Oh, I know I have blogged about this many times, but I can't help myself.
Seth (a believer in the LDS Church and frequent commenter) and I were debating if Joseph Smith or any other church leaders were trustworthy.
I say no.
There is a huge list written by Ken Clark, a former Mormon and full time instructor for the church education system. He began keeping track of the inconsistencies he ran into when he was teaching students about the church, and it finally led him out of the church. I got to shake Ken's hand when I attended the ex-Mormon conference in '08, and he is a brilliant and funny man. If you are interested in watching the lecture, click here for the youtube list! You won't regret it. I give him soooo much credit for standing up for his own beliefs. It wasn't easy for him.
You can actually see my head in the beginning of this video. My Mom is to my left with the blonde hair and sunglasses in her hair, and I am on the right with the short reddish-brown hair. I miss my short hair. I want a haircut...
It's not my intention to just copy and paste what Ken Clark wrote for MormonThink.com. I am just going to pick and choose some of my favorite examples of how the church really can't be trusted.
I ask anyone who believes in the church to ask themselves if a God would want them to put trust into someone, why would a God want you to put your trust into people who have been proven liars? Why would a God choose liars to fulfill His plans? It makes no sense whatsoever.
All emphasis is mine.
As an informal defender, I discovered that those accusing the church leaders of being dishonest sometimes had the facts on their side (when I took the time to check). I dealt with the cognitive dissonance by pointing out that (1) all organizations are run by humans and if you search hard enough, of course you'll find a few isolated examples of deception; and (2) since the leaders are human, they will err on occasion. I guessed there may have been occasional isolated examples of premeditated deception but it was not a pattern or standard practice.
Sometimes I caught myself revealing less than the whole truth, or embellishing in order to defend the church. I noticed that other members often did the same thing. I gave myself permission to be slightly dishonest because I was defending God's one true church; or so I reasoned. Eventually I decided to let the lives and sermons of the church leaders speak for themselves. If detractors were right some of the time, the church and I would deal with it.
I see Mormons do this all the time. They only repeat what they know, and if they are one of the few people who actually knows the truth about the history of the church they only repeat what helps their point. They also lie to themselves and convince themselves that the lies the church tells are not bad because the Lord needs people to convert to the church. This is a bunch of crap at best. It's not honest, is it?
Before becoming a prophet, Smith's chosen profession relied on deception to earn a living. He assured clients that he could see underground treasure using a magic stone in the bottom of his hat and clients paid him to locate hidden gold using this method. He never did of course. Smith's arrest, trial and conviction in Bainbridge, NY for fraud in 1826 documented his activity. He was found guilty of glass looking. The modern term for Smith would be a con artist. (Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, 82-86). Modern scams operate on a similar principle Smith used to separate people from their money.Joseph Smith was comfortable using deception when it suited him. He wove it into the fabric of Mormonism as a way of dealing with those who questioned his authority or who reported his deception or tasteless behavior. Excellent historical works record Smith's deception and the deception of other LDS leaders.
I have to take the opportunity to ask Seth and the rest of the believing Mormons who read this blog (most don't comment but email me) why a God would choose a man to restore the one and only true church upon the earth that had already deceived so many people? Couldn't there have been a more trustworthy person? Why in the world did God choose Joe?
Below is a list of notable prevarications by church leaders. Some rate higher on the "deceit-scale" than others. The list is not exhaustive, and offers only a sample of some of the well known incidents of deception on the part of LDS church leaders. Since well over one hundred examples are included, it is not a comprehensive list, and because lying began with Joseph Smith and continues today (2007), I concluded that lying is standard operating procedure for church leaders. I referenced each of the incidents with the secondary source. It's easier for the normal reader to locate information in a secondary source. The footnotes provided in the secondary sources will provide you with the references for primary sources if you wish to review them.
At the end of the list is a brief review of recent research on lying.
I beg those who don't believe the church has lied or continues to lie to read this entire post by Ken Clark and check his sources for yourself. He is the real deal, and he has done his homework. Have you?
Seth, he also mentions the Kirtland Bank Scandal in the videos, you might get a better understanding of where I am coming from if you watch them.
Again, this is just a small sampling of the list Ken Clark made, please please pretty pretty please read his paper. It will make you think... if you are not afraid of thinking. ;)
1. The official version of the First Vision by Joseph Smith, fashioned in 1838, nearly 20 years after the event, was unknown to church members living in the 1830s. It evolved after years of refining and modifying. It describes a more spectacular and miraculous event than earlier versions of the same event. The 1832 account is the original handwritten version and not as dramatic as the 1838 version. The 1832 version does not mention God the Father one who appeared to Smith, or the religious excitement causing Smith to pray, persecution by enemies, being attacked by the devil, being told not to join any apostate Christian Churches by Jesus; and he was not called to restore a church and serve as its prophet. The 1832 "vision" resembles a common Christian epiphany where he imagined Jesus forgiving his sins. Church leaders suppressed the contradictory and less impressive version for over a century. (James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, pages 29-45. See also Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, pp.24-25; and The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 148-166)
2. The LDS church consistently describes in sermons and paintings, the visitation of an angel named Moroni to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823. Moroni is pictured floating above Joseph or next to his bed, alone in his bedroom. The pictures do not portray Joseph's five brothers that slept in the same room with him. A restored Smith house is used for LDS tours showing the small room and only two beds for six brothers. Nothing resembling the actual sleeping arrangement is hinted at in the church's official literature and pictorial recreations of the scene. It would seem inconceivable to most investigators (and perhaps many members) that Joseph's brothers sleeping in the same room and bed would not have been awakened by the events as described by Joseph. The inaccurate depictions and lesson manuals tell a different story to make the event seem more believable. This is an example of the deceptive "milk before meat" principle used to excuse the suppression of questionable historical stories about Mormon origins. Moroni's Visitation.
3. Official Mormon histories have omitted references to Joseph Smith's drinking and use of tobacco in order to create a more inspiring impression of their prophet, who if living today (2007) would be unable to pass a worthiness interview and earn a temple recommend in the church he founded. (Changing World of Mormonism, pages 413-414 and Chapter 18 of the same online book). "Joseph tested the Saints to make sure their testimonies were of his religion and not of him as a personable leader. Amasa Lyman, of the First presidency, related: 'Joseph Smith tried the faith of the Saints many times by his peculiarities. At one time, he had preached a powerful sermon on the Word of Wisdom, and immediately thereafter, he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar. Some of the brethren were tried as was Abraham of old'" ("Joseph Smith as an Administrator," Master's Thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, p.161. Quotation found in The Changing World of Mormonism, page 31).
4. Leonard Arrington, the official LDS Church Historian for nearly a decade (1972-1982) lamented the suppression of real Mormon history in favor of a faith promoting version. Six years previous to his appointment as church historian, Dr. Arrington wrote: "it is unfortunate for the cause of Mormon history that the Church Historian's Library, which is in the possession of virtually all of the diaries of leading Mormons, has not seen fit to publish these diaries or to permit qualified historians to use them without restriction." (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought (Spring 1966, p.26). Leonard Arrington was demoted in 1982 transferred from the church historians office to BYU because of his refreshing honesty; he was a threat to the faith promoting history the church insisted he support (Deseret News, Church Section, July 5, 1980; http://library.usu.edu/Specol/manuscript/Arrington/LJAHA1/bio.html). The church does not report accurate unflattering historical facts about its origins and leaders to the membership or the world, unless forced to by published disclosures of deception.
5. Joseph Smith and the Mormons' official publications remove all references to Joseph Smith's activities as a professional con man. Documents discovered in 1971 by Dr. Wesley Walters in Norwich, New York, verify that Joseph Smith was a "glass looker" and that he was arrested, tried and found guilty by a justice of the peace in Bainbridge, New York, in 1826.
6. Joseph Smith claimed that he discovered gold plates with strange engravings, and special spectacles called "Interpreters." The LDS Church teaches members and investigators that the "Interpreters" were actually a Urim and Thummim used to translate the golden plates. This claim is not true. In an 1885 interview, Zenas H. Gurley, the editor of the RLDS Saints' Herald, asked David Whitmer if Joseph Smith had used his peep stone to translate the plates. Whitmer, who offered his home to Smith and acted as a scribe for part of the translation of the Book of Mormon, replied that Smith gave the Interpreters back to an angel and used a peep stone or "Seers Stone" to translate the Book of Mormon; one that he had found while digging a well. It looked like an ordinary rock but Smith claimed it gave him the ability to see buried treasure, receive revelations, and translate ancient records. (The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 80-83)
7. Joseph Smith institutionalized the practice of lying, so church leaders could deny the practice of taking multiple wives and keep Smith out of legal trouble. Straight-faced lies permitted leaders to deceive with a clear conscience; believing that God permitted and even encouraged lying to protect the principle.
8. Vienna Jacques of Nauvoo heard rumors about "spiritual wifery." She wanted Emma to ask Joseph if the rumors were true. Was "spiritual wifery" a doctrine of the church?" Emma asked and relayed Joseph's answer. Vienna reported, "he, [Joseph] had told her [Emma] to tell the sisters of the society ... "the whole idea was absolutely false and the doctrine an evil and unlawful thing." Joseph was secretly practicing plural marriage at the time. (Mormon Enigma, p. 114) Joseph prevaricated. He was actively practicing and teaching the principle.
9. Joseph Smith secretly married 17 year old Sarah Ann Whitney in August 1842 without Emma's knowledge or consent. He had no intention of confessing his conduct to Emma. He wrote to Sarah and her parents who approved of the marriage, "The only thing to be careful of is to find out when Emma comes, then you can not be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safety... Burn this letter as soon as you read it." (Mormon Enigma, p. 125)
10. Joseph deceived Emma again when he married two other women (probably Martha McBride Knight and Ruth Vose Sayers) without her knowledge or consent in the winter of 1842-43. (Mormon Enigma, p. 134 and note 13)
11. Joseph secretly proposed to 19-year-old Nancy Rigdon in Nauvoo in 1842 (Smith was 36). He wanted her as a plural wife. She declined, so Joseph recruited another LDS woman to convince Nancy. She rejected that attempt too and insisted that she be permitted to leave. Smith dictated a letter and sent it to her. In it he tried to convince her that God revealed the practice to Joseph and ordered him to take multiple wives. Part of the letter read, "That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another ... . Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire." Nancy showed the letter to her father, Sydney Rigdon. When Sydney questioned Joseph about it, he denied the whole affair. Joseph admitted to it only when Sydney showed Joseph the letter he had dictated and sent to Nancy. (Mormon Enigma, p. 119, and Van Wagoner, Mormon Polygamy, 2nd edition p. 32-33)
12. Martha Brotherton, an 18 year old convert from England in 1842, emigrated to Nauvoo, Illinois with her parents. Brigham Young approached Joseph Smith to ask if he could add Martha as another plural wife. Smith agreed and called a meeting with Young and Martha. She knew nothing of the agreement between them beforehand. And her parents were not invited, though she was a dependent minor. After Smith and Young tried to persuade her, Martha refused the offer of marriage. They encouraged her to lie to her parents and keep their proposal a secret and tried again and again to persuade her to accept Brigham's proposal. Martha finally appealed to them through tears and pleading that she be given time to think about the offer.
After being sworn to secrecy and permitted to leave the room, Martha revealed everything to her parents and wrote it down while the important details were fresh in her mind. She told others in Nauvoo about the episode before the family boarded a steamboat bound for St. Louis. She published her account in a St. Louis newspaper (St. Louis Bulletin, July 15, 1842, p. 2). Smith, stung by the article, immediately denied that the events Martha described took place. He went further. He issued false affidavits and statements that called Martha not only a liar, but also an apostate and "mean harlot." Smith used character assassination when he thought the situation warranted it; no matter how young his victim was. (Arza Evans, The Keystone of Mormonism, Keystone Books Inc., 2003, St. George Utah, pp. 20-21.)
Okay, those are only 12 of the examples of MANY that show the church lied in the past, lets take a look at more recent lies... shall we?
Former BYU professor David Knowlton, in a television interview airing August 16, 1992, (KXVS, Channel 4) in Salt Lake, said, "I'm ashamed, frankly, of a church that doesn't want to tell the truth. I'm ashamed of institutional lying." His comments stemmed from the church's denial, then admission that a committee existed within the church that keeps files on the activities on its members. It sends the files to local church leaders with instructions to interrogate them about their commitment to the church. The committee is active currently (Anderson, Vol. 26 No. 1 Spring 1993, Dialogue, 46-47).
I'm not going to copy/paste any more of Ken's hard work. Please check it out for yourself. He did such a good job on this...
Current LDS apostles are refreshingly honest about ordering church members to be dishonest. They have ordered those who employed by the church to suppress the truth about Mormon history.
--Boyd Packer declared, "There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not."
"Some things that are true are not very useful." (Boyd K. Packer, "The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect", 1981, BYU Studies, Vol. 21, No. 3, pp. 259-271) He threatened and warned Church Education System Employees to suppress historical information when teaching LDS students.
--Dallin Oaks said, it's one thing to criticize the head of a corporation of person in government but "It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. " (Dallin H. Oaks, "Reading Church History," CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, Brigham Young University, 16 Aug. 1985, page 25. also see Dallin H. Oaks, "Elder Decries Criticism of LDS Leaders," quoted in The Salt Lake Tribune, Sunday August 18, 1985, p. 2B) This was another salvo fired over the bows of Church Education System employees, warning them not to teach LDS students the whole truth about Mormon history.
--Oaks also wrote this in the church's official magazine. "A different principle applies in our Church, where the selection of leaders is based on revelation, subject to the sustaining vote of the membership. In our system of Church government, evil speaking and criticism of leaders by members is always negative. Whether the criticism is true or not, as Elder George F. Richards explained, it tends to impair the leaders' influence and usefulness, thus working against the Lord and his cause." (Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, "Criticism," Ensign, Feb. 1987, page 68)
The message from current leaders is clear. Pretend that the LDS leaders are infallible, obey and conform. For easy access to these and other statements see http://i4m.com/think/leaders/mormon_loyalty.htm)
So, there you have it.
How in the world could I place trust into a corporation (lets be honest here, no pun intended) that has been caught in so many lies?
Why do you continue to place trust in the church even though there is so much evidence they are keeping quiet? Things they don't talk about? Things they don't want ANYONE to know about?
If you don't have anything to hide, there is no reason to hide it.
They know very well that their membership would drop even lower than it is already if they were honest. They would lose their power, money, and quite frankly... people would know they were full of shit. They are covering up for themselves. They certainly don't want to be known as liars even though its clear they are.