COMMON MORMON MISCONCEPTIONS
MISCONCEPTION 1. The Word of Wisdom teaches that alcohol is not good for consumption.
Read the enitire Doctrine and Covenants 89, most people stop a fter D&C 89:5, "That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good ..." If you were to read D&C 89:17 you may understand that Joseph Smith was only talking about "strong drinks",not "mild drinks". Mild drinks would be something like beer made from barley. If strong drinks have alcohol, mild drinks would also. Joseph Smith specifically singled out "strong drinks", not alcohol.
D&C 89:17; "Nevertheless, wheat for man, and corn for the ox, and oats for the horse, and rye for the fowls and for swine, and for all useful animals, and for all mild drinks, as also other grain."
MISCONCEPTION 2. Joseph Smith personally abhored alcohol.
Joseph Smith drank alcohol for pleasure on a number of occassions as documented in the History of the Church.
On Wednesday May 3, 1843, Joseph "... drank a glass of wine with Sister Jenetta Richards, made by her mother in England ..."
On the night that Joseph was murdered he drank again. The LDS Church records describe in detail that, "The gaurd immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the gaurds brought them into the jail .... Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph [Smith], who tasted, as also Brother Tylor ...." (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 616)
Some may argue that this was for sacrament so I will address this argument before it starts with John Taylor's statement. "Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent to revive us" (History of the Church, vol. 7, pg. 101)
In addition, Joseph Smith had a liquor license to distribute alcohol from his home. Take a look at History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 111, "Section 1 - Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Mayor [Joseph Smith] of the city is hereby authorized to sell or give spirits of any quantity as he in his wisdom shall judge to be for the health and comfort, or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time."
MISCONCEPTION 3. Joseph Smith predicted his death in Carthage.
Mormons incorrectly refer to D&C 135 when making this assertion, namely D&C 135:4 "I SHALL DIE INNOCENT, AND IT SHALL BE SAID OF ME -- HE WAS MURDERED IN COLD BLOOD."
However, there is a significant word left out of Joseph's original statement, the "IF" word. On June 24, 1844 people quote Joseph Smith as saying, "_If_ they take my life I shall die an innocent man ... and it shall be said of me 'He was murdered in cold blood!'" (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 555, emphasis added). Also in front of the Masonic hall Joseph said, "Boys, _if_ I don't come back, take care of yourselves ..."(History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 558, emphasis added)
MISCONCEPTION 4. Joseph Smith never married the wives of other men.
There is a lot of evidence supporting the fact that Joseph was in the practice of marrying the wives of other men. Some of the alledged polyandrous relationships include Lucinda Morgan Harris, Prescindia Hundington Buell, Marinda Johnson Hyde, Clarissa Reed Hancock, Zina Diantha Huntington Jacobs, Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner, and Fanny Young Murray.
Some evidence for the skeptic:
Mary Elizabeth Rollins Lightner admitted her marriage to Joseph Smith in a public address. She said in part, "I am the first being that the revelation was given to him for and I was one thousand miles away in Missouri, for we went up to Jackson County in 1841 ..... I went forward and was sealed to him. Brigham young performed the sealing, and Heber C. Kimball the blessing. I know he had six wives and I have known some of them from childhood up. I knew he had three children. They told me. I think two are living today, but they are not known as his children as they go by other names." (Mary Lightner,1905 Address, typescript, BYU, Pg. 2-3)
Patty Sessions was sealed to Joseph Smith on March 9, 1842 as indicated by her personal journal entry, "I was sealed to Joseph Smith by Willard Richards March 9, 1842, in Newel K. Whitney's chamber, Nauvoo, for time and all eternity ...." (NOTICE the sealing was for "time and eternity")
For information regarding Joseph Smith's practice and denial of polygamy [click here].
MISCONCEPTION 5. The Masonic symbols, handshakes, tokens, penalties, have never been part of the LDS Endowment.
Six weeks after Joseph Smith was initiated into Masonry he started to instruct the LDS Church leaders "...in the principles of and order of the Priesthood, attending to washings, anointings, endowments, and the communication of keys pertaining to the Aaronic Priesthood, and so onto to the highest order of the Melchizedek Priesthood ..." (History of the Church, vol. 5, pg. 1, May 4, 1842)
Some of the Masonic similarities:
A good reference book to read is Born in Blood, The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, by John J. Robinson, Evans, New York, 1989. This book is not an anti-Mormon book. Robinson is a historian and is looking at the origins of Masonry, in doing so he discusses the Masonic rituals. A book I would also highly recommend if you want the specific details of the Masonic ceremony is William Morgan's book, Illustrations of Masonry by One of the Fraternity, Batavia, New York, 1827. Morgan likely paid for this book with his life. Shortly after the book was published he disappeared. If you do not know the LDS Endowment ceremony there are plenty of web sites that have transcripts of the ritual. One such web site is Dave's Controversial Religion Page [link obsolete] .
MISCONCEPTION 6.Joseph Smith was never a criminal.
Joseph Smith was practicing polygamy at a time when it was illegal in Illinois. There was a law passed long before the Mormons settled in Nauvoo Illinois. An anti-bigamy or anti-polygamy law was enacted on February 12, 1833 in the State of Illinois. Although Joseph Smith was never convicted of the charge of polygamy he was indicted of the charge shortly prior to his death. Not only was polygamy against the law but it was also contrary to the LDS Doctrine and Covenants.
Joseph was NOT INNOCENT of the crimes charged against him. He may not have been convicted by peers in a court of law for the crime of polygamy, but he was certainly guilty of breaking anti-polygamy laws in a historical sense.
Also, the comparing of Joseph Smith with Jesus Christ is irrelevant. First, Jesus Christ wasn't practicing polygamy, Joseph was. Secondly, Jesus Christ never denied that he was Son of God, Joseph denied he practiced polygamy. And lastly, Jesus Christ never falsely beared witness against those that made the accusations against him, Joseph Smith and the LDS Church did.
To see a detailed discussion of Joseph Smith's denials and practice of polygamy go here.
To see a detailed discussion of Joseph Smith's marriages to other men's wives go here.
MISCONCEPTION 7. Joseph Smith could translate different languages.
When I read the Book of Abraham I always wondered about those facsimiles. I thought, what do Egyptologists think of them. Well, I found out. They think that Joseph's translations have " ... no archeological value" (The Mummy, A Handbook of Egyptian Funerary Archeology, by E.A. Wallis Budge, 1989, first published 1893, Dover Publications, New York, pg. 477). Another good source to look at is Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, "The Joseph Smith Papyri Translation and Interpretations", vol. 3, No. 2, Summer 1968, pp. 67-105. ,p> If you want to look at what Egyptologists call a hypocephalus (facsimile No. 2) look at Mummies and Magic, Funerary Arts of Ancient Egypt, by Sue D'Auria, et al. , Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1988, pg. 228. Other references include Death in Ancient Egypt, by A. J. Spencer, Pengiun Books Figure 22, or A Guide to the First and Second Egyptian Rooms, second edition, British Museum, 1904.
Another interesting issue is the Kinderhook plates which Joseph had translated saying "they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharoah, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth." (History of the Church, vol.. 5, pg. 372, May 1, 1843).
Surprisingly enough the plates were a forgery, made by a blacksmith in the 1840's! (See History of the Church, vol. 5, pg. 378-379 and Ensign, August 1981, pg. 66-70)
For a detailed discussion of the Book of Abraham facsimiles go here.
For a detailed discussion of the Kinderhook Plates go here.
MISCONCEPTION 8. Joseph Smith publicly taught & practiced polygamy.
Joseph Smith publicly denied that he practiced polygamy. In an address Joseph gave regarding the dissenters of at Nauvoo, May 26, 1844, Joseph stated that, "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one" (History of the Church, vol. 6, pg. 411)
To see a more detailed discussion of Joseph Smith's denials and practice of polygamy go here.
MISCONCEPTION 9. The LDS Temple design has not changed since Kirtland time period.
The layout of the temple in Kirtland can be better contrasted than compared to the temple in Nauvoo or LDS temples today. In Kirtland there were no sealing or Celestial rooms, and no baptism fonts for the dead. Interestingly enough, during and after its dedication Mormons were allowed to enter the Kirtland Temple without any prior "endowment" and donations would be accepted at the door (History of the Church, vol 2, pg. 410).
Even the design for a Mormon temple complex in the City of Zion [Missouri, Independence] differed drastically from the LDS Temple designs of today. In this design there was not supposed to be one temple in the City of Zion, but a temple complex, composed of many temples. This new idea is much different from King Solomon's Temple design that began construction close to 1000 B.C. (Bible, 1 Kings 6). In order to point out this particular difference I will quote again from the History of the Church, vol. 1, pg. 359:
To see a discussion of the LDS Endowment ceremony prior to the Nauvoo Temple go here.
NOTE TO PREVIOUS READERS: I previously referred to the "City of Zion" as Kirtland, Ohio and not Independence, Missouri. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused.
MISCONCEPTION 10. Joseph Smith was a humble man. Joseph Smith made this boastful statement on May 26, 1844. "I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet." (History of the Church, vol. 6, pgs. 408-409)
I hope that this information will dispell some of the many misconceptions generated within the LDS Church. I am sure that some Mormons that have researched early Mormon history have already heard about them, but there are many who have not been educated on the facts.
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Common Mormon Misconceptions Last Updated January 23, 2000
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Created by James David, firstname.lastname@example.org