Ummmm.... No. Not Quite. Joe didn't even have the plates in the room! No Urim and Thummin, either. Lies, lies, lies.
Yesterday I was thinking about the rollercoaster I have been on since taking the time to truly study LDS Church history. At times I have been angry, sad, happy and relieved... only to return to anger and sadness again.
I left the church and started this blog because of my ethics. I value honesty and integrity. I demand that an organization requiring honesty from me show that same honesty.
These are things that the average member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does NOT know, but SHOULD know. It is impossible for someone to make an educated decision about something as important as religion with only half the facts. Remember, it is healthy to seek out the opposite point of view.
A true religion should never have to lie, hide information, or omit things from textbooks and lesson plans.
When I went to church as a little girl I clearly remember being shown images like the one at the top of the page. Joseph Smith, depicted as a hardworking young adult who was seeking the truth, had the duty of translating the golden plates. Not once did a church leader tell me the true story of how it really happened. I can't blame them, because they don't know either! The church officials, however, know exactly what they are doing.
Sandy colored seer stone apparently used by Joseph Smith. Joseph's widow Emma passed it on to relatives of her second husband, Lewis Bidamon. (Wilford Wood Museum)
When I saw the "All About Mormons" episode of South Park in which the cartoon version of Joseph Smith translated golden plates by putting a rock in a hat I thought the writers were out of their minds.
They were right, I was wrong.
Joseph Smith didn't use the urim and thummim to translate the plates (can I mention again that there is still no proof the plates truly existed at all?) he used a rock called a "seer stone" that he found in his neighbor's well as a young boy. He previously used this rock in a hat trick to try and find buried treasure on farmland in exchange for payment, and when he didn't pull through he was taken to court. Many church officials deny he was convicted of "glass looking" while others admit that the documents exist to prove it.
"In writing for your father I frequently wrote day after day, often sitting at the table close by him, he sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us."-Emma Smith
It gets better...
The golden plates that Joseph Smith waited and waited to find and dig up were not even used in the translation. AT ALL. They were not even in the room! If Joseph Smith had a magical rock that enabled him to see glowing letters and words from God, why in the world were the plates necessary to begin with? Doesn't matter to me, because I don't believe they existed at all.
Regardless, the church is far from honest about the way they teach children and potential converts about the translation of the Book of Mormon.
It did NOT happen like this:
It happened like this:
If the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn't ashamed of how the translation supposedly occurred, why are they so dishonest about it? Why don't they mention the rock in the hat? Why don't they mention the digging for treasure?
Because it might cause you to leave the church... thats why. Learning that Joe used a stone to "translate" (he wasn't really translating) is a big fat "WHAT THE FUCK?" moment.
For more information on the translation and quotes from some of the witnesses, check out these links:
20 Truths About Mormonism
Real Mormon History
Mormonism Research Ministry
The Institute for Religious Research