Sunday, August 13, 2017

Some thoughts for those who question

Before getting into my post proper, I would like to draw my reader's attention to the title of the blog. Up until now it was titled: From the Office of Tarik LaCour. But, I came to think of the name as boring and decided to search for another name. I settled on Realism with a Human Face, which is the name of a book by one of my favorite philosophers, Hilary Putnam. He passed away a year ago, and I think of this as a way to honor him. That book in particular has had profound influence on me, and I encourage all to read it. In addition, several thinkers that I respect have also named their blogs after famous books or essays (Kelli Potter-Protocol Sentences, Daniel C. Peterson- Sic et Non), so I am following their lead in a sense.

Hilary Putnam, one of my philosophical idols


Now on to my post. As you know, I have been doing a series of rebuttals to the claims made in Letter to a CES Director by Jeremy Runnells. The series I started is not yet complete; the next instillation will be a guest post by my friend, Neal Rappleye, on the Kinderhook Plates, an issue on which he is something of an expert. I look forward to hearing his response, and I am sure that you will like it as well. His recent presentation at the FairMormon Conference was fantastic.

However, this post is not a response to the letter. Rather, this post is for those people who have read the letter and left the Church, those who have read it and have questions, and those who have not read it but nonetheless have questions.

First, questioning is a good thing. It is a sign that you are thinking about issues and that they are important to you. Without questions, we would never get answers. Likewise, doubt and skepticism are also good things. They are a sign of curiosity and independent thinking. Having said that, it is not good to have questions, doubts, or have a skeptical attitude without also a willingness to search for answers. This is one of my main criticisms of the CES Letter because the author brings up questions but does not address anyone who answers them. For example, when he talks about the Book of Mormon archaeology and anthropology, he never addresses the work of Brant Gardner or John Sorenson. He treats it as though it does not exist, which is sign of not taking the subject matter seriously. While his asking questions are fine and welcome, his acting as though there are no plausible answers is very troubling. Do not follow that example. Study arguments on both sides, weigh the evidence, make a decision, and go from there.

Second, your questions deserve to be answered. It does not matter if the question is a small one or a large one; if the question is sincere, an answer should be given. Keep in mind that a perfectly acceptable answer is "I don't know." In science, that is an answer we often give because when we make a new discovery, new questions immediately emerge and it takes time to get answers. Having said that, just because one person does know an answer to a certain question does not falsify an idea or a theory. There are many puzzles to be solved in evolutionary biology for instance; that does not show the theory of evolution to to be false. Keep asking until you get an answer, and be skeptical of anyone who thinks your question is not valid. I repeat, if the question is sincere, it deserves to be answered.

Last of all, do not think of those who are orthodox believers as your enemies. In truth, we are in the same boat as you are. I myself have many questions, but I am confident that they will eventually be answered because my other questions have been. I also have many acquaintances and friends who have left the Church, and I realize that the reasons they left were sincere rather than cop-outs. However, questions or lack of belief are not reasons to end a friendship. If you were my friend as a believer, you will be one as a non-believer.

In closing, if you have questions, ask. If you find the answers unsatisfactory, continue to question and search. I am confident that there are answers to all or most questions. If you feel you have to leave, do not lose the good things that the Church has taught you. And know that you have my full support regardless of your choice. Keep the faith!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Friday Traditio: A.J. Ayer

Logic is one of the five main branches of philosophy (aesthetics,epistemology, ethics, and metaphysics being the others). Like all branches of philosophy,  it has evolved over time.
The term "logic" is often used in our vernacular, but most people do not know that logic in the philosophical sense is very much like mathematics. Why is this important to the layman? Because in the United States we rank low in mathematics, and mathematics is the foundation of logic. If you are not very good mathematics, you are unlikely to be a very logical thinker, which will have profound impact on your life and on the lives of others.

This weeks traditio features A.J. Ayer, author of Language, Truth & Logic and other books discussing the development of modern logic in respects to two men: Gottlob Frege and Bertrand Russell.


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lesson from Moses

This morning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released and excommunicated Elder James J. Hamula of the First Quorum of the Seventy (the press release can be read here). The article does not specify why the action was taken, but it does note that Bro. Hamula was not excommunicated for apostasy or disillusionment, so we can be hopeful that he will repent and come back into full fellowship with the Church in the coming years.

At this time, many will be curious as to why this action was taken. May I remind all interested that these matters are private and are none of our business. As the article pointed out, general authorities are not held to a higher standard than other members in matters of discipline, so we can guess that if Bro. Hamula had been the average member of the Church, he would have been excommunicated for the same actions.

Moses sees the promised land, but does not enter


There is a lesson in all of this, however. Recall with me the closing chapters of the book of Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible. The prophet Moses has just finished retelling the children of Israel all that had happened in their journey through the wilderness, and all the Lord had done for them; in particular he reminded them that the Lord had been merciful with them when he had wanted to destroy them in the past (Exodus 32:9). What happens next is very telling. Moses turns the people over to Joshua, and then hikes a mountain. He sees all of the promised land, but he is not permitted to enter. Why not? Because he was not obedient to the Lord when he told to speak to a rock so that it would provide water for the people; he struck the rock instead (Numbers 20:12-13).

Why is this relevant to what happened today? Because it shows that no one, not even a man as great as Moses, can avoid punishment for crimes against the Lord. The lesson we should take from the stories of Moses and Bro. Hamula is that we are all vulnerable and can make mistakes that can cost us dearly. However, as President Thomas S. Monson has said in a recent conference "There is a way back. That process is called repentance." (Dare to Stand Alone, October 2011 Conference Report)

I would like to extend to Bro. Hamula my full support and prayers, and I hope that he will find himself among us in the near future. God bless you brother. Know that you are loved.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Friday Traditio: Richard Swinburne

In today's world, where we see an increase of moral relativism everywhere, it is perhaps not so shocking that the same sort of thinking seeps into the Church. Take the issue of same-sex marriage for example. Because many of us, especially the youth, know someone who is homosexual (I know several myself, including a family member), many come to think that perhaps the practice is fine and that prophets, both ancient and modern, exaggerated its significance. I am not sure why this particular issue is now gaining so much acceptance among Mormons and Christians, but many I know (though not all, to be clear) see almost no problem with it and are infuriated when leaders of churches hold firm in their condemnation of the practice. Recently, an instructor at BYU-Idaho was terminated for posting on Facebook that she thought that homosexuality was normal and therefore not a sin. On the first part she was absolutely correct. Homosexuality is natural and is not a choice. This does not mean that homosexual sexual activity is therefore not a sin. Lying, fornication, and stealing are also natural; we have evidence of all of them in most civilizations. But that does not make them moral.
Richard Swinburne, Emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford

Speaking on this issue and other ethical issues from a Christian point of view is Richard Swinburne, emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Oxford. After giving this speech at the Society of Christian Philosophers, Swinburne was attacked by University of Notre Dame professor, Michael Rea, via Facebook in the following statement:

I want to express my regret regarding the hurt caused by the recent Midwest meeting of the Society for Christian Philosophers. The views expressed in Professor Swinburne's keynote are not those of the SCP itself. Though our membership is broadly united by way of religious faith, the views of our members are otherwise diverse. As President of the SCP, I am committed to promoting the intellectual life of our philosophical community. Consequently (among other reasons), I am committed to the values of diversity and inclusion. As an organization, we have fallen short of those ideals before, and surely we will again. Nonetheless, I will strive for them going forward. If you have thoughts or feedback you would like to share with me, I would welcome hearing from you via email or private message.
I find it pretty radical that a Christian professor at a Christian university would attack a fellow Christian philosopher for teaching Christian ideas. Professor Swinburne deserves a formal apology from Professor Rea for his nonsense.

At any rate, Professor Swinburne clearly articulates Christian sexual behavior in this video, and I invite all to listen to and heed his message.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review of "What We Wish We'd Known When We Were Newlyweds"

While I have been married for six months, I recently realized that my wife and I had never read a book on marriage together. I thought this was significant considering that on my side of the family, many marriages and relationships had failed and I did not want our eternal relationship to suffer the same fate. Therefore, I suggested that we read a book about being newlyweds together. Since we are both fans of John Bytheway, we were intrigued by the book that he co-authored with his wife Kimberly: What We Wished We'd Known When We Were Newlyweds. Luckily, thanks to there insight, we learned things that will greatly benefit us as we go through our first year of marriage on to eternity.


The book is short, less than 150 pages and divided into eight chapters. It talks about some of the most awkward parts of marriage (the honeymoon) as well as many of the practical areas of marriage (finances, courtship, forgiveness). The Bytheways have a way of teaching a principle not only in a clear, understandable manner, but also in a light-hearted and funny way. A good example of this is when they talk about marital intimacy and make the remark that "men are like microwaves, women are like crockpots." As a person who never had the birds and the bees conversation with my parents (I did not hear the term until I was 18), that taught me alot.

The most significant aspect of the book (and one that can be found in every chapter) is that marriage is work and takes time to perfect. We all want our marriage to be like our wedding day; beautiful and photo-worthy. Well, a wedding is a one day event and marriage is for eternity. There will be bumps, bruises, tears and heartache along the way; that is simply part of the human condition. But, if we put as much work into our marriage as we do into planning our wedding, both can be beautiful and worth it in the end. Like all good things in life, a strong marriage cannot be had without great effort and patience.

Whether you are a newlywed, preparing for a scheduled marriage, or are preparing to prepare to schedule a marriage, this book is for you and your perspective partner. This short book can get your marriage off to a strong start, and I cannot recommend it enough.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Friday Traditio: Richard Lyman Bushman

In September of this year, I will celebrate eight years of church membership. I had the opportunity last night to share my conversion story (albeit very briefly) with my stake president. As I look back on it, one of the main reasons for my conversion was the Prophet Joseph Smith. His story and teachings touched my heart and soul in a way that no one had at that time and no one else has since. I was shown by many non-Mormons all (or at least many) of his flaws. Through it all, I retained my testimony (and still do) that God and Jesus of Nazareth appeared to him in the Sacred Grove, that he organized the modern Church of Jesus Christ under their direction, and that the doctrines he taught (especially in his latter life) are true. This was not just a supernatural thing. As I think about his teachings as a philosopher, they still show themselves to be logically coherent and answer many of the traditional questions in the philosophy of religion (existence of God, problem of evil, fate of the -un-evangelized etc) in a way that not even someone like Thomas Aquinas could (a philosopher for whom I have the deepest respect). If no one else will say it (and there are millions who will) I will say it: For all the flaws that he had, and they were numerous, Joseph Smith was not only a prophet, but one of the greatest men who ever lived.

Joseph Smith, the Prophet of the Restoration


Having said that, I am painfully aware that many members of the Church are not aware of some of the activities that the Prophet was involved in (treasure seeking, multiple accounts of the First Vision, plural marriage, etc). When they hear about these things, they wonder how such a flawed man could be called of God, and sadly many members leave the Church after becoming aware of these things. John Dehlin recently wrote on his Facebook that some people had mentioned to him that they had a testimony of who Joseph Smith truly was (which is laughable, because if they did they would not have left the Church).

One of the best resources that the modern Church has is Richard Lyman Bushman, author of the landmark book Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling and a current patriarch. I am convinced that no one (or if any, very few) knows more about Joseph Smith than does Bro. Bushman, and yet he is one of the Prophet's staunchest advocates. I ask my friends who have left the Church over what they have learned of the Prophet the following questions: Is it possible that Bro. Bushman knows more than you do about Joseph Smith's activities, character, and life? If so, is it possible that there is something that you missed and that you are looking beyond the mark(to borrow a phrase from the Book of Mormon)?

In this weeks traditio, I invite my readers to watch as Bro. Bushman talks about his landmark book and some of the concerns people have about what he wrote. Member or non-member, you will enjoy this.


Sunday, July 23, 2017

Understanding Apologetics

A week ago today I posted the ninth installment in the CES Letter series. After sharing it on Facebook, the author of the CES Letter, Jeremy Runnells, commented that LDS Apologists were making his point in the CES Letter and that we should keep it up since we were leading more people out of the Church than we were keeping in (he gave no statistical data to give evidence for the point he was making, so take that with a grain of salt).

The terms "apologetics" and "apologist" are often thrown around by anti-Mormons as a sort of pejorative term, one that deems those who write about LDS issues as apologizing or explaining away objections that are seen as substansial.

This is a misunderstanding of the term. The term "apologetics" comes from the Greek word "apologia" which means "to give a defense." So, an apologist is anyone who defends a particular point of view; since all people have beliefs and opinions they will defend occasionally we are by definition all apologists. Thus, characters like Runnells and John Dehlin are apologists just like their alleged enemies Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen Smoot.

Further, it is worth pointing out that many LDS apologists point out both sides of the story and are trained in the area that they write about  (John Gee is a trained Egyptologist and John Sorenson is a trained anthropologist for example). Runnells simply dismisses these people rather than engaging with them, and so he shows himself to be a bad apologist for anti-Mormonism.
In short, the next time someone calls you an apologist,  flash them a smile and say "So are you."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Answering Letter to A CES Director #9

Before I start my counterargument in this edition, I would like to thank Stephen Smoot and Brian C. Hales for their help during this series (Smoot wrote #7 and Hales wrote #8). Both are men of great understanding and great faith. In respect to Smoot, few people know as much about the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and early Mesopotamian and Egyptian culture, while still having faith that the two former books are of ancient date and point to the authenticity of the Prophet Joseph Smith's divine mission. I am also convinced that no one knows as much about Joseph Smith's plural marriages as does Brian Hales, and few people have as strong a testimony of the Prophet as he does. His Joseph Smith Polygamy series is one that should be in all Mormon homes so we can have a better understanding of what plural marriage was, what it was not, and how to move forward from there.

After discussing plural marriage for several pages, Letter to A CES Director moves on to pinning the words of past prophets against living prophets, something Ezra Taft Benson warns about in his landmark talk Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet. He uses the examples of the Adam-God theory, blood atonement, plural marriage, blacks and the priesthood, and Mark Hoffman to bolster his thesis that prophets cannot be trusted because they have contradicted each other.

Before getting into the particulars of what Runnells has mentioned, a quote from the Prophet Joseph Smith would be very helpful here:
This morning I read German and visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that "a prophet is always a prophet;" but I told them that a prophet was a prophet only when acting as such. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 286)

This quote is often used but sadly often forgotten. Everything that comes out of a Prophet's mouth is not the mind and will of the Lord. Prophets are humans, and humans have opinions on things that may be wrong; we all do. If a prophet does not say "Thus saith the Lord" or take up an idea for a sustaining vote, then he is offering his opinion which is not binding on the Church. That is not to say that the prophet cannot give advice that is useful that is non-binding on the church; often he and those sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators will. However, not everything that a prophet says has scriptural stature. B.H. Roberts, a former member of the Presidency of the Seventy, made this point when he said:
"Relative to these sermons [Journal of Discourses] I must tell you they represent the individual views of the speakers, and the Church is not responsible for their teachings. Our authorized Church works are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church very wide latitude is given to individual belief and opinion, each man being responsible for his views and not the Church; the Church is only responsible for that which she sanctions and approves through the formal actions of her councils. So it may be that errors will be found in the sermons of men, and that in their over zeal unwise expressions will escape them, for all of which the Church is not responsible.” (Letter written November 4, 1887, London, Millennial Star 49. 48 (November 28, 1887)
There are many wise things in the Journal of Discourses, Conference Sermons, BYU addresses and the like; I and others are often uplifted by what we hear and read in these speeches. But, there is no doctrine of infallibility in this Church, errors can and do happen. We would do well to remember that if an idea is not in scripture or sustained as binding on the Church, then it is an opinion and nothing more.

Brigham Young, Lion of the Lord


The Adam-God theory is an idea that reoccurs often in Anti-Mormon literature; the only thing that occurs more are the ideas of eternal progression and plural marriage. In several sermons, Brigham Young talks about the station of Adam, who we know from modern revelation was also Michael, the Archangel. In one sermon he states that Adam is "our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do." President Young also incorporated this idea into the temple endowment ceremony, but it was removed soon after his death. This view was controversial in President Young's administration, as apostles Orson Pratt and John Taylor repeatedly said that there was no evidence for the idea (Pratt had to be censured by Young before he would stop denying it), and the idea was never sustained as binding on the Church by common consent. Thus, there is and never was an "Adam-God doctrine" only an "Adam-God theory". The idea was also rejected by President Spencer W. Kimball and Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who labeled the theory a "deadly heresy".

It is not clear entirely what President Young meant by this theory. He only spoke of it a few times, and at other times he seemed to contradict the view that Runnells is accrediting him. Even if Brigham Young did believe the doctrine as Runnells is describing, this would only prove what the Prophet Joseph Smith and B.H. Roberts stated previously; that men who lead this Church at times have erroneous ideas and that a prophet is not infallible. So, whether President Young believed the theory or not is of little consequence or interest.

Blood atonement is next mentioned IN short, blood atonement is the teaching that certain sins go beyond the atonement of Christ and a persons blood should be shed if they commit them and to have any chance at redemption. Brigham Young did teach this idea and the idea capital punishment; there is no question in my mind about that. And once again, the teaching was never sustained by common consent. President Young's ideas are not much different from the ones enunciated by Christ himself when he said that some sins were beyond forgiveness (Matt 12:31-32). Considering that Brigham Young claimed to be a special witness of the said Christ, it only makes sense that he would be in agreement with his teachings. Runnells' real problem seems to be with the principle of the atonement itself rather than Brigham Young's teachings on the issue. There are many different theories on the atonement (Compassion, Moral, Penal Substitution, Ransom for example) of which Brigham Young's is only one.

As mentioned previously, Brian Hales did a post on plural marriage in this series which can be found here. I would like to address a quote that Runnells borrows from Brigham Young that is popular in anti-Mormon tracts: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter
into polygamy." It would seem based on this quote that men must be polygamists in order to receive exaltation, a belief still held by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, this is not the entire quote. Here is the full quote in context:
Now, we as Christians desire to be saved in the kingdom of God. We desire to attain to the possession of all the blessings there are for the most faithful man or people that ever lived upon the face of the earth, even him who is said to be the father of the faithful, Abraham of old. We wish to obtain all that father Abraham obtained. I wish here to say to the Elders of Israel, and to all the members of this Church and kingdom, that it is in the hearts of many of them to wish that the doctrine of polygamy was not taught and practiced by us. It may be hard for many, and especially for the ladies, yet it is no harder for them than it is for the gentlemen. It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at least in your faith, or you will come short of enjoying the salvation and the glory which Abraham has obtained. This is as true as that God lives. You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: “We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character, and office, etc.” The man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory. The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy. Others attain unto a glory and may even be permitted to come into the presence of the Father and the Son; but they cannot reign as kings in glory, because they had blessings offered unto them, and they refused to accept them. (Journal Of Discourses 11: 268-269)
We can see from the quote in its entirety that Brigham Young was not saying that plural marriage had to be entered into in order to go the celestial kingdom, but rather that you had to accept that principle and any other principle the Lord revealed in order to be admitted to that kingdom. Runnells' representation of the quote is plainly dishonest.

The issue of Blacks and the Priesthood is of course near and dear to my heart (I have written on it recently here) as a black Latter-day Saint, and suffice it to say that there is no evidence that the policy came by revelation, though it was ended by revelation. Having said that, I have come to believe that this line of argument is a red herring. The policy is of no interest unless a person affirms that the LDS Church has unique priesthood authority and that the president of the Church holds the keys of that priesthood. Otherwise, who cares if the Church does not give its non-existent power to men of color or anyone else? It is a non-issue because there is no such power.

The case of Mark Hoffman has to do with artifacts, not revelation. The Church, like any other organization, wants to own artifacts related to its history, and assuming that Hoffman had such artifacts they would of course want them. Not being linguists or archaeologists, they were fooled by forgeries. It was an honest mistake, which could happen to anyone. Ancient prophets were also fooled, such as Joshua when the Gibeonites fooled him and escaped being slain in battle (Joshua 9:3-15)

Finally, Runnells mentions to the term "Follow the Prophet." I refer the reader to President Benson's talk mentioned earlier, but with a caution. The term "Follow the Prophet" is a catchy slogan, but it is incomplete. The term should be "Follow the Prophet as he follows and points to Christ." We do not literally follow the prophet around the Earth, or believe his every opinion is binding on us. However, we recognize that he is the only person who can speak for the Lord in everything, has the keys of the priesthood, and the person who has the right to direct the affairs of the Church. We would do well to pray for him and listen to his counsel, but also be aware that everyone can make mistakes and that we will have to revise our view of things (even on major issues) from time to time.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Friday Traditio: Sharon Eubank

When I took the class Philosophical Issues in Feminism taught by my friend Shannon Mussett, it gave me alot to think about. In fact, not a day goes by now that I do not think of issues relating to women and how they are treated. Unfortunately, we did not talk much about women and religion during the class, although the issue did show up on the periphery.

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that all are equal in the eyes of God (2 Nephi 26:33). However, some have felt that this is untrue since the LDS Church does not ordain women to its lay priesthood. Some, such as Margaret Toscano, have argued that the early Church did ordain women to the priesthood and it is a sign of apostasy that the Church no longer does this.

From my examination of the evidence, I don't think a case can be made that Joseph Smith, Jr. ordained women to the priesthood, and I also believe that priesthood is not something that can be demanded (Numbers 16). That being said, if the president of the Church had a revelation to extend the priesthood to women as well as men, then I would sustain the revelation. But, as the lead-up to the 1978 priesthood revelation showed us, that can only happen when the Lord commands it to. No amount of rallying and screaming will make a revelation come faster. I would also like to be clear that I am not advocating for a revelation of this sort. I am merely saying that I would not oppose a revelation if it did come. I am prepared to go to my grave with situation as it is.

You do not have to have the priesthood to receive the blessings of the restored gospel or to make a difference in the Church. Sharon Eubank, now 1st counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, makes the case for his plainly. Enjoy.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Friday Traditio: Stephen C. Meyer

This past week, I was discussing the concept of Intelligent Design (I.D.) with my wife. Knowing that I am an ardent Darwinian, she asked whether I thought that evolution was a guided process or a purely random, naturalistic one. This sort of question highlights how many people do not understand what evolutionists are arguing. Mutation is random, evolution is not. Mutation is random because when it happens there is no guarantee it will aid in an organisms survival. However, evolution is not random; it is what organisms must do in order to survive. Also, evolution does not rule out design or belief in God. As Charles Darwin himself said "It seems to me absurd to doubt that a man may be an ardent Theist & an evolutionist." (Letter to John Fordyce)

The theory of Intelligent Design argues that purely natural forces are not enough to explain the complexity of biology and cosmology, so there must be some sort of intelligence behind it. Problem is, that takes I.D. out of the realm of science. This intelligence is not falsifiable, so it cannot be considered scientific.

However, as a theist, I do believe in intelligent design (it is lower-cased on purpose). I believe that God created the universe (or more particularly, formed it out of pre-existing material), and thus I believe life is intelligently designed. But, that cannot be proven scientifically; it is a matter of faith and non-scientific reasoning.

That being said, I also believe in allowing others to speak for themselves. One of Intelligent Design's strongest advocates and most eloquent spokesmen is Stephen C. Meyer, head of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. He is the author of two best-selling books about Intelligent Design, Signature in the Cell and Darwin's Doubt. In this lecture, he outlines the arguments of the latter book and why he thinks Neo-Darwinism is a defective theory. I leave it to the listener to decide if he is successful.



Friday, June 23, 2017

Friday Traditio: W. Paul Reeve

Mormonism has had a very uncomfortable relationship with race, especially with African-Americans. They are not unique in this regard; most religions in America have had some sort of problem with a race, sex, or nationality. Religion may (sometimes) come from heaven, but its adherents will deal with the same problems as its non-adherents.

We may sometimes think that we know all about an issue, but then come to find that what we thought we knew was just a small portion of the information that was available. On the issue of race and the priesthood, no one is more knowledgeable on the issue than my friend W. Paul Reeve, professor at history at the University of Utah and author of the landmark book Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. In this video he shares his findings, and you are in for more than a few surprises.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017

John, really?

I have long ceased to be impressed with John Dehlin, if I was ever impressed in the first place. Why so many people follow him and support him is beyond me. But, who am I to tell John or his followers what to do with their time? Moving on.

John looking like he is doing something


Yesterday, John wrote a new post on his blog discussing how certain core doctrines have been abandoned in the modern LDS Church. I will respond to each.

First, John mentions that the gift of tongues is no longer practiced in the LDS Church. It is true to say that certain aspects of the gift are not openly practiced (I would not go so far to say it is not practiced at all, beyond my observational scope), but to say it is not practiced at all is silly. Part of the gift of tongues is the ability to comprehend and speak other languages; thousands of missionaries show every day that this gift is still alive and well.

Next, John mentions that the Church does not talk about the Second Coming and the millennium and both are not emphasized as much as they were in the early days. However, this is not really as new as John makes it out to be. In the early days, Saints lived in a millenialist culture where most Christians believed the end was near. But, after that generation passed the emphasis calmed down. Elder Bruce R. McConkie, according to his son Joseph F. McConkie, often said the Second Coming would not happen in his lifetime. No one knows when the Lord's return will happen, and it is not wise to be focused solely on it when God wants us to live for the future.

The concept "Zion" means multiple things in the scriptures, but John wants to redact it simply to mean living the law of consecration here and now. Had John taken his temple covenants seriously, he would know that in some ways we still live the law of consecration (although not fully). Also, John seems to think that the Church has renounced the belief that Zion will be built on this continent (that would be news to me). Zion will be built when we are ready, sadly we are not yet. Hugh Nibley reminded us vividly of that.

John goes on to attack the Book of Mormon, stating that the early Saints thought it talked about the Indians, and the Church recently changed its stance on that. Problem is, the text does not say the book is written to Indians; that was an interpretation that Saints of the time gave of the text, a metatext as anthropologist, Daymon Smith, writes in his first volume of A Cultural History of the Book of Mormon. The cover page of the Book of Mormon makes it clear that the book is written to all people, not just the remnant of the house of Israel:

Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is the Christ, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ. (Book of Mormon Title Page)
The topic of becoming like God has not been abandoned at all; the Church recently released an essay on the topic and the concept is also taught in the temple. So, this claim is patently false.

Dehlin concludes by saying that prophet, seers, and revealtors, do not manifest any of the gifts. How he knows that, he doesn't say. True, the church has not canonized a revelation since 1978 (Dehlin says 1918, 60 years out of date), but John is guilty of equivocation to assume that because a revelation is not canonized that revelation does not exist.

Many of these claims are made in anti-Mormon tracts that you find on street corners when you attend General Conference. With a PhD in psychology, you would think Dehlin would be better than a street preacher. But, as always, Dehlin disappoints and shows that in the third year of being an excommunicant he still has not grown up. Get over yourself John.


Review of "More than the Tattooed Mormon"

I had been interested in the story of Al Carraway ever since I saw her on the cover of LDS Living ( a magazine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). She stood out because of her many tattoos (although after reading her book she would not care to hear that), and I knew that something was different about her. So, when I saw her book More than the Tattooed Mormon on Amazon, I jumped at the chance to read it, and I am glad that I did.



The book is divided into two sections and starts off with Al telling her story, which outlines her childhood and growing up in upstate New York, meeting LDS missionaries, her journey to the state of Utah, trying to fit in as a new convert, and her marriage to her husband Ben. The second section is a quasi-coaching section, one that is focused more on the reader than on Al's story, though her story is mixed into showing how a principle works.

Several things stand out about this book. First, Al is a thorough-going optimist, and that comes through every page of the book. Even when she describes some of her darker moments, such as being rejected by her family and friends after her conversion to the LDS Church (thankfully not forever), you can still tell that she is smiling through the tears.

While Al is an optimist, she is still a very real person, admitting her weaknesses and fears to her readers. For example, she mentions that she often yelled at God when she was frustrated with how things were going in her life (she is much braver than I am, I couldn't yell at God). Also, she talks openly about being a sort of social outcast after coming to Utah due to her tattoos. As a black member of the LDS Church, I too know that some members (luckily not most) can be insensitive and make you question whether joining the Church or moving to Utah were big mistakes. Luckily, she knew what she wanted and was able to push through it.

There is one flaw in her book, and that flaw is ironically the strength of the book. As I mentioned, Al is an optimist, and we can see why through reading her book; while she had many struggles, in the end it all worked out. Her family has become friendly with her, people began to accept her, she got married, and she is now somewhat of a celebrity. I am glad that this happened, but I would remind her that this does not happen for everyone. Some families turn their backs forever, some are eternal outcasts, and some die alone. While optimism has a place and is a virtue, so are skepticism and pessimism, because reality lies there most of the time. However, Al does point this out in the end, but it is done very briefly and it could have been discussed more.

Overall, Al's book is worth the read and your spirit will be uplifted. You will find yourself laughing, crying, smiling, and having more hope in the future by the time you finish the book. I look forward to Al's next book which will be released in the fall, Cheers to Eternity.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Review of "Ethics: A Very Short Introduction"

Ethics is one of the five main branches of philosophy, with logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and aesthetics being the others. However, whether one is interested in philosophy or not, most people are interested in ethics because it is something they think about in there everyday lives (one could argue that the other four branches are used daily as well).

Simon Blackburn, former Bertrand Russell professor of philosophy at Cambridge University, takes the casual reader into the deep waters of ethics in his book Ethics: A Very Short Introduction. As the subtitle implies, the book is merely an introduction, and a brief one at that. However, it fulfills its role well and gets the reader to ponder the deeper meaning of how we should treat each other and how we ought to live.



At the beginning, Blackburn presents what he thinks are seven of the greatest challenges to having a productive conversation about ethics : The death of God, relativism, egoism, evolutionary theory, determinism and futility, unreasonable demands, and false consciousness. Each of these challenges could result in a book-length text itself, so Blackburn is able to go over them only summarily. However, I would point out that from time to time Blackburn only shares one side of the argument rather than presenting both sides, so he violates the principle of charity. For example, he uses the Euthyphro dilemma to show that morality cannot proceed from God. However, he does not give any of the counter-examples to the Euthyphro dilemma, such as that God by his very nature is good, so the dilemma would be rendered irrelevant. Having said that, Blackburn for the most part is fair and balanced when talking about these issues.

After dealing with these seven problems, Blackburn moves on to meta-ethics, which is asking the question of what the foundation of ethics is. Here Blackburn covers sentimentalism (the belief that the foundation of the ethics is feelings), deontology (the belief that foundation of ethics is duty to others) and utilitarianism (the belief that utility or happiness is the foundation of ethics). Blackburn shows how some of the greatest philosophers (Hume, Kant, Mill) have held to these views, but just presents them with their problems without saying which of the three is preferable (although those familiar with Blackburn's work will know he is a Neo-Humean).

Overall, this book is a satisfactory introduction to ethics, but not a perfect one. Blackburn could do a better job at defining terms and being more objective by keeping his own opinion out of it. But, since there is no such thing as a perfect introduction, this one is more than satisfactory. Blackburn is also a wonderful writer, so even if one disagrees with his conclusions you will still be hooked to his beautiful prose.

Review of "Islam and the Future of Tolerance"

Anyone familiar with Sam Harris will know that his claim to fame has been in his criticism of religion and in his indirect founding of the New Atheism which came on the scene after his first book The End of Faith: Religion Terror and the Future of Reason. Harris has been particularly critical of Islam, saying that its doctrines are incompatible with the modern world. So,when he sat down with Maajid Nawaz and co-authored Islam and the Future of Tolerance, those familiar with his work had good reason to be skeptical that there would be much tolerance in the book since his other books have been particularly intolerant.

Maajid Nawaz is a completely different guy than Harris. A former Islamist, Nawaz spent several years in Egypt as a prisoner where he had an awakening, both politically and spiritually. After being released from prison, he renounced Islamism and became a secular Muslim (a Muslim who does not want Sharia law imposed on the world, but still a believer in the religion). He wrote a memoir, Radical, and established a think-tank to counter terrorism known as Quilliam. In short, Nawaz began his life in intolerance, but is now an outspoken proponent of tolerance. Knowing that he would be a more than adequate intellectual opponent for Harris, I thought this had the makings of a good bout, and I was not disappointed.


The book begins, and it is in dialogue format throughout, with Harris recalling that he first encountered Nawaz when Nawaz was debating former Muslim and critic of religion Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In the debate, Ali took the side that Islam was a religion of violence, while Nawaz took the side that Islam was a religion of peace. After the debate at a dinner, Harris asked Nawaz if he was being honest when he said he believed that Islam was a religion of peace. Nawaz answered that he was and that he would be happy to discuss the matter with Harris further at a later time.

Nawaz then briefly recaps his story of being an Islamist and then becoming a secular Muslim. He also distinguishes and defines Islam, Islamism, and Jihadism. According to Nawaz, Islam is a religion, and religions are a set of ideas so they are neither peaceful nor violent necessarily (though certain interpretations of them can be). Islamism is the desire to impose certain reading or teachings of Islam on society at large. Jihadism is the desire to impose Islamic teachings on society by force. So, all Jihadists are Islamists, but not all Islamists are Jihadists; Nawaz himself was a Islamist but because he never used force to accomplish his aims, he was not a Jihadist.

After clearing up the definitions, Nawaz states that there is no absolute way to interpret scripture, so no one can be absolute about their religion. Since there is no absolutely correct way to interpret scripture, this will lead to pluralism about scripture, which will in turn lead to secularism and humanistic values. If this happens, and it can according to Nawaz, then Islam can find its place as other religions have in a modern, secular world.

Harris, who does most of the listening, is not as optimistic as Nawaz about this. He reiterates things he said in other books by repeating that it is simply impossible or very unlikely to reform something as long as scripture is respected because while some may reform there will always be those who can say that it is fine for other people to interpret scripture as they choose. He states that some people will choose to interpret it in an Islamist or Jihadist way, so the problem will always be there. Nawaz agrees that this can be a problem, but recalls the Golden Age of Islam and points out that Islamism and Jihadism are modern phenomena and that the past shows that Muslims can in fact be tolerant. Harris retorts that Islam was imposed and spread from the start by violence, even by the Prophet Muhammad (may peace be upon him). Nawaz does not disagree with this, but points out that there have been eras where Islamism and Jihadism were not significant problems, so it is possible for Muslims to assimilate.

The book ends with Harris and Nawaz agreeing that the battle to save the world from Islamism and Jihadism must be fought on multiple fronts. For starters, we cannot be afraid to say, as former U.S. President Barack Obama was, radical Islam. If we are fighting against something, we need to be very clear what it is we are fighting against. Second, we cannot exclude Ex-Muslims and non-Muslims from the fray; we are all in this together. Third, we must all regard pluralism and secularism as the end goals. If everyone can share these values, then there is a chance we can win this fight. In the end, this is a war of ideas, and the secularists have better ideas than the Islamists and the Jihadists.

The book is well-written and shows thoughtful, informed conversation on both sides. In short, this book is itself a testament of what we are looking for; those of different faiths or no faith at all sharing a seat at the table and talking about their differences openly and clearly with no thought of violence, i.e pluralism and secularism.

I do have one criticism of the book, and it is aimed at Nawaz. He states several times that there is no correct reading of scripture, and this is not a view that many religious people will accept. While we may not always agree all the time about a given passage, that does not mean that the passage is therefore meaningless. This is an appeal to mysticism, and the Abrahamic religions in particular shun mysticism (though there Sufism does embrace mysticism). It would be better to say that there are things in religious texts that are not compatible with western society, but that these need to be taken in context of the times. We need to do careful exegesis in order to get to the bottom of what a text is saying. It is simply erroneous to say that there is no correct way to read texts, and believing that will not lead to pluralism, secularism, or tolerance. Good argument and a willingness to listen lead to those values.

We are going to be dealing with Islam, violence, and the conversation of how to be tolerant for the rest of our lives. Harris and Nawaz' book is a good start in talking about how to have that conversation and evidence that it can in fact be done. I recommend this book to Muslim and non-Muslim because we must solve this problem if the human race wants to live in a tolerant manner.


Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday Traditio: Stephen Smoot

When talking about the Book of Mormon, critics often say that there is no historical or archaeological evidence that the book is what it claims to be; a record of a fallen people on the American continent. John Dehlin said several years ago on his Facebook page that pointing out this "fact" did not make a person anti-Mormon, just pro-science. Very interesting considering that Dehlin has no training in Near Eastern Studies, linguistics, archaeology, or natural science. But, that is John Dehlin for you, opening his mouth and nothing interesting coming out of it.

However, my good friend Stephen Smoot does have such training, especially in Near Eastern Studies and in Egyptology (he is currently pursuing a Masters in the latter subject) and in this brief video he talks about some of the evidences for the Book of Mormon. He does so so in classic Smoot fashion, clearly and with an air of humor. I hope you all enjoy it, you have not seen the last of Stephen Smoot.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Response to Salt Lake Tribune Article Concerning LDS Race Relations

Today, the Salt Lake Tribune released an article about race relations and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is not surprising, given that the revelation on priesthood came 39 years ago. But rather than just reporting what happened on the day of the revelation, the history of blacks in the Church, or problems about the ban itself, the article gave a list of things that would improve race relations in the Church. They are as follows:

  • Cast a black Adam and Eve (or an interracial couple) in the film shown to faithful members in LDS temples.
  • Use more African-American faces in church art and manuals and display more artwork depicting Christ as he would appear: as a Middle Eastern Jewish man.
  • Pick more blacks for highly visible leadership positions — if not an apostle, at least in the general authority Seventy or in the general auxiliary presidencies.
  • Repudiate and apologize for the faith's past priesthood/temple ban on blacks, which the church lifted in 1978.
  • Show the documentary film "Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons" to every all-male priesthood quorum, women's Relief Society class and Young Men and Young Women groups.
  • Quote from the church's Gospel Topics essay "Race and the Priesthood" regularly at LDS General Conference and translate it into all the languages that the church uses to communicate with its global membership.
  • Direct that the essay be read from the pulpit in every Mormon congregation and mission in the world.
  • Have the Book of Mormon scripture found in 2 Nephi 26:33 — "All are alike unto God" — be a yearlong Young Women or Primary theme and make it part of the curriculum to talk about the sin of racism.
  • Bring more blacks to LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University as students and faculty, while providing sensitivity training for all students about racial issues and interactions with people of color.
  • Teach children about the heroic black Mormon lives, such as LDS pioneers Jane Manning James and Elijah Abel.
  • Invite the choir from the Genesis Group — a longtime Utah-based support organization for black Mormons and their families — to sing at General Conference.
  • Use the Genesis Group to assist in improving relationships with the African-American community.
  • Give the Genesis Group greater authority to exist in all states and to visit wards and assist lay bishoprics in how to avoid and overcome racism in their congregations.
  • Create a church-sponsored Mormon and black website akin to the one found at mormonandgay.org.
  • Treat the members of the Genesis Group's presidency as an auxiliary, seating them on the stand with other high-ranking authorities during General Conference — and invite at least one of them to speak during the sessions.
  • Provide training on racial issues for newly called mission presidents.
  • Include a mandatory class at Missionary Training Centers that teach the "Race and the Priesthood" essay so missionaries are better prepared when they go out to preach.
Alex Boye, one of the most famous Black Mormons

I shared this article on Facebook and was asked about my thoughts on the particulars of what was said, so I agreed to do so. First, before getting to the suggestions, it needs to be remembered that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to its members (of which I am one), is run by divine revelation and certain changes can only come by revelation. In particular, this relates to general authorities and auxiliary leaders. It does not matter what the color of skin the person has, what matters is that they are the type of person the Lord wants in the leadership of his church. So that sort of change would require a divine revelation, and there is no guarantee such a revelation will occur. Nor should we advocate that one should occur. If it happens, good. If not, the Church will be no more true or less true.

As far as the third suggestion, to repudiate and apologize for the ban, that would only be necessary if the Church admitted that the ban was wrong. Since the Church has not said in the 39 years since the ban that the policy was wrong, it is unclear how Church leaders feel about it. As of now, there is no evidence that the policy was inspired of God (and I personally believe it was not), but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. This too may require a revelation in order to occur. But, if it was revealed that the policy was wrong, then an apology would be in order. While some non-black members will say that an apology would be meaningless, I would remind them that they were not the ones who suffered under the policy for so many years and still suffer today. It would matter to us, so they will simply have to get over it.

Most of the other suggestions would not require revelation, just Church authorization. Casting an Adam and Eve who were non-white or mixed raced Adam and Eve would be good, as it would be a visual reminder that we do not know what the couple looked like. Pictures of Jesus that depict him as a first century Jew are more than appropriate since Jesus clearly was not European. 

The Church topics essays, of which many Church members are ignorant, should definitely all be read; how that should happen is open for debate. A website is unnecessary, the essay on this issue provides plenty of material in its footnotes that a person can research if they are interested. Since the Genesis Group is run by the Church, they can work on the suggestions together.

I am unaware what training mission presidents receive, but I am sure their awareness of this issue is sufficient that they would tell missionaries to present the Gospel Topics essay to investigators. Missionaries should definitely be taught about the Gospel Topics essays as part of their training since many of the questions they will encounter from investigators are represented in those essays.

When it comes to the priesthood issue, there is only an issue if a person believes that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has unique priesthood authority. If they do not, their restriction on blacks was sad but irrelevant because white members also did not have priesthood. If the Church does have priesthood, then we need to trust those with priesthood keys as we have covenanted to do. 


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Answering Letter to A CES Director # 8

This post was written by Brian C. Hales
Pages 31 to 36 of The Letter to a CES Director (abbreviated The CES Letter) discuss Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding plural marriage. Due to the many inaccuracies and repetitions in those six pages, I will respond by giving a general overview of plural marriage and then include an appendix that provides a point-by-point response to specific claims found in The CES Letter.

Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: An Introduction

Joseph Smith may have learned that Old Testament polygamy may sometimes be an acceptable practice to the Lord as early as 1831.[i] Three years later Joseph reported that an unidentified angel appeared commanding him to practice plural marriage.[ii] What followed was the eventual unfolding of the ancient practice of patriarchal Old Testament polygamy among select Jacksonian LDS Nauvoo Saints and the eventual widespread practice among members in territorial Utah.
While the timing is uncertain, it appears Joseph Smith’s first polygamous marriage occurred in 1835 or early 1836.[iii] At that time, he wed Fanny Alger with Levi Hancock performing the ceremony using priesthood authority.[iv]  The plural union could not have turned out worse for the Prophet because both his legal wife Emma and Associate Church President Oliver Cowdery rejected the legitimacy of the marriage, and Fanny was sent away.
During the Kirtland Temple dedication proceedings, Joseph reportedly received a visitation from an angel, the Old Testament prophet Elijah, who bestowed authority to seal marriages for eternity (D&C 110:16).  Uncharacteristically, the Prophet left that authority dormant, not using it to seal any marriage, monogamous or polygamous, for five years. 
The first sealed marriage and the first Nauvoo plural union was solemnized on April 5, 1841, by Joseph B. Noble between Noble’s sister-in-law, Louisa Beaman, and the Prophet.[v]
During the next year most of Joseph Smith’s plural sealings were to legally married women in non-sexual, eternity-only sealings. These placed Joseph as the woman’s husband in the next life, but not on earth, where she remained married to her civil spouse.[vi]
It appears Joseph sought these types of celestial sealings to satisfy the angel’s command and also because they would be less bothersome to his legal wife Emma.[vii] Reportedly, the angel returned in early February of 1842, brandishing a sword and instructing Joseph to enter full plural marriages.[viii]
On April 9, 1842, Joseph proposed to a previously unmarried woman in Nauvoo, the first since his sealing to Louisa Beaman over a year earlier.[ix] Thereafter, his plural sealings included primarily previously unmarried women.
Understanding the chronology of early polygamy is complicated by the arrival of John C. Bennett to Nauvoo in the fall of 1840.[x]  Bennett, a known adulterer, continued his immoral ways and was eventually exposed and excommunicated.[xi]  Some say he was a confidante of the Prophet, but in October of 1843, over a year after leaving Nauvoo, Bennett wrote in a letter to the Iowa Hawk Eye, admitting that he never learned about “marrying for eternity,” monogamously or polygamously, while in Nauvoo.[xii]  


It is likely that Emma accepted plural marriage in early 1843 and participated in four sealings in May involving the Lawrence and Partridge sisters.[1][xiii]  Emma always struggled with polygamy and on July 12, 1843, Joseph dictated a revelation, now D&C 132, designed to convince her to accept the practice. Its message was direct, almost harsh, and Emma resisted. A few months later, she softened somewhat and served with Joseph administering temple ordinances to worthy members. During the final eight months before the Prophet’s death, their public life was completely monogamous.
Most of the men and women introduced to celestial plural marriage in Nauvoo accepted the teachings. The notable exception is William Law, Second Counselor in the First Presidency. Law nearly entered into plural marriage.[xiv] But once he had decided to reject it, he became Joseph’s bitter enemy. He launched a new paper, The Nauvoo Expositor, which spoke of polygamy. Joseph and the Nauvoo City Council deemed it a “nuisance” and had it destroyed. Illinois Governor Ford believed the destruction was unlawful and summoned Joseph to Carthage, where he was killed. Polygamy wasn’t openly acknowledged as a primary factor, but it appears to have been one of the major issues that contributed to the Joseph’s demise.  
This brief history describes the introduction of polygamy among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is true that Joseph Smith practiced it and that no valid plural marriage ceremonies can be performed without the approval of the “one” man holding the sealing keys. The “one” man is President Monson today and he is not permitting such unions. Consequently, this is strictly a historical consideration for current members of the Church.
The author of The CES Letter claims he was betrayed because these details were not taught to him in Sunday School.[xv] He has taken the position they were “hidden from” him by the church. Yet, it is obvious that he still does not understand what actually happened. Whether his misunderstanding is the result of a superficial investigation or a willingness to believe highly biased antagonistic reports, is less clear. That his personal convictions concerning the church’s teachings have been swayed by these misrepresentations is unfortunate.


APPENDIX
The Letter to a CES Director’s treatment of Joseph Smith’s polygamy is remarkably unbalanced, redundant, and sometimes rambling. It is apparent that its author has embraced a few impressions that were mentioned over and over within the six pages. Below are responses to all of the concerns, although a few of the redundant claims (and their responses) have not been repeated. Excerpts from The CES Letter are represented in red with responses in black.
Polyandry: Of those 34 women, 11 of them were married women of other living men.
By my count, Joseph was sealed to 35 women and 14 of them may have had a legal husband.[xvi] Of the 14, two (Mary Heron and Lucinda Pendleton) are too poorly document to discern what kind of sealing occurred (if any), and Sarah Ann Whitney’s legal ceremony resulted only a “pretend marriage.”[xvii] That leaves 11, which all appear to be non-sexual, “eternity only” sealings. Several of these women could not be sealed to their civil husbands because those men were not active Latter-day Saints. The reasons the other women chose Joseph Smith for eternity is unclear. Lucy Walker remembered Joseph’s teaching:  “A woman would have her choice, this was a privilege that could not be denied her.”[xviii]
Among them being Apostle Orson Hyde who was sent on his mission to dedicate Israel when Joseph secretly married his wife, Marinda Hyde.
Two sealings dates for Joseph and Marinda Hyde are available in the historical record. The earliest date is a year after Orson Hyde left on his mission to Palestine. “Apr 42,” is written by Thomas Bullock on a blank page at the back of Joseph Smith’s journal.[xix]  A second more reliable date of “May 1843” is found on an affidavit signed by Marinda, five months after Orson returned home.[xx] Of the other thirteen women, none of their legal husbands are documented as being on missions on the dates of their sealings to the Prophet.
Church historian Elder Marlin K.  Jensen and unofficial apologists like FairMormon do not dispute the polyandry. The Church now admits the polyandry in its October 2014 Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay.
This is false. There is no credible evidence that a woman in Nauvoo believed she could—have or ever did have—two genuine husbands at the same time. Church leaders have not stated or otherwise implied that true polyandrous relationships occurred or would have been sanctioned.
Out of the 34 women, 7 of them were teenage girls as young as 14-years-old.
According to available documents, Joseph Smith was sealed to four 19-year-olds, three 17-year-olds, one 16-year-old, and two 14-year-olds.[xxi]
Joseph was 37-years-old when he married 14-year-old Helen Mar Kimball, twenty-three years his junior.
Helen was sealed to Joseph Smith when she was fourteen, but he did not seek that union—it was arranged by her father, Heber C. Kimball.[2]  Strong evidence indicates the sealing was not consummated.[xxii] Decades later in Utah, Helen was the most prolific voice defending Joseph Smith and the practice of plural marriage.[xxiii]
Even by 19th century standards, this was shocking.

This is false and an example of presentism. Marriages to fourteen-year-olds were eyebrow-raising, but not “shocking.”
Among the women was a mother-daughter set and three sister sets.
Joseph was sealed to women that he already knew, that were in his immediate circle of friends and acquaintances. Benjamin F. Johnson, a close friend of the Prophet, remembered:  “In talking with my mother… he [Joseph Smith] told her that when the Lord required him to move in plural marriage, that his first thought was to come and ask her for some of her daughters; and I can now understand that the period alluded to was at Kirtland, where she had three unmarried daughters at home.”[xxiv] Joseph did not marry strangers. That these women may have been related is unremarkable.
Several of these women included Joseph's own foster daughters.
Little is known about Joseph’s sealings to Sarah and Maria Lawrence beyond the fact that Emma Smith participated in the ceremonies. Neither Sarah nor Maria neither left any negative statements concerning the unions even though Sarah later left the Church.
Some of the marriages to these women included promises by Joseph of eternal life to the girls and their families,
This is false. While Helen wrote in 1881 that Joseph said: “If you will take this step, it will ensure your eternal salvation and exaltation and that of your father’s household and all of your kindred,”[xxv] two years later she admitted: "I confess that I was too young or too 'foolish' to comprehend and appreciate all” that Joseph Smith then taught.[xxvi] Other members of Helen’s “father’s household” who were present did not recall such a promise. Their lives after the sealing, demonstrates that they did not believe that Helen’s eternal marriage to Joseph had ensured their own “eternal salvation.”[xxvii]
threats of loss of salvation,
This is false. No credible reports exist that Joseph Smith threatened a woman with of a loss of salvation if she decline a plural proposal. When Sarah Granger Kimball rejected Joseph’s discussion of plural marriage, “He said, ‘I will not cease to pray for you, and if you will seek unto God in prayer, you will not be led into temptation.’"[xxviii] We only know about this because Sarah later mentioned it. Joseph never spoke of it.
and threats that he (Joseph) was going to be slain by an angel with a drawn sword if the girls didn't marry him.
This is false. Joseph never told a woman that he’d be “slain” if they turned him down. Zina Huntington remembered: “He [Joseph Smith] sent word to me by my brother, saying, ‘Tell Zina I put it off and put it off till an angel with a drawn sword stood by me and told me if I did not establish that principle upon the earth, I would lose my position and my life.’”[xxix] This recollection is sometimes conflated and misrepresented.
A lot of members don’t realize that there is a set of very specific and bizarre rules outlined in Doctrine & Covenants 132 (still in LDS canon despite President Hinckley publicly stating that polygamy is not doctrinal) on how polygamy is to be practiced.
D&C 132 speaks of exaltation and eternal marriage, two of Joseph’s zenith teachings. The last two sections of the revelation address plural marriage. But I find no “set of very specific and bizarre rules” regarding polygamy there or any other doctrine.
The only form of polygamy permitted by D&C 132 is a union with a virgin after first giving the opportunity to the first wife to consent to the marriage. If the first wife doesn’t consent, the husband is exempt and may still take an additional wife, but the first wife must at least have the opportunity to consent.
This is false. D&C 132:61–63 describe one acceptable way (of several) to enter into eternal plural marriage. But claims that those verse describe the only way are in error.
In case the first wife doesn’t consent, she will be “destroyed”.
Being “destroyed” means that they will not receive exaltation. See D&C 17:4.
Also, the new wife must be a virgin before the marriage and be completely monogamous after the marriage or she will be destroyed (D&C 132: 41 & 63). It is interesting that the only prerequisite that is mentioned for the man is that he must desire another wife: “if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another...” It does not say that the man must get a specific revelation from the living prophet, although we assume today that this is what was meant.
This is false. D&C 132:61–63 does not describe the only way valid plural marriages may be contracted. For an eternal marriage to be valid, it must be performed by the authority of the “one” man holding the priesthood keys (vv. 7, 18, 19). He would not grant permission if he felt it was inappropriate to do so. Freelance marriages arising from a man’s “desires,” as stated in the CES Letter, would “not be valid, neither of force” (v.18).
D&C 132 is unequivocal on the point that polygamy is permitted only “to multiply and replenish the earth” and “bear the souls of men.”
This is false. D&C 132 specifies four reasons for the practice of plural marriage: 1. To multiply and replenish the earth (v. 63). 2. As part of a restoration of all things (vv. 40, 45). 3. As a specific trial (v. 51). And 4. To allow all worthy individuals to be sealed so they may become eligible for exaltation (vv. 16–17). Otherwise they “remain singly and separately, in the saved condition, to all eternity.” This is the most important.
Unions without the knowledge or consent of first wife Emma.
We do not know when Emma learned of Joseph Smith’s plural marriage teachings and polygamous wives. There is no record of him lying to her about this. Emma, who obviously knew the details of their own relationship, stayed true to Joseph throughout their lives right up to the martyrdom.
Unions without the knowledge or consent of the husband, in cases of polyandry.
This is false. “Polyandry” is multiple husbands, which was never authorized in Nauvoo. We know very little regarding the eternity-only sealings of married women to the Prophet. These were not polyandry.
A union with a newlywed and pregnant woman (Zina Huntington).
This was an eternity-only sealing. Zina later related: “I was sealed to Joseph Smith for eternity. . . I was married to Mr. Jacobs, but the marriage was unhappy and we parted.”[xxx]
Dishonesty in public sermons, 1835 D&C 101:4, denials by Joseph Smith denying he was a polygamist,
This is false. Joseph was not being “dishonest” when he said: “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” Outwardly, Joseph only had one wife. He never publicly acknowledged his plural wives in any way. He never introduced them in a public setting as his wives.  Legally, Joseph only had one wife. He did not commit bigamy because none of the plural marriage ceremonies invoked legal authority. So as he was openly addressing the congregation that day, only one wife was legally recognized and only one wife had ever been publicly acknowledged. And that wife was Emma.
Joseph’s destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor that exposed his polygamy and which printing press destruction started the chain of events that led to Joseph’s death.
This is an overstatement. Joseph was Mayor and supported the action, but the Nauvoo City Council voted to destroy the press.
Marriages to young girls living in Joseph’s home as foster daughters (Lawrence sisters, Partridge sisters, Fanny Alger, Lucy Walker).
This is false. Fanny Alger, the Partridge sisters, and Lucy Walker did live with the Smith family, but they were not “foster daughters.”
Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger was described by Oliver Cowdery as a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” – Rough Stone Rolling, p.323
The original statement was “dirty, nasty, filthy scrape.”  It is clear Oliver did not accept the plural marriage as valid, but evidence is strong that Fanny, her family, those who officiated, and others who knew the details did believe it was a valid marriage.
Joseph was practicing polygamy before the sealing authority was given. LDS historian, Richard Bushman, states: “There is evidence that Joseph was a polygamist by 1835” – Rough Stone Rolling, p.323. Plural marriages are rooted in the notion of “sealing” for both time and eternity. The “sealing” power was not restored until April 3, 1836 when Elijah appeared to Joseph in the Kirtland Temple and conferred the sealing keys upon him. So, Joseph’s marriage to Fanny Alger in 1833 was illegal under both the laws of the land and under any theory of divine authority; it was adultery.
This is false. We do not know when Joseph Smith married Fanny Alger as a plural wife. Joseph reported that in July of 1834 an unidentified angel commanded him to practice polygamy. Some have speculated that the marriage may have been after April 3, 1836 and could have been a sealing. What we do know is that it was not discovered until a few weeks after the Kirtland Temple dedication.[xxxi] If the plural ceremony occurred prior to April 3, priesthood authority could have ratified a time-only plural marriage that unquestionably would have been recognized by God (according to Joseph’s teachings). The Prophet and other ordained elders used priesthood authority to perform monogamous marriages recognized by the government and the Lord. The state of Ohio would not have recognized a plural marriage, but if God commanded it and priesthood authority was used, it would be fulfilling His expectations.
Also, verse 63 states that if the new wives are with another man after the polygamous marriage, they will be destroyed. Eleven of Joseph’s wives lived with their first husbands after marrying Joseph Smith. Most of them lived on to old age. Why weren’t they “destroyed”?
Being “destroyed” is not earthly destruction, but spiritual destruction. Paul gave a similar example: “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Corinthians 3:17).
How about the consent of the first wife, which receives so much attention in D&C 132? Emma was unaware of most of Joseph’s plural marriages, at least until after the fact, which violated D&C 132.
According to available records, Joseph did not received this principle (D&C 132:61) in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1835. Regardless, Emma rejected his plural marriage to Fanny Alger the following year so he would not have been required to seek Emma’s consent later in Nauvoo. As stated above, D&C 132:61–63 is not the only process through which a valid plural marriage can be contracted.
I've been asked once by an LDS apologist if I would be okay with Joseph Smith's polygamy and polyandry if I received a witness that God really did command Joseph Smith to participate in these practices. The question is not if I would “be okay with” God commanding Joseph Smith to secretly steal other men’s wives and to marry underage and teenage girls. The question is “Do I believe that God did such a thing?” The answer, based on comparing D&C 132 to what actually happened, along with my personal belief that there is no such thing as an insane polygamist god who demanded such sadistic, immoral, adulterous, despicable, and pedophilic behavior while threatening Joseph’s life with one of his angels with a sword...is an emphatic and absolute “no.”
This is a rather dramatic and inaccurate portrayal. The author of The Letter to a CES Director is entitled to his opinion, but this paragraph is very problematic. “Secretly steal other men’s wives”? I think this is the fourth reference to polyandry, a relationship that did not occur in Nauvoo and would have been condemned by Joseph Smith if anyone had tried to practice it. “Pedophilic behavior”? I’ve learned that anyone who uses the word “pedophile” to describe Joseph Smith’s behavior is either uninformed or seeking to misrepresent reality or both. A “pedophile” is someone sexually interested in children up to age 11 and has no application to Joseph Smith. “Sadistic” is defined as “Cruel, barbarous, vicious, brutal, callous, fiendish, cold-blooded, inhuman, ruthless, heartless; perverted.” This seems over-the-top and nonsensical. Does the CES Letter author apply this condemnation equally to Old Testament polygamists Abraham and Jacob? Joseph’s behavior was not “sadistic.” None of his plural wives ever accused him of any form of abuse, including the seven that left the Church. It seems that accusations like this take us far afield from transparency and accuracy.
The secrecy of the marriages and the private and public denials by Joseph Smith are not congruent with honest behavior. Emma was unaware of most of these marriages. She certainly did not consent to most of them as required by D&C 132. The Saints did not know what was going on behind the scenes as polygamy did not become common knowledge until 1852 when Brigham Young revealed it in Utah. Joseph Smith did everything he could to keep the practice in the dark. In fact, Joseph’s desire to keep this part of his life a secret is what ultimately contributed to his death when he ordered the destruction of the printing press (Nauvoo Expositor) that dared expose his behavior in June 1844. This event initiated a chain of events that led to Carthage.
The idea that Joseph Smith kept plural marriage “in the dark” is false. Secrecy was attempted regarding the actual marriage ceremonies and relationships, but teaching the principle was done cautiously. The goal was that worthy Church members were introduced to the principle in a way that did not teach gospel meat to those who needed gospel milk (D&C 19:22). For example, Cyrus Wheelock described his introduction: “We would go out in the timber to talk under the trees about the principles of the church, amongst other principles that of baptism for the dead was discussed and the building of the temple and all those things together.  It was at this time, amongst others, that he taught us the principle of plural marriage, but his teaching was not specially directed to me, but to all who were in the company.  We talked about it as we might here or any brother qualified and having authority to do so will discuss principles when he gets along with his brethren in friendly and confidential discourse.”[xxxii]
Consider the following denial made by Joseph Smith to Latter-day Saints in Nauvoo in May 1844 – a month before his death:
"...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, Chapter 19, p.  411
It is a matter of historical fact that Joseph had secretly taken over 30 plural wives by May 1844 when he made the above denial that he was ever a polygamist.
[Repeated from above: Joseph was not being “dishonest” when he said: “What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” Outwardly, Joseph only had one wife. He never publicly acknowledged his plural wives in any way. He never introduced them in a public setting as his wives.  Legally, Joseph only had one wife. He did not commit bigamy because none of the plural marriage ceremonies invoked legal authority. So as he was openly addressing the congregation that day, only one wife was legally recognized and only one wife had ever been publicly acknowledged. And that wife was Emma.]
The following 1835 edition of Doctrine & Covenants revelations bans polygamy:
1835 Doctrine & Covenants 101:4: “Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”
Other critics of the Church have observed that, due to technicalities in the verbiage of this verse, it might not require monogamy. RLDS Elder David H. Bays made this allegation in his 1897 book:
You may have observed the ingenious phraseology of that part of the document [1835 D&C section 101] which is designed to convey the impression that the assembly, as well as the entire church, was opposed to polygamy, but which, as a matter of fact, leaves the way open for its introduction and practice. The language I refer to is this:
“We believe that one man shall have one wife; and one woman but one husband.” Why use the restrictive adverb in the case of the woman, and ingeniously omit it with reference to the man? Why not employ the same form of words in the one case as in the other? Of the woman it is said she shall have but one husband. Why not say of the man, he shall have “but one wife except in case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.”67
In 1902, LDS Church President Joseph F. Smith made the same observation: “The declaration … that ‘one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband,’ bears the implication that a man might possibly be permitted at some time to have more than one wife.”68
These two authors took the position that the statement in the Article on Marriage could be seen as ambiguous due to the absence of a needed qualifier “we believe that one man should have [only or at least?] one wife.” Bays condemns the lack of specificity, while President Smith implied it was an intended loophole.
Whether the precise terminology was truly deliberate is unknown because Joseph Smith apparently never referred to the technical aspects of the declaration. It is possible the language was crafted by Joseph himself, since by 1835, he knew the practice of plural marriage was one of the many things he was expected to restore.69
1835 Doctrine & Covenants 13:7: “Thou shalt love thy wife with all thy heart, and shall cleave unto her and none else.”
Here we learn that a man should cleave only to a wife and never cleave to a non-wife. The issue of monogamy may be implied, but the language does not prevent polygamy.
1835 Doctrine & Covenants 65:3: “Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have one wife, and they twain shall be one flesh, and all this that the earth might answer the end of its creation.”
If this were a declaration against polygamy, the language would have needed to be different: “Wherefore, it is lawful that he should have [only] one wife.” This is similar to language in the 1835 D&C section CI.
Joseph Smith was already a polygamist when these revelations were introduced into the 1835 edition of the Doctrine & Covenants and Joseph publicly taught that the doctrine of the Church was monogamy. Joseph continued secretly marrying multiple women as these revelations/scriptures remained in force.
The narrow interpretation found The CES Letter is unjustified.
In an attempt to influence and abate public rumors of his secret polygamy, Joseph got 31 witnesses to sign an affidavit published in the LDS October 1, 1842 Times and Seasons stating that Joseph did not practice polygamy. Pointing to the above-mentioned D&C 101:4 scripture, these witnesses claimed the following:
“...we know of no other rule or system of marriage than the one published in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants.”
The problem with this affidavit is that it was signed by several people who were secret polygamists or who knew that Joseph was a polygamist at the time they signed the affidavit. In fact, Eliza R. Snow, one of the signers of this affidavit, was Joseph Smith’s plural wife. Joseph and Eliza were married 3 months earlier on June 29, 1842. Two Apostles and future prophets, John Taylor and Wilford Woodruff, were very aware of Joseph’s polygamy behind the scenes when they signed. Another signer, Bishop Whitney, had personally married his daughter Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph as a plural wife a few months earlier on July 27, 1842; Whitney’s wife and Sarah’s mother Elizabeth (also a signer) witnessed the ceremony.
These claims are misleading. The statement signed by 31 men and women was denouncing John C. Bennett’s “spiritual wifery,” and had nothing to do with celestial plural marriage. Eliza R. Snow wrote to Joseph F. Smith explaining the intent of those that signed the statement:
At the time the sisters of the Relief Society signed our article, I was married to the prophet— we made no allusion to any other system of marriage than Bennett's— his was prostitution, and it was truly his, and he succeeded in pandering his course on the credulity of the unsuspecting by making them believe that he was thus authorized by the Prophet. In those articles there is no reference to divine plural marriage. We aimed to put down its opposite.[xxxiii]
What does it say about Joseph Smith and his character to include his plural wife and buddies – who knew about his secret polygamy/polyandry – to lie and perjure in a sworn public affidavit that Joseph was not a polygamist?
On July 27, 1842, only three men (Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Heber C. Kimball) had entered into plural unions. Celestial plural marriage was not a “rule or system of marriage” within the Church. They did not “lie and perjure in a sworn public affidavit.” Such exaggerations are based upon uninformed interpretations.
Now, does the fact that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry while lying to Emma, the Saints, and the world about it over the course of 10+ years prove that he was a false prophet? That the Church is false? No, it doesn't.
Polyandry for the fifth time? Is there evidence of “lying to Emma”? Emma remained devoted to Joseph. When on June 24, 1844, Joseph left for Carthage and martyrdom, he requested that Emma accompany him.  Because of the needs of their children, she was unable to comply, but she requested a blessing from him. Harried for time, he told her to “write out the best blessing [she] could think of and he would sign the same on his return.”[xxxiv] She wrote: “I desire with all my heart to honor and respect my husband as my head, ever to live in his confidence and by acting in unison with him retain the place which God has given me by his side.”[xxxv] Immediately after Joseph’s death, family friend John P. Greene reported seeing Emma "weepig and wailing bitterly, in a loud and unrestrained voice, her face covered with her hands." He remarked, "this affliction would be to her a crown of life."  She allegedly replied:  "My husband was my crown.[xxxvi]
What it does prove, however, is that Joseph Smith’s pattern of behavior or modus operandi for a period of at least 10 years of his adult life was to keep secrets, be deceptive, and be dishonest – both privately and publicly.
It is paradoxical that individuals who know Joseph the least, like the author of The Letter to the CES Letter, claim to know things that those who knew Joseph best, apparently couldn’t see. None of Joseph Smith’s plural wives ever accused him of abuse or deception, including the seven who did not gather to Utah with the main body of the Church. Decades after their feelings had matured and their youthful perspectives expanded by additional experiences with marriage and sexual relations, none of them claimed they were victimized or beguiled by the Prophet.  None came forth to write an exposé to tell the world he was a seducing imposter.  None wrote that Joseph Smith’s polygamy was a sham or a cover-up for illicit sexual relations.  Had any of Joseph’s polygamous wives eventually decided that he had debauched them, their subsequent scorn might have easily motivated them to expose him through the pages of the anti-Mormon presses located across the expanding United States.  Numerous publishers would have been eager to print their allegations.
Similarly, none of the other 85 polygamists who had entered into plural marriage during the Prophet's lifetime wrote exposés or defaming literature accusing him of licentiousness.
For a response to the chart on page 35, click here:
For a response to the chart on page 36A, click here:
http://debunking-cesletter.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Page-36-chart.pdf


[1]
[2] Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, “Autobiography, 30 March 1881,” MS 744, CHL.  Typescript and copy of holograph reproduced in Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds., A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1997, 482–87.



[i] See “Council meeting minutes,” CR 100 318, Box 1, Folder 29, page 5, January 10 to March 24, 1845, CHL.
[ii] Mary E. Lightner to A. M. Chase, April 20, 1904, quoted in J. D. Stead, Doctrines and Dogmas of Brighamism Exposed, [Lamoni, Iowa]:RLDS Church, 1911, 218–19. See also “Record Book of Mary R. L. Rollins, MS 748, CHL; The Life and Testimony of Mary Lightner, n.p., n.d. [Salt Lake City: Pioneer Press?], 10.
[iii] See Don Bradley, "Mormon Polygamy before Nauvoo? The Relationship of Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger," in Newell G. Brighurst and Craig L. Foster, eds., The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy, Independence, Missouri: John Whitmer Books, 2010, 14–58. For the chronology of the angelic visits, see Mary Elizabeth Rollings Lightner, “Remarks” at Brigham Young University, April 14. 1905, vault MSS 363, fd 6. 2–3; Letter to Emmeline B. Wells, summer 1905, MS 282, CHL. Copy of holograph in Linda King Newell Collection, Ms 447, bx 9, fd 2, Marriott Library. See also “Statement” signed February 8, 1902, Vesta Crawford Papers, copy, MS 125, bx 1 fd 11, Marriott Library. Original owned by Mrs. Nell Osborne.
[iv] Levi Ward Hancock Autobiography with additions in 1896 by Mosiah Hancock, 63, CHL; cited portion written by Mosiah, (MS 570, CHL); Dean R. Zimmerman, I Knew the Prophets: An Analysis of the Letter of Benjamin F. Johnson to George F. Gibbs. Bountiful, Utah: Horizon, 1976, 37–38;
[v] Joseph B Noble, Affidavit, Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Book 1:38, 4:38; printed in Andrew Jenson, “Plural Marriage,” Historical Record 6 (July 1887): 221.
[vi] Andrew Jenson Papers [ca. 1871–1942], MS 17956; CHL, Box 49, Folder 16, fifth document.
[viii] Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner to Emmeline B. Wells, summer 1905, MS 282, CHL. Copy of holograph in Linda King Newell Collection, Ms 447, bx 9, fd 2, Marriott Library; “Statement” signed February 8, 1902, Vesta Crawford Papers, copy, MS 125, bx 1 fd 11, Marriott Library. Original owned by Mrs. Nell Osborne. See also Juanita Brooks Papers, USHS, MSB103, bx16, fd 13.
[ix] See Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013, 2:477–96.
[x] Ebenezer Robinson, The Return, St. Louis, vol. 1, no. 11 (November 1890) 362.
[xi] See Joseph Smith, “To the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and to all the Honorable Part of Community,” Times and Seasons, 3:839–40 (July 1, 1842).
[xii] John C. Bennett, “Letter from General Bennett,” Hawk Eye, December 7, 1843, 1.
[xiii] Partridge Young, Emily Dow, undated handwritten autobiographical statement, in Andrew Jenson Collection, Box 26, Folder 3, holograph, in ink, CHL, pages 1-2.
[xiv] Lyndon W. Cook, ed., William Law: Biographical Essay, Nauvoo Diary, Correspondence, Interview, Orem, UT: Grandin Book Co., 1994, 37.
[xv] Jeremy Runnells, Letter to a CES Director, 80.
[xvi] See Brian C. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: History and Theology, 3 vols., Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2013, 2:323–41.
[xvii] Marquardt, H. Michael. The Strange Marriages of Sarah Ann Whitney to Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet, Joseph C. Kingsbury, and Heber C. Kimball. Salt Lake City: Modern Microfilm, 1973; rev. ed., Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1982, 18.
[xviii] Lucy Walker Kimball, “A Brief Biographical Sketch of the Life and Labors of Lucy Walker Kimball Smith,” CHL; quoted in Lyman Omer Littlefield, Reminiscences of Latter-day Saints: Giving an Account of Much Individual Suffering Endured for Religious Conscience, Logan, Utah: Utah Journal Co, 1888, 46.
[xix] See Richard E. Turley, Jr. Selected Collections from the Archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Provo, Utah: BYU Press, vol. 1, DVD # 20, MS155_1_6_320.jpg.; it is written in the hand of a different scribe from previous entries on an undated page after the final entry in that journal dated July 14, 1843.
[xx] Joseph F. Smith Affidavit Books, 1:15, 4:15, CHL.
[xxii] Helen Mar Kimball was not called to testify in the 1892 Temple Lot trial. If she had been sexually involved with the Prophet in their plural marriage, her exclusion from the depositions is difficult to explain. Helen lived in Salt Lake City and had written two books defending plural marriage. In addition, Helen lived geographically closer than two of the other witnesses who were called, Malissa Lott (thirty miles south in Lehi) and Lucy Walker (eighty-two miles north in Logan). Both of these women affirmed that sexual relations were part of their plural marriages to the Prophet. Helen's diary journal for March 1892 documents that she was aware of the visit of the Church of Christ (Temple Lot) contingent, but there is no indication that they or LDS Church leaders approached her to testify. (Charles M. Hatch and Todd M. Compton eds., A Widow’s Tale, the 1884–1896 Diary of Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, 494–95.) That she would have been an excellent witness to discuss and defend the fact that Joseph Smith taught and practiced plural marriage is undeniable.
[xxiii] Helen Kimball’s first book, Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph: A Reply to Joseph Smith, Editor of the Lamoni Iowa “Herald” (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1882) was a direct response to the claims of the RLDS Church, the plaintiffs in the Temple Lot lawsuit. Her second book, Why We Practice Plural Marriage (Salt Lake City: Juvenile Instructor Office, 1840), echoed many of the same arguments.
[xxiv] Benjamin F. Johnson, My Life’s Review, Mesa, Arizona: 21st Century Printing, 1992, reprint, 94. Historian Andrew Jenson wrote that “Johnson was one of the first to whom Joseph [taught] a knowledge of plural marriage.” (Biographical Sketch of Benjamin F. Johnson, in Andrew Jenson Collection, MS 17956; Box 8, Fd. 5.)
[xxv] Helen Mar Kimball Whitney, “Autobiography, 30 March 1881,” MS 744, CHL. Typescript and copy of holograph reproduced in Jeni Broberg Holzapfel and Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, eds., A Woman’s View: Helen Mar Whitney’s Reminiscences of Early Church History, Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, BYU, 1997, 482–87.
[xxvi] Helen Mar Whitney, Plural Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph: A Reply to Joseph Smith [III], Editor of the Lamoni Iowa “Herald," 16.
[xxvii] See Helen Mar’s father, Heber C. Kimball, to Helen Mar Kimball, letter dated July 10, 1843, Heber Kimball, Journal and Letters, 39–40. On New Mormon Studies: A Comprehensive Resource Library. CD-ROM. Salt Lake City: Smith Research Associates, 1998.
[xxviii] Andrew Jenson, "Plural Marriage," Historical Record 6 (July 1887): 232.
[xxix] Zina Huntington, et. al Salt Lake Herald Church and Farm Supplement, January 12, 1895: 212.
[xxx] Biographer Oa Jacobs Cannon wrote: “Henry signed an agreement releasing Zina to the Prophet for eternity. This agreement is on file in the Salt Lake Temple. It was found by Rega Card, Zina’s grandson.” (“A Brief History of Zina D. H. Young, unpublished, Zina D. H. Young Papers, Mss SC 2184, HBLL BYU, page 12.) If such a document actually exists in the Salt Lake Temple, it would need to have been signed in the Nauvoo period, nearly forty years prior to the Salt Lake Temple dedication.
[xxxi] See Don Bradley, "Mormon Polygamy before Nauvoo? The Relationship of Joseph Smith and Fanny Alger," in Newell G. Brighurst and Craig L. Foster, eds., The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy, Independence, Missouri: John Whitmer Books, 2010, 14–58.
[xxxii] Cyrus Wheelock, deposition, Temple Lot transcript, respondent’s testimony (part 3), page 539, question 80. See also questions 107, 136, 139 and 142.
[xxxiii] Eliza R. Snow to Joseph F. Smith, n.d., Joseph F. Smith, papers, 1854–1912, CHL
[xxxiv] Quoted in Raymond T. Bailey, "Emma Hale: Wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith." M.A. thesis, Brigham Young University, 1952, 112–13. 
[xxxv] Ibid.
[xxxvi] B. W. Richmond's statement quoted in "The Prophet's Death!" Deseret News Weekly, December 8, 1875, 11; reprint from the Chicago Times.