Mark Hofmann

Posted by: Andee / Category: , ,

When I was little I remember hearing a lot about Mark Hofmann on the television news. I even think I was home sick one day from school when he almost accidentally blew himself to bits and pieces in his own car. For those who don't know much about Mark Hofmann and his forgeries, here is a quick flashback...

Mark Hofmann was a dealer of historical documents. For the longest time he had a great and honest reputation with those who did business with him. Unfortunately, his spending habits got out of control and he decided he would sell forgeries in order to curb his debts.

It's pretty much common knowledge to everyone in Utah and faithful Mormons everywhere that the church has all sensitive documents locked away in a vault. These documents can not be seen by the general public, nor can faithful temple-going Mormons see the items in the vault. These are things that the church only views through select Church historians.

Hofmann had the opinion that if he were to "find" documents that would hurt the church in some way, like put down the character of Joseph Smith, or talk of his occult practices with the same type of seer stone he used to "translate" the Book of Mormon. He knew the church would want these documents for themselves, so they could lock them away somewhere... so they could hide them. He was right.

Hofmann leaked to the media that he had found historical Mormon documents both to inflate the price of the documents and to somewhat force the church into admitting parts of his history that had been whitewashed for the longest time.... for instance, the fact that Joseph Smith used a seer stone at all wasn't known and talked about openly until recently.

He had many meetings with Gordon B. Hinkley, who would later become a prophet, and deals were negotiated through private buyers as to not make it obvious that the church was buying these documents itself. If I remember correctly, the church would give money to someone, that person would buy the document, and then the person would donate the document to the church. That way the paper trail seemed clean and it didn't look like the church was covering anything up.

Mark Hofmann created "The Salamander Letter," to sell to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The letter was a complete forgery, but made to look like a letter written by Martin Harris to W. W. Phelps. Rather than being led to the plates by an angel, however, Joseph Smith discovered the location of the plates through use of a seer stone (the same stone he used to locate buried treasure on various farmers' lands during his "money-digging" days, and which he later used to translate the golden plates), and upon reaching the place, there was a white salamander in the bottom of the box in which the plates lay. This salamander transformed itself into an 'old spirit,' struck Joseph three times, and made him unable to retrieve the plates at that time.

Believe it or not, the Mormon Church thought this letter was 100% authentic and bought it in the round about way listed above. They were concerned that the general public would learn these things about Joseph, and wanted to keep them hidden.

Mark Hofmann's lies eventually caught up with him when he didn't have "the McLellin Collection" ready. The McLellin Collection supposedly had papers, letters and journals written by William McLellin, a former apostle under Joseph Smith Jr. McLellin knew Joseph Smith's character very well, and it seems as if the church was concerned of some of the things McLellin said about dear old Joe.

Kathleen Sheets, an innocent victim.

Since the forgery wasn't ready, and in October of 1985, Hofmann placed a homemade bomb in the way of Steve Christensen and Kathleen Sheets. They were both killed. Christensen was a bishop at the time, and was the liaison between Hofmann and the church leaders. Sheets actually had nothing at all to do with the forgeries, but Hofmann wanted it to look like an ex-employee murdered the two as some sort of revenge. It might have worked up until he accidentally set of another homemade bomb in his own car. So much for that plan, huh?

The Scene of Hofmann's Car Explosion

Here is the kicker--gets me every time. The McLellin Collection was already owned by the church. They bought it in 1908 and had been in the archives the entire time.

Hofmann was a bad man who murdered innocent people for money. Yes, he is the true enemy here and I am not saying any different.

L-R Mark Hofmann, Eldon Tanner, Spencer Kimball, Marion Romney, Boyd Packer, Gordon Hinkley


What gets me every time is how the church talks about the general authorities and prophets having the power of discernment. The photo above shows Hofmann on the left, Spencer Kimball, the prophet at the time, and Gordon B. Hinkley, a future prophet on the right. How is it that the many, many leaders of the church who were involved in this never saw this for what it was? A giant forgery? Why wasn't God notifying the prophet at the time? His general authorities? Why? Why wouldn't God have wanted to stop Hofmann before he murdered two innocent people who had nothing to do with the forgeries?

Because God doesn't speak to them. They don't have any super powers of any priesthood. If they did, wouldn't their powers be telling them something was up? Yes, it would.