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Total Articles: 15
Steve Benson is a Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. editorial cartoonist for The Arizona Republic. Benson is the grandson of former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and LDS prophet Ezra Taft Benson.
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I Am Sometimes Asked How Much Mormon General Authorities Make, Or Receive, In Terms Of Financial Compensation From The LDS Church
Tuesday, May 22, 2007, at 08:16 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
For the record, I do not know specifics in that area from any personal or inside knowledge base--either as it relates broadly to the General Authority hierarchy or, specifically, to my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson's financial circumstances and support from the Mormon Church.

With regard to the latter, I don't keep my family's financial books.

Nor did I keep those of my grandfather's.

Nor was I informed, directly or indirectly, as to the precise money flow, in terms of amounts or sources, that supported and funded my grandfather's or the other General Authorities' lifestyles.

However, this much I do know from observations over the years based on my personal and direct experience:

As I have noted here on this board before, my grandparents Ezra Taft and Flora Amussen Benson lived in upper middle class comfort in quarters operated and furnished by the Mormon Church.

Before moving into Church-run living quarters, they lived in a well-furnished, spacious, two-story home in a well-to-do section of Salt Lake City known as Parley's Way.

After my grandfather became President of the Quorum of the Twelve, he and my grandmother relocated to the Bonneville Towers high-rise apartments near downtown Salt Lake City, near the Avenues.

Later, when he became President of the LDS Church, they were moved to the Eagle Gate apartments, in an upper-level floor, overlooking nearby Temple Square.

There they enjoyed round-the-clock, double-doored security service and 24/7 domestic help.

They also were favored with Church-provided first-class air travel and limo-comparable ground travel; as well as wardrobe, food and other living expenses covered for them by the Mormon Church.

They certainly were not hurting financially but (at least from my vantage point in spending time with them and visiting their living locations on many occasions), they did not seem to be living in a blatantly extravagant manner.

That said, I never personally knew, or was made aware of, the money-changing details of how their lifestyles were precisely financed via channels of Mormon Church money connections and benefits.

I will say, however, that a couple of years ago, I was informed that one of ETB's children brought some of ETB's old suits and other clothes into a used Mormon bookstore, inquiring as to what kind of price they might fetch in the Mormon collectibles market.

I also was told by reliable sources that my grandfather lost tens of thousands of dollars in a get-rich-quick scheme, supposedly involving a special machine touted as being able to convert material into super-efficient energy. This poor investment, it was reported to me, resulted in ETB having to sell the Benson family cabin which he owned up in Salt Lake City's Mill Creek Canyon back in the 1960s.

I have also heard rumors--never confirmed--that ETB allegedly invested in the unproductive so-called "Dream Mine," located in Utah's Wasatch Front mountain range, visible from the I-15 freeway.

If I knew more, I'd say so.

But since I don't, I won't.

As a sidenote, I have also been asked if I received any kind of tithing inheritance from my grandfather.

The answer is no.

For the record, again, Grandpa did pass on to me in death, or earlier gave to me, a small piece of the Berlin Wall, a decorative license plate from Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential inaugural parade ceremonies, a small metal elephant paperweight that ETB used to keep on his government office desk when he was Ike's Secretary of Agriculture and a guest lapel ribbon from eventually-impeached Arizona Mormon governor Evan Mecham's own swearing-in ceremony, along with a copy of Mecham's inauguration program.

Oh, and over the years he also gave me some nice framed Japanese artwork and a Samarai warrior helmet that Japanese Mormons had initially gifted to him when he was touring through Asia.

Also when I was a youngster, Grandpa gave me a Boy Scout weather barometer featuring a plaque bearing his name that had been first given to him (which I really liked, since I once wanted to be a meteorologist).

He also gave me a small pocketknife when I was a kid, along with some cufflinks, some belt decorations from a National Boy Scout Jamboree and a necktie with a bunch of Angel Moronis sewn into it.

In addition, he gave me a tie clasp that said "Hold to the Rod," that had originally been given to him by Spencer W. Kimball, as well as a zippered suit traveling bag when I left on my mission to Japan.

In my early 20s, he also gave me approximately $4,000 to purchase my first car, a small, lime-green Datsun F-10.

He also gave me a ton of books over the years, largely from his personal library and relating to either the Mormon Church or far-right politics--most of which I have since gotten rid of.

Years ago, he also subscribed me to wacky John Birch magazines--all of which I have thrown away.

A lot of the remaining knick-knack stuff is in a cigar box in storage, the artwork is hanging up in my house and the rest of it is packed away somewhere, including in places I haven't re-discovered yet.

Maybe I could use a peepstone to find it--and then get back to you.

As far as a tithing inheritance that ETB stole from the rest of the Church membership and then supposedly passed along to me, nope, never saw any of that.

Sorry to disappoint in that regard. :)
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"Pious" Glass-Looking: Joseph Smith's Arrest Record--And Hugh Nibley's Warnings If Proven True
Thursday, Jun 28, 2007, at 06:55 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Let the record show that Joseph Smith was indeed officially (and criminally) convicted of fraud by a New York court--during the time, no less, that he claimed to be receiving inspired instructions pertaining to the translation of supposedly divinely-unearthed gold plates which he said he had dug up during an angel-led scavenger hunt.

What is particularly damning about such real revelations concerning Smith's proven conviction on the charge of illegal "glass-looking" is that they further validate the devastating nature of the crimes that Smith knowingly, deliberately and with ungodly intent committed--as, in fact, essentially admitted by Mormonism's historically pre-eminent apologist and gold plate carrier, Hugh Nibley.

In 1961, Nibley authored a book entitled "The Myth Makers," in which he ventured to boldly debunk assertions that Joseph Smith had committed, or had been arrested for, the crime of "glass-looking." Nibley (in words he probably later wished he could retract) went so far as to declare that if, in fact, Smith was actually proven guilty of such nefarious activity, it would constitute the most damning blow that could be imagined to Smith's claim of divine prophetship.

Derick S. Hartshorn, in his work, "Bearing the Testimony of Truth," reviews the history of apologetic denials uttered by Mormonism's stoutest defenders--and then compares those desperate defenses to the actual evidence found--evidence that cuts Smith off at the knees.

Under the sub-section, "Guilty! Next Case!," Hartshorn exposes the serious nature of the charges against Smith and how they have plunged a dagger into the heart of Smith's claims to divine guidance:

"It was charged that Joseph Smith was accused and found guilt of parting a local farmer from his money in a less than honest scheme, commonly known as 'money-digging' or 'glass-looking.' It was reported to have been an activity that brought him rebuke from his soon-to-be father-in-law, Isaac Hale. It is also historically recorded that he was removed from membership in a local Methodist church because of the activity and trial results.

"Joseph Smith skims over the specific event leading to the trial in the Pearl of Great Price, explaining that he was only a day worker for the man so engaged and not personally involved.

"Mormon writers have continually challenged its doubters to find the records (seemingly lost) and prove Joseph Smith a liar or stop the attacks. Mormon writer Hugh Nibley, the most prolific defender of the Mormon faith, used almost 20 pages in his book, 'The Mythmakers,' in an attempt to discredit this 'alleged' court trial. On page 142 we find:

"'. . . If this court record is authentic it is the most damning evidence in existence against Joseph Smith' and would be 'the most devastating blow to Smith ever delivered.'

"Of course, when that was first published back in 1961, Dr. Nibley undoubtedly felt that after 130 years no such record would turn up in 1971. Once again, the actual evidence, which the Mormon Church had denied ever existed came to light in 1971. You can read about how it was discovered as well as the relevance of other historical documents of that time that Joseph used a 'seer' stone to find money, etc. in the 54-page brochure 'Joseph Smith’s Bainbridge, N.Y., Court Trials.'

"One might wonder why this should be cause for concern among investigators of Mormonism. The fact is the up to then, the Mormon leaders had denied that there WAS such a trial. Indeed, they claim that the story of Joseph’s arrest was a 'fabrication of unknown authorship and never in a court record at all.'

"The charge that Joseph was known to hunt treasure with 'peep' or 'seer' stones, etc., was serious enough that Mormon scholar Francis W. Kirkham stated that if the court record could be found, it would show that the Mormon Church was false:

"'Careful study of all facts regarding this alleged confession of Joseph Smith in a court of law that he had used a seer stone to find hidden treasure for purposes of fraud, must come to the conclusion that no such record was ever made, and therefore, is not in existence . . .

"'If any evidence had been in existence that Joseph Smith had used a seer stone for fraud and deception, and especially had he made this confession in a court of law as early as 1826, or four years before the Book of Mormon was printed, and this confession was in a court record, it would have been impossible for him to have organized the restored Church.'

"Later, in the same book, Mr. Kirkham states:

"'. . . [I]f a court record could be identified, and if it contained a confession by Joseph Smith which revealed him to be a poor, ignorant, deluded, and superstitious person unable himself to write a book of any consequence, and whose Church could not endure because it attracted only similar persons of low mentality if such a court record confession could be identified and proved, then it follows that his believers must deny his claimed divine guidance which led them to follow him. . . . How could he be a prophet of God, the leader of the Restored Church to these tens of thousands, if he had been superstitious fraud which the pages from a book declared he confessed to be? . . . '

"Well, in spite of 140 years of silence, the records did surface. Rev. Wesley Walters discovered the documents in the basement of the Chenango County, New York, jailhouse at Norwich, N.Y. in 1971. The records, affidavits, and other data show conclusively that Joseph Smith was arrested, went to trial, was found guilty as an imposter in the Stowell matter of "glass-looking." It is not a matter of debate, opinion or religious preference. It is a proven historical fact.

"Initially Mormons denied that Joseph ever participated in 'money-digging' activities, saying that would invalidate his claim as a prophet. Now that indisputable evidence confirms that Joseph was a convicted 'money- digger' Mormons have taken a 'so what' attitude. At least one says, now that the evidence proves that Joseph was a 'money-digger' that it really doesn’t matter. (What could a BYU professor say?) Mormon scholar Marvin Hill says:

"'There may be little doubt now, as I have indicated elsewhere, that Joseph Smith was brought to trial in 1826 on a charge, not exactly clear, associated with money digging.' [Fawn] Brodie’s thesis that the prophet grew from necromancer to prophet assumes that the two were mutually exclusive, that if Smith were a money-digger he could not have been religiously sincere.

'This does not necessarily follow. Many believers active in their churches, were money-diggers in New England and western New York in this period. Few contemporaries regard these money-diggers as irreligious, only implying so if their religious views seemed too radical . . . For the historian interested in Joseph Smith the man, it does not seem incongruous for him to have hunted for treasure with a seer stone and then to use with full faith to receive revelations from the Lord.'

"Marvin Hill’s appraisal of the treasure seeking activities make it appear that contemporaries of Joseph Smith treated this enterprise with a casual air. One such contemporary that was closer to Joseph than most, could hardly disguise his disdain. This was Isaac Hale, father of the girl that Joseph would later elope with. In an affidavit signed by Hale and published in the Susquehanna Register, May 1, 1834, Joseph’s father-in-law said:

"'I first became acquainted with Joseph Smith, Jr. in November, 1825. He was at that time in the employ of a set of men who were called ‘money diggers’; and his occupation was that of seeing, or pretending to see by what means of a stone placed in his hat, and his hat closed over his face. In this way he pretended to discover minerals and hidden treasure.

"'Smith and his father, with several other money-diggers boarded at my house while they were employed in digging for a mine that they supposed had been opened and worked by the Spaniards. Young Smith made several visits at my house, and at length asked my consent to his marrying my daughter Emma. This I refused . . . [H]e was a stranger, and followed a business that I could not approve. . . . Smith stated to me, that he had given up what he called "glass-looking," and that he expected to work hard for a living . . .

"'Soon after this, I was informed that they had brought a wonderful book of plates down with them . . . The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods.'"

Sorry, but "pious" just ain't my bias.

Joseph Smith was a consumate, conscious, swindling fraud--in it all for himself and not for some God.
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White Of Passage: Segregating Mormon Wards Helped Pave The Way For Ezra Taft Benson To Become An Apostle
Monday, Jul 2, 2007, at 08:09 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Orders from the Mormonism's High Command to Ezra Taft Benson to Implement Racial Segregation in Mormon Wards

The LDS First Presidency had confidence that my grandfather would follow orders when it came to dealing with problematic racial matters facing the racist Mormon Church.

In 1940, Ezra Taft Benson was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be “forward-thinking” as he dealt with the “many and complex” problems facing the stake. (Sheri L. Dew, "Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).

Dew failed to mention that one of those “problems” had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society meeting.

In a letter to “President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake,” dated 23 June 1942, the First Presidency issued him a directive to segregate the races during Mormon class time:

“Dear President Benson:

“Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.

“The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.

“We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.

“From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.

“It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.

“Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.

“Faithfully your brethren,


“Heber J. Grant
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay”
Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency’s orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that “[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had ‘racist’ ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy.”

There is no record that Ezra Taft Benson resisted this directive from Salt Lake City.

The First Presidency was apparently impressed with my grandfather’s willingness to do as he was told, however.

A year later, he was called into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

(Lester E. Bush, Jr., compilation of “scattered” and incomplete “notes” on the “history of the Negro in the LDS Church,” pp. 241-42; see also, Bush, "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" [Arlington, Virginia: "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought"], reprint of original article in "Dialogue," Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)
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Plop, Plop, Fizzle, Fizzle: The Personal Testimonies Of Two "Special Witnesses For Christ"
Tuesday, Jul 10, 2007, at 07:22 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Back in the final days before I resigned my membership in the Mormon Church, I met behind closed doors with LDS apostles Neal Maxwell and Dallin Oaks in personal, off-the-record meetings.

In the privacy of Maxwell's Church office in downtown Salt Lake City, I asked them both to bear me their personal testimonies that formed the basis for their knowledge that they had been called by God as apostles in Jesus Christ's one and only true church.

Hell, why not? I figured if I was expected by them to accept in faith what they were telling me about the Mormon Church being, like, the one and only, then I wanted to hear--for myself, from their own lips--the basis for their claim to their own awesome, ultimate and unique God-given power, authority and knowledge as members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

Indeed, I wanted Oaks and Maxwell to bear their personal testimonies to me, letting me know how they had come to know for themselves that they had earned the right to the high and holy calling of "Apostle of the Lord, Special Witness for Jesus Christ."

Hence, my final question to them: What personal spiritual experiences have you had which gave you your testimonies as Special Witnesses for Christ?

In response, Oaks summoned up memories of his days as a college student at the University of Chicago. Back then, he said, he though he "knew a lot" about the Gospel. He admitted, however, that he had "questions about the Church"--although he did not elaborate for me exactly what they might have been.

Oaks said a local LDS Institute teacher helped him work out the answers.

Maxwell hearkened back to his days as a boy, when he said he observed his father give a healing "priesthood blessing" to Maxwell's young sibling, whom Maxwell thought was dead.

That, ex-Mo brothers and sisters, was the sum total of their answers--answers that I did not need to travel 700 miles to Salt Lake to hear. I could have saved myself and them a lot of time and trouble if I had just stayed home, gone to the next fast and testimony meeting at my local ward and listened to regular members bear personal witness to the same kind of average, in-the-pew person experiences.

Trouble is, those tearful testimonial tales wouldn't have been nearly enough to qualify them to then be anointed as "Special Witnesses" of the "A-Is-For-Apostle" variety--just run-of-the-mill, shoulder-to-the-wheel, accept-the-entire-spiel, pay-at-the-till Mormons.

There was no testimony bearing from these modern-day James and John of personal visits, in the flesh, from the Father or the Son.

There was no telling of any "road to Damascus" story.

There was no recounting of angelic visitations.

There was no description of rushing winds or flames of fire.

Nothing like Joseph Smith or Moses or Peter, Paul and Mary.

It was all about college-level Mormon institute answer-guy help on Gospel questions and watching your dad give a blessing to a sick member of your family when you were a kid.


In short, there was "no 'there' there."

In the name of "Jesus Christ, is that all there is?--then let's quit dancing."

Amen and Heineken.
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The Pope Is Only The Pope When He Speaks As Such
Thursday, Jul 12, 2007, at 08:58 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Donchya just love it when God's Pope receives "modern day revelation" to reverse the apparent mistakes of past versions of God's Popes?

It's, like, so Mormon. :)


"Pope: Only One 'True' Church, Second Statement In A Week TAKING IDEOLOGICAL STEPS AWAY FROM VATICAN II" (emphasis added)

"U.S. author and scholar George Weigel said that as a young theological expert Father Ratzinger understood a crucial truth about Vatican II: that 'aggiornamento,' OR CHURCH UPDATING, must be based on 'ressourcement,' a return to the sources of Christian wisdom and a deepening of the church's understanding of itself." (emphasis added)

"Pope Benedict XVI has reasserted the universal primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released Tuesday that says Orthodox churches were defective and that other Christian denominations were not true churches.

"Benedict approved a document from his old offices at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that restates church teaching on relations with other Christians.

"It was the second time in a week the pope has corrected what he says are erroneous interpretations of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings that modernized the church.

"On Saturday, Benedict revisited another key aspect of Vatican II by reviving the old Latin Mass. Traditional Catholics cheered the move, BUT MORE LIBERAL ONES CALLED IT A STEP BACK FROM VATICAN II." (emphasis added)

"Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone recently confirmed to Le Figaro newspaper that this 'motu proprio,' OR PERSONAL INITIATIVE OF THE PONTIFF, will allow any priest to say the mass according to the old Tridentine rite (which is delivered in Latin with the priest facing the altar, his back to the congregation), rather than have to seek approval from the local bishop as is now required." (emphasis added)

We thank thee, oh God, for a Pontiff, to guide us in these latter days . . .
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LDS Apostles Try Squirming Their Way Around Why Joe Smith Joined The Methodists, Post-First Vision
Thursday, Sep 6, 2007, at 02:30 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
In the fall of 1993, when I met behind closed doors in the Mormon Church's Salt Lake City offices for confidential discussions with apostles Dallin Oaks and Neal Maxwell to discuss topics of LDS history and doctrine, I asked them why the Mormon Church was not more forthright in dealing with the fact that in 1828 (after having supposedly been issued clear and unambiguous instructions from God and Jesus in the grove), Joseph Smith went ahead and joined a Methodist Sunday school, despite the direct command from the two Top Heads in the Godhead that he was not to align himself with any of the churches of the day, due to their divinely-declared corruptness and falseness.

For background on Smith's decision to ignore God's command and hook up with the Methodist Church, consider the following:
"In the official First Vision story Smith questioned, 'Who of all these parties are right; or are they all wrong together?' ('Pearl of Great Price,' 'Joseph Smith History,' 1:10). Later he said, 'I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that they were all wrong) - and which I should join" (ibid., vs. 18). . . .

"In response to his question concerning which church was the right one to join, Smith said, 'I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong . . . He again forbade me to join any of them' (ibid., vs. 19-20). . . .

"Wesley Walters found . . . that in 1822 Joseph Smith 'caught a spark of Methodism and became a very passible exhorter in the evening meetings' ('History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase,' 1851, p. 214).

"In order to be teaching in a Methodist church, Joseph must have been accepted rather than persecuted as he claimed in the 'Pearl of Great Price,' 'Joseph Smith History,' 1:21-22.

"In 1828, Joseph sought membership in the Methodist church where his wife, Emma, had belonged since she was seven years old. The death of their firstborn son on June 15, 1828, may have motivated him to do that.

"Emma Smith's cousins, Joseph and Heil Lewis, were members of the Methodist church which Joseph tried to join in Harmony, Pennsylvania.

"They said, 'Joseph presented himself in a very serious and humble manner, and the minister, not suspecting evil, put his name on the class book, in the absence of some of the official members' ('The Amboy Journal,' April 30, 1879).

"Joseph Lewis later added, 'I, with Joshua McKune, a local preacher at the time, I think in June, 1828, heard on Saturday that Joe Smith had joined the church on Wednesday afternoon (as it was customary in those days to have circuit preaching at my father's house on week day).

"'We thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts, in it.

"'So on Sunday, we went to father's, the place of meeting that day, and got there in season to see Smith and talked to him some time in father's shop before meeting. Told him that his occupation, habits, and moral character were at variance with the discipline, that his name would be a disgrace to the church, and there should have been recantation, confession and at least promised reformation - that he could that day publicly ask that his name be stricken from the class book, or stand investigation.

"'He chose the former, and did that very day make request that his name be taken off the class book' ('The Amboy Journal,' June 11, 1879).

"Joseph Smith's brother-in-law, Michael Morse, said that Smith's name remained on the class book for about six months (ibid., May 21, 1879).

"Since Morse was the class leader who enrolled Smith, he may be right. But why did Joseph Smith seek to join the Methodist church in 1828 if Jesus Christ told him not to join any church in 1820? . . ."

Walters further reported:
"In June 1828 Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of Mormonism, joined the Methodist Church [probationary class] in Harmony, Pennsylvania. This was a strange thing for this prophet of a new religion to do, and seriously challenges the story he put out ten years later about the origin of his work.

"That later story claims that in 1820 Joseph Smith had seen two glorious personages, identified as the Father and the Son, and was informed that the creeds of all the 'sects,' or various denominations, 'were an abomination' and he was twice forbidden to join any of them.

"In retelling this same tale to Alexander Neibaur on May 24, 1844, Joseph specifically singled out the Methodist Church as being unworthy of his membership. Mr. Neibaur's diary recorded the divine warning as related by Joseph: 'Mr. Smith then asked, "Must I join the Methodist Church?" [Smith replied}, "No - they are not my people. They have gone astray there is none that doeth good no not one."' (quoted in 'The Improvement Era,' April 1970, p.12).

"Perhaps the death of his first-born son on June 15, 1828 induced him to seek membership in the church his wife had belonged to since she was seven years old.

"Joseph had told his neighbor, Joshua McKune, that 'his (Smith's) first born child was to translate the characters and hieroglyphics upon the plates, into our language, at the age of three years.' ('The Susquehanna Register,' May 1, 1834, p.1).

"When this child died at birth instead, and his wife's life also hung in danger, Smith may have considered entirely abandoning his project of writing a book and decided to join the Methodist Church.

"At least Martin Harris later told Rev. Ezra Booth that when he went to Pennsylvania to see Joseph about the translation that 'Joseph had given it up on account of the opposition of his wife and others,' and Martin 'told Joseph, "I have not come down here for nothing, we will go on with it."'" ('The Story of the Mormons,' by William Alexander Linn, New York: Macmillan Co. 1902, p.36).

"The young prophet's role as a Methodist member did not last very long, however - only three days according to statements made by his wife's cousins, Joseph and Hiel Lewis. In their local newspaper at Amboy, Illinois, they told of their earlier years with Joseph Smith in Pennsylvania and of his uniting with their Methodist class:

"'He presented himself in a very serious and humble manner, and the minister, not suspecting evil, put his name on the class book, in the absence of some of the official members.' ("The Amboy Journal," Amboy, Illinois, April 30, 1879, p.1).

"When Joseph Lewis, who was twenty one at the time (about a year and a half younger than Smith), learned of this act, he felt that Joseph's manner of life rendered him unfit to be a member and told him either to 'publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation.'

"Mr. Lewis gave further details about the incident a month after the first article appeared in the Amboy paper, and he wrote:

"'I, with Joshua McKune, a local preacher at that time, I think in June, 1828, heard on Saturday, that Joe Smith had joined the church on Wednesday afternoon, (as it was customary in those days to have circuit preaching at my father's house on week-day).

"'We thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer, a dealer in enchantments and bleeding ghosts, in it.

"So on Sunday we went to father's, the place of meeting that day, and got there in season to see Smith and talked with him some time in father's shop before the meeting. Told him that his occupation, habits, and moral character were at variance with the discipline, that his name would be a disgrace to the church, that there should have been recantation, confession and at least promised reformation-. That he could that day publicly ask that his name be stricken from the class book, or stand an investigation.

"'He chose the former, and did that very day make the request that his name be taken off the class book.' ('The Amboy Journal,' June 11, 1879, p.1).

"Like so many of the early Methodist records, the early class books of the Harmony (now Lanesboro) Church are lost, so we will never know for certain whether Joseph Smith remained a member for only three days or six months.

"However, there was never any dispute that he had become a member, and by this one act he undercut the story he later put forth that God in a special vision had instructed him specifically not to join the Methodist Church."
Mormon authors Linda K. Newell and Valeen T. Avery also documented Smith's post-First Vision Methodist-joining effort in their book, "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith" (University of Illinois Press, 1994, p.25):
"Emma's uncle, Nathaniel Lewis, preached as a lay minister of the local Methodist Episcopal church. His congregation met in the homes of the members for Sunday services. On Wednesdays a regular circuit preacher visited Harmony.

"In the spring or summer of 1828 Joseph asked the circuit rider if his name could be included on the class roll of the church. Joseph "presented himself in a very serious and humble manner," and the minister obliged him.

"When Emma's cousin, Joseph Lewis, discovered Joseph's name on the roll, he "thought it was a disgrace to the church to have a practicing necromancer" as a member.

"He took the matter up with a friend, and the following Sunday, when Joseph and Emma arrived for church, the two men steered Joseph aside and into the family shop. 'They told him plainly that such character as he . . . could not be a member of the church unless he broke off his sins by repentance, made public confession, renounced his fraudulent and hypocritical practices, and gave some evidence that he intended to reform and conduct himself somewhat nearer like a christian than he had done. They gave him his choice to go before the class, and publicly ask to have his name stricken from the class book, or stand a disciplinary investigation." Joseph refused to comply with the humiliating demands and withdrew from the class. His name, however, stayed on the roll for about six more months, either from oversight or because Emma's brother-in-law, Michael Morse, who taught the class, did not know of the confrontation. When Joseph did not seek full membership, Morse finally dropped his name.'"

With this as the historical backdrop, how did Oaks and Maxwell respond to the fact that Joseph Smith had disobeyed God's instructions not to join up with any of the existing--and all benighted--churches of his day?

Their attempts to wiggle out of this one were, well, less than impressive.

For one thing, neither of them demonstrated much of a working knowledge regarding the actual historical record.

Oaks replied that Joseph Smith's "state of knowledge was much deeper than mine" (meaning Oaks').

He said that because, after receiving the First Vision, Smith "could not meet with others of his own faith," he "would want to meet with other Christians."

Moreover, Oaks described Joseph Smith as a "friendly" person, one who was "interested in sampling what others taught."

Maxwell added that Smith was "social" and "gregarious" and that, at any rate, his joining with the Methodists was "brief."

Oaks went on to note that just as people were "moving in out and out of marriage in the Utah period," so, too, on the New York frontier during the 1830s, an attitude prevailed requiring "no formal divorce in church membership."

Oaks added that, according to the LDS General Handbook of Instructions,"joining other churches is not, by itself, a sign of apostasy."

Good gawd, is this the best that God's allegedly inspired, special witness apostles can do?
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Mormon Apostles Deny That The LDS Church Is Making Its Historical Documents Inaccessible
Wednesday, Jul 25, 2007, at 06:49 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
(*Note: The asterick indicates certain exceptions apply)

In September 1993, in private meetings with Dallin Oaks and Neal Maxwell in Maxwell's downtown Salt Lake City office, I asked them (among a myriad of other things) why the Mormon Church was not more open with its own historical documents. I inquired as to what this reluctance had to say about the Mormon Church's confidence in its own history, specifically as it related to the Church's increasingly restrictive access to is archives by historians and members alike.

Maxwell insisted that the Mormon Church values the accurate keeping, and sharing, of historical records. He handed me a photocopy from "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith," featuring red underlinings in a section entitled, "Importance of Records":

"After prayer by President Joseph Smith, Jun., he said, if we heard patiently he could lay before the council an item which would be of importance. He had for himself, learned a fact by experience, which, on recollection, always gave him deep sorrow. It is a fact, if I now had in my possession, every decision which had been had upon important items of doctrine and duties since the commencement of this work, I would not part with them for any sum of money; but we have neglected to take minutes of such things, thinking, perhaps, that they would never benefit us afterwards; which, if we had them now, would decide almost every point of doctrine which might be agitated. But this has been neglected, and now we cannot bear record to the Church and to the world, of the great and glorious manifestations which have been made to us with that degree of power and authority we otherwise could, if we now had these things to publish abroad." (p. 72)

Maxwell asserted that the Mormon Church is "very free" with its historical documents and evidence. He insisted that if one went to the Church archives and asked for documents, "75% of the time you would be allowed to see what you had asked for."

With regard to the remaining 25%, Maxwell said denial was based on the requestor's identity, as well as what was being researched and why.

Maxwell said restrictions on access to Church documents are also due, in part, to their physical fragility. He said, "We don't want a group of Girl Scouts coming down and handling everything."

Besides concern about Girl Scout troops, Maxwell admitted that denial of access is also based on content. Documents falling into this category, he said included "sensitive matters involving people who are still alive."

Maxwell said, further, that it would "not be appropriate or in their best interest" to reveal the names of people who may have confessed to Church leaders about adultery or other past sins, when they had "children who are still alive."

Other confidential materials, he said, included minutes of Quorum of the Twelve meetings.

Oaks, however, remarked that as documents become older, there is "less sensitivity" about them.

Nonetheless, he added that many of the papers pertaining to Ezra Taft Benson's tenure as Secretary of Agriculture and "financial matters" would not be opened at this time to public scrutiny.

As far as constructing and presenting Church history, Maxwell compared it building a tile floor. He said that the act of history writing is frustrating, complex and incomplete. He handed me a photocopy of a sermon (The sermon had been delivered by him, although there was no title or author given on the single sheet he provided me. The address had appeared in the November 1984 General Conference issue of the "Ensign,." 11. Maxwell's copy contained several passages which he had highlighted in red ink).

Quoting from a "Tribute to Neville Chamberlain," delivered in the British House of Commons, November 12, 1940, the sermon declared:

"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days."

The sermon then addressed what Maxwell had described for us as the definition of history: a collection, he said, of "floating mosaic tiles":

"The finished mosaic of the history of the Restoration will be larger and more varied as more pieces of tile emerge, adjusting a sequence here or enlarging there a sector of our understanding.

"The fundamental outline is in place now, however. But history deals with imperfect people in process of time, whose imperfections produce refractions as the pure light of the gospel plays upon them. There may even be a few pieces of tile which, for the moment, do not seem to fit . . .

"So, belatedly, the fullness of the history of the dispensation of the fullness of times will be written.

"The final mosaic of the Restoration will be resplendent, reflecting divine design and the same centerpiece–the Father's plan of salvation and exaltation and the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ."


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"Come, Come, Ex-Saints": Anthem To The Persistent Ex-Mo Believer
Wednesday, Jul 25, 2007, at 06:51 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Come, come, Ex-Saints, no spoiling fables here,
Stick with God, he’s the way,
Though hard to you the end of life appears,
Close your eyes, let us pray.

'Tis better far if Christ’s alive,
The fear of death from us to drive;
Do this and buy what churches sell:
All is well! All is well!

Why should we mourn or try to think too hard?
Tis not so; too uptight,
Why dare to think that science has it right?
Lookie there--Tunnel of Light!

Gird up your loins and just have faith,
Our God belief we cannot shake;
And soon we'll chant new magic spells--
All is well! All is well!

We'll find a place where from the facts we're spared,
Far away, in our breast.
Where they can't come to hurt or make afraid;
In our bliss, we'll be blessed.

We’ll make believe for Christ our King,
Shout praises to our new-found thing.
Above the rest these tales we'll tell--
Heaven's real! (and so is Hell!)

And when we die, when all our fears come true,
That’s the end.
Darn, oh, well . . .
We then are dead, with all the rest we’re through,
In the dirt we shall dwell.

But when our lives are ended then,
To hell with those who told us when
That when we croak, we’ll rot and smell–
No, we won’t! All is well!
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Using Donny Osmond For Dunking
Saturday, Nov 10, 2007, at 02:46 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
On my mission in Japan back in the 1970s, would go out to shopping malls and other places where the younger crowd hung out and instead of flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon, we would instead pass out to every Japanese school kid we could corner (usually young teenage girls and boys) photographs of the grinning-for-God Osmond family holding up Kanji copies of the Book of Mormon.

We had no shame.

A few kiddie baptisms were produced as a result of this hormonal approach to spreading the Restored Gospel, but judging from retention levels, it would be safe to say that not many of them stuck.

"I would like to bear my testimony of Donny and Marie's teeth" just isn't going to be much of a iron rod to hold on to throughout one's life . . .
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I Am Not Making This Up: Attempts Are Underway To Capture Cain / Bigfoot With Pasteries
Monday, Nov 19, 2007, at 08:33 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Sounds like something Mormons might try, doesn't it? Maybe they could do what they do best: trap him with an invite to ward party refreshments and then teach him the discussions.

First, some background: Do Mormons believe that Bigfoot is Cain?

A claimed sighting of Cain/Bigfoot was made by early Mormon missionary David Patten:

" . . . David W. Patten, during his mission in the South . . . reported that, as he rode his horse, a large black man covered with hair appeared beside him and told him that he was Cain and was going to destroy his mission."

While some Mormons might question whether LDS missionaries have actually spotted Cain/Bigfoot, Spencer W. Kimball, in his book, "The Miracle of Forgiveness," pp. 127-28, describes Patton's encounter with Cain in decidedly Sasquatch-like terms:

"On the sad character Cain, an interesting story comes to us from Lycurgus A. Wilson's book on the life of David W. Patten. From the book I quote an extract from a letter by Abraham O. Smoot giving his recollection of David Patten's account of meeting "a very remarkable person who had represented himself as being Cain:

"'As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me. . . . His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight. . . .'"

Others--non-Mormons, even--have referenced Kimball's account as evidence that Cain is, in fact, the legendary Bigfoot, as "told time and time again within the Mormon religion."

Bigfoot buff Michael Nave writes:

"My work takes me all over the United States for many different training seminars and conferences. Recently, I met up with several people of the Mormon faith. One of these people, knowing of my interest in Bigfoot, suggested that I look into the 'Mormon connection.' The following story comes from my research on this topic.

"David Patten was a Mormon Priest who traveled and preached the Mormon gospel from 1832-1838. In author Spencer W. Kimball's book entitled "The Miracle of Forgiveness, 'there is a passage where David Patten is quoted regarding his meeting with 'a very remarkable person who had represented himself as Cain.' The following passage from the book is quoted from Mr. Patten's own rendition of the story:

"'As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me. . . . His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight. . . . '(Lycurgus A. Wilson, 'Life of David W. Patten' [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1900], p. 50., as quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, 'The Miracle of Forgiveness' [Salt Lake City, Bookcraft, Inc.]18th printing 1991 p.p. 127-128).

". . . The fact that so many people from so many backgrounds have experienced Bigfoot and in many cases woven this creature into their folklore tells us that there must be more to this elusive creature than meets the eye.

"Sources: . . .

Will Cain/Bigfoot ever be caught?

Now comes word that efforts are being made to capture this fallen, apostate beast with--you heard it here first, folks--donuts:

Just think of it: Bringing Cain to Christ through Krispy Kremes.

The Lord works in mysterious ways.
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Nephi And His Fellow Trolls : The True-Believing Mormon's Scriptural Justification For Lying To Ex-Mormons
Tuesday, Dec 11, 2007, at 06:48 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Mormon trolls justify sneaking on to the RfM board under false pretenses in order to do the will of their God, using their super hero Nephi as their role model.

Let us follow the Book of Mormon storyline on this, so that we may understand Troll Tactics 101:

1 Ne 4:19 "And after I [Nephi] had smitten off his [Laban's] head with his own sword, I took the garments of Laban and put them upon mine own body; yea, even every whit; and I did gird on his armor about my loins."

Mormon trolls don this fake outer costume in order to gain unsuspected entry into RfM, with the hopes of raiding the place and carrying away ex-Mormons to LDS salvation:

1 Ne 4:20 "And after I had done this, I went forth unto the treasury of Laban. And as I went forth towards the treasury of Laban, behold, I saw the servant of Laban who had the keys of the treasury. And I commanded him in the voice of Laban, that he should go with me into the treasury."

Mormon trolls deliberately engage in their misrepresentations in an attempt to deceive their ex-Mormon enemies:

1 Ne 4:21 "And he supposed me to be his master, Laban, for he beheld the garments and also the sword girded about my loins."

Mormon trolls, in this premeditated plan among true believers, pretend to speak the language of ex-Mormons, with the intent of tricking them into thinking that the trolls are one with the ex-Mormons:

1 Ne 4:22-24 "And he spake unto me concerning the elders of the Jews, he knowing that his master, Laban, had been out by night among them.

"And I spake unto him as if it had been Laban.

"And I also spake unto him that I should carry the engravings, which were upon the plates of brass, to my elder brethren, who were without the walls."

Mormon trolls conspire in efforts to get ex-Mormons to follow them, hoping that the ex-Mormons will be persuaded to believe that the trolls are ex-Mo sympathetic--all the while, of course, continuing their deceptive and trollish ways:

1 Ne 4:25-27 "And I also bade him that he should follow me.

"And he, supposing that I spake of the brethren of the church, and that I was truly that Laban whom I had slain, wherefore he did follow me."

"And he spake unto me many times concerning the elders of the Jews, as I went forth unto my brethren, who were without the walls."

Mormon trolls reassure their fellow Mormons who are observing this carefully-crafted charade that it is all an act (under God's command, of course), and not to worry about their true identity or purpose:

1 Ne 4:28-29 "And it came to pass that when Laman saw me he was exceedingly frightened, and also Lemuel and Sam. And they fled from before my presence; for they supposed it was Laban, and that he had slain me and had sought to take away their lives also.

"And it came to pass that I called after them, and they did hear me; wherefore they did cease to flee from my presence."

Once ex-Mormons realize that they are in the presence of Mormon trolls who are attempting to mislead, misrepresent and lie to them through their dishonest door approaches, the desperate Mormon trolls attempt to exert control over the ex-Mormons by threatening them with God's punishment-- including death--if they do not return to the LDS fold forthwith. (Some relatively new ex-Mormons are momentarily shaken by this strong-armed, heavy-handed approach):

1 Ne 4:30-33 "And it came to pass that when the servant of Laban beheld my brethren he began to tremble, and was about to flee from before me and return to the city of Jerusalem.

"And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee.

"And it came to pass that I spake with him, that if he would hearken unto my words, as the Lord liveth, and as I live, even so that if he would hearken unto our words, we would spare his life.

"And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us.

"And I also spake unto him, saying: Surely the Lord hath commanded us to do this thing; and shall we not be diligent in keeping the commandments of the Lord? Therefore, if thou wilt go down into the wilderness to my father thou shalt have place with us."

At this point, however, ex-Mormons diverge from the prepared text of the RfM-invading Mormon trolls.

They call out Nephi and his band of fellow two-faced trolling liars, kick them in their collective butts and head into town for drinks.

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Two Prominent Mormon General Authorities Who Knew And "Fessed Up" That Joseph Smith Was A Fraud
Tuesday, Dec 18, 2007, at 07:05 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-

When it came to the supposed truthfulness of LDS scripture, Mormon Apostle and First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown, according to Jerald and Sandra Tanner, admitted to Mormon amateur archaeologist Thomas Ferguson that Smith couldn't translate ancient Egyptian.

From Ferguson's letter to the Tanners:

"According to Mr. Ferguson, Apostle Brown had also come to the conclusion that the Book of Abraham was false and was in favor of the church giving it up. A few years later Hugh B. Brown said he could 'not recall' making the statements Thomas Stuart Ferguson attributed to him. Ferguson, however, was apparently referring to the same incident in the letter of March 13, 1971, when he stated: 'I must conclude that Joseph Smith had not the remotest skill in things Egyptian-hieroglyphics. To my surprise one of the highest officials in the Mormon Church agreed with that conclusion . . . privately in one-to-one [c]onversation.'"


Quorum of the Seventy member B.H. Roberts, after extensive personal study prompted by questions from a missionary in the field, concluded that the Book of Mormon was a plagiarized invention of Smith's immature mind.

Roberts' own writings in his landmark work, "Studies of the Book of Mormon" (which remained unpublished until decades after his death) reveal his own serious doubts about Smith's Book of Mormon claims:

"In light of this evidence, An imagination, it could with reason be urged, which, given the suggestions that are to be found in the 'common knowledge' of accepted American Antiquities of the times, supplemented by such a work as Ethan Smith's, 'View of the Hebrews,' would make it possible for him to create a book such as the Book of Mormon is. . . .

" . . . [T]here is a certain lack of perspective in the things the book relates as history that points quite clearly to an undeveloped mind as their origin. The narrative proceeds in characteristic disregard of conditions necessary to its reasonableness, as if it were a tale told by a child, with utter disregard for consistency. . . .

"Is this all sober history . . . of an immature mind, unconscious of what a test he is laying on human credulity when asking men to accept his narrative as solemn history."

Roberts clearly had severe reservartions regarding the veracity of Smith's assertions that the Book of Mormon was of divine origin:

"A General Authority's Own Findings

" . . . [T]wo manuscripts [were] written about 1922 by the Mormon General Authority and apologist Brigham H. Roberts.

"It is startling to find this defender of the Mormon faith arguing relentlessly that Joseph Smith could well have authored the Book of Mormon himself. Roberts' family has now allowed serious examination of these two manuscripts that have been in their possession since his death in 1933.

"They have been published by Mormon scholars in a book titled 'Studies of the Book of Mormon' (University of Illinois Press, 1985).

"Roberts makes four major points in the 375-page study. He observes in his first manuscript, 'Book of Mormon Difficulties,' that the book's account of the ancient Americans is in conflict with what is known about them from recent scientific investigation. The Book of Mormon represents them as having an Iron Age culture, while archaeology has shown them to have advanced only to a polished Stone Age level at the arrival of European ('Studies,' pp. 107-112).

"The situation, he found, was further complicated by the Book of Mormon's declaration that the original settlers came to the New World when it was uninhabited. The Jaredites came 'into that quarter where there never had man been' (Ether 2:5) and fought themselves to extinction. The Nephites likewise came to a land 'kept from all other nations' (II Nephi 1:9-11).

"Since the latter group's arrival is placed at about 600 B.C., it would not allow sufficient time for the development of the 169 known New World language stocks, each with its varying dialects. Roberts confessed he had no answers to such discrepancies. 'The recent accepted authoritative writers,' he says 'leave us, so far as I can at present see, no ground of appeal or defense – the new knowledge seems to be against us' ('Studies,' p. 143). Archaeology to this day has uncovered nothing to overturn his findings.

"Having shown the book is at variance with recent scientific knowledge, Roberts shows in his second manuscript, 'A Book of Mormon Study,' that the book agrees with the "common knowledge" believed about the American aborigines in the early nineteenth century.

"This agreement included even the erroneous ideas that the Indians were descended from the 'Lost Tribes' of Israel and that they had once enjoyed a high degree of civilization.

"The 'common knowledge' was well summarized in 'almost hand-book form' in a book by the Rev. Ethan Smith. That work, 'View of the Hebrews,' was in print in its second, enlarged edition five years before the Book of Mormon was published.

"Moreover, it was published in the same small town where Oliver Cowdery was living. Cowdery was a cousin of Joseph Smith Jr. and his assistant in producing the Book of Mormon. In an analysis running nearly 100 pages, Roberts shows that Ethan Smith's book contains practically the 'ground-plan' of the Book of Mormon ('Studies,' p. 240; 151-242).

"Both books present the natives of America as Hebrews who journeyed here from the Old World.

"Both claim a portion broke away from the civilized group and degenerated into a savage state. The savage portion completely destroyed the civilized one after long and terrible wars.

"Both books attribute to the civilized branch an Iron Age culture.

"Both represent these settlers of the New World as once having had a 'Book of God,' an understanding of the gospel, and a white messianic figure who visited them.

"Both regard American Gentiles as having been singled out by prophecy to preach the gospel to the Indians who are the remnant of those ancient American Hebrews.

"Roberts hauntingly asks concerning these and the other parallels he found, 'Can such numerous and startling points of resemblance and suggestive contact, be merely coincidence?' ('Studies,' p. 242).

"As his third main point, Roberts establishes the fact (using Mormon sources exclusively) that Joseph Smith had imaginative powers of mind sufficient to have produced the Book of Mormon.

"He describes Smith's creativity as being 'as strong and varied as Shakespeare's and no more to be accounted for than the English Bard's' ('Studies,' p. 244).

"Roberts rounds out his case for the human origin of the Book of Mormon with a 115-page discussion of the errors that result from Joseph Smith's untrained, though creative, mind.

"Roberts points to the impossibility of Lehi's three-day journey from Jerusalem to the shores of the Red Sea – a 170-mile trek on foot, with women and children along.

"He cites their arrival in America, the land 'kept from all other nations,' where they unaccountably find domesticated animals – 'the cow and the ox [oxen are neutered bulls], and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat' (I Nephi 18:25).

"Roberts finds an amateurish repetition of the same plots with only the character changed. The book, he notes, attempts to outdo the Bible miracles and presents some incredible battle scenes. In one instance, 2060 "striplings" fought wars over a 4 - 5 year period without one being killed (Alma 56-58). This leads Roberts to ask:

"'Is all this sober history . . . or is it a wondertale of an immature mind, unconscious of what a test he is laying on human credulity when asking men to accept his narrative as solemn history?' (Studies, p. 283).

"The question appears to need no answer. Roberts also points out how typical of the revivalism of Smith's time are the swoonings and religious 'falling' found over and over in the Book of Mormon.

"At this point Roberts' manuscript breaks off, but not before he has made us conscious of how heavily the Book of Mormon depends upon the culture of its day for its content and style ('Studies,' p. 308).

For more on General Authority B.H. Roberts' conclusion that the Book of Mormon was of human origin, see:
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Desperate Mormons Have Now Been Reduced To This In Defending Their Racist Religion
Thursday, Dec 20, 2007, at 06:19 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Pathetically pointing out that, gosh, lots of other churches were racist, too.

Well, so much, then, for a "latter-day living prophet of God " who, despite a supposed pipeline to heaven, just couldn't overcome societal bigotry here on earth to offer unconditional godly love and equality to black people.

Mormon munchkin Ken Jennings makes this absolutely laughable "argument" in a whiny, whimpering, woe-is-me, wail of a skin pale tale:
"It's true that, prior to 1978, blacks could not be ordained to the Mormon priesthood. But here, too, a more nuanced view is helpful. Joseph Smith is now known to have ordained African-American men in the 1830s and 1840s. The prohibition evolved in later decades, propped up by a series of racist folk doctrines.

"Mormons were relieved when those teachings were repudiated. (It adds context but little comfort to note that other major U.S. denominations had racist and segregationist dogma on their books until the 1970s as well.)"

That's one hell of a defense there, Brother Jennings: The bigots made me do it.
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Media Pushback Time: "Editorial Cartoonist Reacts To Reaction Received For Ripping Romney"
Friday, Dec 21, 2007, at 06:48 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Barraged by complaining Mormons in the wake of my recent interview with the national trade journal "Editor and Publisher" on the presidential candidacy of Mormon Mitt Romney, "EandP" contacted me again today and asked for a response.

For the original interview, see:

For the hysterical Mormon reaction to that first interview, see:

Below is today's follow-up interview:

"'Steve Benson, Editorial Cartoonist, Reacts to Reaction He Received for Ripping Romney'

"By Dave Astor Published: December 20, 2007 5:20 PM ET

"NEW YORK: When editorial cartoonist Steve Benson criticized current Mormon Mitt Romney in an EandP story earlier this week, reaction was fast and furious.

"Many blog posters backed Benson, but many others blasted the grandson of former Mormon Church President Ezra Taft Benson.

"For instance, they asked why the Arizona Republic/Creators Syndicate cartoonist didn't also criticize Mormon politicians such as Democrat Harry Reid, and they said Benson's 1993 switch from Mormonism to ex-Mormonism made him as much of a 'flip-flopper' as he accused Republican presidential candidate Romney of being.

"EandP called Benson again today to get his response.

"Benson -- who contended in the earlier story that a devout, 'temple-endowed' Mormon U.S. president can't be truly independent of the Mormon Church -- said he didn't criticize Reid because the Senate Majority Leader 'is not making an issue of his Mormon devotion. He's not standing up in a carefully orchestrated stage play and explaining his religion to the American people. Romney's speech was a tactical move to woo fundamentalist Christians in the hotly contested Iowa political caucus. He invited this scrutiny. And, unlike Romney, Reid's not running for the most powerful position in the free world.'

"The cartoonist continued: 'Besides, it doesn't seem that Harry Reid's religion is as strong an operating force in his life or decisions as it is for Romney.' Benson added with a laugh: 'How could it be, given the conservative politics of most Mormons. Hell, Reid's a Democrat!'

"Responding to the flip-flop charge, Benson said he left Mormonism because church leaders were misrepresenting his aged grandfather's health and because of the 'sexist, racist, and homophobic' aspects he saw in the religion. But Romney, said the 1993 Pulitzer Prize winner, has jettisoned liberal positions out of 'political expediency' as the former Massachusetts governor tries to convince conservative GOP voters to make him their presidential candidate.

"'I'm not running for political office,' said Benson. 'I left Mormonism with no pretense of remaining devout -- and I didn't do the Romney act of staying in while changing my spots faster than a leopard on steroids.'

"When asked his reaction to the negative e-mails he has received and the critical blog posts that have been written since the EandP story, Benson said he isn't surprised that Mormons are very defensive about his comments.

"'One of my Mormon critics called me a "turncoat,"' Benson e-mailed after today's phone interview. 'So I asked him to be a good Christian, do what Jesus would do and give me his own coat. Haven't see the coat yet. Anyway, like the old saying goes, "hit pigeons flutter."'

"But the cartoonist feels no one has disproved anything he said about Romney or the nature of Mormonism's secret temple oaths and rituals. 'The proof is in the pudding,' Benson said in the e-mail. 'The trouble is, the Mormon Church doesn't want anyone to go poking around in its pudding.'"
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Tracking You Down And Excommunicating You As You Seek To Find Your Way Out
Friday, Dec 28, 2007, at 08:05 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 7   -Link To MC Article-
Received this interesting letter today from a former Mormon (identity protected):

"Dear Steve--

". . . I suspect that you followed the path that many who have left followed in your defection. First one recognizes that 'all is not well in Zion,' then one tries to right the wrongs from within. And, eventually, finding all efforts are in vain, you leave.

"My wife and I followed a similar pattern. For the first part of our lives we were diligent -- no! -- we were more than diligent in our efforts to 'build up Zion.' . . . [W]e were always way out front and leading the parade. We actually believed the stuff! When others were following the prescribed path of emigration to 'Zion' we thought that we should stay behind to prepare 'for the coming of the Lord.'

"What garbage we can believe when it's drummed into our young minds as infants.

"I was establishing some prestige for myself in [our] . . . town, both as a business man and the leader of a small but growing congregation of Mormons. But finally we were persuaded to 'come to Zion.' It wasn't a smart move! I guess the view is always better from a distance. Up close, . . . our perspective changed considerably. It took only a few weeks to realize that this was not -- judged by any criteria -- 'the product as advertised.'

"However, I had to be completely certain that the claims were false before disrupting my family's life. I read everything I could find on the subject. The most revealing book was the original copy of the Book of Mormon.

"When I had satisfied myself on the fraudulent nature of Mormonism, I continued to pursue the matter to what could be described as its basis: the New Testament. And when I was satisfied about the nature of that book I moved on to its origin: the Old Testament. I spend over ten years in this study.

"Ultimately, my wife and I decided to quit the church.

"During the time of my uncertainty I had been ''called' to preside over a new ward . . . . But I declined . . . Eventually I did agree to be on the high council in our stake . . . after my wife and I had discussed the situation thoroughly to see if we might do what we knew many other Mormons were doing: disbelieving but complying.

"We tried it for a year but the strain was too great. This was not how we wanted to live our lives. We decided to move . . . without telling any of our fellow stake members the real reason for the move.

"Ten years later when they finally realized what had happened I received my 'graduation letter.' Failing to show at the trial when summoned, I was notified by mail that I had been excommunicated from the church."
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Tracking You Down And Excommunicating You As You Seek To Find Your Way Out
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