned "king of the world"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Was Joseph Smith crowned "king of the world"?

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Joseph was anointed king, but not in a political sense.

Question: Was Joseph Smith anointed to be "King over the earth" by the Council of Fifty?

Joseph was never anointed King over the earth in any political sense

Some people claim that Joseph Smith had himself anointed king over the whole world, and that this shows he was some sort of megalomaniac.

The Council of Fifty, while established in preparation for a future Millennial government under Jesus Christ (who is the King of Kings) was to be governed on earth during this preparatory period by the highest presiding ecclesiastical authority, which at the time was the Prophet Joseph Smith. Joseph had previously been anointed a King and Priest in the Kingdom of God by religious rites associated with the fullness of the temple endowment, and was placed as a presiding authority over this body in his most exalted position within the kingdom of God (as a King and a Priest).

Joseph was anointed as the presiding authority over an organization that was to prepare for the future reign of Jesus Christ during the Millennium

The fact that Joseph's prior anointing was referenced in his position as presiding authority over this body creates the confusion that he had been anointed King of the Earth. He was in fact only anointed as the presiding authority over an organization that was to prepare for the future reign of Jesus Christ during the Millennium. The fact that Joseph had submitted his name for consideration as President of the United States during this same period adds fodder for critics seeking to malign the character of the Prophet.


Response to claim: 191 - The author claims that Joseph sent Orrin Porter Rockwell to kill ex-Governor Boggs

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph sent Orrin Porter Rockwell to kill ex-Governor Boggs

Author's sources: *No source provided.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Joseph denied the charge (History of the Church 5:15). Rockwell was tried in Missouri and acquitted. [35] Monte B. McLaws, "The Attempted Assassination of Missouri's Ex-Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs," Missouri Historical Review LX (October 1965), 50-62 examined the evidence and found it insufficient to assign blame to anyone. The author is employing the fallacy of probability

Response to claim: 191 - The author claims that D&C 98:31 justifies the murder of personal enemies

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Response to claim: 191 - The author claims that D&C 98:31 justifies the murder of personal enemies

Author's sources: DC 98:31

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This is a false claim.

Question: Does Doctrine and Covenants 98:31 justify the murder of one's personal enemies?

This scripture describes when a just war may be entered into - it has nothing to do with justifying murder

This scripture describes when a just war may be entered into—it requires that the Christian suffer unprovoked attack three times, and then one has the option of going to war. It says nothing about murder of personal enemies:

29 And then [after three attacks, and having warned your enemy in the name of the Lord], if he shall come upon you or your children, or your children's children unto the third and fourth generation, I have delivered thine enemy into thine hands;

30 And then if thou wilt spare him, thou shalt be rewarded for thy righteousness; and also thy children and thy children's children unto the third and fourth generation.

31 Nevertheless, thine enemy is in thine hands; and if thou rewardest him according to his works thou art justified; if he has sought thy life, and thy life is endangered by him, thine enemy is in thine hands and thou art justified.
...

33 And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.

34 And if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue;

35 And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord;

36 Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people. (DC 98:29-36) (emphasis added)

Any implementation of this principle requires yet another unprovoked attack in which the Christian or his family are at risk of their lives, to which one may then respond with deadly force. It says nothing at all about murder.


Response to claim: 192, 546n98 (PB) - The author claims that Porter Rockwell admitted that he had tried to kill Lilburn Boggs

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Porter Rockwell admitted that he had tried to kill Lilburn Boggs.

Author's sources:
  • Orrin Porter Rockwell. Quoted in Harold Schindler, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Man of God, Son of Thunder, 80.
  • Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons, 250.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

The claim is false. Rockwell was acquitted.

Question: Did Porter Rockwell admit to shooting Lilburn Boggs?

The author does not tell us that his source, Schindler, was criticized for giving credence to anti-Mormon sources on this issue

The author of the critical book One Nation Under Gods claims that Porter Rockwell admitted that he had tried to kill Lilburn Boggs. [36] He offers the following sources:

  • Orrin Porter Rockwell. Quoted in Harold Schindler, Orrin Porter Rockwell, Man of God, Son of Thunder, 80.
  • Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker, A Book of Mormons, 250.

The author does not tell us that his source, Schindler, was criticized for giving credence to anti-Mormon sources on this issue:

Anti-Mormon testimony is given free rein in relation to the shooting of Governor Boggs, especially in an effort to link Joseph Smith with it through the death "prophecies" which Rockwell tried to fulfill. Evidence of these predictions of Boggs's early and violent demise unravel into loose ends as the whole affair becomes unfinished business. After an accumulation of anti-Mormon charges convinces one of Rockwell's guilt, a contrary court decision such as that of Judge Pope (p. 88) throws the whole question back to where it has been for over a century--a state of uncertainty in which each reader decides the case for himself according to his personal prejudices.[37]

A review of the second edition of this work noted the same difficulties:

The late Gustive O. Larson reviewed the first edition of the Rockwell biography for Dialogue (Winter 1966) and objected primarily to the "over-abundance of irresponsible testimony and sensationalism represented by such names as William Daniels, Bill Hickman, Joseph H. Jackson, Swartzell, Achilles, Beadle, and . . . Kelly and Birney's 'Holy murder' . . ." I feel that Larson's criticism is still valid and see little effort on the part of the author to rectify this tendency.[38]

Rockwell was acquitted by a Missouri jury, after being held captive for more than a year

The author does not mention McLaws' paper, which examined the evidence and found it insufficient to assign blame to anyone.[39]

One Nation Under Gods also fails to account for the fact that Rockwell was acquitted by a Missouri jury, after being held captive for more than a year—if a jury in hostile Missouri would not condemn him, how good could the evidence have been?[40]


Response to claim: 192, 546n99 (PB) - The author claims that Joseph Smith escaped both times after he was arrested twice for his alleged role in Boggs' assassination attempt

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author claims that Joseph Smith escaped both times after he was arrested twice for his alleged role in Boggs' assassination attempt

Author's sources: Hallwas and Launius, Cultures in Conflict, 88-89.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

In the first instance, Joseph was arrested by Missourians, and then released since he had been served an illegal warrant— it charged that he had fled Missouri after committing the crime, an impossibility. [41] In the second case, Joseph submitted to arrest and the governor, a probate judge, the U.S. District Attorney for Illinois, and the Illinois Supreme Court found that the arrest warrant from Missouri was illegal. [42] Joseph "escaped" through due process of law; in both cases the warrant was illegal; in the second case, it was so declared by the governor and state supreme court.

Response to claim: 192 - "Not until 1841 in Nauvoo...was Smith's seemingly insatiable lust for women and young girls unleashed"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "Not until 1841 in Nauvoo...was Smith's seemingly insatiable lust for women and young girls unleashed."

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is simply propaganda on the part of the author without any evidence.

Response to claim: 193 - Did Joseph Smith advocate the practice of polyandry?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Joseph Smith advocate the practice of polyandry?

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Joseph is the only one that was sealed to women who were married for time to other men. He never "advocated" polyandry.

Question: Was Joseph Smith married or sealed to women who were already married to other living men?

Joseph Smith was sealed to 11 women who were married to men who were still living. Some of these men were even active members of the Church

Among Joseph's plural marriages and/or sealings, between eight to eleven of them were to women who were already married. Of the eight well-documented cases, five of the husbands were Latter-day Saints, and the other three were either not active in or not associated with the Church. In all cases, these women continued to live with their husbands, most of them doing so until their husbands died. These eternal marriages appear to have had little effect upon the lives of the women involved, with the exception that they would be sealed to Joseph in the afterlife rather than to their earthly husbands. One of the most well-known of these "polyandrous" marriages was to Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs.[43]

Of all the aspects of Joseph Smith's marital theology, this is the most difficult area to understand, because very little primary evidence exists. As one scholar noted:

Perhaps nothing is less understood than Joseph Smith's sealings to women already married, because the evidence supports conflicting interpretations.[44]

Criticisms related to Joseph Smith's "polyandrous" marriages

These "polyandrous" marriages have given rise to a number of criticisms:

  • Why would Joseph be sealed to other men's wives?
  • What was the nature of these marriages? Were they consummated?
  • Why did these 11 women continue to live with and have children with their husbands even after being sealed to Joseph Smith?
  • One critic of the church notes, "Joseph Smith would frequently approach other men’s wives about being his own plural wives..." [45]

At the time that celestial marriage was introduced, it was possible to be married for time to one person and sealed for eternity to another. These marriages appear to have been performed for the purpose of forming dynastic bonds in the afterlife, as there is no evidence that Joseph ever cohabited or had intimate relations with any of these women. No children from these marriages have ever been identified. These were sealings which would only affect Joseph's association with these women in the afterlife.


Response to claim: 193 - "The wives continued to live with their husbands after marrying Smith, but would have conjugal visits from Joseph whenever it served his needs"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

 Author's quote: "The wives continued to live with their husbands after marrying Smith, but would have conjugal visits from Joseph whenever it served his needs."

Author's sources: No source provided. Author's opinion.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author is challenged to provide even a single primary source documenting this claim. All of the women who were sealed to Joseph who were married to other men, continued to live with their earthly husbands. There is absolutely no evidence of "conjugal visits from Joseph whenever it served his needs." This is the author's own spin.


Response to claim: 194 - Joseph violated a Biblical prohibition on marrying a mother and daughter or two sisters

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Joseph violated a Biblical prohibition on marrying a mother and daughter or two sisters

Author's sources: Leviticus 18:17-18

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The author cannot make up his mind. First, he tells us that there is no Biblical approval or command to practice plural marriage (see p. 305, (PB)). This claim is false, since levirate marriage is commanded by the Bible (Deuteronomy 25:5-6), and laws are given about the proper care of plural wives (Deuteronomy 21:15-17). Now, the author wishes to make Joseph bound by the marital codes of the Law of Moses. There are many other Law of Moses principles which Joseph did not keep either—but, neither does the author. A key tenet of Christianity is that the Law of Moses is no longer binding (e.g., Acts 15:20,29). Joseph did not claim to practice plural marriage under biblical authority (Old Testament or otherwise), but on the basis of new revelation. He and his followers used the Old Testament as evidence that God did not always forbid plural marriage, but this is a different matter from believing they were re-enacting the Law of Moses' polygamy on the Bible's authority alone.

Question: Does the Bible prohibit polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter?

A biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law prohibited polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter or two sisters

A biblical prohibition under the Mosaic law prohibited polygamous marriages involving a mother and daughter:

Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time. Leviticus 18:18

The law also prohibited one from marrying two sisters:

And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you. Leviticus 20:14


Question: Did Joseph Smith being sealed to mothers, daughters and sisters violate a biblical prohibition?

Joseph Smith did not restore the practice of plural marriage according to Mosaic law—plural marriage was practiced prior to the institution of the Mosaic law without these restrictions

Joseph Smith did not restore the practice of plural marriage according to Mosaic law—plural marriage was practiced prior to the institution of the Mosaic law without these restrictions. A well-known example is Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel: He was married to the two sisters Rachel and Leah.

For example, the Hebrew law of "levirate marriage" actually required a man to take his childless deceased brother's wife as his own wife in order to produce offspring for his brother

It should also be noted that the biblical practice of levirate marriage, as defined by Hebrew law, required a man to take his childless deceased brother's wife as his own wife in order to produce offspring for his brother. This was also a case of marrying two sisters.

Deuteronomy 25:5-6 states,

5 If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.
6 And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel.

From the Wikipedia article "Levirate marriage":

Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow, and the widow is obliged to marry her deceased husband's brother.....A levirate marriage (Hebrew: yibbum) is mandated by Deuteronomy 25:5-6 of the Hebrew Bible and obliges a brother to marry the widow of his childless deceased brother, with the firstborn child being treated as that of the deceased brother, (see also Genesis 38:8) which renders the child the heir of the deceased brother and not the genetic father. [46]


Response to claim: 195, 547n117 (PB) - Did Joseph denounce polygamy as sinful and state that "monogamy was God's perfect design?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Joseph denounce polygamy as sinful and state that "monogamy was God's perfect design?"

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The cited source says nothing about polygamy being "sinful" or stating the "monogamy was God's perfect design for marital relationships." The citation included by the author is a portion of a reprint in the Times and Seasons of a letter to the editor written by someone with the initials "H.R." and submitted to the Boston Bee:

We are charged with advocating a plurality of wives, and common property. Now this is as false as the many other ridiculous charges which are brought against us. No sect have a greater reverence for the laws of matrimony, or the rights of private property, and we do what others do not, practice what we preach.

Response to claim: 196, 549n119 (HB) 547n119 (PB) - "Apostates...preached against the evils thriving in Joseph's city of debauchery and despotism"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Author's quote: "Apostates...preached against the evils thriving in Joseph's city of debauchery and despotism."

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Nauvoo was not a city of "debauchery and despotism."

Response to claim: 197, 547n122 (PB) - Did Joseph destroy the Nauvoo Expositor because his "entire plan to rule the world" was about to be exposed?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Joseph destroy the Nauvoo Expositor because his "entire plan to rule the world" was about to be exposed?

Author's sources:
  • Clayton, see Robert C. Fillerup, under June 22, 1844, in "Nauvoo Temple History Journal, William Clayton, 1845,".
  • Andrew F. Ehat, "'It Seems Like Heaven Began On Earth': Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God," Brigham Young University Studies 20 (Spring 1980), 268.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The claim is absurd. Joseph did not plan to "rule the world."

Question: Was the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor legal?

The destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor led directly to the murder of Joseph and Hyrum

It is claimed by one critic of the Church that Joseph "could not allow the Expositor to publish the secret international negotiations masterminded by Mormonism’s earthly king." [47] Another claimed that "When the Laws (with others) purchased a printing press in an attempt to hold Joseph Smith accountable for his polygamy (which he was denying publicly), Joseph ordered the destruction of the printing press, which was both a violation of the 1st Amendment, and which ultimately led to Joseph’s assassination." [48]

The Expositor incident led directly to the murder of Joseph and Hyrum, but it was preceded by a long period of non-Mormon distrust of Joseph Smith, and attempts to extradite him on questionable basis.

The destruction of the Expositor issue was legal; it was not legal to have destroyed the type, but this was a civil matter, not a criminal one, and one for which Joseph was willing to pay a fine if imposed.

Joseph seems to have believed—or, his followers believed after his death—that the decision, while 'unwise' for Joseph, may have been in the Saints' interest to have Joseph killed. For a time, this diffused much of the tension and may have prevented an outbreak of generalized violence against the Saints, as occurred in Missouri.

The destruction of the first issue was legal, but it was not legal to destroy the printer's type

It is claimed that "When the Laws (with others) purchased a printing press in an attempt to hold Joseph Smith accountable for his polygamy (which he was denying publicly), Joseph ordered the destruction of the printing press, which was both a violation of the 1st Amendment, and which ultimately led to Joseph’s assassination." [49]

The destruction of the Expositor issue (i.e., the paper itself) was legal; it was not legal to have destroyed the type, but this was a civil matter, not a criminal one, and one for which Joseph was willing to pay a fine if imposed.

Joseph did not order the action against the Expositor—it was the Nauvoo City Council (which included non-Mormons) which reached the unanimous decision and took the action they did.

The First Amendment is irrelevant to this discussion. In 1844, the First Amendment only applied to federal law; it had no application to state or local law until the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment after the Civil War.


Question: How was the decision reached to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor?

Destruction of Expositor

8 June 1844
Nauvoo city council meets regarding the Expositor.
10 June 1844
The city council declares the Expositor a public nuisance and threat to the peace. This was not mere exaggeration; there were sixteen episodes of mob violence against controversial newspapers in Illinois from 1832 to 1867, and so the leaders’ fears of civil unrest were likely well-founded. The city council therefore ordered the press and the paper destroyed.[50]
This was done. The decision to suppress the Expositor, while legal for the day, worsened a tense situation (in the years following the Expositor suppression, similar tactics would be used in 1862, 1893, 1918, and 1927).[51]
Historically, presses which violated community ideas of what was proper were a genuine risk to the public peace. Elijah Lovejoy, an anti-slavery editor of The Saint Louis Observer was killed by a pro-slavery mob in 1837.[52]
Joseph and the city council might well have had memories of what happened in Missouri when some members of the Church became frustrated with the lack of legal redress for their mistreatment by Missouri citizens.
Missouri probably also set the stage for the legal decision to suppress the press. In 1833, the Evening and Morning Star, the LDS paper in Independence, was subject to being "razed to the ground" at the unanimous decision of the mob committee established to drive out the Mormons.[53] The mob's ultimatum later stipulated that the Mormons were not to publish anything before leaving.[54]
The law of the day probably gave Joseph and the council the right to destroy the offending issue; however, since they had also ordered the press and type destroyed, they violated property laws. Joseph later said he would be happy to pay for the damages.[55] Critics are inconsistent when they complain about the Nauvoo city council's decision to suppress the Expositor (an action that was legal) and yet do not also acknowledge that Mormon presses had been destroyed by mobs acting with no legal authority whatever.
Despite the fact that the Expositor's suppression was legal, the destruction of the press appeared high-handed to Church critics, and other newspapers began to call for the Mormons’ expulsion or destruction. Joseph and others were arrested on charges of “riot.”


Question: Why did the Nauvoo City Council feel it was necessary to destroy the Nauvoo Expositor?

One member recorded that Joseph told him that the destruction of the press was necessary for the Saints’ safety

It is claimed that Joseph "could not allow the Expositor to publish the secret international negotiations masterminded by Mormonism’s earthly king." [56]

The reality was that the Joseph and the City Council were concerned that the paper would cause turmoil among the Saints.

One member stated,

Brother Joseph called a meeting at his own house and told us that God showed to him in an open vision in daylight [meaning that this was not something he had just conjured up in dreams of the night] that if he did not destroy that printing press that it would cause the blood of the Saints to flow in the streets and by this was that evil destroyed.[57]

Joseph foresaw his own death as a result of the turmoil that was already occurring

Given Joseph’s numerous presentiments of his own death, it may well be that he knowingly chose this course of action to spare the members’ lives at the cost of his own. Said Joseph to Elizabeth Rollins:

I must seal my testimony with my blood.[58]

And later:

Some has supposed that Br Joseph Could not die but this is a mistake it is true their has been times when I have had the promise of my life to accomplish such & such things, but having accomplish those things I have not at present any lease of my life I am as liable to die as other men.[59]


Response to claim: 197, 547n124 (PB) - The Nauvoo Expositor told of women who "under penalty of death," were told that they were to be sealed to him as "spiritual wives"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The Nauvoo Expositor told of women who "under penalty of death," were told that they were to be sealed to him as "spiritual wives."

Author's sources: Nauvoo Expositor, 2

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

No women were placed "under penalty of death" if they were not sealed to Joseph.

Question: What caused William Law to apostatize from the Church and turn against Joseph Smith?

William Law in 1836: "I assure you I have found [Joseph Smith] honest and honourable in all our transactions which have been very considerable"

A Canadian, William Law joined the Church in 1836 and moved to Nauvoo in 1839. After having lived near Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, William wrote to a friend:

I have carefully watched his movements since I have been here, and I assure you I have found him honest and honourable in all our transactions which have been very considerable. I believe he is an honest upright man, and as to his follies let who ever is guiltless throw the first stone at him, I shant do it.[60]

William Law in 1844: "I cannot fellowship the abominations which I verily know are practiced by this man [Joseph]"

8 January 1844
William Law released as Second Counselor in the First Presidency; Joseph Smith noted that William “was injuring him by telling evil of him…” William considered his release to be “illegal,” since he had been called “by revelation,” but wrote “I cannot fellowship the abominations which I verily know are practiced by this man [Joseph], consequently I am glad to be free from him."[61]


One of William’s key concerns seems to have revolved around plural marriage

His non-member son, Richard, later recounted:

About the year 1842, he was present at an interview between his father and the Prophet Joseph. The topic under discussion was the doctrine of plural marriage. William Law, with his arms around the neck of the Prophet, was pleading with him to withdraw the doctrine of plural marriage, which he had at that time commenced to teach to some of the brethren, Mr. Law predicting that if Joseph would abandon the doctrine, 'Mormonism' would, in fifty or one hundred years, dominate the Christian world. Mr. Law pleaded for this with Joseph with tears streaming from his eyes. The Prophet was also in tears, but he informed the gentleman that he could not withdraw the doctrine, for God had commanded him to teach it, and condemnation would come upon him if he was not obedient to the commandment.

During the discussion, Joseph was deeply affected. Mr. Richard S. Law says the interview was a most touching one, and was riveted upon his mind in a manner that has kept it fresh and distinct in his memory, as if it had occurred but yesterday.

Mr. Law also says, that he has no doubt that Joseph believed he had received the doctrine of plural marriage from the Lord. The Prophet's manner being exceedingly earnest, so much so, that Mr. Law was convinced that the Prophet was perfectly sincere in his declaration.[62]

William Law was excommunicated

18 April 1844
William Law excommunicated. Austin Cowles of the Nauvoo high council, James Blakeslee, Charles G. Foster, and Francis M. Higbee joined him in leaving the Church, and he was supported in his opposition to Joseph by his brother Wilson.[63] They announced the formation of a ‘reform’ Church based upon Joseph’s teachings up to 1838, with William as president.

William even decided that Joseph Smith’s opposition to Missouri (and the treatment the Saints had received there) was “unChristian"!

The hostile spirit and conduct manifested by Joseph Smith, and many of his associates towards Missouri . . . are decidedly at variance with the true spirit of Christianity, and should not be encouraged by any people, much less by those professing to be the ministers of the gospel of peace.[64]

Williams had financial quarrels with Joseph

William had economic quarrels with Joseph, and was probably too fond of his own financial state, rather than helping the poor of the Church. William and his brother Wilson had bought the higher land on the outskirts of Nauvoo; the Church (through Joseph) owned the land in the river bottom. Joseph declared that new arrivals should purchase lands from the Church (this was in part an effort to help liquidate the Church’s debts), but William objected to this plan as prejudicial to his own financial interests.[65]

Hyrum presented Law and his wife with the revelation on plural marriage, which affected Law greatly

William was probably also troubled by the death of his wife and daughter even after Church leaders had prayed for them. Hyrum presented Law and his wife with the revelation on plural marriage. Long after the fact, William reported his reaction:

Hyrum gave it [the revelation] to me in his office, told me to take it home and read it, and then be careful with it, and bring it back again…[My wife Jane] and I were just turned upside down by it…We did not know what to do.[66]

Law ultimately called Joseph a "demon"

It is not clear whether Jane and William Law were ever sealed. Alexander Neibaur and Hyrum Smith both reported that Joseph told William he could not seal him to Jane because the Lord forbade it; Neibaur indicated that this was because William was “a Adulterous person.”[67] There is no evidence of this other than Neibaur's statement however.

In the clash that followed, William began “casting the first stone,” at Joseph’s supposed failings, and the man which he had once admired as honourable and without cause for complaint became, in his newspaper, a “demon,” a power-mad tyrant, a seducer, and someone who contributed to the early death of young women.


Question: Did Joseph Smith or his associates attempt to reconcile with William Law before he published the Nauvoo Expositor?

Prior to the publication of the Expositor, Hyrum Smith, Almon W. Babbitt, and Sidney Rigdon attempted to reconcile William Law to the Church

William Law announced he would reconcile only under the condition that Joseph publicly state that the practice of polygamy was "from Hell":

I told him [Sidney] that if they wanted peace they could have it on the following conditions, That Joseph Smith would acknowledge publicly that he had taught and practised the doctrine of plurality of wives, that he brought a revelation supporting the doctrine, and that he should own the whole system (revelation and all) to be from Hell.[68]

The Nauvoo Expositor declared that Joseph was "“blood thirsty and murderous...demon...in human shape”

Shortly afterward, on 7 June 1844, the first (and only) edition of the Nauvoo Expositor was published. It detailed Joseph’s practice of plural marriage, and charged him with various crimes, labeling him a “blood thirsty and murderous...demon...in human shape” and “a syncophant, whose attempt for power find no parallel in history...one of the blackest and basest scoundrels that has appeared upon the stage of human existence since the days of Nero, and Caligula.”[69]


Question: What was John C. Bennett's role in the events leading up to the death of Joseph Smith?

The apostasy of John C. Bennett

May 1842
John C. Bennett is tried before a Church court. He confessed to “wicked and licentious conduct toward certain females in Nauvoo,”[70] and of past acts of exploiting of women he had attended as a doctor. He may also have performed abortions.[71] He had also frequented, and perhaps operated, a brothel.[72] (Bennett was not alone in this; with his encouragement Chauncy and Francis Higbee—who would write attacks on Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo Expositor—also participated in immoral acts and were disciplined for it.)

Bennett claimed that the doctrines he was using to seduce women in Nauvoo were the same as those taught privately by Joseph Smith with regard to plural marriage

Bennett’s apostasy caused particular problems because he claimed that the doctrines he was using to seduce women in Nauvoo were the same as those taught privately by Joseph Smith with regard to plural marriage. Thus, Joseph and the Church spent a great deal of time denying Bennett’s charges, while trying to keep plural marriage from becoming common knowledge for fear of the Church’s enemies.

Bennett left the Church and Nauvoo, and spoke widely about the “evils” of the Church and its leaders to non-member audiences. He also wrote a book and made a good deal of money telling stories against the Mormons; he was later to be associated with Sidney Rigdon’s splinter group and the “Strangite” break-off group, but he soon left them as well.

Orson F. Whitney said this about Bennett:

In May, 1842, the treachery and rascality of a man whom the Mormon leader had befriended and loaded with honors, became known to his benefactor. That man was Dr. John C. Bennett, Mayor of Nauvoo, Chancellor of its University, and Major-General of its legion. He had become associated with the Saints soon after their exodus from Missouri. Though a great egotist, he was a man of education, address and ability. That he had little or no principle was not immediately apparent. Considerable of a diplomat and possessing some influence in political circles, he rendered valuable aid in securing the passage by the Illinois Legislature of the act incorporating the city of Nauvoo. Hence the honors bestowed upon him by the Mormon people. Prior to that, and subsequently, he was Quartermaster-General of Illinois. Bennett professed great sympathy for the Saints. He joined the Church and apparently was a sincere convert to the faith.

Governor Thomas Ford, in his history of Illinois, styles Bennett "probably the greatest scamp in the western country." But this was not until long after the Mormons, thrice victimized, had become aware of his villainy.[73]


Response to claim: 198 - Did Joseph decide not to flee to Iowa because of guilt or fear?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Joseph decide not to flee to Iowa because of 1) guilt for leaving, 2) he wouldn't be safe in Iowa, 3) there was no leadership left in Nauvoo and 4) the Nauvoo Legion was divided?

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The book does not acknowledge contemporary records of what was done and said to influence Joseph's return to Nauvoo, and what he himself said about it: Here is Fawn Brodie's opinion, which, of course, sounds very much like the author's:

"But the river was only one factor in Joseph's gloom. He was landing in Iowa, where there was still a price on his head. The Governor of the Iowa Territory had never agreed not to extradite him to Missouri on the old charge of treason. Moreover, Joseph had neither equipment nor appetite for the lonely and savage western trails. And he could not stifle a sense of guilt at deserting his people..." (Brodie, No Man Knows My History p. 384)

Response to claim: 199, 547-548n131-132 (PB) - Did Joseph Smith write a note to Jonathan Dunham telling him to bring the Nauvoo Legion and "break the jail, and save him at all costs"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Did Joseph Smith write a note to Jonathan Dunham telling him to bring the Nauvoo Legion and "break the jail, and save him at all costs"?

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This is Brodie's assertion, and there is no evidence to support it. There is, in fact, evidence to the contrary.

Question: Did Joseph order Jonathan Dunham, head of the Nauvoo legion, to rescue him?

There is little good evidence from the extant documents that Joseph attempted to have the Nauvoo Legion rescue him

Fawn Brodie claimed that Joseph Smith was panicking at Carthage Jail, and wrote an order to Jonathan Dunham (head of the Nauvoo legion), telling him to attack the jail and "save him at all costs" [74]

There is little good evidence from the extant documents that Joseph attempted to have the Nauvoo Legion rescue him. By contrast, he repeatedly ordered the militia to stay home and his followers to avoid assembling. He repeatedly expressed resignation as to his fate, and just prior to his martyrdom was seeking to add more legal help to his hearing two days distant—a strange choice if he expected to be liberated by the militia.

The entire tale sounds more like gossip or grumbling among a few who felt that the Mormons militia could have rescued Joseph if given the chance

That Dunham would receive orders from Joseph and refuse to follow them seems incredible. It would also be strange for Stout to be the only primary source to learn of such orders. Why would Dunham tell anyone that he had refused an order from the prophet? Why would he tell Stout, a fierce supporter of Joseph? Why did others not hear of this and report it? Why was Dunham not blamed by other LDS members later?

Stenhouse tells the story, and claims that the order was found discarded on the ground—again, this seems incredible. Why would Dunham dispose of such an incriminating bit of evidence so carelessly? If it was found, why did Brigham Young or other Church leaders never hear of, mention, or save it? The entire tale sounds more like gossip or grumbling among a few who felt that the Mormons militia could have rescued Joseph if given the chance.

Dunham's death was reported in William Clayton's diary as follows:

Daniel Spencer has returned from the West. He brings word that Brother Jonathan Dunham died of a fever.[75]

Thus, the attribution of Dunham's death to suicide occurs later. Even if the suicide claim is accepted, Oliver Huntington's witness says that it was because Dunham felt guilty for being unable to fortify Nauvoo adequately before Joseph went to Carthage for the last time.

The weight of evidence cannot, at present, sustain the claim that Joseph commanded the Nauvoo Legion to come rescue him.[76] Errors, miscitation of sources, and typographical problems have further clouded this issue.

The critics and their sources: There are two basic 'streams' of this theory

The first derives from Fawn Brodie (1945):

Other authors have followed Brodie. Abanes (One Nation Under Gods), for example, merely quotes Brodie as his source. Denton simply repeats the claim without acknowledging Brodie as the source.

Brodie's evidence derives from two sources:

  • Allen J. Stout, manuscript journal, 1815-89, p. 13.
  • T.B.H. Stenhouse, Rocky Mountain Saints: a full and complete history of the Mormons, from the first vision of Joseph Smith to the last courtship of Brigham Young (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1873), 164n..

Brodie says that Stout's story "is confirmed" by Stenhouse, but Stenhouse mentions no names.[77]:n.94

New wrinkle: Hofmann forgeries

The second evidential stream draws on the first, but adds a new wrinkle. This wrinkle is one of the Hofmann forgeries.[78] Mark Hofmann forged the supposed letter from Joseph to Dunham, and it was published in a collection of Joseph's personal writings before the forgery was discovered.

Despite the fact that the document is a forgery, some authors have continued to use it. For example, D. Michael Quinn used it as evidence as late as 1994, and cites the Jessee transcript of the letter (cited above):

The morning of 27 July, Smith sent an order (in his own handwriting) to Major-General Jonathan Dunham to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a military attack on Carthage "immediately" to free the prisoners. Dunham realized that such an assault by the Nauvoo Legion would result in two blood baths—one in Carthage and another when anti-Mormons (and probably the Illinois militia) retaliated by laying siege to Nauvoo for insurrection. To avoid civil war and the destruction of Nauvoo's population, Dunham refused to obey the order and did not notify Smith of his decision. One of his lieutenants, a former Danite, later complained that Dunham "did not let a single mortal know that he had received such orders."

  • Citing: "Joseph Smith to Jonathan Dunham, 27 June 1844, in Jessee, Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, xxv, 616-17; History of the Church, 6:529. Volume 6 link referred to this order but neither quoted nor summarized it....Allen J. Stout journal, 13; also T. B. H. Stenhouse, The Rocky Mountain Saints...,164n, told the incident without naming Dunham."[79]:141

</blockquote>

There is no mention in History of the Church that Joseph wrote a letter to Dunham urging him to come to their rescue

We note too that the History of the Church citation is also in error; Quinn transposed two numbers; the correct citation is 6:592. Despite this claim, there is no mention in History of the Church that Joseph wrote a letter to Dunham urging him to come to their rescue. Joseph wrote several known letters to Dunham, none of which supports Quinn's claim. The History of the Church entry reads:

"Willard Richards made copies of the orders of Joseph Smith as Mayor to Marshal John P. Greene, and as Lieut.-General to Major-General Jonathan Dunham."

These are clearly the letters referred to earlier in the History of the Church (see 6:493), which say nothing about rescuing the prisoners at Carthage.

Quinn goes on to claim that:

However, another former Danite took self-inflicted retribution for the death of Joseph Smith. When Nauvoo Mormons learned that Jonathan Dunham had ignored the prophet's direct order to lead the Nauvoo Legion in a rescue at Carthage Jail, some called him a "coward and traitor." Others dismissed him as a "fool and idiot."....[79]:179

He here uses the same citation as before: the Jesse volume, with its forged Hofmann document.

Quinn's retraction and the error's perpetuation

In 1995, Quinn wrote a letter in which he acknowledged his reference to the forged document and included and explanation:

While vacationing in California during January, I received a telephone call informing me that my newly published book Mormon Hierarchy had cited a Hoffman-forged letter to Jonathan Dunham in the source notes. I'll spare you my immediate reaction, but it was stronger than "Oh hell!"....

The only parts of the Dunham letter I used were the variant date (a day later than History of the Church) and the word "immediately," but during my rushed revision of this passage I mistyped the month in my narrative. I should have caught my misstatement that Joseph Smith wrote these orders a month after his June death, but I never saw that error. Nor did I see the typographical error of transposing the page-number citation in History of the Church for the letter.[80]

Quinn continues to insist on his misreading of the History of the Church entry (see discussion above), only correcting his typographical error in the citation (6:592 instead of 6:529).

Quinn ignores that he also claimed (without evidence save from the forgery) that the writing was "in his [Joseph's] own handwriting."

Quinn went on to claim that he could only locate this information in Silitoe and Roberts' 1988 volume Salamander. While the information is available in Salamander (see pp. 110, 132, 282, 547, and plate 37), this was not the only source available. The letter's forged status was also discussed in Dialogue 21/4 (Winter 1988): 170. BYU Studies included a long list of forged documents and other material related to the Hofmann forgeries in 1989, including the Dunham letter.[81] Deseret Book and Dean Jesse had also released an errata sheet for his Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, which was available by DATE. [citation needed]

Quinn made corrections for the 1997 printing of Origins of Power. However, his publisher issued the New Mormon Studies CD-ROM in 1998, but still included Quinn's erroneous 1994 version in this digital product.

Quinn: distorting another source

Quinn tries to provide extra proof by writing that:

Later general authority Seymour B. Young (who had survived the Haun's Mill massacre) recorded a different story he learned from another former Danite. Ever since the martyrdom, Dunham "seemed to grieve over the matter" of not rescuing the prisoners at Carthage, and the anniversary of the prophet's death pushed him into despair. A month later he persuaded "a friendly Indian" (Dana) "to kill and bury him."[79]:179

For this claim, Quinn appeals again to Stenhouse (who, as noted above, mentioned no names and could have had no personal knowledge of these events), and to an Oliver B. Huntington statement, in Seymour B. Young diary, 23 May 1903, LDS archives. But, this supposed confirmation turns out to be nothing of the sort. Dean Jessee wrote, in a review of Quinn's work that

In his treatment of Joseph Smith's death, Quinn refers to the statement by Allen Stout that Joseph, in Carthage Jail, had ordered Jonathan Dunham, commander of the Nauvoo Legion, to bring the legion and rescue him; and that Dunham did not respond (p. 141). Quinn quotes Seymour Young's 1903 conversation with Oliver Huntington, reporting that Dunham "seemed to grieve over the matter" of failing to rescue Joseph; depressed, Dunham persuaded a friendly Indian to kill and bury him (pp. 179-80). But Quinn has altered the Young conversation with Huntington to support Stout's story that Joseph had sent for the Nauvoo Legion. According to Young, Huntington informed him that, in the spring of 1844, Joseph told Dunham to fortify Nauvoo so the Saints could make a stand against their enemies. Dunham's depression after the martyrdom was over his failure to complete the fortification; he felt that had he done so, the Prophet might not have had to go to Carthage in the first place.[82]:167

Jessee makes no mention of Quinn's further difficulties in using the forged Hofmann document years after its status as a fraud was revealed. Thus, the case for Joseph's order to Dunham rests only on Stout's account. Stenhouse mentions the story, but he was in England at the time. He could have had no independent confirmation.

This does not stop Quinn from later, in his timeline, acting as if his entire scenario is well-proven:

28 July. Jonathan Dunham, despondent about disobeying Smith's orders to rescue him from jail, commits suicide. Later disclosures indicate that Dunham, who was a captain of Nauvoo's police, major-general of the Nauvoo Legion, and a Council of Fifty member, accomplished the suicide by asking a native American friend (Lewis Dana, fellow member of the Fifty) to "kill and bury him."[79]:652

No references are provided, a deficiency which reviewers have noted.[83]

Joseph's orders to Dunham

June 17, 1844: Joseph issued three letters of instruction which impacted Dunham. The first was to John P. Greene, marshal of the city:

SIR.—Complaint having been made to me on oath that a mob is collecting at sundry points to make an attack on this city, you will therefore take such measures as shall be necessary to preserve the peace of said city according to the provisions of the charter and the laws of the state; and with the police and the Legion, see that no violent set is committed. General Dunham is hereby instructed to act with the Marshal in keeping the peace, according to law.

The second two letters addressed Dunham directly:

Complaint having been made on oath that a mob is preparing to make an attack upon this city and citizens of Nauvoo, and having directed the Marshal to keep the peace, you are hereby commanded to order the Nauvoo Legion to be in readiness to assist said Marshal in keeping the peace, and doing whatever may be necessary to preserve the dignity of the state and city....

You are hereby instructed to execute all orders of the Marshal, and perform all services with as little noise and confusion as possible, and take every precaution to prevent groups of citizens, &c., from gathering on the bank of the river, on the landing of boats or otherwise, and allay every cause and pretext of excitement as well as suspicion, and let your operations be efficient and decided.[84]:493

On June 18, 1844 Joseph declared martial law

On the 20th Joseph said, "I went with my staff and Major-General Dunham to the prairie, to view the situation of the ground, and to devise plans for the defense of the city, and select the proper locations to meet the mob, and made arrangements for provisions for the city, instructing my agent to pledge my farms for the purpose."[84]:507 On the evening of the 22nd, Dunham was instructed to have the legion cohorts use entrenching tools to prepare the city's defense.[84]:528

On June 22, 1844 Joseph instructed Dunham by letter to prepare the city for defense

Joseph wrote to Dunham,

You will proceed without delay, with the assistance of the Nauvoo Legion, to prepare the background [Eastern part] of said city for defense against an invasion by mobs, cause the Legion to be furnished with tents, and make your encampment in the vicinity of your labor.[84]:532

On June 24, 1844 Joseph instructed Dunham to comply with the governor's order for the Nauvoo Legion to return state arms

Joseph instructed Dunham to comply with the governor's order for the Nauvoo Legion to return state arms.[84]:556 The next day, Joseph and Hyrum surrendered themselves and went to Carthage.

Joseph returned to surrender himself to the Illinois governor, Thomas Ford, after being appealed to by Emma and others

Joseph was safely away in Iowa with Hyrum. He returned to surrender himself to the Illinois governor, Thomas Ford, after being appealed to by Emma and others. Emma reported that Joseph said, "I will die before I will be called a coward."[85]

Joseph also remarked that "If my life is of no value to my friends [those in Nauvoo who were urging him to return for fear of the mob] it is of none to myself....if they had let me alone there would have been no bloodshed but now I expect to be butchered. Hyrum likewise remarked that "We had better go back and die like men." And, on the way out of Nauvoo to Carthage, Joseph was reported to say, "I go like a lamb to the slaughter."[86]

Joseph's attitude in Carthage

On 25 June, Joseph wrote a letter to Emma from Carthage

Joseph wrote,

There was a little mutiny among the "Carthage Greys"; but I think the Gov. has & will succeed in enforcing the laws. I do hope the people of Nauvoo will continue placid pacific & prayerful.

N.B. Governor Ford has just concluded to send some of his malitia to Nauvoo to protect the citizens, & I wish that I they may be kindly treated. They will co-ope=rate with the police to keep the peace of the city The Governors orders will be read in hearing of the police & officers of the Legion, as I suppose.[87]

Joseph hopes Mormons will remain "placid, pacific, and prayerful." He notes that the state militia will keep peace in Nauvoo—a sure obstacle to any attempt to call out the militia.

Joseph wrote to Emma, from Carthage (8:20 am) on 27 June 1844 asked her to tell Dunham to instruct people to stay home

...I want you to tell Bro Dunham to instruct the people to stay at home and attend to their own business and let there be no groups or gathering together unless by permission of the Gov— they are called together to receive communications from the Gov— which would please our people, but let the Gov. direct. —Bro Dunham of course, will obey the orders of the Government officers, and render them the assistance they require....I am very much resigned to my lot knowing I am Justified and have done the best that could be done give my love to the children[88]

Joseph is here forbidding assembly of the people, a necessary prelude to any attempt to rescue him or Hyrum.

Joseph's last letter to was to lawyer Orville H. Browning on 27 June 1844

Joseph's last known letter was to an attorney he wished to add to his legal defense:

Myself and brother Hyrum are in Jail on [a] charge of Treason, to come up for examination on Saturday morning 29th inst. and we request your professional services at that time, on our defence without fail....P.S. There is no ground of action, for we have not been guilty of any crime; neither is there any just cause of suspicion against us when facts are shown but certain circumstances make your attendance very necessary.[89]


Response to claim: 199, 548n133 (PB) - The author asserts that Jonathan Dunham never brought the Nauvoo Legion because "perhaps he was secretly dissatisfied with Smith's leadership"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author asserts that Jonathan Dunham never brought the Nauvoo Legion because "perhaps he was secretly dissatisfied with Smith's leadership"

Author's sources: No source provided.

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

This is plenty of evidence that Dunham had great respect for Joseph. Dunham later expressed guilt because he believed that had he finished the fortification of Nauvoo in time, Joseph would not have gone to Carthage.

Response to claim: 199, 548n133 - Is it true, as Brodie claims, that nobody in Nauvoo other than Jonathan Dunham "knew of the prophet's peril"?

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

Is it true, as Brodie claims, that nobody in Nauvoo other than Jonathan Dunham "knew of the prophet's peril"?

Author's sources: Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 392. ( Index of claims )

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This claim is nonsense. Everyone in Nauvoo knew the risk to Joseph—but they were ordered to stay home and stay calm, for fear of mob action against the whole city.


Response to claim: 199 - The author states that Joseph had been "smuggled a six-shooter"

The author(s) of One Nation Under Gods make(s) the following claim:

The author states that Joseph had been "smuggled a six-shooter"

FairMormon Response


Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

A pepperbox pistol was smuggled into the jail and given to Joseph. The author here again seems to follow Fawn Brodie's wording without attribution: "Joseph had a six-shooter...which had been smuggled in by friends...." (Brodie, 393).

Notes

  1. Letter from Joseph Smith to Emma Smith, June 6, 1832, Greenville, Indiana; Chicago Historical Society, Chicago, Illinois.
  2. History of the Church 5:401.
  3. "Webb is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. He is a graduate of Wabash College and earned his PhD at the University of Chicago before returning to his alma mater to teach. Born in 1961 he grew up at Englewood Christian Church, an evangelical church. He joined the Disciples of Christ during He was briefly a Lutheran, and on Easter Sunday, 2007, he officially came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church."
  4. Stephen H. Webb, "Godbodied: The Matter of the Latter-day Saints (reprint from his book Jesus Christ, Eternal God: Heavenly Flesh and the Metaphysics of Matter (Oxford University Press, 2012)," Brigham Young University Studies 50 no. 3 (2011). (emphasis added)
  5. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 6:408. Volume 6 link
  6. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:332.
  7. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods Endnote 21, page 543 (hardback); page 541 (paperback).
  8. S. Dilworth Young, "A Scholar, A Gentle Man, President Levi Edgar Young," Improvement Era, January 1964: 40.
  9. Levi Edgar Young in Conference Report, April 1920, Afternoon Session.
  10. Levi Edgar Young in Conference Report, April 1929, Afternoon Meeting.
  11. S. Dilworth Young, "A Scholar, A Gentle Man, President Levi Edgar Young," Improvement Era, January 1964: 19-20.
  12. Ibid., 19.
  13. From Hare Krishna to the Latter-Day Saints, and from Jehovah's Witnesses to the New Age, religious pluralism in North American presents evangelical Protestantism with significant challenges. Declaring newer religious groups "cults," "aberrant sects," and "heretical religions," the Christian countercult movement has warned that these groups represent a threat to society. [Douglas E. Cowan, Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Countercult (Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 2003), book jacket.] "Countercult journalist Richard Abanes, for example, in Cults, New Religious Movements, and Your Family, writes of "ten non-Christian groups out to convert your loved ones"--among others, the Church of Scientology, the Church of Satan, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1998b)." (Ibid., p. 40.)
  14. Brigham Young, "LIGHT OF THE SPIRIT—COURSE OF MISSIONARIES," (9 September 1860) Journal of Discourses 8:176-177.
  15. Alan Goff, "Dan Vogel's Family Romance and the Book of Mormon as Smith Family Allegory (Review of: Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet)," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 321–400. [{{{url}}} off-site]
  16. 16.0 16.1 Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945). ( Index of claims )
  17. Charles L. Cohen, "No Man Knows My Psychology: Fawn Brodie, Joseph Smith, and Psychoanalysis," Brigham Young University Studies 44 no. 1, 68.
  18. Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 44, note 135. ( Index of claims )
  19. 19.0 19.1 Andrew H. Hedges and Dawson W. Hedges, "No, Dan, That's Still Not History (Review of: Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, by Dan Vogel)," FARMS Review 17/1 (2005): 205–222. [{{{url}}} off-site]
  20. Hugh W. Nibley, Tinkling Cymbals and Sounding Brass: The Art of Telling Tales About Joseph Smith and Brigham Young (Vol. 11 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by David J. Whittaker, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 128. ISBN 0875795161. GL direct link
  21. This wiki article was originally based on a personal message from Daniel C. Peterson. It has since been subject to editing and additions because of the nature of a wiki project.
  22. "By 27 June 1844, the date of Joseph Smith's death, the manuscript of the history [of the Church] had been completed only to 5 August 1838 and published [in the Times and Seasons] to December 1831." Dean C. Jessee, "The Reliability of Joseph Smith's History," Journal of Mormon History 3/1 (1976), 23–46. PDF link
  23. For those who want a better handle on Joseph Smith's true character, a good resource is Mark L. McConkie, Remembering Joseph: Personal Recollections of Those Who Knew the Prophet Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 2003).(print version) ISBN 978-1570089633 GL direct link
  24. Richard Abanes, One Nation under Gods (New York: Four Walls eight Windows, 2002), 178.
  25. Ibid.
  26. George Q. Cannon, The Life of Joseph Smith, the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1986), 431, emphasis added.
  27. Joseph Smith, History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 5 (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1978), 302.
  28. Richard Abanes, One Nation under Gods, page 179 (hardback)
  29. One Nation under Gods, page 178 (paperback)
  30. Richard Abanes, One Nation under Gods, page 179 (hardback and paperback)
  31. Jedediah M. Grant, (24 September 1854) Journal of Discourses 3:67.
  32. James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd edition revised and enlarged, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992[1976]), 168–169. ISBN 087579565X. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  33. See 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16
  34. Andrew F. Ehat, "'It Seems Like Heaven Began on Earth': Joseph Smith and the Constitution of the Kingdom of God," Brigham Young University Studies 20 no. 3 (1980), 260-61.
  35. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 468–469.
  36. Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, Endnote 98, page 548 (hardback); page 546 (paperback).
  37. Gustive O. Larson, "The Legend of Porter Rockwell, review of Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder, by Harold Schindle," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 1 no. 4 (Winter 1966), 115.
  38. Eugene E. Campbell, "Revised But Unchanged, review of Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder, by Harold Schindle," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 16 no. 4 (Winter 1983), 149.
  39. Monte B. McLaws, "The Attempted Assassination of Missouri's Ex-Governor, Lilburn W. Boggs," Missouri Historical Review LX (October 1965), 50-62.
  40. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 468–469.
  41. See: Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:86–87. Volume 5 link Brigham H. Roberts, Comprehensive History of the Church (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1965), 2:150. GospeLink (requires subscrip.) Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts : a Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 97. ISBN 0252069803.
  42. See: Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:179, 205–231. 205–231 Volume 5 link Edwin Brown Firmage and Richard Collin Mangrum, Zion in the Courts : a Legal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830–1900 (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988), 100. ISBN 0252069803.
  43. Samuel Katich, "A Tale of Two Marriage Systems: Perspectives on Polyandry and Joseph Smith," Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 2003.
  44. Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910 (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 29. ISBN 0252026810.
  45. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014)
  46. Wikipedia, "Levirate marriage," off-site (Accessed May 18, 2014)
  47. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 16. ( Index of claims )
  48. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  49. John Dehlin, "Questions and Answers," Mormon Stories Podcast (25 June 2014).
  50. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor,” Utah Law Review 9 (1965):874.  (Key source)
  51. Oaks, 897–898.
  52. "Today in History, November 7," United States Library of Congress. off-site
  53. Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1922), 134. See also Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:390–395. Volume 1 link; Anonymous, "A History, of the Persecution, of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day Saints in Missouri," Times and Seasons 1 no. 2 (December 1839), 18. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  54. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:338–339. Volume 1 link
  55. James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, Story of the Latter-day Saints, 2nd edition revised and enlarged, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1992[1976]), 208. ISBN 087579565X. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  56. Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America: The Power and the Promise, (New York:HarperCollins Publishers, 2000), 16. ( Index of claims )
  57. Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 114; citing Diary of George Laub, BYU Special Collections, 18.
  58. Journal of Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, BYU Special Collections, 7; cited by Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1989), 103.
  59. Joseph Smith, Discourse of 9 April 1842, Wilford Woodruff Diary; cited in Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook, The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of Joseph Smith, 2nd Edition, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), 112.
  60. William Law to Isaac Russell, 29 November 1840, Archives Division, Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah, as cited in Lyndon W. Cook, William Law (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Co., 1994), 11; cited by Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 1997), 173.
  61. William Law, "Record of Doings at Nauvoo in 1844" (William Law's Nauvoo diary), as cited in Lyndon W. Cook, William Law (Orem, Utah: Grandin Book Co., 1994), 46; cited by Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 1997), 176.
  62. Joseph W. McMurrin, "An Interesting Testimony / Mr. Law’s Testimony," Improvement Era (May 1903), 507–510.
  63. Wilson may or may not have been a member. He was not a member when he came to Nauvoo, but is later mentioned as having been “excommunicated.” We have no record of his baptism.
  64. Nauvoo Expositor, “Resolution 4”, (7 June 1844): 2; cited in Lyndon W. Cook, "William Law, Nauvoo Dissenter," Brigham Young University Studies 22 no. 1 (Fall 1982), 47–72.
  65. Cook, "Nauvoo Dissenter."
  66. Dr. W. Wyl interview with William Law in Shullsburg, Wisconsin, 30 March 1887, published in The Salt Lake Daily Tribune, 31 July 1887, 6; cited by Cook, "Nauvoo Dissenter"
  67. See Cook, "Nauvoo Dissenter."
  68. William Law, "Record of Doings at Nauvoo in 1844," 13 May 1844; cited by Cook, "Nauvoo Dissenter"
  69. Francis M. Higbee, “Citizens of Hancock County,” Nauvoo Expositor (7 June 1844).
  70. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 5:18–19. Volume 5 link
  71. Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants (Salt Lake: Deseret Book, 1997), 14; see also Zeruiah N. Goddard, affidavit, August 28, 1842 in Affidavits and Certificates, Disproving the Statements and Affidavits Contained in John C. Bennett's Letters (Nauvoo, no publisher, 31 August 1842); cited by Danel W. Bachman, “A Study of the Mormon Practice of Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” (1975) (unpublished M.A. thesis, Purdue University), 225.
  72. Bachman, “Polygamy Before the Death of Joseph Smith,” 225; citing L.D. Wasson to Joseph Smith, 29 July 1842 in Times and Seasons 5:891-892.
  73. Orson F. Whitney, History of Utah, 4 volumes, (Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon and Sons Co., 1892-1904), 1:193–194; cited in Roy W. Doxy, Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Volume 4, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1978), 255–257.
  74. Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, 392.
  75. William Clayton and George D. Smith (editor), An Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1995), xxx (entry dated [citation needed]).
  76. Note that Bushman ignores the claim about a private letter to Dunham: Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 548.
  77. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), {{{pages}}}.
  78. Allen D. Roberts, "'The Truth is the Most Important Thing': The New Mormon History According to Mark Hofmann," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 20 no. 4 (Winter 1987), 92. See also second edition of Jessee's Personal Writings where he lists the five forged documents that have been removed (p. xix).
  79. 79.0 79.1 79.2 79.3 D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power (Signature Books, 1994), {{{pages}}}.
  80. "D. Michael Quinn's Responses To Questions About Use of Sources in the 1994 Publication of Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," (9 February 1995). off-site
  81. Anonymous, "The Mark Hofmann Case: A Bibliographical Guide," Brigham Young University Studies 29 no. 1 (Winter 1989), 104–124. off-site
  82. Dean C. Jessee, "review of The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," Journal of Mormon History 22:2 (Fall 1996): {{{start}}}.
  83. "In a work where source notes are taken as seriously as they are in this book, it is unfortunate that they were not included in appendices 6 (Biographical Sketches) and 7 (Selected Chronology). The careful student needs to be able to weigh the evidence for the extensive and sometimes sensational information that is given here." - Jessee, review of Mormon Hierarchy, 167–168.
  84. 84.0 84.1 84.2 84.3 84.4 History of the Church. Volume 6 link
  85. Elder Edmund C. Briggs, "A Visit to Nauvoo in 1856," Journal of History [Reorganized] 9 (October 1916): 453-54; cited by Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 27 n. 65. ISBN 025200762X.
  86. Dallin H. Oaks and Marvin S. Hill, Carthage Conspiracy, the Trial of the Accused Assassins of Joseph Smith (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1979), 17. ISBN 025200762X. Sources cited are: (a) History of the Church, 6:549. Volume 6 link (b) "Journal of Wandle Mace," 144 (c) Editor, "Editorial," Times and Seasons 5 (15 July 1844), 585. off-site GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  87. Dean C. Jessee, The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, revised edition, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 2002), 603-604.
  88. Jessee, Personal Writings, 611.
  89. Jessee, Personal Writings, 612.