Mormonism and history

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    Mormonism and history

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Topics






Some claim that the church has "whitewashed" some of the information about its origins to appear more palatable to members and investigators. Some feel that this is done intentionally to hide negative aspects of church history. Others feel that it is done to focus on the good, but that it causes problems for believing members when they encounter these issues outside of church curriculum. (Click here for full article)




  • Boyd K. Packer: "Some things that are true are not very useful."
    Brief Summary: Elder Packer gave an address to religious educators called "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect." The following quote is a favorite of critics who wish to demonstrate that the Church wishes to suppress its history and independent thought: "There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful." (Click here for full article)
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  • "I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth."
    Brief Summary: There is much that critics do not reveal about this quote or its context, which is attributed to Elder Packer. The source of this quote is the now excommunicated D. Michael Quinn, who wrote in a footnote that, "When Elder Packer interviewed me as a prospective member of Brigham Young University's faculty in 1976, he explained: 'I have a hard time with historians because they idolize the truth.'" This quote is not from any recorded address by Elder Packer, nor is it in any of his writings. (Click here for full article)
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  • Church discipline of scholars: The "September Six"
    Brief Summary: Some claim that the Church excommunicates or disfellowships scholars who publish historical information that is embarrassing to Church leaders. Despite the fact that these disciplinary actions are carried out by local leaders, some critics insist that they are in reality instigated by general authorities. (Click here for full article)
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  • Telling only part of the truth
    Brief Summary: The author of the critical book One Nation Under Gods claims that "Mormon leaders, especially since the 1970s, have repeatedly called for LDS historians to 'tell only that part of the truth that is inspiring and uplifting.'" (Click here for full article)
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  • Joseph Smith and the "occult" or "magick"
    Brief Summary: Citing Joseph Smith's experiences with folk magic, treasure seeking and seer stones, it is claimed that Joseph Smith's spiritual experiences were originally products of magic and the occult. Some charge that only much later did Joseph retrofit his experiences in Christian, religious terms: speaking of God, angels, and prophethood rather than in terms of magic, treasure guardians and scrying. It is also claimed that a "vagabond fortune-teller" named Walters became popular in the Palmyra area, and that when Walters left the area, "his mantle fell upon" Joseph Smith. (Click here for full article)
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  • Did early members believe in "witchcraft?"
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that early members of the Church believed in witchcraft. They use this to imply or argue that this supports their view of Joseph Smith as involved in "the occult." (Click here for full article)
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  • Book of Mormon recovered on autumnal equinox
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith's preoccupation with "magick" is supported by the fact that meetings with Moroni and the recovery of the Book of Mormon occurred on the autumnal equinox, a date with astrological and magical significance. (Click here for full article)
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  • Was Joseph Smith influenced by Kabbalah?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith's religious ideas derived in part from Kabbalah, a type of (usually Jewish) mysticism. (Click here for full article)
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  • Lucy Mack Smith on "faculty of Abrac" and "magic circles"
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Lucy Mack Smith's discussion of the "faculty of Abrac" and "magic circles" is evidence for the strong role which "magick" played in the Smith family's early life. (Click here for full article)
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  • Jupiter talisman
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Joseph Smith had a Jupiter Talisman on his person when he was martyred and cite this as proof of his fascination with the occult. (Click here for full article)
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  • Was the magician Walters a mentor to Joseph Smith?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that a "vagabond fortune-teller" named Walters became popular in the Palmyra area, and that when Walters left the area, "his mantle fell upon" Joseph Smith. (Click here for full article)
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  • Magick parchments
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that the Smith family owned "magic parchments," suggesting their involvement in the "occult." (Click here for full article)
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  • Mars dagger
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that the Smith's owned a magic dagger that was among Hyrum Smith's heirlooms. They cite this as proof of the Smith family's deep involvement in ritual magick. (Click here for full article)
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  • Seer stones, use of
    Brief Summary: What can you tell me about Joseph's seer stone? What is its relation to the "Urim and Thummim"? Did Joseph place his seer stone in his hat while he was translating the Book of Mormon? (Click here for full article)
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  • Did David B. Haight use astrological ideas about the moon, only to be censored later?
    Brief Summary: It is claimed that Elder David B. Haight "reinvoked the astrological principle that people should 'do nothing without the assistance of the moon'" in a talk that he gave during General Conference in 1998. One critic takes this a step further by claiming that the phrase "do nothing without the assistance of the moon" was deleted from the transcribed version of Elder Haight's talk. This claim has evolved over time due to successive misinterpretation of the original sources. (Click here for full article)
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Notes

  1. Helen Whitney, interview with Dallin H. Oaks, "Elder Oaks Interview Transcript from PBS Documentary," LDS.org.


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