Friday, July 31, 2015

The Mormon Fraud: Abundance of Proof Sources

As I am learning about Mormonism and problem inherent with the organization and its unusual beliefs, I decided that I need to narrow my research.  There are many websites, podcasts, and books dealing with contemporary issues in the LDS.  Much of what it is still unknown to me and its critique of the functioning of the LDS is better left to others.  Instead, I am fascinated with the origins of Mormonism.  

I am fascinated with the origins of religions in general and have spent much time reading and researching Judaism, Catholicism, and various Protestant denominations.  Until the Reformation, sources are sparse at best.  The authorship of many of the various books of the Old Testament and New Testament are unknown.  Some of the Letters of Paul were almost definitely written by Paul of Tarsus while others are called psuedepigrapha which is basically the opposite of plagiarism.   A chance word or two by Flavius Josephus constitutes corroborating evidence.

In contrast, Mormonism has an abundance of books and articles written during its founding years.  Smith and crew made such a splash across the country that journalists investigated his story.  People were interviewed and their words recorded.  Through the power of the Internet, I am able to read many of these books.  I have downloaded 10 books so far and the earliest publication date is 1834 "Mormonism Unvailed" by Eder D. Howe.  I am reading from photocopies of the actual pages of the manuscripts.  There has been no modern manipulation of the text and it will take some time to work my way through them.

Howe was a newspaper editor and writer living in Painesville, Ohio.  He investigated Mormonism and Joseph Smith at the request of many friends.  For those unfamiliar with northeast Ohio, Painesville is less than 12 miles from Kirtland, Ohio and Joseph Smith.  One source states that Howe's wife, sister, and niece had converted but I need to find a more reliable source than Wikipedia.  Howe had serious reasons to thoroughly investigate the group, he was in a location to do it, and he had the skills.


As I read this and other early sources, I will share what I learn.  Disinformation and denial seems to be popular with the LDS.  With the advent of the Internet, the truth is available for anyone willing to look.  I found these sources in a matter of minutes on Google Play Store and downloaded them for free.  

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Mormon Fraud: Why Does It Matter to Me?

The Mormon Fraud

Why Does It Matter to Me?

Until last weekend, I didn't have any opinions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Mormonism, or its founder Joseph Smith.  I didn't have an opinion because I didn't know anything about it except the most superficial facts.  Like most Americans, I associated Mormons with Utah, large close knit families, a history of polygamy, and some scriptures not included in Catholic or Protestant bibles.  Since I live in an area that is basically free of the Mormon influence, I didn't give it much thought.

Until last weekend....

A video about problems with Mormonism popped up as recommended on YouTube.  I watched it and realized how little I know.  Much of the content made no sense to me.  The terms referenced were totally unfamiliar.  I imagine it is like a Jew hearing arguments about Christianity for the first time.  Who's this "Paul"?  What is Easter?  What do you mean the laws don't need to be followed anymore?  In order to understand any problems with Mormonism, I first needed to learn its language and its stories.

I quickly learned that the founder of the Latter-Day Saints, Joseph Smith, was convicted of fraud and known to lie.  The gold plates were seen by no one else with their natural physical eyes.  The story told in the Book of Mormon has no historical basis but is partially plagiarized from other books.  In short, the whole of Mormonism rests on the word of one man and that man was a liar.

If people choose to devout their lives to the teachings of a liar, that is their choice.  If that were all it was, a small group of people knowingly following a work of fiction, I would have no reason other than scholarly curiosity to examine the practice more intensely.  That isn't all.  People in the Latter-Day Saints churches are not told the complete story and they are actively discouraged from questioning the official stories.  Furthermore, the LDS intensely trains thousands of young Mormons to spend two years of their lives trying to convert people.  

The LDS expend an enormous amount of time and resources to recruiting new members.  The story told to the potential recruits does not reflect the actual beliefs of the LDS nor the truth of its origins.  Potential members are not told that Joseph Smith moved from state to state to evade prosecution for fraud.  They are not told that he secretly "married" as many as 33 women.  They are not told that he ordered the destruction of the local newspaper because it printed concerns about Smith and his practices.  They are not told that they believe in many gods and God was a man.  They are not told they will have to give the LDS at least 10% of their income AND the LDS will check tax returns to make sure you are giving 10% of your gross income and not 10% of your net income.

All of these things I learned since last week.  In the future I will provide many links to show the truth of my concerns.  The best place to start is the Mormon Research Ministries.  This website uses many of the LDS's own sources to show inconsistencies. Its founder Bill McKeever has written many books about Mormonism and has YouTube videos of his talks.  I have watched many of his talks and look forward to reading his books.

Another place to start is the book by former Mormon Blair Watson called Latter-day Saint Swindle: The Mormon Church’s $200-Billion Scam.    http://www.blairwatsontribute.net/ Mr. Watson spent three years researching this book and even as a lifetime member of the LDS was shocked by much of it.  Once I started reading this book, I had trouble putting it down to do trivial things like eat.  I finished within a day but plan to read it again paying attention to his numerous footnotes.  Since Mr Watson's death, a link to a free PDF can be found at Tribute to Blair Watson 

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Did Abraham Write a Book? Or Did Joseph Smith?

A fragment of the scroll "translated" by Joseph Smith before North America had the Rosetta Stone information for reference,  In other words, he "translated" it at a time when no one could dispute his interpretations.

The Book of Abraham.

When I started learning more about Mormonism, one of the first things that caught my interest was their discussion of "the Book of Abraham".  How can I have been diligently studying early Christianity and the formation of Judaism for years and not ever heard of a book written by the key figure to whom God first revealed Himself and guided us to monotheism?  Never once was this seminal book mentioned in any of the university courses or scholarly lectures about Christianity, Judaism or Islam.  Obviously, I had to learn more.  Researching is what I do best.  Once again my main source is the LDS website.

This story begins in 1835 when a traveling salesman arrived in Kirtland, Ohio which was the home of Joseph Smith and his followers at the time.  His merchandise included four Egyptian mummies and several scrolls of papyrus that had been removed from Egypt by and Italian army officer.  Smith convinced his followers to raise money and purchase the scrolls.  He quickly declared that the scrolls were in fact written by Abraham.  According to his own journals he spent days studying and translating the scrolls.  In 1842, he published the results of his work.

An absolutely amazing story.   Remember, Smith published this work at a time when no one in North America could dispute it.  The Rosetta Stone, the key to finally deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, had just recently been decoded but that knowledge had yet to reach this side of the globe.  Smith had no way of knowing that very soon a language that had been undecipherable for thousands of years would quickly become accessible to anyone willing to study. 

What does Smith claim the scrolls say?

According to Smith, the scroll contained the writings of Abraham as written by Abraham's own hand.  These writings detailed his time in Egypt and contains another creation story.  According to all the Egyptology experts, the scroll is a funerary text for a priest and does not even mention Abraham.   The official LDS website confirms this lack of credibility has done nothing to change the sacredness of the writings or remove them from the official LDS canon.  Instead, the LDS have revised their definition of what Joseph Smith meant when he said he "translated" the scrolls.  

This is where the whole story takes a left turn.  Normally, if a person claims to have done something and it is shown without a shadow of a doubt that he didn't do it, his work loses all authority and is discredited.  That is how life works.  A fraudulent claim is a fraud.  A lie.  A sham.  A scam.  It is just plain wrong.  That is a normal view of false claims.

The Mormons admit the writing on the scrolls do not discuss Abraham, BUT, now, they say Smith was a divinely inspired "translation" of the word of God.  They changed their definition of translation to include anything that comes to mind.   Smith claimed to be divinely inspired.  So, his works must be true.  This is much the same with his "translation" of the Book of Mormon from the supposedly ancient gold plates.  It is documented by the LDS that Smith dictated his translation by putting a stone in a hat and covering his face with the hat.  He did not look at the plates or even touch the plates as he dictated.  Of course, no one can prove his translation right or wrong because he had to "return" the plates.  Convenient.  

Much of the Mormon belief in the the continuing authority of the Book of Abraham is linked to their belief in the two ways of knowing things.  We can know things are true by seeing them with our eyes or by closing our eyes and imagining them to be true.  This make-believe/make-it-real belief is closely tied to the gold plates also.  No one aside from Joseph Smith saw the gold plates with their physical eyes.  The witnesses all "saw" the plates with their spiritual eye. Translation: No witnesses existed.  More on that in another post as I need to research it further to understand how otherwise intelligent people can believe this.

There are countless references on the internet but I try to stick to unbiased critiques and the LDS own stance.  Nothing more is needed to show the false nature of this document.  Here are a few more sources.  

Brigham Young University- LDS FAQ

Mormons in Transition at the Institute for Religious Research

Cold Case Christianity: How the Book of Abraham Exposes the False Nature of Mormonism



 Believe what you want but know why you believe it and 

where the doctrine originated.


Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Book of Mormon: "Seen" in a Hat.

We should ignore what is not uplifting?
" Joseph’s wife Emma explained that she “frequently wrote day after day” at a small table in their house in Harmony, Pennsylvania. She described Joseph “sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.”28 "
(from the official the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website)


I realized last week that my knowledge of Mormonism was limited to polygamy, interest in genealogical research, and the names of the founders.  I have been trying to remember what started me down this avenue of research. I was watching YouTube videos about Judaism and the history of antisemitism when a video about Mormonism popped up in the recommended column. "Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained" by MormonHistoryBuff.  I was intrigued.

The Internet provides an overwhelming amount of information but much of it is unintentionally inaccurate or knowingly misleading.  I may start my search at such places as YouTube or Wikipedia but only to gain enough knowledge to find credible sources.  My research into antisemitism was started by a chance meeting with a holocaust survivor at a flea market.  As I talked with Aliza, I realized I knew nothing about the depth and scale of antisemitism.  The next step was listening to college courses through iTunesU and lectures by rabbis about Judaism, Christianity and antisemitism.  But, I digress.  

So, I watched the video  "Top 10 Mormon Problems Explained".
1. The Book of Abraham
2. The First Vision
3. The Book of Mormon Translation
4. The Book of Mormon Problems
5. Authorship of the Book of Mormon
6. Blacks and the Priesthood
7. Kinderhook Plates
8. Polygamy
9. Witnesses
10. Temple

I can not even attempt to intelligently discuss all of these topics yet.  While MormonHistoryBuff's video was well made, logical and seemed credible, I have no idea if it is and I will not even repeat the claims I can't verify from reliable sources.  So what would constitute a reliable source for Mormonism? The official LDS website is one.  Daniel C. Peterson, Professor of Islamic Studies at Brigham Young University, Mormon apologist, and LDS member is another.  For this first critique, these two LDS sources are enough to convince me of a major problem in the foundation on Mormonism.

A little background first...

Joseph F. Smith claimed to be visited by an angel named Moroni in 1823.  This angel told him where to find gold plates which contained a written history of the early inhabitants of America.  In 1827, Smith began his translation.  He translated and subsequently lost 116 pages.  Moroni rebuked him and Smith did not resume his translation until 1829.  He completed the dictation of his translations in just three months and he return the gold plates to the angel.

So, how did Joseph Smith go about his translation?  In what language were the plates written?  Did he spend hours pouring over the gold plates taking notes?  Did he have a translation guide?  If so, where did he get it?  

Anyone who has taken a foreign language in school knows how difficult it is to effectively translate even one paragraph let alone an entire book.  It is not enough to simply replace the foreign words with English words.  Grammar and syntax vary from language to language.  Idioms and meaning vary not just between languages but also within a single language.  A "sweeper" is the same as a "vacuum" where I live but not elsewhere in the United States.  Not long ago, "to be gay" meant being happy.  I am not good with languages.  To effectively translate such an important text would be overwhelming.

So how did Joseph Smith do it?  Look at the picture at the top of the page.  This drawing from the LDS shows a man with his head buried in his hat.  The man depicted is Joseph Smith and he is shown "translating" the gold plates.   When I first heard that Smith buried his head in a hat on the YouTube video, I almost laughed.  I thought this was something fabricated to discredit Mormonism.  

So, I checked with the official Mormon version of the story.  The quote at the top of the page is from the LDS website and quotes Smith's wife describing the translation using a hat and seer stone.  (reference and additional information provided by LDS is at the bottom of the page)  This notion of being able to translate gold plates given by the angel without even looking at the plates is the most far fetched claim I ever heard.  Why did the angel give him the plates if they weren't needed for the so called translation?

How can an entire religion be based on what a man almost literally drew from his hat?  God inspired him?  Well, God has inspired me to write this.  

As far as the actual existence of the gold plates, no one else saw them.  All the witnesses "saw" them in their mind the same way Joseph Smith "saw" the translation.

An entire religion founded on a lie and a sham by a man with a criminal history of conning people.  



(28)“Last Testimony of Sister Emma,” Saints’ Herald 26 (Oct. 1, 1879), 289–90. Some outside reports describe the spectacles being placed in the hat during the translation process. A Palmyra newspaper published the earliest known account of the translation in August 1829: Jonathan Hadley, a Palmyra printer who may have spoken with Joseph Smith about translation, claimed that the plates were found with a “huge pair of Spectacles,” and that “by placing the Spectacles in a hat, and looking into it, Smith could (he said so, at least,) interpret these characters.” (“Golden Bible,” Palmyra Freeman, Aug. 11, 1829, [2].) In the winter of 1831, a Shaker in Union Village, Ohio, spoke of “two transparent stones in the form of spectacles” through which the translator “looked on the engraving & afterwards put his face into a hat & the interpretation then flowed into his mind.” (Christian Goodwillie, “Shaker Richard McNemar: The Earliest Book of Mormon Reviewer,” Journal of Mormon History 37, no. 2 [Spring 2011]: 143.)

Mormon Fraud: A Brief Summary of Mormonism and its Deceptions - Kindle edition by Kristan Payne. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.