Mormonism and history/Censorship and revision/Has the Church whitewashed its history/Further Reading

Further reading

Further reading

FairMormon Answers articles

Accusations of lying and hypocrisy on the part of the modern Church

Accusations of hypocrisy in current Church practices

Summary: It is claimed that the Church, as a corporate entity, controls business properties that are not consistent with its stated purposes. Examples include claims that the Church owns controlling stock in the Coca-Cola company, tobacco companies, and alcohol companies.

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"Lying for the Lord"

Summary: Some have long accused Mormons of organizationally and systematically “lying for the Lord,” equating such with a policy of using any means necessary to achieve some “good” goal. This claim is false, and a biased reading of Church history. One must not use ethically questionable tactics because one believes the “end justifies the means.”

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Joseph Smith fired a gun at Carthage Jail

Summary: It is claimed that the Church has tried to hide the fact that Joseph fired a pepperbox pistol at the mob which murdered Hyrum and was soon to kill him, despite numerous mentions of the gun in Church literature, and the fact that the very gun itself is on display at the museum of Church History in Salt Lake City.

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Gordon B. Hinckley cited false information on the First Vision?

Summary: It is claimed that there were no religious revivals in the Palmyra, New York area in 1820, and that Gordon B. Hinckley cited false information in a book called Truth Restored.

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No paid ministry

Summary: It is claimed that Mormonism prides itself in having unpaid clergy as one proof of the Church's truthfulness. They then point to the fact that some General Authorities, mission presidents, and others do, in fact, receive a living stipend while serving the Church, and point to this as evidence of the “hypocrisy” of the Church.

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City Creek Center Mall in Salt Lake City

Summary: Members and critics have questions about the Church's involvement in the redevelopment of the city center in Salt Lake.

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Claims that church membership numbers distorted

Summary: It is claimed by some that the Church distorts its membership numbers and rate of growth for public relations purposes.

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Accusations of plagiarizing C.S. Lewis in General Conference

Summary: Some claim that President Ezra Taft Benson's famous General Conference address, "Beware of Pride," was plagiarized from C.S. Lewis' chapter on pride in Mere Christianity.

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Accusations of lying in the 19th century Church

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Censorship and revision of Church history

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.

Has the Church "whitewashed" its history?

Summary: Has the church "whitewashed" some of the information about its origins to appear more palatable to members and investigators?

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Church art and historical accuracy

Summary: It is claimed by some that the Church knowingly "lies" or distorts the historical record in its artwork in order to whitewash the past, or for propaganda purposes. A commonly used example is the inaccuracy of any Church art representing the translation process of the Book of Mormon.

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Does the Church excommunicate scholars who publish historical information?

Summary: Some claim that the Church excommunicates or disfellowships scholars who publish historical information that is embarrassing to Church leaders. It is often claimed, despite the fact that these disciplinary actions are carried out by local leaders, that they are in reality instigated by general authorities. It is also claimed that the Church is silencing honest people for telling the truth.

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Brigham Young and plural marriage

Summary: It is claimed that the Church's manual, The Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, attempts to "hide history" by portraying Brigham Young (a well-known polygamist) as having only one wife.

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Hiding the facts in plain sight using Church publications

Summary: Quite a few items that some claim were hidden by the Church were actually published in Church magazines such as the New Era, the Ensign and the Friend.

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Brigham Young destroys Lucy Mack Smith's history of Joseph?

Summary: Did Brigham Young attempt to suppress and destroy all copies of Lucy Mack Smith's Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith because it contained information which would embarrass the Church? It is claimed that Brigham Young inserted the reference to Joseph Smith's First Vision into Lucy's book. Critics also try to prove that the silence of Joseph's mother and siblings in her history prove that the First Vision did not take place, and is a later fabrication by Joseph, and not well known to the early members of the church.

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Dealing with doubts about the Church

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FairMormon web site

Accusations of dishonesty FairMormon articles on-line
  • Davis Bitton, "I Don't Have a Testimony of the History of the Church," (FAIR Conference, 2004) FairMormon link
  • Scott Gordon, "Dealing with Difficult Issues." FairMormon link
  • L. Ara Norwood, "Nehors in the Land: A Latter-day Variation of an Ancient Theme." FairMormon link
  • Daniel C. Peterson, "Easier Than Research, More Inflammatory Than Truth." FairMormon link
  • Juliann Reynolds, "Critics in Wonderland: Through the Liberal Looking Glass." FairMormon link
  • John A. Tvedtnes, "Scholarship in Mormonism and Mormonism in Scholarship." FairMormon link
  • Allen L. Wyatt, "Answering Shotgun Anti-Mormonism" FairMormon link



I Don't Have a Testimony of the History of the Church, Davis Bitton, 2004 FAIR Conference

External links

Accusations of dishonesty on-line articles
  • Howard C. Searle, "Authorship of the History of Brigham Young: A Review Essay," Brigham Young University Studies 22 no. 3 (1982), 367.
  • Howard C. Searle, "Authorship of the History of Joseph Smith: A Review Essay," Brigham Young University Studies 21 no. 1 (1981), 101. PDF link off-site
  • Dean C. Jessee, "The Writing of Joseph Smith's History [1839–46]," Brigham Young University Studies 11 no. 4 (1972), 439. PDF link off-site
  • Dean C. Jessee, "I have heard that Joseph Smith didn't actually write his history—that it was prepared by clerks under his direction. If so, how reliable is it?," Ensign (July 1985), 15. off-site
  • Dean C. Jessee, "Priceless Words and Fallible Memories: Joseph Smith as Seen in the Effort to Preserve His Discourses," Brigham Young University Studies 31 no. 2 (1991), ?–??. off-site

Printed material

Accusations of dishonesty printed materials
  • Dallin H. Oaks, “Gospel Teachings About Lying,” BYU Fireside Address, 12 September 1993, typescript, no page numbers; also printed in Clark Memorandum [of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law, Brigham Young University] (Spring 1994).