Friday, March 30, 2007
Several years ago, a close friend of mine parted ways with the Church. She has been happy with her decision ever since and now lives a very fulfilled life. Anyway, in the first year after she left, she commented to me once that looking at the Church from the outside is like watching a hamster wheel where everyone is working feverishly to do the right thing, is exhausted all the time from all the running, and never gets anywhere. She described it as sheer madness. So we discussed some of the things that make up the hamster wheel. It is actually amazing that so many people are filling their lives with so many of these things. Here are some of them.
The DAILY things:
1. Read scriptures alone.
2. Read scriptures with the family.
3. Say personal prayers in the morning.
4. Say family prayers in the morning.
5. Say personal prayers in the evening.
6. Say family prayers in the evening.
7. Write in a personal journal.
8. Do missionary work.
9. Take time to ponder.
Add to that the WEEKLY things:
1. Go to Church on Sunday.
2. Go to PEC, Ward Council, BYC, PPI's, and various other meetings on Sunday or during the week.
3. Have Family Home Evening.
4. Attend Mutual if you are a teenager or an adult Youth leader.
5. Visit people at home if you are in a leadership position.
Add to that the MONTHLY things:
1. Hometeaching and Visiting Teaching.
3. Attend monthly meetings depending on your calling.
4. Go to the Temple.
Add to that the ONGOING things:
2. Service projects.
3. Teaching classes.
4. Giving talks.
5. Watching or attending General Conference.
6. Attending leadership meetings.
And the hamster wheel spins on.
This was MY life 5 years ago. The never ending rat race of Do More, Be More, Pray More, Study More, Prepare More and THINK LESS!
Another implausible claim in the Book of Mormon is the Nephite construction of a temple which is purportedly patterned after the
According to the Old Testament accounts, Solomon’s temple was approximately 20 stories high, required the oversight of over 3,000 officials, over 180,000 workmen and took over 7 years to build. How is it possible, then, that a small and of colonists (no more than 50 in number) could construct a temple like Solomon’s temple within 30, 50 or even 100 years of their arrival? Exmormon.org founder Eric Kettunen asked these same questions as he was delving into the metallurgy claims of the Book of Mormon:
In 2 Nephi 5:5 Nephi and his family and friends separate from the Lamanites 12 years after landing in the
*Nephi and family - wife and possibly a possibly some children
*Zoram and his family - wife and possibly some children
*Sam and his family - again a family
*Jacob - a young man or boy
*Joseph - an even younger man or boy
*Others of Nephi's sisters - perhaps as many as 3-4 women.
*"and all those who would go with me". That could at best be a few of Ishmael's family. So let's give some credit here to 4 more men, 4 more women and a few more children even though these extra people are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
These total to (again these are HIGHER estimates than the story allows):
Mormons could argue for slightly different numbers of people, but for the sake of the story it really does not matter. The numbers are small, very small. A few Mormons have written me and the highest number given me is 500 people. That 500 people could already exist as Nephites is a great leap of faith in Nephite procreation.
Now from the Book of Mormon:
2 Nephi 5:14-16 "14.) And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords... 15.) And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance. 16.) And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the
How likely is it that 8 men, 15 children and 10 women, who just fled into the wilderness, would be able to do the following? Just for fun, is this any more plausible with a society of 500 people, most of them children?
Steel making - this is complex all by itself - mixing iron with carbon
Iron mining and manufacturing - the production of elemental iron from iron ore
Coal mining - coal is required in the production of iron and is refined into coke
Limestone mining - limestone is also required
Tin or zinc mining - depending on the definition of "brass"
Refining and manufacturing of tin or zinc since they do not occur in an elemental state in nature
Roasting - to eliminate sulfur in copper, silver and some iron ores
Complex furnaces - to have reduction atmospheres to produce the metals
Mining tools - where did the hardened tools come from to start with?
Prospecting - how did they know how to identify ores?
Complex wood working - a small replica of Solomon's temple
How could a few people run a complex metallurgical culture in the wilderness and at the same time make shelters, get food and just plain survive? This is only a few years after coming to the American continent by boat. Some LDS apologists refer to meteoric iron as the raw material Nephites had used. This is quite unlikely as there is no archeological evidence that meteoric iron fragments were used beyond simple ornamental items like crude mirrors or decorations. The meteoric iron would have to be melted then mixed with correct percentages of carbon to make steel. That is as a complex of a technology as producing elemental iron, so which ever way you look at it, the possibility is incredibly remote that steel was manufactured.
Let us look at more claims.
They were working with copper!!
This requires roasting (remove the sulfides with oxygen) and a completely different set of metallurgical processes than steel making. Native copper, which requires no processing, is quite rare. If Nephi were referring to native copper, there would have been no need to "train" in it as it is already in its elemental state and easily workable. Some LDS apologists have written me saying that the Nephites went all the way to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to get their copper. They traveled thousands of miles for some metal? Mormons can not have it both ways. LDS scholars claim Nephites lived in only a very small geographical area of
They developed brass!! They had to learn how to make alloys with copper. They would have had to then develop zinc and/or tin mines with these metallic elements each requiring different metallurgical processes to extract the metals from the ore. How bizarre can the story get? It gets worse....
They were working with precious ores. This adds gold and silver mining to the list and different metallurgical methods again are required for processing the ore.
This was all done with 8 men, 10 women and 15 or so children. How could I have ever believed it? But it gets even worse yet....
They then went and built a temple like Solomon's. Solomon's
We could go on about the self contradictory statements in the verses like precious ores being in abundance and then not being there in the very next verse. The story is so absurd that it alone should keep a rational person from believing in the Book of Mormon.
And to top it off, no archeological evidence supports mining activity, which leaves indestructible evidence, during the Book of Mormon period in
Can somebody take the challenge of reading Ether, and explaining this in a rational, orderly manner?
I did find one essay out there that goes through step by step, the process of building the barges, creating a light source and gathering all the animals necessary for such a journey.
I have yet to hear ONE member of the church make any sense of this story as presented in the Book of Mormon. The only conclusion I can come to is: in order to believe it, I have to have faith in the story teller, faith in the leaders of the church that promote it as fact, and a personal spiritual witness of its truth. I can't just read it through and make logical conclusions based on what I know about science and history, or what I read from outside sources, no, the truth must come from within the church, or it isn't truth.
That's completely ridiculous. The LDS church does not have a monopoly on truth, and cannot claim to be the only source of truth. They haven't demonstrated superior knowledge in technology, science, or history of world cultures in order to proclaim themselves the purveyors of truth. And insisting that truth can only be made manifest through divine inspiration is like saying that we have to discard knowledge gained any other way.
Goodbye schools! Goodbye universities! (unless your BYU) Goodbye life experiences! Your truth is useless because you don't have the "spirit" to confirm it to you!!!! Yep, you can do all the lab tests you want, you can perform all the case studies and research until your eyes fall out, but unless you have the "spirit of testimony" to give you that confirmation, you can bet it's all a lie, and the work of Satan.
So, get down on your knees and pray to ask if your checking account is accurate, ask God if the meatloaf is overcooked, get your holy confirmation before paying your electric bill, because you as a frail and imperfect being are incapable of determining truth all by yourself. You NEED the 'spirit' to guide you in every decision, or you can't be sure of any 'truth'. And lo and behold, the ONLY place you are going to find this 'spirit' is through the power of the Melchezidek priesthood which can ONLY be found in the LDS church. Aren't you lucky?
Can't you turn to the Book of Ether and read the account of the Jaredites with your LOGICAL mind? Get out the white board and jot down some hard facts, like the measurements of the barges, the placements of the airholes, the space contained inside, how many animals and people were inside, and how they would survive 344 days of an ocean voyage being turned upside--down in a shit infested, food contaminated, dark and stinky gigantic COFFIN, and then come back and tell me the 'spirit' tells you it's TRUE!!!!
Here's a link to the essay I found. But, you don't have to read the essay, just read the account in your Book of Mormon, and ASK GOD if this is really true!!! If you don't get that warm fuzzy feeling, it's not because you aren't praying hard enough, or not being sincere enough, or have some sort of sin you need to confess in order to get the right answer----it's that sinking feeling knowing that what you have just asked about could not POSSIBLY be true. That's how it works, isn't it? Warm fuzzy= true, Dark confusing feeling= false. And since that's how you conduct yourselves every waking minute, everyday, by constantly confirming every truth through the 'spirit' this should be a walk in the park....
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
"According to the account given by George A. Smith, while the Saints were in Far West, Missouri, 'the wife of Thomas B. Marsh, who was then President of the Twelve Apostles, and Sister Harris concluded they would exchange milk, in order to make a little larger cheese than they otherwise could. To be sure to have justice done, it was agreed that they should not save the strippings (to themselves), but that the milk and strippings should go all together.....Mrs.
Harris, it appeared, was faithful to the agreement and carried to Mrs. Marsh the milk and strippings, but Mrs. Marsh, wishing to make some extra good cheese, saved a pint of strippings from each cow and sent Mrs. Harris the milk without the strippings. A quarrel arose, and the matter was referred to the home teachers. They found Mrs. Marsh guilty of failure to keep her agreement.
She and her husband were upset and, 'an appeal was taken from the teacher to the bishop, and a regular church trial was held. President Marsh did not consider that the bishop had done him and his lady justice for they (that is, the bishop's court) decided that the strippings were wrongfully saved, and that the woman had violated her covenant.
'Marsh immediately took a appeal to the High Council, who investigated the question with much patience, and,' says George A. Smith, .....'Marsh.....made a desperate defence, but the High Council finally confirmed the bishop's decision.....This little affair,' Brother Smith continues, 'kicked up a considerable breeze, and Thomas B. Marsh then declared that he would sustain the character of his wife even if he had to go to hell for it. The then President of the Twelve Apostles, the man who should have been the first to do justice and cause reparation to be made for wrong.....went before a magistrate and swore that the 'Mormons' were hostile towards the state of MIssouri. That affidavit brought from the government of Missouri an exterminating order, which drove some 15,000 Saints from their homes and habitations.....
What a very small and trivial thing--a little cream over which two women quarreled. But it led to, or at least was a factor in, Governor Boggs' cruel exterminating order which drove the Saints from the state of Missouri." ("Ensign" Magazine, May 1984, p. 83.)
Note how Hinckley asserts that the "milk strippings" incident (if it even occurred at all) was a major factor in Marsh's defection, and the resulting Extermination Order. But were Hinckley's remarks (via George A. Smith) anywhere close to the truth? Let's compare Hinckley's assertions with the documented facts of history:
A "revelation" Smith produced, and published in his 1833 "Book of Commandments," read as follows:
"For it shall come to pass, that which I spake by the mouths of my prophets shall be fulfilled; for I will consecrate the riches of the Gentiles, unto my people which are of the house of Israel." (BOC 44:32.)
In Smith's 1835 revision of the BOC, re-titled the "Doctrine and Covenants," Smith altered this verse to read:
"for I will consecrate of the riches of those who embrace my gospel among the Gentiles unto the poor of my people who are of the house of Israel." (D&C 42:39.)
David Whitmer explained why the original version of this "revelation" had enraged Missourians against the Mormon immigrants in 1833:
"In the spring of 1832, in Hiram, Ohio, Brothers Joseph and Sidney, and others, concluded that the revelations should be printed in a book. A few of the brethren -- including myself --objected to it seriously. We told them that if the revelations were published, the world would get the books, and it would not do; that it was not the will of the Lord that the revelations should be published. But Brothers Joseph and Sidney would not listen to us, and said they were going to send them to Independence to be published. I objected to it and withstood Brothers Joseph and Sidney to the face. Brother Joseph said as follows: "Any man who objects to having these revelations published, shall have his part taken out of the Tree of Life and out of the Holy City." The Spirit of God came upon me and I prophesied to them in the name of the Lord: "That if they sent those revelations to Independence to be published in a book, the people would come upon them and tear down the printing press, and the church would be driven out of Jackson county." Brothers Joseph and Sidney laughed at me. Early in the spring of 1833, at Independence, Mo., the revelations were printed in the Book of Commandments. Many of the books were finished and distributed among the members of the church, and through some of the unwise brethren, the world got hold of some of them. From that time the ill-feeling toward us began to increase; and in the summer of 1833 the mob came upon us, tore down the printing press, and drove the church out of Jackson county." ("An Address to all Believers in Christ")
It's obvious that Smith altered the verse which called for the "consecration of the riches of the Gentiles unto the house of Israel" because the publication of such a policy had gotten the Mormons booted out of Jackson County.
Nonetheless, he and Rigdon secretly continued their advocacy of "consecrating" the personal property of non-Mormons, as well as those of Mormon dissenters, into his "kingdom," and that was the ultimate cause of the Mormons' final expulsion from Missouri in 1838.
To today's Mormons, "consecration" means giving of their money or goods to the church. In 1838, upon the failure of their Kirtland Bank and "United Order," Smith and Rigdon went to Missouri and again tried to institute an economic commune. The Missouri Mormons, who had been expelled from Jackson County in 1834, were living in relative (albeit temporary) peace in Clay County, buying land and starting farms. But the arrival of Smith and Rigdon in the spring of 1838 brought an influx of thousands more Mormons from Kirtland as well, spilling them over into "Gentile" areas, causing new tensions. Mormon population increased from 1,200 to 15,000 in just a few months. Having been stung by the Kirtland failure, Smith and Rigdon implemented new policies that they hoped would make the new commune succeed. The policy mandated that all Mormons sign their lands over to the church, and then the church would lease the land back to them as "stewardships." The Mormons who had bought and developed their lands and farms balked at the idea---among them being Cowdery, the Whitmers, Phelps, Lyman Johnson, etc. They correctly perceived that the new "consecration" policy was nothing more than Smith and Rigdon's latest scheme to fleece the flock. Their refusal to sign lands over to the church prompted Rigdon's "Salt Sermon" (which was heartily endorsed by Smith), and Rigdon's resulting letter informing the dissenters that they must "depart before a more fatal calamity" befell them. While the dissenters had gone to procure legal aid to prevent Smith and Rigdon from taking their land (or their lives), the "Danites" invaded and plundered their homes and property. So, for those Mormons, "consecration" meant having their goods taken away by force, upon the order of church leaders.
"A proposition was made and supported by some as being the best policy to kill these men that they would not be capable of injuring the church. All their measures were strenuously opposed by John Corrill and T. B. Marsh one of the twelve apostles of the church and in consequence nothing could be effected until the matter was taken up publicly BY THE PRESIDENCY the following (June 17th) in a large congregation..." ("Reed Peck Manuscript")
Thus, according to Peck, Marsh was already opposing Smith's and Rigdon's heinous policies as early as June 17----four months before Marsh swore his affidavit. That fact alone destroys the "milk strippings" business.
As many witnesses (including Thomas B. Marsh) testified in court, Smith's intention was to "take this State,...the United States and ultimately the whole world" for his theocratic empire. The swelling Mormon population disturbed the non-Mormons, who had heard that the "Gentiles" were to be evicted and the land become the Mormons' "New Jerusalem." One Missourian, William Peniston, remarked in August that the Mormons "are a set of horse thieves, liars, and counterfeiters. They'll swear a false oath on any occasion to save another Mormon....no property is safe in Daviess County if they continue to pour into this area." Tensions soon erupted into violence, with beatings, lootings and burnings being committed on both sides. By October, believing that they had enough manpower to "take the state," Smith and Rigdon then sent their "Danite" forces to begin "consecrating" from the "Gentiles" as well as the dissident "Saints," with the loot going to support their war effort. Church historian John Whitmer reported that the Mormon leaders claimed the stealing was justified because they were the "chosen people":
"After they had driven us and our families, they commenced a difficulty in Daviess County, adjoining this county, in which they began to rob and burn houses, etc. etc., took honey which they, (the Mormons) call sweet oil, and hogs which they call bear, and cattle which they called buffalo. Thus they would justify themselves by saying, "We are the people of God, and all things
are God's; therefore, they are ours." (John Whitmer's "History of the Church")
John Whitmer's remarks revealed Smith's and Rigdon's true attitude: they viewed their organization as the literal "House of Israel," and "the Kingdom of God on Earth"; they taught the imminent return and millenial reign of Christ, wherein all the "enemies" of the "true church" would be defeated. Since, in the "millenium," all things on earth would be theirs, they haughtily taught their subordinates to appropriate the property of the "Gentiles."
Mormon historian Leland Gentry admits to Mormon thefts: "The Danites were taught to take from the Gentiles and consecrate to the Church. Nearly every person who testified at the trial against the Mormon leaders made mention of this fact. John Clemenson stated that 'it was frequently observed among the troops at Diahman that the time had come when the riches of the Gentiles should be consecrated to the Saints.' Jeremiah Myers testified that 'the consecrated property...was dealt out to those in need' by Bishop Vinson Knight." (A History of the Latter-Day Saints in Northern Missouri, p. 385-387.)
"Danites struck at Gallatin and two other towns, Millport and Grinding Fork. The three onslaughts occurred simultaneously and had a crushing impact on the Missourians who were unaccustomed to Mormon resistance. When Captains Lyman Wight, David W. Patten, and Seymour Brunson rode into Far West at the head of their companies, the sight of wagon loads of plunder was offensive to a number of less aggressively inclined Saints. That night they gathered their families together and abandoned the settlement. Among the defectors were two of Joseph's most trusted followers, Thomas B. Marsh and Orson Hyde, both members of the Council of Twelve Apostles. The two men fled to nearby Richmond and blurted out everything they knew." ("Orrin Porter Rockwell," Harold Schindler, p. 54.)
"The Mormons were two hundred and fifty men by the time they reached Daviess County...The bulk of the forces went out in search of the gentile opposition. They marched through three settlements, including Gallatin, repaying the Missourians in kind, looting and firing stores, homes, and barns, before their anger spent itself.....When they returned with their loot, many of their own people were appalled and frightened. Thomas B. Marsh, Brigham Young's superior
as President of the Twelve, let it be known that he did not approve such retaliation, and he left the church." ("Kingdom of the Saints", Ray B. West, p. 86.)
"There was much mysterious conversation in camps, as to plundering, and house-burning; so much so, that I had my own notions about it; and, on one occasion, I spoke to Mr. Smith, Jr., in the house, and told him that this course of burning houses and plundering, by the Mormon troops, would ruin us; that it could not be kept hid, and would bring the force of the state upon us; that houses would be searched, and stolen property found. Smith replied to me, in a pretty rough manner, to keep still; that I should say nothing about it; that it would discourage the men...I saw a great deal of plunder and bee-steads brought into camp; and I saw many persons, for many days, taking the honey out of them; I understood this property and plunder were placed into the hands of the bishop at Diahmon....The general teachings of the presidency were, that the kingdom they were setting up was a temporal kingdom...that the time had come when this kingdom was to be set up by forcible means, if necessary. It was taught, that the time had come when the riches of the Gentiles were to be consecrated to the true Israel."
(Testimony of George M. Hinkle, "Senate Document 189".)
"Smith replied, the time had come when he should resist all law...I heard J. Smith remark, there was a store at Gallatin, and a grocery at Millport; and in the morning after the conversation between Smith and Wight about resisting the law, a plan of operations was agreed on, which was: that Captain Fearnaught, who was present, should take a company of 100 men, or more, and go to Gallatin, and take it that day; to take the goods out of Gallatin, bring them to Diahmon, and burn the store...On the same day, in the evening, I saw both these companies return; the foot company had some plunder..." (Testimony of WW Phelps, "Senate Document 189").
From Marsh's own sworn legal affidavit of October 24, 1838:
"At the request of citizens of Ray County, I make the following statement...Joseph Smith, the prophet, had preached a sermon in which he said that all the Mormons who refused to take up arms, if necessary, in the difficulties with the citizens, should be shot or otherwise put to death; and as I was there with my family, I thought it most prudent to go and did go with my wagon as the driver. We marched to Adam-ondi-Ahman and found no troops or mob in Davies County....a company of about eighty Mormons, commanded by a man fictitiously named Captain Fearnaught [apostle and Danite David Patten], marched to Gallatin...I afterwards learned from the Mormons that they had burnt Gallatin and that it was done by the aforesaid company
that marched there. The Mormons informed me that they had hauled away all the goods from the store in Gallatin and deposited them at the Bishop's storehouse at Diahmon. On the same day, [apostle and Danite] Lyman Wight marched about eighty horsemen for Millport...The same evening a number of footmen came up from the direction of Millport laden with property which I was informed consisted of beds, clocks, and other household furniture...During the same time, a company called the Fur Company were sent out to bring in fat hogs and cattle, calling the hogs 'bears', and the cattle 'buffaloes.' They have among them a company consisting of all that are considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong.....The plan of said Smith, the prophet, is to take this State, and he professed to his people to intend taking the United States, and ultimately the whole world. This is the belief of the church, and my own opinion of the prophet's plans and intentions.....The prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith's prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the prophet say that he should yet tread down his enemies and walk over their dead bodies; that if he was not let alone he would be a second Mahomet to this generation, and that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean....."
I don't find anything about "milk strippings" in Marsh's, or any other eyewitnesses' testimony of those events; and I have failed to find even one mention of the alleged "milk strippings" incident in any history on the subject by any reputable scholar. To the contrary, they all concur that the reason the Mormons were booted out of Missouri was because of Smith and Rigdon's haughty, belligerent attitudes and teachings; their calls for violence, their "revelations" that "justified" their followers stealing from their neighbors; and their boasts that their organization had a "divine right" to take the state of Missouri for themselves, by any means necessary, including force.
Late LDS author Harold Schindler recounted the series of events that cause Governor Boggs to issue his "Extermination Order," which came the day after the skirmish between Missouri militiamen and Mormon "Danites" at Crooked River:
"Twenty-four hours after the Crooked River fight, Boggs, armed with the affidavits of Marsh and Hyde plus complaints from frightened settlers describing a wholesale Mormon rebellion, ordered two thousand militiamen from five divisions into the field...Then Boggs received a message confirming an earlier report of Bogart's defeat but compounding the rumors of a massacre...this report prompted Boggs to issue his infamous 'Extermination Order' of October 27 to General John B. Clark. In effect, the order challenged Sidney Rigdon's Fourth of July address in which he defied the Gentiles and threatened a 'war of extermination.' It was more than coincidence that Boggs chose that particular word in his instruction to General Clark."
("Orrin Porter Rockwell: Man of God, Son of Thunder," Harold Schindler, pp. 56-58.)
Thus we see that the major incident which spurred Boggs to issue his "Extermination Order" was the Crooked River skirmish, wherein several men on both sides were killed. That event made Boggs realize that the Mormons would not peacefully cohabit the state with non-Mormons, and since many Mormons had taken a secret oath to obey Smith's every order, even those which called on them to commit crimes, Boggs was forced to evict all of the Mormons from the state.
So, in view of the documented facts, can anyone honestly believe that Thomas B. Marsh's "real gripe" was a fight between two women over "milk strippings"? And, was Gordon B. Hinckley being "honest with his fellow man" by using George A. Smith's "faith-promoting" version of events, rather than objectively relating the numerous testimonies of first-hand eyewitnesses and participants? Of course he wasn't. Hinckley, as well as most other LDS leaders and
apologists, are not interested in relating the actual history of Mormonism; their agenda is to spin "faith-promoting" tales that attempt to "teach a lesson," while simultaneously obfuscating the actual facts. The average rank-and-file Mormon, upon learning that the first president of the Q12 had "apostasized," would naturally inquire as to the reasons for his "apostasy"; the "milk strippings" story is propagated to conceal the actual reasons, and to provide an "object lesson" for Mormons sitting in Sunday School class.
This is an actual lesson from a Church History Gospel Doctrine Class in Mormonism
"Be Not Deceived but Continue in Steadfastness".
The instructor wrote on the board:
A pint of cream.
A misspelled name.
A lack of seating.
And then had us guess what these all had in common. Someone who'd read ahead answered, "They're all causes over which someone left the Church." (The "apostates" in question were Thomas B. Marsh, Simonds Ryder, and Frazier Eaton.)
Now, logic tells me that people have left the Church for far more legitimate concerns. But the manual has zip to say about anyone with a real gripe leaving the Church! C'mon Salt Lake! There are some of us out here who resent being treated like imbeciles!!
There is far more to the Rider and Marsh incidents than trivial issues like a misspelled name or "milk strippings." LDS writers provide only the portion of historical incidents that endeavor to show that the person who "apostasized" was the party in the wrong. They fail to provide the "rest of the story" that reveals the "real gripes" that people such as Rider and Marsh had.
Most Mormons believe that Joseph Smith's and Sidney Rigdon's tarring in February 1832 was done by an "anti-Mormon mob". To the contrary, they were tarred not by "anti-Mormon mobs," but by their own followers, for two primary reasons. First was their plan to have all of their church members sign over all of their assets and properties to the "United Order" communal experiment.
Some members saw this as Smith and Rigdon's scheme to fleece them, and rightly so; the financial disaster that was the United Order, which culminated in the Kirtland Bank scandal, caused many Mormons to lose their life savings, and about half of all church members abandoned the faith over the incident, including most of the original twelve apostles. The proof that it was his own church members who did the tarring was Smith's own statement that he recognized the perpetrators in church the morning after the incident, primarily one Symonds Rider and the sons of John Johnson. Smith, Emma, and Rigdon had been boarding with the Johnson clan 35 miles from Kirtland at Hiram, Ohio. They weren't subjecting themselves to the communal lifestyle that they demanded of their followers at Kirtland. It was alleged that Smith made a pass at Johnson's teenage daughter, Nancy Marinda, and that that was her brothers' motivation for attacking Smith. "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith" supports this idea, but in his "In Sacred Loneliness" Todd Compton doubts it for lack of convincing evidence. I personally believe that it's likely true that Smith made the pass at Marinda for four reasons:
First, Smith had already hinted at his "plural marriage" concept in his 1831 "revelation" commanding his men to "take ye wives from among the Lamanites" in 1831 (the tarring occurred in February 1832). This indicates that he had extra-marital relations on his mind during that period.
Second, Marinda later married Orson Hyde; Smith sent Hyde on a mission, and secretly "plural married" Marinda in Hyde's absence, in April of 1842. Thus, it's likely that Smith had had his eye on Marinda since he had met the 15-year-old at Hiram in 1831, and that his 1842 "plural marriage" to her was his formalization of a long-existing desire for her (as it was also in the
cases of Mary Rollins and Sarah Ann Whitney). The essence of Smith's "spiritual wifery" concept was that people knew each other in the "pre-existence," and that part of their earthly mission was to find their "soul mates" (Remember "Saturday's Warrior?") Once Smith had designated a female as one of his "soul mates," or "spiritual wives," they were to be "his" for eternity, even if they were already married to someone else; in this case, Orson Hyde.
Third, Smith's "plural" relationship with the 16-year-old Fanny Alger began in 1833, according to various bits of evidence. Since the 1832 tarring incident was sandwiched in between the 1831 "Lamanite revelation" and the 1833 beginning of his affair with Fanny, it's entirely likely that the tarring was at least partly because of Smith's budding unorthodox sexual concepts, which he tried out on Marinda.
Fourth, it seems more likely that the Johnson brothers would want to castrate a man because of a sexual advance on their teenage sister, rather than over an issue of money.
Here's a little of Todd Compton's views on the subject, from his book:
"In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith," (pp.231-232)
"According to Luke Johnson, Smith was stretched on a board, then 'they tore off the night clothes that he had on, for the purpose of emasculating him, and had Dr. Dennison there to perform the operation. But when the Dr. saw the prophet stripped and stretched on the plank, his heart failed him, and he refused to operate.'
"The motivation for this mobbing has been debated. Clark Braden, a late, antagonistic, secondhand witness, alleged in a polemic public debate that Marinda's brother Eli led a mob against Smith because the prophet had been too intimate with Marinda. This tradition suggests that Smith may have married Marinda at this early time, and some circumstantial factors support such a possibility. The castration attempt might be taken as evidence that the mob felt that Joseph had committed a sexual impropriety; since the attempt is reported by Luke Johnson, there is no reason to doubt it. Also, they had planned the operation in advance, as they brought along a doctor to perform it.
The first revelations on polygamy had been received in 1831, by historian Daniel Bachman's dating. Also, Joseph Smith did tend to marry women who had stayed at his house or in whose house he had stayed.
"Many other factors, however, argue against this theory. First, Marinda had no brother named Eli, which suggests that Braden's accusation, late as it is, is garbled and unreliable. In addition, two antagonistic accounts by Hayden and S. F. Whitney give an entirely different reason for the mobbing, with an entirely different leader, Simonds Ryder, an ex-Mormon, though the Johnson brothers are still participants. In these accounts the reason for the violence is economic: the Johnson boys were in the mob because of 'the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it in the control of Smith.' The castration, in this scenario, may have only been a threat, meant to intimidate Smith and cause him to leave Hiram.....While it is not impossible that Marinda became Smith's first plural wife in 1831, the evidence for such a marriage, resting chiefly on the late, unreliable Braden, is not compelling.
Unless more credible evidence is found, it is best to proceed under the assumption that Joseph and Marinda did not marry or have a relationship in1831."
("In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith," 231-232.)
Of course, Braden's recollection of an "Eli" could possibly have referred to a nickname for one of Marinda's brothers.
From “Mormon Enigma”:
"Evidence suggests that although Joseph believed he was commanded by God through revelation to establish plural marriage as part of the 'restoration of all things,' questions undoubtedly arose. For example, who would perform the marriages? Could Joseph officiate in his own behalf? Who should be told of the doctrine? How would Emma and others react to such an unorthodox practice?
There is no record that Joseph received immediate instructions in these matters, making his early attempts to instigate plural marriage most difficult for Emma when she encountered them.
Mary Elizabeth Rollins claimed that Joseph had a private conversation with her in 1831; she was then twelve years old. She said Joseph 'told me about his great vision concerning me. He said I was the first woman God commanded him to take as a plural wife.' (Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner to Emmeline B. Wells, summer 1905, LDS Archives)
Within six months of Joseph's conversation with Mary Elizabeth Rollins, he and Emma had moved into the John Johnson home. Orson Pratt later quoted Lyman Johnson as saying that 'Joseph had made known to him\ \as early as 1831 that plural marriage was a correct principle,' but remarked also that 'the time had not yet come to teach and practice it.' (Orson Pratt, "Latter-day Saints Millennial Star (Liverpool England), 40 (16 Dec. 1878):788) Perhaps Joseph was not discreet in his discussions about plural marriage, because rumor and insinuation fed the fury of the mob that tarred and feathered him. When the Johnson boys joined the mob that entered their own home, they clearly suspected an improper association between Joseph and their sixteen-year-old sister, Nancy Marinda." (as quoted from Donna Hill, "Joseph Smith: the First Mormon", p.146).
The point being that there is much more to Symonds Rider's case than a simple misspelled name; but LDS authors don't want you to know the full facts, because the true facts expose Joseph Smith's deviousness more than they do any failings of Rider.
Monday, March 26, 2007
I've been down that road before, living on state assistance for food and shelter, having my only mode of transportation wiped out, and still asking myself if it was really expected of me to hand over 10% of my single income to the multi-million dollar corporation that is the church, while I simultaneously humble myself to ask the bishop for money from the ward fast and offerings fund so that I could fix my car and continue working to earn that 10% to give to the church. Nevermind that the children and I sometimes ate Ramen three or four nites a week and having a gallon of milk in the house was about as likely as having a gold-plated toilet seat. As long as I had that temple recommend, God was looking out for me. But I was also interviewed weekly, expected to maintain my attendance and keep up the hunt for a better job, without committing to working nights or weekends so that I could take care of my children AND serve the Lord.
It's amazing how far I've come. Just last week, I was able to pay CASH for a car, and drive away with it the same day. I had the money, and it was largely in part because I don't HAVE any guilt about not sacrificing it to an entity that has NO accountability to me whatsoever about how they spend it. I know NOW what the church spends their money on, but didn't try to guess back then, because I was trying to be trusting and submissive, like a little child. Here is a short list of where the money goes:
BYU-Idaho 54,000 sq. ft. building named after Gordon B. Hinckley-- $35 Million
ZCMI Center renovation-- $20 million
Crossroads Plaza malls- $1 BILLION
Conference Center- the great and spacious building on Temple Square---$1.1 BILLION
City Creek Center-- $6 to $8 million
Salt Lake Valley Temples--- Draper $450 million and South Jordan $385 million
Ensign Plaza South--$75 to $125 million
Church Office Building (est 2008 plans)---$350 million to $750 million, depending on how much remodeling is done
Tabernacle renovations---$175 million
Upgrades for Salt Lake temple for earthquake resistance--$250 to $450 million
[So, see all the expenses that the church has in order to maintain itself? Gee, it's no wonder to me why they would need all that money from the poorest of the poor within the church.]
Gordon Hinckley's 95th Birthday Party, July 22nd 2005---Undisclosed amount of $$, no doubt paid for by the church, or corporation dividends, or interest earnings, but all the same----IT'S FROM THE TITHES OF THE CHURCH.
[To be fair, let's take a look at some of the assets of the church and get the complete picture:]
Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch, Orlando, Fl---312,000 acres, valued at $858 million.
Beneficial Life Insurance Company---assets of $1.6 billion
Deseret Management Corp-- holder of all the farmland and ranches--valued at $11 billion with an annual income from investments of $600 million including 88,000 acres of farmland in Nebraska--$17.6 million
[Still feel like the church depends on your measley $75 a week? Do you even know how much they rake in per YEAR, just in tithes off the members?]
$5.2 billion in tithes , $4.9 billion from American Mormons (and that's from 10 years ago)
Mormons rather naively assume much of the money goes to aid the poor, which is wildly inaccurate--only a miniscule proportion goes to "charitable causes." Most of it goes to support the corporate operations of the Church--buildings (chapels, temples, visitor's centers), payroll (CES employees, LDS bureaucrats, and GA salaries paid out as "living expenses"), and investments (primarily securities and real estate).
Who "owns" the assets of the Church, generally estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars? Theoretically, "the Church" owns the assets, with senior leaders exercising control as "trustees" of the Church and its members. Practically, the senior leaders own the assets--they make the decisions, they are accountable to no one, and none of the "little people" (average Church members, supposedly the ones in whose interest the money and assets are managed) have a say in what is done with the money or are even able to obtain meaningful financial information concerning revenues, expenditures, assets, or budgets.
So, all you working poor members- are you still proud to say that you are a member of the richest church (corporation) around? Think about that next time your car breaks down, or your kids are eating leftovers again, with no money left to pay for replacing a broken pair of glasses. Your church leaders are very well taken care of and provided for. They are on the payroll of the corporation as a trustee, nobody in the General Authority is living off of Social Security in a rundown old farmhouse outside of town. I'll even bet there is a gallon of milk in the fridge at ALL TIMES.
If you are still comfy handing over your working $$ to the church, in exchange for that temple recommend and the promise of a better life, ask yourself this question: Does God need this money, or does the church demand it?
As for me, I'd rather give $20 to a homeless family once a week, or donate food to an animal shelter, or invest in a program that helps research for cures to diseases like AIDS or diabetes, than to just throw it over my shoulder and hope the wind carries it where it should go. Right now, my kids need everything I can earn, and even some more, so I will be keeping my money for what God intended, taking care of the poor and less fortunate, those that depend on me for support. The church doesn't need our money, because they have enough of their own. Why aren't THEY giving 10% of THEIR income to the Lord?
Friday, March 23, 2007
"Let me quote a very powerful comment from President Ezra Taft Benson, who said, “The Book of Mormon is the keystone of [our] testimony. Just as the arch crumbles if the keystone is removed, so does all the Church stand or fall with the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. The enemies of the Church understand this clearly. This is why they go to such great lengths to try to disprove the Book of Mormon, for if it can be discredited, the Prophet Joseph Smith goes with it. So does our claim to priesthood keys, and revelation, and the restored Church..."
"To hear someone so remarkable say something so tremendously bold, so overwhelming in its implications, that everything in the Church — everything — rises or falls on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and, by implication, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s account of how it came forth, can be a little breathtaking. It sounds like a “sudden death” proposition to me. Either the Book of Mormon is what the Prophet Joseph said it is or this Church and its founder are false, fraudulent, a deception from the first instance onward."
"Either Joseph Smith was the prophet he said he was, who,
 after seeing the Father and the Son,
 later beheld the angel Moroni,
 repeatedly heard counsel from his lips, eventually
 receiving at his hands a set of ancient gold plates which
 he then translated according to the gift and power of God—or else he did not.
And if he did not, in the spirit of President Benson’s comment, he is not entitled to retain even the reputation of New England folk hero or well-meaning young man or writer of remarkable fiction. No, and he is not entitled to be considered a great teacher or a quintessential American prophet or the creator of great wisdom literature. If he lied about the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, he is certainly none of those."
"I am suggesting that we make exactly that same kind of do-or-die, bold assertion about the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the divine origins of the Book of Mormon. We have to. Reason and rightness require it. Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet and the book as the miraculously revealed and revered word of the Lord it is or else consign both man and book to Hades for the devastating deception of it all, but let’s not have any bizarre middle ground about the wonderful contours of a young boy’s imagination or his remarkable facility for turning a literary phrase. That is an unacceptable position to take—morally, literarily, historically, or theologically."
- Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland, “True or False,” New Era, June 1995, Page 64 (Excerpted from a CES Symposium address given at Brigham Young University on August 9, 1994.)
Apostle Holland doesn't list actual doctrinal teachings from the Book of Mormon that make it vital to Mormon theology. He's basically saying that it's a matter of credibility. If the book is not what Smith and the church say it is, then Smith is a fraud and the church is a hoax. So it's not about what the book actually teaches, it's the credibility of the book that counts. If missionaries can get people to accept the book as what the church says it is, then they will accept the rest. They don't even have to read it, just accept it as what the church says it is to convert to Mormonism. Couldn't the same thing be said for the D&C and the Book of Abraham? If those are not what they claim to be, doesn't Smith fall just as hard as a fraud?
Also, if as Holland says, the Book of Mormon really is "do-or-die" then you can't be a good Mormon and not accept the historical truth of the Book of Mormon. If dedicated, sincere members decide the Book of Mormon is a fraud, then they almost have to leave the church even if they still feel strong social ties. There's hardly any middle ground where you can accept the BoM as unnecessary but still be a happy, active Mormon.
LDS Church Apostle Dallin H. Oaks clearly laid out the church's stand on the historicity of the Book of Mormon, and criticized those within the church that do not accept it as an historical record.
Here are some excerpts:
"Some who term themselves believing Latter-day Saints are advocating that Latter-day Saints should abandon claims that the Book of Mormon is a historical record of the ancient peoples of the Americas. They are promoting the feasibility of reading and using the Book of Mormon as nothing more than a pious fiction with some valuable contents. These practitioners of so-called "higher criticism" raise the question of whether the Book of Mormon, which our prophets have put forward as the preeminent scripture of this dispensation, is fact or fable--history or just a story."
"Some Latter-day Saint critics who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon seek to make their proposed approach persuasive to Latter-day Saints by praising or affirming the value of some of the contents of the book. Those who take this approach assume the significant burden of explaining how they can praise the contents of a book they have dismissed as a fable. I have never been able to understand the similar approach in reference to the divinity of the Savior. As we know, some scholars and some ministers proclaim him to be a great teacher and then have to explain how the one who gave such sublime teachings could proclaim himself (falsely they say) to be the Son of God who would be resurrected from the dead."
And if there be faults [in this record] they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire.
And I exhort you to remember these things; for the time speedily cometh that ye shall know that I lie not, for ye shall see me at the bar of God; and the Lord God will say unto you: Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust? (Moroni 10:27.)
"There is something strange about accepting the moral or religious content of a book while rejecting the truthfulness of its authors' declarations, predictions, and statements. This approach not only rejects the concepts of faith and revelation that the Book of Mormon explains and advocates. This approach is not even good scholarship."
"The Book of Mormon's major significance is its witness of Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God the Eternal Father who redeems and saves us from death and sin. If an account stands as a preeminent witness of Jesus Christ, how can it possibly make no difference whether the account is fact or fable--whether the persons really lived who prophesied of Christ and gave eye witnesses of his appearances to them?"
"As Jack Welch and I discussed the topic of my address this evening, he pointed out that this new wave of antihistoricism 'may be a new kid on the block in Salt Lake City, but he has been around in a lot of other Christian neighborhoods for several decades.'"
"Indeed! The argument that it makes no difference whether the Book of Mormon is fact or fable is surely a sibling to the argument that it makes no difference whether Jesus Christ ever lived. As we know, there are many so-called Christian teachers who espouse the teachings and deny the teacher. Beyond that, there are those who even deny the existence or the knowability of God. Their counterparts in Mormondom embrace some of the teachings of the Book of Mormon but deny its historicity."
"Brothers and Sister, how grateful we are--all of us who rely on scholarship, faith, and revelation--for what you are doing. God bless the founders and the supporters and the workers of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. The work that you do is important, it is well-known, and it is appreciated."
"I testify of Jesus Christ, whom we serve, whose Church this is. I invoke his blessings upon you, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
- Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, The Historicity of the Book of Mormon, FARMS annual dinner on October 29th, 1993
"This book must be either true or false. If true, it is one of the most important messages ever sent from God... If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions... The nature of the message in the Book of Mormon is such, that if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it; If false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it... If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments on which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated, that those who have been sincerely yet unfortunately deceived, may perceive the nature of deception, and to be reclaimed, and that those who continue to publish the delusion may be exposed and silenced, not by physical force, neither by persecutions, bare assertions, nor ridicule, but by strong and powerful arguments - by evidences adduced from scripture and reason..."
"But on the other hand, if investigation should prove the Book of Mormon true ... the American and English nations ... should utterly reject both the Popish and Protestant ministry, together with all the churches which have been built up by them or that have sprung from them, as being entirely destitute of authority."
- Apostle Orson Pratt, Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, Liverpool, 1851, pp. 1-2
Imagine a three legged table. One leg is the Historicity of the Book of Mormon. One leg is Joseph Smith as a Prophet who found and translated the Book of Mormon. The third leg is the testimonies of all the members of the LDS church who believe the two statements above. Now, imagine how sturdy this table would be if suddenly two legs were missing. That is happening EVERY DAY on the internet, in symposiums, articles in newspapers, volumes and volumes of books written in the effort to expose the church and reclaim those who have been deceived.
The only thing the church has left to prop itself on that table is the testimonies of the members, and that is a shaky foundation indeed.
But, it's all they have left really.
The evidence against the Book of Mormon being a "translated" work and against Joseph Smith being a "called and chosen" prophet is SO OVERWHELMING, the church has no alternative but to focus on maintaining the testimonies of the members, but specifically instructing them to avoid serious intellectual study of these topics and to gather information from limited resources, whose delivery of information will be "faith promoting" and "testimony building".
They are being taught to judge information based on how you feel when you receive it.
If you feel good, and it agrees with your current world view, then it is true. If you feel bad, and it causes confusion in your mind, and is contrary to what you have been taught, THEN IT MUST BE FALSE.
Is that how you learn in your real life? What if this was the only way to learn ANYTHING?
Ok, so you are allowed to use your reasoning skills, your learning and understanding capabilities and your logical mind in the secular world. So, why do you have to check your brain at the door of the LDS church? Yet, it seems as if this is what is required of you in order to accept what they are telling you is true, and to ignore all sources counter to maintaining your belief in the system, or you risk ETERNAL DAMNATION.
This is their giant trump card.
Using fear tactics to gain conformity within the ranks. They make you so afraid NOT TO BELIEVE it, that you would give anything to MAINTAIN your belief in it, even to your own detriment.
Well, according to the above statements by past and present General Authorities, I would say this is quite contrary to their position that there is no middle ground. It either is true, or it's not. If it's not, then they have no claim to priesthood authority, the restoration of the gospel, or the "Truthiness" of the Book of Mormon.
So, this is how you kick the table down.
1. Take away the "fact" that the Book of Mormon was translated from heavy gold plates by finding and proving the true sources for the theme of the book (i.e. Doing what the early leaders demanded of the members by showing where the Mormons are wrong)
2. OR take away the "fact" that Joseph Smith saw visions, spoke to God, Jesus, or Moroni and received the keys to the priesthood and the authority to bring forth a new church. (i.e. Demonstrate the true character of Joseph Smith within the context of his era and surroundings)
3. OR simply remove the "limited reach" of each member of the LDS church and let them come to their own factual conclusions based on evidence from all sources. (Take the risk that some folks will choose to leave when given the opportunity to weigh ALL EVIDENCE)
It's time to learn with your head, and stop cross-examination with your feelings.
Truth hurts, but first it's gonna piss you off.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Terms such as "multitude," "numerous," "exceedingly great," "innumerable," and "as the sands of the sea" are tossed about in the Book of Mormon quite frequently in an effort to impress upon the reader how many people were present for any number of events, usually battles or mass religious conversions. However, nowhere in the Book of Mormon is a complete census reported. Perhaps the closest we come to a complete accounting of the population of the people written about in the Book of Mormon is at the very beginning.
The Book of Mormon mentions two pioneering groups as forerunners of the Nephite and Lamanite nations: the peoples of Lehi and Mulek. I do not include the Jaredites because they became extinct (except for Coriantumr) and failed to contribute to Nephite-Lamanite colonizations (Ether 15:12-34).
When Lehi's group sailed from the Old World in about 591 B.C.E., it consisted of the following men: Lehi; his sons Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph; Zoram; and the two unnamed sons of Ishmael (1 Ne. 7:6; 16:7). Ishmael himself died before they began their ocean voyage (16:34). Because of female anonymity in the Book of Mormon, we know the name of only one of the seafaring women: Lehi's wife Sariah (1 Ne. 2:5). But we are told that Ishmael's five daughters also made the trip as the wives of Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, and Zoram. Finally, Ishmael's wife and the families of Ishmael's two sons—as well as an ambiguous reference to Nephi's "sisters"—formed Lehi's band (1 Ne. 18:9; 2 Ne. 5:6).
Some of this group were relatively old with grown children of their own (Lehi, Sariah, and Ishmael's wife). Others, at least Jacob and Joseph, were born "in the wilderness" following Lehi's exodus from Jerusalem but prior to the ocean voyage and thus were very young (1 Ne. 18:7, 19; 2 Ne. 2:1; 3:1, 25). There were apparently other small children, perhaps the "family" or children of the sons of Ishmael and the children of Laman and Lemuel (1 Ne. 7:6; 2 Ne. 4:3, 8-9). It is unlikely there were other passengers on Lehi's vessel. Jacob, Joseph, and other children were too young to have wives.
Lehi's group apparently consisted of at least seventeen and as many as nineteen adults. Jacob and Joseph could not have had spouses until their nieces or the daughters of Ishmael's sons reached marriageable age. It is also important that Lehi, Sariah, and Ishmael's wife were elderly or spouseless or both and therefore probably not capable of reproduction. Thus we are told of only fourteen emigrants capable of reproduction when they arrived in the New World: Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi, Zoram, the two sons of Ishmael, and the wives of each.
We have little information on Mulek's colonists. They left Jerusalem a few years after Lehi's group, when Zedekiah was taken captive, and eventually became "very numerous" before joining the Nephites (Omni 1:14-19; Mosiah 25:12-13). The only specific population information is for 120 B.C.E. At that time the Mulekites reportedly outnumbered the Nephites, but both groups combined totalled less than half the size of the Lamanite population (Mosiah 25:2-30).
Although Mulek's group began multiplying in the New World shortly after Lehi's, both events may be considered effectively simultaneous. If we assume a roughly equal reproductive rate for the Mulek and Lehi populations, the size of Mulek's original reproductively capable group must have been less than half that of Lehi's emigrants given the information about the comparative size of the two populations in 120 B.C.E. This means there were probably fewer than seven members of Mulek's group capable of reproduction. Certainly there may have been additional voyagers who were not producing off-spring—the elderly, young, and/or unmarried.
From these two small clusters of pioneering emigrants came the population growth which resulted in the Nephite and Lamanite nations. That story comprises most of the Book of Mormon.
Population growth during this pre-agricultural period was virtually nonexistent, roughly .0001 percent per year or less. This is an established fact that can easily be confirmed. (Parsons, Jack. Population versus Liberty. London: Pemberton, 1971, 33; Miller, G. Tyler. Living in the Environment. 4th Ed. Belmont, MA: Belmont, 1985, 88-91; Ehrlich, Paul R., and Anne H. Ehrlich. Population Resources Environment. 2d ed. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1970, 6)
Starvation and severe malnutrition were the rule rather than the exception. Cities were virtually out of the question; people roamed in small bands to follow the food supply. Because our hunting/gathering ancestors had no reliable medicines, no inoculations, no climate control, no rapid transportation, and no modern hygiene, infant mortality was extremely high. Life for those who survived infancy was difficult, dirty, and short. As a result, the earth's population increased with glacier-like slowness through all but the last 1 or 2 percent of humankind's existence on the planet.
However, when one takes a close look at the numbers given in the Book of Mormon, we see figures that would have to be supported by unheard of annual growth rates.
Consider the battle in 187 B.C.E. in which 3,043 Lamanites and 279 of Zeniff's people were slain in a single day and night (Mosiah 9:18-19). Obviously the total Book of Mormon population at that time was much larger than 3,322 because numerous warriors were left alive after the battle as were women and male noncombatants. But even to produce a total population as large as the fatality figures for this one day would have required an average annual growth rate of 1.2 percent during the preceding four centuries. To put this in perspective, a growth rate of 1.2 percent was never achieved on a global basis or in the industrialized regions of the world as a whole until C.E. 1950-60 and was not reached in the developing regions as a whole until the 1930's (Bogue, Donald J. Principles of Demography. New York: Wiley and Sons, 1969, pg. 48-49). The Nephite-Lehite rate is thirty times the rate that existed in the world as a whole during the same era. Moreover if, as is far more likely, the total population in 187 B.C.E. was in excess of 35,000, it would have taken an average annual growth rate of 1.8 percent to multiply the original thirty pioneers to that level at that time. This is a rate that has never been reached in the industrialized world and has only been achieved in the world overall since 1950.
A second example only confirms the problems associated with Book of Mormon population figures. For the Amlicite-Nephite war of 87 B.C.E., Alma 2:17-19 reports a total of 19,094 fatalities. On the basis of these figures John Sorenson, a professor of anthropology at Brigham Young University , estimated the total Nephite-Lamanite population to be over 600,000 at that time (about 200,000 Nephites-Amlicites and over 400,000 Lamanites). For an original band of thirty reproductive individuals in 590 B.C.E. to proliferate even to 19,094 by 87 B.C.E. would require an average annual growth rate of 1.3 percent sustained over the span of five centuries. To reach the 600,000 level Sorenson determined to have existed at that point, the growth rate would have had to be 2 percent, again maintained for five centuries. This is a level never reached on a global scale until C.E. 1960 and fifty times the actual world rate of the pre-industrial epoch. It is a rate that, even when attained, can only persist briefly.
Less specific information from the scriptures also produce some startling results when viewed in the light of even the most generous population growth. For example, Nephites and Lamanites had already waged wars against one another by 560 B.C.E. (2 Ne. 5:34). Even if the original colonists had been multiplying at the unheard-of-rate of 2 percent annually, the total number of reproductive-age Nephite and Lamanite men and women alive in 560 B.C.E. would have been a mere fifty-five. If half of those fifty-five people were women and some of the males were too old, too young, or too infirm to fight or were occupied with agriculture or other tasks, then the total number of combatants on both sides in these "wars" must have been fewer than twenty.
Similarly, between 588 and 570 B.C.E., Nephi and his people constructed a replica of Solomon's temple (2 Ne. 5:16). By 570 B.C.E., the total reproductive-age Nephite-Lamanite population would have been forty-five people, even at the C.E. 1960 growth rate of 2 percent. If about half of these were Nephites, fewer than two dozen people—including people busy with farming or hunting, infirm persons, and pregnant women—were available to build a structure that required thousands of skilled workers and a great deal of time in the Old World.
These last two issues were noted as long ago as 1887 by M. T. Lamb. Without benefit of modern demographic methods, he saw serious problems with the rapid growth and major accomplishments of the Nephites and Lamanites at such an early stage in their colonizing efforts. Although his writings bear scant evidence of objectivity, he identified significant problems which have been overlooked by many others. Lamb commented on the improbability of their early division into two nations complete with kings, success in subduing the forests, becoming wealthy in flocks and herds, constructing buildings, and working in wood and metals.
If the Lehi-Mulek groups reproduced at the .04 percent average annual rate which prevailed in the world as a whole during their era, they would have numbered only fifty-four individuals in C.E. 390, 980 years after they landed. Keep in mind that population growth by modern standards was virtually nonexistent during those thousands of years between the invention of agriculture and the dawning of the industrial period. It took well over a thousand years for the world's population to double during that era. This seems counter-intuitive to us who have known nothing but the population explosion during our lifetime, but the evidence is clear. Rapid population growth is a recent phenomenon.
Another way of viewing the same principle is to note what would have happened had the thirty people of Lehi-Mulek multiplied at 2 percent annually. Those thirty individuals would have exploded into 9,756,500,000 people by the time of the Nephites' destruction in C.E. 390—almost double the total population of the planet earth today. Such a rate of growth has only existed very recently and only for very short spans of time. It cannot continue for long.
In his "Speculations on Book of Mormon Populations," Vern Elefson (1984) briefly discussed population figures contained in the Book of Mormon, and then reverse-engineered them to estimate the growth rate that must have prevailed for those figures to be reached. His "best guess" was an average annual rate of increase of 1.5 percent. Although he admitted that this is a high rate of population growth, particularly compared to a global rate of increase of less than .3 percent prior to C.E. 1650, he accepted it because of his preconceived assumption that the Book of Mormon is a true record of real people and events. His only explanation for the accelerated explosion of Nephite-Lamanite numbers is the supposedly salutary effects of abundant space and natural resources and absence of other disease-carrying people. However, the Book of Mormon itself provides ample reasons for believing that the uninhabited wilderness encountered by the ocean voyagers was anything but an ideal breeding ground for humans, especially given the warlike proclivities of the immigrants.
Even the most unbiased person must look at the facts and numbers that history and demographics provide and come to the undeniable conclusion that the numbers just don't add up. One can prove the Book of Mormon wrong by using a simple $1.99 calculator and a few books on world demographics. Sadly, even in the light of such obvious facts, some of the best and brightest and most sincere people the world has to offer have fallen for the lies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This should come as no surprise to students of the Bible. The Savior himself warned us this would happen when he said,
"For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."--Matt. 24:24
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
-The Church of Scientology (CoS) is a cult of personality practically worshipping its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Ditto for the Mormon church and Joseph Smith.
-Scientologists believe they are being persecuted by non-believers/apostates. Ditto Mormons.
-Scientologists are told that all books, Internet web sites, etc., critical to the CoS are false and all lies. Ditto Mormons.
-Scientologists, especially those whose lives are completely immersed in the cult like the members of the Sea Org, Estate Project Force, and the like, are discouraged from watching the news, reading non-Scientology material, associating with non-members, etc.
-Both sects have an extraterrestrial component to them: The CoS has the story of Xenu, the evil galactic overlord who is responsible for the immortal, disembodied alien souls called body thetans* that infest the human body/mind and cause all our woes including sickness, war, crime, etc. The Mormons' primary god lives on or near a planet/star called Kolob.
* Pronounced “THAY-ton” or, if you prefer, like “Satan” with a lisp. ;)
-The CoS’s Office of Special Affairs (the “OSA”) deals with church “enemies” by collecting damaging information, conducting smear campaigns, defaming them, etc. The OSA was formerly called the “Guardian’s Office” but disbanded and renamed sometime after L. Ron Hubbard’s wife, Mary Sue, and some other cronies were arrested and jailed for infiltrating U.S. gov’t offices, including the IRS, and stealing documents damaging to the CoS. The Mormons have their secretive Strengthening the Members Committee.
-The CoS grossly bloats its membership census and claims some 8 million members worldwide. Insiders who have defected from CoS estimate that there are approx. 55,000 Scientologists in the U.S. plus some 19,000 worldwide. The Mormon church’s dubious membership claims have been discussed at length here.
-The CoS is highly secretive about its finances. Ditto the LDS church.
-The CoS claims to be an altruistic organization donating funds for charitable causes but most likely only a miniscule percentage of its annual revenue is actually contributed. Ditto the LDS.
-The CoS’s goal is to convert the entire world to its belief system in order to save mankind. Ditto the LDS.
-Only after YEARS of paying substantial sums of money for auditing, courses, books and tapes can a member attain the highest “OT” (Operating Thetan) levels (currently I thru VIII) of Scientology. It is at level OT III that the story of Xenu and the thetans, mentioned above, is revealed and the member is sworn to keep this sacred tenet secret.* Likewise, Mormons must pay tithing and be found worthy to enter the temple and take out his/her endowment and swear to keep these rituals secret.
* Save yourself $100,000! Read all about Xenu here! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenu-
Scientologists who have attained the OT III level [given knowledge of the Xenu space opera] are forbidden to discuss it with ANYONE, even their own spouse even if that spouse is also an OT III. Likewise, Mormons are forbidden to discuss the temple goings-on with anyone, even other TR holders.
-OT III level Scientologists are forbidden to mention the name “Xenu” or to acknowledge that the galactic overlord figures in their cosmology and are instructed to LIE by categorically denying that such a belief is part of their church. [In a recent interview, a highly placed CoS official chuckled and blandly stated that the Xenu account is NOT part of their beliefs].
-The “deeper doctrines” of both the CoS and the LDS are kept secret from outsiders because, frankly, they are bizarre and downright silly. And, more importantly, both sects rely on members to pay out lots of $$ before the “inner secrets” of the cult are revealed.
-Naïve members of the CoS who have not yet achieved the super-secret OT levels deny the Xenu story and claim it is made up by enemies of the church. Blinkered Mormons deny that Joseph Smith had more than one wife, that there were blood oaths in the temple, the Adam-God doctrine, blood atonement, etc. and claim these are lies made up by enemies of the church.
-The Xenu story invariably surfaces to embarrass the Scientologists just as polygamy and sacred underpants cause chagrin to the Mormon church.
-In 1998 the CoS furnished computer software to its members ostensibly to aid them in making their own websites that would connect to the church’s website when in truth and fact, the software contained a censorship program to block access to sites critical to the CoS, especially the dreaded www.xenu.net (also known as the “Operation Clambake” site) maintained by a Norwegian named Andreas Heldal-Lund. The Mormon hierarchy constantly harps upon the evils of the Internet, encourages the use of its “net nanny” and restricts access to certain websites from BYU computers.
-Both the CoS and the LDS are terrified of the information on the Internet about their respective organizations.
-The CoS is obsessed with public image and employs/has employed the public relation powerhouse Hill and Knowlton to help shed its bizarre fringe-group image. Ditto the Mormon church.
-The CoS is fiercely litigious, zealously guards its copyrighted material and sues with little provocation (although to my knowledge, it has not sued anyone for either revealing the super-secret Xenu story or breaking their BILLION year employment contract with the Sea Org because, c’mon, that would be just TOO EMBARASSING to trot out in a courtroom!). Though litigious, the LDS church is an amateur in this area compared to the CoS.
-The CoS teaches that all illness is psychosomatic* and treatable with auditing ($$$), vitamins, exercise and by undergoing a Purification Rundown (more $$$$). Hearing about the many instances of "annointing with oil" and "priesthood blessings" being credited for miraculous healings, even when antibiotics and other beneficial medications are prescribed is pretty typical for most Mormons , who take the stance of feeling 'blessed' whenever some illness or accident occurs, because the "priesthood" power is available to them, and only them.
*Of course, those who have attained OT III level know that illness is REALLY caused by those pesky Body Thetans* .
The CoS’s ecclesiastical kangaroo court is called a “Committee of Evidence” (or “Comm Ev”) where a member is tried for breaches of ethics (i.e., being “out-ethics” *) and the outcome is pretty much pre-determined. Just like a Mormon disciplinary court (court of love).
* For more examples of bizarre Hubbard-speak, see this glossary of Scientology terms: http://www.xenu-directory.net/glossary/glossary_a.htm
-Scientologists, especially members holding an OT level, must periodically undergo Security Checks (“Sec Checks”) by an auditor who asks probing questions such as,
“What crimes have you committed?”
“Have you had disloyal thoughts about L. Ron Hubbard?”
The results of these “sec checks” are noted in a member’s file. (Remember, too, that the member is holding the infamous “e-meters” in his hands and his emotions are registering on the dial being observed by the auditor). This procedure is akin to the worthiness interviews that Mormons are subjected to.
-Scientologists (OT III’s) attribute bad feelings and disturbances to Thetans* still clinging to their minds/bodies. Mormons blame it on loss of the spirit or the presence of Satan.
-Scientologist shills calling themselves “ministers” try to recruit new members. 19 year old mormon boys calling themselves “elders” try to recruit new members.
-Scientologists believe they are enlightened and superior to non-believers and disparagingly refer to them as Meatballs, Bashers, and Wogs. Ditto for Mormons although without the name-calling.
(Mostly the LDS refer to non-members as "Gentiles" even though that term is commonly used for anyone not of Jewish descent. The reasoning for this is that Mormons believe they are "adopted" into a tribe of Israel when they become members, and they are told which "tribe" they belong to when they receive a 'patriarchal blessing')
-Scientologists are known to aggressively stalk and badger members who have left the church in an effort to coerce them back in. Ditto Mormons.
-When a person leaves the cult or expresses any doubt about it, the CoS issues a formal “declare” deeming that person as an “SP” (Suppressive Person). The family and friends of that “SP” are frequently ordered to “disconnect” from the “SP” which means that all ties are permanently severed. Thus, the CoS completely destroys the fabric of family and friendships to keep the SP from contaminating any other members.
The Mormons have their way of shunning apostates, too, but not in such a draconian manner. They have two types of disconnection with members who do not conform---disfellowship, which mainly limits the amount of participation of the offending member, such as not partaking of the sacrement on Sundays, or being able to offer a prayer or give a talk, and excommunication, which requires up to a year of demonstration that the offending member has repented and is fully compliant with whatever requirements the local ecclesiastical leaders come up with in order to be reinstated. They will have to be rebaptised, and re-endowed, and follow through a strict regimen of showing 'contrite spirit' and sufficient 'broken-heartedness" in order to regain these "blessings". The big threat of non-compliance is the belief that your spouse and children may be assigned to a more worthy member of the LDS faith in the afterlife, and you will loose your permanent place in the family without the temple recommend that allows you access to their rituals and their signs and tokens necessary to "cross-over" into the Celestial World. As you might imagine---there is significant pressure placed upon each member to stay in line and maintain their beliefs, or face loosing the respect of their own family, even spouses and children are encouraged to leave the "apostate" behind in search of a more worthy companion.
-The writings of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, are considered scripture, incontrovertible and unchangeable. However, the contents of Hubbard’s earlier books have been subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, altered in current editions. Plus, “new” writings of the deceased Mr. Hubbard are still conveniently being found! The Book of Mormon, which should be dubbed the most CORRECTED book on earth, has had many changes. Plus, some speeches, articles, etc. by Mormon authorities have quietly been withdrawn from websites and apparently sent down the “memory hole.” Brigham Young's bizarre teachings (such as Adam-God theory, Curse of Cain, Blood Atonement, Plural Marriage, and men inhabiting the Sun) are found in the Journal of Discourses, which can be read here.
-All of Hubbard’s writings and speeches have been preserved and encased in titanium capsules and stored in underground vaults outside of Trementina, New Mexico. Likewise, the LDS church stores genealogical records and Mormon arcanain vaults in Little Cottonwood Canyon on the outskirts of SLC.
-CoS members are required to confess their past, including crimes, misdeeds and sexual conduct, to an auditor who notes these details in a “confessional folder” that is supposedly kept confidential (more on this below) much like a Mormon bishop keeps files on members which may also contain sensitive information.
-L. Ron Hubbard was rabidly homophobic, considered masturbation to be a great evil and held that sex is only to occur between married people. Ditto the LDS. Hubbard argued that homosexuals should be segregated from the rest of society and institutionalized to prevent their illness from spreading to the rest of the population.
In “Dianetics,” Hubbard defines homosexuality as “sexual perversion.”[As an interesting sidebar, in 1998, one Michael Pattison filed suit against the Church of Scientology, John Travolta and 21 others for fraud alleging that the CoS claimed it could “cure” Mr. Pattison of his homosexuality. Mr. Pattison alleged that the sect used John Travolta as an example of a homosexual who was "cured" by the CoS but after 25 years in the church and spending $500,000.00, Mr. Pattison was still gay. This parallels the Mormon church’s stance that programs like Evergreen can “cure” a gay person.]
-The CoS has two sets of standards: one for its celebrity members and one for the rank and file as evidenced by the lavish “Celebrity Center” in Los Angeles where stars are coddled. What other “church” has a special sumptuous facility for celebs only? Further, Tom Cruise committed a serious breach of Scientology ethics by having pre-marital sex resulting in the birth of his child 7 months before his marriage to Katie Holmes but you can bet he was not called before a “Comm Ev.” Likewise, on RfM we’ve read about members of “Mormon royalty” or those with connections to the Mormon hierarchy who get away with transgressions that no ordinary Mormon would.
[As another sidebar, it is RUMORED that John Travolta only stays in the Church of Scientology because the confidential contents of his confessional folder will be leaked to the public if he leaves. His file purportedly contains information pertaining to his two year relationship with a male porn actor].
Scientology cannot be called a "cult" if the Mormons are called a "church".
They are so similar in organization and attitude, and have equally bizarre belief systems that are gradually imparted upon new members (milk before meat), that to segregate them and call one "cult" but not the other is definitely a case of pot calling the kettle black.
Mormons: do you see yourselves as others see you? Are you willing to look at yourselves from a Non-Mormon perspective?
Friday, March 16, 2007
The first scriptural definition of what exactly is tithed, was given by Joseph Smith in his inspired translation (“Joseph Smith Translation” or “JST”) of Genesis 14 (about 1830, see D&C 37:1), which included new verses. Verse 39 states: “Wherefore Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him MORE THAN THAT WHICH HE HAD NEED.” (Emphasis added.) Abraham paid tithes on the amount "more than that which he had need".
Franklin D. Richards explained the meaning of SURPLUS as it appeared in verse 1 of D&C 119: "I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop" Let us consider for a moment this word 'SURPLUS.' What does it mean when applied to a man and his property? SURPLUS CANNOT MEAN THAT WHICH IS INDISPENSABLY NECESSARY FOR ANY GIVEN PURPOSE, BUT WHAT REMAINS AFTER SUPPLYING WHAT IS NEEDED FOR THAT PURPOSE. Is not the first and most necessary use of a man's property that he feed, clothe and provide a home for himself and family! . . . WAS NOT 'SURPLUS PROPERTY,' THAT WHICH WAS OVER AND ABOVE A COMFORTABLE AND NECESSARY SUBSTANCE? In the light of what had transpired and of subsequent events, what else could it mean? CAN WE TAKE ANY OTHER VIEW OF IT WHEN WE CONSIDER THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH IT WAS GIVEN IN FAR WEST, IN JULY, 1838? "I have been unable in studying this subject to find any other definition of the term 'SURPLUS,' as used in this revelation, than the one I have just given. I find that it was so understood and recorded by the Bishops and people in those days, AS WELL AS BY THE PROPHET JOSEPH HIMSELF, WHO WAS UNQUESTIONABLY THE ABLEST AND BEST EXPONENT OF THIS REVELATION." (Emphasis added, Franklin D. Richards, Nov. 6, 1882. JD 23:313.)
- The church handbook does not state any percentage to be paid in tithing. I will try to find the excerpt.
- You do not have to pay tithing directly to your bishop. For privacy reasons the church will allow tithing payments to be mailed to the COB. They DO NOT report the dollar amount to your bishop. They only notify your bishop that you have paid tithing. So when you go to tithing settlement or are asked if you pay a full tithing you can answer yes and they have no way to question the amount. You can pay just a dollar a month. It is up to YOU to decide if you are a full tithe payer or not.
The transcripts of April 2005 General Conference talks are available online from the Church's own website here. One particular talk titled: Tithing--a Commandment Even for the Destitute, is particularly revealing when it comes to the attitude of the Church in regards to the poor. Elder Lynn Robbins had this to say:
Among those who do not sacrifice there are two extremes: one is the rich, gluttonous man who won't and the other is the poor, destitute man who believes he can't. But how can you ask someone who is starving to eat less? Is there a level of poverty so low that sacrifice should not be expected or a family so destitute that paying tithing should cease to be required?[I can't even BEGIN to tell you how pissed off this makes me feel]
One reason the Lord illustrates doctrines with the most extreme circumstances is to eliminate excuses. If the Lord expects even the poorest widow to pay her mite, where does that leave all others who find that it is not convenient or easy to sacrifice?
No bishop, no missionary should ever hesitate or lack the faith to teach the law of tithing to the poor. The sentiment of "They can't afford to" needs to be replaced with "They can't afford not to."
One of the first things a bishop must do to help the needy is ask them to pay their tithing. Like the widow, if a destitute family is faced with the decision of paying their tithing or eating, they should pay their tithing.