Internet shedding light on hidden history of Mormonism
The Mormon church reaches out over the whole world to get converts. Their missionaries present pamphlets about their history and doctrines. The pamphlets paint a picture of wholesomeness and purity. Yet the pamphlets are propaganda that distorts historical truth.
It is important to know the truth behind Mormonism because members of the church have become economically and politically powerful, for example, Glenn Beck and Mitt Romney. The internet now allows people to bring together all the historical documents to piece together the true history of Mormonism.
What is the basic image portrayed by the pamphlets?
A young pure-hearted boy named Joseph Smith was disappointed by the churches of his day and asked God to know the real truth. Then one night an angel, named Moroni, visited him floating in the air surrounded by a bright light and gave him instructions to look for golden plates hidden in the forest. The angel visited him 3 times. He was supposed to translate the plates and restore the true church of God to the earth. He found the plates in the forest and eventually translated them. At one point, both God and Jesus appeared to him giving him blessings. The pamphlets show images of a noble-hearted Joseph Smith sitting at a table with the golden plates next to him while he translates them. The angel Moroni who had hidden the plates centuries before was his guide to translate the plates. The translation became the book of Mormon.
What do the historical records now show? (I am leaving out many details to keep this post short.)
Joseph Smith in his youth would put a stone into a hat. He had found this stone in a well. Then he would look at the stone with the hat closed around his face. Then he would tell people where hidden treasures were in the forest. He would receive money for this information. He would take people into the forest and point to a spot to dig. Upon not finding the treasure, he would say that the treasure had moved through the earth because someone had disobeyed the guidelines of the spirit. They would have to dig in another spot nearby. He was once charged with disorderly conduct because of these deceits.
Joseph Smith came from a family with a tradition of magical folklore. According to this folklore, an angel had to visit 3 times to be true. If not, the angel was not telling the truth. There were all sorts of angels purported to visit the people in that tradition. The angel Moroni came 3 times to satisfy that folklore tradition and the blessings of his folklore father who encouraged young Joseph Smith to bring him the plates. But Joseph said that the angel would not give him the plates.
It turns out that the Joseph Smith did not translate the plates as shown in the pamphlets. He actually would look into a hat at the same stone he had used to find false treasures. Then he would speak the story while someone sitting near him would write down what he said. A few different people ended up writing his dictations. He would say the plates were still in the forest or in a nearby box while he saw words on the stone. He said that he was receiving the translation with the help of the angel Moroni.
Most Mormon temples put the angel Moroni on top. Was this angel real or a fictional character in a novel? Nobody but Joseph Smith ever saw the angel Moroni. Did he see it in his imagination, or was the angel real?
In his youth, Joseph Smith would entertain his family and friends with grand stories of the past and a history of the Indians. They would all sit around and listen to him weave stories. They enjoyed his stories according to historical accounts. The book of Mormon also tells stories of the past and the history of the Indians. Joseph Smith had a talent for story-telling. Was he preparing stories that would eventually become the book of Mormon?
At the beginning of the book of Mormon, witnesses signed a document to swear that they had seen the golden plates. When some of these people were pressed later if they had seen the plates with their physical eyes, they said that they had seen the plates with their spiritual eyes instead, like seeing a city on the other side of a mountain.
Let me present another historical event… The book of Abraham written by Joseph Smith.
One of the canonized books of Mormonism is the book of Abraham. The story is that an actual Egyptian scroll made its way to Joseph Smith by a traveling salesman while he was living in Kirkland, Ohio. The scroll was torn a bit and missing some pieces. Followers of Joseph Smith knew he could translate the scroll since nobody in the world was able to translate that forgotten language. And Joseph had translated the plates. So Joseph Smith said he could translate the scroll. He talked with some friends with money and bought the expensive scroll. Then over the next few weeks, he wrote the translation of the scroll. The translation tells a grand story of Abraham and came to be called the book of Abraham.
Years later the Rosetta stone was found and scholars were able to translate ancient Egyptian. As it turns out, Joseph Smith’s translation was complete fiction and had no relation to the common funeral scroll. The actual scroll that he translated was eventually found in a museum. His wife, Emma, who had bitter memories of her husband’s adulterous relationships (more dark secrets of Joseph Smith) gave the scroll to a museum with a letter of its history.
A mormon missionary told me that the book of Abraham was a higher truth of the scroll. Joseph Smith had given us a higher understanding. So could it be that Joseph Smith’s translation was truer than the true translation?
Records of these historical accounts were scattered and unknown until the internet and computers allowed people to assemble them and develop a complete story of the truth (lies) behind Mormonism.
The leaders of the Mormon church are currently trying to hide and spin this history. They have too much invested to allow the church to collapse.
Some more history…
Blacks had been seen by the church as accursed by God since the 1840’s. The Mormon church decided to allow Black’s to be priests in the late 1970’s. That is a good thing, right? Well, at the same time institutions of discrimination were losing tax-exemption under Jimmy Carter, like Bob Jones University. The Mormon church was vulnerable to losing their exemption too. A revelation from God was imminent.
“In 1978, the First Presidency and the Twelve, led by Spencer W. Kimball, declared they had received a revelation instructing them to reverse the racial restriction policy.” (source)
Money talks in the Mormon church. Their prophet and apostles of Jesus and God built a $5 billion mall. At the grand opening of the mall, the current prophet of God, Thomas Monson, said, “1 2 3… Let’s go shopping!” and cut the ribbon.
“When it came time to cut the mall’s pink ribbon, Monson, flanked by Utah dignitaries, cheered, “One, two, three, let’s go shopping!”
While watching a religious leader celebrate a mall may seem surreal, City Creek reflects the spirit of enterprise that animates modern-day Mormonism. The mall is part of a vast church-owned corporate empire that LDS leadership says will help spread its message, increase economic self-reliance and build God’s kingdom on Earth.” (source)
The church puts their apostles at the same level as the apostles of Jesus. Can we imagine the apostles of Jesus opening a mall and promoting shopping? Maybe they would have if it meant tax exemption.
There are many many more hidden deceits in the history of the Mormon church that the internet is making known.
Thank You for this very enlightening article and all the work researching and writing it.
Ed, I don’t doubt a word of what you’ve written. But what is it that makes the Mormon Church stand out against most other religions in regards to spinning a good tale that the adherents can come to love and rely on? Isn’t that the basis of all religions? They invest in RE? The Catholic Church is way ahead of old Joe Smith’s adherents. They believe in fairy tales told by a charlatan? Are either books of the bible, old and new testaments, any different other than having the benefit of ancient history to cover up the origins?
Religion is a belief system having nothing to do with the reality of the world around the believers. Some seem hokier than others, but belief is in the fantasies of the believers. Yes, we should tax religious financial activities in the same manner that any other social organization may be taxed. No, we can’t dictate what a fool wants to believe. Nor can we judge one fool’s beliefs against those of another.
The Mormon church’s history and texts are some of the more absurd things I’ve come across.
Nevertheless, the majority of Mormons that I’ve encountered have been good people who gave every indication of being of strong moral fiber, despite what to me seems to be a religion based on the ravings of a particularly charismatic lunatic, which I cannot say of plenty of churchgoing protestants that I have known (in fact in my experience protestant churches are often gathering places for a lot of people I would not want my kid exposed to for a variety of reasons).
I grew up in a protestant church, went to a religious university, and I’ve taken classes in both Biblical Interpretation and the Bible as Literature. What I can say out of all of it, is that if what someone believes makes them a tolerant and productive member of society, and does not harm themselves or someone else, that is probably just fine, regardless of whether it is based on a demonstrable lie or not. This goes for Judaism, Christianity, Muslims, Mormons, Kibologists, Buddhists, and whatever else.
I should have added in the post that there is no archeological evidence for anything Joseph Smith wrote according to the Smithsonian. No language connection, no DNA connections, no historical site, no peoples, nothing. Basically the book of mormon is fiction.
However, the bible has lots of archeological evidence.
Here is my opinion. In the mormon church you have to state a testimony of your faith that the book of Mormon is true. This enters into a mental state of pure faith with no evidence. It creates a delusionary state of pure faith with no ability to contradict. When you concentrate faith like this in a group, a group delusion takes over. Mormons are said to be happy people. But it is a happiness based on group delusion and a being told that it is the one true church.
When mormons discover the truths that I wrote about above, many deny them outright because they are happy good people. Some leave the church and become depressed. They fall out of delusion. They lose family and communal benefits. It would be like waking up from a drug induced illusion. You find yourself alone not knowing where you are.
Also you know when Glenn Beck cries on his show? In the mormon church, members stand up in front of everyone to give their testimony and talk. Most times they end up getting emotional and crying at some point. It is like a psychological link among members, men and women. Crying is part of their social expression. Glenn Beck shows this psychological trait of mormons.
I have seen it. It is interesting to watch the psychology around the crying. It seems to enhance faith.
“It seems to enhance faith.”
And that’s my point. Religion isn’t anything beyond faith. That many events described in the bible(s) have some connection to archeological evidence from the times that the described events are said to have occurred is irrelevant. Joe Smith went into the forest. Moses went to the promise land. Others went into the wilderness. Its all a matter of faith and has little or nothing to do with the reality of the world. The history of human activity is one of constant murder and mayhem on “biblical” proportions. How does that fit into the stories of belief from any religion? No, the meek have still not inherited the Earth. A few Mormons may have and so too have a few Christians, Jews and Muslims. Just a few, and their inheritance was not ordained by god. The real mystery of life is how the ruling classes have managed to control not just the economic worlds, but also the worlds of faith. All churches throughout history have supported the ruling class.
All of this is important on an economics blog how?
” All of this is important on an economics blog how? ”
Economics blogs are where we go to discuss fantastical myths and models that purport to describe economic reality. The story about Joseph Smith consulting the stone in the hat to discover the location of treasure buried in the forest is thus quite appropriate as a topic for an economics blog.
I wonder if we’ve discarded the stone in hat model prematurely. Could Smith’s model have warned us about the coming recession in the early 2000s ?
The Book of Mormon also tangentially references Roman Law in its version of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, but Smith would not have know that, and so included it when it would have no meaning to anyone in the Americas.
Angry Bear is not just an economics blog. We can also write about politics, journalistic research, healthcare, law and stories related to people in political and economic news.
The religion of Mitt Romney and Glenn Beck is important. They present a religion that does not jive with its historical facts. It is important to be informed on these issues.
Mormonism existed in isolation for a long time. The isolation washed over its ugly history. It reads like a soap opera. Now its members are getting more powerful politically. But the historical events shaped the culture of mormonism. So we need to understand who these people are. Shedding light on their roots is important. But there is so much more to say about them.
They do take advantage of their tax exempt status for their businesses. That is an economic connection.
Brigham Young owned most of the land in Utah in the beginning days of mormonism. New setllers worked the land for the church. Brigham Young borrowed money from the church like no else could. He died owing the church millions of dollars in todays money. but even after paying off his debts, his estate was still worth millions. Mormonism has a feudalistic history also, which is another economic connection.
Edward, I understand that the blog isn’t limited to economics but I do wonder about the advisability of religious criticism in relation to the general subjects treated by the blog. I have no brief for Mormonism. However do you want to encourage the iniquitous impact of other religions on our culture (Jews and Shylock; Catholics and infallibility; Calvinists and predestination, and the like)? If so, I’ll step aside and let you have at it.
I guess I should have added, what prompted the comment in the first place?
Didn’t he have some special glasses he wore to translate the plates?
Again, why pick on Mormons? Are the traditions, rules, dress, trappings, etc. of other major religions not equally absurd? Faith!!!!, not rational thinking is what religion is all about. And control. Control of the minds of the populous in service to the ruling class. The nobility may be the first estate, but the leadership of the clergy are generally the second estate. One supports the other. The Mormons are no worse nor any better. Let the rubes have their fantasies. Who is it that has been voting for Ted Cruz?
What prompted the post? The rising power of mormons politically, culturally and economically. People need to know about their history. They are said to be the fasting growing church too due to their missionaries, money resources and enticing pamphlets.
Yes… there were supposed to be glasses according to the legend, But they were never used, They were associated with the Urim and Thummim. Terms taken from the bible. But it was all a show because Joseph Smith apparently gave everything back to the angel Moroni.
Joseph Smith’s mother one day saw Joseph walk in with a shirt, and he let her feel the objects through the shirt but she could not see what it was. She said it felt like two smooth stones.
Here is a link about the urim and thummim… You will see the glasses in the photograph.
quote from link…
“In 1827, Smith said that he had been visited again by the angel who had previously revealed the location of the golden plates, along with other items such as the Urim and Thummim, and that these objects were buried in a nearby hillside. Smith said that after translating the Book of Mormon, he returned the plates and the Urim and Thummim to the angel, whom he identified as the resurrected Moroni. Smith reportedly told Orson Pratt that the Lord gave him the Urim and Thummim when he was an inexperienced translator but that as he grew in experience, he no longer needed such assistance.”
yes, he grew in experience?. but he never had plates next to him when he translated, so it was all a charade.
The mormon church now has a priesthood… an apostolic priesthood that has a direct link back to the apostles of Jesus. How did this happen? In 1835, when the issue came up that the church didn’t have a direct link to the apostles, Joseph said that a few apostles had visited him 7 years earlier and laid hands on him giving him the priesthood. People who knew Joseph Smith knew nothing about that. Nobody knew that had happened until Joseph Smith said it did 7 years after the fact. He could weave lies and people were invested to believe him.
However, the bible has lots of archeological evidence.”
Yes but recent scholarship has shown there is no evidence of the Egyptian captivity and no evidence of the tribal movement over Sinai to Canaan, whether or not you buy the 40 year part.
No Exodus, no bringing down of tablets from Mt. Sinai. Equally there is no archaeological evidence of the widespread destruction of cities that is seen in the Book of Joshua. So boom about 100% of the historical narrative that in principle supports the Chosen People evaporates. No Exodus no Passover, No Exodus no Promised Land. No Egyptian Captivity and suddenly Moses himself and ALL stories associated with him retreat into the realm of folklore and myth. But I am too smart to ever bring this up with even non-observant Jews. Still less to inject it into the I-P war.
Nor do Christians get a free pass. It is a matter of historical record that the Trinitarian debates that divided the Church from its early centuries and ended up triggering the Reformation were originally settled (to the degree they were) by a series of Councils under the sponsorship of the Roman Emperor in the 4th century and were in many ways as much political as religious. And in rereading the debates that came out of them the first response of a rational person is “Are you FUCKING kidding me!” Logic chopping doesn’t begin to describe it. And needless to say none of it actual derives in any direct way from the earliest text Whatever the character of the Primitive Church it wasn’t a matter of having out fine distinctions between the nature and substance of the Trinity. That is the Trinity has a lot more textual origin in Aristotle than the Apostles.
I am not saying this topic is out of bounds at AB. But everyone should be mindful of the “Beam, mote, eye” concept.
1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.
2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
You speak truth. The evidence for many things is confusing.
Even Jesus said to Thomas when he put his finger in the wound, “blessed are they that have not seen and yet believe”.
That is religion. To have faith in what we cannot see. But that is where people can be led astray too.
The councils under the Roman Emperor took many things out of the texts. I agree with your opinion of the councils.
We know less about Abraham, the founder of Judaism, but the story in the Old Testament is pretty weird. Supposedly, Abraham’s father ran an idol shop and left his teen aged son in charge. Abraham had a crisis of faith and took an axe and trashed all but one of the idols in his dad’s shop. So far, so good. That sounds like typical teen boy behavior.
Then comes the part that’s straight out of a John Hughes 1980s teen comedy. Then Abraham put the axe in the arms of the last idol standing. Abraham’s dad came back and said ‘Oy vey, what the hell happened here?’ OK, he didn’t say ‘oy vey’, that came later. Abraham explained that the surviving idol had trashed all the rival idols. Needless to say dad was kind of skeptical which was the whole point.
The family gave up on idol worship and converted to monotheism. They left town and took up work shepherding. Presumably the sheep were less facile with an axe. That’s the way I heard it in Hebrew school. If I got it wrong, sue my Hebrew teacher for malpractice. He had survived one of the death camps, so he had seen worse.
The real story of Abraham is probably even weirder.
I’m not apologizing for Mormonism. That religion has serious problems. I’m just pointing out that religious back stories can be pretty strange. Look at the origin stories of the Greek gods. They are full of eating one’s children, killing one’s father and cutting off testicles – as in why do gods even need testicles? They can give birth from their heads.
Those stories often have the feel of a Jack Kirby backstory that has been ret-conned one time too many. More than one Greek god seems to have gotten promoted from the chorus to help promote a new temple or pilgrimage. Cough, Apollo, cough. The story of Mormonism is unusual in that it was so recent and we have a fair bit of documentary and physical evidence to look at.
Sorry, I’m late to this party.
The title of your article is: “Internet shedding light on hidden history of Mormonism”.
The only link in your article is to a story about the opening of a mall. There are no other references, internet or otherwise.
I’m not saying this is a diatribe, and I’m skeptical of Mormonism, though no more or less skeptical than of any religion. But it’s hard to tell the difference between this and a real diatribe. It would be better to have at least some references. I know about Google, but I think it would be better to provide documentation for Joseph Smith’s pre-prophet behavior, or even some source for where you came upon it.
Sorry I was late to the Moderation queue. First time commenters get stuck there. It won’t happen again. (And I agree with you)