Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Whitewashing the Women


The LDS Church did it again.  They caved to public peer pressure.  They admitted that they illegally practiced plural marriages after they promised in a manifesto not to do so.  They confessed this sin only decades after very meticulous and thorough historian D. Michael Quinn called them out on it in early 1985

In their latest Topic article on plural marriage, the LDS Church confesses thusly: 
" plural marriage...was instituted among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the early 1840s. Thereafter, for more than half a century, plural marriage was practiced by some Latter-day Saints."
Understand, "more than half a century" from the early 1840s means that it continued past 1890 when LDS president Wilford Woodruff pronounced, "in the most solemn manner, declare that...We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice."  

Now the LDS Church very subtly admits Woodruff, the fourth prophet, was a liar. The Topic confesses:
"On an exceptional basis, some new plural marriages were performed between 1890 and 1904, especially in Mexico and Canada, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. law; a small number of plural marriages were performed within the United States during those years. In 1904, the Church strictly prohibited new plural marriages."
In the last Topic on Race, they told us that 11 prophets from Brigham Young to the first part of Spencer Kimball's tenure as LDS president, their mouthpieces of God declared false doctrine and continued false practices of racism and denying their version of salvation to a large class of people.  They admitted as well that their Book of Mormon, their Book of Abraham and Book of Moses are false concerning the dark skin curse they preach in the canon of scripture held sacred by LDS members.  

Now, we find out they also lied about polygamy in their own scripture.  In Official Declaration 1 of the D&C, Woodruff didn't qualify the exceptional basis or the Mexico and Canada angle.  He said (in 1890), "We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice."  

I am very happy to see the LDS Church admitting that from 1890 to 1904 their prophets lied.  LDS president Woodruff in the most solemn manner declared that they weren't practicing polygamy.  He even crossed his fingers when he said it, adding:  "The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray... If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray..."

Given this admission of a lie and the pronouncement that God would remove him if he lied, can we finally agree that since God didn't remove him or any of the subsequent liars--I mean prophets--that their God is absent, if not invisibly non-existent?

All that aside, what I really want to address is the whitewashing the new Topic gives on sexism.  The plural marriage article says this:
"Women were free to choose their spouses, whether to enter into a polygamous or monogamous union, or whether to marry at all."
Hm.  Let's examine one case.  Thirty-seven year old Joseph Smith's attempts to "convince" Helen Mar Kimball, at age 14 (23 years his younger), to marry him after he'd already married several other women (including other men's wives) were coercion at best.  Said Smith to Helen: "If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation & exaltation and that of your father’s household & all of your kindred."

Before he'd ensured her of exaltation, Helen said of the idea of marrying an already married man, "my sensibilities were painfully touched. I felt such a sense of personal injury and displeasure." 

After laying the guilt of her entire family's salvation on her accepting Joseph Smith's proposal, she said, "This promise was so great that I willingly gave myself to purchase so glorious a reward."  

She called herself an ewe lamb and after marrying Smith, said she "thought myself  an abused child, and that it was pardonable if I did murmur."

The thoughts of this young 14 year old girl break my heart, as a father of a young teen girl.  Remember, she was just a newborn baby girl when Joseph Smith was 24, the year he published the Book of Mormon and began his designs on other women.  I wondered, as I read the plural marriage topic article, if this was in the mind of the current Topic writers when they wrote:
"[P]lural marriage was a religious principle that required personal sacrifice. Accounts left by men and women who practiced plural marriage attest to the challenges and difficulties they experienced, such as financial difficulty, interpersonal strife, and some wives’ longing for the sustained companionship of their husbands."
And
"Virtually all of those practicing it in the earliest years had to overcome their own prejudice against plural marriage and adjust to life in polygamous families."
And
"Church leaders recognized that plural marriages could be particularly difficult for women. Divorce was therefore available to women who were unhappy in their marriages; remarriage was also readily available."
All the talk about how the poor polygamists suffered...it's as if they're trying to turn them into victims. Well, at least they're half right. The women were victims of exploitative men.  

The LDS Topic writers defend against this charge of exploitation, saying:
"Outside opponents mounted a campaign against the practice, stating that they hoped to protect Mormon women and American civilization. For their part, many Latter-day Saint women publicly defended the practice of plural marriage, arguing in statements that they were willing participants."

Really?  Willing participants?  This is hardly the case, when your core scripture reveals the following words of the Lord:   
"For behold, I (God) reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned." (Doctrine and Covenants 132:4)    
In that same section of LDS Scripture, Joseph Smith's first and only legal wife, Emma Smith, was told:
"But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord... But if she will not abide this commandment, then shall my servant Joseph do all things for her, even as he hath said; and I will bless him and multiply him and give unto him an hundred-fold in this world, of fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, houses and lands, wives and children, and crowns of eternal lives in the eternal worlds.  And again, verily I say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his trespasses." (D&C 132:54-56)

Emma was told that if she didn't accept polygamy and let Joseph marry other women, the Lord would destroy her and then Joseph would marry as many wives as he wanted.  She'd better not take other men, and she'd better forgive him his trespasses in the barn with Fanny or else!

So, with this established doctrine on the frontiers of Utah in Mormon polygamy compounds, with no where in thousands of miles and no money to help these wives escape, the LDS Church tells us the women had a choice and that they were willing participants.  Right.  

Sigh. The spin the LDS Historians put on this... It's as if they're whitewashing the women and spinning them dry.   Sexism still reigns in Utah, in the halls at Church History dept, among the writers of essays trying to come clean.  The dirtiness of their words still clings.

The Topic article never addresses the trespasses of child brides by several of the early LDS prophets.  I won't get into the details, but this graphic which Bart at Mormoninfographics produced (we collaborated on it in August 2013) summarizes the child brides of prophets nicely.




Note: it's interesting how the historians writing the topic say, Outside opponents mounted a campaign against the practice, stating that they hoped to protect Mormon women and American civilization.  This sounds suspiciously a lot like the justifications the LDS Church gives for its defense of traditional marriage.



“Again I told her [Emma] I heard that one night she missed Joseph and Fanny Alger. She went to the barn and saw him and Fanny in the barn together alone. She looked through a crack and saw the transaction!! She told me this story too was verily true.”

- William McLellin, 1872 letter to Joseph Smith III, see In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, by Todd Compton, p. 35

22 comments:

  1. My blood boiled while reading this. But it is so urgent that it be known to counteract the spin that the church puts on it all.

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  2. Well said. Another component to this is the polyandry by Joseph when marrying women already married to other men which is just revolting...

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  3. I like how the Church avoided discussing Joseph Smith's role by giving this essay the title of Plural Marriage and Families in Early Utah. He never made it to Utah. We might have to wait another 50 years before they are willing to admit to Joseph's polygamous and polyandrous ways.

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  4. There is a mention of post-manifesto polygamy in the biography of Camilla Kimball. They went to Mexico and she recalls her father courting her mother's sister. After Pancho Villa drove them out, the three marital partners lived together quietly until the first wife died.

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  5. David T. You're judging people from another era based on your perspective now. That's unfair and biased.

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    1. I think the majority of Americans in that "era" would have agreed with everything in this Blog. The Mormon leaders were NOT in alignment with the beliefs held by most people during those times, and this was the cause of much anti-Mormon sentiment that continues to this day. Morality and respect for women has always been a good perspective, then and now.

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    2. I agree completely with the other reply. They obviously held to the same perspective we hold now. The "it was a different time" argument doesn't hold up, because the people clearly thought it was wrong and uncomfortable even back then or they would not have driven the saints from the country and made polygamy illegal.

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  6. What does the 'era' have to do with anything? They claimed God sanctioned this. Raping children was ok with God during this time? I'm sorry , but old men with teenagers is pedophilia regardless of the time. Quit trying to justify the lies. The treatment of women and blacks in this church infuriates me. It was never from God!

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    1. No, I think what the writer is saying is that men were marrying children or child brides during that era. In other words it wasn't limited to Mormons. In fact this also took place in other cultures and still takes place.

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    2. Actually, the writer did not specify polygamy or marrying young brides. Mainstream America of the time found the practice of polygamy to be ignorant, regressive, uncivilized, and un-American. As admitted by the Mormon Topics writer quoted above: "Outside opponents mounted a campaign against the practice, stating that they hoped to protect Mormon women and American civilization". American ideals are about equality and fairness, and against people exploiting other people, including men exploiting women. Wherever polygamy is practiced today (Warren Jeffs comes to mind), most reasonable, educated Americans still find the practice to be backward at best, criminal at worst. Young brides are a separate issue. Joseph and his crew did not just take young brides.

      The most important concept I have learned since I have stumbled across this whole story that is Mormonism is the incredible power of social influence. It is mind blowing. Using social influence, people can be made to say and even believe that up is down, that 2+2= 5, that black is white, or anything, literally anything. Including that they are willingly in a polygamous marriage, that Joseph Smith is a prophet and found real golden plates in a hillside, or any of the thousand other stark raving mad things that Mormons say.

      Poor Helen Mar Kimball, suppressing her real thoughts, feelings and rights because of social coercion. In her crazy social world, a group of dishonorable men, led by Joseph Smith, had been given validity by enough people that she felt that her own clear thoughts, instincts and basic moral sense were the invalid ones. The power of social influence mixed with unethical people leads to unhealthy, ugly, evil outcomes.

      This was a well written and well argued post on the part of Mr. Twede. Applause.

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    3. Judy, you are full of crap. You throw out education as a way raise yourself above others, that if anyone believes something outside of what your, "normal," they must be uneducated idiots. Then you decided that anyone that is Mormon must be brainwashed, that if they believe in anything to do with Joseph Smith.

      Here is the problem with that, Mormon's are educated and they aren't brainwashed.

      People against Mormon beliefs and people that are on this post do not bother attempting to give logical explanation regarding where we came from, why we are here and where we go when we die. When someone, ANYONE can give me a logical explanation, then and ONLY then will I start to all of this CRAP.

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  7. There are literally dozens of explanations to your questions. Choose a religion or spiritual path and you will have them, and most of them are more logical or rational than believing that something called God the Father spends his time having sex with his several wives and producing spiritual babies etc.etc., you know the crap.

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  8. "When someone, ANYONE can give me a logical explanation, then and ONLY then will I start to all of this CRAP."

    Here's the best Mormonism has - a super alien god from an eternal fraternity of gods rises up in one everlasting to another and becomes Elohim. He has a spirit son he makes flesh and blood to save us from sins he defined in the first place. We are never told where Elohim actually comes from. We just accept that on faith.

    A quote from my novel:
    Mormons teach that someday the most devout and obedient members become gods, like their God. And when they do, they’re exalted and create their own worlds and populate them just as God did with earth. They become gods and their God moves to the next so-called everlasting level. Underneath them are their spirit children on the new planet working on exaltation. Above their God is some god and another god above that until one is on top of the pyramid. Each god has millions of humans that get exalted below him. The base population of exalted beings just keeps growing with each new layer of exalted beings creating worlds and making spirit babies. What’s that Mormon scripture? This is my work and glory to bring to pass the exaltation of mankind. It’s like a universe sized pyramid scheme on a cosmic scale.

    That's the best answer?

    Tell me, if you're truly looking for a logical, fact based answer to live, will you actually accept it even if it doesn't conform to your preconceived ideals and desires?

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    1. I am curious sir. What is your best logical fact based answer for you to live then.
      I don't think I can really comprehend the whole becoming God and process talk, since I am not that well educated about the Mormonism deepest doctrine. But I do study a lot about other religion, so I am curious which one you have find it's the best so far.
      Or these whole religion talk is just some people from ancient time created an unknown fear for mankind, so that we will subject to a non exist "God" figure and listen to their will?
      Also, I am still curious… what give us this conscious of knowing what is right and wrong. Since I am really into religion, philosophy, archeology, anthropology, literature, and related fields.
      If God does not exist, then the way we know about right is wrong is just a concept some people create for their own benefit?
      Seems like you know a lot of things in these area with depth. Can you give me a better idea to understand this concept?

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  9. David T.

    You didn't answer the question. I found logic not everyone will become a god and becoming a God to any intelligent person wouldn't seek that role. You take what the Mormon's teach and twist it, which is what others have done and which is what drove me to investigate the church on my own. While investigating this church I found out for myself the twisted lies people like you tell.

    You throw out the name Elohim as if the Mormons made this name up, when this is the name that the Jews used. You make it sound like it is impossible for there to be other worlds like ours, yet as scientist make more powerful telescopes more more planets are discovered. Yes, in the terms you are able to think with your limited intelligence God is probably alien to you.

    Give me a logical explanation as to where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going.

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    1. Anonymous wrote: "not everyone will become a god and becoming a God to any intelligent person wouldn't seek that role."

      You write poorly. I have a hard time understanding what you're really saying. Have you ever read these:

      Joseph Smith taught: “Here, then, is eternal life—to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you.”

      And: “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man...you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man...I am going to tell you how God came to be God...that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible.” ( both are from
      "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith", Joseph Fielding Smith, p. 345-346, Deseret Book, 2006. See also, the first edition of the official History of the Church, vol. VI, ch. XIII, pp. 300-307, published by Deseret News, 1912. )

      This is not some obscure doctrine. It is in the LDS Scripture. "They are gods, even the sons of God—wherefore, all things are theirs:" (D&C 76:58–59) "The Saints shall receive their inheritance and be made equal with him" (D&C 88:107)

      Anonymous wrote: "You throw out the name Elohim as if the Mormons made this name up, when this is the name that the Jews used."

      I never said they made it up. I was talking about the origin of God. I said they don't really know where the being "Elohim" comes from. In other words, they haven't really explained where we come from because they don't explain where God comes from. They have this endless procession of beings becoming gods and can't explain where it all comes from. It's not a good explanation, it's a hand-waving silly idea. By the way, the word Elohim is an improper pluralized form of “Eloha” the Hebrew word for God. For them to call God the Father Elohim is essentially saying "Gods". That's not really a name. It's a title of a group of beings.


      You wrote: "You make it sound like it is impossible for there to be other worlds like ours"

      BS. I never said such a thing. Get off putting words in my mouth.

      Let me ask you, have you studied evolution? Have you studied cosmology and the actual data on how the universe started? The data and the explanations science give us are far more logical than what Mormonism teaches. If you want to have a rational and civil discussion about your question, you can email me.

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    2. If Anonymous insists on diverting the topic continually to "You're gay" or "Where did we come from, why are we here, where are we going?" which have nothing to do with this blog, then I will remove his posts because they are adding nothing. He is free to write his own blog or email me. In this blog post, we are discussing the LDS Topic on Plural Marriage.

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    3. David T.

      Make your blog private so that only people that are your groupies and/or people that agree with you and read and post. Your problem is you KNOW you don't have any true logical answers. You only seek to down the Mormon church. Like a big baby if someone isn't playing the way you want them to play, you want to take your toys and run home to mommy.

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    4. The church actually does teach the Heavenly started as an intelligence, it just doesn't go into how he gained a body.

      In relation to evolution, and science explanation of how this earth and came to be. And they keep changing their minds. They change their minds because their sciences improves. Ultimately when they get it right is when science will catch up to Heavenly Fathers world.

      And what I meant about becoming a God is there. You write as if this is a blasphemous, ludicrous idea. You write it as if it is a egotistical goal. I say that I don't know of any Mormon that is working their little heart out toward that goal. I say that this goal is not the wonderful goal that you make it sound it to being. I can imagine being a God is much like being a parent, both wonderful and heartbreaking.

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  10. just a thought here ... i wonder if the church is breaking the plural marraige topic into multiple parts. this first essay seems to address the latter aspects of plural marriage; especially how it was practiced in utah. i can't help but think another essay will come out addressing how it all started ... plural marriage from 1830s-1880s?

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  11. I have a question, what about the prophets in the old testament?
    I am Chinese and I am from Hong Kong.
    I grow up reading the Bible since I was a small child(most of the time it was my mom reading the stories to me before I know how to read). When I can read it myself, I re-read it over and over again.
    We even got open exams about the Bible, and I am one of the top students in that area. So I am not buffing about my knowledge of the Bible.
    If you want to put this plural marriage thing as a line of defining right and wrong…
    Most of the prophets in the Bible are having more than two wives.
    Many Jewish people are having more than one wives today, are they doing something wrong then? I ask my religion teacher in [Catholic] elementary school, but they keep telling me that God have his own will and we are not subjected to know everything about it.
    So, you see… that's why I am confused. I don't really understand what you are trying to prove here.
    Can anyone explain that to me? Since I am Chinese, I must say… don't say that in the 1800s or 1900 having more than one wive is wrong.
    Many of my friends and their family are still having more than one, sometimes four grandmothers. Since there is nothing wrong about this cultural practice in that period of time.
    I have Muslim friends they have more than one mothers, and they are very good people that believe they are the descendant of Abraham(some of their mother married their father before age 15).
    So please explain to me why is this act evil or wrong.

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    1. The most important new information in this recent essay on polygamy is the percentage of the population that practiced polygamy. Gordon B. Hinckley told Larry King, and many have parroted his statement, only 2-5% of the population were ever involved in polygamy. This essay now reports 20%-50% were polygamous. This is a ten-fold increase from what was previously reported! The repeated cover up, or downplaying, of the weird aspects of the church is what has opened my eyes recently. These essays are going to push a lot of members over the edge.

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