Monday, October 6, 2014

A Challenge to Neil Andersen

What will you ask the man?

Neil L. Andersen, an LDS Apostle, said at the Oct 4, 2014 LDS General Conference
“How should we respond to a sincere inquirer who is concerned about negative comments he or her has heard or read about the prophet Joseph Smith? Of course we always welcome honest and genuine questions.”

Do you really welcome honest and genuine questions?  

I challenge Neil L. Andersen to put his money where his mouth is.  There are a lot of questions out there that LDS Apostles have not answered. They’ve been there for decades. 

So, Mr. Andersen, here’s the challenge—go pick up Fawn Brodie’s “No Man Knows My History” or even the pages on Joseph Smith at and show us the half-truths in these documents.  Otherwise, your words in the talk claiming to “offer kindness to those who criticize Joseph Smith” are in vain.

From the other side of his mouth, Mr. Andersen also said:
"We are especially saddened when someone who once revered Joseph retreats from his or her conviction and then maligns the prophet. “Studying the church through the eyes of its defectors,” Elder Neil A. Maxwell once said, “is like interviewing Judas to understand Jesus.  Defectors always tell us more about themselves than about that which they have departed.” "

In one mouth Andersen offers critics kindness. In the other mouth he is branding “defectors” as betrayers akin to “Judas”—who LDS members recognize as a son of perdition—residing with Satan.  This kind of labelling is not kindness, Elder Andersen.  This is tantamount to creating a barrier between “defectors” and their active-Mormon family. (We know the LDS church indirectly encourages shunning of apostates in its policies.  Andersen just repeats it from the global pulpit.)

Andersen also said: 
“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.”
“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 14-15 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.

In that last statement, Andersen decried critics of Joseph Smith as perpetuating half-truths and subtle deceptions while never honestly and fully explaining exactly what he meant.   He can bad-mouth all he wants, but he needs to give the data and explain it or it looks completely ad-hominem.

The challenge remains, Mr. Andersen, please step up and answer the honest questions about Joseph Smith’s pedophilia.  Once you’ve done that, we have a long list of sincere questions about Smith’s involvement in many other questionable ventures, that seen even through the context lens of Smith's 19th century situation would be troubling.  After all, there was a lot of anger towards Joseph Smith by the non-Mormons of his day.  Oh, that’s right, you would like members to believe that anger stemmed from his testimony of the Book of Mormon, not his dalliances, his destruction of presses, of bank note fraud and more.

Will Mr. Andersen actually discuss in detail the honestly questionable aspects of Joseph Smith’s life?  If his conference talk is an indicator, probably not. One of the very few examples Andersen did relate about Joseph Smith wasn’t actually about Joseph Smith.  He related the story of the Salamander letter, which Kimball, Hinckley and other prophet-apostles bought from forger Mark Hofmann, and of which Dallin Oaks even defended as legitimate, until Hofmann later admitted to the forgery.  Andersen said that members whose faith failed because of the letter “left too early.”  

However, Andersen did not divulge that LDS Prophets were deceived by Hofmann as well, indicating their claims to prophetic vision were undermined severely by the episode.  Andersen would have you believe that leaving the church over documents showing Joseph Smith used a stone in a hat to produce the text of the Book of Mormon, or that Smith practiced polygamy with teenaged girls when in  his late 30s and early 40s is too premature.  However, the awareness of these—the stone and hat and polygamy—have been in books for over 50 years.  LDS church apostles have decried such information as anti-mormon until only this past year when they began acknowledging the same facts in their Topic Essays.  

When the Hofmann forgeries were eagerly purchased for $10s of thousands of dollars by Kimball and Hinckley, Mormon critics Jerald and Sandra Tanner actually issued caution that the documents LDS leaders were buying looked fake.  Critics were not touting the documents as evidence against Joseph Smith.  Hofmann, a lone forger and money-hungry “faithful” LDS member did that.  Andersen has fault in his implication that anti-mormon critics created this dilemma over which members left too early.  Had members listened to the critics, the Tanners, they would have suspected the documents. But LDS leadership failed their own members when they ignored the critics, to buy AND defend the forged Salamander Letter.

Mr. Andersen, come clean about your own words and tell the complete, honest, sincere answer to the humble questions many members do ask.  We challenge you.

I'll be listing some questions here, collected from honest, sincere inquirers.

Of course, we can expect that Neil Andersen will rather attack the questioner than to answer questions he doesn't like.  It's practically LDS policy to attack the questioner now.

Another meme from general conference:


  1. You have brought this up before. Say whatever you want about Joseph Smith, but the reality did marry young women of that age back at that time.

    1. Oh, I see. The man that communed with Jehova, told not to follow other churches because they denied his power and only gave god lip-service--that man you call a prophet, well, he gets a pass when it comes to destroying young girls because that's what the other churches were doing.

      Got it.

    2. Do you have any other single account of any 35-year-old man marrying a 14-year-old girl in the 19th century? Did they use their position as a religious authority to coerce the union?

      You are wrong, plain and simple. The historical record shows it, logic and reason show it, and the very Church itself shows it.

      Give it up, man.

    3. I don't see Anonymous #1 acknowledging the reality that Joseph Smith married the wives of other men (often while he'd called their husbands to serve missions) as well as his underage brides. And regardless, the rule for marriage was "one man, one woman."

      Finally, it's a dishonest LDS apologetic "talking point" that claims women in the 19th century married earlier than nowadays. In point of fact, nutritional factors probably played a role since the age of menarche has fallen significantly in the pas century and a half. Some couples were marrying in their teens, but it was rare for men to marry women 20 years or more their junior. Young marriages usually involved individuals who were close to the same age.

    4. History does document women marrying at a very young age, to older men. You can pretend otherwise, but it won't change history.

    5. David T, you bring up quite a few problematic scenarios, but most of it is speculation. We know that most polyandrous marriages were approved of by the husband, even if he wasn't a member, and it is unclear if the marriages to young girls (as well as most of the marriages) involved sex

    6. So they lynched black people then too.....didn't make it moral, let alone god's will.

  2. It's not JUST that they were 14. JS practicied polygamy AND polyandry AND sent men on missions, then married their wives. Oh, AND he went to his grave denying that he EVER practiced polygamy.

  3. Don't forget that he had several polygamous marriages, then received the rules for plural marriages, and he had broken every rule (marry virgins, the 1st wife has to know...) and continued to break the rules he just got?

  4. Name one perfect man, name one perfect prophet. The Lord has imperfect people to work with, including David T. and others.

    1. You're diverting. I never said prophets had to be perfect. I show that Andersen is being hypocritical and disingenuous.

    2. A lot of imperfect men have been considered prophets. David Koresh, Jim Jones, to name a few. At the time of Smith's death, Nauvoo was looking a lot like Waco. The city was armed and ready. Their leader was in charge of his own private army. And he had multiple wives which he has selected from amongst his followers. The similiarities are chilling.

  5. Defectors is Andersen's term. It is an odd term. It's as if we crossed the Berlin wall to escape communism. Oh wait, you're right. It is almost the same. I should take the quotes off, except I'm quoting Andersen.

    If you can't see that a man of 37 marrying a 14 year old girl as his Nth plural wife doesn't destroy her emotionally, then (1) you haven't read about Helen Mar Kimball and her journal. (2) you must feel Warren Jeffs is just fathering his child-brides and being oh-so-sweet. To me, it is not an exaggeration to think that child is destroyed emotionally, with little chance to recover psychologically.

    Bombastic, perhaps. Accurate, quite.

  6. And here's the table proving it:

    The table does not show any age ranges below 15. The number of people marrying younger than that age is statistically insignificant. Note too that the subject of the paper this data is taken from has nothing to do with Mormonism, so the researchers who compiled it have no irons in that fire. They were researching the effects of the Civil War on marriage trends in the South.

  7. If there were no sexual relations between Kimball and Smith, the problem doesn't go away. Helen Mar Kimball was then simply married with absolutely no chance of having the kind of married life that most Mormons support. Helen Mar Kimball was married to Joseph Smith, not permitted to attend dances and other activities that would've placed her in a situation wherein other potential suitors would begin to seek her affections (her marriage to Smith was kept a big secret). She was married, but if there was no sex, she'd never become a mother. Come on! Whether they had sex or not, this marriage seems as contrary to anything Mormonism teaches as one could possibly imagine. There is no getting around the fact that Smith's polygamy, with or without sex, is damning evidence against the Church.

  8. If the linking of families is an essential part of the Restoration, then why did it stop? This could still be done without polygamy. Just another bit of evidence that Smith was making this up as we went.

  9. All of this is conjecture. Joseph Smith and the others are not here to tell their story.

    1. You know what else is unevidenced conjecture? Angels, gold plates, lamanites, and the rest of Mormon bullshit.

  10. The same can be said of a lot of things in the Bible. Religion required faith...

  11. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. He did see God the Father and Jesus Christ, translated the Book of Mormon, restored the priesthood and Christ's Church and failed to redeem Zion and live the commandments and was punished for it.

    The scriptures, both ancient and modern foretold that this would be the case.

    For those who are earnestly seeking to know the truth about Joseph's rise and fall and ultimate return to power and greatness read this and the accompanying references with your scriptures open.

    This isn't a simple read a few passages and you got it. It'll take weeks or even months to get through it all and ponder it all.

    Once you do you'll know that Joseph Smith is a man of God and God's prophet called to do what he did and then left to fall.

    Here's the link:

  12. David, with every post you descend further into being "a poor, wayfaring man of grief". Do you do anything useful with your life?

  13. Sad. You know more about Mormons than Mormons.

  14. It is true. Orson Pratt changed Nephi to Moroni in the History of the Church. But that tidbit is just a drop in the proverbial bucket. Don't disbelieve the church on just that. There is way worse stuff.

  15. and so even as the laws of Moses was now replaced by the laws of Christ since Jesus was born here on earth