Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/Letter to a CES Director/Prophets Concerns & Questions

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    Response to "Prophets Concerns & Questions"


A FairMormon Analysis of: Letter to a CES Director
A work by author: Jeremy Runnells
Claim Evaluation
Letter to a CES Director
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Responses to various revisions of the "Letter to a CES Director" and associated documents by the same author

Response to claim: "Brigham Young taught what is now known as 'Adam-God theory'. He taught that Adam is 'our Father and our God'"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The author states, "President Brigham Young taught what is now known as “Adam-God theory”. He taught that Adam is “our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do”. Young not only taught this doctrine over the pulpit at the 1852 and 1854 General Conferences but he also introduced this doctrine as the Lecture at the Veil in the endowment ceremony of the Temple."

FairMormon Response



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

This is correct.

Question: What is the Adam-God Theory?

Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father

Brigham Young taught that Adam, the first man, was God the Father. Since this teaching runs counter to the story told in Genesis and commonly accepted by Christians, critics accuse Brigham of being a false prophet. Also, because modern Latter-day Saints do not believe Brigham's "Adam-God" teachings, critics accuse Mormons of either changing their teachings or rejecting teachings of prophets they find uncomfortable or unsupportable.

Brigham never developed the teaching into something that could be reconciled with LDS scripture and presented as official doctrine

Brigham Young appears to have believed and taught Adam-God, but he never developed the teaching into something that could be reconciled with LDS scripture and presented as official doctrine. Therefore, we simply don't know what Brigham Young meant, and modern leaders have warned us about accepting traditional explanations of Adam-God. Since the Church has rejected it, we won't be able to answer the question until the Lord sees fit to reveal more about it.

The Church's official position is that Adam-God is not the doctrine of the Church

Regardless of which approach the reader prefers to accept, the Church's official position on Adam-God is clear: as popularly understood, Adam-God (i.e., "Adam, the first man, was identical with Elohim/God the Father") is not the doctrine of the Church. If there are any particles of truth to anything surrounding the Adam-God doctrine, one would expect those things to harmonize with what has already been revealed. Only further revelation from the Lord's anointed would be able to clear up many points surrounding that doctrine.


Stephen E. Robinson: "Yet another way in which anti-Mormon critics often misrepresent LDS doctrine is in the presentation of anomalies as though they were the doctrine of the Church"

BYU professor Stephen E. Robinson wrote:

Yet another way in which anti-Mormon critics often misrepresent LDS doctrine is in the presentation of anomalies as though they were the doctrine of the Church. Anomalies occur in every field of human endeavor, even in science. An anomaly is something unexpected that cannot be explained by the existing laws or theories, but which does not constitute evidence for changing the laws and theories. An anomaly is a glitch.... A classic example of an anomaly in the LDS tradition is the so-called "Adam-God theory." During the latter half of the nineteenth century Brigham Young made some remarks about the relationship between Adam and God that the Latter-day Saints have never been able to understand. The reported statements conflict with LDS teachings before and after Brigham Young, as well as with statements of President Young himself during the same period of time. So how do Latter-day Saints deal with the phenomenon? We don't; we simply set it aside. It is an anomaly. On occasion my colleagues and I at Brigham Young University have tried to figure out what Brigham Young might have actually said and what it might have meant, but the attempts have always failed. The reported statements simply do not compute—we cannot make sense out of them. This is not a matter of believing it or disbelieving it; we simply don't know what "it" is. If Brigham Young were here we could ask him what he actually said and what he meant by it, but he is not here.... For the Latter-day Saints, however, the point is moot, since whatever Brigham Young said, true or false, was never presented to the Church for a sustaining vote. It was not then and is not now a doctrine of the Church, and...the Church has merely set the phenomenon aside as an anomaly.[1]


Matthew Brown (2009): "Brigham Young repeated these ideas and expounded upon them during the next 25 years. His viewpoints have been variously classified as doctrine, theory, paradox, heresy, speculation, and some of the mysteries"

Matthew Brown:

On the 9th of April 1852 President Brigham Young stepped up to the pulpit in the old tabernacle on Temple Square and informed a group of Elders, who had gathered there for General Conference, that he was going to straighten them out on an issue which they had been debating about. The topic of disagreement centered upon who was the Father of Jesus Christ in the flesh—Elohim or the Holy Ghost. President Young surprised the people who were in attendance by announcing that it was neither one of them....Brigham Young repeated these ideas and expounded upon them during the next 25 years. His viewpoints have been variously classified as doctrine, theory, paradox, heresy, speculation, and some of the mysteries.[2]—(Click here to continue)


Response to claim: "Yesterday's doctrine is today's false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic."

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Along with Adam-God, Young taught a doctrine known as “Blood Atonement” where a person’s blood had to be shed to atone for their own sins as it was beyond the atonement of Jesus Christ....The doctrine was later declared false by future prophets and apostles. Yesterday's doctrine is today's false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic.

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 Church does not consider past prophets "heretics" simply because some of the things that they taught are no longer taught.
Logical Fallacy: Black-or-White
The author presents two alternative states as the only two possibilities, when more possibilities exist.

The author does not allow prophets to be fallible: he presumes that they must either be "prophets" or "heretics."

Question: If a doctrine is repudiated, does that mean that it was false when it was being taught?

Some ideas that were once taught are now considered false

Several teachings that were once considered doctrinal in the 19th-century Church have been repudiated by the modern Church. Among these are polygamy, the "Adam-God theory," the priesthood ban on members of African descent, and "blood atonement."

In the case of the "Adam-God theory," there was disagreement within the Church leadership regarding whether or not the teaching was true. The teaching was specifically repudiated by the Church.

Some ideas that were taught are considered to be true, but no longer authorized

On the other hand, the practice of polygamy was institutionalized within the Church and was only stopped when it became necessary in order for the Church to progress. Although the Church repudiates the practice of polygamy today, it does not repudiate the practice of polygamy among early Church members in the 19th-century. In other words, it does not consider the doctrine of polygamy to be false for the time - it would only consider it to be "false," in a sense, for the present day among living members of the Church.


Neil L. Andersen: "The doctrine...is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk...The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men"

Neil L. Andersen:

A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.

The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father … ; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Ether 12:6) [3]


Question: Does the repudiation of a doctrine that was once taught by a prophet mean that that prophet is now considered a "heretic"?

If a doctrine that was once taught by a past prophet is rejected by a later prophet, we do not consider the earlier prophet to be a "heretic": We simply consider him to be human

Certain doctrines that applied to 19th-Century and 20th-Century Latter-day Saints were indeed later repudiated. If a doctrine that was once taught by a past prophet is rejected by a later prophet, we do not consider the earlier prophet to be a "heretic": We simply consider him to be human. For example, Brigham Young taught Adam-God and "blood atonement," yet we do not today consider Brigham to be a heretic. We simply disregard those teachings which have been repudiated. Any Latter-day Saint who attends church will be fully aware that Brigham Young is not considered to be a heretic.


Response to claim: "Brigham Young said, 'The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.'"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

[Brigham Young said] "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy." – Journal of Discourses 11:269

Provenance of this claim:
Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism, 29.

FairMormon Response



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

If you read the entire passage from which this quote is taken, you will see that Brigham is also acknowledging those who do not actually practice plural marriage. Critics of the Church, however, only extract this single phrase.
Logical Fallacy: Contextomy (Citing out of context)
The author has created a false attribution in which he or she removed a passage by an authority from its surrounding context in such a way as to distort or reverse its intended meaning.

Question: Is plural marriage required in order to achieve exaltation?

Brigham Young said "The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy"

Critics of the Church point to a statement made by Brigham Young to make the claim that Latter-day Saints believe that one must practice plural marriage in order to achieve exaltation: [4] Brigham Young once said,

The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 11:269.)

This quotation is often used in anti-Mormon sources. They do not include the surrounding text which explains what Brigham Young had in mind on this occasion (italics show text generally not cited by those trying to worry modern-day readers):

Brigham Young also said "if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith"

We wish to obtain all that father Abraham obtained. I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us...It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: "We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character and office, etc,"—the man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them.[5]

Brigham was stating that the command to practice plural marriage was from God, and it is wrong to seek to abolish a command from God

It is clear that Brigham was making several points which the critics ignore:

  • The command to practice plural marriage is from God, and it is wrong to seek to abolish a command from God.
  • To obtain the blessings of Abraham, the Saints were required to be "polygamists at least in your faith": i.e., it was not necessary that each enter into plural marriage in practice, but that they accept that God spoke to His prophets.
  • It was wrong to avoid plural marriage for worldly, selfish reasons, such as believing the Church would fail, and hoping to have political or monetary rewards afterward.
  • Faithful Saints cannot expect to receive "all that the Father has" if they willfully disobey God. When the people have "had blessings offered unto them," and if they refuse to obey, God will withhold blessings later because of that disobedience now.

Finally, it must be remembered that Brigham Young is speaking to a group who had been commanded to live the law of polygamy. There is no basis for speculating about what he would have said to a group who did not have that commandment given to them, as present-day members do not.


Question: Did Brigham Young believe that one could not enter the Celestial Kingdom unless they were a polygamist?

Wilford Woodruff: "President Young said there would be men saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God with one wife with Many wives & with No wife at all"

I attended the school of the prophets. Brother John Holeman made a long speech upon the subject of Poligamy. He Contended that no person Could have a Celestial glory unless He had a plurality of wives. Speeches were made By L. E. Harrington O Pratt Erastus Snow, D Evans J. F. Smith Lorenzo Young. President Young said there would be men saved in the Celestial Kingdom of God with one wife with Many wives & with No wife at all.[6]

Wilford Woodruff: President Young...said a Man may Embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart & not take the Second wife & be justified before the Lord

Then President Young spoke 58 Minuts. He said a Man may Embrace the Law of Celestial Marriage in his heart & not take the Second wife & be justified before the Lord.[7]


Seminary Teacher Resource Manual: "We have no knowledge that plural marriage will be a requirement for exaltation"

"Doctrine and Covenants 132," Seminary Teacher Resource Manual on LDS.org:

Note: Avoid sensationalism and speculation when talking about plural marriage. Sometimes teachers speculate that plural marriage will be a requirement for all who enter the celestial kingdom. We have no knowledge that plural marriage will be a requirement for exaltation.[8]


Question: Did other Church leaders believe that plural marriage was a requirement for exaltation?

Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor did not believe that polygamy was a requirement for exaltation

When a debate in the School of the Prophets arose when one claimed that "no man who has only one wife in this probation can ever enter [the] Celestial kingdom," both Wilford Woodruff and John Taylor disagreed.[9]

George Q. Cannon believed that there would be men in the Celestial Kingdom with only one wife

George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, noted in 1884 that "he believed there would be men in the Celestial Kingdom that had but one wife," and in 1900 a counselor to Wilford Woodruff remembered Brigham Young "proposed that we marry but one wife."[10] Cannon said that "I am perfectly satisfied there are men who will be counted worthy of that glory who never had a wife; there are men probably in this world now, who will receive exaltation, who never had a wife at all, or probably had but one."[11]

Wilford Woodruff and others claimed that they had never heard Joseph Smith teach that one had to have more than one wife to be exalted

In 1892, Wilford Woodruff and others were asked, in essence, "if Joseph Smith had ever taught you at Nauvoo or anywhere else during his lifetime, that in order for a man to be exalted in the hereafter, he must have more than one wife?"

Woodruff
I don't know that I ever heard him make use of that expression or use that form of expression.
Bathsheba W. Smith
I never heard of that.
Joseph C. Kingbury
No sir. He did not teach me that. He did not say anything about that....I heard it preached from the stand that a man could be exalted in eternity with one wife.[12]

Daniel H. Wells stated the plural marriage was only practiced after one had a thorough understanding of the doctrine

Daniel H. Wells, second councilor to Brigham Young, made it clear that plural marriage was then a commandment, but it was necessary to obey only when they had "a thorough understanding" of the doctrine and "other circumstances [were] favorable" for practicing it:

It [plural marriage] was a doctrine of the church that when male members came to a thorough understanding of the revelation on the principle of plural or celestial marriage, and other circumstances being favorable, if they failed to obey it they would be under condemnation, and would be clipped in their glory in the world to come. The circumstances that would excuse a person would be physical incapacity and the like....The doctrine was enjoined upon all male members of the Church whose circumstances were favorable to their taking a plurality of wives.[13]


Response to claim: "The same God who 'denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female' is the same God who denied blacks from the saving ordinances"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The same God who "denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female" is the same God who denied blacks from the saving ordinances of the Temple for 130 years.

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 of Mormon scripture being referred to is not talking about skin color - the phrase "black and white" in the Book of Mormon is synonymous with the phrases "the wicked and the righteous" and "whether out of the church or in the church".

Question: Does the Book of Mormon scripture "he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female" (2 Nephi 26:33) refer to race?

A comparison of three examples from the Book of Mormon shows that the words "black" and "white" in this context mean "wicked" and "righteous"

Marvin Perkins notes a pattern that indicates that the words "black and white" in the Book of Mormon are synonymous with "wicked and righteous" and "out of the church or in the church".[14]

2 Nephi 26:33:

and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Alma 1:30:

and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need

Alma 11:44:

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous

Perkins concludes,

Now, in Alma 1:30 and behold “…they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young,” (there’s your pattern) “…bond and free… male and female, whether out of the church or in the church,” There’s your black or white.

How about Alma 11: 44? “Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free… male and female,” (again, there’s your pattern) “both the wicked and the righteous.”


Question: How is it possible for a Church leader or prophet to have been influenced by racism, yet be consistent with the Lord not allowing prophets to lead the Church astray?

The goal of the Church is to bring people unto Christ

This is a difficult question. At face value, the idea that the Lord will not allow prophets to lead us astray seems to be in direct conflict with the Church acknowledging that early Church leaders and prophets were influenced by certain racist tendencies of their times. For example, how could the Priesthood ban have been implemented and yet be consistent with the prophets "not leading the Church astray?".

The first thing we must do is step back and see what the Church and prophets are all about.

What is the goal of the church?

According to Spencer W. Kimball, and reaffirmed by the other prophets it is as follows:

First, to proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people; Secondly, to perfect the Saints by preparing them to receive the ordinances of the gospel and by instruction and discipline to gain exaltation; Thirdly, to redeem the dead by performing vicarious ordinances of the gospel for those who have lived on the earth. (See Ensign, May 1981, p. 5.) All three are part of one work—to assist our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ, in their grand and glorious mission “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) I renew that declaration today. [15]


The purpose of the Gospel is to bring people to Jesus Christ. The Church is the organization that Jesus set up on the Earth to bring people back to Jesus and back to God so we can be joint heirs with Christ. (Romans 8:17.)

The prophets will not lead the Church astray from the mission of leading people to Christ: This does not exempt prophets from saying or doing things that are incorrect

Will the prophets lead us astray from this mission. No. They won't. They will keep us on that path and we should follow them.

Will they say things, do things, and even make policy that isn't the best, or even is incorrect. Certainly. Just as one example, Joseph Fielding Smith did not believe that men would even go to the moon. He stated in the first edition of Answers to Gospel Questions,

Naturally the wonders in the heavens that man has created will be numbered among the signs which have been predicted—the airplanes, the guided missiles, and man-made planets that revolve around the earth. Keep it in mind, however, that such man-made planets belong to this earth, and it is doubtful that man will ever be permitted to make any instrument or ship to travel through space and visit the moon or any distant planet.[16]

He later accepted a flag from the Apollo astronauts. When asked about this by a reporter, he stated, "Well, I was wrong, wasn't I?"

In Jonah chapter 3 it says,

4 And Jonah began to enter into the city a day’s journey, and he cried, and said, Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.

But Nineveh wasn't overthrown. The people repented and the Lord spared them. This really upset Jonah. (This doesn't even get into the fact that he first ran away.)

The Lord uses imperfect people to run his Church

The Lord uses imperfect people to run his Church. He has promised he will make it all right in the end.

Karl G. Maeser taught:

On one occasion he was going with a group of young missionaries across the alps. They were crossing a high mountain pass on foot. There were long sticks stuck into the snow of the glacier to mark the path so that travelers could find their way safely across the glacier and down the mountain on the other side.

When they reached the summit, Brother Maeser wanted to teach the young elders a lesson. He stopped at the pinnacle of the mountain and pointed to those sticks that they had followed. And he said, “Brethren, behold the priesthood of God. They are just common old sticks, but it’s the position that counts. Follow them and you will surely be safe. Stray from them and you will surely be lost.” And so it is in the Church. We are called to leadership positions and given the power of the priesthood. And we are just common old sticks, but the position we are given counts. It is separate and apart from us, but while we hold it, we hold it. [17]

If we go in with the expectation that the prophets will never do or say anything wrong, we will be disappointed

If we go in with the expectation that the prophets will never do or say anything wrong, we will be disappointed. There are more examples of this than the one you gave. Even Joseph Smith was reprimanded by God on more than one occasion.

Just a few examples from history (There are also reprimands in the D&C) They started doing Baptism for the dead in the river in Nauvoo - until God stopped them. They started doing sealings of adoption- until God stopped them. Why didn't God stop the race issue? He did...but He just did it later in his time frame for His purpose.

So again, If we go in with the expectation that the prophets will never do or say anything wrong, we will be disappointed. Prophets are learning and are being taught just as we are learning and being taught. Bruce R. McConkie stated that quite clearly. [18]

But, if we go in with the expectation that the prophets will keep us on the Gospel path, complete with the ordinances we need to return to our Heavenly Father, then we will know that the prophets will never lead us astray.

In John 6, Jesus taught hard things:

66 ¶From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

We will get things wrong, because we are NOT Jesus Christ: He allows us to learn as we go along

Jesus has taught the words of eternal life. This is his Church. We will get things wrong, because we are NOT Jesus Christ. He allows us to learn as we go along. The prophets will not lead us astray from that goal of eternal life.

I also fall back onto the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. In my mind, the evidence is very clear. Joseph Smith could not have written the Book of Mormon in 1830. Nobody could have done that. There were things that Joseph Smith and scholars of the day did not know that are contained in the book. They would have written the opposite based on the science of the day.

If the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. It also means we have a prophet today. Will they lead us astray? Is that statement even true that they won't? The prophets will not lead us astray from the Gospel path. Can they be incorrect on other issues-even involving the Church? Yes, they can. But, that isn't why we have a prophet. We have a prophet to help us return to our Heavenly Father. As such, we follow him. God will make it all right in our eternal lives.


Response to claim: "Jimmy Carter’s IRS threatening to revoke the Church’s tax-exempt status"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Jimmy Carter’s IRS threatening to revoke the Church’s tax-exempt status

Provenance of this claim:
MormonThink

FairMormon Response



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

The author takes this alleged "fact" from MormonThink: "Under President Jimmy Carter, Brigham Young University and possibly the LDS Church itself was in danger of losing their tax exempt status if they continued to discriminate against blacks." MormonThink provides no source for this claim. The removal of the Church's tax-exempt status is a longstanding cherished goal of the ex-Mormon community, so it is easy to see why this particular claim is so easily repeated.
Logical Fallacy: Bandwagon (Appeal to the Masses)
The author believes that this claim is true simply because all of his or her buddies believe that it is true, despite the lack of actual evidence supporting it.

The ex-Mormon community believes that this claim is true, yet there is no actual evidence to support it.

Question: Did President Jimmy Carter threaten the Church's tax-exempt status because of their policy on blacks and the priesthood?

President Carter had a brief meeting with President Kimball, Representative Gunn McKay, and Representative Jim Santini on 11 March 1977 at the White House

On March 11, 1977 at 12:03 pm President Carter met with Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Representative Gunn McKay (D-Utah), and Representative Jim Santini (D-Nevada) for approximately 20 minutes in the White House.[19] This meeting, noted in President Carter's White House diary, is popularly rumored among ex-Mormons to be the meeting in which Carter threatened the Church with a rescinding of the Church's tax-exempt status over the issue of the priesthood ban.

An image of a page from President Jimmy Carter's White House diary for the day of 11 March 1977 showing a meeting with President Spencer W. Kimball. The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter Library & Museum off-site

President Carter visited Salt Lake City on November 27 1978 for program in the Salt Lake Tabernacle

One ex-Mormon on the Recovery from Mormonism message board claimed to have located an "the actual photograph" of the 11 March 1977 meeting on LDS.org! [20] That photograph, however, is actually of a meeting in the Tabernacle on November 27, 1978.

President Kimball presents U.S. President Jimmy Carter with statue, Salt Lake Tabernacle, November 27, 1978. Photo located on https://www.lds.org/churchhistory/presidents/controllers/potcController.jsp?leader=12&topic=multimedia#

This meeting was documented in the January 1979 Ensign:

Two presidents saluted the family as one of life’s greatest institutions at a special November 27 program in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, culminating National Family Week in the United States.

Before a capacity crowd, with national and international television cameras whirring, President Spencer W. Kimball urged his listeners to recognize the family as “our chief source of physical, emotional, and moral strength.” He presented United States President Jimmy Carter with a bronze statuette depicting the family circle. The miniature of a father, mother, and child is based on the original work by Utah sculptor Dennis Smith, Circle of Love, one of the pieces in the Relief Society monument to women in Nauvoo. [21]

President Kimball wrote a letter to President Carter in May 1977 to present a copy of Carter's genealogy

President Kimball wrote a letter to President Carter in May 1977, only two months after the March 11 meeting:

W. Don Ladd, Regional Representative of the Twelve, and Thomas E. Daniels of the Genealogical Department of the Church presented a family tree and a leather-bound volume of genealogical information on the Carter family to the President on 31 May.

The book included a letter to President Carter from President Spencer W. Kimball, in which he spoke of the Latter-day Saints’ “deep reverence and gratitude for our ancestors, which in turn gives us greater sense of responsibility to our posterity.”

President Carter found the Church’s research “very exciting to me,” and he said, “I look forward to studying the chart. This is an area of knowledge I’ve never had.” The two-inch thick volume included several 8-by-10-inch pedigree charts and family group sheets, along with a research summary of each line researched and what was still missing from those lines. This is the first time the Church has ever given such a gift to a president of the United States. [22]

The allegation that the LDS church's tax-free status was threatened in 1978 seems to have originated prior to 1988, and resurfaced in 2001

On June 2, 1988, the Chicago Tribune quoted "critics" of the Church as speculating that Kimball's meeting with Carter involved the threat of the Church losing its tax exemption. The Tribune quotes Ogden Kraut, whom they stated was an "an excommunicated Mormon fundamentalist writer-photographer":

Despite church claims that the change came from revelation, critics say the move was pure business, that the Mormons wanted to expand further into black Third World countries and would not be able to do so as long as blacks were discriminated against, and that the Mormon church, the fastest growing mainstream church in the U.S., stood to lose its tax-exempt status for discriminating against blacks.

``We were told by a secretary in the church that Spencer Kimball spent 36 minutes talking to President (Jimmy) Carter, and shortly thereafter, the so-called `revelation` came down,`` said Ogden Kraut, an excommunicated Mormon fundamentalist writer-photographer.

Fundamentalist Mormons take the Bible and the Book of Mormon literally, and insist that God doesn`t make revelations to earthlings, Kraut said.

``My belief is that it was the expedient thing to do. The church didn`t want to lose its exemption,`` Kraut said. [23]

The claim resurfaced in 2001 when a claim that the federal government had threatened to revoke the Church's tax-exempt status back in 1978 was made by a woman named Kathy Erickson in a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune on March 11, 2001. Erickson stated,

Gainful Revelation Date: March 11, 2001

What’s done is done. There no longer is any prejudice against blacks in the Mormon church, the power of money took care of that. Back in 1978 the federal government informed the LDS Church that unless it allowed blacks full membership (including the priesthood) they would have to cease calling themselves a non-profit organization and start paying income taxes. On $16.5 million a day in tithing alone that’s a lot of tax monies that could be better used in building up the Kingdom of God.

The church immediately saw the error of its ways and the brethren appealed to God for a revelation; it came quickly. God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform, and today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has nothing but love for all races of people on Earth.”[24]

A representative of the Church Public Affairs department responded:

Distorted History Thursday, April 5, 2001

It's one thing to distort history, quite another to invent it. Kathy Erickson (Forum, March 11) claims that the federal government threatened The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with its tax-exempt status in 1978 because of the church's position regarding blacks and the priesthood.

We state categorically that the federal government made no such threat in 1978 or at any other time. The decision to extend the blessings of the priesthood to all worthy males had nothing to do with federal tax policy or any other secular law. In the absence of proof, we conclude that Ms. Erickson is seriously mistaken.

BRUCE L. OLSEN Public Affairs Department The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [25]


Response to claim: "Of course, the revelation...has absolutely nothing to do with...Stanford and other universities boycotting BYU athletics"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Of course, the revelation...has absolutely nothing to do with...Stanford and other universities boycotting BYU athletics

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

However, the controversy surrounding BYU athletics occurred in the 1969-1972 timeframe, and ultimately resulted in BYU beginning to recruiting black athletes in 1972, six years before the 1978 revelation. Although Stanford continued to boycott BYU athletics until 1978, the demonstrations and controversy over BYU athletics had diminished by that time. There was no immediate societal pressure in 1978 to suddenly decide to lift the priesthood ban.
Logical Fallacy: False Cause
The author assumes that a real or perceived relationship between two events means that one caused the other.

The author infers cause and effect - that demonstrations and boycotts of BYU's athletic program triggered a Church-wide lifting of the priesthood ban in 1978, despite a lack of evidence that this was the case.

Question: Was the priesthood ban lifted as the result of social or government pressure?

Social pressure was actually on the decline after the Civil Rights movement and coordinated protests at BYU athletic events ceased in 1971

Jan Shipps, a Methodist scholar and celebrated scholar of Mormon history and culture, considers it factual that "this revelation came in the context of worldwide evangelism rather than domestic politics or American social and cultural circumstances." She wrote:

A revelation in Mormondom rarely comes as a bolt from the blue; the process involves asking questions and getting answers. The occasion of questioning has to be considered, and it must be recalled that while questions about priesthood and the black man may have been asked, an answer was not forthcoming in the ‘60s when the church was under pressure about the matter from without, nor in the early ‘70s when liberal Latter-day Saints agitated the issue from within. The inspiration which led President Kimball and his counselors to spend many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple pleading long and earnestly for divine guidance did not stem from a messy situation with blacks picketing the church’s annual conference in Salt Lake City, but was "the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth." [26]


Response to claim: "As a believing member, I had no idea that Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to black men"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

As a believing member, I had no idea that Joseph Smith gave the priesthood to black men. I’m supposed to go to the drawing board now and believe in a god who is not only a schizophrenic racist but who is inconsistent as well?

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

  • As a believing member, the author was aware that there had been a priesthood ban, and that this ban was lifted in 1978 (it is discussed in Latter-day Saint scriptures in Official Declaration 2).
  • Upon learning that Joseph Smith ordained several black men prior to the ban, the author now concludes that God is a "schizophrenic racist" and "inconsistent."
Logical Fallacy: Tu Quoque/Appeal to Hypocrisy
The author tries to discredit the validity of someone's position by asserting their failure to act consistently.

Gospel Topics: "During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013):

During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.[27]


Question: What do we know about the origin of the priesthood ban on Church members of African descent?

The Church has never provided an official reason for the ban

The origin of the priesthood ban is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Its origins are not clear, and this affected both how members and leaders have seen the ban, and the steps necessary to rescind it. The Church has never provided an official reason for the ban, although a number of Church leaders offered theories as to the reason for its existence. The Church currently provides the following background information regarding the initiation of the ban in its Gospel Topics essay "Race and the Priesthood":

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church. [28]

Given that none of these theories regarding the reason for the ban is accepted today, Church members have generally taken one of three perspectives:

  • Some members assume that the ban was based on revelation to Joseph Smith, and was continued by his successors until President Kimball. However, Joseph Smith did ordain several men of African descent to the priesthood.
  • Some believe that the ban did not originate with Joseph Smith, but was implemented by Brigham Young. The evidence supports the idea that Brigham Young implemented it, but there is no record of an actual revelation having been received regarding it.
  • Some believe that the ban began as a series of administrative policy decisions, rather than a revealed doctrine, and drew partly upon ideas regarding race common in mid-19th century America. The passage of time gave greater authority to this policy than intended.

The difficulty in deciding between these options arises because:

  • there is no contemporary account of a revelation underlying the ban; but
  • many early members nevertheless believed that there had been such a revelation; and
  • priesthood ordination of African blacks was a rare event, which became even more rare with time.

The history behind the practice in the modern Church of withholding the priesthood based on race is described well by Lester Bush in a 1984 book.[29] A good timeline can be found at FairMormon's BlackLDS site: FairMormon link.

Many leaders have indicated that the Church does not know why the ban was in place

  • Gordon B. Hinckley in an interview:
Q: So in retrospect, was the Church wrong in that [not ordaining blacks]?
A [Pres. Hinckley]: No, I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them.
Q: What was the reason for that?
A: I don't know what the reason was. But I know that we've rectified whatever may have appeared to be wrong at the time.[30]
  • Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
If you read the scriptures with this question in mind, 'Why did the Lord command this or why did he command that,' you find that in less than one in a hundred commands was any reason given. It's not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do, we're on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that.... The lesson I've drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it.
...I'm referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking.
...Let's [not] make the mistake that's been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that's where safety lies.[31]
  • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. ... I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. ... They, I'm sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. ...
It probably would have been advantageous to say nothing, to say we just don't know, and, [as] with many religious matters, whatever was being done was done on the basis of faith at that time. But some explanations were given and had been given for a lot of years. ... At the very least, there should be no effort to perpetuate those efforts to explain why that doctrine existed. I think, to the extent that I know anything about it, as one of the newer and younger ones to come along, ... we simply do not know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place.[32]
  • Elder Alexander B. Morrison:
We do not know.[33]

Is racial prejudice acceptable?

  • President Hinckley in priesthood session of General Conference:
Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.
Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?
Throughout my service as a member of the First Presidency, I have recognized and spoken a number of times on the diversity we see in our society. It is all about us, and we must make an effort to accommodate that diversity.
Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.
Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.[34]


Question: Did Joseph Smith confer the priesthood on several black men?

Missouri was a slave state, and the locals persecuted the Missouri saints and destroyed their press in part because of W. W. Phelps's editorials supporting abolition

As Mormons settled into Missouri, some of their viewpoints about slavery (D&C 101:79,87:4) did not mesh well with those of the older settlers. The 1831 Nat Turner Rebellion left many southerners nervous as church leaders later recognized: "All who are acquainted with the situation of slave States, know that the life of every white is in constant danger, and to insinuate any thing which could possibly be interpreted by a slave, that it was not just to hold human beings in bondage, would be jeopardizing the life of every white inhabitant in the country."[35] Unfortunately, this recognition came after mobs persecuted the Missouri saints and destroyed their press in part because of W. W. Phelps's editorials supporting abolition.[36]

Early missionaries were instructed to not teach or baptize slaves without their master's consent, but Joseph Smith conferred the priesthood on several free black men

Under these precarious conditions, early missionaries were instructed to not teach or baptize slaves without their master's consent (see D&C 134:12). Late, perhaps unreliable, recollections suggest that Joseph Smith received inspiration that blacks should not be ordained while contemplating the situation in the South.[37] These accounts must be weighed against records of free blacks receiving the priesthood such as Black Pete (1831 OH), Elijah Abel (1835 OH), Joseph T. Ball (1837 MA), Isaac van Meter (<1837 ME), and Walker and Enoch Lewis (Fall 1843-Nov. 1844 MA). Since Ohio had a law discouraging Blacks from migrating there, this put a damper on early proselyting efforts which were largely based on the principle of the gathering.[38] Parley Pratt wrote in 1839 that the Church had less than a dozen Black members.[39]

Those who hold that the ban had a revelatory basis see the early ordinations as events which occurred prior to the revelation or without knowledge of it, while those who see the ban as more of a social/cultural phenomenon point to these ordinations as an example of the "pragmatic grounds" upon which decisions about black ordination were made.

Outsiders do not seem to have regarded members of the Church in the 1830s as sharing typical American ideas about race

Outsiders do not seem to have regarded members of the Church in the 1830s as sharing typical American ideas about race. In 1835, a skeptical account of their doctrines and beliefs noted:

As the promulgators of this extraordinary legend maintain the natural equality of mankind, without excepting the native Indians or the African race, there is little reason to be surprised at the cruel persecution by which they have suffered, and still less at the continued accession of converts among those who sympathize with the wrongs of others or seek an asylum for their own.

The preachers and believers of the following doctrines were not likely to remain, unmolested, in the State of Missouri.

“The Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal, &c. He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness: and he denieth none that come unto him; black and white—bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” Again: “Behold! the Lamanites, your brethren, whom ye hate, because of their filthiness and the cursings which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father, &c. Wherefore the Lord God will not destroy them; but will be merciful to them; and one day they shall become [58] a blessed people.” “O my brethren, I fear, that, unless ye shall repent of your sins, that their skins shall be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God*. Wherefore a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins,” &c. “The king saith unto him, yea! if the Lord saith unto us, go! we will go down unto our brethren, and we will be their slaves, until we repair unto them the many murders and sins, which we have committed against them. But Ammon saith unto him, it is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should any slaves among them. Therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of our brethren.”[40]


Question: Why did Brigham Young initiate the priesthood ban?

The start of Brigham Young's administration saw a continuation of Joseph Smith's policies

The start of Brigham Young's administration saw a continuation of Joseph Smith's policies. William McCary was baptized and ordained at Winter Quarters in October 1846. The following March, Brigham acknowledged the validity of the ordination of Walker Lewis that likely occurred during Joseph's tenure, "we [have] one of the best Elders an African in Lowell [,MA] -- a barber." [41]

The priesthood ban became more comprehensive to include not only slaves and free blacks in the South, but all persons deemed to have inherited the curse of Cain through Ham

The priesthood ban then became more comprehensive to include not only slaves and free blacks in the South, but all persons deemed to have inherited the curse of Cain through Ham. Three pivotal events in this development were the apostasy of William McCary, the interracial marriage of Walker Lewis's son, and the passing of slavery legislation in Utah Territory.

McCary approached Brigham Young with complaints that racial discrimination was a motive behind other Mormon leaders questioning his strange teachings. President Young satisfied McCary that ideally race should not be the issue. Praising Walker Lewis as an example, Young suggested "Its nothing to do with the blood for [from] one blood has God made all flesh" and later added "we don't care about the color." [42] Shortly thereafter McCary was excommunicated for apostasy. In April, Brigham Young departed with the vanguard pioneer company for the Rocky Mountains only to return around December to face additional race-based problems.

In April, Elder Parley P. Pratt had warned of the Saints about following schisms led by those like James Strang and William McCary. Significantly he referred to William McCary as "this black man who has got the blood of Ham in him which linege was cursed as regards the priesthood".[43] McCary had married a Stake President's white daughter and advocated polygamy before his excommunication and afterward he began drawing away Mormon women to be sealed to him in a carnal manner.

Brigham was adamantly against racial amalgamation

Also awaiting Brigham was William Appleby, the president over eastern branches of the Church. He had encountered the Lewises and suspected William Smith had acted improperly by ordaining a black elder. He was also alarmed that Enoch Lewis had married a white wife and had a child. Brigham responded to this news in a manner that is, by modern sensitivities, quite disturbing. He was adamantly against racial amalgamation (see Brigham Young on race mixing for more context). While allowing that interracial couples should not be denied baptism, he introduced a ban on temple service for them and/or their offspring.

Brigham Young never presented a specific revelation on priesthood or temple restrictions he imposed

However, Brigham Young did not present a specific revelation on priesthood or temple restrictions he imposed. A definitive statement wasn't made by him until 1852 in a legislative, rather than ecclesiastical forum. Governor Young declared "any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] ... in him cannot hold the priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spake it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it." [44] Like the Missouri period, the Saints were externally pressured to adopt racial policies as a political compromise. At the time, this was deemed to be the best pathway to statehood.

Those who believe the ban had a revelatory basis point to these pivotal events as examples of a prophet learning "line upon line," with revelation being implemented more rigorously. Those who see the influence of cultural factors and institutional practice behind the ban consider this evidence that the ban was based on Brigham's cultural and scriptural assumptions, and point out that such beliefs were common among most Christians in Antebellum America.[45]


Question: What did Church leaders after Brigham Young think of the priesthood ban?

John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young

In 1879, John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young, despite receiving mixed information.[46] As part of this investigation Zebedee Coltrin recalled that Joseph Smith said in 1834 that "the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro had no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood." However, this claim is suspect given Coltrin's errors on the circumstances of Elijah Abel's ordination, participation in Kirtland temple ordinances, and retention in the Seventies quorum all under the supervision of Joseph Smith.[47]

President George Q. Cannon in 1895 asserted that some of Young's teachings about miscegenation and the seed of Cain had first been taught by Joseph Smith.[48]

B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham

Nearly forty years after the ban started, B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham.[49]

George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord"

President George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord."

The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time.
—First Presidency statement, August 17, 1949

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan (however, he rejected that they may have been neutral in the war in heaven).[50]

David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy"

  • David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy," as reported by Sterling McMurrin,[51] his son Llewelyn McKay,[52] and Elder Paul H. Dunn.[53] President McKay told Elder Marion D. Hanks that "he had pleaded and pleaded with the Lord, but had not had the answer he sought."[54]
  • The "Missouri policy theory" attributing the ban to Joseph Smith arising from condition in Missouri was first popularized in 1970 by author Stephen Taggert,[55] and President Hugh B. Brown reportedly embraced it.[56] Other authors found this theory wanting.[57]

Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban

  • Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban,[58] though Church Historian Leonard Arrington
...asserts that President Lee, shortly before his death, sought the Lord's will on the question of blacks and the priesthood during'three days and nights [of] fasting in the upper room of the temple,...but the only answer he received was "not yet." Arrington relied on an unidentified person close to President Lee, but President Lee's son-in-law and biographer found no record of such an incident and thought it doubtful.[59]

Following Joseph Fielding Smith's death, President Lee did say, "For those who don't believe in modern revelation there is no adequate explanation. Those who do understand revelation stand by and wait until the Lord speaks...It's only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God. The black will achieve full status, we're just waiting for that time."[60]

President Kimball said that the day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but should the day come it will be a matter of revelation

President Kimball began his administration by holding a press conference. When asked about the ban, he said:

[I have given it] "a great deal of thought, a great deal of prayer. The day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but that day has not come yet. Should the day come it will be a matter of revelation. Before changing any important policy, it has to be through a revelation from the Lord."[61]

He had previously written to his son:

"...I have wished the Lord had given us a little more clarity in the matter. But for me, it is enough...I know the Lord could change His policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error (?) which brought about the deprivation. If the time comes, that He will do, I am sure."[62]

In 1976, he mentioned

"his concern for giving the priesthood to all men, and said that he had been praying about it for fifteen years without an answer...but I am going to keep praying about it."[63]


Response to claim: "FairMormon agrees and admits 'we do not know' while offering 3 different scenarios in their attempt to rationalize the ban"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

I’m supposed to go to the drawing board now and believe in a god who is not only a schizophrenic racist but who is inconsistent as well? FairMormon Agrees. FairMormon agrees and admits 'we do not know' while offering 3 different scenarios in their attempt to rationalize the ban.

FairMormon Response



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

Quite frankly, based upon the author's statement, we can't figure out what he is claiming that FairMormon is in agreement with. FairMormon certainly does not "agree" that god is a "schizophrenic racist" who is "inconsistent." FairMormon does not put forward any particular reason or rationalization for the priesthood ban. The Church, in fact, has repudiated such rationalizations that were proposed in the past such as the idea that certain groups of people not being "valiant" in the pre-existence, or that the ban was justified based upon the Book of Abraham.
Logical Fallacy: Strawman
The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

The Church states that we do not know the reason for the ban. FairMormon agrees with the Church, and has always stated that the reason for the ban was not known.

Response to claim: "FairMormon's above response got debunked by none other than the Church itself on December 6, 2013 when the Church released its new Race and the Priesthood essay"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

FairMormon says...Sometimes God withholds certain blessings from certain people without explaining why He does this. Sometimes this is a willful decision on His part expressed via direct revelation to his prophet. At other times, God allows his prophets to act as they feel best. In the case of the priesthood ban, we do not know which of these scenarios is applicable. What we do know, however, is that the ban was lifted by revelation in God's due time. FairMormon's above response got debunked by none other than the Church itself on December 6, 2013 when the Church released its new Race and the Priesthood essay. Consequently, FairMormon had to delete their above response, which they did so on the same day.

FairMormon Response



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

These statements made by FairMormon are not "rationalizations" for the priesthood ban. According to Webster,

Rationalize: to think about or describe something (such as bad behavior) in a way that explains it and makes it seem proper, more attractive

Attempts to rationalize the priesthood ban (to explain it) were the proposed explanations such as the "Curse of Cain" or the statements that certain groups of people were "less valiant in the pre-existence." Those were rationalizations, and such rationalizations have been repudiated by the Church.

The following points, on the other hand, simply illustrate the three different ways God can interact with his prophets and explain why we don't know the reason for the ban. None of them attempts to explain the ban:

  1. Sometimes God withholds certain blessings from certain people without explaining why He does this.
  2. Sometimes this is a willful decision on His part expressed via direct revelation to his prophet.
  3. At other times, God allows his prophets to act as they feel best.

FairMormon's conclusion to the statements above:

  • In the case of the priesthood ban, we do not know which of these scenarios is applicable.
  • What we do know, however, is that the ban was lifted by revelation in God's due time.

These conclusions are in complete agreement with the Church's statements on the subject:

  • Doctrine and Covenants Official Declaration 2: "Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice."
  • Church essay Race and the Priesthood: "Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy, and they made ongoing efforts to understand what should be done."
Logical Fallacy: Strawman
The author sets up a weakened or caricatured version of the opponent's argument. The author then proceeds to demolish the weak version of the argument, and claim victory.

This claim is nonsense: Nothing in FairMormon's statements on these matters contradicts anything the Church's Race and Priesthood essay.

Response to claim: "We just need to edit out the racism and the 'black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse' stuff in the keystone Book of Mormon and we'll be set"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

We just need to edit out the racism and the "black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse" stuff in the keystone Book of Mormon and we'll be set.

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 terms "black and white" have specific meanings in the Book of Mormon that go beyond skin color.

Question: Does the Book of Mormon scripture "he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female" (2 Nephi 26:33) refer to race?

A comparison of three examples from the Book of Mormon shows that the words "black" and "white" in this context mean "wicked" and "righteous"

Marvin Perkins notes a pattern that indicates that the words "black and white" in the Book of Mormon are synonymous with "wicked and righteous" and "out of the church or in the church".[64]

2 Nephi 26:33:

and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

Alma 1:30:

and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need

Alma 11:44:

Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous

Perkins concludes,

Now, in Alma 1:30 and behold “…they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young,” (there’s your pattern) “…bond and free… male and female, whether out of the church or in the church,” There’s your black or white.

How about Alma 11: 44? “Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free… male and female,” (again, there’s your pattern) “both the wicked and the righteous.”


Question: What was the Lamanite curse?

The Book of Mormon talks of a curse being placed upon the Lamanites

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. 2 Nephi 5:21

It is claimed by some that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned, and that "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."

One critic asks, "According to the Book of Mormon a dark skin is a curse imposed by God on the unrighteous and their descendants as a punishment for sin. Do you agree with that doctrine? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:22-23, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 5:21-22, Jacob 3:8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Mormon 5:15; references to the "Lamanites" are taken to be referring to Native American "Indians".)" [65]

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the "curse." At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.


Question: What is the difference between the "curse" and the "mark" of the Lamanites?

The curse and the mark are two distinct things

The Bible does indeed use the word curse to describe a punishment to be inflicted as the result of disobedience to God’s commandments. For example, in Deuteronomy we see:

The Lord shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou be destroyed, and until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me. Deuteronomy 28:20

John A. Tvedtnes notes the distinction between the curse and the mark that the Lord set upon the Lamanites. [66]

Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them. Alma 3:14 (emphasis added)

Referring to the passage above, Tvedtnes notes the distinction between the Lamanites having been cursed and having the mark set upon them. The Book of Mormon, however, sometimes does call the mark a curse, as shown in Alma 3:6-7.

And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women. Alma 3:6-7 (emphasis added)

Although this passage refers to the mark as the curse, it later makes a distinction between the curse and the mark. These passages also indicate that the curse was applied prior to the mark. [67]

The curse applied to the Lamanites was that they were cut off from the presence of the Lord

Tvedtnes suggests that curse applied to the Lamanites was that they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Nephi states:

Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. 2 Nephi 5:20

A group of Nephites who joined the Lamanites illustrates. Their skin color was not changed because of their rejection of the Gospel but the curse was applied to them. Hugh Nibley describes the situation of the Amlicites:

Thus we are told (Alma 3:13-14,Alma 2:18) that while the fallen people "set the mark upon themselves," it was none the less God who was marking them: "I will set a mark upon them," etc. So natural and human was the process that it suggested nothing miraculous to the ordinary observer, and "the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves; . . . it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them" (Alma 3:18). Here God places his mark on people as a curse, yet it is an artificial mark which they actually place upon themselves. The mark was not a racial thing but was acquired by "whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites" (Alma 3:10). [68]

The mark may vary from group to group

As shown above, the mark may vary from group to group. The Amlicites marked themselves, and this was taken by the Nephites as a sign of divine "marking."

Many LDS have traditionally assumed that the "mark" was a literal change in racial skin color. There are certainly verses which can be read from this perspective. A key question, however, is whether modern members read the Book of Mormon's ideas through their own society's preoccupations and perspectives. American society was (and, to an extent, continues to be) convulsed over issues regarding race, especially black slavery and its consequences.

As a result, nineteenth- and twentieth-century members may have read as literal passages which were far less literal to the Nephites. Douglas Campbell has completed an exhaustive review of all such references in the Book of Mormon. [69] He found that there were twenty-eight usages of the word "white" or "whiteness" in the Book of Mormon. He divided them into several categories:

  1. Clothing: symbols of purity or cleanness
  2. Fruit (of tree of life): luminosity or holiness
  3. Stone (clear and white): literally white stones are not clear, they are opaque. Thus, white is again a term for holiness or luminosity
  4. Hair (black or white): a single mention (based on the KJV Sermon on the Mount) uses the term as an allegory or symbol
  5. Jesus, his mother Mary, or those made pure by him: exquisite, radiant, awe-inspiring
  6. Gentiles: all Gentiles, thus not about skin color but beautiful, pure, and righteous
  7. The saved: pure, holy, without spot
  8. As a pair of contrasts (black and white, bond and free): sets of opposites
  9. Nephites: See below

Thus, virtually all other uses of the white/black terminology reflects symbolic or spiritual states, not literal color. It is likely that Nephites would not have had the modern American "preoccupation" with skin color, and so would not be burdened with our tendency to see references about skin to automatically imply race.

Thus, concludes Campbell:

White-skinned Nephites and black-skinned Lamanites are metaphors for cultures, not for skin colour. The church teaches that the descendants of the Lamanites inhabited the Americas when Columbus arrived. But Lamanites are not black-skinned; they are not even red-skinned. As the “skin of blackness” is a metaphor, so too is the white skin of the Nephites. Perhaps 3 Nephi 2:15-16, in which the Lamanites have the curse taken from them, fulfills 2 Nephi 30:6. In these verses the Lamanite has become “white and delightsome” not “pure and delightsome.”

I do not believe the Lord changed their physical skin to white in the twinkling of an eye. These Lamanites...became cultural Nephites.

Many languages have such color labels for non-visual matters. As Steven Pinker of the director of the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at MIT noted:

It's convention, not color vision, that tells us that a sick Caucasian is green, a cold one blue, and a scared one yellow. [70]

There are also instances in which skin color does not play a role, when it should—if the skin color change is literal and noticeable

There are also instances in which skin color does not play a role, when it should—if the skin color change is literal and noticeable. This should suggest that the literal skin model may be inadequate, since it makes nonsense of a few textual passages.

For example, Captain Moroni wanted to portray his men as being "Lamanites." He searched among his troops for someone descended from Laman, and found someone. Moroni sent this man with a troop of Nephite soldiers, and he was able to deceive the Lamanites:

Now the Nephites were guarded in the city of Gid; therefore Moroni appointed Laman and caused that a small number of men should go with him. And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine and brought with us. Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy...(Alma 55:7-9.)

If skin color is the issue, then a single Lamanite with a group of Nephites should be easy to spot. But, in this case, it is not. Why, then, the need for a Lamanite at all in Moroni's plan?

A "native" Lamanite was probably needed because there were differences in language or pronunciation between cultural Nephites and Lamanites (compare between Ephraim and others' shibboleth, Judges 12:6). Note that the Book of Mormon says that "when the Lamanites heard these words," they relaxed and accepted the Lamanite decoy with his Nephite troops. What they could see had not changed, and surely if a dark-skinned Lamanite shows up with a white-skinned bunch of Nephites, they would be suspicious no matter what he said. But, if Nephites and Lamanites are indistinguishable on physical grounds if dressed properly, then their sudden reassurance when a native Lamanite speaks is understandable.

This fact was probably obvious to Mormon and Captain Moroni. The text does not spell it out for us (since it was obvious to the writers), but the clues are all there for the careful reader.

This passage is nonsensical if literal skin color is the issue. It makes perfect sense, however, if Nephites and Lamanites are often physically indistinguishable, but have some differences in language which are difficult to "fake" for a non-(cultural)-Lamanite. [71]


Response to claim: "Mark Hofmann...to purchase and suppress bizarre and embarrassing documents into the Church vaults that undermined and threatened the Church’s story of its origins"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

In the early to mid-1980’s, the Church shelled out close to $900,000 in antiquities and cash to Mark Hofmann – a conman and soon-to-be serial killer – to purchase and suppress bizarre and embarrassing documents into the Church vaults that undermined and threatened the Church’s story of its origins.

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 Church didn't even attempt to hide the Salamander Letter, and at first they refused to even purchase it.

Question: What are the Hofmann forgeries and the Salamander Letter?

The Church purchased several alleged nineteenth-century documents from Mark Hofmann which were later identified as forgeries

Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the First Presidency, purchased several apparently nineteenth-century documents from Mark Hofmann which were later identified as forgeries.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson explains:

Some of you may remember hearing about a man named Mark Hofmann, now serving a prison sentence in Utah for murder. He was an expert forger of historical documents. Some of these were tied to U.S. history, but several related to Church history. One was a purported letter from Martin Harris to W. W. Phelps reporting that Joseph Smith found the gold plates led by a spirit who “transfigured himself from a white salamander in the bottom of the hole” where the plates were. Another was a supposed transcript of a blessing given by the Prophet to his son Joseph Smith III in 1844 declaring his son to be his rightful successor as head of the Church. [20]

Some left the Church when these documents were publicized saying it was clear that Joseph Smith’s testimony concerning his visions was false or that they could no longer consider The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the true Church. Not long afterward these and other documents were shown to be forgeries. I wondered, do those who were so troubled believe again now, and when other questions arise, as they always do, will they leave again? In matters of faith, a spiritual witness is essential if one is to avoid being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” [21] With a Spirit-derived assurance in place, you can go forward in the Lord’s work and continue deepening your relationship with your Heavenly Father while pursuing or awaiting answers. If you determine to sit still, paralyzed until every question is answered and every whisper of doubt resolved, you will never move because in this life there will always be some issue pending or something yet unexplained.[72]

Hofmann made the decision to lie and cover his lies with murder. As tragic as such choices are, LDS doctrine would not expect God to typically intervene via a prophet, or personally, to prevent a person bent on making wicked choices from carrying out his or her plans.(See DC 10:37 If God did so routinely, unfettered choice would be threatened.


Question: Did the Church purchase documents such as Mark Hofmann's "Salamander letter" with the intent of hiding and suppressing them?

The historical record is clear that the Church did nothing to hide the Hofmann "Salamander Letter," even though to some it appeared to pose problems for the Church's story of its origins

One critic claims that the Church acquired Mark Hofmann's "Salamander letter" with the intent of suppressing it, or "hiding history." [73]

3 January 1984: Hofmann tried to persuade both President Hinckley and the Church Historical Department to purchase the "Salamander Letter." Both declined:

Lyn Jacobs [an associate of Hofmann's] visited the Historical Department to talk to don Schmidt. He showed Schmidt [the salamander letter]....Jacobs suggested it might be one the church would like to own. Jacobs said he wanted a ten-dollar Mormon gold piece for it. The most coveted item among collectors of Mormon money, the rare coin was extremely valuable. Schmidt thought Jacobs had an inflated idea of the letter's worth and told him he would never get what he was asking....Knowing that the price he was asking exceeded what Schmidt and [supervising general authority Elder G. Homer] Durham were authorized to spend for acquisitions, Jacobs had already made an appointment with Gordon Hinckley...

Jacobs again offered to give the letter to the church in exchange for a ten-dollar Mormon gold piece, whose value Jacobs would later approximate at from sixty to over one hundred thousand dollars. Like Schmidt and Durham, Hinckley said he felt the asking price was too high. Jacobs then offered to trade the letter for a copy of A Book of Commandments, valued by Jacobs at thirty to forty thousand dollars. Hinckley considered the offer briefly, then said of the letter, 'I don't know if we really want it.'

...After Jacobs failed to persuade Hinckley to buy the letter, he went back to see Schmidt [in the Historical Department]. Schmidt tried to convince Jacobs that he was asking too much for the document, explaining that only if he dropped his price to a reasonable figure would the church consider buying it.

'What's that?" Schmidt recalled Jacobs saying when he mentioned a 'reasonable figure.'

'Well,' Schmidt responded, 'you get down there, and I'll tell you when it's reasonable.'

'You have to have it,' Jacobs insisted of the letter.

'No, I don't have to have it,' Schmidt replied. 'No such thing.'

Later, Hofmann tried his own hand at offering it to the Historical Department through Schmidt. Hofmann left the document with Schmidt, who took it in to his supervisor, Earl Olson. 'He and I read it carefully,' Olson recalled. 'Remarked that it did not ring true, and that it bore too much resemblance to the story in Howe's 'Mormonism Unveiled' [sic; the actual title is Mormonism Unvailed]. We invited Elder Durham to sit down with us and read it, then brought out Howe's book and compared the stories. This was reported to Pres. Hinckley. It was decided that we should not purchase the letter....[74]

This is a strange series of events if the Church or its leaders were determined to suppress or hide the letter, or somehow impair its study.

President Hinckley at first refused to purchase the Salamander Letter

Note that President Gordon B. Hinckley first saw the Salamander Letter on this date, but refused its purchase. He wrote soon thereafter:

We have nothing to hide. Our enemies will try to make much of this letter, but any fair-minded individual who will read it in terms of the time it was written and the language of the day will not see it as detrimental to the history of those events connected with the restoration of the gospel.[75]

Thus, President Hinckley was aware that the letter could be used as a weapon against the Church, but he did not move to buy it, and did nothing to prevent it passing into other hands.

January - April 1984: Steven F. Christensen purchases the Salamander Letter and donates it to the Church

6 January 1984: Steven F. Christensen purchases Salamander Letter from Hofmann for $40,000.[76]

7 March 1984: Christensen issues a press release:

It is true that I am the owner of a letter written by Martin Harris to William W. Phelps, dated October 23, 1830. "While it is hoped that the letter is authentic, professional tests have not yet been performed on the document. Before I will release transcripts or photographs of the document to the public, I wish to first determine the document's historicity as much as possible. I have therefore sought the help and advice of competent historians to assist me in determining the reliability of the contents of the letter.

Until the above referenced research and tests have further progressed, I do not feel at liberty to share the full contents of the letter. It is unfortunate that publicity of the document has preceded its historical authentication. This has lead to some cases of misstatement as well as numerous phrases being taken out of context.[77]

12 April 1985: Steven F. Christensen, who had purchased the Salamander Letter from Hofmann on 6 January 1984, donated it to the Church. President Hinckley accepted the donation.

28 April 1985: The Church News published the full text of the Salamander Letter

The First Presidency included a statement, quoting President Hinckley:

No one, of course, can be certain that Martin Harris wrote the document. However, at this point we accept the judgment of the examiner that there is no indication that it is a forgery. This does not preclude the possibility that it may have been forged at a time when the Church had many enemies. It is, however, an interesting document of the times.[78]

23 June 1985: President Hinckley, at a Young Adult fireside broadcast from Temple Square: "I knew there would be a great fuss...They are interesting documents of whose authenticity we are not certain and may never be"

Gordon B. Hinckley:

As most of you know, recently there have been great stirrings over two old letters. One was purportedly written in 1825 by Joseph Smith to Josiah Stowell. If it is genuine, it is the oldest known product of Joseph Smith’s handwriting. It concerns the employment of Joseph by Mr. Stowell, who was engaged in a mining operation looking for old coins and precious metals. The other carries the date of October 23, 1830, and was purportedly written by Martin Harris to W. W. Phelps.

I acquired for the Church both of these letters, the first by purchase. The second was given to the Church by its generous owner. I am, of course, familiar with both letters, having held them in my hands and having read them in their original form. It was I, also, who made the decision to make them public. Copies were issued to the media, and both have received wide publicity.

I knew there would be a great fuss. Scholars have pored over them, discussed them, written about them, differed in their opinions, and even argued about them.

I am glad we have them. They are interesting documents of whose authenticity we are not certain and may never be. However, assuming that they are authentic, they are valuable writings of the period out of which they have come. But they have no real relevancy to the question of the authenticity of the Church or of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

Much has been said about the Martin Harris/W. W. Phelps letter. I ask: Shall two men, their character, their faith, their lives, the testimonies to which they gave voice to the end of their days, be judged by a few words on a sheet of paper that may or may not have been written by the one and received by the other?

If you have been troubled in any way by press reports concerning this letter, I ask only that you look closer at the man who presumably wrote it and at the man who presumably received it Martin Harris and W. W. Phelps.

The letter is dated subsequent to the declaration of the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, one of whom was Martin Harris. In language unequivocal and certain he and his associates had declared to the world: "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record,...And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.... And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon."

Would Martin Harris have mortgaged his farm, eventually losing it, to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon if he had thought of that book as a fraud? He endured ridicule, persecution, and poverty. He lived to the age of ninety-two and died in full faith, voicing his testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon to the end of his life.

What about W. W. Phelps? Five years subsequent to the date of the letter, he wrote: "Now, notwithstanding my body was not baptized into this Church till Thursday, the 10th of June 1831, yet my heart was there from the time I became acquainted with the Book of Mormon; and my hope, steadfast like an anchor, and my faith increased like the grass after a refreshing shower, when I for the first time, held a conversation with our beloved Brother Joseph whom I was willing to acknowledge as the prophet of the Lord, and to whom, and to whose godly account of himself and the work he was engaged in, I owe my first determination to quit the folly of my way, and the fancy and fame of this world, and seek the Lord and His righteousness."

This is the same man who wrote that majestic and marvelous hymn of tribute to the Prophet Joseph — "Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer. Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere."

He had no doubt concerning the divine origin of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of him who was the instrument in the hands of the Almighty in bringing it forth. William W. Phelps died as a high priest in Salt Lake City in full faith.

Marvelous and enduring love and loyalty of the kind shown by these two men do not come from an experience with a "salamander" as we generally interpret that word.

Would these two men have so endured, so declared their testimonies, and so lived out their lives in faith had there been any doubt about the way in which the Book of Mormon plates were received from the hands of Moroni and translated by the gift and power of God?[79]

16 August 1985: Elder Dallin H. Oaks spoke to the issues raised by the documents (as yet unknown as forgeries): "Readers should be skeptical about the authenticity of such documents"

Dallin H. Oaks:

Some recent news stories about developments in Church history rest on scientific assumptions or assertions, such as the authenticity of a letter. Whether experts or amateurs, most of us have a tendency to be quite dogmatic about so-called scientific facts. Since news writers are not immune from this tendency, news stories based on scientific assumptions should be read or viewed with some skepticism...

The contents of most media stories are dictated not by what is necessary to a full understanding of the subject but by what information is currently available and can be communicated within the limitations of time and space.

As a result, the news media are particularly susceptible to conveying erroneous information about facts, including historical developments that are based on what I have called scientific uncertainties. This susceptibility obviously applies to newly discovered documents whose authenticity turns on an evaluation of handwriting, paper, ink, and so on. Readers should be skeptical about the authenticity of such documents, especially when there is uncertainty where they were found or who had custody of them for 150 years. Newly found historically important documents can be extremely valuable, so there is a powerful incentive for those who own them to advocate and support their authenticity. The recent spectacular fraud involving the so-called Hitler diaries reminds us of this, and should convince us to be cautious.[80]

October 1985 - August 1987: The forgery is exposed and the Church comments on it

15 October 1985: Two Hofmann bombs murder Steven Christensen and Kathy Sheets.

16 October 1985: Hofmann injures himself with one of his own bombs.

16 October 1986: After an exhaustive search of its holdings and archives, the Church denies possessing an "Oliver Cowdery history." (It would be learned the next day that Hofmann was the source of the rumor that such a history existed.)[81]

31 July 1987: The Church released a statement to the media after Hofmann's confession and interview with prosecutors.

6 August 1987: Elder Dallin H. Oaks gives an address at BYU on the Hofmann episode and the media and scholarly community's behavior.

October 1987: The Church publishes a list of forged documents that had been referenced in the Ensign so that readers would not refer to them in error

18 October 1995: President Hinckley states "I frankly admit that Hofmann tricked us"

After Hofmann's lies and murders were revealed, President Hinckley said:

I frankly admit that Hofmann tricked us. He also tricked experts from New York to Utah, however. We bought those documents only after the assurance that they were genuine. And when we released documents to the press, we stated that we had no way of knowing for sure if they were authentic. I am not ashamed to admit that we were victimized. It is not the first time the Church has found itself in such a position. Joseph Smith was victimized again and again. The Savior was victimized. I am sorry to say that sometimes it happens.[82]

It is clear that the Church did not seek to hide the potentially damaging letter or its text.


Response to claim: "Lack of discernment by the Brethren on such a grave threat to the Church"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The documents were later proven to be forgeries....Lack of discernment by the Brethren on such a grave threat to the Church.

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

President Hinckley and other General Authorities knew that the Salamander Letter created problems, yet they openly talked about it. There is no reason why they would have known that Hofmann was a con man and, eventually, a murderer.

Question: If Gordon B. Hinckley were a true prophet, why did he not discern the nature of the Hofmann forgeries?

Prophets are not omniscient nor are they infallible

Critics of the Church raise the question: If Gordon B. Hinckley were a true prophet, why would he be fooled into buying the forgeries? Would he not be able to discern the fraud? [83]

The assumption that President Hinckley should have discerned the nature of the forgery stems from incorrect expectations of what a prophet is. Prophets are not omniscient nor infallible. The Church bought the documents when assured by experts that they were genuine.

Prophets do not generally act to take away the free agent choices of others. President Hinckley's decision to purchase the documents allowed them to be examined, and kept them available for further study so that the forgery could be discovered. (Had a private collector, especially one hostile to the Church, acquired the documents, access might have been much more difficult.)

Some think it strange that a prophet could have been deceived. President Hinckley's public statements make it clear that he was not entirely convinced of the document's provenance, but provisionally accepted the judgment of the experts. (For a discussion of the decision to promptly make the document public when owned by the Church by an author who declared the document a forgery early on, see Rhett S. James, "Writing History Must Not Be an Act of Magic (Review of Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, revised and enlarged edition, by D. Michael Quinn)," FARMS Review of Books 12/2 (2000): 395–414. [{{{url}}} off-site].)

The Lord made it clear to Joseph Smith that a prophet is not granted to know all the designs of those who seek to destroy the Church:

But as you cannot always judge the righteous, or as you cannot always tell the wicked from the righteous, therefore I say unto you, hold your peace until I shall see fit to make all things known unto the world concerning the matter. (DC 10:37)

The LDS doctrine of agency requires that those who plot evil be allowed a certain latitude, though (as President Hinckley prophetically noted) permanent harm to the Lord's work will not be permitted.


Question: Was President Hinckley suspicious that the Salamander letter might not be authentic?

President Hinckley advised caution in accepting the documents' authenticity

President Hinckley, at a Young Adult fireside broadcast from Temple Square, spoke about Martin Harris and others mentioned in the Salamander Letter, and advised caution in accepting the documents' authenticity. He was careful not to proclaim that they were authentic:

As most of you know, recently there have been great stirrings over two old letters. One was purportedly written in 1825 by Joseph Smith to Josiah Stowell. If it is genuine, it is the oldest known product of Joseph Smith’s handwriting. It concerns the employment of Joseph by Mr. Stowell, who was engaged in a mining operation looking for old coins and precious metals. The other carries the date of October 23, 1830, and was purportedly written by Martin Harris to W. W. Phelps.

I acquired for the Church both of these letters, the first by purchase. The second was given to the Church by its generous owner. I am, of course, familiar with both letters, having held them in my hands and having read them in their original form. It was I, also, who made the decision to make them public. Copies were issued to the media, and both have received wide publicity.

I knew there would be a great fuss. Scholars have pored over them, discussed them, written about them, differed in their opinions, and even argued about them.

I am glad we have them. They are interesting documents of whose authenticity we are not certain and may never be. However, assuming that they are authentic, they are valuable writings of the period out of which they have come. But they have no real relevancy to the question of the authenticity of the Church or of the divine origin of the Book of Mormon.

Much has been said about the Martin Harris/W. W. Phelps letter. I ask: Shall two men, their character, their faith, their lives, the testimonies to which they gave voice to the end of their days, be judged by a few words on a sheet of paper that may or may not have been written by the one and received by the other?

If you have been troubled in any way by press reports concerning this letter, I ask only that you look closer at the man who presumably wrote it and at the man who presumably received it Martin Harris and W. W. Phelps.

The letter is dated subsequent to the declaration of the Testimony of the Three Witnesses, one of whom was Martin Harris. In language unequivocal and certain he and his associates had declared to the world: "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record,...And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.... And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon."

Would Martin Harris have mortgaged his farm, eventually losing it, to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon if he had thought of that book as a fraud? He endured ridicule, persecution, and poverty. He lived to the age of ninety-two and died in full faith, voicing his testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon to the end of his life.

What about W. W. Phelps? Five years subsequent to the date of the letter, he wrote: "Now, notwithstanding my body was not baptized into this Church till Thursday, the 10th of June 1831, yet my heart was there from the time I became acquainted with the Book of Mormon; and my hope, steadfast like an anchor, and my faith increased like the grass after a refreshing shower, when I for the first time, held a conversation with our beloved Brother Joseph whom I was willing to acknowledge as the prophet of the Lord, and to whom, and to whose godly account of himself and the work he was engaged in, I owe my first determination to quit the folly of my way, and the fancy and fame of this world, and seek the Lord and His righteousness."

This is the same man who wrote that majestic and marvelous hymn of tribute to the Prophet Joseph — "Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer. Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere."

He had no doubt concerning the divine origin of the Book of Mormon or the divine calling of him who was the instrument in the hands of the Almighty in bringing it forth. William W. Phelps died as a high priest in Salt Lake City in full faith.

Marvelous and enduring love and loyalty of the kind shown by these two men do not come from an experience with a "salamander" as we generally interpret that word.

Would these two men have so endured, so declared their testimonies, and so lived out their lives in faith had there been any doubt about the way in which the Book of Mormon plates were received from the hands of Moroni and translated by the gift and power of God?[84]


Response to claim: "The following is Oaks’ 1985 defense of the fake Salamander letter (which Oaks evidently thought was real and legitimate at the time)"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The following is Oaks’ 1985 defense of the fake Salamander letter (which Oaks evidently thought was real and legitimate at the time):

“Another source of differences in the accounts of different witnesses is the different meanings that different persons attach to words. We have a vivid illustration of this in the recent media excitement about the word salamander in a letter Martin Harris is supposed to have sent to W. W. Phelps over 150 years ago. All of the scores of media stories on that subject apparently assume that the author of that letter used the word salamander in the modern sense of a ‘tailed amphibian.’

One wonders why so many writers neglected to reveal to their readers that there is another meaning of salamander, which may even have been the primary meaning in this context in the 1820s. That meaning, which is listed second in a current edition of Webster’s New World Dictionary, is ‘a spirit supposed to live in fire’ (2d College ed. 1982, s.v. ‘salamander’). Modern and ancient literature contain many examples of this usage. 41

A spirit that is able to live in fire is a good approximation of the description Joseph Smith gave of the angel Moroni: a personage in the midst of a light, whose countenance was “truly like lightning” and whose overall appearance “was glorious beyond description” (Joseph Smith-History 1:32). As Joseph Smith wrote later, “The first sight [of this personage] was as though the house was filled with consuming fire” (History of the Church, 4:536). Since the letter purports only to be Martin Harris’s interpretation of what he had heard about Joseph’s experience, the use of the words white salamander and old spirit seem understandable.

In view of all this, and as a matter of intellectual evaluation, why all the excitement in the media, and why the apparent hand-wringing among those who profess friendship with or membership in the Church? The media should make more complete disclosures, but Latter-day Saint readers should also be more sophisticated in their evaluation of what they read.”

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 talk by Elder Oaks is not offering a defense of the Salamander Letter, nor is he stating that he believed that the Salamander Letter was "real and legitimate".

The presentation was at a CES Symposium. Elder Oaks begins by stating:

"My fellow teachers: In the six months since I accepted this invitation, there has been a flurry of excitement about Church history. New histories and biographies are being published at an unprecedented rate. Heretofore unknown documents bearing the names of early Church leaders are coming forth. Experts are studying their authenticity. Scholars are debating their meaning."

Elder Oaks is actually encouraging skepticism of what is being claimed:

"Some of these general principles should cause readers and viewers to apply the discount of skepticism to media stories about developments in Church history. Other principles apply to all writings on Church history and biography. These general principles concern (1) scientific uncertainties, (2) lack of context, (3) truths and half-truths, (4) bias, (5) balance, and (6) evaluation."

Logical Fallacy: Contextomy (Citing out of context)
The author has created a false attribution in which he or she removed a passage by an authority from its surrounding context in such a way as to distort or reverse its intended meaning.

The portion of the talk quoted by the author of the CES Letter is discussing the "Evaluation" section. That admonition that "Latter-day Saint readers should also be more sophisticated in their evaluation of what they read" is not a statement that Latter-day Saints should take the Salamander Letter at face value - it is a statement that they should read media reports of Church history events with a critical eye.

Response to claim: "Why would I want them following the prophet when a prophet is just a man of his time?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Why would I want [my children] following the prophet when a prophet is just a man of his time?

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 nonsense. All prophets must be "men of their time."
Logical Fallacy: Ad Hominem
The author attacks someone's personal characteristics in an attempt to undermine their argument or position.

Question: Are prophets simply "men of their time," without any special ability to guide the Church?

Prophets are a product of their own time and culture

Prophets have always reflected the times in which they lived—how could they not?

Prophets continue to receive revelation this days, so we can be successful in this life. They are like a bishop, but for the entire world. They are, indeed, "men of their time." How could the prophets be anything but "men of their time," since they are a product of their own time and culture? They are men that are capable of making mistakes, but Latter-Day Saints believe that if they follow the modern day prophet, they will be blessed. The teachings of the prophets are based on the scriptures, and when God decides to reveal new doctrine, he will do it by his prophets. When prophets receive revelation, it does not always necessarily mean that we are going to hear the prophets teach us new doctrine.


Question: Can a prophet make mistakes?

The principle that the Lord will not ever allow the President of the Church to lead the Church astray means that He will not allow that man to lead the Church into apostasy

One part of knowing that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is true is knowing whose Church it really is and that our Savior lives and leads the Church today. It is knowing that he has entrusted a living Latter-day Prophet with all the keys necessary to direct, act, and receive what is needed to guide and direct the Church under the Lord’s direction whose Church this is.

Many Latter-day Prophets have taught that the Lord will not suffer the President of the Church to ever lead the Church astray. This is a true principle, but it only makes sense in light of the destiny of the Church as taught and revealed in Latter-day Saint scripture. Unlike previous dispensations, the Lord’s Church on earth today will not fall into apostasy, speaking of the body of the Church as a whole and not individuals.

This statement does not mean that the Lord's servants are perfect or that they will never make mistakes, display weaknesses, sometimes be irritable, have bad breath, or display the characteristics of old age

The principle that the Lord, who is the head of the Church will not ever allow the President of the Church to lead the Church astray means that He will not allow that man to lead the Church into apostasy. It does not mean that his servants are perfect or that they will never make mistakes, display weaknesses, sometimes be irritable, have bad breath, or display the characteristics of old age.

In a discourse to the Saints on March 21, 1858, President Brigham Young asked:

Can a Prophet or an Apostle be mistaken? Do not ask me any such question, for I will acknowledge that all the time, but I do not acknowledge that I designedly lead this people astray one hair’s breadth from the truth, and I do not knowingly do a wrong, though I may commit many wrongs, and so may you. But I overlook your weaknesses, and I know by experience that the Saints lift their hearts to God that I may be led right" [85]

We should receive and follow the counsel “words and commandments” of the current President of the Church “in all patience and faith”

There is also another principle involved here that we should receive and follow the counsel “words and commandments” of the current President of the Church “in all patience and faith” with great promises attending (Doctrine and Covenants 21: 4-9).


Question: Why are revelations no longer published on an ongoing basis?

It was only necessary to publish revelations in an ongoing fashion as the foundational doctrines and procedures of the Church were being established

In the early days of the Church, revelations used to be printed in Church periodicals such as the Times and Seasons and the Evening and Morning Star on an ongoing basis. However, the Doctrine and Covenants contains foundational revelations establishing core doctrines, the organization of the Church and the priesthood, and the manner of ordinances. Prophets after Joseph Smith have and continue to receive revelation, but only in a few circumstances have these revelations been foundational enough to necessitate them being added to the LDS canon and published.

This pattern is reflected in the Bible as well. Moses, the founding prophet of that dispensation, produced five books of scripture, which were the basis of religious instruction for the next several centuries. The books that followed Moses for the next couple centuries were mostly historical accounts (Joshua, Judges, Ruth), with only occasional revelations recorded by subsequent prophets.

Joseph Smith received fewer revelations after the Church was established

Joseph himself stopped receiving so many revelations as the government of the church was established. At this point in his life he said that the Lord should not be petitioned for every little thing, especially if revelations on the same subject had already been given or information "about the things the knowledge of which men ought to obtain in all sincerity before God for themselves." After the 12 apostles were organized the number of revelations that Joseph received decreased dramatically. Around 1835 Joseph stopped receiving revelations as people remember him to have done, nine years before his martyrdom.[86]


Question: If every President of the Church is a prophet, seer, and revelator, why have so few revelations after Joseph Smith been added to the Doctrine and Covenants?

Revelation continues in the Church even if it is not being added to the Doctrine and Covenants

Elder John A. Widtsoe explained that we still have revelation in the Church, even if it is not being added to the Doctrine and Covenants:

There is...need of continuous revelation. However, we must understand that there are two classes of revelation given by God to man. The first deals with the structure and content of the plan of salvation. Once given it does not need to be given again. Adam received it. *** Christ gave the same revelation to man in His dispensation. So did Joseph Smith in his dispensation. The foundation, or platform, once given does not need to be given again unless men forget the truth.

Then there are revelations that fit the changes in our lives, meet our new needs, help us overcome unforeseen conditions—revelations for our daily guidance.

This great country, the United States of America, has found itself in a great depression. We have the Gospel. What did the Lord do? He spoke to his Prophet, and we have what is known as the Welfare Program. It is the application of the eternal principles of the Gospel to present day needs. It is as revelation. We have that type of revelation continuously.

So, when people say: "We ought to have revelation now as we did in the day of Joseph," we must answer, "Open your eyes; we do have revelation every day; such as we need from day to day."

Revelations have been given to Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith and President Heber J. Grant. Every one of them has had revelation whereby the Church has been guided.[87]


Brigham Young (1859): "have I yet lived to the state of perfection that I can commune in person with the Father and the Son at my will and pleasure? No, though I hold myself in readiness that he can wield me at his will and pleasure"

Brigham Young:

I have flattered myself, if I am as faithful as I know how to be to my God, and my brethren, and to all my covenants, and faithful in the discharge of my duty, when I have lived to be as old as was Moses when the Lord appeared to him, that perhaps I then may hold communion with the Lord, as did Moses. I am not now in that position, though I know much more than I did twenty, ten, or five years ago. But have I yet lived to the state of perfection that I can commune in person with the Father and the Son at my will and pleasure? No, though I hold myself in readiness that he can wield me at his will and pleasure. If I am faithful until I am eighty years of age, perhaps the Lord will appear to me and personally dictate me in the management of his Church and people. A little over twenty years, and if I am faithful, perhaps I will obtain that favour with my Father and God.

I am not to obtain this privilege at once or in a moment. True, Joseph Smith in his youth had revelations from God. He saw and understood for himself. Are you acquainted with his life? You can read the history of it. I was acquainted with him during many years. He had heavenly visions; angels administered to him. The vision of his mind was opened to see and understand heavenly things. He revealed the will of the Lord to the people, and yet but few were really acquainted with brother Joseph. He had all the weaknesses a man could have when the vision was not upon him, when he was left to himself. He was constituted like other men, and would have required years and years longer in the flesh to become a Moses in all things. For the length of time he lived, he was as good a man as ever lived in the flesh, Jesus excepted. It was so ordered that a man has to live and gain by his experience that knowledge and wisdom, and that degree of stability in his character that will present him favourably to the heavenly hosts at all times and under all circumstances. Let us, then, resolve and act upon the principle of constant improvement.[88]


Wilford Woodruff (1869): "We had the privilege of beholding the face of the prophet...and seeing the workings of the Spirit of God with him, and the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and the fulfilment of those revelations"

Wilford Woodruff:

The Apostles, in their labors, had to work on the same principle that the Saints in both former and latter days have had to work upon—namely the principle of faith. Joseph Smith had to work by faith. It is true that he had a knowledge of a great many things, as the Saints in former days had, but in many things he had to exercise faith . . . When the members of Zion's Camp were called, many of us had never beheld each others' faces; we were strangers to each other and many had never seen the prophet. We had been scattered abroad, like corn sifted in a sieve, throughout the nation. We were young men, and were called upon in that early day to go up and redeem Zion, and what we had to do we had to do by faith. We assembled together from the various States at Kirtland and went up to redeem Zion, in fulfilment of the commandment of God unto us. God accepted our works as He did the works of Abraham. We accomplished a great deal, though apostates and unbelievers many times asked the question, "What have you done?" We gained an experience that we never could have gained in any other way. We had the privilege of beholding the face of the prophet, and we had the privilege of travelling a thousand miles with him, and seeing the workings of the Spirit of God with him, and the revelations of Jesus Christ unto him and the fulfilment of those revelations. And he gathered some two hundred Elders from throughout the nation in that early day and sent us broadcast into the world to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Had I not gone up with Zion's Camp I should not have been here to-day, and I presume that would have been the case with many others in this Territory. By going there we were thrust into the vineyard to preach the Gospel, and the Lord accepted our labors. And in all our labors and persecutions, with lives often at stake, we have had to work and live by faith.[89]


Heber C. Kimball (1865): "I know it by revelation by the Spirit of God, for in this way my Heavenly Father communes with me"

Heber C. Kimball:

I know this. I know it by revelation by the Spirit of God, for in this way my Heavenly Father communes with me, and maketh known unto me his mind and will. I have never seen him in person, but when I see my brethren I see his image, and I discover the attributes of God in them.[90]


Orson Pratt (1878): "I have been blessed with some revelations and prophecies, and with dreams of things that have come to pass"

Orson Pratt:

I have thought the reason why we have not enjoyed these gifts more fully is, because we have not sought for them as diligently as we ought. I speak for one, I have not sought as diligently as I might have done. More than forty years have passed away since these promises were made. I have been blessed with some revelations and prophecies, and with dreams of things that have come to pass; but as to seeing things as a seer, and beholding heavenly things in open vision, I have not attained to these things. And who is to blame for this? Not the Lord; not brother Joseph—they are not to blame. And so it is with the promises made to you in your confirmations and endowments, and by the patriarchs, in your patriarchal blessings; we do not live up to our privileges as saints of God and elders of Israel; for though we receive many blessings that are promised to us, we do not receive them in their fullness, because we do not seek for them as diligently and faithfully as we should.[91]


Orson F. Whitney (1926): "One night I dreamed … that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony"

Orson F. Whitney:

One night I dreamed … that I was in the Garden of Gethsemane, a witness of the Savior’s agony. … I stood behind a tree in the foreground. … Jesus, with Peter, James, and John, came through a little wicket gate at my right. Leaving the three Apostles there, after telling them to kneel and pray, He passed over to the other side, where He also knelt and prayed … : ‘Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt.’

As He prayed the tears streamed down His face, which was [turned] toward me. I was so moved at the sight that I wept also, out of pure sympathy with His great sorrow. My whole heart went out to Him. I loved Him with all my soul and longed to be with Him as I longed for nothing else.

Presently He arose and walked to where those Apostles were kneeling—fast asleep! He shook them gently, awoke them, and in a tone of tender reproach, untinctured by the least show of anger or scolding, asked them if they could not watch with Him one hour. …

Returning to His place, He prayed again and then went back and found them again sleeping. Again He awoke them, admonished them, and returned and prayed as before. Three times this happened, until I was perfectly familiar with His appearance—face, form, and movements. He was of noble stature and of majestic mien … the very God that He was and is, yet as meek and lowly as a little child.

All at once the circumstance seemed to change. … Instead of before, it was after the Crucifixion, and the Savior, with those three Apostles, now stood together in a group at my left. They were about to depart and ascend into heaven. I could endure it no longer. I ran from behind the tree, fell at His feet, clasped Him around the knees, and begged Him to take me with Him.

I shall never forget the kind and gentle manner in which He stooped and raised me up and embraced me. It was so vivid, so real that I felt the very warmth of His bosom against which I rested. Then He said: ‘No, my son; these have finished their work, and they may go with me; but you must stay and finish yours.’ Still I clung to Him. Gazing up into His face—for He was taller than I—I besought Him most earnestly: ‘Well, promise me that I will come to You at the last.’ He smiled sweetly and tenderly and replied: ‘That will depend entirely upon yourself.’ I awoke with a sob in my throat, and it was morning.[92]


George Q. Cannon (1896): "I know that God lives. I know that Jesus lives; for I have seen him"

Spencer W. Kimball quotes George Q. Cannon:

Elder George Q. Cannon, who was in the presidency of the Church at one time, said this: `I know that God lives. I know that Jesus lives; for I have seen him.' - Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign (May 1974): 119; George Q. Cannon talk given on 6 October 1896, published in Deseret News Semi–Weekly (27 October 1896), Deseret News Weekly (31 October 1896), and later in Gospel Truth (vol. 1, iv, 1st edition, 1957, compiled by Jerreld L. Newquist).


Henry B. Eyring (1996): "I know as surely as did the Apostles Peter, James, and John that Jesus is the Christ, our risen Lord"

Henry B. Eyring:

I am grateful that I know as surely as did the Apostles Peter, James, and John that Jesus is the Christ, our risen Lord, and that he is our advocate with the Father. I know that the Father bore direct witness of His Beloved Son by introducing the resurrected Lord to the boy Joseph Smith in the Sacred Grove. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, translated by the Prophet Joseph through the power of God. I know that the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood were restored by those who received them from the Savior and that President Gordon B. Hinckley is now the only person on earth authorized to direct the use of all those keys. I bear solemn testimony that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ, in which the ordinances and the covenants are offered, which if accepted and honored produce peace in this life and assure us eternal life in the world to come. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.[93]


James E. Faust (1995): "Jesus is our divine Savior, Redeemer, and the son of God the Father. I know of his reality by a sure perception so sacred I cannot give utterance to it"

James E. Faust:

Mine is the certain knowledge that Jesus is our divine Savior, Redeemer, and the son of God the Father. I know of his reality by a sure perception so sacred I cannot give utterance to it. I know and testify with an absolute awareness that Joseph Smith restored the keys of the fulness of times and that every President of the Church has held those keys, as does President Gordon B. Hinckley today.[94]


Harold B. Lee: "I have received a witness that I cannot or dare not deny. When I see Jesus, I cannot mistake His identity. I know that He lives!"

Harold B. Lee:

I bear my witness to you this morning. There are some witnesses I cannot give now, perhaps sometime later. Many things are too sacred to share at this time. I have received a witness that I cannot or dare not deny. When I see Jesus, I cannot mistake His identity. I know that He lives![95]


Oaks (2000): "it is usually inappropriate to recite miraculous circumstances to a general audience that includes people with very different levels of spiritual maturity"

Dallin H. Oaks:

Why don't our talks in general conference and local meetings say more about the miracles we have seen? Most of the miracles we experience are not to be shared. Consistent with the teachings of the scriptures, we hold them sacred and share them only when the Spirit prompts us to do so…In bearing testimonies and in our public addresses we rarely mention our most miraculous experiences, and we rarely rely on signs that the gospel is true. We usually just affirm our testimony of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and give few details on how we obtained it. Why is this? Signs _follow_ those that believe. Seeking a miracle to convert someone is improper sign seeking. By the same token, it is usually inappropriate to recite miraculous circumstances to a general audience that includes people with very different levels of spiritual maturity. To a general audience, miracles will be faith-reinforcing for some but an inappropriate sign for others.[96]


Oaks (1997): "rarely speak of them publicly because...because we understand that the channels of revelation will be closed if we show these things before the world"

Dallin H. Oaks:

Visions do happen. Voices are heard from beyond the veil. I know this. But these experiences are exceptional. And those who have these great and exceptional experiences rarely speak of them publicly because we are instructed not to do so (see D&C 63:64) and because we understand that the channels of revelation will be closed if we show these things before the world.[97]


Boyd K. Packer (1980): "We do not talk of those sacred interviews that qualify the servants of the Lord to bear a special witness of Him, for we have been commanded not to do so"

There has come, these last several years, a succession of announcements that show our day to be a day of intense revelation, equaled, perhaps, only in those days of beginning, 150 years ago But then, as now, the world did not believe. They say that ordinary men are not inspired; that there are no prophets, no apostles; that angels do not minister unto men—not to ordinary men. That doubt and disbelief have not changed. But now, as then, their disbelief cannot change the truth. We lay no claim to being Apostles of the world—but of the Lord Jesus Christ. The test is not whether men will believe, but whether the Lord has called us—and of that there is no doubt. We do not talk of those sacred interviews that qualify the servants of the Lord to bear a special witness of Him, for we have been commanded not to do so. But we are free, indeed, we are obliged, to bear that special witness…Like all of my Brethren, I too come from among the ordinary people of the Church. I am the seventy–eighth man to be accepted by ordination into the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in this dispensation. Compared to the others who have been called, I am nowhere near their equal, save it be, perhaps, in the certainty of the witness we share. I feel compelled, on this 150th anniversary of the Church, to certify to you that I know that the day of miracles has not ceased. I know that angels minister unto men. I am a witness to the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father; that He has a body of flesh and bone; that He knows those who are His servants here and that He is known of them. I know that He directs this Church now, as He established it then, through a prophet of God. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.[98]


George F. Richards: "The Lord has given me dreams which to me are just as real and as much from God as was the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar"

Spencer W. Kimball, quoting George F. Richards:

The Lord has revealed to men by dreams something more than I [President Kimball] ever understood or felt before. I heard this more than once in quorum meetings of the Council of the Twelve when George F. Richards was president. He was the venerable father of Brother LeGrand Richards who has just spoken to us. He said,

“I believe in dreams, brethren. The Lord has given me dreams which to me are just as real and as much from God as was the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, which was the means of saving a nation from starvation, or the dream of Lehi who through a dream led his colony out of the old country across the mighty deep to this promised land, or any other dreams that we might read in the scriptures.

“It is not out of place for us to have important dreams,” he said. “And then more than 40 years ago I had a dream which I am sure was from the Lord. In this dream I was in the presence of my Savior as he stood mid-air. He spoke no word to me, but my love for him was such that I have not words to explain. I know that no mortal man can love the Lord as I experienced that love for the Savior unless God reveals it to him. I would have remained in his presence, but there was a power drawing me away from him.

“As a result of that dream, I had this feeling that no matter what might be required of my hands, what the gospel might entail unto me, I would do what I should be asked to do even to the laying down of my life.

“And so when we read in the scriptures what the Savior said to his disciples, ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions: … I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am, there ye may be also.’ (John 14:2–3.) I think that is where I want to be.

“If only I can be with my Savior and have that same sense of love that I had in that dream, it will be the goal of my existence, the desire of my life.”[99]


Marion G. Romney: "I have never told anybody some of the experiences I have had, not even my wife. I know that God lives. I not only know that he lives, but I know him"

In his journal, Marion G. Romney wrote:

I don't know just how to answer people when they ask the question, "Have you seen the Lord?" I think that the witness that I have and the witness that each of us has, and the details of how it came, are too sacred to tell. I have never told anybody some of the experiences I have had, not even my wife. I know that God lives. I not only know that he lives, but I know him.[100]


David B. Haight: "I was there with the outpouring of the Spirit in that room so strong that none of us could speak afterwards"

David B. Haight, at the time of the revelation which lifted the priesthood ban:

I would hope someday that our great-grandson Mark and others of our posterity would have similar spiritual experiences and that they would feel the spiritual power and influence of this gospel. I hope that Mark and others will have opportunities such as I had when I was in the temple when President Spencer W. Kimball received the revelation regarding the priesthood. I was the junior member of the Quorum of the Twelve. I was there. I was there with the outpouring of the Spirit in that room so strong that none of us could speak afterwards. We just left quietly to go back to the office. No one could say anything because of the powerful outpouring of the heavenly spiritual experience.

But just a few hours after the announcement was made to the press, I was assigned to attend a stake conference in Detroit, Michigan. When my plane landed in Chicago, I noticed an edition of the Chicago Tribune on the newsstand. The headline in the paper said, "Mormons Give Blacks Priesthood." And the subheading said, "President Kimball Claims to Have Received a Revelation." I bought a copy of the newspaper. I stared at one word in that subheading: claims. It stood out to me just like it was in red neon. As I walked along the hallway to make my plane connection, I thought, Here I am now in Chicago walking through this busy airport, yet I was a witness to this revelation. I was there. I witnessed it. I felt that heavenly influence. I was part of it. Little did the editor of that newspaper realize the truth of that revelation when he wrote, "Claims to Have Received a Revelation." Little did he know, or the printer, or the man who put the ink on the press, or the one who delivered the newspaper -- little did any of them know that it was truly a revelation from God. Little did they know what I knew because I was a witness to it.[101]


Notes

  1. Stephen E. Robinson, "The Exclusion by Misrepresentation".
  2. Matthew B. Brown, "Brigham Young’s Teachings on Adam," 2009 FAIR Conference (August 2009).
  3. Neil L. Andersen, "Trial of Your Faith,", Ensign (November 2012)
  4. The following critical works use this quote from Brigham to claim that Latter-day Saints must accept polygamy as a requirement to enter heaven. Contender Ministries, Questions All Mormons Should Ask Themselves. Answers; Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 233, 422 n. 48-49. ( Index of claims ); George D. Smith, Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2008), xiv, 6, 55, , 356. ( Index of claims , (Detailed book review)); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 29, 258.( Index of claims )
  5. Brigham Young, "Remarks by President Brigham Young, in the Bowery, in G.S.L. City," (19 August 1866) Journal of Discourses 11:268-269. (emphasis added) See Quote mining—Journal of Discourses 11:269 to see how this quote was mined.
  6. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 6:527 (journal entry dated 12 February 1870). ISBN 0941214133.(emphasis added)
  7. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 7:31 (journal entry dated 24 September 1871). ISBN 0941214133.(emphasis added)
  8. "Doctrine and Covenants 132," Seminary Teacher Resource Manual on LDS.org (2001, [updated 2005])
  9. Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Volume 3: Theology (Salt Lake City, Utah: Greg Kofford Books, 2013), 208. citing Salt Lake City School of the Prophets, Minutes (10 February 1873).
  10. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 3, 208., citing Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 8:235 (journal entry dated 9 March 1884). ISBN 0941214133. and John Henry Smith as cited in John P. Hatch, editor, Danish Apostle: The Diaries of Anthon H. Lund, 1890–1921 (10 January 1900), 72.
  11. Kathryn M. Daynes, More Wives than One: Transformation of the Mormon Marriage System, 1840–1910 (Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2001), 75. ISBN 0252026810.
  12. Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 3, 194., citing Temple Lot Transcript, Respondent's Testimony, Part 3, p. 66, question 698; p. 205, question 600; p. 225, questions 1028–1029; p. 319, questions 590–91.
  13. Daniel H. Wells, "Local and Other Matters... The Reynolds Trial," Deseret News Weekly (15 December 1875): 732, cited in Hales, Joseph Smith's Polygamy Vol. 3, 206–207.
  14. Marvin Perkins, "Blacks in the Scriptures," 2013 FairMormon Conference (7 August 2014).
  15. Spencer W. Kimball, "Remember the Mission of the Church" (April 1982)
  16. Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions
  17. Boyd K. Packer, "It Is the Position That Counts" (June 1977)
  18. Bruce R. McConkie, "All Are Alike Unto God". (18 Aug 1978)
  19. The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter Library & Museum off-site
  20. "According to the President Carter Library,” posted by "CLee the Anti-Mormon," 8 February 2006.
  21. "Church Honors President Carter’s Support of the Family," Ensign (January 1979)
  22. "Church Give Genealogy to President Jimmy Carter," Ensign (August 1977).
  23. Lance Gurwell, "Critics Still Question `Revelation` On Blacks," Chicago Tribune, June 02, 1988.
  24. Kathy Erickson, letter to the Salt Lake Tribune, 11 March 11, 2001.
  25. Bruce L. Olsen, cited in Salt Lake Tribune on 5 April 2001.
  26. Jan Shipps, "The Mormons: Looking Forward and Outward" Christian Century (Aug. 16-23, 1978), 761–766 off-site
  27. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  28. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics, LDS.org.
  29. Lester E. Bush, Jr. and Armand L. Mauss, eds., Neither White Nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church, (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1984). ISBN 0941214222. off-site
  30. Anonymous, "On the Record: 'We Stand For Something' President Gordon B. Hinckley [interview in Australia]," Sunstone 21:4 no. (Issue #112) (December 1998), 71. off-site
  31. Dallin H. Oaks cited in "Apostles Talk about Reasons for Lifting Ban," Daily Herald, Provo, Utah (5 June 1988): 21 (Associated Press); reproduced with commentary in Dallin H. Oaks, Life's Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 2011), 68-69.
  32. Jeffrey R. Holland, Interview, 4 March 2006.
  33. Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), chapter 24, page 4; citing Alexander Morrison, Salt Lake City local news station KTVX, channel 4, 8 June 1998.. ISBN 1590384571 (CD version)
  34. Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Need for Greater Kindness," Ensign (May 2006), 58–61.
  35. Neither White nor Black, 56; citing Editor, "Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri," Evening and Morning Star 2 (January 1834), 122. off-siteGospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  36. Neither White nor Black, 55.
  37. Neither White nor Black, 61,77.
  38. Newell G. Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981), ??.
  39. Saints, Slaves, and Blacks, ??
  40. E.S. Abdy, Journal of a Residence and Tour in the United States of North America, from April, 1833, to October, 1834, 3 Vols., (London: John Murray, 1835), 3:57-58 (emphasis added). off-site
  41. Church Historian's Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, March 26, 1847, in Selected Collections from the Archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2 vols., DVD (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 2002), 1:18.
  42. General Church Minutes, March 26, 1847.
  43. General Church Minutes, April 25, 1847.
  44. Neither White nor Black, 70–72.
  45. For a history of such ideas in American Christian thought generally, see H. Shelton Smith, In His Image, But...: Racism in Southern Religion, 1780–1910 (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1972), 131. ISBN 082230273X.
  46. Neither White nor Black, 77–78.
  47. Neither White nor Black, 60–61, 77–78.
  48. Neither White nor Black, 79–81.
  49. B.H. Roberts, "To the Youth of Israel," The Contributor 6 (May 1885): 296–97.
  50. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 65.
  51. Sterling M. McMurrin and and L. Jackson Newell, Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin On Philosophy, Education, and Religion (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1996), 199–201; cited in Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17. ISBN 1590384571 (CD version)
  52. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17.
  53. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5–, footnote 17.
  54. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20 working draft, 13.
  55. Steven Taggert, Mormonism's Negro Policy: Social and Historical Origins (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1970).
  56. Edwin B. Firmage, "Hugh B. Brown in His Final Years," Sunstone 11:6 no. (Issue #67) (November 1987), 7–8. off-site
  57. Newell G. Bringhurst, "The 'Missouri Thesis' Revisited: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People," in Newel K. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith, eds., Black and Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 13. ISBN 978-0252073564. ISBN 0252073568.
  58. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, 204–205.
  59. Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22, footnote 105; citing for the affirmative Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian and Arrington to author, February 10 and June 15, 1998; for the negative, L. Brent Goates, interview by author, February 9, 1998.
  60. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.
  61. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 1; citing Charles J. Seldin, "Priesthood of LDS Opened to Blacks," Salt Lake City Tribune (10 June 1978), 1A.
  62. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 4; citing letter of 15 June 1963 to Edward Kimball.
  63. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 7; citing F. Burton Howard to author, June 15, 1995; F. Burton Howard, interview by author, July 30, 2002.
  64. Marvin Perkins, "Blacks in the Scriptures," 2013 FairMormon Conference (7 August 2014).
  65. Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 73, 367 n.138. ( Index of claims ); Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 43. ( Index of claims );Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 193, 235. ( Index of claims );Richard Packham, "Questions for Mitt Romney," 2008.;Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004) 40, 184. ( Index of claims )
  66. John A. Tvedtnes, "The Charge of 'Racism' in the Book of Mormon," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 183–198. off-site
  67. Tvedtnes.
  68. Hugh W. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, the World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites, edited by John W. Welch with Darrell L. Matthew and Stephen R. Callister, (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 4. (emphasis added)
  69. Douglas Campbell, "'White' or 'Pure': Five Vignettes," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 29 no. 4 (Winter 1996), 119–135. off-site
  70. Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature (New York: Viking, 2007), 115.
  71. Brant A. Gardner, Second Witness: Analytical and Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 6 Vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007), 4:696–697.
  72. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, "The Prophet Joseph Smith," Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional (24 September 2013).
  73. Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (Anchor, 2004), xx.
  74. Richard E. Turley, Jr. Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1992), 81, 83. ISBN 0252018850 Google books
  75. Gordon B. Hinckley Journal, 10 February 1984.
  76. Turley, Victims, 83.
  77. Cecelia Warner, "The "Martin Harris Letter": Fact, Fiction. . . Fate," Sunstone no. (Issue #50) (January 1985). off-site
  78. Church News, 28 April 1985.
  79. Gordon B. Hinckley, "First Presidency Message: Keep the Faith," Ensign (September 1985), 3.
  80. Dallin H. Oaks, Address to CES teachers, 16 August 1985.
  81. Dawn Tracy, “Hofmann Told Others He Was Shown Secret LDS History,” Salt Lake Tribune (17 Oct. 1986): C-13; see the belated admission of this connection, despite repeatedly using the claims about the Cowdery history without revealing its source in “Tried to Kill Self, Mormon Artifacts Dealer Says,” Los Angeles Times (1 Aug. 1987): 29.
  82. Interview with Gordon B. Hinckley, 18 October 1995.
  83. Criticisms related to President Hinckley's inability to detect the Mark Hofmann forgeries are raised in the following publications: Richard Abanes, One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 2003), 424 ( Index of claims ) (See here for a response to this issue for this individual work.); Jerald and Sandra Tanner, The Changing World of Mormonism (Moody Press, 1979), 337.( Index of claims ); Watchman Fellowship, The Watchman Expositor (Page 3)
  84. Gordon B. Hinckley, "First Presidency Message: Keep the Faith," Ensign (September 1985), 3.. off-site
  85. “A Series of Instructions and Remarks by President Brigham Young at a Special Council, Tabernacle, March 21, 1858, Church Historical Department, in Richard S. Van Wagoner, ed., The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young (Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2009), 3:1418.
  86. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 257.
  87. John A. Widtsoe, "Modern Revelation and Modern Questions," The Deseret News, Church Section (28 January 1939): 6.
  88. Brigham Young, (September 1, 1859) Journal of Discourses 7:243-244.
  89. Wilford Woodruff, (December 12, 1869) Journal of Discourses 13:158.
  90. Heber C. Kimball, (19 February 1865) Journal of Discourses 11:82.
  91. Orson Pratt, (May 11, 1878) Journal of Discourses 25:146-147.
  92. Orson F. Whitney, "The Divinity of Jesus Christ," Improvement Era (Jan. 1926), 224–25. off-site; see also Liahona (Dec 2003): 16; punctuation, capitalization, and spelling standardized.
  93. Henry B. Eyring, "Witnesses for God," Ensign (November 1996), 30. off-site
  94. James E. Faust, Conference Report (April 1995), 83. See also James E. Faust, "Heirs of the Kingdom of God," Ensign (May 1995), 61. off-site
  95. Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996), 636. GospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  96. Dallin H. Oaks, "Miracles," CES Fireside in Calgary, Canada, 7 May 2000, 3.
  97. Dallin H. Oaks, "Teaching and Learning by the Spirit," Ensign (March 1997), 14. off-site
  98. Boyd K. Packer, "A Tribute to the Rank and File of the Church," Ensign (May 1980), 65. off-site
  99. Spencer W. Kimball, "The Cause Is Just and Worthy," General Conference (April 1974).
  100. Marion G. Romney, cited in F. Burton Howard, Marion G. Romney: His Life and Faith (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988), 222.
  101. David B. Haight, "This Work Is True," Ensign (May 1996), 22. off-site

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