the thinker

What is Anti-Mormon?

What is anti-Mormon?
Sunstone Symposium
August 13-14, 2003

by Grant H. Palmer

World renowned LDS scientist, Dr. Henry Eyring, spoke at a number of "Challenge Weeks" during my college years at the University of Utah on the subject of science during the 1960's. At the end of one of his papers, a student mockingly asked during the question and answer period: “Joseph Smith said that men live on the moon, are dressed like Quakers … do you believe that Dr. Eyring? Professor Eyring answered without hesitation, "I'm glad you asked that question. You see, in my religion you don't have to believe in anything that is not true.” His answer reflected the definition of Mormonism that he had learned in his youth, namely, what Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other church leaders had said on the subject.

For example, Joseph Smith taught that “Truth is Mormonism” in 1839.1 And between 1862-1870, Brigham Young, in educating the saints said that, “If there is a truth among the ungodly and wicked it belongs to us, and if there is a truth in hell it is ours.”2 “Mormonism,” said Young, “is all truth in heaven, on earth or in hell. … All truth is ours. Now if anybody wants to make a trade, come on! If you have truths, and I have errors, I will give ten errors for one truth … bring on your truth.”3 For “Mormonism embraces all truth that is revealed and that is unrevealed, whether religious, political, scientific, or philosophical.”4 “Mormonism includes all truth,” he said.5

There are usually two or more viewpoints for virtually every proposition under the sun, thus it comes down to how good is the evidence? For example there are people in the United States today that do not believe that Neil Armstrong stood on the moon. They believe the whole moon landing was staged in a studio with cameras, but how good is their evidence?  Some people do not believe the Jewish Holocaust occurred, but how good is their evidence? There is still a Flat Earth Club of London, but the three dimensional earth photographs of the beautiful blue and white orb taken by Buzz Aldrin from the moon, cut their club membership in half. Nevertheless, nine people still believe in a flat earth and belong to the club.

According to early Mormonism, “Truth is Mormonism” and thus it is falsehood itself that is anti-Mormon. Here are three clear examples that represent what I believe to be anti-Mormonism under this definition.

Former LDS member, Ed Decker, has made several movies on the Mormon temple ceremony. In his second film, he notes that Adam and Eve's prayer petition to God in a foreign tongue, is in reality a prayer to “wonderful Lucifer.” Prior  to using this foreign language prayer in his film, Decker had asked a Hebrew and Greek scholar for his interpretation of the prayer. When the scholar said such an interpretation wasunwarranted, Decker said: “I'm going to use it anyway.” This action is anti-Mormon.

Some people within the LDS Church itself are quick to rush to judgment about what is anti-Mormon. All too often religious literature and political positions are labeled anti-Mormon prematurely. For example, Juanita Brook's book on the Mountain Meadows Massacre, once called anti-Mormon literature, is now carried and recommended by Deseret Book employees for those inquiring about this controversial subject. Time has vindicated Brooks. Someone owes her descendants an apology. She was unofficially dis- fellowshipped for publishing her book. She was asked not to make comments at church, and even her husband was punished by never being asked to pray again in church.

For a third example, I would observe that the early Mormon teaching that "Truth is Mormonism," needs to be re-emphasized in the LDS Church today, beginning with the Book of Abraham. Brigham Young University professor, Michael Rhoades, at the behest of Apostle Neal Maxwell and using the tithing money of the church has translated and published a book on the Joseph Smith papyri that were recovered by the church in 1967. The papyri have nothing to do with Abraham. Overwhelming evidence demonstrates that the papyri are about an Egyptian priest of Amon-Re, named Hor. In Facsimile 3, for example, Joseph Smith has repeatedly said that the Egyptian language above the hands and heads of the various persons in this document are all about Abraham. He is simply wrong, and it doesn't matter how he arrived at this information. Various writers who have published this evidence are not anti-Mormon, even though speakers at the F.A.I.R. conference called them such last week. Thus, in the best tradition of Mormonism, the Book of Abraham, now embedded within Mormon scripture should be dropped from the standard works of the LDS Church. To continue to spin the Book of Abraham as authentic, in light of the overwhelming evidence, is anti-Mormon.

When something is shown by solid evidence to be false, according to the above definition, LDS prophets should be willing to modify or discard. It is not enough to say that it is through feeling that fact is found in the LDS Church, that "you shall feel that it is right," and therefore it is truth (D&C 9:8). Neither is it acceptable to encourage small children, who cannot read or write to repeat, "I know the church is true," "I know that Joseph Smith is a true Prophet." We all have hunches, intuitions and feelings and they certainly have their place in our search for truth. Sometimes the evidence supports our feelings. But when the facts and evidence do not support our hunches, intuitions and feelings, then we must decide, do facts and evidence trump feelings, or do I believe that feelings trump facts and evidence. I believe the mature person accepts the former.

I hope the panel will allow ample time for those in the audience to share what you think anti-Mormonism is and what it is not. Thank you.

1  Dean C. Jessee, comp. and ed., The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1984), 389, emphasis added.

2  Brigham Young, January 12, 1868, in Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (London and Liverpool:   LDS Booksellers Depot, 1854-86), 12:155.

3  Brigham Young, July 3, 1870, Ibid., 14:280-81.

4BY, January 12, 1862, Ibid., 9:149.

5  BY, April 8, 1867, Ibid., 11:375.