Monday, August 22, 2005

Hugh The Free Morgbot Lives!!

Hugh the Free Morgbot started a great site that he regrettably now has to take down. However, I'm going to repost his entire website in this post so that it is not lost. He has done some great research on many things and has great points of view. I just couldn't allow it to all be lost. So here are his words as I reprint them for all to read and study. We wish Hugh the best in his journey and thank him for his hard work that will live on to help many people to find "the truth."

Samuel the Utahnite

Here was his opening paragraph explaining the name of his site:

Hugh the Free Morgbot
In one episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," the crew of the Enterprise found a Borg which they named Hugh. The Borg was a collective of beings whose brains were programmed to follow their leader implicitly. They were incapable of free thought. Hugh had been cut off from the collective and learned how to think for himself. I also have chosen to think for myself. Morgbot is a contraction of Mormon Borg Robot. Hence, I am Hugh the Free Morgbot.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005
The Purpose of This Site

I have created this site to offer information to church-going Mormons that they will not get out of their Gospel Doctrine manual or Teachings of the Presidents of the Church handbook. With this information, I hope that they will be able to make an informed decision about the claims of the church regarding its divinity and history.

I will not use "anti-Mormon" literature to make my points. In my analysis of the church, I will only use sources approved or published by the church and its leaders.

If you are a nonmember who has stumbled upon this site in search of information about the Mormon church, I suggest you look elsewhere (perhaps check my list of useful links). On this site, all of my articles will be written with the assumption that the reader has a working knowledge of church doctrine and basic history.

I will not force you to make any conclusions or decisions based on this information. But I do ask that you read it objectively and rationally, and ask yourself if it is in harmony with the teachings of the church that you know. Because if it is not, there is a problem. For it was the church itself that taught all of this to begin with.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Tuesday, August 09, 2005
The Book of Abraham: Inspiration or Imagination?

In July 1835 Joseph Smith obtained a set of Egyptian papyri which he claimed contained the writings of the patriarch Abraham of the Old Testament. Smith subsequently translated the papyri and published the translation in the Nauvoo newspaper, Times and Seasons, of which Joseph Smith was the editor.

The Book of Abraham was later published as part of The Pearl of Great Price and remains to this day part of that book, and an important part of church canon.

Emma Smith retained possession of the papyri after Joseph Smith’s death, and for years it was believed that she had sold the collection and it was subsequently destroyed in the Chicago fire of 1871. However, in 1967, a University of Utah professor named Dr. Aziz S. Atiya discovered parts of the collection in the archives at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The discovery was hailed in the church-owned newspaper, The Deseret News, in Salt Lake City on November 27, 1967.

The discovery caused great excitement among church members as it was clear that these were at least some of the papyri that Joseph Smith had used to translate the Book of Abraham.

The excitement diminished quickly, however, as Egyptologists around the country examined the papyri and concluded that there was nothing about Abraham written anywhere in the surviving pieces.

Mormon scholars conclude that there must be other portions of papyrus that are still missing, that will yield the true source of the Book of Abraham. Other more free-thinking scholars claim that perhaps these scrolls were the source for the Book of Abraham, but the message is encrypted somehow in the Egyptian pagan writings.

Both of these arguments ignore key pieces of information provided by Joseph Smith, the papyri themselves, and the words of Abraham as contained in his book.

First, we can establish that the papyri fragments now in the church’s possession are indeed the source for the Book of Abraham. We can compare Facsimile 1 in the Book of Abraham with the corresponding piece of papyrus (see the image at the beginning of this article). As you can see, the fragment matches the facsimile nicely, except for the missing portions, which Joseph Smith presumably filled in to complete the picture. In the book, Abraham describes the scene depicted in the facsimile:

"And it came to pass that the priests laid violence upon me, that they might slay me also, as they did those virgins upon this altar; and that you may have a knowledge of this altar, I will refer you to the representation at the commencement of this record." (Abr. 1:12)

From this passage, we learn that the source of Facsimile 1 is a part of the same record as the source of the text of the Book of Abraham. Coincidentally, during the process of translation, Joseph Smith’s scribes compiled a book called Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar in which an Egyptian symbol was written on the left hand of the page and its purported translation was given to the right of it. The translation in this book matches text in the Book of Abraham, and interestingly enough, the characters on the left-hand side match characters from the same piece of papyrus as Facsimile 1. The characters even appear in the same order in both works. There is no doubt that this papyrus was the source for Joseph Smith’s translation of at least a part of the Book of Abraham.

This leads to the important question: What do these characters really say? The scroll has nothing to do with a man named Abraham being sacrificed on an altar. The scroll actually describes the embalming process for a man named Osiris at the hands of the god Anibus (yes, those names CAN be read from characters on the papyrus).

So we have established that the papyrus is the same as that used by Joseph Smith. We have a scholarly translation that does not match the Book of Abraham scriptures. This leaves us with the possibility (?) that Abraham planted some sort of encrypted message hidden in the papyrus.

Joseph Smith’s (and the church’s) claim was that these papyri were written by Abraham himself. The quote above illustrates that point, as Abraham is the narrator and he directs the reader to a portion of his script. Biblical historians place the life of Abraham at approximately 2000 BC. But scholars of Egyptology claim that this papyrus was written around 50 BC to 50 AD (based on the names and places listed in the text), and was written in a script that did not appear until many centuries after Abraham’s death. How could he have possibly written it himself?

In the July 1988 Ensign, Michael D. Rhodes (currently a professor of Ancient Scripture at BYU, but at the time a software tester for the Air Force) published an article answering the question, “Why doesn’t the translation of the Egyptian papyri found in 1967 match the text of the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price?” Here are his arguments, and my answers:

First, he cites Joseph Smith as describing the papyrus in this manner: “The record . . . found with the mummies, is beautifully written on papyrus, with black, and a small part red, ink or paint, in perfect preservation.” (History of the Church, 2:348.) He points to the fact that the part of papyrus containing the Book of Breathings does not contain red ink, and is in a poor state of preservation. He ignores the fact that other bits of papyrus in the collection contain red ink characters. He also ignores the fact that the papyrus is clearly the source for Facsimile 1, so the “perfect preservation” description is up for interpretation.

Also, Rhodes’s quote, “The record . . . found with the mummies,” originally read, “The record of Abraham and Joseph, found with the mummies . . ..” Rhodes conveniently leaves out the part showing that Joseph Smith (or whoever originally gave the quote) never specifically said it was the Book of Abraham papyrus that contained red ink. Just that a portion of the collection contained red ink.

Rhodes’s next contention: “Although the picture found as facsimile one in the book of Abraham stands at the beginning of the Book of Breathings, this does not necessarily mean that it belongs to the text. The Egyptians often placed vignettes next to texts that bore no relationship to them.” Here, Rhodes ignores the translations of the Egyptologists that have linked the picture found at the beginning of the papyrus with the rest of the text of the Book of Breathings. He also ignores Abraham’s words, that the picture was indeed supposed to correspond with the words of the text.

The rest of Rhodes’s arguments attempt to offer that Abraham’s writings had been copied and recopied for centuries, until finally, someone had the idea of copying them onto a Book of Breathings scroll. He ignores the church's claim that Abraham himself wrote the scrolls.

In the end, he acknowledges that the authenticity of the Book of Abraham cannot be proven by academic means, but must be confirmed by a witness from the Holy Ghost. I submit that although the authenticity of the Book of Abraham cannot be proven by academic means, the fact that it is a false translation of a pagan manuscript has clearly been proven.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Monday, August 08, 2005
Blacks and the Priesthood

In the first chapter of the Book of Abraham, verses 25-27, we read:

“Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal. Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry.”

From this passage of scripture, Joseph Smith introduced the doctrine that Egyptians, and more broadly, Africans, were descendent's of Cain through Ham and his “cursed” wife Egyptus. This began the doctrine in the church that the blessings of the gospel would not be extended to those of the black race. The leaders of the church regularly defended this doctrine:

“Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the Negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp.476-77).

"And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God..." (John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 22. p.304).

The curse of Cain was not limited to just full-blooded African descendents:

“Now what is our policy in regard to inter-marriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not inter-marry with the Negro. Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn't any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there? There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do. With 50 million Negroes inter-married with us, where would the priesthood be? Who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church!” ("Race Problems-As They Affect The Church," Elder Mark E. Petersen, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954.)

Regarding when this curse might be lifted, and when the blacks might be able to receive the priesthood, church leaders have said:

“I can say, the curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come.... (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 2, pp.436-38).

“Ham will continue to be servant of servants, as the Lord decreed, until the curse is removed. Will the present struggle [the Civil War] free the slave? No; but they are now wasting away the black race by thousands....Treat the slaves kindly and let them live, for Ham must be the servant of servants until the curse is removed. Can you destroy the decrees of the Almighty? You cannot. Yet our Christian brethren think that they are going to overthrow the sentence of the Almighty upon the seed of Ham. They cannot do that, though they may kill them by thousands and tens of thousands" (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p.250).

“Cain slew his brother ... and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin.... How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion" (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pp.290-91).

“When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity ... he is the last to share the joys of the kingdom of God” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p.143).

Brigham Young made it clear in the quotes above that the curse was not to be lifted until after the resurrection of the dead. However, on June 9, 1978, the church announced a revelation had been received (the text of which was never released) by then-President Spencer W. Kimball, extending the blessings of the priesthood to every worthy male member, regardless of race or color.

So how do we reconcile these two teachings? Which prophet was wrong? Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who often cited Brigham Young’s teachings in explaining the curse prior to the 1978 revelation, stated:

“Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.... We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness.... It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year (1978). " ("All Are Alike Unto God," pages 1-2.)

Following Elder McConkie’s counsel, we can then take any statement ever made by any modern prophet with a grain of salt, for it just may turn out that next week a new modern prophet will reveal something totally contrary to it, and we will be expected to believe it. This contradicts the basic Mormon belief in the infallibility of the prophets, as illustrated by President Wilford Woodruff: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place." (Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

Either Brigham Young led us astray by leading us to believe that blacks were not worthy to hold the priesthood, and would not hold the priesthood until after the resurrection, or Spencer W. Kimball led us astray by teaching that it was now permissible for blacks to hold the priesthood.

Could it possibly be that the church could no longer hide behind a 150-year-old doctrine of racism as the world around it shook off segregation and adopted civil rights? Could it no longer afford to allow the protests and demonstrations against the church and its university, and therefore simply did away with the problem by drafting an Official Declaration? Or did the Lord make one of his servants lie to his people to test their faith?

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Monday, August 08, 2005

Sunday, August 07, 2005

It is hard to write an article about polygamy using only church sources, because the church was so quiet about the topic until arriving in Utah, where the practice became public knowledge. We know from the heading of Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants (which was recorded July 12, 1843) that the principle of polygamy was known to Joseph Smith as early as 1831, though the church does not publicly share how they arrive at that conclusion.

We do know from the church’s family history website, (search for Joseph Smith, born 1805, married to Emma Hale), that Smith was married to at least twenty-four women, and at least twelve of those marriages occurred before Section 132 was recorded. Marriages of note include Emma, Joseph’s first wife; fourteen-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, daughter of Heber C. Kimball; and Eliza R. Snow, sister of future church president Lorenzo Snow, and future plural wife to Brigham Young after Joseph Smith’s death.

Polygamy was not something that the church publicized in the early days. In fact, the opposite was true: church leaders actively denied that the principle of plural marriage was practiced or even taught. When accused of being a polygamist, Joseph Smith declared on May 26, 1844 (after D&C 132 had been received), “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one. I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can prove them all perjurers" (History of the Church, vol. 6, p.411).

Hyrum Smith declared, “Brother Richard Hewitt ... states to me that some of your elders say, that a man having a certain priesthood, may have as many wives as he pleases, and that doctrine is taught here: I say unto you that that man teaches false doctrines, for there is no such doctrine taught: neither is there any such thing practised here. And any man that is found teaching privately or publicly any such doctrine, is culpable, and will stand a chance to be brought before the High Council, and lose his license and membership also: therefore he had better beware what he is about" (Times and Seasons, March 15, 1844, vol. 5, p.474).

After the church’s escape to the Salt Lake Valley, the leaders felt comfortable enough to openly preach the doctrine, until the United States Government began seizing assets, arresting church leaders, and forcing even the president of the church into hiding. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff declared that the practice of polygamy would be discontinued.

Mormons today see this as the church’s willingness to submit to the law, and a demonstration of God’s mercies in sparing the church from the swift hand of legal justice. But if that is the case, why was polygamy not abolished earlier, since the practice was illegal in Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, and the territory of Utah?

There is plenty of “anti-mormon” material that offers historical proof that Joseph Smith introduced the practice of polygamy to cover up extramarital affairs. I will not offer that material here as it would be quickly dismissed by any faithful member as fabricated nonsense. I therefore ask you to ask yourself, “Why did we need to practice polygamy?” When answering the question, please keep in mind that there were not more women than men at the time. And polygamy does not create a population boom, because a monogamous woman can give birth to just as many children in the same amount of time as a polygamous one. So the standard answers “The women needed men to marry” or “The church would grow faster that way” do not work.

Despite not being able to share Joseph’s intimate details with you, I will share some of the thoughts of other church leaders on the plurality of wives with you:

Brigham Young:

"The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy" (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, page 269).

Joseph F. Smith:

“Some of the Saints have said, and believe, that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my solemn protest against this idea, for I know it is false” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 20, p.28).

Those members who now feel they have lost their chance at exaltation because polygamy is no longer practiced in the church can take heart: “Obviously the holy practice will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering in of the millennium." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 578).

But in reality, the practice of polygamy continues even today. Every member knows that a man, whose first wife has passed away, may be sealed again to another woman in the temple. Even though the man is only married to one woman at a time according to the laws of the land, he has entered into polygamy according to the laws of God. In the next life he will have both wives at his side for eternity. This principle does not appear in Sunday School manuals, but it is obviously accepted by the church as true.

Current church members enjoy dismissing nonmembers who ask about Mormons and polygamy. “Oh, that was a long time ago, practiced by a few people, and we don’t do it anymore.” "People who do that are excommunicated." But the church does indeed practice it, just in a modified, legal way.

Polygamy has been whitewashed by the church in an attempt to distance itself from the doctrine. Take a look at the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young manual used in priesthood and Relief Society meetings. You will find no mention of polygamy or Young being married to more than one woman at a time. What you will find are quotes from his speeches that have been changed to hide the fact that he had originally been speaking of polygamy:

Original quote: “There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty. To prepare tabernacles for them; to take a course that will not tend to drive those spirits into families of the wicked, where they will be trained in wickedness, debauchery, and every species of crime. It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can. This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth." (Discourses of Brigham Young, 1977 edition, p. 197.)

Quote in the manual: "There are multitudes of pure and holy spirits waiting to take tabernacles, now what is our duty. …It is the duty of every righteous man and woman to prepare tabernacles for all the spirits they can” (p.164).

Craig Manscill, chairman of the committee responsible for compiling the manual, was quoted in the Salt Lake Tribune as saying, regarding the changes, “Was it in the material that we reviewed? Oh, it was there. And did we ellipse in certain places? Of course we did. But we were following what our leaders had asked us to do." ("Absence of Polygamy In LDS Manual Stirs Controversy," Salt Lake Tribune, 4/5/1998, C3.) Obviously the leaders felt it was easier to hide the past than to try to explain it.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Sunday, August 07, 2005

Saturday, August 06, 2005
Blood Atonement

Early Mormon leaders taught that a man's own blood could atone for serious sins, such as adultery and breaking temple covenants. They taught that sometimes even Christ's atonement was not enough to pay the price for these sins, but the spilling of one's own blood would do the trick:

A Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered September 21, 1856: "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood spilt upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, whereas, if such is not the case, they will stick to them and remain upon them in the spirit world. I know, when you hear my brethren telling about cutting people off from the earth, that you consider it is strong doctrine; but it is to save them, not to destroy them."

A Discourse by President Heber C. Kimball, delivered December 13, 1857: "Jesus said to his disciples, 'Ye are the salt of the earth; and if the salt loses its saving principle, it is then good for nothing but to be cast out.' Instead of reading it just as it is, almost all of you read it just as it is not. Jesus meant to say, 'If you have lost the saving principles, you Twelve Apostles, and you that believe in my servants the Twelve, you shall be like unto the salt that has lost its saving principles: it is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.' Judas lost that saving principle, and they took him and killed him. It is said in the Bible that his bowels gushed out; but they actually kicked him until his bowels came out. 'I will suffer my bowels to be taken out before I will forfeit the covenant I have made with Him and my brethren.' Do you understand me, Judas was like salt that had lost its saving principles-good for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. It is just so with you men and women, if you do not honour your callings and cultivate the principles you have received. It is so with you, ye Elders of Israel, when you forfeit your covenants."

Remarks by President Jedediah M. Grant, delivered September 21, 1856: "Some have received the Priesthood and a knowledge of the things of God, and still they dishonor the cause of truth, commit adultery, and every other abomination beneath the heavens, and then meet you here or in the street, and deny it. . . .The same characters will get drunk and wallow in the mire and filth, and yet they call themselves Saints, and seem to glory in their conduct, and they pride themselves in their greatness and in their abominations. They are the old hardened sinners, and are almost-if not altogether-past improvement, and are full of hell, and my prayer is that God's indignation may rest upon them, and that He will curse them from the crown of their heads to the soles of their feet. I say, that there are men and women that I would advise to go to the President immediately, and ask him to appoint a committee to attend to their case; and then let a place be selected, and let that committee shed their blood. We have those amongst us that are full of all manner of abominations, those who need to have their blood shed, for water will not do, their sins are of too deep a dye."

Joseph Smith - "In debate, George A. Smith said imprisonment was better than hanging. I replied, I was opposed to hanging, even if a man kill another, I will shoot him, or cut off his head, spill his blood on the ground, and let the smoke thereof ascend up to God; and if ever I have the privilege of making a law on that subject, I will have it so" (History of the Church, vol. 5, p.296).

A Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered March 16, 1856: "Let me suppose a case. Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdom of God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands."

A Discourse by President Brigham Young, delivered May 8, 1853: "If you want to know what to do with a thief that you may find stealing, I say kill him on the spot, and never suffer him to commit another iniquity. That is what I expect I shall do, though never, in the days of my life, have I hurt a man with the palm of my hand. I never have hurt any person any other way except with this unruly member, my tongue. Notwithstanding this, if I caught a man stealing on my premises I should be very apt to send him straight home, and that is what I wish every man to do, to put a stop to that abominable practice in the midst of this people."

When Mormons hear nonmembers ask about the doctrine of blood atonement, they respond in one of two ways. If the Mormon has never heard of the doctrine, they exclaim, "That's not true! We've never taught anything close to that!" If they have heard mention of the doctrine, they explain, "Well, that is based on something Brigham Young said that is taken out of context." I challenge you to show me how the context of the above quotes has been twisted to change the meaning from something other than the obvious.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Saturday, August 06, 2005

Friday, August 05, 2005
Adam Is Our Heavenly Father?

If a member engages in a conversation with an “Anti-Mormon,” the Adam-God Doctrine is sure to pop up eventually. The “Anti-Mormon” will contend that Brigham Young taught that Adam was our Heavenly Father and the physical father of Jesus Christ. The member will immediately claim this as false, saying that that doctrine could not be farther from the truth the Church teaches. Even recent church leaders have denounced the idea:

"We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine." (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, Deseret News, Church Section, October 9, 1976).

So President Kimball has denounced the principle as false doctrine. Now, the important question is, was the principle actually taught as truth by a prophet of God? Or maybe that prophet’s statements were misunderstood somehow. Let’s see exactly what Brigham Young taught on this subject:

“How much unbelief exists in the minds of the Latter-day Saints in regard to one particular doctrine which I revealed to them, and which God revealed to me — namely that Adam is our Father and God." (Deseret News, June 18, 1873.)

“When our father Adam came into the Garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! About whom holy men have written and spoken - He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. … When Adam and Eve had eaten of the forbidden fruit, their bodies became mortal from its effects, and therefore their offspring were mortal. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; and when he took a tabernacle, it was begotten by his Father in heaven, after the same manner as the tabernacles of Cain, Abel, and the rest of the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve; from the fruits of the earth, the first earthly tabernacles were originated by the Father, and so on in succession. … Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the Garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. … Now, remember from this time forth, and forever, that Jesus Christ was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. I will repeat a little anecdote. I was in conversation with a certain learned professor upon this subject, when I replied, to this idea-"if the Son was begotten by the Holy Ghost, it would be very dangerous to baptize and confirm females, and give the Holy Ghost to them, lest he should beget children, to be palmed upon the Elders by the people, bringing the Elders into great difficulties." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pp. 50-51.)

“Though we have it in history that our father Adam was made of the dust of this earth, and that he knew nothing about his God previous to being made here, yet it is not so; and when we learn the truth we shall see and understand that he helped to make this world, and was the chief manager in that operation. He was the person who brought the animals and the seeds from other planets to this world, and brought a wife with him and stayed here. You may read and believe what you please as to what is found written in the Bible. Adam was made from the dust of an earth, but not from the dust of this earth. He was made as you and I are made, and no person was ever made upon any other principle.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.319.)

Brigham Young was not misquoted. Brigham Young was not misunderstood. When he taught the principle, it was carried to the homes of the members. Numerous journals from the period record being in meetings where the principle was taught. Young was not the only one to teach it:

“I have learned by experience that there is but one God that pertains to this people, and He is the God that pertains to this earth-the first man. That first man sent his own Son to redeem the world, to redeem his brethren….” (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 4, p. 1.)

It is interesting to note that 120 years after Heber C. Kimball taught the doctrine of Adam-God from the pulpit, his own grandson, Spencer W. Kimball, denounced it as a false doctrine.

We then return to the question: are prophets infallible? Which do we believe? Was Young correct to teach it? Was Kimball correct to denounce it? Either way, a prophet of the church taught something that was false, and members of the church were led to believe that it was true. If prophets can get one doctrine wrong, how can we know when they are getting it right?

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Friday, August 05, 2005

Thursday, August 04, 2005
Mark Hofmann

Anyone not living in Utah during the 1980’s may never have heard of Mark Hofmann. But he was one of the biggest news stories of that decade for Utah. Anyone who would like to meet him can try and arrange a visit with him at the state prison in Draper, Utah, where he is serving a life sentence for killing two people with bombs.

That is only a small fraction of the Mark Hofmann story. The bombs were an attempt to cover up years of dealing in forged documents, most of which were related to Mormon church history. Hofmann dealt directly with many church leaders and sold over forty of his “historical documents” to the church. These forged documents included the following:

· The so-called “Anthon Transcript” containing characters from the gold plates, which Martin Harris took to Professor Charles Anthon to be examined and certified as real. According to later court records, Hofmann traded this document to the church for $20,000 worth of items from church archives.

· A transcript of a blessing given by Joseph Smith to his son, Joseph Smith III, apparently naming him as successor to the leadership of the church. This was also traded to the church.

· A letter written by Joseph Smith in 1825 describing how to find buried treasure. According to court documents, the church paid Hofmann $15,000 for the letter.

Hofmann sold many other documents to private individuals. But it is his direct dealing with the highest leaders of the church that is alarming. Evidence shows that the church purchased the blessing and treasure documents, not to share them, but to suppress them, since release of the information could prove embarrassing to the church. This begs the question: what other information has the church suppressed, for fear of embarrassment?

The mere fact that Hofmann succeeded in selling these items to the church begs another question: how did he fool apostles and prophets? What happened to the power of discernment?

Book of Mormon and Bible stories tell of prophets catching the wicked in their lies. Are modern prophets, and the modern church, not worthy of such protection?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks tried to explain how Mark Hofmann was successful in duping the leaders of the church, in a devotional delivered at BYU:

“In order to perform their personal ministries, Church leaders cannot be suspicious and questioning of each of the hundreds of people they meet each year. Ministers of the gospel function best in an atmosphere of trust and love. In that kind of atmosphere, they fail to detect a few deceivers, but that is the price they pay to increase their effectiveness in counseling, comforting, and blessing the hundreds of honest and sincere people they see. It is better for a Church leader to be occasionally disappointed than to be constantly suspicious.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Recent Events Involving Church History and Forged Documents,” Ensign, Oct. 1987, 63.)

Inspiration would have saved the church thousands of dollars. It would have saved the church from a mountain of questions and embarrassment. It would have saved the lives of two church members. But according to Oaks, that is the price you pay to trust even the untrustworthy. So the question is, in what circumstance can we expect the leaders of the church to discern the actions of the wicked, and know when the church is being led astray?

For more information, you can read the book, Tracking the White Salamander, here:

Tracking the White Salamander

The image at the beginning of this article appeared in the Deseret News upon the announcement of the discovery of the Anthon Transcript. Mark Hofmann, left, is showing the manuscript to Pres. N. Eldon Tanner, Pres. Spencer W. Kimball (with magnifying glass) and Pres. Marion G. Romney, all of the First Presidency; and Elders Boyd K. Packer and Gordon B. Hinckley of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Thursday, August 04, 2005

Wednesday, August 03, 2005
The Kinderhook Plates

An article by Stanley P. Kimball appeared in the August 1981 issue of the Ensign entitled, “Kinderhook Plates Brought to Joseph Smith Appear to Be a Nineteenth-Century Hoax.” This article related a series of events involving six small brass plates that were found near the town of Kinderhook, Illinois in 1843.

During an excavation project, the plates were unearthed along with human bones. The plates were bell-shaped and clasped together by an iron ring threaded through a hole at the top of each plate. The plates were inscribed with unreadable characters.

Within a week, the plates found their way to Nauvoo, where they greatly excited the Mormon members. The find clearly provided evidence that ancient people in the Americas did in fact write on metal plates.

Joseph Smith apparently got a hold of the plates, and according to History of the Church, on May 1, 1843, he said the following:

“I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.”

Kimball points out that much of History of the Church, though attributed to Joseph Smith himself, was actually taken from journal entries of his associates. This is the case in the above quote. “I have translated a portion…” actually originally read, “President J. has translated a portion….” The quote was taken from the journal of William Clayton.

A few years later, some men in the area claimed to have forged and planted the plates in an attempt to trick Joseph Smith into making a false translation. In 1920, one of the original plates was obtained by the Chicago Historical Society. Since then it has undergone numerous tests to determine its authenticity. By 1980, it had been proven beyond doubt that the plate was not of ancient origin, and that it had been etched in a manner consistent with the claims of the men who said that they had produced it.

So the question remains: did Joseph Smith try to translate these plates? Kimball cites the following letter written by Charlotte Haven, a nonmember who was visiting her member sister in Nauvoo at the time:

“We hear very frequently from our Quincy friends through Mr. Joshua Moore, who passes through that place and this in his monthly zigzag tours through the State, traveling horseback. His last call on us was last Saturday [April 29] and he brought with him half a dozen thin pieces of brass, apparently very old, in the form of a bell about five or six inches long. They had on them scratches that looked like writing, and strange figures like symbolic characters. They were recently found, he said, in a mound a few miles below Quincy. When he showed them to Joseph, the latter said that the figures or writing on them was similar to that in which the Book of Mormon was written, and if Mr. Moore could leave them, he thought that by the help of revelation he would be able to translate them.” (Charlotte Haven, “A Girl’s Letters from Nauvoo,” The Overland Monthly, 16 (Dec. 1890), p. 630. Letter dated: “City of Nauvoo, May 2, 1843.”)

On May 3, Brigham Young included in his diary an outline of one of the plates and a note explaining that he had viewed it at Joseph Smith’s house.

Kimball then relates a series of events in which the plates were removed from Nauvoo, and possibly returned for a time. Between the plates’ absence, and Joseph Smith’s other duties as mayor and president of the church, there was no time to make a complete translation of the plates before he died in Carthage the following year.

But evidence suggests that Smith at least offered information about the plates’ possible origin. According to Kimball, Parley P. Pratt stated in a letter to a friend, “Six plates having the appearance of Brass have lately been dug out of a mound by a gentleman in Pike Co. Illinois. They are small and filled with engravings in Egyptian language and contain the genealogy of one of the ancient Jaredites back to Ham the son of Noah.”

Kimball calls this statement, as well as Clayton’s and Haven's similar declarations, an example of “misinformation and hearsay” regarding the translation. Though Clayton and Pratt both mention Egypt and Ham, Clayton did not include the Jaredites as Pratt did.

In order to evaluate the worth of Clayton’s or Pratt’s statements, we must understand what kind of position one of them might have been in to quote Joseph Smith accurately. Of William Clayton, we read:

“Beginning in early 1842, William Clayton found himself involved in nearly every important activity of Nauvoo, but especially the private concerns of the prophet. For two and a half years, until Joseph’s death in 1844, they were in each other’s company almost daily.” (Intimate Chronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, George D. Smith, ed., pp. xxii-xxiii).

As a personal secretary, Clayton surely had the opportunity to hear from Smith’s own mouth what he thought about the plates.

The fact is, until the surviving Kinderhook plate was proven to be a forgery, Mormon scholars defended these very same quotes, claiming that Joseph Smith had offered a partial translation. Thus, they asserted, charges that the plates had been forged by locals were preposterous.

Their position reversed completely in 1980. Suddenly, there was no faith in Clayton or the purported translation. It appears that Mormons interested in defending their faith will twist whatever is available to fit the puzzle in their minds, even if that puzzle changes shape over time.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Things to Think Through

Besides these major points of interest, there are many other things that I could discuss in detail, but have decided instead to make a list to highlight them. In order to believe in Mormonism, we must do the following:

· Accept that Adam and Eve were the first humans on the Earth, and believe that before their fall, there was no death, and that evolution is a myth.

· Accept as literal the stories of Noah’s Ark, the Tower of Babel, Jonah and the Fish, Lot’s Wife, and numerous other Bible stories that bear striking resemblance to myths and legends of other early civilizations.

· Accept the Book of Mormon as a literal history, despite the lack of any physical evidence, despite the historical mistakes made in the text, despite the literally thousands of errors that have been corrected over the years, and despite the later claims of several of the book’s witnesses that they never actually saw the plates.

· Accept that, according to the Book of Mormon, Lamanites are the principal ancestors of Native Americans, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.

· Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet, despite his employment as a treasure hunter as a youth (with the aid of a peep stone), despite his being found guilty of “money-digging” in court, despite his various accounts of the first vision, despite his convincing women that an angel with a drawn sword had commanded him to take more than one wife, despite his drinking and smoking and selling of liquor.

· Accept every president since Joseph Smith as a prophet, despite the apparent lack of continued revelation, and despite the teachings of modern prophets that contradict the teachings of earlier ones.

· Accept the temple ceremony as revealed truth, despite its similarity to the ceremony of Freemasons, of which Joseph Smith and many early leaders were members. And despite the numerous changes the ceremony has undergone over the years to hide much of its Masonic influences. For more information on the Freemasons’ ceremony, see: Captain Morgan's Exposition of Freemasonry

· Accept that when people who live the Word of Wisdom get cancer it is merely a trial of their faith.

· Accept that when people who pay tithing lose their jobs and end up on welfare it is merely a trial of their faith.

· Accept that when good people don’t get cancer, or don’t lose their jobs, it is because they are being blessed for their obedience.

· Accept that all other churches are wrong, and any claimed manifestations of “the spirit” or other miracles must be due to the trickery of Satan.

· Accept that blacks really were less valiant in the preexistence.

· Accept that polygamy will be reinstated after the Second Coming.

· Accept that the Garden of Eden was in Missouri.

The list could continue on for pages. The point is that there is too much to sweep under the carpet in order to believe that the Mormon church is in fact the true Kingdom of God on the Earth. On the other hand, in order to disbelieve the church, one only has to accept that the good feelings the church identifies as “the spirit” are simply emotions one feels after being conditioned to feel them. Certainly a story of a young boy seeing God is a heartwarming tale for anyone willing to believe it is possible. At the same time, the tale of a talking pig herding sheep, as depicted in the movie, “Babe,” is a heartwarming tale. That does not make it true. But the feelings are the same.

Occam’s Razor, simply stated, is “The simplest explanation is the best.” For me, the simplest explanation for the inconsistencies in the church’s history is that the church is the creation of men.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Monday, August 01, 2005
Wacky Quotes

On the inhabitants of the moon and sun: Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon? When we view its face we may see what is termed "the man in the moon," and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains. But these sayings are very vague, and amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows. So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain. It was made to give light to those who dwell upon it, and to other planets; and so will this earth when it is celestialized. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13, p. 271.)

On Lamanites becoming "white and delightsome": I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today.... The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl--sixteen--sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents--on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather....These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated. - Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference Report, October, 1960.

On Jesus having a wife and kids: I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children. All that I have to say in reply to that charge is this — they worship a Savior that is too pure and holy to fulfill the commands of his Father. I worship one that is just pure and holy enough 'to fulfill all righteousness;" not only the righteous law of baptism, but the still more righteous and important law "to multiply and replenish the earth.' Startle not at this! for even the Father himself honored that law by coming down to Mary, without a natural body, and begetting a son; and if Jesus begat children, he only 'did that which he had seen his Father do. (Elder Orson Hyde, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 220.)

On the humility of Joseph Smith: I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408-409.)

On interracial marriage: Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. (Brigham Young, Remarks made March 8, 1863.)

On finding a new bride: Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake. (Heber C. Kimball, The Lion of the Lord, New York, 1969, pp.129-30.)

On segregation: Now we are generous with the Negro. We are willing that the Negro have the highest education. I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it. I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world. But let them enjoy these things among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? (Elder Mark E. Peterson, "Race Problems - As They Affect The Church," Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954.)

On Chinamen: Let us consider the great mercy of God for a moment. A Chinese, born in China with a dark skin, and with all the handicaps of that race seems to have little opportunity. But think of the mercy of God to Chinese people who are willing to accept the gospel. In spite of whatever they might have done in the pre-existence to justify being born over there as Chinamen, if they now, in this life, accept the gospel and live it the rest of their lives they can have the Priesthood, go to the temple and receive endowments and sealings, and that means they can have exaltation. Isn't the mercy of God marvelous? (Elder Mark E. Peterson, ibid.)

On metallurgy: Gold and silver grow, and so does every other kind of metal, the same as the hair upon my head, or the wheat in the field; they do not grow as fast, but they are all the time composing or decomposing. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 219.)

On being a witness of the Book of Mormon: If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to 'separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so should it be done unto them.' In the spring of 1838, the heads of the church and many of the members had gone deep into error and blindness. I had been striving with them for a long time to show them the errors into which they were drifting, and for my labors I received only persecutions. (David Whitmer, Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 27.)

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Monday, August 01, 2005

Sunday, July 31, 2005
Useful links: - a website with useful information about the Mormon church. It also offers a bulletin board where those who are leaving or who have left the church may go for support. - a website created by Jerald and Sandra Tanner, well-known for publishing informative newsletters and books about the church's history and teachings. Be sure to check out their online books.

posted by Hugh the Free Morgbot Sunday, July 31, 2005

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At Monday, January 14, 2008 1:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read somewhere that polygamy actually would have slumped the birthrate because statistically a monogomous wife gave birth to more children than a polygamous wife did (I can see this occuring for a variety of reasons). A particular MAN may have produced more children, but this would provide no more tabernacles for spirits. It would actually be counterproductive, providing less. Anyone know anymore about this?

Another thought (as a mother of 5), wouldn't it be worse to have MORE women and children be left without a provider and father if anything were to happen to the ONLY husband/father?

At Monday, February 04, 2008 8:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Alma 24: 30
30 And thus we can plainly discern, that after a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things.

At Saturday, August 21, 2010 6:54:00 PM, Blogger RPG said...

Plain-text translation:

"Sometimes people in our church don't believe the stuff we tell them, cuz it's righteous 'n stuff right? People who don't believe what we're sayin' must be sinning or transgressing! Yeah! Things definitely would've been better for them if they never joined our church at all! Yeah!"

FYI, I left the church three years after I came home from my mission, based purely on philosophical differences. Sinning? As much as anyone, but certainly no worse.


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