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STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8
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.
| Inside Confessions And Outside Cover-Ups: Excommunicated Mormon Intellectual Paul Toscano Exposes The Intellectual And Moral Dishonesty Of The LDS Cult's Highest Leaders |
Thursday, Feb 8, 2007, at 07:39 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| What is "oxy" about Toscano is the oxygen of ugly truth that blew through Mormon Cult cover-ups in the wake of his unseemly excommunication. |
Toscano's outspoken support of independent thinking served to expose the intellectual and moral dishonesty of Mormonism's highest leadership.
Moves by Mormonism's pyramid-perching leaders to discredit and discipline Toscano for his fiercely-individualistic views eventually led to the public disgracing of Apostles Dallin Oaks and Boyd K. Packer--men who, behind the scenes, had sought to have Toscano muzzled and humiliated, then lied on the record about their efforts to do so.
Oaks' and Packer' plottings against Toscano were ultimately unmasked within the larger context of the Mormon Church's 1993 crackdown on dissidents (notably, the so-called "September Six").
Oaks confessed his participation in the efforts to club and then conceal the ecclesiastical clubbing of Toscano in two private meetings I had with Oaks and his fellow apostle Neal Maxwell, in Maxwell's Church office during September 1993.
In those confidential meetings, Oaks confessed to the actual circumstances surrounding the excommunication of Toscano, then expected me to cover for him after he lied in public about what we had privately talked in this regard.
In an on-the-record interview with a newspaper reporter, Oaks blatantly misrepresented the truth about Packer's involvement in the excommunication of Toscano who, among other things, had caught the scornful attention of Church apostles by suggesting that Church members need not perpetuate a Cult of Personality by standing up when General Authorities walked into the room.
Oaks privately owned up that Packer had inappropriately injected himself into local Church action against Toscano--and, in the process, violated Church disciplinary procedures and opening the Church up to a possible lawsuit from Toscano.
Referring to Packer as the source of these headaches, a frustrated Oaks told me, "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear." When subsequently asked by the media about rumors that Packer had worked behind the scenes to get Toscano excommunicated, Oaks claimed ignorance and denied that Packer could ever do such a thing.
Had I remained silent in the face of these lies, I would have been an accessory to Oaks' falsifications. Oaks had demanded that I not talk about the conversations we had about the Toscano/Packer affair. Oaks had then prevaricated on the record about what we discussed. Finally, once the cat was out of the bag, Oaks had expected me to cover his keister by covering my mouth.
A question I posed to Oaks and Maxwell concerned reports that Packer had been behind the excommunication of Toscano.
To understand the context of the question, it is necessary to review events at the time, as reported in the press.
Packer's suspected entanglement in the excommunication of Toscano became a subject of extensive media coverage in the fall of 1993.
Toscano was excommunicated from the Mormon Church on September 19,1993, "for writing and speaking publicly about church doctrine, feminism, the state of the faith's leadership and other issues."
At the stake high council disciplinary hearing that ultimately sealed his fate, attention was focused on a Sunstone symposium speech Toscano had recently delivered, entitled, "All Is Not Well in Zion: False Teachings of the True Church," in which Toscano was alleged to have made derogatory comments . . . about general authorities." ("LDS Apostle Denies Ordering Dissident's Excommunication," Associated Press, 11 October 1993, sec, D, p. 1ff; and "Six Intellectuals Disciplined for Apostasy," Sunstone, November 1993, p. 66).
With the Mormon Church having recently disciplined the infamous "September Six" for activities relating to scholarship and feminism, speculation was rampant that Packer had been "behind the church's recent crackdown on dissidents."
That assessment proved to be well-founded.
Five months earlier, Packer had warned a gathering of LDS bureaucrats that some Mormons "influenced by social and political unrest are being caught up and led away" by "the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, as well as the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals." ("Cartoonist Says Oaks Lied To Protect Fellow Apostle," Vern Anderson, Associated Press, in Salt Lake Tribune, 12 October 1993, sec. B, p. 1ff; and Boyd K. Packer, "Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council," transcript, 18 May 1993, pp. 3, 4)
Packer, however, vehemently denied that he had been behind the banishment of Toscano.
Specifically, he insisted he had not directed Toscano's stake president, Kerry Heinz, to convene a disciplinary council against him.
While admitting to having met with Heinz to discuss Toscano, Packer assured the press, "We talked doctrine and philosophy. I absolutely did not instruct him to hold a disciplinary counsel and did not then, nor have I ever, directed any verdict. By church policy, that is left entirely to local leaders. When he [Heinz] left, I did not know what he would do." ("Cracks in the temple: Mormon unity in peril," Paul Brinkley-Rogers, The Arizona Republic, 10 October 1993, sec. A, p 1ff)
Packer further revealed to the Church-owned Deseret News that his decision to meet with Heinz had been made through a lower-ranking Church middleman.
Contrary to Oaks' claim to me in our September 24th meeting that Packer had independently strayed outside approved channels of authority, Packer insisted that, in fact, he had been advised by "the brethren" to meet with Toscano's stake president.
Said Packer, "Even though general authorities of the church are free to contact or respond to local leaders on any subject, I felt there may be some sensitivity about his request. The brethren felt I could not very well decline to see a stake president. I therefore consented." ("Packer Says He Was Concerned by Request for Meeting, But Apostles Endorsed It," Associated Press, in Salt Lake Tribune, 17 October 1993, sec. B, p. 1ff)
Toscano was not persuaded by Packer's explanations.
Reacting to Packer's admission of meeting with Heinz, Toscano said, "I knew all along that Boyd Packer was behind it. He's behind all this." ("Grandson of President Asks To Be Removed From LDS Church Rolls," Jennifer Skordas, Salt Lake Tribune, 11 October 1993, sec. D, p. 1ff)
In my meeting with Oaks and Maxwell, I specifically asked if Packer had, in fact, been involved behind the scenes in the excommunication process against Toscano.
Oaks confirmed that Packer had.
Oaks told me he was "distressed and astonished" over Packer's decision to meet with Heinz, even though he said Heinz was the one who had called Packer and asked "for the meeting." Oaks said it was "a mistake" on Packer's part to have agreed to meet with Heinz, the latter whom Oaks described as "an old seminary man." (Packer had come up with Heinz through the ranks of the Church education system).
Oaks told me that, by meeting with Heinz, Packer had gone outside the bounds of his assigned responsibility.
Oaks said one of his own areas of expertise was in legal affairs. Maxwell noted that one reason Oaks had been brought into the Quorum of the Twelve was to help rewrite the manual on Church disciplinary procedure.
Oaks expressed concern that Packer's involvement with Heinz might lead Toscano "to sue the Church" over violation of his ecclesiastical procedural rights.
In the end, Oaks, with a note of resignation in his voice, said of Packer, "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear."
On the heels of my meetings with Oaks and Maxwell, I then accompanied Arizona Republic reporter Paul Brinkley-Rogers to Salt Lake City in early October 1993 to assist him in making contacts with LDS leaders, spokesmen, educators and critics for a story on the recent purge of Church dissidents, notably, the "September Six."
On October 1st, Brinkley-Rogers met for a prearranged, on-the-record, taped Qandamp;A session with Oaks in his Salt Lake City Church office to discuss, among other things, recent Church action against the dissenters.
I had not arranged the interview and did not join the reporter in it, as I did not think it would be appropriate for me to do so. Moreover, prior to the interview, I did not speak to Brinkley-Rogers about what Oaks and Maxwell had told me concerning the Packer/ Toscano matter in my meeting with them on September 24th.
At the conclusion of the interview, I picked Brinkley-Rogers up outside the Church Administration Building and asked how it went. He put the tape into the rental car cassette deck and pushed the "play" button. What I heard astounded--and angered-- me.
Much of what Oaks had dished up for public consumption directly contradicted what he had told me in private.
I was immediately aware of the bind that Oaks had put me in. He had lied to a reporter about events which he had described to me in much different terms. I had no choice but to tell the reporter at that point that Oaks was attempting to pull a fast one on him.
So, there in a rental car in Salt Lake City, for the first time, I revealed what Oaks had shared with me in our September 24th meeting, pointing out the contradictions to what I had just heard on the tape. (see "Cracks in the temple: Mormon unity in peril," Paul Brinkley-Rogers, Arizona Republic, 11 October 1993, sec. A, p. 1ff)
During the next five days, I privately struggled with how to publicly deal with Oaks' blatant dishonesties. I was torn between remaining quiet (thereby preserving a confidentiality agreement) or setting the record straight (thereby exposing Oaks' act of calculated deception). I spoke at length with my wife, friends, and colleagues--seeking advice and weighing my options.
I wish I could say it was an easy decision--that I saw the road brightly ahead of me from the moment I was confronted with Oaks' deceit--but that was not the case. I was troubled and, frankly, even a bit frightened by the possible consequences of speaking out. I did not relish the prospect of being accused of breaking a promise; at the same time, I could not stand by silently, given what I knew.
Most of all, I resented the fact that Oaks had put me in this position in the first place.
I finally decided to follow my gut--and my conscience. Oaks' misrepresentations--indeed, his out-and-out lies--prompted me to fax him a letter a few days after the interview. It read as follows:
"6 October 1993
Elder Dallin Oaks
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
"PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL
"Dear Elder Oaks:
"I wish to share with you my concerns relative to our private conversation in the office of Elder Maxwell on September 24th, in relation to your subsequent comments to Arizona Republic reporter Paul Brinkley-Rogers on October 1st."
"In our September 24th meeting, I asked you if Kerry Heinz, Paul Toscano's stake president, had had any contact with, or received any instruction from, Elder Boyd K. Packer during the time leading up to Paul Toscano's excommunication. According to my notes taken during our discussion, you acknowledged that Elder Packer met with President Heinz prior to the rendering of judgment by the stake disciplinary council. You said that President Heinz was 'an old seminary man' and friend of Elder Packer during their days together in the church seminary system and that President Heinz 'called and asked for a meeting' with Elder Packer."
"You told me that you were 'distressed and astonished' that Elder Packer met with President Heinz. Referring to Elder Packer, you observed that 'you can't stage manage a grizzly bear.' You opined that 'it was a mistake for Packer to meet with Heinz and a mistake for Heinz to ask for the meeting."
"You further acknowledged that you later talked directly to Elder Packer and told him that you felt it was wrong and violated church disciplinary procedure for Elder Packer to have been in contact with President Heinz. You said that Elder Packer had no authority or responsibility to participate in such contact and you told me that you strongly urged Elder Packer not to engage in such contact in the future. You added that you fully expected Paul Toscano 'to sue' the church over this breach of procedural authority. "
"In contrast to what you told me in private, your public statements concerning the Toscano excommunication process and any participation of Elder Packer in it presented a far different picture. Mr. Brinkley-Rogers asked you: 'In the case of Toscano . . . do you have any evidence that Elder Packer [was] involved in any way in the decision-making process in the disciplining of [him]?"
"You responded: 'As for Elder Packer, Elder Packer does not have a specific responsibility for any area in the church . . . So, if Elder Packer is having any conversation with Kerry Heinz, it is outside the normal channel. That's all I can say. I have no knowledge of whether he did. But if he, and if he gave a directed verdict or anything like that, that is contrary to policy, it is irregular and it's contrary to what I know of Elder Packer and the way he operates. Elder Packer is not the least bit inclined to shrink from saying things like in the talk you saw [to the All-Church Coordinating Council, 18 May 1993]. He is a forthright, plain-spoken man, but Elder Packer is far too sophisticated and sensitive a man to call a stake president and tell him what he has to do in a church discipline case. I just don't believe that. What's possible is that a stake president might think he had heard such a thing; nobody can dismiss that possibility . . . that kind of slippage happens in communication. But Elder Packer has no, Elder [Loren C.] Dunn has a natural communications link, though an outdated one; Elder Packer does not. So, that's all I know about that at this point."
"Frankly, I find the differences between what you told me and what you told the press to be irreconcilable and ethically troubling. First, by couching your answer to the question of Elder Packer's conversation with President Heinz in the hypothetical, you falsely imply, it seems to me, that you do not know whether he did talk with President Heinz. Second, contrary to what you told me, you explicitly said to the reporter that, in fact, you were not aware if any conversations took place between Elder Packer and President Heinz. Third, your assertion that for Elder Packer to have talked with President Heinz goes against your knowledge of Elder Packer's modus operandi is contradicted by your admission to me that you knew that Elder Packer had talked to him and that you later talked with Elder Packer about it. Fourth, your blanket denial of knowing anything beyond what you told the reporter is completely undermined, I feel, by what you told me."
"In other words, you have told the truth in private about the Packer-Heinz meeting, while denying the truth in public."
"When you asked that I keep our conversation confidential, I assumed that anything you might subsequently say for the record on the matter would be at least honest, if not complete. However, what you said in public varies significantly from the facts as you laid them out to me. It appears that you have asked me not to publicly divulge our conversation in your hope that my initial agreement to remain silent would keep the accuracy of your public utterances from being challenged."
"I have concluded that to remain silent is unacceptable. It would be a cowardly and dishonest act. It would be analogous to having an individual come to me and say, 'Just between us, I killed my wife,' then turn around and tell the press that the next-door neighbor did it. I would have the clear moral obligation to set the record straight, since refusal to act would do violence to the truth and make me an accessory to the crime."
"I will not be a party to a cover-up. Your request for confidentiality, I believe, has been superceded by the fact that you have lied in public, contrary to the facts as you know them, and that your hope of confidentiality rests on maintaining the deception. It has been observed that 'a lie is like a blanket of snow. It may cover unpleasantness for a time but, sooner or later, must melt, exposing that which was hidden."
"To participate in this fraud would only serve to erode trust and destroy relationships."
"I would hope that you would feel it right to publicly set the record straight. Mr. Brinkley-Rogers' phone number is 602-271-8137. If you choose not to do so within the next 24 hours, I will have no choice but to undertake that obligation myself."
Hell hath no fury like a cover blown.
Oaks responded quickly, calling my home the same afternoon he received the fax, in an attempt to reach me. Our daughter, Audrey--six years old at the time--answered the phone, as Mary Ann simultaneously picked up the line on the other end and listened.
"Is your father there?" asked Oaks, in a stern, angry voice.
"No," Audrey replied meekly, "He's at work."
Oaks did not have my office phone number but he had the reporter's, since I had given it to him. (Oaks needed to do his explaining to the person he had lied to in the interview, not to me).
Oaks left a message with Brinkley-Rogers, who returned the call that evening, reaching Oaks at home through the Church switchboard operator (CSO).
Below is the full transcript of the ensuing conversation between Oaks (O) and Brinkley-Rogers (BR), taped by Brinkley-Rogers (which he later allowed me to audio-copy and which copy is currently in my possession). It is reported here with permission of Brinkley-Rogers.
CSO (choir music in the background): "LDS Church Offices."
BR: "Yes, good evening. Uh, this is Paul Brinkley-Rogers calling from Phoenix."
BR: "Concerning Dallin Oaks' call. He asked me to call the switchboard."
CSO: "Yes. Just a moment, please, while I"--
BR: "Thank you. Thanks a lot."
CSO: "Go ahead, please."
BR: "Thank you."
O: "Hello, Mr. Brinkley-Rogers."
BR: "Good evening, Mr. Oaks. How are you?"
O: "Thanks for calling back."
BR: "Well, thanks for calling me."
O: "Let me put the robe on and go in another room, where I can be comfortable."
BR: "OK, sure."
O: "Thank you for calling back."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "Somebody has called me a liar and I don't like to (inaudible) to that on a charge like that."
BR: "Oh, all right. How did that happen?"
O: "Uh, well, let me explain. I received a very disturbing letter from Steve Benson."
O: "He compares what I said to him in a confidential setting, relating to Church issues, with a transcript of the interview that I had with you"--
O: --"and accused me of lying."
O: "And I'm a truthful man and I care for my integrity and, uh, and I, I take no, uh, no little, uh, concern for something like this."
O: "Before I talk with you about it, let me ask you a question"--
O: --"so you'll understand why I need to ask that before I speak about this."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "What I would like to know is the relationship between you and Steve Benson in this matter. Specifically, was Steve on a reconnaissance for you when he asked about two weeks ago for a Church interview and came into an interview, in an ecclesiastical setting, which is the occasion of this comparison?"
BR: "No, I, I had no idea that he even did that."
O: "I didn't think so."
O: "Uh, let me ask a follow-up question."
O: "Uh, is, are you involved in any kind of an effort that Steve is now making to extort information from me--and I use the word 'extort,' uh"--
O: --"to extort information from me in behalf of you?"
BR: "No. I'm not aware of any such thing."
O: "Now, he had, the reason I had to ask that is that he had the manuscript that was our interview."
O: "And he was comparing that with notes he'd made earlier when he had a conversation"--
BR: "Oh, I see. No, I played the tape for Steve of, uh, our interview, you know, after the interview and I noticed that he looked sort of surprised by it."
O: "OK, well, then, I, I take that at face value."
BR: "All right."
O: "And, and you, what I'm going to tell you why, I, uh, oh, why I was aroused by this."
O: "Now, I assume, as I told you at the time, that you're a professional journalist"--
O: "I assume, I take The Arizona Republic at, at face value. Uh, uh, it seems to me like it's been very professional and, and I deal with you in that light."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "And I assume that neither you nor The Republic want to be used in Steve's grievances against, and controversies with, his Church"--
O: --"that are rather considerable, uh, uh, controversy with his Church."
O: "I was trying to do, to deal with that in having a confidential interview with him."
O: "And now he, he has drawn in this letter to me, he's drawn these two things together"--
O: "And I'd rather deal with you separately"--
BR: "You mean this conversation with you, uh, compared"--
O: "His conversation with me"--
BR: --"compared with the tape?"
O: "Compared with the tape, and that's, uh, what I'd like to do, is deal separately with you."
O: "And I assume that you don't want to get involved with Steve's controversies with his Church."
O: "I assume that that's part of your professional approach to this and if I, if I can deal separately with you, independent of Steve Benson"--
O: --"then it's, then it's much easier for me to (inaudible) my problems."
BR: "All right, so let's go ahead on that basis."
O: "OK, good. Now, when (cough) I received this letter from Steve, which was, uh, a very accusatory letter"--
O: --"and, uh, I presume that you don't know about its contents"--
O: "But when I received this letter, which I did this afternoon about 5 o'clock"--
O: --"I got the transcript out and reviewed it very carefully, the transcript of my interview with you."
O: "When I did that, I saw one sentence in my interview with you--and only one sentence--that I would say overstated the truth."
O: "And that sentence I want to correct."
BR: "All right, sir. Fine."
O: "And I am sorry for it, but in a, in a, our, our interview was 60 minutes long and, you know, I was shooting from the hip (inaudible) along"--
O: --"and it was one of those things, which called to my attention, is inaccurate and I want to correct it."
BR: "All right."
O: "The, the, the only thing I can see that I want to correct."
BR: "OK, sir."
O: "And this is a, is a, uh, oh, about one-fourth of the circumstances that, uh, that, uh, Steve cites in his letter, because I looked, uh, I looked at the others and, and, uh, I think that, uh, I, I don't, uh, feel any necessity under my commitment to integrity to make any change in what I said."
O: "But in this one instance, I do."
O: "The sentence is, is toward the end of the interview."
O: "It is the, the last paragraph of the interview."
O: "I'm looking at the transcript that was made from the recording when made here."
O: "It's, uh, it's in this talk about the Kerry Heinz matter"--
BR: "All right."
O: "And the sentence is this, about having a conversation: 'So, if Elder Packer is having any conversation with Kerry Heinz'"--
O: --"'it is outside the normal channel'"--
O: --"'that's all I can say. I have not'–"my transcript says that. It must be 'no'"–'I have no knowledge of whether he did.'"
O: "That's the sentence that should be stricken."
O: "If you'd just strike out, 'I have no knowledge of whether he did'"--
O: --"then I'll stand by the transcript of things that I said to you, but that statement, 'I have no knowledge of whether he did'"--
O: --"was, uh, as I looked back on the transcript, I think that's inaccurate and I want to withdraw that."
BR: "All right. Now, um, I guess my question is, do, do you have knowledge that he did that, in that case?"
BR: "Is that what we're getting to here?"
O: "Let me just, uh, let me just say this"--
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "Uh (clears throat), when I met with Steve Benson"--
O: --"Uh, I was trying to help Steve Benson in a matter, a Church matter, that does not concern the subject of our interview."
O: "In the course of doing that, I spoke to him confidentially and in a privileged relationship"--
O: --"and, uh, I think his letter and the things he says in his letter, abuse that privileged relationship, uh, in a really, uh, well, I'll stop there."
O: "And, and I, uh, [Steve] also says some things in his letter which he may share with you, I don't know"--
O: "But he, he claims to have notes of things that I've said in the, in the conversation with him"--
O: "I don't affirm his notes."
O: "If he shows you a copy of his letter"--
O: --"I certainly don't affirm his notes"--
O: --"and I'm not either admitting or denying things that I, I was speaking there in a privileged relationship and I don't think that it's fair for Steve, uh, nor is it fair for me"--
O: --"to go into a privileged relationship"--
O: --"and for me to affirm or deny his notes, so I, I simply stand silent on what he claims took place"--
O: --"in a privileged conversation and, as a journalist, you'd understand the privilege."
O: "I think his notes are quite self-serving, but that's, that's simply my, my perspective."
O: "But what I am saying is that I just don't choose to go, uh, I don't choose to be–what's the word I'm looking for?–leveraged"--
O: --"into saying anything more than I said to you in the interview by Steve Benson's use of privileged information."
O: "So, to answer your question, I'd say that I just don't choose to affirm or deny."
O: "But I do wish to withdraw a sentence which, as I read it on the transcript, is inaccurate."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "So, I, if you will do me the favor of striking out that, you do whatever you want with what remains."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "And I'm glad to defend whatever remains, but I cannot defend that sentence."
BR: "All right. Well, it's clear to me."
O: "All right. And I appreciate that and I appreciate the opportunity of being able to speak to you as a, on a professional basis and I, I must tell you that I make this phone call because it distresses me when somebody claims that I lie."
BR: "All right. Well, all right."
O: "Because I don't do that."
BR: "OK, sir."
O: "Well, I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and thank you for calling."
BR: "Thanks for calling me."
I was not immediately informed by the reporter of the details of the above conversation, being initially told only that Oaks had called to clarify the record. Assuming (as it turned out, naively) that Oaks had come completely clean, I faxed him a letter the next day, which read:
"7 October 1993
Elder Dallin Oaks
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
"PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL: SECOND TRANSMISSION"
"Dear Elder Oaks:
"I want to personally thank you for calling the Arizona Republic reporter, Mr. Brinkley-Rogers, to clarify your earlier statements.
"May I emphasize that I came to you with no hidden agenda. My sincerity of motive, I believe, was evidenced by the fact that, given the problem I faced with reconciling your public and private comments, an opportunity was provided for you to set the record straight.
"Again, thank you.
I had spoken too soon.
When Brinkley-Rogers permitted me to listen to the full tape of the phone conversation between himself and Oaks, I realized I had been duped. Oaks had not come close to coming clean, as I had hoped and expected he would. His apology was cagey, hesitant, defensive and limited. He had lied by omission and commission, but somehow had talked himself into believing he had done the right thing. Moreover, Oaks' subsequent statements to the press in ensuing days were far from forthright.
I was not about to sit by and let him get away with it.
I went to the press, laid out the entire story and submitted my letter of resignation from the Mormon Church.
In the meantime, Oaks was dribbling out half-hearted confessions. Five days after the phone conversation with the Arizona Republic reporter, Oaks publicly admitted that he had not been truthful about his knowledge of Packer's involvement in the Toscano episode.
In an Associated Press wire-story appearing October 12th in The Salt Lake Tribune, veteran Utah reporter Vern Anderson wrote:
"Elder Oaks admitted late Monday he 'could not defend the truthfulness of one of the statements' about Packer, who is considered by many to be behind the church's recent crackdown on dissidents . . .
"Oaks told Arizona Republic reporter Paul Brinkley-Rogers on Oct. 1 that he had 'no knowledge' of whether Packer had met with Kerry Heinz, the local ecclesiastical leader for Salt lake lawyer Paul Toscano, before Heinz excommunicated Toscano on Sept. 19. Toscano was cited by Heinz, his stake president, for criticizing church leaders and acting contrary to the role and order of the church.
"However, in a 'personal and confidential' letter to Oaks on Oct. 6, Benson reminded the apostle that in a private meeting Sept. 24, Oaks had told Benson he was 'distressed and astonished' that Packer had met with Heinz.
"He quoted Oaks as saying of Packer, 'You can't stage manage a grizzly bear,' and added that 'it was a mistake for Packer to meet with Heinz and a mistake for Heinz to ask for the meeting.'
"Benson also wrote that Oaks 'further acknowledged that you later talked directly to Elder Packer and told him that you felt it was wrong and violated church disciplinary procedure for Elder Packer to have been in contact with President Heinz.'
"Benson said he was making his letter to Oaks public because he was fed up with church leaders shading the truth. Last summer, he criticized the faith's hierarchy for claiming his 94-year-old grandfather was still involved in important church decisions.
"In an interview Monday evening, Oaks declined to confirm or deny most of Benson's assertions about a pair of private interviews the church prophet's grandson had in September with Oaks and Elder Neal Maxwell, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a body that advises the church's presidency.
"However, Oaks, a former Utah Supreme Court justice, acknowledged that his single statement to reporter Brinkley-Rogers about having no knowledge of the Packer-Heinz meeting was one 'I could not defend. It was not a truthful statement.'
"Benson's letter to Oaks had warned the apostle that unless he set the record straight, Benson would feel under no obligation to honor the promise of confidentiality he had earlier given Oaks and Maxwell.
"Oaks called the Republic's reporter that night and retracted the 'I have no knowledge of whether he [Packer] did' statement. The Republic's story, minus the statement, appeared Sunday. It quoted Packer as admitting he had met with Heinz about Toscano's case, but he denied having pressured the stake president to excommunicate Toscano.
"Oaks did not retract other statements in the interview with Brinkley-Rogers that Benson had alleged--and Oaks denies--were false or deliberately misleading. Nevertheless, Benson faxed Oaks another letter Oct. 7 thanking him for having called Brinkley-Rogers to 'clarify your earlier statements.'
"Oaks said he had assumed by Benson's second letter that he was satisfied. He stressed that Benson at least three times had assured him and Maxwell that their meetings--initiated by a kindly letter to Benson from Maxwell–were confidential and would never be publicly discussed.
'I think that Steve Benson is just going to have to carry the responsibility for whatever he relates about a confidential meeting,' Oaks said.
"Benson said he felt acutely the moral dilemma of having promised confidentiality, but then having seen deliberate efforts to mislead the public about Packer's role in the Toscano affair. 'I had to decide to be a party to the cover-up or be faithful to my own convictions,' Benson said. 'I had to let Elder Oaks walk a plank of his own making.'
"Toscano, who is appealing his excommunication, said he loves the church, but doesn't confuse it with 'individual leaders who are kind of running amok in a vacuum.'
"He said that if Ezra Taft Benson were capable of managing the church today, his eldest grandson's plea would not have gone unheeded." ("Cartoonist Says Oaks Lied To Protect Fellow Apostle," Vern Anderson, Associated Press, in Salt Lake Tribune, 12 October 1993, sec. B, p. 1ff)
By now the fireworks were lighting up the Temple Square skyline. Rather than agitate Oaks even more, however, I tried a softer, more conciliatory approach--even as I again chided him for refusing to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help him God.
In "an open letter" dated October 15, 1993, I wrote:
"Dear Elder Oaks:
"Given the events of recent days, I feel it important to communicate to you the reasons why I believed it necessary to speak openly about our conversations concerning the Packer-Heinz-Toscano affair.
"I understand your displeasure with the fact than an agreement of confidentiality was abrogated. I also understand your reasons for being upset that I went public after having expressed appreciation for your calling the press in an effort to clarify your earlier statements.
"Yet, even in your subsequent revision, you did not correct what I believe to have been other deliberate misrepresentations. I could not, therefore, in good conscience, let them remain unchallenged, when both you and I knew better. You were provided with an opportunity to set the record straight completely. You chose only to correct one of the three falsehoods. I do not consider myself responsible for your decisions not to be fully honest.
"As I noted in earlier correspondence, I feel you lost the benefit of confidentiality when you knowingly dissembled in public about what you told me in private. In so doing, I feel you violated the trust and faith between not only you and me, but between the church leadership and the members at large. I therefore felt it my moral obligation to break the silence that otherwise would have served only to perpetuate falsehood and false faith.
"I have done so because I see so many people in the church hurting under the crushing heel of ecclesiastical abuse. It is time to lift the heel and start to heal.
"The scriptures tell of another apostle--a man of God and servant of the Master who, because of weakness and pressure--also lied three times. Yet, he admitted his mistakes, repented of them and became not only one of the Lord's mightiest witnesses, but an example to the rest of us imperfect souls of what It means to be honest and true in Christ.
"You now have the opportunity to shine your light in the darkness and warm us all through your spiritual courage. Please use the purity of your spirit, intellect and testimony to help us heal together.
I didn't hear back from Oaks, except when I read what he was now saying to the press.
Oaks next went to the Church-owned Deseret News to air his grievances. On October 16, 1993, the following article appeared:
"Sitting in his office in the LDS Church administration building, Elder Dallin H. Oaks carefully reads a news report that says he admitted to 'falsely telling' a journalist he had no knowledge of an event involving the excommunication of a church member.
"'Life isn't fair,' Elder Oaks said. 'Somebody said that time heals all wounds. But it's also true that time wounds all heels.' he added in jest.
"But in a serious tone, Elder Oaks, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Council of the Twelve, said he feels 'wounded' by an Associated Press story that he said dwelled on his admission that he made a statement he couldn't defend, and downplayed his efforts to promptly correct his unintentional error.
"'It impugned my integrity and seriously distorted the account of the facts as it was presented,' Oaks said in an interview this week.
"The apostle said he didn't willfully mislead a news reporter. He explained that he had misspoken during an hour-long interview and when he was notified of that he called the reporter to retract a 'statement I could not defend.'
"The story was published four days later in the Arizona Republic newspaper, without the statement.
"Meanwhile, in Phoenix, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Steve Benson expressed frustration over what he sees as high-ranking church officials twisting the truth and deceiving members.
"'I'm tired of playing this little game,' he said in a phone interview from his office at The Arizona Republic. 'The church needs to respect its members . . . It wants to muzzle its members.'
"Benson, a sixth-generation Mormon and grandson of church President Ezra Taft Benson, wants no longer to be a 'muzzled' member. On Sunday he announced he had requested his name be removed from the rolls of the Mormon Church. The next day, he disclosed to the Associated Press details of confidential conversations and correspondence between him and Elder Oaks.
"The subsequent news story published locally in Tuesday's Salt Lake Tribune was the latest episode in a saga surrounding recent disciplinary action taken against six prominent Mormon scholars and feminists. Five of them--one who was disfellowshipped and four who were excommunicated--said they were disciplined for apostasy and are victims of an orchestrated purge.
"Earlier this month, Elder Oaks spoke with an Arizona Republic reporter about the recent string of disciplinary councils. During the interview, they discussed whether Elder Boyd K. Packer, also a member of the Council of the Twelve, talked with local stake president Kerry Heinz, who later presided over a disciplinary council that excommunicated church critic Paul Toscano.
"In the interview, Elder Oaks said he had no knowledge of whether Elder Packer met with the stake president. According to The Arizona Republic story, Elder Oaks also said that if Elder Packer told the stake president what action to take against a church member, it would violate church policy and 'be contrary to what I know about Elder Packer and the way he operates.'
"Benson claimed that Elder Oaks told him a different story during their confidential discussions held two weeks earlier. Benson would not say why he had a private talk with Elder Oaks. But he said that during their talk Elder Oaks disclosed that Elder Packer and Heinz were old friends who did get together at Heinz's request and that such a meeting was a mistake.
"Benson added that Elder Oaks referred to Elder Packer when saying, 'You can't stage manage a grizzly bear.'
"Oaks declined to discuss what Benson said took place in their private discussion. 'Even though I could defend myself by affirming or denying those things, I don't feel free' to do that without violating a pledge of confidentiality, he said.
"The dispute over what Elder Packer said in a meeting with Heinz has attracted news media attention because some of those disciplined and their supporters had claimed Elder Packer was personally conducting a crackdown on church dissidents.
"In a statement issued Friday, Elder Packer said, 'In late June, President Kerry Heinz asked his regional representative if he could arrange an appointment with me. We had served together in the seminary program 35 years ago.'
"'Even though general authorities of the church are free to contact or respond to local leaders on any subject, I felt there may be some sensitivity about this request,' Elder Packer said. 'I, therefore, in a meeting of the Council of the Twelve Apostles raised the question of whether I should see him. The brethren felt I could not very well decline to see a stake president.
"'I therefore consented but asked President Heinz if he would feel all right about his file leader, President Loren Dunn, being present. He readily agreed,' Elder Packer said. The meeting was held Sunday, July 11, 1993.
"'We talked doctrine and philosophy,' Elder Packer said. 'I absolutely did not instruct him to hold a disciplinary council and did not then, nor have I ever, directed any verdict. By church policy that is left entirely to local leaders. When he left, I did not know what he would do.'
"In his interview with the Deseret News, Benson said what Elder Oaks told him didn't square with what was said to the reporter. So he transmitted a confidential letter to Elder Oaks pointing that out. Benson said he also warned that if the apostle did not 'set the record straight' he would no longer feel obligated to keep their discussion confidential.
"After receiving the letter, Elder Oaks said, he reviewed the transcript of his interview with the reporter and found he couldn't defend his comment about having no knowledge of Packer meeting with Heinz.
"'How do you make a statement like that? I can't give any better explanation than the fact that I was talking a mile a minute and I just said something that on mature reflection I (concluded), "I can't defend the truthfulness of that,"' Elder Oaks said. But he let his other statements stand 'because I could defend those,' he said.
"While Elder Oaks said he was glad to correct his misstatement, he didn't like Benson's methods. 'He has taken a confidential meeting where he had repeatedly assured me that he would never speak of subjects we were discussing . . . and now he has written me a letter using that confidential meeting to pressure me. And I deeply resent that.'
"Benson said he had no hidden agenda to corner a church authority. He said he wrote Elder Oaks before the story ran, thanking him for retracting a statement and explaining his intention was to give Elder Oaks a chance to set the record straight.
"But after later learning that Elder Oaks left intact the other comments that troubled Benson, Benson said he followed through on his threat to go public.
"In a followup letter transmitted Friday to Elder Oaks explaining why he decided to speak openly about their confidential conversations, Benson said, 'I feel you violated the trust and faith between not only you and me, but between the church leadership and the members at large. I therefore felt it my moral obligation to break the silence that otherwise would have served only to perpetuate falsehood and false faith.'" ("Elder Oaks says news story 'seriously distorted' facts, LDS apostle calls his error unintentional. (Cartoonist says church twists truth," Matthew S. Brown, The Deseret News, 16 October 1993, sec. A, p. 1ff)
Oaks next turned to the Salt Lake Tribune, to further defend his honor. In a highly unusual commentary written for that newspaper, published on October 21, 1993, he declared:
"On October 12, 16, and 17, the Salt Lake Tribune gave prominent and extensive coverage to wire-service stories on cartoonist Steve Benson's charges that I 'lied' to an Arizona Republic reporter in an interview on current controversies over church discipline. I have no desire to prolong this controversy, but feel it necessary to set the record straight on some important matters omitted or obscured in this attack upon my integrity.
"My dictionary defines lying as being 'deliberately untruthful' and a 'lie' as 'a false statement made with deliberate intent to deceive.' I did not 'lie' to the reporter and, contrary to the wire-service story printed in the October 16 Tribune, I did not 'admit' to 'falsely telling' the reporter something that was untrue.
"I withdrew one sentence I had spoken in a long interview, and I did so three days before the article was published because I realized when I saw the written transcript, that this single sentence was not 'truthful'(meaning 'accurate' or 'correct'). When a newspaper publishes something that it later realizes to have been incorrect, does it apologize to its readers for 'lying' or does it just print a correction? My statement to the reporter was corrected before it was published.
"The sequence and timing of various events is important.
"On Sept. 9 Elder Neal A. Maxwell and I met with Steve and Mary Ann Benson for about two and one-half hours to discuss their questions. Because he was a newspaperman, we sought and he gave solemn assurances that our discussions would be confidential. We continue to honor that confidence.
"On Sept. 10, Steve Benson wrote us a letter expressing gratitude for 'being able to talk freely in an atmosphere of trust,' reaffirming his commitment to 'honor completely the confidentiality of our conversation, in not speaking, or even alluding to, for the record anything said by either of you,' and asking for another meeting to deal with 'some follow-up questions.'
"On Sept. 24, we met again with Steve Benson for about an hour and a half.
"On Oct. 1, a reporter for the Arizona Republic interviewed me for about an hour on a wide variety of subjects pertaining to current controversies over church discipline. Though Steve Benson works for this paper, he did not arrange this interview and was not included in it.
"At about 4:30 p.m. on October 6, I received a 'personal and confidential' letter from Steve Benson. Relying on his personal notes of our confidential conversations, he charged that I had 'lied in public' in my interview with the reporter and stated that unless I 'publicly set the record straight' by calling the reporter within 24 hours, he would do so himself.
"I immediately studied the lengthy transcript of the Oct. 1 interview (16 pages single-spaced), received the previous day. I was distressed to find one statement to the reporter I could see was not accurate ('I have no knowledge of whether he did'). I am sure I did not speak that sentence with intent to deceive, but whether it was an inadvertence or a result of forgetfulness in the context of a long and far-reaching interview, I cannot be sure. But the important thing was that I could recognize that this sentence was not correct. (Three other statements challenged by Steve Benson required no correction.)
"That same evening (Oct. 1) I reached the reporter, advised him of the circumstances, and asked to withdraw the single sentence. He agreed.
"On Oct. 7, I received another 'personal and confidential' letter from Steve Benson thanking me for calling the reporter 'to clarify your earlier statements.' His letter did not even hint that he thought further clarifications were necessary.
"The Arizona Republic article appeared on Oct. 10. It made no mention of the sentence I had withdrawn. There was also a separate story about Steve Benson and his wife seeking to have their names removed from the records of the Church.
"On Oct. 11, Steve Benson sent a copy of his 'personal and confidential' letters of Oct. 6 and 7 to the Associated Press in Salt Lake City. He also gave TV and radio interviews on this subject.
"In summary, when I found that I could not defend the correctness of one brief sentence in a long interview, I immediately contacted the reporter and withdrew that sentence, doing so more than three days before the story was scheduled for publication. When the publication honored that correction and made no comment on it, Steve Benson accused me of lying in public and participating in a cover-up, and the wire-service coverage of this episode has inaccurately portrayed me as deliberately making false statements in public.
"My perception of this matter is simple. I have been the victim of double-decker deceit: 1. betrayal of promises of confidentiality, and 2. false accusation of lying.
"My heart goes out to all who have suffered from this painful sequence of events." ("Oaks: 'I've Been A Victim of Double-Decker Deceit," Dallin Oaks, Salt Lake Tribune, 21 October 1993, sec. A, p. 19)
Faced with Oaks' full-court press aimed at damage control, I determined it was time to push back. Four days after Oaks' article appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune, my own commentary followed in the same newspaper, giving a somewhat different perspective on events:
"Mormons are admonished to be honest. Unfortunately, Apostle Dallin Oaks chooses to deny important truths relating to Elder Boyd K. Packer's involvement in the excommunication of Paul Toscano.
"On Sept. 9 I met with Elders Oaks and Maxwell. In a Sept. 10 letter, I promised them I would not speak on the record about the contents of that meeting. I have kept that pledge.
"On Sept. 24, we met again and confidentially discussed the Toscano excommunication. Confidentiality agreements are valid only when the parties involved remind truthful, whether publicly or privately. Oaks broke that ground rule, thereby releasing me from any obligation of silence in the Toscano cover up. All else on that date has remained confidential.
"In that meeting, I asked Oaks if Kerry Heinz, Toscano's stake president, had any contact with Boyd K. Packer prior to Toscano's excommunication.
"According to my notes taken during the meeting, Oaks admitted that Heinz 'called and asked for a meeting' with Packer. Oaks said he was 'distressed and astonished' that Packer agreed to the meeting. Referring to Packer, he said, 'You can't stage manage a grizzly bear.' He said that 'it was a mistake for Packer to meet with Heinz and a mistake for Heinz to ask for the meeting.'
"(One wonders why the conflict between Oaks' surprise over the Packer-Heinz meeting and Packer's public statement that the Twelve authorized that meeting.)
"Oaks said he later talked with Packer and told him he felt Packer had violated procedure by meeting with Heinz, noting that Packer had no authority or responsibility in this area. He said he strongly urged Packer to avoid future such meetings, adding the he expected Toscano 'to sue the church.'
"On Oct. 1 an Arizona Republic reporter asked Oaks if Packer was 'involved in any way' in the disciplining of Toscano.
"Oaks replied: '. . . If Elder Packer is having any conversation with Kerry Heinz, it s outside the normal channel . . . I have no knowledge of whether he did. But if he did, and if he gave a directed verdict . . . that is contrary to policy . . . and it's contrary to what I know of Elder Packer and the way he operates . . . So, that's all I know about that at this point.'
"Oaks' answer contained several clear-cut falsehoods which point to a larger pattern of deception.
"First, by couching the Packer-Heinz meeting hypothetically, he falsely implied personal ignorance of whether it occurred. Oaks left this on the record.
"Second, Oaks said he had no knowledge that Packer met with Heinz.
"Commendably, Oaks later retracted this statement.
"Third, Oaks claimed that if Packer met with Heinz, it ran contrary to Oaks' knowledge of how Packer operated. Oaks left this on the record.
"Finally, Oaks claimed he knew nothing more. He left this falsehood on the record.
"Upon hearing Oaks' attempted cover for Packer, I was dismayed and faxed Oaks a letter on Oct. 6, detailing what he told me on Sept. 24, juxtaposed against what he told the reporter on Oct. 1. I highlighted his false on-the-record statements, so that there could be no misunderstanding.
"I informed him that our confidentiality agreement was void and offered him 24 hours to set the record straight, advising him that if he did not, I would.
"It is critical to understand that Oaks did not initiate any corrections for the record. Only after receiving my Oct. 6 letter did he contact the reporter to issue a limited retraction.
"Initially, I was pleased to hear from the reporter that Oaks had corrected himself. On Oct. 7, I faxed him a second letter, thanking him for taking the opportunity to clarify his earlier statements.
"That thank-you note proved to be premature, because I was unaware at the time I wrote it that Oaks had not retracted all his falsehoods. Upon discovering that he had left most of them intact, I concluded he had been provided ample opportunity to set the record straight and had not.
"When Oaks chose to publicly dissemble, he violated my trust and that of the church at large. May his heart go out, not only in love, but in reconciliation, to those who have suffered from this abuse of ecclesiastical power."
("Benson Replies, Charges Oaks With Dissembling," Steve Benson, Salt Lake Tribune, 25 October 1993, sec. A, p. 5)
Oaks also took his "Battle of Wounded Me" to the Brigham Young University campus, where attention focused on keeping the hearts and minds of the rising generation in line.
The same day his defensive commentary ran in The Salt Lake Tribune, it also appeared up in the Church-owned campus newspaper, The Daily Universe. ("News reports distorted facts, Elder Oaks Says," Dallin Oaks, the Daily Universe, 25 October 1993, p. 3)
In the interest of equal time, I contacted the Universe and requested that my response to Oaks (the one also originally printed in The Salt Lake Tribune) also be published in the B.Y.U. student newspaper.
I was told by a Universe faculty adviser that Oaks' version of events had been published in the Universe at the direct request of the First Presidency.
He further informed me that the school paper was already having problems "up the road" with the Church. He said that if The Universe printed my reply, "the General Authorities might shut us down."
It was becoming clear that if Church members were going to get the truth on this messy affair, they couldn't depend on the Church for help.
I turned to an off-campus, supposedly independent student publication, Student Review, and spoke with its student editor, requesting that he publish a letter to the editor from me about the controversy. The editor replied that if the Review published my piece, it would be perceived as being a critic of the Church and "lose advertisers."
Still holding out hope, however, I faxed a cover letter, along with the letter to the editor, to Student Review, wishing for a change of heart. The cover letter read:
"October 29, 1993
TO: Brian Waterman
FROM: Steve Benson
RE: publishing the attached letter in Student Review
"Thanks for the opportunity to talk with you yesterday. I appreciated your explanation of the current situation with Student Review. I sincerely hope that arrangements can be made to publish my letter in your paper.
"It would be unfortunate if the letter is killed for fear that your publication would somehow be considered 'anti-church' or that it would be bad for business. Truth is ultimately our best defense and the best way of doing business. Shying away from forthrightly informing readers on matters of public importance only guarantees that wrongs will be perpetrated and, in the long run, serves only to hurt the church.
"I would not object to having Elder Oaks' version of the events printed alongside my letter. In fact, that format might provide the best opportunity for readers to determine for themselves the facts of the case.
"Thanks for your consideration.
The accompanying letter to the editor read, in part, as follows:
"On October 25, the Daily Universe, reportedly acting on a request from the office of the First Presidency, published an article by Elder Dallin Oaks, claiming recent news reports had falsely accused him of lying about Elder Boyd K. Packer's involvement in the excommunication of Paul Toscano and alleging that I had broken a confidence in making that charge.
"In the interest of fairness and accuracy, I requested that The Universe provide me an opportunity to reply. That request was denied.
"The reason given by Universe staff was that opinions contrary to that of Elder Oaks would not see print, because of expected opposition from Salt Lake. Fear was expressed that if the Universe published contrary to the wishes of the Brethren, it might be shut down.
"Given these unfortunate circumstances, I approached Student Review, hoping that fuller access to the facts would allow readers to make informed and intelligent judgments.
"Those facts are as follows [the letter then covered ground already noted above, with these additional observations]:
"On Oct. 1, Elder Oaks gave a carefully-worded, tape-recorded interview to The Arizona Republic, where he was asked if Elder Packer was 'involved in any way' in the disciplining of Paul Toscano.
"Elder Oaks now admits that one of his answers to the reporter was untrue but blames it on 'inadvertence' or 'forgetfulness.' He insists that other challenged statements he made 'required no correction.'
"These explanations are simply not persuasive. Four of his on-the-record answers are quoted below, paired with contrary facts he provided me in the Sept. 24 meeting, during which I took notes. Examined together, they point to a deliberate pattern of deception.
"First, by framing his answer in the hypothetical, Elder Oaks falsely implied that he did not know whether Elder Packer had talked with Paul Toscano's stake president, Kerry Heinz. He told the reporter, 'If Elder Packer is having any conversation with Kerry Heinz, it is outside the normal channel.'
"In truth, Elder Oaks acknowledged to me that they had met, saying President Heinz 'called and asked for a meeting' with Elder Packer.
"Second, Elder Oaks falsely claimed ignorance of whether Elder Packer conversed with President Heinz. He told the reporter, 'I have no knowledge of whether he did.'
"In reality, Elder Oaks did know the discussion took place--as evidenced by the fact that he later retracted this statement.
"Third, Elder Oaks misleadingly insisted that for Elder Packer to have had contact with President Heinz ran counter to Elder Oaks' personal knowledge of both Elder Packer and his approach. He told the reporter, 'If he did . . . it's contrary to what I know of Elder Packer and the way he operates.'
"In actuality, Elder Oaks knew how Elder Packer operated and did not like what he saw. Speaking of Elder Packer, he told me, 'You can't stage manage a grizzly bear.' He said he was 'distressed and astonished' that Elder Packer met with President Heinz, noting 'it was a mistake for Packer to meet with Heinz and a mistake for Heinz to ask for the meeting.'
"(Elder Oaks may want to explain the contradiction between his claim of being surprised by the Packer-Heinz meeting and Elder Packer's claim that the Twelve gave prior approval for that meeting).
"Elder Oaks also told me he later spoke directly with Elder Packer, advising him that Elder Packer's meeting with President Heinz violated disciplinary procedure and that Elder Packer had no authority or responsibility in this area. He said he strongly urged Elder Packer to avoid such meetings in the future and admitted he expected Paul Toscano 'to sue the church' (This also contradicts Elder Packer's claim of prior approval).
"Fourth, Elder Oaks summarized his knowledge of the Packer-Heinz-Toscano case by once again falsely pleading ignorance. He told the reporter, 'So, that's all I know about that at this point.'
"As he admitted earlier to me, he clearly knew more . . .
"In conclusion, while Elder Oaks portrays himself as an innocent victim in this regrettable affair, he has (1) admitted privately the facts concerning the Packer-Heinz-Toscano case, (2) falsified publicly about those facts, (3) retracted one of his untrue statements under threat of exposure and (4) refused to disclaim other statements of his that are demonstrably untrue.
"This dispute has been a painful one. It could, and should have been avoided if Elder Oaks had originally told the truth . . .
The letter was not published.
Finally, I turned to Provo's community newspaper, The Daily Herald, hoping for a sympathetic ear. To the credit of its editor (who happened to be Catholic), the paper published the letter to the editor that Student Review would not touch, along with the following "Editor's note":
"News stories earlier this month dealt with the resignation from the LDS Church of Arizona Republic political cartoonist Steve Benson. Benson is a grandson of LDS Church President Ezra Taft Benson.
"Following Benson's resignation from the LDS Church, he made charges that LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks was less than truthful in some statements made concerning Apostle Boyd K. Packer's involvement in the excommunication of Mormon dissenter Paul Toscano. There were several Associated Press wire stories detailing Benson's allegations and responses from Oaks.
"On Saturday, the Daily Herald printed, on the front page, the complete text of a letter from Oaks explaining his position and actions on the matters. On Sunday, Benson called this paper's managing editor at his home and requested the opportunity to respond to Oaks' letter. Benson's response follows."
("Benson responds to Oaks' letter," Steve Benson, The Daily Herald, 26 October 1993, sec. A, p. 1ff)
The above is an extensive account of events involving the Toscano-Packer-Heinz-Oaks affair. If only Oaks had told the truth, it would have been a lot shorter.
Mark Twain once observed, "Truth is the most valuable thing we have. Let us economize it."
Twain's words would be an appropriate replacement for the Mormon motto: "The glory of God is intelligence."
| Joseph Smith, Jupiter Talismans and the Occult Connection
"It is no secret that Smith was infatuated with occultic practices. Durham states, "All available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith the prophet possessed a magical Masonic medallion or talisman, which he worked during his lifetime and which was evidently on his person when he was martyred." Mr. Durham describes this as "perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like, esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith" ("No Help for the Widow's Son," 1980, pg. 22, in Bill McKeever, "Masonic Influence in the Endowment Ceremony," at http://www.mrm.org/topics/mormon-temp...).
"In 1974 Dr. Reed Durham, who was director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah and president of the Mormon History Association, made a discovery that was so startling that it caused great consternation among Mormon scholars and officials.
"Dr. Durham found that what had previously been identified as the 'Masonic jewel of the Prophet Joseph Smith' was in reality a 'Jupiter talisman.'
"This is a medallion which contains material relating to astrology and magic. Dr. Durham, apparently not realizing the devastating implications of his discovery, announced this important find in his presidential address before the Mormon History Association on April 20, 1974:
"'. . . I should like to initiate all of you into what is perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith. . . .
"'All available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith the Prophet possessed a magical Masonic medallion, or talisman, which he worked during his lifetime and which was evidently on his person when he was martyred. His talisman is in the shape of a silver dollar and is probably made of silver or tin.
"'It is exactly one and nine-sixteenths in diameter, . . . the talisman,. . . originally purchased from the Emma Smith Bidamon family, fully notarized by that family to be authentic and to have belonged to Joseph Smith, can now be identified as a Jupiter talisman.
"'It carries the sign and image of Jupiter and should more appropriately be referred to as the Table of Jupiter. And in some very real and quite mysterious sense, this particular Table of Jupiter was the most appropriate talisman for Joseph Smith to possess.
"'Indeed, it seemed meant for him, because on all levels of interpretation: planetary, mythological, numerological, astrological, mystical cabalism, and talismatic magic, the Prophet was, in every case, appropriately described.
"'The characters on the talisman are primarily in Hebrew, but there is one inscription in Latin. Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical equivalent and those numerical equivalents make up a magic square. By adding the numbers in this Jupiter Table in any direction . . . the total will be the same. In this case, on the Jupiter Table, 34. . . .
"'There is the one side of the talisman belonging to the Prophet Joseph Smith. You can see the Hebrew characters . . . you see on the margins, at the bottom is the Jupiter sign. . . . The cross at the top represents the spirit of Jupiter, and you will see the path of Jupiter in the orbit of the heavens, and then again the Jupiter sign.
"'I wasn't able to find what this was, for--as I said--two months; and finally, in a magic book printed in England in 1801, published in America in 1804, and I traced it to Manchester, and to New York.
"'It was a magic book by Francis Barrett and, lo and behold, how thrilled I was when I saw in his list of magic seals the very talisman which Joseph Smith had in his possession at the time of his martyrdom. . . .
"'To the Egyptians, Jupiter was known as Ammon, but to the Greeks he was Zeus: the ancient sky Father, or Father of the Gods. . . .
"'In astrology, Jupiter is always associated with high positions, getting one's own way, and all forms of status. And I quote: "Typically a person born under Jupiter will have the dignity of a natural ruler. . . . He will probably have an impressive manner. . . . In physical appearance, the highly developed Jupiterian is strong, personable, and often handsome. . . . the Jupiterian influence produces a cheerful winning personality, capable of great development." . . .
"So closely is magic bound up with the stars and astrology that the term astrologer and magician were in ancient times almost synonymous. The purpose of the Table of Jupiter in talismanic magic was to be able to call upon the celestial intelligences, assigned to the particular talisman, to assist one in all endeavors. The names of the deities which we gave to you, who could be invoked by the Table were always written on the talisman or represented by various numbers. Three such names were written on Joseph Smith's talisman: Abbah, Father; El Ob, Father is God or God the Father; and Josiphiel, Jehovah speaks for God, the Intelligence of Jupiter.
"'When properly invoked, with Jupiter being very powerful and ruling in the heavens, these intelligences–by the power of ancient magic–guaranteed to the possessor of this talisman the gain of riches, and favor, and power, and love and peace; and to confirm honors, and dignities, and councils.
"'Talismatic magic further declared that any one who worked skillfully with this Jupiter Table would obtain the power of stimulating anyone to offer his love to the possessor of the talisman, whether from a friend, brother, relative, or even any female ("Mormon Miscellaneous," published by David C. Martin, vol. 1, no. 1, October 1975, pp.14-15).'
"Reed Durham was severely criticized by Mormon scholars and officials for giving this speech. He was even called in by Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball, and finally found it necessary to issue a letter in which he reaffirmed his faith in Joseph Smith and said that he was sorry for the 'concerns, and misunderstandings' that the speech had caused.
"We feel that Dr. Durham's identification of Joseph Smith's talisman is one of the most significant discoveries in Mormon history and that he should be commended for his research.
"That Joseph Smith would own such a magic talisman fits very well with the evidence from his 1826 trial. W. D. Purple, who was an eye-witness to the trial, claimed it was reported that Smith said certain talismanic influences were needed to recover a box of treasure:
"'Mr. Thompson, an employee of Mr. Stowell, was the next witness. . . . Smith had told the Deacon that very many years before a band of robbers had buried on his flat a box of treasure, and as it was very valuable they had by a sacrifice placed a charm over it to protect it, so that it could not be obtained except by faith, accompanied by certain talismanic influences. . . . the box of treasure was struck by the shovel, on which they redoubled their energies, but it gradually receded from their grasp. One of the men placed his hand upon the box, but it gradually sunk from his reach. . . . Mr. Stowell went to his flock and selected a fine vigorous lamb, and resolved to sacrifice it to the demon spirit who guarded the coveted treasure ... but the treasure still receded from their grasp, and it was never obtained ("The Chenango Union," Norwich, N.Y., May 3, 1877, as cited in "A New Witness For Christ In America," vol. 2, pp.366-67).'
"Dr. Durham was unable to determine just when Joseph Smith obtained his talisman, but the fact that he was recommending 'certain talismanic influences' around the time of the 1826 trial is certainly interesting.
"The Jupiter talisman is probably the type of talisman a money digger would be interested in because it was supposed to bring its possessor 'the gain of riches, and favor, and power.'
"Regardless of when Joseph Smith obtained his talisman, we do know that he possessed it up to the time of his death.
"He must have felt that it was very important because the Mormon scholar LaMar C. Berrett reveals that 'This piece was in Joseph Smith's pocket when he was martyred at Carthage Jail' ("The Wilford C. Wood Collection," 1972, vol. 1, p.173).
"Wesley P. Walters says that 'Charles E. Bidamon, who sold the talisman to the Wood collection, stated in his accompanying affidavit: "Emma Smith Bidamon the prophet's widow was my foster mother. She prized this piece very highly on account of its being one of the prophet's intimate possessions' (Charles E. Bidamon Affidavit. Wood Coll. #7-J-b-21)."
(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Joseph Smith and Money-digging," Chapter 4, in "The Changing World of Mormonism," at http://www.utlm.org/onlinebooks/chang...)
"Before the medallion was properly identified, it was known as the 'Masonic Jewel of the Prophet Joseph Smith.' In the shape of a silver dollar, the piece measures exactly 1-9/16 inches in diameter and is probably made of silver or tin (see photo). A copy of the Jupiter talisman can be seen in Francis Barrett's occultic book "The Magus," p. 174. . . .
"Apparently, nobody really knew what Joseph Smith's 'Masonic Jewel' was before April 20, 1974. It was on that day that Dr. Reed Durham presented his discovery in his address before the Mormon History Association.
"As President of the Association and Director of the LDS Institute of Religion at the University of Utah, Dr. Durham probably had their full attention when he spoke:
"'. . . I should like to initiate all of you into what is perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith. . . . All available evidence suggests that Joseph Smith the Prophet possessed a magical Masonic medallion, or talisman, which he worked during his lifetime and which was evidently on his person when he was martyred.'
"After describing the medallion, Dr. Durham then added, "\'. . . [the talisman] originally purchased from the Emma Smith Bidamon family, fully notarized by that family to be authentic and to have belonged to Joseph Smith, can now be identified as a Jupiter talisman. It carries the sign and image of Jupiter and should more appropriately be referred to as the Table of Jupiter.'
"Dr. Durham was correct. The table, also called the Kamea, can be depicted in either English numbers (as shown in the talisman found in The Magus) or in Hebrew (as used by Smith). According to Barrett, the table '. . . consists of a square drawn into itself; it contains sixteen particular numbers, and in every line and diameter four, making thirty-four; the sum of all is one hundred and thirty-six. There are over it divine names, with an intelligence to that which is good, and a spirit to bad; and out of it is drawn the character of Jupiter and the spirits thereof; if this is engraven on a plate of silver, with Jupiter being powerful and ruling in the heavens, it conduces to gain riches and favor, love, peace and concord, and to appease enemies, and to confirm honors, dignities, and counsels.'
"Mormon History Association President Durham admitted, '. . . in some very real and quite mysterious sense, this particular Table of Jupiter was the most appropriate talisman for Joseph Smith to possess. Indeed, it seemed meant for him, because on all levels of interpretation: planetary, mythological, numerological, astrological, mystical cabalism, and talismatic magic, the Prophet was, in every case, appropriately described. . . . In astrology, Jupiter is always associated with high positions, getting one's own way, and all forms of status . . . Talismatic magic further declared that anyone who worked skillfully with the Jupiter Table would obtain the power of stimulating anyone to offer his love to the possessor of the talisman, whether from a friend, brother, relative, or even any female.'
"Dr. Durham did not determine just when Smith obtained his talisman, but states that its description was discovered ". . . in a magic book printed in England in 1801, published in America in 1804, and I traced it to Manchester, and to New York [where Joseph Smith grew up]. It was a magic book by Francis Barrett and, lo and behold, how thrilled I was when I saw in his list of magic seal the very talisman which Joseph Smith had in his possession at the time of his martyrdom.'
"The fact that the talisman was on Joseph's person at the time of his death has been absolutely established. Mormon scholar LaMar C. Berrett tells us, 'This piece was in Joseph Smith's pocket when he was martyred at Carthage jail.'
"According to the Charles E. Bidamon affidavit (who sold the talisman to the Wood collection), 'Emma Smith Bidamon the prophet's widow was my foster mother. She prized this piece very highly on account of its being one of the prophet's intimate possessions. . . . I certify that I have many times heard her say. when being interviewed. and showing the piece. That it was in the prophets pocket when he was martyred at Carthage Ill.'
"Even though Dr. Durham was a very influential Mormon Historian, his honesty regarding the truth behind Joseph Smith's magic talisman must be applauded. It caused him a great deal of difficulty with the Mormon hierarchy, however. . . . " (Larry Hall, "Joseph Smith's Magick Talisman," at http://www.luciferlink.org/mmagick.ht...)
"Dr. Reed Durham, former president of the Mormon History Association, and Professor of Religion at the University of Utah, in a 1974 lecture revealed that at the time of his death Joseph Smith was wearing what was formerly thought to have been a 'Masonic jewel' was actually a 'Jupiter talisman.'
"This proves that Joseph Smith was engaged in occult practices until the end of his life in 1844.
"A talisman is an object engraved with astrological signs believed to have possessed power to avert evil and bring good luck. Such pieces are clearly identified with occult magic. This lecture, although true, brought the wrath of then President Spencer W. Kimbell down upon Dr. Durham. The talisman is currently kept in the LDS Archives." (Allen Harrod, "Who Was Joseph Smith," at http://www.watchman.org/lds/whoisjose...
"Mormon author D. Michael Quinn writes that Joseph Smith had at the time of his death, '. . . a silver Jupiter medallion constructed according to the instructions for making "Magic Seals, or Talismans," in Barrett's 1801 'The Magus' (Quinn, 'Early Mormonism and the Magic World View,' p.66)." (James Walker, "Enemies of the Cross," at http://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/t...)
| "Destructive Cults Also Use Deception To Recruit New Members." And Other Excellent Quotes Applicable To Mormonism From U.s. Cult Expert, Steven Hassan |
Monday, Mar 19, 2007, at 08:59 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| From Hassan’s book, “Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves”:
“…the [U.S.] Constitution does not give people or institutions the right to engage in behavior that violates other people’s rights or the laws of the land, even if they claim religious motivation.” (p. xx)
“…if the effect of their actions [those of leaders of a cultic group] is to make the person dependent and subservient, then I believe it is hurtful and people’s rights are being violated.” (p. xx)
“In order to safeguard our personal and collective freedom, it is imperative that people learn more about how the mind can be positively and negatively influenced. People must learn to know themselves and take responsibility for their own beliefs, values and behavior.” (p. xxiii)
“…destructive cults are distinguished by their use of deception and mind control techniques to undermine a person’s free will and make him dependent…” (p. 3)
“In essence, a destructive cult is an authoritarian group that is headed by a person or group of people that has near-complete control.” (p. 4)
“…cult leaders often make extreme claims of divine or “otherworldly” power to exercise influence over their members.” (p. 4)
“A group becomes destructive when its leader [leadership] actively uses such power to deceive members and to rob them of their individuality and free will.” (p. 4)
“Destructive cults also use deception to recruit new members.” (p. 4)
“What make this all so insidious is that members often speak and act with the greatest sincerity because they have been subjected to the same mind control techniques that they use to recruit others.” (p. 4)
“Finally, destructive cults use mind control techniques to keep members dependent and obedient.” (p. 5)
“…cult mind control can be understood as a system of influence that is designed to disrupt a person’s authentic identity and replace it with a new identity.” (p. 5)
“By immersing people in a tightly controlled, high-pressure social environment, destructive cults gain control of their members’ behavior, thoughts, emotions, and access to information. They take over their minds.” (p. 5)
“What ties these [cultic] groups together is their focus on religious dogma and spiritual practices. In many Bible-oriented groups (Jewish, Christian, Muslim), leaders claim to be a Messiah, Prophet, or Apostle. In some, an elite group of several people, the “governing body,” claim to know the real meaning of Scripture.” (p. 5)
“Unethical therapists can become the leaders of cults when they make their patients dependent on them, rather than empowering them to become functional and independent.” (p. 7)
“…relationships that are based on manipulation, deception, dependency and isolation can be very destructive.” (p. 13)
‘You know, a cult member is like an actor who has been given a role. But unlike actors, cult members actually come to believe the “role” is reality.”’ (p. 16)
“Everyone is vulnerable to cult mind control.” (p. 17)
“The leaders of destructive cults don’t treat everyone the same way.” (p. 17)
“…the group will extract as much money as they can…” (p. 17)
“Cults want people to be isolated and dependent.” (p. 19)
From Matthew, who was born into a cult: “I wanted the freedom to learn and read without threats and punishment.” (p. 19)
Characteristics of a Mind Control Environment:
“The demand for purity: Establishing impossible standards for performance, thereby creating an environment of guilt and shame. No matter how hard a person tries, he always falls short, feels badly, and works even harder.” (p. 34)
- Threatening prophecies, secret meetings (pp. 14, 15)
- Exclusivity, deception, manipulation, dependency (p. 26)
- Spending more and more time with the group (p. 26)
- Psychological blackmail, the group will extract as much money as it can (p. 27)
- Members are psychologically conditioned by the group to believe that they must be hyper-vigilant about their thoughts, emotions, and behavior (p. 27)
- The demand for purity, doctrine over person, loading the language (p. 33)
- Group pressure, obedience to authority (p. 35)
- Controlling a person’s spiritual life (p. 38)
- Gaining control over a person’s time, including their thinking time (p. 39)
- Creating fear in members, while providing models that demonstrate “correct” behavior (p. 39)
- Creating a tightly controlled system with a closed system of logic, wherein those who dissent are made to feel as though their questioning indicates that there is something inherently wrong with them. (p. 39)
- Major time commitment required for indoctrination sessions and group rituals (p. 42)
- Individualism discouraged; “group think” prevails, rigid rules and regulations (p. 42)
- Need for obedience and dependency (p. 43)
- Rejection of rational analysis, critical thinking (p. 44)
- Members of the cultic group cannot visualize a positive, fulfilled future without being in the group (p. 45)
- Members are indoctrinated to believe that there is no happiness or fulfillment outside of the group and those who do will experience terrible consequences (p. 45)
- There is never a legitimate reason to leave the cult; from the group’s perspective, those who do are “weak”, “unspiritual”, “worldly”, etc. (p. 45)
- People who leave the cultic group are shunned (p. 45)
“Doctrine over person: The imposition of group beliefs over individual experience, conscience, and integrity.” (p. 34)
“Loading the language: The use of vocabulary to constrict members’ thinking into absolute, black-and-white, “thought-terminating clichés” understood only by insiders.” (p. 34)
Social influence processes (p. 35): “In the 1930s, an early social psychologist named Kurt Lewin explained about his “field theory,” which described how behavior is related to both a person’s personality and his environment:”
A quote from Lewin in Hassan's book: “Each person, in this view, is surrounded by a “life space” or dynamic field of forces within which his or her needs and purposes interact with the influences of the environment. Social behavior can be schematized in terms of the tension and interplay of these forces and of the individual’s tendency to maintain equilibrium among them or to restore equilibrium when it has been disturbed.”
“Lewin was also interested in how a person’s attitudes are changed by his being a member of a group that reaches a collective decision, and how such a person will tend to hold fast to that decision while ignoring later information that conflicts with it.” (p. 35)
“It is human nature to adapt to what is perceived to be “correct” behavior.” (p. 37)
“If mind control techniques are used to empower an individual to have more choice, and authority for his life remains within himself, the effects can be beneficial. Mind control becomes destructive when it is used to undermine a person’s ability to think and act independently.” (p. 38)
“…mind control seeks nothing less than to disrupt an individual’s authentic identity…” (p. 38)
“Cult mind control is a social process that encourages obedience, dependence, and conformity. It discourages autonomy and individuality by immersing recruits in an environment that represses free choice. The group’s dogma becomes the person’s only concern. Anything or anyone that does not fit into his reshaped reality is irrelevant.” (p. 38)
“The key to mind control’s success lies in its subtlety, the way it promotes the “illusion of control.” The individual believes he is “making his own choices,” when in fact he has been socially influenced to disconnect his own critical mind and decision-making capacity. In other words, he believes that he has freely chosen to surrender his free will to God or to a leader or ideology. When one steps back and objectively evaluates the vast amount of social influence used to get him to “surrender”, the degree of manipulation becomes very obvious.” (p. 40)
Cognitive dissonance: “If you change a person’s behavior, his thoughts and feelings will change to minimize the dissonance.” “…”dissonance” is the psychological tension that arises when a person’s behavior conflicts with his beliefs.” (p. 40)
“When you control the information that a person is allowed to receive, you limit his capacity for independent thought.” (p. 42)
The four main components of cult mind control “promotes dependency and obedience to some leader or cause.” (p. 46)
“Mind-controlled cult members can live in their own apartments, have nine-to-five jobs, be married with children, and still be unable to think for themselves and act independently.” (p. 46)
“Cults often impose an oppressive time schedule on their members’ lives in order to control behavior. When members are not engaged in cult rituals and indoctrination activities, they are typically assigned specific goals that restrict their free time and behavior–anything to keep them busy. In a destructive cult, there is always work to be done.” (p. 46)
Cult members are “bound together by group rituals, which may include mannerisms such as speech, posture, or facial expression.” (p. 47)
“The pyramid-shaped structure of cults allows leaders to enforce a strict system of rewards and punishments…” (p. 47)
Information control (p. 43):
- Use of deception (deliberately holding back information, distorting information to make it more “acceptable”, outright lying)
- Access to non-cult sources of information minimized or discouraged
- Compartmentalization of information (outsider vs. insider doctrines)
- Extensive use of cult-generated information and propaganda (magazines, newsletters, videos, audio tapes, and other media; misquotations, statements taken out of context from non-cult sources)
- Chanting and other techniques are used to stop members’ doubts about the cultic group and/or the doctrine (p. 51)
“The human mind cannot function properly without information. By controlling the flow of information and people’s ability to process it, cults prevent them from making sound judgments about their own lives or the group’s actions.” (p. 48)
“Information control begins during recruitment, when cults withhold or distort information to draw people in. People don’t join cults–cults recruit people.” (p. 48)
Cults “don’t tell people up front who they are, what they believe, and what they want from them.” (p. 49)
‘By compartmentalizing information, cults keep members from seeing the big picture. People are given only the information they are deemed “ready for”’ (p. 49)
“Cult ideologies allow for many levels of “truth,” including “outsider” and “insider” doctrines. The more moderate outsider material, which contains diluted versions of the group’s beliefs, is given to the general public and new converts. Recruits who ask questions are often told that they are not yet mature enough to know the whole truth. Insider doctrines are reserved for people who have already been thoroughly indoctrinated. In this way, assessments of cult doctrines are delayed until the recruit’s ability to make them objectively is impaired.” (p. 49)
“A common form of information control involves blocking out any critical or negative points of view. Some cults simply forbid members to have access to any non-cult material – such as newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and the Internet – while others have more subtle ways of controlling information.” (p. 49)
“Looking at a group’s attitude toward information is the fastest way to evaluate whether it is using destructive mind control. A legitimate organization will allow people the freedom to think for themselves, read whatever they like, and talk to whomever they choose in order to arrive at their own decisions, whereas a destructive mind control group will want to do the thinking for people.” (p. 49)
“In a mind control cult, the group’s doctrine is seen as absolute “Truth” and the only answer to people’s problems. Cult doctrine teaches its members to think: “We are the way! We are the truth! You who are not in the group are lost. We know, and you do not know.” It preaches black-and-white thinking, dividing the world into simplistic dichotomies–good versus evil, us versus them. The cult doctrine is reality. Believers have a hard time approaching the doctrine as a mere map or set of guidelines that are open to interpretation as well as alternatives.” (p. 50)
“Many cults have their own “loaded language” or coded symbols and expressions, including buzz words, clichés, and trite platitudes that are used to shut down the thought process.” (p. 50)
“In the majority of destructive cults, most of the techniques members learn are not taught directly or consciously, but rather through the process of behavioral modeling. They learn by watching older members, listening to the leader[s], and modeling themselves after their behavior. Eventually, they unconsciously pick up some of the leaders’ behaviors, including speech patterns and gesticulations.” (p. 50)
“Cult members are taught that the leader[ship] is always correct, and are not allowed to doubt or question him…Thoughts that go along with the leader[ship] are good…Any negative feelings are always blamed on the individual. Any disillusionment means the member is doing something wrong: “You are not really committing yourself to God,”…No room is left to say, “Maybe the leader[ship] is wrong,”…Consequently, the member’s ability to reality-test is suppressed.” (p. 51)
“Nobody sets out to join a group with the intention of being deceived and manipulated.” (p. 52)
Cultic groups employ “Fear! Lots and lots of fear! Although the group’s message starts out with love and idealism, once a person gets indoctrinated into the inner levels, his world becomes one of fear–fear that the planet will explode, fear of nuclear holocaust, fear that he will lose his spiritual connection, fear that he will be possessed by the devil. Cults instill fear to bind members to the group…” (p. 53)
“A phobia is an irrational fear reaction to someone or something…Phobias often immobilize people and keep them from doing the things they truly want to do. Indeed, phobias can rob people of free choice, and in mind control cults, phobias are methodically implanted to keep members from feeling they can leave the group and be happy.” (p. 53)
When assessing “spiritual” groups, “…what matters the most is the overall impact [of cult indoctrination] on a particular individual, on his free will and ability to think independently.” (p. 54)
“In a benevolent group, influence processes are positive and ethical and the locus of control remains within the individual. Influence is used only to promote independent thinking and decision-making, self-awareness, and self-control. Individuality, creativity, and free will are respected and promoted. People recognize and understand the influences around them. Access to diverse information sources is encouraged.” (p. 55)
“In a destructive cult, the locus of control shifts to the group or its leader[ship]. The new recruit abdicates his ability to make decisions. A pseudo-identity is created which suppresses the authentic self and surrenders control. Individuality is submerged, and free will subverted. People are kept in the dark, and the very processes that influence them are made to seem mystical or spiritual.” (p. 55)
“Cult mind control dissociates a person form his authentic identity, and makes his new cult identity dependent on the group. From a mental health perspective, cult mind control splits elements of an individual’s psyche into another distinct personality. The cult members actually comes to exhibit symptoms of a “dissociative disorder”, as defined in the diagnostic manual for the American Psychiatric Association (300.15) the DSM-IV.” (pp. 55, 56)
“When you are talking to someone in a mind control cult, it is especially difficult to talk on a rational level.” (p. 56)
“Everyone has an authentic self. Although a healthy individual will grow and mature over time, his personality type should never change. Changes in personality type often indicate unhealthy social pressure that forces a person to act as if he were someone else.” (p. 60)
“Even people who are born into cults have an authentic self that was suppressed at birth. It is the strength of the authentic self that makes it possible to rescue people from cults years, even decades, after becoming involved in the group.” (p. 60)
| Stop The Presses!: What Grandpa Ezra Taft Benson Told Me About His Personal, Sacred, Revelatory Experiences |
Monday, Mar 26, 2007, at 08:05 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 -Link To MC Article-
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| "Did Grandpa ever tell you about having a 'perfect knowledge' of Jesus?"
"You know, the thing so many GAs asserted they had--they'd seen Jesus in the temple, etc."
"Did he ever say anything like that to you?"
My grandfather didn't say much of anything of that sort, even when I directly asked him.
I inquired of him face-to-face in his apartment one day, for instance, what is what like to be in the Salt Lake temple with President Spencer W. Kimball on 1 June 1978 when Kimball told the Quorum that the policy on Blacks and the priesthood was being changed.
My grandfather replied to me, with quivering voice and moist eyes, that it was one of the most spiritual experiences of his life--and that he could not talk about it.
Interestingly enough, however, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie--who was also present in the temple with my grandfather when Kimball announced the change--went on long and loud about what actually happened that my grandfather wouldn't talk about.
McConkie revealed that there were no appearances of divine beings announcing the momentous news but, rather, the notice of the Mormon Church's reversal on the issue of Blacks and the priesthood came via a simple witness of the Holy Ghost to the hearts of members of the Quorum who were in the temple that day to receive the word from on High.
McConkie described to assembled BYU students what actually took place on that oh-so special day behind the silent walls of the Lord's Holy of Holies:
" . . . [O]n the first day of June in this year, 1978, the First Presidency and the Twelve, after full discussion of the proposition and all the premises and principles that are involved, importuned the Lord for a revelation.
"President Kimball was mouth, and he prayed with great faith and great fervor; this was one of those occasions when an inspired prayer was offered. You know the Doctrine and Covenants statement, that if we pray by the power of the Spirit we will receive answers to our prayers and it will be given us what we shall ask (see DandC 50:30).
"It was given President Kimball what he should ask.
"He prayed by the power of the Spirit, and there was perfect unity, total and complete harmony, between the Presidency and the Twelve on the issue involved.
"And when President Kimball finished his prayer, the Lord gave a revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost.
"Revelation primarily comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. Always that member of the Godhead is involved. But most revelations, from the beginning to now, have come in that way.
"There have been revelations given in various ways on other occasions.
"The Father and the Son appeared in the Sacred Grove. Moroni, an angel from heaven, came relative to instructing the Prophet in the affairs that were destined to occur in this dispensation. There have been visions, notably the vision of the degrees of glory. There may be an infinite number of ways that God can ordain that revelations come.
"But, primarily, revelation comes by the power of the Holy Ghost. The principle is set forth in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 68, that whatever the elders of the Church speak, when moved upon by the power of the Holy Ghost, shall be scripture, shall be the mind and will and voice of the Lord.
"On this occasion, because of the importuning and the faith, and because the hour and the time had arrived, the Lord in his providences poured out the Holy Ghost upon the First Presidency and the Twelve in a miraculous and marvelous manner, beyond anything that any then present had ever experienced.
"The revelation came to the president of the Church; it also came to each individual present. There were ten members of the Council of the Twelve and three of the First Presidency there assembled.
"The result was that President Kimball knew, and each one of us knew, independent of any other person, by direct and personal revelation to us, that the time had now come to extend the gospel and all its blessings and all its obligations, including the priesthood and the blessings of the house of the Lord, to those of every nation, culture, and race, including the black race.
"There was no question whatsoever as to what happened or as to the word and message that came.
"The revelation came to the president of the Church and, in harmony with Church government, was announced by him; the announcement was made eight days later over the signature of the First Presidency.
"But in this instance, in addition to the revelation coming to the man who would announce it to the Church and to the world, and who was sustained as the mouthpiece of God on earth, the revelation came to every member of the body that I have named. They all knew it in the temple.
"In my judgment this was done by the Lord in this way because it was a revelation of such tremendous significance and import; one which would reverse the whole direction of the Church, procedurally and administratively; one which would affect the living and the dead; one which would affect the total relationship that we have with the world; one, I say, of such significance that the Lord wanted independent witnesses who could bear record that the thing had happened.
"Now if President Kimball had received the revelation and had asked for a sustaining vote, obviously he would have received it and the revelation would have been announced.
"But the Lord chose this other course, in my judgment, because of the tremendous import and the eternal significance of what was being revealed.
"This affects our missionary work and all of our preaching to the world. This affects our genealogical research and all of our temple ordinances. This affects what is going on in the spirit world, because the gospel is preached in the spirit world preparatory to men’s receiving the vicarious ordinances which make them heirs to salvation and exaltation.
"This is a revelation of tremendous significance.
"The vision of the degrees of glory begins by saying, 'Hear, O ye heavens, and give ear, O earth' (DandC 76:1). In other words, in that revelation the Lord was announcing truth to heaven and to earth because those principles of salvation operate on both sides of the veil; and salvation is administered to an extent here to men, and it is administered to another extent in the spirit world.
"We correlate and combine our activities and do certain things for the salvation of men while we are in mortality, and then certain things are done for the salvation of men while they are in the spirit world awaiting the day of the Resurrection.
"Well, once again a revelation was given that affects this sphere of activity and the sphere that is to come. And so it had tremendous significance; the eternal import was such that it came in the way it did.
"The Lord could have sent messengers from the other side to deliver it, but he did not.
"He gave the revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost. Latter-day Saints have a complex: many of them desire to magnify and build upon what has occurred, and they delight to think of miraculous things.
"And maybe some of them would like to believe that the Lord himself was there, or that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to deliver the revelation (see 'Time,' 7 August 1978, p. 55), which was one of the possibilities.
"Well, these things did not happen.
"The stories that go around to the contrary are not factual or realistic or true, and you as teachers in the Church Educational System will be in a position to explain and to tell your students that this thing came by the power of the Holy Ghost, and that all the Brethren involved, the thirteen who were present, are independent personal witnesses of the truth and divinity of what occurred.
"There is no way to describe in language what is involved. This cannot be done. You are familiar with Book of Mormon references where the account says that no tongue could tell and no pen could write what was involved in the experience and that it had to be felt by the power of the Spirit.
"This was one of those occasions.
"To carnal people who do not understand the operating of the Holy Spirit of God upon the souls of man, this may sound like gibberish or jargon or uncertainty or ambiguity; but to those who are enlightened by the power of the Spirit and who have themselves felt its power, it will have a ring of veracity and truth, and they will know of its verity.
"I cannot describe in words what happened; I can only say that it happened and that it can be known and understood only by the feeling that can come into the heart of man. You cannot describe a testimony to someone.
"No one can really know what a testimony is--the feeling and the joy and the rejoicing and the happiness that comes into the heart of man when he gets one--except another person who has received a testimony. Some things can be known only by revelation, 'The things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God' (1 Corinthians 2:11).
"This is a brief explanation of what was involved in this new revelation.
"I think I can add that it is one of the signs of the times. It is something that had to occur before the Second Coming. It was something that was mandatory and imperative in order to enable us to fulfill all of the revelations that are involved, in order to spread the gospel in the way that the scriptures say it must spread before the Lord comes, in order for all of the blessings to come to all of the people, according to the promises.
"It is one of the signs of the times. This revelation which came on the first day of June was reaffirmed by the spirit of inspiration one week later on June 8, when the Brethren approved the document that was to be announced to the world.
"And then it was reaffirmed the next day, on Friday, June 9, with all of the General Authorities present in the temple, that is, all who were available. All received the assurance and witness and confirmation by the power of the Spirit that what had occurred was the mind, the will, the intent, and the purpose of the Lord."
So, as sacred as my grandfather said the experience was (so sacred, in fact, that he could not talk about it), fellow apostle Bruce R. McConkie did blab it all over creation.
The second instance where my grandfather addressed the matter of his sacred personal revelations from God was at a Benson family reunion held in Nauvoo, Illinois, in the late 1970s.
To the assembled Benson clan, my grandfather solemnly announced that he knew things he could not tell us.
Elder McConkie, unfortunately, was not there on that occasion to tell us what those things were.
| The greatest damage wreaked by the Mormon Church is in my opinion, the cult-ivation of a frantic, obligatory impulse among faithful Mormons (driven by relentless indoctrination, pressure and expectation from the top down through all ranks of LDS authoritarian ranks) to place a great--and inordinate amount--of importance on external affirmation/validation of one's goodness (i.e., on approval from Church authorities and LDS peer groups), rather than relying ultimately on one's own sense of self, inner-recognized and -accepted identity, individually-defined worth and personal moral compass.
This is where I think the Mormon Church does its most devastating damage--by undermining, minimizing, disrespecting and destroying one's sense of individual uniqueness and--attendant to that uniqueness--the power and right of personal choice-making in life.
In that sense alone, Mormonism is a horrifically destructive cult.
| Lorenzo Saunders was a native of Palymra, New York--a contemporary of Joseph Smith who knew Smith well.
Indeed, well enough to be less than impressed.
Saunders was a key, first-hand witness to early Mormon-forming events involving Joseph Smith which have served to fundamentally undermine claims regarding Smith's alleged personal integrity, Smith's supposed ability to prophesy and Smith's purported discovery and translation of the Book of Mormon.
Lorenzo Saunders on Joseph Smith's Character
In Saunders' first-hand accounts of his personal acquaintance with Joseph Smith, he described the Smith family as being "shiftless and . . . in the money digging business."
Lorenzo Saunders on Joseph Smith's Ability to Prophesy
Saunders noted that when he asked Smith if "he could not look into futurity," Smith admitted that "he could not look into any holy thing."
Lorenzo Saunders on Joseph Smith's Collusion with Sidney Rigdon in Producing the Book of Mormon
Saunders asserted that Sidney Rigdon was seen in Joseph Smith's Palymra neighborhood at least 18 months before the Book of Mormon was published.
Moreover, Saunders claimed, Rigdon was spotted in the company of Smith during this time, leading many to conclude that Rigdon was in the area helping Smith write the Book of Mormon.
Saunders also declared that he had personally met Rigdon in March of 1827, three years before Rigdon began "preaching the Mormon Bible" in the Palymra area.
Saunders reported subsequently seeing Rigdon again in December of the same year, as well as in summers of 1828 and 1830.
Lorenzo Saunders on the Supposed Discovery and Actual Writing of the Book of Mormon
In an affidavit, dated 21 July 1887, sworn and sealed before Justice of the Peace Linus S. Parmalee of Reading, Michigan, Saunders testified as follows:
"I lived in . . . [the] town of Palmyra until I was 43 years of age. . . .
"I lived within one mile of Joseph Smith at the time said Joseph Smith claimed that he found the 'tablets' on which the 'Book of Mormon' was revealed. . . .
"I went to the 'Hill Cumorah' on the Sunday following the date that Joseph Smith claimed he found the plates, it being three miles from my home, and I tried to find the place where the earth had been broken by being dug up, but was unable to find any place where the ground had been broken."
" . . .[I]n March of 1827, on or about the 15th of said month, I went to the house of Joseph Smith for the purpose of getting some maple sugar to eat . . .
"[W]hen I arrived at the house of said Joseph Smith, I was met at the door by Harrison Smith, Joe's brother. . . .
"[A]t a distance of 10 or 12 rods from the house there were five men that were engaged in talking, four of whom I knew, the fifth one was better dressed than the rest of those whom I was acquainted with.
"I inquired of Harrison Smith, who the stranger was. He informed me his name was Sidney Rigdon with whom I afterwards became acquainted and found to be Sidney Rigdon. . . .
"I was frequently at the house of Joseph Smith from 1827 to 1830. . . .
"I saw Oliver Cowdery writing, I suppose the 'Book of Mormon' with books and mansucripts laying on the table before him . . .
"[I]n the summer of 1830, I heard Sidney Rigdon preach a sermon on Mormonism. This was after the 'Book of Mormon' had been published, which took about three years from the time that Joseph Smith claimed to have had his revelation."
(Sources: Rodger I. Anderson, "Joseph Smith's New York Reputation Re-Examined" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1990); and Wayne L. Cowdery, Howard A. Davis and Arthur Vanick, "Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon?: The Spalding Enigma" [St. Louis, Missouri: Concordia Publishing House, 2005])
| It depends on if the lightbulb is doctrinal.
If it is, it changes constantly on its own.
| In a previous thread, convincing evidence has been presented to effectively explode the "handcart myth."
Since we all just love being the skunk at the Mormon progaganda party, let us continue pushing and pulling deceived Latter-day Quaints, kicking and screaming, into a reality check as to what their self-proclaimed "handcart miracle" was really all about.
As Far as Pushing Its "Glorious" Handcart Myth, the Mormon Church Can Shove It
In the four years between 1856 and 1860, Brigham Young pushed an experimental scheme using human guinea pigs in a relentless effort to funnel thousands of new Church members to Salt Lake City, designed to people Young's vision of a theocratic kingdom over which he would ruthlessly rule.
Mormonism's marionette-like "historians” in the employ of LDS Inc. have (as they so often do) gone to great lengths in their propagandistic zeal to spin the Great Handcart Debacle as a well-intended and, ultimately, glorious undertaking. It was, indeed--at least for the undertakers.
Below are some of the faith-promoting, fact-ignoring rewrites designed to deceive the mindlessly-believing Mormon flock, as well as the unsuspecting public at large.
A "Most Remarkable" Endeavor
Moroni's pushers of the LDS pioneer charade parade have an unabashedly bad habit of engaging in undeserved horn blowing, as demonstrated by William G. Hartley's off-key performance for the "Utah History Encyclopedia":
"By the mid-1850s LDS Church leaders needed less expensive ways to move poor immigrants to Utah. The Perpetual Emigrating Fund that loaned to the needy was depleted, and costs for wagons and ox-teams were high. Therefore, Brigham Young announced on 29 October 1855 a handcart system by which the Church would provide carts to be pulled by hand across the Mormon Trail. As a result, between 1856 and 1860 nearly 3,000 Latter-day Saint emigrants joined ten handcart companies--about 650 handcarts total--and walked to Utah from Iowa City, Iowa, (a distance of 1,300 miles) or from Florence, Nebraska (1,030 miles).
"This was, according to historian LeRoy Hafen, ‘the most remarkable travel experiment in the history of Western America.'"
Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, this murderous, on-the-cheap trek ordered by the Mormon tyrant, Brigham Young, has been divinely dubbed by some as not only a "remarkable travel experiment" but as a downright "exalting experience."
A Story of Amazing "Spiritual Stamina"
"Handcarts, assembled at outfitting points in Iowa City, and then Florence after 1857, resembled carts pulled by porters in large cities. The carts had hickory or oak wagon beds and hickory shafts, side pieces, and axles. Wheels were as far apart as normal wagon wheels. Each cart carried 400 to 500 pounds of foodstuffs, bedding, clothing, and cooking utensils, and needed two able-bodied people to pull it. Five people were assigned to each cart. Adults could take only seventeen pounds of baggage, children ten pounds. Families with small children traveled in covered or family carts which had stronger axles made of iron.
"Handcart company captains were men with leadership and trail experience. Each company included a few ox-drawn commissary and baggage wagons, at least one per twenty carts. Wagons or carts carried large public tents, one for every twenty people. A 'Captain of Hundred' had charge of five tent groups. Five companies in 1856 and two in 1857 outfitted in Iowa City and needed a month to move 275 miles on existing roads over rolling prairie to Florence, averaging eight to nine miles per day. Passing through partly settled areas, they obtained some supplies along the way. After resting at Florence, these seven companies followed the Mormon Trail to Salt Lake City; on this stretch the first three companies spent an average of 65 days, covering 15.7 miles per day. Later companies leaving Florence needed an average of 84 days. By comparison, LDS wagon trains from Florence in 1861 needed 73 days to make the journey. . . .
"Pulling carts was hard, tiring work. Handcart pioneers were exposed to rain, wind, dust, and insects. Food was tightly rationed. Most made the trek safely; but the 1856 Martin and Willie companies met disaster. They left Iowa City late, in part because more people came than expected, causing delays to assemble more handcarts and tents. The two companies crossed Iowa in normal time, but repairs at Florence slowed them. Then, on the Mormon Trail, extra flour added to the carts slowed and damaged them. Expected flour at Fort Laramie never came. Short rations and lack of warm clothes drained the travelers' energy. Severe snowstorms caught them, dropping snows up to eighteen inches deep and temperatures below freezing. Food ran out; cattle died; rescue trains from Utah had difficulty reaching the exposed and hungry sufferers. Despite heroic efforts by company members and Utah rescuers, about 200, or one-sixth of the companies, died, and dozens were maimed by frostbite and deprivation. This tragedy was the worst disaster in the history of western overland travel. Rescue wagons carried survivors to Utah over roads kept open by teamsters driving wagons back and forth to pack the snow.
"Despite the tragedy, the Mormon Church did not give up on the plan. It sent a missionary company east with handcarts early in 1857, and it had sponsored five more westbound handcart companies by 1860. Overall, the ten companies proved that handcart groups not traveling late in the season were effective, efficient means of moving large numbers of people west at low cost. Low costs enabled hundreds in Britain, mostly factory and agricultural workers who otherwise might not have come, to decide to emigrate to America.
"The handcart trek was an exalting ordeal for body and spirit and required spiritual stamina to complete. Sculptor Torlief Knaphus' statue of handcart pioneers has become one of Mormonism's best known symbols, representing the thousands of devout Saints who by cart or wagon 'gathered to Zion' in Utah."
Other LDS spinmeisters have sought to portray the use of handcarts by the Mormon pioneers as a necessity born of poverty, not a cheap conveyance encouraged by Brigham Young at the expense of his human beasts of burden.
Carts Heroically Pulled by the "Persecuted," but Patriotic, Faithful
LDS fictionalizing filmmakers have painted a typically misleading matinee mirage of the Mormon handcart disaster:
"In the 1850s, the Mormons were being persecuted in their own country. To escape further difficulties, their leader, Brigham Young, led them on an arduous journey to Utah. Because they did not have enough money for wagons, many made their own handcarts and loaded them up with their families and belongings. These they pulled behind themselves on a thousand-mile trek on foot.
"In 1997, a group of Mormons re-created this excursion to commemorate the efforts of their ancestors. Among them on the three-month trek was a filmmaker named Kels Goodman.
"My job was to follow them with a camera. I had a motor home, so I cheated," Goodman said from his home in Orem, Utah." [Now, there's an understatment. History ended up being cheated, too].
"The experience gave Goodman an idea for his first feature film. He decided to make a fictional accounting of the most disastrous of these journeys. In 1856, some 500 believers set out from Iowa City, Iowa, in a group that was known as the Martin Handcart Company.
"No one knows why they started their journey so late in the year--August, instead of April or May. They were trapped in a fierce winter storm that hit Wyoming in October. This combination of bad timing and unlucky breaks led to a tragedy. One-third of the travelers died before Young learned about their situation and sent out rescuers to save the rest.
"'The Mormons were pretty much kicked out of the United States,' [Goodman] said. 'That is one thing that is not brought up; they are the only religious group ever to be kicked out of the United States. The next place over was Utah. It was part of Mexico at the time. By the time the handcart companies came, it was known as the Utah Territory.'
"Goodman shot the film on a tiny budget of $350,000. Having worked on the crew of other films shot in Utah, he got many crew members who had made those movies to work on his. His camera assistant, whom he called 'the best in Utah,' was Mike Lookinland, who played Bobby Brady on 'The Brady Bunch.' . . .
"Goodman got his filmmaking education at Brigham Young University, but he has been making movies since he was a child with an 8mm camera. . . .
"After college, he found work on films for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, mostly in lighting. He worked on the television show 'Touched by an Angel' and for movies that filmed in Utah, including 'Dumb and Dumber.' . . .
But enough of the the "Dumb and Dumber" fluff.
Now, for the real--and really repulsive--stuff.
Brigham Young’s Greedy and Horrific Handcart Disaster
In her book, "Wife No. 19," former spouse of Brigham Young, Ann Eliza Webb, exposed the tragic, inept, corrupt and selfish nature of Brigham Young’s handcart scheme.
As to the person of Wife No. 19 Webb, the following biographical notes explain that:
"In 1868 Brigham Young, at age sixty-seven, married Ann Eliza Webb, an attractive twenty-four year old divorcee with two children. Young had already married dozens of other women. . . ."
Regarding Webb's tumultuous and short-lived relationship with Young, LDS scholar, Jeffery Johnson, writes:
". . . [I]n 1873, Ann Eliza Webb applied for a civil divorce [from Young]. The case came to trial in 1875, and the court ordered Brigham to pay $500 per month allowance and $3,000 court costs. When he refused, he was fined $25 and sentenced to a day in prison for contempt of court (Arrington 1985, 373). There is no record of application for a Church divorce, but she was excommunicated 10 October 1874 and devoted much of the rest of her life to publishing her somewhat sensational memoirs and giving anti-Mormon lectures."
(Of course, one would expect many, if not most, faithful LDS scholars to minimize criticism of Mormon leaders by labeling it as "sensational." Indeed, that's been par for the course for Mormon apologists ever since this fanciful frontier faith popped out of Joseph Smith's rock-laden hat).
In Chapter 11 of her book entitled, "'DIVINE EMIGRATION'--THE PROPHET AND THE HANDCART SCHEME," Webb writes in graphic detail about Brigham Young's prolonged and deliberate abuse of Mormonism's pushed-and-pulled pioneers.
Unparalleled Mismanagement Under the Guise of a "Divine Plan"
"In the history of any people there has never been recorded a case of such gross mismanagement as that of gathering the foreign Saints to Zion in the year 1856.
"Until this disastrous year the emigrants had always made the journey across the plains with ox-teams . . . The able bodied walked, and those who were too young, too old, or too feeble to perform the journey on foot, went in the wagons with the baggage. . . . Tedious and wearisome, to be sure, but in no way perilous, as plenty of provisions, bedding, and clothing could be carried, not only for the journey, but sufficient to last some time after the arrival.
"The cost of emigration in this way was from £10 to £12, English money, or nominally $50 to $60 in gold--not very expensive, surely, for a journey from Liverpool to Salt Lake City; but to Brigham, in one of his fits of economy, it seemed altogether too costly, and he set to work to devise some means for retrenchment. During the entire winter of 1855-56, he and his chief supporters were in almost constant consultation on the subject of reducing the expenses of emigration, and they finally hit upon the expedient of having them cross the plains with hand-carts, wheeling their own provisions and baggage, and so saving the expense of teams. The more Brigham thought of his plan, the more in love he grew with it, and he sent detailed instructions concerning it to the Apostle Franklin D. Richards, the Mormon agent at Liverpool, who published it in the Millennial Star, as the new 'divine plan' revealed to Brother Brigham by the Lord, whose will it was that the journey should be made in this manner."
Duping and Grouping the Faithful
"My father was in England when the ‘command of the Lord concerning them’ was given to the gathering Saints, and their enthusiastic devotion and instant acceptance of the revelation showed how entirely they entrusted themselves to the leadership of their superiors in the Church, implicitly believing them to be inspired of God. They were told by Richards, in the magazine, and by their missionaries in their addresses, that they should meet many difficulties--that trials would be strewn along their path, and occasional dangers meet them--but that the Lord's chosen people were to be a tried people, and that they should come out unscathed, and enter Zion with great triumph and rejoicing, coming out from the world as by great tribulation; that the Lord would hold them in special charge, and they need not fear terror by night nor pestilence that walketh at noonday, for they should not so much as hurt a foot against a stone.
"It was represented to them that they were specially privileged and honored in thus being called by the Lord to be the means of showing His power and revealing glory to a world lying in darkness and overwhelmed with guilt, deserted by God and given over to destruction. Considering the class of people from whom most of the converts were made, it is not at all strange that all this talk should impress their imaginations and arouse their enthusiasm. Emotion, instead of reason, guided them almost entirely, and they grew almost ecstatic over the new way in which they were called to Zion."
Brigham Young Needed Warm Bodies for His Cold-Hearted Theocratic Blueprint
"The United States government was beginning to trouble itself a little about Utah; and in order to make the Church as strong as possible, in case of an invasion, Brigham was anxious to increase the number of emigrants, and requested Apostle Richards to send as many as he possibly could. To do this, the elders counseled all the emigrants, who had more money than they needed, to deposit it with the Apostle Richards for the purpose of assisting the poor to Zion. The call was instantly and gladly obeyed, and the number of Saints bound Zion-ward was thereby nearly doubled. In the face of the disaster which attended it, it has been the boast of some of the missionaries and elders that this was the largest number that ever was sent over at one time. So much greater, then, is the weight of responsibility which rests upon the souls of those who originated and carried out this selfish design, made more selfish, more cruel, and more terribly culpable for the hypocrisy and deceit which attended it from its conception toits disastrous close. . . .
"On the 14th of March, 1856, my father, who was at Sheffield, England, engaged in missionary work, received a telegram from Richards, telling him to come at once to Liverpool for the purpose of taking passage for America in the mail-packet 'Canada' . . . He had no time to say good-bye to his friends, but made his preparations hurriedly, and left Sheffield as soon as possible. On arriving at Liverpool and consulting with Richards, he learned that he had been sent for to assist in the proposed hand-cart expedition, and that his part of the work was to he performed in the United States. He, being a practical wagon-maker, was to oversee the building of the carts. . . ."
Callous Unconcern for the Loyal Little People
"He expected, of course, to go to work at once, and was very impatient to do so, as it was very nearly the season when the emigrants should start to cross the plains, and the first vessel filled with them was already due in New York. He knew that it would be a waste both of time and money to keep them in Iowa City any longer than as absolutely necessary; besides which, after a certain date, every day would increase the perils of crossing the plains. But when he arrived, Daniel Spencer, the principal agent, was east on a visit, and did not make his appearance until an entire month had expired; and there was all that valuable time wasted in order that one man might indulge in a little pleasure. What were a thousand or more human lives in comparison to his enjoyment? Less than nothing, it would seem, in his estimation.
"Not only were there no materials provided to work with, but no provision had been made for sheltering the poor Saints, who had already commenced to arrive by ship-loads. Their condition was pitiable in the extreme; they had met nothing but privation from the time they left England. The trials that had been promised them they had already encountered, but so great was their faith, that they bore it all without a word of complaint, and some even rejoicing that it was their lot to suffer for the cause of their religion; they were sure they should all be brought to Zion in safety, for had not God promised that through the mouth of His holy Prophet? Their faith was sublime in its exaltation; and in contrast to it, the cold-blooded, scheming, blasphemous policy of Young and his followers shows out false, and blacker than ever. To have deceived a credulous people by wanton misrepresentation is wicked enough, but to do it 'in the name of the Lord' is a sin that can never be atoned for to God or man. It is the heightof blasphemy, and I fairly shudder as I endeavor to comprehend, in some slight degree, the magnitude of such an offence.
"They had been crowded and huddled together on shipboard more like animals than like human beings; their food had been insufficient and of bad quality; the sleeping accommodations were limited, and there was not the proper amount of bedding for those who were compelled to sleep in the more exposed places. Some of the persons who saw the emigrants, say that it was like nothing so much as an African slave-ship, filled with its unlawful and ill-gotten freight. The air in the steerage, where most of the emigrants were, was noxious, and yet these people were compelled to breathe it through all the days of the voyage. Many were too ill to leave their beds, and a change of clothing was out of the question. The entire floor was covered with mattresses, and it was impossible to walk about without stepping over some one. Men, women, and children were huddled in together in the most shameless fashion.
"Affairs were not much bettered when they arrived at New York; the Apostle John Taylor, whose duty it was to provide for them there, was too deeply engaged in a quarrel with Apostle Franklin D. Richards, as to which of the two who were thrown on his protection, penniless and helpless, was higher in authority, to attend to these poor creatures, in a strange country. But everyone must understand that his personal dignity must be attended to and his position maintained, if all the poor Saints that were emigrated, or dreamed of emigrating, should die of starvation and exposure. I think the great body of Saints must have learned before this time that it is by no means safe to trust to the tender mercies of a Mormon Apostle. When, after a while, the Apostle Taylor's imperative personal business allowed him a moment in which to think of the unhappy emigrants, he started them for Iowa City, where they arrived only to experience a repetition of their New York sufferings, and see another illustration of apostolic neglect. Nothing had been prepared for them either in the way of shanties or tents, and they were compelled to camp in the open air, their only roof a sky that was not always blue. While in camp, there were several very severe rain-storms, from which, as they had no shelter, there was no escape; they got completely drenched, and this caused a great deal of severe illness among them. They were unprotected alike from burning sun and pitiless, chilling rain, and it is no wonder that fevers and dysentery prevailed, and that hundreds of longing eyes closed in death before they beheld the Zion of their hopes.
"It would have been strange if the faith of some had not wavered then; yet none dared complain. There was nothing to do but to go on to the end. They were thousands of miles from home, with no means of returning, and they were taught, too, that it would be a curse upon them to turn their backs on Zion. So there they remained through the long summer days, waiting helplessly until they should be ordered to move onward."
Gross Criminal Negligence: Turning Out Handcarts on the Cheap
"At length my father saw his way clear to commence his work, and he went to work with a will, pressing everyone who could be of actual assistance into his service. But here the trouble commenced again. He was instructed to make the wagons on as economical a plan as possible, and every step that he took he found himself hedged about by impossibilities. The agents all talked economy, and when one did not raise an objection to a proposal, another did, and difficulties were placed in his way constantly.
"They did not wish to furnish iron for the tires, as it was too expensive; raw hide, they were sure, would do just as well. My father argued this point with them until at last the agents decided to give up raw hides, and they furnished him with hoop iron. He was annoyed and angry, all the while he was making the carts, at the extreme parsimony displayed. A thorough workman himself, he wanted good materials to work with; but every time he asked for anything, no matter how absolutely necessary it was to make the work sufficiently durable to stand the strain of so long a journey. the reply invariably was, '0, Brother Webb, the carts must be made cheap. We can't afford this expenditure; you are too extravagant in your outlay;' forgetting, in their zeal to follow their Prophet's instructions, what the consequences would be to the poor Saints, if delayed on their way to the Valley, by having to stop to repair their carts."
Handcart Companies Forced Into an Ill-Timed Launch with Short Supplies
"As soon as was possible they started companies on the way. My father strongly objected to any of them starting after the last of June; but he was overruled, and the last company left Iowa City the middle of August, for a journey across arid plains and over snow-clad mountains, which it took twelve weeks of the quickest traveling at that time to accomplish; and in the manner in which these emigrants were going it would take much longer. He also opposed their being started with such a scanty allowance of provisions. He insisted they should have at least double the amount; but in this attempt, also, he was unsuccessful, and one of the survivors of the expedition afterwards said that the rations which were given out to each person for a day could easily be eaten at breakfast. They consisted of ten ounces of flour for each adult, and half that amount for each child under eight years of age. At rare intervals, a little rice, coffee, sugar, and bacon were doled out to the hungry travelers, but this was not often done. Many of the people begged of the farmers in Iowa, so famished were they, and so inadequate was their food which was supplied them by the agents. They were limited, too, in the matter of baggage, and again my father tried to use his influence, but all to no purpose; so much might go, but not a pound more.
"Almost discouraged, and altogether disgusted with the meanness and heartless carelessness which were exhibited throughout the whole affair, as far, at least, as he had experience with it, he yet made one more attempt to aid the unfortunate travelers, whose trials, great as they had been, had really not fairly begun. His last proposition was, that more teams should be provided, so that the feeble, who were not likely to endure the fatigues of the long march, should have an opportunity of riding; but he was met again with the inevitable reply, 'Can't do it, Brother Webb. We tell you we can't afford it; they must go cheap.' It was dear enough in the end, if human lives count for anything.
"My father never speaks of those days of preparation in Iowa City that he does not grow indignant. It might have been averted had not Brigham Young been so parsimonious, and his followers so eager to curry favor with him, by carrying out his instructions more implicitly than there was any need of doing. They were only quarreled and found fault with, and reprimanded publicly in the Tabernacle for their faithfulness to him, when it became necessary to shield himself from odium in the matter. Nothing more would have happened if they had obeyed the instincts of humanity, and deferred a little to their consciences, and they certainly would have been better off, as they would at least have retained their own self-respect, and the regard of their unfortunate charges, which, it is needless to say, they lost most completely.
"When some of the last companies reached Council Bluffs-- better known to most Mormons as 'Winter-Quarters'--there was considerable controversy whether it was best to try and go any farther before spring. Most of the emigrants knew nothing of the climate and the perils of the undertaking, and were eager to press on to Zion. Four men only in the company had crossed the plains; those were captains of the trains--Willie, Atwood, Savage, and Woodward; but there were several elders at this place superintending emigration. Of these, Levi Savage was the only one to remonstrate against attempting to reach Salt Lake Valley so late in the season. He declared that it would be utterly--impossible to cross the mountains without great suffering, and even death.
"His remonstrances availed about as much my father's had done in regard to their starting. He was defeated and reprimanded very sharply for his want of faith. He replied that there were cases where 'common sense' was the best guide. and he considered this to be one. 'However,' said he, 'seeing you are to go forward, I will go with you, will help you all I can, will work with you, suffer with you, and, if necessary, die with you.'
"Very soon after the departure of the last company of the emigrants from Iowa City, my father, with the other elders, started for the Valley in mule teams, intending to return, if they found it necessary, to bring succor to the poor wandering people. In the company with my father were Apostle Franklin D. Richards, and Elders W. H. Kimball, G. D. Grant, Joseph A. Young, Brigham's oldest son, and several others, all of whom were returning to Utah from foreign missions, and all of whom had been engaged in the expedition.
"They overtook the emigrants at their camp on the North Fork of the Platte River, and camped with them over night. Richards was told of the opposition which Savage had made, and he openly rebuked him in the morning. He then informed the Saints that 'though it might storm on the right hand and on the left, yet the storms should not reach them. The Lord would keep the way open before them, and they should reach Zion in safety.' It may be that he believed all this nonsense himself. It is to be hoped, for charity's sake, that he did. If that were the case, however, it is a pity that he had not been endowed with a little of Levi Savage's common sense. It would have been much better for the Saints than all his vaunted 'spirit of prophecy.'
"It is a significant fact, that in the very face of his prophecy, delivered to the victims of his zeal in the cause of Brigham Young, he was anxious to hasten his arrival in Salt Lake in order to send assistance back to the patient handcart emigrants, who, he must have seen, would soon be in sore straits for food and clothing. The rations were scanty, and would soon have to be lessened; the nights were chilly, and fast growing cold; and already the seventeen pounds of bedding and clothing allowed to each one were scarcely sufficient protection; and as the season advanced, and they approached the mountains, it would be totally inadequate. It was fortunate that they did not know the climate of the country, and the terrible hardships to which they were to be exposed, else their hearts would have failed them, and they would have had no courage to have recommenced the journey. My father realized it, and so did most of the party with him; yet they had no idea how horrible it was to be, else they would have insistedupon their remaining in camp until spring. Even the usually indifferent heart of Joseph A. was touched, and he hurried on to impress upon his father the urgent need for immediate assistance for those poor, forlorn creatures whom he left preparing to cross the mountains, where they would of a surety meet the late autumn and early winter storms, and where so many of them must of a certainty perish of exposure and hunger. He had no faith in the apostolic prophecy, which seemed a mockery to all those who knew the hardships of the journey which lay before these faithful souls before they could reach the Zion of their hopes.
"My father had been four years absent from us, yet such was his concern for the poor people whom he so recently left, and who had been his care for so long, that he could only stay to give us the most hurried greetings. His gladness at his return, and our responsive joy, were marred by the thought of the sufferings and privations of those earnest, simple-hearted Saints, who had literally left all to follow the beck of one whom they supposed to be the Prophet of the Lord. After all these years of absence, he only staid two days with us--as short a time as it could possibly take to get the relief-train ready with the supplies."
Blood on His Hands for His Handcart Crimes: Brigham Young’s Ultimate Guilty Conscience
"I think Brigham Young's heart and conscience must have been touched, for he really seemed for a while to forget himself in the earnestness with which he pushed forward the preparations for relief. He fairly arose to the occasion, and held back nothing which could contribute to the comfort and welfare of his poor, forlorn followers. Yet he was only acting as both justice and decency commanded that he should act. He was the cause of all this terrible suffering, and he felt that he should be made answerable. Such a transaction as this could by no means remain unknown. It would be spread over America and Europe, and used as a strong weapon against Mormonism and its leader, already unpopular enough. He realized the mistake he had made when too late to rectify it, and, with his usual moral cowardice, he set about hunting for somebody on whose shoulders to shift the blame from his own. Richards and Spencer were the unfortunate victims, and he turned his wrath against them, in private conversation and in public assemblies, until they were nearly crushed by the weight of opprobrium which he heaped upon them. He was nearly beside himself with fear of the consequences which would follow, when this crowning act of selfish cupidity and egotistical vanity and presumption should be known. Love of approbation is a striking characteristic of this Latter-Day Prophet, and he puffs and swells with self-importance at every word he receives, even of the baldest, most insincere flattery, and he cringes and crouches in as servile a manner as a whipped cur, when any adverse criticism is passed upon either his personnel or his actions. A moral as well as a physical coward, he dares not face a just opinion of himself and his deeds, and he sneaks, and skulks, and hides behind any one he can find who is broad enough to shield him.
"My father's disgust at a religion which submitted to such chicanery, and his distrust of Brigham Young, were so great, that he was very near apostatizing; but my mother again held him to the church. She argued and explained; she wept and she entreated, until he said no more about it. But though, for her sake, he took no steps towards leaving the Church and renouncing the faith, he felt daily his disgust and distrust increasing, and he never again believed so strongly in the Mormon religion, and ever after regarded Brigham with much less awe and respect than formerly."
When All Is Said and Done: "How the West Was Spun" in the Wake of Brigham Young's Forced Handcart March
Wyoming writer Annie Proulx, in a recent article for the London Guardian entitled, "How the West Was Spun," examines the creation and maintenance of certain "heroic myths of the American frontier."
Proulx notes that Americans (and this certainly holds true for fanciful-minded Mormons) hold on to and promote cherished myths, often at great detriment to the truth:
"The heroic myth of the American West is much more powerful than its historical past. To this day, the great false beliefs . . . prevail: that [these] were . . . brave, generous, unselfish men; that the West was 'won' by noble White American pioneers . . . and that everything in the natural world from the west bank of the Missouri to the Pacific Ocean was there to be used by human beings to further their wealth.
"These absurd but solidly-rooted fantasies cannot be pulled up. People believe in and identify themselves with these myths and will scratch and kick to maintain their Western self-image. The rest of the country and the world believes in the heroic myth because the tourism bureau will never let anyone forget it."
One of those stubbornly-entrenched myths that Proulx mentions is the "Mormon Handcart Journey," which is annually and magnificently mimicked by enthusiastic LDS stand-ins:
"Much of the West's past is literally acted out each year by enthusiasts called 're-enactors,' who don appropriate costumes and take on pageant-like roles in such events of yesteryear as a . . . Mormon Handcart Journey. For a few days it is real enough. . . ."
But how real is it?
William Grigg, in his article, "Mass Murder in the Desert," cites renegade Mormon historian Will Bagley's searing description of Brigham Young's Mormon handcart debacle as what it really was--a fevered flight of religious fanaticism, undertaken on the backs of thousands of devout, brainwashed Mormons who became Young's unwitting and unfortunate victims:
" . . . [F]or nearly the entire first century of the [Mormon] religion's existence--beginning with the Missouri-era threats to redeem 'Zion' by bloodshed-- faithful Mormons were marinated in hatred toward 'Gentiles' and taught the redemptive power of sanctified violence.
"In the early 1850s, the sense of besetting persecution by unbelievers so central to the Mormons' communal identity became outright paranoia after Mormon leaders unveiled the previously disavowed practice of polygamy. The nascent Republican Party identified polygamy and slavery as 'twin relics of barbarism' and declared war on both. . . .
"Like despots both ancient and modern, Brigham Young eagerly seized on this external threat to consolidate his power. He also ramped up Mormon recruitment efforts in Great Britain and Scandinavia (where Mormon missionaries carefully concealed the doctrine of polygamy) as a way of building up his kingdom. To cut down on the time and expense involved in bringing new Mormons to 'Zion,' Young ordered the construction of handcarts--rickshaw-like vehicles used to carry the pilgrims and their possessions across the plains.
"The handcart initiative led to disaster in late 1856 as two companies of Mormon immigrants (known as the Martin and Willie companies), promised by Mormon leaders that God would hold back the winter snows, were caught in an abnormally early and severe blizzard. More than 200 men, women, and children died, making the Martin/Willie debacle 'the worst disaster in the history of America's overland trails,' recalls Bagley.
"Despite the fact that the handcart disaster was a direct outgrowth of Young's 'inspired' immigration scheme, 'Mormon leaders refused to shoulder any blame for the catastrophe,' Bagley continues. Jedediah Grant, high-ranking first counselor in the Mormon Church presidency, 'laid the blame on the victims. . . . [He] blamed the death and suffering of the handcart Saints on "the same disobedience and sinfulness that had induced spiritual sleepiness among the people already in Zion."'"
So it was with Brigham Young's ruthless "Handcarts to Hell" undertaking--and so it remains (all gussied up and sanitized, of course) in the historically-disfigured annals of Mormon folklore.
| Virginia Tech's Atrocious Murder Spree Notwithstanding, The Mountain Meadows Massacre Appears To Remain |
Tuesday, Apr 17, 2007, at 07:45 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Virginia Tech's atrocious murder spree notwithstanding, the Mountain Meadows Massacre appears to remain standing as the largest U.S. domestic gunshot murder crime committed against civilians in the nation's history.
While the massacre of some 33 innocent victims at Virginia Tech is truly a gruesome and horrible atrocity, contrary to current media reports it does not appear to represent the single deadliest gunshot mass murder committed against civilians on American soil in U.S. history.
That notorious distinction still, unfortunately, seems to belong to the Mountain Meadows Massacre, perpetrated by fanatical Mormon conspirators, arguably under orders from (or at least with the ultimate sanction of) then-LDS Church president Brigham Young.
Below are excerpted accounts strongly indicating that a significant number, if not a majority, of the Mountain Meadows Massacre victims appear to have been killed by gunfire:
"Single-file, the [Arkansas] immigrants [were] marched out of their haven. Marching beside them was a group of about 30 armed Mormons. When the women had gone about 500 yards, the men who were still able to walk followed them out, each man with a 'bodyguard' next to him. The youngest children and the wounded men were loaded into a wagon driven by a Mormon.
"Gibbs provides some of the best insight into the mood of the procession and the thoughts the immigrants must have had as they walked to their doom. 'The arrangements were made and carried out with all the precision of a legalized execution. There can be not the slightest doubt that the men knew the meaning of the peculiar formation of the procession. If there were danger of an attack by the Indians why was it, they thought, that they were not permitted to retain their firearms and aid in the protection of their wives and children? But, through unparalleled treachery, they were then powerless, and there was probably the hope that those so dear to them might be spared. That no word of protest was spoken is the strongest commendation of their heroism and evidence of their resignation.' . . .
"The final massacre took a surprisingly short time, considering so many people had to be killed individually. The macabre parade marched nearly a mile before Major Higbee halted the procession and ordered 'Do your duty!' Immediately, shots rang out as each Mormon turned on the immigrants who had given themselves over for protection.
"[Samuel] Knight then shot a man with his rifle; he shot the man in the head," Lee recalled. 'Knight also brained a boy that was about fourteen years old. The boy came running up to our wagons, and Knight struck him on the head with the butt end of his gun, and crushed his skull. By this time many Indians reached our wagons, and all of the sick and wounded were killed almost instantly. I saw an Indian from Cedar City, called Joe, run up to the wagon and catch a man by the hair, and raise his head up and look into his face; the man shut his eyes, and Joe shot him in the head. The Indians then examined all of the wounded in the wagons, and all of the bodies, to see if any were alive, and all that showed signs of life were at once shot through the head.'
"Survivors, witnesses, and participants all told similar stories of cold-blooded murder, cruelty, and inhumanity. 'The Mormon apostate refugees . . . were 'blood atoned' by the ritual slitting of throats,' [Sally] Denton writes in her book. "'I wouldn't do this to you,' a wounded apostate pleaded with the man he recognized as a Cedar City elder. 'You would have done the same to me or just as bad,'" she reports the man saying as he drew his knife across his victim's throat.
"Two sisters, Rachel and Ruth Dunlap, attempted to flee and made it about 30 yards to a copse of trees, where they hid. An Indian participating in the slaughter saw them and brought them back to Lee, who ordered them slain.
"Divining the sentence pronounced by Lee, the elder girl dropped to her knees and with clasped hands cried out: 'Spare me, and I will love you all my life!' But she died, as her sister had died, and at Lee's hands," Gibbs wrote. For the rest of his life, Lee vehemently denied killing the girls.
"Within a matter of minutes, the extermination of more than 120 men, women and children was over."
"The Mountain Meadows massacre was a mass killing of Arkansas emigrants by Mormon militia and Paiutes on Friday, September 11, 1857.
"The murders took place at Mountain Meadows, a stopover along the Old Spanish Trail in southwestern Utah. Sources estimate that between 100 and 140 men, women and children were killed. . . .
"On Friday, September 11, two Mormon militiamen approached the Fancher party wagons with a white flag and were soon followed by Indian agent and militia officer John D. Lee. Lee told the battle-weary emigrants he had negotiated a truce with the Paiutes, whereby they could be escorted safely to Cedar City under Mormon protection in exchange for leaving all their livestock and supplies to the Native Americans.
"Accepting this, they were split into three groups. Seventeen of the youngest children along with a few mothers and the wounded were put into wagons, which were followed by all the women and older children walking in a second group. Bringing up the rear were the adult males of the Fancher party, each walking with an armed Mormon militiaman at his right.
"Making their way back northeast towards Cedar City, the three groups gradually became strung out and visually separated by shrubs and a shallow hill. After about 2 kilometers the prearranged order, 'Do Your Duty!' was given. Each Mormon then turned and killed the man he was guarding.
"All of the men, women, older children and wounded were massacred by Mormon militia and Paiutes who had hidden nearby. A few who escaped the initial slaughter were quickly chased down and killed. Two teenaged girls, Rachel and Ruth Dunlap, managed to clamber down the side of a steep gully and hide among a clump of oak trees for several minutes. They were spotted by a Paiute chief from Parowan, who took them to Lee. Eighteen-year-old Ruth Dunlap reportedly fell to her knees and pleaded, 'Spare me, and I will love you all my life!' (Lee denied this).
"50 years later, a Mormon woman who was a child at the time of the massacre recalled hearing LDS women in St. George say both girls were raped before they were killed.
"Thus it was that on September 11, a flag of truce was carried to the Baker-Fancher party by William Bateman. He was met outside the camp by one of the emigrants, a Mr. Hamilton, and an arrangement was made for John D. Lee to speak to the emigrants. Lee described to them a plan to get them through the hostile Indians.
"The plan involved the emigrants giving up their arms, loading the wounded into wagons, and then being followed by the women and the older children, with the men bring up the rear of the company in a single-file order. In return for compliance with these terms, the white men would give the emigrants safe conduct back to Cedar City where they would be protected until they could continue their journey to California.
"The emigrants agreed, the wagons were brought forward and loaded with the wounded and the weapons, and the procession started toward Cedar City. Within a short distance, one armed white man was positioned near each of the Baker-Fancher party adults, ostensibly for protection. When all was in place, a pre-determined signal was given and each of the armed white men turned, shot, and killed each of the unarmed Baker-Fancher party members.
"Within three to five minutes the entire massacre of men, women, and older children was completed. The only members of the original party remaining were those children judged to be under eight years old, numbering about 17 persons."
" . . . [W]ritten accounts [of the Mountain Meadows Massacre] generally claim the women and older children were beaten or bludgeoned to death by Indians using crude weapons, while Mormon militiamen killed adult males by shooting them in the back of the head.
"However, [Univeristy of Utah forensic anthropologist Shannon] Novak's partial reconstruction of approximately 20 different skulls of Mountain Meadows victims show:
"--At least five adults had gunshot exit wounds in the posterior area of the cranium--a clear indication some were shot while facing their killers/ One victim's skull displays a close-range bullet entrance wound to the forehead;
"--Women also were shot in the head at close range. A palate of a female victim exhibits possible evidence of gunshot trauma to the face, based on a preliminary examination of broken teeth;
"--At least one youngster, believed to be about 10 to 12 years old, was killed by a gunshot to the top of the head.
"Other findings by Novak from the commingled partial remains of at least 29 individuals--a count based on the number of right femurs in the hundreds of pieces of bone recovered from the gravesite--back up the historical record;
"--Five skulls with gunshot entrance wounds in the back of the cranium have no "beveling," or flaking of bone, on the exterior of the skull. This indicates the victims were executed with the gun barrel pointing directly into the head, not at an angle, and at very close range;
"--Two young adults and three children--one believed to be about 3 years old judging by tooth development--were killed by blunt-force trauma to the head. Although written records recount that children under the age of 8 were spared, historians believe some babes-in-arms were murdered along with their mothers . . . "
"Utah state law required that the bones [of victims unearthed at the Mountain Meadows Massacre site] be studied, a job that went to forensic anthropologist Shannon Novak from the University of Utah.
"Novak and her colleagues found entrance and exit holes in the skulls of men that could only have come from gunshots fired at close range, while most women and children found died of blunt force.
"In her analysis of more than 2,600 bone fragments, Novak found no evidence of knives used to scalp, behead, or cut the throats, as well as no evidence of trauma from arrows.
"Although the study cannot determine what weapons Paiutes might have used in the massacre (if they were involved), it brings up the possibility that white men murdered all of the victims, contradicting John D. Lee's testimony accusing Native Americans of slaughtering the women and children.
"To Shannon Novak, the bones could provide information that incomplete or biased histories could not. 'Prior to this analysis, what was known about the massacre was often based on second-hand information, polemical newspaper accounts, and the testimony of known killers,' said Novak. 'Furthermore, what had come to be merely an abstract historical event, the 'tragedy at Mountain Meadows,' now became a mass murder of specific men, women, and children with proper names an histories.'
"The analysis of the remains questioned the accuracy of the historical accounts and stirred up many emotions. After five weeks, Novak's analysis was cut short by an order from the governor of Utah, Mike Leavitt, that the bones be re-interred in time for the September anniversary."
"Four miles south of Harrison in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas stands a historical marker dedicated to 'The Boone County Caravan.' The plaque refers to one of the worst mass murders in the history of the United States, an event virtually unknown to all but descendants of the victims and perpetrators.
"The inscription reads: 'Near this spring in September 1857 gathered a caravan of 150 men, women and children who here began the ill-fated journey to California. The entire party, with the exception of 17 small children, was massacred at Mountain Meadows, Utah, by a body of Mormons disguised as Indians.'
"Dr. Shannon Novak, a University of Utah forensic anthropologist, has worked long hours pouring over the physical evidence of remains found in the old burial site. Among other revelations, she found some (including women and children) has been shot point blank between the eyes and not in the back, as earlier accounts had claimed."
"In all, 120 men, women and children of the wagon train were killed. 17 children under the age of 10 were considered 'too young to tell,' and were spared. Brevet Jamor J.H. Carleton noted in his investigation of the tragedy 'that about one third of the skulls were shot through with bullets and about one third seem to be broken with stones.'"
"On Sept. 11, 1857, a group of California-bound pioneers camping in southern Utah were murdered by a Mormon militia and its Indian allies. The massacre lasted less than five minutes, but when it was over, 120 men, women and children had been clubbed, stabbed or shot at point-blank range. Their corpses, stripped of clothes and jewelry, were left to be picked apart by wolves and buzzards.
"It was one of the worst American civilian atrocities of the 19th century. 'The whole United States rang with its horrors,' Mark Twain recalled years later. . . .
"The massacre stands out not only for its gruesomeness but also for the act of treachery that preceded it. After enduring a four-day gun battle with their attackers, the pioneers accepted a truce that turned out to be a deadly ploy. Promised safe passage from the area in exchange for surrendering their weapons, the besieged group complied only to be systematically slaughtered. Seventeen children, all under 7 years old, were spared. . . ."
"'All accounts agree that it [the Mountain Meadows Massacre] was quickly over,' wrote Mormon historian Juanita Brooks in her landmark 1950 study, "The Mountain Meadows Massacre."
"'Most of the emigrant men fell at the first volley, and those who started to run were quickly shot down by Mormons or by Indians. . . . '
"No Knives: Novak's study of the bones . . . found no evidence of sharp-force trauma, such as that caused by a blow from a knife or hatchet.
"The researcher notes that 'skeletal trauma only records lesions that penetrate to the bone.'
"The majority of gunshot wounds were in the heads of young adult males, although one child, aged 10-15, also was shot in the head. That gunshot victim 'suggests the killing of women and children may have been more complicated than accounts described in the diaries,' wrote Novak . . .
"Another indication of women and children being executed is the fractured palate of a female, aged 18-22. The pattern of the bone fracture, along with the blackened and burned crowns of the woman's teeth, is consistent with a
"Suggestions that most emigrant men were shot in the back of the head and from the rear while fleeing also are questioned by bullet trajectories through the skulls. Six individuals were shot in the head from behind, while
five were shot in frontal assaults.
"Recognizing the new scientific evidence is bound to prompt a reassessment of long-held views of Paiute Indian involvement in the massacre, Novak cautioned: 'Obviously, skeletal trauma cannot corroborate ethnically who was
responsible for the shooting and whom for the beating.'
"No Role: Still, Paiute leaders say the forensic evidence supports their oral traditions that tribal members had little or no role in the killings. In 1998, tribal researchers interviewed elders about the massacre and the Utah divisions of History and Indian Affairs recently published some of those accounts in the new book edited by Cuch, 'A History of Utah's American Indians.'
"'Many Paiute leaders (among others) believe and claim that, contrary to most published accounts, Indians did not participate in the initial attack on the wagon train nor in the subsequent murder of its inhabitants,' wrote Weber
State University cultural anthropologist Ron Holt and Paiute Tribe Education Director Gary Tom. 'Accounts collected by the Paiute Tribe call into question this recounting of events, claiming that in great part Paiutes have been wrongfully blamed for assisting in something that was not of their making.'"
| Um, I also sure remember the day I received a phone call from Senator Orrin Hatch asking me to help him protect Paul H. Dunn from media investigation.
I was going through some old files awhile back and came across some recollections I had written down about a phone call I received some years ago from Senator Orrin Hatch, asking me to help him protect Paul H. Dunn from media scrutiny.
The account of the Hatch call was originally intended as part of a presentation I gave at a Sunstone symposium shortly after leaving the Mormon Church, but because of time constraints, it was left unmentioned.
Below is the account from the prepared text:
"One day [Senator Orrin Hatch] called me asking a favor. He had heard that my colleagues at the Arizona Republic were investigating allegations that Elder Paul H. Dunn had manufactured claims about his war and baseball careers. He asked me to prevail on my reporter friends to kill the investigation.
"The Senator was making the request, he said, because Paul Dunn was 'a good friend' whom he wished to protect from Lynn Packer, a Mormon journalist who had made the charges, [and] whom Hatch accused of having 'an axe to grind against the Church.'
"I felt very uncomfortable and asked Senator Hatch if he had looked into the allegations against Elder Dunn to see if they were true. He admitted he had not. I told him I could not, in good conscience, interfere with the developing story. The phone conversation quickly ended, with Senator Hatch saying he might get back to me. He never did. The story, of course, later ran and Elder Dunn confessed he had, indeed, exaggerated his exploits."
By the way, the Mormon Church leadership must have known about Dunn's dubious stories long before he was finally exposed as a consumate fraud.
At BYU, I had a political science professor named Ray Hillam who had edited a book, entitled, "A Time to Kill," featuring wartime episodes from the lives of Mormon soldiers in combat.
It was compiled and published before Dunn was undone. I asked Hillam why, during the preparation of the book, he did not include any of Dunn's fantastic war tales.
Hillam told me that he had done some investigating into Dunn's claims, including speaking with sources inside the Church (whom he did not name), and the consensus was that the exploits were so fantastic that their credibility was highly questionable.
Rather than pursue the matter further at that time, Hillam told me he just decided to drop any idea of publishing Dunn's amazing action-packed accounts.
For what it's worth, it seems highly unlikely to me that skeptical opinion of Dunn's tales had not been voiced within earshot of His Fakiness's superiors.
Put more precisely, the GAs had to have known that Dunn's tales were suspicious, at best, and lies, at worst.
Yet, they did nothing until the media blew the whistle on him--then quietly retired him without firing a shot.
| Pre-Progamming Communication: Excerpts From My E-Mail Observations To The Producers Of The Helen Whitney PBS Documentary On Mormonism |
Tuesday, May 1, 2007, at 09:49 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| As is known by now, final, last-minute editing by the producers of the PBS documentary on the Mormon Church has resulted in some interviews being cut, including the statements made by historian Dan Vogel and myself.
Such is life. All is well in Zion, all is well. :)
As preparations were being made last summer for down-the-homestretch interviews and eventual editing, I was invited by the show's organizers to participate. I agreed and was flown up to Salt Lake City by Helen Whitney Productions, where I was interviewed for roughly two hours by Helen in the McCune Mansion.
In the time period leading up to my on-camera (and eventually dumped) interview, I engaged in both phone and e-mail communications with show personnel, which was done for purposes of background and at the their request.
Also at their request (made at the time of those communications), I agreed that what the show's producers said to me regarding the parameters and purposes of the documentary from their perspective would remain off the record.
However, below are some of my own observations shared with the show's producers in preparation for my cut interview segment, which I am willing to share here (or with anyone else, for the matter):
"[Joseph] Smith was a charismatic in the classical sense, with an imaginative mind, a forceful personality and possessing natural leadership skills.
"That said, I am also of the strong opinion that Smith was eventually corrupted by power (which lead directly to his assassination), in addition to being narcissitic and chauvinistic, as well as engaging in deliberate deception with regard to the alleged translations of both the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.
"He could be both touching and tyrannical--a very mixed (and in some respects mixed up) bag of a man. . . .
"The Mormon Church's historical claims with regard to its core scriptural doctrine simply do not hold up to scrutiny, particularly in realms of science, where genetics and archaeology have severely undermined LDS assertions with regard to its foundational scriptures.
"This criticism sparks in Mormonism a very real (and understandable, to some extent) persecution complex, which continues today from its 19th century roots, when it was seen by many Americans as a bizarre, threatening and clannish cult.
"In an effort to buttress the faith and the faithful against perceived and pernicious onslaught from without, Mormonism quickly evolved into a strict hierarchal organization (where it remains today), with power emanating from the top downward, and with a fundamental touchstone of required faith being that of devoted (read unquestioning) obedience to divinely-decreed authority, as the Mormon leadership defines that authority to be.
"I would agree that the Mormon Church is subject, in some respects, to unwarranted ridicule and caricature, based in ignorance and bias.
"However, some of the intense skepticism and criticism which the LDS Church encounters in the public arena is due, in no small measure, to the secretive nature (and purposeful public misrepresentation of) certain of its core doctrinal beliefs and practices--particularly as they relate to Mormon temple ceremonies and the Church's continued canonical devotion to the principle of polygamy.
"Excommunication of Mormon intellectuals is often driven by fear and unease among Mormon leadership toward critics from within, who are warned not to speak too openly or critically of what are considered by both Mormon authorities and rank-and-file alike to be either sacred or off-limit topics, as so defined by the LDS high command.
"To disobey these directives is, in the Mormon mindset, equivalent to apostacy and proof positive of a profound lack of faith deserving of God's punishment, as meted out by God's authorized earthly agents.
"Thus, those excommunicated for intellectually challenging the Mormon Church are overwhelmingly viewed by the faithful as having received the punishment they deserved." . . .
"I appreciate your serious approach to these subjects."
| Rolling Over In His White And Delightsome Grave: Forget That Interracial Mormon Couple You Saw In The PBS Documentary. It Shouldn't Have Happened, According To LDS Prophet Spencer W. Kimball |
Thursday, May 3, 2007, at 08:06 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| LDS Church president Spencer W. Kimball, like any good and faithful Mormon, was a White supremacist of the first order.
Let the record white and delightsomely demonstrate:
Crossing Racial Lines is Bad for the Breed
"Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the lines. We hope they will be very happy, but experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages" (Brigham Young University devotional, 5 January 1965)
"When I said you must teach your people to overcome their prejudices and accept the Indians, I did not mean that you would encourage intermarriage. I mean that they should be brothers, to worship together and to work together and to play together; but we must discourage intermarriage, not because it is sin. I would like to make this very emphatic. A couple has not committed sin if an Indian boy and a white girl are married, or vice versa. It isn't a transgression like the transgressions of which many are guilty. But it is not expedient. Marriage statistics and our general experience convince us that marriage is not easy. It is difficult when all factors are favorable. The divorces increase constantly, even where the spouses have the same general background of race, religion, finances, education, and otherwise. " ("The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball," p.302)
"The interrace marriage problem is not one of inferiority or superiority. It may be that your son is better educated and may be superior in his culture, and yet it may be on the other hand that she is superior to him. It is a matter of backgrounds. The difficulties and hazards of marriage are greatly increased where backgrounds are different. For a wealthy person to marry a pauper promises difficulties. For an ignoramus to marry one with a doctor's degree promises difficulties, heartaches, misunderstandings, and broken marriages.
"When one considers marriage, it should be an unselfish thing, but there is not much selflessness when two people of different races plan marriage. They must be thinking selfishly of themselves. They certainly are not considering the problems that will beset each other and that will beset their children.
"If your son thinks he loves this girl, he would not want to inflict upon her loneliness and unhappiness; and if he thinks that his affection for her will solve all her problems, he should do some more mature thinking.
"We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs." ("The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball," p.303)
"In 1958 [Kimball] gave an address which touched on [the]subject [of interracial dating]. President Kimball's statement was reprinted in the Church Section of the Deseret News on June 17, 1978 [on the heels of the Mormon Church allowing Black males to receive the priesthood] . . .
"The Church Section . . . [on that date] gave this information:
"In an address to seminary and institute teachers at Brigham Young University on June 27, 1958, President Kimball, then a member of the Council of the Twelve, said:
"' . . . [T]here is one thing that I must mention, and that is interracial marriages. When I said you must teach your young people to overcome their prejudices and accept the Indians, I did not mean that you would encourage intermarriage.'"
Utah's Anti-Interracial Marriage Law
"Like most other states, Utah once had a law against interracial marriages. It was passed by the territorial Legislature in 1888 and wasn't repealed until 1963, said Philip Notarianni, director of the Division of State History.
"'Utah, both in enacting and repealing it, probably just was going along with the national sentiment,' he said.
"Race isn't an issue today for Utah's predominant LDS faith, church spokesman Scott Trotter said.
"The late President Spencer W. Kimball of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had cautioned members about interracial marriages, but it was also a revelation issued by President Kimball that opened up the LDS priesthood to worthy black males in 1978."
What a guy ol' saintly Spence was.
Even when he gave the priesthood to Blacks, he couldn't help himself and had to add that didn't mean White folks should, you know, like, marry them.
| Al Sharpton Is Absolutely Right: Calling Mormonism Bigoted For Its Doctrinally - Practiced Bigotry Is Not Bigotry - It Is A Response To Mormon Bigotry |
Friday, May 11, 2007, at 09:24 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 8 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Sharpton: Prior to '78, Mormons Weren't 'Real Worshippers of God'
by Mark Finkelstein - 9 May 2007
In going on Paula Zahn's CNN show this evening, was Al Sharpton's goal to quell the controversy surrounding his comments about Mormonism, or to inflame it?
If the former, he failed miserably. If the latter, he succeeded admirably. Far from retracting his earlier allegation that Mormons aren't real believers, he repeated it, adding an allegation of racism for good measure.
Let's recall Sharpton's original statement, that in going on the Zahn show he presumably was seeking to explicate.
Debating Christopher Hitchens recently, Sharpton said:
"And as for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway. So don't worry about that. That's a temporary, that's a temporary situation."
Discussing those comments on "Paula Zahn Now" . . . Sharpton and Zahn discussed the fact that until 1965 [according to CNN], or 1978, according to Sharpton, the Mormon church did not accord Blacks full status.
That engendered the following exchange:
CNN HOST PAULA ZAHN: Prior to 1965 -
THE REVEREND AL SHARPTON: I think it's 1978.
ZAHN: Well, our researchers are using a different date. But prior to that date, when Blacks were finally considered equals within the church, did you find the Mormon church racist?
SHARPTON: I think that's that by self-definition.
If prior to '65, '78, whenever it was, they did not see Blacks as equal, I do not believe that as real worshippers of God, because I do not believe that God distinguishes between people.
That's not bigotry, that's responding to their bigotry.
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