A great motivating force in starting this web page was the significant amount of misconceptions that I encountered while investigating Mormon history. These misconceptions occur even at the scholarly level. After reading "The Truth About the God Makers" by Gilbert Scharffs, I was surprised to find his claim that there are not even the "slightest resemblances" between the Masonic rituals and the LDS Endowment. My research into the topic shows undeniable connections in the use of hand signs, grips, penalties, five points of fellowship, etc. I was further surprised to learn that these same Masonic similarities did not exist in the LDS Kirtland endowment. The Masonic similarities showed up in the endowment only weeks after Joseph Smith became a Mason. In my opinion, these similarities are significant.
I came across another example of what appears to be Mormon "craftiness" to hide facts in the January 1994 issue of the Ensign, titled "News From Antiquity" by Daniel Peterson. I was intrigued by the photographs of the Book of Abraham facsimiles and the debate surrounding them. I quickly looked at my Book of Abraham and compared the facsimiles with the photographs in the Ensign. They matched 100%. I was surprised at the time at how well the facsimiles were reproduced from what appeared to be the original papyri in the photographs. I thought that whenever a person copies a document by hand (especially in the 1840's) there are bound to be some minor differences. Yet, the facsimiles in the Book of Abraham matched exactly to the photographs in the Ensign . Then I noticed something in each of the photographs. The edge of the papyri on each photograph was the same. I also noticed that the hypocephalus was on a square piece of papyri rather than a circular one. Upon closer examination I was able to recognize that the Ensign used computer technology to copy the facsimiles from the Book of Abraham. These electronic copies were placed on top of a computer background of "papyri". The Ensign took their time to create the illusion, so much so that they removed the engravers name (R. Hedlock) and the numbers from the facsimiles before overlaying them on top of the "papyri" background. It was possible upon close investigation of the Ensign "photographs" that the papyri background was reconfigured to fit either square or rectangular shapes. Some may say this is no big deal, but when you take a look at the payri and the surrounding discussion you may quickly realize why the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may not want Mormons to see the originals. However, this should not surprise those who are aware of Joseph Smith's blatant alteration of facsimile no. 2. (You can read Dr. Peterson's response to my concerns).
I will illustrate information that is not frequently talked about openly in the LDS Church. I can recall a specific instance when I was admonished for attempting to talk about the historical account of Joseph Smith's death. I was admonished during and after a LDS Sunday School discussion of Doctrine and Covenants 135 -- the martyrdom of Joseph Smith. I wanted to talk about the accounts in the History of the Church, an LDS publication, which the Doctrine and Covenants even references. How much more relevant could the subject be at the time? Joseph Smith's death was not the glorified martyrdom that most Mormons expect, unless one expects a gun fight. Joseph Smith used a smuggled handgun to kill or wound his attackers before he jumped from the second story window. Also, Joseph Smith was not in jail for defending his religious freedoms; he was in jail from events following his orders to destroy a town newspaper, the Nauvoo Expositor. This newspaper accused Joseph Smith of privately practicing and teaching polygamy, which the LDS Church even now admits. However, the practice of polygamy in 1840's was contrary to LDS teachings in the Doctrine and Covenants and was also against Illinois State law. Other topics that may surprise Mormons are Joseph Smith's drinking habit and liquor license in Nauvoo and his practice of marrying the wives of other men. So although I have been restricted from speaking the truth within the walls of Mormondom, I will freely speak my ideas here.
I hope to provide this information in a manner as to not offend the reader, for you may be my Mormon brother, sister, mother, or father. However, this hope will not take precedence over my obligation to present my honest and sincere opinions of Mormon history. However, I am sure that I may offend some Mormons when I highlight the similarities between the Masonic rites and the LDS Endowment. But, in my opinion, these similarities need to be shown for a higher purpose, to mend the misconceptions promulgated by books like Gilbert Scharffs'.
You may want start reveiwing this web site by taking an early Mormon history quiz to test your basic knowledge. Another good place to start is my topical guide to pages at this Site. There are also other web sites on the internet that discuss the controversial aspects of Mormonism. To assist you in finding information at these other sites, I have created links to many of the articles in a easy to use alphabetical index.
So what does all this information mean to you? I cannot be your judge. You will have to decide for yourself. Personally, Mormonism was not true for me spiritually or intellectually. However, I have met a few Mormons that can rationalize (or spiritualize) the historical records, perhaps you will be one of them. Nevertheless, after reading the information on this web site you will hopefully be more aware of early Mormon history.
On this web page I won't ask you to convert to another religion, and I won't ask you to leave your own. I will only ask you to accept the fact that honest and sincere people can investigate Mormonism and arrive at different conclusions. I will let the facts speak for themselves. Regardless of my viewpoint, I encourage you to ask yourself the important questions and conduct your own research with your own heart, mind and soul.
Thank you for your time.