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Total Articles: 18
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.
Beck On The Brink?: Like His Mormon Church, Brother Beck Is Losing Hordes Of True-Believing Minions, As They Find Him To Be Increasingly Irrelevant, Boring And/Or Offensive
Wednesday, Mar 9, 2011, at 09:00 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
"It seems Beck has lost more than 1 million viewers in the last six months, ever since he crested with his 'Restoring Honor Rally' in August, which saw an estimated 100,000 people in attendance on the Mall in Washington.

"Beck also has lost more than 300 sponsors since his observation that President Barack Obama had 'a deep-seated hatred for white people.' (All advertisers didn't back away from Beck for the Obama remark, but he's insulted and ridiculed others, like billionaire George Soros and those who follow Reformed Judaism, which has led to further loss of advertisers). [The New York Times David] Carr suggests Beck's alarmist conspiracy-driven daily messages might also be wearing a bit thin on his audience."

("Glenn Beck to Be Fired at Fox News? After All He's Done? Are They Just Rumors or is Glenn Beck Really Close to Being Fired?," from "Associated Content," at Yahoo, 7 March 2011, at:

More bad news for Brother Beck:

"Fox News is looking at dropping controversial host Glenn Beck, who has dropped a million viewers over the last 14 months.

"Citing anonymous Fox News officials, the New York Times David Carr reports that 'they are looking at the end of his contract in December and contemplating life without Mr. Beck.'

"The Mt. Vernon, Washington, native lost many sponsors after calling President Obama a 'racist.' He has been denounced by rabbis for his personal attacks on financier George Soros. Lately, Beck found himself taken to task by fellow conservative pundits for seeing conspiracies and communists behind the the popular uprising that toppled Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak.

“'Beck has lost over a third of his audience on Fox – a greater percentage drop than other hosts at Fox,' Carr wrote. 'True, he fell from the great heights of the health care debate in January of 2010, but there has been worrisome erosion – more than one million viewers – especially in the younger demographic.'

"The Beck audience has gone from 2.8 million viewers to 1.8 million viewers. Still, Beck has far more viewers than any nightly program on MSNBC or CNN.

"Beck 'has numbers that just about any cable news host would envy,' Carr noted. But he said Fox, which far outdraws his competition, doesn’t need Beck to lead in the ratings.

"The New York Times gets a regular roasting on Fox News programs, especially “The O’Reilly Factor.” Fox News boss Roger Ailes has a record of baiting and confounding the proverbial liberal media.

"Perhaps with this in mind, Carr includes a qualifier: 'But the (Fox-Beck) partnership, which has been good for both parties, may yet be repaired.'

"Beck drew crowds of supporters and detractors in 2009 when the mayor of Mt. Vernon – without consulting his city council – gave Beck a key to the city.

"Beck drew several thousand supporters to a Safeco Field rally, but several hundred hostile demonstrators when he journeyed to Mt. Vernon. If Beck was getting a key to the city, said one protest sign, 'Lets change the locks.'"

("Beck to Get the Boot?," by Joel Connelly, "Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 7 March , 2011, at:

See also, "Glenn Beck Has Lost Over A MILLION Viewers In The Last 6 Months!," from CNN's "In the Arena," on "youtube," 7 March 2011, at:
Follow Your Church Leaders Or End Up Dead: The Case Of The Murdered Missionary -- And How The Bensons Blamed The Victim
Monday, Mar 14, 2011, at 07:39 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
In another thread, RfM poster "Fetal Deity" asked:

"Are the . . . 'disabled' even allowed to be Mormon missionaries? I know those terms are relative, but isn't there are fairly thorough health-screening that candidates must undergo to qualify to be a Mormon missionary?"

("So was it really a miracle that saved the Mormon missionaries from the tsunami?," posted by "Fetal Deity," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 13 March 2011

In answer to that question, I note the following episode:

When my uncle, Reed Benson, was president of the Louisville KY mission from 1975 to 1978, a horrible and tragic crime occured on his watch--one committed at the hands of a homicidal Mormon missionary.

If I remember correctly, the murder victim (the killer's companion) had been disabled as a youth in some kind of accident (I seem to recall that it involved a collision with a train).

The young man, as a result of the accident, was permanently brain damaged but was determined to serve a mission, nonetheless.

He entered the field and was assigned to the elder who eventually killed him. The murdering missionary (who apparently "snapped" from dealing with his impaired companion) horribly abused and eventually scalded him to death in their apartment bathtub.

I recall that the murder occurred, coincidentally enough, on my Uncle Reed's birthday (we share the same birthday, by the way, which accounts for my middle name being "Reed").

I also recollect that the murderer was eventually remanded by the courts to the custody of his parents and did no prison time.

I later heard members of the Benson family talk about this incident where, unbelievably, they essentially blamed the murder victim for his own demise.

They discussed among themselves how, after he was injured in his pre-mission accident, his local Church leaders advised him not to go on a mission but that he ignored their advice and went anyway.

Subsequently, he was killed by his companion, who had a difficult time dealing with the ill-fated missionary's mental impairment (caused by the accident), which slowed the unfortunate young man down and made him an unbearable challenge to work with, at least as far as his companion was concerned.

I was astounded to hear members of the Benson family laying blame for the missionary's death on the missionary himself, saying that he had failed to follow the counsel of his local Church leaders to forego a mission and, consequently, paid with his life.

I did some research and came across a so-called reunion "found list" of missionaries who served under my Uncle Reed in the Louisville KY mission contained the name of one "James Christensen" who, under the category of "Home phone," is simply listed as "deceased," with no other information provided:

Another website, however, "Mahonri--Finding Light in the Darkness," offered a tribute to Mormon missionaries who have died while serving their Church:

"'In Memoria'

"We want to honor and recognize the work of all missionaries on the Parley P. Pratt Missionary Memorial, but unfortunately we do not have a complete list of those who have given their lives in the service of the Master.

"Nor do we have a complete roster of all missionaries who now face physical, emotional and intellectual challenges as a result of accident or illness suffered on their missions.

"Further, we do not have a complete list of those missionaries whose lives were taken before being able to enter the mission field. Your help in compiling a more complete account of those we would honor will be greatly appreciated."

They did, however, have the following name and brief biographical information:

"James E. Christensen, 24, Kentucky Louisville, Moroni, UT 1977 "

At least it was more than the pathetically meager reference offered up by the Louisville KY mission's reunion website--although the list of dead on the "Mahonri" memorial webpage was followed by a bizarre observation from Apostle M. Russell Ballard:

"Since the day of the Prophet Joseph Smith, we've had approximately 447,969 missionaries serve in the world,' Elder M. Russell Ballard said in 1989. 'Of those 447,969, (some) 525 have lost their lives while serving as full-time missionaries,' he added. 'When you contemplate that number, it appears that the safest place in the whole world is to be on a full-time mission,' concluded the member of the Twelve."


Tell that to mentally-disabled Elder James E. Christensen: dead at age 24, due--according to family members of Ezra Taft Benson defending their own--his failure to obey priesthood authority.
Saved By A Christian Evangelical Preacher / Locksmith Along The Freeway Of Life
Friday, Mar 25, 2011, at 07:22 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
So, I was recently returning from a short vacation trip to the foreign country of Utah in my Toyota Tacoma truck, where I pulled into the parking lot of a convenience store "trading post" just off the Arizona interstate--and proceeded to lock my keys in the cab.

It had happened because the store clerk's card-swiping machine wouldn't, for some gawd-durned reason, take my valid debit card for a purchase. Making it all the more frustrating, the ATM in the gas station next door wouldn't give me cash using the same card. (Grrrr. I had employed the card up the road to purchase gas, so I couldn't figure out what was going on, fer Christsake).

The trading post clerk suggested that the debit card company might have inactivated my card because of frequent and unusual activity (I was, in fact, using it to fill the tank up and back, plus buying snacks along the way). She said she saw customers experiencing the same thing all the time in her store.

So, I thanked her and called the debit card company and they acknowledged that they had "flagged' my card for that very reason--to prevent fraudulent use of a card that they thought might have been stolen--which meant they had taken it "offline" and I couldn't use it for anything. The guy on the other end asked me if I had a checking account number to verify my I.D. While I was out in my then-still unlocked truck looking for additional identification, I accidentally left the keys on the seat and shut the locked door on them. With me not able to locate a checkbook, the credit card company dude proceeded to look up my account and take me through a long list of purchases I had recently made to verify that I was the guy who had made them. Having ascertained that, he reactivated my debit card. (He also tried to sell me on some better interest-bearing accounts but I politely declined).

But what was I to do about my locked truck? I got a phone number for a local locksmith from the clerk and dialed them up. Promising a tip for prompt service, they arrived in about 10 minutes.

They were a husband and wife team in what looked like their late 60s or early 70s, arriving in an unmarked light truck with a home-made camper shell fitted into the back bed.

The wife was friendly and talkative, so we chatted as her husband fiddled for several minutes with my side door, using a home-made bent wire tool to snag the lock and eventually pull it up.

While he was trying to accomplish that task, I gave his wife a generous cash tip for coming out so promptly. She politely tried to decline it but I politely insisted that they keep it, complimenting them for their quick and effective service.

She thanked me, saying she appreciated my offer because she and her husband were supporting a Christian ministry in India. She added with a sweet smile that her husband had been a retired gold miner-turned preacher of some 40 years and that they traveled to various places in the world spreading the Word of God (including Africa, Mexico and the Bahamas). She added that the locksmith business helped them support their overseas ministry activities.

I replied with a question, pleasantly asking if this meant that because of a stupid mistake made by a dumb driver in Arizona who locked his keys in his truck, somebody in India was going to get $15.00. (I refrained from suggesting that this could have been God's will). She kept smiling and didn't say anything.

Meanwhile, as she was telling me about their evangelical efforts, her husband continued to work on popping the lock. Watching him get a bit frustrated, I suggested that if he was successful in opening the door with what I called his "magic man" tool, we all could declare "Praise God!"

No response.

The husband continued to fiddle with the lock, evidencing increased exasperation. His wife whispered to me that he was using the wrong tool and that another tool that he had would work better. I asked her why she didn't just tell him to use the other tool. She replied that it had been a long work day for him.

When the husband finally figured out that the first gizmo he was using wasn't working, he announced he would try another tool (the one which his wife had under her breath told me he should have been using all along). Upon her husband's declaration that he was going to switch tools, she then piped up and told him which tool he should use. (I guess she felt it wasn't her place to say anything about changing tools to a better one until he realized that reality and said so himself).

When the husband finally got the door open, I did exactly what I had proposed, smiled and said, "Praise God!"

Neither one of them joined in.

I then asked the husband if he could cut me an extra key which I could keep on me, since I expected at some point in the future to commit the same stupid lock-out mistake and could use a spare. He said he had a generator in the back of his truck that powered his mobile key cutter located in the camper shell, so he pulled his truck off to the side of the gas station and proceeded to plop down in a cloth fold-up seat in the camper shell, where he had all kinds of key templates hanging on a pegboard above his handy key-cutting machine.

In a few minutes, after some grinding and buffing, he gave me the extra key. I pulled out $5.00 but he declined, saying I had already paid him. I told him that what I had paid him for earlier was for him unlocking my truck and now I wanted to pay him for the extra key. He said he would settle for a dollar and before I could press the point, he snatched a dollar from the bills I had in my hand.

I thanked him and turned back to my truck. He proceeded to pack up his generator, then went to his truck cab and returned with several monthly newsletters from a long-time preacher in the Phoenix retirement community of Sun City with whom he had ministry connections. As he handed them to me, he asked if I had ever heard of this other preacher. I said no.

He proceeded to tell me that he (meaning the locksmith) and his wife were supporting hundreds of Christian believers in India, as well as several churches there.

I responded by telling him it must have been really nice preaching in such a great tropical climate as the Bahamas.

He replied by telling me that radical Pakistani Islamists were busy killing Christians in India, including burning them alive.

I noted that India and Pakistan had historically suffered tense relations and that it was unfortunate to see what people do to each other in the name of their gods. (I decided it was not the time or place to mention the Christian Inquisition against non-believers or the Salem witch-burnings as good examples of that fact).

I thanked him for the newsletters, one of which I noticed headlined in bold print the sin of blasphemy. I didn't have the heart to tell him I was an atheist who had declared "Praise God!" when this evangelical preacher had unlocked my truck.

That would have been, well, blasphemous.

We shook hands. As we parted, he said that one of America's greatest problems was that people are running the government who don't know what they're doing. I replied that it's the people's fault, since it's the people who elect them. He grumped something that wasn't much of a response.

I thanked him for being so nice, and said the same about his wife. He got in his truck (his wife had been sitting quietly in the cab), and I got in mine. We waved to each other as we all pulled out and I honked my horn in appreciation.

Praise God and pass the "magic man" key thing-a-mah-jig.

Hell, all I really wanted was for him to open my door to my keys, not to open my heart to Jesus.

Besides, Jesus was a carpenter. I needed a locksmith.
A Strange, Sad And Yet, In The End, Positive Experience At A Mormon-Run Memorial Service For My Deceased Ex-Mormon Friend
Monday, Mar 28, 2011, at 08:02 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
I recently attended a memorial service for an ex-Mormon friend of mine who passed away a few days ago.

I had known him for several years. He was born into a local Mormon family, served a full-time LDS mission, was married in the Mormon temple, raised a large family in the faith, served as a bishop in an area LDS ward close to where I lived--and eventually got divorced, with a main reason being that he came to realize that Mormonism was not true, while his wife remained a steadfast true-believer. He loved his children and continued a close relationship with them, but vowed never to get married again.

He and I visited on and off during the ensuing years, with him often calling me at work to express his views on various topics of the day (religious and non-religious alike). He was bright, perceptive, sensitive and direct--a person of outspoken honesty and conviction. He did not tolerate injustice or deception and spoke his mind unhesitatingly.

He was a lawyer by profession. When I left the Mormon Church, I was faced with some ugly, false rumors about my supposed reasons for leaving Mormonism that were being bandied about by an unhinged TBM. My ex-Mormon friend contacted the accuser and persuaded him to publicly retract his claims, under threat of legal action if he did not. The TBM did so reluctantly, but nonetheless attempted to justify his false accusations by saying he did not appreciate my editorial cartoons criticizing eventually impeached and convicted Mormon Arizona governor Evan Mecham. (Say what?) It was good to have my ex-bishop, ex-Mormon, practicing-attorney friend around.

Anyway, attending the memorial service for my friend were many of his LDS family members and acquaintances. Several of the Mormon men who came to the Saturday memorial service were dressed in typical Sunday suits and ties. Also typically, women managed the buffet table. People mingled around, visiting the food and sitting on folding chairs chatting among themselves.

While they were doing so, a slide show was displaying large photographs of my friend's life, cast on two opposite, wide walls in the room where the memorial was being held (inside a city public building next to the municipal library).

From what I could observe, few if any people were paying meaningful attention to the slide show of my friend's journey as it was being displayed up on those walls. Instead, as I concentrated on watching the personal photographs of my friend's life from his infant days up through his later years, I could hear the Mormons present in the room talking about the expanding number of stakes in their areas, who was serving or had served in what Mormon missions and how their businesses were doing in a tough economy.

In the meantime, my friend's life was being flashed before their unfocused eyes and into their unlistening ears. Sadly, as well, there was no clear indication in the slide show's carefully edited presentation that my friend had actually left the Mormon Church. Indeed, it displayed his Church ordination records and the farewell announcement of his mission call as a young man, along with the newspaper announcement of his temple wedding and reference to him having been a bishop. Looking at it from a neutral vantage point, one would have thought he had been born and had died a faithful Mormon.

That not-unexpected deceptive presentation, combined with the visitors' oblivious inattention, disappointed me. I left after about 45 minutes, recalling for what was to be an eventually-compiled guest book some short, positive memories and thoughts about my good friend.

As I was exiting, one of his children spotted me and came over to say hello. We chatted quietly outside the building for a few minutes, where he told me that he was not a practicing Mormon and that what he and I were witnessing in that room were Mormons caught up in their own little world, absorbed in the limited views and experiences of their Mormon lives--the only thing, he said, that they could relate to. I asked him how he was doing in the wake of his father's loss and he said that this was the hardest day so far. I found out that we had served in the same overseas mission (years apart), so we chatted briefly in the native tongue. He took down my email address and we agreed to get together in the future.

He looked, sounded and acted like his father.

I was happy to leave with a living memory of my friend.
Ga Gluttony: Why Hammer The Boys For Pigging Out In Public On The Sabbath When They've Done It High Above The Little People In The Great And Spacious Building On Conference Weekend?
Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011, at 07:55 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
Based upon my own Benson experience with "Brethren Bennies," it used to be a tradition among the "perkified" that between breaks of the General Conference morning and afternoon sessions, GAs and their families were treated to a sumptuous lunch, high atop the Church Office building.

The GAs relations (as well as friends and dates brought along by, say, their grandchildren) would gather at large tables, where they would be served heaping plates full of hot food, brought to them by young, crisply dressed girls. It was a place to eat, to be seen and to impress.

Meanwhile, during this GA food fest, we could look out the windows of this Great and Spacious Building, down at the lawn directly outside the Tabernacle, where the "great unwashed"--those LDS "little people"--were clustered on blankets brought from home, eating cheap box lunches which they had bought or food they had packed themselves--waiting and hoping to get into the afternoon session.

With our bellies pleasantly (not peasantly) full, we would eventually make our way down to the Tabernacle where we would flash our special-entrance passes, cut into line at the last minute ahead of people who had been waiting for hours, and make our way into "our" special seating.

One year, after returning home to Arizona from Conference, a member of our ward mentioned that they had seen us at Temple Square as we maneuvered our way into the Tabernacle, where this member and their family had long been waiting, trying to get in by standing in line. It was an uncomfortable encounter for us--and we knew the arrangement was not right.

So we determined that we had had had enough of this kind of undeserved treatment and therefore decided in the future to wait in line with everyone else. If we couldn't make it into the Tabernacle because seating ran out, we would go over to the Assembly Hall and listen to Conference being piped in from across the way.

No more Conference burping with the Brethren. No matter. It was never a feast for the soul anyway.
Buckets Of Blessings: Another Soap-A-Dope Command From The Mormon God, As Hometeaching Is Now Changed To Church Cleaning (No Spoof)
Monday, Apr 11, 2011, at 07:17 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
Buckets of Blessings: Another Soap-a-Dope Command from the Mormon God, as Hometeaching Is Now Changed to Church Cleaning (no spoof)

I had dinner the other night with a lapsed Mormom friend of mine (who lurks on RfM but as of yet hasn't posted, although he says he wants to once he figures out how to use his new computer).

He informed me that his hometeacher recently (meaning the end of November) left a voice message that the ward hometeaching program was being changed in ways to, well, clean up its act.

That change, the hometeacher relayed in the message, was that on occasion the hometeacher would invite all his assigned familes to go to the local wardhouse, where they would meet up, then clean it up.

My friend said this sparkling new wrinkle in the hometeaching program would mean that instead of 12 monthly visits to the homes of an assigned family, twice a year or so the hometeacher would dutifully assemble at the wardhouse with the sheep placed under his care for an edifying experience in spiritual sudsing.

My friend said that his hometeacher pitched the new progam by describing it as an opportunity for "service."

My friend was flabbergasted by the news and, just to make sure, contacted members of his extended family in the area to see if, in fact, this was the Mormon Church's new approach to hometeaching. He said he was informed that, indeed, this wardhouse worker bee Janitors-for-Jesus initiative was being implemented as a periodic replacement during the calendar year for the traditional hometeaching visit to family homes.

I asked my friend what he thought of this development. With an irritated look on his face and in a slightly raised voice (we were at a restaurant), he replied that his personal idea of service was not to clean the property of "a multi-billion dollar corporation."

He added that his wife's reaction was likewise less than enthusiastic. She noted that this meant people bringing along their kids--which meant that they would simply run around out of control. (His wife works in the Young Woman's program, so couldn't be described as a slouch).

I asked my friend how he responded to his hometeacher's invitation to join him and the other assigned families in an inspiring adventure of group wardhouse cleaning.

He said he simply ignored this inner-cleansing call to service. He also said that he didn't expect any resistance from his hometeacher, describing the HT as a laidback kind of guy who, when he made his visits to their home, only knocks, doesn't come in and sometimes brings along goodies.

There you have it--another prophetic initiative to protect Morg profitability.

Come to church, brothers and sisters, and scrub the bathrooms.

Hometeaching: Isn't it about slime?
Mormonism's Sexual Predator Prophet Joe Smith Locks A Teenage Girl In A Room And Tries To Convince Her To Marry Him. She Defiantly Refuses And Is Therefore Labeled A Child Prostitute
Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at 07:22 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
This is sex stalker Joseph Smith arguably at his worst, as disgustingly confirmed by numerous sources.

A variety of accounts, complete with cross-confirming details, are readily available today, chronicling sex fiend Joseph Smith's moves on one Nancy Rigdon, 19-year-old daughter of Signey Rigdon (Sidney was Smith's close confidante and member of the Mormon Church's First Presidency. No matter. Sidney had a teenager daughter and, true to form, the lustful polygamist Smith therefore wanted to bed and wed her).

For the record, from a litany of solid historical reviews (with additional information provided about Mormon-leader character assassination of Nancy Rigdon that took place after she dared repulse Smith's sexual advances and openly criticize him):

--"John C. Bennett . . . accused Joseph of trying to seduce Nancy Rigdon, nineteen-year-old daughter of Sidney Rigdon . . . .

"That Joseph attempted to persuade Nancy to marry him was recorded by others besides Bennett, including Nancy's brother John. John said that until that incident the Rigdons had been unaware of polygamy in the church. Sidney was profoundly shocked and upset by ensuing gossip among neighbors. According to John, Joseph denied having proposed to Nancy, but Sidney later got an admission from him that it was true."

(Donna Hill, "Joseph Smith--The First Mormon" [Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1977], p. 301)

--"The prophet [Joseph Smith] was . . . at odds with his long-time friend and counselor Sidney Rigdon over a reputed polygamous proposal on 9 April 1842 to Rigdon's unmarried daughter Nancy. George W. Robinson, a prominent Nauvoo citizen married to another of Rigdon's daughters, wrote to James A. Bennett, a New York friend to the church, on 22 July 1842, that 'Smith sent for Miss Rigdon to come to the house of Mrs. [Orson] Hyde, who lived in the under-rooms of the printing- office. . . . According to Robinson, Nancy 'inquired of the messenger . . . what was wanting, and the only reply was, that Smith wanted to see her.' Robinson claimed that Smith took her into a room, 'locked the door, and then stated to her that he had had an affection for her for several years, and wished that she should be his; that the Lord was well pleased with this matter, for he had got a revelation on the subject, and God had given him all the blessings of Jacob, etc., etc., and that there was no sin whatever.' Robinson reported thatNancy 'repulsed him and was about to raise the neighbors if he did not unlock the door and let her out' . . . .

"Nancy's brother, John, recounting the incident later, remembered that 'Nancy refused him, saying if she ever got married she would marry a single man or none at all, and took her bonnet and went home, leaving Joseph . . . .' Nancy withheld details of the situation from her family until a day or two later, when a letter from the prophet was delivered by Smith's personal secretary, Willard Richards. 'Happiness is the object and design of our existence,' the letter began. 'That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right uner another.' The letter went ont to teach that 'whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof til long after the events transpire. . . . Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in his views, and boundless in his mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.'

"Nancy showed the prophet's letter to her father and told him of the incident at the Hyde residence. Rigdon demanded an audience with Smith. George W. Robinson reported that when Smith came to Rigdon's home, the enraged father asked for an explanation. The prophet 'attempted to deny it at first,' Robinson said, 'and face her down with the lie; but she told the facts with so much earnestness, and the fact of a letter being present, which he had caused to be written to her on the same subject, the day after the attempt made on her virtue,' that ultimately 'he could not withstand the testimony; he then and there acknowledged that every word of Miss Rigdon's testimony was true' . . . . Much later, John Rigdon elaborated that 'Nancy was one of those excitable women and she went into the room and said, "Joseph Smith, you are telling that which is not true. You did make such a proposition to me and you know it [crossed out in the original]: 'The woman who was there said to Nancy, "Are you not afraid to call the Lord's anointed a cursed liar?" "No," she replied, "I am not for he does lie and he knows it"]' . . . .

"Robinson wrote that Smith, after acknowledging the incident, claimed he had propositioned Nancy because he 'wished to ascertain whether she was virtuous or not, and took that course to learn the facts!' . . . But the Rigdon family would not accept such an explanation. They were persuaded that the rumors about the prophet's polygamy doctrine had been confirmed. The issue continued to be a serious source of contention between the two church leaders until Smith's death in 1844. According to John Rigdon, Sidney told the family that Smith 'could never be sealed to one of his daughters with his consent as he did not believe in the doctrine' . . . . Rigdon preferred to keep his difficulties with the prophet private, but John C. Bennet's detailed disclosures made this impossible. . . .

"There is no solid evidence that Rigdon ever advocated polygamy. His son John maintained that Rigdon 'took the ground no matter from what source it came, whether from [the] Prophet, seer [and] revelator or angels from heaven, [that] it was a false doctrine and should be rejected' . . . . Yet accusations linking Ridgon to polygamy and insinuating that his daughter Nancy was a prostitute undermined his status as the only surviving member of the First Presidency [following the assassination of Smith]."

(Richard S. Van Wagoner, "Mormon Polygamy: A History" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1986], pp. 30-31, 73)

--"In mid-April [1844] Joseph had asked Sidney Rigdon's nineteen-year-old daughter Nancy to become his plural wife. Bennett had his own eye on the girl and forewarned her, so she refused Joseph. The following day Joseph dictated a letter to her with Willard Richards acting as scribe. It read in part, 'Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. . . . That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. . . . Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason therof til long after the events transpire.'

"Nancy Rigdon showed the letter to her father. Rigdon immediately sent for Joseph, who reportedly denied everything until Sidney thrust the letter in his face. George W. Robinson, Nancy's brother-in-law, claimed he witnessed the encounter and said Joseph admitted that he spoken with Nancy but that he had only been testing her virtue."

(Linda King Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery, "Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith--Prophet's Wife, 'Elect Lady,' Polygamy's Foe" [Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Compmany, Inc., 1984] pp. 111-12)

--"Joseph Smith's wives, after their marriage to him, often figured in the marriage arrangements of new wives, as messengers or counselors or witnesses. According to John Bennett, Smith used [Nancy] Marinda [Hyde] as a go-between in his attempt to woo Nancy Rigdon, Sidney's nineteen-year-old daughter. Bennett is not always reliable, but he did have early first-hand knowledge of the Mormon leader's polygamous activites, as his short list of Smith's plural wives shows. In this case, accounts of the same events by Nancy's brother, J. Wickliffe, and her brother-in-law, George W. Robinson, show that Bennet was not merely spinning a fictitious story.

"Bennett relates that in early April [1844], Smith decided he wanted to marry Nancy Rigdon, so on April 9 he asked Marinda to arrange a meeting between him and the teenager. Marinda met Nancy at the funeral of Ephraim Marks and told her that Joseph wanted to see her at the printing office, Marinda's residence. When Nancy arrived, she was ushered into a private room where Joseph soon proposed to her. She was outraged and demanded that he let her out of the locked room immediately. Smith did so, but, 'as she was much agitated, he requested Mrs. Hyde to explain matters to her; and, after agreeing to write her a doctrinal letter, left the house. Mrs. Hyde told her that these things looked strange to her at first, but that she would become more reconciled on mature reflection. Miss Rigdon replied, "I never shall," left the house, and returned home.' Nancy did hold her ground, and when she told her father of the experience, it drove a firm wedge between him and Joseph, just as Joseph's earlier relationship with Fanny Alger had caused another high church leader, Oliver Cowdery, to lose respect for him."

(Todd Compton, "In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], pp. 239-40)

More on the damning details relating to Smith's sexual stalking of Nancy Rigdon, the attempted lies and cover-up, the subsequent justifications and the personal smearing of Nancy Rigdon (provided previously by RfM poster Jim Huston):


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess,' by Richard S. Van Wagoner [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1994], p. 295, from letter George W. Robinson to James Arlington Bennett 27 July 1842, cited in Bennett, pp. 245-47:

"'Smith greeted her, ushered her into a private room, then locked the door. After swearing her to secrecy, Smith announced his "affection for her for several years and wished that she would be his….the Lord was well pleased with the matter. There was no sin it it whatever… but if she had any scruples of conscience about the matter, he would marry her privately.'"


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess,' by Van Wagoner, from interview with Elders William H. and E. L. Kelly, cited in Smith and Smith, 4:452-53:

"'Despite her tender age, she did not hesitate to express herself. The prophet's seductive behavior shocked her; she rebuffed him in a flurry of anger.'"


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess,' by Van Wagoner, p. 295, from Wickliffe Rigdon, "Life Story of Sydney Rigdon," p. 164:

"'Smith, flustered, beckoned Mrs. Hyde into the room to help win Nancy over. Hyde volunteered that she too was surprised upon first hearing the tenet, but was convinced it was true, and that “great exaltation would come to those who received and embraced it.'"


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess," by Van Wagoner, p. 295, from Wickliffe Rigdon, 28 July 1905 statement:

"'Incredulous, the feisty Nancy countered that “if she ever got married, she would marry a single man or not at all."

"'Not willing to take no for an answer, Smith later had a letter delivered to Nancy.

"'Joseph Smith to Miss Nancy Rigdon, 11 April 1842, "History of the Church," Vol. 5, pp.134-36; see also, "The Letter of the Prophet, Joseph Smith to Miss Nancy Rigdon," in "Joseph Smith Collection," LDS archives:

"'Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

"'God said, "Thou shalt not kill;" at another time He said "Thou shalt utterly destroy." This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted--by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.

"'A parent may whip a child, and justly, too, because he stole an apple; whereas if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite; there would have been no stripes; all the pleasure of the apple would have been secured, all the misery of stealing lost.

"'This principle will justly apply to all of God's dealings with His children. Everything that God gives us is lawful and right; and it is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to lie down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret. But in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness–and the happiness of all His creatures, he never has–He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances. Blessings offered, but rejected, are no longer blessings, but become likethe talent hid in the earth by the wicked and slothful servant; the proffered good returns to the giver; the blessing is bestowed on those who will receive and occupy; for unto him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundantly, but unto him that hath not or will not receive, shall be taken away that which he hath, or might have had.

"'Be wise today; 'tis madness to defer: Next day the fatal precedent may plead. Thus on till wisdom is pushed out of time Into eternity.

"'Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive; and, at the same time, is more terrible to the workers of iniquity, more awful in the executions of His punishments, and more ready to detect every false way, than we are apt to suppose Him to be. He will be inquired of by His children. He says: "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find;" but, if you will take that which is not your own, or which I have not given you, you shall be rewarded according to your deeds; but no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things–who will listen to my voice and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent; for I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the law of my kingdom; for all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy.'"


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess,' by Van Wagoner, p. 296, from George W. Robinson to James Arlington Bennett 27 July 1842, cited in Bennett, p. 246:

"'When Sidney confronted Smith at the Rigdon home, the enraged father demanded an explanation of the prophet’s behavior. Smith “attempted to deny it at first, and faced [Nancy] down with the lie; ‘told the facts with so much earnestness, and the fact of a letter being present, which he had caused to be written to her, on the same subject, the day after the attempt made on her virtue,' that ultimately 'he could not withstand the testimony; he then and there acknowledged that every word of Miss Rigdon's testimony was true."'


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess," by Van Wagoner, p. 296, from George W. Robinson to James Arlington Bennett, 27 July 1842, cited in Bennett, p. 246:

"'Smith, after acknowledging his proposition, sought a way out of the crisis by claiming he had approached Nancy 'to ascertain whether she was virtuous or not, and took that course to learn the facts!'"


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess," by Van Wagoner, p. 299, from S.M. Ellis (Nancy Rigdon’s son) letter to L. J. Nuffer:

"'The bedeviling paradox for many regarding the Nancy Rigdon incident, is that while Smith's fame as a prophet of God makes the charges against him hard to believe, her steadfast reputation makes them difficult to dismiss.'"


"'Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess,' by Van Wagoner, p. 299:

"Inevitably, Nancy Rigdon, Sarah Pratt, and Martha Brotherton saw their reputations impugned by an avalanche of slander. The prophet labeled Sarah a '[whore] from her mother's breast.' Martha Brotherton was branded a 'mean harlot.' while Nancy was tagged a 'poor miserable girl out of the very slough of prostitution.'"

("Nancy Rigdon and Joseph Smith--What a Pig," posted by Jim Huston, "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 22 March 2011, 6:10 p.m.)

**On the character assassination that followed of Nancy Rigdon (as well as other Mormon women who also rejected Smith's advances), fuller quotes from Van Wagoner's book (in my personal library), "Sidney Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess," Chapter 21, "Between Family and Friends," reveal the extent of Smith and Company's attacks on females who resisted the predator prophet's forays:

"Corrobative evidence exists in the accounts of at least three other Nauvo women who similarly rejected the prophet's advances that spring of 1842. Sarah M. Kimball, wife of a prominent non-Mormon, told Smith merely to 'teach it to someone else'when he approached her with his new ideas. Sarah Pratt and Martha Brotherton, however, were not intimidated by prophetic aura and went public with their tales of attempted exploitation. Their grievances were not taken seriously within the male-dominated Mormon society. Smith, Brigham Young, and others were deeply esteemed by the community and had at their disposal a number of adherents who would coroborate in their defense as proof of religious faith.

"Inevitably, Nancy Rigdon, Sarah Pratt, and Martha Brotherton saw their reputations impugned by an avalanche of slander." (p. 299)

"Smith, after his rejection by Pratt, warned: 'I hope you will not expose me, for if I suffer, all must suffer; so do not expose me . . . If you should tell, I will ruin your reputation' (Bennett, 228-31)" [p. 309n75].

"The prophet labeled Sarah Pratt a '[whore]' from her mother's breast . . . '" [pp. 299 and 309n76: "'Sangamo Journal,' 1 Aug. 1842]"

"Martha Brotherton was branded a 'mean harlot' . . . " [pp. 299 and 309n77: "Wasp," 27 Aug. 1842]

Then, as to the relentless and ugly slander of Nancy Rigdon's reputation, Van Wagoner continues:

" . . . Nancy was tagged a 'poor miserable girl out of the very slough of prostitution." [p. 299 and 309n78: "'Speech of Elder Orson Hyde,' 27-28"]

On the smearing of Mormon women's reputation by Smith and his inner-circle of male defenders and the insatiable sex drive that possessed/obsessed Smith, Van Wagoner notes:

"Despite the drama of these events, neither [Nancy] Rigdon, [Sarah] Pratt, nor [Martha] Brotherton stood to gain from exposing the prophet's prurience; none had obvious political motives to hurt him.

"Furthermore, documentation from orthodox Mormon sources provides evidence of the prophet's passion for women. [p. 309n 79: 'Van Wagoner, 35,' referring to Van Wagoner's observations in his book, 'Mormon Polygamy: A History,' Chapter 3, p. 35: 'Even in [the] intimate councils of the church Smith had to hide his involvement in plural marriage. Hyrum Smith, in attendance at the 20 January [1843], was not yet aware of his brother's polygamy. Joseph could not have admitted his involvement without disillusioning Hyrum, who strongly opposed the idea. . . . Beneath the apparent calm [in Nauvoo, mid-February 1843], rumors about Joseph and polygamy would not rest. In a 21 February address he described 'the saints grumbling.' 'If the stories about Jos. Smith are true,' then the stories of J.C. Bennett are true about the Ladies of Nauvoo--ladies who 'are [said] to be wives of Jos. Smith. Ladies, you know whether it is true. No use living among hogs without a snout.' (Smith Diary, 21 February 1843). Yet on 4 March Josephwas secretly sealed to nineteen-year-old Emily Partridge. Four days later he was sealed to her twenty-three-year-old sister, Eliza. And one week later the 15 March 1843 'Times and Seasons' reported: 'We are charged with advocating a plurality of wives, and common property. Now this is a false as the many other ridiculous charges which are brought against us. No sect has a greater reverence for the laws of matrimony or the rights of private property; and we do what others do not, we practice what we preach.' By mid-fall Smith had been sealed to at least seven other women: Almira Woodward Johnson (5 April 1843), Lucy Walker (1 May 1843), Helen Mar Kimball (May 1843), Flora Woodworth (May 1843), Rhoda Richards (12 June 1843), and Maria and Sarah Lawrence (late summer or fall 1843).'"

Van Wagoner makes further note of Smith's assault on Nancy Rigdon within the context of Smith's long-held lust for females:

"The frenzied tempo of his life in 1843 may have merely reflected his need for new passion and challenges. In a 14 May 1843 sermon he declared, "Excitement has almost become the essence of my life. When that dies away, I feel almost lost.' [pp. 299, 301-02 and 309n80: "History of the Church," 5:389] . . ."

Van Wagoner concludes on the personal price Nancy Rigdon paid at the hands of Smith:

". . . Nancy continued to suffer abuse from those around her. Stephen Markham, for example, a close friend of Smith, certified in the 31 August [1842] 'Wasp' that he had witnessed Nancy early on in a compromising situation with John Bennett. Markham claimed 'many vulgar, unbecoming and indecent sayings and motions' passed between them and testifed that he was convinced that they were 'guilty of unlawful and illicit intercourse with each other.'

"George W. Robinson, on Nancy's behalf, issued a sworn statement on 3 September 1842 that Markham had lied. Explaining that he was present on the occasion Markham referred to, he pointed out that Nancy was sick and that 'Dr. John C. Bennett was the attending physician.' Sidney Rigdon also swore out a refutation of Markham's story and employed an attorney to sue him.

"Other Rigdon family friends rushed to defend Nancy's reputation. Oliver Olney testified in a 18 September 1842 letter to the 'Sangamo Journal' (published 7 October) . . . that 'every person knows . . . that Stephen Markham's affidavit was for the express purpose and design of helping the elders . . . to refute the statements of Bennett.' In Nancy's defense he added: 'I have been personally acquainted with Miss Nancy Rigdon from her infancy to the present time, and a more virtuous lady I believe never lived. I do not believe that any act in her life could give the least suspicion to the most designing and eager of mischief makers.'

"Olney's brother John, in a 14 September 1842 letter to the 'Sangamo Journal,' announced his withdrawal from the church because 'polygamy, lasciviousness, and adultery are practiced by some of its leaders.' He added, 'I have heard the circumstances of Smith's attacks upon Miss Rigdon, from the family as well as herself; and knowing her to be a young lady who sustains a good moral character, and also of undoubted veracity, I must place implicit confidence in her statement.'

"Joseph H. Jackson added that: 'When, as happens in the cases of Miss Martha Brotherton and Miss Nancy Rigdon, [the prophet's] overtures were rejected, with disdain and exposure [he] threatened he would set a hundred hell hounds on them, to destroy their reputations.'

"Signficantly in the 3 September 'Wasp' a small notation read: 'We are authorized to say, by Gen. Joseph Smith, that the affidavit of Stephen Markham, relative to Miss Nancy Rigdon, as published in the handbill of affidavits, was unauthorized by him . . . . " (p. 310n85and 86, Van Wagoner, "Signey Rigdon: A Portrait of Religious Excess")
Cutting To The Chase: The Actual Physical Slicing Of The Secret Mormon Garments (And Scarring Of Temple-Goer Flesh) During Those Primitive Endowment Years
Wednesday, Jun 1, 2011, at 07:27 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
In an earlier thread, RfM poster "anagrammy" noted what was described as the gruesome nature of the original Mormon temple garments:

"Some years ago I did extensive research about the garments, just having a hunch that there must be more to the symbols than I knew. This is what I learned:

"The original stolen ceremony from the Masons included actual cutting of the symbols with a knife through the garment and the flesh. The marks were the scars.

"Joseph Smith insisted that female members go through this ceremony because he felt the oaths and threats would keep them quiet about polygamy . . . . When Emma learned that her breast would be cut, she said absolutely not. She said she would do it symbolically and showed Joseph how she had created the symbols using red thread on the appropriate spots where the cuts would have been. If you wear this and never take it off, she suggested, you would have accomplished the same thing.

"Joseph agreed, liking the idea that he could have everyone 'in uniform' in his army of saints.

"The red thread was replaced by white as the garment began to evolve so that it wasn't visible under white blouses, and it began to change and evolve to keep up with fashion."

"If you want sources, the academics among us might post them for you here."

("Re: References about Eliza Snow/garmie slits and garments having been created for polygamy oaths?," posted by "anagrammy," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 31 May 2011, 6:47 p.m.)

While I have not come across verification of some of the more lurid claims mentioned above--such as Emma allegedly not wanting to be physically cut and scarred in her breast area during her secret endowment as a warning to bend to polygamy--mention has been found (through assistance from other RfM posters, thank you) of actual physical cutting of the primitive LDS garment during the secret Mormon endowment ceremony, as well as of deliberate physical scarring of early Mormon temple goers involved in these barbaric rituals.

--Prelude to Cutting the Secret Mormon Underwear: Cutting a Hole in the Secret Mormon Endowment "Shirt," Then Faithfully Hiding It Away--

In the earliest reference to the secret ritual of garment slitting, George W. Robinson (the first secretary to the First Presidency and a member of the Danites) wrote that in the beginning version of the Mormon endowment ceremony (a ritual heavily purloined from Masonic temple rites and personally administered by Joseph Smith to a small, select circle of male followers), there were not only washings and anointings--but also the literal cutting of the special underwear worn by those participating--underwear that was supposed to keep those adorned with it from ever dying at the hands of evil forces.

The garment slitting was so secret, in fact, that only dutiful Mormon wives of devout Mormon husbands who wore these "shirts" could handle them once they had been cut.

In his letter, Robinson wrote:

"After they were initiated into the lodge, they have oil poured on them, and then a mark or hole cut in the breast of their shirts, which shirts must not be worn anymore, but laid up to keep the Destroying Angel from them and their families, and they should never die. . . . No one must have charge of their shirts but their wives."

What, exactly, were these "shirts"?

They were, in fact, an undergarment.

Excommunicated Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn notes that "[f]rom the eighteenth century to the 1840s, 'shirt' referred to an undergarment which was often worn with a separate, tight-fitting underpant reaching to the knees."

(George W. Robinson, letter of 8 August 1842, quoted in John C. Bennett, "The History of the Saints; or an Expose' of Joseph Smith and Mormonism" (Boston: Leland and Whiting, 1842], p. 247, reprinted in David John Buerger: "The Mysteries of Godliness: A History of Mormon Temple Worship," Chapter 3, "Joseph Smith's Ritual" [San Francisco, California: Smith Research Associates, 1994], p. 38; and D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," Appendix 7 [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1994], p. 635)

--The Cutting of the Mormon Garment With a Knife Reportedly Draws Blood, Cries of Foul and an Eventual Discontinuation of That Part of the Ritual--

Author and former Mormon Martin Wishnatsky writes:

"In the nineteenth century the knee mark was cut into the garment with a knife during the [Mormon] endowment. The cut occasionally slashed the flesh of the endowee, prompting an eventual outcry from the scarred participants that halted the procedure."

(Martin Wishnatsky, "Mormonism: A Latter Day Deception," Chapter Two, "The Princeton Stacks," at:

Another RfM poster, "Fetal Deity," offers further evidence that garment slashing did, in fact, occur in early Mormon temple rituals and that in the process not only were marks cut into the garments, the skin of the temple goers was purposely cut in order to leave an identifying scar--and it was all done at the veil:

" . . . [T]o satisfy my 'morbid' curiosity I decided to try to find the earliest published references to the former, flesh-cutting practice carried out in the original Mormon endowment. I found a source . . . that dates to 1858. It is a book that contains the recollections of a woman who went through the temple then left the church after discovering some of the many despicable acts carried out by Brigham Young, et al.

"The relevant quote is as follows:

"'A man behind the veil examined us, as to the passwords and grips Brigham had given us, and to whom we gave our "new name," received at the first anointing. Holes through the veil enabled him to see us when we could not see him, and also, to cut with a small pair of scissors, certain marks, beside others, the Masonic square and compass, upon the right and left breast of our 'garments,' and upon the right knee, a gash, deep enough to make a scar, by which we were to be recognized as Mormons. This gash upon the right knee is now often omitted, because many of the women object to it.'

"(Green, Kelson Winch, 'Fifteen Years Among the Mormons: Being the Narrative of Mrs. Mary Ettie V. Smith,...,' Chapter IV, 'Endowments,' pp. 48-49, at:

"The above passage basically confirms the Wishnatsky quote, but makes the slashing of the knee an INTENTIONAL part of the endowment (which was purposefully discontinued), and not an occasional 'accident' by an overzealous veil worker."

("Thanks, Steve, for that nice summary of the early history of the Mormon temple garment," posted by "Fetal Deity," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 1 June 2011, 7:17 p.m., original emphasis by poster)

Significantly, Masons do have a reported history of physically cutting candidates petitioning for admission into the Lodge.

This cutting ritual is said to be done within the Mason tradition (like the Mormon tradition which derives directly from the Masons') of warning of bodily mutilation, should initiates reveal the secrets of their rituals:

"Masonry swears its members to secrecy with grisly, anatomically explicit oaths. A Master Freemason must 'promise and swear, that I will not write, print, stamp, stain, hew, cut, carve, indent, paint, or engrave' the mysteries of his order "under no less penalty than to have my throat cut across, my tongue torn out by the roots, and my body buried in the rough sands of the sea,' according to one version of the oath. Tenth- degree Masons 'consent to have my body opened perpendicularly, and to be exposed for eight hours in the open air, that the venomous flies may eat my entrails' if they talk. Even the Shriners, a 'fun' order, may incur 'the fearful penalty of having my eyeballs pierced to the center with a three- edged blade.' . . .

"Successful candidates are invited to the lodge for initiation. There are three basic degrees: Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft, and Master Mason.

"Each has its own ritual.

"Entered Apprentice candidates begin by taking off their clothes to prove their gender (women may not become Masons). In practice, this means taking off the pants and any jacket. Underwear and shirt are kept on, but the shirt is unbuttoned and pulled down to bare the left arm, shoulder, and breast.

"The candidate is hoodwinked (blindfolded). A cabletow (rope) is placed around the neck. (The Lauterer catalog's hoodwink is simply a standard, black satin half-face mask--without eyeholes -- secured with an elastic string. The cabletow is a heavy blue rayon cord with tassels at both ends.) Ideally, the cabletow is supposed to have four strands to symbolize the four senses (they don't count touch). The candidate is escorted to a room where three candles are burning. One of the lodge members takes a mason's compass or other sharp instrument and pricks the candidate's bared skin. The candidate is instructed to recite a formula to the effect that what he desires most is light. The other lodge members remove his hoodwink and cabletow. Before the candidate are three candles. He is told that the candles represent the sun, the moon, and the master of the lodge."

("How to Crash the Freemansons," by "Klark of the Kent Team," at:

--Starting Up the Practice of Slitting the Mormon Garment During the Endowment Ceremony--

The so-called "marking" or cutting of the primitive Mormon temple garment was carried out in early Mormon temples, as award-winning Mormon historian David Buerger notes:

"Shortly after the Salt Lake temple's dedication in 17 October 1893, [Mormon Church president Wilford] Woodruff met with the Council of the Twelve and the church's four temple presidents, spending 'three hours in harmonizing the different m[odes] of ceremonies in giving Endowments.' The following year the First Presidency sent a letter to all temple presidents, portions of which read:

"'It has been the practice to mark the shirt [i.e., undergarment], but we think this unnecessary as it is not strictly part of the Temple clothing. The marking of the garment should be done in the washing room and not at the veil; and the greatest care should be taken to see that no person is permitted to leave that room wearing an unmarked garment."

That's right, as the First Presidency subtlely admitted here: Mormon temple workers used to slit the garment at the veil (the same place where, as indicated by the testimony above, "upon the right knee, a gash [was made with a pair of scissors], deep enough to make a scar, by which we were to be recognized as Mormons."

(Buerger, "Mysteries of Godliness," Chapter Five, "Developments in Nineteenth Century Utah," pp. 128-29)

--The Physical Appearance of Early Mormon Garments in Those Bygone Garment-Slitting Days--

According to a description by Elizabeth Warren Allred (spouse of one of Smith's bodyguards), the original, secret Mormon undergarments were made of "sufficient quantity to produce an outfit that met Smith's directive that it contain "as few seams as possible," which would allow for the "whole cloth [to be] cut without piecing. The first garments were made of unbleached muslin and bound with turkey red and were without collars. Later on the prophet decided he would rather have them bound with white. . . . Emma Smith . . . made . . . little collars [to give the garments a more finished look] . . . . The garment was to reach to the ankle and the sleeves to the wrists were always the same."

The initial production model of the Mormon temple garment was male-only, even though females were required to not only produce but to wear it, too, as described below:

"'When Joseph Smith received the endowments and revelation from the Lord to be given to his people by authority, he also received instructions as to how to make this garment. None had ever seen anything like it and the sisters who made it were under his direction and when it was submitted to him, he said that it was right and the way it had looked to him and he accepted it.

"'This garment had a collar and it had strings to tie it and sleeves that came to the wrist, not to the hand, but about an inch above, and the leg came down to the ankle joint. This was the pattern given and it is right for Aunt Eliza Snow was the governess and seamstress in his house at the time the first garments were made and heard the instructions to the sisters.' (Zina Y. Card, 'Garments,' in 'Temple Instructions')"

This original garment was designed expressly for the male body, which eventually led Mormon women who were required to wear it to refashion it according to their own feminine tastes--a move that was stymied by the Mormon patriarchs in charge of what women were allowed to wear:

"Because women were not originally intended to be a part of the endowment ceremony; when they were finally admitted, women received the same garment as the men. Women and men in the church wore the very same garments until 1965. Thus, all Mormon pioneer women wore the men's garment, which were 100% cotton long-johns.

"As early as the 1890s, LDS women tried getting their own garment pattern, but to no avail:

"'Sister Zina D. H. Young submitted a knitted garment something like our garments which is made in the East and asked if such may be marked and have a collar put on it and used as our temple garment. It was decided by the First Presidency that such garments should not be used in lieu of the pattern given.' ("L. John Nuttall Journal," Vol. 3, p. 227; 8 December 1890)

"Church priesthood leaders made it very clear that there was only one pattern for making and wearing garments and they must never be altered:

"'Each individual should be provided with the endowment clothing they need. The garments must be clean and white, and of the approved pattern; they must not be altered or mutilated [i.e., changed by the women], and are to be worn as intended, down to the wrist and ankles, and around the neck. These requirements are imperative; admission to the Temple will be refused to those who do not comply therewith. (President Joseph F. Smith, 'Instructions Concerning Temple Ordinance Work,' President of the Salt Lake Temple 1898-1911)"

As if the early Mormon garments weren't bad enough for women's tastes, Buerger goes on to describe its early versions as being made of "old style, coarse, unbleached, irritating material . . . ."

Eventully, some style changes were made to the garments, but they were still being marked up, so to speak (i.e., slit) in the temple:

George F. Richards, president of the Salt Lake temple from 1921 to 1927, describes in his personal diary the physical description of the garment, as it was discussed and modified in a meeting with the First Presidency:

"The subject of the garment was again brought up and considered and certain changes thought favorably of. The permissibility of dispensing with the collar, using buttons instead of strings, using the closed crotch and flop, and for the women, wearing elbow [-length instead of wrist-length] sleeves and leg length legs just below the knee."

Buerger provides a further breakdown of the above First Presidency directive to stake and temple presidents which dictated, in list form, that "certain modification" be done, to "the temple garment, . . . namely:

"'(1) Sleeve to elbow.
"'(2) Leg just below the knee.
"'(3) Buttons instead of strings.
"'(4) Collar eliminated
"'(5) Crotch closed. . . .

"'It is the [unanimous] mind of the First Presidency and the Council of Twelve that this modified garment . . . should be carefully preserved from mutilation and unnecessary exposure, and be properly marked.'"

Buerger provides further description of the uni-sex garment as originally conceived by Smith and faithfully produced and worn by faithful LDS men and women for years thereafter:

". . . [Former editor of the Mormon periodical the 'Times and Seasons'] Ebenezer Robinson recalled what he heard in Nauvoo before Smith's death:

"'We here state a few facts which came under our personal observation. As early as 1843 a secret order was established in Nauvoo, called the Holy Order, the members of which were of both sexes, in which we were credibly informed, scenes were enacted representing the Garden of Eden, and that the members of that order were provided with a peculiar undergarment called a robe. "It was made in one piece. One the right breast is a square, on the left a compass, in the center a small hole, and on the knee a large hole." That was the description of that garment as given to the writer in Nauvoo, in Joseph Smith's lifetime.'"

(Elizabeth Warren Allred, recollection published in history of Eliza Monson (whose great-grandmother was Elizabeth Warren Allred], LDS archives; George. F. Richards, personal diary, 14 April 1923, and Ebenezer Robinson, published in "Return," 2, April 1890, p. 252, all quoted in Buerger, "Mysteries of Godliness," in Buerger, "Mysteries of Godliness," Chapter Six, "The Twentieth-Century Temple:" pp. 142-43, 137-38, 149, 152); see also, "Mormon Underwear Garments," at:, the latter which includes artist renderings of the early Mormon temple underwear)

--Slicing the Garment Was Part of the Early Mormon Endowment Ritual That Supposedly Made It a Shield Against Harm for Its Wearer--

Buerger writes:

"The topic of the garment's protecting and healing powers became the subject of discussion during the winter months of 1845-46 when ordinances were performed in the Nauvoo temple. William Clayton recorded remarks about the garment made during the 21 December 1845 meeting of the Quorum of the Anointed. First, George A. Smith spoke of the importance of wearing a properly made garmetn night and day:

"'[George A. Smith speaking]: . . . Our garments should be properly marked and we should understand those marks and we should wear those garments continiually, by night and by day, in prison or free and if the devils in hell cut us up, let them cut the garments to pieces also, if we have the garments upon us at all times we can at any time offer up the signs.'"

(quoted in Buerger, "Mysteries of Godliness," pp. 146-47)

--In Addition to the Square and Compass Markings, Physically Slitting the Mormon Temple Garment Was Secretly Taught by Early Mormon Leaders as Representing the Crucifixion Wounds in the Body of Jesus--

In the December 1845 meeting dealing with Nauvoo temple ordinaces, Mormon leader George Miller declared that "the apostle] Paul said he bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ, which was as plainly as he dare allude to thdse things in writing. But the marks Paul alluded to were just such as we now have on our garments."

(quoted in Buerger, "Mysteries of Godliness," pp. 147-48)

--The Early Temple Garments--Complete with Slits and Other Marks Alike--Were Part of the Officially-Required Identification for Recognizing Faithful Mormon Polygamists--

"[The] creation and wearing of secret garments . . . were a result of Smith's polygamous affairs. It started with the secret circle of men that accepted and practiced his plural wife doctrine. It was his way of setting them apart from monogamous men.

"It was originally the 'uniform' required for men to perform spiritual wifery. ('Emma Hale Smith Biography,' p. 140: 'After being involved in the construction and design of the garments, the building of the temple, and hearing about their place in the endowment in the Relief Society (by Smith), why had women not been admitted to the Endowment? Joseph taught that a man must obey God to be worthy of the endowment and that a wife must obey a righteous husband to merit the same reward. Until Emma could be obedient to Joseph (see DandC Sec. 132) and give him plural wives, she could not participate in the endowment ceremonies, yet Smith taught her that the endowment was essential for exaltation.'

("Mormon Underwear Garments," under, "The Mormon Temple as a Lasting Relic of Polygamy: Creation and Wearing of Secret Garments," at:

--Those Irksome "Points" of History--

Exposing the slitting of Mormon temple garments and the deliberate physical scarring of endowment participants might be considered, well, a knife in the back to true believers, but what it really was was a knife in their knee.

No wonder Mormons have changed their secret underwear fashion statements over the years.

After all, what Mormons would want to 'fess up that:

(1) temple Mormons, behind their temple walls, used to slice their sacred temple underwear in order to guarantee themselves divine protection; and

(2) did the cutting of both cloth garment and human flesh in order to secretly identify faithful Mormon men to fellow temple LDSers as devout multi-wifers, as well as to identify faithfully-scarred Mormon women?

Lordy, the truth cuts deeply, don't it? :)
How The Broadway Hit Musical, "The Book Of Mormon," Came To Be: Special New Sirius XM Radio Channel Is Probably The Best And Most Interesting Source
Monday, Jun 13, 2011, at 08:36 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
I happened to be driving around town with a good friend of mine whose car is equipped with Sirius XM radio. He noted (and then tuned the dial to) a new, limited-run channel devoted exclusively to dissecting, explaining and reviewing the new Broadway hit musical, "The Book of Mormon."

Behind-the-scenes interviews were being conducted with the show's creators, directors and original cast members, and involved a broad range of questions that were being asked and answered about the genesis of the show; how and why it is such a phenomenal success; the ways in which the production has evolved and been tweaked over time; live audience reaction, etc.

(I mention this because note has been made on RfM recently about what appears to be striking parallels in themes, scenes and choreogrpahy between "The Book of Mormon" and its wildly populer predecessor, "Saturday's Warrior").

Below are announcements of this new satellite radio station that is devoted wall-to-wall to "The Book of Mormon" Broadway extravaganza:

"'The Book of Mormon Radio' Channel to Launch on SiriusXM Limited-Run Channel to Air June 11-12, Featuring Interviews with Cast, Creative Team and Songs from the Cast Recording'

"NEW YORK, June 9, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Sirius XM Radio (NASDAQ: SIRI) announced today that 'The Book of Mormon Radio,' the two-day channel featuring exclusive content about The Book of Mormon, the new Broadway musical by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Bobby Lopez, will air on channel 104.


"The limited-run channel will launch the day before this Sunday's Tony® Awards, Saturday, June 11 at 6:00 am ET and will air through Sunday, June 12 at 11:59 pm ET.

"'The Book of Mormon Radio' will feature interviews with the show's Tony-nominated cast and creative team: South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q co-creator Bobby Lopez; co-director and choreographer Casey Nicholaw, producer Anne Garefino and stars Josh Gad and Andrew Rannells.

"The exclusive channel will also include selections from the cast recording from Ghostlight Records, which was released on Tuesday, June 7. SiriusXM listeners will hear 'All-American Prophet,' 'Spooky Mormon Hell Dream,' 'I Believe,' 'Baptize Me,' 'Joseph Smith American Moses' and 'Tomorrow Is a Latter Day.'

"'The Book of Mormon' has been nominated for 14 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The production was awarded with the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Musical, five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, Best Music (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Lyrics (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Director (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus), four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Actor in a Musical (Josh Gad) and Best Director (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker) and the Drama League Award for Best Musical.

"Stone and Parker have earned four Emmy Awards® and a Peabody Award for 'South Park,' which is now in its 15th season. Their films include 'South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut' (Academy Award nomination for Best Song) and 'Team America: World Police.'

"Lopez co-created 'Avenue Q,' earning the 2004 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score and a Grammy Award® nomination for Best Cast Album. He has also penned Finding Nemo: The Musical' with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez', as well as the Broadway-bound original musical Up Here.

"For more information, please visit"

Also, this preview of the new station's launch:

“'Book of Mormon' radio channel coming to Sirius XM, 9 June 2011, by Dave Emrich News'

"This weekend 'South Park' creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone will be launching a limited-run channel on SiriusXM satellite radio to support their critically acclaimed Broadway musical The Book of Mormon.

"'The Book of Mormon Radio' channel will feature interviews with the show’s cast, creative team and of course, songs from the cast recording. It will air on channel 104.

"It’s a perfect time for the show to do some last minute promo as it’s launching the day before this Sunday’s Tony Awards; the show is nominated for 14 of them, including Best Musical.

"The production has already snagged awards from the New York Drama Critics Circle (Award for Best Musical), five Drama Desk Awards including Best Musical, Best Music (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Lyrics (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Director (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker) and Best Orchestrations (Larry Hochman, Stephen Oremus), four Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Musical, Best Score (Trey Parker, Robert Lopez, Matt Stone), Best Actor in a Musical (Josh Gad) and Best Director (Casey Nicholaw, Trey Parker) and the Drama League Award for Best Musical."

P.S.: An atheist, never-been-a-Mo friend of mine recently sent me a CD of the original Broadway cast recording, which I have listened to in its entirety. (My godless friend had seen the Broadway show with his wife in New York and found it immensely entertaining).

It is wickedly satirical, highly perceptive, brilliantly written, out-of-the-park creative, outrageously funny and (to the faint of heart) downright offensive.

From my own perspective, I reacted to it with a wide range of emotions: laughter, appreciation, amazement, soberness, sadness and twinges of anger laced with justified resentment. It tapped all kinds of wellsprings from my own personal experience with the LDS Cult.

I think most faithful Mormons (with one notable exception that I know of) would be highly uncomfortable and displeased with the production--which is probably a reliable sign that it's a dead-on bull's-eye. Indeed, the official Mormon reaction from SLC has been that of an arm-folded mumbling grump attired in a self-righteously stuffed shirt.

Gotta luv it. :)
Who Says The Mormon Church Isn't A Business? On My Mission To Japan We Were Told To Compare It To One, Using The Family Home Evening Program To Snare Male Business Owners
Wednesday, Jun 15, 2011, at 08:11 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
As missionaries looking for any way to hook converts, we were encouraged by mission leadership to do what was called "kaisha" (or business) contacting.

It involved going to work places--i.e., commercial business settings such as company headquarters--and asking to speak with the male owner. We would introduce ourselves with business cards (which are very important contacting tools in Japanese society), complete with our names in kanji and the name of our organization (the Mormon Church), in both English and Japanese, Our "business" cards closely mimicked the style, typesetting and look of actual Japanese business cards and were designed to impress and gain us access.

Once in the door of the targeted business, we'd ask the front desk receptionist if we could speak to the head of the company. If the company head was not available, we'd ask for an appointment for a return visit, If granted access then and there, we'd be ushered into the company head's office where, more often than not, we'd promptly be offered tea as a social grace (which, of course, we promptly turned down--not exactly a good way to start the sales pitch, I must say).

We'd then slickly slide into our sales approach, trying to surreptitiously sell the company/corporation owner on the idea of holding, in his home, a Mormon Family Home Evening (without, at that point, getting too deep into the religion thing--you know, tithing, giving up tea and dedicating all your time, talents and resources to a church headquartered in Salt Lake City, America. That would all come later. First things first: Concentrate on the soft sell).

We attempted to hook the head of the company's interest by comparing his family to his company. (Japan is a male-dominated society and it was figured that this approach would go over well with, you know, the guys). The business contacting angle was designed to play to the head of the firm's ego by emphasizing to him that his business was successful because it featured a clear chain of command--one that was structured, goal-oriented and male leader-directed.

The president (so the script went) was the head of the firm who was responsible for making the big, important and final decisions for his present and future business needs, based upon a laid-out model or plan.

In approaching this task, the president has a vice-president with whom he consults, a senior officer of the company from whom the president receives input for effectively and efficiently running the company. The vice-president is often a person who has direct, face-to-face contact with the firm's employees on a regular basis, who is intimately aware of the day-to-day needs of the employees and who keeps tabs on the state of company employee morale, sales and success.

Having laid that groundwork, now came time to pitch the parallels between the guy's business and the guy's family.

The theme for snagging the business owner into further contact with the missionaries was to lure him into attention by convincing him that he could similarly structure his family like his business and in that way keep his family happy, productive and functional.

To accomplish this required a power pyramid, modeled after his own business's, one that went like this:

Your family, sir, is like your company.

You are the husband and father--the CEO, if you will--of your family. You are the head of this organization you call your family--just like you are the head of your business.

Just as you do at work, you, sir, are responsible for making the ultimate decisions that you determine are in the best interest of your family.

Your wife is the equivalent of your vice president. She can give you--the president/husband/father--her advice and observations, as they come from her vantage point from inside the family where she operates closer to the front lines, if you will, and where she works intimately and on a daily basis with your children.

Speaking of which . . .

Your children are your employees.

They are part and parcel of your family plan, like your workers are essential in operating your business plan. It is your job and responsibility as president/husband/father of your home to make sure that your children are productive, well-behaved and follow the rules that you establish (in consultation with your vice-president/wife/mother). You, sir, make the final decisions after seeking out assistance from your vice-presidential assistant/consultant.

The Mormon Family Home Evening program is the business plan for your family. It is organized around the president/husband/father's goals for his family, arrived at after touching base with his vice-president wife and. in the end, signed off by the male head of the house.

A successful Family Home Evening program works like a successful business plan.

To boost employee/children productivity and understanding of the goals of your family, the Family Home Evening program features lessons that teach the employees/children what is important and right for the family.

The lesson, or plan, opens and closes with prayer, asking for God's help that your family will understand this plan as being best for them--just like you, as president of your company, certainly would want heavens's help in running your business successfully.

As with your company employees, it is vital for you, as president of your home, to attend to the personal needs and desires of your children, as well as to the needs and desires of your vice-president wife. The Mormon Family Home Evening program provides opportunities for lessons, games, singing and other together-time activities designed for relaxing and enjoying fun things together with your vice-president wife and employee children. It is important that your vice-president/ wife and your children/employees be actively engaged in planning these fun times and are given responsibilities in carrying them out--all under your supervision and with your approval, of course. This will strengthen the bonds between you, as president/husband/father with your vice-president/wife/mother, as well as with your employees/children.

(Are you with me, dear readers?)

This whole patriarchal promo (which, again, we as missionaries would make to the corporation/business head in his office at his work site) was accompanied by flip-charts, illustrations and diagrams to drive the point home--much like the official missionary discussions.

The idea was to get the Japanese man to agree to let the Mormon male missionaries come to his home and, together with his wife and children, actually conduct a Family Home Evening, under the missionaries' guidance, suggestions and outlining.

It was designed as a foot in the door.

But, alas, it didn't work very well.

Once the demonstration Family Home Evening was over and the missionaries asked for a follow-up meeting with the guy and his family to talk about a wonderful book that would bring their family forever-happiness and eternal life with God, eyebrows would more often than not lift and we'd politely be shown the door.

It was a disingenuous, manipulative, sneaky and sexist gimmick.

I hated it.

It represented the essential element of Mormon missionary work that bothered me the most: operating under false and misleading pretenses in order to gain converts.

In other words, the Utah Mormon business model.
Why It's Unlikely That You'll See Another Benson as a Mormon General Authority in Your Lifetime (If Ever)
Monday, Jul 25, 2011, at 07:52 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
Why It's Unlikely That You'll See Another Benson as a Mormon General Authority in Your Lifetime (If Ever) . . .

In another thread dealing with how the Mormon Church is actually run at the top, RfM poster “lostinutah” asks:

“Steve, I'm wondering where your dad fit into all this. Did he ever have ambitions for his dad's position?”

(”Re: How the Mormon Church Really Works at the Top--and Why ETB Wasn't More on the Personal Initiative in Issuing His Own Statements While Church President," posted by "lostinutah," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 23 July 2011 6:32 p.m., at:,253331,253852#msg-253852)

As I have with other recent inquiries, I would like to take a wider approach by not just focusing on my own father but on what I see as a bigger reality: namely, the unlikelihood that there will be any direct Benson descendant making their way up the Kingdom of Deseret flagpole into the ranks of the General Authorities in the foreseeable future--especially if that trajectory might put them on track to eventually becoming Mormon Church president.

--My Own Dad Has, in My Experience, Never Evidenced Aspirations for the Rarefied Ranks of the General Authorities

First off, there was a false prediction made years ago within family circles years that my now-elderly dad would become a General Authority--a forecast which obviously did not come true. (My maternal grandmother, Viola Wing--an active temple worker in Cardston, Alberta--made that wayward prophesy and she died at age 91 without seeing it fulfilled).

Personally, I never got the feeling that my father Mark was purposely angling for a spot among the exclusive membership elite of the General Authorities. He has always been a sincere, focused, hard-working, active and devout Mormon who loyally "follows the Brethren"--having served as a counselor in a University of Utah student ward under its then-bishop (and eventual apostle) Neal A. Maxwell. My father has also been a Church-employed seminary and institute teacher, a bishop and stake president in the SLC East-bench based Ensign Stake, a stake patriarch in that same jurisdiction, a mission president in Indiana-Michigan and is currently working as a sealer in the downtown SLC temple. While my dad was a dedicated adviser to ETB (and, in fact, left his highly successful position as a regional sales manager in Dallas, Texas, to move to Salt Lake to assist his father at ETB's request when the latter became Mormon Church president), he has never struck me as a Latter-day ladder climber maneuvering for ostensible power within the Church. He's a good man who sells pots and pans without a General Authority advancment plan.

Not that it really matters, though.

--Why, In My View, There Won't Be Another Direct-Line Benson as a General Authority in the Observable Future, If Ever

I have been told by sources whom I trust that after ETB's ruthless, racist, right-wing reign of error as a notable political extremist in the LDS Quorum of the Twelve--where he had rather nasty behind-the-scenes disagreements with the likes of Hugh B. Brown and Joseph Fielding Smith, among others--there is very little chance that another Benson will become a General Authority anytime soon.

The reason offered: the Brethren have learned their lesson.

--Reed Is a Reasonable Reason

The son of ETB who seemed more inclined towards a more aggressive solicitation of Mormon Church power has, in my view, been his oldest child, Reed. For years, Reed (at one time a high-ranking leader of the John Birch Society and a political extremist in the truest sense of the word) was a very close political and "spiritual" confidante to his father.

Reed, for instance, traveled with ETB to Montgomery, Alabama's governor's mansion in 1968, where the notorious segregationist George Wallace unsuccessfully entreated ETB to join Wallace's states' rights third-party ticket as his vice-presidential running mate (Then-Mormon Church president David O. McKay put the kibosh on that no-brainer of a bad idea).

It was Reed who, along with his wife May, helped write some of ETB's most well-known sermons, such as the infamous "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet" talk which kicked up a great deal of dust among Mormon intellectuals when it was given.

May personally told me that she was essentially responsible for ETB's famous 1989 "Beware of Pride" sermon. A Benson family member uniquely familiar with the situation later informed me that May provided the framework research for that sermon and actually wrote its text while sequestered away in St. George, Utah, for the task. Although she's the one who crafted that talk, Benson's First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley delivered it from the General Conference pulpit for ETB and May, of course, never got any credit from the patriarchal men calling the shots. For the record, May is feisty individual who did not seem the least bit happy with the fact that she was circumvented by the men and, ironcially enough, chalked that up to what she regarded as irritating Benson family pride).

It also didn't help that when Reed was president of the Louiville, Kentucky, mission, he reportedly made polygamy-oriented advances on certain female missionaries, telling them that he would like them to become part of his eternal multi-marriage family plan in the Mormon hereafter. (I have a close d acquaintance who served as a missionary under Reed back in the 1970s who told me that during Reed's tenure there was quite a controversy created by something he had done. He said the incoming mission president replacement acknowledged that fact but refused to go into any detail).

In an interesting twist of giving private counsel, Reed during the course of his career (so the story goes) was asked by his stake president to serve as a high councilman when he lived back on the East coast where he was working for the John Birch Society. However, he was also asked by that stake president to first resign his professional job from the Birchers since the stake president thought that would make Reed a more credible high councilman. Reed sought ETB's advice on the matter, ETB told him to do what his local Church authority requested and eventually Reed moved out to Utah, where he landed a spot teaching Book of Mormon classes at BYU.

My uncle Reed (so I was reliably informed) was miffed when ETB's official biographer, Sheri Dew, was tapped out to write his life story, rather than Reed. Assisting Dew in her research efforts was my first cousin, Flora Parker, oldest child of ETB's daughter, Beverly Benson Parker. Reed being cut out of the writing loop largely explains, in my opinion, why Dew's puff piece is lacking in any meaningful detail regarding ETB's over-the-horizon political views, as well as being noticeably short in specifics as to ETB's open and deep sympathies for the John Birch Society. If Reed had been involved in spinning the tale, it would have, I think, exhibited, shall we say, much more reactionary right-wing richness.

Ezra Taft Benson's Ripple Effect Down the Family Tree

I also don't think that my younger brother will ever become a top-tier leader in the Mormon Church, even though he has been a highly successful college president on both the junior college and four-year university Utah education circuit (first, as executive assistant to the president of University of Utah, then as president of Snow College in Ephraim and currently as president of Southern Utah University in Cedar City). Mike is an able, energetic, talented, articulate and results-oriented leader with an enviable and proven track record in Utah's higher ed circles--but, alas, he has, in my view, one huge strike (a fatal one) against him: He's divorced. Not only did his first marriage break up after a decade, it was one in which he was wed to the maternal granddaughter of Mormon Church president Gordon B. Hinckley. Mike has remarried and is living a happy life with his wife and their own children from that second union--three great kids, in addition to two great ones from his first marriage who live with theirmom. But I think there ain't no way he'll ever be a GA.

For what it's worth, I'm divorced, too, but I was never on the General Authority candidate roulette wheel because even before the dissolution of my ETB temple-performed marriage, I was an outspoken apostate who had voluntarily had his name officially removed from Mormonism's rolls, along with that of my then-spouse's. Mormon Church HQ verified that fact when, in a phone conversation to Salt Lake City, I was transferred to a male employee in the membership records department--after (get this!) that same department had refused to directly confirm our resignations to my then-wife. You see, she had made the phone call in the first place but because she had the temerity to be born a female, the Men of the Morg wouldn't answer her question. So, I had to get on the line as a male-- even as an ex-Mormon one--and ask the question myself, at which point the fellow on the other end confirmed to me our mutual membership termination. Unbelievable, eh? Anyway, I never felt I was GA material, since I tend to question thingstoo much for the tastes of Mormonism's loyalty oathers.

(I also think that my younger brother's divorce--which preceded my own--helped my family realize the cold, sobering reality that divorce cuts across lines of Mormon activity and inactivity. Earth to LDS true-believers: Lots of Mormons get divorced, even the good ones).

There are also other Benson male apostates in my family line. One is a divorced, first-cousin ETB namesake with an adventurous streak who will never be a GA. Another is his brother who happens to be named after an imaginary character in Book of Mormon lore (he never uses that name, by the way); and there is a whole line of male second cousins who flew the Mormon cult coop a long time ago.

(All that said, there is a Benson relative who works as a paid employee for the Mormon Church but is not a Benson himself. He, too, is a great person--intelligent, thoughtful, measured and a respected professional expert in the legal field. I personally think he has real potential as an eventual GA candidate, despite all his fine traits--and it doesn't hurt that he's not a Benson; in fact, I think it actually helps).

For the rest of us Benson guys, though, I sincerely believe we're toast. :)
Q From An Interested Party: "Why Does The Mormon Church Not Publish An Income Statement In The Us For Its Members To See Where The Money Is Going?"
Monday, Aug 1, 2011, at 07:36 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
Q from an Interested Party: "Why Does the Mormon Church Not Publish an Income Statement in the US for its Members to See Where the Money is Going?" (*Expanded with Facts and Figures)

I've recently been asked the following by an inquirer who is always looking for a reason to get out of going to sacrament meeting:

" . . . .[W]hy [does] the [Mormon] church . . . not publish an income statement in the U.S. for its members to see where the money is going?"

I responded as follows:

"The Mormon Church quit doing that (giving a public General Conference financial statement with anything close to substance) decades ago. I seem to recall the last time when anything of any numerical value in that regard may have been put out was in the 1950s.

[Note: In fact, as reported by Ostling and Ostling in "Mormon America" (see below), total Mormon Church expenditures for 1958, as provided in Leonard Arrington and Davis Bitton's "The Mormon Experience" [New York: 1979], were $72,794,306. The numbers have exploded astronomically since then].

"The politically-well connected LDS, Inc. doesn't want to create a stink by letting members in on where their tithing seed money is going in pursuit of business profits, I think. Their persecution-complex-generated mantra for this secrecy is basically that "the power to demand a report on how we spend your money is the power to destroy our Mormon Church-operated businesses."

"That's good enough for the sheep but the fact of the matter is that Mormon Church essentially keeps two sets of books. One records tithing and other charitable donations from the faithful flock; the other contains the financials on LDS Inc.'s business ventures--ultimately fertilized by tithing donations--and on which the Mormon Church is taxed.

"In the U.S. of A., neither book is available for general public scrutiny. This is, however, not the case in Great Britain, as I understand it, where LDS, Inc. has reportedly been legally required by the courts to spill their financial beans."

The Mormon Church openly and as a matter of habit claims that its main source of revenue comes from pandering for money from the faithful--an approach undertaken, of course, in the name of faith. To be sure, this is exactly how the Mormon Church plays it:

"Gordon B. Hinckley, prior President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said:

"'Our major source of revenue is the ancient law of the tithe. Our people are expected to pay 10 percent of their income to move forward the work of the Church. The remarkable and wonderful thing is that they do it. Tithing is not so much a matter of dollars as it is a matter of faith. It becomes a privilege and an opportunity, not a burden. Our people believe in the word of God as set forth in the book of Malachi, that the Lord will open the windows of heaven and pour down blessings that there will not be room enough to receive them (Malachi 3:8-10). Moving and touching is the testimony of Latter-day Saints throughout the world concerning this, the Lord’s law for the financing of His work.'”

("How Does the [Mormon] Church Finance Its Operations?," complete with parroted Mormon responses, at:

But that's not the whole story, of course.

As authors Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling report in their book, "Mormon America: The Power and the Promise" (published in 1999 but employing statistical methodologies that make their findings relevant today):

"Broadly speaking, the [Mormon] Church derives income from two sources: tithing, which [Presiding Bishop/LDS chief financial officer David] Burton said provides by far the largest share; and income from Church investments, including both stocks and bonds passively held and direct investments in ranching, media, finacial, real estate and other interests the the Church owns. We were able to work from some individual numbers, such as the the $172 million in revenue made by Bonnevile Corporation. But there was no easy way to get at some of the other corporate revenue. . . .

" . . . Figuring [Mormon] church income from investments could . . . be taken according to [Burton's] ratio. If $5.3 billion in member contributions is 90 percent of revenues, by the reckoning provided us by Presiding Bishop Burton, total revenues would be around $5.9 billion. Or by the more cautious reading of tithing income, it would be just under $5 billion. In either case, the numbers are . . . within the correct order of magnitude.

"Estimating annual investment income at a total of $600 million allows us in turn to make at least a general stab at estimating the size of [the Mormon Church investment] porfolio.

"If we assume Mormons are competent enough managers to make a 10 percent return on assets after taxes (in the 1990s its stock portfolios would almost certainly be doing double that, balancing out whatever shorfalls there miught be among the Church's corporate investments), then a reasonable estimate for invested assets would $6 billion. That estimate was corroborated by an informed source. . . .

"We estimated ranches, farms and accompanying real estate at $5 billion, though considering the amazing scope of such Mormon investments in the United States, that number is probably too low. Again, we have obtained independent corroboration of this estimate.

"Of course, it is hard to separate out land value from commercial value (of ranches, for example), and it is also hard to keep track, year in and year out, of how many farms and ranches are in the welfare system--and therefore non-profit and non-taxed--rather than in the church's commercial realm. . . .

"Our estimates for the value of LDS schools and miscellaneous other holdings is based on the insider number obtained in the early 1980s by [John] Heinerman and [Anson] Shupe ['The Mormon Corporate Empire,' Boston: 1985] They estimated this number, the largest portion which is BYU, at $836 million, which includes church and archival holdings as well as genealogical and historical properties. . . .

"Now for the big numbers . . . . We have estimated the value of the Church's meetinghoues, temples and land they are on at $18 billion. Once again, we have used 'comparables' in our statistical database. In this case, a very close comparable to the LDS CHurch is the Chicago-based Evangelical Lutheran Church in America . . . .

"The [Mormon] Church does not release the exact number of meetinghouses, but Heinerman and Shupe estimated 6,802 in 1983, and the Church says that it has been building about 350 new ones every year. This would mean that more than 12,000 additional meetinghouses have been built 15 years later. Factoring in 1980s growth rates and considering that global commercial real estate has vastly outpaced inflation, the average value could be $1.5 million, for a total asset value of $18 billion. Of course, as President Hinckley correctly noted . . . , all these properties are revenue-consuming, not revenue-producing. But it is also true that the construction of more temples and meetinghouses is an investment that reaps increased tithing revenue. Like the religious-use properties of any denomination, one can know what a facility cost at the time of construction, but it is hard to conver that to any true market value.

"To be very conservative, since we do not have access to inside accounts and inventories, we would conclude that the total LDS assets [in 1999 dollars] are in the range of $25-30 billion."

As to tithing income, the Ostlings note the challenge in getting at precise numbers, given Mormon Church thickly-shrouded finances on the subject, but have nevertheless provided a reasonable estimate:

". . . [T]here was no direct way at all to get at tithing figures. . . .

"[However, using financial and membership statistics from a similarly-sized religion, the Seventh-Day Adventists, for comparison] . . . the projected annual worldwide LDS membership contributions would . . . be roughly $5.3 bilion as of 1995. Interestingly, in 1991, the 'Arizona Republic' [the newspaper for which I work], ran similar equations based on giving in the Church of the Nazarene and came up with $4.3 billion which, adjusted for inflation, is not far from our numbers."

How does "Mormon, Inc." manage to achieve such massive wealth?

The Ostlings explain:

"Several factors underlie the LDS Church's prosperity. It has a form of sacred taxation like no other: Members are obliged to give a tithe (10 percent of their income to the Church in order to gain access to temples and to participate in the holiest ordinances of salvation and exaltation).

"The salaried staff is not large and the performance of most duties by part-time unpaid voluteers cuts operating expenses to the bone.

"The highly centralized control and flexibility of the system enable leaders readily to modify money flow and later policies so that current income matches programs.

"Finally, by all accounts the businessman-apostles mantian effective administrative controls that minimize waast and maximize efficiency.

"The strict secrecy with which the hierarchy guards the financial facts is unique for a church of this size. Officials refuse to divulge routine information that other religions are happy to provide over the phone to donors or inquirers. Outsiders' money estimates always raise disclaimers from officialdom, presumabley because of the danger that fat-looking figures mgith weaken members' tithing compliance. This had led to a cat-and-mouse game with various journalists who have attempted over the years to unveil the vast empire of corporate Mormonism. . . .

"If the LDS Church were a U.S. corporation, by revenues it would rank number 243 on the 'Fortune' 500 list. (Reveunes are the best standard of measurement. Ranking a religoius body by assets has little meaning since so much is locked into purely religious real estate). Mormons, Inc., lands somewhere between Paine Webber . . . and Union Carbide, a tad smaller than Continental Airlines and about twice the size of 'Readers Digest' [again, 1999 dollars and business circumstances]. The Church's gargantuan assets dwarf anything in that revenue class. If one were to add in the gross revenues of all Church-controlled business entites (more in keeping with the 'Fortune' 500), the total would be vastly higher. . . .

"[Moreover],[t]he Church has handled [its membership] growth by, in effect, retooling itself as though it were a multinational corporation. . . .[L]ocal-level financial decision-making, including especially building projects, [has been shifted] to headquarters in Utah. More recently part of the burden of local maintenance funding has been returned to the wards.

"The global growth, of course, transfers much Church wealth from the developed world to the developing world, especially Latin America, where the expansion is particularly successful. . . .

"[As far as cash donations to non-Mormon humanitrian aid] . . . [a]ll churches, of course, perform charity and mercy work . . . [but] the LDS Church no longer maintains hospitals and its short-term missonaries concentrate on proselytiing for converts."

The Mormon Church has amassed its vast sums of unreportable and reportable wealth (depending on the category into which it falls: donation-collected or investment-driven), by following a bluntly basic two-prong approach:

". . . [A]s it invests in temples and meetinghouses, the Church shores up tis potential tithing base income. And then there's that investment porfolio."

In perhaps the most stunning no-brainer regarding how it's makin' the bacon, the Mormon Church's ranking revenue manager Burton says simply:

"Do we net to zero? No, we don't net to zero."

We will also be taking no further questions.

(Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, "Mormon America: The Power and the Promise," Chapter 7, "Mormon, Inc." and Appendix B, "How the Income and Wealth Estimates Were Made" [San Francisco, California: HarperSanFranciso, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.], pp. 113-129, 396-400)

So, there you have it, brothers and sisters: Don't follow the Messiah and His Prophet. Follow the Money and Its Profit.

Any further input from the baptismally-unwashed on this subject is certainly invited. :)
Farms Boy Oaks: The Private Vs. The Public "Devoted Dallin" On The Book Of Mormon (and On Farms Itself)
Wednesday, Aug 10, 2011, at 07:12 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
What has been the role of the pseudo-independent propaganda FARMS arm in peddling patently dishonest versions of Mormon doctrine and history to the great unwashed? (We also refer here to not only FARMS, of course, but to its successor FAIR, as well as oto the newly-concocted Mormon Defense League).

RfM poster "dagny" astutely observes in another thread:

"My take:

"These organizations play an important role for the church. They test the waters.

"The [Mormon] church has lots of 'problems' that stem from its history and past teachings.

"Organizations like FAIR put out 'trial balloons' to see what flies. If something they come up with flies and starts to be well received and accepted, the church can slowly embrace the teaching. The church can pretend they thought that way all along since their own statements are so slippery.

"If the 'trial balloon' teaching is not received well, is easily debunked, or unfavorable the church watches. Thanks to the organization not being officially part of the church, the church can distance themselves from anything that turns out to be not in their best interest. The church has no accountability and maintains plausible deniability.

"So, when someone tries out the idea that tapirs were BoM horses or that there were two Hill Cumorahs, the church can safely keep its distance and see what flies. The church knows they don't have to provide concrete answers because the members are willing to manufacture them and pass them around.

"It is the ultimate tool for deciding what to emphasize, what to adapt, and what to drop down the memory hole."

("My take: These organizations play an important role for the church. They test the waters," posted by "dagny," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 5 August 2011, 9:48 p.m.)

And how do Mormonism's apologetic apostles themselves regard not only the Book of Mormon, but also the water-carrying puppet organizations for the LDS Church whose mission it is to the Mormon minions to promote the Book of Mormon so stenuously?

Specifically, let's look at Dallin H. Oaks--and his telling flip-flops. It is telling to see what high Mormon Church leaders such as Oaks believe and speak about their faith in private--as compared to what they proclaim in public.

For instance, former RfM poster "Randy J." noted the following about Oaks' public speechifying regarding the Book of Mormon, as found in an address entitled "The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," which Oaks delivered at a banquet of the faithful hosted by FARMS:

". . . [A]lthough Oaks' address is titled 'The Historicity of the Book of Mormon,' he offers not one iota of evidence to support that title in his entire speech. . . .

"Church leaders are willing to let FARMS and FAIR apologists go out on fragile limbs and propose their silly theories and publish their silly papers; but the leaders are much more reserved in their pronouncements, because they don't want to make any statements about 'Book of Mormon evidences' which can be refuted later."

("Two LDS Apostles Discuss Scientific Evidence for the BOM," posted by "Randy J.," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletin board, 6 July [year not noted], at:

As an informative historical sidenote to the FARMS banquet speech which "Randy J." mentions, I learned from a private meeting with Oaks just a few weeks prior to him delivering that speech that what he said in private about the Book of Mormon was not in complete synchronization with his later public observations. To be sure, what Oaks expressed behind closed doors compared to what he later said in public at that FARMS banquet makes for interesting reading.

On 9 September 1993, in a closed-door meeting with Oaks and fellow Apostle Neal A. Maxwell in Maxwell’s Salt Lake City Church office, Oaks offered his personal observations and assessments about the Book of Mormon.

Approximately six weeks after having met with Oaks and Maxwell--on 29 October 1993--Oaks then spoke publicly on the Book of Mormon, in the aforementioned sermon entitled, “The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," which was delivered at the annual dinner for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) in Provo, Utah.

(The text of Oaks' banquet remarks is available here: Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "THE HISTORICITY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON," Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, Annual Dinner, Provo, Utah, October 29, 1993, at:; and Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," at:

What follows is a compare-and-contrast examination of what Oaks said in that earlier private meeting about the Book of Mormon in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City, as compared to what he publicly told the FARMS audience a few weeks later at their banquet in Provo.

This examination will also provide some inside information about what Oaks actually thinks of both the Book of Mormon and FARMS. Note the similarities and, more importantly, the differences between Oaks’ privately- and publicly-expressed views on these matters.


--Oaks Behind Closed Doors:

In the privacy of Maxwell's office, Oaks was shown striking parallels between a cross-referenced, color-coded copy of the Book of Mormon and the text for the "Spalding Manuscript:" B.H. Roberts' study of parallels between Ethan Smith's "View of the Hebrews;" the King James text of the Book of Isaiah; and the King James text of the New Testament--with particular emphasis being placed on the Book of Mormon timeline from 600 BC to 1 BC, when the words of the New Testament had not yet been written.

Further, Oaks was shown 17 parallels between the lives of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma and the New Testament apostle Paul. Note was made of the wording in Alma's letters that is found in exactly the same language in Paul's New Testament story.

Oaks' reply:

"Well, you know, as you've thumbed through your book, it only appears to me that 5% of your book has been marked, so I would say don't throw out the 95% because of the 5%. Don't take the 5% that you have serious questions about and cast out the 95% that is unexplained or divinely inspired."

Oaks continued:

"It's like being married to our wives. I'm sure there's more than 5% of me that my wife finds disagreement with, but she puts up with it anyway. It's kind of like being married to the Book of Mormon. Don't let your doubts keep you out of the mainstream."

Oaks' attention was also drawn to Moroni 10, which speaks of gifts of the spirit (to one is given one gift; to someone else is given another, etc). Verse by verse--comparing Moroni 10 to First Corinthians 12--the texts were shown to be almost exactly the same.

Oaks' reply:

"Well, it's not word-for-word and it's not the whole chapter."

Oaks was reminded that except for some minor variations--such as the oft-repeated phrase, "and again"--it was, for all intents and purposes, word-for-word.

When asked to explain how Moroni used the same language found in the King James version of the Bible, written hundreds of years after the Book of Mormon was recorded, Oaks replied that he himself had had the same question while preparing a talk on gifts of the spirit, as outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon and the New Testament.

Oaks said he concluded that all three authors were "impressed by the Holy Ghost" to record their thoughts "in this particular manner and in these particular words."

--Oaks in his FARMS Banquet Speech:

"In these remarks I will seek to use rational argument, but I will not rely on any proofs. I will approach the question of the historicity of the Book of Mormon from the standpoint of faith and revelation. I maintain that the issue of the historicity of the Book of Mormon is basically a difference between those who rely exclusively on scholarship and those who rely on a combination of scholarship, faith, and revelation.

"Those who rely exclusively on scholarship reject revelation and fulfill Nephi's prophecy that in the last days men 'shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance' (2 Ne. 28:4). The practitioners of that approach typically focus on a limited number of issues, like geography or 'horses' or angelic delivery or nineteenth century language patterns. They ignore or gloss over the incredible complexity of the Book of Mormon record. Those who rely on scholarship, faith, and revelation are willing to look at the entire spectrum of issues, content as well as vocabulary, revelation as well as excavation."


--Oaks Behind Closed Doors:

In private, Oaks offered the following counsel:

"You ought to go through the Book of Mormon and color in all the differences and emphasize the unique and special teachings of the Book of Mormon that don't have any similarities to other sources." (The point, however, was not highlight differences between the Book of Mormon and other texts but, rather, to get answers regarding their similarities and/or identicalness in areas of story lines, wording, etc).

--Oaks in his FARMS Banquet Speech:

"Scholarship and physical proofs are worldly values. I understand their value, and I have had some experience in using them. Such techniques speak to many after the manner of their understanding. But there are other methods and values, too, and we must not be so committed to scholarship that we close our eyes and ears and hearts to what cannot be demonstrated by scholarship or defended according to physical proofs and intellectual reasoning. . . .

"I admire those scholars for whom scholarship does not exclude faith and revelation. It is part of my faith and experience that the Creator expects us to use the powers of reasoning he has placed within us, and that he also expects us to exercise our divine gift of faith and to cultivate our capacity to be taught by divine revelation. But these things do not come without seeking. Those who utilize scholarship and disparage faith and revelation should ponder the Savior's question: 'How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?' (John 5:44)."


--Oaks Behind Closed Doors:

When asked how to deal with the above noted anomalies found in the Book of Mormon, Oaks replied that the jury was still out.

--Oaks in his FARMS Banquet Speech:

"Another way of explaining the strength of the positive position on the historicity of the Book of Mormon is to point out that we who are its proponents are content with a standoff on this question.

"Honest investigators will conclude that there are so many evidences that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text that they cannot confidently resolve the question against its authenticity, despite some unanswered questions that seem to support the negative determination.

"In that circumstance, the proponents of the Book of Mormon can settle for a draw or a hung jury on the question of historicity and take a continuance until the controversy can be retried in another forum."


--Oaks Behind Closed Doors:

In his ultimate assessment of evidentiary proof concerning the Book of Mormon, Oaks admitted that the arguments for and against the book were "equal," with neither side being able to prove whether the Book of Mormon was true or untrue. In the ultimate analysis, he said, the Book of Mormon had to be accepted on faith.

Oaks reiterated that there was no evidence proving or disproving the Book of Mormon.

He placed his hand over his heart and said, "I get this knot, this warm feeling right here, and that is what I go on." Oaks said that he had a conviction that the Book of Mormon was "true."

He said that feeling of truthfulness came from a "personal witness."

--Oaks in his FARMS Banquet Speech:

". . . [I]t is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Its authenticity depends, as it says, on a witness of the Holy Spirit. Our side will settle for a draw, but those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon cannot settle for a draw. They must try to disprove its historicity--or they seem to feel a necessity to do this--and in this they are unsuccessful because even the secular evidence, viewed in its entirety, is too complex for that. . . .

"Speaking for a moment as one whose profession is advocacy, I suggest that if one is willing to acknowledge the importance of faith and the reality of a realm beyond human understanding, the case for the Book of Mormon is the stronger case to argue. The case against the historicity of the Book of Mormon has to prove a negative. You don't prove a negative by prevailing on one debater's point or by establishing some subsidiary arguments."


--Oaks Behind Closed Doors:

Oaks acknowledged that FARMS sometimes gets "hyperactive" in trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is true.

He said he becomes concerned when FARMS "stops making shields and starts turning out swords," because, he said, "you cannot prove the Book of Mormon out of the realm of faith." Accepting the Book of Mormon, Oaks said, was ultimately a matter of faith.

--Oaks in his FARMS Banquet Speech:

"Brothers and Sisters, how grateful we are--all of us who rely on scholarship, faith, and revelation--for what you are doing. God bless the founders and the supporters and the workers of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. The work that you do is important, it is well-known, and it is appreciated."

--Oaks in Private and Oaks in Public on the Book of Mormon and FARMS:

Would the real Dallin Oaks please stand up?
Blessing From The Bigots: Black Mormon - "Owned" Slaves In Heaven - Only The Best For The "Cursed"
Monday, Aug 15, 2011, at 07:46 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
One such Mormon-"owned" slave was Jane Elizabeth Manning James--otherwise known among her Mormon friends and White overseers as "Aunt Jane."

Aunt Jane was a faithful Black Mormon convert who worked in the household of Joseph and Emma Smith. After years of faithful belief and devotion to clean-up duty, she had the audacity to repeatedly petition the leaders of the Mormon Church to be sealed via temple endowment to her husband, but was denied her request by the Quorum of the Twelve.

Instead, she was made to settle for her White "owner," Joseph Smith--as his slave for time and all eternity:

"The Territory of Utah gave up the practice of slavery along with the slave-holding states; however, the fact that they countenanced it when it was being practiced shows how insensitive they were to the feelings of black people. Even after the slaves were set free the Mormons continued to talk against blacks. In the year 1884, Angus M. Cannon said that 'a colored man . . . is not capable of receiving the Priesthood, and can never reach the highest Celestial glory of the Kingdom of God.' ('The Salt Lake Tribune,' October 5, 1884)

"The idea that blacks were inferior and should only be servants to the whites persisted in Mormon theology. In fact, Mormon leaders seemed to feel that blacks would still be servants in heaven. On August 26, 1908, President Joseph F. Smith related that a black woman was sealed as a servant to Joseph Smith:

"'The same efforts he said had been made by Aunt Jane to receive her endowments and be sealed to her husband and have her children sealed to their parents and her appeal was made to all the Presidents from President Young down to the present First Presidency. But President Cannon conceived the idea that, under the circumstances, it would be proper to permit her to go to the temple to be adopted to the Prophet Joseph Smith as his servant and this was done. This seemed to ease her mind for a little while but did not satisfy her, and she still pleaded for her endowments.' ('Excerpts From The Weekly Council Meetings Of The Quorum Of The Twelve Apostles,' as printed in 'Mormonism-Shadow or Reality?,' p. 584).

"The idea that a black is only worthy of the position of a servant has deep roots in Mormon theology. Mark E. Petersen, . . . [former] Apostle in the church, once said that if a 'Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.' ('Race Problems-As They Affect The Church,' a speech delivered at Brigham Young University, August 27, 1954)."

(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Changing the Anti-Black Doctrine," Chapter 10, Part 1, in "The Changing World of Mormonism," Utah Lighthouse Ministry, at:

Jane Elizabeth Manning James (1813-1908)--even in faith, a victim of Mormon bigotry, RIP:

"Jane Elizabeth Manning was born in Wilton, Connecticut, one of five children of Isaac and Phyllis Manning, a free black family. Although Jane was a member of the local Presbyterian Church, she remained spiritually unfulfilled until 1842 when she heard the message of a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . . . .

"Soon afterwards she joined the Mormon Church. One year following her conversion, Jane Elizabeth and several family members who had also converted decided to move to Nauvoo, Illinois, the headquarters of the Mormon Church. After traveling by boat to Buffalo, New York, the African American Mormons, unable to pay additional fares, began an eight-hundred-mile journey by foot to Nauvoo. In Nauvoo, Jane lived and worked in the home of Joseph Smith, Jr. the founder of the LDS Church and his wife, Emma.

"Following the 1844 murder of Joseph Smith, Jr. and his brother Hyrum in Carthage, Illinois, Mormon leaders under Brigham Young decided to abandon Nauvoo and look for a safe haven in the West away from forces hostile to the LDS Church.

"In the fall of 1847, Jane, her husband Isaac James whom she married in 1841, and two sons traveled across the plains to the new home of the LDS Church in the Salt Lake Valley. They were the first free black pioneers in the Mormon settlement and Jane would spend the remaining fifty-one years of her life in Utah. They shared the hardships of their fellow Mormons and engaged in the spirit of mutual aid and cooperation that characterized LDS pioneer life.

"By the 1880s Jane became increasingly concerned about her place in the afterlife. Well aware of the LDS Church's proscriptions that prohibited blacks from full participation in the rituals that were prerequisite to being eligible for a place in the celestial kingdom, she nonetheless argued for an exemption because of her faith.

"'Is there no blessing for me?' she asked Church leaders for more than a decade. Those leaders refused her requests. They attempted to pacify her by authorizing her limited participation in LDS rituals.

"Through it all, Jane Manning James remained a devout Mormon and is generally recognized in LDS history for her unwavering faith. Jane Manning James died in Salt Lake City in 1908.

"A special monument to her is located in the Salt Lake City Cemetery, close to her gravesite, to commemorate her life and faith."

(Ronald G. Coleman, "'Is There No Blessing for Me?': Jane Elizabeth Manning James, A Mormon African American Woman," in Quintard Taylor and Shirley Ann Moore Wilson, eds., "African American Women Confront the West," 1600-2000 [Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press 2003], at:

Ahhhhh, how sweetly described--and deceptively presented.

That "limited participation in LDS rituals," as it is euphemistically described above, is more fully laid out on pp. 152-157 of Coleman's biography of "Aunt Jane." There it is painfully detailed how, despite her faithfulness--and only because of her so-called "cursed" race--she was relentlessly denied her personal plea for access to the Mormon temple for her own family sealing endowment.

The First Presidency also rejected her request to be adopted, via temple sealing, into the family of Joseph and Emma Smith, in whose home she faithfully worked as a servant.

The First Presidency eventually, out of the kindness of their white-and-delightsome hearts, did permit her to be eternally sealed to Joseph Smith as his servant.

(Tracking note: Google search "Ronald G. Coleman Manning." Up will come "African American Women Confront the West, 1600-2000 -Google Books Result." Click on that and Coleman's article will appear).

More on the patronizing treatment she received from the Mormon Church:

" . . . [H]ave you wondered why Jane walked to Nauvoo? It was because white Mormons would not allow her to ride with them or assist her in paying for passage. And once she arrived in Nauvoo the Beautiful, that 'Zion on the Mississippi,' she was either rebuffed or ignored by her fellow Saints, until finally someone pointed out Joseph Smith's home to her.

"Once she finally did meet Smith, he made Jane his house servant, and when Smith was murdered in 1844, Brigham Young then took in Jane James as his servant as well. Despite her faithful service to the church and its wealthy presidents, she lived most of her life in abject poverty.

"She arrived in the new Zion of Utah among the first of the Saints in September 1847, the first free black woman in the territory, only to find that slavery was already being practiced there. Mormon Apostle Charles C. Rich owned slaves in Utah, which must have been a great trial of her faith. The only Western State or Territory to practice slavery was Utah.

"She wished to be 'sealed' to her loved ones for all eternity just like the white-skinned members of the congregation were allowed to be. For all of her sacrifice, the highest eternal blessing the Mormon church could offer Joseph Smith's former house servant was to 'seal' her to Joseph Smith as his servant forever.

"The words recited at this ceremony were that she was 'to be attached as a Servitor for eternity to the prophet Joseph Smith and in this capacity be connected with his family and be obedient to him in all things in the Lord as a faithful Servitor.'

"In essence, an eternal slave, bound to service a white master for eternity."

(For more on this final above account, along with a photograph of Jane Manning, see: "Nauvoo Pageant 2007: Just Who is Jane Manning?," in "Mormon Home Evening: Official Blog of Mormon Missions Midwest Outreach," 17 July 2007, at:
The White Founding Fathers Vs. The Black People: Picking And Choosing When It Is "Too Sacred" To Talk About What Goes On In Mormon Temples
Monday, Aug 15, 2011, at 08:21 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
My grandfather ETB refused to describe to me what it was like to be in the Salt Lake temple the day Pres. Kimball announced that the Blacks would be getting the priesthood, but he was ever ready to go public on Woodfuff meeting the Founders in the St. George the St. George temple.

Just a few months after my grandfather refused to share with me in any detail what it was like to be told behind temple walls that Black men could now wield power and authority in God’s name (telling me it was too "sacred" to talk about), ETB was freely talking about famous disembodied spirits appearing in the House of the Lord:

“When I became President of the Twelve and Spencer W. Kimball became President of the Church, we met, just the two of us, every week in our Thursday meetings in the temple, just to be sure that things were properly coordinated between the Twelve and the First Presidency.

“After one of those first meetings, we talked about the man sacred documents in some of the older temples. St. George was mentioned in particular . . . and it was agreed that I would go into the archives--the walk-in vault--of that great temple and review the sacred documents that were there. . . .

“And there in the St. George Temple I saw what I had always hoped and prayed that someday I would see. Ever since I returned as a humble missionary and first learned that the Founding Fathers had appeared in that temple, I wanted to see the record. And I saw the record. They did appear to Wilford Woodruff twice and asked why the work hadn’t been done for them. They had founded this country and the Constitution of this land, and they had been true to those principles. Later the work was done for them.”

(Ezra Taft Benson, address delivered in Sandy, Utah, 30 December 1978, reprinted in Benson, "The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1988], p. 603)

But that wasn't the whole of it. In earlier remarks at the re-dedication of the St. George Temple entitled “Our Founding Fathers Stood in This Holy Place,” my grandfather again spoke openly of these “sacred” experiences in the temple vault.

(Ezra Taft Benson, “Our Founding Fathers Stood in This Holy Place,” St. George Temple Re-dedication, 12 September 1975, LDS Church Archives; see also, Benson, “The Faith of Our Founding Fathers,” in "Faith" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1983], pp. 21-22).

Go figure. Both were imaginary experiences. Like Apostle Bruce R. McConkie said of the priesthood announcement to the Twelve by Kimball in the Salt Lake temple, there was nothing “miraculous” about Kimball’s announcement to the assembled Quorum members:

“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, 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. . . .”

McConkie then did some more confessing. This glorious in-temple event was increasingly becoming comparable to experiencing that inexplicably happy feeling during a typical fast and testimony meeting when believing Mormons “know” that the Church is true. McConkie explained:

“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)”

(Bruce R. McConkie, "All Are Alike unto God," general assembly address to Book of Mormon Symposium for Seminary and Institute teachers, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 18 August 1978, manuscript copy in my possession)

No "miraculous" appearance of Joseph or Jesus the day the priesthood ban was lifted in the Salt Lake temple, but all my grandfather needed to see in the St. George temple were the "sacred documents" claiming that the Founders had appeared to Woodruff about being baptized for the dead and he was ready to talk, write and testify.

Never could figure that out.

To add another wrinkle to the puzzle, ETB wouldn't talk about the Mormon God's command to the temple-assembled apostles to grant priesthood membership to Black men because it was "too sacred;" but yet he openly talked about ironing the sacred and secret Mormon underwear.

Let me get this straight: You can't talk about the Blacks in the temple but you can talk about the spirits of the Founding Fathers materializing in the temple--and about watching your mother heat-press Mormonism’s secret temple clothes before going into the temple.

ETB's account of this latter event was published during his lifetime--accompanied, no less, by an illustration depicting his mother pressing this intimate apparel as a young Ezra stood by watching and asking questions:

“With the Benson parents, religion was of highest importance. One day when just a young boy, Ezra was coming in from the field, and as he came close to the old farm house, he could hear his mother sing, ‘Have I Done Any Good in the World Today?’ She was bending over the ironing board, papers spread over the floor around it. It was very warm and beads of perspiration stood on her forehead as she ironed long strips of white cloth.

“’What are you doing, Mother?’ asked Ezra.

“She answered, ‘These are temple robes, son. Your father and I are going to the temple in Logan. Then she put her old flatiron on the back of the stove and said, ‘Sit here by me, Ezra. I want to tell you about the temple.’ She explained to him the importance of the temple and the blessings of the sacred ordinances there. She said, ‘I hope and pray with al my heart that some day you and all your brothers and sisters will enjoy these priceless blessings. I pray for this not only for my children but for my grandchildren and even my great-grandchildren.’

“Ezra Taft Benson later remembered his mother’s words as he performed the temple marriages of each of his own children, who were, of course, his mother’s grandchildren, and later, the great-grandchildren.”

(Della Mae Rasmussen, "The Illustrated Story of President Ezra Taft Benson: Great Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" [Provo, Utah: Eagle Systems International; Steven R. Shallenberger, publisher, 1987], pp. 14-15)

I guess it's too much to ask Mormons to keep their sacred storytelling sacredly consistent.
Mormonism Is Not Viewed Favorably By Many Americans, Romney Is Running From Its Doctrines And Its Past And, In The End, His Image As A Cultist Will Catch Up With And Defeat Him
Tuesday, Oct 11, 2011, at 08:54 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
The fact is that cultified Romney is getting poll-rolled.

The bottom line is that 20% of Americans surveyed say they'd go for a Christian and not a Mormon:

"A recent poll found that one in five U.S. voters would support a Christian candidate over a Mormon."

("Mormonism a 'cult,' says pastor in comments on Romney," by Staff, 10 October 2011, at:

And this continuing fact that just won't die for Romney's Mormon brigade--Despite indications of "somewhat less" antagonism toward Romney's Mormonism this time around than was evident in 2008, the so-called “Mormon Question" remains a worrisome problem for Romney:

"This is where things currently stand--Polling conducted for the Washington Post and ABC News, Gallup, and the Pew Research Center in recent months has shown between 20 and 25 percent of Americans say they either won’t vote for a Mormon or would be less likely to vote for one."

("Why Mitt Romney’s ‘Mormon Question’ doesn’t matter (as much) in 2012," by Chris Cillizza, "The Fix," in "The Washington Post," 10 October 2011, at:

Indeed, these numbers are in sync with a summer poll earlier this year by Gallup showing that a sizable minority of Americans surveyed wouldn't vote for Romney because he is a Mormon:

"A Gallup poll released this week shows that 22 percent of Americans would not vote for a Mormon, even if that candidate were running in the voters’ own parties. The percentage is not statistically much different from when Gallup interviewed voters in 1967 (when 17 percent said they would not vote for a Mormon). But it’s notable that the number of Mormon-phobes spiked to 24 percent in 2007, as Romney was making his first run for president, and is back up to 22 percent now that Romney and Huntsman are running."

("Poll: Romney and Huntsman Face the Voters' Mormon Problem," by Susan Milligan, "U.S. News and World Report," 21 June 2011, at:

Hard-core primary voters nominate candidates who are pushed to either ideological extreme in their positions during the primaries in order to garner the votes they need to get into the Big Race.

Romney may nor may not win his party's nomination but if he does, he will do so without a significant minority bloc of the Religious Right that forcefully does not regard him or accept him as a Christian.

Once (or if) Romney gets the GOP nod for the national sweepstakes, mainstream Americans (whether evangelical Christians or not) will weigh in and will not, in my opinion, be sufficiently satisfied or comfortable with Romney to vote him into the Oval Office.

Again, Americans do not trust him. They didn't in '08 and they won't in '12. As proof of that, worried GOP leaders/kingmakers are increasingly (and desperately) looking for a candidate who can win--meaning that they are not looking to Romney, even though in the end they may have to suck it up and accept him as the GOP nominee.

It is simply not Mormon Mitt's time, regardless of other factors (including even the sour economy) that may be in play. Why? Ironically, Romney is now complaining that bringing up his Mormon beliefs is "poisonous." Yes, it definitely is poisonous: poisonous, that is, to his chances of becoming president.

Mitt should know.

Take the case study of when Romney got beat by Ted Kennedy for the U.S. Senate. In the latter stages of the race (where Romney appeared to be doing a good job of holding his own up to that point), Kennedy pulled out the Mormon card and hit Romney hard and furious with the LDS Church's anti-Black and anti-women doctrines and practices. Romney sank like a rock

Mormons--completely out of touch as they are with the real world of politics as it exists on the ground in Non-Mormon America--lash back by stupidly pitching the Book of Mormon (after claiming they don't care about religion as a factor in the presidential race).

Take, for example, this reply from a defensive LDSer who clearly doesn't get the fact that proselytizing non-LDS voters with Book of Mormon fairy tales isn't going to bring waves of non-Mormon Christian voters to Romney's camp:

"One man has consistently stood above the rest and that is Rommney. [L]ook at the Olympics, they went under, he stepped in pulled them back up and back into positive numbers in an extraordinary short amount of time.

"Who cares what his religion is[?] [H]e has made it very clear--as all Mormons do--that Utah cannot and will not interfere with government.

"[A]nd not Biblical Christians? Oh please. [T]hat ship has soooooo sailed. If you ever take the time to read the BOM it supports the Bible and if you read the Bible, it supports that there were MANY MANY records written by the faithful Christians of that time of Christ and His teachings. I have read both and know a lot of Mormons. {T]heir actions speak for themselves[,] good folks who really believe in keeping the commandments and behaving themselves. [C]ould use a lot more of them-especially in Washington."

("Comments on: Is Romney's Mormon faith affecting votes? Mitt Romney's Mormon faith has once again come under fire as he tries to win over social conservatives," original emphasis, corrected for punctuation, at:

Clueless in Zion.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mitt Romney has about as much of a chance of becoming president as Joseph Smith did (who was running for the U.S. presidency in 1844).
"Some May Push And Some May Pull" - Remember This: The Story's Bull
Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011, at 09:28 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
Introduction: 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

"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

"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."

But enough of the 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."

Conclusion: "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.
A Defining Mormon-Masonry Moment: In The Living Room Of The Ft. Wayne, Indiana Mission Home
Tuesday, Nov 29, 2011, at 07:53 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 1   -Link To MC Article-
My dad happened to be the mission president at the time, so there in the field operations HQ one Sunday night we had an impromptu ward youth fireside featuring a Mason-Mormon magic man, whose circus act (sorry to say now) I naively helped arrange. This was back in 1971-72, during my senior year in high school.

A barnstorming, charismatic LDS carnival barker kind of a guy, he had blown into town from Utah, where he dropped into the Ft. Wayne 1st Ward sacrament meeting that we attended. He got up, introduced himself and nearly charmed the garments off the easily-bamboozled congregation (including our gullible bishopric) with his engaging gospel style.

Myself and some other youth in the ward were sufficiently struck by this fellow's entertaining pulpit performance to invite him (with presiding priesthood permission) to be a guest speaker at a hastily-arranged fireside that same evening in the large living room of the mission home, located at 4700 Old Mill Road in Ft. Wayne, not far from Rudisill Boulevard and down the road from Foster Park:

Brother Razzle-Dazzle showed up before a gathering of us teens that night and proceeded to tell us about a few items of particular (and usually not-spoken-of-openly) interest; namely:

1) He was a Mason. To prove that, he proudly showed off to us his Masonic ring.

2) The Masonic Order contained secret rituals, signs, symbols and covenants.

3) The sacred Mormon temple ceremony included elements of the Masonic Order, which he said he could not discuss with us in detail but about which he bore solemn and dramatic testimony.

4) As a temple Mormon, he was wearing secret LDS temple undergarments beneath his street clothes, into which were sewn Masonic emblems representing power and priesthood. He pointed to the areas of his body where the garments were located (but unseen), about which he also bore solemn and dramatic testimony.

During his presentation, several of the young people became "spiritually moved" and began to cry.

However, I didn't feel a thing (which actually kind of surprised me, given that so many of my friends were in tears of testimonial joy). My friend Dave didn't feel anything, either. After the fireside was over, he and I stepped aside and talked among ourselves about what we had just witnesssed. Both of us agreed that it was rather weird and less than spiritually impressive.

In fact, for me it served to plant seeds of troubled curiousity in my mind about what really went on behind the secrecy-shrouded walls of the Mormon temple that faithful Latter-day Saints were never supposed to talk about in public. "Why hadn't I heard of the Mormon-Mason connection before?," I wondered to myself.

When I finally decided to bolt the Cult some 21 years later by resigning my membership in disgust over its historical lies, doctrinal absurdities, obnoxious sexism, authoritarian mind control and bigoted bizarreness, one of the pivotal reasons was having discovered in greater detail as an adult the undeniable, plagiarized parallels between the LDS temple ritual inventions of Joseph Smith (himself a Nauvoo-initiated, top-degree Mason) and the ceremonies of bricklayer/trade union pre-Mormon Freemasonry that originated during the Middle Ages.

It brought me back to that Ft. Wayne mission home fireside show many years earlier, delivered by that Masonic-ring toting, Mormon garment-wearing pitchman.

The Mormon Church, of course, goes out of its way to deny any meaningful connection to Masonry.

For instance, in its "Encyclopedia of Mormonism," while it admits "resemblances between the two rituals" [meaning the secret Mormon temple ceremonies and the secret Freemasonry ceremonies), it insists that these similarities "are limited to a small proportion of actions and words . . . ."

Furthermore, it claims that "[e]ven where the two rituals share symbolism, the fabric of the meanings are different. . . .

"Freemasonry is a fraternal society and in its ritual all promises, oaths and agreements are made between members. In the [Mormon] temple endowment all covenants are between the individual and God.

"In Freemasonry, testing, grading, penalizing or sentencing accords with the rules of the fraternity or membership votes. In the [Mormon temple] endowment, God alone is the judge.

"Within Freemasonry, rank and promotions are of great imporatance, while in the LDS temple rites there are not distinctions; all participants stand equal before God.

"The clash between good and evil, including Satan's role, is essential to, and vividly depicted in the [LDS] endowment but is largely absent from Masonic rites.

"[Mormon] Temple ceremonies emphasize salvation for the dead through vicarious ordinance woprk, such as baptism for the dead; nothing in Masonic ritual allows for proxies acting on behalf of the dead.

"Women participate in all aspects of LDS temple rites; though Freemasonry has women's auxiliaries. Masonic ritual excludes them. . . . LDS temple rites unite husbands and wives and their children, in eternal families. Latter-day Saint sealing would be completely out of place in the context of Mason ceremonies.

"Thus, Lattery-day Saints see their temple ordinaces as fundamentally different from Masonic . . . . "

("Freemasonry and the Temple," by Kenneth W. Godfrey, "Encyclopedia of Mormonism: The History, Scripture, Doctrine and Procedure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," vol. 2 [New York, New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992), p. 529)

Uh-huh, and blah, blah, blah.

Tell all that to the Mormon Mason who blew through Ft. Wayne, Indiana, that Sunday, showing off his Masonic ring and openly proclaiming to the youth of the LDS ward there that he was wearing secret Mormon underwear marked with Masonic symbols, while he testified that the Mormon temple ceremony contained elements of the Masonic Order that he was forbidden to talk about.

The real and deep historical Mason-Mormon connection is what the Mormon Church doesn't want to talk about.

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