Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The LDS Church's Plural Marriage Statement

For the last weeks of October and the first part of November, 2014, headlines similar to "The LDS Church Finally Admits Joseph Smith Was a Polygamist and Had a 14-Year-Old Bride" have been splashed across news sources from Salt Lake City to all points east and west. Of course, this is a result of the LDS Church recently posting the "Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo" article to lds.org stating their official position that Joseph was a polygamist and, among other things, was married to a 14-year-old girl, Helen Mar Kimball. Naturally, because the LDS Church has been officially silent for almost a century about Joseph and polygamy, the news sources are under the impression that this is the first official statement by the LDS Church that Joseph was a polygamist. Actually, this was one of many actions of the LDS Church (since migrating to Utah) that have accused Joseph of being a polygamist. In addition, because of the sensationalism of the official statement by the LDS Church that Joseph was married to a 14-year-old girl, the news sources have taken up this chant so as to eagerly prove his allegedly depraved nature. However, when looking at the prolific writings of Helen Mar Kimball in support of polygamy, they don't convince me beyond a reasonable doubt that she was a plural wife of Joseph Smith, Jr. Because both of these subjects are too lengthy to address in one blog post, today I will address the fact that the belief of the LDS Church has always been that Joseph was a polygamist. My next post will deal with the issue of Helen Mar Kimball.

The Original Position of the LDS Church in Utah Was That Joseph Founded Polygamy

The belief that Joseph taught and practiced polygamy is not a new position for the LDS Church. In 1852, Orson Pratt at the direction of Brigham Young, publicly read for the first time the purported revelation from Joseph Smith, Jr. on plural marriage, which is now Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants. Allegedly, prior to its public reading, Brigham Young had been holding this document in secret. This was the first official statement from the LDS Church legitimizing the practice of polygamy and crediting Joseph with its origin. Publicly crediting Joseph as the author of both the revelation and the doctrine—whether such credit was fact or fiction—was the galvanizing agent used by the LDS Church to bring their people together to openly accept and practice this principle. Those in the rank and file of the church who knew Joseph, both loved and revered him. Thus, when they were told in 1852 by their leaders, who they also respected, that Joseph had received a revelation nine years earlier indicating they were to openly practice celestial marriage and that their eternal salvation depended upon it, for the most part, they readily accepted it without question.

In the 1860s, 1870s, and 1880s the sons of Joseph (Joseph III, Alexander, and David) came to Utah to preach against polygamy and try to establish that it was not taught or practiced by their father and was not a principle of the Church established through him. As a result of their efforts, their cousin Joseph F. Smith (an apostle in the LDS Church at the time) began a search for documentation to prove Joseph was a polygamist. According to Brian C. Hales, Joseph F. Smith wrote to Orson Pratt (who had openly presented the alleged revelation on celestial marriage and who was a more senior apostle) in 1875 about his efforts to obtain evidence regarding Joseph's polygamy and was astonished at the lack of existing evidence.

A few years ago [May 1869 to April 1870] I obtained the affidavits of as many as I knew of, with a few exceptions, who received personal instructions or commandment from The Prophet respecting the Subject of celestial marriage [,] all of which are filed away in the H.O. [Historian's Office].... When the subject first came before my mind I must say I was astonished at the scarcity of evidence, I might say almost total absence of direct evidence upon the Subject, as connected with the Prophet Joseph himself. There was nothing written and but few living who were personally knowing to the fact that Joseph Taught the principle. True much had been written in support of the Doctrine, bearing upon scriptural—and rational evidences, but not a word, except the Revelation itself. Showing that the The Prophet was the Author—under God.... (Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Volume 1: History, Brian C. Hales, p. 9)

Since there was "almost total absence of direct evidence" of Joseph teaching or practicing polygamy, Joseph F. Smith had to resort to obtaining affidavits (signed statements, not made under penalty of law for perjury) of alleged plural wives of Joseph as well as those who stated they knew Joseph was a polygamist. According to Brian C. Hales, Joseph F. Smith obtained such affidavits from about fifty individuals (Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Volume 2: History, Brian C. Hales, pp. 352-357).

In the 1880s Andrew Jenson, an LDS author, obtained additional affidavits (again, not made under penalty of law for perjury) and published them along with a list of 27 plural wives of Joseph Smith by name. According to Brian C. Hales:

In July 1887, Jenson published a twenty-seven page article, "Plural Marriage," in his monthly Historical Record. It identified by name twenty-seven plural wives of Joseph Smith. He also printed all seven of the Joseph F. Smith affidavits that the Deseret News had printed in 1879 and added several more new attestations [some of which were originally recorded by Joseph F. Smith] (Joseph Smith's Polygamy, Volume 1: History, Brian C. Hales, p.11).

While the work done by Joseph F. Smith and Andrew Jenson was not officially directed by the LDS Church, at the time of its collection, it was certainly not discouraged or denied by the Church. Today, it remains the core of evidence used to "prove" Joseph was a polygamist by the LDS Church in the mid to late 1800s, as well as by contemporary authors today.

However, in the 1890s, the LDS Church took another official stand that Joseph was a polygamist. The RLDS Church brought suit (Circuit Court of the United States, for the Western District of Missouri, Western Division, at Kansas City, Missouri, Judge John F. Philips) against the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) for ownership of the Temple Lot in Independence, Missouri. The LDS Church entered the suit on behalf of the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) against the RLDS Church. The presence of the LDS Church in the trial was so notable "that Judge Philips in his decision spoke of it as 'the power behind the throne.' They furnished many leading witnesses, including Wilford Woodruff, president of the LDS Church, Lorenzo Snow, president of the Twelve, and at least two of the women who had become notorious by reason of their claim that they were plural wives of Joseph Smith the Martyr" (The Church in Court, compiled and arranged by Elbert A. Smith).

Since neither party owned a warranty deed to the land, the court had to decide who was the proper successor to the original LDS Church which had purchased the 63.27 acre tract containing the Temple Lot. Thus, the court investigated the original beliefs of the Church, as well as the beliefs of the churches represented at the suit, to determine which church was the legitimate continuation of the original church and entitled to the property. The LDS Church officially took the position that Joseph taught and practiced polygamy. However, according to the Judge, they could not prove their case. While the court's decision to award ownership of the Temple Lot to the RLDS Church was overturned in appeals court because of laches (too much time delay in suing for ownership), the lower court's decision about the original teachings of the church and Joseph's innocence regarding polygamy was not overturned. For more information about the Temple Lot Suit see my blog "Why is the Temple Lot Suit important?"

From the above it is important to remember that, according to Joseph F. Smith, the only evidence the LDS Church has that Joseph was a polygamist are the statements of individuals associated with polygamy. And when the LDS Church presented their case in a court of law to prove that Joseph was a polygamist, their evidence was too weak to convince the judge that Joseph taught or practiced polygamy. Nevertheless, the original position of the LDS Church from 1852 on was that polygamy originated with Joseph.

The LDS Church Stopped Teaching that Joseph Was a Polygamist

It is my understanding that since the Manifesto in 1890, the LDS Church gradually stopped teaching their previous position that Joseph was a polygamist. As a result, several generations of LDS were not taught about polygamy in their church, but emphasis was placed on monogamy as the basis of the family unit. Joseph and Emma, in a monogamous relationship, with their children were depicted as the perfect example of harmony and family life. The concept of polygamy and the history of its past practice was skillfully eradicated from common LDS thought. It wasn't until about the mid-1900s that the work of Joseph F. Smith and Andrew Jenson as well as the allegations made by Bennett, the Laws, the Higbee's, and anti-Mormon enemies of Joseph, began to be revisited by authors to paint Joseph as a polygamist. However, the publishing explosion of these types of books didn't occur until about the 1980s. Because the LDS Church had "covered up" these allegations from the past about Joseph practicing polygamy in order to distance itself from the teaching and practice of polygamy, authors have treated their books as exposés about Joseph—he was a deceiver, a liar, a whoremonger, a dictator, an adulterer, a pedophile, and in general a sex-driven maniac. In their minds they have uncovered the "truth" about him and informed not only the membership of the LDS Church, but the world, of his "true" nature and actions. But in my opinion, what they have uncovered are the lies told about Joseph by both his enemies and the mid-1800 leaders of the Utah LDS Church.

After having read several of these authors, it is my opinion that their purpose is only to prove how much of a polygamist Joseph was. They never consider any evidence (including his relentless statements and those of his family) that point to the possibility he was telling the truth that he was not a polygamist. So all they have done with their books is resurrect all the old evidence stating Joseph was a polygamist and made it "new" again. See my blog posts on "The 'New' Attack of Joseph"—Part 1 and Part 2. And now the LDS Church has officially taken the same position as these authors, which ironically, was the Utah LDS Church's original position. Officially, the LDS Church has gone full circle in their assertions that Joseph was a polygamist.

What Is My Take on All of This?

First, My Beliefs about Joseph

To understand my opinion about the recent plural marriage statement of the LDS Church, whether you agree with it or not, you need to understand my position about Joseph and polygamy. I don't believe Joseph taught or practiced polygamy. I believe that many of the high officials (including most of the Council of Twelve Apostles) began to secretly teach and practice polygamy in Nauvoo and attached Joseph's name to it in order to promote their position. I don't believe that the polygamy revelation (Section 132 of the LDS Doctrine and Covenants) was authored by the Lord or Joseph. Some might say I have this belief because of my RLDS upbringing. It is true that this background influenced my original beliefs on this subject, as anyone's upbringing affects their original belief system. However, as I have investigated both sides of the issues including scrutinizing source materials such as Jenson's "Plural Marriage" article in the Historical Record, Udney Jacob's The Peace Maker, the Nauvoo Expositor, statements made by the Whitney's, Eliza Snow, John C. Bennett, the Laws and Higbee's, the writings of Helen Mar Kimball, interviews of Sarah Pratt, etc., I have found that the truthfulness of their allegations break down and don't convince me beyond a reasonable doubt that Joseph taught or practiced polygamy. Joseph is on trial in our minds, and as such, should be considered innocent until the facts (truth, not hearsay or opinions) prove him guilty. None of the source material I have read proves him guilty, and thus he remains innocent to me. The contemporary authors stating Joseph was a polygamist, and now the LDS Church, have not proven to me that Joseph taught and practiced polygamy. The reason they have not done so is that I don't agree with their interpretation of the source material I have read for myself, and they fail—almost refusing—to deal with all the evidence proving Joseph was innocent. Their approach has been to show how much of a polygamist Joseph was, not to determine if he was. I feel their conclusions are tainted because their paradigm that he was a polygamist excludes evidence supporting his innocence and brings them to only one conclusion--he is really guilty of the most heinous acts including marriage to the 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball. However, my investigations have not proved him to be such, and until they do, he will remain innocent to me.

Why Did the LDS Church Revisit Their Original Position that Joseph was a Polygamist?

In short, they did so for damage control. As stated earlier, for about 100 years the LDS Church did not teach to their members their original position that Joseph was a polygamist. Several generations were raised on monogamous family values with their first prophet, Joseph, leading the way. Since the 1980s, there has been an explosion of books using documentation by the mid-1800s LDS Church, as well as enemies of Joseph, to "prove" Joseph was not only a polygamist, but an evil person. Because of this information and silence from the LDS Church on this issue, many members became disillusioned and left, and are still leaving, the LDS Church. And it seems the issue is not dying, only heating up. I recently learned from a video interview on the The Salt Lake Tribune Web site, that Brian C. Hales—who recently published (2013) the three-volume book, Joseph Smith's Polygamy—is co-authoring with his wife, Laura Hales, another book entitled, Joseph Smith and Nauvoo Polygamy—Separating Fact from Fiction, which should released in early 2015. Conversely, on the other side of the spectrum, Volume 2 of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, the only series of books defending Joseph's innocence, has recently been released in print. Because of their silence on the issue, the LDS Church has appeared to its members to be covering up the issues made public by the contemporary authors supporting the position that Joseph was a polygamist. The appearance of cover-up by the LDS Church has only fueled the disillusionment among the members. Thus, the LDS Church was forced to take a stand on the issue to assure their membership they are aware of the issues and are not covering up anything.

So why did the LDS Church stand against Joseph's innocence? In my opinion, they had no choice but to do so if they wished to preserve their church. Since I believe that the leaders of the LDS Church that went west with Brigham lied about Joseph teaching and practicing polygamy to justify their continued practice of the principle, the current LDS Church could not expose that lie and preserve their church. For the LDS Church leaders today to say that Brigham, the apostles, other church leaders, and their plural wives lied about Joseph's involvement in polygamy would put in question the authority of their church as the "true" church and heir to the Church established by Joseph. In addition, it would put in question other beliefs and practices emanating from Brigham Young. Since the LDS Church could no longer be silent about the issue and could not defend Joseph's innocence and still maintain the authority of their church, their only choice was to once again throw Joseph "under the bus" to preserve their way of life. (If you think my criticism is unwarranted because of my RLDS background, please be assured it is not about the LDS Church as such, but about their treatment of Joseph. I am just as critical about the RLDS Church leadership that also threw Joseph "under the bus" many years ago in order to promote the current liberal Protestantism of the Community of Christ.) I believe that, unfortunately, the LDS Church leadership have only just started their descent down a very slippery slope because their statement was too general and too rationalizing of polygamy to satisfy the intellectual and liberal members of their church. According to some of the opinions of the three women on the video interview by The Salt Lake Tribune reporter mentioned above, the statement made by the LDS Church on plural marriage was good for a start, but the church needs to address the issues of polygamy and its beginnings in the church more in-depth.

What Is Next?

For me, the statement by the LDS Church was inevitable. They had to control the damage done to their church by the Joseph-was-a-polygamist authors by jumping on board to spin the information in a way that would minimize its adverse impact on their members. In my opinion, the plural marriage statement is just the beginning for the LDS Church because these authors and the intellectual, liberal members will not stop until the LDS Church admits the full extent of what these authors say about Joseph and polygamy.

What is next for me? I will still continue to defend Joseph. The fact that the LDS Church is again officially saying Joseph was a polygamist has no bearing on my stand. They are just reiterating what authors have already said. Since these authors haven't yet proven their case to me, the LDS Church jumping on the band wagon is certainly not going to make a difference. The reason I can say this is that I have evaluated many sources used by these authors and have determined they are very weak in proving Joseph was a polygamist. Since Joseph's alleged polygamy took place over 170 years ago, I don't foresee any "new and convincing evidence" surfacing that would push me to the other side. However, I do find the study of this subject very interesting and will continue to pursue the truth about Joseph and polygamy.

But how about you? What is next for you? For those of you who already believe Joseph was a polygamist, the official statement by the LDS Church is confirmation to you of what you believe to be true. For those of you who have studied out this issue and, like me, have come to the conclusion that Joseph was not a polygamist, the statement is just a reiteration of what authors have already said against Joseph and thus, not too earth shaking. But for those LDS who have either heard the "rumors" about Joseph and polygamy or are hearing this about Joseph for the first time, you could be very disturbed and overwhelmed. For you it isn't an issue that some "wacko" authors are bringing to your attention. Your church, which has probably not taught you anything about this issue in the past, is now officially stating that Joseph was a polygamist. Since you can't ignore the official position of your church, what do you do about it? In my opinion, you can either choose to accept it and go on, or you can choose to investigate the issue for yourself and make up your own mind as to whether you agree or disagree with the official opinion of your church.

If you choose to investigate this for yourself, I have some suggestions for you. First, you need to get your head in the game. Don't be concerned about what other people believe or say about this issue. As I indicated earlier, just because published authors and now the LDS Church are saying Joseph was a polygamist, doesn't make it so. The only thing that makes it so, is if he really was a polygamist. So the only thing that should matter to you is that you find out the truth about Joseph and polygamy for yourself.

Second, you need to approach your investigation as if Joseph is on trial (which he is) and you are the jury. Remember that in our court system, a person is innocent until proven guilty. To come to the truth, you must presume Joseph's innocence until the presented facts prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This means you must review the evidence against him to determine if it is a fact (or true). If the evidence presented against him is not a fact (or not true) then you must reject it. Opinions and hearsay are not facts. Eyewitness accounts are acceptable as long as the witness is a person of integrity and has no reason to lie. Discrepancies in a person's testimony, or with what they said earlier, or with other accounts of the same event must be resolved. Otherwise, the truthfulness of their testimony is questionable. Evidence collected or statements made close to the event tend to be more accurate and reliable than those collected or made many years after the event. Generally, statements made close to the event are more detailed than those made many years after the event. Detailed statements made many years after an event tend to be questionable due to the fact that memory fades over time.

Third, don't forget to investigate and evaluate the defendant's (Joseph's) evidence. The best source of this information is the book, Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy, which is over three volumes of information supporting Joseph's innocence and is free to read. Since the book is not finished yet, continue to check back for new chapters.

Fourth, when doing your investigation, don't just take the author's word for interpretation of source material. Go to the source they reference and evaluate it yourself. If you do this you will be surprised, as I have been, how authors can misinterpret or bend the meaning of source material to fit their premise or support their conclusions.

Fifth, the whole issue of Joseph and polygamy can be a big, complicated mess. So as not to get overwhelmed, take one aspect of it that interests you, study it thoroughly from both sides, and make your judgment on that issue. Then, move on to the next one.

Sixth, if after evaluating all the evidence pro and con, you reasonably doubt that Joseph is guilty of being a polygamist, you must in your mind acquit him of the charges and deem him innocent..

While I realize this process is a little legalistic, it is the only way to fairly evaluate Joseph's guilt or innocence and give you the ability to determine this for yourself without being influenced by the opinions of others. In addition to the above, I suggest you add one more important step to your investigation—make it a diligent matter of prayer. Ask the Lord to show you in your studies whether or not Joseph was a polygamist. He knows the truth and He will show it to you in the way that will convince you. When He does, you will be satisfied in your soul about this issue. These are all the steps I have used to research this issue and they have led me to believe Joseph was innocent of both teaching and practicing polygamy.

God bless you in your pursuit of the truth about Joseph and polygamy. My next post will be about Helen Mar Kimball—was she really Joseph's wife?

Addendum (2/6/15): Authorship of LDS D&C Section 132 Determined by Writing Style Analysis

The following was posted on 12/31/14 anonymously as a comment: “Have you ever read Enid DeBarthe's thesis paper on an analysis of the writing style of the author of Section 132 MDC? She proves incontrovertibly that Brigham Young was its author. I have had a physical copy of it for almost 30 years, but didn't take the time to digitize it until a couple of weeks ago. I have never heard anybody mention it in any polygamy discussions. It is quite lengthy and technical, but if you would be interested in reading it, I can send it to your email.”

I responded that I was interested in getting a digital copy and gave my email address. However, I never received a copy of this document. Since this post, I asked around locally if any of my contacts knew of this document and where I could get a copy to digitize. I soon found out that Enid DeBarthe’s sister had recently begun attending our church. Her sister put me in contact with Enid’s son who had a copy of the document. It is a 348 page book which he allowed be to digitize. There are only three in existence.

According to the title page, the book is entitled, “A BIBLIOGRAPHY ON JOSEPH SMITH II THE MORMON PROPHET-LEADER.” Enid DeBarthe wrote this book as a “Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Library Science” for the “Faculty of the Graduate School Northern Illinois University” in July 1969. The major portion of the book is about Joseph Smith (his teachings and writings), the movement of the Church from New York to eventually Illinois, and the disbursement of the Church after Joseph’s death. It is the appendix of the book (oddly not listed in the table of contents) which analyzes the writing styles of both LDS D&C 132 and the King Follett sermon and compares them to the writing styles of several men, including Joseph and Brigham Young, to determine the likely author of these documents. It is her conclusion that “Brigham Young wrote Section 132 and rewrote the major portion of the report on the King Follett sermon” (p. 315).

Today, the type of writing analysis she used is called stylometry, which compares the writing style, using various criteria, of a document with unknown or disputed authorship to the writing styles of various authors to determine correct authorship. Presently, there are several computer programs which are used to do this task. However, Enid DeBarthe, in 1969, had to do this manually by counting words as well as comparing sentence structure and phraseology. The study and analysis she did was very detailed and remarkable for her time.

Since there has been so much interest expressed to read this analysis, I have made a PDF file of it available for you to download. If you have trouble downloading it, you may contact me at jsdefender1@gmail.com and I will email it to you.


  1. JSDefender, excellent post! I have reached the same conclusions based on similar research. But I struggle with the meaning of it all. Whether JS was innocent or guilty, I don't like the implications either way.

    If guilty, then for me it ultimately calls pretty much everything else associated with him into question and that is quite a lot. Somewhere along his path he must have become a great deceiver. One does not just become a secret polygamist to the degree and complexity he's accused of over night while emphatically denying it publicly. Perhaps he began deceiving very early. There is somewhat of a discernible progression in his history of more and more questionable decisions and leadership that could be viewed consistent with this hypothesis. So many issues have to be weighed for truth or falsity starting with the Book of Mormon and continuing with other many writings and on to the Book of Abraham all the way to polygamy. So much to wade through. It would be easy just to throw it all aside as a life of deception from A to Z. But, suppose that the Book of Mormon is true, but that beyond that point JS was making it up as he went and ultimately became a deceiver. Then, the Book of Mormon is trapped behind this huge obstacle of being inextricably linked to JS, a deceiver. It's already a tall order for many to even consider the Book of Mormon in a vacuum let alone attached to a person of questionable character. Every scenario that I consider in which JS is guilty of polygamy, as they claim, leads to doubts about everything he touched.

    If innocent (as I believe), then there is a whole different set of issues for me. In this case, he was defeated by his enemies to a certain extent. They were successful in framing him and usurping power over his organization to a large extent. They were successful in rewriting history and destroying many truths. Why? What is the purpose of it all? A temporary blip in history of perhaps some new revelations from the heavens to be almost immediately obscured and wrapped up in an enigma? In some ways then the Book of Mormon is still buried, only not in the ground, but under scandal and confusion. So much so that the cost is too great and the path too obscured for someone to attempt to wade through it all on the promise of new truth that essentially comes to a dead end with nowhere to turn in the end. JS's critical question of which church to join remains. Perhaps the answer applies more broadly than had been interpreted and is still the answer: none of them. Perhaps this history has merely planted an important seed for a future event that will make it all clear. It wouldn't be the first time something like that happened. But, for now, it's a jumbled mess.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I appreciate them.

      Like you, I choose innocent. If he was innocent, we can still believe and live the part he taught, which was and still is quite amazing. If he was guilty, then we pretty well have to dump it all.

    2. Yes, I believe the answer on which church to join is still 'none of them', if Joseph really got such an answer from God, which I doubt, but that would be God's answer to such a question though I believe.

      I believe Joseph was innocent of polygamy, not only because there is no proof he ever preached or practiced it, but because of how he fought and taught against it, even in his Book of Mormon, where he called polygamy a whoredom in every case in history (even by the ancients) and said it is never ever sanctioned by God, even if a prophet might try to preach it and even if he himself started preaching it. So it is ridiculous to think Joseph would have been saying and preaching so hard against polygamy, while living it secretly, thinking that someday the people would find out and have to accept it. Joseph even set the people up to reject future leaders (like Brigham Young) who might start to preach or practice polygamy. Thus many, if not most, Saints refused to follow Brigham Young because they remembered and believed the words and warnings of Joseph Smith. Thus Joseph would not have done that if he secretly believed in polygamy and wanted the people to one day accept it and him and Brigham. I believe he was about to excommunicate many of the apostles for adultery, including BY, but died before he could do so and thus they took over and the rest is so-called history.

      But even more important is the fact that Jesus Christ taught that polygamy is adultery and that married men can't marry another wife, even if he divorced his 1st wife first, because there is no such thing as divorce (it's a man-made law that God does not approve of) and a divorced couple is really still married and thus commits adultery if either remarry, for God has always and only preached eternal exclusive monogamy. Christ even proved marriage continues after death, when he appeared to his wife Mary, who of course went to touch and probably hug him when he appeared to her but he had to tell her not to yet until he goes to his father 1st.

      But, despite that Joseph probably didn't lie about polygamy, it unfortunately appears that he lied about most everything else, especially all his revelations and writings. Upon closer examination it appears he wrote or had help to write the BoM, probably from many different sources. The 'Tree of Life' dream appears to have come from Joseph's father, who had that dream and retold it many times as Joseph grew up and thus Joseph appears to have used it and said that Lehi had the dream. If such was true then Joseph (and the Church) would have talked much about how fantastic it was that Joseph's father happened to receive the same wonderful dream as Lehi! But no, not a mention about it, nor from the Church all these years either. For that would make people start to think and question things, something the Church doesn't want people to do.

      Also and more importantly, when you study the words and teachings of Christ, you find that not only did Joseph not follow Christ in many ways, but neither did Book of Mormon prophets, so Christ assured us that that is proof that neither Joseph or those prophets in the BoM were true prophets, for if they had been they would have kept his commandments and not preached and practiced contrary to Christ.

      So it seems that all Christians are in the same boat, we all just have the words of Christ and nothing else, not any true authority, or true prophets or any additional true scripture, other then the few simple words of Christ found in the New Testament. Which just so happens to be all we need to know how to follow Christ and obtain Eternal Life.

  2. Thanks for the article.
    I am a devout LDS. However, I came to the conclusion some years ago that Joseph was not a polygamist. To me it is very clear that he was not involved in the way the church suggests. My view is that he was involved in dynastic sealings which have nothing to do with marriage as we understand it, and were certainly a million miles away from then developed in Utah.
    I am in a minority in the church, but I am not alone.

    1. RH--

      Stay strong. One day Joseph’s name will be vindicated.

    2. robin hood
      unfortuneately u r in the minority but def not alone :)
      findin out that b.young was a total fraud, answered my kwestions bout vile polygamy
      as well as answered y there was a priesthood ban 4 blacks n blood atonemnt n an adam/God theory
      cuz b.young was a racist, murderous, buffon of a false prophet
      which then made sense of y this grand master mason, implimented temple endowmnt n sealing rituals that mirrored pagan masonic rituals
      as well as plagerizing the secret masonic handshake n adorning the lds temples w numerous masonic symbols
      j.smith nevva tot eternal marriage, it was sumthin thot up by b.young 2 allure potential members
      jus as he employed reverse psychology by makin temple rituals n temple membership, secrety seret so as 2 add 2 the temple alluremnt
      which btw flies rite in the face of the BofM as it denounces secret combinations as evil
      think bout it
      y would God only deem lds temple marriages as eternal, outta the entire population of the world, from adam n eve 2 judgemnt day?
      furthermor y would God need secret earthly rituals like sealings or baptisms 4 the dead, 2 continue anythng in the here 2 afta?
      is God bound til man on earth gets around 2 performin mystical magical pagan ceremonies?
      my email is lcutler75@hotmail.com
      i'd like 2 donate 2 yer cause as im sure itd help in clearin the smiths of polygagme involvmnt
      jus tell me where 2 send the check


  3. It will be interesting to see your comments on Helen Mar Kimball. The Prices don't discuss her much from what I've read. It does seem to me the LDS Church is completely ruined if it ever becomes clear that Joseph was a monogamist so they will go all in to defend Joseph Smith as a polygamist just like they did in the 1800s.

  4. By the way the entire Zina Huntington-Henry Jacobs story was the one that broke the camel's back for me with regards to the LDS Church. If Joseph Smith actually took Zina away from Henry and Brigham Young followed up by taking Zina away from Henry again, the entire Mormon movement is undermined.

  5. I just was referred to the following quote regarding Helen Mar Kimball. It comes from a book by Catherine Lewis who left the Mormon Church after finding out about polygamy. The book is entitled "Narratives of the Proceedings of the Mormons":

    "The Twelve took Joseph's wives after his death. Kimball and Young too most of them; the daughter of Kimball was one of Joseph's wives. I heard her say to her mother, "I will never be sealed to my Father, (meaning as a wife) and I would never have been sealed (married) to Joseph, had I known it was anything more than ceremony. I was young, and THEY deceived me, by saying the salvation of our whole family depended on it. I say again, I will never be sealed to my Father; no, I will sooner be damned and go to hell, if I must. Neither will I be sealed to Brigham Young." The Apostles said they only took Joseph's wives to raise up children, carry them through to the next world, there deliver them up to him, by so doing they should gain his approbation, &c. (Catherine Lewis, Narrative, 1848, pg. 19)."

    1. Bart--

      Thanks for your comments. I'll take a look at your Helen Mar Kimball info to see if I can use it in my next post. Pamela Price intends to cover all the alleged wives after she finishes with Joseph's stand against polygamy.


    Is it not a FACT that the PRESIDENT of the LDS church is a PROPHET and has direct contact with your god?

    All he has to do, as was done with the NEGRO priesthood problem, is to ask and get a REVELATION.

    Get your PROPHET to contact your god and request a REVELATION about Joseph and his plural marriages.

    That should settle the problem.

    1. The author of this blog doesn't believe in the LDS prophet. He is RLDS.

    2. larry--

      I'm not sure if I was born that way or have grown that way, but I do agree with the line from Forrest Gump, "stupid is as stupid does." I believe that your posting of this unprovoked, inflammatory comment, which borders on slander, was a "stupid does" moment. Your respectful opinions are always welcome on this blog, but if you post another one like this either directed to me or someone else, I will remove it.

      As Bart Burk correctly said, I'm RLDS so your comment about the President of the LDS Church is irrelevant to me. However, I do believe that if you study both sides of this issue and honestly ask God whether or not Joseph was a polygamist, He will tell you. And I believe He will tell you that he wasn't.

    3. What an amazingly forbearing answer to the "stupid" comment. If you can be so patient and kindly disposed to someone that abrasive, it's no wonder you're recognizing and being given more and more light and truth. Thanks for your great example!

    by Schmidt, Alvin

    Soon after Joseph Smith, Jr., founded the Mormon Church in 1830, newspaper editors called him “the American Mahomet,” “Modern Mahomet,” or “Yankee Mahomet.” In The American Muhammad, Alvin Schmidt has undertaken the challenging but informative task of documenting, discussing, and analyzing over seventy parallels that exist between Smith and Muhammad. He cites valid arguments why parallels between noteworthy individuals in history need to be studied in order to understand why they engaged in similar acts that left major marks in history. This fascinating book provides many facts not commonly known about Joseph Smith and Muhammad and will help readers see and understand how the teachings of these two men contradict biblical Christianity.

    Alvin J. Schmidt, MDiv, PhD, is professor of sociology emeritus at Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL, and a fellow of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. He is the author of numerous books, including the award-winning Fraternal Organizations (1980); The Menace of Multiculturalism (1997); and How Christianity Changed the World (2004).

    What Others Are Saying
    "No one is in a better position to identify the parallels between Islam and Mormonism—and their radical difference as compared with creedal Christianity."
    —John Warwick Montgomery, PhD, DTheol, LLD

    Distinguished Research Professor of Philosophy and Christian Thought, Patrick Henry College
    "At a time when Christianity is under assault worldwide, thispainstakingly researched and superbly written account of seventy parallels between the founders of two thriving socio-political faiths, Islam and Mormonism, should be compulsory reading for all."
    —Uwe Siemon-Netto, PhD, DLitt
    Director, Center for Lutheran Theology & Public Life

    "A must-read for everyone who wants to understand Joseph Smith and Muhammad."
    —Ted Baehr, JD, LHD
    Founder and Publisher of MOVIEGUIDE®: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment

    "The American Muhammad is a well-written and scholarly book—fascinating, well-researched, and eye-opening!"
    —Bill Federer
    Author of What Every American Needs to Know about the Qur’an
    Frequent guest on radio and TV programs

    "[Schmidt’s] conclusions are very thought-provoking, and are sure to spark considerable discussion among scholars and laymen alike. Serious researchers as well as curious readers will find many topics of interest among the dozens of parallels Dr. Schmidt has pointed out here."
    —Lane A. Thuet
    Co-Author of What Every Mormon (and Non-Mormon) Should Know
    Born LDS and raised in Salt Lake City as a Mormon for 22 years


    Thomas Marsh was Joseph Smith's original senior apostle (president of the Council of the Twelve). He later left the Church, but always was a believer in The Book of Mormon. Marsh said:

    "I have heard the Prophet [Joseph Smith] says that...he would be the second Mahomet [Muhammed] to this generation." (Correspondance & Orders, 1841, p.57)

    George M. Hinkle, another close friend of Joseph Smith, and Commander of the Mormon Militia in Missouri, said I have heard Joseph Smith say, that he believed Mahomet was a good man; that the Koran was not a true thing, but that the world belied Mahomet as they belied him, and that Mahomet was a true prophet." (ibid, p.128)

    George A. Smith, cousin and confidant to Joseph Smith Jr., and apostle and counselor to Brigham Young, says in General Conference in 1855 (Brigham Young was seated right behind him): "About six hundred years after Christ a Prophet arose in Arabia, by the name of Mahomet [Muhammed]....Now this man descended from Abraham and was no doubt raised up by God." (Journal of Discourses 3:28)

    1. You do realize the author of this blog is not LDS don't you?

    2. larry--

      Just because men say it is so, doesn’t mean it is so. An angel told Joseph early on that his “name should be had for good and evil, among all nations, kindreds, and tongues; or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people” (RLDS History of the Church 1:12–13). What you have quoted is merely a fulfillment of this prophecy. For more information on this subject, see my blog post, “Why is Joseph's name had for both good and evil?” at http://www.defendingjoseph.com/2008/09/josephs-name-has-been-associated-with.html.

  8. Part 1:

    Hello JSDefender,

    What a sacred and noble Mission you have undertaken for your life; defending the Prophet Joseph Smith. Your 4,000 character limit forces me to break up my response into a few different postings; I hope that is OK.
    You write as someone moved by The Spirit of The Lord. I, too, have reflected upon the Word of The Lord in which He said Joseph’s name would be had in good and bad fashions.

    Way…way…back in 1976, I was standing in a row of books at the post library in Fort Sheridan, Illinois. As I was reading through a couple of books that made harsh statements regarding the Restoration and especially the Prophet Joseph Smith, I had my mind opened by The Spirit of The Lord, and I was taught there and then that the teachings of the Church towards keeping The Ten Commandments, paying a Tithing, Fasting, keeping the Sabbath Day Holy (by not shopping, sports, etc), that true Repentance meant giving up the sin, and going to Church on Sunday …..were all still valid in the sight of God. Many who attack the RLDS and LDS (and other sincere branches of the vine of Christ) feel these Commandments are not in effect anymore; I was clearly and precisely taught that they are still Sacred Words of God. As I read over the attacks against the Prophet Joseph Smith about his alleged several wives, I just did not feel those statements were true.

    Granted, Joseph had his good days and not so good days like each of us; granted, I am sure, just like each of us, he wishes he could have done some things differently. But that day, Spiritually, I did not feel he had more than one wife.

    In 1977, I had been transferred to Germany, and I began taking the “Discussions.” I joined the LDS Church after I received a strong and clear Spiritual Witness as I lay there in my bunk while reading and prayerfully pondering Moroni’s promise. I asked to be baptized.

  9. Part 2:

    I see where some members leave the Church or go inactive over this issue. Some former members make Polygamy a line in the sand issue. To me Faith in Jesus is the issue, and living the Commandments and seeking after such gifts of The Spirit to help others come unto Christ. On Judgment Day, I will be Judged not on Joseph Smith’s actions but mine own. Regardless if he did or did not have more than one wife, it does not change my initial Witness, and several subsequent Spiritual Witnesses, that The Lord used Joseph to Restore the Priesthood of God to the earth in this our Dispensation.

    Even though there are over a hundred written accounts of Joseph having more than one wife, they appear in large part to be written after he was dead. Those who made such statements had a social, cultural and financial pressure to make them.

    It is beyond bizarre, to think that over the many years he was having children with Emma, that none of the other "supposed" 30-60 wives bore him children; talk about a extreme statistical anomaly. Some of the “supposed” children of Joseph with “supposed” other wives turned out to be fathered by other men as so proved by DNA testing.

    2014 was the 11th year in a row I have read The Book of Mormon; 5th year in a row for The Holy Bible. What I learned is that Prophets of God are human, and satan tries hard to knock them down, and those around them (just like satan is trying to knock each of us down). When I think of Joseph Smith, I think of the great love he had for God, and us; when I read The Book of Mormon, I sure feel of God's love, just like when I read from The Holy Bible (King James Version or Inspired King James Version).

    Personally, I belong to the LDS Church; that is where The Holy Ghost has led me. I do respect the other fine Churches like the RLDS, 7th Day Adventist, Baptists, Lutherans, etc.; I sincerely wish them well in their personal journey to Jesus. I respect and acknowledge that some of them feel The Holy Ghost has led them to their respective Churches; I wish them the love of Jesus and the very best as they follow Jesus.

    I support B Young as a Prophet, though he, as most LDS books do not mention, suffered from major health issues; including having to self-catheterize himself daily; he was probably on opiates much of the time to deal with the pain would be my reasonable guess from my background. I gave a kidney to my brother and it did not work out at first, so I had to be catheterized a number of times; so I speak from experience. B Young used a thin glass hollow tube is my understanding, and it got to the point where he did it himself, though sometimes aided by others. If indeed B Young had major health issues like catheterization and self-catheterization, and was on opiates for pain, then from a "humanness" perspective it is easy to understand how he was a bit off and supported Polygamy, Adam-god theory, and perhaps Mountain Meadows (before the event or after; the event is still a subject for much debate). To me he is still a Prophet; I go back to the point that Prophets are human and have their inspired moments and not so inspired moments. Members, former members, and non-members of the Utah peg, are to seek a witness from The Holy Ghost; it is their right from God.

  10. Part 3:

    God has a perfect plan that He asks mere imperfect mortals to execute; mortals are thus trying hard while at the same time being bombarded by satan and his host of fallen spirits. So regardless if Polygamy is from JS or BY, that issue will sort itself out in the eternities. Member Gospel Hobbyists should not allow their “study” of the polygamy issue to take weight over their own Spiritual Testimony of The Book of Mormon or going to The House of The Lord, doing their Visiting/Home Teaching, and sending gift subscriptions of the Ensign magazine to friends.

    With the new LDS Church “document” stating that Joseph did have more than one wife, this appears to be based on the over one hundred “post Joseph Smith death” statements made by others. It is about time the LDS Church starts to use the internet to defend herself; we have the greatest message in the world; even the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. So these several “documents” on doctrine and history the Church is posting is a good start to defending. I pray some day we put up the entire Temple Endowment ceremony on the web with our own commentary, as it is foolish to allow others to define that which we hold most Sacred. The LDS Utah Church, is being hammered by the intellectual interpretation of the over one hundred statements that Joseph had more than one wife, so perhaps they figured that it was best to say he did, and just move on. All I can say is I have not spiritually felt that he had more than one wife.

    The President of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Utah), Boyd K. Packer, has warned the Saints not to focus too much on early Church History as those who wrote it may have errored with some facts and taken words out of context. Like many Prophets, he is concerned that members read on paper what they should be Fasting and Praying over. Allowing the arm of flesh to determine our path rather than The Spirit of The Lord and Gift of The Holy Ghost, is a path that will lead down the trail in the wrong direction.

    I like Joseph Smith; I like Brigham Young, and I like Thomas Monson; I see the good in each. I am so grateful to God that throughout my life I have been Blessed to look for the good in others.

    May all those who read about this subject be Blessed with His Spirit to enlighten them; that He will teach them what He wants them to understand; so is how it is supposed to work when we study and read and pray and Fast (and pay a generous Fast Offering).

    JSDefender, you have created your own Pearl of Great Price here on this website ; I felt so spiritually clean and uplifted when I read the statements you have so eloquently put forth that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and a great and noble servant of The Lord, and that he did not have more than one wife.

    You would enjoy my Indie movie trailer; "Sisters Go Ye Trailer 2" on youtube. I think it would make a great Indie movie about if Joseph did not have more than one wife; please pray I can be Blessed with the funds.

    Peace and Grace and Faith in Jesus The Lamb and Only true Savior of our earth. Oh, one last hint; try reading one verse each time before you start your car every time you start your car.

    Numbers 6: 22-27,
    Praise The Lord,
    Brother Kyle

    1. Bro. Kyle,

      I believe that if you really believed in Christ and lived his teachings you would see just how unrighteous men like Brigham Young and all LDS leaders today are and how they and even Joseph Smith did not and do not follow Christ and his teachings.

      The Church has taught it's members to put Prophets and 'the Spirit' ahead of Christ and his teachings, when actually the words of Christ are how we discern if what a prophet or Spirit is teaching is correct or not. Millions of people in all religions believe they have the right Spirit confirming that their leaders and beliefs and revelations are true, while everyone else is wrong. Just because we feel sure the Spirit is giving us confirmation or revelation doesn't mean it's from God. It is probably more often from the Adversary, who can easily deceive even the best of prophets by false revelation.

      Thus Christ warned us about falling for false prophets and false revelations and false visions, where even a false Christ might appear to us. Christ said that we must use his words as our standard & test of truth, not 'the Spirit', for every religious person thinks they have the 'right spirit' and are just as sure as any LDS person, that their church and belief is the right one.

      It is one of the great falsehoods from Joseph Smith that we determine truth by 'the Spirit', for Christ taught us a clear and easy way to determine truth and true prophets from false prophets and falsehoods, by us using our 'reason', and by proving all things by 'facts and fruits', not by feelings and warm fuzzies that can't be proven. If someone or something teaches contrary or different to the words of Christ, then we know for sure that they or it is false. Thus it is not hard to determine truth from error, if we are sincere and honest.

  11. I really enjoyed this post (as I do all your other ones) and I have been trying to analyse as much of the sources for myself as possible. There a few supposedly contemporary accounts and I was wondering if you could share your thoughts on them:
    William Clayton's journal - since the LDS church has not made it not available to be studied and its transcript seem to have a somewhat bizarre history, I wonder if you have read anything with more details about it and if there is evidence that the information is written later and then dated to seem contemporary?
    Wiliam Law's journal - I have read the printed excerpts but so far it seems like no one has provided the provenance so it also seems suspect.
    vilate kimball to heber C kimball 27 june 1843 - This letter definitely seems to be talking about polygamy, although doesn't name it explicitly, so I was just wondering if you knew anything about its authenticity?
    I am looking forward to your post on Helen Mar Kimball as she definitely said a lot about polygamy throughout her life and is an interesting case. Do you believe that Joseph Smith practiced any kinds of sealings, though not meant to be understood at all in the way we talk about marriage now and perhaps in a dynastic sense as hers seemed to be?

    Also, do you know of any good resources to find out when others started practicing polygamy? I wonder how many were actually doing it when Joseph was still alive (and not just claiming to at later dates because trying to prove that he told them)? I figure it would have been hard for that many people to keep it a secret from him as we have been told were married before he died (I think the # is supposed to be up to 28 men, not including Hyrum and Joseph.
    Thanks again for all your insights and dedication to this topic.

    1. Defender:
      I was trying to leave a comment, not reply to Courtney, but the 'comment' button doesn't seem to be working. I really enjoyed reading your views on Joseph Smith and polygamy. Have you ever read Enid DeBarthe's thesis paper on an analysis of the writing style of the author of Section 132 MDC? She proves incontrovertibly that Brigham Young was its author. I have had a physical copy of it for almost 30 years, but didn't take the time to digitize it until a couple of weeks ago. I have never heard anybody mention it in any polygamy discussions. It is quite lengthy and technical, but if you would be interested in reading it, I can send it to your email. Thank you and may God bless you.

    2. anonymous 12/31
      how cool would ub2 also shoot over that digital copy 2 me as well?
      i mean the very 1st vs of 132 is a proven lie in that isaac n moses did not hav plural wives nor concubines
      xcept if this thesis offers even mor evidence 2 its falsehood, i'd b very interested also
      thnx much

    3. JSDefender,

      I commend you on defending Joseph against polygamy, which I believe he probably didn't preach or practice. But for any Christian or LDS, it really doesn't matter if Joseph lived polygamy anyway, for are you aware of how much Christ condemned polygamy, in so many ways? Thus no one who is a true believer in Christ would believe in polygamy or in any person or church who preached or practiced it.

      But moreover, I wonder why you not point out all the other things Joseph did preach and practice contrary to Christ's teachings? Even if he was innocent on polygamy he was definitely not innocent on so many other things we do know for sure he preached and practiced, like tithing, when did Christ ever teach about the idea of 'tithing'? Let alone how Joseph started asking people to give him their money so he could live off it and build churches and temples with it while the poor suffered. Christ would never be ok with such a thing.

      And what about how Joseph taught contrary to Christ in his Book of Mormon and D&C. He taught a complete different Gospel then the one Christ taught and we know that Christ's true apostles said to not listen to anyone, even an angel, who came preaching a different Gospel then Christ.

      Why do you follow and believe in Joseph Smith over Christ? Joseph has no power to save us, no matter what he claims, only Christ does.

    4. Anonymous 1/4/15,

      I believe it does matter whether or not Joseph was a polygamist because the Church established through him was built upon the doctrine of Jesus Christ. As you correctly stated, polygamy was not a teaching of Christ. Thus, if Joseph taught or practiced polygamy, he wouldn’t be teaching or living the law of Christ, and a prophet must do this to retain his prophetic gift.

      Regarding tithing, the Lord Himself said through his prophet Malachi, “For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:6-8, KJV).

      As far as Joseph "asking people to give him their money so he could live off it and build churches and temples with it while the poor suffered," I think you have been misinformed.

      The preface to the Book of Mormon, written by Mormon himself, states that one of its purposes is to convince both the “Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations.” If the purpose of this book is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ, then it should teach His Gospel—which it does. I challenge you to find a teaching in it which is contrary to His teachings in the Bible. If you do, please post it on my site so we can discuss it.

      Joseph was a prophet of God, just like Moses, Ezekiel, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. These prophets never claimed to be more than men, and neither did Joseph. Salvation comes only through the atoning power of Jesus Christ to those who obey His law. This was Joseph’s belief and the belief of those who believe he was a prophet of God.

      Thank you so much for your comments.

    5. Anonymous 12/31

      I'm very interested in obtaining a digital copy of this analysis. You may send it to me at jsdefender1@gmail.com. Thanks so much.

    6. JSDefender,

      Thank you for responding to my comment and questions. I agree that just based on polygamy alone it does matter if Joseph lived it or not for then it proves whether he was a false prophet or not, for if he did then it would be impossible for him to be a true prophet. But 170 years later, it's unfortunately quite hard to prove either way. So I just meant it's much easier to see he was a false prophet by looking at other things that we know for sure he preached and practiced to see that he was in fact a false prophet.

      I wonder if you have asked yourself how tied to Joseph you are? If he did pan out to be a false prophet, and sad for him, would that really matter much to you? Wouldn't you be able to just go on and follow Christ on your own and still achieve Eternal Life? We don't need prophets to help us follow Christ if we are sincere. We don't need to fear looking at the facts about Joseph and really discern if he truly followed Christ or not. Just because Joseph didn't follow Christ doesn't mean we can't and don't.

      I think it's interesting how you automatically assume that Malachi told the truth, or that such verses after all these years, were even translated or written down correctly. Do you not see the countless errors and blatant falsehoods by supposed 'prophets' all through the Old & New Testaments? Why would you believe someone named Malachi especially when he preaches contrary to what Christ said when he was on earth? Why do you believe Christ would contradict himself if he really did tell Malachi to say that? Why didn't Christ say anything about 'tithing'? Why did he say we must give 100% of our excess money to the poor verses just 10% to church leaders? Did Christ and his true apostles not warn us that if anyone preaches contrary to Christ or a different Gospel or set of standards, then we should not heed them? Past or present?

      Did Joseph not use some of the tithing money for his own support? Or to build a temple? Or to support his church work? Did Joseph give 100% of tithing to the poor like Christ command? I don't think he did, for even in his D&C he said not all tithing would go to the poor. And where did Brigham Young get the idea of living off the Church if not from Joseph? Why would the people have allowed BY to be supported by the Church if they didn't also support JS that way? Did Joseph work to support his family and buy everything himself while heading the Church too? What was his profession and how did he earn so much to have one of the nicest homes in Nauvoo? If he even took 1 penny from tithing then he proves selfish and false, for no righteous man, let alone a true prophet, no matter how poor would refuse to work and take money to support himself while single mothers and their children suffered. He at least had Emma to take care of the children while he could go and work and earn money. True prophets don't expect anyone to support them and their families, no do they expect the poor to pay any tithing either.

    7. JSDefender, Continued -

      And as far as other teachings that also go against Christ's teachings, there is Joseph teaching that it was ok for Nephi to take the life of Laban, who was even unconscious. Christ clearly commanded no murder and no righteous person or true prophet would have done such a thing, they would have left Laban be, despite what he had taken and done to them, that would have been the Christlike thing to do, for it wasn't self-defense. Even the reason Joseph gave for the murder was in error, for Nephi did not need the plates of Laban to 'keep his posterity from dwindling in unbelief', for if Nephi really had been a true prophet he could have easily received all the revelation needed to lead his people and already would have known the Gospel by heart anyway, in order to lead his people correctly. And God would never command Nephi to do such a thing because he commanded just the opposite, to not murder. So just those 2 things are all the red flags one needs to know the BoM is false and Nephi never was a true prophet, nor Mormon or Moroni or Joseph for allowing such teachings and story to even be in the BoM.

      Also, the teaching to prove the truth of something by 'praying about it' is another false philosophy in the Book of Mormon that clearly goes against what Christ taught. Christ taught us that while the Spirit can be a teacher of truth (pure knowledge, not feelings), we must prove things by 'facts & fruits', not feelings. Christ commanded we prove people, prophets & precepts by what we can see and by comparing them with what Christ taught, to see if they differ at all and to see if that person is really keeping his commandments or not and has real love. Could one say it was loving to do what Nephi did to Laban? No, not at all. If Nephi had been a true prophet and thought God had commanded such a thing he would have gone back and tested it against the 10 commandments and would have known such a revelation came from a false spirit.

      The false idea to pray about things to know if they are true or not has caused more deception then probably any other falsehood taught by Joseph Smith, or any other church leader in other Churches, for it's a common falsehood taught in many religions. While Christ's way to discern truth is clear and easily proveable. It's not hard to see if someone has love and is keeping his commandments or not. While most everyone in all religions claims that 'the spirit' has told them their church is true and right, no matter how opposite to Christ it may be.

      True prophets may still be men, but they are near perfect men, that's how you know they are true prophets. Do you realize just how righteous and Christlike a person has to be to really be a prophet? Joseph wasn't even close. Why did he put the Church over his wife and children's welfare? Christ would never want that. A spouse and children always comes 1st over any church or any other person on earth. Why did Joseph not have the wisdom or inspiration to call righteous men to high office in the Church, instead of calling most or many evil men to office, let alone to the highest callings in the Church? Where there no righteous men to choose from? Why did Joseph not do more to stop polygamy and ex those leaders who were living it? If he was a true prophet he would have easily been able to discern their adultery, early on and would have been much stronger against it. There are so many more things, but I believe those things are plenty enough proof to know he was not what he claimed, let alone all the other countless red flags when you are really willing to see them.

    8. Hi Courtney,

      I really don’t know any more about the Clayton Diaries than you have expressed. However, there are a couple of statements attributed to Clayton that give me pause about his truthfulness, regardless of when they were written.

      First, several things don’t ring true to me about his affidavit of 2/16/1874 published in the May 20, 1886 Deseret Evening News and later published in the “Plural Marriage” section of Historical Record 6 by Andrew Jenson. Clayton states Hyrum asked Joseph to use the Urim and Thummim to bring forth the plural marriage “revelation.” There is no indication Joseph ever used the Urim and Thummim after the Book of Mormon translation—not even with the inspired changes to the Bible. According to Joseph, after the translation of the Book of Mormon was completed, he delivered back to the angel the plates, the Urim and Thummim, and the breastplate (Times and Seasons 3:772). Joseph wrote this account in May 1838 and it was published for the first time in the May 2, 1842 issue of Times and Seasons. This is something Hyrum, one of the eight witness of the Book of Mormon plates and brother to Joseph and one his counselors in the First Presidency, would have known. In fact, anyone who had read this issue of the Times and Seasons would have known this fact. However, Clayton, who was a convert to the Church (1837) in England and didn’t arrive in the States until late 1840, either failed to read this issue of the Times and Seasons or didn’t remember this fact when he made his statement in 1874. This gross error in his 1874 account makes me believe he fabricated the whole statement. Also, in my opinion, his cavalier depiction of Joseph’s and Hyrum’s attitudes about the “revelation” that Clayton said was “the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man,” was off target for two men who had greatly sacrificed for the Lord so that the truth of His Restored Gospel would be made known on earth. And supposedly, Joseph had received this “revelation” many years previous and he remembered it verbatim. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe revelation works that way. In addition, Clayton’s depiction of Joseph’s attitude toward Emma as well as her visible anger toward the “revelation,” which Clayton indicated she had already accepted in principle by being kind to Joseph’s plural wives, seemed out of character for them individually as well as for their relationship. In Joseph III’s memoirs he indicates he never saw or heard anger expressed between his mother and father. Until her dying day, Emma denied having ever seen the “revelation” prior to its release in 1852 by the LDS Church. Clayton also stated in his affidavit that on May 1, 1843, he married Joseph to Lucy Walker at Joseph’s residence. Again, Joseph III in his memoirs states that nothing ever happened in his home to indicate to him that his father was married to anyone else but his mother, Emma. To me, this indicates that Clayton was lying about performing that marriage at Joseph’s home. These discrepancies in Clayton’s affidavit cast great doubts for me about his truthfulness.

    9. Courtney continuation:

      Second, there is a transcript of Clayton’s diaries on the Internet at http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/clayton-diaries. I don’t know if this is all his diaries and I don’t know if the transcription is accurate. However, Brian C. Hales lists it in his source document site for his book, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy. In this document one of Clayton’s alleged entries was: “Friday June 23rd [1843]. This A.M. Prest J. took me and conversed considerable concerning some delicate matters. said } wanted to lay a snare for me. [}=Emma] He told me last night of this and said he had felt troubled. He said } had treated him coldly & badly since I came [William Clayton arrived meeting Joseph on 21 June 1843 halfway between Wassons & Dixon] and he knew she was disposed to be revenged on him for some things she thought that if he would indulge himself she would too. He cautioned me very kindly for which I felt thankful.” If Clayton really wrote this, I do not believe he was telling the truth. Say what you want about Joseph, but Emma was above reproach. Everyone who knew her, throughout her life until her death, had nothing but respect for her because of her honor, integrity, kindness, compassion, generosity, and moral cleanliness. Those who did not share this opinion of her were those who were involved in polygamy who implicated her husband as such. She had no tolerance for them as well as them for her. So, in my opinion, the implication by Clayton that Emma wanted an extramarital affair with him to spite Joseph is absurd.

      As far as William Law, I don’t know much about his journal nor have I read any of the printed excerpts from it. As you are probably aware, journals can be good evidence because the entries are usually made close to the time of the event they describe. However, they can also be unreliable as to the truth of a matter because they reflect the mood, attitude, and opinion of the writer. If the writer believes something to be true that is false, the journal is useless in proving the truth of the issue. While written at the time, the entries are an expression of the writer’s opinion and are not necessarily facts.

      So, for William Law, what is the probability that his journal is truthful about Joseph and polygamy? Let’s look at some facts about him. First, he helped published the infamous issue of the Nauvoo Expositor. When you read the Expositor, you are reading allegations only. There is nothing mentioned in enough detail to investigate the allegations to determine the truth of them. And considering he had been booted from the Church, the chances are high that the publishing of the paper was an act of vengeance by him against Joseph. Second, he associated with the Higbees who were known adulterers and seducers of women. They learned this behavior from association with John C. Bennett who was possibly the most morally corrupt man in Nauvoo. So why should we believe that Law was a man of honesty and moral integrity and that what he wrote in the Expositor or even his diaries is true when he associated with such moral degenerates in his attack against Joseph. Third, his reputation for honesty and integrity in the community was not good. See the chapter of Joseph Smith Fought Polygamy on the William Law conspiracy at http://restorationbookstore.org/articles/nopoligamy/jsfp-visionarticles/williamlaw.htm. Considering these things makes me very skeptical about the truth of William Law’s journals.

    10. Courtney continuation 2:

      About the letter from Vilate Kimball to Heber C. Kimball, I have a copy from Brian C. Hales’ online documents, but it is dated 29 June 1843. Unfortunately, I don’t know anything about its authenticity. However, we do know that polygamy was being practiced in Nauvoo prior to this letter. According to the Prices, Brigham practiced it as early as 1842 (JSFP Vol. 2, Chapter 13) and according to the reference you sent me of Gary James Bergera’s article, Heber C. Kimball himself married a plural wife in 1842 (Identifying the Earliest Polygamists, 1841-1844, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 38, No. 3, page 13) prior to Vilate’s letter. Vilate mentions Sarah Noon, his plural wife, in her letter. You might note that the polygamy reference to Joseph in the letter is what Parley Pratt said Joseph told him. There is no reference that Joseph himself told these things to Vilate.

      When I was a student at Graceland College in the early 1970s, I was visited by an elderly gentleman regarding an article I had written for our campus newspaper. During the course of our conversation, he told me that his grandmother (or great grandmother, I forget which) lived in Nauvoo prior to Joseph’s death. As the story was related to him, one day Brigham Young came to visit his grandmother and discussed the principle of plural marriage. Upon leaving he cautioned her to not tell anyone of their conversation because Joseph did not yet believe in this doctrine. If this is true (and I believe it is because it was corroborated by testimony in JSFP Vol. 2, Chapter 13), then polygamy was being practiced in Nauvoo and being kept from Joseph.

      As far as Joseph and sealings, I really don’t believe he practiced them. The testimony of the LDS Church and Church of Christ (Temple Lot) did not prove in the Temple Lot Suit that he did. The Ladies Relief Society and several prominent men in the Church published statements in the Times and Seasons, October 1, 1842, that they knew of no system of marriage other than the one published in the Doctrine and Covenants. In addition, there were no sealings in the Kirtland Temple even though that which transpired there in 1836 was the spiritual zenith of the Church.

      Thanks for your questions. I hope this helps a little bit in answering them.

    11. Anonymous 1/6/15—

      We are so far apart in our belief, maybe we should just agree to disagree and leave it at that. Thanks for commenting.

    12. JSDefender,

      I am disappointed that like most blogs you just want to use your blog to teach your point of view, right or wrong and that you do not want to respond to questions about the things you believe in (no matter how far apart we are) or 'reason together' and discuss where either one of us might be wrong, for that's the only way to learn.

      When we think we are completely right and aren't deceived in any way, and not open to new ways to look at things, then that proves we in fact are deceived. For as I'm sure you know, even Joseph Smith, whether he was true or false, was constantly deceived by falsehoods and even evil men, to even put them in the highest of positions.

      I would encourage you to believe in Christ above anyone else, even Joseph Smith, for if we don't follow Christ it will not matter who else we followed or believed in. No one else can lead us right or save us. Christ was the only perfect person who is trustworthy to follow.

  12. I just love this site............Thanks for defending Brother Joseph. I too would like a digital copy about Section 132 authorship. Brother Joseph did not write Section 132; so it probably would have to either be Young, Pratt or Clayton; perhaps Noble. It would be interesting to see all of their hand writings compared to the document.

    Brother Young was trying to keep the LDS Church together (my Church), so he might be the one; he was a "mover"; being in a literal war for the survival of the LDS Church, he did what he felt he had to do; not pretty but it was what was needed from his point of view.

    I am now writing my own little modest book, to try and track down the original source documents for these slanders and blasphemies against Brother Joseph. I would appreciate your prayers. As I mentioned you might enjoy my Indie movie trailer on Youtube; "Sister Go Ye trailer 2." Defending Brother Joseph would make a great movie. I am working on a script to go along with my book. If you would like to be interviewed for my book, please email me at kylekopitke@gmail.com.

    Praise The Lord,
    Brother Kyle

  13. For those wanting to read the documents themselves, Brian Hales has put a bunch of the primary sources up on a website: http://mormonpolygamydocuments.org/. While I don't agree with all his interpretations, I think it's great that he is making this stuff available. Also, in answer to Kyle's question, Daniel Bachman has written that the LDS church archives have two copies of D&C 132 in the handwriting of Willard Richards and Joseph Kingsbury, which he sees as proving Kingsbury's 1870 statement tha he made a copy of the revelation read outloud by Newel k. Whitney before Emma supposedly burn the original; he includes photocopies of D&C 132 Kingsbury copy as well as some other writings by Kingsbury to compare it to ("The Study of the Mormon Practice of Plural Marriage Before the Death of Joseph Smith", p. 207-211). Hope that is helpful.

  14. Hi JSDefender,
    I recently asked John Hamer the following question (on the Infants on Thrones site, in the comments of the "The Christmas Jesus and stuff" podcast)":

    "If you could name ONE woman who you are certain was plural-married to Joseph Smith, who would it be? Like if you were prosecuting Smith in court and had to prove he was plural-married to a particular woman. Which woman would you choose?"

    Part of his answer was the following:
    "The answer to your question is: I really wouldn't attempt to single out one of the relationships and attempt to convict Joseph Smith as if I were making a legal case, because as I was attempting to say, this is not how history works. History works by looking at all of the sources, considering all of their biases, and constructing the most plausible explanation that explains all the sources. A court case, by contrast, has to dismiss hearsay and may remove any discussion of whole aspects of the background as prejudicial to the case at hand. In a court case you need a smoking gun to convict. In history, we aren't convicting and we don't need a smoking gun. We're constructing the most plausible explanation that fits all the sources, given their biases."

    I wonder what you would think of that answer, given the trial-based approach you take in this blog?

    1. "Most plausible explanation" is a laughable notion. More like most cynical explanation. The man denied it repeatedly, on the record. His actual wife denied it her whole life through extremely difficult circumstances and to her loss, not her benefit. All accusers had incentives to pin it on him and still do today. The cynics who would call themselves historians have their own biases that they can't seem to remove from their "bias-corrected" analyses of history. The LDS church has too much bias here, both in the story they want to tell (that JS was responsible) and the records used to tell that story, which they have had far too much exclusive access and ability to manipulate to their purposes. Historians are lazy and cynical and have not properly extracted the biases and motives which are complexly intertwined here. The simple explanation that JS was framed holds up to the evidence as much as any explanation, if not more. A lot of people just don't get the players straight in their heads: they think that the LDS want to hide JS's polygamy. It's completely the opposite. They have an interest in pinning it on him, but in such a way as to somehow paint it as "holy." That ridiculous objective has muddied the historical analysis considerably. Most scholars in the area are just not up to the task of teasing apart these complexities.

    2. Response to Bob R.

      Hi Bob,

      Interesting comment and question.

      Assuming the quote is correct, my first thought is that Mr. Hamer has taken his “how history works” position because he can’t prove Joseph was a polygamist any other way. If none of the alleged wives of Joseph can be proven individually to be his plural wife, it is beyond me how their collective testimony can prove they were married to him. As Mr. Hamer indicates, the evidence they have is mostly hearsay which the courts don’t allow as evidence. Hearsay is not evidence in court because it is testimony of what other people have allegedly said and thus, is not fact. While interpretation of history is definitely opinion, it must be based on fact for that opinion to have any validity. I well remember a history course where we studied major historical events such as the Civil War to determine the cause. We read various authors who based their opinion of the cause upon certain facts. In the case of the Civil War, one author decided it was caused by slavery, another by economics, another by states rights, etc. And we as students had to defend our position on what caused the war based on the facts presented by these authors. But the key is that both the authors and the students based their opinions on facts, not hearsay. Mr. Hamer is saying that because there aren’t enough facts to prove Joseph was a polygamist, it is OK to say he was a polygamist based on hearsay. I do not believe this is a sound practice to use to develop historical theory. Theories are only as good as the facts upon which they are based. This is true for history as well as the sciences.

    3. Response to Bob R. (continued)

      Mr. Hamer indicates that personal biases should be considered in determining the value of the sources. I couldn’t agree more. The problem is that when it comes to Joseph and polygamy, the evaluation of source bias goes out the window. The sources that support the position that Joseph was a polygamist are assumed to be truthful even though they are living neck deep in polygamy and have every reason to protect their lifestyle. On the other hand, Joseph and those who support him as not teaching or practicing polygamy are assumed to be lying. To me, it doesn’t seem that Mr. Hamer’s source bias evaluation is being used at all by contemporary authors supporting the position that Joseph was a polygamist.

      I disagree with Mr. Hamer that court evidentiary standards are irrelevant in proving Joseph was a polygamist. The allegations against Joseph are not just a matter of history, they are an issue of personal character which defames him as well as the work he did and, as such, affects the faith of millions of people today. If Joseph were alive today, he could sue all the contemporary authors who state he was a polygamist for libel in a court of law. According to a Google search, the law definition for libel is “a published false statement that is damaging to a person's reputation; a written defamation.” Certainly, the published statements today about Joseph practicing polygamy are damaging to Joseph’s reputation including the truth of the testimony he bore. If Joseph could sue them today, these authors would have to prove according to court evidentiary standards that their allegations about Joseph practicing polygamy are true. And they would have to prove them with facts, not hearsay. So, why should the evidentiary standards change just because Joseph has been dead for almost 170 years? They shouldn’t—not only for the sake of Joseph’s character but for the millions today who believe his testimony. If Joseph practiced polygamy and lied about, it should definitely be exposed. But it should be done so by facts—not hearsay or other very questionable evidence. Mr. Hamer can lower evidentiary standards all he wants by explaining “how history works,” but Joseph and the truth of his testimony are on trial today and as such he has the right to be innocent until proven guilty by facts and not by a preponderance of bias hearsay or other evidence. And those who believe in his testimony should demand nothing but factual proof of his guilt before condemning him.

    4. JSDefender,
      Thanks for the informative response. I appreciate how clearly you state the case.

      To be fair to John Hamer, my full interaction with him can be read starting at this link: http://pages.citebite.com/k4k1f3m3o8qrg

      The other approach John Hamer took was this:

      "However, the problem you run into is the wealth of anti-Brigham Young sources, that nevertheless indicate that Joseph Smith was the originator of polygamy. These would include Wightite, Rigdonite, Strangite, Cutlerite, and Williamite sources --- all hostile to Brigham Young --- as well as plentiful non-Mormon and ExMormon sources that are hostile to everyone. It's the vast extent and wealth of all of these non-Brighamite sources which are very harmonious with Brighamite sources that allow us to be quite certain."

      The argument seems to be that all these different groups hated each other, but they all agreed Smith was polygamous. Therefore, since so much mud was thrown, we can be "certain".

      I would think your same arguments about fact vs hearsay and source bias apply to these non-Brighamite sources as well. Yes? If all the groups are repeating the same rumours... even if they all agree... what does it prove if it is all hearsay?

    5. Hi Bob R.--

      Yes, in my opinion, fact vs hearsay and source bias apply all sources. This is about finding the truth of whether or not Joseph was a polygamist. A 100 people of various backgrounds disliking Brigham, jumping up and down, waving their arms wildly, and shouting that Joseph was a polygamist doesn't make him one. The truth of their testimony can only be determined by analyzing it according to evidentiary standards used by the courts.

      Some of the names mentioned by Mr. Hamer are a little dubious to me as to their testimony that Joseph was a polygamist. I believe Wight only took a polygamous wife after he and his group moved to Texas. I don't believe he taught it to his people nor expressed that Joseph taught or practiced it. Rigdon stood by Joseph's innocence until sometime after he started his church. You might want to read my blog post on this issue. Strange practiced polygamy from the start of his church so might naturally, as the self-appointed successor to Joseph, point to Joseph for the authority to practice it. William Smith never, to my knowledge, indicated Joseph taught or practice polygamy even though in the later years of his church he began to advocate its practice.

    6. I agree that using 'hearsay' as a basis for belief or opinion is not wise, but we all do it at times. I see most all those who believe Joseph was innocent of polygamy do the same thing and use 'hearsay' as a basis for their belief that Joseph was a true prophet and that his Book of Mormon is true, when the facts prove otherwise. Neither side seems to want to see the real truth about Joseph.

    7. Thanks JSDefender. The post about Rigdon is excellent. I look forward to the Helen Mar Kimball post.

      Anonymous - Among the people I talk to, the question of prophet and the question of polygamist are separate, but correlated.

      The Prophet Or Not question tends to get a purely binary answer, yes or no. I don't know anyone who believes he was "kind of" a prophet, though I concede there must be some out there.

      The question of polygamist involvement is different. Most will answer yes, he did it. A small number will answer no. But among those who say yes there are a lot who believe he was "kind of" polygamous, and accept only varying degrees of involvement. At the extreme end of that scale there are those (a lot of them) who know with certainty that every story ever told about it is true.

      Those who say he is NOT a prophet tend overwhelmingly to congregate at the extreme end of the scale. And they are very happy to talk about it. And they tend to get very defensive if you question the idea that he was polygamous.

      Those who say is IS a prophet tend towards the "kind of" polygamous side, and sometimes even not polygamous. Those who say "kind of" polygamous typically don't really want to talk about it much. (If they are a church leader, they will also not want to entertain the suggestion that he was not polygamous, of course. I'm thinking of the rank & file here.)

      What is rare in my world is to find someone who believes Smith was both NOT a prophet and NOT a polygamist. Are you suggesting that is the real truth?

    8. Bob,

      This is Anonymous @ 12:30 above, apparently there are 2 anonymous people responding. But I do agree that it's rare to find someone who believes Smith is both NOT a prophet and NOT a polygamist, and that is exactly what I believe. I believe it is easy to see he was totally a false prophet, if one really believes in and follows Christ and they are willing to let go of their need for him to be a prophet. And of course it is only fair to think Joseph innocent for there is no proof that he ever preached or practiced polygamy, even if everyone in the world believed and said he did, that doesn't make it so. So people not only have this biased and blind view of Joseph being a prophet, for they have some kind of emotional need to see him as such, plus people do not even believe in the Golden Rule that Joseph should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

      Most think Joseph is 'guilty' of polygamy without any proof and they think he is a prophet despite tons of proof to the opposite. So it's rather bewildering why people would believe so, but most do, it seems like the natural man tendency to blindly believe unrighteous people are prophets and innocent people are guilty.

      But I agree with you, Smith was both NOT a prophet, far from, and NOT a polygamist, and even if by some chance he did fall for polygamy because most men do, despite that he at least understood how wrong it was, that would only still make him even more of a false prophet, but again, most people seem to put him even higher on their blind pedestal when they find he lived polygamy. Go figure.

  15. Have you learned anything about Catherine Lewis' statement with regards to Helen Mar Kimball?

    1. Hi Bart--

      Things have happened that have delayed my Helen Mar Kimball post. I should be in a position to give attention to it again. Thanks for asking.

  16. With this official statement, the LDS church has definitively shown that it is not being directed by God. At best they are just a group of nice business men who have no better idea about God than any other faithful believer. Maybe they are simply in the dark about what happened in their own history, fooled as much as anybody regarding the origins of plural marriage in their history, and so continue to rely on tradition and loyalty at the expense of principle and truth. But perhaps they made a business calculation regarding the course of action with the least damage to membership counts/revenue, even if that course means willful deception. Whatever the case, they are evidently not being led by God in any special way. At least they have let us know where they stand on the matter, even if only indirectly by officially embracing an indefensible narrative. My heart goes out to the millions of sincere seekers of truth who find it in among the LDS doctrines, yet are being misled by these men who claim to gifts and authority they evidently do not possess. I hope for a day that the truth is revealed and the corruptions are filtered out.

  17. Any more on Helen Mar Kimball?

    1. Hi Bart--

      I have an entire post on Helen Mar Kimball including a paragraph or two on Catherine Lewis' statement. You can go to the post by clicking on the label "Helen Mar Kimball" on the sidebar to the right. Thanks for your continued interest.

  18. Why did Joseph give Abraham and other ancient men a pass for their polygamy and concubines, etc, and still believe they were true prophets?

    For Joseph taught that any prophet or person who believed in or lived polygamy would lose their salvation and prove to be a false prophet.

    If Joseph had been a true prophet he wouldn't have held up Abraham as one, just over the polygamy issue, not to mention all the other things Abraham did that were contrary to Christ's teachings and commandments and what a true prophet would really do and be like.

    Joseph contradicted himself by preaching against polygamy yet holding up ancient polygamous prophets as righteous. Which is what false prophets do, they teach mostly truth mixed with some error to sound good and appear righteous.

  19. Thank you so much for your blog - it has been helpful to me as I gather sources to share. I don't know if anyone is currently monitoring this site, but if so, will you please fix the link to the online version of JSFP? At least one place in this article (the paragraph beginning, "Third, don't forget to investigate...") contains a broken link. Here is the updated one: https://restorationbookstore.org/pages/joseph-smith-fought-polygamy-online

    (Granted, it would only take one click for someone to get from the broken link to the right one, but I want to make it as effortless as possible for anyone who is curious!) Thanks again for your work.


Please treat all who post and their opinions with respect.