Thursday, October 30, 2014

'Nuff the Magic Dragon


This is my 100th post on this blog, and I've written over 100,000 words--a good size novel (oh, and I completed a novel that size early this year too).

Two years ago, I began in September 2012, when I wanted to document my attending the Mormon church as the managing editor of Mormonthink.  That was short lived, and the story is familiar to most of my readers. (You can google it if you want to read the news-stories.  It's in the Daily Beast, NY Times and more.)

For this centennial blog post, I thought I would change it up.

What would my readers think if I told them:

Joseph Smith did something invaluable for human kind.

Yes, I would like to praise the man in a specific way.  I'm serious.  What he did might just change the world, and we might see that happen soon.  Perhaps we are seeing it.

To explain, I want to show you a children's book, which was inspired by Carl Sagan for the original idea.

Some tell me, the gold plates were real, angel Moroni visited Joseph Smith, and God appeared to him and then helped him translate ancient records.

Here is a little tale for you.  (Here is the art source, by J. M. Oudesluys, which makes a great children's story book.)

-- 
"A fire-breathing dragon lives in my garage," I tell you.
"Show me," you say. 

I lead you to my garage. You look inside and see a ladder, empty paint cans, an old tricycle--but no dragon.  But I know without a shadow of a doubt I can see it and the fiery breath.
"Where's the dragon?" you ask. 

"Oh, she's right here," I reply, waving.
"But I can't see her!" you cry.

I reply, "I forgot to tell you that she's an invisible dragon." 
"Can I hear her?" you ask.

"You have to learn dragon whispers to hear her.  She is silent to all others," I tell you.
"Can I touch her?" you ask.

"You can try, but she can only be felt by those who truly know dragons," I say.
You reach out, but feel nothing.  "I can't see where she is.  Perhaps we can spread flour on the floor of the garage and see where she walks."

 
"Now there's an idea!" I say.  Thinking, I add: "But this dragon floats in the air.  Flour won't show the dragon's footprints.  Only those who truly love dragons can find her." 


"Invisible or not, a dragon has fire!" you exclaim.  "Perhaps we can get a infrared sensing, thermal camera and see her fiery breath!"
"You think a lot," I reply.  "Unfortunately, the invisible fire is also heat-less." 


"Hmm." You think and think some more.  "Let's spray paint everywhere in the garage, and see if we can make her appear!"

"Perhaps you are over-thinking this.  Clearly, being invisible, heat-less and floating everywhere, you must realize she's an incorporeal dragon.  Without a body the paint won't stick." 

"How big is your dragon?" you ask.

"She can be very very big, or very very small," I explain. "She can change into anything she wants at any size she desires.  She's very magical." I smile proudly and take a deep satisfying breath.


You sigh and shake your head.  "Your dragon can't be touched?"
"Nope."
"Can't be seen or heard?"
"Not unless you are a superior lover of dragons."
"Can't be detected with sensors?"
"Nope."
"Can't be painted and won't leave footprints?"
"Nope."

You sigh and ask, "What's the difference between an invisible, incorporeal, floating dragon who breathes heat-less fire...and no dragon at all?"
"Your problem," I tell you, "is that you don't have enough faith." 
"I find your dragon non-sensed, and un-real."


--


Now, compare this story to another story on the history on religion.


Social anthropologists find the earliest signs of religion in cave dwellings.  

The hypothesis is that in the cave tribe leaders received visual and auditory hallucinations feeding words and vision, like one sees in sensory deprivation chambers.  The "invisible entities" of hallucination were revered, and perhaps offerings were made to appease it for more revelation and protection. A further hypothesis is that the leaders took the offerings and became wealthy; perhaps they grew lazy and even cruel. Eventually followers went into the cave and found the leaders had lied.

The leaders eventually moved their spirits and gods to man-made, above ground and guarded lairs. 




Great expense went into building them and the leaders ruled and lived lavishly, as if gods themselves.  The pinnacles of these temples pointed up, while the gods were buried inside.  The guards and others did know the truth, and eventually the leaders' cruel reigns ended.

The end of that epoch seems to have brought humility to religious leaders. The people couldn't build temples big enough, but they moved god to the highest points, even further away, out of reach for most people. 



Ancient Hindu and  Jewish texts speak of prophets going to mountains and finding inspiration or bringing down commandments.  The Old Testament never mentions heaven as a place in outer space, just that god is in a lofty place such as the mountain of the Lord.

For a long time, the New Testament moved god beyond human reach, into space above the sky, or heaven.  Only god could reach the people when he wanted,to reassure chosen leaders that he is real and miraculously powerful.  




Then science with telescopes peers into the skies and beyond.  And as science found no heaven, and pushed at religion's claims,they have moved god beyond space-time, outside of the measurable universe.  Beyond science even.  



Each time the goal posts of god are moved, he becomes less personable.  Non-corporeal, non human.  An indiscernible force everywhere. Invisible, non-sensed, not-detected or found by any means except through faith and the feelings the religions tell you to have. 

What did Joseph Smith do?


Smith brought god back to human form, residing within the universe at Kolob and revealing artifacts to back his claims.  People loved the more tangible, personable, approachable god.





Joseph Smith did this in the golden era after the printing press and before the internet.  Documentation exists, actually abounds, but was hard to access in his era and subsequent times.  If one could collect all the old documents, newspapers, court proceedings, journal entries and more, one could piece it all together to see almost precisely how Joseph Smith created his scam.  

Now that the LDS church has grown large enough to merit attention, we can scrutinize it as a model for how religions form and can be easily discredited.  It is large enough, and the internet is now bringing back all the old documents, newspapers and more.  Soon enough, we will have the jigsaw picture complete and it will serve as a model for how older religions, whose records are lost, also started from lies by charismatic leaders.


Here is the entire 2-minute primary talk on the history of religion, for those that want it.

(click on image to zoom in)



Happy 100th!


PS- I'll be taking a break for a while.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Legally Defending The Immoral



Do you know Joseph Smith's opening pickup lines that netted him 33 wives and far more one-nighters?  Read on...


The LDS church topic essay on Joseph Smith's attempts to excuse his immorality with this claim: 

“Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.”

I already reported on how Elder Neil Andersen used the same tactic in his general conference talk.  Here are the details of this legalistic defense, straight from the page at FAIR Mormon, an apologetic LDS group who spend a lot of time getting down and dirty with Joseph Smith's philandering ways.

FAIR writes:


"...vocal atheist Christopher Hitchens savages Joseph as a "serial practitioner of statutory rape." ..."
"Statutory rape is sexual intercourse with a victim that is deemed too young to provide legal consent ..."
"The very concept of a fifteen- or seventeen-year-old suffering statutory rape in the 1840s is flagrant presentism. The age of consent under English common law was ten. American law did not raise the age of consent until the late nineteenth century, and in Joseph Smith's day only a few states had raised it to twelve. Delaware, meanwhile, lowered the age of consent to seven.
"In our time, legal minors can often be married before the age of consent with parental approval. Joseph certainly sought and received the approval of parents or male guardians for his marriages to Fanny Alger, Sarah Ann Whitney, Lucy Walker, and Helen Kimball. His habit of approaching male relatives on this issue might suggest that permission was gained for other marriages about which we know less.
"Clearly, then, Hitchens' attack is hopelessly presentist. None of Joseph's brides was near ten or twelve. And even if his wives' ages had presented legal risks, he often had parental sanction for the match. "

Did you catch that?  Here's an image capture of these statements, since FAIR is notorious for editing once others point out their extreme apologetic gymnastics.
(click on image to zoom in)


Let me bulletize FAIR's legalese:
  • Joseph Smith was involved with young teens 
  • Age of consent laws didn't apply in his era
  • The age of Joseph Smith's "partners" were above the 10-12 year range of consent laws
  • Besides, Joseph got permission from the parents of the teen girls
  • Joseph may or may not have had sex anyway, even if the girls were unable to ever marry any other man while Joseph lived
  • Technically Hitchen's argument is presentist.

So...it was technically legal for Joseph Smith to have sexual relations with a girl as "old" as 14.  However, a little moment of thought will tell you that clearly it wasn't acceptable in 19th century America, even on the frontier to have sex with teen girls especially when you were already married.  That's why Joseph Smith hid polygamy. It may be why there were attempts to castrate Joseph (when he was tarred and feathered) according to both Fawn Brodie and Todd Compton. And polygamy seems likely part of the reason he was killed and his followers were driven west.

What was left out of FAIR's legal argument:
  • Polygamy was illegal in the mid 19th century
    • Joseph was having sex with multiple young girls and other married women
  • Coercion was used to get agreement from the girls and their parents
  • Joseph was already married, and his wife often didn't know of his philandering
  • Hitchens--the atheist--was far more morally correct than the religious apologists
  • Statutory Rape is a legal term, but immorality is what the LDS Church often preaches, except when it needs to excuse its prophets.

Isn't the purpose of prophets to guide the Lord's people morally, not legally?   Will they excuse Joseph Smith on legal grounds while exculpating him morally?  How can they call that prophetic?  Do their prophets lag behind the public opinion by so far?  How can they praise that man?  When will they disavow and condemn him

Maybe with a little more revelation they can...

Here's a revelation:  Joseph Smith was involved in so many illicit sexual exchanges, that if you comb some of the papers in Illinois or Missouri in his days, you may randomly come across stories of him that have nothing to do with revealed polygamy and all to do with Joseph Smith's typical character.

For example, from the July 15, 1842 edition of the Sangamo Journal. (State of Illinois, ss. McDonough County.) is this excerpt:

"Personally appeared before me, Abraham Fulkerson, one of the Justices of the Peace in and for said county, Melissa Schindle, who, being duly sworn according to law, deposeth and saith, that in the fall of 1841, she was staying one night with the widow Fuller, who has recently been married to a Mr. Warren, in the city of Nauvoo, and that Joseph Smith came into the room where she was sleeping about 10 o'clock at night, and after making a few remarks came to her bed-side, and asked her if he could have the privilege of sleeping with her. She immediately replied NO. He, on the receipt of the above answer told her it was the will of the Lord that he should have illicit intercourse with her, and that he never proceeded to do any thing of that kind with any woman without first having the will of the Lord on the subject; and further he told her that if she would consent to let him have such intercourse with her, she could make his house her home as long as she wished to do so, and that she should never want for anything it was in his power to assist her to -- but she would not consent to it. He then told her that if she would let him sleep with her that night he would give her five dollars -- but she refused all his propositions. He then told her that she must never tell of his propositions to her, for he had ALL influence in that place, and if she told he would ruin her character, and she would be under the necessity of leaving. He then went to an adjoining bed where the Widow ____ was sleeping -- got into bed with her and laid there until about 1 o'clock, when he got up, bid them good night, and left them, and further this deponent saith not.
"MELISSA (her X mark) SCHINDLE. Subscribed and sworn to before me, this 2d day July, 1842. A. FULKERSON, J. P. (seal)."

Here is the image scan for those that need the evidence (please look it up at this link and zoom in to see for yourself).

(click on image to zoom in)

Faithful Mormons may want to discount Melissa Schindle's legal sworn statement as anti-mormon lies. 

Remember, she made a legal statement to a justice of the peace.  FAIR and LDS essay writers want to excuse Joseph on technical, legal grounds for his dalliances with young teen girls.  Their reliance on legal arguments should be good enough to accept Melissa Schindle's legal case.

We also know the LDS Church hid these facts for decades, more than half a century after historians dug them up. The leaders only now disclose them in essays because they're so painfully available online and their dishonesty was far more troubling than Joseph's 170 year old philandering.

So who do you trust, the apologists or the young Melissa?

The church intentionally lied to you for years.

M. Schindle had nothing to gain and much to lose by coming forward.

There's a trend that Joseph used to encourage women into bed.  Notice how Joseph tried to wear down Mrs. Schindle (mrs.--she was apparently married).  This is how he operated.  He tried a direct approach, then coercion using his religious status and that didn't work.  Offer her a place in his house, and if that failed he'd toss some money in and see if she can be bought.  Then if she refused all his attempts, he threatened her with ruin of her reputation.  

If she's young enough and Smith was friends with the parents, he enlisted them as co-conspirators in his underaged debauchery, making them immoral as well.

The bottom line is, the LDS church wants to defend Smith, a serial underage rapist (if not statutory) using legalese, but they want members to adhere to a stricter moral code, not to date before 16, not to marry too young or too old, to have children and remain monogamous.  

The hypocrisy must be tiring.




I've heard chatter by LDS on the plural marriage essay with the response that Joseph Smith and the other men commanded to practice plural marriage were victims of the trials God placed on them. They obeyed, despite the hardship. This sympathy, enlisted from the LDS spin essay, is only nonobjective sheep following their church. 

The church bias shows up in the essays by trying to enlist sympathy for Joseph Smith and not much for his victims (teen girls, married women and their spurned husbands). For example, the husband of Joseph's fifth (or sixth by some lists) wife (who was Zina Huntington Jacobs). Her husband, Henry Jacobs, knew of her marriage to Joseph and continued to live with her afterward. Soon however, Henry was sent on several missions by Joseph Smith to Chicago, upstate NY, and Tennessee. He rarely saw his wife and the two children she raised singly. After Joseph died, Brigham Young took Zina for a wife (since B. Young took almost all of Joseph's wives), and once again Henry was sent on a mission to England. Zina moved in with Brigham and Henry never got to be with her again. He lamented in letters to her: "...the same affection is there...but I feel alone.." He died without his wife. There are many tales like this where families and couples are hurt by leaders taking and exchanging wives.
(Ref. "In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith" Todd M. Compton, pp. 81-82; 84,88, 90-94)


Similarly, the young bride Helen Mar Kimball who was kept locked away from young men and alone for Joseph cried, "I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself an abused child.."
(Ref. In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, T. Compton, p. 502)

If there were victims for whom to have sympathy, Joseph is the least of them.

The fact that the LDS Essay enlisted your sympathy for that man and not for his victims shows the bias and removes your objectivity on this subject.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Corrupt Then, Corrupt Now


Why do corruption and immorality from 175 years ago matter today?  Because it has continued in a new form.

The latest essays (1 & 2) from the LDS Church admit to a lot. They've not admitted everything that so-called anti-mormon (but thoroughly accurate) historians have dug up about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and more. But it is enough.

The few confessions about Joseph Smith's sexual immorality affect the plan of salvation preached by the LDS Church. It claims to be led by prophets who are inspired by an all knowing God that leads us morally.  God knows truth, and teaches it to the prophets, goes the claim. But the people he supposedly chose to lead were and are hugely immoral. The plural marriage law God sent down, thrice from an angel with a drawn sword, is corrupt. That revelation told Joseph Smith to conduct illicit sexual harassment and have multiple simultaneous sexual relationships with married women, with young teen girls and often in secret behind Emma's, the legal wife's, back.

God's angel told Joseph to do these things or else be destroyed. Either that, or Joseph made it all up.

If God did it, then the Mormon version of god is an unethical, immoral being--the way he treats women (and blacks, and gays and ex-mormons and...) is sickening. If the imperfect Joseph made it up to get his horny on, then how can you trust such a pervert who would destroy marriages and young teens in his lustful pursuits?  How do you know his other so-called revelations from angels weren't just made up likewise?

We know he was sexually corrupt. We know he couldn't translate regular Egyptian (so the Book of Abraham came from "revelation" akin to an angel with drawn sword). We know he fictionalized bits of history on ancient America that are completely overthrown by modern science. We know he was involved in a Kirtland banking scandal and had short-lived plots to overthrow the U.S. government.


Joseph Smith knew his actions were viewed by his 19th century peers as immoral and scandalous.  He tried to hide his dalliances and even his "revelations".  Joseph Smith used code names in the original Doctrine and Covenants to keep the latter-day saints activities secret from non-Mormons.  The revelation on plural marriage was kept very secretive, and (according the LDS essay on the topic) the controversy caused "leaders to issue carefully worded denials that denounced spiritual wifery and polygamy but were silent about what Joseph Smith and others saw as divinely mandated “celestial” plural marriage."  

Joseph's church lied even to their own members--that, "the Church practiced no marital law other than monogamy while implicitly leaving open the possibility that individuals, under direction of God’s living prophet, might do so." When the essay says, "implicitly leaving open the possibility" it means that the secrets were known to some, but not all.

Joseph Smith lied about his ability to translate, hid his immoral "wifery", surreptitiously plotted to increase his power with an elite Council of Fifty, and so forth.

With full disclosures on these, you can't actually expect non-Mormons to buy that this man or his god are worth following. Why are modern LDS defending Joseph Smith? Don't they know better now that their own church was practically forced to confess Smith's sins? They couldn't hide it any longer, half a century after the meticulous record produced by a woman, Fawn Brodie, in No Man Knows My History, and the several other fantastic books since.


The forced confessions at LDS Inc are too little, too late for many who have "jumped ship". And we're not going back.

Modern LDS hold on to the side rails of their sinking gospel ship. They believe the current leaders are a moral compass, dodging the icebergs of gay-marriage and wanton immorality in the latter days.  (Even as they crash into Joseph's chilly immorality and the icy racism of prophets past.)

But these same men--the Mormon prophets today--are still defending the indefensible. The corrupt and immoral foundation of their church continues in a new, but still secret form. The modern prophets continue in corruption, spending billions on profitable ventures in non-charitable ways. They pile on profits and suck out true charity to only spit it out in miserly, paper-thin disclosures.

These modern prophets are just as corrupt as Joseph; perhaps more, because they hire extensively notable legal teams and maintain better secrecy on their activities. For now.

Financial secrecy is a confession that will come. These men will be viewed just as morally bankrupt as Joseph and Brigham. But for now, LDS lawyers and non-disclosure agreements keep the Mormon faithful on course in their ship.

Historically, it was the secrecy of polygamy that troubled Mormons and their investigators. Members sigh with relief it's no longer practiced. Today it's the financial secrecy that should keep LDS awake at night.

Wake up, members. You can't trust these men. 

The restoration was made up.  It seems magical and marvelous.  If you research, however, you'll find it's been polished over the years. Your Doctrine and Covenants was transformed by later "prophets" again and again. Your Book of Mormon was edited and corrected 4,000 times since Joseph Smith published the novel. These men are blinding you to the real past, and you trust their claims that Joseph was inspired to do something no one could have done in the early 1800s. Because he didn't--the magic are the edits to his work along the next century.

What was inspired was the polishing Smith's and Young's turd by the next ten prophetic administrations and not telling you about it. Now they keep financial secrets while collecting massive amounts of LDS income to build...what are they building this month?

Oh yeah, this elite condominium investment property.  (And you thought I was going to point out the mall.) 




Joseph Smith was fond of claiming his temple, with secret oaths and penalties, was the link that binds the living with the dead.

Secrecy is the link that binds his dead corruption with the corrupted living prophets.

Happy Halloween!



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Whither the Disavowing and Unequivocal Condemning of Pedophilia?


So LDS Church, how do you really feel about pedophilia*?  Apparently, it's excusable.

Last year the LDS Church Newsroom and History Dept released press statements and an essay, both declaring that it doesn't matter what times were like in the 1800s, racism is wrong!  They offered meek excuses about the culture and times, but courageously, the LDS church used the words  "disavow" and "unequivocally condemn".
 “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”  (LDS Topic on Race and Priesthood)
In the past couple of days, we saw the release of another topic essay on Joseph Smith's polygamy.  In it, the church admits "Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates" including with: 
“[T]he youngest was Helen Mar Kimball…who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday.”  
That is, when she was 14 years old, and Joseph Smith was 37 years old! (23 years her senior!) 

Joseph Smith used coercive tactics to get young (and little) Helen's hand in marriage, saying to the teen girl, “it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.” 

Helen felt that “this promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing…”  

After her marriage to Joseph, Helen, still a young teen, lamented that, “like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself  an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur.” 

Regardless of whether Joseph had sex with Helen (the essay writers suggest it was for "eternity-only"), she felt "abused" and she felt a loss of freedom.  She "willingly gave" herself so that she could "purchase" a reward.  Perhaps Helen initially thought she had married Smith "for eternity alone" but soon found out differently. She said Joseph protected her from the attention of young men, and that her marriage was "more than ceremony," suggesting that she did have or would have a sexual relationship with Smith. (See this reference, pp. 499-501.)  It sure sounds like she traded a lot for her "spiritual" virtue.

This form of child abuse and "spiritual" (if not literal) pedophilia* is very disgusting. 

Yet, the essay writers attempt to excuse it with this claim: 
“Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.”

As if pedophilia was in style in Smith's time, therefore, it's just fine to dismiss. Further, young marriage practices or not, polygamy to teen brides was not normal in that era!

Apostle Neil Andersen tried this same excuse at the October 2014 general conference:
We might remind the inquirer that some information about Joseph, while true, may be presented completely out of context to his own day and situation.”

But then later in his talk, Andersen said:
“The negative commentary about the prophet Joseph Smith will increase as we move toward the second coming of the savior. The half-truths and subtle deceptions will not diminish. There will be family members and friends who need your help.”
On the one hand Andersen wants to excuse Joseph Smith by using the context of his day and situation, so that we don’t scrutinize him by our higher standards on a 37 year old Joseph Smith, the prophet, marrying a 14 year old teen girl. On the other hand Andersen, knowing the Internet is revealing the true character of Joseph Smith that they could formerly hide, calls on the idea that immorality increases and is more rampant in the latter days as we move toward the end-times.  

Andersen wants Joseph to eat his teen cake and have his slice of latter-day wickedness too.  

Sorry, Mr. Andersen, you can’t have it both ways. Either we excuse the unacceptable dalliances by our more modern strict views on pedophilia, or dismiss your view that modern culture is more sexually perverse than Smith was.  To cherry-pick your moral codes by era and give Joseph a pass while condemning those who view pedophilia as evil is just plain irrational and backwards.  Give credit to critics who decry pedophilia no matter where they see it--whether in Warren Jeffs or in Joseph Smith. Be honest and willing to admit your leader had some sick behaviors.

I challenge the LDS church to finally disavow and unequivocally condemn underage marriages and pedophilia, whether past, present or future.  The emotional, psychological and even spiritual abuse perpetuated on young girls by its leaders sickens the world.

Furthermore, as Grant Palmer recently pointed out "it is generally unknown that he was accused of illicit sexual conduct with a number of women from 1827 on, until his death in 1844."  Many of these women were not his so-called wives, but others that spurned his advances of spiritual wifery and swinging playfulness.  That list included Miriam and Rhoda Stowell, Eliza Winters, Marinda Nancy Johnson, Vienna Jacques and several more.

This kind of abuse extended from Joseph to Brigham (married a 16 year old at 45!) to Woodruff (15 year old girl), Snow (15 year old girl) and Joseph F. Smith (17 year old girl).  They all need to be condemned and disavowed like the pedophiles they are.

Stand up LDS essay writers and condemn this behavior!  It's sure the LDS apostles won't.  

In hindsight, Andersen's pre-emptive promotion of Joseph Smith just weeks ahead of the polygamy essay and confessions of Smith's teen girl dalliances--well, it appears Andersen craftily and calculatingly gave that speech to head off calls to the church for condemning Smith's untoward behavior.

They're going to have to craft speeches on the other prophets with teen brides soon enough, if they choose to defend the polygamous teen-marriage practice of their leaders.



While  you're at it, essay writers, remember that you also admitted, "Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married."  You may feel free to condemn that as well.


If I were still a member on the LDS records, I would be embarrassed to know the church has not gone on record to disavow and condemn pedophilia yet.  Members of the LDS Church, you should petition your leaders to publicly and unequivocally condemn underage sexual relationships and spiritual marriages.  

Why haven't you?  Because you covenant not to speak ill of the Lord's anointed?  Do you still believe these men, these pedophiles were anointed?  

*Note: Technically, it isn't pedophilia as sexual relations with younger teens is called hebephilia. However at 23 years older than a 14 year old, Joseph Smith was one sick man whatever technical term you use.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

TL;DR


For the impatient, with LDS friendly links.
(click here to get larger version)





https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-in-kirtland-and-nauvoo

https://www.lds.org/topics/book-of-mormon-and-dna-studies




Plural Adultery in Kirtland and Nauvoo



The LDS Church has finally admitted that Joseph is an adulterer.  Their new essay, called Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo, while not explicitly stating Smith committed adultery, does admit he practiced a form of plural marriage that by almost any standard, even including the explicit one given in its own scripture (D&C 132), Joseph broke the rules, and did so many times.  The church will not come out and call Joseph Smith an adulterer, but by the end of this blog, you will have to admit to wondering why not.

TL;DR summary:  The essay admits--

1) Joseph Smith married girls, one as young as 14-years-old.
2) Joseph married women who were already married to other living men (polyandry).
3) Joseph likely had sex with some (or many) of the women he married.
4) An angel with a drawn sword threatened Joseph into practicing polygamy.
5) Excuses Joseph by claiming that many (but not all) of the marriages were sexless (eternity-only).
6) Excuses Joseph by telling us not to use modern cultural standards to judge the appropriateness of his marriages.
7) Claims that much of polygamy isn't fully understood because of the secrecy behind it.

In reviewing the essay, I’ll follow an “admission”/”claim” and my response of “truth” afterward.

First of all, I want to give the LDS History Department kudos for this admission.

Admission:  "Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully."

I can't add a whole lot to this except, HAHAHAHAHA.  Silly Joseph.  "The Devil Angel made me do it!"


Essay Admission: “After receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage, Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates.”

Furthermore:  This is a very bold beginning for the LDS church essay.  Until this, the admission of Joseph's polygamy was met with denial.  Even some members are threatened with disciplinary action if they, once-upon-a-time preached the same doctrines exposed on the essay today.  The essay goes on to include statements that “Plural marriage was introduced among the early Saints incrementally, and participants were asked to keep their actions confidential.”  One can wonder why it was a secret in prudish America (duh!).  

Because of rumors of Joseph Smith’s dalliances in the mid 1830s, the LDS church quickly adopted a “Chapter of Rules for Marriage among the Saints”, which declared, “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with...polygamy; we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife...”  This “Article on Marriage” was canonized and published in the Doctrine & Covenants from 1835 for about 40 years. (See Joseph Smith Papers, D&C 1835 edition.)

Essay Claim: “Although the Lord commanded the adoption—and later the cessation—of plural marriage in the latter days, He did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment.”

Truth:  The commandment specifically states “if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified … But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery” (D&C 132:61-63) 

Truth:  The commandment also states: “I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.” (D&C 132: 4).  And that “if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed. …And if her husband be with another woman, and he was under a vow, he hath broken his vow and hath committed adultery.” (D&C 132: 41-43).  Further, that to a man, virgins in plural marriage “are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth” (D&C 132:63)

What are the rules?  The exact instructions (quote above) in Section 132 are:
  • marry only virgins
  • the first wife (virgin) has to give consent
  • women are not to be with other men
  • multiple wives are given to a man to multiply and replenish the earth (by sex)


Admission: “The revelation on plural marriage was not written down until 1843, but its early verses suggest that part of it emerged from Joseph Smith’s study of the Old Testament in 1831.”

Furthermore: The essay even admits to Fanny Alger (a surprise I didn’t expect). Quote: “Fragmentary evidence suggests that Joseph Smith acted on the angel’s first command by marrying a plural wife, Fanny Alger, in Kirtland, Ohio, in the mid-1830s.”  (It was about in 1833 when 17 year old Fanny spent time with Emma and Joseph working in their home.)  The essay also claims, “nothing is known about the conversations between Joseph and Emma regarding Alger.”  However rumors abound about Emma’s hostility toward Fanny, and Cowdery’s statement on his “dirty, nasty, filthy affair”. 

Admission:  Marriage of Zina Huntington Jacobs to Joseph Smith. “The women who united with Joseph Smith in plural marriage risked reputation and self-respect in being associated with a principle so foreign to their culture and so easily misunderstood by others. “I made a greater sacrifice than to give my life,” said Zina Huntington Jacobs, “for I never anticipated again to be looked upon as an honorable woman.” ”

Essay also admits: “Joseph Smith was sealed to a number of women who were already married. Neither these women nor Joseph explained much about these sealings, though several women said they were for eternity alone.”

Truth:  Zina Huntington Jacobs’ polygamous marriage to Joseph Smith was on October 27, 1841, when she was about 20 years old.  The essay omits directly that she had already married Henry B. Jacobs, almost six months before, on March 7, 1841.  Some reports say that Henry Jacobs knew of the plural marriage and believed that “whatever the Prophet did was right, without making the wisdom of God’s authorities bend to the reasoning of any man.”  Over the next few years, Henry was sent on several missions to Chicago, Western New York and Tennessee. 

Other than to say that Joseph was sealed to women already married, the essay does not name the other already-married, polyandrous wives of Joseph Smith, which include (not exclusively) Presendia Huntington Buell, Sylvia Sessions Lyon, Mary Rollins Lightner, Patty Bartlett Sessions, Marinda Johnson Hyde and more. 

The essay tried to excuse the practice of polyandry—marriage to married women—by justifying that, “These sealings may have provided a way to create an eternal bond or link between Joseph’s family and other families within the Church.” And that “several women said they were [sealed] for eternity alone.”  But then why would Zina fear an eternal sealing which would not have put her sexual relationship in jeopardy, keeping her alliance with Joseph Smith secret and claiming “I never anticipated again to be looked upon as an honorable woman”?  The essay’s explanation seems hollow.

Claim: “The exact number of women to whom he was sealed in his lifetime is unknown because the evidence is fragmentary.” While it never offers a number, the essay does admit to the following plural wives of Joseph: Fanny Alger, Zina Huntington Jacobs, Louisa Beaman,  Fanny Young, and Helen Mar Kimball. 

Truth:  Regarding Helen Mar Kimball, the essay does admit that “the youngest was Helen Mar Kimball…who was sealed to Joseph several months before her 15th birthday.”  But then it excuses it with this claim: “Marriage at such an age, inappropriate by today’s standards, was legal in that era, and some women married in their mid-teens.”

Truth:  If we are to judge Joseph Smith as having a lesser ("inappropriate") standard of moral character than we expect in "today's standards" then I hereby declare the LDS prophets, apostles and seventy members can no longer preach that people of modern times are a more wicked generation, running head-long into evil end-of-days destruction.

No, Mr. Monson and Mr. Oaks, you can't have a double standard.  Either Joseph gets a pass because today's standards know and view his inappropriateness and that means we are more righteous, or we're all evil and the Angel made us do it!

Truth:  Conservative estimates place the number of plural wives of Joseph Smith at around 25 and others go as high as 40.   Helen Mar Kimball was 14, and Joseph used coercive tactics to get her hand in marriage, saying to the teen girl, “it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred.” Helen felt that “this promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward. None but God & his angels could see my mother’s bleeding heart-when Joseph asked her if she was willing…”  After her marriage to Joseph, Helen, still a young teen, lamented that, “like a wild bird I longed for the freedom that was denied me; and thought myself  an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur.” 

Even though the essay raises none of Helen’s sadness, like a good patriarchal organization, it does mention her father’s strong emotional response.  Her father, Heber C. Kimball, agreed. “I never felt more sorrowful,” the essay tells us.

Admission: “The practice spread slowly at first. By June 1844, when Joseph died, approximately 29 men and 50 women had entered into plural marriage, in addition to Joseph and his wives.”

Truth:  If Joseph Smith had over 20 wives of his own by 1844, and only 50 women and 29 men had entered it, the other men scarcely had a second wife.  (Joseph’s harem was almost as large as the rest combined).  I don't understand how 29 men can be in polygamous relationships with 50 women when the ratio is less than 2:1.  Perhaps they don't include the first wives.  How perfectly thoughtfully sexist of them.

The essay concludes with, “The challenge of introducing a principle as controversial as plural marriage is almost impossible to overstate. A spiritual witness of its truthfulness allowed Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints to accept this principle.” 

Truth:  That spiritual witness?  An angel with a flaming sword.  However, the principle taught in the D&C (132) and as practiced by Smith are not one and the same.  The D&C explicitly states that the women should be virgins, should not have other husbands/men/lovers and the purpose was to have offspring.  Did Joseph Smith fulfil on this?  The essay admits he married already-married women even while it attempts to justify Joseph on the grounds that the marriages were most often for “eternity only” and not for “time” (“eternity-only sealings indicated relationships in the next life alone” and did not include sexual relations).

Joseph Smith seems to have utterly failed his own revelation on plural marriage, breaking every one of the requirements given in Section 132.  His real excuse seems to come down to:  "The angel made me do it!!"


Did Joseph's teen brides complain:  "Always a bride, never a maid!" ?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ordain Women Now

It's been shown, and admitted to by LDS church leaders, that their past prophets from the first to Kimball were wrong about not ordaining black men to their priesthood.

Interestingly, there is more reference in their scripture about certain races or people being denied the priesthood (in the book of Abraham, Book of Mormon) than there is about denying women the priesthood.

The LDS church's late 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood tried to exempt Joseph Smith from the lineage of racist prophets by claiming, "there is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime."

It sounds to me as if the LDS church is proud of those leaders who were ahead of their time in ordaining minority males to the priesthood when they say the world view was against it.

Why wouldn't they say the same thing about Joseph Smith ordaining women? I won't expound on the events surrounding the history of Joseph Smith ordaining women, but D. Michael Quinn showed plenty on it.  There are many saying the LDS church is wrong to discriminate:  You should have a look at the Ordainwomen website to get more information.

What I want to challenge here is, why aren't there more active men who stand up and step forward for women, and Ordain Women Now?  Your prophet is a sexist, so stand up and go forward by ordaining Kate Kelly or any other Mormon woman who asks to be ordained. Don't be ashamed of your small support for females.  Be a large man and stand tall for women.  Lay your hands on them, give them the priesthood and report it to the world.  

If and when the LDS church leaders come after you with a disciplinary court, stand tall and lead.  Let the chips fall where they may.  You'll make history when the future church proclaims that it doesn't know how or when the ban on women started but is against all forms of sexism, past, present or future. And you can be listed among those brave LDS saints that stood for priesthood equality.


Ordain Women Now doesn't have to be a movement waiting for change. Just ordain women and make the change immediately.



Sit high, look forward to a bright, if uncertain future.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Priestcrafty



"Priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the Welfare of Zion…. But the laborer in Zion shall labor for Zion; for if they labor for money they shall perish" (2 Ne. 26:29, 31).

If you labored in Zion -- if you taught humility, obedience, paying tithes and offerings, remaining pure from alcohol/sex and other fun outside of the happiness the church designs for you -- and you were paid well for preaching this, would you want the members to know about your financial compensation?

What if you also sought investment income far more often than the welfare of humans, but preached as if you cared more about people than profits?

Preaching is a skill.  A skill is also a craft.  Being crafty is being deceptively ingenious so that your skill nets you unobserved gain.

Are the LDS apostles engaged in priestcraft? Do crafty church leaders keep secret their gains for laboring in Zion?  

FAIR has a page dedicated to help the questioning member decide that NO, the church leadership is not a priestcraft.  

FAIR, does admit that the church uses non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), which is where the basis of financial opaqueness is founded. NDAs are to financial transparency what blackout curtains are to the sun. 

Keeping financial opaqueness, the LDS church refuses to disclose: 
1) complete or even basic tithing & offerings income, 
2) corporate income, 
3) church operating expenses, 
4) salaries of leaders and many church employees, 
5) the form and even existence of the non-disclosure agreements, 
6) source of investment monies (tithing?), 
7) investment gains/losses.  

There might be other factors I neglect here, but this suffices.  Remember, tithing comes entirely from the members but they have no accounting for it.  Also, NDAs in the LDS church might be a secret, but so many church employees have admitted to them at various levels, their existence is not really in question.

FAIR argues that NDAs are not a sign of deception or priestcraft: "One problem with an NDA is that in order to get relief the injured party must sue. And in suing, the contract itself would become part of the court case, and potentially available for public scrutiny."

They argue that NDAs don't solve the secrecy problem.  They do, however, create a great excuse for GAs at the top who don't want to be forced to disclose their compensations.  The NDA is a cover for the top, and a way to keep internal records sequestered so that all but a few mid-level staff don't see the compensation of the higher ups.

FAIR: "This would only be some sort of problem if the church was trying to hide something. And so if the church is trying to hide payments to general authorities, then the whole process of having a NDA creates far more problems than it would solve. "

Ok, then by FAIR's reasoning, there is no need for a non-profit, charity-church based corporation to have NDAs. If they would forego their self-mandated NDAs (they are The LDS Executives, after all) and just produce financial transparency, it would clear it up.  They have nothing to hide, right?

But they do.  The Mission President Handbook, which FAIR has not addressed, shows they absolutely have things to hide regarding tax liabilities if "stipends" or reimbursed packages were defined as income.

Removing the NDA would create more problems than it solves in the case where publishing the GA compensation packages would upset the proletariat members. And again, the MP Handbook tells the mission presidents not to disclose their compensation packages. Not even to family or other MPs.  Why?  Because the compensation includes Christmas gifts, gardeners, tuition, maids and more.  Items the average member would find on the edge of moral responsibility for their own church.

On GA compensation, FAIR quotes Hinckley, former prophet, as saying:
“... the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people.”

This tells us two things:  
1) GAs make “modest” executive compensation.  He didn’t say salary.  He said executive compensation.  
2) GA compensation is tied to LDS business income.

Compensation tied to business income can be very healthy, especially if your companies have billions to invest in a lot of real-estate and other ventures.  For the LDS church, everything they own, hold or build derived originally from tithing.  Even Hinckley says, "the combined income from all of these business interests is relatively small."  However he defines small, it's on the scale of having enough cash on hand to build billion-dollar malls, hundred million dollar condo high-rises, industrial parks and more, year after year.  If that is small, tithing income must be huge!

If your personal yearly compensation were dependent on how much money the corporation had for investments (likely from invested excess tithing) and how efficiently the monies are used, you would try to get all the free labor  you could.  You would ask members to pay for their own sales-position as missionaries.  You would ask them to clean the chapels.  You would ask them to work for free at storehouses, farms and temples.  You would ask them to do a lot of work to benefit the LDS corporate bottom line, like advertise and lobby for the LDS full-length motion movie advertisment to get put in theaters nation-wide.

Free sales force. Free janitors.  Free storehouse workers.  Free farm labor.  Free this and free that.  Bottom line savings from tithing goes to business investments and is tied to executive compensation.

I’ve blogged about apostles heading up positions on LDS corporations previously—such as Monson simultaneously holding positions as Chairman (CEO) of the Corporation of COJCOLDS, Chairman of LDS Business College, Director of BYU-I; as Holland being Director of Farmland Reserve, etc.  The LDS Corporations are valued conservatively by Business Week at $40 Billion, with a church-wide gross (and mostly tax-free) income between tithing and return on investments coming in about $6-8 billion annually.  It's estimated that about 20% of their income (or $2B) is their annual consolidated income, used as investment seed to build cash for building projects like malls and condo complexes.  This net income is the level of a mid-latitude Fortune 500 company, such as Target Corp, whose post-tax consolidated net income is $2-3B per year.  What does a CEO/Chairman or Director of a such a corporation make? 

While it is an apples/oranges comparison of sorts, in 2012, Target Corp Chairman, Gregg W Steinhafel’s compensation package was $20,647,464. (Target’s listed VPs earned $5-7M). The median CEO salary, according to an Associated Press/Equilar pay study, is around $10 million.  

So a "modest" compensation "living allowance" compared with the equivalent Target CEO, at 5% would be $1,032,373 for Monson.  However, Monson had three jobs, two of them as Chairman, and one as Director.  His modest tri-job package could be...well, we really don’t know.  We can’t.  There are NDAs to protect such things.

Hinckley also said, quoted by FAIR, that:
 Merchandising interests are an outgrowth of the cooperative movement which existed among our people in pioneer times. The Church has maintained certain real estate holdings.”

It’s interesting that he used the word “merchandising” when one considers the merchandise of Porsche Design, Rolex and Tiffany’s at LDS owned City Creek Mall.  And interesting also because New Testament Peter said to his flock to beware of “false prophets” who “through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” (2 Peter 2:3)  That is, they will make money off of their flocks by flattering them.

The NDAs are crafty, for a bunch of high priests and apostles.


Uchtdorf's two, $700,000+ homes come decades after retiring. Because the GAs sign non-disclosure agreements, we can't know how, for example, Boyd Packer as a BYU Religion Teacher ends up with just under $2M in property in Utah alone. Or how Monson, retired from advertising at Deseret Book and Deseret News apparently at 36 years of age (two years from 31-33 as a Mission President), ends up with over $1M in property.  
If they would forego their self-mandated NDAs (they are the executives, after all) and just produce financial transparency, it would clear it up.  A lot of Fortune 500 CEOs, ExVPs publish their compensation packages.