The Mormons, or the Church of Jesus of Latter-Day Saints is a sect of Christianity formed in the early-to-mid 1800s in North America.
Mormons believe that around 1830, Joseph Smith was given gold plates by God and translated them into the Book of Mormon. God told Smith personally that all other churches are an abomination to Him and in apostasy. Or so Smith claimed. Smith began practicing polygamy on the sly. He married over 30 women, including a couple of 14 year olds. When he died, the church was taken over by Brigham Young, who moved them all to the Utah territory because the polygamy was getting them in a lot of trouble. They stopped the approving polygamous marriage in 1890.
The religion is based around the Book of Mormon. The problem is that the Book of Mormon is supposed to be a history of early America, and it is obvious when you read it that it is just a fantasy written before we knew much about the Native Americans' history.
In reality, before becoming LDS founder, Joseph Smith was a con man who had been in court three times for various schemes including involving digging for "treasure". He'd approach farmers with a "treasure map" and them to pay him and promise them gold. He also started an illegal bank that fleeced his followers, and he destroyed a newspaper that was about to expose his polygamy. He just wasn't a very nice man, and seems an unlikely candidate for a prophet. Ironically, Smith was murdered by a mob of his own followers after he was thrown in jail after his polygamist activity came to light. He had been sleeping with his own followers' wives on the side, telling the women that God told him to do this and they shouldn't mention it to their husbands.
The LDS theology is hodge podge of masonry, Campbellites, Swedenborg and more. They have a lot of temple rituals from masonry. They will baptize you Mormon by proxy after you are dead, for example. They believe if worthy enough, they will become gods after death.
The church believes they are headed at all times by a current living prophet and seer, and the members are taught to obey the prophet. The LDS puts a lot of emphasis on family, although in Utah where they have the highest density among the population, there is also some of the highest prescription rates of giving children mood-altering drugs like Ritalin and Prozac.
Scandals involving the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)
The Book of Abraham
The Book of Abraham is believed by Mormons to be the handwritten account of the prophet Abraham. In 1835 Smith was able to use his “Angel-given” tools to translate some Egyptian scrolls that he was given access to (at that time no one could read hieroglyphics). Upon inspection, Smith declared that they contained the Book of Abraham. He promptly translated the lot and it was accepted as scripture by the church (it is included as part of the Pearl of Great Price). The scrolls vanished and everyone thought the story would end there. But it didn’t - in 1966 the original scrolls were found in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The scrolls turned out to be a standard Egyptian text that was often buried with the dead. This fraud caused a number of mormons to leave the church and is still a hotly debated topic amongst mormons and their critics.
Mountain Meadows Massacre
The Mountain Meadows massacre was a mass killing of the Fancher-Baker wagon train at Mountain Meadows in Utah Territory on September 11, 1857, by a group of Mormons and Paiute Indians. The Arkansas emigrants were traveling to California shortly before Utah War started. Mormons throughout the Utah Territory had been mustered to fight the invading United States Army, which they believed was intended to destroy them as a people. Initially intending to orchestrate an Indian massacre, two men with leadership roles in local military, church and government organizations, Isaac C. Haight and John D. Lee, conspired for Lee to lead militiamen disguised as Native Americans along with a contingent of Paiute tribesmen in an attack.
The emigrants fought back and a siege ensued. Intending to leave no witnesses of Mormon complicity in the siege and avoid reprisals complicating the Utah War, militiamen induced the emigrants to surrender and give up their weapons. After escorting the emigrants out of their fortification, the militiamen and their tribesmen auxiliaries executed approximately 120 men, women and children.
Joseph Smith's 33 Wives
While the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints officially condemns polygamy, its founder was quite the ladies' man.
Historians widely agree that Joseph Smith Jr. taught and practiced polygamy. This position is supported by "sealing" records, public marriage licenses (in many cases notarized), affidavits, letters, journals and diaries. The church even publishes Joseph Smith's geneaology to back it up.
Established Brothels to Catch Gentile Public Officials
While the federal government was investigating Mormon leaders practice of polygamy, the church hatched a plot to catch these officials using brothels. Brothels were established in 1885 and invitations were sent to government officials. When the plot was discovered the brothels were closed and the women sent out of the territory.
Posthumous baptism of Holocaust victims
In 1995 it came to light that the Mormon church had been posthumously baptizing Jews killed during the holocaust. This outraged the Jewish community. It was agreed the LDS church would cease such activities, but again in 2002, evidence came to light indicating the church was still practicing these baptisms of deceased people of other faiths.
Joesph Smith admitted he was a fraud
Smith once broke down and admitted he was a fraud
Testimony of Smith family neighbor and friend of Joseph Smith:
“In the month of August, 1827, I was hired by Joseph Smith, Jr. to go to Pennsylvania, to move his wife’s household furniture up to Manchester, where his wife then was.”
“When we arrived at Mr. Hale’s, in Harmony, Pa. from which place he had taken his wife, a scene presented itself, truly affecting. His father-in-law (Mr. Hale) addressed Joseph, in a flood of tears: “You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time in digging for money — pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.”"
“Joseph wept, and acknowledged he could not see in a stone now, nor never could; and that his former pretensions in that respect, were all false. He then promised to give up his old habits of digging for money and looking into stones.”
“Joseph told me on his return, that he intended to keep the promise which he had made to his father-in-law; “but,” said he, “it will be hard for me, for they will all oppose, as they want me to look in the stone for them to dig money.” And in fact it was as he predicted. They urged him, day after day, to resume his old practice of looking in the stone.”
Isaac Hale, Joseph Smith’s father-in-law separately testified:
“Emma wrote to me inquiring whether she could have her property, consisting of clothing, furniture, cows, etc. I replied that her property was safe, and at her disposal. In short time they returned, bringing with them a Peter Ingersol, and subsequently came to the conclusion that they would move out, and resided upon a place near my residence.”
“Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called “glass-looking,” and that he expected to work hard for a living, and was willing to do so.”
Watered-down version found in the Official History of the Church:
“Joseph secured the services of a neighbor, Peter Ingersoll, to assist and accompany him in acquiring Emma’s property. In August 1827, eight months after their marriage, Joseph and Emma returned with Ingersol to face Isaac. Ingersol reported that Isaac exclaimed in a flood of tears, You have stolen my daughter and married her. I had much rather have followed her to her grave. You spend your time digging for money–pretend to see in a stone, and thus try to deceive people.”
“Yet on that visit there was an attempt to reconcile Joseph and his father-in-law, for an invitation was extended to Joseph and Emma to make their home in Harmony. Isaac, with evident paternal concern and with some compassion, indicated to Joseph that if he would move to Pennsylvania and work, giving up “his old practice of looking in the stone,” Isaac would assist him in getting into business. Isaac claims, “Smith stated to me he had given up what he called `glass-looking,’ and that he expected and was willing to work hard for a living.”"
In response to denials of Joseph Smith’s confession, Randy Jordan explains:
Mormon apologists saying that Ingersoll was an “aggrieved former neighbor of the Smiths” has no foundation in truth. Ingersoll’s attitude when swearing his affidavit was more of bemusement than bitterness over the way Smith transformed himself from a poor-man’s fortune-teller to a Biblical-style “prophet.”
Mormon apologist allegations that Hurlbut gathered his affidavits with “malicious intent” is moot because of the fact that the affidavits were sworn before justices of the peace, and the testators were legally responsible for their statements.
Ingersoll’s account of the confrontation between Smith and Isaac Hale is corroborated by Hale’s own affidavit. Also, Hale swore his affidavit at Harmony, Pennsylvania, and Ingersoll swore his at Manchester, NY (where he lived, some 80 miles away.) Mormon apologists cannot claim that the two affidavits were contaminated by the “malicious” Hurlbut, because Hurlbut never went to Harmony and never met Hale. But because they were sworn independently of each other, and yet corroborate each other, they are highly credible.
Ingersoll’s, Hale’s, and numerous other affidavits from Smith’s 1820’s acquaintances were published in Eber D. Howe’s 1834 “Mormonism Unveiled”
Ingersoll’s affidavit was quoted in the Official History of the Church. In addition to that, both Ingersoll’s and Hale’s affidavits were quoted in the February 2001 “Ensign” magazine,in an article dealing with Smith’s Pennsylvania experiences. (Read the article at www.lds.org.) Although the “Ensign” article is careful to not quote the parts of those affidavits telling of Smith’s “glass-looking” or his admission of fraud, the very fact that church apologists use those affidavits as credible historical sources negate any attempts to wholesale dismiss them as unreliable (in other words, “cherry-picking”.) Therefore, when Mormon apologists opinion that the affidavits have been “discredited at worst, not taken seriously at best,” perhaps the should tell that to the GAs and scholars who approve material for publication in the “Ensign.”
While Mormon apologists contend that Smith never outright admitted his fraud, or at least argue that that admission came via the hearsay testimony of Ingersoll, Hale, etc., the fact that Smith’s “peep-stoning” was a fraud is evidenced by the fact that Smith never found any buried treasures or anything else of value. Also, another instance of Smith’s admission of fraud is the account of his 1826 “glass-looking” trial at Bainbridge, where he admitted that his activity was a fraud, expressed contrition, and promised the judge to cease the activity—and yet, a mere 2 years later, he was claiming to translate the “golden plates” with the same “peep-stone in the hat” business he had used in his glass-looking scam, according to eyewitnesses such as Emma Smith, David Whitmer, and Joseph Knight.
For decades, Mormon apologists have attempted to discredit the numerous affidavits concerning Smith’s 1820’s peep-stoning and money-digging activities by attacking Hurlbut or Howe’s motives or character—opining that Hurlbut “invented” the affidavits or “coached” the testators. However, that argument is negated by the fact that Hurlbut never even joined the Mormonite church until March 1833,in Ohio, and he didn’t travel to NY to interview Smith’s acquaintances until the following November. The reason that’s relevant is that many, many accounts of Smith’s peep-stoning, money-digging, occult activities, and details of how he produced his “Gold Bible” had been published by 1830-31, before Hurlbut or Howe were even factors in history.