Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates/Significance

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A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Golden plates
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An analysis of the Wikipedia article "Golden plates"  Updated 9/21/2011

Reviews of previous revisions of this section

Section review

The significance of the golden plates in the Latter Day Saint tradition

From the Wikipedia article:
The golden plates are significant within the Latter Day Saint movement because they are the reputed source for the Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith, Jr. called the "most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion."

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Roberts (1908) , p. 461.

FAIR's analysis:

From the Wikipedia article:
However, the golden plates are just one of many known and reputed metal plates with significance in the Latter Day Saint movement. The Book of Mormon itself refers to a long tradition of writing historical records on plates, of which the golden plates are a culmination. See List of plates (Latter Day Saint movement). In addition, Joseph Smith once believed in the authenticity of a set of engraved metal plates called the Kinderhook Plates,

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 490;Brodie (1971) , p. 291: "The whole of Nauvoo soon buzzed with the discovery. The Times and Seasons published full reproductions as further proof of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon, and the printing office sold facsimiles at one dollar a dozen." The original source is William Clayton's Journal, May 1, 1843 (See also, Trials of Discipleship — The Story of William Clayton, a Mormon, 117): "I have seen 6 brass plates... covered with ancient characters of language containing from 30 to 40 on each side of the plates. Prest J. has translated a portion and says they contain the history of the person with whom they were found and he was a descendant of Ham through the loins of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth." The information was deemed important enough to be republished in the first person (as if Smith had said it) in the History of The Church: "I insert facsimiles of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook...I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth." More than six pages of History of the Church, 5:372-79 discuss the Kinderhook plates, and Smith directed Reuben Hedlock to make woodcuts of the plates. Palmer (2002) , p. 31 "Church historians continued to insist on the authenticity of the Kinderhook plates until 1980 when an examination conducted by the Chicago Historical Society, possessor of one plate, proved it was a nineteenth-century creation." Bushman (2005) , p. 490

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Undue weight off-site— Neutrality requires that the article should fairly represent all significant viewpoints that have been published by a reliable source, and should do so in proportion to the prominence of each....articles should not give minority views as much or as detailed a description as more widely held views; generally, the views of tiny minorities should not be included at all.

    The importance of "many known and reputed metal plates" is given undue weight in the article. In reality, most Latter-day Saints are not familiar with the Kinderhook plates, which have never occupied a position of any significance within Latter-day Saint thought. Other plates mentioned in the Book of Mormon are simply elements of the narrative, and do not hold any special "significance" in the Latter-day Saint "movement." None of the other plates mention even approach the importance and significance of those used in the production of the Book of Mormon.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: No Original Research off-site— Do not use unpublished facts, arguments, speculation, and ideas; and any unpublished analysis or synthesis of published material that serves to advance a position.
    Violated by Visorstuff —Diff: off-site

    The phrase "The information was deemed important enough..." is original research, and it leads the reader to conclude that there was something particularly special about the Kinderhook plates that it would be "republished in the first person." This is incorrect. Everything in History of the Church was written in the first person, as if Joseph himself had written it. This was according to the standards of documentation of the time.
  • For a detailed response, see: Authorship of History of the Church
  • For a detailed response, see: Kinderhook Plates

From the Wikipedia article:
although these plates turned out to be a hoax by non-Mormons who sought to entice Smith to translate them in order to discredit his reputation.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005), 489-90.

FAIR's analysis:

From the Wikipedia article:
Two other sets of alleged plates, the Voree Plates and the Book of the Law of the Lord, were purportedly translated by James Strang, one of three major contenders to succeed Joseph Smith and the eventual leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite).

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • The Voree Plates were alleged to have been written by an ancient inhabitant of what is now Burlington, Wisconsin, while the Book of the Law of the Lord was alleged by Strang to be a translation of the Plates of Laban mentioned in the Book of Mormon. Neither of these alleged discoveries by Strang is accepted as authentic outside of the Strangite community.

FAIR's analysis:

  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

  • For a detailed response, see: James Strang

From the Wikipedia article:
Some Latter Day Saints, especially those within the Community of Christ, have doubted the historicity of the golden plates and downplayed their significance.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • W. Grant McMurray, "They "Shall Blossom as the Rose": Native Americans and the Dream of Zion," an address delivered February 17, 2001, accessed on Community of Christ website, September 1, 2006 at (referring to "long-standing questions about [the Book of Mormon's] historicity" which has provoked "discussion in the 1970s and beyond" about the proper use of the book in the religion); Ostling (1999) , p. 259: "'Were there really gold plates and ministering angels, or was there just Joseph Smith Seated at a table with his face in a hat dictating to a scribe a fictional account of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas?' Resolving that problem haunts loyal Mormons. The blunt questioner quoted is Brigham D. Madsen, a liberal Mormon and onetime history teacher at Brigham Young University."

FAIR's analysis:

From the Wikipedia article:
For most Latter Day Saints, however, the physical existence and authenticity of the golden plates are essential elements of their faith. For them, the message of the Book of Mormon is inseparable from the story of its origins.

Wikipedia footnotes:

  • Givens (2003) , p. 37.

FAIR's analysis:


Wikipedia references for "Golden Plates"

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