the thinker


Back to Mormon Quotes Index

“Trust in a system will help sustain a person through confusion until he reaches the point of no longer caring whether an answer is reasonable or not, or indeed, whether an answer even exists.”

- Charles M. Larson, By His Own Hands Upon Papyrus

“Faith is a cop-out. If the only way you can accept an assertion is by faith, then you are conceding that it can't be taken by its own merits.”

- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith

“For my money, I'll bet on reason and humanistic kindness. Even if I am wrong, I will have enjoyed my life, the existence of which is under little dispute.”

- Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith

“Knowing is often the greatest enemy of learning.”

- Unknown

“All persons ought to endeavor to follow what is right, and not what is established.”

- Aristotle

“After knowing Hugh Nibley for forty years, I am of the opinion that he has been playing games with his readers all along.... Relatively few Latter-day Saints read the Nibley books that they give to one another, or the copiously annotated articles that he has contributed to church publications. It is enough for most of us that they are there.”

- Richard D. Poll, BYU History professor, as quoted in BYU: A House of Faith, p. 362

“You don't know me; you never knew my heart. No man knows my history. I cannot tell it; I shall never undertake it. I don't blame anyone for not believing my history. If I had not experienced what I have, I could not have believed it myself.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr, sermon on April 7, 1844, Nauvoo, cited in No Man Knows My History, by Fawn Brodie

“There is one principle which is eternal, it is the duty of all men to protect their lives and the lives of their households whenever the necessity requires, and no power has a right to forbid it. Should the last extreme arrive, but I anticipate no such extreme, but caution is the parent of safety.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., Letter to Emma Smith from Carthage Jail, soon before Joseph's murder, letter dated June 27, 1844, 8:20 a.m.

“Our emphasis on welfare, food storage, staying out of debt, sound finances, and so forth has made many of us hyper-conscious of the role of money in our lives. We have placed a good deal of emphasis on success, both monetary and otherwise. It is no accident that some of the best known of the new breed of financial advisors are Mormons. All those hundreds of talks on success are both symptom and cause. So is our intense preoccupation with and honoring of the wealthy, the famous, the champion. We almost canonize our Willard Marriotts, our Johnny Millers, our Danny Ainges, our Osmonds... I can't help wondering if some of the things we glory in most don't get twisted to support the easy-money hunger.”

- Marden Clark, “Whose Yoke Is Easy?,” Sunstone Review, November-December 1982, p. 43

“I have a large stout man who goes with me everywhere night and day carries 2 pistols and a double barrel shot gun and sayes [sic] he will shoot the marshals if they come to take me (Don't tell anybody this) so I am well garded [sic] ...”

- “Letter from Wilford Woodruff to Miss Nellie Atkin,” Sept. 3, 1887

“A sublime religion inevitably generates a strong feeling of guilt. There is an unavoidable contrast between loftiness of profession and imperfection of practice. And, as one would expect, the feeling of guilt promotes hate and brazenness. Thus it seems that the more sublime the faith, the more virulent the hatred it breeds.”

- Eric Hoffer, The True Believer, p. 72, 1989

“Father was inclined to sympathize – as nearly everybody, at that time, did, with the Mormons; as they told some tough tales of how they had been run out of the slave state by the people who lived over in Missouri. My father was always an old line Whig of Henry Clay school. When the ‘Saints' first came to this country they were in a sorry plight, and father helped them in several ways, until after the laying of the cornerstone of the temple. After that incident, he was always suspicious of them. At the time his two horses were missed, he would not lay the taking of them to the Saints.”

- William McAuly, “The Mormons in Hancock County,” Dallas City Review, May1, 8, 29, 1902, p. 2

"This day I have been walking through the most splended part of the city of New York . . .Their inequities shall be visited upon their heads and their works shall be burned up with unquenchable fire. The iniquity of the people is printed in every countinance and nothing but the dress of the people makes them look fair and beautiful; all is deformity. Their is something in every countinance that is disagreable with few exceptions . . . After beholding all that I had any desire to behold I returned to my room to meditate and calm my mind.

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., in Palmer, An Insider's View of Mormonism, p. 64

“During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder [not apostle] was the highest office in the church.”

- High Priest David Whitmer, An Address to all Believers in Christ, p. 35

“Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.”

- Doctrine and Covenants 132:8

“I never saw a day in the world that I would not almost worship that woman, Emma Smith, if she would be a saint instead of being a devil.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Address, October 7, 1866, Brigham Young Papers, Archives Division, Historical Department, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah, as cited in Valeen Tippetts Avery and Linda King Newell, "The Lion and the Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith," Utah Historical Quarterly, v. 48, Winter 1980, p. 82.

“In November Ezra Booth charged Joseph with ‘a want of sobriety, prudence, and stability... a spirit of lightness and levity, and temper of mind easily irritated, and an habitual proneness to jesting and joking.' To Booth, these actions were unbecoming in a prophet. He accused Joseph of having revelations too conveniently for them to originate from God.”

- Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p. 41

“When Joseph asked Brigham Young to pray, Brigham spoke in tongues, using strange sounds and unfamiliar words. The others looked at Joseph in some perplexity, for this type of spiritual phenomenon was not common to them. It was Joseph's first experience with the puzzling speech and he called it ‘pure Adamic' and stated that it was ‘of God.' Speaking in tongues spread through the Pennsylvania branches of the church first, then occurred in Mendon, New York. Brigham Young brought it to Kirtland. The practice became a part of the Saints' worship – particularly among women – until well into the next century.”

- Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p. 46

“Frederick G. Williams rose and stated that an angel entered through the window and took a place between himself and Father Smith and remained there during the meeting. The congregation shouted, ‘Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna to God and the Lamb,' three times, sealing it each time with ‘Amen! Amen! Amen!' Brigham Young spoke in tongues; David W. Patten interpreted, and at four o'clock in the afternoon the dedication was over.”

- Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith, p. 59

“The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary for the public good. Their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so, to any extent you may think necessary.”

- Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs, Oct. 27, 1839

“I will make a statement here that has been brought against me as a crime, perhaps, or as a fault in my life. Not here, I do not allude to anything of the kind in this place, but in the councils of the nations that Brigham Young has said "when he sends forth his discourses to the world they may call them Scripture." I say now, when they are copied and approved by me they are as good Scripture as is couched in this Bible, and if you want to read revelation read the sayings of him who knows the mind of God, without any special command to one man to go here, and to another to go yonder, or to do this or that, or to go and settle here or there.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 13, p. 261, October 6, 1870

“Adam, Seth, Enoch, Noah, all the Patriarchs and Prophets, Jesus and the Apostles, and every man that has ever written the word of the Lord, have written the same doctrine upon the same subject; and you never can find that Prophets and Apostles clashed in their doctrines in ancient days: neither will they now, if all would at all times be led by the Spirit of salvation.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 5, p. 329

“I told the people that if they would not believe the revelations that God had given, He would suffer the Devil to give revelations that they ‘priests and people' would follow after. . . . I told the people that as true as God lived, if they would not have truth, they would have error sent unto them and they would believe it.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Deseret News, June 8, 1878

"Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction -- faith in fiction is a damnable false hope."
- Thomas Edison

“Their son [the Smith's], Alv[in], was originally intended, or designated, by fireside consultations, and solemn and mysterious out door hints, as the forth coming Prophet. The mother and father said he was the chosen one; but Alv[in]... sickened and died.... [Lucy Mack Smith] announced the advent of a prophet in her family, and on the death of Alv[in], the first born, the commission that had been intended for him was laid upon Joseph.”

- Orsamus Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement, p. 213, see also J.H. Kennedy, Early Days of Mormonism: Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo, 1888, p. 12

“If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect... Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message. If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him.”

- Doctrine and Covenants 129:6-8

“We have received some pressious things through the Prophet on the preasthood that would caus your Soul to rejoice [-] I can not give them to you on paper fore they are not to be riten... thare is a similarity of preast Hood in masonary. Br Joseph ses Masonary was taken from preasthood but has become deg[e]nerated. but menny things are [made] perfect.”

- Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, Elizabeth Frost Pratt, and Olive G. Frost, June 17, 1842, LDS archives, see also Quinn, “Latter-day Saint Prayer Circles,” BYU Studies, v. 19, Fall 1978, p. 22

“And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for they will have to exterminate us; for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.”

- Apostle Sidney Rigdon, as quoted in The Story of the Latter-day Saints, p. 123

“I am not dishonest and not a liar and have always been true to the work and to the brethren... We have always been taught that when the brethren were in a tight place that it would not be amiss to lie to help them out.”

- Apostle Matthias Cowley, as quoted in Solemn Covenant, pp. 373-374

“Mormons, of all people, ought to remind themselves that religion is not based primarily on reason or logic. To a professional historian, for example, the recent translation of the Joseph Smith papyri may well represent the potentially most damaging case against Mormonism since its foundation. Yet the ‘Powers That Be' at the Church Historian's Office should take comfort in the fact that the almost total lack of response to this translation is uncanny proof of Frank Kermode's observation that even the most devastating act of disconfirmation will have no effect whatever on true believers. Perhaps an even more telling response is that of the ‘liberals,' or cultural Mormons. After the Joseph Smith papyri affair, one might well have expected a mass exodus of these people from the Church. Yet none has occurred. Why? Because cultural Mormons, of course, do not believe in the historical authenticity of the Mormon scriptures in the first place. So there is nothing to disconfirm.”

- Klaus Hansen, LDS history professor, “Reflections on the ‘Lion of the Lord,'” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, v. 5, no. 2, Summer 1970, p. 110

“The good news is that Mormons and Evangelical Christians aren't as far apart in their theology as some of us had supposed. The bad news is that Mormons and Evangelical Christians aren't as far apart in their theology as some of us had supposed.”

- Eugene England, BYU Studies

“For the righteous the gospel provides a warning before a calamity, a program for the crises, a refuge for each disaster... The Lord has warned us of famines, but the righteous will have listened to prophets and stored at least a year's supply of survival food.”

- Ensign, September 1997

“I want Hyrum to live to avenge my blood.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., as quoted by Leonard Arrington and David Bitton in The Mormon Experience, p. 79

“The Church sent some of their real big shots up here to meet with the county commissioners. One of them was one of the McConkies and another big shot official from the Welfare Department. They laid the old routine on us of how much they've helped people in our county. They threw all kinds of figures around for us. We tried to explain to them that if we didn't tax their farm, which was making a profit anyway, that we'd have to close down our elementary school in Arban. Well, they didn't seem to care one way or the other. All they wanted was to try and get their tax-exemption status back for that damned farm of theirs! But we told them, Listen, we're prepared to take this thing to the courts if we have to. Right away they backed off and accepted the payment of the taxes.”

- Interview with Ben Cavaness, deputy prosecuting attorney, Power County, Idaho, December 21, 1982, as quoted in The Mormon Corporate Empire, by John Heinerman and Anson Shupe, 1985, p. 243

“I am so grateful that we live in an era of comparative peace. There are no great wars raging across the world. There is trouble here and there but not a great worldwide conflict. We are able to carry the gospel to so many nations of the earth and bless the lives of the people wherever it goes.”

- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, speech given only 5 months before September 11, 2001, General Conference, April 2001

“Now comes the craze of tattooing one's boy. I cannot understand why any young man – or young woman, for that matter – would wish to undergo the painful process of disfiguring the skin with various multicolored representations of people, animals, and various symbols. With tattoos, the process is permanent, unless there is another painful and costly undertaking to remove it. Fathers, caution your sons against having their bodies tattooed. They may resist your talk now, but the time will come when they will thank you. A tattoo is graffiti on the temple of the body.
“Likewise the piercing of the body for multiple rings in the ears, in the nose, even in the tongue. Can they possibly think that is beautiful? It is a passing fancy, but its effects can be permanent. Some have gone to such extremes that the ring had to be removed by surgery. The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have declared that we discourage tattoos and also ‘the piercing of the body for other than medical purposes.' We do not, however, take any position ‘on the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings' – one pair.”

- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, General Conference, October 2000

“I can take my Bible, and go into the woods and learn more in two hours than you can learn at meeting in two years, if you should go all the time.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., to his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, p. 101

“… some very officious person complained of him [Joseph Smith, Jr.] as a disorderly person, and brought him before the authorities of the county [sometime before 1827]; but there being no cause for action he was honorably acquitted.”

- Oliver Cowdery, Latter-Day Saints Messenger and Advocate, October 1835

“It [the spirit of revelation] may give you sudden strokes of ideas so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass.”

- Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 3, p. 381

“President Young, I sustain you in your office as prophet, seer, and revelator. But I despise you as a human being.”

- Samuel W. Taylor, The Kingdom of God or Nothing, pp. 151-152

“[It] fascinated me. I hadn't realized that there must have been a beauty parlor in the Garden of Eden to do Eve's hair or that Adam had mastered the science of metallurgy, for he was freshly shaved (was there also a barber shop?). Equally amazing was evidence that in their brief period on earth, Adam and eve had mastered the textile-making skills; they had spun and woven cloth, and had sewed it into handsome robes.”

- Samuel W. Taylor, Letter to Richard H. Cracroft, ca. 1992, Cracroft Collection, “Correspondence with Sanuel W. Taylor”; see Mormon Mavericks: Essays on Dissenters, pp. 324-325

“Cease trading with any man or being in this city or country who does not belong to the church. If you do not, we are going to cut you off from the church.”

- Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 12, p. 315, November 29, 1868

“For many years the Mormons rejected the aid of physicians altogether. They applied oil, and ‘laid hands' on all sick person, without regard to their ailments. If a person was ill, the elders were called, and they anointed him with consecrated oil; then they rubbed or manipulated him, much after the manner of the modern ‘magnetic treatment,' the elders praying audibly all the time.”

- Ann Eliza Young, Wife No. 19, 1875, Chapter 7

“They who fight against Zion shall be destroyed; and the pit which has been digged shall be filled by those who digged it.”

- First Presidency (John Taylor, George Q. Cannon, and Joseph F. Smith), quoted in James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, cited in Samuel W. Taylor, Rocky Mountain Empire, 1978, p. 13

“… from all I can learn from the leading men among the Mormons and from various other sources that a grand conspiracy is about to be entered into between the Mormons and Indians to destroy all white settlements on the frontier.”

- Henry King, Indian agent, 1842 report to Iowa's governor; see Abanes, One Nation Under Gods, p. 525, footnote 22

Joseph Smith's Death

“He twisted as he fell, landing on his right shoulder and back, and then rolled over on his face. One of the militia, barefooted and bareheaded, grinning though his black paint, leaped forward and dragged him against the well-curb in the yard. The prophet stirred a little and opened his eyes. There was no terror in them, but whether the calmness was from resignation or unconsciousness one cannot know. Colonel Williams now ordered four men to fire at him. As the balls struck he cringed a little and fell forward on his face.”

- Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, p. 394

Artificial Insemination:

“Artificial insemination is defined as placing semen into the uterus or oviduct by artificial rather than natural means. The Church does not approve of artificial insemination of single women. It also discourages artificial insemination of married women using semen from anyone but the husband. "However, this is a personal matter that ultimately must be left to the husband and wife, with the responsibility for the decision resting solely upon them" (General Handbook of Instructions, 11-4). Children conceived by artificial insemination have the same family ties as children who are conceived naturally. The General Handbook of Instructions (1989) states: ‘A child conceived by artificial insemination and born after the parents are sealed in the temple is born in the covenant. A child conceived by artificial insemination before the parents are sealed may be sealed to them after they are sealed.'”

- Encyclopedia of Mormonism, v. 1, “Artificial Insemination,” by Frank O'May, Jr.


“Antidepressant drugs are prescribed in Utah more often than in any other state, at a rate nearly twice the national average.
“Utah's high usage was cited by one of the study's authors as the most surprising finding to emerge from the data. The study was released last summer and updated in January.
“Other states with high antidepressant use were Maine and Oregon. Utah's rate of antidepressant use was twice the rate of California and nearly three times the rates in New York and New Jersey, the study showed.
“Few here question the veracity of the study, which was a tabulation of prescription orders, said Dr. Curtis Canning, president of the Utah Psychiatric Assn. But trying to understand the "why" has puzzled many, he said.
" ‘The one true answer is we don't know,' said Canning, who has a private practice in Logan. ‘I have some hunches.'
" ‘In Mormondom, there is a social expectation--particularly among the females--to put on a mask, say ‘Yes' to everything that comes at her and hide the misery and pain. I call it the “Mother of Zion” syndrome. You are supposed to be perfect because Mrs. Smith across the street can do it and she has three more kids than you and her hair is always in place. I think the cultural issue is very real. There is the expectation that you should be happy, and if you're not happy, you're failing.'
“The study did not break down drug use by sex. But according to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health, about twice as many women as men suffer from depressive disorders.
“Discussion of the issue inevitably falls along Utah's traditional fault lines. Some suggest that Utah's unique Mormon culture--70% of the state's population belongs to the church--requires perfection and the public presentation of a happy face, whatever may be happening privately. The argument goes that women in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are beset by particular pressures and are not encouraged to acknowledge their struggles….
“Cindy Mann, who lives in Logan, said after 15 years of taking antidepressants and not feeling better, she finally quit in July. Today she encourages others to do likewise, but she's pessimistic.
“ ‘It's like Happy Valley here,' she said, describing the Salt Lake Valley. ‘It's a scary place sometimes. People don't talk about their problems. Everything is always rosy. That's how we got ourselves into this mess--we're good at ignoring things.'”

- Los Angeles Times, Feb. 20, 2002, “Study Finds Utah Leads Nation in Antidepressant Use,” by Julie Cart

Spy Ring

“On 19 April 1966 Ernest Wilkinson [BYU president] asked his administrative assistant to organize a group of ‘conservative' students to ‘monitor' professors who were regarded as Communist sympathizers. Nearly all of these professors had publicly condemned the John Birch Society. Among them was political scientist Louis Midgley whose anti-Birch article in the Daily Universe had resulted in a muzzling of the newspaper two years earlier.... For a year Stephen Hays Russell, student-leader of this ‘spy ring,' had already been reporting to the local Birch Society chapter and to Wilkinson about some of these professors.
“On 20 April Russell organized ten to fifteen other Birch students in a room of BYU's Wilkinson Center. A non-student chapter leader of the society acted as guard. This room was the regular meeting place for BYU's Young Americans for Freedom, and each prospective spy was invited to this ‘special YAF meeting, to be held at the regular place, 370 ELWC. These students included the president of BYU's Young Americans for Freedom and Cleon Skousen's [author of The Naked Communist] nephew Mark.... What linked these students was their participation in the Provo chapter of the Birch Society and the BYU chapter of Young Americans for Freedom.”

- see D. Michael Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, p. 93


“Kolob means ‘the first creation.' It is the name of the planet ‘nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.' It is ‘first in government, the last pertaining to the measurement of time…. One day in Kolob is equal to a thousand years according to the measurement of this earth.”

- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958, p. 428

Double Meaning (could be stated against the church's claims just as easily)

"It is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn't make it true."

- Apostle Elder Uchtdorf in a CES devotional on January 13, 2013

Link is here. (just after the 30 minute mark)