This is a critic's response to FAIR's defense of Whitmer's statement "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to separate myself from among the Latter-day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, so should it be done unto them."
As usual, FAIR doesn't tell all the facts....
...and they misrepresent other facts. For instance:
Whitmer's decision to leave Far West was arguably a wise one. Tensions were high, and there were threats of violence against apostates (including Whitmer, who had been very prominent) from people like Sampson Avard.
FAIR doesn't want you to know that the threats against Whitmer and other "apostates" came not from the alleged "renegade" Danite leader Sampson Avard, but directly from Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon. It was Smith and Rigdon who formed and approved of the Danite band, and Rigdon who wrote a letter ordering Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, Lyman Johnson, and others to leave the area, threatening them with "fatal calamity" if they did not.
For readers who are unfamiliar with the events, here's some of the back story:
Note David Whitmer's recollection:
"In the spring of 1838, the heads of the church and many of the members had gone deep into error and blindness. I had been striving with them for a long time to show them the errors into which they were drifting, and for my labors I received only persecutions. In June, 1838, a secret organization was formed, Doctor Avard being put in as the leader of the band; a certain oath was to be administered to all the brethren to bind them to support the heads of the church in every thing they should teach. All who refused to take this oath were considered dissenters from the church, and certain things were to be done concerning these dissenters, by Dr. Avard's secret band."
And note Rigdon's written threat:
"To Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, William W. Phelps, and Lyman E. Johnson, greeting: Out of the county you shall go, and no power shall save you. And you shall have three days after you receive this communication...for you to depart with your families peaceably;...and unless you heed us,...there shall be no escape; for there is but one decree for you, which is depart, depart, or a more fatal calamity shall befall you...we will put you from the county of Caldwell: so help us God."
As for the *real* reasons Whitmer et al left the church, this is from an old post of mine at
To today's Mormons, "consecration" means giving of their money or goods to the church. In 1838, upon the failure of their Kirtland Bank and "United Order," Smith and Rigdon went to Missouri and again tried to institute an economic commune. The Missouri Mormons, who had been expelled from Jackson County in 1834, were living in relative (albeit temporary) peace in Clay County, buying land and starting farms. But the arrival of Smith and Rigdon in the spring of 1838 brought an influx of thousands more Mormons from Kirtland as well, spilling them over into "Gentile" areas, causing new tensions. Mormon population increased from 1,200 to 15,000 in just a few months. Having been stung by the Kirtland failure, Smith and Rigdon implemented new policies that they hoped would make the new commune succeed. The policy mandated that all Mormons sign their lands over to the church, and then the church would lease the land back to them as "stewardships." The Mormons who had bought and developed their lands and farms balked at the idea---among them being Cowdery, the Whitmers, Phelps, Lyman Johnson, etc. They correctly perceived that the new "consecration" policy was nothing more than Smith and Rigdon's latest scheme to fleece the flock. Their refusal to sign lands over to the church prompted Rigdon's "Salt Sermon" (which was heartily endorsed by Smith), and Rigdon's resulting letter informing the dissenters that they must "depart before a more fatal calamity" befell them. While the dissenters had gone to procure legal aid to prevent Smith and Rigdon from taking their land (or their lives), the "Danites" invaded and plundered their homes and property. So, for those Mormons, "consecration" meant having their goods taken away by force, upon the order of church leaders.
End quotes. The FAIR article also states:
Whitmer's excommunication occurred on 13 April 1838. Whitmer refused to appear at the council meeting that severed him from the Church; he wrote:
to spare you any further trouble I hereby withdraw from your fellowship and communion—choosing to seek a place among the meek and humble, where the revelations of heaven will be observed and the rights of men regarded.
Of course, at that time, the only way to sever one's self from the church was excommunication; but Whitmer's letter makes it clear that he voluntarily resigned. The documentation in the posts I've cited show that Smith and Rigdon, rather than Whiter & Co., were the parties in the wrong.
Whitmer here says that he will withdraw from the Church—this would have been an excellent opportunity for him to invoke a "revelation" telling him to leave the Church, but he did not. >This is not surprising, since he does not report hearing the voice until June, at least six weeks later.
Well, Mopologists who defend the evolving "first vision" tales would argue that a person recalling personal experiences doesn't always reveal everything at the first telling, or re-tell it exactly the same way every time. So the FAIRies who try to discredit Whitmer on this point are guilty of using double standards (big surprise, huh.)
Furthermore, whether Whitmer had a "revelation" or not, his valid reasons for leaving the church and the Mormon settlements are made clear from multiple independent sources, so it's futile for FAIR to attempt to discredit his claim.
Also, since it is the Mopologists who must rely on Whitmer's, Cowdery's, and Harris's credibility as "golden plate witnesses" to defend the authenticity of the BOM, it's rather amusing that they so readily trash Whitmer's credibility on another important event of Mormon history. This is a good example of how Mopologists trust in sources when they favor the church's validity, but they discredit those same sources when they oppose the church's positions.
exmormon LDS critic Randy Jordan
MormonThink editor comment: The FAIR apologists say that Whitmer was excommunicated the month before God supposedly told him to separate himself from the saints. They believe God told him that so he wouldn't be killed by 'Danite-type' LDS who wished to kill him for some reason.
If God was actually going to make one of his rare direct communications with this elect man, maybe he would have told him to get himself back into his one, true church. Instead He tells him merely to leave the area. Would God want Brother Whitmer to remain out of the church and therefore end up in Outer Darkness as he would be considered someone who knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the church was true but still left it? Either God isn't very caring or this never happened as FAIR theorizes it did. Either way it doesn't sound like he's the most reliable witness.