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STEVE BENSON - SECTION 3
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.
| . . . one firmly put to rest as demonstrated both historically and legally by historian D. Michael Quinn, who notes:
" . . . [O]ne argument used to incite fear against same-sex marriage is the warning that its legalization would result in ministers being 'forced to perform same-sex marriages.' . . .
"This statement appeared in a brochure issued in 1999 by LDS headquarters which said that 'if DOMA [the Defense of Marriage Act] fails in California' an 'obvious' consequence will be 'civil penalties for churches who refuse to perform gay marriages.'
"However, in March 1995, the Circuit Court of Hawaii ruled that this was a false claim in the LDS church's petition to the Hawaii court. . . . State licensing law permits churches to perform civil marriages but does not require them to do so.
"Both ministers and lawyers knew this for decades before the controversy about same-sex marriage. In the years since the Supreme Court legalized all interracial marriages in 1967, no minister has been 'forced' to perform an interracial marriage, either in the South or elsewhere.
"Likewise, although interfaith marriages have always been legal in the United States, Roman Catholic priests and orthodox Jewish rabbis have traditionally refused to perform such marriages. LDS bishops have never been legally required to perform a marriage for a non-Mormon. Although licensed by the state to perform civil marriage, ministers have always had the right to refuse any person for any reason."
(D. Michael Quinn, "Prelude to the National 'Defense of Marriage' Campaign: Civil Discrimination Against Feared or Despised Minorities," at: http://www.affirmation.org/learning/p....
| POLYGAMOUS MARRIAGES AND SEALINGS STILL BEING PERFORMED IN PRESENT-DAY MORMON TEMPLES
Despite its efforts to mislead the public and the press, the "mainstream" Mormon Church continues to permit faithful Mormon men to be polygamously married in heaven-sanctioned, temple-performed, secret ceremonies to other women, in the event of the death of the man's previous wife or in the case of divorce.
Mormon Apostle Charles W. Penrose explained this practice some 111 years ago--one which is still being officially followed by the Mormon Church today:
"In the case of a man marrying a wife in the everlasting covenant who dies while he continues in the flesh and marries another by the same divine law, each wife will come forth in her order and enter with him into his glory." (Penrose, "'Mormon' Doctrine Plain and Simple, or Leaves from the Tree of Life," p. 66).
Sandra Tanner lists examples of modern-day polygamous marriages that have been present-day sanctioned and performed in Mormonism's temples:
"This doctrine [of polygamous marriage] was reaffirmed in October of 2007 at the funeral for the second wife of President Howard W. Hunter, the fourteenth President of the LDS Church. The Deseret News reported:
"'President Hinckley affirmed the eternal nature of the marriage between Sister [Inis] Hunter and the former church president, whose first wife, Claire Jeffs, died after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease and is now buried beside him in the Salt Lake Cemetery. Inis Hunter "will now be laid to rest on the other side," he said. "They were sealed under the authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood for time and for all eternity," he said, recalling the marriage ceremony he performed for them in the Salt Lake Temple in April 1990.' ("Sister Hunter's humor and cheerfulness remembered as she is laid to rest," Deseret News, Oct. 22, 2007).
"Another example of plural sealings is Apostle Russell M. Nelson's marriage in 2006 to a BYU professor. The BYU NewsNet for April 7, 2006, announced the temple marriage of Apostle Nelson, age 81, to Wendy Watson. . . . His first wife died in February of 2005 and this was the first marriage for his new wife. This would mean, according to LDS beliefs, that Nelson has two wives sealed to him for eternity.
"Joseph Fielding Smith, tenth president of the LDS Church, remarried twice after the death of his first wife, and in his book, 'Doctrines of Salvation,' Vol. 2, p. 67, he remarked, ' . . . [M]y wives will be mine in eternity.'
"Harold B. Lee, the eleventh president of the Church, also remarried after his wife's death and was sealed to another woman and was looking forward to a polygamous relationship in heaven. He, in fact, wrote a poem in which he reflected that his second wife, Joan, would join his first wife, Fern, as his eternal wives:
"'My lovely Joan was sent to me: So Joan joins Fern
That three might be, more fitted for eternity.
"O Heavenly Father, my thanks to thee.'
"(Deseret News 1974 Church Almanac, p. 17)
According to cagily-talking Mormon apostle Quentin L. Cook, as recently quoted by the LDS Church-owned news station KSL:
"Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often called Mormons, do not practice polygamy, and they have not practiced polygamy for over a century."
Yet, by his own admission and practice, fellow Mormon apostle and eternally blessed multi-wifer Dallin H. Oaks expressly contradicts his colleague Cook, claiming exactly the opposite in Oaks' own acknowledgment of what faithful Mormons currently are up to behind the secrecy-veiled walls of their present-day temples:
"When I was 66, my wife June died of cancer.
"Two years later--a year and a half ago--I married [in the LDS temple] Kristen McMain, the eternal companion who now stands at my side."
(Dallin Oaks, "Timing," speech delivered at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 29 January 2002)
| --Personal Breaking Points in Leaving the Mormon Church
I would note that, based on both my own individual experience and my general observation of others, that many individuals end up leaving Mormonism for a combination of reasons: personal, emotional and intellectual–but that it is often the negative personal experiences that tend to crystallize, focus and propel them to take the final step of actually disassociating from the LDS Church.
These personal experiences can take many forms, including:
--marital stress with a TBM spouse or serious friction with other family members;
--the discovery of acts of hypocrisy or other inappropriate conduct by formerly trusted and respected Church members and/or leaders;
--a sense of personal betrayal or abusive treatment at the hands of Church authorities; and
--conflicts with Church leaders who misuse their authority in heavy-handed efforts to control one’s individual life and decisions.
--My Intellectual Path Toward Jettisoning Mormonism
For years leading up to my ultimate decision to resign from Church membership, I had been actively investigating several basic issues of Mormon doctrine, history and practice, including:
--the historicity of the Books of Mormon and Abraham;
--the “translation” of the fraudulent Kinderhook Plates;
--the Masonic origins of the Mormon temple ceremony;
--the rewriting and altering of Church history;
--the question of consistency within Mormon doctrines;
--the racist and sexist teachings of Mormon scripture; and
--the reversal and denial of official Mormon teachings
The more I studied in these areas (reading many sources from both “pro” and “con” perspectives), the more I developed an intellectual resistance to, and eventual disbelief in, bedrock Mormon claims. In fact, I had reached the point of intellectual rejection of most of the above areas some time before I formally withdrew from the Church.
--Breaking from Activity
Even in the final stages of my growing intellectual disenchantment with Mormonism, I nonetheless remained active, as I struggled up to the last moment attempting to reconcile my growing doubts with my continued, but declining, activity.
Ultimately, however, the rift between the two became so wide that I found it necessary to put my Church participation on hold, without actually yet resigning my membership.
For instance, when I concluded that there was no other reasonable explanation to account for the obvious connection between the LDS temple rituals and the rites of Freemasonry, I stopped paying tithing and discontinued temple attendance.
When I reached the point where I could no longer accept the Book of Mormon as an authentic historical document, I notified my bishop that I could not, in good conscience, continue teaching my Aaronic Priesthood class that it was a genuine ancient artifact. I did, however, offer to continue instructing the young men under my charge, on the condition that I be allowed to focus on issues of human character development and general moral behavior–but not on the Book of Mormon. My bishop found this offer unacceptable and released me.
I eventually discontinued my hometeaching duties and requested that the hometeachers assigned to our family stop making their monthly visits.
I turned down a calling from the stake president to be ward mission leader.
In short, I needed time and space to deal with the steadily growing gap between what I had been taught was true about Mormonism and what I was discovering was, in reality, false about Mormonism.
--My Own Personal Experiences: The Basis for My Ultimate Break from Mormonism
As important as my intellectual awakening to the falsity of Mormon claims was to my eventual decision to leave the Church, the most powerful influence in that ultimate decision took the form of personal experiences, from youth to adulthood, which served to raise growing doubts in my mind about the Church’s claims to divine and singular authority over my life.
What made these personal experiences even more powerful to me than the intellectual arguments was their direct and obvious effect on my individual life, as brought on by people I knew and had contact with in the Church--from family, to teachers, to Church leaders.
The cumulative effect of these personal experiences led me to make the final decision to leave the Mormon Church. The intellectual reasons served to reinforce and validate that decision.
What follows is a list of the personal experiences, in cumulative order, that formed the underpinnings for my decision to resign my membership in the Church. These included:
--the failure of a priesthood “healing” blessing, given to me as a young boy while hospitalized for pneumonia, to have any discernable effect on my recovery;
--the false promise made to me in my patriarchal blessing that I would return from my full-time mission to find things just about the way I left them. Contrary to the blessings assurances, my girlfriend, whom I wanted to marry, died barely six weeks into my mission. Within a year, several members of my Seminary class, along with their instructor, were killed or injured in a tornado while returning from a Church trip to Nauvoo;
--the failure of “the Spirit” to register positively when I heard a flamboyant youth fireside speaker reveal to us the Masonic origins of the Mormon temple ceremony (including garment wearing), even though many of my peers in attendance were moved to Holy Ghost-inspired tears;
--my family’s discouragement of me from making any public reference to struggles I had experienced on my mission with my own testimony, insisting to me that I, in fact, possessed a testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel and that it was my duty to set an example for others in the Church to follow;
--unjustified perks and privileges provided family members of high-ranking Church leaders, including free passes to General Conference that were expressly off-limits to non-family members; reserved seating in the Tabernacle for relatives of Church leaders; and access to special lunches for the kin of General Authorities during Conference proceedings;
--the effort of my grandfather, Ezra Taft Benson (after being solicited to intervene by my parents), to stop my planned marriage plans. He did so by abusively invoking his authority as President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles in order to exact my compliance–commanding me that I should defer to parental “inspiration” and seek family peace, rather than make my own decision on whom I should marry;
--the refusal of a trusted BYU professor to answer my growing doubts about Book of Mormon historicity, saying that I needed to put them on the shelf and accept LDS scriptures on faith;
--the on-the-spot demand of another BYU instructor (in a private interview into which he called me) that I bear him my testimony of the atoning sacrifice of the Savior (I felt intruded upon and left the encounter in tears);
--the efforts by my grandfather and other family members to stop me from completing an undergraduate BYU research paper on the Church’s official position on the theory of organic evolution, fearing that it would be critical of Mormon leadership and undermine faith and testimony in the Brethren;
--the refusal of Church leaders (including President Spencer Kimball, Apostles Bruce R. McConkie and Mark E. Peterson, Correlation Committee Director Roy Doxey, Kimball’s personal secretary Arthur Haycock and my grandfather) to give me direct and straightforward answers to my questions on the subject of organic evolution; combined with the Church’s refusal to honestly acknowledge to its members the actual history of the official LDS position on organic evolution on the grounds that to do so would be too controversial;
--the extremist political views personally conveyed in our home by my grandfather and other family members, including that the U.S. civil rights movement was Communist-inspired; that President Eisenhower himself may have been a Communist; that political liberals (such as apostles Hugh B. Brown and Neal A. Maxwell) could not be good Church members; that the John Birch Society was the most effective organization (outside the Mormon Church) in fighting Communism; and that the Beatles were Kremlin understudies groomed to sow revolution in America;
--the attitude in certain quarters of my family, conveyed to me as a 4th-grader on the day he was assassinated, that President John F. Kennedy deserved to be killed;
--the preaching of racist religious and political doctrines in my home and/or in the Church–including opposition to school integration; support of segregationist George Wallace’s presidential platform as being more in line with those of the Founders than that of either the Republican or Democratic parties; spiritual discrimination against those of African and Native American descent, on the basis of their skin color supposedly indicating a sinful legacy; opposition to my participation in demonstration marches urging the passage of a Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday in Arizona; and the refusal of the Mormon Church to officially endorse passage of a King holiday in Arizona;
--efforts by an anonymous Mormon Apostle, local Arizona Church leaders and Mormon political authorities to silence my Mormon-related public cartoon criticism of LDS governor Evan Mecham--including direct contact from the state regional representative of the Church with me, a phone call to my stake president from H. Burke Peterson of the Presiding Bishopric and complaints from a Mormon state senator–all which led to my eventual removal from the stake high council; this combined with efforts by local Mormon Mecham supporters to have me excommunicated for my opposition to Mecham, whom they claimed had been elected by God’s will;
--a warning from my hometeacher that if I did not stop asking critical questions about the Book of Abraham, I would be excommunicated;
--personal meetings with my stake president about my growing disillusionment with Mormon Church doctrines and practices, followed by his personal letters to me, in which he accused me of being consumed with pride and in the grip of Satan, and in which he also warned me to cease my public cartoon criticism of unequal treatment of LDS women by the Mormon Church;
--criticism by a local Mormon male stake youth leader of my former wife's Sunday School lesson to a joint young men’s and young women’s class, in which she taught that during the last days of Jesus’ life, his female friends were more faithful and brave than were his own apostles (a criticism that was, in typical Mormon sexist fashion, relayed to me by the stake leader, rather than directly to Mary Ann);
--efforts by Mormon Church General Authorities and members of my own family to discourage me from speaking the truth about the Church’s deliberate misrepresentations of my grandfather’s actual physical and mental health, combined with the threat from my own family that if I continued to speak out publicly about his health, I would be barred from seeing my grandfather; this last warning was issued to me in the name of protecting God’s prophet from enemies in the press (of which I happened to be a member); and, finally,
--admissions by Apostles Neal Maxwell and Dallin Oaks in private conversations with them in their Church offices just prior to my former wife and myself leaving Mormonism, which included discussion of what they themselves regarded as problems with Book of Mormon historicity; failed prophecies of Mormon Church presidents; contradictory accounts of the First Vision; Joseph Smith’s inconsistent behavior in the wake of receiving the First Vision; difficulties with Smiths’ alleged Book of Abraham translation; the role of FARMS in protecting the Quorum of the Twelve from criticism; the actual means by which revelation is received by Mormon prophets; public lies made by Oaks about Apostle Boyd K. Packer’s inappropriate involvement in a Salt Lake City excommunication case; the nature of Maxwell’s and Oaks’ own testimonies of the Gospel; their obsessive concern for secrecy concerning our conversations with them; and their compulsion to pry into my personal life regarding my individual worthiness to ask them questionsin the first place.
Conclusion: Leaving the Church Because of Negative Personal Experiences, Not Intellectual Arguments
Many questioning Mormons harbor serious intellectual doubts about the claims of the Church. These concerns are real, valid and substantial.
But it is often the grinding effect of jarring, personal, negative experiences in their own lives with Mormon Church authority, family pressure, leader and member hypocrisy, individual betrayal and a feeling of suffocating control that leads many of them to finally make their escape from the captivity of the Mormon gospel gulag.
That certainly was the case for me--and, judging from the wrenching personal stories many others have shared with me--also the case for many others.
| I traversed the main tunnel several times over the years.
As I recall, it ran from underneath the Tabernacle on Temple Square over to the Church Administration Building. It was relatively wide, wall-to-wall carpeted, well-lit and could easily accomodate a golf cart (which was, in fact, used to transport GAs and other Church dignitaries and personnel back and forth).
During General Conference, I would sometimes accompany my grandfather Ezra Taft through the tunnel, pushing his wheelchair or walking along with family and staff who were with him. The walk through this tunnel took about 5 to 10 minutes at a leisurely pace.
There is actually nothing dark or secret about the tunnel. It is essentially an underground trafficway constructed for the convenience of and use by the Mormon high command, their families, their support Church staff and connected Church employees that provides an efficient, quick and out-of-sight way of getting from point A to point B.
No Indiana Jones mummies, skulls, snakes or kidnap victims.
| So declared two eventual Mormon Church presidents:
"Brigham Young and Joseph F. Smith condemned Smith for taking off his garments before he went to Carthage Jail. Part of their reason was that it was a sign he had regretted his practice of polygamy:
"'Smith removed his own endowment "robe" or garment before he went to Carthage Jail and told those with him to do likewise. His nephew Joseph F. Smith later explained, "When Willard Richards was solicited [by Smith] to do the same, he declined, and it seems little less than marvelous that he was preserved without so much as a bullet piercing his garments.'" To be sure and as fate would have it, not only did the self-destructive, fallen Mormon prophet Joseph Smith remove his own garments before becoming a Carthage Jail inmate, he "instructed other to do the same."
(D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power," p. 146; see Quinn's citation of Heber J. Grant's journal sheets, 7 June 1907, LDS Archives; see also: "The Mormon Temple As a Lasting Relic of Polygamy," at: http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/temp... ; and "Joseph Smith--the Work and the Glory," at: http://www.i4m.com/think/history/fall...)
Besides the claim of Brigham Young and Joseph F. Smith that Joseph Smith discarded his garments as personal penance for polygamy, "[m]any in Smith's inner circle recorded sentiments that Joseph Smith had denounced and regretted his practice of polygamy."
("Creation of the Temple Endowment and Secret Garments," at:
Ironically enough, one observer notes of Joseph F. Smith's condemnation of Joseph Smith for ditching his sacred underwear prior to going to Carthage that a garment-wearing cellmate of Joseph's survived the assassination assault:
". . . Joseph went to Carthage without any garments on [and got himself killed] . . . .
"DandC 134:2 . . . explains that [Willard] Richards went [away] unharmed.
"This is where the rumor started that the garments SUPPOSEDLY protect you from physical harm, too, though this is simply a traditional myth founded upon the true story of Willard Richards being the only one unharmed and superstitiously attributed to his being the only one who rebelled against the prophet's command and wore his garments anyway.
"Moral of the story of Willard Richards: Apparently we believe that God will sometimes reward us for disobeying the prophet. . . . ."
("Joseph Smith Ordered Destruction of the Garments (and How the 'Magic Underwear' Myth Began)," at: http://jonrcarver.spaces.live.com/Blo... , original emphasis)
It was indeed not until a garment-less Joseph Smith got blown away at Carthage that Mormons started believing in the magical protective power of their temple underwear--thanks to garment-garbed Willard Richards' survival:
"Garments were not originally believed to provide any physicial protection. However, this idea came about by the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in the jail at Carthage, Illinois. Neither Joseph, Hyrum, nor John Taylor had been wearing their garments. Willard Richards, who had been wearing his garments, escaped unscathed in the attack."
("Mormon Underwear Garments," at: http://www.i4m.com/think/temples/morm...)
| As numerous comments and questions continue to make their way on to this board over the years concerning Mike Quinn, his personal situation and his present state of belief vis-à-vis Mormonism, I have ventured below to offer what is known (from my point of view, at least) on these matters--a sizeable portion of which has come to me from Mike directly.
What follows, for all intents and purposes, is an overall wrap-up of my understanding of Mike's situation--although there is, of course, much more that can be had, as more becomes known.
--How I Became Personally Acquainted with Mike Quinn--
I have known Mike as a personal friend for several years and admire him greatly, both as an individual and as a scholar, although we disagree on some fundamental matters.
I first came into contact with him in 1993, after he had published an incredibly insightful article on my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson’s political conflicts with other members of the Quorum of the Twelve (see D. Michael Quinn, "Ezra Taft Benson and Mormon Political Conflicts,” in “Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,” 26(2), Summer 1993: pp. 1-87).
I was so impressed with Mike’s “Dialogue” essay that I called him, identified myself and congratulated him on a very well researched and responsible piece of historical analysis. Except for one minor error (in which my father, Mark A. Benson, had been incorrectly said to have been an official member of the John Birch Society when, in fact, he was not, although he was a fervent supporter of Bircher anti-Communist teachings and goals), I had absolutely no beef with Mike’s analysis, only admiration.
The phone call apparently surprised Mike, given that it came out of the blue and we had never before had contact with one another. Mike confessed to me that when he realized that the grandson of Ezra Taft Benson was calling about his authored “Dialogue” piece, he assumed I was planning to gripe about it. He was pleasantly surprised to hear that, in fact, I was phoning to praise him for the extraordinarily good job he had done.
After I left the LDS Cult later that same year, I had ample occasions to talk directly with Mike about his own perspectives and beliefs pertaining to his personal Mormon beliefs.
--Quinn’s Abiding Testimony in the Truthfulness of the Mormon Faith As God’s Restored Church On Earth--
In personal discussions, Mike shared with me his testimonial belief that the “Book of Mormon” was a literal historical record of ancient and accurate vintage; that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to reveal His divine truth to the world; that through Joseph Smith the golden plates were translated and that following the death of Joseph Smith the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fell into apostasy through the corruption and sin of its leadership--and that this "falling away," if you will, of the Mormon Church from the purposes and designs of God's original 1830 restorative act, has continued up to the present time.
Mike told me that it was his belief that a second Restoration (i.e., one occurring after the initial return of God's true Church to the earth in 1830 through the hands of Joseph Smith) was necessary in order to rehabilitate the Mormon Church and again make it the organization through which God would lead and guide His children to eventual salvation.
--Quinn’s Book, "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View": His Own Research vs. His Own Views on the Case for Mormonism--
I asked Mike how he could profess a testimony in Mormonism’s historical and doctrinal foundations, especially given what many consider to be his devastatingly critical and historical dissection of Mormon origins and extensions of power.
From my own personal standpoint, Mike's compellingly documented book, “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” (Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1987, 313 pp.) had not only knocked out, but blown out, the struts out from under any serious claim that Mormons might attempt as to the alleged divinity of the LDS Church.
So impressed was I, in fact, with his book (which had a profound role in undermining my own belief in Mormonism), that I asked Mike to personally inscribe my copy, which he graciously agreed to do. On the title page, he wrote:
“Great to meet you this morning just before the film crew arrived to interview you here! [At that time, I was in Salt Lake City to be interviewed by the press about the declining health of my grandfather and his mental and physical inability to effectively lead the Mormon Church]. Look forward to more talks and association with you. Best wishes, Mike (alias D. Michael) 7-14-93”
During our personal discussions, Mike acknowledged to me that he knew that his belief in Mormonism did not sound logical but that he nonetheless possessed an inward testimony of the “Book of Mormon,” of the prophetic calling by God of Joseph Smith and of the truthfulness of the Mormon Gospel as God's One and Only True Church.
I found Mike's testimony startling, incongruous and at significant odds with his unparalleled research that, in my opinion, clearly exposed the fraud, frailties and fictions of Mormonism.
But Mike's ultimate testimony in the Mormon faith seemed to rest on his firm belief that it was initially restored by God's hand in pure and true form, then became corrupted through the human-caused downfall of its leaders who subsequently followed Joseph Smith into power in the post-Smith era.
Simply and fundamentally put, Mike holds on to the belief that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remains God's true Church on the earth--but that it is in dire need of a complete restorative overhaul in order to bring it back to its original integrity, purpose, luster and exaltation-providing power.
--Spencer W. Kimball’s Blessing to Quinn That Someday He Would Become an Apostle--
Mike also spoke to me during our talks together about a blessing he had received from then-Apostle Spencer W. Kimball. In it, Kimball promised Mike that if he remained faithful and obedient, he would someday become an Apostle in the Mormon Church. At the time of the Kimball blessing, Mike was still an active, temple-endowed, well-respected member of the Church.
Mike has written publicly about this blessing he received under Kimball’s hands.
In an autobiographical essay entitled, “The Rest Is History" (“Sunstone,” December 1995, p. 54), Mike addressed his personal consuming desire to someday become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve and how Kimball helped him deal with this distraction through the laying on of hands:
"President Kimball asked if I would like to have a blessing. As he laid his hands upon my head, I expected him to give me the comfort and strength to overcome my aspirations for Church office. Instead, Spencer W. Kimball promised me that one day God would call me to be an apostle. After the blessing, President Kimball told me not to work for the office or try to ‘curry favor’ with Church leaders, but just to live as I felt the Lord desired for me. There was no way I could logically explain that experience, then or now."
When we talked, it was clear to me, however, that Mike’s belief in Mormonism seemed to be much more personal and deeper than any anticipation he might have had of advancing into the upper echelons of LDS Church leadership. Mike’s testimony of the Mormon Gospel was a quiet, soft-spoken type of conviction about which he did not make a big deal---but to which he appeared genuinely committed.
--Quinn’s Academic Credentials, Personal Travails and Ecclesiastical Persecution--Starting with His Excommunication for Telling the Truth About Post-Manifesto Polygamy--
What is all the more amazing about Mike's deep-rooted faith in the LDS Church is that his devotion to the basic claims of Mormonism has remained strong through the years, despite all that he has been through--often at the hands of the Mormon Church itself.
At the peak of his professional career, Mike was a highly-regarded expert in his chosen field of history, both in out and of the Church.
Sandra and Jerald Tanner have reviewed his stellar academic career as follows:
”Dr. D. Michael Quinn, who was excommunicated from the Mormon Church in 1993, was at one time considered to be one of the Church's top scholars. He published articles for the Church's official publication, the ‘Ensign’ and also wrote for ‘Brigham Young University Studies.’
“Quinn obtained a Ph.D. in history at Yale University and was formerly Professor of American Social History at the Church's Brigham Young University. Unfortunately for Quinn, he dug too deeply into the secret documents in the Church Historical Department. Quinn was able to see these documents because he had an inside track at the Historical Department under Dr. Leonard Arrington, who was formerly Church Historian.
“In a speech Quinn gave in 1981, he noted that he had ‘spent a decade probing thousands of manuscript diaries and records of Church history’ that he ‘never dreamed’ he would view. (“On Being a Mormon Historian,” a lecture given by D. Michael Quinn, Brigham Young University, Fall 1981)
“When Dr. Quinn began publishing some of his more critical research--especially that regarding how the Church secretly sanctioned the practice of polygamy after the Manifesto--some Church leaders were incensed. In the book, "Faithful History,” edited by George D. Smith, p. 109, Quinn wrote the following:
“’In June 1986 the staff of the Church Historical Department announced it was necessary to sign a form which Elder Packer declared gave the right of pre-publication censorship for any archival research completed before signing the form. I and several others refused to sign the form and have not returned to do research at LDS Church archives since 1986.’
“In 1994, Quinn published his book, ‘The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power.’ This, of course, was very distressing to the leaders of the Church and to many of those associated with Brigham Young University and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS). Quinn's second volume was published in 1997. It is entitled, “The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" . . .
“Dean C. Jessee is a scholar who is well known to students of Mormon history. He is currently serving as a research historian in the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University. For many years, however, Jessee worked at the Church Historical Department and had access to a vast number of sensitive documents.
“When Michael Quinn's first volume was published, Jessee expressed concern that Quinn had given too much attention to the 'messy' matters researchers encounter when studying early Mormon history. He also wrote 'that the story he tells is not as free from speculation and faulty interpretation as his bold writing style and abundant source notes would imply.' (‘Journal of Mormon History,’ Fall 1996, pp. 164-165)
“Nevertheless, Dean Jessee acknowledged that Quinn did, in fact, have access to important Church documents and that he did ‘painstaking research.’ Jessee wrote the following in his review:
‘Few historians have been in a better position to study the Mormon past than D. Michael Quinn. With degrees in English and history, including a doctorate at Yale, employment in the LDS Church Historical Department and wide-ranging access to its holdings, a dozen years of teaching history at BYU and painstaking research in seventy-five repositories . . ., Quinn has spent a substantial part of his life studying Mormon history. This book and a second volume to follow are the outgrowth of research that led to a master's thesis, continued through a doctoral program and is the crowning accomplishment of thirty years work. . . .
“’The Mormon Hierarchy’ is a valuable contribution in terms of identifying sources and understanding the groundwork of the organizational structure. . . . While ‘Hierarchy’ has laid important groundwork, the definitive study remains to be written.'
“Over the years Dr. Quinn has often found himself faced with serious problems with Church leaders and officials at Brigham Young University.”
Indeed, it was Mike's daring and ground-breaking research regarding the Mormon Church's deceptive practice of post-Manifesto polygamy (which the Church had strenuously tried to keep hidden from the public) that eventually led to his excommunication.
Mike has written in detail about his fall from Mormon grace, culminating in his exile from the LDS ranks in 1993 on the grounds of apostasy.
In the 1998 edition of his “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View” (p. xiii), Mike summarized what ended up happening to him kneeling before the ecclesiastical executioner's chopping block:
"At the publication of ‘Early Mormonism and the Magic World View,' I was full professor and director of the graduate history program at BYU. I resigned within several months because of administrative pressures against my continuing to work on controversial topics. In 1993 LDS officials formally charged me with 'apostasy' (heresy) for my historical writings, and I was excommunicated from the LDS Church.”
Mike had earlier, and more extensively, detailed the increasing pattern of mistreatment, disrespect, lack of cooperation and growing pressures on him to remain quiet on certain controversial topics of Mormon history--all of which were coming at him from the highest ranks of the Church.
After tape recordings and transcriptions of Mike's talk, "On Being a Mormon Historian," began to be published and circulated without his permission, national attention to Quinn's views was heightened by a February 1982 issue of “Newsweek,” headlined "Apostles vs. Historians."
From that point forward, the Mormon squeeze play on Mike began in earnest.
Of that, Mike wrote:
"A few days [after publication of the 'Newsweek' article], a General Authority invited me to his office. He warned me that he found Elder Packer to be easily offended and vindictive years afterward.
"In May , my stake presidency informed me that five former bishops had recommended me to be the ward's new bishop but that Apostle Mark E. Petersen had blocked the appointment. He asked the stake presidency, 'Why is Michael Quinn in league with anti-Mormonism,' apparently referring to the unauthorized publication of my essay by the Tanners.
"Elder Petersen arranged for the Stake Presidency to bring me to the Church Administration Building at 47 East South Temple to meet with Apostles Petersen, Benson and Packer. The Second Counselor in the Stake Presidency accompanied me. The Apostles were careful not to ask me a single direct question. In order of seniority (Apostle Benson first, me last), each of us expressed his own views of the 'Newsweek' article, the 'problems' of writing Mormon history and the effects of all this on the faith of LDS members. The meeting was congenial and supportive."
That seeming support was to eventually evaporate, as those same three Apostles began a deliberate and on-going campaign to have Mike discredited, isolated and deposed, despite the fact that Mike had proven himself to be a highly regarded researcher and acclaimed educator.
As Mike noted:
"In the spring of 1986, graduating history majors at BYU voted me 'outstanding professor.' That fall BYU's administration had my name dropped from a list of participants in an upcoming celebration of Mormonism in Britain. Then, for the second year in a row, BYU's administration denied my application for 'Professional Development Leave.' This time the college dean invited me to his office to explain why. He said the Apostles on the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees had prepared a list of faculty members and research topics which BYU administrators were forbidden to support. 'I have always hoped that one day BYU will become a real university,' the dean said, 'but this makes me feel that that day will never arrive.'
"By January 1987 pressures on me increased. BYU's administration required the History Department and Charles Redd Center for the American West to withdraw funds they had promised me to give a paper on general American religion at the University of Paris. It did not matter that the advanced text of the paper, entitled 'Religion, Rationalism and Folk Practices in America to the mid-19th Century,' made no reference to Mormonism. I paid my own way to France to represent BYU.
"Despite all that that had happened, until January 1987 I could not yet believe that my life's hopes were at an end. A new department chair let me know that my situation would improve only if I stopped doing research which implied Mormon studies. . . . Abandoning Mormon history may have been safe in the climate of repression but it as unacceptable to me, especially as an option of duress. 'Publish or perish' is the experience of scholars at most universities, but for this Mormon historian it was 'publish and perish' at BYU.
"After publication of my ‘Early Mormonism and the Magic World View’ in mid-1987, two members of BYU's History Department circulated the rumor that my stake High Council was excommunicating me for apostasy. The rumor was completely false but, more important, I had thought these rumor-mongers were my colleagues and friends. When a student asked the Dean of Religious Education if BYU was going to fire me, he replied that the Board of Trustees had decided against it. 'Like stirring up a turd on the ground,' he told the student, “firing Mike Quinn would only make a greater stink.” At this point, I began applying for research fellowships that would allow me to leave BYU. . . .
"On 20 January 1988, I wrote a letter of resignation . . . At the time of my resignation, I had tenure ('continuing status'), was Full-Professor of History and was Director of the History Department's graduate program. My letter of resignation represented my formal acknowledgment of failure--personal and institutional. . . .
"I again addressed [the issue of academic freedom] in 1991 after a rarely-used joint declaration by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles condemned the annual Sunstone Symposium . . . . Those who questioned this statement were being summarily dropped from Church positions and both Church and BYU administrative pressure was directed against a junior professor of anthropology at BYU who had given a symposium paper. I observed in a newspaper story; 'Consistently, from the beginning, the [LDS] Church leadership has always been uncomfortable with open forums that have been organized by the rank and file.' However, I added, 'in the 19th-century, the leadership recognized the existence of a loyal opposition and the 20th does not.'. . .
"Since leaving BYU and Utah, I have been an independent free-lance writer. I still do Mormon history. People of various persuasions still seem eager for it."
(D. Michael Quinn, "On Being a Mormon Historian (and Its Aftermath)," in George D. Smith, ed., “Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History” [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1992], pp. 89-90, 92-96)
--Years Later Amongst the Quorum of the Twelve: Babbling Baloney About History and Bubbling Bitterness Over Quinn--
Additional sordid details behind the excommunication of Mike Quinn seeped out some eight years after his post-Manifesto essay was first published.
These facts were provided by two of the Mormon Church's highest henchmen--“Apostle-ologists” Neal A. Maxwell and Dallin H. Oaks.
On 9 September 1993, my former wife and I met with Oaks and Maxwell in Maxwell's Church office, #303, located in the Church Administration Building in downtown Salt Lake City.
We had approached them with a list of detailed and wide-ranging questions about fundamental doctrines, teachings, practices and policies of the Mormon Church that significantly troubled us--and about which we felt we deserved credible and straight-forward answers.
In the broad sense on the polygamy question, we wanted to know from these pre-eminent damage controllers why the Mormon Church had not been more forthcoming and honest with its history with regard to the official practice (and later blatant denial of) polygamy.
Then, specifically, we wanted to know about what I have subsequently referred to as “the mystery of history, and those who tell the truth about polygamy--without permission."
In that meeting with us, “good cop” Maxwell offered unconvincing rationalizations for the Mormon Church’s failure to be honest and forthcoming about its practice of polygamy.
“Bad cop” Oaks followed up by launching a shockingly shabby attack on Mike's personal integrity.
--Maxwell's Murky Meanderings--
In answer to the larger inquiry, Maxwell cagily replied by noting that the process of writing history is frustrating, complex and incomplete.
He handed us a photocopy of a sermon. (The copy turned out, I discovered later, to be a talk Maxwell himself had delivered during the 1984 October General Conference entitled, “Out of Obscurity.” However, the single sheet excerpts that he handed to us contained no title or author, although it had been marked up in red ink for our benefit. Maxwell’s address ultimately appeared in the General Conference issue of the "Ensign," 10, November 1984, p. 11).
Quoting from a "Tribute to Neville Chamberlain," delivered in the British House of Commons, 12 November 1940, Maxwell’s sermon declared:
"History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days."
The sermon then addressed what Maxwell verbally described to us as the definition of history: a collection, he said, of "floating mosaic tiles":
"The finished mosaic of the history of the Restoration will be larger and more varied as more pieces of tile emerge, adjusting a sequence here or enlarging there a sector of our understanding.
"The fundamental outline is in place now, however. But history deals with imperfect people in process of time, whose imperfections produce refractions as the pure light of the gospel plays upon them. There may even be a few pieces of tile which, for the moment, do not seem to fit . . .
"So, belatedly, the fullness of the history of the dispensation of the fullness of times will be written.
"The final mosaic of the Restoration will be resplendent, reflecting divine design and the same centerpiece–the Father's plan of salvation and exaltation and the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ."
What Maxwell’s excuses lacked in clarity, Oaks’ made up for in character assassination.
--Oaks’ Vindictive Personal Attacks Against Quinn for Writing and Publishing the Truth About Post-Manifesto Polygamy--
Oaks was bitterly incensed at Mike's decision to air his findings on post-Manifesto polygamy and told us that Mike was an individual without character who could not be trusted. He angrily complained about Mike’s decision to publish the incontrovertible evidence that, despite its claims to the contrary, the LDS Church had secretly and dishonestly sanctioned and solemnized post-Manifesto polygamous marriages.
That publication (in the Spring 1985 issue of "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought”) led directly to Mike’s excommunication on grounds of supposed “apostasy.”
But it wasn’t as if Mike hadn’t previously been upfront with Mormon Church officials about his post-Manifesto research and his intentions to air it.
Mike explained in his article, "On Being a Mormon Historian (and Its Aftermath)," how his investigations into post-Manifesto polygamy took form, despite a decided lack of cooperation from the highest levels of the Mormon Church:
"President Hinckley telephoned in June 1982 to say that he was sympathetic about a request I had written to obtain access to documents in the First Presidency fault [about post-Manifesto polygamy] but that my request could not be granted. Since I now knew all I ever would about post-Manifesto polygamy, I told him I would go ahead and publish the most detailed and supportive study I could of the topic. President Hinckley said the decision was up to me, that he had done what he could to help."
(Quinn, "On Being A Mormon Historian (and Its Aftermath)," in Smith, “Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History,” p. 90)
Oaks’ fussing and fuming aside, Mike’s published findings stand unparalleled and unquestioned in terms of their depth, scope and accuracy.
Notes one writer:
”This essay is one of the best pieces of Mormon literature we have. [Quinn] went to Gordon [B.] Hinckley before he ever published this essay and showed him what he had. He then told . . . Hinckley that if he did not want it published then [Quinn] would not publish it. . . . Hinckley told [Quinn] that he needed to do what he felt best so [Quinn] published it because he felt it dealt with a very sensitive issue that needed to be addressed.”
Mike's essay on post-Manifesto polygamy that panicked paranoid Mormon leaders into eventually hanging him can be found at:
Mike himself explained the post-Manifesto reasons for his excommunication in his article, “On Being a Mormon Historian (and its Aftermath)”:
“In 1985, after 'Dialogue' published my article ‘LDS Church Authority and New Plural Marriages, 1890 - 1904’, three apostles [Boyd K. Packer, Mark E. Petersen and Ezra Taft Benson] gave orders for my Stake President to confiscate my temple recommend. Six years earlier, I had formally notified the First Presidency and the Managing Director of the Church Historical Department about my research on post-Manifesto polygamy and my intention to publish it . . . Now I was told that three apostles believed I was guilty of ‘speaking evil of the Lord's anointed.’ The Stake President was also told to ‘take further action’ against me if this did not ‘remedy the situation’ of my writing controversial Mormon history. . . .
"I told my Stake President that this was an obvious effort to intimidate me from doing history that might ‘offend the Brethren’ (to use Ezra Taft Benson’s phrase). . . . The Stake President also saw this as a back-door effort to have me fired from BYU. . . .
“At various stake and regional meetings, Apostle Packer began publicly referring to ‘a BYU historian who is writing about polygamy to embarrass the Church.’ At firesides in Utah and California, a member of BYU’s Religious Education Department referred to me as ‘the anti-Christ of BYU.’ . . . Church leaders today seem to regard my post-Manifesto polygamy article . . . as ‘speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed’ because they themselves regard certain acts and words of those earlier Church leaders as embarrassing, if not actually wrong. I do not regard it as disloyal to conscientiously recreate the words, acts and circumstances of earlier prophets and apostles. . . . .
“No one ever gave me an ultimatum or threatened to fire me from Brigham Young University. However, University administrators and I were both on the losing side of a war of attrition mandated by the General Authorities. . . .
“On 20 January 1988, I wrote a letter of resignation, effective at the end of the current school semester. . . . I explained [that] ‘the situation seems to be that academic freedom merely survives at BYU without fundamental support by the institution, exists against tremendous pressure and is nurtured only through the dedication of individual administrators and faculty members.’ . . .
“Three months after my departure, it angered me to learn to learn that BYU had fired a Hebrew professor for his private views on the historicity of the Book of Mormon. Although I personally regard the Book of Mormon as ancient history and sacred text, I told an inquiring newspaper reporter: ‘BYU officials have said that Harvard should aspire to become the BYU of the East. That’s like saying the Mayo Clinic should aspire to be Auschwitz. BYU is an Auschwitz of the mind.’ . . .
“When BYU’s Associate Academic Vice-President asked me if that was an accurate quote, I confirmed that it was. ‘Academic freedom exists at BYU only for what is considered non-controversial by the University’s Board of Trustees [meaning the Quorum of the Twelve] and administrators,’ I wrote. ‘By those definitions, academic freedom has always existed at Soviet universities (even during the Stalin era). . . .
“It is . . . my conviction that God desires everyone to enjoy freedom of inquiry and expression without fear, obstruction or intimidation. I find it one of the fundamental ironies of modern Mormonism that the General Authorities, who praise free agency, also do their best to limit free agency's prerequisites--access to information, uninhibited inquiry and freedom of expression.”
(Quinn, D. Michael. “On Being a Mormon Historian (And Its Aftermath).” In Smith, George D., ed., "Faithful History: Essays on Writing Mormon History" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1992], pp. 91-95).
Back to Oaks’ brutal assault on Mike’s personal integrity.
In our meeting of 9 September 1993 with Oaks and Maxwell, we specifically asked about what I have subsequently referred to as “the mystery of history, and those who tell the truth about polygamy--without permission."
Oaks acknowledged that he had read Mike's article on post-Manifesto polygamy, covering the period from 1890 into the early 20th century.
Oaks also confessed that the Mormon Church had not, in fact, been honest about its practice of polygamy during that time. He admitted that the case, as laid out by Quinn, was, in fact, true. Oaks admitted that, in his opinion, lies had indeed been told by Mormon Church leaders about the continuing practice of polygamy after it supposedly was ended by the Manifesto of 1890.
But enough of admitting "divinely-inspired" Church wrongdoing.
Oaks then proceeded to attack Mike personally by accusing him of breaking his word.
Oaks said that Mike had been given access to all of J. Reuben Clark's papers for the purpose of writing a book on Clark's years of Church service. Oaks said he had assured the Church that Quinn was credible, in order that Quinn could be given access to those records. Oaks noted that shortly after Quinn's research was published on Clark, out came Quinn's article on post-Manifesto polygamy.
Mike, Oaks told us angrily, had violated Oaks' confidence. He accused Quinn of having taken more information out of Church archives than he had been given permission to examine and research, going in.
Oaks said that Mike was not an innocent victim in this affair. Oaks informed us that he subsequently wrote Mike a letter, in which he expressed his "deep disappointment" with him and telling QuinnMike.
In that letter, Oaks further said, he told Mike that he now regarded him as someone who could not be trusted. Oaks added that Mike would not tell us about these things, if asked, because of Mike's involvement.
On that last point, I wanted to see for myself.
In August 2001, in a personal visit with Mike at a gathering in Fort Worden, Washington, hosted by a group of gay Mormon fathers (where my former spouse and I had been invited to speak about our personal experiences attendant to voluntarily resign our Mormon Church membership), I recounted to him Oaks' version of events and asked him for his own recollections.
Visibly agitated but in a controlled and quiet voice, Mike emphatically denied that he had violated any research agreement with the Church Historical Department.
He told me that it was clearly understood going in that he had open access to archival materials. (He also had told me that he taken thousands of pages of handwritten notes while in the Church Archives doing his research).
That made no difference, of course, to the Mormon Church henchmen in its hierarchy who were bound and determined to banish Mike for speaking the embarrassing truth about its lies and deceptions.
Mike was eventually branded as an apostate and excommunicated.
Not coincidentally, Mike’s stake president prior to his banishment darkly hinted that he was also being investigated on "moral" charges (relating, no doubt, to Mike's open and honest acknowledgement of being gay).
The suffering that Mike experienced in the face of such personal attacks must have been horrible.
But through it all, Mike remained quietly courageous and true to self. I remember being in his Salt Lake City apartment, where I had gone to visit him. In his bedroom, above his bed and which he allowed me to see, in large letters affixed to the wall was the phrase, “Sin is in the eye of the beholder.”
It was clear that, in that bold statement alone, Mike wasn’t about to let anyone else tell him who he was or what he should do with his life.
Several years later at that conference put on by gay Mormon fathers, I listened as Mike began a stem-to-stern presentation on the world history of homosexuality.
At least he tried to give it.
In an extraordinary presentation that was some two hours in length, Mike took the audience on a review of gay global history--covering the vast territory of its accomplishments and tribulations. A stickler for the minutest of detail, Mike read from his prepared text, page by page. Unfortunately, time constraints only allowed him to give his panoramic presentation up to the early part of the 1800s. The lesson: Mike knows his stuff--and is stuffed with plenty that there is to know. He is a proud gay man who appreciates, honors and defends the historical contributions of gays to the advancement of human civilization.
Try telling that, however, to the Mormon Church.
As far as it was concerned, the fix was in. Ecclesiastically speaking, Mike was a dead man.
--Quinn’s Phone Tapped--
Mike told me that his apartment phone was tapped (most likely, he thought, by Mormon Church security), and that, moreover, he was able to verify the power drain on his telephone line (indicating a deliberate intrusion) through the use of special phone equipment. He said that the likelihood of the drain actually being a tap was supported by employees at the local SLC phone company.
--Quinn Targeted with Death Threats--
Mike has also received death threats from both Mormons and “anti-Mormons,” alike.
On the first, the Tanners explain:
”Around the time of his excommunication he was informed of a threat against his life. While Quinn did not link this threat with the Mormon Church itself, he believed that the rhetoric regarding his work had encouraged someone to threaten his life.”
As to receiving death threats from opponents of Mormonism, Mike himself noted, in his “On Being a Mormon Historian” lecture, the irony of being perceived as an enemy of the Mormon Church by the very Mormon Church leaders he continues to support and sustain as his religious leaders:
”The central argument of the enemies of the LDS Church is historical, and if we seek to build the Kingdom of God by ignoring or denying the problem areas of our past, we are leaving the Saints unprotected. As one who has received death threats from anti-Mormons because they perceive me as an enemy historian, it is discouraging to be regarded as subversive by men I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators.”
--The Break-up of Quinn’s Marriage and the Shocking Death of His Son--
Mike’s heterosexual marriage of many years eventually ended in divorce.
Piling pain upon pain, his teenage son committed suicide by hanging himself in one of Salt Lake City's surrounding canyons.
I remember when I first heard the shocking news that Mike’s son had died.
The report had been broadcast on local Salt Lake news, with details that were especially tragic: Mike's boy had been found hanging from a tree in one of the canyons surrounding Salt Lake City.
Unbeknownst to me at the time I first heard about the news and mistakenly believing that the media was reporting the young man's death as having just occurred, I immediately phoned Mike, expressing my shock and condolences and asking him if he was aware of what was being reported.
Mike was very measured and soft spoken in his response.
He informed me that his son had, in fact, taken his own life a few days earlier. Mike did not go into any of the details surrounding his child's demise and I did not ask.
Mike reacted as I have always known Mike to respond during times of personal adversity, hardship, trial and disappointment: He manifested a strong sense of inner strength and outer resoluteness, combined with a quiet acceptance of the disappointments and challenges that life had dealt him.
Although it would have been perfectly understandable had he broken down and cried during our conversation, Mike remained steady in his demeanor and spoke in a clear (albeit subdued) voice.
Whatever one may think of his personal religious beliefs, Mike is an individual of deep conviction, with a strong sense of self, and a person of unquestionable honesty, integrity and courage.
During those horribly sad moments in the wake of his son's untimely and tragic death, Mike was a personal portrait of dignity, calmness, steadiness and peace.
Once again, under the weight of enormous personal pain and grief, Mike showed himself to be a very good man.
--Quinn’s Professional Career Spirals Down--
Following his excommunication, Mike's professional career took a nose dive.
Mike told me that he had been attempting to make some money as a portrait photographer. In fact, Mike does beautiful black-and-white photography work. He advertised in the local Salt Lake papers and, as I witnessed myself, the walls of his apartment were adorned with some of his more impressive work.
Still, as the years passed, Mike found himself unemployed and, in most cases, without the necessary grants funding to continue his historical research. He was fortunate, however, to eventually land a temporary job working in his alma mater’s library at Yale and subsequently was told he had received some continuing financial support to do research on gay issues at Huntington Library in California.
At one point, Mike moved to Mexico to live with a friend. He also lived under trying conditions in San Francisco’s Chinatown In some of his most dire circumstances, he was living day-to-day, hand-to-mouth. Eventually, destitute, he moved in with his mother.
Fortunately, I have received a few group-emails from Mike in recent months. Although they contained no personal information, they were upbeat in content and positive in tone, as he linked recipients to various news events of the day.
--Quinn Is Not a Quitter–and Refuses to Quit His Church--
Through all the pain, tragedies, misfortunes and injustices in his life, Mike has remained steadfast and even-keeled in his personal faith. He has fervently maintained his testimony in what he believes to be the truthfulness of the Mormon Church--a Church which in its depraved and destructive state has persecuted and maligned him--remains firm.
I might not understand or even agree with that personal arrival point for Mike Quinn, but I say more power to him. Despite our differences, I know Mike Quinn to be a decent, honorable guy.
| Recent inquires have been made on this board regarding my thoughts on claims made by Martha Beck. Below I synthesize, reiterate and amplify on what I have posted in earlier forums.
I have known Martha Beck since 1993, when she and her then-husband John Beck publicly announced they were leaving their teachings positions at BYU--and exiting the Mormon Church, as well. I became aware of their departure from BYU and the LDS faith while watching a news broadcast on their resignations (before I and my former spouse Mary Ann left the LDS Church later that same year). After viewing the news report, I personally phoned them to congratulate them on their courage.
From my own interaction with Martha over the years, I have found her to be honest, believable, articulate, intelligent, talented, persuasive and credible. She is a Harvard-educated scholar, a published sociologist with recognized expertise in women's studies, a respected and popular book author, a national magazine columnist and an accomplished, versatile artist. (The last time I was in her home, I saw how she had decorated it with her amazing creations). When I went through my own post-divorce emotional upheaval, Martha was there as a strong support and a listening ear. Over the years, I have trusted Martha implicitly, respected her immensely and considered her a friend.
After leaving the Mormon Church, Martha and John moved to the Phoenix area, where she also resettled following the eventual dissolution of their marriage. Living in the same metroplex, I and my ex-wife socialized with the Becks, including visiting their home, and she and John coming to ours.
During these times, we talked at length about Martha's life experiences. Years before eventually writing and publishing her book, "Leaving the Saints," she spoke to me of some of her realities growing up in the Nibley household, focusing particular attention on her encounters with her father.
For instance, she told me of how her father was fundamentally incapable of meaningful, interactive dialogue with his children, saying that when he "spoke" with them, he followed mechanical prompts from 3 x 5 notecards he held in his lap.
She said that, as a child, she was responsible for seeing to it that her siblings got off to school in the morning. She described the Nibley home of her youth as being eerily dark and quiet.
According to what Martha has shared with me, while her father was in some ways was a kind and good man, in other ways he was deeply psychologically unbalanced, emotionally scarred, fundamentally burdened with self-doubt, frustratingly mired in denial, continually seeking throughout in his life approval from the leaders of the Mormon Church and its members--and absolutely capable of committing the sexual abuse that Martha describes as having occurred.
Martha spoke of her father as someone who, in her opinion, had been deeply pschyologically damaged, probably by his personal experiences in World War II military intelligence. She told me how once when walking outdoors with him as a child, he suddenly appeared to have a post-traumatic stress episode and ordered her to lay down and take protective cover. She did not tell me exactly what events during WWII may have been had a severe impact on her father's mental health but expressed the opinion that they may have been connected to possible involvement in abusive treatment of non-combatant civilians.
Martha told me her father had decided many years before (regardless of the evidence put forward against the Mormon Church by its critics) that he would always defend the LDS Church, despite any counter evidences mounted against its claims. She told me that her father was psychologically dependent on the support and admiration he received from the BYU students he taught, that he thrived on their adulation of him and that he needed their constant reinforcement to bolster his self-esteem.
With regard to his decades of devoted Mormon apologia (particularly his writings on the Book of Abraham), Martha told me that she found it curious and inexplicable how devout Mormons--when observing her Down Syndrome child Adam engage in primitive childhood vocalizations--would regard them as "gobble-de-gook," but that when her father spoke Mormon apologetic gobble-de-gook, they declared it to be divinely inspired.
I spent a good amount of time over the years talking with Martha about the experiences she eventually wrote about in "Leaving the Saints." Based on the consistency of her accounts over that period, I regard her claims of sexual abuse that she says occurred at the hands of her father to be compelling, true, reliable, consistent and evidentiarily sound--both as she has laid them out in her book and as she has relayed then to me personally in great detail before and after the book was published.
In describing what she calls her father's sexual abuse of her, she detailed to me how she remembers her father's face physically above her--with her hands immobilized--and how she then experienced a sharp pain in her vaginal area. In this context, she told me that her father believed he was engaging in higher spiritual connection with God through his study of ancient Egyptian religious/sexual rites and that she was utilized by him as a vehicle in those exploratory studies.
Martha's explicit descriptions of what she says took place (and when) at the hands of her father were spoken to me from her heart--and I have no doubt that they were actually experienced by her. Attempts by some in her family and other Mormon Church defenders to discredit her are, in my opinion, baseless, vindictive and, in some cases, driven by greed and jealousy. Martha told me later that her mother confided in her that Martha's father (according to Martha's account) was capable of doing what she described in her book as having had occurred.
During the times that Martha and John visited with us, John never disputed a single word of Martha's account. Later (and attendant to their divorce proceedings in which money became a significant issue of dispute), John began to openly criticize Martha's version of events that she said she experienced at the hands of her father.
It is important to emphasize that Martha's claim of sexual abuse by her father is not limited to recovered memory alone. Martha strongly reiterated to me that ever since she was a small child she has had memories of experiences related to her abuse by her father which she was eventually able to put into proper perspective and context.
Combined with that, Martha lays claim to evidence of severe physical trauma and scarring in her genital area that, contrary to some attempts at explanation, did not come from playing on the jungle gym as a little girl.
Martha compares the basis for her contention that she was sexually molested by her father to a three-legged stool. One leg of the stool are recovered memories, another leg of the stool are memories she has always had and the third leg of the stool are physical evidences of significant sexual injury.
This combination of evidence has also been a subject about which I have spoken with one of Martha's cousins, who firmly supports the veracity of Martha's claims and who has been steadfast in defending Martha against efforts to discredit her. This cousin personally told me that she was present in a setting where Martha attempted to have her father acknowlege to her the truthfulness of the charges she had made against him. *Martha told me that during this episode her father was detached, unemotional, unfocused and unresponsive, refusing to deal with the issues in any meaningful way).
Amazingly, for all she has been through, Martha speaks of her horrible abuse experiences with dignity, calmness, candor and stoicism, but I have nonetheless seen the anger spark in her eyes and heard her voice rise in indignation when she sees people attack her character, malign her account of what happened and dishonestly or ignorantly assail the people who mean the most to her. (I never met Hugh Nibley, so I cannot speak from any personal experience about him). Despite searing criticsm from members of her family along with with that from bands of Mormon faithful, Martha personally told me how the criticism has actually made her stronger and that she is at peace with herself.
When her father died in 2005, I received an early morning phone call from Martha, informing me of his passing and asking me if I wouldn't mind speaking in her defense to a reporter from "People Magazine." I told her unhesitatingly that I would (especially when she added that some of her friends were not willing to go public in her defense because of their fears of personal recrimination).
The following article, written by Michelle Green and entitled "Leaving Home: In a New Book, Author Martha Beck Accuses Her Father, a Mormon Scholar, of Sex Abuse," appeared in "People Magazine," (11 April 2005, vol. 63, no. 14):
"When Martha Beck receives the shattering phone call that everyone with an elderly parent half expects, she is sitting in her kitchen in Phoenix, talking about her provocative memoir 'Leaving the Saints.' Author of the 1999 bestseller 'Expecting Adam,' about her experience with a son born with Down syndrome, Beck has crafted a new book documenting the spiritual disenchantment that led to her break with the Mormon church. And there is more: In her book Beck alleges that she was molested by her father, Dr. Hugh Nibley--a prominent Mormon scholar and historian.
"Now . . . one of Beck's seven siblings is calling to say that Nibley, 94, has died. Wiping tears from her blue eyes, Beck, 42, says that she was told her father's last words were, 'I love Martha so much. She's my favorite.'
"Even as Nibley lay dying in Provo, Utah, he knew that Beck---a Harvard Ph.D., sociologist and 'O' magazine columnist who calls herself a 'life coach'--was going public with the accusations of 'ritual sexual abuse' that she had made privately years before.
"Now Beck confides that she had felt 'an overwhelming wave of peacefulness' when she was meditating earlier that morning. 'It would have been when he was dying,' she adds softly.
"But if Beck is feeling at peace, it is in spite of the maelstrom around her. Even before her book, subtitled 'How I Lost the Mormons and Found My Faith,' was published . . ., Mormons rushed to protest the fact that she wrote about sacred rituals, including her wedding (to John Beck, now 45 and the father other children Kate, 19, Adam, 16, and Lizzy, 14). They also hastened to defend Nibley, professor emeritus of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University. Church members conducted a campaign to send anti-Beck e-mails to Oprah, and Kim Farah, a church spokeswoman, told PEOPLE, 'Fair-minded readers will find ["Leaving the Saints"] at best unconvincing, at worst mean-spirited and at times absurd.'
"In addition, all of Beck's siblings have signed a statement claiming that the 'portrayal of our family [in the book] is false.' Says brother Alex, 49, a filmmaker: 'We stand together and say we saw no evidence of this abuse.'
"By Beck's account her siblings never witnessed the molestation, which began when she was 5 and continued until she was 8. 'What I remember [of the first incident] is this,' she says now. 'My mother had taken my little sister to the doctor and my other siblings were at school. My father told me that I had to have a special bath . . . and then,' she sighs, 'he tied my hands together and put them over my head. He was saying it was an Abrahamic sacrifice he had to make.'
"Beck describes 'having my legs shoved apart' and experiencing 'this horrible, horrible pain' that would produce ragged scar tissue gynecologists would note in later years. The memories did not stay with her; though she says she suffered from anorexia and depression, she remembered nothing of the abuse during the first eight years of her marriage to Beck, a professor and author, while they were studying at Harvard and later teaching at Brigham Young. (The two separated in 1993; Beck and the children now live with her partner, Arizona State University professor Karen Gerdes, 48.)
"It was in 1991, when her daughter Katie was 5, says Beck, that she began having 'these vivid flashbacks that crashed in on me like a wave.' Seeing her elder daughter at the same age, she theorizes, triggered the memories of the abuse: 'It was sensory, it was visual, it was overwhelming.'
"Knowing that the images were connected to her father, Beck first called her mother, Phyllis (who, Beck claims, initially said she believed the charges and then recanted); she then confronted her father in 1993. His response, she says: 'To think that my own child would act in league with Satan . . .'
"But if her family brushed off Beck's claims, others have not. Steve Benson, an editorial cartoonist for the 'Arizona Republic,' has known Martha and John Beck since 1993, and, like them, he and his [formner] wife, Mary Ann, have left the church. 'I believe Martha,' he says now. 'Years ago she told us about the sexual abuse. She wasn't sensational about it. She also told us her family was in deep denial.'
"Like any memoirist who claims the title of life coach, Beck--whose oeuvre also includes self-help guides like 'The Joy Diet' and 'Finding Your Own North Star'-–is able to see the hope that shines through the horror of her story. 'It was hard as hell to write it,' she says, 'but with every page there seemed to be a more clear space in me where there had been pain.'"
| Stephen Van Eck, in his article, "The Book of Mormon: One Too Many M's," writes that Oliver Cowdery admitted to his law firm colleague, Judge W. Lang, that the Book of Mormon was a hoax, manufactured from Solomon Spaulding's unpublished novel, "Manuscript Found":
" . . . W. Lang, whose law firm the excommunicated Oliver Cowdery joined . . . wrote, 'The plates were never translated and could not be, and were never intended to be.' (This suggests that Cowdery still believed that there were actually plates.)
"'What is claimed to be a translation is "The Manuscript Found" worked over by C.' (Cowdery) 'He was the best scholar among them.'. . . .
"'Rigdon got the original at the job printing office in Pittsburgh . . . Without going into detail or disclosing a confidential word, I can say to you that I do know, as well as can now be known, that C. revised the manuscript and that Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the Book of Mormon.'"
Eck offers this explanation of Lang's account:
"Apparently Cowdery had admitted the hoax to Lang, but took all the credit for it.
"This is not consistent with Cowdery being the servile follower of Smith that he had been. Had Cowdery given Smith the completed manuscript, furthermore, losing the first 116 pages of the dictated 'translation' would have scarcely been a problem. Cowdery, despite his apparent boasting to Lang, can be considered a collaborator at best, but a conspirator at least."
Lang made the above-mentioned claim that Cowdery had knowingly participated in the Book of Mormon production hoax in letter Lang wrote to Thomas Gregg of Hamilton, Illinois, in 1881.
Below are relevant, expanded excerpts from text of Lang's letter to Gregg:
"TIFFIN, O., NOV. 5, 1881.
"DEAR SIR: - Your note of the 1st inst. I found upon my desk when I returned home this evening and I hasten to answer. Once for all I desire to be strictly understood when I say to you that I cannot violate any confidence of a friend though he be dead.
"This I will say that Mr. Cowdery never spoke of his connection with the Mormons to anybody except to me. We were intimate friends.
"The plates were never translated and could not be, were never intended to be. What is claimed to be a translation is the 'Manuscript Found' worked over by C. [Cowdery] He was the best scholar amongst them. Rigdon got the original at the job printing office in Pittsburgh as I have stated.
"I often expressed my objection to the frequent repetition of 'And it came to pass' to Mr. Cowdery and said that a true scholar ought to have avoided that, which only provoked a gentle smile from C.
"Without going into detail or disclosing a confided word, I say to you that I do know, as well as can now be known, that C. revised the 'Manuscript'and Smith and Rigdon approved of it before it became the 'Book of Mormon.' I have no knowledge of what became of the original. Never heard C. say as to that."
(quoted in Charles A. Schook, "The True Origin of The Book of Mormon" [Cincinnati, Ohio: The Standard Publishing Co., 1914], pp. 56-57); for the full text of the letter, see: http://solomonspalding.com/docs2/1914...)
| I have personallly witnessed Mormon Senator from the Church/State of Utah Orrin Hatch proudly claim to be a friend and admirer of Ted Kennedy.
At a national editorial cartoonist convention several years ago in Orlando, Florida, Hatch (whom I had helped arrange to come speak to our group), sat around in the hotel lobby after his presentation and regaled us with stories of his Senate relationship with Kennedy. Lacing his accounts with jocular profanity (which my non-Mormon fellow doodlers found both surprising and admirable), Hatch recounted how had he had worked with Kennedy as a co-sponsor on legislation which, among other things, he said had served to benefit women. (Listening to an NPR re-broadcast interview today from 2006, Kennedy humorously observed that when he and Hatch co-sponsored legislation, that meant that they hadn't read each other's position beforehand).
On the other hand, Hatch also told us that he had personally and privately advised Kennedy to cut back on his drinking and to act more responsibly, claiming he had warned Kennedy that this kind of "sh*t" was not helpful to Kennedy's reputation. I got the sense that Hatch was a true admirer of Kennedy and that their friendship was mutually shared and genuine.
At one time I worked in Washington, D.C., on Capitol Hill, in the Russell Senate Office Building. Through those connections, Hatch arranged to have both himself and Kennedy sign the same book to me (although Kennedy's comments sure appeared auto-penned). I never met Kennedy personally but did observe him in the hallways, elevator-bound.
While Kennedy (like we all do) had his share of self-inflicted challenges and weakness, his legacy, in my opinion, is so much bigger and grander than the Chappaquiddick affair. (That said, personally, I think he exercised very poor judgment that contributed to the death of Mary Jo Kophecne and that he subsequently received special treatment from law enforcement, with possible obstruction of justice occurring during the investigation. Indeed, I have been publicly critical in the past of his behavior during that incident).
Still, Kennedy was an outspoken and inspiring champion for the poor, the powerless and the vulnerable--a clarion voice of compassion and justice in the Senate for 47 years. While he had his human shortcomings, he also had a strong, unwavering, unapologetic sense of care and courage for those who deserved protection and advocacy. For that I salute and admire him immensely.
Sadly, I nonetheless suspect (Orrin Hatch excepted) that not too many self-righteous Mormons actually liked the guy.
| Recently I was brought up to greater speed by well-informed sources within the Utah LDS community regarding information that fundamentally undermines claims by Mormon Church apologists that the lifting of the official LDS priesthood ban against Blacks was fine-tuned and divinely-timed by God.
Rather, it appears that efforts to hasten the abandonment of the Mormon anti-Black priesthood ban were being made both in public and behind the scenes by then-First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown, despite opposition from Mormon Church president David O. McKay. While a matter of record, Brown's apparent efforts to shake the Mormon Church loose from its official anti-Black priesthood ban are not that widely known or appropriately appreciated.
Indeed, an historical review strongly suggests that Brown's tactic of smoking out the Mormon Church on race--undertaken in public by him with selective but deliberate intent during the early 1960s--was designed by Brown to assist the LDS Church in escaping from an increasingly glaring and negative national spotlight that began focusing on it during a time when the American civil rights movement was beginning to pick up steam and train its sights on institutional racial prejudice.
Then-second counselor in the McKay First Presidency, Brown, reportedly during a stake conference address in Alaska in June 1963, let the cat out of the bag by acknowledging that the LDS Church was, in fact, in the process of surveying the possibility of jettisoning its anti-Black priesthood ban. Brown's public admission is said to have resulted in him being subsequently and privately reprimanded by McKay.
Brown's 1963 public reference to this secret Church survey on lifting the Black priesthood ban was made in prelude to his public petitioning for full civil rights for members of all races, a plea which took the form of a speech he delivered in October General Conference of the same year. (see "Give Full Civil Equality to All, Counselor Brown Asks," in "Salt Lake Tribune," 7 October 1963, p. 1)
Indeed, suggestions have been made that Brown's reference to the survey was not a slip of the tongue but, rather, a deliberate and open attempt on his part to prod the Mormon Church toward reversing its anti-Black priesthood prohibition.
The "New York Times" contemporaneously reported Brown's admission as follows:
"One of the highest officers of the [LDS] Church said today that the possibility of removing this religious disability against Negroes has been under serious consideration.
"'We are in the midst of a survey looking toward the possibility of admitting Negroes,' said Hugh B. Brown, one of the two counselors serving President David O. McKay in the First Presidency of the Mormon Church. Believing as we do in divine revelation through the President of the Church, we all await his decision,' Mr. Brown said." ("New York Times," 7 June 1963)
Author Gregorty Prince, in his book, "David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism," describes Brown's public admission of internal racial surveying by the LDS Church as a development which both took McKay off-guard and angered him:
" . . . McKay was blindsided by his second counselor, Hugh B. Brown, who went public in his attempt to reverse the ban on the priesthood ordination [of Blacks]. Wallace Turner published an interview with Brown in the 'New York Times' on June 7:
"'The top leadership of the Mormon Church is seriously considering the abandoment of the historic policy of discrimination against Negroes. . . . One of the highests officers of the Church said today that the possibility of removing the religious disability against Negroes has been under serious consideration. "We are in the midst of a survey looking toward the possibility of admitting Negroes,' said Hugh B. Brown, one of the two counselors serving President David O. McKay in the First Presidency of the Mormon Church. Believing as we do in divine revelation through the President of the church, we all await his decision," Mr. Brown said.'
"McKay was not a man to be pushed . . . . [and] was . . . resistant to pressure from the inside, even from his third in command. Brown's initial defense, when McKay called hiim on the carpet, was to claim that he had been misquoted. However, the Church Presidency officer, Theodore Cannon, who had been present at Turner's interview with Brown, confirmed to McKay that Turner had quoted Brown accurately. Indeed, 'Brother Cannon said he was able to persuade the reporter to leave out a lot of material which was not too favorable to the Church.' Cannon also passed on the word that a reporter for the [weekly] 'National Observer' . . . had asked for an interview with McKay in light of the 'Times' article. McKay, with obvious disgust, told Cannon that the reporter 'should see President Brown and let him straighten out the mess.' . . .
"The year ended with more controversy. In a December meeting of the American Folklore Society in Detroit, BYU English professor Thomas E. Cheney gave a paper in which he predicted that the time would soon come when the Church policy on ordination of Blacks would be reversed. A reporter from the 'Detroit Free Press' attended the meeting and asked Cheney for a copy of the paper to write a story for his newspaper. 'I was not unhappy to have people know what I had said,' Cheney reminisced, 'because I knew that I had spoken the truth. But I wanted it to be reported accurately, so I gave the reporter my paper and told him to report only what I had said.' . . .
". . . [T]he article was published with a headline, 'End to Mormon Bias Against Negro, Seen by College Professor.' . . . The United Press picked up the story and it ran in papers throughout the country. . . .
" . . . Upset with the story, McKay called Earl Crockett, acting president of BYU. Crockett, while sympathetic with Cheney, suggested that Cheney withdraw his pending application for promotion to full professor and postpone it for a year, as it was unlikely to be approved in the current climate. Meanwhile, Cheney sent a copy of his paper to [by now first counselor in the McKay First Presidency] Hugh B. Brown who, undoubtedly still smarting from his 'New York Times' episode earlier in the year, 'told me that he was aware of the way the press had of misdirecting the things that were said.' Brown read the paper and told Cheney he approved of it." (Prince, "McKay and Rise of Mormonism," pp. 88-89)
Way to give 'em hell, Hughie. :)
| Given LDS Doctrine And Practice, Dallin Oaks Has No Moral Authority To Lecture Anyone On Civil Rights |
Wednesday, Oct 14, 2009, at 07:55 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 3 -Link To MC Article-
| ↑ |
| Before hypocritical Mormon Church leaders such as Dallin H(olier-Than-Thou) Oaks attempt a likening of rising resistance in the face of the Mormon Church's ugly anti-gay political activism and doctrine to Southern bigotry against African-Americans during the civil rights movement of the 1960s, they would do well to review the bigoted historical record of the Mormon Church itself for evidence of virulent anti-Black denunciations of that very civil rights movement--denunciations that were allowed by the Mormon Church to be vociferously voiced by one of its leading and most outspoken apostles in contemporary times of racial animosity, my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson.
For the record, Oaks--as recently reported by the Mormon-owned KSL news station in Salt Lake City--pontificates in a speech to be delivered on the campus of Brigham Young University-Idaho that acts of isolated vandalism against the Mormon Church are "[i]n their effect . . . like well-known and widely condemned voter-intimidation of blacks in the South that produced corrective federal civil-rights legislation." KSL further reports that Oaks draws parallels between negative attitudes toward and actions against African-Americans during the 1960s-era U.S. civil rights movement and "[t]he anti-Mormon backlash after California voters overturned gay marriage last fall."
The Mormon Church is in absolutely no position of moral authority to lecture this nation's citizens on matters of civil rights. Where have Apostle Oaks and other leading White lights of the Mormon Church been in denouncing the anti-Black bigotry of its own highest-level hierarchy?
Let's review, for example, Ezra Taft Benson’s public statements on the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
My grandfather considered Dr. King to have been a disreputable individual, a dishonorable and dishonest man and a Communist.
Of him, he wrote:
“The man who is generally recognized as the leader of the so-called civil rights movement today in America is a man who has lectured at a Communists training school, who has solicited funds through Communist sources, who hired a Communist as a top-level aide, who has affiliated with Communist fronts, who is often praised in the Communist press and who unquestionably parallels the Communist line. This same man advocates the breaking of the law and has been described by J. Edgar Hoover as ‘the most notorious liar in the country.’ . . .
”Would anyone deny that the President [Lyndon Johnson], the chief law enforcer in the United States, belies his position by playing gracious host to the late Martin L. King who has preached disobedience to laws which in his opinion are unjust?”
(Ezra Taft Benson, “It Can Happen Here,” in "An Enemy Hath Done This," Jerreld L. Newquist, comp. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Parliament Publishers, 1969], pp. 103, 310)
Reacting to President Johnson’s declaration of a national day of mourning two days after the murder of Rev. King, Ezra Taft Benson had nothing but opprobrium for the slain civil rights leader.
In a letter to Mormon hotelier J. Willard Marriott, he claimed that “Martin Luther King had been affiliated with at least the following officially recognized Communist fronts,” three of which he then went on to list.
In the same letter, he coldly warned Marriott that “the Communists will use Mr. King’s death for as much yardage as possible.”
A year later, in another letter to Marriott, my grandfather continued his attack on the dead Black minister, writing that “the kindest thing that could be said about Martin Luther King is that he was an effective Communist tool. Personally, I think he was more than that.”
(D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1997], pp. 100, 113, 463, 471)
My grandfather also was convinced that Dr. King’s assassination was carried out by Communists themselves, in an effort to trigger civil war in America.
In his book, "An Enemy Hath Done This," he quoted from an article by Susan L. M. Huck, originally published in the John Birch magazine, "American Opinion":
“Okay, let’s take the gloves off. This insurrection didn’t just happen. It was a set-up–just as the assassination of Martin Luther King was a set-up. The Communists and their Black Power fanatics have been working to create just such a situation for years. They even TOLD us what they were planning to do, again and again, as they did it. . . .
“And remember, the Reds and their Black Power troops have promised us that this is only the beginning! Stokely has said that his forces plan to burn down America.
“They’re sure going to try.
“How do you stop it? It’s very simple. You stop Communist racial agitation; you arrest the leaders for conspiracy to commit murder, arson and burglary, prove their guilt in a court of law and lock them up. And you free the hands of our police so that the can PREVENT rioting and looting and arson by those citizens now convinced by the actions of our ‘Liberals’ that theft, incendiarism and assault will be tolerated.
“Don’t kid yourself. The people who are behind all of this mean to have a civil war. We either stop them now or they will escalate this thing.”
(quoted in Ezra Taft Benson, "An Enemy Hath Done This," p. 335, original emphasis)
Let's review Ezra Taft Benson's private conversations with me on the subject of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In the mid-1960s, I was in junior high school. It was a time when the nation was being rocked by the tumultuous struggle for civil rights.
During those uncertain days, I remember my grandfather telling me that Dr. King was a tool of the Communist conspiracy and urging me to read John Birch Society literature on King’s supposed true nature and Communist-inspired agenda.
That propaganda was readily provided me in my home, where I came across Bircher articles purporting to show Dr. King’s Communist connections.
I remember, in particular, a photograph of a young Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting in a classroom at the allegedly Communist Highlander “Folkschool” training center in Tennessee, where, Birchers claimed, he and others underwent undergone Communist indoctrination at the hands of their Kremlin-directed programmers.
That accusation was, in fact, without foundation. The school was not Communist but, rather, a progressive institution devoted to fighting racism. It was attended by none other than Rosa Parks the summer before she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery Alabama, bus.
(Herbert R. Kohl, reply to Marshall Brady, "New York Review of Books," 19 January 1984)
Let's review orders from the Mormon Church's First Presidency to Ezra Taft Benson to implement racial segregation in Mormon wards.
The Mormon Church had confidence that Ezra Taft Benson would follow orders when it came to dealing with racial matters.
In 1940, my grandfather was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be “forward-thinking” as he dealt with the “many and complex” problems facing the stake. (Sheri L. Dew, "Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).
Dew failed to mention that one of those “problems” had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society lessons.
In a letter to “President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake,” dated 23 June 1942, the First Presidency issued him a directive to segregate the races during Mormon class time:
“Dear President Benson:
“Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.
“The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.
“We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.
“From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.
“It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.
“Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.
“Faithfully your brethren,
“Heber J. Grant
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay”
Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency’s orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that “[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had ‘racist’ ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy.” (Bush, "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview," p. 43)
There is no record that Ezra Taft Benson resisted this directive from Salt Lake City.
The First Presidency was apparently impressed with my grandfather’s willingness to do as he was told, however.
A year later, he was called into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
(Lester E. Bush, Jr., compilation of “scattered” and incomplete “notes” on the “history of the Negro in the LDS Church,” pp. 241-42; see also, Bush, "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" [Arlington, Virginia: "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought"], reprint of original article in Dialogue, Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)
Let's review Ezra Taft Benson’s open association with, and sympathy for, avowed segregationists and racists.
Ezra Taft Benson’s life followed a regular pattern of rubbing elbows with racists.
He comfortably associated, for instance, with a notorious segregationist and anti-Communist named Billy James Hargis. In 1967, on the campus of an anti-Communist training school run by Hargis, my grandfather delivered a talk entitled, “Trade and Treason,” which Hargis later reprinted in his campus magazine, "Christian Crusade."
According to a letter from First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown to a Church member, the First Presidency received “numerous” complaints about my grandfather’s link with Hargis. Brown offered his reassurances that my grandfathers “activities in this connection will be curtail[ed].”
(Quinn, "Extensions of Power," pp. 97, 462)
Ezra Taft Benson’s remarks delivered at Hargis’ bigotry-breeding Bible bastion were reprinted--with my grandfather’s permission--in a racially poisonous book entitled, "The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives." Additionally, his address was entered into the Congressional Record by the notorious segregationist senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond (more on the connection between Ezra and Strom later).
The cover of the "Black Hammer" book showed the thick-lipped, lowed-browed, decapitated, bleeding head of a Black man superimposed upon the symbol of the Communist hammer and sickle.
(Ezra Taft Benson, “Trade and Treason,” reprinted in condensed form as foreword in "The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives," by Wes Andres and Clyde Dalton [Oakland, California: Desco Press, 1967], pp. 13-23; and Quinn, "Extensions of Power," pp. 98-99)
Let's review the presidential draft ticket of Ezra Taft Benson and Strom Thurmond.
In 1966, an organization spearheaded primarily by John Birchers and known as the “1976 Committee,” nominated my grandfather as its choice for President of the United States, with avowed racist and South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond as his running mate.
At the time of the announcement, I remember the excitement among the Benson clan at the prospect that the grand patriarch of our family might become the president of the country. I recall buttons and bumper stickers being passed around and my grandfather smiling proudly amid all the buzz.
Thurmond was the prominent White supremacist who had himself run for president in 1948 on the platform of the States’ Rights Party, commonly known as the “Dixiecrats.” The primary goal of Thurmond’s earlier presidential bid was to preserve racial segregation. As he declared at the time, “All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negroes into our homes, our schools, our churches.”
(cited in Jeff Jacoby, “The Death of American Racism”)
Thurmond later became a strident opponent of civil rights, famously filibustering a 1957 civil rights bill for a record 24 hours and 18 minutes.
(Robert Tanner, “Dixiecrats fueled by racial politics, Civil rights spurred Thurmond’s 1948 bid for presidency,” Arizona Republic, 14 December 2002, sec. A., p. 9)
In an effort to understand the nature of the group that had hand-picked its Benson-Thurmond ticket, I retrieved from my father’s personal office files a news article announcing the formation of this “1976 Committee.” Across the top of the article was handwritten the note, “for your memory book.”
According to the article, the “1976 Committee” had derived its name from the belief of its members that it was “necessary to head off some sort of conspiratorial one-world, socialist take-over of the United States by 1976.”
This fear was rooted in its claim that “the U.S. Communist party’s recently professed plan [is] to promote the establishment of state socialism in this country in its next ten-year plan–by 1976.”
(Neil Munro, “Benson-Thurmond Team Pushed by Holland Group, ‘1976 Committee’ Limited,’” undated)
The Committee's motto was “Stand Up for Freedom . . . No Matter What the Cost.” Its stated goal was to launch “a ten-year course to restore the American Republic.”
In its campaign literature (copies of which littered my home during that time) my grandfather and Thurmond were billed as “the best team of ‘68” and “the team you can trust to guide America.”
Invoking the powers of heaven, the “1976 Committee” described Ezra Taft Benson not only as “unquestionably . . . a scholar and patriot [but] . . . primarily a man of God.” He was heralded as “one of the Twelve Apostles of the worldwide Mormon Church,” “a kind and compassionate man,” one who “does not impose his standards on others” and “an outspoken and thoughtful critic of liberalism, socialism, and Communism.”
The “1976 Committee” touted Thurmond was as a popular and renowned public servant, a decorated WWII combat veteran who was dedicated to “military preparedness” and a person determined to formulate “an effective policy to eradicate Communism from the Western Hemisphere.”
Among the priorities of the “1976 Committee” were:
--opposition to “international Communist activities,”
--support for pulling the U.S. out of the United Nations,
--warnings about Communist control of the civil rights movement,
--accusations that the U.S. Supreme Court of “waging war” against America,
--advocacy for U.S. retention of the Panama Canal,
--complaints of liberal bias in the media,
--inveighings against Communist “infiltration” of the nation’s churches,
--calls for a return to economic the gold standard; and
--resistance to nuclear disarmament treaties with the Russians.
Not coincidentally, much of the “1978 "Committee’s” recommended literature was published by the John Birch Society.
(“The Team You Can Trust to Guide America,” campaign brochure published by "The 1976 Committee," 222 River Avenue, Holland Michigan 49423, undated; and “The 1976 Committee,” campaign brochure, undated)
Not everyone in the leadership of the Mormon Church was thrilled as either the Benson family or Birchers at the prospects of Ezra Taft Benson running for President of the United States--especially amid claims that my grandfather had won the support of then-LDS president, David O. McKay.
According to First Presidency counselor Hugh B. Brown, Ezra Taft Benson had “a letter from President McKay endorsing his candidacy” and feared “it would rip the Church apart” if my grandfather released it publicly as part of a presidential bid.
(Hugh B. Brown, interview with BYU professors Ray Hillam and Richard Wirthlin, 9 August 1966, transcribed “from Rough Draft Notes, fd 6, Hillam papers, and box 34, Buerger papers, and quoted in Quinn, "Extensions of Power," pp. 96-97, 461)
My grandfather’s official biographer, Sheri Dew, offered a benign and misleading account of the controversy, claiming that McKay merely advised Ezra Taft Benson to neither encourage or discourage efforts by the “1976 Committee” to draft him.
Grassroots momentum for the Benson-Thurmond ticket began building in early 1967, but eventually died out when it became apparent that Richard Nixon was the Republican front-runner.
(Dew, "Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography," pp. 383, 392, 394; see also, Francis M. Gibbons, "Ezra Taft Benson: Statesman, Patriot, Prophet of God" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1996], pp. 244, 247-48)
Let's review the Ezra Taft Benson-George Wallace bid for the White House.
In 1968, my grandfather gave me a copy of the platform of George Wallace’s American Independent Party. I remember that it was adorned with a broad-winged eagle across the top and printed in red, white and blue.
He told me that the principles of Wallace’s party were “closer to those of the Founding Fathers than either the Republicans’ or the Democrats.’
As it turned out, George Wallace himself had made serious attempts to generate Ezra Taft Benson’s interest in joining his third-party presidential ticket as Wallace’s running mate.
This was the same George Wallace who, when running for Alabama’s gubernatorial seat in 1962, defiantly declared, "I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say, segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever."
The same Wallace who, in defiance of a federal court order, infamously stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama, flanked by armed state troopers, in an unsuccessful attempt to block two African-American students from registering for class.
The same Wallace who, faced with another federal court order to integrate his state’s schools, commanded police to prevent their opening but was thwarted when President Kennedy again nationalized the Guard to enforce the decree.
The same Wallace who was governor when state troopers unleashed dogs, tear gas and whips on African-Americans marching from Selma to Montgomery.
(Richard Pearson, “Former Ala. Gov. George C. Wallace Dies,” in "Washington Post," 14 September 1998, sec. A, p. 1)
The same Wallace whose presidential platform my grandfather described as being closest to the hearts and minds of our Elohim-inspired Founding Fathers.
Actually, George Wallace and the 1968 platform of his party was more accurately described as follows:
“The American Independent Party was a ‘white supremacist . . . ultra-conservative’ . . . organization founded in reaction to the 1960's civil rights movement and the Supreme Court's overturning of ‘separate, but equal’ (Plessy v. Ferguson) statute that forced integration.
(see Daniel A. Mazmanian, "Third Parties in Presidential Elections" [New York: Franklin Watts, 1974], p. 130).
Candidate Wallace was described as “a pronounced racist who . . . ran his campaign on a platform of state's rights and increased defense spending and gained a large following of voters in Southern states.
“The political purpose of Wallace's campaign was to force one or both of the major party candidates, Nixon and Humphrey, to a more conservative position on the issue of state's rights. Wallace wanted the federal government to give the states the power to decide whether of not to desegregate.”
(“The Effect of Third Party Candidates in Presidential Elections,” http://www.123student.com/politics/34...)
Wallace strongly requested that my grandfather join him in that fight–and, in response, my grandfather gave serious consideration to the offer.
After support of efforts by the “1976 Committee” to draft him and Strom Thurmond on a presidential ticket had fizzled, my grandfather began jockeying into position to be offered the spot as Wallace’s vice-presidential mate.
In February 1968, he and my Uncle Reed (Ezra Taft’s oldest son), met behind closed doors at Wallace’s governor’s mansion in Montgomery to examine the possibilities.
After the meeting, Wallace sent a letter to President McKay requesting his “permission and blessings,” coupled with “a leave of absence” for Ezra Taft Benson, so that my grandfather could join Wallace in their bid for the Oval Office.
Later that year, Wallace approached my grandfather again hoping to convince him to join him on the ticket. Wallace was steered a second time to McKay in his efforts to get my grandfather’s boss to change his mind.
McKay held firm.
(George C. Wallace, letter to David O. McKay, 12 February 1968, and McKay to Wallace, 14 February 1968, cited in Quinn, "Extensions of Power," pp. 99, 102, 463; and Dew, “Ezra Taft Benson,” pp. 398-99)
Let's review my personal conversations with Ezra Taft Benson on matters of race.
In all my conversations over the years with my grandfather, I do not recall him holding up to me any Black person as a role model or example of high moral character.
Indeed, our discussions very rarely dealt with Blacks, except in the negative or passing sense.
As noted earlier, my grandfather never spoke to me about the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., except in disparaging terms, calling him a “liar.”
That only remotely positive reference I recall him making to me about African-Americans had to do with his experience while serving as Secretary of Agriculture in the 1950s.
He had been assigned a Black chauffer, whom my grandfather simply described to me as a nice “colored man.”
Following President Spencer W. Kimball’s announcement in June 1978 that worthy Black males could receive the priesthood, I asked my grandfather in his Church-owned apartment what it was like to have been in the temple with the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve when Kimball made known to them his “revelation.”
Had he been so inclined, my grandfather certainly could have told me what had happened, since he had often spoken directly and forthrightly to me in the past.
But in this case, he refused to offer a substantive response, saying only that it was “too sacred” to talk about and that it constituted one of the “most spiritual” experiences of his life.
Curiously, however, another member of the Quorum of the Twelve who was in the same room and the same temple meeting with my grandfather when Kimball announced the change in Mormonism’s anti-Black priesthood policy did not have any difficulty talking about the experience.
Indeed, Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke freely about what actually happened--in detail and in public. While he said he felt the impact of the occasion on a profoundly personal level, he admitted 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)
There were no angels. No rushing of winds. No appearance of God, Jesus Christ or Joseph Smith to make the grand announcement that the time had finally arrived for Black men to receive the priesthood of the great White God.
It all boiled down to those assembled in the temple to hear Kimball’s announcement just getting a good feeling in the heart--so overwhelmingly good, in fact, that apparently my grandfather could not bring himself to talk to me about it.
Yet, my grandfather had exhibited a willingness on other occasions to speak publicly about highly personal temple experiences.
For instance, he spoke openly of the “sacred” baptisms for the dead supposedly performed for the Founding Fathers in the St. George temple, under the direction of President Wilford Woodruff.
Just six months after he had refused to share with me what it was like to be told behind temple walls that Black men could now wield power and authority in God’s name, my grandfather 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 was not 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).
Not only did my grandfather talk uninhibitedly about spirits of the Founding Fathers materializing in sacred LDS temples, he also spoke openly of watching his mother iron Mormonism’s secret temple clothes.
His account of this 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)
Despite my grandfather’s willingness to publicly reveal the details of certain personal temple experiences, he abruptly refused to give equal time to describing what it was like to receive word in the temple from God’s prophet on equal rights for Black men.
I think I know why.
Ezra Taft Benson–a man who made a career bashing uppity “Negroes”–did not like talking about that kind of thing.
Let's review instructive notes from Ezra Taft Benson’s personal files on his private attitudes about race.
Ezra Taft Benson had a practice of passing on news articles and other items whose contents he found worthy of note to my father, accompanied by my grandfather’s personal, handwritten notations.
From my interactions with him over several years, I observed that my grandfather was not a deep reader; he was, instead, a regular skimmer. He would underline portions of what he was perusing which he thought were valuable and then relay them on, before quickly moving on himself.
My father, in turn, would often pass these items on to me and my siblings for our edification.
While passing along information in this fashion, my grandfather rarely made special note of that with which he disagreed.
In fact, he was not particularly inclined to spend much time with sources with which he was at political/religious odds.
This trait of my grandfather’s was clearly evidenced in the nature of his personal files and library. They were voluminous but overwhelmingly slanted toward what he considered the “right” ideas.
In essence, my grandfather’s database was not so much a source of knowledge gleaned from a wide variety of viewpoints but, rather, a reinforcement of his already-established views.
One item that fit into this category was a photocopy of a letter to the editor, published in BYU’s "Daily Universe," written by a non-Mormon who was upset with boycott efforts by schools in the Western Athletic Conference against BYU because of the Mormon Church’s anti-Black priesthood ban.
Passed from father to son, to grandson, it read in part:
“I am one non-Mormon who thinks the notion of the University of New Mexico’s student Senate is one of the most unreasonable examples of the bigoted minds of so-called ‘liberals’ I’ve ever seen.
“In the first place, BYU is a privately-endowed school. It is not supported by the taxpayers like the other universities are members of the WAC.
“Mainly, the reason for Negro athletes being at the other schools stems not from any great degree of humanitarianism on the part of those institutions. To the contrary, the reason for many, or even most, of Negro athletes being at these schools is because of their acknowledged athletic ability. The alumni preferred these schools during the past 10-15 years to give athletic scholarships to Negro athletes to assure success for their teams.
“The Negro athletes have won games for these schools, they have seen and heard the coed cheerleaders go into hysterical frenzy over their exploits–only to find, after the game was over, they were supposed to keep their place. They were led to believe that by attending otherwise predominantly ‘white’ (a silly word, if you examine it closely) schools), the Negroes would be pals with all the other students and it didn’t work out that way. Now, the more militant want their own dorms, eating facilities, etc.
“On the other hand, Brigham Young University has competed with the other members of WAC handicapped by not having black athletes on their teams, but the students, and alums, have registered no complaints. Mind you, BYU is not tax supported, therefore, I ask what the hell business it is of your sanctimonious hypocrites who the BYU administration wants to have on its campus?
“The Negroes have reached the state in their development in this country at which anyone who doesn’t agree with tem is considered a ‘racist,’ or bigot. The white students at schools such as New Mexico who voted for the expulsion of BYU from WAC don’t give a real hoot about their black brothers. They just consider it the in-thing to be ‘liberal’ about such matters.”
The final paragraph of the letter was accompanied by my grandfather’s handwritten notation in the margin: “Very good.”
Directly across from that notation, the letter read:
“If the LDS only want to have whites for the priesthood, what business of the Negroes? Do they have members of the Black Muslims, the Black Panthers, who are ‘white’? As a Protestant, such as I am, can I take communion at a Catholic Church? As a non-Mason can I attend the secret sessions of the organization?
“All the more power to Brigham Young.”
(Bill Mazill, “More Power to BYU,” letter to the editor, reprinted from the "Daily Optic," Las Vegas, New Mexico, in the Daily Universe, 12 November 1969, photocopy in my possession)
Also from my grandfather’s private files, I came across a copy of a speech by then-ASBYU president, Brian Walton, delivered on 28 October 1970, at the Ernest L. Wilkinson Center on the BYU campus.
Like the preceding letter, Walton’s remarks came at a time of increasing criticism directed at the Mormon Church (and by extension, BYU) for its discriminatory doctrine against Blacks.
Below are portions of Walton’s speech that my grandfather underlined--indicating, as was his habit, his approval of certain ideas:
“What we are involved in is a nationwide feeling of frustration against continuing discrimination. The black man has been tied down too long. He is tired of being lied to. He is aware of the betrayal of his dignity from the Declaration of Independence until now . . . .
“Do we have to remind ourselves yet again of the almost unspeakable history of black men in America? Hopefully, as Mormons we are aware of the impact of the destruction of family ties which took place in the lives of thousands of American slaves. Surely, as Latter-day Saints, we realize and appreciated the meaning of an environment like Harlem, Watts, or Bedord-Stuyvesant. The Church is obviously aware of the importance of home environment to success in living. And why is the black man in this plight?
“With Martin Luther King we can ask:
‘Why does misery constantly haunt the Negro?’ . . .
“Listen to Claude Brown, author of “Manchild in the Promised Land, and an escapee from the prison that is Harlem, describe the continuing misery of the American Black Man as he moves from the degradation of the South to the new experiences of urban America. . . .
“Here now Jack Newfield describes a part of the promised land–the Bedford-Stuyvesant ghetto in Brooklyn, New
York . . . .
“For every year, 1948-1969, unemployment among Negroes and other races has been double that for white people . . . .
“In various ways Black people are saying that ‘the American dream has been thrown at me long enough. Now I’m gonna take my place. We will put up with the disrespect, the emasculation, the taunts, the insults, and the overall repression no longer.’ . . .
“And some blacks and many whites who want to feel that they are doing something in a moral way, look at BYU and think they sell all that white America represents. WE then become what some students in the Black Student Union in Tucson referred to us as a scapegoat . . . .
“We are caught up in a social movement which is huge and ongoing . . . .
“Proposals have been made that we begin at BYU a recruitment and development program similar to that which has brought 475 Native Americans (or American Indians) to our campus this year. It is thought by some that the largest private institution in the nation should have more than a dozen black people in its 25,000-member student body. . . .
“I have decreasing tolerance for those views which seek to excuse gospel obligations with the rhetoric of ‘every man for himself’ . . .
“Joseph Smith, the Prophet and first President of the Church, in 1844, seventeen years before the Civil War, publicly advocated freeing of the slaves and having the federal government sell public lands, if necessary, in order to obtain money to purchase their freedom . . . .
“Now to the University and what it can do. The suggestion of bring more black people to the campus raises several issues . . . .
“Would black people want to come here? Has anyone asked them if they want to come here? If is about time white men asked black men what they wanted to do rather than making decisions in a vacuum. . . .
“Who would pay for it? . . .
“Should a pilot program be set up . . .? . . .
“Does the University have the facilities . . . to cope with an influx of black people? . . .
“Are we prepared for a Black Student Union . . .? . . .
“What about other alternatives? . . .
“In an attempt to have answers provided, I have formed an investigating committee which will attempt to provide solid information regarding this topic and allow us to thereby know where we stand . . . .
“The committee is open-ended and will attempt to investigate the total situation . . . .
“I hope this evening has helped you understand ‘where our heads are.’ . . .
“[Quoting from a First Presidency statement on ‘their obligations as members of the communities in which they live and as citizens of the nation’]:
“’Where solutions to these practical problems require cooperative action with those not of our faith, members should not be reticent in doing their part in joining and leading in those efforts where the can make an individual contribution to those causes which are consistent with the standards of the Church.’” (Brian Walton, ASBYU President, “BYU and Race: Where We Are Now,” ASBYU Convocation, Ernest L. Wilkinson Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 28 October 1970)
As a man reads, so is he.
Let's, finally, review evidence pointing to the fact that Ezra Taft Benson (like, as history clearly demonstrates, fellow high-ranking leaders of the Mormon Church) was, at heart, a White supremacist. The term "White supremacist" is used in this context to describe “one who believes that White people are racially superior to others and should therefore dominate society.”
That my grandfather fits into that category should not be surprising since Ezra Taft Benson was a faithful advocate of all things Mormon, and that Mormon theology is, at its roots, White supremacist in nature.
Baptist pastor Mike Schreib, in a blunt analysis of LDS doctrine entitled “Mormonism: A Religion for Dumb White People,” points out what Mormon canonized scripture clearly declares: that, in the eyes of the Mormon God, White makes right:
“The Book of Mormon teaches that there was continual warfare between the Nephites who were righteous before God, and the Lamanites who were unrighteous and wicked. This wickedness eventually led God to curse the Lamanites with dark skin:
“‘And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became dark and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.’ (1 Nephi 12:23)
“‘The skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression.’ (Alma 3:6) . . .
“The Book of Mormon goes so far as to teach that if the Lamanites truly repented of their wickedness, the visible proof would be their skin once again turning white:
“‘And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers...and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people.’ (2 Nephi 30: 5-6)
“(Note: Recent editions of the Book of Mormon have been changed to read, ‘a pure and a delightsome people.’ The attempt to water down the original teaching would seem obvious.) . . .
“The second president of the Mormon Church, Brigham Young, was not shy concerning his beliefs about White superiority, or the curse carried specifically by the Negro.
‘Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110, 8 March 1863)
“Later Mormon leaders would also state the official doctrine of the Church concerning Blacks and the priesthood:
“‘Negroes in this life are DENIED THE PRIESTHOOD; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty.’ (LDS “Apostle” Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 527)
“‘Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the FATHER OF AN INFERIOR RACE...Millions of souls have come into the world cursed with black skin and have been DENIED THE PRIVILEGE OF PRIESTHOOD.’ (LDS President Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way To Perfection, 1931, pp. 101-102) . . .
“In early 1978, the Mormon Church found itself suffering from a massive news media campaign criticizing their attitudes towards Blacks and Non-whites. Allegations of discrimination and racism by such groups as the NAACP and ACLU were directed against the LDS church, and rightly so. The Mormon leadership began to sweat.
“If things progressed badly for them, they feared losing large numbers of their members who saw the church as a White supremacist haven, and were willing to tell the media about it. Even worse, they feared losing their federal tax exempt status from the IRS, a loss that would have devastated their financial empire. . . .
“On June 8, 1978, Mormon President and prophet, Spencer W. Kimball announced to the world a new ‘Official Declaration’ from the Lord. Suddenly, he claimed:
“ ‘ . . . . all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood WITHOUT REGARD TO RACE OR COLOR.’
“This was after he and his fellow leaders had ‘pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful (Black) brethren...supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.’
“They told their members and the world that, ‘He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood . . . ‘
“What happened to the Black race being an ‘inferior race,’ and that ‘under no circumstances’ could they hold the authority of the priesthood?
“Certainly, if this was God’s church he was free to give new instructions to his designated servants. Yet, we can only guess that fearing the loss of their tax benefits was a great motivator in their ‘long and earnest’ prayer meetings. The timing couldn’t have been more convenient. . . .
“Anyone who has studied these matters in detail must see that the history of the Mormon religion is a long history of racial nonsense, offensive doctrine, and well-timed ‘revelations’ intended to help the leadership save face.
“Non-whites who would join such a religion need to open their eyes to the truth, and dumb White people who accept it ought to be ashamed of themselves!”
Author and self-described “positive atheist” Cliff Walker also shines a light into the dark corners of Mormonism’s historical doctrines replete with White supremacist teachings:
“The Mormon God’s main revelation, the Book of Mormon, explains why . . . many . . . humans have dark skin . . . In 2 Nephi 5:21, Mormon scripture describes Whites: ‘As they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome to come upon.’
“White skin is a reward from God; dark skin is a course, the result of wickedness.
“‘Their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites. And their daughters became exceedingly fair.’ (3 Nephi 2:15-16)
"‘O, my brethren, I fear that unless you shall repent of your sins, that their skins will be whiter than yours, when you shall be brought with them before the throne of God.’ (Jacob 3:8)
“Mormonism has a shameful history of White supremacist doctrines and practices. While I denounce anyone painting an entire group with a broad brush, neither should we allow ourselves to forget things like the history of Mormonism.”
(Cliff Walker, “Did Dennis Rodman Have A Point?”, July 1997)
My grandfather (like scripturally-faithful Mormons are today) was a White supremacist, in the sense that he believed in the inherent pre-eminence and transcendence of the White race over the Black race.
A particularly ugly piece of evidence I came across from his personal library supports that grim reality.
In 1995, I discovered a book that had belonged to my grandfather. Over the years, he had given me many books from his own collection. At the time I stumbled across this particular one, I did not recall having seen or read it before.
My grandfather’s handwritten signature adorned its front cover, which was somewhat unusual. I had many of his personally-owned books and normally he would sign and/or stamp them on the inside.
From the nature of the signature, I could tell that he was proud to have owned this particular book. He not only signed his name to it, he lavished his signature–“E.T. Benson”–upon its cover, above the title, in the upper right-hand corner, in a large, bold, looping writing style--where it could not be missed.
The book was entitled "Race and Reason: A Yankee View," authored by Carleton Putnam and published in 1961 by Public Affairs Press in Washington, D.C.
The book’s title was in bold, black, capital letters against an orange and white background depicting shattering glass.
On its back cover were the following endorsements:
“A blockbuster . . . [A] book that ought to be read by every thinking American, North and South. It may be the opening gun in a literacy counterattack against ideas of race that have influenced the thinking of Supreme Court justices, Presidents, preachers and writers.”
“[This book is what] the South most needs now for its case . . . [It] is a ‘categorical imperative’ for Southerners . . . who know [the light’s] fullness will depend henceforth on their own intelligence, literacy, authority and self-control.”
“We predict that this book will be on the tongues of all informed Mississippians in the days ahead.”
“Incisive, authoritative, effective . . . Mr. Putnam has put all serious and objective students of the race problem in his debt.”
As I examined the book’s contents, I found myself so repulsed that I stopped reading and wrote the following on its title page:
“This book is brimming with vile, racist and repugnant notions that I find deeply disturbing. I came into possession of it from my grandfather’s personal library some years ago and, until recently, it remained tucked away in a dusty closet corner. I cannot condone any attempt to justify racial superiority or the segregation of the races. It is inhumane, immoral and destructive to the peace and progress of human kind. –-Steve Benson, 9-12-95”
I went to the Internet and looked up the book’s author and title. Not surprisingly, it came up on a White supremacist website, along with several other like-minded works, accompanied by short explanatory texts:
--"Who Brought The Slaves to America?"
”The Jews did! And did they get upset when the Black Muslims incorporated this into their teachings. Shatters myth of ‘White guilt.’ Paperback. 30 pages. 14 illustrations.”
--"White Man, Think Again!"
”A. Jacob. The White man must rule or perish. Paperback. 348 pages”
--"Tracing Our White Ancestors"
”Frederick Haberman. Answers many questions. 185 pages.”
Links offered to other subjects included:
Then, at the bottom of the web page, was Putnam’s book from my grandfather’s library, Race and Reason: A Yankee View, with the teaser:
”Explains in-depth racial differences and the dangers of race-mixing. A must for all serious students. Paperback. 120 pages.”
Researching further, I discovered that Putnam’s book is part of an array of White supremacist literature housed at the University of Southern Mississippi under the title of “Citizen’s Council/Civil Rights Collection.”
The same collection also contains autographed photographs of one of my grandfather’s political mentors: George Wallace.
Digging deeper, I found that Putnam’s "Race and Reason: A Yankee View" is listed among “Selected Right-Wing Apocalyptic, Conspiracist, Populist and Racist Texts.”
That list also includes Adolf Hitler’s "Mein Kamp," and two John Birch works: Alan Stang’s, "It’s Very Simple: The True Story of Civil Rights" and Birch founder Robert Welch’s "The New Americanism."
(“The Public Eye,” sponsored by Political Research Associates, 1310 Broadway St., #201, Somerville, Massachusetts, 02144-1731)
I also learned that my grandfather’s personal copy of Putnam’s book was offered as recommended reading by none other than the “American Fuehrer” of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, as a guide, he said, for ferreting out “left-wing Jews . . . [who are] . . . deliberately poisoning the minds of two generations of American students at many of our largest universities.”
(George Lincoln Rockwell, “From Ivory Tower to Privy Wall: On the Art of Propaganda,” circa 1966)
Most unsavory of all were excerpts from the book itself–a book, keep in mind, that was part of the personal reading material of a supposed “prophet, seer and revelator.”
Examples of its racist filth abound:
“[F]rom the horrors of Reconstruction through the Supreme Court’s desegregation decision . . . the North has been trying to force the black man down the white Southerner’s throat . . . “ (p. 9)
“[The Negro] may force his way into white schools, but he will not force his way into white hearts nor earn the respect he seeks. What evolution was slowly and wisely achieving, revolution has now arrested, and the trail of bitterness will lead far.” (p. 9)
“The essential question in this whole controversy is whether the Negro, given every conceivable help regardless of cost to the whites, is capable of full adaptation to our white civilization within a matter of a few generations, or whether the record indicates that such adaptation cannot be expected save in terms of many hundreds, if not thousands of years, and that complete integration of these races, especially in the heavy black belts of the South, can result only in a parasitic deterioration of white culture, with or without genocide. . . . The sin of Cain would pale by comparison.” (p. 27)
“There is no basis in sound science for the assumption, promoted by various minority groups in recent decades, that all races are biologically equal in their capacity to advance, or even to sustain, what is commonly called Western civilization . . .
“[W]hat great civilization of the kind we are seeking to develop in the West ever arose AFTER an admixture of Negro genes?. . [T]he question answers itself . . .” (pp. 36-37, original emphasis)
“The ratio of non-whites to whites in the United States as a whole . . . [is] about 10%. If completely absorbed, this would be a substantial admixture, with noticeable effects. More serious is the fact that a large part of the Negro population is concentrated in the South. Absorption in any of these states would be disastrous.” (p. 37)
“When white men marry Negro women in any numbers the trend is toward a gradual change in social attitudes of acceptance, and a slow infiltration of the dominant white society by the offspring, with the consequent changing of the standards of that society, as evidenced in various Latin American countries.” (p. 37)
“. . . [A] thorough study of Negro-white intelligence tests DOES reveal conclusive mathematical proof of the Negro’s limitations . . . .
“[T]here is not question that the frontal lobes of the typical Negro are smaller and the cerebral cortex less wrinkled than the typical white’s.” (p. 41, emphasis in original)
“When the chart of the Caucasoid race as a whole is laid besides the chart of the Negro race as a whole, in those attributes involved in our type of civilization, the Caucasoid will be found superior at each level except perhaps the lowest . . .” (p. 42)
“I am advocating a doctrine of white leadership, based on proved achievement . . . As far as the Negro race is concerned, if it is interested in such cultural elements as our white civilization has to offer, it should realize that to destroy or to debilitate the white race would be to kill the goose that lays the golden egg. It is a temptation as old as the human species, and always ends with a dead goose and no eggs.” (p. 55)
“. . . [O]ne thing is sure: crossing a superior with an inferior breed can only pull the superior down.” (p. 59)
“Almost all the great statesmen of our nation’s past have foreseen the danger of the Negro among us and have sought to remove it, even to the point of transplanting the race to Africa. The idea of making the Negro the social equal of the white man never entered their heads. Among those besides Jefferson and Lincoln who favored removal to Africa may be mentioned Francis Scott Key, John Randolph, Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay. The modern segregationist is in good company.” (p. 62)
“It may be too late to return the American Negro to his biological and spiritual home, but it may not be too late to redeem in America the heritage of the white race.” (p. 69)
“The Communists have made the integration movement a part of their conspiracy . . .” (p. 73)
“The white man who preaches to backward races a doctrine of equality not only demeans himself and his own race, but forfeits his opportunity to be of real service.” (p.76)
“Let us not suppose for a moment that the average African Negro is about to understand our ideals, or to fight or sacrifice or die for the principle of liberty. All he wants . . . is a greater and greater share of what white men have created, regardless of his ability either to protect, manage or pay for it.” (p. 80)
“The fact that it is wrong to bully, humiliate or exploit a Negro, does not make it right to integrate him.” (p. 91)
“. . . [T]he self-control and judgment . . . of the rank and file, including their willingness to contribute to, rather than drain, the common treasury, are the qualities which produce a stable, free civilization. These were the qualities which built the great Western democracies. There are few signs of them in Africa.” (p. 93)
“The greatest of all human rights is the right of a race to protect itself against genocide, and its culture against deterioration.” (p. 94)
“For the North to force him[ the Negro] on the white South is as blunt an act of hostility–of hate, if you prefer the word–as can be imagined. It has already damaged the Negro, indeed, it is damaging the whole country. The spirit of those back of the integration movement is not love.” (p. 96)
“To suppose that [the development of the Negro race] has reached the point where an infusion of color in government amounting to policy control, or to a balance of power, is an acceptable or healthy thing for a previously white society [is] absurd on its face . . . The inclination of Negroes in the mass to be primarily interested in spending rather than conserving their own or other people’s money, is but one of many aspects to this problem.” (pp. 98-99)
“Equalitarianism spells stagnation and mediocrity for both [the individual or of society] . . . [I]t is of the very essence of this ideology to build the inferior up by pulling the superior down, and the result is invariably the same. The inferior, in gaining what has not been earned, has lost the spur, and the superior, in losing what was well deserved, has lost the crown.” (p.103)
“Can you name one case in all history in which whites and Negroes in large numbers have lived together without segregation and have failed to intermarry? Can you name one case in all history in which a white civilization filed to deteriorate after intermarrying with Negroes? Can you name one case in all history of a stable, free civilization that was predominately, or even substantially, Negro?” (p. 105)
The evidence indiputably points to the fact that Ezra Taft Benson (like many of Mormonism's founding fathers) was a dyed-in-the-Whitest-wool racist.
The evidence pointing to my Ezra Taft Benson as a racial bigot is overwhelming and undeniable:
--Ezra Taft Benson vehemently opposed the U.S. civil rights movement.
--Ezra Taft Benson despised the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
--Ezra Taft Benson’s sermons and writings struck ugly, resonant chords with fellow Mormon racists, who leapt to his defense against Dr. King and in opposition to equal rights for African-Americans.
--When Ezra Taft Benson presided over the Mormon Church as its leader, the Church could not bring itself, morally or politically, to officially honor, by name, the legacy of Dr. King.
--Ezra Taft Benson publicly associated and sympathized with racists and segregationists.
--Ezra Taft Benson admired and forged strong political ties with racist politicians–notably, Strom Thurmond and George Wallace,
--Ezra Taft Benson was directed by the First Presidency to carry out racist actions against African-American members of the Mormon Church in his own stake.
--Ezra Taft Benson’s personal notes and documents from his private files give evidence of his racist views.
--Ezra Taft Benson’s personal conversations with me on racial matters exhibited an overall lack of understanding, depth or compassion for African-Americans.
--And, to punctuate it all, Ezra Taft Benson’s personal library contained an insidiously White supremacist book, emblazoned with his handwritten signature on the front cover and full of bigoted bile.
Fellow LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks insults the very concept of equality by attempting to wrap his White supremacist Mormon Church in the protective cover of civil rights for Black Americans.
Instead of desperately trying to use African-Americans as a protective shield against attacks on deeply-embedded, official and institutionalized Mormon bigotry, Oaks ought to hang his head in shame and confess to the nation that the Mormon Church--historically, doctrinally and in practice--is full of bigots.
| Known and admired when president at BYU for defending his turf and that of his university faculty against attempted encroachments by control freaks on BYU's Board of Trustess (meaning the Quorum of the Twelve, notably Ezra Taft Benson and Mark E. Petersen), once Oaks became one of "them" he morphed into a steely-eyed shill for Mormonism's Established Ecclesiastical Order.
In that process he has disappointed some of those close to him who knew and appreciated him as the person he used to be.
As I said about having smoked Oaks out on his lies regarding Boyd K. Packer's actual behind-the-scenes involvement in the Paul Toscano excommunication, Oaks was bad-mouthing his senior apostle colleague behind closed doors to me, then publicly feigning lack of any knowledge of Packer's excesses to inquiring reporters. I believe he lied on the record to preserve his solidifying and advancing place in the pecking order of Mormon Church leadership. He even asked me to keep secret what he shared privately with me about about Packer (including his observation that "you can't stage manage a grizzly bear"). I believe Oaks realized he had said too much when he let that less-than-completely-loyal cat out of the bag and may well have feared his status in the Quorum could be seriously jeopardized if it became known. It did become known, of course, after I went public with it due to Oaks' refusal to set the record straight (which, according to informed sources, led him to offer his resignation from the Quorum--an offer that Gordon B. Hinckley reportedly talked Oaks out of).
I believe Oaks is a profoundly conflicted man.
He expressed privately to me opinions about the historicity of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham that I think could well indicate some deep, personal doubts he might harbor regarding their actual authenticity.
I believe Oaks struggles hard in public to put on a good face in behalf of a bad faith. For example, mere weeks after meeting with me privately where he acknowledged that the Book of Mormon may contain plagiarisms and that the Book of Abraham's case was even empirically harder to defend than the Book of Mormon's, he gave a stem-winding cheerleading oration to a FARMS dinner banquet in Provo, where he stoutly defended the reality of the gold plates. He publicly extolled FARMS in that speech for their ardent defense of the faith, yet he had privately confided to me a few weeks before that he believed FARMS went overboard in doing so.
Oaks, I therefore suspect, is a man at significant war with himself.
That said, however, I believe Oaks has been caught up in the power and prestige of being part and parcel of the Church's highest board of directors. He even told me privately that he would not necessarily support the president of the Church on matters of fundamental doctrine as expressed by the Church president unless he could get a sustaining vote of support from the Quorum of the Twelve. He also told me privately that he regarded Brigham Young as having taught false doctrine about the nature of Adam-God, then blamed it on Young having been a relatively youthful Church president who could have used a couple of good counselors to prevent him from preaching that kind of false doctrine.
Now Oaks is in a strategic position of increasing power to influence the direction of the Church and conceivably could eventually become its president. He knows where the skeletons are buried, he knows what side his bread is buttered on and he knows how to play politics in order to stay in the good graces of his superiors who hold his future in their hands.
All said, I believe that power has corrupted Oaks; that his personal character and values have been compromised in favor of perpetuating and defending a system which he believes clearly offers him substantial benefits. As one person said to me after privately observing and talking with him one-on-one, "Oaks is an evil man."
At BYU, where I had been a cartoonist for the school's student newspaper the "Daily Universe" and had ruffled a few feathers as a result, Oaks told me that some people had "their lids screwed on too tight." Years later, when I again personally visited with him and reminded him of that observation he had made to me, he denied making it.
Oaks, in my view, has his own lid screwed on too tight. He knows the truth about Mormonism (which isn't very pretty), but he is too embedded in the system to allow that truth to set him free.
I think Oaks has probably made a shrewd and calculated decision to ride the Mormon wave as far as it can take him because the pay-off to him of holding and wielding power outweighs the consequences of jettisoning a false faith and returning to more positive character roots.
To put it another way, it appears to me that Dallin H. Oaks has given in to the Dark Side.
| D. Michael Quinn--an esteemed historian on Mormon matters who happens to be gay--has laid out in brutal detail the Mormon Church's official policies and practices of bigotry toward gays.
When Mormonism's Apostle apologists like Dallin H. Oaks attempt to equate Mormon Church opposition to gay marriage with resistance to civil rights for African-Americans, it would do well for those within the sound of his preposterous propaganda peddling to remember that the Mormon Church has a horrid, undeniable history of hateful discrimination against both African-Americans and gays, as Quinn details in excerpts provided below:
--The Utah Mormon Church Is as Equally Bigoted Against Gays Has It Has Been Against African-Americans--
"Just as [Mormon] President Gordon B. Hinckley has said that same-sex marriage has no legitimate claim as a 'civil right' in Utah or anywhere else, previous First Presidencies also stated that African-Americans had no legitimate right to unrestricted access to marriage, nor to unrestricted blood transfusions, nor to rent a room in the LDS church's hotel, nor to reside in Utah's white neighborhoods, nor to live near the Los Angeles Temple, nor to be in a hospital bed next to a white patient. Just as the First Presidency previously condemned interracial marriages as abnormal, it has recently condemned same-sex marriages as abnormal.
"The LDS church's opposition to gay rights is consistent with its historical opposition to African-American rights.
"Even when a General Authority publicly apologized in September 2000 for 'the actions and statements of individuals who have been insensitive to the pain suffered by the victims of racism,' he claimed that the LDS leadership had an admirable history of race relations. Elder Alexander B. Morrison said: 'How grateful I am that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has from its beginnings stood strongly against racism in any of its malignant manifestations.'
"This was a by now familiar smoke-screen for the previous behavior of Mormon prophets, seers, and revelators. LDS headquarters has never apologized for the legalization of Negro slavery by Brigham Young in pioneer Utah, nor for the official LDS encouragement to lynch Negro males, nor for the racial segregation policies of the First Presidency until 1963, nor for Ezra Taft Benson's 1967 endorsement of a book which implied that decapitating black males was a 'White Alternative.'"
--The Utah Mormon Church's Blatant Hypocrisy on Black Civil Rights vs. Gay Civil Rights--
"LDS president Gordon B. Hinckley has dismissed Mormonism's earlier race-based policies as 'those little tricks of history' which are irrelevant now. However, his twenty-five years of promoting political campaigns against the possibility of gay rights is one more example of the LDS hierarchy's discrimination against minorities who are not its 'kind of people.'"
--The Utah Mormon Church's Opposition to Passage of Hate Crime Legislation Designed to Protect Gays--
" . . . [A]lthough the Utah press [has] reported hundreds of 'hate' attacks annually against gays and lesbians, the First Presidency in 1992 orchestrated the defeat of proposals to include 'sexual orientation' as a protected category in Utah's law against hate crimes."
--The Two-Faced Utah Mormon Church's Official Endorsement of Violence Against Gays--
"While President Hinckley . . . condemned hatred and violence against 'those who profess homosexual tendencies,'' the First Presidency from 1976 onward has also repeatedly published Apostle Boyd K. Packer's talk praising a Mormon missionary for beating up his homosexual companion.
"This official church pamphlet, titled 'To Young Men Only,' encourages teenage boys to assault any males "who entice young men to join them in these immoral acts." Yet President Hinckley (who was a senior apostle in 1976) expresses bewilderment regarding the literally thousands of violent attacks against gay males in Utah during the decades since the First Presidency began publishing Apostle Packer's talk.
"This endorsement of gay bashing continues to be printed in pamphlet form and is currently distributed by LDS headquarters. From 1976 to the present, local LDS leaders have been encouraged to give this pamphlet to young males in their teens and twenties, those most likely to commit hate crimes against gays and lesbians.
"LDS headquarters has never promoted a similar distribution of statements opposing violence toward homosexuals. Recent public statements by LDS leaders against gay bashing have the appearance of a smoke-screen to conceal the ongoing private endorsement of gay bashing in Apostle Packer's pamphlet. In fact, because it has officially promoted this endorsement of violence against homosexuals for twenty-five years, I [Quinn] believe the First Presidency has been morally responsible whenever LDS young men have attacked or killed homosexuals from 1976 to the present. This includes the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998.
"Moreover, by repeatedly issuing this pamphlet and other homophobic statements since the beginning of the anti-ERA campaign in 1975, the Mormon church has encouraged a climate of revulsion which fills most LDS families.
"Therefore, I [Quinn] believe the First Presidency has also been morally responsible whenever Mormon parents have rejected their children for being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Even when the LDS church's 'Ensign' magazine published a statement in 1997 advising parents not 'to disown' their homosexual children, the General Authority merely noted that such tactics 'do not help.' Public-relations statements of such timidity have little hope of undoing the spiritual damage to families caused by decades of stridently homophobic indoctrination by LDS headquarters."
--The Utah Mormon Church-Owned "Deseret News'" Open Agenda of Opposition to Gay Rights, As Well As to Hate Crime Legislation for Protection of Gays--
". . . [I]n its official editorial against allowing Utah's high schools to have clubs for gay and lesbian students, the 'Deseret News' commented in 1996: 'It is still appalling that more than half the identified hate crimes in Utah are aimed at homosexuals.'
"Again, this has the appearance of a smoke-screen to conceal the anti-gay agenda of LDS headquarters. Four years earlier, the same newspaper had successfully persuaded Utah's legislature not to include gays and lesbians in the state law against hate crimes. Moreover, the 1996 editorial then adopted the very attitude which propels these hate crimes it professed to regret: 'homosexual activities and practices are an abomination, not just some "alternative lifestyle" no better or worse than others.' Echoing the role of LDS headquarters in preventing Utah from giving homosexuals legal protection from hate crimes, the 'Deseret News' in June 2000 regretted that Utah Senator Orrin G. Hatch was 'unable to stop hate-crime legislation' in Congress."
--Lifetime, Record-Kept Stigmatization by the Utah LDS Church of Mormons (Including Mormon Teenagers) Who the LDS Church Has Judged to Have Engaged in Homosexual Behavior--
"There is yet another example of the LDS Church's official homophobia, which subverts its public platitudes about loving those who regard themselves as gay or lesbian. Since 1998, church headquarters has instructed all local LDS leaders to put notations on the membership record of every Mormon who receives church discipline for homosexual behavior. Applicable even to teenagers, this ecclesiastical stigma will follow young men and women into every LDS congregation for the rest of their lives."
--The Utah Mormon Church's Hiring Discrimination Practices Against Gays--
" . . . Mormon leadership [has] successfully opposed adding sexual orientation to Salt Lake City's anti-discrimination ordinance. This is understandable in light of reports that LDS headquarters actively discriminates against gays and lesbians in employment. With no claim of due process, this discrimination extends to completely secular jobs and requires no proof of 'inappropriate' sexual behavior.
"For example, when the Joseph Smith Memorial Building opened in 1993 as added office-space for the LDS bureaucracy at headquarters, this multi-story building had two fine-dining restaurants for the general public. The human resources director instructed the manager of these Church-owned restaurants not to hire as waiters any males who 'seem gay.'
"Similar to visual profiling for racial discrimination, LDS headquarters apparently denies employment on the basis of stereotypical views about masculine appearance and homosexual characteristics, or stereotypical views about feminine appearance and lesbian characteristics.
"As indicated in the above example, this has nothing to do with 'morality' or the actual sexual behavior of persons who are subjected to this discrimination. In fact, completely heterosexual persons may also be misidentified as lesbian or gay on the basis of speech or appearance, and then suffer employment discrimination in Utah. This contributes to the climate of fear, which is why anti-discrimination laws are necessary."
--The Nation's Highest Court Has Struck Down the Utah Mormon Church's Efforts at Nationalizing Its Anti-Gay Discrimination--
". . . [T]he U.S. Supreme Court . . . invalidated [in Romer v. Evans, 1996] . . . the LDS church's behind-the-scenes victory against civil rights for gays and lesbians in Colorado, [declaring that] "a state cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws." . . .
"This Colorado case had nothing to do with marriage. LDS leaders and their allies were attempting to invalidate those laws which protected gays and lesbians from hate crimes, as well as from civil discrimination in housing and employment. Gays and lesbians are the glaring exception to President Hinckley's public-relations statement to the LDS General Conference in 1995: 'We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry.' With regard to homosexuals, this is a slogan which LDS headquarters tries to subvert in every possible way."
--The Utah Mormon Church Is Currently As Wrong on Its Anti-Gay Position and Practice As It Has Been Historically Wrong on Its Anti-Black Position and Practice--
" . . . [First Presidency counselor J. Reuben] Clark told the General Conference of April 1940 that the First Presidency 'is not infallible in our judgment, and we err.' He also instructed LDS educators in 1954 that 'even the President of the Church has not always spoken under the direction of the Holy Ghost. I believe this applies to the statements and actions of several 'living prophets' and First Presidencies in restricting the civil rights of African-Americans and other minorities. According to LDS doctrine, the statements and actions of the Church's president can be wrong, even sinful, and historically the LDS First Presidency has often been profoundly wrong with regard to the civil rights of American minorities.
"In fact, when an end came to the various tyrannies of the majority against racial groups in America, LDS policies changed as well. What various 'living prophets' had defined as God's doctrine turned out to be a Mormon social policy which reflected the majority's world view. I submit that the same applies to the LDS Church's campaign against any law which benefits or protects gays and lesbians.
--The Ugly Sincerity of Official Mormon Prejudice Against Gays and Blacks Does Not Excuse Its Equally Ugly Practices Against Either--
"LDS leaders have repeatedly opposed civil rights for blacks and gays while denying that such action is 'anti-Negro' or 'racist,' 'anti-gay' or 'homophobic.' . . . First Presidency counselor J. Reuben Clark, for one, defended wholesale restrictions against the civil rights of African-Americans. Nevertheless, at the same time, he regarded himself as compassionate toward Blacks.
" . . . I have tried to acknowledge [here] the sincere beliefs and fears of those who oppose same-sex marriage. However, an 'Appeal to Sincerity' is legitimate only when attempting to understand the personal motivation for various behaviors. Sincerity cannot logically be invoked to assess the legitimacy or ethical value of those behaviors.
"The past and present are filled with actions which most of us condemn, despite the fact that their perpetrators claimed they acted out of their sincere beliefs in a religion, or race, or social class, or country. If we regard slavery as wrong, the sincerity of slave-owners is irrelevant to the issue, even when the slave-owners were our revered national leaders, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. If denial of rights and protections for African-Americans was wrong, the sincerity of the oppressors is irrelevant to the issue, even if we otherwise admire the oppressors as religious leaders. Likewise, the sincerity of the heterosexual majority's anxieties and fears is not an ethical justification for denying rights and protections to the homosexual minority."
--The Negative Effects on Gays from Rampant Mormon Church-Created and -Fanned Homophobia in Utah--
"The climate of homophobic antagonism in Mormon-dominated Utah creates constant anxiety for many gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons. It is historically similar to being a Christian in pagan Rome, a Protestant Huguenot in Catholic-dominated France, a Quaker in Puritan Massachusetts, a black in Klan-dominated Mississippi, a Jew in Nazi Germany, a Catholic in Protestant-dominated Belfast, a Muslim in Hindu-dominated Kashmir, or a Hindu in Muslim-dominated Islamabad. Its familiarity makes this pattern even more tragic in cultures which claim divine approval for exerting social oppression against their minorities.
"Just as Catholics, Protestants, and Mormons once claimed righteousness and God's blessing in denying basic rights to African-Americans and Asian-Americans, they are now claiming righteousness and God's blessing for denying basic rights to gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons. It takes a peculiar kind of blindness to currently affirm that the majority's historical discrimination against despised racial minorities was ethically and civilly wrong, yet argue that it is now ethically and civilly right to discriminate against the despised minority of homosexuals and transgender persons."
--The Non-Christian Utah Mormon Church Could Learn from Christian Support of Gay Rights--
"[From] [t]he 'New Dictionary of Christian Ethics' . . . :
"'It is particularly disturbing to find churches which intensify the homosexual's sense of loneliness and isolation by their judgmental attitudes.' . . . [T]his ethical dictionary was emphatic about the denial of civil rights to homosexuals: 'Whenever men and women are victimized because of their sexual orientation, whether formally in the law courts or less formally . . . the Christian duty is clearly to stand alongside the oppressed minority in their struggle for justice.'"
"As a gay male and Christian, I hope this kind of religious ethic will eventually triumph for America's minority of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons."
(D. Michael Quinn, "Prelude to the National “Defense of Marriage” Campaign: Civil Discrimination Against Feared or Despised Minorities," 0riginally published in "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought," 33:3, pp. 1-52)
| From the public press accounts issued by the Mormon Church in the wake of Gordon B. Hinckley's death, the faithfully uninformed would certainly reach the conclusion that their divinely-cradled prophet, seer and revelator died--as the Morg(ue) put it in both its website press release and through its house organ, the "Deseret News"--from causes "incident to age."
That was certainly the official line on LDS Net Central:
". . . Church president [Hinckley] died at his apartment in downtown Salt Lake City at 7:00 p.m. Sunday night from CAUSES INCIDENT TO AGE. Members of his family were at his bedside."
Then this, to top it all off:
"Style guide note: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online style guide."
("Beloved Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, Dies at 97," 27 January 2008, author(s) unnamed, in "Newsroom: The Official Church Resource for News Media, Opinion Leaders, and the Public," emphasis added, at: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/e...)
Singing the same song and using essentially the same words, the Church's parrot publication, the "Deseret News," solemnly announced:
"President Gordon B. Hinckley, who led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through explosive growth during his more than 12 years as president, died 7 p.m. Sunday at home of CAUSES INCIDENT TO AGE, surrounded by family. He was 97."
OK, OK, enough already. We get it. The Morg(ue) says Hinckley died because of CAUSES INCIDENT TO AGE.
("LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley Dies at Age 97: LDS president Met Call with Humility, Vigor," "by the Deseret Morning News staff," in "Deseret News," Sunday, 27 January 2008, emphasis added, at: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/69...)
But didn't it all seem a bit too insistent, too repetitive, too canned? Indeed, the "Deseret News" appeared to have gone out of its way to assure the faithful that Hinckley died a happy, healthy man--at least for his age (that is, before dying of CAUSES INCIDENT TO AGE):
"Two years ago this month, he underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove colon cancer. While a traditional colectomy requires five to eight days in the hospital and an at-home recovery of at least six weeks, the laparoscopic surgery hospital stay is usually two to four days and individuals can often return to work in two or three weeks.
"True to form for the energetic, globe-trotting leader, President Hinckley flew to Chile two months later in March 2006 to rededicate the Chilean temple. During the ceremonies, he alluded to his recent operation, quipping he would not recommend it to anyone.
"'President Hinckley was at his best," Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve said moments after the first dedication session adjourned. 'He conducted the entire session. Gave the dedicatory prayer. You wouldn't know he had ever been ill. His vigor was absolutely amazing.'
"His health has been the topic of speculation off and on among Church members ever since, particularly during semi-annual General Conferences of the church held each April and October. Less than a month after his Chilean trip in 2006, he stood at the podium in the LDS Conference Center during the Sunday morning session of the 176th annual General Conference and--in a rare departure from his usual sermons on gospel topics--reflected on his personal life.
"The speech was widely considered by members as a farewell of sorts that he was able to deliver personally. He mentioned his age frequently in public during the last five years of his life, almost as a way of preparing church members for his death and assuring them he was at peace with whatever timing would be his. After the death of his wife, Marjorie, in 2004, he periodically spoke movingly of missing her.
"More recently, President Hinckley presided and spoke at the August funeral of his beloved second counselor, President James E. Faust, noting the sadness that his passing meant to him personally. He spoke again publicly during October's semi-annual general conference, but delivered fewer and shorter speeches than he had previously done during the two-day event.
"He presided and offered brief remarks at the funeral of Sister Inis Hunter in late October, then spoke again during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in December at the Conference Center, in what would be his last major public address. He sent a message that was read by President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, at the funeral of billionaire businessman and philanthropist James Sorenson last week."
(LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley Dies at Age 97:
LDS President Met Call with Humility, Vigor," in "Deseret News," 27 January 2008, at: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/1,...)
And then he suddenly up and died.
Why was that, do you suppose?
Now, the rest of the story:
In stark contrast to the Mormon Church's carefully-crafted-and-approved-for-publication version of events, I have been informed on good authority that Hinckley didn't die from old age itself but, rather, from the destructive effects of chemotherapy resulting from his treatment for colon cancer.
I was told, in other words, that Hinckley's sudden decline (where he went from actively communicating and waving his cane around to a rapid slide into death), resulted not from being 97 years old. It was (so this alternative version of events goes), from succumbing to the adverse effects of medical treatment he received from those assigned the task of killing his cancer.
What may have possibly happened instead was the killing of the Lord's prophet. If so, then it must have been God's will.
In fact, the Mormon Church-owned weekly newsaper supplement, the "Church News," did acknowledge that Hinckley had been receiving chemotherapy treatments for his cancer. That fact, however, was not reported in the wake of his death until several days after he had breathed his last:
"After a long life of dedicated service to God and his fellowman, President Gordon B. Hinckley died Jan. 27 of CAUSES INCIDENT TO AGE. He was 97. . . .
"President Hinckley ended his mortal journey Sunday at 7 p.m. in his apartment, surrounded by his five children and other family members. In past months the beloved Church leader had lost strength, making fewer appearances and most recently using a wheelchair, though not entirely giving up his well-employed cane. . . .
"His dedication of the Utah State Capitol Jan. 4 was his last public appearance. He kept up with his daily work schedule until the last week of his life.
"Two years ago, on Jan. 24, 2006, he underwent laparoscope surgery in a bout with cancer of the large intestine. Although he recovered well and completed the subsequent chemotherapy, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, he underwent what was called a 'follow-up chemotherapy.' A day or two later, he began feeling weaker. On Friday, Jan. 25, at the funeral of LDS inventor and philanthropist James L. Sorenson, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, announced that President Hinckley was not feeling well. After that, he continued to decline. . . .
"On Nov. 2, 2007, he became the longest-lived president of the Church, which by then had a membership of 13 million."
Hmmmmmm. Nothing like giving chemotherapy to a 97-year-old to end that "longest-living" record thing.
(John L. Hart, "Church News" associate editor, "President Hinckley Ends Mortal Journey: Life Marked by Testimony, Vigor, Personal Warmth and Courage," in "Church News," 2 February 2008, emphasis added, at: http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles...)
Interestingly enough, I was also told that, according to inside family sources, Hinckley actually died that Sunday afternoon around 3 p.m., although his reported time of death was announced in the Mormon-owned press as having occurred some four hours later. What accounts for that seeming discrepancy--if it actually is one--I don't know. Where's the Holy Ghost when you need it?
(The above information, by the way, came to me from someone who was in a position to know the Hinckley family with some degree of personal familiarity).
Could it be that Hinckley actually died not of old age but of CAUSES INCIDENT TO CHEMOTHERAPY?
| 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-impressed 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.
It proved to be a seed that eventually turned into a weed in the gawd-awful Mormon garden of deceit.
| . . . at Ft. Hood.
His name was Aaron Thomas Nemelka. He was just 19 years old--a young man who chose not to go on a Mormon mission and who was praised by a relative for his strong streak of personal individualism:
"[Pfc.] Aaron T. Nemelka
"Nemelka, 19, of the Salt Lake City suburb of West Jordan, Utah, chose to join the Army instead of going on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, his uncle Christopher Nemelka said.
"'As a person, Aaron was as soft and kind and as gentle as they come, a sweetheart,' his uncle said. 'What I loved about the kid was his independence of thought.'
"Aaron Nemelka, the youngest of four children, was scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan in January, his family said in a statement. Nemelka had enlisted in the Army in October 2008, Utah National Guard Lt. Col. Lisa Olsen said. . . .
"'His mission is completed,' [another uncle, Michael] Blades said, his voice breaking. 'He now serves a higher calling in heaven.'"
("Fort Victims Had Different Reasons for Enlisting," by Amy Fortliti, "Associated Press," 7 November 2009, at:
http://www.kansascity.com/440/story/1...; see also, "Profiles of Those Who Where Slain: Fort Hood Aftermath," from wire reports, in "USA Today," 9 November 2009, p. 2A)
As wrenching as this tragedy is to the family and loved ones of Pfc. Nemelka, think for a moment about what many judgmental Mormons could well be thinking to themselves about it all.
What are the odds that many blindly-obedient Latter-day Saints may be keeping to themselves--(knowing that to publicly voice their privately-held opinions on this would simply be too crass)--the thought: "If only Brother Nemelka had obeyed the Lord and had on gone on a mission, he wouldn't have been killed. Sadly, he chose the wrong path and paid for his decision."
Or something robotically ridiculous like that.
Indeed, the Mormon website, "LDS Today: Building Zion Through the Web," apparently decided to build faith in Zion by leaving out the fact that Pfc. Nemelka chose to forego a Mormon mission and instead join the military:
"He was a young man who loved both his family and his country. Family members of 19-year-old Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka said he planned to officially ask his girlfriend to marry him when he returned home in December for a short visit before being deployed in January to the Middle East."
("Utah Soldier Mourned," from "Deseret News" [Utah], 7 November 2009, at: http://www.ldstoday.com/home/search.p...)
For more on Eagle Scout Aaron T. Nemelka (taken from the Mormon-owned news station KSL which also failed to mention that he chose military service over a Mormon mission), see: "Fort Hood 13: Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka," 10 November 2009, at: http://agangershome.blogspot.com/2009... ; and "West Jordan Man Among Those Killed at Fort Hood," with accompanying video, KSL TV Channel 5, Salt Lake City, Utah, at: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148andsid=85775...)
For the Mormon Church-owned "Deseret News'" account of Nemelka's death (which also, in stark contrast to national news accounts, failed to mention that he chose to serve in the nation's Army instead of in the Mormon one), see "Utah Soldier Mourned," by Pat Reavy, "Deseret News," 6 November 2009, at: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/70...
(It is interesting to note that in response to the "Deseret News" story which omitted mention of Nemelka's decision to skip a Mormon mission in favor of national military service, a reader responded: "Our son also joined the Army instead of going on a L.D.S Mission").
In the end, what Pfc. Aaron Thomas Nemelka did so admirably was what his uncle remembered him for:
"What I loved about the kid was his independence of thought."
And that independence of thought didn't include a Mormon mission--an heroic choice in its own right.
| Mormon Church self-backpatting over its supposed support of equal protection under the law for gays in housing and employment is unquestionably undeserved, no matter what its PR hacks are hired to say in scripted press releases.
The freshest, most odiferous case in point:
Michael Otterson, managing director of the Mormon Church's public relations department, forthrightly fibbed out of both sides of his mouth when, according to the LDS-owned "Desert News," he claimed that the LDS Church's recent "statement of support [of two proposed ordinances protecting gay and lesbian residents from housing and employment discrimination] is consistent with the Church's prior position on such matters . . . ."
("Mormon Church Backs Protection of Gay Rights in Salt Lake City," by Scott Taylor, in "Desert News," 10 November 2009, at: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/70...
Once again and with a straight face (no pun intended), the LDS Church serves up a hot, steaming plate of its world-famous Mormon meadow muffins. But since when has the LDS Church shirked from falsifying its own history in the name of advancing its poisonous political agenda?
As former Mormon and respected historian D. Michael Quinn demonstrates, the LDS Church has a clear and reprehensible track record when it comes to fighting against protection of gays in housing and the workplace.
"Gays and lesbians are the glaring exception to President [Gordon B.] Hinckley's public-relations statement to the LDS general conference in 1995: 'We must be willing to defend the rights of others who may become the victims of bigotry.'
"With regard to homosexuals, this is a slogan which LDS headquarters tries to subvert in every possible way."
Let us count those ways:
--The Utah Mormon Church's Discrimination Against Hiring Waiters in Its Restaurants Who "Seem" Gay--
"When the Joseph Smith Memorial Building opened in 1993 as added office-space for the LDS bureaucracy at headquarters, this multi-story building had two fine-dining restaurants for the general public.
"The human resources director instructed the manager of these church-owned restaurants not to hire as waiters any males who 'seem gay.' . . .
"Similar to visual profiling for racial discrimination, LDS headquarters apparently denies employment on the basis of stereotypical views about masculine appearance and homosexual characteristics, or stereotypical views about feminine appearance and lesbian characteristics.
". . . [T]his has nothing to do with 'morality' or the actual sexual behavior of persons who are subjected to this discrimination. In fact, completely heterosexual persons may also be misidentified as lesbian or gay on the basis of speech or appearance, and then suffer employment discrimination in Utah.
"This contributes to the climate of fear, which is why anti-discrimination laws are necessary."
"My [Quinn's] telephone interview on 4 September 2000 with a person who has asked to remain anonymous, but who had direct knowledge of the hiring practices in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building's new Roof Restaurant and Garden Restaurant in 1993."
--The Utah Mormon Church's Successful Opposition to a Salt Lake City Anti-Discrimination Ordinance That Would Have Included Protection of Gay Sexual Orientation--
" . . . [A]fter President Hinckley's [allegedly pro-gay rights] statement, Mormon leadership successfully opposed adding sexual orientation to Salt Lake City's anti-discrimination ordinance."
--"Editorial, 'S.L. Should Protect All Equally,' in 'Deseret News,' 8 December 1997, A-10 (despite the title, this spoke out against Salt Lake City Council's proposal to protect gays and lesbians from civil discrimination);
--"Editorial, 'Don't Repeal Gay Ordinance,' in 'Salt Lake Tribune,' 11 January 1998, AA-1;
--"'LDS Leader Urges Attendance at Meeting,' in 'Salt Lake Tribune,' 13 January 1998, B-6 (requesting local Mormons to express their opposition to including gays and lesbians in the city's anti-discrimination ordinance);
--"'Anti-Gay Bias Ordinance Has A Short Life,' in 'Deseret News,' 14 January 1998;
--"John Harrington, 'Morality Plays: Repealing Salt Lake City's Gay-Protection Ordinance Is an Outcome of Mormon Politics,' in 'Salt Lake City Weekly,' 15 January 1998, 6-7;
--"Editorial, 'Bringing Sense Back to City Hall,' in 'Deseret News,' 17 January 1998, A-8 (congratulating the Salt Lake City council for removing sexual orientation from the city's anti-discrimination law."
--The Utah Mormon Church's Active Opposition to Equal Rights for Gays in Housing and Employment Under Gordon B. Hinckley's Political Campaign Direction--
"After he began directing the LDS Church's anti-ERA campaign nationally in 1977 . . ., Gordon B. Hinckley was also on the executive committee of Seattle radio station KIRO when it supported anti-gay Initiative 13, which would have revoked Seattle's city ordinance protecting gays and lesbians from civil discrimination in housing and employment.
"The co-sponsor of this ballot initiative was a Mormon policeman, who said he and his John Birch Society partner-policeman had launched the anti-gay petition for it because a 'homosexual applied for a job as a King County police officer.' (See 'The Cops Who Lead the Fight Against the Gays,' in 'Seattle Post-Intelligencer,' 6 August 1978.)
"'The Blade'(Washington, D.C.), October 1978, also commented: 'KIRO, the Mormon-owned station, continues to broadcast anti-Gay ads, and the local station manager has editorialized against Gays, even calling for Gays to be placed in "concentration camps," according to a source in the Seattle mayor's office.' . . .
"For Hinckley's role as KIRO director and member of its executive committee, see also Sheri Dew, 'Go Forward With Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley' (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996), p. 304."
--Summary: The Utah Mormon Church's History of Active, Immunized Job Discrimination Against Gays--
"[There are] reports that LDS headquarters actively discriminates against gays and lesbians in employment. With no claim of due process, this discrimination extends to completely secular jobs and requires no proof of 'inappropriate' sexual behavior."
(D. Michael Quinn, "Prelude to the National 'Defense of Marriage' Campaign: Civil Discrimination Against Feared or Despised Minorities," originally published in "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought," 33:3, pp. 1-52; reposted with permission at: http://www.affirmation.org/learning/p...)
How can you tell when the Mormon Church's Prophets, Seers and Public Relations Regulators are lying for the Lord?
Yup, you got it: When their latter-day lips are moving.
| Word of Wisdom, my eye.
Up until Joseph Smith's death, he was drinkin."
"Joseph Smith's Alcohol Drinking Habit
"There is substantial evidence that Joseph Smith drank alcohol on numerous occasions.
"Here are some specific references found in LDS sources:
"May 3, 1843 - 'drank a glass of wine with Sister Janetta Richards, made by her mother in England.' ('History of the Church,' vol. 5, pg. 380).
"January 29, 1844 - 'Capt[ain] White of Quincy was at the Mansion last night and this morning drank a toast.' ('The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith,' edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 443).
"June 1, 1844 - 'Drank a glass of beer at Mooessers' ('The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith,' edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 486).
"June 27, 1844 - 'Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as also Brother Taylor, and the doctor, . . .' ('History of the Church,' vol. 6, pg. 616)
"In the last six months of Joseph Smith's life LDS records indicate that he drank at least three times. In the last month, he drank at least twice.\
"Other References That Indicate That Joseph Smith Did Not Object to Alcohol:
"March 7, 1843 - 'Reconed with Theodore, who enquired what was wisdom concerning a brewery in this place?' ('The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith,' edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 443).
"March 10, 1843 - 'Joseph decided that he had no objection to having a brewery put up by Theodore Turley.' ('The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith,' edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 329).
"There was a bar in the Joseph Smith's own house as indicated by Joseph Smith's statement, 'I read my letter to H[enry] Clay to many strangers in the bar room among whom was advocated for H[enry] Clay.' ('The Diaries and Journals of Joseph Smith,' edited by Scott H. Faulring, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1989, pg. 488).
"Joseph Smith even obtained a liquor license to distribute alcohol from his home. Take a look at 'History of the Church,' vol. 6, pg. 111, 'Section 1 - Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Mayor [Joseph Smith] of the city is hereby authorized to sell or give spirits of any quantity as he in his wisdom shall judge to be for the health and comfort, or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time.'
" . . . [T]he words 'drinking habit' are not completely out of line. LDS historical records at one point have Joseph Smith drinking at least twice in less than one month. Joseph Smith had a bar in his home (Mansion House), and a liquor license to distribute and sell alcohol. This information supports a conclusion that Joseph Smith enjoyed drinking alcohol.
"The evidence is very clear that he drank on numerous occasions and that he did not object to a bar in his home (Mansion House), selling and distributing alcohol from his home, having a brewery nearby, or going for a beer at the local tavern. So from this . . . it is reasonable to conclude that Joseph Smith had a 'drinking habit,' not to be confused with an extreme habit, such as 'alcoholism.'"
("Joseph Smith's Alcohol Drinking Habit," 3 November 2008, at: http://www.reachouttrust.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=3andt=2380#p75122)
Additional Confirmation of Joseph Smith's Meeting at the Bar/Barstool of God:
"Joseph Smith, Authorizing Himself to Sell Liquor:
"'Ordinance on the Personal Sale of Liquors. Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Mayor of the city be and is hereby authorized to sell or give spirits of any quantity as he in his wisdom shall judge to be for the health and comfort, or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time.Passed December 12, 1843.JOSEPH SMITH, Mayor. WILLARD RICHARDS, Recorder.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 6, p. 111)
"Brother Joseph, Enjoying the Fruits of the Vine and the Grains of the Field:
"'Called at the office and DRANK A GLASS OF WINE with Sister Jenetta Richards, made by her mother in England, and reviewed a portion of the conference minutes.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 5, p. 380)
“'We then partook of some refreshments, and OUR HEARTS WERE MADE GLAD WITH THE FRUIT OF THE VINE.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 2, p. 369)
"'Elders Orson Hyde, Luke S. Johnson, and Warren Parrish, then presented the Presidency with three servers of glasses filled with WINE to bless. And it fell to my lot to attend to this duty, which I cheerfully discharged. It was then passed round in order, then the cake in the same order; and suffice it to say, OUR HEARTS WERE MADE GLAD while partaking of the bounty of earth which was presented, until we had taken our fill;. . . .' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 2, p. 378)
“'April 17–This day THE TWELVE blessed and DRANK A BOTTLE OF WINE at Penworthan, made by Mother Moon FORTY YEARS BEFORE.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 4, p. 120)
"Joseph Continues to Drink, Even While in Jail:
“'Before the jailor came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some WINE. JOSEPH gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more. The guard immediately sent FOR A BOTTLE OF WINE, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailor went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, AND PRESENTED A GLASS TO JOSEPH, WHO TASTED, AS BROTHER TAYLOR AND THE DOCTOR, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out.' ('History of the Church,' Vol. 6, p. 616)
"Sometime after dinner we sent for some WINE. It hasbeen r'eported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was NO SUCH THING; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us.... I believe we all drank of the WINE, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards.' (John Taylor, in 'History of the Church,' Vol. 7, p. 101)
"Joseph Opens His Own Bar:
"'About 1842, a new and larger house was built for us. . . . Father proceeded to build an extensive addition running out from the south wing toward the east. . . . At any rate, it seemed spacious then, and a sign was put out giving it the dignified name of "The Nauvoo Mansion,". . . Mother was to be installed as landlady, and soon made a trip to Saint Louis. When she returned Mother found installed in the keeping - room of the hotel–that is to say, the main room where the guests assembled and where they were received upon arrival–A BAR, with counter, shelves, bottles, glasses, and other paraphernalia customary for a FULLY-EQUIPPED TAVERN BAR, and Porter Rockwell in charge as tender. She was very much surprised and disturbed over this arrangement, but said nothing for a while. . . . [S]he asked me where Father was. I told her he was in the front room. . . . Then she told me to go and tell him she wished to see him. I obeyed, and returned with him to the hall where Mother awaited him. "Joseph," she asked, "Whatis the meaning of THAT BAR IN THIS HOUSE?" . . . . "How does it look," she asked, "for the spiritual head of a religious body to be keeping a hotel in which is a room fitted out as a LIQUOR-SELLING ESTABLISHMENT?" He reminded her that all taverns had their BARS at which liquor was sold or dispensed. Mother's reply came emphatically clear, though uttered quietly: “Well, Joseph,. . . I will take my children and go across to the old house and stay there, for I will not have them raised up under such conditions as this arrangement imposes upon us, nor have them mingle with the kind of men who frequent such a place. You are at liberty to make your choice; EITHER THAT BAR GOES OUT OF THE HOUSE, OR WE WILL!" It did not take Father long to make the choice, for he replied immediately, "Very well, Emma; I will have it removed at once"–and he did.' (Joseph Smith's own son, in 'The Saints' Herald,' Jan. 22, 1935, p. 110)"
("Drinkin' and Smokin' Prophets," emphasis in original, at: http://www.realmormonhistory.com/smok...)
As to frequent accusations that Joseph Smith did not infrequently imbibe, author LaMar Petersen writes in his book "Hearts Made Glad: The Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith the Mormon Prophet ('and Folkes That Dranken ben of Ale'--Chaucer)":
"Joseph Smith may have been a little amused at the frequent charges of his inebriety, for he seldom dignified them with a reply. . . . There is some evidence that he did not always take himself too seriously; at times he could, and did, remove the Prophet's mantle, slip out if his translating coat, lay the Urim and Thummim on the shelf, and relax like any ordinary tired business man.
"One noon, after studying indictments against himself, his loyal brother Hyrum and a hundred others on old Missouri troubles (as well as a new batch of threats from John C. Bennett), he lay down on his writing table with his head on a pile of law books, saying to scribe Willard Richards, 'Write and tell the world I acknowledge myself a very great lawyer; I am going to study law, and this is the way I study it.' And then he fell asleep.
"A toast to Joseph Smith--the most human of the Saints."
(LaMar Petersen, "Hearts Made Glad" [Salt Lake City, Utah: LaMar Petersen, 1975], in "Introductory Note," p. iv)
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