Part 1:

Dr. Brian C. Hales refutes Grant Palmer’s podcast and article on sexual allegations against Joseph Smith.

  • Click here to obtain the PowerPoint presentation for this podcast.
  • Click here to listen to Grant Palmer’s podcast outlining his interpretation of sexual allegations against Joseph Smith.
  • Click here to read Grant Palmer’s discussion of these allegations.
  • Click here to purchase Brian’s new books entitled “Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Vols. 1-3”
  • Click here to check out Brian’s website called “”
  • Click here to check out Brian’s website called “”

Part 2:

In this episode Dr. Brian C. Hales discusses 12 myths regarding Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy.

    1. Joseph Smith had a reputation as a womanizer.
    2. The Joseph Smith – Fanny Alger relationship was not a plural marriage.
    3. Joseph Smith’s polygamy was all about sex, in other words, “multiply and replenish the earth.”
    4. Joseph Smith had no children by his plural wives.
    5. Joseph Smith had sexual relations with 14 year olds.
    6. John C. Bennett was a polygamy insider in Nauvoo.
    7. None of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages were non-sexual “eternity-only” sealings.
    8. Joseph Smith’s teachings allow sexual polyandry.
    9. Some of Joseph Smith’s marriages included sexual polyandry.
    10. Joseph sent men on missions so he could be sealed to their wives.
    11. Joseph Smith threatened to destroy the reputation of any woman that turned him down.
    12. Emma Smith never supported plural marriage.

Part 3:

In part 3, Brian Hales contrasts his views on the naturalistic vs. faithful view of Joseph Smith’s polygamy.

Brian’s PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded here.

Part 4:

In part 4, Brian Hales explains the foundations of his LDS beliefs, and how he maintains belief in the face of detailed knowledge regarding Joseph Smith’s polygamy.



  1. Carl Youngblood February 21, 2013 at 4:40 am - Reply

    At about 1:07 Brian presents two alternatives: either 1) JS was a prophet or 2) he was motivated by libido. I think this is overly simplistic. Isn’t it also possible that JS was a prophet and _also_ was motivated by libido? I really dislike these reductionist arguments.

    • John Dehlin February 21, 2013 at 7:04 am - Reply

      Carl – Totally agree…I wanted to say this too, but then didn’t. I prefer middle road arguments (obviously).

      • Just for Quix February 21, 2013 at 9:02 am - Reply

        Yes the prophet vs “libido maniac” argument relies on modern revisionist LDS cultural standards on some level of inerrancy for a prophet. A biblical “truth teller” was not usually a people-leader and especially not in a parochial denominationalist sense, but usually a man or woman so moved by God to speak His truth for a specific audience or purpose. Therefore if Joseph were a prophet we test his words by more important means than moral rectitude. 

        Abraham, for example, though not a prophet in the conventional biblical sense, but one by LDS worldview, according to the Bible narrative is honored for his covenantal righteousness ever before he (and Sarah) prove to be meddlers in the plans and hardly a moral example in the whole putting away Hagar affair and before any typological sacrificial event ever happens. 

        Likewise Joseph Smith could have been a fallen prophet, a prophet who overstayed his purpose and imposed a denominational standard never intended for prophethood, a bald fraud, a well-intentioned pious human who was morally inconsistent with what most expect of his claims then and now, or a real messenger of God who still was hardly a moral hero when it came to his dalliances (not unlike many persons in the Bible narrative–it is hardly primarily a book of heroes). Perhaps a combo of these possibilities or something else.

        But it seems to me a certainty that if prophet this (moral rectitude) bifurcation is not the main test followers of Jesus are truly asked to measure prophet-speak by, and nor is the modern LDS view of what it means to be a prophet a consistent standard with what the Bible portrays. I don’t consider this presentation a refutation at all because I think it is missing the most vital terms for engaging the meta question about whether Joseph was what he claimed to be.

        • John Dehlin February 21, 2013 at 9:18 am - Reply

          Just for Quix – We still are scheduled to record part 3 of the interview next week where we hope to address faith issues. Please post your questions/issues here, and we’ll do our best to address. Thanks!

    • the narrator February 21, 2013 at 8:31 am - Reply

      Or one could say that Joseph was neither a prophet nor guided by libido.

    • Darth Anon February 21, 2013 at 11:59 am - Reply

      The evidence seems to point to Joseph being driven by both: (a) his sincere belief that God wanted him to marry and have sex with these women just like Abraham and (2) his libido. In this regard, he is similar to other polygamous cult leaders such as Warren Jeffs, Michael Travessor, and so forth. Brian’s choices of either he is a prophet or he was motivated exclusively by his libido is a false dichotomy.

    • Ryan Wimmer February 22, 2013 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      I agree, it is not either or. Smith could have had theological reasons believing it was part of what needed to be restored. I tend to think feelings of power is a major possibility. Jim Jones, David Koresh, and seems most “cult” leaders (hate the word cult but using it for lack of a better one) always have sexual relations with their flock as a means of dominance. Labido could be part of it as well.

  2. Mark Crane February 21, 2013 at 7:16 am - Reply

    The font choices on are trying my faith.

    • courtney February 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm - Reply

      oh my, those are awful.

  3. square peg February 21, 2013 at 9:38 am - Reply

    I’m hoping the 3rd segment will help me feel better. I was hoping for some new insights into how to deal with my feelings regarding Joseph’s relationships.I don’t know what new answers or explanations I’m really expecting to hear. But I feel more agitated at how easily we brush off his behaviors just to maintain belief in someone we’ve been raised to believe we have to in order to have any happiness in this life or the next. If he hadn’t ever been deemed a prophet in our upbringing we would not be so willing and driven to look for reasons to justify and explain away his behaviors. I’m beginning to worry that I will never be able to find inner peace on this matter. But I’m not in a position where I can simply “let it go”. I don’t know how people can do that. I know,don’t tell me- my “faith” just isn’t sufficient enough…..

    • Rob February 21, 2013 at 10:57 am - Reply

      Square Peg,

      I think most people would and do understand how you feel. It’s not a good feeling to feel incomplete. After listening and reading tons of things out there regarding not just this issue but all hot topics, it comes down to this; Who is the best basketball team in America? You are either a Laker fan or a Celtic fan. No matter how good the Celtics are the Laker fan will always find fault. If the Lakers are doing well the Celtic fan will find fault. This is why the “truth” will never be known. Truth to what? Evidence? Follow this logic in anything and you still come up either rooting for the Lakers or Celtics. If Brian is a Laker that makes Grant a Celtic. Truth sometimes gets pushed under the rug when we are too busy promoting our own team.

      • Tim Harper February 21, 2013 at 11:44 am - Reply

        I’m more concerned by the question: Did Joseph Smith really get called of God by supernal natural means? Did God literally talk to him? If there is an afterlife, and I think there is, does the LDS priesthood have any real binding power there?

        These are certainly more serious than “which basketball team is the best”, and I also find their answers to be rather binary as well.

        His sexuality, his character, etc., all very interesting. And yes, in that sense, it’s a Lakers fan vs. Celtics fan. But if I’m going to stop thinking for myself and accept the moral authority of another organization, it will only be because I’m strongly convinced it is my creators will that I do so.

        • John Dehlin February 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm - Reply

          Tim – Yours is a very reasonable position.

        • PaulW February 21, 2013 at 3:34 pm - Reply

          Reasonable, though I reject the idea that “accepting the moral authority” of an organization means to “stop thinking for myself”.

          • John Dehlin February 21, 2013 at 3:38 pm

            Totally agree, PaulW!

          • Tim Harper February 25, 2013 at 1:51 pm

            Yeah PaulW, after I reread my comment, I thought this too. What I meant to say was to have an organization’s policy trump my own thought process, this hinging on them having unique moral authority between me and my creator that I don’t possess individually.

        • Carl Youngblood February 22, 2013 at 2:16 am - Reply

          Tim, I think there are other important questions too, such as: Did Joseph think he was doing God’s will? To what extent did his work result in human flourishing? Is it possible for God to work with someone despite their having an inaccurate understanding of the world, of history, of the Bible and its stories and characters? Is it possible for God to work with seriously flawed people? Does he/she ever do otherwise? How much of reality is actually stories we tell each other? How much of our very language is made up of endless memes, each of which builds upon each other? If we took away all these stories, would anything be left? Does it even matter if some divine force called Joseph, if it ultimately resulted in better outcomes? Is this actually all we mean when we talk about God? What about Christianity itself? All the same historical challenges we see in Mormonism exist in spades in Christian history as well. We often want to know what “really happened,” but this never really answers our questions. (

          “The capacity of the strenuous mood lies so deep down among our natural human possibilities that even if there were no metaphysical or traditional grounds for believing in a God, men would postulate one simply as a pretext for living hard, and getting out of the game of existence its keenest possibilities of zest. Our attitude towards concrete evils is entirely different in a world where we believe there are none but finite demanders, from what it is in one where we joyously face tragedy for an infinite demanders’ sake. Every sort of energy and endurance, of courage and capacity for handling life’s evils, is set free in those who have religious faith. For this reason the strenuous type of character will on the battle-field of human history always outwear the easy-going type, and religion will drive irreligion to the wall.” (William James)

          To sum up: it’s complicated. All that said, I would never advocate that someone unequivocally accept the moral authority of any organization, including the Church. I see church as an organization that can be both beneficial and harmful, and I see my relationship to it as a give-and-take one, an opportunity and a source of frustration. I try to maximize the ways I get benefit from it and minimize the downsides, but this takes active policing of one’s priorities and time, and family dynamics make it even harder. I definitely don’t think one can succeed in life if one merely goes with the flow at church. Church is much more than a true/false proposition. It’s a community, and we are ultimately social animals. We want to belong to a community. Every community we belong to is both harmful and beneficial. Leaving a community might be the best choice depending on one’s situation, but it always has tradeoffs. J. Bonner Ritchie has some awesome points on this:

          Tangential to your main point but still important, Joseph posited a cosmology in which nothing was “supernatural.” For him, god was just like you and me, only more advanced, and anything that seems to be miraculous is just something we can’t explain yet.

  4. John Dehlin February 21, 2013 at 10:00 am - Reply

    Questions from Grant Palmer for the next episode:

    1) What about the Ten Commandment to not covet a neighbor’s wife and adultery?
    2) What about the verse in D&C that requires that the plural wife is a virgin?

    • Dcharle February 21, 2013 at 10:49 am - Reply

      So, John, by your post here it appears that Grant will be coming on again to follow up and counter some of Hales assertions?

      • John Dehlin February 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm - Reply

        He’s been invited. Not sure if he’s planning on coming on. Just got off the phone w/ him. He did give me some questions to ask Brian, which I plan to ask. Great man (in my opinion), as is Brian.

    • Brian C. Hales February 21, 2013 at 12:53 pm - Reply

      Nice to hear from Grant.

      I’d ask Grant for some credible evidence that Joseph Smith coveted anything including a neighbor’s wife. I understand it is the natural assumption, but in the case of Ruth Vose Sayers, she sought out Joseph and asked to be sealed to him. I’m nonplussed by observers who speculate and then condemn JS based on their speculations. Also problematic are unexamined historical sources.

      Joseph was not perfect – and he readily admitted that – so maybe he did desire a woman as implied by Grant, but I would ask for evidence that he coveted. The historical record does not tell us in every case whether the women sought to be sealed to JS or he sought them.

      Regarding virgins, I’m not sure what Grant is saying. The word “virgin” only appears once (verse 61) and “virgins” three times (verses 61-62-63). Joseph did not elaborate, but every other reference to plurality is not referring to virgins. And as I read it, it is not a requirement. Grant’s assertion is interesting because we are not told if the principles taught in 61-63 apply to worthy non-virgins (like widows or divorcee).

      DOn’t know if that helps.


      • thinking February 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm - Reply

        “And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse aanother, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.”

        Are you suggesting that each of JS’s virgin wives gave consent to subsequent virgin wives? I am assuming emma was most likely a virgin wife (this seems to be directed at her) but I am guessing that a number of his wives were also virgins at the time of their marriage to JS. Did each of them give consent for additional virgin wives or are you thinking that only emma was required to give consent? Are you suggesting that she gave consent to each additional virgin wife?

      • Chris Ogden February 21, 2013 at 2:42 pm - Reply

        If we take the ostensible virgin requirement of verses 61-63 at face value, then there is an apparent discontinuity with the earlier verse 41. Verse 41 states that “if a man receiveth a wife in the new and everlasting covenant, and if she be with another man, and I have not appointed unto her by the holy anointing, she hath committed adultery and shall be destroyed.” This verse is qualified in such a way as to imply that God could “appoint” to an anointed woman the right to have sex with and be sealed to a second man. In that case, she would obviously not be a virgin. So perhaps Dr. Hales is right not read verses 61-63 as containing a virginity or unmarried status requirement for new brides.

      • Ron March 8, 2013 at 8:01 am - Reply

        Brian your reasoning here is astounding. The proven case of JS marrying other men’s wives is your credible evidence. Do you need look any further? It doesn’t matter who sought who. JS as a man of god should have followed the commandments and NOT married another man’s wife while that man was still alive and their marriage was still in effect. Who cares if the women wanted to marry him. He should have said “…Ummm No, we don’t do that sort of thing in polygamy.” Where in all LDS scripture does it say that practice is commanded or even OK?

    • Ryan Wimmer February 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm - Reply

      Rather than Palmer asking theological questions, I want to hear his answers to what I thought was an excellent thumping on many of Palmer’s claims. I have never been that impressed with Palmer’s work other than an Insiders View is a good simplified reference book on Mormonism’s founding stories.

  5. dave February 21, 2013 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Ha ha, “caught with his hand in the cookie jar.” Nice John.

    This guy doesn’t really do much in terms of dissuading me of Polygamy’s sexual nature. With Fanny Alger’s marriage, Joseph must have used his priesthood power by the “laying on of hands” to seal that time only marriage. .

    • why me February 21, 2013 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      And yet, no where did any of Joseph’s plural wives say that it was for sex. And it seems that they also never had a negative word to say about Joseph Smith. If polygamy was all about sex, these women would have known it. Very hard to keep that hidden from any woman, especially 33 women.

      • Ana February 23, 2013 at 12:17 am - Reply

        It was taboo in Victorian times to mention sexuality, especially for women. The wives of JS who signed avadavats (some of which were prepared for them) and who testified for the Temple Lot case, were a rare exception, and were apparently responding obediently to the requests of church leaders.

      • wonderwoman1975 February 28, 2013 at 4:33 pm - Reply

        Ah. . .but, didn’t Emma have *plenty* of negative things to say about Joseph Smith wanting to practice polygamy? She was against it from the very beginning. If Joseph had indeed told Emma that the polygamous unions were celibate Celestial dynastic unions only, with absolutely no requirements of sex, then I can’t imagine Emma would have been so against gaining a ‘testimony’ of such a simple, spiritual practice.

  6. James February 21, 2013 at 10:51 am - Reply

    An anesthesiologist and a historian…very consistent… This guy is eventually going to put me to sleep (not mean-spirited, just a joke).
    But in that vein, the first hour of the podcast, I witnessed the evidentiary needle. Brian tapped it very skillfully and professionally. I’m still awake and something uncomfortable is happening to my conceived notions, but I know it’s for my own good. I agree no reasonable person should convict Joseph on flimsy evidence. Grant does have some ‘splainin’ to do. We shall be innocent until proven otherwise. What’s the saying, “It’s better for one sheep to go free than…”
    Anyway, the last 15 minutes of the podcast, the magic stuff in the needle has me dreaming of Elias or Elijah showing up AFTER the nasty scrap with Fanny “the hill” Alger. Unfortunately the faithful procedure fails, I know I am dreaming and will soon awaken with a lucid conviction…Guilty by reason of reasonable doubt. Is that simple enough for Occam’s Flamin’ Razor?

    • N Chung February 25, 2013 at 2:25 pm - Reply

      ^^^ No idea what the hell James’s point is.

  7. Gage February 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm - Reply

    During the Eliza Winters section, Mr. Hales tries to discredit Levi Lewis’ quotation of Martin Harris claiming Joseph tried to seduce Eliza Winters by saying that Lewis’ additional statement,

    “With regard to the plates, Smith said God had deceived him –which was the reason he (Smith) did not show them”
    was “blatantly false” because of the testimony of the 3 and 8 witnesses in the 1830 Book of Mormon.

    Hales has no skepticism about the truth/reality of the witnesses actually seeing the plates. It has been widely discussed that the witnesses likely saw the plates with their “spiritual eyes”, suggesting that none of them saw or touched the plates in reality, just in vision/hallucination. In light of widespread doubt about the validity of the testimony of the 11 witnesses actually seeing the plates, I don’t think this is a very strong argument against the quote. There may be other problems with Lewis’ accusations, but this probably isn’t one of them. We also don’t know that Lewis wasn’t referring to a specific instance or time period. “Show them” to whom? In general? Specific? Ever? The quote is ambiguous.

    I was surprised, John, that you didn’t bring this up, given that I remember you discussing the personally troublesome nature of the 3 & 8 witnesses’ testimonies in the past. Hales’ other points here are well reasoned, given that other sources don’t exist.

    You probably don’t need to bring this up in the third podcast… Just to clarify, I’m not saying Lewis’ affidavit is necessarily correct or unbiased, I’m just saying that using blind faith in the 11 witnesses isn’t sufficient grounds to throw out Lewis’ testimony. He seems to have plenty of other reasons for discrediting the account, and those are stronger.

    • David E. Richardson February 22, 2013 at 4:30 pm - Reply

      In his comment above, “Gage” said that “none of (the witnesses) saw or touched the plates in reality.” This statement directly contradicts the crystal clear testimony of the eight witnesses themselves who said: “…and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated WE DID HANDLE WITH OUR HANDS.” From their own sworn testimonies, it appears that the eight witnesses didn’t just handle the set of plates as a unit– they leafed through the sections which Joseph Smith translated. To further emphasize the fact that they did in reality handle the plates, they said: “And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have SEEN AND HEFTED, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken.”
      It strains credulity to believe that Joseph Smith could have conjured up a vision or hallucination so powerful that eight men would testify to their dying day that they not only saw the plates and handled the plates but apparently leafed through the plates.
      Why didn’t any of the 11 total witnesses ever question whether they had only experienced a vision or hallucination? Surely many people asked the witnesses that question over the years, yet not one ever denied his testimony. Why did all of the 11witnesses remain true to their testimony even when some were excommunicated from the Church? Skeptics seem willing to accept negative statements from enemies of the Church, from tabloid type publications, and even from some early Church members, but are loathe to accept positive statements from those same sources.

  8. m chandler February 21, 2013 at 2:41 pm - Reply

    How does he really know? Reading articles and journal entries don’t tell the story. JS married and had countless affairs with other mens wives.

    Man, it doesn’t make sense to me. If that is our Lord, he’s a jerk.

    • Stormin February 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Thank you for bringing up the obvious!!!! I know the LDS church doesn’t want members to use common sense but a feeling instead!! However, Why would any God want Anyone especially a chosen Prophet to do polygamy like Joseph Smith —— lied up to his dieing day, threatened he would have been killed by an Angel (give me a break what kind of doctrine is this?), the massive numbers, polyandry, and the list goes on and on. If Josephs’ polygamy makes sence to anyone or any God I want nothing to do with that person or God!

  9. Jan Sewelen February 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm - Reply

    I want to thank Brian for a great interview. He discussed facts and used source criticism brilliantly. No mean spirit, no unchristian tone, no personal ad hominem attack, no character assanisation. Just a plain good rebuttal. More of this! I am eager to hear Grant’s response. I sincerely expect a reaction from him.

  10. Michael Waltman February 21, 2013 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    Some other things that may be worth mentioning.

    Right around the time Fanny is kicked out. Joseph and Oliver have a shared vision and restoration of keys by Elijah, Moses, Elias etc.

    Right at the time he takes Zina Huntington Jacobs Smith Young as his first polyandrous wife, Joseph brings her brother William D Huntington back from the dead. He having died in the Smith home from an illness.

    Right at the time of the Essay on Happiness in the Sagoma Journal and the expose of the proposal to Nancy Rigdon. Sidney loses the election to be post master of Nauvoo. Quinn records that he received 2 votes. The populace assumed Rigdon was in on the smear campaign. On top of that his daughter, Eliza Rigdon dies of typhoid fever and Joseph lays hands on her and brings her back to life. Which then lights a fire in Sidney that Joseph is still very much a man of God.

    I think it’s odd that no one is connecting the spiritual and miraculous events that are happening while all of this is going on to help build that case that Joseph was actually still delivering spiritually and in the words of Lorenzo Snow (paraphrasing of course), “becoming more powerful” (in a spiritual sense) when he and Joseph went for a walk so Joseph could explain to him that his sister was now his wife.

    The journals and memoirs of Joseph contemporaries are filled with spiritual accounts, of Joseph manifesting spiritual powers that have to be either explained away, left out or ignored to make a case that Joseph wasn’t right with God. Good luck with that…

    If a guy has 30+ wives and raises my brother from the dead, I don’t care what you say about the man, I’m in his corner.

    • John Dehlin February 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm - Reply

      I heart Michael Waltman. :)

    • GM February 21, 2013 at 5:43 pm - Reply

      What constitutes “dead”? Is there a record of these so-called deaths? Who pronounced them dead? Are there death certificates? In this world, there have been documented cases where people were pronounced “dead” and then were “revived” through natural means or by no intervention at all.

      Just for fun, let’s assume that Joseph Smith did in fact bring people back from the dead, why should we assume that these death revivals were “spiritual” in the sense that God had something to do with these “miracles” working through Joseph Smith?

      If a Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Secularist, or Satanist or any other non-Mormon were to bring someone back from the “dead” would you be in their corner as well? So many corners, so few “one and only true” corners, eh?

      • Michael Waltman February 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm - Reply

        In the case of William D Huntington. He was out of his body in the spirit looking down at his weeping family and friends and related everything that led up to Joseph coming in the room washing his hands, laying them on his head and him being revived. He was physically unconscious and described all the goings on to his friends and family as they sat around listening as their tears of grief turned to tears of joy. He described his revival as feeling like he was being stabbed by hundreds of daggers. Which is a description of Paresthesia. This would happen to his entire body since his heart stopped pumping. His nerves were firing off the pin prick feelings we all associate with when your arm/leg is asleep. Since it was body wide, it adds credibility to the story. That and he’s completely alive and cured.

        As per Eliza Rigdon here is an exert of the obituary written by a former Strangite and RLDS editor H. P Brown about James Sloan, one of Joseph’s scribes and Hyrum’s patriarcal blessing recorder. “He testified to seeing Sidney Rigdon’s daughter raised from the dead under the hands of Joseph Smith the prophet, after she had been several days pronounced dead by the physicians”

        People do come back to life after being declared dead but how many do this by voice command by laying on of hands???

        How about impossible and widely testified

        Elijah Fordham was revived from his deathbed in the mass healing that Joseph did in July of 1839 that is very well documented and lived for decades afterwards. A healing that has half a dozen written testimony as to have had happen.

        Ever read the witnessed accounts of Philo Dibble’s healing? Dibble had his guts shot out during the Missouri skirmishes. He was written off for dead when he became infected and the wound became gangrenous. That is until Bishop Partridge laid hands on him. Dibble described a warmth flowing through him starting at his head, it reached his stomach wound and his flesh sealed up back to normal. He then dropped his pants and excreted bloody gangrenous fecal matter out all over the ground and then farted out the bullet into the pile like a cherry on top. You can find this in Parley Pratts autobiography.

        Joseph brought heaven to Earth for quite a few people and passed on the power he shared to other. Even those who never met him. Men like John W Taylor or civil war veteran John Hamilton Morgan (who raised two children from the dead and performed many healings and was a mentor to the whos who of GAs like J Golden Kimball, B H Roberts, Heber J Grant and scores of others).

        IF… I’m trying to deal with accounts that people said happened who dedicated their lives to a belief system that had a lot of power back when they lived polygamy. and I get IF hypothetical crap as a rebuttal… seriously.. IF you Google some of these names you could look this all this up and more …IF

        I’d personally start with’s collection of Journals and Memoirs. As for Palmer making William Law out to be such an outstanding guy go read Sarah Stoddard’s journal over there at and tell me Law wasn’t a full out SOB. She died in 1846 and her 15 year old closed her journal in 1848 so the account is a historian gold mine since it was recorded right at the time of the event and not 30 years after the fact. I’d also go take a peek at Hyrum Andrus’ book or CD’s called They Knew the Prophet. If 200 people testifying of spiritual experiences from their own life and encounters with Joseph Smith can’t convince you that their is spiritual smoke so their must be a fire then I nor anyone can…

        I’ve put in the hours of research and had my share of tear stained pillows through the process, I didn’t come to my decision lightly, but I find myself in Joseph’s corner as being the real thing.

        • Stormin February 21, 2013 at 10:09 pm - Reply

          Are you saying only Mormons can pray and heal and bring people back from the dead —– are you that myopic? Also, I have studied a lot of people experiencing being out of their bodies before they were ever declared “dead” by anyone so —— Good Try. Finally, does the person praying need to be “saintly,a Prophet, or even near saintly” to have Faith in God and God bring back a person from the dead? Lets give God and Faith credit here not a person (saint or sinner)!

        • GM February 22, 2013 at 7:08 am - Reply

          Apparently I hit the wrong Reply button. If anyone cares, my response to Michael Waltman is attached to the Troy Morrell post below. Sorry Troy.

      • N Chung February 26, 2013 at 7:09 am - Reply

        If a Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Secularist, or Satanist or any other non-Mormon were to bring someone back from the “dead” would you be in their corner as well?

        Buddhist, Muslim, Jew, yes. Satanists, atheists, no.

    • Dennis March 14, 2013 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      On the other hand if a guy has only 2 wives and that second wife was already mine, I don’t care if he had 30+ others or not, I’m not in his corner.

  11. Troy Morrell February 21, 2013 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    One other question (I’ve posted some on the second podcast page), Dr. Hales keeps coming back to the Book of Mormon as being authoritative scripture regarding adultery, polygamy, and marriage, and projects that view back in time onto Joseph Smith, saying in several spots that Joseph would have been influenced by those teachings that we are all so aware of today.

    Joseph never preached from the Book of Mormon. I have not read in any of his sermons or writings where he referenced the Book of Mormon as authoritative scripture. Why should we assume that Joseph saw the Book of Mormon as authoritative scripture when he didn’t ever reference it in his teachings?

    Just curious, if anyone can answer, when do/which ones–church leaders begin using the Book of Mormon as scriptural authority?

    • GM February 21, 2013 at 10:07 pm - Reply

      Answer me this, are Mormons the only people in the history of the world (other than Jesus) to have brought people back from the dead? BTW, Jesus brought back Lazarus by shouting, no laying on hands necessary. Did your research discover claims concerning non-Mormons who brought people back from the dead?

      If you want to put faith in the Deity having a hand in Joseph Smith’s ability to raise the dead, then you have to give just as much reverence to anyone else who is able to accomplish the same feat. In some cases, you should consider elevating others above Joseph Smith just on the basis of quantity of death “revivals” accomplished by other healers. Search the internet and you find people who are claimed to be responsible for hundreds of people being raised from the dead.

      I will grant Joseph Smith the title of “healer” if it could be proven that he was capable of raising the dead, but that doesn’t make him a prophet.

      BTW, I did a search on the internet and I found many accounts of failed healings and/or failed attempts to raise the dead by Joseph Smith and other Mormons of note. Did your extensive research turn up any of these accounts or are you a “faith-promoting only” researcher? On balance, there were probably just as many fails as successes. Even in the area of restoring the dead, the ledger doesn’t favor Mormonism or Joseph Smith.

      Wait, before you type a single word in response, I will anticipate your rebuttal. “You can’t rely on accounts that do not come from faithful sources. Only journal entries from friends, followers, and believers of Joseph Smith are trustworthy.” Yeah sure they are.

      • why me February 21, 2013 at 10:51 pm - Reply

        The fact that Joseph Smith did raise people from the dead is certainly not a mark against him. And it can give pause for thought. Of course, if we wish to downplay it, then, we will also need to downplay Jesus’ miracle of raising the dead too and place in the category of an everyday faith healing.

        And in terms of failed healings…How do we know that these healings actually failed? It is all in God’s hands after all.

        • GM February 22, 2013 at 7:01 am - Reply

          Downplay Jesus? Do you have a documented account of Jesus failing to heal someone that we don’t know about? This is the typical Mormon response we’ve all come to expect: “You can’t trust the Bible. You can’t trust Jesus alone. You can’t trust anything or anyone EXCEPT a poor, uneducated, farm boy from NY who couldn’t possibly have made any of this up or worked in concert with others to perpetrate a religious fraud.”

          This is another one I just love: When Joseph Smith (or Hinckley or Monson, et. al.) experiences a “hit” he’s a prophet, but when he experiences a “miss” he’s just a man and it’s God’s wisdom for such things to occur. (Geez, really. How convenient.)

          Apply the Deuteronomy test to Joseph Smith and he is a dismal failure and therefore he is NOT a prophet.

          Apply the Pauline test to Joseph Smith and he fails again. Joseph Smith most definitely teaches a different Jesus and gospel than Paul and the Apostles taught and then he doubles down by promoting the idea that Jesus alone is not enough (see temple, priesthood, prophets, tithing, marriage, etc). By teaching that we should follow after a Jesus that never existed, Joseph Smith fails a second Deuteronomy test. In both instances, that makes Joseph Smith an antichrist. Apply the revelations of John and we are warned that even an antichrist has the power to deceive and cause signs and wonders to be manifest in the world. Satan himself has power in this world to deceive.

          If you want to follow Joseph Smith the “healer”, go right ahead. He has plenty of non-Mormon company. If you want to follow Joseph Smith as a disciple of Jesus Christ or a prophet, then I’m afraid your house is built on a depression of sinking sand.

    • why me February 21, 2013 at 10:55 pm - Reply

      In the History of the Church, the following entry is recorded as having been made by Joseph Smith on November 28, 1841.[1]

      Sunday, 28.–I spent the day in the council with the Twelve Apostles at the house of President Young, conversing with them upon a variety of subjects. Brother Joseph Fielding was present, having been absent four years on a mission to England. I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.

      I think that the above quotation says quite a lot in answering your question.

      • why me February 21, 2013 at 10:58 pm - Reply

        However, we do need to be careful in attributing a quotation to someone when it comes to early church leaders like Joseph Smith since we have very little of his sermons by his own hand. Most were attributed to him as the Intro to the above quotation states.

        • GM February 22, 2013 at 7:14 am - Reply

          I suppose that’s why the church in recent years has practiced attributing quotes to books of collected writings rather than to the individuals who actually stated what is being quoted. Plausible deniability is an attorney’s trick not a prophetic dispensation.

      • Troy Morrell February 23, 2013 at 6:42 am - Reply

        why me,

        That quotation isn’t an example of teaching from the book, it is a statement about the book.

        Joseph and early church leaders preached messages from the bible, citing stories and scriptures all the time in their sermons and writings, but Nephite prophets, Book of Mormon passages, and specific principles in the Book of Mormon weren’t used in sermons or writings.

        Your quotation doesn’t answer my question at all.

  12. MM February 21, 2013 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    No mention that Fanny was pregnant when Emma kicked her out. Is that why Joseph (allegedly) counseled her to quickly remarry?

    The church teaches that the priesthood can only be used to bless other people, never yourself. What other examples exist in Mormon or early Christian history of a priesthood holder performing a marriage or any other priesthood ordinance on himself?

    The whole purpose of marriage is societal recognition of a couple’s right to bear children. How is a secret marriage performed on yourself, followed by impregnation and secret self-granted divorce functionally different than an affair?

  13. Dan Vogel February 22, 2013 at 8:29 am - Reply

    While I find Brian Hale’s works well-researched, I don’t find them well-reasoned. He likes to accuse Palmer of overstating his case, but he constantly quibbles, minimizes, and understates the evidence. Levi Lewis’s statement about Martin Harris’s statement about Joseph Smith’s attempt to seduce Eliza Winters no doubt relates what Harris at least believed. Both Harris and Winters had occasion to deny Lewis’s well-known account, but never did. Hales didn’t mention that Winters’ lost her 1833 suit against Harris. Lewis’ statement was first published in the Susquehanna Register in May 1834, not in Howe’s book. Hales misinterprets Lewis’ reference to Joseph Smith not showing the plates, which has nothing to do with the subsequent testimonies of the witnesses but rather with the testimony of the Harmony witnesses that Smith had promised them a view of the plates (see especially the statement of Nathaniel Lewis). Hales should balance the BOM’s making adultery a sin next to murder with JS’s 1842 statement to Nancy Rigdon that whatever God commands to do is right no matter what it is, even if it seems abominable to us. Hales speculates that in his 1880 interview with Winters, Mather asked about Lewis’ statement but didn’t publish her denial. Given the fact that she lost her suit against Harris in 1833, it doesn’t seem likely that she would take him on again, especially in print. More important is Harris’s silence since he had every reason to protect JS’s reputation. Despite Hales’ eagerness, this single sentence is not so easily dismissed.

    • Christopher Allman February 22, 2013 at 10:18 am - Reply

      Thank you for providing this information.

    • tj March 8, 2013 at 8:55 am - Reply

      Amen Dan Vogel! Great stuff.

      Rather than historians, Palmer is a prosecuting attorney and Hales is a defense attorney. Both are doing everything to make their case. Both selectively use facts, but neither hides their lack of objectivity–but then again, most don’t.

      A few things that bothered me from this one:

      – stating that fanny was married only to joseph for time makes no sense. I get that you have to make that argument because the sealing power hasn’t been supposedly restored, but given all the latter rhetoric focuses on the benefits of eternity, this makes no sense. To say nothing of what this says about the nature of God, when he reveals polygamy before sealing.

      – he sharply criticizes Palmer for referencing and relying too much on sources that are 20+ years after events and then he does it many times himself.

      – it is a gross oversimplification (which he repeats again and again) that joseph either did this at God’s command or because of exceptional libido. I actually think that the most likely explanation is that joseph did it for the power. It made him feel powerful, and that was his insatiable need. there are easier ways to get sex than nauvoo polygamy, and the God who sets this up and hurts so many in the process only to let the practice go out with a lying whimper is hard to understand, at best.

      – this point is petty on my part, but he called the fanny marriage a “sealing” twice and then said no one ever does that. he even called it a “sealing for time”, which makes no sense at all. now i believe he just misspoke, but I don’t think that would not have happened if he were trying to represent the historical record with optimal plausibility, instead of making his case.

      – calling levi lewis a liar because there is evidence of one potential lie is a serious double standard when you consider Hales provided almost zero impeachment of Joseph Smiths character who lied all the time about practicing this.

      – It is really unfair to the wives to say that they could have divorced or complained and they didn’t so that suggests Joseph was good to them and they were happy. It fails to acknowledge that when you threaten with angels and swords and eternal damnation you can get a believer to deny their own moral compass.

      – while parts of palmers arguments are hard to swallow, i find his interpretation of 132 more palatable than Hales. but admittedly, 132 is hard to defend.

      – applying all of hales arguments against bennett’s “spiritual wifery” become even more condemning when applied to Joseph concerning the Fanny marriage.

      – last one: does anyone else find it interesting that God choose not to bring back the sealing power before He supposedly introduced Joseph to polygamy. However, God choose to name Fanny Algers, Fanny.

    • Reiley July 13, 2021 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      I notice that Hales only highlights what supports his blind faith in Smith. He leaves out important details. Glad a true scholar takes Hales on.

  14. Dan Vogel February 22, 2013 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Hales is correct that there is no court record (or transcript) for the 1830 trials other than justice and constable bills. We only have JS’s 1838 account, which is preceded by his false representation that his activity as a money digger was limited to one episode with Stowell. So one doesn’t expect JS to be forthcoming on sensitive issues. But the whole idea of calling Stowell’s daughters to the stand as character witnesses, particularly in private matters, has a sexual connotation. Hales is slitting hairs to say that it’s not explicitly stated. Clearly, the accusation of sexual impropriety was an issue at the 1830 trial. I’m less concerned that adultery was actually committed. As with the Winters’ case, Harris allegedly spoke only of JS’s attempt to seduce her, not actual adultery. An unsuccessful attempt is still relevant to character. In an 1844 sermon JS admitted that about this time he was accused of having more than one wife. So the charge of sexual impropriety was being made during this period, even according to JS.

  15. Christopher Allman February 22, 2013 at 10:17 am - Reply

    This is what apologetics SHOULD be.
    The Maxwell Institute should hire this guy as their director! Dogmatically concerned with the facts and evidence, presenting it as open and fairly as possible, gently offering opinions and interpretations but ultimately leaving it up the reader to make up their own mind, all the while being unfailingly nice in the process.
    Like so many people my faith crisis was made worse when I turned to apologetics and found their mean spirited, manipulative attack.
    If instead I had encountered someone like this who is not only nice and fair but gives you the feeling he is providing you with all the information relevant to the situation, not just what supports his own view, I may even have ended up staying in the Church.
    Ultimately I’m happy i left so from my perspective I’m happy the apologists pushed me out. But from the Church’s point of view, they NEED guys like this front and center if the Church is going to survive the internet era.

  16. Steve February 22, 2013 at 11:15 am - Reply

    The argument that the Nauvoo polygamists would not have followed Joseph had they suspected libido as his motive is a very weak argument. These were plains people…settlers if you will. I’m sure there was tremendous cultural, economic, and emotional pressure to stay put and keep quiet. Additionally, one could argue that the libidos of other men served to motivate the support. Keeping in mind that women were second class citizens at the time, it is straightforward to assume that they would remain as well. We have examples all around the world where people stand by leaders (e.g., Warren Jeffs and David Koresh) who perform nefarious acts. Why would you assume the Nauvoo polygamists to be different. I’m sorry but that is an awful argument.

  17. Alan February 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm - Reply

    This whole broad conversation exists in order to determine if Joseph’s participation in polygamy and polyandry was based on a desire for adulterous sex or not. To me, most of the arguments are speculative and really not necessary, since all we really need to do is look at the results or lack of results.
    That fact is that with the unquestionable evidence of Joseph’s fertility and the lack of birth control methods available at that time there would be many very tangible results to prove his motives. If Joseph Smith had a desire for adulterous relationships, he definitely had the influence to satisfy such cravings, which would have created many children.
    The post-Smith leaders of the church were extremely motivated to prove that Joseph’s brand of polygamy involved full intercourse, to justify the way they practiced it. So any offspring would have been broadly touted. The evidence or lack there of is the only sure way to know. So, you Joseph Smith haters, where is the evidence?

    • blake February 22, 2013 at 7:54 pm - Reply

      You do know that the “pull out” method of birth control has been around for eons right?

      • GM February 22, 2013 at 10:31 pm - Reply

        Not to mention abortion.

      • Ana February 23, 2013 at 1:02 am - Reply

        Sheep-gut condoms???

  18. John Dehlin February 22, 2013 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    We all have bias. What I would love to see here and in the next episode is an acknowledgment/analysis Grant’s bias as compared with Brian’s bias. Brian is clearly biased as a believer, but to what extent did/does Grant’s bias impact his scholarship?

  19. Charlie Carnevale February 22, 2013 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Fanny facts,

    Finally someone noting that it wasn’t a sealing…it was just a marriage although polygamous. Smith was very clear in separating the sealing ordinance from a marriage ceremony. He actually insisted that marriages be open and a reason for celebration. Sealings were different, a different ordinance. I wish the church would still do this instead of calling a marriage a ‘sealing’.

    Great interview though. Finally someone who just talks facts and what seems to be the most likely historical truth. Many so called Mormon historians just seem to want to bring down Smith and his work. Congrats!

  20. Jan Sewelen February 22, 2013 at 6:26 pm - Reply

    Grant Palmer has a bias that seems more difficult to discover. Hales is very open about his but Palmer always says that he’s only seeking the truth. It turns out that he sees things that’s not there. It bothers me that Grant makes this claims that he only wants to tell the rest of the true story.

    Dan Vogel you are hero of mine, but shouldn’t sexual allegations be substantiated? You seems to argue that ambigiuty in second hand sources opens up for possible allegations of sexual nature. When Joseph begun his secret plural marriages the gossip of his character naturally came to a boom. Such spreading of rumors should of course be treated with great caution.

  21. Robert Rey Black February 22, 2013 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    My mind questions, what my heart knows. A good question here is, What was Joseph’s understanding of “Truth”? It appears that Joseph played fast and loose with it. Hales’ methodology of finding Truth would not allow for a belief in the current view of The First Vision. Fancy dancing and pleasant face does not make for accurate history. But, I am a believer. And, I’m buying the books. Any investigation is better than none. Atta boy.

  22. Dan Vogel February 22, 2013 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Jan: I’m not sure what substantiating would look like. I separated the issues of attempted adultery and actual adultery. I find Lewis’ report of Harris’ statement credible. These allegations dogged JS, and his behavior in Nauvoo makes it more difficult to simply dismiss these reports as baseless rumor.

  23. Rufus February 23, 2013 at 1:11 am - Reply

    I’m a believer.
    I’m a history nerd.
    I’m a skeptic.
    John, your podcast feeds all these traits of mine!
    Thanks for your work, I agree this is the kind of interviews I’d expect to see from the apologists. But they all seem to be academics. 99% of us normal church members aren’t academics so that’s how I can appreciate your podcast. By amateurs for amateurs.

  24. Jan Sewelen February 23, 2013 at 8:02 am - Reply

    Dan thanks for your response. When I look at the “evidence” I don’t find it compelling at all. Levi Lewis claims he heard Martin Harris saying that he didn’t blame Joseph for seducing Eliza. We don’t know for sure what Harris said, for sure he didn’t to our knowledge denied what Levi Lewis supposedly said, but more importantly he never confirmed that it was correct. Why should Martin continue to preach mormonism and making sacrifices if the propert was engaged in sexual sinful behavior? It doesn’t make any sense. The 1842 statement where Joseph speaks about Gods liberal view had, as I understand it, to do with polygamy in regard to traditional puritan view of monogamy. I cannot see the 1842 statement as Gods authorization of sexual immorality. To me it is obvious that Joseph considered it moral to act within a polygamous context because it was commanded by God. I don’t think for a minute that actually commanded it, but I believe Joseph believed it, and others as well.

    I must ask you Dan. Do you consider Grant Palmer’s article and his podcast on this issue to be an expression of good scholarship.

  25. LB February 23, 2013 at 11:33 am - Reply

    Why does Harris’s behavior have to make sense to you? Lots of people do lots of things that don’t “make sense.” it doesn’t make sense to me that people who know all of this about Joseph Smith throw a little doubt on one or two incidents and then continue to believe he was a prophet when all the other incidents stand. The bottom line is JS had sex with many women while married to Emma and lied about it to his wife, his followers, his friends, and the public. Also, Harris’s behavior should make perfect sense to believers. He didn’t believe JS’s sexual behavior was a problem. He still considered him to be a prophet, just like many other commenters.

    In addition, Dr Hales’s argument that we cannot trust Lewis’s report here because he also says that Joseph would not show the plates is not at all persuasive. JS would not show the plates to people, we all know this. Some witnesses claiming to see them with spiritual eyes or feel them through a cloth during a spiritual experience does not constitute JS showing the plates to people in any sense that ordinary people would considering “showing.” Also, this quote is not in any sense all encompassing. He doesn’t say that JS would never, under any circumstances “show” anyone ever.

    • Jan Sewelen February 23, 2013 at 1:17 pm - Reply

      A few comments. The allegations (fantasies) are to substantiated and Palmer fails completely in doing so. He’s been exposed with his pants down. Yes Joseph married behind Emma’s knowledge and yes he did have sex with his other wives (no evidence having sex with already married women though). But these activities occurred within the polygamous context commanded by God. What God wants, God gets. That’s the only principle there is in religion. Why so obsessed in condemning Joseph as a bad person? He was a religious figure, that’s all.

      • Ron March 8, 2013 at 9:17 am - Reply

        Yes…and religious figures are never bad people right? Sheesh! Your “pants down” comment seems more appropriate to JS

        Grant does not need (or pretend) to substatiate accusations, you like Brian miss his position. He is only saying that accusations were made, which can be soundly shown.

        • Jan Sewelen March 9, 2013 at 2:47 am - Reply

          “Does not need to substantiate accusations”. Are you really serious? Grant have been touring with his “hit piece” on exmormon foundation, Jason Wallace TV Show and on Doris Hanson’s TV Show. On these occasions Grant have used his “scholarship” as a character assasination of JS. And now according to you when it comes to JS and mormonism accusations doesn’t need to substantiated. Have you ever heard of and are you at all familiar with source criticism? Grant isn’t that’s for sure. But how about you?

          • Ron March 13, 2013 at 10:52 pm

            That accusations were made is substantiated…that’s all that Grant is saying. Accusations were made. Maybe you cannot grasp the nuance…Mr Hales didn’t

  26. Glen Fullmer February 26, 2013 at 9:03 am - Reply

    Speculation on both sides is not helpful. As Joe Friday used to say “Just the Facts, Ma’am”. Jesus says, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.” Some undisputed facts: Joseph’s 2nd wife, Fanny Alger, was married at 16, as was his later polygamist wife Flora Ann Woodworth. Then another child bride, Nancy Winchester, married Joseph when she was 14. Oliver Cowdrey accuses Joseph of impropriety convinces me. There is a name for this and it starts with P and it is not Prophet. A lot of Fannys in the story. Joseph must have liked Fannys!  ;-)

  27. WonkyAngel February 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm - Reply

    All that runs through my head while listening to this is, “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.” I still find Joseph Smith’s actions inexcusable and absolutely not the actions of a man of God. And I’m still at peace with walking away from the Church.

  28. Jason February 28, 2013 at 11:49 am - Reply

    Brian, I honestly appreciate and respect your efforts and I’m looking forward to the rest of the information/podcasts, but so far, my head has only been spinning…and to be honest towards the end, my stomach turned! I’ve “searched, pondered, and prayed” (along with a lot of earnest reaserch & study) about this topic for several years now and this podcast & the information you’ve presented has only solidified my belief that, well, in the words of WonkyAngel, Quack Quack.

  29. Rick March 1, 2013 at 6:52 am - Reply

    It seems that Brian shows his bias pattern from the beginning. He states that Levi Lewis is not credible because he is caught in a lie later. Joseph was caught in the lie that he never practiced polygamy, so by Hale’s logic, his claims are not credible.

  30. Suzi March 3, 2013 at 9:32 am - Reply

    This is great! I’m looking forward to part 2!

    Please can you address the question of whether there really were a lot more women around than men back then? If so, then perhaps plural marriage benefited the early saints. If not, then it’s hard to justify. That question is really a deal breaker.

  31. MIthryn March 5, 2013 at 1:02 pm - Reply

    Bryan says that there was no evidence for the 1830 court trial and invites anyone listening to provide any evidence that exists:

    It is a paid subscription required, but it claims to have all the documents of that court trial found and available.

  32. MIthryn March 5, 2013 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Wait so Levi, Emma’s cousin as a single source we should not trust. But Mosiah Hancock, as a single source that Joseph wanted Fanny for a wife, that we should accept.

    Methinks there be some cognitive dissonance here.

  33. Ray G March 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Great interview, John. Brian, thanks for the time and research. If nothing else he shows that Grant Palmer is either a very poor historian, or has an agenda to try and hurt people’s testimony. If he didn’t know the things Brian discusses, then he’s a pretty shoddy researcher, because I’d heard several of those items from a talk given years before Palmer’s interview with John. If he did know, and chose not to share them, then I think his agenda is pretty clear.

    Polygamy is a real difficult issue, and I understand people not being willing to accept any explanations, or seeing plausible alternatives, but for Palmer to mention or know any of this information shows he is one not to be trusted in the future.

    I think people are going to see what they want to on this issue, as there will not be any definitive accounts come out that completely answer every question. 175 years after the fact, I trust the people most closely associated with Joseph on a daily basis, who accepted both him as a prophet and polygamy as a correct principle. Did a few defect? Yes, but with all the challenges the early saints had to go through, it is a miracle any stayed with Joseph at all.

  34. […] Brian Hales refutes Grant Palmer’s Allegations After listening to the above Grant Palmer podcast I really wanted someone to defend it from a believer’s standpoint. I wanted good reason to dismiss it. In another Mormon Stories podcast, Brian Hales pokes a few holes in Grant Palmer’s theories, but actually supported him on some of the items that bothered me the most. […]

  35. Ron March 8, 2013 at 7:23 am - Reply

    I watched this first episode and it appears Brian is missing the nuance of Grant’s position. Grant was pointing out that over a period of time accusations were made, not necessarily that those accusations were founded, but that they were made. The case with the Stowell girls where Brian says there is no evidence has some of the best evidence of all – Joseph Smith’s own account of the trial. In it we find that young girls he associated with were called to testify about his associations with them, in court, on the stand. This to me is evidence that some people thought (accused) JS guilty of impropriety with these young women. According to JS their supported his character on the stand. But this is certainly an instance of his behavior with young women being called into question by his own mouth. Brian also states that Grant uses only one account in some cases against his own postition of trying to draw from multiple sources where possible – while true when viewed on a case by case level that may only be one source available for that case, the collection of all these accounts together can be considered multiple sources and a larger case. I think Grant was trying to present the big picture of all these incidents occuring over a period of time where JS was “accused” of impropriety. The most damning is that these some of these reports are said to come from close associates of JS, Emma being the one who knew best of his sexual life and escapades with women.

    Ask yourself how many times have you been accused (not convicted) over the last six years by your peers or your community of impropriety or misconduct with women. Me, I have zero (for my whole 50 years of life for the record). But I’m no lothario. Joseph Smith certainly was – at his death he had over 30 wive for Christ’s sake! 11 married to other men! He lied about it to the church body, to the general public, and most importantly IMO to his real wife Emma.

    IMO Brian’s efforts here are attempts to show “Not Guilty – rather than “Not Accused”, as is Grant’s position. As such he missed the boat.

  36. Ron March 8, 2013 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Somewhat related to polygamy – If we really want to understand human sexual behavior we would do well to study one of our closest extant relatives – the bonobo chimps.

    In a sexually promiscuous non-voilent society the females have the power, and such societies tend toward a matriarchy. Freedom of sexual expression within a group of primates can be shown to reduce aggression and voilence as it is a form of social bonding. Bonobos are much more kind and non-voilent in their interactions than either of their other two close relatives (us and common chimps).

    Our society can be shown to be moving toward a matriarchy as we become more sexually permissive and open about our thinking towards sex, and as we denounce and try to quell voilent dominant behavior. Sexual promiscuity within a non-voilent setting can be shown to promote egalitarian matriarichal societies. Where sex is concerned, females have the power when behavior is absent of male aggression and violence. Ask any man in a relationship, who does not resort to aggressive male dominant behavior, who typically decides when sex will happen – Not who asks, but who decides.

    If LDS men truly honor their “priesthood” as instructed by the church, typically the women will possess the power in the sexual relationship, mostly due to the imbalance of libido strength between males and females:

    “No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned.

    “By kindness, and pure knowledge.”1

    For if we “exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men [especially our wives and children], in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”


    Nugget for thought: If bonobos had the mental capacity to conceptualize priesthood within their society, which sex do you think would hold it?

    • Joel March 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm - Reply


      This is off topic, but does respond to your Bonobos and the Priesthood question. Which gender if Mormons were Bonobos would most likely do this?

      “In 2010 the same research team saw how bonobos ate the meat of a dead baby bonobo.”

      Yes, women can have the Priesthood as long as they get to eat their young as well. Is that the point?

      John D. If you think this is too offensive, please delete. I just think his Chimps thing goes too far. By the way… great podcast cannot wait to hear #2. I listened to all three on “A Thoughtful Faith”. I met Brian with Max Anderson at a meeting in Moccasin, AZ. a long time ago. Brian has come a long way since then. Congrats to both of you for keeping the dialogue civil. Love Grant Palmer too. His scholarship needs some help. I think that is what Brian is trying to do is fill in some of the blanks left out by Grant and revise some of the errors. I hope that Grant comes back as well.

      • Ron March 9, 2013 at 8:30 pm - Reply

        Well like us they are carnivores…and we too have been known to eat our own. Thanks for the article link, it was an interesting read. It doesn’t say the infant died at the hands of other bonobos as is often the case with the common chimps and maruading males (who too are cannabilistic, eating their victims)

        My point with mentioning primates was in regard to polygamy. If we really want to understand from a scientific standpoint WHY human beings are prone to practice it, the study of our nearest extant relatives is quite informative.

        In this respect, polygamy is NOT a higher law of exalted beings. It is a holdover from our evolution. Its practice by humans is just loaded with problems, esp considering our near 50/50 birthrate as a species. A study of its practice among Fundamentalist provides ample evidence that it only engenders inequality, violence, corruption, ostracism of lower ranking males, poor treatment of women, esp young girls, on and on and on.

        No wonder the LDS church is pushing it away like the leper it is. Makes one wonder when the D&C revelations on it will be removed by the church. It is one of the exposed threads on the garment of mormonism that is best left alone… Brian’s choice to pull on it by contesting Grant’s presentation (on the wrong premise*) only serves to unravel it and expose more of the problems. Polygamy is a mud puddle that is best walked around.

        *As I said in an earlier post, Grant said accused, not convicted. Brian seems to get those mixed up in his attempt to prove not guilty, rather than not accused…he was certainly accused, in every case, even if it can be shown that his accusers didn’t have their facts straight.

  37. Yikkitidoo March 8, 2013 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    Though the idea of polygamy bothers me, I must acknowledge that it isn’t a new concept. It has been around for a long time. It has been practiced by many religions all throughout time. It’s even pretty normal throughout the Christian Bible. Why is Joseph Smith creepy because he practiced it?

    I appreciated Dr. Hales presentation. The problem for me isn’t deciding whether or not Joseph Smith was creepy; I am inclined to believe he was NOT. He was just a polygamist. The problem for me is polygamy itself. It doesn’t seem to me like Emma had much of a choice. That says something to me about the status of women and not anything that makes me feel very good.

    I can leave the church over polygamy, but as I pointed out before, Mormons are not the only ones to have practiced polygamy, they did not invent it or start it. It would seem that God did.

    • Stormin March 12, 2013 at 9:21 am - Reply

      Don’t leave the man-made church over polygamy. Leave it because it is not true. Joseph was a liar, fraud and adulterer/sexual predator. Study the support for the BoM its easy there is no archeological support or DNA support yet millions were supposidly killed in ficional battles. Study the translation of the BoAbraham and facsimilies —– Joseph got nothing right because he was a fraud and false prophet! Study and for information on why to leave a church that offers earthly slavery and certainly not eternal salvation.

  38. Jenn March 12, 2013 at 11:55 am - Reply

    Sincere and well-thought out but I’ll admit, the mental gymnastics strike me as exhausting. I wish I could apply occam’s razor to the whole situation, but unfortunately none of the possible explanations seem simple!

  39. Mormon Stories November 12, 2018 at 4:17 pm - Reply

    We fixed the link. Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

  40. Reiley July 14, 2021 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Brian Hales could easily support the other side of this argument using the exact same information. He is that skilled in my opinion.

    I don’t trust anything he presents.

    I follow Dan Vogel. Good, bad or indifferent, I know that the information and facts are far more important to him than the conclusion.

    In this video, Hales left out some important information (see Dan’s comments).

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