Friday, December 15, 2017

Ten Significant Errors in the LDS Primary Manual

The John Rowe Moyle Story

draperLesson Story Summary:   Every week, John Moyle walked 20 miles from Alpine, Utah to Salt Lake and back to work on the temple. Following an accident, he had his leg amputated. Undaunted, he built himself a peg leg and continued to make the 20 mile journey to work on the temple.

Why it is wrong - The distance from the Moyle house in Alpine is actually 27 miles and over a huge mountain. For anyone, it would be nearly impossible to do in a day over rough roads, but when Moyle supposedly had his accident he was 77 years old and there was a railroad line only a few miles away. Moyle was a great pioneer, but by exaggerating his story, it diminishes his legacy.

Haun's Creek Massacre

Lesson Story Summary: After telling the story of the massacre and saying that Joseph had warned Jacob Haun the lesson says, "At Hauns' Mill the brethren went contrary to my counsel; if they had not, their lives would have been spared". It gives no further commentary on the reasons why they died.

Why it is Wrong: Blaming the 17 victims for their own brutal deaths is horrible here. There are lots of reasons for the Haun's Mill Massacre. The first group to blame is the brutal thugs who committed the crime. Unfortunately Smith's quote blames the victims and teaches primary children that Joseph Smith had no responsibility for the brutal killings that took place.
The reality is that if Joseph warned anyone it was mill owner Haun who was not a member of the church. The men, women and children who died were moving to Jackson County because they were promised they were moving to Zion. Instead they were moving into a war zone. They gathered at the mill in desperation, seeking safety.
It is important to note that Joseph Smith had promised through a revelation from God that Zion would be created in Jackson, County Missouri. It would be a place of peace. He also promised that God would fight their battles for them and be by their side. None of that happened.
Mormon Historical Studies Article

Newspaper Contains Vicious Lies about Joseph Smith

Lesson Story Summary:  The lesson refers to the Nauvoo Expositor that was produced by William Law. It says that the newspaper was filled with "vicious lies" about Joseph Smith. The lesson gives no details about what those lies were.

Why it is wrong:  The Nauvoo Expositor told the truth.  It told about polygamy, Joseph Smith's adultery, the Second Anointing, and the women who came to Nauvoo looking for Zion but were essentially forced into marriages.  It uncovered the tightly controlled lies that Joseph had told other members as well as his wife Emma.  William Law had been in Joseph's inner circle and knew everything.  Joseph had been caught by his own hubris.

The 1000 Young Indians and Come, Come Ye Saints

Lesson Story Summary:  A group of pioneers led by Brigham Young is camped for the night.  A band of 1000 Young Indian Braves on horses is about to massacre the entire group.  At the last minute the Saints sing, "Come, Come Ye Saints".  The Indian Chief is moved by the song and the band leaves quietly.

Why it is wrong:  There are multiple problems with this story: 1000 Indians on horses could not possibly approach a pioneer party without being seen.  Bands of 1000 "young" Indians didn't ever travel as a secret war party in 1844 and the song Come, Come Ye Saints wasn't sung in 1847 / 48.  Most importantly, why does the Church History Primary Manual print a 4th or 5th hand version of an unnamed missionary legend as fact?

The Willard Richards' Prophecy

Lesson Story Summary:  Willard Richards was in the room when Joseph and Hyrum Smith were killed.  John Taylor was very seriously hurt but Willard Richards wasn't.  The manual teaches that this was a fulfillment of prophecy given early by Joseph Smith that bullets would fly around Richards but he would not be hurt.

Why it is wrong:  There is no evidence that Willard Richards ever told this story in his well documented life.  The journals of Joseph Smith or Willard Richards do not mention the blessing.   The History of the Church published after Richard's death tells the story but provides no source.  
Another error from the manual is that Richards was hurt, although only slightly.  A bullet grazed his ear.  

Joseph Smith Heals Saint in Nauvoo with Malaria

Lesson Story Summary:  The lesson talks about how many in Nauvoo got malaria because of the swamps there, even Joseph Smith. It goes on to tell a miraculous story of Joseph Smith healing a man named Elijah Fordham.  Elijah is near death and Joseph comes into the man's home.  After asking if Fordham has faith Smith grabs his hand and he is miraculously healed.    

Why it is wrong:  Although I can't yet find a contemporary source for this healing, I'm not questioning this part of the story.  My issue is that the lesson fails to mention that between 400 and 600 Saints died of malaria during the few years they were in Nauvoo.  It does not mention that even one person died of malaria.  It seems disingenuous to tell this one story about a healing without telling about how many died.
Many people have Priesthood Blessings that still die, we need to be careful the message we send children.

William McLellin Revelation

Lesson Story Summary:  The lesson gives background on D&C Section 67.  It teaches that some people were questioning Joseph Smith's revelations.  William McLellin failed in the challenge to write a revelation from God.  The lesson goes on to say, "William E. McLellin later left the Church. Joseph Smith said that people who criticize the Church and its leaders will eventually apostatize if they do not repent."

Why it is wrong:  The lesson implies that William McLellin apostatized because of the events mentioned in the story.  The reality is that D&C 67 was written in November of 1831.  McLellin remained faithful for at least another six years including being called as Apostle in 1835.
WIlliam McLellin was excommunicated in 1838 for opposing Smith.  At the time, Joseph was marrying teenage girls and committing adultery.  1838 Missouri was a war zone.  The mobs were attacking the Mormons and the Mormons were attacking back.  Revelations that Zion would be formed did not transpire.  Oversimplification about why Mormons leave the church is a huge issue in lots of LDS Manuals.

The Whittling and Whistling Brigade

Lesson #33 Link

Lesson Story Summary:  The lesson tells the story of "young boys" and "children" and how they protected Nauvoo from intruders.  The boys would follow strangers around while whistling and whittling a piece of woods.  Eventually the strangers would leave town.

Why it is wrong:  The lesson uses the words "young boys" and "children".  The reality is that the brigade were older teens and adults and not children.  The impression the article gives is of primary children, but in reality they were gangs of grown young men.  Think of a high school varsity football team following you around with Bowie knives.  
This type of bullying behavior is a horrible message to give Primary Children.  

Kenyans Buy a Tank from a Neighboring Country to Perform Baptism

Lesson Story Summary:  The lesson tells a story about Kenyans who accept the Gospel and want to be baptized.  Because of their tough circumstances they have no place to perform a baptism.  They have to bring in a tank from "neighboring country".

Why it is wrong:  It's not a huge error, but still shows the lack of fact checking.  The original story says that they got the water tank from Nairobi, which is not another country it's the capital of Kenya.  Small error, but still evidence that they needs some fact checking help.  (That's what I'm here for)

Alvin Would Have Received the Gospel

Lesson Story summary - Joseph Smith was worried about his brother Alvin who died before the restoration of the Church.  He received a revelation of comfort in 1836.  The lesson explains section 137, by saying, "The Lord explained to Joseph that all people who would have received the gospel, been baptized, and lived righteously if they had been given the opportunity will be able to be in the celestial kingdom".  

Why it is wrong  - Section 137 that was received in 1836 says, "Thus came the voice of the Lord unto me, saying: 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;"  The actual scripture says nothing about being baptized or living righteously."  
Baptisms for the dead were not started for nearly 10 more years.  This isn't a huge change, but the primary lesson adds the "been baptized, and lived righteously" when it is not anywhere in Section 137.

10 Questions about the Baptism for the Dead Rules

10 Questions to Consider:

#1. Why can't young women be witnesses?  Untrustworthy?

#2.  Why is it that boys need to be 16 to baptize but girls only need to be 12 to pass out towels?

#3.  If no adults are needed, doesn't that make the baptistery a teen pool party?

#4. Was this a revelation, if so, who received it?

#5. If President Monson didn't receive the revelation, who is authorized to speak for the entire church?

#6. Does this change the rule about youth driving other youth to the temple?

#7. Does this mean that Young Women's leaders don't even need to go on temple trips?

#8. Will the jumpsuits worn by the girls be made thicker?

#9. Does this warrant an addition to the Doctrine and Covenants?

#10. Can you imagine this conversation in 1000 years?

Jesus, "Edith, why aren't you coming into Heaven?"

Edith, "I've been waiting for my temple work to be done."

Jesus, "There must be some mix up, let me check on it."

several hours later....

Jesus, "They did your baptism in 2018, but all the witness and recorders were distracted by the 14 year old girl in a thin white jumpsuit that was your proxy and they didn't notice that a couple of hairs on her head didn't get submerged.  It got flagged in Heaven, but on earth it was recorded as done.  So sorry!"

Edith, "So I've been waiting in Spirit Prison for 1000 years because horny teens screwed up?"

Jesus, "Um, yes."

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Clarifying and questioning teen suicide numbers....

I was just doing the math to clarify the suicide stats and now I'm wondering if they are in fact correct.

The article being shared says that the rate of suicides is 11.1 per 100,000 for youth between 10 and 17.

According to the census there are 354,129 people in Utah between 10 and 17.

354,129 / 100,000 is 3.54.  3.54 times 11.1 is 39.2. 

So according to my math there were 39 or 40 suicides / year. 

Do these numbers seem low?  

Obviously one suicide is horrible, but I think those numbers are sadly low.

Your thoughts?

Ogden Standard Article

Momma Dragons

Youth Suicide Factsheet

Utah Age Demographics

Suicide Hotline Numbers

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Running with plates

#4 Smith Running with 100 pounds of Golden Plates

Myth Summary:  Joseph Smith received revelation through his seer stone that someone was going to steal the Golden Plates.  He took them from this hiding place and carried them three miles through the forest while fighting off men hiding there.
Why it is wrong:  This is another unsubstantiated story based only on the testimony of Joseph Smith.  Gold plates would weigh somewhere between 50 and 200 pounds.  Joseph walked with a limp.  Running three miles like that would be impossible.  It is also strange that in the path through the woods that Joseph chose, he would happen upon three men hiding there in the unlikely chance that he would run by.
Links and additional details found here

Hauns' Hill Massacre

 Hauns' Hill Massacre

Story Summary:  The lesson quotes Joseph Smith saying, "At Hauns' Mill the brethren went contrary to my counsel; if they had not, their lives would have been spared".  It gives no further commentary on the reasons why they died. 
Why it is Wrong:  Blaming the victims for their own brutal deaths is horrible here.  There are lots of reasons for the Hauns' Mill Massacre.  The first group to blame is the brutal thugs who committed the crime.  Unfortunately Smith's quote blames the victims and teaches the children that Joseph Smith had no responsibility for the brutal killings that took place.  The reality is that if Joseph warned anyone it was mill owner Haun who was not a member of the church.
It is important to note that Joseph Smith had promised through a revelation from God that Zion would be created in Jackson, County Missouri.  It would be a place of peace.  He also promised that God would fight their battles for them and be by their side.  None of that happened. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Sweetwater River Crossing

Monday, November 27, 2017

Joseph Smith Can Heal Malaria

The Primary Lesson make is very clear that Joseph Smith has the miraculous power to cure malaria.  This post is not questioning that.  The problem is that the lesson makes no mention of the fact that at least 175 people died of malaria in Nauvoo between 

Part of the story in the lesson says, " ‘Brother Fordham, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from this bed and be made whole.’ His voice was like the voice of God, and not of man. It seemed as though the house shook to its very foundations."

BYU Studies - Article - Deaths in Early Nauvoo

From the BYU Study:  "Malaria was the most common cause of death in Nauvoo. Since Nauvoo was a swamp before the Saints arrived, it was undoubtedly a haven for mosquitoes."

"There was an average of about 40 recorded deaths each year from Malaria"




Mean Age​


Pct. Male​

1 mo. to 81 yrs.
28 years
10 days to 86 yrs.
21 years
1 mo. to 71 yrs.
24 years
Canker (Noma)
18 days to 66 yrs.
17 months
1 mo. to 45 yrs.
18 months

Other Sources

Entire quote from the manual:

The Saints Do the Lord’s Work

The Saints did the Lord’s work by helping others, and in return the Lord helped the people of Nauvoo. When the Saints first came to Nauvoo, the land was very swampy. The Saints did not know that the mosquitoes that thrived in the swamplands spread a dangerous disease called malaria. Many of the Saints came down with this disease, which caused severe chills and fever. Emma Smith nursed many people, and her six-year-old son helped her by carrying water for the sick until he also came down with malaria. Even the Prophet was sick. The Lord blessed the people, however, giving the Prophet the ability to heal them. Wilford Woodruff reported what happened when a group of priesthood holders led by Joseph Smith visited the home of one sick man:
“The next place they visited was the home of Elijah Fordham, who was supposed to be about breathing his last. When the company entered the room the Prophet of God walked up to the dying man, and took hold of his right hand and spoke to him; but Brother Fordham was unable to speak, his eyes were set in his head like glass, and he seemed entirely unconscious of all around him. Joseph held his hand and looked into his eyes in silence for a length of time. A change in the countenance of Brother Fordham was soon perceptible to all present. His sight returned, and upon Joseph asking him if he knew him, he, in a low whisper, answered, ‘Yes.’ Joseph asked him if he had faith to be healed. He answered, ‘I fear it is too late; if you had come sooner I think I would have been healed.’ The Prophet said, ‘Do you believe in Jesus Christ?’ He answered in a feeble voice, ‘I do.’ Joseph then stood erect, still holding his hand in silence several moments; then he spoke in a very loud voice, saying: ‘Brother Fordham, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to arise from this bed and be made whole.’ His voice was like the voice of God, and not of man. It seemed as though the house shook to its very foundations. Brother Fordham arose from his bed and was immediately made whole. His feet were bound in [bandages], which he kicked off, then putting on his clothes, he ate a bowl of bread and milk, and followed the Prophet into the street” (quoted in Joseph Fielding Smith, Essentials in Church History,pp. 223–24).

Whistling and Whittling Brigade

From Lesson:

"Children also helped build Nauvoo. If they were old enough, they helped take care of the animals and the farms, gathered wood and berries, and helped make cider, soap, and candles. They also went to school. One group of young boys helped in a unique way. Many criminals came to Nauvoo, and the Saints did not want these people in their city but did not want to use violent means to get rid of them. A group of boys was organized into a “whistling and whittling brigade.” Whenever the boys saw a suspicious stranger on the street, they would surround him and walk along with him. They would not speak, but would just whistle and whittle as they followed the stranger wherever he went. It would be annoying and frustrating to the stranger, but he could not fight all the boys at once, so he would soon leave town."

Lesson 33 - Group of boys has a whistling and whittling brigade to help watch for bad people.  
The lesson uses the words "young boys" and "children".  The reality is that the brigade were older teens and not children.  The impression the article gives is of primary children, but in reality they were full grown young men.  Think of a high school varsity football team following you around with bowie knives.

William McLellin Revelation

During the last 162 years, rather than explore the theological implications of D&C 67, some church leaders developed an elaborate mythology describing the November 1831 conference. This interpretation explained to faithful the nature of apostasy and apostates. Significantly, the story of McLellin is typical of a genre which correlates dissent with biblical figures such as Satan, Cain, and Judas or with Book of Mormon characters such as Nehor and Korihor. The McLellin story establishes a paradigm from which an intellectual's dissatisfaction with the church or church leadership can be understood and rationalized by Mormon membership. One who questions, indeed, has "more learning than sense" and is a potential candidate for apostasy

Ultimately, only truth will set us free.

Dialogue Article

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Willard Richards "Prophecy"

Lesson # 37 of the Church History Primary Manual has the following quote:

"Elder Richards had not been injured in the attack. This miracle fulfilled a prophecy made a year earlier by Joseph Smith, who had told Elder Richards that there would be a time when “the balls [bullets] would fly around him like hail, and he should see his friends fall on the right and on the left,” but he would not be hurt. (History of the Church, 6:619).

willard_richards (1)

The Primary Manual quotes only the bold words from  The History of the Church. The other words from the Primary Manual are unquoted and paraphrased.   The most unfortunate part of this story is there probably was no such prophecy, but we'll get to that part later.

The manual has a pointless error.

Willard Richards was hurt.  The same paragraph the manual quotes also says, "yet he stood unscathed, with the exception of a ball which grazed the tip end of the lower part of his left ear." 

The actual quote is:  "the time would come that the balls would fly around him like hail, and he should see his friends fall on the right and on the left, but that there should not be a hole in his garment."  

So why did the manual writers change the quote?  Most likely because they were trying to cover for Brigham Young's quotation of the prophecy that said, "and there never shall a ball injure you."  Not quite what happened.

Now the important point.

There is no evidence that Joseph Smith ever gave Willard Richards such a promise .  Richards didn't say it in any account of the assassination nor in any known talk, letter or writing.  Joseph Smith's journal doesn't mention the story nor any account while Smith was alive.  

The story was never told before Richards death in 1854.   There seems to be an attempt to create fulfilled prophecies AFTER the FACT.   So where did the "prophecy" come from? The History of the Church had multiple editors and writers.  Willard Richards was one of the editors.  It is unknown who added the story of the prophecy into the work.  It may have been Richards or any other of the editors, including Brigham Young who got the final say on the history book.

So why is it a big deal?  

The first problem is fact checking. Don't make up quotes !!  

Second, don't call a manual, "Church History" unless it is verifiable.  A third hand quote isn't good enough to put in a book for children.    

The lesson in the manual is about the Death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.   There are lots of verifiable accounts related the their death, there is no need to use fabricated stories.

See the following from  Dean Jessee's and Howard Searle's work on Joseph Smith's history we know that its reliability is questionable. "The sheer number of scribes, inadequate contemporary source material, many authors, breaks in actual writing all point to a document that must be seriously evaluated before basing conclusions about the past."

 See Dean Jessee's "The Reliability of Joseph Smith's History," Journal of Mormon History 3 (1976): 23-46; and Howard Searle, "Early Mormon Historiography: Writing the History of the Mormons, 1830-1858," Ph.D diss., University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1979.