Last Update: 5/2016
“The essential principle of Mormonism is not polygamy at all, but the ambition of an ecclesiastical hierarchy to wield sovereignty; to rule the souls and lives of its subjects with absolute authority, unrestrained by any civil power.” - Salt Lake Tribune, Feb 15, 1885
Polygamy in LDS History
Many LDS have no understanding of polygamy in the church history or within the Bible. I have heard many times, something to the effect of, “polygamy must be ok because it’s in the Bible.” I have already provided the biblical response to why polygamy is not approved by God just because it is in the Bible in the Verses Mormons Misuse section.
The topic of polygamy is very rarely discussed by the LDS as they see it as “deep doctrine,” so most effectively bury their heads in the sand so they don’t hear anything that is not “faith promoting.” I think many LDS know in their hearts that polygamy was wrong on all levels and they wish it was never apart of their history. Unfortunately, this is not the case as for more than 50 years it was the single most important doctrine in the church, so essential, it was required for exaltation and godhood.
But just because you turn a deaf ear to the foundational doctrines and teachings of the church in favor of the current teachings does not make the problems go away or the church true. If these are true doctrines of God then they should not be afraid to be examined. How strong can your faith be in your church, its doctrines and leaders if you refuse to examine them? So let’s objectively look at polygamy from its inception to how the church views the doctrine today.
Laws in place against Polygamy
This may be news to most LDS, but polygamy has always been illegal in the United States, Mexico and Canada no matter when or where it was practiced. Even when Joseph Smith secretly started the practice with his first plural wife Fanny Alger, which the LDS church reveals began in 1833, it was illegal.
Roughly half of all LDS believe it was Brigham Young who started the doctrine of polygamy. This is not surprising since the church does everything they can to keep as much of the history of polygamy suppressed due to its damaging effects on church membership when people find out the truth.
Joseph Smith was the first person in the church to practice polygamy in secret with his first plural wife, 16 year old Fanny Alger, for more than a decade before the doctrine was even revealed. Yet, at the LDS church’s largest website repository of information on Joseph Smith at www.josephsmith.net there is not a single mention of plural marriage.
You will notice that in the LDS owned familysearch.org website, Fanny Alger is not listed among the 33 wives under Joseph Smith Jr.. The only way to pull up the marriage record of Fanny Alger and Joseph Smith is to search on Fanny Alger and bingo, there is the happy couple. It even states that she is the first plural wife of Joseph Smith and that it occurred in about 1833. The likely reason for this deception by the LDS church is to separate her from all the other wives because they don’t want it to be obvious that they were married for a decade before he should have been according to the plural marriage revelation date of 1843 listed in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants. This is one of dozens of ways the LDS church leadership regularly practices obfuscation and deception in hiding truths that are very damaging to the church.
Most of Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages happened in the early 1840’s in Illinois. Illinois did have an anti-bigamy law which was enacted February 12, 1833. There are even photocopies of the actual criminal code with this statute.
Even when the LDS packed up and moved west in 1847 to Mexico, which in 1848 became the US territory of Utah after the Mexican War, polygamy was illegal in Mexico and in the Utah territory. The laws at this time were nothing more than a slap on the wrist though. From that point forward the laws were updated to eliminate loop-holes and have stiffer penalties.
The federal Morrill Act of 1862 closed loop-holes and banned bigamy, but was not effectively enforced by the federal government.
The Poland Act of 1874 was enacted to help facilitate prosecutions of polygamists from the federal Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act of 1862. This act stripped the control of the Utah justice system from Mormons and gave jurisdiction to the US district courts over all civil and criminal proceedings.
20 years later, the Morrill Act was amended because it was unsuccessful in eliminating Mormon polygamous marriages. The Edmunds Act of 1882 was signed into law and created harsher penalties in an effort to stop Mormon plural marriage. Even though it was now a felony to engage in polygamous relationships, this still did not stop the Mormon’s from engaging in what they felt was a law from God not to be superseded by any man-made law.
Finally, the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 was passed which dis-incorporated the LDS church and confiscated all property valued over $50,000 because they continued to live and teach polygamy. The act made the illegal practice of polygamy punishable by a fine of $500 to $800 and imprisonment of up to five years. The LDS church sued the United States and in May of 1890, but the Supreme Court upheld the Edmunds-Tucker Act dis-incorporating the LDS church and seizing its assets valued over $50,000.
Picture and quotes below from MormonThink.com.
“Polygamists in striped prison uniforms, including George Q. Cannon (center with cane) [Cannon is actually above the man with cane], William Gimbert Saunders (second from right), and William Morley Black (right of Cannon with white beard). These men were also known as “Prisoners of Conscience.”
“Why were these people, including First Presidency counselor George Q. Cannon in prison for practicing polygamy? Because polygamy was illegal.”
Below is the “Wanted” poster made for the LDS leadership for their illegal practice of polygamy.
[Mormon Polygamy: Wanted Poster]
First Plural Marriage to Fanny Alger
According to the familysearch.org website, Joseph Smith took his first plural wife, Fanny Alger, in about 1833. The evidence, however, suggests that Joseph's relationship with Fanny began as adultery outside the bonds of marriage based on the following:
Oliver Cowdery's response that he caught Joseph, in a "dirty, nasty, filthy affair."
In 1835 Emma, who was very fond of Fanny while working in the Smith household, witnessed through a crack in the planks of the barn Joseph and Fanny engaged in sexual relations. Emma was furious and drove Fanny from the home. Joseph would later reveal to Oliver Cowdery that he confessed to Emma and sought her forgiveness. Emma obviously did not know of this marriage based on her reaction as Doctrine and Covenants 132 requires.
Joseph was in love with Fanny and made a deal with Levi Hancock that if Levi were successful in getting Fanny to marry Joseph, that Joseph would reward Levi with a marriage to Clarissa Reed, who like Fanny, worked in the Smith household. Clarissa, who knew about the doctrine of polygamy, desired to marry Smith, was eventually married to Hancock on March 29, 1833.
The first account of an angel with drawn sword who threatened to kill Joseph unless he take up plural marriage occurred in 1834. This sexual relationship and "marriage" to Fanny began at the latest in 1833, which gives support that Joseph's motivation was not due to threat by an angel with drawn sword, but do to being in love with a teenager.
Plural marriage looks more like a convenient way concocted by Joseph to gain forgiveness from Emma by suggesting it was a commandment from God. This covers up his being caught in adultery and being in love with the teenager Fanny, as he desired to continue his relationship by marrying her.
Official Declaration - 1
This declaration issued by President Wilford Woodruff in October 1890 is considered "revelation" from God regarding the ceasing of the everlasting covenant of plural marriage (no, that is not a typo, but it is an oxymoron). Let’s see what the declaration actually states and see if it truly is a revelation.
The declaration starts off with a blatant lie from President Woodruff. He is arguing that the government alleges that plural marriage is still taking place and the doctrine is still being taught. He sharply responds to this allegation by saying:
"I, therefore, as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice..."
He openly states that “laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort [Supreme Court].”
The last paragraph is where the “revelation” occurs as President Woodruff states, “And now I publicly declare that my advice is the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.” (emphasis mine)
Wait a second; where is the “thus saith the Lord,” or at least some kind of hard-line commandment rather than just his “advice”? And did he not just advise the members to stop engaging in polygamy, which he has just stated was a false accusation by the government?
This is where it gets interesting because only a few months after getting the bad news from the Supreme Court, President Woodruff all the sudden has a “revelation.” After the Official Declaration – 1 are excerpts from addresses by President Woodruff that discuss this huge dilemma. He states, “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place…The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue—to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people…
The Lord showed me by vision and revelation exactly what would take place if we did not stop this practice. If we had not stopped it, you would have had no use for … any of the men in this temple at Logan; for all ordinances would be stopped throughout the land of Zion. Confusion would reign throughout Israel, and many men would be made prisoners. This trouble would have come upon the whole Church, and we should have been compelled to stop the practice.” (emphasis mine)
First, it sure does look like the Lord allowed President Woodruff to lead the people astray because this practice did nothing but break laws putting many fathers in prison which destroyed families. That is, if you believe it is the Lord leading the "prophet" and not some other spirit. Second, I would hardly consider this a revelation from the Lord. President Woodruff knew exactly what would happen if he did not stop the practice of polygamy among the Saints. This was a "revelation" from the US Government, not the Lord! You either stop practicing polygamy and follow the laws of the land, or you will no longer have your freedom and the church would dissolve. I think everyone in this position would have a "revelation" to stop the practice and teaching of polygamy if met with such laws, opposition and penalties.
Some things to ponder at this point:
God does not change so why would he command an everlasting and eternal principle of plural marriage knowing it's against the laws of the land only to change his mind a short 50 years later destroying thousands of families and seeing husbands thrown in prison? I don’t know why they call it the “everlasting covenant” if it only lasted about 50 years.
Since polygamy had been illegal no matter when and where it was practiced, it meant the commandment from the Lord contradicted the 12th Article of Faith which states, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”
Joseph Smith’s marriage to Fanny Alger was preceded by Oliver Cowdery catching the two in what he called a “dirty, nasty, filthy affair” (LDS author Richard Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, p. 323). He confronted Joseph about it his participation which led to Oliver Cowdery’s excommunication from the LDS church.
Why would God command a practice that goes completely against nature in that the male vs. female birth rates are roughly 50/50? All this practice would promote is a significant amount of males whom are perfectly suited for multiplying without a female wife. Besides, 50 men with each having a wife would procreate children faster than one man with 50 wives. When you see who had the plural wives it makes perfect sense as the higher you were up in the church the better your chances were at more wives.
If God really wanted to produce "tabernacles for noble spirits" in the "pre-existence," why would he not have given Adam multiple wives as this would have been the best way to multiply and replenish the earth under Mormon theology?
Brigham Young had a total of 55 wives and 56 children. How could you possibly be a proper husband and father to this many wives and children? You would never be able to spend the time with each to develop a loving and nurturing relationship. You probably would not even know all their names! This is not even close to how the Bible provides as a model marriage and parenting.
The 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants contained a section that denounced polygamy. Keep in mind Joseph secretly took his first plural wife, Fanny Alger, in 1833. Section 101:4, which was included in the canon until it was removed in 1876 read, “Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have but one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” What was this doing in the Doctrine and Covenants for over 40 years after the practice began in about 1833? What this means is the church was practicing polygamy for 40+ years when neither their doctrine nor the law allowed for it. Today, their doctrine allows for it with D&C section 132, but they don't practice it! Go figure!
When I was still a member of the LDS church, I had been told various stories as to why polygamy was instituted among the Saints. One of the reasons was that there was a shortage of men as many died from the harsh conditions from the long trek west to Utah. This is completely false as Utah census records from 1850 – 1950 consistently show more men than women.
LDS Apostle John Widstoe agrees by stating, “The implied assumption in this theory, that there have been more female than male members in the Church is not supported by existing evidence. On the contrary, there seems always to have been more males than females in the Church...The United States census records from 1850 to 1940, and all available Church records, uniformly show a preponderance of males in Utah...This theory is not defensible since there was no surplus of women” (LDS Apostle John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, 1960, pages 390-392).
Not only was Joseph Smith in a polygamous marriage to at least 34 women/children (two 14 year olds), he was also married to 11 other men’s wives. The list can be verified by going to LDS sites such as familysearch.org or wivesofjosephsmith.org. These 34 wives including the polyandrous marriages to 11 other men’s wives can be read about in LDS Historian Todd Compton’s book, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith published in 1997 in SLC, Utah. It is also acknowledged as true by church historians Marlin Jensen and Richard Turley and documented by the pro-LDS apologetic FAIR.
In November 2010, a special fireside was held in Stockholm, Sweden by LDS Church Historians Marlin K. Jensen and Richard Turley Jr. (Asst.) in an attempt to stop the wave of apostasy that was sweeping the membership, which included the Stake President and Area Seventy. The following video is an excerpt of the recording where Jensen confirms Joseph Smith practiced polygamy and polyandry.
Besides all the countless issues that were born from this practice of marrying other men’s wives, it was completely contradictory to section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants and the Bible (Leviticus 20:10, Deuteronomy 22:22, Romans 7:3). The Bible even specifically warns not to take on a polygamous marriage to sisters (Leviticus 18:18) which Joseph Smith did on multiple occasions (Huntington, Partridge, Johnson, and Lawrence sisters). Joseph Smith even married a mother/daughter combination with the Session’s.
Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants states that plural marriage must be with virgins to not be considered adulterous and justified. If any of these other women are with another man then they shall be destroyed (Section 132:61-63).
There is little doubt at to whether these marriages were sexual in nature as pro-LDS apologists acknowledge the likelihood.
FAIR: “This is not to argue, I hasten to add, that such marriages must not or could not involve sexuality. I believe they were legitimate marriages, and as such could easily accommodate righteous marital relations.”
FARMS: FARMS reviewer Gregory Smith states in his book Nauvoo Polygamy, that Joseph Smith had "conjugal relations" with at least eight women in addition to his first wife, Emma…. "there is good evidence of a conjugal relationship with Almira Johnson, Melissa Lott, Emily Partridge, and Eliza R. Snow…." Gregory Smith also stated that "it is also reasonable," even "persuasive," "to include Eliza Partridge, Maria Lawrence, and Sarah Lawrence." He concluded that there was "some evidence" for sex with "Fanny Alger and Sylvia Sessions Lyon," but begrudgingly pointed out that "this is only nine" of Joseph Smith's 33-38 known plural marriages.
LDS Author Richard Bushman: “As the marriages increased, there were fewer and fewer opportunities for seeing each wife. Even so, nothing indicates that sexual relations were left out of plural marriages” (Richard Lyman Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, 438-39).
Of the documented 34 plural wives of Joseph Smith, 7 were 17 or younger with two being 14 years old. Joseph was 37 years old at the time of his marriage to 14 year old Helen Mar Kimball and Nancy Winchester. Each of these 7 marriages would qualify Joseph Smith as a pedophile today. It should be of little doubt that these marriages were sexual in nature as the only reason for polygamy according to the Book of Mormon was to “raise up seed” (Jacob 2:24-30). Brigham Young also stated as much saying, “This is the reason why the doctrine of plurality of wives was revealed, so that the noble spirits which are waiting for tabernacles might be brought forth” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 197).
Joseph Smith was obviously very powerful, charismatic and charming. He used these traits to coerce very young women into marrying him. He would tell them stories that an angel with a drawn sword commanded him to marry the young girls or be killed. Another would be that he would receive a revelation that they were to be married and that if they were married, her and her families exaltation would be guaranteed. Poor little Helen Mar Kimball had this pressure to deal with as Joseph Smith gave her 24 hours to decide the eternal destination of her and her family. This was a 14 year old little girl!
Nancy Rigdon, who was the daughter of Sidney Rigdon, was one of the only women who had the courage to deny Joseph Smith’s marriage proposals. After Smith was rejected by Nancy, he tried valiantly to persuade her of the marriage writing to her, “happiness is the object and design of our existence. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another."
The Church Lied about the Practice of Polygamy
According to the LDS owned website Familysearch.org, Joseph Smith began his first polygamous relationship in 1833 to Fanny Alger. Though there is no debate as to whether Joseph Smith was practicing polygamy at this time, the church constantly publicly condemned the practice into the early 1850’s.
“Inasmuch as this Church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication and polygamy, we declare that we believe that one man should have one wife, and one woman but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again.” - History of the Church, vol. 2, p.247 (August 1835) This quote is also part of the 1835-1876 canon of scripture Doctrine and Covenants Section 101:4.
“Among the most conspicuous of these apostates, we would notice a young female who...conceived the plan of gaining friendship and extraordinary notoriety with the world...She accordingly selected president J. Smith and elder B. Young for her victims, and wrote to England that these men had been trying to seduce her, by making her believe that God had given a revelation that men might have two wives...But, for the information of those who might be assailed by those foolish tales about two wives, we would say that no such principle ever existed among the Latter-Day Saints, and ever will; this is well known to all who are acquainted with our books and actions.” - Millennial Star, August 1, 1842
“What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one.” – Quote from Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 411
“The law of the land and the rules of the church do not allow one man to have more than one wife alive at once.” - Times and Seasons, vol. 5, p. 715 (November 15, 1844)
Apostle John Taylor who was married to at least 7 wives at the time, publicly denied polygamy in 1850 during a debate where he stated, “We are accused here of polygamy, and actions the most indelicate, obscene, and disgusting, such that none but a corrupt and depraved heart could have contrived. These things are too outrageous to admit of belief... I shall content myself by reading our views of chastity and marriage, from a work published by us, containing some of the articles of our Faith. "Doctrine and Covenants," [Cites D&C 101]. (John Taylor, 1850, Three Nights' Public Discussion, p.8)
Many other quotes by the LDS church leaders condemning polygamy as it was secretly practiced by Joseph Smith can be found at MormonThink.com.
During a special conference September 14, 1852, the LDS church publicly acknowledged the practice of polygamy for the first time. - DeseretNews Extra, September 14, 1852
In July of 1857, the LDS magazine, Millennial Star, condemned the practice of plural marriage prior to 1843. “The Latter-day Saints, from the rise of the Church in 1830, till the year 1843, had no authority to marry more than one wife each. To have done otherwise, would have been a great transgression.”
In 1876, after 41 years in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 101 condemning polygamy is replaced by canonized section 132 which requires polygamy for godhood and exaltation. Even though the mainstream LDS church does not teach the “everlasting” doctrine today, it is still canonized and they still practice the doctrine in the temples today. Current Mormon Apostles Dallin Oaks, Russell Nelson and L. Tom Perry have all been sealed to multiple wives in the temple.
Mormons believe the doctrine of plural marriage will be reinstituted during the reign of Jesus Christ on earth and practiced in heaven. LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie stated, “Obviously the holy practice [plural marriage] will commence again after the Second Coming of the Son of Man and the ushering of the millennium.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 578) While the doctrine was openly taught, Mormon leaders have been very clear that one cannot become exalted to godhood if you do not practice plural marriage.
“The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” - Brigham Young, 1866, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11:269
“If we were to do away with polygamy… we must do away with prophets and Apostles, with revelation and the gifts and graces of the Gospel, and finally give up our religion altogether…” - Wilford Woodruff, 1869, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 13:166
“I was asked, “Do you believe in obeying the laws of the United States?” “Yes I do, in all except one”—in fact I had not broken that. “What law is that?” “The law in relation to polygamy.” - John Taylor, 1879, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 20:317
In the LDS church Sunday school manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, why does it fail to even mention Brigham Young’s 55 wives (6 polyandrous) and 56 children? Instead, they only mention his first wife Miriam Works, who passed away in 1831, and his next wife Mary Ann Angell whom he married in 1834. There were plenty of opportunities to share this information within the introduction, historical summary, or any other part of the manual. Remember, this was the single most important doctrine declared essential for exaltation and godhood for about 50 years. Why suppress this information if it was so essential to their eternal salvation?
Can a church that suppresses information and regularly practices deceit be “the only true church on the face of the earth”? Isn’t lying breaking the commandments? Can the Holy Spirit testify to the truthfulness of something built on lies and deceit? If not, then what spirit can (hint: the answer can be found in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4, 13-15)?
This practice of suppressing information and not being honest and open regarding church history is not at all in accord with the 13th Article of Faith, which states "We believe in being honest, true ...". Nor does is align with quotes from General Authorities regarding this topic.
"A lie is any communication given to another with the intent to deceive. ... A lie can be effectively communicated without words ever being spoken. Sometimes a nod of the head or silence can deceive" (Marvin J. Ashton, "This is No Harm," Ensign, April 1982).
"We all need to know what it means to be honest. Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving. ... Honesty is a principle, and we have our moral agency to determine how we will apply this principle. We have the agency to make choices, but ultimately we will be accountable for each choice we make. We may deceive others, but there is One we will never deceive" (James E. Faust, "Honesty--a Moral Compass," Ensign, October 1996).
"The 13th article of faith says, 'We believe in being honest.' ... Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. ... Lying is intentionally deceiving others. ... There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest." (2011 Gospel Principles Manual, Chapter 31: Honesty, pp. 179-183)
Joseph Smith's Death and Polygamy
Polygamy played a significant role in the death of Joseph Smith. In late 1843 to early 1844, Joseph Smith began to fancy Jane Law who was the wife of William Law, the 2nd counselor in the 1st Presidency of the LDS church. Joseph Smith made several proposals to Jane in order to enter a polyandrous marriage with all being rejected. William Law was understandable distraught and disturbed by Prophet's pursuit of his wife. Law questioned Joseph Smith regarding this newly revealed revelation of polygamy and Smith's polygamous marriages and was excommunicated along with his wife, Jane, his brother and several others shortly thereafter in April-May of 1844. It was publicly announced that the Nauvoo Expositor was being created on May 10, 1844. On May 23, 1844, Law obtained a grand jury indictment against Joseph Smith charging him with polygamy.
A short time later on June 7th, 1844, William Law had published the 1st edition of the Nauvoo Expositor which ran an article showing first-hand testimony from multiple sources that the revered prophet Joseph Smith was engaged in polygamy. The paper also exposed Joseph Smith’s new “doctrines of many Gods” and exaltation, and revealed his tremendous power by his roles as church president, mayor of Nauvoo, and self-declared kingship. The issue also revealed a belief that Joseph Smith was manipulating and forcing young girls into polygamy. Joseph Smith had been publicly denying the polygamy reports and accusations, which this and the other public revealing made him more furious. Using his position of power, Joseph Smith illegally ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor printing press by the Nauvoo Legion on June 11, 1844.
The LDS church still deceives its members (all the way down to children in primary) regarding the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor by teaching it printed "vicious lies" regarding the prophet Joseph Smith. Everything that was run in the paper was absolutely true, but the church understands the repercussions of acknowledging this fact.
This quote summarizes what happened in the days following the destruction of the press: “Fearing an uprising, Smith mobilized the Nauvoo Legion on June 18 and declared martial law. Carthage responded by mobilizing its small detachment of the state militia, and Illinois Governor Thomas Ford appeared, threatening to raise a larger militia unless Smith and the Nauvoo city council surrendered themselves. Smith initially fled across the Mississippi River, but shortly returned and surrendered to Ford. On June 23, Smith and his brother Hyrum were taken to Carthage to stand trial for inciting a riot. Once the Smiths were in custody, the charges were increased to treason against Illinois.”
We all know what soon transpired in Carthage jail. An angry mob stormed Carthage jail and murdered Joseph and Hyrum Smith. There are two issues I have with this is the way the church presents this “martyrdom” within their own eye witness testimony recorded in the their published book, History of the Church. The first issue is the following comment:
"Joseph gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give to the guard;… The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco… Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor and the doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard" (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 616).
This is one of dozens of quotes from LDS church published material that shows Joseph Smith or another church leader breaking the Word of Wisdom.
The second issue is with the following excerpt:
“Joseph reached round the door casing, and discharged his six shooter into the passage, some barrels missing fire” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 618).
Also, John Taylor gave his testimony of what happened as a result of Joseph Smith shooting his gun in Carthage jail:
“I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died” (History of the Church, vol. 7, p. 103).
Now I don’t have issue with Joseph Smith getting a gun, shooting, and even killing a couple men from the mob whom were trying to kill him. I do have issue with how the church neglects to tell the whole story of what occurred in paralleling Joseph Smith’s murder to Jesus Christ’s by statements like Joseph Smith having “died as a lamb to the slaughter.” Really? If Joseph “died as a lamb to the slaughter,” he would have drank from the cup as Jesus did and would not have fought back, killing two men in the process. I don’t recall Jesus killing anyone when he knew he was about to die.
1890 Manifesto does not end Polygamy
This might be a surprise to most Mormons, but not to any whom have familiarity with church history and have read LDS friendly books that discuss this topic. It should not be a surprise given the 1890 Manifesto was only “advice” to stop practicing polygamy by President Woodruff. Given the absolute importance of the doctrine of plural marriage, as it was an everlasting covenant essential for godhood, I would think they had zero intent to stop the practice, but rather just to ensure it is practiced in secrecy again. The reason I say this is tied to quotes from prophets and apostles that detail the eternal significance and importance of the doctrine such as these:
“I speak of plurality of wives as one of the most holy principles that God ever revealed to man, and all those who exercise an influence against it, unto whom it is taught, man or woman, will be damned, and they, and all who will be influenced by them, will suffer the buffetings of Satan in the flesh; for the curse of God will be upon them…” - Heber C. Kimball, 1866, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11:211
“God has told us Latter-day Saints that we shall be condemned if we do not enter into that principle;… I have heard…a brother or a sister say, “I am a Latter-day Saint, but I do not believe in polygamy.” Oh, what an absurd expression! What an absurd idea! A person might as well say, “I am a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, but I do not believe in him.”… Or a person might as well say, “I believe in Mormonism, and in the revelations given through Joseph Smith, but I am not a polygamist, and do not believe in polygamy,” What an absurdity! If one portion of the doctrines of the Church is true, the whole of them are true. 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… Now I want to prophesy a little. It is not very often that I prophesy… 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.” – Orson Pratt, 1874, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 17:224-225
“…if plurality of marriage is not true or in other words, if a man has no divine right to marry two wives or more in this world, then marriage for eternity is not true, and your faith is all vain, and all the sealing ordinances and powers, pertaining to marriages for eternity are vain, worthless, good for nothing; for as sure as one is true the other also must be true.” – Orson Pratt, 1880, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 21:296
“Now if any of you will deny the plurality of wives, and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned…or any other revelation that the Lord has given, and deny it in your feelings, and I promise that you will be damned. Brigham Young, 1855, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3:266
There are countless other quotes on just how essential and eternal the doctrine of polygamy is I have documented from the Journal of Discourses.
Even with the 1890 manifesto which advised the LDS not to practice polygamy, it was very clear that many church members, including LDS apostles, were continuing to engage in the practice by taking on new plural wives (D. Michael Quinn, "LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890–1904”; Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1985, 9–105).
The other and more obvious reason why the practice was not stopped with the 1890 manifesto was that a second manifesto to ban polygamy was issued by church president Joseph F. Smith on April 6, 1904, as well as the Reed Smoot hearings from 1904-1907. The continued practice of polygamy was affirmed by resignations and excommunications of many members including Apostles John W. Taylor and Matthias F. Cowley who resigned in 1905 over the abandonment of plural marriage. This opposition to the second manifesto was the birth of the Mormon Fundamentalist movement led by LDS who wanted to follow the “everlasting covenant” of plural marriage and follow the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, not giving in to the pressure from the US Government.
Reed Smoot was a member of the quorum of the twelve apostles and a Senator from Utah. The hearings took place to see whether Smoot should be seated in the senate based on the LDS church’s continued practice of polygamy. Other significant issues that were revealed in the cross-examination were:
The huge political influence the LDS church exerted on Utah
The secret oaths members take in the temple to seek revenge on the United States. For example, the Oath of Vengeance.
Members believed revelation from the LDS prophet was higher law than the laws of the land.
Current Stance on Polygamy
The current stance on polygamy is very interesting; they do not publicly condone the practice, yet it remains canonized in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants and is practiced in the temples which allow men to be sealed to multiple wives. Current Mormon Apostles Dallin Oaks, Russell Nelson and L. Tom Perry have all been sealed to multiple wives in the temple.
In a televised interview with Larry King, LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley was repeatedly deceptive in his answers on polygamy.
His deceptive answers are:
Polygamy was permitted when the LDS came west, which would be in 1847. He knows this is not true as this is not even questioned by pro-LDS historians and apologists. The practice began with Joseph Smith in his first polygamous marriage to 16 year old Fanny Alger in about 1833.
He states that 2-5% of people practiced plural marriage and it was on a “restricted scale” and a “very limited practice” which was “carefully safeguarded.” Roughly 75% of the church leadership was practicing polygamy secretly when the move west occurred. Perhaps they did not want to reveal it to the followers until they were in Utah, a thousand miles from the nearest cities, because they knew it would be a huge shock to the followers. But since they were so far out in the middle of nowhere with Indians all over, they could not leave the church or they would risk their lives.
Hinckley states that President Woodruff received a “revelation” from the Lord to stop the practice. I think I have already shown this was no revelation. Even President Woodruff himself calls it “advice.”
With regards to associating polygamy to Mormons, Hinckley states that the LDS church has nothing to with polygamy. Wow! They only practiced it for almost 80 years as an “essential and eternal doctrine,” still practice it today in the temples (sealing’s to multiple wives), believe polygamy will commence again with the second coming of the Lord, and still have the doctrine canonized in their scriptures. Why in the world would you think that Mormons and polygamy don't go together?!
Hinckley boldly states polygamy “is not doctrinal.” Then why is the doctrine of polygamy still canonized in Section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants? Why is it practiced in the temples in that you can be sealed to multiple wives?
Hinckley states the 12th Article of Faith and that the church follows the laws and since the laws do not permit polygamy, then the church condemns the practice. If this were true then why did the church not follow the laws of the land for about 80 years in the illegal practice of polygamy?
Lastly, Hinckley throws out a few commandments of “Thou shall not commit adultery, thou shall not steal, thou shall not bear false witness.” I cannot believe he stated “thou shall not bear false witness” at the same time he is being completely deceptive in virtually all his answers regarding polygamy.
The church and doctrines Joseph Smith started, Brigham Young continued and the LDS church leadership practiced up until the early 1900’s looks like a carbon copy of the FLDS church led by Warren Jeffs and very different from the LDS church that is being lead by the “mainstream” church today. It is unfortunate that the LDS church today continues its practice to suppress, deny, and deceive about its own church history regarding many doctrines it once held essential and eternal for godhood such as polygamy.
It truly calls into great question whether the “revelation” came from God or from Joseph’s mind and fleshly desires. This quote from Apostle Heber C. Kimball provides further evidence that the doctrine was from man when he stated, “Brethren, I want you to understand that it is not to be as it has been heretofore. The brother missionaries have been in the habit of picking out the prettiest women for themselves before they get here, and bringing on the ugly ones for us; hereafter you have to bring them all here before taking any of them, and let us all have a fair shake” (Heber C. Kimball, The Lion of the Lord, New York, 1969, pp. 129-130).
It is no wonder now that because all these unfiltered, accurate and objective church history and doctrines are easily available on the internet that the LDS church membership is "leaving in droves." Marlin K. Jensen, LDS General Authority and official church historian since 2012, was quoted in a 2012 Reuters article with regards to the dilemma the church faces on membership, “Maybe since Kirtland, we've never had a period of - I'll call it apostasy, like we're having now…” Jensen is referring to the failure of the illegal Kirtland bank that Joseph Smith opened in 1837 which failed a short time later after he said it would be the largest bank in the world. Jensen had previously stated that the “15 men that are above me in the hierarchy of the church” are aware that members are “leaving in droves.”
Here is a closing summary found at MormonThink.com by a former LDS bishop Randy Jordan:
“Despite GBH's efforts to make polygamy go away, it is impossible - despite the Church's efforts such as absolutely no mention of polygamy or plural marriage on the largest church-owned all-inclusive website about Joseph Smith www.josephsmith.net.
Polygamy never had any redeeming value and caused nothing but grief and heartache for the poor women who were forced into it. It is absolutely indefensible. It was self-serving for the men and demeaning to the women. This is why modern Church leaders are so embarrassed by it. They know they can't defend it. Early Church leaders, on the other hand, clearly taught that polygamous marriage was a prerequisite to entry into the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. Yet Hinckley insists that it's "not doctrinal." Which prophet is leading us astray? I realize the Church cannot formally renounce polygamy. To do so would cut at the very heart of Mormonism and thereby crumble the foundation upon which the entire house of cards is built...the character of Joseph Smith.
At the end of the day, polygamy was about the sexual gratification of a single man, Joseph Smith, Jr. Despite the prohibition against polygamy found in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith pursued it. His practice focused on impressionable young girls and involved acts that in some cases would have resulted in a prison term today. He wanted sex with more than one woman and had a convenient, self-serving revelation to justify it. We could almost forgive Joseph Smith of his sexual foibles if it weren't for the way the modern Church treats such indiscretions today. The Church is obsessed with "sexual purity" and routinely excommunicates people for weaknesses of the flesh.
In the face of the Joseph Smith model, the hypocrisy of this practice is utterly overwhelming. My personal experience sitting in Bishopric meetings and High Council meetings as a so-called "judge in Israel" where these uninspired and arbitrary punishments were meted out taught me very well what hideous farces they are. Instead of facing up to the falsity of polygamy, the Church prefers to continue lying about it. The most recent lie can be found in the 1999 Priesthood Lesson Manual where the Church is clearly trying to make people believe Brigham Young had only "two" wives and that he was not married to both of them at the same time. I suppose the fact this dishonest effort illegitimatizes the marriages of all those other wives of Brigham Young and bastardizes the children he had by them doesn't matter. Protect the image of the Church. That's the mantra of the day. If the truth must be sacrificed in the process, so be it.
Joseph F. Smith wrote that Joseph Coolidge (Joseph Smith's executor) told him that Emma once remarked to Coolidge that JS had "abandoned plurality of wives before his death", whereupon Coolidge told her she was wrong. She insisted she was right, but Coolidge responded that he "knew better". Coolidge reported that Emma then remarked, "(Then) he was worthy of the death he died!".
Why did God allow Joseph Smith to secretly practice polygamy from 1833 until officially announced in 1852? What type of God allows the Prophet Joseph Smith to publicly deny practicing polygamy when God wanted the practice restored for all to practice? Why didn't God warn the Prophet Joseph Smith that he would be killed by a mob if he ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor in order to cover up and conceal his practice of polygamy? If an angel with a sword can appear to him to force him to practice polygamy, why couldn't the same angel warn Joseph that he shouldn't destroy the printing press because it would lead to his death?”
Also from MormonThink.com is the following excerpt:
“If polygamy was really sanctioned by our Heavenly Father and polygamy is an eternal principle expected to be practiced in the next life, then naturally the spirit should bear witness to this. So why doesn't the spirit make us all feel warm fuzzies inside when it comes to polygamy? We have rarely found members in the church, especially women, who readily accept this idea.
Doesn't it seem strange when the idea is brought up about polygamy that our stomachs turn? It just seems like a really strange concept to us. We as LDS base everything in our lives on feelings; yet when we feel opposed to something in the church, this emotional wrestling match starts inside us with the ultimate winner being "well, that's not for me to understand right now."
If there is anyone out there reading this that can honestly say that they get a good, warm, spiritual feeling that God commanded Joseph to marry other men's wives and 14 year-old girls and to lie about it all his life, please email us and we'll post your impressions here.”
THE CROSS UNVEILED