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  ...presents...                 Joseph Smith :
                     Man, Yes; Myth, Maybe; Prophet, NEVER!
                                                         by Krass Katt

                      >>> a cDc publication.......1994 <<<
                        -cDc- CULT OF THE DEAD COW -cDc-
  ____       _     ____       _       ____       _     ____       _       ____

                  God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the
            children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you
            in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and
            if you don't like it, you must lump it.
                                 -- _History of the Church_

     You can call them members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, LDSers, Saints, or simply Mormons.  No matter what name you use to
refer to them, they belong to the religion founded by Joseph Smith in 1830.  It
was Smith, chosen by God to be a "latter-day saint" and as true a prophet as
any named in the Bible, who gave us the preceding quote.  He served as the
first Church President, otherwise known as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.


     I am not a Mormon.  I have never been a Mormon.  I am what the Saints call
an "investigator," a non-Mormon examining their books and affairs.  Actually, I
suppose that (at first glance) I would make for a good candidate for religious
conversion.  I know a lot about the church, understand most of their
terminology and teachings, and am keen on acquiring more information.

     But on the other hand, I know way too much about the church already for me
to be a serious target of their missionary program.  They want to be able to
unroll their theology to you one piece at a time, so that your aptitude for
gullibility isn't suddenly exhausted.

     I have had my share of Mormon friends, and I do not think less of them for
being part of a very whacked religion.  If I had grown up in a Mormon
household, I would most likely have ended up a devout member of that
organization.  Inculcation from birth is the perfect method of propelling most
religions and mythologies.

     I am no unbiased observer; my fascination with the LDS church is centered
on its more bizarre aspects.  But despite the obvious slant I take in deciding
which facts to report and which ones to ignore, understand that I am not making
up this stuff.  Anyway, the basic message of this file is:


     What do you really know about the Mormons?  If you're like most people,
you probably think they're pretty much the same as any other Christian
religion, except that they don't drink coffee or smoke, and they observe a
Sunday Sabbath.  But Mormon tenets include all of the following:

     o around 600 B.C. a band of Hebrews left Jerusalem shortly before the
       Babylonian army overran the city -- these Hebrew refugees sailed west
       across the Atlantic and founded a mighty civilization in both the North
       and South American continents
     o according to the Book of Mormon (the third [Newer] Testament of holy
       scripture, translated by Joseph Smith from gold plates inscribed by the
       North American Hebrews) Jesus Christ manifested himself several times in
       the Americas after His resurrection to supplement His Middle Eastern
     o church members are Israelites (Abraham's true descendants), and the
       "Israel" to which Jesus Christ will address Himself is presently
       headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah
     o in order to get to the highest heaven when you die, you have to have
       your paperwork straightened out; specifically, the "temple recommend"
       -- a form annually filled out in triplicate by a church representative
     o if you _do_ die with a temple recommend and are found worthy by the
       Mormon God ("Elohim"), you will be granted godhood and given your own
       corner of the universe to administer
     o Elohim lives on or near the planet Kolob (somewhere in our galaxy), and
       one Kolob day is exactly 1000 Earth years in durationd 
     o Elohim wants you to wear special underwear (temple garments) during
       practically all of your waking hours, to remind you of the covenants
       between you and Him
     o you need to research your genealogy as far back as possible, in order to
       bring your non-Mormon ancestors into the church by means of posthumous
       baptism by proxy
     o since the end of the world is almost here (believed by many LDS members
       to arrive on the year 2000), your family is required to keep a one-year
       food supply for the impending cataclysm
     o by divine inspiration, also known as discernment, the officials of the
       church have the power to read "the thoughts and intent of the heart" --
       they mean telepathy, not cardiology

     But if you're a curious Gentile (they call all non-Mormons "Gentiles,"
including Jews) in the mood for a change of ideology, then it's a race to see
who will reach you first: me or the Mormon Church.  The Mormons have
missionaries (two-man teams of well-groomed proselytes), PR consultants, the
"Homefront" series of television and radio spots, and a worldwide distribution
channel for its literature.  I have only this crappy textfile from God knows

     Read on.  Hopefully, it's not too late for you.  And if two young men
wearing slacks, white dress shirts and ties appear at the door, introducing
themselves with the title of "elder," DON'T LET THEM IN UNTIL YOU'VE FINISHED

From: krkat@ramp.com (Krass Katt)
Subj: the Mormon file
To: sratte@phantom.com

I need to explain one more thing about the Mormon file before you put it out.

If anybody asks where you got this file, you got it in a dream.  I don't know
how much you know about the Mormons, but they enjoy a much higher than normal
representation in the CIA and FBI.  They also have their own nationwide
security branch.  They keep files on people and exist outside the law.

I really am serious about this.  If you get calls from people claiming to be
from NBC wanting to talk about this file, FORGET IT.  Or people claiming to be
cops, too.  They probably are NOT cops, or even if they are and can prove it,
they're probably off-duty.  Be careful.



               If the people will let us alone we will preach
          the gospel in peace.  But if they come on to molest
          us, we will establish our religion by the sword.  We
          will trample down our enemies and make it one gore of
          blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic Ocean.
          I will be to this generation a second Mohammed, whose
          motto in treating for peace was "the Alcoran [Koran]
          or the Sword."  So shall it eventually be with us --
          "Joseph Smith or the Sword!"

     Joseph Smith made this hollow threat on October 14th, 1838 in the town
square at Far West, Missouri.  Had Smith truly been the Prophet upon whom God
laid the authority to oversee His people and usher in the last dispensation of
time, then he should have been able to manage his affairs more effectively.

     But whenever Joseph Smith tried to play hardball, the Gentile majority
always threw it back at him, only harder.  Consequently, Joseph's highlight
reel would have included getting convicted of fraud, being driven out of three
states, getting tarred by a mob, breaking out of jail while awaiting a death
sentence, and his death in Carthage, Illinois.

Nauvoo, Illinois: 1839-1844

     In June of 1844, the Prophet was in jail in Carthage for treason against
the state of Illinois.

     Smith was there because two defectors, Austin Cowles (formerly the First
Counselor to the LDS Church) and William Law (formerly the Second Counselor)
published accusations of heresy, adultery, and fornication against him in the
first and only issue of the _Nauvoo Expositor_ on June 7th, 1844.
Additionally, the _Expositor_ described Smith's embezzlement of city funds set
aside for building the town's temple.

     Most dangerous of all, Cowles charged that he had seen "a revelation given
through the Prophet" which taught "the doctrine of the plurality of wives" --
revealing that Joseph Smith was preaching polygamy, at that time a secret
teaching of the Church due to its criminality.

     In fact, just one month before (on May 26, 1844), Smith had denied the
same allegation.  It was a total lie.  "What a thing it is for a man to be
accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find
one.  I am the same man, and as innocent as I was fourteen years ago; and I can
prove them all perjurers."

     William Marks, a close friend of the Prophet, later wrote that Smith had
told him that the disclosure of polygamy in such a newspaper published on the
very streets of Nauvoo was devastating.  He quoted Smith as saying privately,
"This doctrine of polygamy, or spiritual wife-system, that has been taught and
practiced among us, will prove our destruction and overthrow.  I have been
deceived; it is a curse to mankind..."

     Joseph Smith ordered the _Expositor_'s press destroyed on June 10th.
Smith, Nauvoo's mayor, wrote:  "I immediately ordered the Marshal to destroy it
without delay...  About 8 p.m., the Marshal returned and reported that he had
removed the press, type, printed paper, and fixtures into the street, and
destroyed them."

     Criminal charges were filed against Joseph and his brother Hyrum in
Carthage, Illinois, the nearest community to Nauvoo having non-Mormon
officials.  The pair fled to Iowa and went into hiding.  By way of his
bodyguard, Joseph's wife Emma pleaded for him to come back and face the music.

     The brothers returned and were arrested for destroying the printing press.
The Smiths posted bail for this offense, but were then immediately charged with
treason against the State of Illinois (for calling out the Mormon militia unit
-- the Legion of Nauvoo -- in the previous week).

     Their jailers put them in a cell on the second floor, but allowed the pair
visitors and an unlocked door.

     During the night of June 27th in 1844, after members of Smith's militia
went home to bed, a group of militiamen from Warsaw, Illinois gathered outside,
shouting insults.  The militiamen officially assigned to guard the jail, the
Carthage Greys, did nothing to stop the crowd.

     While some of the Warsaw mob ascended the narrow stairwell, Hyrum and
another man tried to hold the door shut.  Then a bullet through the door hit
Hyrum in the face.  Simultaneously, a shot fired through the open window hit
him in the side.  He fell dead.

     Joseph sprang to his coat, where he kept a pistol which had been smuggled
in to him by a Mormon named Cyrus Wheelock.  Stepping over Hyrum's body, Joseph
cracked the door open and discharged the six-shot pepperbox into the advancing
crowd.  The gun misfired three times and spat out three rounds, killing two men
and wounding a third.

     The mob forced the door open.  Joseph dropped the pistol, sprang to a big
windowsill and stood there glaring down at a crowd of men below with their
bayonets at the ready.  Some reports say he tried a final ploy with the
Gentiles, giving the Masonic hand signal of distress and uttering the
accompanying code, "Is there no help for the widow's son?"

     There were, almost certainly, Masons in the crowd below.  But Smith's
appeal to members of that fraternal order was probably a very bad decision on
his part.  As he teetered on the windowsill, a rifle ball fired from upstairs
slammed into Joseph's back, sending him to the ground below as he shouted, "Oh
Lord, My God."

     Joseph landed on his shoulder with a snap of cartilage.  A disguised
militiaman with his face painted black dragged the wounded Joseph across the
yard and propped him up against the side of a well.  An officer ordered a
firing squad, and four men sent rifle balls into the Prophet, killing him at

     For a Mormon's take on the lynching, here's the account from _The Mormon
Church_ by Roger Thompson (note that there is no mention made of Smith's
returning fire):

               That evening they stormed the Carthage Jail,
          rushing up the stairs to where Joseph, Hyrum, and two
          apostles were being held.  The prisoners tried to hold
          the door shut but the assailants fired through the
          door, killing Hyrum with a shot through the head.
          Joseph rushed to the window to escape.  Armed men shot
          at him from the door and from the courtyard below.  He
          was struck by three bullets as he jumped from the
          window.  When he reached the ground, he tried to get
          up.  Another assassin rushed over, stabbing him
          several times to make sure he was dead.

Joseph Smith: A Timeline

     Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805 to a
struggling farm family.  The Smiths eventually settled at Palmyra, New York.

     In 1820, Lucy Mack Smith decided to join the Presbyterian church, and
asked her children Hyrum, Samuel, and Sophronia to join her.  Joseph Sr. and
their son Alvin refused to accompany them.  The patriarch had been telling his
family that God sent him religious visions in his dreams which meant that he
didn't need to go to church.  Joseph Jr. ended up not joining any religion

     One day in the spring of that year, Joseph went to a grove of trees near
his home and prayed for God to tell him which church to join.  God the Father
and Jesus Christ appeared before him in a pillar of light brighter than full
daylight.  God told Joseph to join none of the churches because they had been
corrupted.  God also told him that His power and authority was taken from the
earth in the first century A.D., and that it was to be restored shortly.

     Joseph didn't tell anyone about this vision until 1838.  He also recounted
at least three different versions of it.  In one telling, for example, God
appeared to him with Jesus and some angels, in another account: no angels.

     Smith later reported that on the night of September 21, 1823, the angel
Moroni descended in a brilliant pillar of light and showed Smith a stone chest
which was buried in Hill Cumorah in the beginning of the fifth century.  It
held a book of scripture written on gold plates, as delivered by the Savior to
the ancient inhabitants of the North American continent, who were actually the
descendants of Jewish settlers led there from Jerusalem by God around 600 B.C.

     The chest also contained the Breastplate of Jewish antiquity, as well as
the Urim and the Thummim -- the seer stones which would grant Smith the magic
ability to read the ancient manuscript.

     This vision of the angel Moroni appeared to Smith three times that night.
Anti-Mormons have noted that a common tenet of Appalachian folk magic was that
a dream that repeats itself thrice in a single night always comes true.  The
vision also came on the night of the equinox, which holds magical significance
as well.

     On March 20, 1826, Joseph Smith Jr. appeared in civil court in Bainbridge,
New York.  He was accused of being a "disorderly person or an imposter."  This
meant perpetrating fraud.  Relatives of a farmer by the name of Josiah Stoal
(sometimes spelled Stowell) claimed that Smith was paid money after convincing
the elderly Josiah that he could find buried money, salt mines, and other
things of value by divination.

     Joseph's version of this episode comes from the _Pearl of Great Price_:

               In the month of October, 1825, I hired with an
          old gentleman by the name of Josiah Stoal, who lived
          in Chenango county, State of New York.  He had heard
          something of a silver mine having been opened by the
          Spaniards in Harmony, Susquehanna county, State of
          Pennsylvania: and had, previous to my hiring to him,
          been digging, in order, if possible, to discover the
          mine.  After I went to live with him, he took me, with
          the rest of his hands, to dig for the silver mine, at
          which I continued to work for nearly a month, without
          success in our undertaking, and finally I prevailed
          with the old gentleman to cease digging after it.
          Hence arose the very prevalent story of my having
          been a money digger.

     The records of that court appearance indicated that the trial led to
Smith's conviction, but no mention has been found concerning the sentence.  The
most prevalent conclusion is that the justice of the peace ordered Joseph to
leave town (referred to in those times as "leg bail").

     While working for Stoal, Joseph and his father had boarded at the home of
Isaac Hale in Harmony, Pennsylvania.  There Joseph met Hale's tall, dark-haired
daughter, Emma.  Joseph and Emma were wed in the home of Zechariah Tarble of
South Bainbridge, New York on January 18, 1827.  They had been forced to elope
due to the strong objections to the marriage by Emma's father.  The newlyweds
immediately moved to Manchester to live with Joseph Sr.

     Moroni finally told Joseph to take possession of the gold plates and
paraphernalia on September 22, 1827.  Somehow, word had gotten around about the
existence of the plates, because on the very day that the couple retrieved the
plates, treasure hunters were lying in wait to claim them.  After the crowd had
failed to extract the items from the Smiths, Joseph wrote that, luckily, he had
had the forethought to hide the plates in a hollow birch log on the way home.

     Willard Chase and his sister, Sally, apparently led a mob of a dozen
townspeople on several efforts to wrest the plates from the Smiths.  They came
up empty despite many attempts.

     In the fall, the couple fled to Harmony, Pennsylvania in order to escape
the constant persecution by treasure hunters.  They intended to move in with
Isaac Hale (Emma's father), but when Isaac was told about the "wonderful book
of Plates," he dubiously asked to see them.  "I was allowed to feel the weight
of the box, and they gave me to understand that the book of plates was then in
the box -- into which, however, I was not allowed to look."

     This didn't satisfy Emma's father, so he issued an ultimatum: either show
him the contents of the box, or it was forbidden inside the house.  As an
interim solution, Joseph hid the plates in the woods.  Some weeks later, Joseph
and Emma moved into a small two-room house belonging to Emma's brother Jesse,
which was located about 150 yards from Isaac's home.

     Once they had moved into Jesse's house, Joseph fetched the box.  Using the
Urim and Thummim, he began to translate the characters on the gold plates into
English.  The Urim and Thummim are mentioned, among other places, in Exodus
28:30 (NIV):

               Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will
          bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on
          the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial
          before the Lord.  Also put the Urim and the Thummim in
          the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron's heart
          whenever he enters the presence of the Lord.  Thus
          Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions
          for the Israelites over his heart before the Lord.

     Of the seer stones, my concordance remarks: "The Hebrew for this phrase
probably means 'the curses and the perfections.'  The Hebrew word _Urim_ begins
with the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet (aleph) and _Thummim_ begins with
the last letter (taw).  They were sacred lots and were often used in times of
crisis to determine the will of God (see Nu 27:21).  It has been suggested that
if Urim ('curses') dominated when the lots were cast the answer was 'no,' but
if Thummim ('perfections') dominated it was 'yes.'  In any event, their 'every
decision' was 'from the Lord' (Pr 16:33)."

     While Smith was transcribing the Book of Mormon, he sought money to pay
for its printing.  Martin Harris, a well-to-do farmer, was prepared to sell his
farm for $10,000 and give the money to Smith to finance the publication.  This
outraged Harris's wife Lucy.  To placate her and satisfy his own curiosity,
Harris asked to see the gold plates.  Smith instead offered to show Harris a
hand-copied reproduction of a small part of the gold plates.

     Harris took the reproduction to Professor Charles Anthon of Columbia
University.  Anthon told Harris that the symbols belonged to no known language,
and he suspected that the whole story of the gold plates was either a hoax or a
fraud.  Harris told Smith, who responded that the process of engraving the gold
plates was so long and tedious, that Mormon (the author of the ancient text)
had turned to a "shorthand" Egyptian alphabet obviously unknown to Anthon. 
Smith called it "Reformed Egyptian."  Soon after, the so-called Anthon
Transcript disappeared.

     Harris gave Smith $5,000 to print 3,000 copies, for both a profit motive
and to promote his anti-Catholic views.  Harris later served as Smith's scribe,
copying down the holy dictation while Smith spoke from behind a blanket
stretched across the room.  In about two months the two men had produced the
"Book of Lehi," composing the first 116 pages from the plates of Mormon.

     In an attempt to convert his wife, Harris took the 116 pages back to
Palmyra to show her.  He returned to Harmony a few weeks later weeping and
distraught.  He told Joseph that the pages had disappeared from his house and
were simply irrecoverable.

     Joseph Smith must have concluded that Lucy Harris had stashed away the 116
pages in order to discredit the eventual published work.  If and when the
re-translated Book of Lehi failed to match the pages that Lucy held in reserve
somewhere, the legitimacy of the new work would be ruined.

     So, Joseph simply didn't re-translate that section of the gold plates.  He
explained that God was so outraged that Smith had let Harris carry away the
first translation that He had taken away the Urim and Thummim.  Later, God
returned the seer stones to Smith but instructed him not to translate the
material that had been lost.  Thus, the Book of Mormon begins with the Book of
Nephi and not with Lehi.

     In fact, Smith continued in his translation of the Book of Mormon picking
up right where he left off, only going back to redo that section of the early
history (Nephi's account of it) after everything else had been completed.

     On April 7th of 1829, Oliver Cowdery took over the job of scribe.  Smith
and Cowdery started over on the transcription job and had completed the 275,000
word manuscript in early July.  They had to have averaged about 3,700 words a

The Completed Book of Mormon

     Mark Twain, in his work _Roughing It_, said the following of the Book of

               The book seems to be merely a prosy detail of
          imaginary history, with the Old Testament for a model;
          followed by a tedious plagiarism of the New Testament.
          The author labored to give his words and phrases to
          the quaint, old-fashioned sound and structure of our
          King James's translation of the Scriptures; and the
          result is a mongrel -- half modern glibness and half
          ancient simplicity and gravity.

     The mongrel detailed the lives of a bunch of Jews who were told by God to
build a ship and sail across the Atlantic Ocean around 600 B.C.  This they did,
and then founded a mighty civilization in both the Americas.  There "the people
did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in
observing the ordinances of God, according to the law of Moses; for they were
taught to keep the law of Moses until it should be fulfilled."

     Strangely, however, they never seemed to celebrate any of the Jewish
festivals there.  There is no mention of the feasts of weeks, of tabernacles,
of the seventh month, of dedication, of the Lord, or of the Jews.

     Not to mention a huge omission: no mention whatsoever of the feast of
passover.  Although this festival is mentioned 77 times in the King James
Bible, the Jews who sailed to North America in 600 B.C. NEVER ONCE recorded
having practiced it.  The explicit instructions from Moses were to:

               Take you a lamb according to your families,
          and kill the passover.  And ye shall take a bunch of
          hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin,
          strike the lintel and the two side posts with the
          blood that is in the basin... For the Lord will pass
          through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the
          blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the
          Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the
          destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

     Assuming the transplanted Israelites hadn't somehow forgotten about this
life-or-death imperative from the Almighty, they would have done this about six
hundred times.  It seems like diary material to me...

     Anyway, another weird thing about the completed product was the lump of
anachronisms.  For instance, the name "Jesus Christ" appeared in the book of
Nephi.  Nephi was an Israelite living in North America in 600 B.C. who wrote in
Hebrew.  "Jesus Christ" comes from the Greek name Iesous Christos.  First, the
Jewish prophets unanimously referred to the dude who would be coming as the
Messiah, meaning "anointed."  Secondly, even if they were told the guy's name,
in Hebrew it would be Joshua or Jeshua, not "Jesus."

     For extra credit, other Greek words appear in the translation, such as:
Timothy, Jonas, Alpha, and Omega.  In 1984, Mormon scholar S. Kent Brown
helpfully pointed out some titular anachronisms:

               Nephi and Jacob use several titles which
          apparently go beyond what they could have found in the
          brass plates...  The following titles and names used
          by Nephi seem to be more at home in a later era such
          as that of the New Testament or of early Christianity:
          Beloved Son... Beloved... Son of the living God... Son
          of righteousness... Son of the most high God... Son of
          God... Only Begotten of the Father... Jesus Christ...
          true vine... light...  The following names from Jacob
          fit the same situation: Only Begotten Son... Christ...

     After the book was completed, the angel Moroni reappeared and told Joseph
to return the plates.  Brigham Young explained in a sermon what happened:

               When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed
          him to carry them back to the Hill Cumorah, which he
          did.  Oliver [Cowdery] says that when Joseph and he
          went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a
          cave, in which there was a large and spacious room.
          He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had
          the light of the sun or artificial light; but it was
          just as light as day.  They laid the plates on a table;
          it was a large table that stood in the room.  Under
          this table there was a pile of plates as much as two
          feet high, and there were altogether in this room more
          plates then probably many wagon loads; they were piled
          up in the corners and along the walls.  The first time
          they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall,
          but when they went again it had been taken down and
          laid upon the table across these words: "This sword
          will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this
          world become the kingdom of our God and His Christ."

     Then Joseph Smith began telling people the story of an angel leading him
to the golden plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon.  It was a
hard sell, especially because he couldn't produce the gold plates.

     "The Testimony of Three Witnesses" is the statement signed by Oliver
Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris.  Luckily for Joseph Smith, God had
returned the plates for a short visit so that this group of three could
"declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven,
and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and
the engravings thereon..."

     However, there was no evidence from Harris, for example, that he had done
anything more than hold a box that contained the plates, not that he had
actually seen them, certainly not that he had seen an angel.

     Also, all of these original Three Witnesses were later excommunicated from
the Mormon Church.  Joseph Smith called Harris "too mean to mention" and told
people that God had called Harris "a wicked man."  While Whitmer never
renounced the Book of Mormon, he did regard Smith a fallen prophet.  Cowdery
joined a Methodist congregation and announced to his fellow churchgoers the
sorrow and shame he felt of his connection with Mormonism.

     "The Testimony of Eight Witnesses" is the statement signed by Christian
Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer Jr., John Whitmer, Hiram Page (husband of
a Whitmer daughter), Joseph Smith Sr. (the Prophet's father), Hyrum Smith (the
Prophet's brother) and Samuel H. Smith (another brother of the Prophet).

     These eight gentlemen swore that they had seen and handled the gold
plates.  "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."

     Apparently, three of the eight witnesses later parted ways with the LDS
Church, although I don't know which ones or why.

     These two affidavits have accompanied every printing of the Book of Mormon
since its inception.  Critics of the Mormon Church have noted that such
testimonials were commonplace in the 19th century on the labels of patent
medicines, bottles of snake oil, and other questionable commodities.

     On May 15, 1829, Joseph Smith was visited by John the Baptist, who
descended in a cloud of light and ordained Smith and his new scribe, Oliver
Cowdery, to the Levitical priesthood of Aaron, and gave them the authority to

     A short time later; Peter, James, and John descended and conferred the
holy Melchizedek priesthood, which held the keys to all the spiritual power of
Christ.  Later, Moses, Elias, Elijah, and others appeared with special messages
and keys of restoration.

Kirtland, Ohio: 1831-1838

     In 1831, when Joseph Smith and his people were chased out of Palmyra, New
York, he led them to Kirtland.

     Joseph & Emma arrived in Kirtland in early February, 1831.  They had been
married 4 years and a week.

     In March of the following year, Joseph was seized in his bed and carried
away by a mob who broke into the house.  He was stripped and the mob ordered a
participating doctor to perform a castration on the spot.  When the physician
demurred, a burly Ohioan fell on the naked Joseph, kicking and scratching him.

     "Goddamn you," shouted this attacker, "that's how the Holy Ghost falls on

     A second tormentor jammed a vial filled with an unknown liquid (possibly
acid) into Smith's mouth, but he spit it out, chipping a tooth in the process.
This chipped tooth caused the Prophet to speak with a whistle for the rest of
his life.

     Then they covered his body with steaming tar and jammed the tar paddle
into his mouth.  The mob scattered before the feathers arrived, and the
bloodied, burned, and terrified Prophet managed to crawl home.  When Emma
opened the door, she mistook the dripping tar for blood and fainted.

     For whatever reasons, the Smiths remained in Kirtland despite the attack.

The Book of Abraham

     On July 3rd of 1835, Joseph Smith purchased four Egyptian mummies and
accompanying papyri from Michael H. Chandler, a traveling antiquities dealer
from Pennsylvania.  The price was $2,400.  Chandler had acquired eleven mummies
in early 1833 and had sold the other seven in the eastern United States prior
to meeting the Prophet.

     Joseph wrote on July 5th: "I commenced the translation of some of the
characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls
contained the writings of Abraham.  ... Truly we can say, the Lord is beginning
to reveal the abundance of peace and truth..."

     From these papyrus scrolls, Smith translated The Book of Abraham.  The
text was first printed in three issues of the newspaper Times and Seasons on
March 1st, March 15th, and May 16th of 1842.  Nine years later, the Book of
Abraham was bound with the Book of Moses and extracts from the history of
Joseph Smith to form the Pearl of Great Price.  (The Pearl of Great Price,
along with the Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon, form the "triple
combo" of the Mormon faith.  These, along with the King James Version of the
Bible, serve as the four holy texts of the LDS Church.)

     The contents of the Book of Abraham turned out to be a real shocker.
Roger Thompson summarizes it thusly:

               The Book of Abraham contained an additional
          account of the creation of the world.  It identified
          the planet Kolob, which is closest to where God lives,
          and explained that spirits were created out of
          intelligence and that these spirits associated with
          each other much as we do on earth.  Some were more
          valiant and were leaders.  A council of these leaders
          planned the creation of the earth as a testing ground
          to see if the spirits would obey whatever God
          commanded of them when they were not in God's
          presence.  If they did obey, they would have
          additional glory forever.  Acting together, this
          council created the world under God's direction.  The
          members of this council were called gods.  Abraham was
          one of them.

     Joseph Smith's translation of the papyri laid down the metaphysical
underpinnings of the LDS church.  A mainstay of the Mormon faith, the Law of
Eternal Progression, explains: "As man is, God once was.  As God is, man may
become."  The youngest baby is as old as God and one day that baby may move
through the continuum and become a god too.  Let's take another peek at
Thompson's _The Mormon Church_:

               The doctrine of a plurality of gods electrified
          most Mormons.  This meant that men and women were not
          inherently enemies of God, but gods in embryo.  The
          church was restored not just to create a
          utopian society but to perfect the Saints as they prepared
          for godhood.  This development of godly qualities while on
          earth and in the hereafter became known as the Law of
          Eternal Progression.  However, not all Mormons were
          pleased with this new doctrine.  Many were convinced
          that Joseph had become a fallen prophet for preaching

     "Blasphemy" may seem a little harsh, but try this on for size: Elohim (the
Mormon God) was born on another planet, matured, and remained obedient to the
Laws and Ordinances of the god over that planet, who was also once a man with
his own god above him, and so on.

     Elohim died, was then resurrected and judged by his god.  He was found
worthy, raised to godhood, and given many righteous women as wives.  He was
sent with his wives to his Celestial residence near the great star Kolob,
somewhere in our galaxy, where he began to procreate and beget spirit children:

     When it was time for Elohim to prepare the earth for occupancy, Elohim
asked his two eldest sons to prepare plans.  These brothers were Jesus and
Lucifer.  Elohim chose Jesus's plan, and He was raised to godhood.  Lucifer
became angry and led one-third of his brothers and sisters in an open
rebellion.  They battled against the third of their family who respected
Elohim's decision.  The final third agreed with Elohim's decision, but didn't
want to get involved.

     Eventually, Jesus's third won.  Lucifer and his third were cast out from
Kolob and arrived here on earth as Satan and the demons.  The third who fought
for Jesus came to earth as "fair and delightsome" people -- the more valiant,
the blonder their hair, the whiter their skin.  The less valiant, the darker
the complexion and hair.  (You get the idea.)

     The third that were noncombatants in the war became blacks on earth, born
under the curse of Cain.  Early prophets of the Mormon Church taught that the
mark of Cain was "a skin of blackness."

     Because of this, it follows that the curse on all those who bore the mark
was exclusion from the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthood orders (normally
bestowed upon all faithful males).  This meant that they could not enter the
Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, nor could they become gods in the afterlife.
In short, they were disallowed full participation in the church.

     In _Journal of Discourses_, Brigham Young is quoted as saying, "Shall I
tell you the law of God in regard to the African Race?  If the White man who
belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty,
under the law of God, is death on the spot.  This will always be so."  The
patriarch is quoted elsewhere in the _Journal_ as warning, "Cain slew his
brother ... and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black

     Additionally, it was taught that even "one drop of Negro blood" would
prevent a person from holding the priesthood or marrying in the temple.  Bruce
R. McConkie, who later became an apostle, wrote in 1954:  "Negroes in this life
are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation
of authority from the Almighty.  The gospel message of salvation is not carried
affirmatively to them...  Negroes are not equal with other races where the
receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned..."

     Looking back, it's clear to unbelievers that Joseph Smith didn't do a
great translation of the Book of Abraham.  When, in 1967, the papyri were
compared to Smith's notes, it became obvious that only one papyrus of the
bundle was the basis for the entire translated text.

     Off this papyrus, the thirteenth and fourteenth verses of Abraham 1 were
translated from a single character resembling a backward E.  Smith translated
this one character into 76 words, with nine proper names and eight other nouns.
The character for the Egyptian god Khonsu was translated by Smith into 177
words in Abraham 1:16-19.

     Dr. Hugh Nibley demonstrated that the single papyrus fragment in question
was from a pagan funerary text known as the "Book of Breathings" -- a work
which evolved from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  The name "Book of
Breathings" actually appears clearly on the fourth line of the text.  When
Professor Richard A. Parker, Chairman of the Department of Egyptology at Brown
University, translated the papyrus, this is what he came up with:

               ...this great pool of Khonsu [Osiris Hor,
          justified], born of Taykhebyt, a man likewise.  After
          (his) two arms are [fast]ened to his breast, one wraps
          the Book of Breathings, which is with writing both
          inside and outside of it, with royal linen, it being
          placed (at) his left arm near his heart, this having
          been done at his wrapping and outside it.  If this
          book be recited for him, then he will breathe like the
          soul[s of the gods] for ever and ever.

The Doctrine of Polygamy

     In 1836, Joseph Smith desired to marry an attractive teenage servant girl
by the name of Fannie Alger.  Unfortunately, as we know, Smith was a married
man.  Then he had a revelation from God:

               Verily, thus saith the Lord ... if any man
          espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and
          the first give her consent, and if he espouse the
          second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no
          other man, then he is justified; he cannot commit
          adultery for they are given unto him.

     In other words, Joseph Smith could marry Fannie Alger even though he was
already married to Emma.  Just in case Emma didn't think too highly of this new
revelation, the Lord added a postscript addressed directly to her:

               And let mine handmaid, Emma Smith, receive all
          those that have been given unto my servant Joseph, and
          who are virtuous and pure before me; and those who are
          not pure, and have said they were pure, will be
          destroyed, saith the Lord God ... And again, verily I
          say, let mine handmaid forgive my servant Joseph his
          trespasses, wherein she has trespassed against me;
          and I, the Lord thy God will bless her, and multiply
          her, and make her heart to rejoice.

     Joseph had his brother Hyrum deliver the revelation to Emma.  "I believe I
can convince her of its truth," Hyrum said to Joseph before setting out, "and
you will hereafter have peace."

     "You do not know Emma as well as I do," Joseph replied.

     When Emma heard the revelation, she gave Hyrum a tongue lashing and when
Joseph later handed her the written revelation, she promptly threw it in the
fireplace.  Eventually, however, Emma capitulated.

     Joseph Smith left behind 49 (some say 84) widows.  He married most of
these women in 1843 and 1844, and it appears that at least 12 of them were
married women with living husbands.  Here is a very incomplete list of Joseph's
wives, along with the years he acquired them and their ages at the time of the

          Name                             Year  Age
          -------------------------------  ----  ---
          Almera Woodward Johnson          1843   31
          Elisa Partridge                  1843   23
          Eliza Roxey Snow                 1842
          Elvira Cowles                    1842
          Emily Partridge                  1843   19
          Fanny Alger                      1836
          Helen Mar Kimball                       15
          Louisa Beaman                    1841   26
          Lucinda Pendleton Morgan Harris  1843
          Lucy Walker                      1843   17
          Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner  1842
          Mary Lawrence                    1843   20
          Melisa Lott                      1843   19
          Olive Frost                      1843   27
          Sarah Ann Whitney                1842
          Sarah Lawrence                   1843   17

The Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Co.

     In the fall of 1836, the Lord commanded Joseph Smith to open a bank.  By
this time, Smith had already spent every dollar he had buying up land around
the Mormon community in Kirtland, hoping that a railroad would run a line
somewhere across his property and make him rich.

     An area of land stretching along the south shore of Lake Erie was being
bought up by speculators heading west.  Real estate in Buffalo that had sold
for $500 an acre in 1835 was selling for $10,000 per acre in 1837.  In
Kirtland, lots jumped from $50 to $2,000, and farms on the edge of town went
from $10-$15 an acre to $150 for the same tracts.

     When Smith ran out of money, he started looking for other people's money
to invest.  That's where the bank came in.  At that time, the United States
federal government did not print money.  This was left to local banks chartered
by the states.

     In an article Smith wrote for the local Mormon newspaper, he used a quote
from the prophet Isaiah to invite Church members to bring "their silver and
their gold (not their bank notes) with them, unto the name of the Lord thy
God..."  Additionally, God had promised that this bank would grow until it
swallowed up all competing banks in Ohio.

     In all, the Prophet persuaded some 200 citizens to pool their assets to
charter the Kirtland Safety Society Banking Company.  Sidney Rigdon was the
president and Joseph Smith was the cashier.  Oliver Cowdery was sent to
Philadelphia to secure plates for printing money while Orson Hyde was sent to
the capital to obtain the charter from the state legislature.

     Hyde found that because an antibank faction had taken over the state
legislature, no new charters were being issued.  When Cowdery returned in
January, the bank had expensive printing plates it could not use because it had
no charter.  So the leaders of the bank rewrote the charter to create the
Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company.  They defiantly issued money with
"anti" stamped in the appropriate place.

     To attract depositors, Smith filled several strong boxes with sand, lead,
old iron, and stones, then covered them with a single layer of fifty-cent
silver coins.  Prospective customers were brought into the vault and shown the
heaping chests of silver.

     "The effect of those boxes was like magic.  They created general
confidence in the solidity of the bank, and that beautiful paper money went
like hotcakes.  For about a month it was the best money in the country,"
recalled an eyewitness.

     By this time, Joseph Smith owned several parcels in town, and a 140-acre
farm in the area.  The value in land alone was worth around $300,000.  This is
an enormous sum of money for the time period.

     Despite the invitation from God, the bubble burst after an anti-Mormon
faction filed suit against Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon for operating an
unchartered bank.  By the end of January the anti-bank refused to redeem the
notes for gold to prevent it from failing.  For the next six months the money
continued to circulate at a discounted rate while Joseph Smith encouraged the
members to support the bank by honoring the money.  He also sold real estate
and tried to get loans from other banks to keep the anti-bank scheme afloat.

     In May, the Panic of 1837 hit Ohio.  Sparked by President Jackson's order
that the U.S. Treasury accept only gold and not paper money for public land,
the panic eradicated the value of land-backed paper money issued by such land
banks.  The single layer of silver coins didn't last long once the notes
started coming back in.

     In the spring, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon resigned, suggesting on his
way out that the anti-bank be shut down.  It did not and continued to print
money, collapsing soon after.

     One of the original Three Witnesses, David Whitmer, joined with other
prominent church leaders in renouncing Joseph Smith as a fallen prophet over
the anti-bank debacle.

     On the night of January 12, 1838, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled on
horseback from Kirtland to the shelter of the Missouri Saints in Nauvoo.  Smith
later claimed that he left "to escape mob violence, which was about to burst
upon us under the color of legal process to cover the hellish designs of our

     In reality, Smith had left behind $100,000 in debts.  Also, the Ohio
legislature had charged him with operating an unchartered bank and ultimately
fined him $1,000 in absentia.  (Unfortunately for the state of Ohio, they had
to get in line with dozens of investors who had already brought suit against

     Once in Nauvoo, Smith declared bankruptcy after transferring lots of his
assets to his wives, children, friends, and associates -- altogether totaling
105 people.  (In 1844, these transfers were declared fraudulent and illegal.)

     By this time, LDS Church membership had grown to more than 20,000.

Missouri: 1831-1839

     In 1831, after the Mormons had been driven from New York, most (but not
all) LDS Church officials settled in Kirtland.  Those who didn't go to Illinois
ended up in Missouri, twelve miles west of Independence.  There they founded a
town they called Zion, which is known today as Kansas City.

     Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith's second in command, headed up the
settlement.  They came to Missouri because Smith had declared it to be the site
of the biblical Garden of Eden -- Adam had been born there.

     In July of 1833, an angry group of 500 men met in Independence and issued
a manifesto which demanded:

     o no Mormon would settle in Jackson County in the future
     o those Mormons already there would sell their lands and leave
     o Mormon businesses and storehouses would shut down immediately
     o no Ohio Mormons would settle anywhere inside the state of Missouri

     After drafting the Manifesto, the mob destroyed the offices and press of
the Mormon newspaper _The Evening and Morning Star_.  They burned Mormon
literature.  Then they tarred and feathered two Mormons, Edward Partridge and
Charles Allen.

     In May of 1834, after more persecution in Zion, Joseph Smith gathered
between 150-200 armed volunteers and headed to Missouri, about a thousand miles
away.  This force Joseph called Zion's Camp.  When Smith and his men arrived a
month and a half later, they found the town of Zion deserted and burned to the

     The settlers had relocated about 40 miles to the north in a new colony
called Far West, in the new Caldwell County, created by the Missouri
legislature specifically for the Mormons.  Soon Smith returned to Kirtland,

     By 1838, Far West had grown to five thousand people, with two hotels, a
printing office, blacksmith shops, stores and 150 houses.  By this time, Joseph
Smith had come to stay and Caldwell County was bursting at the seams with
Mormons.  They began to settle in bordering areas: in Daviess, Carroll, and Ray

     Anticipating more anti-Mormon hysteria, a secret army was assembled among
the Saints.  They called themselves the Danites.  The name came from the tribe
of Dan, who invaded the city of Laish, killed the populace and razed the
buildings in order to build their own city on the same spot. (Judges 18)

     The Danites originated the practice of "blood atonement" in the Mormon
Church.  (This doctrine was promoted by Church officials as late as 1961, but
is now officially regarded as unorthodox.)  The basic idea here is that there
are certain sins for which the blood of Christ cannot cover the sinner; the
sinner must have his own blood mingle with the soil to atone for that sin.

     These sins included: dissent, murder, adultery, theft, miscegenation,
taking the Lord's name in vain, breaking covenants, leaving the Church, lying,
counterfeiting, and condemning Joseph Smith, his Church, or any of its leaders.

     Spilling blood specifically meant:  "his throat cut from ear to ear, his
tongue torn out by its roots, his breast cut open and his heart and vitals torn
from his body and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field and
his body cut asunder in the midst and all his bowels gush out."  In practice,
slitting a throat usually proved sufficient.

     Concerning this doctrine, Brigham Young later said:

               I could refer you to plenty of instances where
          men have been righteously slain in order to atone for
          their sins. ... I have known a great many men who have
          left this church for whom there is no chance whatever
          for exaltation, but if their blood had been spilled,
          it would have been better for them. ... This is loving
          our neighbours as ourselves; if he needs help, help
          him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to
          spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be
          saved, spill it.

     The Danites began attacking non-Mormon settlers in Missouri whose farms
bordered Far West.  On August 6, 1838 (election day), the Danites decided to
crack some Gentile skulls in front of the Gallatin, Missouri courthouse.  With
four-foot oaken clubs, the Mormons beat about twenty people bloody and nine
others unconscious.

     Eventually, all manner of hell broke loose in Daviess County between
Gentiles and the Danites.  In October of 1839, Missouri governor Lilburn Boggs
finally announced:

               The Mormons must be treated as enemies and must
          be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary
          for the public good.  Their outrages are beyond all

     On October 30th, 240 state militiamen attacked Haun's Mill, a small Mormon
community near Far West.  The troops rode into the middle of a crowd and
started shooting.  The soldiers killed 17 men and broke down the door to the
blacksmith's shop.  Inside the shop they found a nine-year-old boy, Sardius
Smith (no relation to Joseph).

     "Don't shoot," shouted one militiaman.  "It's just a boy."

     "It's best to hive them when we can.  Nits will make lice," shouted
another trooper who placed his rifle against the child's head and pulled the

     It was then that Joseph Smith realized the Mormons stood no chance of
surviving an all-out war, so he accepted the terms of surrender offered by the
state of Missouri:

     o Joseph and his fellow elders had to stand trial for treason
     o all Mormon property would be confiscated on the spot
     o all Mormons would leave the state immediately
     o all arms would be surrendered immediately to the militia

     On Halloween Day of 1839, Smith, Parley Pratt, Sidney Ridgon, and a few
other elders turned themselves in.  They were held in the Liberty, Missouri
jail for several days and sentenced to a firing squad.  Luckily for them,
militia general Alexander Doniphan refused to convene the squad for what he
called "cold-blooded murder."

     The Mormons in Far West signed over their property to the militia.
Several of them were shot.  Mormon girls were tied to benches in the
schoolhouse and gang-raped by an estimated 20 men.  In one week about 6,000
militiamen showed up in Far West for their share of the wealth.

Nauvoo, Illinois: 1839-1844

     While Smith and the others were held in the Liberty jailhouse, Brigham
Young took off with a group of believers to Illinois.  In early 1839, Smith and
Sidney Rigdon escaped from jail and arrived in the new settlement.  Brigham had
called the place Commerce, but when Joseph arrived he renamed it Nauvoo.

The Masons

     Nauvoo mushroomed in size and Freemasonry grew right along with it, with
many Mormons swelling the Masonic ranks.  The building which housed the Nauvoo
lodge of York Rite Freemasons, today known as the Cultural Hall, began use in
December of 1841.  On March 15, 1842, Joseph Smith climbed the stairs to the
third floor and underwent the initiation ceremony to become a Mason.  The
following night, he rose to the third degree (Master Mason).

     The hectic experiences of the lodges at Nauvoo, Illinois, afforded the
Mormon initiates there little grasp of the principles of Freemasonry, but it
did open to them the symbols, and some of these seem to have been pirated for
use in Mormon temples.  A few instances of this kind might not be significant
but the cumulative effect of a large number is too obvious to be ignored and
can hardly be expected to elicit the approval of the Craft.  Freemasonry
naturally has great self-respect, which it could not have if it admitted those
who as members of a different order had appropriated Masonic symbolism or
paraphrased its ritual.

     Less than two months after becoming a Mason, when Smith devised the temple
ritual, it turned out that there were dozens of parallels in the Mormon and
Masonic ceremonies, including many word-for-word borrowings.

     Alphonse Cerza, a Masonic historian, reported that by 1843 there were five
Mormon Masonic lodges at Nauvoo, all of which were suspended by the Grand Lodge
for irregularities in their conduct.  The Mormon lodges ignored the
suspensions, adding to the tension already mounting between Mormons and local
Christians -- including non-Mormon Freemasons -- on the subject of polygamy.

     After Joseph Smith's lynching, Brigham Young condemned the local
Freemasons for the attack, calling them agents of Satan.  Young decreed that
any Mormon who became a Mason or refused to abandon Masonry was subject to
summary excommunication from the Mormon church.

     The Masons claimed that the Freemasons of Nauvoo had nothing to do with
the savage attack.  The Masons ultimately decided that Mormonism was
incompatible with the principles of Freemasonry, and for some time no Mormon
could be made a member in the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Utah.  For its
part, only recently did the Mormon church repeal its ban on Masonry.

The Mormon Priesthood

     To understand the elements of a temple endowments ceremony, you should
have a basic working knowledge of the two priesthood strata within the LDS
church: the Aaronic and Melchizedek orders.  Unlike in the religions most
people are familiar with, the Mormon Church is lacking, except at its middle-
and upper-management levels, any sort of professional clergy.

     Instead of a paid cleric, the religious services in an LDS ward are
conducted by male members of that ward who volunteer for those duties.
Normally, all devout males are brought into the priesthood beginning around age
twelve.  There are ranks within the priesthood, and as the boy matures and
demonstrates his competency with the texts, he ascends within the priesthood
structure.  (Priests meet in their wards weekly by rank to discuss theology and
other matters.)

     First is the Aaronic Order of priesthood.  As mentioned, almost every good
Mormon boy undergoes the instruction starting around age twelve to become a
"deacon."  Later (usually around fifteen years old), the deacon advances to the
rank of "teacher."  Finally, about age eighteen, a young man becomes a

     If a young priest is selected to become a missionary (like most able-
bodied young men), then he receives more religious training.  He joins the
Melchizedek order and becomes an "elder."  An elder who returns home, only to
continue his missionary work in areas the church deems appropriate, is given
the title "seventy."  A Mormon who manages to enter the upper hierarchy of
church administration must hold the rank of "high priest," the ultimate title
in the Melchizedek order.

     Providing at least one ordained priest in every family household is a
blessing that few other religions can boast of.  In times of emergencies,
there's almost always a priest or elder nearby who can drive out demons or pray
for God's words of instruction on a matter.

     Most LDS families keep small bottles of consecrated olive oil in their
medicine cabinets (and sometimes in tiny vials carried on the priests'
persons), for use by the men to apply to family members who are very ill or
troubled, thereby needing help from God.

     Mormons ascribe many different manifestations of the divine powers endowed
by the Almighty on their young men.  One member of the priesthood explained his

               When I was in the Marine Corps, I was able to hit
          a human-shaped target 500 meters away in the head 8 out
          of 10 shots.  The last two shots only hit the chest
          because I got overconfident and forgot to use the power
          of the priesthood when pulling that trigger.  By the
          way, the M16 I used only had normal open sights, no

The Temple Endowments Ceremony

     The Mormons believe that God revealed the temple ritual to Joseph Smith.
The ritual is usually called the "temple endowment" because the recipients are
supposed to be "endowed with power from on high."

     According to Brigham Young, "Your endowment is to receive all those
ordinances in the House of the Lord..., to enable you to walk back to the
presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being
enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens, pertaining to the
Holy Priesthood, and gain your eternal exaltation in spite of earth and hell."

     These gnostic teachings (the secret handshakes, signs, and key-words) are
needed after death for a person to gain entrance into God's presence.  It is at
the "veil" that the Lord himself questions the candidate who desires to enter
into His presence.  If you don't know the handshakes, you don't get to meet

     A devout Mormon who undergoes the endowments ceremony and dies with a
recommend will become a god in the afterlife.  One who dies without either of
these things will be a servant.

     The participants and witnesses to the temple endowments rite have to wear
exclusively white clothing.  During the ceremony, there are six phases:

     o the candidate is washed, then anointed with consecrated olive oil
     o the temple garment is placed on the initiate
     o the new name is given, by which the Mormon will be known in the
     o the words, signs, tokens, and penalties are exchanged
     o the initiate passes through the veil
     o more signs, tokens, penalties, and key-words are exchanged

     The ceremonial use of aprons is another similarity between the Mormon and
Masonic rituals.  (In the endowments ceremony, a green satin apron in the shape
of a fig leaf is worn by the person on the Heaven side of the veil to evoke the
clothing first worn by Adam and Eve.  For their part, the Masons have sheepskin
aprons which are donned for ritual purposes.)

     In the years after a Mormon undergoes the temple endowment on his or her
own behalf, he or she is expected to run through the ceremony again and again
as a proxy for dead ancestors, discovered through the Mormon pastime of

     Joseph Smith claimed that the endowment ceremonies were given to him by
revelation, thereby restoring ancient Christian rites that the Masons had only
partially preserved.  Well, it was either that or Smith's lazy imagination.
One Mason recently put it this way:

               I'm a Mason, not a Mormon.  I have read exposures of the
          different versions of the LDS endowment ceremony.  If these
          are accurate, then there are only three explanations:

          1. Joseph borrowed elements of Masonic ritual in composing
             the ceremony.
          2. Both ceremonies are based on the same (older) source.
          3. A coincidence of cosmic improbability has occurred.

               Since I'm not a Mormon, I tend towards explanation 1.
          Mormons seem to tend towards 2.  3 is there just for
          completeness.  Note that I say Joseph seems to have borrowed
          "elements".  The endowment ceremony is in no way a copy of
          Masonic ritual.  Its intent and direction is quite different,
          but some fragments seem clearly to have come from Masonry.

     Let me give an analogy.

     Suppose you were watching a new SF movie, and found that the principle
hand-weapon was a glowing sword, the blade of which was created by turning on a
switch in the handle.  You'd think, "Well, they _might_ have borrowed that from
_Star Wars_, but it could be just a coincidence -- after all, the plot is
completely different."  But suppose you find:

     o Light sabers.
     o A gold humanoid robot with a diffident manner.
     o A short non-speaking robot on wheels.
     o A Princess with what look like cinnamon rolls on the side
       of her head.
     o A bad guy all in black, with a helmet, facemask, and asthma.
     o Psionic powers with quasi-religious overtones.
     o An ugly little green guy who teaches the psionic powers.

     But the plot is _still_ nothing like SW.  Are you justified in saying that
they borrowed from SW?  I'd say yes.  That does not make the movie the same as
SW, but it would seem clear that they cribbed ideas from it.

     Well, what were the Masons so concerned about?  The First Token of the
Aaronic Priesthood is a secret handshake, given either to newly ordained
deacons or as part of the temple endowment.  The penalty for revealing the
secret handshake to outsiders is virtually identical to that for disclosing the
first degree (Entered Apprentice) secrets of the Freemasons.

Mormon text:   "We, and each of us, covenant and promise that
          we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the
          first token of the Aaronic priesthood, with its
          accompanying name, sign or penalty.  Should we do so,
          we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and
          our tongues torn out by their roots."

Mason text:    "I will... never reveal any part or parts, art
          or arts, point or points of the secret arts and
          mysteries of ancient Freemasonry... binding myself
          under no less penalty than to have my throat cut
          across, my tongue torn out by the roots..."

     Or try the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood alongside the Second
Degree (Fellow Craft) oath:

Mormon text:   "We and each of us do covenant and promise that
          we will not reveal the secrets of this, the Second
          Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying
          name, sign, grip, or penalty.  Should we do so, we
          agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and
          vitals torn from our bodies and given to the birds of
          the air and the beasts of the field."

Mason text:    "[I am sworn] under no less penalty than to
          have my left breast torn open and my heart and vitals
          taken from thence and thrown over my left shoulder and
          carried into the valley of Jehosaphat, there to become
          a prey to the wild beasts of the field, and vulture of
          the air..."

     Finally, contrast the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood alongside
the Third Degree (Master Mason) oath:

Mormon text:   "[If we reveal] any of the secrets of this, the
          First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood... we agree
          that our bodies be cut asunder in the midst and all
          our bowels gush out."

Mason text:    "[I am sworn] under no less penalty than to
          have my body severed in two in the midst, and divided
          to the north and south, my bowels burnt to ashes in
          the center..."

The Temple Garment

     Another connection to Masonry is the holy Mormon underwear known as temple
garments.  A Mormon receives his or her first pair after having taken out their
endowments in the Temple (i.e., undergone the temple endowments ceremony). 
This is usually when a Mormon gets married or goes on a mission, whichever
comes first, though a few people go through the Temple endowment apart from
either of these events.

     Practically speaking, the garments provide a continuous reminder of the
covenants made in the temple and of the high standards the Saints are expected
to exemplify and uphold.  Some Mormons don't wear them when engaging in
physical activities, like playing football or tennis.  It's OK to remove them
for showering and swimming.  The garments are worn most other times.  Women
wear their bras over the garments (which sounds very uncomfortable).

     This is Deborah Laake's description of them, in her book _Secret
Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman's Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond_:

               In those days [the 1970s] garments were one-
          piece, made of thick nylon, and cut like very loose
          teddies; they had a scoop neck and little cap sleeves
          and they came to the knee.  The amount of coverage
          wasn't accidental: One of the purposes of "garments"
          is to make sure that Mormons eschew daring clothing.
          The other is more directly theological: The
          underwear's holy nature is expressed by small markings
          sewn into the cloth over each breast, the navel, and
          one knee.  (The markings signify comforting homilies
          like "deal squarely with your fellow men," and are
          intended to serve as reminders of temple covenants.
          The symbols themselves derive from the fact that
          Joseph Smith was a newly initiated and enthusiastic
          Freemason when he originated the Mormon temple rites
          in 1842, and so the Masonic compass and square appear
          on the left and right breasts of the Mormon garments.)
          The garments had one other characteristic that, if not
          actually biblical, did have something to do with
          creation: Women's garments were slit in the crotch,
          very generously, so that they flapped open and left a
          girl's greatest fascinations exposed.

     It has worked its way down to a mid-calf, short-sleeve, buttoned outfit,
available in several styles, including a modernized two-piece model.  Some
appear like a garden variety v-neck t-shirt and mid-thigh knit boxers.  But
originally, the garments started out as an ankle-to-wrist long-john-type
garment, with string ties.

     Some of the garments are made from a thin, mesh-type white cotton blend,
but can be of many fabrics and colors (including brown, intended for wearing
beneath combat fatigues).

     The garment has always had a specially sewn opening near the navel
(evocative of the evisceration penalty), an embroidered carpenter's square on
the right breast, a mason's compass on the left one, and another symbol above
the right knee.

     The compass over the heart comes from the first ceremony of Freemasonry.
In the ritual for Entered Apprentice membership, candidates begin by taking off
their clothes to prove their gender (women may not become Masons).  This means
taking off the pants and any jacket.  Underwear and shirt are kept on, but the
shirt is unbuttoned and pulled down to bare the left arm, shoulder, and breast.
The candidate is blindfolded.  A rope is placed around the neck.  Then the
candidate is escorted to a room where three candles are burning.  One of the
lodge members takes a mason's compass and pricks the candidate's bared left
breast, whereupon he takes an oath of devotion.

                            TEMPLE GARMENT FUN FACTS

     When a pair of holy garments gets worn-out, the devout owner will take a
pair of scissors and cut out the embroidered symbols.  Then the remaining
fabric can be used for rags or what have you.  The symbols themselves must be
disposed of in a manner suitable to holy relics.  Reverential burning,

     Furthermore, a deceased Mormon will be buried in his or her temple
garment.  Dressing the corpse is done by the ward's Relief Society president if
the mortician is not an endowed member, so as not to reveal anything.  (As far
as I can figure it, the Relief Society is a quasi-charity group organized in
each ward.)

The Kinderhook Plates

     In 1843, Smith had the beginnings of another serious credibility problem
as a translator.  Three men from the town of Kinderhook, Illinois cut six
sheets of copper into bell shapes, inscribed them with crazy letters, corroded
them with acid, then buried them with some bones in an ancient Indian mound. 
When they were uncovered in the presence of several Mormons, the plates were
taken to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, who promptly "translated" a portion of them. 
They were a history of the man whose bones were buried with them in the mound,
Smith announced, and the man was "a descendant of Ham, through the loins of
Pharaoh, king of Egypt."

     Furthermore, it was reported in the May 22, 1844 edition of the Warsaw
Signal that Smith was "busy in translating [the Kinderhook plates].  The new
work... will be nothing more nor less than a sequel to the Book of Mormon..."
To the disappointment of Mormons in perpetuity, Smith never got the chance to
complete the sequel to the Book of Mormon, as he was killed just one month

     W.P. Harris wrote a letter in 1855 claiming that he was certain the plates
were forgeries because he knew the identities of the forgers.  An 1879 letter
from W. Fugate admitted that he, Robert Wiley and Bridge Whitton created the
plates to entrap Joseph Smith.

     In 1980, the Mormon Church allowed electrical and chemical tests be
applied to the plates, which determined they were made of a brass alloy
probably fabricated in the mid-1800s.

After Carthage

     After Joseph Smith was killed by the mob in Carthage, the Church broke
into two pieces.  A small group settled in Independence, Missouri, with Smith's
widow, Emma, and his eleven-year-old son, Joseph Smith III.  This group became
known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS).

     The RLDS have three major claims to fame.  One: they stood foresquare
against the LDS teaching of polygamy.  In fact, Emma Smith pretended that
Joseph had never preached nor practiced plural marriage.  Two: unlike the LDS
church, the RLDS has already built its temple in Independence (1001 W. Walnut
St.), which Joseph had prophesied.

     Third and last: The "Inspired Version of the Bible" owned by the RLDS
church.  Joseph Smith had received revelation that the KJV of the Bible is the
most correct English version, and then began to correct and perfect it.  This
work was never completed, but much work had been done.

     In the early 1980s, the RLDS allowed the LDS church to copy the list of
changes that had been made and they were put into what is now called "The
Joseph Smith Translation" (or JST) which should be in the back of any LDS Bible
from that point on.  But it would be illegal for the LDS church to publish the
inspired Bible simply because the RLDS owns it.

     Most members followed Brigham Young, Smith's chief lieutenant who had
himself declared Prophet, to a Rocky Mountain retreat.  He called it the New
Zion, which was later named Deseret, meaning "beehive".  It is now known as

The Great Accommodation

     In the drive for Utah statehood, Church leaders had decided that the time
had come to enter the mainstream, to become respectable, and thus began the
period known as the Great Accommodation.  Topping the list of practices and
teachings that the Church had to give up: polygamy.

     Brigham Young maintained a polygamous household of 27 wives.  While the
rest of America considered the doctrine little more than prostitution, Young
declared, "I live above the law, and so do this people."  He knew that polygamy
was divinely ordained, and "no power on earth can suppress it, unless you crush
and destroy the entire people. ... A man that enters this Church ought to be
able to die for its principles if necessary."

     Apostle Orson Pratt pitched the following argument in favor of the plural
marriage doctrine:

               If the doctrine of polygamy, as revealed to the
          Latter-day Saints, is not true, I would not give a fig
          for all your other revelations that came through
          Joseph Smith the Prophet; I would renounce the whole
          of them...  The Lord has said, that those who reject
          this principle reject their salvation, they shall be
          damned, saith the Lord...  I want to prophecy that all
          men and women who oppose the revelation which God has
          given in relation to polygamy will find themselves in
          darkness... they will finally go down to hell and be
          damned if they do not repent."

     But then, Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act on February 18, 1887.
This law dissolved the legal entity of the LDS church, the Corporation of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  All funds were confiscated and he
church was forbidden to collect tithing.

     All property valued at over $50,000 became property of the United States
federal government.  In order to circumvent this section of the law, the church
had sold ZCMI, the telegraph, the railroad, and all other businesses,
factories, and cooperative enterprises to members of the church.  This left
only Temple Square in Salt Lake City for federal troops to seize.

     Mormons could not vote, serve on juries, or hold public office.  The Act
also shut down Mormon schools and disinherited children of plural marriages.

     Subsequently, God appeared to President and Prophet Wilford Woodruff.
Although Joseph Smith had proclaimed that "the only men who become gods, even
the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy," and God had twice repeated
to Woodruff that the doctrine of plural marriage was nonnegotiable, He had
apparently changed His mind.  Woodruff publicly revoked this divine commandment
by issuing the Manifesto of 1890 on September 24th of that year.

     This manifesto was just for public consumption -- the Mormon Church itself
had no serious plans to give up the practice.  Clergymen continued to perform
plural weddings, although the vows were now often read from behind a curtain.
This official policy of "lying for the Lord" was designed to keep federal
marshals from endangering Utah's impending statehood.  Eventually, in 1904, the
Church gave in to outside pressure to make good on its word: excommunication
became the official penalty for taking a second wife.

     What couldn't be denied or justified was simply not talked about, like the
Mountain Meadows massacre, which took place near St. George in 1857: an Indian
raid planned and supervised by Brigham Young's men in which more than 120
people leaving Utah were ambushed and slain -- men, women, and children.  This
action was justified by the doctrine of blood atonement.

The Modern Church: 1970-present

Church Administration:

T     {                   The President of the Church                    } T
h     {               (The Prophet, Seer, and Revelator)                 } h
e G   {                               |                                  } e B
  e   {                    The First Presidency                          }   r
  n A {                       (The Prophet and                           }   e
  e u {                his First and Second Counselors)                  }   t
  r t {                               |                                  }   h
  a h {               The Quorum of the Twelve [Apostles]                }   r
  l o {             (headed by the President of the Twelve,              }   e
    r {                  the next in line as Prophet)                    }   n
    i {                    /                      \
    t {  The Presiding Bishopric         The Presidency of the First Quorum
    i {                                  of the Seventy
    e {                                            |
    s {                                  Quorum of the Seventies
          /                  /                 /             \
    Mission             Temple             Stake             Regional
    Presidents          Presidents         Presidents        Representatives

     A "stake" is an administrative unit of around ten wards.  Each stake has a
Stake President and two counselors.  Each stake president ultimately oversees
about 700 members.  Stakes are organized into regions for administrative

     A "ward" is the name given to a Mormon church and its assigned geographic
boundaries.  Each ward has a Bishop and two counselors.  The Bishops are
appointed at Salt Lake City headquarters.  All Mormons living within the
geographic boundary of a particular ward must attend that ward.  In other
words, they are assigned to a specific church.  Wards vary greatly in

     The LDS church's upper echelon is entirely made up of male priests.  The
highest administrative posts are held by high priests of the Melchizedek order.
According to the late Ezra Taft Benson, the LDS Prophet who died in 1994, the
authority of the President of the Mormon church is as follows (the translations
are mine):

FIRST:         The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in
Translation:   I'm God's public information officer.

SECOND:        The living prophet is more vital to us than the standard
               [scriptural] works.
Translation:   I don't care what Jesus SAID -- I know what He MEANT!

THIRD:         The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.
Translation:   I don't care what Joseph Smith SAID -- I know what he MEANT!

FOURTH:        The prophet will never lead the Church astray.
Translation:   You have to trust me, no matter what happens.

FIFTH:         The prophet is not required to have any particular earthly
               training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any
               matter at any time.
Translation:   "Shooting my mouth off" is my divinely-ordained prerogative.

SIXTH:         The prophet does not have to say "Thus saith the Lord" to give
               us scripture.
Translation:   Any statements that come tumbling out of my mouth are Law.

SEVENTH:       The prophet tells us what we need to know, not always what we
               want to know.
Translation:   No matter how weird or abhorrent, my word is still Law.

EIGHTH:        The prophet is not limited by man's reasoning.
Translation:   I don't have to make sense to your puny, mortal brain.

NINTH:         The prophet can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or
Translation:   I can shoot my mouth off about anything -- even the afterlife.

TENTH:         The prophet may be involved in civic matters.
Translation:   I can even tell you who God wants you to vote for.

ELEVENTH:      The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the
               prophet are the proud who are learned and the proud who are
Translation:   We have a corner on the "ignorant" and "poor" markets; now we're
               looking to catch us lots more "smart" and "rich" people.

TWELFTH:       The prophet will not necessarily be popular with the world or
               the worldly.
Translation:   Just because Joseph Smith got lynched doesn't mean he was wrong.

THIRTEENTH:    The prophet and his counselors make up the First Presidency --
               the highest quorum in the Church.
Translation:   Once you hear it from us, there are no more appeals.

FOURTEENTH:    The prophet and his presidency (the living prophet and the First
               Presidency) -- follow them and be blessed; reject them and
Translation:   Do what we say and nobody gets hurt.

The Second Great Accomodation

     The Church's policy of excluding blacks from the priesthood had stood
against all attempts at reform during the civil rights movement.  But then
things happened to Brigham Young University's basketball program in the 1970s.

     During a game at Colorado State University, a Molotov cocktail was tossed
onto the court to protest the antiblack LDS tenets.  A Stanford University
official declared that if the B.Y.U. team ever wanted to play Stanford again,
the Mormon Church would have to "reinterpret God's word and establish doctrines
compatible with Stanford's policies."

     Shortly following this statement, Stanford indeed canceled all scheduled
sports events with B.Y.U., not just its basketball games.  In fact, the Western
Athletic Conference nearly disbanded over the furor.

     Additionally, anti-Mormons urged for boycotts of recordings of the Mormon
Tabernacle Choir and the cancellation of vacations to Utah.  The NAACP
initiated several lawsuits against Mormon Boy Scout troops, charging that
church policy was foisting racism on minority Scouts.  Worst of all, the IRS
suggested that the racial policies of the Mormon Church might justify a
suspension of its tax-exempt status.

     Several professional consulting firms which the church had previously
hired for other matters suggested to church leaders that they reconsider the
status of blacks in the Mormon Church as part of a major overhaul of church

     Finally, on June 9, 1978, the Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball
announced to the Saints that he had received a new revelation which ended the
ban on blacks in the priesthood.  "That same revelation came to his counselors
and to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Temple, and then it was
presented to all of the other General Authorities who approved it unanimously,"
stated Kimball.  This revelation is known to Mormons as The Second Great

How Much Is The LDS Church Worth?

     In 1837, a newspaper editor in Kirtland had criticized Joseph Smith and
the local Mormon community for "hav[ing] too much worldly wisdom connected with
their religion -- too great a desire for the perishable riches of the world --
holding out on the idea that the kingdom of Christ is to be composed of 'real
estate, herds, flocks, silver, gold,' etc., as well as of human things."

     Today, people estimate that the LDS Church collects about $4.3 billion a
year through tithing, plus $400 million from its ecclesiastical enterprises.
In tithing receipts alone that comes to almost $12 million per day.

     Another $4 billion annually is generated by the Church's business
subsidiaries.  This brings the yearly total up to $8.7 billion.  That would
make 54th or 55th place on the Fortune 500 list, above Honeywell, General
Mills, and Campbell Soup.

     Shearson-Lehman-Hutton is the broker for the LDS church.  They handle
almost all of the church's investments apart from charity, administration, and
construction -- close to $200 million every year.

     The Mormon Church disputes these figures, but only generally.  They will
not correct specific errors; instead, they insist that these estimates are
"grossly overstated."  Church officials refuse to make public even their
personal income tax returns.  John Heinerman, co-author of the 1985 book _The
Mormon Corporate Empire_, said this:

               The Mormon corporate empire, in terms of dollars
          and cents, is rather impressive for several reasons.
          Number one, in the book, we take a conservative figure
          of about $8.5 billion that the empire is worth, and we
          of course have footnotes in the back of the book
          showing how we arrived at those figures.  But really,
          with all the research that we have done, the figure is
          closer to $11.5 to $12 billion, worldwide, including
          all their investments and holdings.

     The real estate division of the church conducts brisk dealings in land.
Zion's Security Corporation, the church's commercial real estate arm, controls
numerous office buildings in Salt Lake City, including regional headquarters
for Kennecott Copper Company, J.C. Penney, Prudential Federal Savings and Loan,
and many church facilities.  It also owns the sprawling ZCMI (Zion's
Cooperative Mercantile Institution) Mall in downtown Salt Lake as well as a
controlling interest in the ZCMI store chain.

     Since 1977 a sister corporation, Beneficial Development Corporation, has
taken over development work for the church, and has established several
industrial parks in association with private developers in Florida, Arizona,
Los Angeles, Hawaii, and Utah.

     The known agricultural lands consist of at least 928,000 acres including
the 300,000 Deseret Ranch near the Disney complex in central Florida and 95,000
acres near Cardston, Alberta, Canada.  All together the holdings are larger
than the famous King Ranch empire of Texas, which holds 825,000 acres.

     Other sources of Mormon wealth are the insurance companies, retail stores,
office buildings, and other business properties in Utah and elsewhere.  The
Beneficial Life Insurance company, founded to provide life insurance to church
members, has expanded into a major subsidiary with holdings in the Deseret
Mutual Benefit Association, Continental Western Life Insurance Company, the
Pacific Heritage Assurance Life Insurance Company, and the Western American
Life Insurance Company, which, according to Utah state government records, have
a combined value of $94 million.

     The media arm of the Mormon Church is the Bonneville International
Corporation.  It owns or has owned:

     Radio Stations
     Chicago           KTMX-FM and WCLR-FM
     Dallas            KAAM-AM, KZPS-FM and KAFM-FM
     Kansas City       KMBZ-AM and KMBR-FM
     Los Angeles       KBIG-FM
     New York          WNSR-FM
     Phoenix           KMEO-AM/FM
     Salt Lake         KSL-AM
     San Francisco     KOIT-AM/FM
     Seattle           KIRO-AM and KSEA-FM

     Television Stations
     B.Y.U.            KBYU
     New York          WRFM
     Salt Lake         KSL
     Seattle           KIRO

     This media empire was estimated in 1985 at being $547 million in assets,
including: $134 million for the radio stations, $178 million for the TV
stations, and $59 million for the Deseret News book and newspaper printing,
distribution, and retail outlets.

The End of the World: 2000 A.D.?

     Why do the Mormons believe that we are now living in the End Times?  When
are the events foretold in Revelation going to occur?  To answer these
questions, you need to know something about Kolob, the planet somewhere in our
galaxy where Elohim lives.

     It is simply this: one day on Kolob is one thousand Earth years in
duration.  Another way of saying this is that it takes 365,242.2 times longer
for Elohim to change his calendar than it does us.  Thus, World War Two lasted
for about 8 minutes and 38 seconds, if you were wearing a wristwatch made on

     Anyway, the Earth is scheduled to undergo the tribulation at the end of
its sixth Kolob day.  Maybe the Mormons agree with Bishop Ussher's assessment
that the world was created on the 23rd of October, 4,004 B.C.  Whatever their
particular method, the LDS church teaches the world is just barely short of
6,000 years old.

     Get it?  If Elohim began the Earth last Monday on Kolob, then right now
it's just about 11:50 p.m. on Saturday.  This doctrine is particularly
interesting when you learn that Joseph Smith predicted in 1842:

               Were I going to prophesy, I would say the end
          would not come in 1844, 5 or 6, or in forty years.
          There are those of the rising generation who shall not
          taste death till Christ comes.  ... I prophesy in the
          name of the Lord God, and let it be written -- the
          Son of Man will not come in the clouds of heaven till
          I am eighty-five years old (48 years hence or about 1890).

     Funny to some, the end DID come in 1844... to Joseph, at least.  However,
due to its flaming falsity, this prophecy has been conveniently ignored by the
LDS church.

     So the Mormons honestly believe that The Hour is almost at hand.  What are
they doing about it?  For one thing, each family is under orders to stockpile a
year's supply of food.  (Don't believe it?  Go get the fantastic documentary
_Sherman's March_ by Ross McElwee, available at better video rental stores.
There's a small segment in McElwee's film where a Mormon woman he's dating
explains that the end of the world is coming soon and shows him the food her
family has been stockpiling for it.)

     When I first read about this, I have to admit that an appealing thought
crossed my mind: don't bother stockpiling food and water in case of natural
disaster -- instead, plan to wrestle them from the nearest Mormon family.  But
then I read about their "72-hour kits", the reasoning behind which is explained
in the book _In Mormon Circles_ by James Coates:

               A primary principle of civil defense is that the
          key to surviving catastrophe isn't just laying in
          supplies to tide one over the period during which the
          irradiated landscape cools down, but rather taking
          steps to withstand the rigors and dangers of the first
          three days.  It is those initial seventy-two hours of
          upheaval and rioting as the unprepared struggle to
          take away the supplies of their more prudent neighbors
          that pose the greatest threat to long-term survival.

     To me, this means one word: GUNS.  Suddenly, the thought of forcing my way
past the door of a Mormon family's basement-turned-barricade turned from glee
to horror.  Assuming the Saints survive those first hectic days after the bombs
fall, they'll have to lay low for a while, consuming those tasty rations while
we Gentiles are wiped off the face of the Earth.

     After the smoke clears, however, the Mormons are planning to trek over to
Salt Lake City.  After taking a head count and giving each other much-deserved
mutual high-fives, the Saints will travel en masse to the historical site of
Eden, where they will come to dwell in paradise on Earth.

     They'll probably take I-70, passing eastward through Topeka, Kansas.  The
survivors of Armageddon, those chosen few directed by God to dwell in Eden,
will find it in the hometown of Harry S. Truman:  Independence, Missouri.


Bushman, Richard.  _Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism_.  Urbana:
     University of Illinois Press, 1984.

     Fascinating.  The best book about Mormonism written by a Mormon.  You
won't find Kinderhook or the Kirtland Anti-Bank in there anywhere, but
everything in it is exhaustively footnoted.  And, unlike the other book about
Mormonism from the U of I Press (by Jan Shipps), this one doesn't bore you to
tears with a dry, academic writing style.  This is lively reading, and has the
ring of authenticity, more or less.  However, the book ends right after the
Smiths come to Kirtland.

Carmer, Carl.  _The Farm Boy and the Angel_.  Garden City, New York: Doubleday,

     Amazingly, a biography of Joseph Smith and his church which lacks even a
single footnote.  This has got to be a fictionalized account, because otherwise
Carmer has found a means to record the dialogue spoken between characters
wherever he needs it.  Non-authoritative.  No mention whatsoever of the
Kinderhook plates, the Kirtland Anti-Bank, Joseph's weirder speeches --
nothing.  Just Mormon pap.

Coates, James.  _In Mormon Circles_.  New York: Addison-Wesley, 1990.

     This book is the most credible examination of the LDS church I have yet
encountered.  Coates doesn't seem to be gunning for the Saints, but neither
does he skip over or explain away their bizarre episodes.

Coil, Henry Wilson.  _A Comprehensive View of Freemasonry_.  Richmond,
     Virginia: Macoy Publishing, 1973.

     A weird little overview of the Masons.  Pretty much what you'd expect from
a Mason of the 33rd degree (honorary; there are only 32 degrees).

Decker, Ed and Caryl Matrisciana.  _The God Makers 2_.  Eugene, Oregon: Harvest
     House Publishers, 1993.

     Sequel to _The God Makers_, a book I haven't seen.  But if it turns out to
be in the same ballpark as its follow-up, it's probably 30% reasoned arguments
against the validity of the LDS church and 70% irrelevancies or hysterical

Leone, Mark.  _The Roots of Modern Mormonism_.  Cambridge: Harvard University
     Press: 1979.

     Nifty organizational chart.

Naifeh, Steven and Gregory White Smith.  _The Mormon Murders_.  New York:
     Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1988.

     You should buy this book.  It tells the story of the White Salamander
forgery, two lethal bombings, and the Mormon Church in the middle of an
absolute shitstorm.  Sections of the tale are honestly amazing.

Shipps, Jan.  _Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition_.  Urbana:
     University of Illinois Press, 1985.

     This book is, by far, the worst of the bunch.  Do not buy this book.  At
least Thompson's book (_The Mormon Church_) attempts to explain the weird
aspects of LDS history.  This book just ignores all of it.  I could find no
reference to the fate of the Kirtland bank, the existence of the Kinderhook
plates, or even that Joseph Smith had joined the Masonic lodge in Nauvoo.  My
God, this book sucks.  And it's dry and boring, like a graduate student's
thesis.  A complete waste of money and time -- don't buy it, don't read it.

Tanner, Jerald and Sandra Tanner.  various pamphlets, newsletters, and books.
     Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1970-.

     Judging by the tracts that these former Saints produce against the LDS
church, they must live under 24-hour surveillance by church security.  I'm not
kidding about this.  They produce written materials which serve to peel away
the convenient myths and obfuscations surrounding the Mormon church and its
history.  These people are way hap.

Thompson, Roger M.  _The Mormon Church_.  New York: Hippocrene Books, 1993.

     This book takes an utterly uncritical look at the history of the LDS
religion, written by a dyed-in-the-wool fifth-generation Mormon.  As such, it
is mostly crap.  However, it's easy to overlook the little details that
Thompson brings to one's understanding of the church and its history.  While I
can't write it off completely, it still suffers from as narrow-minded a
viewpoint as that of the authors of its antipodal text, _God Makers 2_.
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\_______/|All Rights Reserved.                               08/01/1994-#275|