MormonThink is concerned with truth. It is neither an anti-Mormon website nor an LDS apologist website. Instead, for each topic we present the strongest and most compelling arguments and explanations from both the critics and the defenders of the Church. It is then up to the reader to decide where the preponderance of the evidence lies and which side has dealt more fairly with the issue.
Because we aim to be as complete and impartial as possible, we welcome contributions from readers who can strengthen the positions on either side. As a result, we present a range of viewpoints, privileging those we believe are the most accurate, consistent, and empirically valid.
You may want to start by reading the Introduction to MormonThink.
“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
(Prophet, Seer & Revelator)
~ Dec. 25, 2005 interview with The Associated Press
From the Courthouse News:
SALT LAKE CITY (CN) — A federal lawsuit sure to get attention in Utah claims that the “Mormon Corporate Empire” has driven worshipers to existential crises, suicide, anxiety and depression by peddling a “scheme of lies” centered on the religion’s creation and its scriptures, a onetime member claims.
Laura Gaddy on Monday filed a scathing, 75-page class action against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Represented by Salt Lake City attorney Kay Burningham, Gaddy claims the church, which claimed 16 million members worldwide in 2018, twisted “the foundational history of Mormonism” in a “fraudulent scheme perpetrated for generations.”
“The material facts upon which Mormonism is based have been manipulated through intentional concealment, misrepresentation, distortion and or obfuscation by the [LDS] to contrive an inducement to faith in Mormonism’s core beliefs,” the complaint states.
The defendant is The Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which Gaddy describes as a holding company, “which owns and/or controls several for-profit businesses.”
The complaint cites official, “whitewashed” teachings of Mormonism claiming to be the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in which a divine authority essential to that gospel was taken from Earth after Christ’s crucifixion and purportedly restored hundreds of years later to church founder Joseph Smith.
According to Mormon history, an angel guided Smith to buried gold plates near his home in Upstate New York in 1823. Smith allegedly collected the plates, which were inscribed in reformed Egyptian by ancient Americans with Hebraic DNA, and translated them into the church’s signature text, the Book of Mormon, which he published in 1830.
Mormons migrated to Ohio in 1831 due to persecution for their beliefs, which included polygamy, and Smith was killed by an angry mob while jailed in Missouri in 1844. Mormon settlers arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Gaddy claims that LDS leaders have recently and partially admitted, “albeit in an intentionally limited and ever changing manner,” that Smith did not directly use gold plates to create the Book of Mormon, contradicting orthodox narrative.
“Those individuals close to Smith during the period of Book of Mormon creation concede that Smith dictated the Book of Mormon while having his head in a hat which contained a seer stone, the same type stone he had previously used to look for buried treasure,” the complaint states.
Smith spent part of his early career in New York as a hidden treasure hunter, and was arrested and tried as a “disorderly person” in 1926, Fraser’s Magazine reported in 1873.
Gaddy claims that historically accurate accounts successfully challenge bogus LDS Church narratives of Smith’s first vision of “two personages whom he believed to be God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ” in 1820, his translation of Egyptian papyri into the Book of Abraham in 1880, and representations of Smith as a monogamist.
“When the true facts are substituted for the longstanding false orthodox narrative, the story that emerges has shocked devoted Mormons who have made life-altering decisions based upon a scheme of lies,” the complaint states.
From 2013 to 2019, the LDS Church published a series of essays via LDS.org that addressed controversial aspects of its history and theology, including Smith’s first vision accounts, his translations, and Book of Mormon-related geography.
LDS historian Steven Snow said a soft launch of that information was intended to “inoculate” members about the “church’s controversial history,” the complaint states.
LDS leadership, however, did not alert followers to the existence of the essays during annual general conferences, Gaddy says, at which its highest-ranking authorities “warned that the Internet has no truth filter and that sifting through the Internet for information is akin to roaming through garbage.”
In 2015, the LDS Church removed what it claimed to be Smith’s seer stone from a vault and allowed it to be photographed.
That act “was the first in over a century where [LDS] openly admitted that its founding prophet used a seer stone to create the Book of Mormon,” the complaint states.
It continues: “Nevertheless, to this day, neither the actual seer stone nor a photo of it has been referenced or shown in General Conference or, upon information and belief, to those attending weekly services in wards or branches.”
Gaddy attended an LDS ward in North Carolina in her youth, where she “sang children’s tunes about Smith’s golden plates being a record made by [the ancient prophet] Nephi and the first vision in the sacred grove where Smith claimed to see two personages, God the Father and his Son.”
She and the proposed class dedicated their “spiritual, educational, cultural and social life to the Mormon Corporate Empire,” which is composed of distinct participation levels: paid general authorities, unpaid local leadership, relevant business entities and the “Mormon Educational Empire,” the complaint states.
The LDS Church did not respond to a request for comment.
Gaddy seeks punitive damages on seven counts, including RICO, fraud, breach of fiduciary duties and emotional distress.
She claims the LDS Church’s false narratives and continuing misrepresentations “caused immeasurable emotional harm in the form of existential crises, suicides, broken families, insomnia, anxiety, and depression, of which [LDS] and members of the Mormon hierarchy are acutely aware.”
MormonThink Editor Comment: We attended a former Mormon conference in 2013 in Salt Lake City where Kay Burningham did a very interesting presentation entitled "Are Mormon Leaders Above the Law? Fraud in the Inducement and Mormonism: An Historic and Contemporary Look". Youtube Video Link
The video, as well as Kay's book An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism which we read, offers a very compelling argument that a legal case could me made against the LDS Church for fraud based on how the LDS Church misrepresented the foundationl facts of Mormonism apparently in order to gain converts and keep members believing and paying 10% of their income every year to the LDS Church. Now, in light of the essays published by the Church, this basically confirms that the Church did indeed misrepresent itself for well over a century and now an official lawsuit is on its way.
If you a a member or former member that feels he or she has been defrauded by the LDS Church and want to consider participating in the lawsuit, visit CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT
Award winning mormon scholar and author has 'finally' agreed to do a series of podcast/video interviews for mormon stories.
Dan has so far completed 9 interviews on mormon stories, episodes 1051-1059. You can see them here:
OR watch on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uu9_5eTFz3I
Former bishop Bill Reel was just excommunicated by the LDS Church for sharing information about the LDS Church and its history on FaceBook and other internet sites. The local church leadership did not claim that any of Bill's evidence was false but rather it was an act of apostasy to publish this information in the way he did. The proceeding was apparently recorded so you view the excommunication documents and read the transcript here.
This is the first of five videos (soon to be 6) where Dan Vogel discusses the Egyptian translation documents the LDS Church has in its possession.
In this video I discuss Joseph Smith’s procurement of Egyptian papyri and mummies in July 1835 and explore the documents he produced while “translating” what he called the Book of Abraham. I also deal with the attempts of Mormon apologists to extricate Joseph Smith from clear evidence that he could not translate Egyptian. Dan Vogel
LDS Newsroom: With tender feelings we announce that Thomas S. Monson, president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died this evening at 10:01 pm in his home in Salt Lake City. He was with family at the time of his passing. He died at age 90 from causes incident to age.
President Monson, who has served as president of the Church since February 2008, leaves behind a legacy of service and good works. A successor is not expected to be formally chosen by the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until after President Monson’s funeral.
In October 2017, I had the pleasure of watching a presentation by author Kathleen Kimball Melonakos on early Mormon counterfeiting. It was very interesting and I learned many things I had never even thought about. This is one of the untold chapters from early Mormon history that is very much worth reading about. To learn more, her book is available here:
Secret Combinations: Evidence of Early Mormon Counterfeiting 1880-1847 by Kathleen Kimball Melonakos
Amazon Summary: This book chronicles the evidence that early Mormon leaders, starting with Joseph Smith Sr., dealt in counterfeit money beginning in Vermont, and continuing throughout Joseph and Hyrum's careers. It places the Smith brothers in the early American context where counterfeiting networks and some of their CEO-like bosses posed as preachers. It is the only book of its kind that uncovers the problems counterfeiters caused in early America and what really happened before, during and after the Book of Mormon appeared on the scene. Both fact-based and fast moving, supported by more than 1400 footnotes and over 100 photos and illustrations. Based on nearly 10 years of research, conducted in Vermont, New York, Illinois, Missouri, and Utah.
Author's website: mormoncounterfeiting
Link to MormonThink's List of Books
Popular author and Mormon historian Dan Vogel's newest video discusses the founding event of Mormonism - The First Vision.
Grant Palmer has passed away. Grant Palmer is an author of Mormon books, a former CES Director and most importantly a friend of mine. He has been very helpful to me and to the group at MormonThink almost since its foundation when I asked him some questions about his book "An Insider's View of Mormon Origins". He gave me his number and told me to give him a call. After a long and informative call, we kept a continual dialogue on Mormon topics ever since. We often consult him on Mormon historical issues and he has always been very willing to give us the benefit of his research.
We are proud to have been the host of Grant Palmer's Home Page on MormonThink for over a decade. It remains one of the most popular of MormonThink's pages visited each month where we will always keep a complete archive of all things Grant Palmer including articles he writes, TV appearances, youtube videos, correspondence on his dealing with the LDS Church, etc. No doubt MormonThink would not be as popular as it is without Grant's many contributions over the years.
I can't say enough good things about Grant. Although some apologists criticize him for revealing certain truths about the Church after serving as a Church employee for 33 years, Grant has always been fair with the Church. For example when I was telling him about a quote from Oliver Cowdery that I was thinking about putting on our site, Grant told me that he personally researched that issue and did not think it was a valid quote and told me not to use it. That goes against the claims that some apologists have said that Grant is just trying to destroy the Church.
I've very much enjoyed reading Grant's writings, listening to his podcasts, watching his youtube videos and especially talking with him in person when visiting Utah. Grant, thank you for being my friend and for helping me when I was at my lowest after finding out that the Church I loved and grew up with wasn't exactly what I thought it was. I will miss my friend Grant very much.
An excellent documentary has been made on Grant Palmer available to view on MormonThink's Youtube Channel. Grant Palmer: An Insider's View of Mormonism
Dying from stage four pancreatic cancer, Grant Palmer
graciously spent time with us sharing his thoughts
and research regarding the origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Grant has written three landmark books concerning the rise of Mormonism and the importance of Jesus Christ.
His three books are titled:
1. An insider's view of Mormon origins
2. The incomparable Jesus
3. Restoring Christ: Leaving Mormon Jesus for Jesus of the Gospels
Grant was very ill at the time of this filming.
His mind was sharp and alert especially considering
what he was going through. We cannot thank him enough for the precious time he has put into the making of this film.
John Dehlin of mormonstories interview Grant Palmer. In this two-part episode we sit down a final time with Grant Palmer to discuss the release of his final book: Restoring Christ: Leaving Mormon Jesus for Jesus of the Gospels.
Grant Palmer, author and former CES Director of the LDS Church has just published a new book titled "Restoring Christ: Leaving Mormon Jesus for Jesus of the Gospels".
Summary: He has come to greatly prefer the Jesus of the Gospels over the Jesus of Mormonism. This book is an exploration of the foundations of his journey, and what he has chosen to believe, what he hopes others might consider. He writes on Christianity and Mormonism, with the hope that struggling Latter-day Saints can find a way forward with Christ as their foundation. Looking at both Christianity and Mormonism, his intent is to lift the baby from the bathwater, to restore the Savior, with no desire to save the Jesus of Mormonism. Joseph Smith’s Restoration has grave problems. Joseph went astray in his view, because Joseph went beyond the footprint of Jesus’ teachings—committing the same mistake he claimed others had made.
This book is a Restoration-type endeavor; an effort to rediscover what is most basic, most important. How ironic to seek to restore the Christ of the Gospels from Mormonism! So what does a Latter-day Saint do when they discover that the church narrative they were taught all their life has fallen apart? For him, the “revelations” of Mormon Jesus and their practice by Joseph Smith—as especially seen in chapters 9, 17-19—is radically different from the behavior, character and personality of Jesus of Nazareth. For example, Smith produced “scriptures” which depended on nineteenth-century sources, claiming them to be ancient. He initiated a secret “spiritual wife system” which included concubines and slandered women who resisted his sexual advances. He married young teenagers and other men’s wives. He cursed his enemies and set up a secret organization, had himself ordained king and sought to violently overthrow the Nation. Comparing the two portraits has been the single most cathartic event since Grant’s crisis of faith. He finds the Jesus of the Gospels to better reflect God’s nature and love, and thus how to clearly respond to others as a disciple.
On Amazon at:
Details on Grant's Home Page.
The LDS Church, the oldest and largest charter organization of the Boy Scouts of America, will drop Scouting from its Young Men's program for boys ages 14 through 17.
Read article in Deseret News
Lance Miles' personal story of discovery has been one of the most popular and well-liked of the personal stories shared my members and former members of the LDS faith on MormonThink's personal stories section. Of particular appeal is his detailed account of the meeting he had with the Church historian Elder Marlin K. Jensen. Lance and his wife Nicki share their story via podcast on John Dehlin's Mormonstories.
Read Lance's original story and link to the mormonstories podcast: Lance Miles personal story
Grant has recently been diagnosed with a terminal cancer and not expected to live much longer. Now for the happy news. Mormon Stories Podcast and the Open Stories Foundation, along with a few supporters, held a private event in Grant Palmer’s honor on the evening of February 15, 2017* in Utah. The video made from this can be viewed here:
Your friends at MormonThink
Popular author and Mormon historian Dan Vogel's newest video discusses Joseph Smith's polyandrous marriages.
Of the 33 plus women Mormon founder Joseph Smith married, about 14 were already married to other men. This created polyandrous situations in which these women had two husbands. Some Mormon apologists have tried to defend Joseph Smith by arguing that most of the polyandrous marriages were merely ceremonial and intended for the next life only. In this the first of a two-part video, I will discuss the case of Sylvia Sessions Lyon, who believed that her daughter Josephine was the biological daughter of Joseph Smith but through DNA was recently disproved. This has turned out to be the best evidence for sexual polyandry. In a second video I will discuss the other polyandrous wives of Joseph Smith.
In 1844, the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith surrendered himself to state authorities after destroying an anti-Mormon printing press in Nauvoo, Illinois. When he was sent to nearby Carthage, the county seat, and charged with treason, he knew there was a strong chance he would never escape alive. Before he left he whispered instructions to his secretary, William Clayton, “to burn the records of the kingdom, or put them in some safe hands and send them away or else bury them up.”* Clayton, a British convert who became a keeper of Smith’s most important documents, chose the latter option and, according to his later account, “put the records in a small box and buried them in my garden.”
Read full article
Popular author and Mormon historian Dan Vogel's newest video discusses how the Book of Mormon reflects anti-Universalist rhetoric and in what ways it participated in the debate Joseph Smith’s contemporaries were having on the subject. Anti Universalist Rhetoric and the Book of Mormon - Dan Vogel
On 5 September, 2016, a book entitled 'Joseph Smith's Seer Stones' written by Michael Hubbard MacKay will be available to the public. The author is an assistant professor in the Department of Church History and Doctrine at Brigham Young University. Per the author:
When the Church released photos of the brown seer stone that was owned and used by Joseph Smith, the news ignited a firestorm of curiosity and controversy. People wanted more information and wondered why they hadn't been aware of the stone's existence.
This book discusses the origins of Joseph Smith's seer stones and explores how Joseph used them throughout his life in a way that goes beyond translating the Book of Mormon. It also traces the provenance of his stones once they left his possessions. The authors examine how the Book of Mormon itself provides a storyline about the history of seer stones and how this helped Joseph Smith learn about his own prophetic gifts.
Very interesting article on the problems with modern-day sealings causing polygamous eternal marriages:
To his credit, LDS patriarch and historian Richard L. Bushman (in the video below) candidly admits that the narrative the LDS church has been teaching its members and investigators for decades, "Is not true."...that the church is on "shaky grounds," and implies that the church "has to change" or it will experience significant problems.
Questioner: In your view do you see room in Mormonism for several narratives of a religious experience or do you think that in order for the Church to remain strong they would have to hold to that dominant [orthodox] narrative?
Richard Bushman: I think that for the Church to remain strong it has to reconstruct its narrative. The dominant narrative is not true; it can't be sustained. The Church has to absorb all this new information or it will be on very shaky grounds and that's what it is trying to do and it will be a strain for a lot of people, older people especially. But I think it has to change.
LDS Church News: President Russell M. Nelson at a 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents said the following about the Book of Mormon:
“There are some things the Book of Mormon is not,” President Nelson said. “It is not a textbook of history, although some history is found within its pages. It is not a definitive work on ancient American agriculture or politics. It is not a record of all former inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere, but only of particular groups of people.”
Link is here
It seems as if the Church wants to leave the Book of Mormon in a sort of gray area where it may not be 100% historical. Nelson's remarks are confusing as the Church, since its foundation in 1830, has always said the Book of Mormon is a true record of the ancient inhabitants of the Americas. The remarks appear to be geared to the complete and utter lack of any archeological, linguistic or any of scientific evidence to support it. To the contrary, many anachronisms are mentioned in the BofM such as horses, elephants, wheat, barley, steel, silk, etc. which did not exist in the Americas during BofM times. Elder Nelson seems to want to lessen the validity of these arguments with his dismissal of the BofM as a 'textbook'.
Perhaps the LDS Church is foreshadowing the day when they recognize that the BofM might be merely 'inspired' writings of Joseph Smith rather than an accurate account of ancient Israelites that lived in the Americas. The 2nd largest church that uses the BofM, the RLDS Church (Community of Christ) realized this about two decades ago and now makes it optional to believe that the BofM is historically correct or simply inspired writings of Joseph Smith.