Mormons finally admit Joseph Smith’s polygamy (and release bonus video on Sacred Underwear)

November 13, 2014 • 10:46 am

This is like the Catholic church finally admitting, after centuries, that yes, the Earth does go around the Sun (it took the Church 350 years to apologize for punishing Galileo on this issue).

Well, it took the Mormon Church only half that time—170 years—to acknowledge that its founder, the con man Joseph Smith, was a polygamist, having had between 30 and 40 wives. Not only that, but his wives were as young as 14 years old, and some of them were already married.

As anyone who’s read Mormon history knows, Joseph Smith could not control his concupiscence, and had a revelation that Mormons (i.e., he) could have multiple wives. (This resembles the convenient revelation that Mormon elders had in 1978 that blacks could now be lay priests, a position that was previously forbidden to blacks.) The Mormon God changes his mind with alarming frequency!

But, as an article in Monday’s New York Times shows, Smith’s sordid history is not to be found on Mormon websites and, in fact, many Mormons don’t seem to know anything about his polygamy. That’s like Christians not knowing that Jesus turned water into wine. In fact, it’s worse, because this is a matter of history amply recorded in the last two hundred years. Most Mormons already know about Brigham Young‘s polygamy, but not Smith’s—even though Smith’s “plural wives” have been admitted by the Church since 1852 and even Wikipedia, for crying out loud, has a list of his wives. 

Are Mormons that ignorant, or are they willfully overlooking Smith’s behavior? (The polygamy is but one of Smith’s many stupid and unethical acts.) As the Times notes, many Mormons were surprised as well as grief-sticken at the “new” revelations:

The church’s disclosures, in a series of essays online, are part of an effort to be transparent about its history at a time when church members are increasingly encountering disturbing claims about the faith on the Internet. Many Mormons, especially those with polygamous ancestors, say they were well aware that Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, practiced polygamy when he led the flock in Salt Lake City. But they did not know the full truth about Smith.

“Joseph Smith was presented to me as a practically perfect prophet, and this is true for a lot of people,” said Emily Jensen, a blogger and editor in Farmington, Utah, who often writes about Mormon issues.

She said the reaction of some Mormons to the church’s disclosures resembled the five stages of grief in which the first stage is denial, and the second is anger. Members are saying on blogs and social media, “This is not the church I grew up with, this is not the Joseph Smith I love,” Ms. Jensen said.

Too bad. The Joseph Smith that Ms. Jensen loved was also a liar and a faker, with a history of run-ins with the law, and not just because he claimed to be a prophet.

You can find the Church’s admission on its official site in an article called, “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo.”  As the essay explains, the commandment to have “plural marriages” (the euphemism for “polygamy”) came from God, who decreed it and then (as in the case of blacks) rescinded it:

After receiving a revelation commanding him to practice plural marriage, Joseph Smith married multiple wives and introduced the practice to close associates. This principle was among the most challenging aspects of the Restoration—for Joseph personally and for other Church members. Plural marriage tested faith and provoked controversy and opposition. Few Latter-day Saints initially welcomed the restoration of a biblical practice entirely foreign to their sensibilities. But many later testified of powerful spiritual experiences that helped them overcome their hesitation and gave them courage to accept this practice.

Although the Lord commanded the adoption—and later the cessation—of plural marriage in the latter days, He did not give exact instructions on how to obey the commandment.

And oy, God was insistent that Smith have lots of wives! The Church essay explains:

. . . When God commands a difficult task, He sometimes sends additional messengers to encourage His people to obey. Consistent with this pattern, Joseph told associates that an angel appeared to him three times between 1834 and 1842 and commanded him to proceed with plural marriage when he hesitated to move forward. During the third and final appearance, the angel came with a drawn sword, threatening Joseph with destruction unless he went forward and obeyed the commandment fully.

Does anybody believe this malarkey? What happened, of course, is that Smith was randy and fabricated a vision of God (and a divine threat!) that he’d better take some more wives. The threats were fabrications, designed to make people think that Smith’s evacuation of his seminal vesicles was done only under duress:

The conclusion of the Church in the essay is this:

The challenge of introducing a principle as controversial as plural marriage is almost impossible to overstate. A spiritual witness of its truthfulness allowed Joseph Smith and other Latter-day Saints to accept this principle. Difficult as it was, the introduction of plural marriage in Nauvoo did indeed “raise up seed” unto God. A substantial number of today’s members descend through faithful Latter-day Saints who practiced plural marriage.

Church members no longer practice plural marriage. Consistent with Joseph Smith’s teachings, the Church permits a man whose wife has died to be sealed to another woman when he remarries. Moreover, members are permitted to perform ordinances on behalf of deceased men and women who married more than once on earth, sealing them to all of the spouses to whom they were legally married. The precise nature of these relationships in the next life is not known, and many family relationships will be sorted out in the life to come. Latter-day Saints are encouraged to trust in our wise Heavenly Father, who loves His children and does all things for their growth and salvation.

But of course the real reason the Mormons renounced polygamy was not that God had second thoughts, but that the U.S. government pressured the Church to stop the practice. Polygamy became a Federal felony, and it became clear that unless Mormons abandoned the practice, Utah would not achieve statehood.  The U.S. government started proceedings to disband the church, and went after some of its leaders with criminal charges. This would not do, of course, and so, in 1890, a church leader had a convenient revelation from God that Mormon’s should obey U.S. law after all.  Render unto Caesar and so on. . . But of course some Mormon sects are still polygamous, with very young girls becoming betrothed and sexually violated, so the Times isn’t quite correct about that.

Finally, the Church, though vowing now to be open about its history, continues to keep it low key. As the Times notes,

The church has not publicly announced the posting of the essays, and many Mormons said in interviews that they were not even aware of them. They are not visible on the church’s home page; finding them requires a search or a link.

How anybody with brains can be a Mormon eludes me. But of course early brainwashing can overcome rationality.

There’s another interesting tidbit from the Times article:

The church recently released an informational video about the distinctive Mormon underwear called “temple garments” — and it received far more attention among Mormons and in the news media than the essays on polygamy.

Now how can you not want to watch a Church video about the famous Sacred Underwear (formal name: “Temple Garment”)? Well, I’m here to help you. The Church’s website on the garments is here, and here’s the video, right from YouTube, released in October:

It’s clear from the video that Mormons get really ticked off when people call the garments “Magic Underwear.”

Of course, Sacred Underwear (my compromise term) is in principle no more ludicrous than the shawl (tallit) and beanie (yarmulke) worn by Jews, or than other religious garments, but somehow it seems more ludicrous because it’s underwear. As the video says, “Not all such religious vestments are on public display.”

 

103 thoughts on “Mormons finally admit Joseph Smith’s polygamy (and release bonus video on Sacred Underwear)

  1. This principle was among the most challenging aspects of the Restoration—for Joseph personally and for other Church members.

    Yeah, right. I’m sure he was just rending his garments and demanding ‘why God, why?’ about it.

    There are some parallels to anti-gay sentiment in the mainstream Christian denominations, here. In both cases you get some people claiming they don’t choose to act the way they do, they do it because God commands them to. Again: yeah, right.

  2. How anybody with brains can be a Mormon eludes me. But of course early brainwashing can overcome rationality.

    Doesn’t explain the converts, though.

    Personally, I’ve always valued Mormonism for its sheer value in allowing us to examine and evaluate the faith mindset, since Mormonism is, as Emo Philips said, “one of those more obviously wrong religions.” When you understand what causes people to leave a religion, I think you often understand what drew them in in the first place.

    So I’ve spend many a happy hour at exmormon.org reading the many “Why We Left” deconversion stories. (Careful; they’re addicting.)

    1. From the conversion stories (that were told to me by some missionaries) there is no issue with what their books say in the details. They try to keep those quiet if they are known at all. Converts usually convert because Mormons tend to be (almost annoying) nice and friendly and they want in on the happy.

      Those ex-mormon stories really are fun. They can be confusing when they go straight to being a Christian.

      1. And, in keeping with Jerry’s theories regarding why people are attracted to religion, they are having their greatest success, in terms of converts, among the poor in third world countries. Not only are Mormons nice and friendly, they also happen to be above the mean in terms of income. There are a lot of advantages to belonging to the church if you are poor.

          1. Yeah, that would seem to work against my argument. My guess is that the perceived or real social and financial benefits exceed the costs in this case. For example, poor members of the church in places like Guatemala may receive things like clothes, food, medical services, childcare assistance, rides, etc. as a result of joining.

    2. The subreddit “exmormon” is an excellent resource as well. I have gleaned many insights into the minds of the religious and recently deconverted by my reading there.

  3. I’ll admit to wearing holey underwear from time to time…but only because I can’t be arsed to go to the clothing store.

    Multiple marriages are a sticky wicket. On the one hand, I have as hard a time getting upset at the thought of three (or more) people getting married as I do two people of the same gender getting married. If they’re all consenting adults, their private lives are only somebody else’s business if they choose to make the private public.

    On the other hand, the practice of multiple marriages all too often follows the pattern of one old man and many young women — if not too-young girls.

    A reasonable approach may be to require that everybody in a multiple marriage be at least 21 years old, rather than the (often much) younger ages of consent for two-person marriages. If a randy sexagenarian can convince many twenty-somethings to marry him at the same time and they’re happy and willing to go along with it, all the more power to everybody involved.

    There likely also needs to be enforcement of some sort of corporation-like governing laws at the time of a multiple marriage, specifying the initial and potential future composition of the marriage, how to decide who can be married in in the future, how somebody can leave (and disposal of community property), and the like…and there likely needs to be prohibitions on bylaws that are likely abusive or that vest all power in a single individual or the like. For example, in a marriage of several women and one man, the women damned well better have the power to divorce the man and decide whether or not they want to replace him.

    Cheers,

    b&

    1. LOL, Expect to give up half in every divorce. A person should only be allowed as many spouses as they have halves to give up.

    2. I wonder if 21 is still too young. You have to be 30 to be a priest, so perhaps that’s a better age for this. There are lots of life-changing things I would’ve done at 21, that by 30 I realised wouldn’t have been all they were cracked up to be. The boyfriend I had at the age of 21 is one of them.

      1. I don’t think there’s a person alive over the age of thirty who doesn’t have some serious regrets about choices made while a twentysomething…but ya gotta take the training wheels off sometime, and by the time you’re in your twenties you should be able to stand up for yourself sufficiently to get yourself out of whatever you get yourself into.

        That’s where I see the dividing line should be: not how likely you are to make mistrakes, but how likely you are to avoid mistrakes you can’t recover from plus how likely you are to be able to extract yourself from the consequences of the mistrakes you’re inevitably going to make.

        …or, in other words, are you an adult or still a child?

        …not that all of us actually grow up, of course….

        b&

        1. +1 on that

          If you’re not mature enough to take full responsibility for your choices at 21 you never will be.

    3. Yeah, I go through the same dilemma but theory and practice seem to be, as you point out, two different things. It’s sort of like Communism. It looks good on paper, then over and over when put into large scale practice, it always brings a whole lotta totalitarianism with it.

      1. Communism actually often seems to work well for small groups, up to some dozens or so. But, once you get past “tribal” sizes, different social dynamics come into play.

        And, of course, Communism’s cousin, Socialism, has elements that even Republicans recognize as essential. The United States, after all, has socialized military, roads, police, and plenty more the Republicans themselves get all excited about….

        b&

        1. As an example of practical communism I could quote the island of Pukapuka (not that they’d admit it or had ever heard of Karl Marx). Houses were owned by a family and people had personal possessions, but the entire village would do things in unison – going fishing or making copra or whatever – they would decide things by talking (endlessly) – no hereditary head man; and the proceeds of the fishing trip or the copra money would be divided equally between everyone in the village.

    4. If a randy sexagenarian can convince many twenty-somethings to marry him at the same time and they’re happy and willing to go along with it, all the more power to everybody involved.

      Power is the only aphrodisiac widely acknowledged to be effective.

  4. Yes, people do believe these things. The majority of people I know personally, in fact (having been raised in Utah, as a Mormon, until I lost my faith at age 28).

    Early age brainwashing is key. I always wondered why a close friend was so much more skeptical than I about our faith, until he told me he wasn’t raised in the church. Only when he was about 12 did his parents start attending church, and brought him along. Religion didn’t get its hooks into him as deep as it did me.

    I think a reason people stay and believe besides that early age indoctrination is apologia. As you see here, the church attempts to explain away any of the icky aspects of Smith’s polygamy. Anybody wishing to retain their faith — and many of them have social, familial, financial, and spiritual investments which make them want to stay — can read what the church printed here and say, “yes, good enough for me. Anyway, let’s look to the future.”

    As for this information being previously available, it’s not like Mormons are actively searching for reasons to doubt, or for information that runs contrary to what is taught in Sunday School. Indeed, I found my way out in attempting to defend my faith.
    Just about everything I had thought was an “anti-Mormon slander” turned out to be factual. But it took about a year of reading and studying for me to finally admit that.

    1. Hi Sam,

      I also grew up Mormon (inactive since ~15, and sure it wasn’t for me not long after), and have loads of old friends and most of my family that are still members. I recall knowing full well about Joseph Smith’s polygamy, and never thought it was a secret, so it kind of surprised me to see that some current members are shocked and saddened by the “news.” I realize now that my situation may have been unique, however, in that my great great grandfather was a polygamist (all 7 wives are listed under him on his headstone), and one of his sisters was a wife of Joseph Smith. In fact, he recounts in his memoir the night that Joseph arrived at his house and told him that God had commanded him to bed his sister (he didn’t put it quite like that), and how abhorrent he (and his sister) found the idea initially. He (they) finally came around to the idea, of course, as they became convinced of the divine origins of the idea (my grandfather was quite easily convinced–apparently staring deeply into someone’s eyes and intoning with great gravitas and apparent sincerity whatever weird thing you want someone to do is much more effective than I would have thought).

      Anyways, I wondered what your experience of this has been? Were you aware of Joseph’s polygamous past? Did it seem like this was general knowledge when you were growing up?

      Just wondering.

      Cheers,
      Jeff

    2. I think you right that early brainwashing is very important. I have said here and elsewhere that if everyone waited until adulthood to consider religion as a possible way to find the truth, religion whould wither down to a few cranks and weirdos.

      But then, there are the cases that I find extremely difficult to understand. I have a niece who married an American man who himself converted to Islam after (during?) his military service in Afghanistan who has also become a Muslim. One of my oldest daughter’s friends joined the Mormon church after marrying a Mormon man. Though I’m amazed that this kind of thing happens, I suspect that the key to understanding most such cases is to realize that many people actually think that they can choose what true without any empirical input. If a person who presents the religion to them seems nice and sincere, “Why not? These are things Muslims (or Mormons or Christians) believe – I like these things or I like this person, so…that’s what I want to believe and so … I will!”

    3. Sam, the experience of your 12 y/o friend mirrors mine. My parents became SDAs when I was four. I can remember (or more correctly, remember remembering, if you want to go all Elizabeth Loftus) that as a child of five or six I could remember when we weren’t Adventists (things like eating bacon and my Dad smoking), and consequently seemed to have a hard time “othering” the rest of the world. I always felt that I somehow wasn’t really like the other Adventists. In me, the “still small voice” was skepticism. When I got older I think it was a little easier for me to take that step away from my self that was required to see my beliefs in the context of reality.

  5. 30-40 wives. What made those women think that’s a good idea. Did they dress up, go to the ceremony, dance at the reception, buy presents for the Happy Couple? Smith was probably getting married every couple months. No point in renting a Tux, it would have been cheaper to buy one.

    1. What made those women think that’s a good idea.

      Religious indoctrination.

      But I’m also guessing that most of them didn’t think it was a good idea. Read that second quote again. Note the words. “Callenging.” “Opposition.” “Hesitancy.” I’m guessing most of the female AND a good portion of his male followers fought tooth and nail against it. But ultimately submitted when it became clear that Mr. Prophet was going to go “my way or the highway” on this one.

      1. I don’t doubt there was manipulation, coercion, mental abuse, or even physical force. But, it seems like somewhere around wife seven or eight, someone would have had enough. He had over 30! The opposition from the men might have been that there aren’t enough women for every man to have dozens of wives.

        1. Oh but the women were just doing their duty. They never would have complained and would have taken whatever abuse he dealt out assuming it was their fault that he abused them.

        2. In today’s polygamous sects many teen-age boys are essentially kicked out of their home & society so there won’t be a male surplus.

              1. That’s awful.

                It’s ironic that many theists argue against Darwin and for religion because of human exceptionalism – god imbued only humans with the capacity for morality, and it must’ve been god because the difference between us and other animals is obviously attributable to religion.

                Of course, we do have a greater capacity for moral reasoning than our smaller-brained cousins. Some of us have managed to realize this capacity. But not this group of theists. They’re behaving exactly like the “beasts” they think their religion causes them to be better than. That’s the ironic part.

  6. Con man and kook, Smith should have remained rotting in the Bainbridge, NY jail. As it is, we have to deal with a growing religious cult that’s even more a concoction than our “mainstream” religions – which is saying something.

  7. And now I’m back to my contention that the sole purpose of religion — any religion — is to subjugate women.
    But you have to give it to that guy for covering over his purpose with tons of verbiage! And menacing angels! And underwear! And lots of other stuff! Man, did he work hard to be a lascivious rake.

    1. I think religion has it’s sights on far more than subjugation of women. They want to control minds and behavior, and set themselves up as power centers (though women often have gotten the short end of an already crappy stick).

    1. I wonder at the extraordinary taboo by monogamists against polygamy – if it really is between consenting adults. It isn’t conducive to relationships of equality. There are issues around the finanacial aspects: it depends on men being paid much more than women – or, I gather, most of the women being on welfare. But icky? Why?

  8. I married a Mormon and two of our three adult children are observant members. I went through the discussions, as the conversations with missionaries are termed, but never joined. My chief frustration in discussing the church is that beyond a certain basic level, the doctrine is sooooo slippery. Because the bishops and stake leaders, etc., are all lay people, it is often hard to get a grip on exactly what Mormons believe. For example, in Sunday school, I have often asked, respectfully, how they separate the counsel of the president from the words of the prophet. (The prophet and the president are the same person.) In other words, I was interested in knowing when they believe it’s God speaking as opposed to when it’s the just the CEO wondering if there’s toner in the copier. Catholics have a term “ex cathedra” to separate the words of the pope from that of the fella upstairs. Short answer: I never found out. No one has ever given me anything close to a satisfactory answer on what I believe to be a legitimate question. Usually they get defensive. So I just don’t ask such questions any more.
    I also don’t air my own theory, which is mine, about Joseph Smith. I believe he copped the Sacred Grove story from the Seneca prophet Handsome Lake.

  9. I’m always happy to invite Mormons back home when they ambush me on the streets. From what I’ve learned they aren’t aware of most of Mormon history. This will be fun to bring up next summer when they come back. One of the young guys I was speaking to looked like he was about to vomit when I let him read the Wiki page on the Mountain Meadows massacre, all just wanted to ignore it. It doesn’t fit their tale of constant persecution. None of the 5 Mormons that have came in to chat have any idea about The Book of Abraham (this one is funny). Joseph Smith brought some ancient Egyptian stuff and translated the writings using the same techniques he translated the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately for him those Egyptian artefacts actually exist and have been translated by a few different Egyptologists. Joseph was very wrong. But the translations of those Egyptologists are just, like, my opinion, man.

    1. It’s interesting to note that of all the holy books of the various religions only the book of mormon has actually been falsified by history. It is just plain factually wrong where other scriptures merely lack any historical or archaeological support. You’d think this would put mormons off their religion but it don’t seem to!

      1. It’s interesting to note that of all the holy books of the various religions only the book of mormon has actually been falsified by history. It is just plain factually wrong where other scriptures merely lack any historical or archaeological support.

        Hate to break it to you, but they’re all bullshit and all trivially demonstrably so.

        It is just plain factually worng to claim that Jesus even existed, let alone did all the things he supposedly did. We’ve got mountains of hard evidence disproving the Jesus theory.

        Same goes for Moses and the Israelite role in the construction of the Pyramids and the Exodus and the rest.

        And Genesis? Idiotic nonsense.

        There is no question but that Muhammad most emphatically did not ride off into the sunset on the back of a flying horse. And there’s at least damned good reason to think Muhammad himself is pure fiction as well, though I’ve nowhere near as familiar with Islam and its claims than I am with Christianity and Judaism.

        Indeed, pick a passage at random from the Bible or the Q’ran, and odds are overwhelming that there’ll be something seriously fucked up about it, one way or another. And the slim remainder will be banal.

        Cheers,

        b&

        1. Well, yes. But the Mormon teachings are even more easily investigated, since the religion was invented only a short time ago. Plus, the Mormons offer up a much, much greater degree of fabrication. Consider the Lamanites and the Nephites and their alleged origins. You can say what you want about the historicity of the personages of the Bible, but Egypt is a place and Jerusalem still stands and the Jordan River is a river. You can’t say the same for the American settings of the Book of Mormon.

          1. …and all the tombs in Jerusalem during the reign of Herod Agrippa opening and their inhabitants descending en masse upon the citizens to their amazement is a lesser degree of fabrication? The Jews building the Pyramids and then going on to be the biggest badasses of the region? Riding a flying horse into the sunset?

            Though I’ll grant that Scientology might have the lead as far as hubristic absurdity goes, what with Xenu and the nuclear volcano bombs and 3-D Clockwork Orange theatre for ghosts and the rest.

            But the point remains: religious literature must be over-the-top absurd with its miracles, else what’s the point? Who’s going to join a cult whose central god’s main claim to fame is that he makes an half-decent grilled cheese sandwich when he’s not overly drunk? If you’re out religion shopping, you want one whose gods come complete with the part-the-sea option package at a bare minimum, coupled with some serious smite power and lots of low-end mystery. Anything less and you might as well just keep riding the bus.

            b&

        2. Sorry to break it to you Ben but we have no concrete evidence one way or the other of the existence of Yeshue bar Yussef. That’s what the recent controversy has been about. As to Moses, pyramids, exodus and all the rest – no evidence. I agree it’s all total BS but lack of evidence is not the same as convincing contradictory proof.

          1. No, we’ve got evidence most sound that, even as the most bland imaginable Haile Selassie figure, Jesus didn’t exist. Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus, page 600: “In other words, it is my estimation the odds Jesus existed are less than 1 in 12,000. Which to a historian is for all practical purposes a probability of zero.” This is after 599 preceding pages examining all even vaguely-relevant evidence in an exhaustively thorough manner. In short, everything we have of Jesus perfectly fits the mold of a divine heavenly being who was later given a mortal biography (“ehuemerism”) and is always diametrically opposed to the evidence one would expect of an actual human being.

            That Moses is fictional has been known and universally accepted for at least a century, and the fact that there’s no remains of a forty-year trek across the Sinai is all the evidence we need to know that Exodus is bullshit, too.

            lack of evidence is not the same as convincing contradictory proof.

            Then you must therefore believe me when I tell you that I’m holding an I.O.U. for $1,000,000 that you signed to me this morning.

            Lack of evidence where evidence must be found is the most overwhelmingly convincing kind there is. It’s how we know that there’s no Luminiferous Aether, and how you yourself know that there’s no angry T-Rex rampaging in the room with you right now as you read these words.

            b&

            1. That’s still lack of evidence, however telling it may be; Chris’s point that Mormonism ridiculously simple to disprove still stands.

              1. But it’s the same methods to disprove.

                The Moronic Book says that Native Americans had iron chariots of Middle Eastern origin and the like; there’s no evidence of anything like that where such evidence must be found.

                The Bible says that hordes of zombies descended upon Jerusalem during the reign of Herod Agrippa; there’s no evidence of anything like that where such evidence must be found.

                Indeed, it’s the only way to disprove claims that something happened: look for the evidence of whatever’s being claimed, and find that the evidence isn’t there.

                b&

            2. Boy you made that one easy.

              The Mormon book says tribes from the Middle-east once inhabited America. Genetic data from Native Americans disprove that claim.

              (Ben, you & Chris are both right–you’re both just using a different frame of reference and assumptions. Recent evidence vs. ancient lack of evidence. Now kiss and make up.)

              1. Genetic data from Native Americans disprove that claim.

                But that’s exactly my point!

                Were the Moronic claim true, the genetic data would have included sequences unique to Middle Easterners. No such sequences were found, which is why the genetic data disproves the claim.

                Everywhere you look relevant to the claim, you fail to find what you would expect to find were the claim true. It’s the absence of that evidence that demonstrates that the claim is false, and it’s the continued failure to find any evidence that makes the claim so emphatic.

                Much the same as with Jesus. You could perhaps explain why a particular ancient contemporary source failed to mention any of the gee-whiz stuff that surrounded him, but things start to get suspicious when a second source also fails to mention anything, and the case becomes a slam-dunk when not a single such source mentions a word, including the sources who were right there when it all supposedly went down.

                Similarly, you could explain away a single Native American lacking a particular Middle Eastern DNA sequence, but you can’t explain away a broad sampling of Native Americans lacking any and all Middle Eastern DNA sequences.

                b&

              2. I knew you’d see reason!

                …and, to be fair, there’s also a secondary reason to know that a claim is false: when you have a superior claim you can be confident is true.

                The claim that Native Americans are close cousins with Native Mongolians, with the relationship being genetically closer with closer geography, is one supported by the evidence.

                Similarly, there’s a Rising anointed Joshua in Zechariah 6 (written centuries BCE) who builds the temple of the Lord YHWH (the true tabernacle / church) and is its high priest. Philo wrote that his “Rising” name only made sense if you recognized him as the Logos. The only difference between this Risen / Rising Jesus / Joshua Christ / Anointed one and the one in Paul is that Paul (or whoever he got it from) adds the Crucifixion that must have preceded the Rising. That’s textbook mythological development, all in plain view. Since we’ve got our well-evidenced explanation of the mythological origins of Jesus, the unevidenced theory of him as an historical figure is likewise refuted.

                Cheers,

                b&

  10. “The church has not publicly announced the posting of the essays, and many Mormons said in interviews that they were not even aware of them. “

    So they are not happily disseminating the wisdom of their top theologians to the masses during services? Now where have we seen that disconnect before?….. Oh yeah – Christianity.

  11. Very convenient the polygamy instruction was just one way. Not for the female of the faith as well.

    Mormons tend to be very clan like, or is that cult like. A large part of Utah certainly but also Mesa, Arizona. They also have some operations over on the windward side of Oahu, Hawaii. They have a lot of ideas similar to the seventh-day Adventists.

    1. Recently a woman was booted right out of the LDS for having the audacity to actually talk to other women about how women should also be allowed to be ordained.

  12. I can imagine how mormons were ignorant of this. I grew up a Jehovah’s Witness, and remained one until my early twenties. Highly insular religions such as Mormonism or the Witnesses have little knowledge about the world or their own religion save for what their respective organizations tell them.

    And the thing is, its a total blind spot. They don’t see the ignorance because their respective organizations tell them that they are in fact more “in the know” about world affairs and their religions than anybody on the outside. You walk around with a blind fold on being told you see more clearly than anyone else. And because it is so insular, you have no point of reference to realize that you are being fed only convenient propaganda.

    If the mormons are anything like the JWs, then this “revelation” will test no one’s faith. It will quickly be rationalized, and then everyone will act like they knew it all along and it isn’t a big deal.

    1. They also tend to isolate themselves and their kids from the world so they can’t possibly find out about these things.

      An ex-JW friend of mine was originally going to finish high school then look for work, maybe as a typist (good luck – those jobs are obsolete now; she’d need to have more skills than just typing). Lucky for her, her family left the Church & she went to university & got her chemistry degree. She now works in a forensics lab.

    2. They don’t see the ignorance because their respective organizations tell them that they are in fact more “in the know” about world affairs and their religions than anybody on the outside. You walk around with a blind fold on being told you see more clearly than anyone else.

      The same might have been said about Soviet Russia or North Korea today. I’ve heard that many North Koreans sincerely believe in their government and follow it because they’ve been told (by their government) that everyone else in the world is starving worse, in even worse poverty, etc. and that the west wants to bring down the propserous and happy lifestyle.

      Such blindness cannot survive open communication with the outside world…which is why would-be dictators and cult leaders don’t like their followers to have open communications with the outside world.

  13. I’m fascinated by the story that it took an angel with a drawn sword and threats to get Smith to comply. I didn’t know that one and I looked into the religion extensively during Romney’s candidature. In crime, knives are frequently phallic symbols, and stabbing a substitute for rape. To me this is another interesting insight into the warped mind of Smith.

    As always, the Church is very focused on using the version of their name that includes “Jesus Christ”, which, of course, is an attempt to make themselves more acceptable to more mainstream Christians.

        1. Sounds like the name of an Indie Electronic group. I’ve been giggling non-stop about “The Stabby Angels”.

  14. Here in heavily Mormon Idaho, the special underwear is commonly referred to by non-Mormons as “Jesus Jumpers”.

  15. “Mormons merely ask that others offer the same respect and sensitivity as they would to any other faith”

    Well, I’m sure we’re all on board with that!!

    Looking at those pristine white magical under…uh, sorry, “Temple Garments”, what I really want to know is: do they ascribe any theological significance to skidmarks?

  16. Great Post on some strange stuff.
    “There are more things in heaven and earth…”

    But, on a personal note the few Mormons that I have encountered, seemed to be very polite and decent people. It’s kinda like my mom used to say..’the best flowers grow over the cesspool’
    Talk about building a religion on sh*t!!!!

  17. I am not against polygamy as such.

    Though the polygyny practiced by some religious sects … I am a little suspicious of the way it comes about.

    Would we be as concerned with polyandry?

    Is it the religion, the sexual pairing or both that is the concern?

    1. Oppression of women, as always, I’d say.

      BTW, most women couldn’t stand to have another husband. Lovers, OK, but husbands……no way!

      1. While I agree with you completely, the few women that do practice polyandry might not.

        Polygamy and oppression need not be synonymous

        1. Well, with truly consenting adults, no combination would bother me. But when such customs are an intrinsic part of a religious belief system, one starts to wonder just how honestly “consenting” some of the participants are! And I’m sure that’s how you feel as well.

  18. G*d: “Hey J., we need to talk.”
    J. Smith: “Oh, sure, what’s on your mind?”
    G*d: “Well, I’ve been thinking a lot, and I’m going to need you to take on more wives… actually lots more wives.”
    J. Smith: “Are you sure? That really sounds like a lot of work. I was really enjoying my nice, quiet life out of the spotlight.”
    G*d: “Well, I appreciate what a burden this is for you, but my will is firm.”
    J. Smith: “Can I at least marry older, homely women, so they’ll leave me alone and I can go fishing?”
    G*d: “No J., you must marry them young and pretty, teenagers would be ideal. And they will all be subservient to you and any crazy shit you can come up with. Don’t make me bring the Stabby Angels (if bobsguitarshop approves) into this.”
    (Sounds of footsteps echoing into the distance)
    J. Smith (yelling over shoulder): “Alright G*d, if that’s what you want. No givsies backsies!”

    1. [Aisha] said [to Muhammad], “I feel that your Lord hastens in fulfilling your wishes and desires.” — Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 6, Book 60, Number 311

  19. “But many later testified of powerful spiritual experiences that helped them overcome their hesitation and gave them courage to accept this practice.”

    I’m always open to powerful spiritual experiences shagging lots of attractive young women but sadly the young women don’t seem to want to cooperate… 🙁

  20. Another example of sacred garments: my holy Pastafarian oven mitt. I only use it for removing hot lasagna from the the tabernacle, er… I mean oven.

  21. As with all religions, Mormonism changed over time. In addition to polygamy, there are a number of other Mormon practices that the prophet and his closest companions initiated and changed:

    1. Polygamy was initially practiced only by Smith and his immediate circle.

    2. There were black priests in the early days of the church.

    Wikipedia: “Elijah Abel (July 25, 1808 – December 25, 1884)[1] was the first black elder and seventy in the Latter Day Saint movement, and one of the few black members in the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to receive the priesthood.”

    “At least two of Abel’s descendants — his son Enoch and Enoch’s son Elijah — were ordained to the priesthood: Enoch was ordained an elder on November 27, 1900; and Elijah was ordained an elder on September 29, 1935.”

    3. In the early days of the church, Joseph Smith and his cohorts drank alcoholic beverages and smoked (drank coffee and tea too, maybe). Regular Mormons were prohibited from indulging and still are.

    4. Also, in the early days of the church, women were permitted to have seer stones and to prophesy, the same as men. This was subsequently changed to “men only”.

    5. Mormons had their own militia, some of which later became Danites, otherwise known as “Destroying Angels”. They were used for internal control as well as external military activities.

    They killed mountain men and indians in and around Fort Bridger on the Oregon/California/Mormon Trails, which subsequently they confiscated.

    They led the Mountain Meadow Massacre that killed members of a wagon train traveling through Mormon territory. Mormons blamed it on indians (some of whom were enticed to participate, but was instigated and led by Mormons.)

    6. Mormons practiced “Blood Atonement”,
    a type of sacrifice required of individuals who shed blood or committed other serious infractions. If they didn’t spill their own blood, sometimes they were “assisted”. Supposedly, this is no longer part of the mainstream Mormon church, but is thought to continue with fundamentalist Mormons.

    There are historical books (Jon Krakauer was mentioned) that provide information on the development of beliefs and practices of the Mormon religion and how and why it changed over time.

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