Up until recently, my answer has always been, “No. They are sincere men who genuinely believe that the church is true.”
After my recent interview with Shannon Caldwell Montez — about the handling of the B.H. Roberts/Book of Mormon faith crisis affair of 1922 — I started to think about how outrageously dishonest it was for the Mormon church to intentionally withhold from its members the legitimate scientific concerns surrounding the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham for almost 100 years, while also attempting to erase from church membership any memory of the life of B.H. Roberts.
This reflection led me to make a starter-list of the most outrageously dishonest actions by the Mormon church and its leadership over the years. I have created a starter list below. Will you please review my list, and help me include any other actions that seem particularly egregious to you?
It would be amazing to turn this list into a book someday. Does anyone want to help?
- What have I included here that is factually incorrect?
- What should I add?
Thanks in advance.
Top 50 Most Dishonest Acts in Mormon Church History
- The Mormon church teaching its members for decades the story of Joseph Smith declining alcohol as a boy during his surgery (to give the impression that he obeyed the Word of Wisdom during his life), while knowing that Joseph Smith both drank alcohol as an adult (including drinking wine the night before he was killed), and supported alcohol production and sales in Nauvoo, including having a bar in the Nauvoo Mansion.
- Joseph Smith falsely claiming to have the gift and power of God to translate ancient languages into English, when he knew he didn’t have this power, and plagiarized significant portions of his “translations.”
- The Mormon church knowingly deceiving members by portraying Joseph Smith as translating the Book of Mormon using a breast plate and the “Urim and Thumim” when they knew that he actually used a stone in a hat.
- Joseph Smith knowingly and intentionally altering “revelations” written down in both the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants once they were demonstrated to be false or untrue.
- Joseph Smith intentionally defrauding members of the church in Kirland of their savings by knowingly creating a fraudulent bank and then misappropriating the funds.
- Joseph Smith manufacturing the bestowal of the Melchizedek priesthood years after it was supposed to have been given to the church, and then amending the history accordingly.
- Joseph Smith excommunicating Oliver Cowdery for accurately accusing him of an adulterous affair with Fanny Alger in 1838.
- Joseph Smith overtly lying to Emma (his wife) about polygamy, which included Joseph performing a fake sealing of Emily and Eliza Partridge to Joseph after he had already been sealed to them both secretly.
- Joseph Smith overtly lying to LDS Church membership about his practice of polygamy.
- Joseph Smith calling men on foreign missions so that he could proposition their wives for polygamy.
- Joseph Smith publicly maligning women as “whores” who denied his polygamous advances.
- Joseph Smith destroying the Nauvoo Expositor because it accurately reported that Joseph Smith was secretly practicing polygamy, and lying about it.
- The Mormon church continually portraying Joseph Smith as an innocent victim leading up to his death.
- The Mormon church knowingly and falsely portraying Joseph Smith as a monogamist in its curriculum for members for over a century.
- The Mountain Meadows Massacre – Mormon leaders and church members in Southern Utah promising peace (via a white flag) to the besieged members of the Baker–Fancher emigrant wagon train, and then dressing up as Native Americans so that the Native Americans could be blamed for the massacre. In total, 120 men, women, and children were massacred.
- Brigham Young assisting in the cover-up of the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and scapegoating John D. Lee as primarily responsible for the massacre.
- The Mormon church telling the world in 1890 that it was stopping polygamy, and then secretly and intentionally continuing to practice it – at the highest levels – including allowing new polygamous sealings, for several more decades.
- The full leadership of the Mormon church being put on explicit notice by 1922 by B.H. Roberts and others that both the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham contained significant scientific problems, and then hiding this information from members for another almost 100 years, and seeking to suppress the memory of B.H. Roberts. This included the church telling Truman Madsen NOT to publish his biography of B.H. Roberts in 1965, out of fear that it would challenge the faith of its members.
- Mormon church historian and eventual prophet Joseph Fielding Smith encountering the 1832 version of Joseph Smith’s First Vision (which significantly contradicted the later, 1838 “official version” of the First Vision), and thus ripping it out of Joseph’s journal and hiding the account for decades, until he was publicly exposed for having done so, and then taping it back into the journal.
- The Mormon church excommunicating David O. McKay’s niece, Fawn Brodie, for authoring a historically accurate biography of Joseph Smith entitled “No Man Knows My History.”.
- After feeling the need to respond to the rising popularity of Fawn Brodie’s Joseph Smith biography, the Mormon church attempting to become more honest with its history during the Leonard Arrington years (1972 – 1982), only to have the entire initiative scrapped out of fears that church members might lost their faith if they were taught the honest history.
- Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie publicly claiming in 1981 that the Adam-God doctrine was never “known to be taught in the church,” only to acknowledge in private to Eugene England in the same year, “Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the Father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. ” See here and here for more info.
- Boyd K. Packer explicitly justifying the deception of the membership by privately stating in his 1981 talk entitled “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater Than the Intellect,” that “Some things that are true are not very useful.”
- The Mormon church attempting to purchase the Mark Hofmann forgeries in an overt attempt to hide the potentially controversial documents from its members.
- The Mormon church enlisting hired apologists (e.g., Nibley, Peterson, Sorenson, Gee, Ash, Bushman, Terryl & Fiona Givens, Fluhman) FOR DECADES to publicly attack the character of honest truth-tellers of Mormon history, and/or to mislead and gaslight its membership regarding problematic church history.
- The Mormon church excommunicating or intimidating honest scholars and activists for openly discussing problematic church history (e.g., Fawn Brodie, Juanita Brooks, Michael Quinn, Maxine Hanks, Brent Metcalfe, Jeremy Runnells, Sam Young).
- Gordon B. Hinckley publicly condemning polygamy on Larry King Live as being “not doctrinal” when the doctrine remains enshrined in D&C 132, and when church leaders including Dallin H. Oaks and Russell M. Nelson continue to live celestial polygamy.
- Gordon B. Hinckley publicly denying that the Mormon church taught that men and women could become Gods by stating, “I don’t know that we teach it. I don’t know that we emphasize it.”
- Gordon B. Hinckley stating publicly that the members are entitled to know where their tithing goes, when he knew that church financial information is withheld from its members.
Helmut Nemetchek: ‘In my country, we say the people’s Churches–the Protestants, the Catholics–they publish all their budgets, to all the public. ‘ Hinckley: ‘Yeah. Yeah. ‘ Helmut Nemetschek: ‘Why is it impossible for your Church? ‘ Hinckley: ‘Well, we simply think that that information belongs to those who made the contribution, and not to the world. That’s the only thing. Yes. ‘”
- The Mormon church withholding extensive diaries, journals, and historical records from its members for over a century.- until the Internet forced its hand.
- The Mormon explicitly forbidding current Mormon apostles and prophets from keeping journals, so as to prevent any future sensitive church information from coming to light.
- The Mormon church attempting to take control over and privatize the Leonard Arrington Records Collection at Utah State University.
- The Mormon church claiming that no tithing funds were used to build City Creek Mall.
- The gaslighting infused into LDS Gospel Topics Essays.
- The Mormon church referring to the lifting of the Black Priesthood Ban as a policy change, when the church knows that the Black Priesthood Ban was declared to be doctrinal by the First Presidency in 1949.
- Elder Jeffrey R. Holland lying publicly when asked if U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney would have taken a blood oath in his Mormon temple endowment.
- Russell M. Nelson claiming that the heinous November 2015 LGBTQ Exclusion policy was inspired of God, only to turn around 3 years later and claim that the rescinding/reversal of the policy was also a revelation from God. See here for more details and analysis. Nelson also claimed that the LGBTQ exclusion policy was “motivated by love.”
- Elder Ballard explicitly denying in November of 2017 that Mormon church leaders have ever attempted to hide any troubling history from its members, ever.”Some are saying that the Church has been hiding the fact that there’s more than one version of the First Vision, which is just not true. The facts are, we don’t study. We don’t go back and search what has been said on the subject. For example, Dr. James B. Allen of BYU, in 1970 he produced an article for the church magazines explaining all about the different versions of the First Vision…But it’s this idea that the Church is hiding something, which we would have to say–as two apostles that have covered the world and know the history of the Church and know the integrity of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve from the beginning of time–there has been no attempt on the part, in any way, of the Church leaders trying to hide anything from anybody. Now we’ve had the Joseph Smith Papers. We didn’t have those where they are in our hands now. And so we’re learning more about the Prophet Joseph…So, just trust us wherever you are in the world. And you share this message with anyone else who raises the question about the Church not being transparent. We’re as transparent as we know how to be in telling the truth. We have to do that. That’s the Lord’s way.”
- Prohibiting generations of “non-worthy” LDS and/or non-LDS family and friends in the U.S. from attending the wedding ceremonies of their believing LDS family and friends – including parents and siblings – only to reverse the policy without offering any sort of apology to those who were excluded for decades. See here, here, here and here for details.
- Russell M. Nelson broadly proclaims that Mormons believe that marriage should only be between one man and one woman, all while D&C 132 still teaches polygamy as Mormon doctrine, and Russell M. Nelson himself (as well as Apostle Dallin H. Oaks) are both sealed to multiple women for the eternities.
- When Zimbabwe Vice President Mohandi requested support for clean-water wells, Mormon apostle Neil Anderson said “We are not a wealthy people but we are a good people, and we share what we have.” Less than a month later it is revealed that the Mormon church had/has a $120 Billion+ stockpile of investments through Ensign Peak Advisors, which doesn’t count other assets such as real estate, etc. The annual GDP of Zimbabwe is currently $31 billion USD.
- Ezra Taft Benson attempting to destroy copies of LDS Church-written “The Story of the Latter-day Saints” in 1976 because he was uncomfortable with the candid history and framing.
- Ken Clark’s list of 152 instances of “Lying for the Lord” on the MormonThink web site.
- The Hiding of Church History on “Prove All Things; Hold Fast to Good.”
- Brigham Young seeking to destroy Lucy Mack Smith’s biography.
- What have I included here that is factually incorrect?
- What should I add?