Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Nauvoo Polygamy/Loaded and prejudicial language

Nauvoo Polygamy: Loaded and prejudicial language


A work by author: George D. Smith

[A]n otherworldly being Smith called 'the Lord' defends polygamy….
Nauvoo Polygamy, p. 48.

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The author's hostile bias to the truth claims of the LDS Church often lead him to use loaded, prejudicial, or necessarily negative language when discussing events or people. These choices both reveal his bias, and serve to prejudice the incautious reader against Joseph Smith and the Latter-day Saints. More accurate, neutral language would create quite a different impression.

The following are some examples of the use of loaded and prejudicial language as a way to lead the reader to a predetermined conclusion regarding Joseph Smith:

Implications that Joseph needed constant companionship with women

The author claims that Joseph had a "predilection" to "take an interest in more than one woman." (p. x) and refers to Joseph's "quest for female companionship." (p. xii) Joseph's marriage to Emma is never mentioned without also mentioning that he "eloped." (p. xiv, p. 12)


Association of Joseph with magical practices

Joseph is claimed to have "mastered the use of magic stones" during the translation of the Book of Mormon." (p. 7) The process of obtaining the plates becomes a "ritualized five-year search" and that takes place "[e]ach year at the autumnal equinox, which according to rodsmen and seers was a favourable time to approach the spirits guarding buried treasures, Smith had gone to the hill where he sought after the plates." (p. 12) The author relies upon D. Michael Quinn's magical assessments when he notes that "September 1823 was ruled by Jupiter, Smith's ruling planet…"(p. 12n29) The author even repeats Quinn's misquote by claiming that Oliver Cowdery said Joseph wanted to "commune with some kind of messenger." In reality, Oliver said "some kind messenger." (p. 13) The removal of Oliver Cowdery's quote from context makes this quote sound more "magical" when he said that Joseph "had heard of the power of enchantment, and a thousand like stories, which held the hidden treasures of the earth." (p. 13)

Emphasizing "treasure seeking" in Joseph's early life

The author states that Joseph and Emma were "bound by treasure magic" (p. 22) The author ties Joseph, treasure seeking and women together when he claims that the "treasure seeker" was "someone who had special knowledge that was beyond the woman's ken." (p. 23)

Association of the United Order with Communism

In an attempt to create a tie-in between the United Order and Communism, the book makes sure that we note that "[a]cross the Atlantic, the communal experiment advocated by Marx and Engels appeared in London only a few years later in 1848." (p. 11)

Implications that Joseph was racist

The author portrays Joseph as racist when "W.W. Phelps reported on the prophet's instructions in all their antebellum racism..." (p. 14) and that "[s]kin color was important in other LDS scriptures as well" in reference to the priesthood ban. (p. 14n34)

Bizarre portrayals

In one of his more amusing portrayals, the author actually states that "an otherworldly being Smith called 'the Lord' defends polygamy…." (p. 48) One would think that this mysterious being called "the Lord" had never been heard from before!