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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.
Oscar-Winning Screenwriter / Former Mormon Dustin Black's Comments On The Homophobic LDS Church
Monday, Feb 23, 2009, at 07:54 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Prior to winning the Oscar for screenwriting on the film, "Milk," Dustin Lance Black--who grew up as a young gay Mormon in a bigoted LDS religious environment where he was often not accepted--talked about what it was like to live in, and then escape from, the confines of LDS homophobia:

"Black grew up Mormon, living in a conservative neighborhood outside San Antonio, Texas, not exactly the most supportive environment for a young gay kid. ’I was super closeted,' recalled Black. 'I knew I was gay from a very young age, and growing up in [that environment] in the Mormon Church, you’d hear the word ['fxxxxx'] all the time.'"

Below are Black's comments on Oscar night during his acceptance remarks after winning the award:

"At tonight’s Academy Awards, screenwriter Dustin Lance Black won the Oscar for Best Screenplay for 'Milk,' the story of California’s first openly gay elected official, Harvey Milk. Black – who was wearing a White Knot for marriage equality – spoke about how Milk inspired him:

"'When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas, to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life; it gave me the hope that one day I could live my life openly as who I am and that maybe even I could fall in love and one day get married.

"'I want to thank my Mom who has always loved me for who I am, even when there was pressure not to.

"'But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he’d want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told they are less than by their churches, or by the government, or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value. And that no matter what everyone tells you, God does love you, and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally across this great nation of ours.'

"Black’s speech was greeted by loud applause. Watch it [here] [where he ends his remarks with "Thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk] . . ."

Before winning the Oscar, Black talked about his early upbringing in Mormonism with National Public Radio and how Harvey Milk inspired him to "come out":

"Born to Mormon parents, he [Black] grew up amid the military communities of San Antonio, Texas. He says Milk's story, when he finally learned about it, helped him summon the courage to come out to his family and friends.

"'Texas kept me very quiet,' Black told the Bay Area Reporter in February.’I became intensely shy, I had thoughts of suicide. I was a pretty dark kid, because I had an acute awareness of my sexuality, and was absolutely convinced that I was wrong.'

"But in the mid-1990s, Black . . . saw Rob Epstein's Oscar-winning documentary 'The Times of Harvey Milk':

"'In his 'Hope Speech,' Harvey Milk says, "There's that kid in San Antonio, and he heard tonight that a gay man was elected to public office, and that will give him hope." And when I first heard that speech, it really did that. It really, really gave me hope, for the first time.'

"Black, who's been a writer on the HBO series 'Big Love,' also wrote a documentary about Pedro Zamora, the out gay Cuban-American AIDS activist who became famous as a third-season cast member on MTV's 'The Real World.'"

Writer Brian Brooks notes how "Black grew up Mormon, living in a conservative neighborhood outside San Antonio, Texas, not exactly the most supportive environment for a young gay kid.’I was super closeted,' recalled Black. 'I knew I was gay from a very young age, and growing up in [that environment] in the Mormon Church, you’d hear the word [*a word we don't use on RfM*] all the time.'"

Black expanded, in his own words, on his life in and out of Mormonism, culminating in his ultimate decision to "come out" because of Harvey Milk, as he records in his personal essay entitled, "30 Years Later":

"I grew up in a very conservative Mormon military household in San Antonio, Texas. I knew from the age of six what people would call me if they ever discovered my 'secret.' [*a word we don't use on RfM*]. Deviant. Sinner. I’d heard those words ever since I can remember. I knew that I was going to Hell. I was sure God did not love me. It was clear as day that I was 'less than' the other kids, and that if anyone ever found out about my little secret, beyond suffering physical harm, I would surely bring great shame to my family.

"So I had two choices: to hide--to go on a Mormon mission, to get married and have a small Mormon family (eight to twelve kids)--or to do what I’d thought about many a time while daydreaming in Texas history class: take my own life. Thankfully, there weren’t enough pills (fun or otherwise) inside my Mormon mother’s medicine cabinet, so I pretended and I hid and I cried myself to sleep more Sabbath nights than I care to remember.

"Then, when I was twelve years old, I had a turn of luck. My mom remarried a Catholic Army soldier who had orders to ship out to Fort Ord in Salinas, California. There I discovered a new family, the theater . . . and soon, San Francisco.

"That’s when it happened. I was almost fourteen when I heard a recording of a speech. It had been delivered on June 9, 1978, the same year my biological father had moved my family out to San Antonio. It was delivered by what I was told was an 'out' gay man. His name was Harvey Milk:

"'Somewhere in Des Moines or San Antonio, there is a young gay person who all of a sudden realizes that she or he is gay. Knows that if the parents find out they’ll be tossed out of the house. The classmates will taunt the child and the Anita Bryant’s and John Briggs are doing their bit on TV, and that child has several options: staying in the closet, suicide . . . and then one day that child might open up the paper and it says, 'homosexual elected in San Francisco,' and there are two new options. One option is to go to California . . . OR stay in San Antonio and fight. You’ve got to elect gay people so that that young child and the thousands upon thousands like that child know that there’s hope for a better world. There’s hope for a better tomorrow.'

"That moment when I heard Harvey for the first time . . . that was the first time I really knew someone loved me for me. From the grave, over a decade after his assassination, Harvey gave me life . . . he gave me hope.

"At that very same moment, without knowing it, I became a pawn in a game of political power wrangling that is still shedding blood from DC to Sacramento, El Paso to Altoona.

"In the following years, I watched careers, political and otherwise, cut short through revelations of this or that official’s sexuality. And in 2004, I looked on with horror -as . . . homophobes [were pitted] against gays and lesbians. If there had been a Harvey Milk, if there had been a movement of great hope and change, I certainly couldn’t see it from where I stood four and a half years ago when I started this journey to tell Harvey’s story.

"Thirty years after Harvey Milk was assassinated, in the summer of 2008, with anti-gay measures on the ballot in several states, I tuned in to . . . see how his message had fared. Back in 1972, Jim Foster, an openly gay man, stood up . . . on prime-time national television [and] said, 'We do not come to you pleading your understanding or begging your tolerance, we come to you affirming our pride in our life-style, affirming the validity to seek and maintain meaningful emotional relationships and affirming our right to participate in the life of this country on an equal basis with every citizen.'. . .

"[Today the enemies of gay rights have] found the sure-fire way to kill the gay and lesbian movement for good. They’ll make us invisible. They’ll make us all disappear. . . .

"You see, one of the biggest hurdles for the gay community has always been invisibility. Unlike the black movement and the women’s movement, gays and lesbians are not always immediately identifiable. People still go their entire careers without coming out to their co-workers, not to mention their relatives or their neighbors. Harvey Milk saw this problem, and shouted out the solution, 'You must come OUT!'

"The entire concept of coming out was devised and pushed for by leaders like Harvey Milk back in 1978 as a way to counter this visibility problem. If people don’t know who they are hurting, they don’t mind discriminating against them. Watching [recent national developments], I got a sinking feeling that Milk’s beloved gay and lesbian movement was off the table. I felt myself slowly vanishing, and for gay and lesbian people, invisibility equals death.

"Thirty years after Harvey began his fight for GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender) equality, I am still 'less than' a heterosexual when it comes to my civil rights in America. If I fall in love with someone in a foreign country, I can’t marry him and bring him home. I can’t be out in the military, there are inheritance rights issues, adoption rights, social security, taxation, immigration, employment, housing, and access to health care rights, social services, and education rights, and on and on. The message to gay and lesbian youth today is that they are still inferior.

"Today, in 2008, the Gay and Lesbian Task Force reports that a third of all gay youth attempt suicide, that gay youth are four times more likely than straights to try to take their own lives, and if a kid does survive, 26 percent are told to leave home when they come out. It’s estimated that 20 to 40 percent of the 1.6 million homeless youth in America today identify as gay or lesbian. Harvey Milk’s message is needed now more than ever.

"So much of what I’ve done in this business up to this point has been to make myself ready to take on the overwhelming responsibility of retelling Harvey’s story. It took many years of research, digging through archives, driving up to San Francisco in search of Harvey’s old friends and foes, charging a couple of nights at the Becks motor lodge on Market and Castro with my principal source, Harvey’s political protégé, Cleve Jones.

"What I discovered on those trips wasn’t the legend of the man that I’d heard in adolescence. What I discovered was a deeply flawed man, a man who had grown up closeted, a man who failed in business and in his relationships, a man who got a very late start. Through Harvey’s friends, foes, lovers, and opponents, I met the real Harvey Milk.

"Those I interviewed also shared stories of a time in San Francisco when it seemed anything was possible. The Castro was booming. Gay and lesbian people were making headway in the battle for equal rights. And from the ashes of defeats in Florida, Kansas and Oregon rose a big-eared, floppy-footed leader who was able to reach out to other communities, to the disenfranchised, and to unexpected allies. He convinced an entire people to 'come out,' and against all odds, he fought back and won on Election Day.

" . . . When I began this project, I could never have predicted the parallels between [today's anti-gay measure of today] . . . and Harvey’s fight over [the anti-gay measure] in 1978. Both . . . sought to take away gay and lesbian rights. . . . Thirty years, almost to the day, after Harvey Milk had successfully defeated [the anti-gay initiative of his day], the pendulum had swung back.

". . . Cleve Jones and I [have now] picked up the torch of his former mentor and father figure with these words (as published in the 'San Francisco Chronicle'):

"'We have always been willing to serve our country: in our armed forces, even as we were threatened with courts-martial and dishonor; as teachers, even as we were slandered and libeled; as parents and foster parents struggling to support our children; as doctors and nurses caring for patients in a broken health care system; as artists, writers and musicians; as workers in factories and hotels, on farms and in office buildings; we have always served and loved our country.

"'We have loved our country even as we have been subjected to discrimination, harassment and violence at the hands of our countrymen. We have loved God, even as we were rejected and abandoned by religious leaders, our churches, synagogues and mosques. We have loved democracy, even as we witnessed the ballot box used to deny us our rights.

"'We have always kept faith with the American people, our neighbors, co-workers, friends and families. But today that faith is tested and we find ourselves at a crossroad in history.

"'Will we move forward together? Will we affirm that the American dream is alive and real? Will we finally guarantee full equality under the law for all Americans? Or will we surrender to the worst, most divisive appeals to bigotry, ignorance and fear?'

"I imagine Harvey would be surprised that words like these would still be needed [today]. What went wrong? Why did the GLBT community lose a civil rights fight that Harvey could likely have won thirty years ago?

"To me, the answers are clear. GLBT leaders today have been asking straight allies to stand up for the gay community instead of encouraging gay and lesbian people to proudly represent themselves. The movement has become closeted again. The movement has lost the message of Harvey Milk. Who is to blame? The philosopher George Santayana said so long ago, 'Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.'

"I didn’t grow up with any knowledge of GLBT heroes, but there are many. I didn’t grow up with any instruction about GLBT history, but it is a rich history, filled with valuable, universal lessons. It is only in recent years that Hollywood has agreed to risk its dollars on films that depict gay protagonists, and only now, thirty years after Milk’s assassination, that Hollywood has agreed to risk its dollars to depict one of the gay movement’s greatest heroes.

"Now, thanks to the bravery of directors like Gus Van Sant, producers like Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen and companies like Michael London’s 'Groundswell' and 'Focus Features,' I was given a shot at creating a popularized history that young people, GLBT leaders, and our future straight allies can look at and learn from. With this and the many other films I hope will follow, perhaps we are not doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes of our past.

"But even in these difficult times, all is not lost. By example, Harvey taught us that from our darkest hours comes 'Hope.' Yes, [in recent weeks there have been] inspiring, fiery words [against] . . . [anti-gay] injustice. Yes, there [have been] some cheers, but [one night at a rally that Black attended] mostly the mood was restless. And then something magical happened.

"The young people in the crowd started to move. Perhaps it was instinct, perhaps they knew more about their own movement’s history than the folks onstage, perhaps they just weren’t willing to continue the current leadership’s policy of closeting and good behavior. They started to move. They marched away from the stage. They started to march out of the gay ghetto of West Hollywood and up to a straight neighborhood. Within minutes a public march, eight thousand strong, had begun. It looked almost identical to Harvey’s marches up Market Street in San Francisco in 1977. Young people, old people, gay people, lesbians, bisexual folks, transgender ones and many, many straight allies marched up to Sunset Boulevard, took over the city, and started doing what Harvey had talked about. They started giving a face to GLBT people again. They showed the world who was hurt at the ballot box the night before. They came out. They weren’t asking straight people to advocate for their rights. In their chants and on their signs, they demanded equality themselves.

"In 1977, Harvey Milk claimed Anita Bryant didn’t win in Dade County when she overturned all of their gay rights laws. He claimed that the defeat in Florida had brought his people together. It seemed the same thing had happened thirty years later.

"And yes, those demonstrators on television, and Harvey’s message in theaters, are exceedingly important in the continued fight over [gay rights] but they are important to me for another, more personal reason . . . because I feel certain there is another kid out there in San Antonio tonight who woke up . . . and heard that gay people had lost their rights in California, that they were still 'less than,' and I know all too well the dire solutions that may have flashed through his or her head.

"Those demonstrators on television sets all across the country aren’t just making a statement against the bigotry of [the homophobes]; they are sending a message of hope to that child in San Antonio: 'You are not less than,' 'You have brothers and sisters and friends, thousands of them,' 'There is hope for a better tomorrow,' and like Harvey said, 'You can come to California . . . or you can stay in San Antonio and FIGHT.'

"These photos and the accompanying quotes from my research interviews in this book [that Black produced about Milk] don’t tell the story of a man born to lead, but of a regular man with many flaws who did what many others wouldn’t . . . [H]e did what his people need to do again today, thirty years later . . . Harvey Milk stood up and fought back."

("'Milk’ Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black Wins Oscar," in "Think Progress," at: “‘Milk’ Screenwriter Dustin Lance Black Wins Oscar," in "Think Progress," at: ; "'Milk' Screenwriter: Harvey Helped Me Come Out," at: ; Brian Brooks, "Oscar ‘09: 'Milk‘s' Dustin Lance Black," 17 February 2009, at: ;
Not Only Did The Mormon Church Segregate Blood, It Ordered Segregated Seating In Church
Friday, Feb 27, 2009, at 07:54 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
In 1940, my grandfather Ezra Taft Benson was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be “forward-thinking” as he dealt with the “many and complex” problems facing the stake. (Sheri L. Dew, "Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).

Dew failed to mention that one of those “problems” had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society 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 feel 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)
Necessity, The Mother Of Mormon Invention: How Alvin's Death Led To Joseph's Dead-Dunk Deception
Friday, Feb 27, 2009, at 08:19 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Contrary to creative Mormon belief, Joseph Smith didn’t receive any supposed Biblically-based, divinely-inspired “revelation” when announcing the advent of the amazing LDS doctrine of proxy baptism for the dead (otherwise known in certain circles as "necro-dunking”).

Also at odds with imaginary Mormon belief, this necro-notion wasn’t instituted in order to provide salvation for expired souls who went to their graves as non-Mormons.

Rather, it was an idea born out of Smith's deep psychological need to deal with the unexpected death of his own brother Alvin, combined with mounting pressure he was getting from his grief-stricken family to do something about Alvin's demise that would make them all feel better.

This assessment, of course, isn’t quite what you find in the official Mormon Sunday School manuals.

To be sure, as the LDS Church's official gospel lesson plan spins it, God revealed the doctrine of necro-dunking to Joseph Smith after the death of Joseph's older brother Alvin--and divinely did so within the grand context of an eternal plan to save otherwise condemned non-Mormon dead people from themselves. (Plus, a final fix was needed because the put-out Smith family had been told by a rude Protestant clergyman at Alvin's funeral, of all places, that Alvin had gone to Hell).

This is how the Mormon Church presents the whole thing in its carefully choreographed and correlated instructional books:

"When Alvin died, the family asked a Presbyterian minister in Palmyra, New York, to officiate at his funeral. As Alvin had not been a member of the minister’s congregation, the clergyman asserted in his sermon that Alvin could not be saved. William Smith, Joseph’s younger brother, recalled: '[The minister] . . . intimated very strongly that [Alvin] had gone to hell, for Alvin was not a church member, but he was a good boy and my father did not like it.'

"In January 1836, many years after Alvin’s death, Joseph Smith received a vision of the Celestial Kingdom, in which he saw that Alvin, as well as his mother and father, would someday inherit that Kingdom. Joseph 'marveled how it was that [Alvin] had obtained an inheritance in that Kingdom, seeing that he had departed this life before the Lord had set his hand to gather Israel the second time, and had not been baptized for the remission of sins' (DandC 137:6).

"The voice of the Lord then came to Joseph, declaring:

“'All who have died without a knowledge of this gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the Celestial Kingdom of God; also all that shall die henceforth without a knowledge of it, who would have received it with all their hearts, shall be heirs of that Kingdom; for I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts' (DandC 137:7–9).

"On August 15, 1840, the Prophet Joseph Smith preached at a funeral in Nauvoo and, for the first time in public, taught the doctrine of salvation for the dead. According to Simon Baker, who was present, the Prophet began by testifying that the 'gospel of Jesus Christ brought glad tidings of great joy.' He read most of 1 Corinthians 15 and explained that 'the Apostle was talking to a people who understood baptism for the dead, for it was practiced among them.' He then declared that 'people could now act for their friends who had departed this life, and that the plan of salvation was calculated to save all who were willing to obey the requirements of the law of God.'

"One month after the funeral address, the Prophet visited his father, who was very ill and near death. The Prophet discussed with his father the doctrine of baptism for the dead, and Father Smith’s thoughts turned to his beloved son Alvin. Father Smith asked that the work be done for Alvin 'immediately.' Just minutes before he died, he declared that he saw Alvin. . . . In the latter part of 1840, the Smith family rejoiced as Hyrum received the ordinance of baptism for his brother Alvin."

("Redemption for the Dead," in "Teachings of President of the Church: Joseph Smith", in Chapter 35, 2007, pp. 401ff)

That, brothers and sisters, is the warm and fuzzy version.

The reality of the situation was that Alvin's death prompted anxiety among the Smith family about the state of Alvin's eternal reward, given that he had not died a baptized Mormon--and therefore they wanted Joseph to make things right in God's sight.

As Dan Vogel explains in his book, "Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism":

"After Alvin Smith's death in 1823, the Smith family was forced to worry about his eternal status when a minister implied that he had gone to hell because he was unchurched and probably unbaptized. . . . Seven years later, on 21 January 1836, Smith received a revelation that 'all who have died without a knowledge of this Gospel, who would have received it if they had been permitted to tarry, shall be heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.' . . . Later, in 1840, when Smith instituted the doctrine of baptism for the dead in Nauvoo, his brother Hyrum was baptized for Alvin."

(Dan Vogel, "Religious Seekers and the Advent of Mormonism" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 1988], pp. 162-63)

Whew! Better late than never.

Mark A. Scherer, World Church Historian for the then-Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, explains how Alvin's death jump-started Joseph down the road to what turned out to be a piece-by-piece construction of the dead-dunking doctrine, designed by Smith as a way to temper both his own and his family’s personal sense of loss–while giving his concoction the appearance of Christian credibility by gift-wrapping it in Biblical verse.

Scherer writes:

"In the past we have dealt with some rather strange and controversial issues but always without being judgmental and always in proper historical context. . . . I would like to explore another: baptism for the dead.

"Alvin Smith, Joseph Jr.'s oldest brother, died suddenly on 19 November 1823 without being baptized into any denomination. In his 1894 account of Alvin's funeral, youngest brother, William Smith, described the service. William stated that Reverend Stockton, who preached the funeral sermon, berated poor Alvin for not being baptized and then announced that Alvin's soul had gone to hell. Stockton's declarations weighed heavily on the close-knit family and their concerns for Alvin's salvation lingered.”

Scherer notes how Smith hadn’t helped matters much when--as Mormonism’s prophet of the realm--he had declared early on that those who weren’t baptized wouldn't make it into Mormon heaven.

Oops. Alvin had died an unbaptized non-Mormon.

What the hell do we do now?

It’s necro-dunking to the rescue, as Scherer explains while unfolding for the reader the Smith family fear:

"Family concerns heightened in 1832 when [Joseph Smith] the [P]rophet revealed that those who were not baptized could not receive the Celestial Kingdom (DandC Section 76).

“But then, four years later, Joseph had a vision of the Celestial Kingdom where, strangely enough, he saw Alvin. Hearing this good news should have assured the family but events suggest that they still feared for Alvin's soul.”

The pressure was on. Scherer describes the ramp-up to a rescuing revelation:

"On 14 September 1840, 69- year-old Joseph Smith Sr. lay on his deathbed in Nauvoo, Illinois. In this solemn moment the dying patriarch quietly called for Joseph Jr. and again expressed concern for Alvin. {Joseph] [t]he [S]eer responded to his father, and to those gathered by his bedside, by announcing the privilege of the Saints to be baptized for the dead. Possibly Joseph Jr. had interpreted I Corinthians 15 as justification for the ritual.”

That possibility was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Scherer writes:

"Baptisms for the dead satisfied an important need in the historic Mormon culture. It offered the surviving Saints assurance that their loved ones, left behind in graves from Kirtland, Independence and Far West, as well as those buried in Nauvoo, were secure in the afterlife.

"And, as in Alvin's case, the Saints were comforted in their concerns that deceased loved ones who were not affiliated with the [Mormon] church could now join them in the Celestial Kingdom.”

Relieved Mormons were so glad to get this good news that they eagerly started dead-dunking, even before a baptismal font was built.

Again, Scherer:

"A few days after [Joseph[ the [S]eer's pronouncement, baptisms for deceased family members began in the Mississippi River, but without revelatory sanction. Then, on 19 January 1841, Joseph provided further instruction in what would become Section 107. In the following months, more documents, including Section 109 and 110, were added to the canon relating to this salvation rite.

"Public demonstration of the highly sacred ritual became a concern for the Nauvoo church leadership. So, in the October 1841 General Conference, Smith halted further proxy baptisms until a font in the [Nauvoo] temple, presently under construction, could be erected. Not surprisingly, temple construction dramatically accelerated.

"In the following spring, as soon as workers enclosed the temple font area, baptisms for the dead continued. The Saints used a temporary wooden font while workers chiseled out a huge stone font perched on the backs of twelve stone oxen. Baptism for the dead was the first of many rituals to be performed exclusively within the confines of the temple."

(Mark A. Scherer, "Through the Mists of Time: Chats with the Church Historian," February 2001)

It wasn’t just Smith’s own family that was hit hard by Alvin’s death. In a very personal way, it had rocked Joseph’s world, as well. In fact, so jolted was Joseph by his older brother's death that Alvin became one of the first in line to be proxy baptized–especially after Joseph's dying father told him to get 'er done.

In his article, “'For This Ordinance Belongeth to My House': The Practice of Baptism for the Dead Outside the Nauvoo Temple,” Alexander L. Baugh, Associate Professor in Brigham Young University's Department of Church History, writes about how Alvin got bumped to the front to get dunked:

"There is a good possibility that Alvin Smith, Joseph Smith’s older brother who died in November 1823, was one of the first deceased persons to have his baptismal work performed.

"Lucy Mack Smith recalled that just prior to her husband’s death, Joseph told his father 'that it was . . . the privilege of the Saints to be baptized for the dead,' whereupon Joseph Sr., requested that, 'Joseph be baptized for Alvin immediately.' . . . Significantly, Joseph Sr., died on 14 September 1840, less than a month after the Prophet first taught the doctrine of baptism for the dead . . . . If Joseph and the Smith family were true to their father’s request that Alvin’s baptism be done 'immediately,' the likelihood exists that it was performed sometime around mid-September. “

Talk about fast-actin’ reactiin'.

But, still, Joseph Sr. didn’t get everything he wanted, as Baugh notes:

"The record containing the early proxy ordinance information indicates that Hyrum acted as proxy (not Joseph, as Father Smith requested), but does not give any other date than the year 1840."

Come to find out, however, Alvin was actually dead-dunked twice, apparently in order to make sure the Mormons got it right the second time (which, one might say, is no big deal since apparently many non-LDS dead folks have been multiple-necro-immersed over the ensuing years).

As Baugh writes:

"The ordinance was performed for Alvin a second time, again by Hyrum in 1841, and was probably done after the font was completed and dedicated in the basement of the Temple . . . . A friend and contemporary of the Prophet, Aroet Hale, stated that Joseph Smith instructed the Saints 'to have the work done over as quick as the temple was finished, when it could be done more perfect.'"

(Alexander L. Baugh “'For This Ordinance Belongeth to My House': The Practice of Baptism for the Dead Outside the Nauvoo Temple," in "Mormon Historical Studies," p. 49)

The impact of Alvin's death on Jospeh's decision to make up necro-dunking to soothe troubled hearts is explored by Douglas James Davies, in his book, “Death, Ritual and Belief: The Rhetoric of Funerary Rites.” In it, he delves into Joseph Smith’s reaction to his older brother’s untimely death (Alvin having died at age 25 after overdosing on calomel that had been administered to stave off a case of “bilious colic”).

Strange but true, his brother’s death hit Joseph so hard that in order to try to deal with it Joseph told his parents that he was going to get married:

"Alvin, the elder brother of Joseph Smith, Jr., . . . died in November 1823 when Joseph was 18 years of age. Some two years after this Joseph told his parents that he had been so lonely since Alvin's death that he had decided to marry. This he did. “

That, however, wasn’t apparently enough, especially since the local minister had gone and told the Smith family that their beloved Alvin was languishing in the flaming regions of the Damned. To make matters worse, reports were afoot that Alvin’s body had been dug up by curious locals.

Joseph was totally bummed by all this, as Davies notes:

“. . . [H]is dead brother still lay in Joseph's memory. The minister who buried Alvin said it was likely that he had gone to hell, while his corpse was said to have been disinterred by aggressive neighbors. The father, Joseph Smith, Sr., even went off to dig and see if that was true. Here was a brother's death that was entirely out of the ordinary and deeply traumatic for Joseph. Indeed, trauma is precisely the right word . . . “

Time, then, for a revelation to brighten the occasion–one that would end up, writes Davies, becoming a cornerstone of Mormonism’s strange doctrines:

“Indeed, trauma is precisely the right word, for some 13 years after the death Joseph received a profoundly influential vision of his brother.“

"This was in 1836, six years after the founding of Mormonism and at the newly-built Kirtland Temple. [H. Michael Marquardt, in his book, "The Rise of Mormonism: 1816-1844," reports that this ‘vision’ actually took place in the west end of the Kirtland temple, third floor].

“As part of the religious enthusiasm of this dramatic period of temple building and ritual activity, the dead brother returned to Joseph’s mind. Religious enthusiasm and death stand should to shoulder. The event sparked in Joseph a desire to cope with the death of his brother and of others in a formal way. The outcome was scheme of ritual performed vicariously for the dead that would allow them access to salvation in the afterlife. This was the origin of what would become Mormonism's commitment to its now well-known scheme of genealogical research followed by ritual baptism on behalf of the death."

(Douglas James Davies, "Death, Ritual and Belief: The Rhetoric of Funerary Rites," 2nd ed., revised [London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002], p. 222; and H. Michael Marquardt, “The Rise of Mormonism, 1816-1844” (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Xulon Press, 2005], p. 535)

Davies subsequently has delved even more deeply into Joseph Smith’s personal psyche–one which evidenced an immense inner need for the manufacture of a miraculous way by which Smith could provide himself, his family and his followers an other-worldly means by which they could reunite with their dead and otherwise non-saved loved ones once more.

Never mind that the effort required an invention that followed neither early Mormon practice or historic Christian tradition. Something simply had to be done in order perk the people up, in accordance with that ol' hymnal favorite, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”

About the invention of necro-dunking in order to help people deal with death, Davies writes:

“ . . . [W]hat might we say about the origin of baptism for the dead? How did this tradition (for indeed it is now one of the determining features of life for dedicated Mormons) come about? This type of question is particularly important for invented traditions that have their source largely in one individual and for which individual creativity may have much to do with that person’s biography and psychology.

“Certainly, baptism for the dead was not part of the Book of Mormon, nor was it among the practices of the first 10 years of the [Mormon] church’s life. According to formal Mormon statements, it was first announced by Joseph Smith in a funeral sermon, only months before his own death.

“The obvious textual cue for this rite lies in a single biblical verse of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:29), which alludes to the fact that some are baptized on behalf of the dead. Paul uses that idea to reinforce his strong belief in the resurrection. In the Mormon case a revelation came to Joseph Smith in January 1841 (Doctrine and Covenants 124:30) in which the Lord instructs that a temple be built to contain a baptismal font that would firmly contextualize the practice that had initially taken place in rivers. By November of that same year the font existed, with vicarious rites taking place.”

Davies then offers a quite reasonable explanation for what drove Smith to invent the central Moron doctrine of proxy dead-dunking:

“My own interpretation of vicarious baptism, speculative as it is, focuses on Joseph Smith’s personal history of grief, especially that for his brother Alvin’s premature death, when Joseph was about 18 years old. ‘Grief-stricken’ is an entirely appropriate description of accounts of the family and of Joseph in response to Alvin’s death, itself some seven years before the formal inauguration of the [Mormon] church . . .

“[S]ome 13 years after Alvin’s death, Joseph received a vision in which he saw Alvin in heaven, despite the fact that he had died prior to the Restoration.”

Now enters rising family pressure for Joseph to spring Alvin from the chains of Hell, as Davies explains:

"When Joseph’s father was dying in 1840 he, too, reckoned to see Alvin. This suggests that moments of dying, death and funerals recalled Alvin and Joseph’s grief, and helped frame Joseph’s vision of vicarious baptism, catalyzed by the biblical verse already mentioned. “

So , there you have it: When all else fails, buck up and create an inspiring fairy tale--which is exactly what Joseph Smith did–for him, his family and his faith.

Again, Davies:

“Joseph’s personal history of grief and his empathy with the grief of others brought that biblical text to new life as part of the Restoration. Far from being debilitated by his loss and grief, Joseph emerged able to do something about his brother’s death; indeed all Mormons could answer that once perennial Christian conundrum of what would happen in eternity to those who had never heard the Christian message.

"They COULD hear it and benefit from it, if only rites were performed for them on Earth. Vicarious baptism thus reflects the cluster of rites that constitute the primary rationale of Mormon ‘invented tradition’–namely that nothing is achieved in the heavens apart from a ritual action underlying them on Earth.”

(Douglas J. Davies, in “The Invention of Sacred Tradition,” James R. Lewis and Olva Hammer, ed [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007], pp. 68-70). emphasis added)

So, in the end after Alvin met his end, the imaginary doctrine of dead-dunking kept Joseph and his family from going around the bend.

As one encyclopedia (not the Mormon one) summarizes, Joseph’s dead brother "figured prominently in the establishment of the Mormon doctrine . . . of the practice of baptism for the dead.

“On January 21, 1836, after the completion of the Kirtland Temple, Joseph . . . claimed to have had a vision of the Celestial Kingdom. Smith stated that he saw his brother Alvin in the vision, and was surprised at his presence there since he died before the establishment of the [Mormon] church and its associated doctrines . . . .

"Smith stated that he then received a revelation concerning the salvation of those who die without hearing the gospel and their ability to receive the same opportunities as those who had the opportunity to hear it on earth. . . . .

"In this revelation, found in Doctrine and Covenants 137:5] . . . Smith stated: 'I saw Father Adam and Abraham; and my father and my mother; my brother Alvin, that has long since slept.'"

("Encyclopedia: Alvin Smith [Mormon]," at

Sleep well, tonight, folks. Thanks to Joseph Smith’s creative-in-a-crisis imagination, you, too, can see your dearly departed dead-dunked some day.


Mormon Apologists Are Deathly Afraid Of Sites Like This
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2009, at 08:03 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
You can see it in their deer-in-the-headlight eyes, spot it in their garment armpit stains, detect it in their strained voices and read it in their nervous writings.

They are, in fact, so worried and afraid of us that they warn their followers of our dastardly ex-Mo existence, while ever-vowing to protect their devoutly bleating flock.

For instance, the Mormon cover group, "SHIELDS," complains that, in league with other detractors on the Internet, RFM "critics of the LDS Church . . . toot their own horn and speak in demeaning and sarcastic ways, both to garner attention to themselves and to draw feigned sympathy."

But don't be fooled, ye faithful:

"Intelligent readers can discern such nonsense for exactly what it is, but unfortunately there are those who do not understand the whole picture and can be deceived by these folks."

It's a nasty job, but somebody's gotta do it:

"Trying to keep up with [them] is a full time job in itself. We shall not attempt to do so, but will post items from time to time that may demonstrate the base prejudices and insecurities of these folks."

How to spot the enemy?:

"Some are college professors and professionals in the media, but speak in taunting and demeaning terms as if they were still were still in grade school. This alone should demonstrate the level of their abilities."

Oooooooo. College professors and professionals in the media. Gosh, that's almost as bad as BYU professors and Mormon Church spinsters in the media. Elohim, Jehovah and the Holy Ghost can't stand up against such diabolical fiends without help from "SHIELDS"? Talk about the Mormon Godhead being neutered beyond their level of ability to stand the ground for truth.

Where's that angel with the flaming sword when they need it?

Background On The Secret Power Transfer Of LDS Church Operating Authority Via Ezra Taft Benson Signature Machine
Monday, Mar 9, 2009, at 08:04 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
In a previous thread, poster "orlovna" writes of the media-reported Mormon Church's use of then-LDS Church president Ezra Taft Benson's signature machine/autopen to facilitate a backroom transfer of governing authority from Ezra Taft Benson to his two First Presidency counselors, Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson:

" . . . Steve Benson ha[s] posted, here at RfM, about his incapacitated grandfather, at a time when Messrs. Hinckley and Monson took full (and undue) advantage of it (viz., that situation).

"I [meaning poster 'olovna'] "alleged" (for that is what it is) [to the 'Salt Lake Tribune'] that Hinckley and Benson [*editing note: this should read "Hinckley and Monson" not "Hinckley and Benson"] crafted and drafted a backroom-deal type of document: one for each of them (requiring ETB's 'signature' on both).

"I told the ['Salt Lake Tribune'] readers that, in essence, they could check it out, through the freedom of information act (This was implied, more than factually stated).

"Perhaps ETB's grandson can affirm that the facsimile of Prez. Benson's signature that many, here, were able to view, was indeed the selfsame one that was 'affixed to' those two identical documents that Hinckley and Monson had submitted to the Utah Corporation Commission, back in the mid-90s [*editing note: the signature machine transfer of authority actually took place in 1989], before Pro$it Benson died."

Below is background information on the secret power transfer, via ETB's signature machine, of LDS Church operating authority:

--Former Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn writes that Thomas S. Monson (along with fellow First Presidency counselor Gordon B. Hinckley) secretly conspired to angle himself into the position of de facto Church president, in clear violation of official Mormon Church governance protocol:

"By May 1989 . . . counselors [Hinckley and Monson] felt it necessary to execute legal documents giving them Ezra Taft Benson's 'power of attorney [which] shall not be affected by his "disability" or "incompetence.'"

"However, Benson was already affected by that 'disability.'

"Despite a notarized statement by the First Presidency's secretary, President Benson did not sign those documents himself. A signature machine produced Benson's identical signatures on these legal documents.

"Without public acknowledgement, this machine-signed document formally ended an official provision for dissolving the First Presidency that had been in print for ninety years. Since 1899 the book 'Articles of Faith,' 'Written By Appointment; and Published By the Church,' had specified that the 'First Presidency is disorganized through the death or disability of the President.'

"However, this 1989 document specified that the counselors would not dissolve the First Presidency or surrender their powers despite the fact of the church president's 'disability' or 'incompetence.'

"The current apostles have supported this policy, even though the officially published 'Articles of Faith' continues to specify that when there is 'disability of the President, the directing authority in [church] government reverts at once to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles." (D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power" [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books], pp. 58-59,; fn. 243-245, p. 432)

"In the years before his death President Benson suffered from poor health, suffering from blood clots in the brain, strokes, and heart attacks. During this time, Benson almost never appeared in public, and First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley took on many of Benson's official duties, as he had done as Second Counselor in Kimball's last years.

"Joining Hinckley in this task was Thomas S. Monson, and the two of them received legal power of attorney to act in Benson's behalf in LDS corporate affairs. Important ecclesiastical and family documents continued to be signed in Benson's name, with the aid of a signature machine.

"There was some controversy as to whether Benson's actual mental health during this time was accurately portrayed by the Church. According to Church spokesman Don LeFevere, Hinckley and Monson reviewed major church decisions with Benson in his home, where he was attended by a staff of nurses.

"However, according to Benson's grandson Steve Benson, who later became a vocal, anti-Mormon critic of the church that he quit, the elder Benson by about 1993 was living in a sweatsuit, fed by others, and incapable of recognizing others or speaking coherently.

"Steve Benson stated that in a private meeting with apostle Dallin H. Oaks, Oaks explained to the younger Benson that the apostles rotated in pairs each week to visit the elder Benson at the apartment socially, but that Benson was incapable of conducting official business. . . .

"The fact that President Benson's counselors did not have a great deal of confidence in his ability to function became evident when documents filed with the state of Utah were examined by the 'Salt Lake Tribune':

"'Documents on file with the state of Utah are strong evidence that the parent corporation of the Mormon Church no longer is being directed by its president, Ezra Taft Benson.

"'It is the first time since the corporation was founded 70 years ago that anyone other than the church president has obtained total authority over Utah's most powerful corporation.

"'The documents, at the Utah Department of Commerce, were signed with a machine that duplicates the signature of 94 year-old President Benson. They were filed six months before President Benson . . . made his last public speech.

"'Church leaders said this week the filings and the use of a signature machine were routine, and done with President Benson's approval.... Today, the corporation owns all church assets--including a multibillion-dollar portfolio of financial and property holdings. . . .

"'Entitled "Certificates of Authority' and dated May 23, 1989, the documents say Presidents Hinckley and Monson can keep those complete powers--even if President Benson becomes disabled or is determined by a court to be incompetent. . . . the church made no announcement of the change. It has continued to portray President Benson as the ultimate power behind church affairs. . . .

"'Fran Fish, notary public administrator for the state Department of Commerce, said signatures written by machine are legal . . . .

"'Still, Ms. Fish . . . said use of a signature machine on state corporate filings 'is certainly out of the norm.'. . . Steve Benson . . . has said that his aging grandfather no longer possesses the mental faculties to handle church affairs.

"'"The church has misrepresented the condition of President Benson and stated flatly that his role as prophet has in no way been impeded," Steve Benson said this week. "My grandfather has become a storefront mannequin while the business of the store is conducted behind closed doors."

"'He said a signature machine has replaced his grandfather's hand on all personal and family correspondence.”Evidently," Steve Benson said, "the signature machine had not been programmed to sign, 'Grandpa.'"'"('Salt Lake Tribune,' August 15,1993)"

(To view the actual signature machine-created signature of Ezra Taft Benson on the incorporation documents mentioned above, see "Hinckley Monson and Ezra Taft Benson's Signature Machine," by "cricket" [Steven Clark], 30 December 2006, at: ; see also, Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Mormon Inquisition?: LDS Leaders Move to Repress Rebellion," under "Non-Functional Prophets," in "Salt Lake City Messenger," No. 85, November 1993, at:

--"[Steve] Benson's views seemingly were verified by an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, Salt Lake City. A reporter at the paper sifted some eye-popping information from Utah's corporation records. The published report said the corporation that manages the church effected in 1989 a transfer of power from Ezra Taft Benson to his two counselors, Gordon Hinckley and Thomas Monson. That was done the same year that his grandfather last was seen in public, Benson said.

"'This is what's so ironic,' he said.’The church leaders and members are saying, 'Steve, where's your faith? Don't you have faith God could raise Ezra Taft Benson to speak and lead the church?' But in secret the leaders of the church had amended the faith that God would do that. . . . They put their faith not in God but in the lawyers who transacted the papers and who actually assured the transfer of power to them.'" (Walt Jayroe, "Drawing the Line on Religion," in "Editor and Publisher," 1994, at:

--"[Mormon] Church leaders acknowledge[d] that during the past four years Gordon B. Hinckley and Thomas S. Monson have held absolute control, legally, of the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Though a signature machine was used to append Benson's signature to documents transferring control from Benson to Hinckley and Monson, the two certificates of authority filed in May, 1989, were declared legal (in 'Salt Lake Tribune,' 15 August 1993, p. C 1)." (Timothy Oliver, Rick Branch, and James Walker, "Historical Events, Notable Doctrines: Mormonism Overview," in "Watchman Expositor," vol. 13, #4, 1996, at:
Hat Off The Presses: Salt Lake Tribune Posted The Temple Baker's Cap In Photo From "Big Love's" Apron Episode
Wednesday, Mar 11, 2009, at 08:04 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
The "Salt Lake Tribune" originally ran the "Big Love" photo of Barb in temple garb, along with an accompanying story under the headline, "'Big Love'" Trampling the Sacred?," at:

The "Tribune" subsequently altered the headline by removing the words "Trampling the Sacred," as well as changed out the photo for a stock shot of the "Big Love" cast.

However, you can still see the temple garb photo from the "Big Love" episode that the "Tribune" originally posted at:

Below is the "Tribune's" story on the controversy, with another altered headline. It originally ran as:

"LDS Temple secrets? 'Big Love' TV episode alarms Mormons; TV show to air Sunday reportedly depicts faith's endowment ceremony" (Now, however, the headline reads, "LDS Temple secrets? 'Big Love' TV episode angers Mormons"):

"By Vince Horiuchi
The Salt Lake Tribune

"'BIG LOVE': Ginnifer Goodwin, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Bill Paxton, Chloe Sevigny. 'Big Love,' HBO's television drama about a polygamous Utah family, will air an episode March 15 depicting a sacred and private LDS temple ceremony, prompting an official response from the church criticizing the network.

"According to a 'TV Guide' interview with series creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer published in this week's magazine, both said the episode will include the depiction of an endowment ceremony within a Mormon temple. Only LDS members with a temple recommend and in good standing may witness such ceremonies.

"'We go into the endowment room and the celestial room, and we present what happens in those ceremonies,' Olsen told 'TV Guide.' 'That's never been shown on television before.'

"In order to portray the ceremonies accurately, Olsen and Scheffer said they 'researched it out the wazoo' and hired an 'ex-Mormon consultant' for help in the scenes, including sets and costuming. HBO confirmed the episode's scenes Monday. 'But it's not for shock value,' Olsen said. 'It's really a very important part of the story.'

"News of the episode hit the Internet last week, prompting talk of boycotts of the network and e-mail chains to church members to cancel their subscriptions to AOL, which along with Time Warner, owns the pay cable network.

"Olsen and Scheffer were editing the season finale Monday and unavailable for comment. They are expected to release a statement about the controversy today.

"In response to the upcoming episode, which has not been seen outside the network, the LDS Church issued a statement Monday criticizing depictions of the church generally in the news media and Hollywood, and specifically in 'Big Love.'

"'Now comes another series of 'Big Love,' and despite earlier assurances from HBO, it once again blurs the distinctions between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints and the show's fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices. Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints.' . . .

"'Before the first season of the HBO series "Big Love" aired more than two years ago, the show's creators and HBO executives assured the Church that the series wouldn't be about Mormons,' the LDS statement read. 'However, Internet references to "Big Love" indicate that more and more Mormon themes are now being woven into the show and that the characters are often unsympathetic figures who come across as narrow and self-righteous.'"
Back Before HBO And "Big Love," Relying On Temple-Mormon Friends To Reveal What Was Goin' On
Thursday, Mar 12, 2009, at 08:21 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
My first inkling of what went on behind closed temple doors came way back in the pre-cable/internet days of the 1970s--and not from my family but from a convert whom we fellowshipped into the Mormon Church.

His name was Charlie and thanks to a younger sister sib who initially inviting one of their kids to Primary, he and his wife were eventually baptized, along with their four beautiful daughters.

Charlie was an honest, free-speaking guy, a Korean war vet with a great sense of humor, who had a way of relating to and hitting it off with the teenagers in our Texas ward (me being one of them at the time).

On MIA nights, instead of giving the Explorers a boring lesson out of the mind-numbing manual, Charlie would let them shoot hoops and watch "Laugh In" in their classroom, while he'd sit back, shoot the breeze and play it cool. I wasn't lucky enough to be in the Explorer program then (being stuck in basic Scouts) but sure wished I was so that I could hang out with Charlie and the guys. He'd entertain the ward kids with coin tricks, including one where he'd flip a quarter high into the air, stick out his foot sideways, let the coin bounce off his shoe and pop up again end-over-end, then open his trouser pocket and let it drop in. Amazing.

Charlie was, like, our favorite "old" person in the ward. (On a personal note, when I later left on my mission and my girlfriend back home died just six weeks into the field while I was in Hawaii at the Language Training Mission preparing to ship off to Japan, Charlie wrote a touching letter to my parents--at at time when one of his own children had been involved in a near-fatal traffic accident--expressing his condolences for my loss).

After Charlie and his wife had been members of the Mormonhood for the minimal year-long wait, they went through the temple to be gloriously glued to each other for time and all eternity.

Figuring I could get a straight answer from Charlie, I asked him what it was like inside the temple.

He smiled, then started uncharacteristically hemming and hawing (as, no doubt, visions of slit throats and disemboweled guts began dancing through his head).

Charlie said he couldn't tell me anything because he wasn't allowed to.

I thought to myself, "Man, if Charlie can't fill me in, then who can? This stuff must be serious."

But, still, I continued to press, pleading for him to at least give me something.

Finally, Charlie relented and said that there was a play inside the temple. He said that there was this Devil character in the play who was pretty neat--but that, Charlie insisted, was all he could let me know.

Fast forward several years.

Charlie and his wife have left the Mormon Cult and, last time we talked, were living happily in their pre-Mormon environs in the Southwest.

We've had a chance to chat on the phone a couple of time since he and his wife made their own bolt from the Cult. Come to find out, Charlie had kept a lot of his deep, inner feelings about Mormonism bottled up for years, even after leaving. It was good to hear him finally let loose, and he said it was the first time he had really opened up. It was the old Charlie we kids had come to know and love.

Because of Charlie--and years before "Big Love" burst on to the scene--I started to sense that there was more to Mormonism that, literally, was allowed to meet the eye.

Thanks, Charlie.
More Bad News For Temple Mormons: California Appeals Court Rules Blood Oaths Are Not Enforceable
Friday, Mar 13, 2009, at 08:48 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Devout Mormon temple-goers have historically vowed through secret blood oaths behind thick stone temple walls to allow themselves to be sacrificed through the atoning rituals of throat-slitting, disembowelment and having their hearts ripped from their chests, should they sin against their God by revealing Mormonism's closely-guarded temple secrets to the outside world.

An article entitled "Temple Penalties and Blood Oaths" provides a word-for-word, knife-to-throat description of the ghoulish blood oaths to which generations of Mormon temple ritual participants obediently subjected themselves.

Let us review the salient saturated points:

"The Sign and Penalty of the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood

". . . The sign is made by bringing the right arm to the square, the palm of the hand to the front, the fingers close together, and the thumb extended . . . . This is the sign.

The Execution of the Penalty is represented by placing the thumb under the left ear . . ., the palm of the hand down, and by drawing the thumb quickly across the throat to the right ear . . . and dropping the hand to the side . . . .

"I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, its name, sign and penalty and which you will be required to take upon yourselves. If I were receiving my own Endowment today and had been given the name of 'John' as my New Name I would repeat in my mind these words, after making the sign . . . , at the same time representing the execution of the penalty:

"'I, John, covenant that I will never reveal the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer (the right hand, palm down, is now placed near the throat so that the thumb is under the left ear)–my life–(the thumb is now drawn under the jaw-bone and across the throat to the right ear)–to be taken (the hand is now dropped to the side).'

"The Sign and Penalty of the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood

"The sign is made by bringing the right hand in front of you, with the hand in cupping shape, the right arm forming a square and the left arm being raised to the square. This is the sign. . . .

"The Execution of the Penalty is represented by placing the right hand on the left breast . . ., drawing the hand quickly across the body (Officiator draws his right hand from his left to right breast and drops his left hand to his left breast with the elbows of both arms facing outwards) and dropping the hands to the sides . . . .

"I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, its name, sign and penalty and which you will be required to take upon yourselves. If I were receiving my own endowment today and if my first given name were 'David' I would repeat in my mind these words, after making the sign . . ., at the same time representing the Execution of the Penalty:

"'I, David, covenant that I will never reveal the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood with its accompanying name, sign, and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer (Brief pause. Officiator places his cupped right hand on his left breast)–my life–(Brief pause. Officiator draws his right hand from his left to right breast and drops his left hand to his left breast with the elbows of both arms facing outwards)–to be taken (The Officiator drops both hands to the side).'

"The Sign and Penalty of the First Token of the Melchezedek Priesthood

"The sign is made by bringing the left hand in front of you with the hand in cupping shape, the left arm forming a square; the right hand is also brought forward, the palm down, the fingers close together, the thumb extended and the thumb is placed over the left hip. . . . This is the sign.

"The Execution of the Penalty is represented by drawing the thumb quickly across the body and dropping the hands by the sides . . . .

"I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, it name, sign and penalty and which you will be required to take upon yourselves. If I were receiving my Endowment today, either myself or for the dead, I would repeat in my mind these words, after making the sign . . ., at the same time representing the Execution of the Penalty:

"'I covenant in the name of the Son that I will never reveal the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood or Sign of the Nail with its accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer–(Brief pause. Officiator places the thumb of his right hand over the left hip)–my life–(Brief pause. Officiator draws his right hand across his waist to his right hip and brings his left hand to his left hip. Both elbows face outward from the body)–to be taken.'

"Early Wording of the Penalties

"In earlier days, the wording of the penal oaths was even more graphic:

"Early Penalty of the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood

"'We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by our roots.'

"Early Penalty of the Second Token of the Aaronic Priesthood

"'We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the Seond Token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree to have our breasts cut open and our hearts and vitals torn out from our bodies and given to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.'

"Early Penalty of the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood

"'We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut assunder in the midst and all our bowels gush out.'"

(For the above text from the 1984 LDS temple endowment, along with photographs of the execution of its blood oaths, see: "Temple Penalties and Blood Oaths," at: ; see also, "The Mormon Temple Endowment Homepage: The Web's #1 Source for Information on the Temple Rituatls Practiced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," at: ; see also, "Sources of Information: 'U.S. Senate Document 486' and "Endowment Oaths and Ceremonies," in "Salt Lake Tribune," 8 February 1906, as referenced in above-cited "Temple Penalties and Blood Oaths" article)

After generations of secretly engaging in these bizarre temple blood oaths, increasing public exposure regarding the actual nature of these strange and disturbing vows led the LDS Church to clandestinely remove them from its official temple ceremony in 1990, but no matter. For those temple Mormons who were initiated into the LDS true temple order of exaltation prior to 1990 (under reigning Mormon Church priesthood authority) by subjecting themselves to taking these blood oaths, the oaths they took upon themselves are considered by the Mormon Church to still be binding and thus remaining in force.

However, now comes the bad news for temple Mormons and their blood oaths.

A recent California appellate court ruling has upheld a lower court ruling invalidating blood oaths, declaring that such vows are not, in fact, binding on the participants.

Dateline Santa Ana, CA:

". . . A California appeals court says a blood oath is a waste of hemoglobin.

"The Fourth District Court of Appeals in Santa Ana agreed with a lower court . . . when it ruled that a contract written in blood between two Korean businessmen is unenforceable.

"In October 2004, the two men were out drinking and one agreed to repay the other about $170,000 of an investment. The deal was written in blood on a piece of paper in Korean characters.

"The translated note read: 'Sir, please forgive me. Because of my deeds you have suffered financially. I will repay you to the best of my ability.'

"The friend who was owed the money sued to collect in 2006.

"But a judge, and now the appeals court, ruled the claim was invalid and an 'unenforceable promise.'"

("Court: Oath Not Worth Its Cost in Blood; Men Out Drinking Penned Pact in Blood Over $170,000 Repayment," under "U.S. News: Weird News," at:
Sure Sign Of The Nailed: "Big Love's" Hollywood Sticks It To Mormonism's Unholyhood
Monday, Mar 16, 2009, at 07:34 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
I watched the temple episode at the home of some acquaintances, along with a few other guests--none of whom were either Mormons or practicing Mormons.

It is truly amazing to me how faithful Latter-day Saints are so up in pay-lay-ale arms about a show that forthrightly--yet without silly circus hype--provided a revealing and credible window into the secretive, bizarre and mind-controlling aspects of Mormon belief, practice and worship.

Hiding behind their curtain of so-called "sacredness" is simply a way by which insecure Mormons seek to avoid personal embarrassment and accountability with regard to what they actually teach and practice.

I thought the depiction of the temple endowment scenes was accurate, relevant and appropriately cultish:

The instrusive, patriarchal excommunication hearing was heart-wrenching.

The historical connection made between the original polygamous teachings/practices of the Mormon Church and those of contemporary fundamantalist Mormon polygamist groups was clearly and significantly made.

The episode-watching proved to be a valuable teaching experience. By request, I brought along some templewear in my possession which (along with those owned by the hosts that they also made available for examination) were laid out, explained and (for those who expressed a desire to actually try them on) allowed to be donned.

Ceremonial temple signs, oaths, handshakes, penalties and prayer circles were discussed and demonstrated. The show--combined with the show-and-tell afterwards--was educational, prompting interesting and informative discussion among those gathered.

As one former Mormon in the group noted, "The temple preparation classes [provided by the LDS Church] are absolutely worthless."

In contrast, what went on tonight at our little get-together was a temple warning class that hopefully served a more worthwhile purpose.

The Mormon Church is finding itself under the hot glare of increasing and justified scrutiny.

I sense it is beginning to melt.
Mormons Complain That Their Sacred Temple Beliefs Are Being Ridiculed But, Really, Who Are They To Talk?
Monday, Mar 16, 2009, at 07:39 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Take this, all you "Big Love"-lovin' Christians, from Mormonism's Christianity-dissing top dogs:

"What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world."

-Mormonism's Founding Prophet and Church President Joseph Smith, in "Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith," p. 270

"Both Catholics and Protestants are nothing less than the 'whore of Babylon' whom the Lord denounces by the mouth of John the Revelator as having corrupted all the earth by their fornications and wickedness. Any person who shall be so corrupt as to receive a holy ordinance of the Gospel from the ministers of any of these apostate churches will be sent down to hell with them, unless they repent."

-Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, in "The Seer," p. 255

"After the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, there were only two churches upon the earth. They were known respectively as the Church of the Lamb of God and Babylon. The various organizations which are called churches throughout Christendom, though differing in their creeds and organizations, have one common origin. They all belong to Babylon."

-Mormon Apostle George Q. Cannon, in "Gospel Truth," p. 324

"When the light came to me I saw that all the so-called Christian world was grovelling in darkness."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President Brigham Young, in "Journal of Discoursesm" 5:73

"With a regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President Brigham Young, in "Journal of Discourses," 8:199

"The Christian world, so-called, are heathens as to the knowledge of the salvation of God."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President Brigham Young, in "Journal of Discourses," 8:171

"Brother Taylor has just said that the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President Brigham Young, in "Journal of Discourses," 6:176

"Christians–those poor, miserable priests brother Brigham was speaking about–some of them are the biggest whoremasters there are on the earth, and at the same time preaching righteousness to the children of men. The poor devils, they could not get up here and preach an oral discourse, to save themselves from hell; they are preaching their fathers' sermons –preaching sermons that were written a hundred years before they were born. . . . You may get a Methodist priest to pour water on you, or sprinkle it on you, and baptize you face foremost, or lay you down the other way, and whatever mode you please, and you will be damned with your priest."

-Mormon Apostle Heber C. Kimball, in "Journal of Discourses," 5:89

"The Gospel of modern Christendom shuts up the Lord, and stops all communication with Him. I want nothing to do with such a Gospel, I would rather prefer the Gospel of the dark ages, so called."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President Wilford Woodruff, in "Journal of Discourses," vol. 2, p. 196

" a perfect pack of nonsense...the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century."

-Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p.167 "Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President John Taylor, in "Journal of Discourses," 10:127

"What! Are Christians ignorant? Yes, as ignorant of the things of God as the brute beast."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President John Taylor, in "Journal of Discourses," 13:225

"What does the Christian world know about God? Nothing... Why so far as the things of God are concerned, they are the veriest fools; they know neither God nor the things of God."

-Mormon Prophet and Church President John Taylor, in "Journal of Discourses," 13:225

"Instead of having apostles, prophets, and other inspired men in the church now, receiving visions, dreams, revelations, ministry of angels and prophesies for the calling of officers, and for the government of the church--they have a wicked, corrupt, uninspired pope, or uninspired archbishops, bishops, clergymen, etc., who have a great variety of corrupt forms of godliness, but utterly deny the gift of revelation, and every other miraculous power which always characterized Christ's Church.""These manmade, powerless, hypocritical, false teachers, make merchandise of the people, by preaching for large salaries, amounting in many instances to tens of thousands of dollars annually. They and their deluded followers are reprobate, denouncing the faith once delivered to the Saints."

-Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, in "Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon," p. 20

"Must we, under the broad folds of the American Constitution, be compelled to bow down to the narrow contracted notions of Apostate Christianity? Must we shut up our consciences in a nut shell, and be compelled to submit to the bigoted notions, and whims, and customs of the dark ages of popery, transferred to us through the superstitious of our fathers? Must we be slaves to custom and render homage to the soul-destroying, sickening influences of modern Christianity? No!"

-Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, in "The Seer," Vol.1, No.7, p. 111

"And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foudation of this (Mormon) church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth . . . ."

-Supposedly the Mormon Jesus himself, in "Doctrine and Covenants," 1:30

"My object in going to inquire of the Lord was to know which of all the sects was right, that I might know which to join. No sooner, therefore, did I get possession of myself, so as to be able to speak, than I asked the Personages who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)–and which I should join."

"I was answered by God that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” He again forbade me to join with any of them; . . . ."

-Founding Mormon Prophet and Church President Joseph Smith, in "Joseph Smith History," 1:18-20

The above and more at:
Background Reading For Lurking Faithful Post-1990 Endowed Mormons Preparing For Tonight's Big Love
Monday, Mar 16, 2009, at 07:40 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
If airing proceeds as scheduled for tonight's "Big Love" unveiling of some of Mormonism's veiled temple secrets, there are reportedly references made therein to, and scenes from, the pre-1990 Mormon temple endowment (a ritual which, by the way, has been altered many times throughout the years).

As you anxiously faithful Mormons out there prepare for the Jell-O to hit the fan tonight, the "New York Post" has ripped open parts of the your temple ceremony from the "Big Love" episode in question.

Columnist Linda Stasi lets the cat out of the bag about part of tonight's scheduled "Big Love" episode that she says makes mention of the secret LDS temple ritual of cutting-edge gut-gushing.

Stasi spills the glorious guts of it all, as follows:

"I figure that anything that doesn't involve say, disemboweling sinners . . . or the indiscriminate use of the rack should be open for all to see. What if you wanted to join up - wouldn't you want to know the secrets before signing on? (You'll have to watch the show to get the 'disemboweling' reference)."

Stasi also quotes apparent "Big Love" reference to contact- point chants made by the Mormon faithful at the Veil:

"Although the actual endowment ceremony in real life takes two hours and involves recreating church history, only a small part of the ceremony is shown here [in the "Big Love" episode], and it involves the wearing of veils and confirming that one wants: 'Health in the navel, marrow in the bones, strength in the loins and [in] the sinews, power in the priesthood be upon my posterity through all generations of time and throughout eternity.'"

("'Love Story': Linda's Take on 'Big' Strife," at:

So, to help further prepare you faithful temple Mormons reading this as you lurk on this ex-Mormon board and to assit you in keeping it all straight, here's your unholy homework reading assignment:

--"Background Surrounding the 1990 Changes to the Mormon Temple Ceremony." at:

--"The Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony: Revised in 1990 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." at: ; Bill McKeever, "The LDS Temple Ceremony: Changes Made in 1990," at: ; and "The Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony: Comparison Between the Pre- and Post- 1990 Versions," at:

--"1984: The Mormon Temple Endowment Ceremony," at: ; see also, , as well as Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Evolution of the Mormon Temple Ceremony, 1842-1990, at: ; for another text from the 1984 LDS temple endowment, this time accompanied by photographs of the execution of its blood oaths, see: "Temple Penalties and Blood Oaths," at: ; see also, "The Mormon Temple Endowment Homepage: The Web's #1 Source for Information on the Temple Rituatls Practiced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,"at: ; see also, "Sources of Information: 'U.S. Senate Document 486' and "Endowment Oaths and Ceremonies," in "Salt Lake Tribune," 8 February 1906, as referenced in above-cited "Temple Penalties and Blood Oaths" article)

That should keep faithful, studious temple Mormons busy up til tonight's scheduled airing of the "Big Love" episode(although they actually shouldn't be watching TV on Sunday).
Good News: Increasing Opportunities To Publicly Tell The Truth About The Wacky World Of Mormonism
Monday, Mar 16, 2009, at 07:45 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
I don't care what Mormon Church president Gordon B. Hinckley told Mike Wallace. Mormons ARE "a weird people."

(Mike Wallace, interview with Gordon B. Hinckley, "60 Minutes," CBS TV, 7 April 1996, at:

It seems that, finally, the media are beginning to wake up to that fundamental fact and getting the bigger picture.

With the upcoming scheduled airing of HBO's "Big Love" episode (which, of course, the entire country now knows includes a portrayal of Mormonism's secret temple ceremonies), there have been more and more chances afforded ex-Mormons to explain what the Mormon Church strives to hide from those it seeks to deceive, to convert, or both.

Let us count some of those recent opportunities:

"TV Guide" deserves anti-Kolob kudos for giving an initial airing to the views of "Big Love's" executive producers, who explained their decision to recreate the LDS episode for the show's significant national audience.

As "TV Guide" reported:

"We researched it out the wazoo," says [executive producer Mark] Olsen, who along with executive producer WIll Scheffer hired an ex-Mormon consultant to help the set and wardrobe designers re-create even the tiniest details [of the Mormon temple ceremony]. 'We go into the Endowment Room and the Celestial Room . . . and we present what happens in those ceremonies. That';s never been shown on television before,' says Olsen.

"Adds Scheffer, 'But it's not for shock value. It's really a very important part of the storty.' . . . .

"According to a [Mormon] church insider, 'If they are in fact trying to emulate those rooms in any way, that would be extremely offensive. The general public is not allowed in our temples yet. Not even all Mormons all. We consider them very, very sacred.'

"Heaven help us."

(Rochell D. Thomas, "Goin' to the Chapel," in "TV Guide," 9-15 March 2009, p. 46; see full still photo of "Big Love's" re-created temple scene at:

"Big Love's" producers were given further opportunity to both promote the episode and teasingly provide its viewers with more information about the Mormon temple ceremony itself, while offering a carefully-designed "apology" to offended Mormons.

Reported the "New York Times":

"An episode of 'Big Love,' the HBO series about a polygamous Mormon family, above, has courted controversy with the Mormon church and prompted an apology from the cable channel before the show has run, The Associated Press [A.P.] reported. The episode, scheduled for Sunday, will show a character undergoing an endowment ceremony, a religious rite the church considers sacred. In a statement, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said, 'Certainly church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding,' according to The A.P.

"HBO said that it did not intend to cause offense to the church and apologized but added that the ceremony was an important part of the episode. In a statement the show’s creators, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, said they 'took great pains to depict the ceremony with the dignity and reverence it is due,' The A.P. reported."

(David Itzkoff, comp., "HBO Apologizes for ‘Big Love’ Episode," in "New York Times," under "Arts, Briefly," 11 March 2009, at:

Yeah, right. Damage done. Good job. :)

Even in the heart of Mormon Zion, the "Salt Lake Tribune" posted an uncropped stlll photo from the planned "Big Love" episode (that is, before eventually pulling it off its website, as did "TV Guide" with its down-sized version).

Nonetheless, a copy of that photo was made before the "Salt Lake Tribune" could remove it from online viewing and is available for examination here:


This photo is also now up on the Internet, along with extensive, critical commentary from ex-Mormons (including myself and other RfM posters), at the following "Time" magazine blog:

(James Poniewozik, "Big Love Re-Offends Mormons. Do They Have a Point?," 11 March 2009, at:

It appears that Mormon defenders of the indefensible don't quite know what to do with such accurate exposure. It seems that it's becoming increasingly difficult for them to lie their way out from under the Internet tsunami.

In recent years, the media's sniffing snowball has been gaining both size and speed, as more publicity is being given by an increasingly-interested press corps to accounts of Mormonism's bizarre temple rites and related secrets, as the Mormon Church finds itself under the unwanted glare of increased attention.

The happily unholy upshot of it all has been a greater willingness on the part of the secular press to impart further light and knowledge about the Veil. This has been a welcome development for the ex-Mormon community, as it finds itself being invited to speak more openly and increasingly for the record about what we know--and about what the Mormon Church doesn't want others to know.

In 2002, I was given the opportunity to address the Freedom from Religion national convention {FFRF} in San Diego, CA, where I received a "Emperor Has No Garments" statuette. During my remarks, I spoke in some detail about the Mormon temple ceremony, as well as demonstrated for photographic benefit some of the LDS temple-grip secret handshakes.

(Steve Benson, "Latter-Day Saint to Latter-Day Ain't," speech at FFRF convention, San Diego, California, 23 November 2002, in "Freethought Today," vol. 19, no. 10, published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc., at:

More recently, in late 2007, with media attention increasingly focused on Mormonism because of national events, I was approached by a journalism trade magazine, "Editor and Publisher" ("EandP"), and asked about what I thought of representations of the Mormon Church being made by a certain high-profile Mormon who was running for higher office.

From that interview:

"[Steve] Benson . . . told 'EandP' that a Mormon believer is required by church doctrine (as dictated by the church's 'living prophet') to 'obey God's commands' over anything else. He said [that] . . . '"temple Mormons" . . . [have] made . . . secret vows using Masonic-derived handshakes, passwords, and symbolic death oaths that [they] promised in the temple never to reveal to the outside world' and that [they have] also secretly vowed to devote [their] 'time, talents,' and more 'to the building of the Mormon religion on earth.'

"So, said Benson, the only way [a temple Mormon] could be truly independent of the church . . . would be to disavow Mormon doctrine. . . .

"'When [a temple Mormon] says he belongs to a church that doesn't tell him what to do, that's false; it's a 24/7, do-what-you're-told-to-do church,' added Benson . . . .

"Benson -- who was contacted by 'EandP' for this story -- said . . . [that] '[m]ost journalists don't know about actual Mormon teachings and practices,' . . . adding that they instead see the religion as perhaps 'strange' but 'rather benign.'

"'[Temple Mormons running for national office] . . . [need] to face an informed member of the media with "cojones" who has a working and perhaps personal experience with Mormonism,' said Benson. 'It would be harder for [them] to do [their] well-practiced duck and dodge.' . . .

"Benson . . . not[ed] that the Mormon Church has . . . 'publicly flipped 180 degrees when it feels it's necessary for its image, for its financial solvency, and for political expediency.'

"He mentioned, by way of example, that black Mormons weren't allowed into the priesthood until 1978. And while polygamy has been publicly disavowed by the Mormon Church, Benson said 'the church still holds that it will be practiced as a matter of eternal doctrine in heaven. The church also currently performs polygamist marriage 'sealings' in its temples around the world.' . . .

"Voters, said Benson, 'are not ready for someone in the Oval Office who has committed to absolute obedience to a religion they feel is extremely odd and not in the American mainstream. I trust the rational U.S. electorate, not the weird Mormon God.'"

(article by Dave Astor, senior editor, "Editor and Publisher," 18 December 2007)

Not suprisingly, offended Mormons responded quite negatively to my above-quoted comments. Ever-sensitive to criticism of their secretive and strange religion, they swarmed to their church's defense. Two days after the foregoing interview was pubished, "EandP" did a follow-up story:

"NEW YORK: When editorial cartoonist Steve Benson criticized current [a certain devout] Mormon [politician running for the U.S. presidency] . . . in an 'EandP' story earlier this week, reaction was fast and furious.

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

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

"'EandP' called Benson again today to get his response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

"But the cartoonist feels no one has disproved anything he said about . . . the nature of Mormonism's secret temple oaths and rituals. 'The proof is in the pudding,' Benson said in the e-mail. 'The trouble is, the Mormon Church doesn't want anyone to go poking around in its pudding.'"

As ex-Mormons, we are being provided increasing chances by an increasingly attentive media to speak personal truth to corrupt Mormon power. Those chances are certainly expanding in the wake of such recent events as anti-gay rights efforts funded by the Mormon Church, national cable TV exposure of Mormon temple ceremonies and the arrest of child-abusing fundamenatlist Mormon polygamists who have been guilty of practicing what Joseph Smith was preaching.

On a final personal note, one observer explains my own opportunties to publicly tackle Mormonism as follows:

"1. He’s an ex-Mormon;

"2. He’s the grandson of Ezra Taft Benson, former leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints . . . ; and

"3. The only thing he might have to fear from Mormons is an effort to kill him with kindness. For that, he should be thankful."

(Bob McCarty, "Cartoonist Criticizes ‘Faith of My Fathers,’ in "Bob McCarty Writes: The Ultimate Blogging Machine")

I would agree with points #1 and #2, but not completely with point #3.

At any rate, I say we should take what we can get, strike while the iron's hot and getting hotter, do the "Pay-Lay-What-the-Hell" and run with it.

Now is the great day of our power.
Mormons Turning Blue Over Blue-Aproned "Big Love" Barb: More Lathered-Up LDS Lamenting
Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009, at 08:35 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
I happened to be at the local Barnes and Noble last Sunday morning where, scanning the magazine rack, I saw and bought the latest issue of "TV Guide"--about which mortified, maddened Mormons are having such a hissy fit over their temple outfit they could, well, just spit.

As has been correctly noted in previous posts on this board, character Barb (played by Jeanne Tripplehorn) is depicted in a photo from HBO's latest episode of "Big Love" decked out in her secret temple finest--including the veiled top, the big bow knotted under the chin, the sash, the pleated shoulder piece, the long white sleeves and dress and the figleaf apron--as she walks down from steps that lead up to the curtain behind her covering the Veil (the Veil and her figleaf apron are blue in color).

This stunning, cunning photo appears in the "TV Guide" edition for March 9-15, 2009 (Volume 57, Number 10, Issue #2925, p. 46) under the top-of-the page heading "[Highlights]." (The magazine cover features a "Bones Exclusive" accompanied by the headline "He's Just That Into Her!," along with a picture of David Boreanoz and Emily Deschanel).

Back to the photo of temple-dressed-up Barb:

Incorporated into the temple clothes photo itself is a short text, located in the lower right-hand corner, which reads: "Barb's walk of shame is sure to stir the pot: 'We feel this season says to viewers, "You should been watching this show,"' says [executive producer Will] Scheffer." Under the photo to the left is printed: "Big Love Sunday, 9/8c, HBO," with the headline in capital letters, "GOIN' TO THE CHAPEL."

(For the longer text which accompanies that headline, as well as for a color scan of the Barb-in-glorious-garb "TV Guide" photo itself, see:; also, for the original RfM post of the photo, see: Subject: "TV Guide - Big Love to Show Mormon Temple Ceremony - no spoof,"

But wait! There's more!

Now comes yet another Mormon complaining about Gentile Jeanne's temple-trot catwalk, as shared with me recently from an internet chatboard:

"I just came across in this next week[']s 'TV Guide.' [I]t['s] the issue with the BONES stars on the cover. I know the show is about polygamy etc., but I see under '[H]ighlights' a picture of a woman in all the garb from the Temple. The episode seems to be titled 'Goin['] to the Chapel.'

"They are recreating the Celestial and Endowment rooms. They hired an 'an ex [M]ormon consultant.'

"What I don't get is it says the episode is about what goes on in an excommunication when someone breaks the rules, so [I'm] not sure what the temple has to do with that.

"And I noticed like this season's '[S]urvivor' is a bad example Mormon as well, as a few seasons ago they had the gay [M]ormon.

"I think it's all part of a new wave of the media expose['] [of] the [M]ormons but get the EX or Bad Example ones. Even '[D]ancing with the [S]tars' have [M]ormon pros that are the greatest example. Derek and his sister Julianne live with their b/f, g/f [boyfriend, girlfriend].

"Oh the things to look forward too [sic]."

The hits, they just keep on a-comin.'
Let The Spin Begin: No Threats A Few Years Ago From Temple Mormons Of Disembowelment For Blabbers
Tuesday, Mar 17, 2009, at 08:36 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
The non-factual, a-historical denials made by Mormon critics of HBO's "Big Love" temple show are nothing short of breathtaking.

Exhibit A in that regard is the following uninformed assertion from a Latter-day-Saint-Historian-I-Ain't true believer:

"We weren’t promising, just a few years ago, to disembowel people for 'monkeying around' with the Temple ceremonies. This is pure hype, not reality." (1)

Thus spaketh Mopologist Guy Murray in a reactionary article entitled, "Big Lies of Big Love." Murray, by the way, admits, "I'm no Church history buff." That's apparently the only true thing he said.

How about some telling text from the 1984 LDS Endowment ceremony itself?:

"The Sign and Penalty of the First Token of the Melchezedek Priesthood

"The sign is made by bringing the left hand in front of you with the hand in cupping shape, the left arm forming a square; the right hand is also brought forward, the palm down, the fingers close together, the thumb extended and the thumb is placed over the left hip." (Officiator demonstrates the sign). "This is the sign.

"The Execution of the Penalty is represented by drawing the thumb quickly across the body and dropping the hands by the sides." (Officiator demonstrates).

"I will now explain the covenant and obligation of secrecy which are associated with this token, it name, sign and penalty and which you will be required to take upon yourselves. If I were receiving my Endowment today, either myself or for the dead, I would repeat in my mind these words, after making the sign." (Officiator makes the sign), at the same time representing the Execution of the Penalty:

'I covenant in the name of the Son that I will never reveal the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood or Sign of the Nail with its accompanying name, sign and penalty. Rather than do so I would suffer'–(Brief pause. Officiator places the thumb of his right hand over the left hip)–'my life'–(Brief pause. Officiator draws his right hand across his waist to his right hip and brings his left hand to his left hip. Both elbows face outward from the body)–'to be taken.'

"Early Wording of the Penalties

"In earlier days, the wording of the penal oaths was even more graphic . . .

"Early Penalty of the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood

'We, and each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the First Token of the Melchizedek Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sign, or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our bodies be cut assunder in the mdst and all our bowels gush out.'

"[Sources of Information: 'U.S. Senate Document 486: "Endowment Oaths and Ceremonies'," in 'Salt Lake Tribune,' February 8, 1906]" (2)


--1. Guy Murray, "Big Lies of Big Love," at "Latter-day Saints Messenger and Advocate," 13 March 2009

--2. "[LDS Pre-1990] Temple Penalties and Blood Oaths," at "The Mormon Temple Endowment Homepage"

Damning Book On Extent Of Nauvoo Polygamy Curiously Difficult To Find In Prominent SLC Bookstore
Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009, at 07:50 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
I was recently in a well-known and well-stocked Salt Lake city bookstore that carries both new and used titles.

I asked if George D. Smith's recently-released book, "Nauvoo Polygamy . . . but we called it 'celestial marriage'," was available. A store employee quickly replied "yes," went over to where he said it had been regularly displayed but could not find it.

Puzzled, he repeatedly searched the nearby aisles of the LDS book section but still had no luck.

He searched the store's computer records and told me that they showed five copies in stock.

He went into the backroom but still could not locate any copies.

He checked the used book section but could not find any evidence of the book.

Finally, he called down his manager for assistance, telling me that his boss could find anything. Nonetheless, the manager searched for several minutes and came up empty.

Aware that "Nauvoo Polygamy" exposed heretofore unreported, historic and disturbing information about the actual depth and breadth of plural marriage activities involving Joseph Smith and his Nauvoo contemporaries, I told the junior employee that it was a "controversial book." I asked him if it therefore could be a target of thieves.

He replied that they had more books stolen from the LDS section of the store than any other section.

I overheard the two talking among themselves, asking if it was possible that "five could have walked" (meaning could have been shoplifted). Their consensus was that such a possibility existed.

Eventually (and past closing time), the manager located a single copy of the book--tucked away in unalphabetical order. I thanked him and asked if it was possible that now four copies could have been stolen.

He smiled tightly.

Sounds like "thieving for the Lord" might be alive and well in the heart of Zion.
Latter-Day Sexist Saints: The Proper Role Of Women In God's Church Is Under The Control Of Men
Wednesday, Mar 25, 2009, at 07:54 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Rodney Turner, former instructor on Brigham Young University's religion faculty, authored a notoriously sexist, obnoxiously patriarchal and cultishly authoritarian book designed to put and keep Mormon women in their place.

Entitled "Woman and the Priesthood" (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company, 1972), the book advertises Turner "as a writer of unusual ability and depth of understanding of people and the fundamental teachings and doctrinal principles of the [Mormon] Church," adding that "he writes . . . from a long and extensive background of teaching virtually all of the major courses in doctrine and scripture offered by . . . [BYU's] College of Religious Instruction . . . ." (Readers can judge for themselves as to the accuracy of such descriptions).

Under the subheading "Women's 'Priesthood,'" (note how Turner places the word "priesthood" in quotes), Turner turns his fully-blazing Mormon doctrinal barrels on LDS women:

Ancient and Modern Scripture Has Little Direct Concern with Women

" . . . [T]he fact [is] that comparatively little scripture is directly concerned with them [women]. Men dominate both ancient and modern revelation. There are a few stories--notably in the Old Testament--in which women figure prominently, but other than these, references to them is quite spotty.

"There are a number of reasons for this. For one thing, scripture is the work of men; although quoted, women had no direct part in producing the various books." (p. 284)

*The Scriptural Message of Salvation Comes from God to Man, Not from God to Woman

". . . [M]ore importantly, the very nature and purpose of scripture dictates its male orientation. For its central theme is the salvation of mankind, and the chief responsibility for declaring it devolves upon men rather than women. This, because man has been designated the direct and immediate representative of the Lord on earth.

" . . . [T]here is a proper channel of authority reaching back to God which makes for the orderly management of human affairs. It remains for the priesthood to convey to women those commandments of the Lord which are appropirate to their callings. Grave harm has been done to women when certain passages of scripture are have been misapplied to them. . . . The general tendency to make a blanket application of all scripture to both sexes is based upon a misunderstanding of their respective roles. . . . Said Brigham Young, 'When we speek of law and of the transgression of law, we refer to the law of God to man.' ('Journal of Discourses' 8:222)." (p. 284)

*Women Are Not Assigned To Do God's Earthly Work Before Their Mortal Birth and Not Until Following Their Resurrection

"Heaven, itself, bears witness to the proper roles of men and women. God does not send his daughters on errands to this world until it is time for them to acquire mortal bodies. And when they set them aside in death, they do not venture forth again until the resurrection. . . . However, disembodied female spirits may appear to living persons--usually family members--in order to comfort and inform them on personal matters.

"Claims of females, such as the Virgin Mary, appearing from heaven with messages for a church or for the world are false." (p. 285)

*Priesthood Vocalization is Male, Not Female

"The voice of the priesthood is a male voice; nowhere in all scripture is there record of any female being heard speaking in behalf of God. The Lord does not send women to do the work of men; it is not for women to receive instructions for the Church and kingdom and priesthood of God. . . . The may receive personal revelation for themselves and their own families.

"The message of salvation is a priesthood message delivered by male messengers to male prophets. It is all under the direction of the Godhead--three male deities.

"It is revealed through the instrumentality of the Holy Ghost, an unembodied spirit man.

"It is validated by the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God and it is the responsibility of men to take the good news of salvation into all the world. . . .

"Women are permitted to serve as missionaries under the direction of the priesthood. They serve at their own request and only after reaching legal age." (p. 285)

*The Main Job Assignment for Women Is In the Home, Not In the World

"Woman's primary role is in the home just as man's is in the fields--the world. Each has proper labors to perform and a proper place in which to perform them. If women do the work of men and men do the work of women, the result is confusion, strife, insecurity and a loss of basic identities." (p. 285)

Pass the heir sickness bag, please.
Mormon Church At Odds With The Law And With Its Own Faithful: Baptizing Illegal Immigrants
Thursday, Apr 2, 2009, at 08:10 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
"LDS Members Conflicted On Church's Illegal-Migrant Growth: The Mormon Church is aggressively trying to convert Latinos, but many are undocumented immigrants, which has put the church at odds with some Mormon political leaders trying to drive them out."

An excerpt from a current news story:

"Latinos overwhelmingly are raised Catholic, but the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is aggressively reaching out to them by touting the religion's heavy focus on family and community, pillars of the Mormon faith that are also at the center of Hispanic culture.

"As a result, Latinos are joining the Mormon Church at a greater rate than members of any ethnic group, even Anglos, church leaders say.

"But the outreach has created some unusual conflicts because the majority of the Latino converts are undocumented immigrants, which goes against a major tenet of the Mormon Church: obeying the law.

"At the same time, some Mormons who say the church teaches compassion are upset that fellow members, including Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, have spearheaded a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

"'What has happened among a good number of LDS members is that they have been shaped by the Republican Party of the last 40 years. They gravitate to the Republican Party, and the party has become very anti-immigrant, culture-wars-oriented,' said Brigham Young University history Professor Ignacio Garcia. . . .

"To appeal to Latinos, [Mormon] missionaries emphasize the faith's focus on family and community.

"But perhaps more importantly, the missionaries don't ask about immigration status and don't care if an immigrant reveals he is in the country illegally. . . .

"'Our job is to bring souls under Christ,' [Mormon congregation president Pablo] Felix said. 'The Lord doesn't look at documentation. He just looks at our faith as members.'"
"Special Witness" Admissions By Two Mormon "Special Witness" Apostles
Thursday, Apr 2, 2009, at 08:33 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
In September 1993, I held private conversations behind the closed Salt Lake City LDS Church office doors of Apostle Neal Maxwell, in which I asked both Maxwell and fellow apostle Dallin Oaks the following question:

"What personal spiritual experiences have you had which gave you your testimonies as special witness for Christ?"

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

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

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

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

There was no testimony bearing from these modern-day Peters and Pauls of personal visits, in the Flesh, from the Father or the Son.

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

There was no recounting of angelic visitations.

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

In short, there was "no there there."

During these conversations I had with Oaks and Maxwell, Oaks also told me that the basis for his personal testimony about the truthfulness of Mormonism took the form of a warm spiritual witness which he felt in his heart.

From what Oaks told me, this witness had particular meaning for him with regard to the truthfulness of official Mormon scripture.

Oaks admitted, for instance, that critics of the Book of Abraham seemed to presently have hold the upper hand in arguments against its authenticity.

Oaks told me, however, that the truthfulness of the Book of Abraham ultimately came through a personal, spiritual witness.

Oaks further said that the Book of Mormon could neither be proven or disproven by evidentiary examination, but in the end, also had to be accepted on faith.

In admitting that the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon could not be empirically proven, Oaks acknowledged that portions of the Book of Mormon (albeit insignificant, in his opinion) might have potential problems with plagiarism.

Specifically, he admitted that he, too, had wondered while composing his own sermons how the words of the Apostle Paul from his epistles to the Corinthians could end up, almost word for word, in the Book of Mormon, even though Bible prophets preceded their counterparts in the Book of Mormon by generations.

Oaks concluded that God must have inspired Bible and Book of Mormon prophets to speak using the same, exact language.

Oaks then attempted to minimize obvious Book of Mormon plagiarisms by drawing a comparison between the Book of Mormon and one’s marriage.

He said that one should not abandon one’s marriage because it is not perfect; likewise, Oaks argued that merely because 5% of the Book of Mormon (an estimation he came up with himself based upon a quick perusal of a paperback copy of the book which my then-wife had highlighted with examples of plagiarisms), one should not abandon it, either.

Regardless, Oaks informed me that he had received a spiritual witness that served as the basis for his personal testimony that the Book of Mormon was true.

Oaks's testimony regarding Mormonism's apostles and prophets was both illuminating--and conditional.

He admitted to me not being impressed with the antics of certain fellow members of the Quorum of the Twelve, notably his senior, Boyd K. Packer.

After it became public knowledge that Packer had improperly involved himself in the excommunication of Mormon dissident, Paul Toscano, Oaks, in referring to Packer, told me, "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear."

Oaks then lied on the record to the press about what he actually knew of Packer's inappropriate behavior and was forced to retract when caught.

Oaks told me that he would steadfastly stand by the President of the Church, with one notable exception:

Oaks would not defer, he said, to the President of the Church if the President were to come out and declare that the Book of Mormon was not true.

If that should happen, Oaks said he would look to the Quorum of the Twelve for a vote as to whether what the Church President had said about the Book of Mormon deserved support.

Oaks also did not seem all that certain with regard to the reliability of prophecies uttered by Mormon prophets.

He told me that Church members should not be keeping track of which prophecies had been borne out and, further, that prophecies made by Mormon prophets were for private, rather than public, application.

Oaks downplayed the prophetic role of Mormon Church prophets by asserting that prophesying was only a minor responsibility of prophets. Their major role, he declared, was to testify of Jesus Christ.

Oaks argued that the role of Mormon prophets had evolved over time.

He told me, for instance, that the basic doctrines of Mormonism were revealed by Joseph Smith early on in the history of the Church.

Oaks noted that the more modern approach of Church governance has been, since the time of President Joseph F. Smith, to "beseech his counselors in the First Presidency to help him, to watch over him, so that they could together make the right decisions that God wanted them to make."

Maxwell, like Oaks, seemed personally unsure as to the evidentiary proof for the Book of Mormon.

He told me, for instance, that God would not provide proof of the Book of Mormon until the end--thereby indicating that such proof did not presently exist.

Maxwell also told me that one of the purposes of FARMS was to prevent the General Authorities from being outflanked by the Church's critics.

As to how he personally regarded the pronouncements of president of the Church, Maxwell said it was his duty to be loyal to the Church president.

Maxwell added, however, that he not agree with everything President Ezra Taft Benson had to say on political matters.

This was a particularly interesting admission, given that Benson had earlier (albeit as an apostle) publicly declared that God's prophets could speak authoritatively on all matters, including those of a political nature.

Maxwell, like Oaks, warned me against keeping "box scores" when it came to tallying which prophecies uttered by Mormon prophets turned out to be turned--and which ones turned out to be false.

He further reminded me that Mormon prophets spoke as prophets only when they were acting as prophets--but that, for instance, the teachings about people living on the moon attributed to Joseph Smith were probably misreported.

Maxwell also instructed me as to how revelation for the Mormon Church was actually received.

He said that Joseph Smith's role as unilaterally revealing doctrine in behalf of the LDS Church was a practice not continued by subsequent Mormon prophets.

Maxwell claimed there are four levels of fundamental Church doctrine:

(1) doctrines revealed by the prophet speaking alone;

(2) doctrines revealed by the prophet in conjunction with his First Presidency counselors;

(3) doctrines revealed in First Presidency statements, with the words of the First Presidency assuming "a special status;" and

(4) doctrines revealed by official declaration.

Maxwell and Oaks, together, asserted that what the President of the Mormon Church said must be in compliance with the Standard Works of the Church in order to be accepted as scripture.

Maxwell and Oaks also told me that that when Brigham Young taught what Oaks called the "false" doctrine of Adam-God, it was because he was a young prophet who was in need of the help of some good counselors.
Not Only Have LDS Prophets Not Seen Jesus, They've Admitted Under Oath They Don't Receive Revelation
Thursday, Apr 2, 2009, at 08:36 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Exhibit A: The confessions of Joseph F. Smith, then-sixth president of the Mormon Church, in personal, government-compelled testimony before a U.S. Senate committee investigating LDS Church deception surrounding its on-going, post-Manifesto, illegal practice of polygamy, committed in direct and deliberate violation of federal law.

During the famous Reed Smoot hearings launched by the U.S. Senate in 1904, LDS president Joseph F. Smith--facing committee grilling by virtue of having been subpoeaned to tell the truth under penalty of perjury--not only confessed to having fathered 11 children by five wives since 1890, "[when] asked about his role in receiving revelations for the [Mormon] church, . . . [he] replied that he had received none thus far."

Below is Smith's damning admissions before the U.S. Senate that he was actually the recipient of (drumroll, please) NO revelation:

"Senator Dubois: 'Have your received any revelations from God, which has been submitted by you and the apostles to the body of the church in their semi-annual conference, which revelation has been sustained by that conference, through the upholding of their hands?'

"Mr. Smith: 'No, sir; none whatsoever.'

"Senator Dubois: 'Have you received individual revelations yourself, since you became President of the church under your own definition, even, of a revelation?'

"Mr. Smith: 'I cannot say that I have.'

"Senator Dubois: 'Can you say that you have not?'

"Mr. Smith: 'No; I cannot sey that I have not.'

"Senator Dubois: 'Then you do not know whether you have received any such revelation as you have described or whether you have not?'

"Mr. Smith: 'Well, I can say this: That if I live as I should in the line of my duties, I am susceptible, I think, of the impressions of the Spirit of the Lord upon my mind at any time. Just as any good Methodist or any other good church member might be. And so far as that is concerned, I say yes, I have had impressions of the Spirit upon my mind very frequently, but they are not in the sense of revelations.' ("Reed Smoot Case," Vol. 1, pp. 483-84)

During the same hearings, Mormon Church president Joseph F. Smith further admitted:

"I have never pretended to nor do I profess to have received revelations." (p. 99)

So, there you have it: The Mormon Church--supposedly founded on the notion of modern prophets receiving modern revelation--seeing its own Church president admitting under oath before a U.S. Senate investigative committee to having received NO revelation.

As Jerald and Sandra Tanner succinctly summarize this non-divine debacle:

"From this it is plain to see that just because a man is ordained a 'Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,' it does not necessarily mean that he is. If Joseph F. Smith was only as susceptible to the impressions of the Spirit of the Lord as 'any good Methodist,' then why should his word be trusted above that of a good Methodist?"

Indeed, it was not until years later--1918--that Mormon president Joseph F. Smith got around to claiming he had finally received revelation from God for the LDS church. Observes Sandra Tanner:

"Since the purported revelation [in 1918] was years after the Smoot hearings it looks to me as if he is just trying to get his foot out of his mouth after the Smoot comment."

(see Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Mormonism: Shadow or Reality," 5th ed. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987], p. 184, and Sandra Tanner, letter to Mark Ellison, 5 October 1999; see also, "The Mormon Church on Trial: Transcripts of the Reed Smoot Hearings," Michael Harold Paulos, ed. [Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books, 2007), as referred to at: , and "The Mormon Church on Trial: Transcript of the Reed Smoot Hearings (Hardcover)," Amazon notice of availability, at:
Forget What Eyring Says About God Choosing The Apostle Fill-Ins. Maxwell Took Credit For That
Monday, Apr 6, 2009, at 07:58 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Then-apostle Neal A. Maxwell told me in conversations I had with him and fellow Quorum member Dallin H. Oaks in the private offices of the Church Office Buildling that he--Maxwell--was involved in arranging a spot for Oaks in the Twelve line-up.

In complaining about what Oaks described as "grizzly bear" Boyd K. Packer's inproper meddling in the excommunciation of Paul Toscano, Oaks told me that one of his (Oaks') areas of expertise was legal affairs.

Maxwell chimed in that one reason Oaks had been brought into the Quorum of the Twelve was to help rewrite the manual on Church disciplinary procedure. Maxwell expressed satisfaction that he--Maxwell--had been able to get Oaks into the Quorum of the Twelve.

God doesn't pick the apostles.

Apostles pick the apostles.
Well, It's Now Official: The Mormon Church Has Come Out Against The "Evil" Internet
Wednesday, Apr 8, 2009, at 02:59 PM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
Mormon Church president Thomas S. Monson, of course, couches his opposition to the Internet by using pornography as his convenient cover, but we all know his real and rising fear: Mormons regard Internet exposure of their cult's bizarre, false and manipulated LDS doctrine, history and practices as pornograpy, too.

They obviously have reason to be alarmed in that regard. The Google God of modern technology is, with a mere click of the mouse, answering the questions of inquiring minds that the Mormon Church is primitively refusing to honestly address. In the process, the world-wide web is steadily eating away at the LDS foundational web of lies, deceit--and member committment. It truly is the last days (for Mormon Church credibility, that is).

Below is Monson's worried warning:
"My brothers and sisters, may we strive to live closer to the Lord. May we remember to 'pray always, lest [we] enter into temptation (3 Nephi 18:18).'

"To you parents, express your love to your children. Pray for them, that they may be able to withstand the evils of the world. Pray that they may grow in faith and in testimony. Pray that they may pursue lives of goodness and of service to others. . . .

"Now, a word of caution to all - both young and old, both male and female. We live at a time when the adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us in his web of deceit, trying desperately to take us down with him. There are many pathways along which he entices us to go - pathways that can lead to our destruction.

"Advances in many areas that can be used for our good can also be used to speed us along that heinous pathway. I feel to mention one in particular, and that is the internet. On one hand, it provides nearly limitless opportunities for acquiring useful and important information. Through it we can communicate with others around the world. The Church, itself, has a wonderful Web site, filled with valuable and uplifting information and priceless resources.

"On the other hand, however - and extremely alarming - are the numbers of individuals who are utilizing the internet for evil and degrading purposes . . . . My brothers and sisters, involvement in such will literally destroy the spirit. Be strong. Be clean. Avoid such degrading and destructive types of content at all costs - wherever they may be! I sound this warning to everyone, everywhere."
("179th Annual General Conference Sunday afternoon," in "Church News: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," published 5 April 2009
Did An Anti-Gay Marriage Answer Cost A Miss USA Contestant The Crown?
Tuesday, Apr 21, 2009, at 08:11 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
"Leave it to Perez Hilton to spark controversy.

A judge at this year's Miss USA pageant, Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, the celebrity blogger asked Miss California, a statuesque San Diego blond named Carrie Prejean, a nerve-wracking question.

"'Vermont recently became the fourth state to legalize same sex marriage,' he said. 'Do you think every state should follow suit, why or why not?'

"Prejan answered: 'I think its great Americans are able to choose one way or another," Prejean said. "We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that's how I was raised, and that's how I think it should be -- between a man and a woman.'

"Prejan's comments, predictably, divided those in the audience, as her reasons was met with both cheers and boos.

"Charmaine Koonce, the mother of third-place finisher Miss New Mexico, loudly supported Prejan's sentiments in a post-pageant argument in the hotel lobby.

"'In the Bible it says marriage is between Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,' Koonce said, winning points for originality.

"In the end, Prejan's candid conservatism may have been what cost her the crown -- she finished second in the competition to North Carolina's Kristen Dalton."

See Prejan's bumbling, stumbling videotaped answer here:
Joseph Smith's Arrest Record On Glass-Looking Charges--And Hugh Nibley's Warnings About Their Serious Nature, If Proven True
Tuesday, May 5, 2009, at 08:10 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
And they are now proven true.

What is particularly damning about these latest press revelations is that they further validate the devastating nature of the crimes that Smith committed--as, in fact, admitted by Mormonism's historically pre-eminent apologist and water carrier, Hugh Nibley.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"'Soon after this, I was informed that they had brought a wonderful book of plates down with them . . . The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret, was the same as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, and his hat over his face, while the Book of Plates were at the same time hid in the woods.'"
Defending the Dead Dunk Description
Friday, May 8, 2009, at 07:58 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
I've seen the Mormon "baptism for the dead" ritual procedure first-hand, having at one time been a temple worker in the Provo temple assigned to the dunk tank, where I was tasked with making sure each person being dunked went completely under the water.

If asked by the media to describe what goes on behind Mormon temple walls when it comes to so-called "baptisms for the dead," I would not hesitate to employ the "dunk" term--and here's why (which I would explain to the interviewer):

--The dunking involves dully and rotely reading from a scrolling list of names on a proxy poolside screen.

--Young stand-ins (often provided from the ranks Mormon teenage youth groups) are herded into the ox tub.

--Several dead people are vicariously dunked in rapid, monotonous succession via each warm-bodied vicarious volunteer--the latter who is repeatedly and mechanically put under by the priesthood baptizer reading off the screen.

--The soaked stand-in is then herded out of the tank, given a towel as they drippingly emerge and pointed toward the changing room.

--Then comes the next compliant stand-in.

--Over and over and over. The process has all the charm and spirituality of taking a number at a barbershop. It is a virtual cattle call, conveyor belt, numb-minded operation that literally put me to sleep just watching it from my vantage point alongside the tub.

"Dunk" is, therefore, a very appropriate term.

Attempts by some to liken the term "dunking" to the "F-word" is a silly exercise in non-comparability--a water-logged effort to protect feelings at the expense of facts that doesn't hold H2O and which sinks like a rock.

So, I say dump the facade and cut to the facts.

Indeed, when talking to the media about "vicarious" Mormon baptisms for the dead, the term "dunk" fits right in as an apt descriptor not only for the reasons I cited but because of the fact that working in the media, I know how reporters appreciate access to telling, accurate details--particularly when practitioners of the secret arts want to keep the details to a minimum.

Now, if offended Mormons have a problem with the "dunk" term being applied to their temple baptism dopey hokey-pokey, tough. Cry me a filled font. They are not in the least bit concerned with how offensive this cult practice is to the memory of the devout dead who died for and/or in their religion of choice, not to mention how insensitive the ritual is in trampling on the feelings of the dead's family.

If non-Mormons are troubled by such explicit descriptions of what really goes on in the Mormon temple dunk tank, then they need to remember, as Benjamin Franklin observed, that the sting of the reproach is the truth of it.

Mormonism's post-mortem watering of the dead is a dull, dumb, desensitized dunking exercise--and that's what, if asked, I would publicly call it.

I say give the masses and the media the facts and let the inconvenient cult chips fall where they may. Telling the truth about this "sacred" Mormon practice is, in my opinion, a definite slam dunk.
Mormons May Be Spooked By The Fact That Their Church Has Necro-Dunked U.S. Presidents But So It Goes
Friday, May 8, 2009, at 08:03 AM
Original Author(s): Steve Benson
Topic: STEVE BENSON - SECTION 4   -Link To MC Article-
My grandfather Ezra Taft Benson openly discoursed on famous disembodied spirits appearing in the House of the Lord, including the Founding Fathers (some of whom eventually became president of the United States):

“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).

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Defending the Dead Dunk Description
Mormons May Be Spooked By The Fact That Their Church Has Necro-Dunked U.S. Presidents But So It Goes
5,709 Articles In 365 Topics
TopicImage TOPIC INDEX (365 Topics)

  · BOB MCCUE - SECTION 1 (25)
  · BOB MCCUE - SECTION 2 (25)
  · BOB MCCUE - SECTION 3 (25)
  · BOB MCCUE - SECTION 4 (25)
  · BOB MCCUE - SECTION 5 (25)
  · BOB MCCUE - SECTION 6 (19)
  · BOY SCOUTS (22)
  · BOYD K. PACKER (33)
  · BRIAN C. HALES (1)
  · BRUCE C. HAFEN (4)
  · CALLINGS (11)
  · COMEDY - SECTION 1 (24)
  · COMEDY - SECTION 2 (21)
  · COMEDY - SECTION 3 (24)
  · COMEDY - SECTION 4 (22)
  · COMEDY - SECTION 5 (37)
  · DALLIN H. OAKS (100)
  · DANITES (4)
  · DAVID A. BEDNAR (23)
  · DAVID O. MCKAY (8)
  · DAVID R. STONE (1)
  · DNA (23)
  · DON JESSE (2)
  · EMMA SMITH (5)
  · FARMS (30)
  · GEORGE P. LEE (1)
  · HAROLD B. LEE (1)
  · HAUNS MILL (2)
  · HBO BIG LOVE (12)
  · HOLIDAYS (13)
  · HUGH NIBLEY (13)
  · HYMNS (7)
  · JAMES E. FAUST (7)
  · JOHN GEE (3)
  · JOHN L. LUND (3)
  · JUDAISM (3)
  · JULIE B. BECK (6)
  · L. TOM PERRY (5)
  · LAMANITES (36)
  · MARRIOTT (2)
  · MASONS (16)
  · MICHAEL R. ASH (26)
  · MITT ROMNEY (71)
  · NAUVOO (3)
  · ORRIN HATCH (10)
  · PARLEY P. PRATT (11)
  · PAUL H. DUNN (5)
  · PRIMARY (1)
  · PROPOSITION 8 (21)
  · QUENTIN L. COOK (11)
  · SEMINARY (5)
  · SHERI L. DEW (3)
  · TALKS - SECTION 1 (1)
  · TIME (4)
  · TITHING - SECTION 1 (25)
  · TITHING - SECTION 2 (25)
  · TITHING - SECTION 3 (13)
  · UGO PEREGO (5)
  · UK COURTS (7)
  · VAN HALE (16)
  · VIDEOS (30)
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