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

The text from the Primary Lesson 33.

"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 non-existant "Prophecy"

The LDS Primary Church History is filled with unsubstantiated myths about Mormon History.  

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 directly quotes the bold words from  The History of the Church. The other words from the Primary Manual
 seem to be just made up.  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 History of the Church 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.", and to avoid talking about the fact that only Willard Richards was wearing his garments.  

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 of "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.

Gifted historian Dean Jessee's wrote the following about the book “Church History”, "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."  Source

Other quotes about the myth:
"A year before his assassination, the Prophet Joseph Smith told his close friend and personal secretary, Dr. Willard Richards, that the time would come when balls would fly around Willard like hail, and he would see his friends fall on the right and on the left, but there would not be a hole in Willard’s garments."  Source

“Willard, you will stand where the balls will fly around you like hail and men will fall dead by your side, and there never shall a ball injure you”. (Recollection of Brigham Young, unpublished discourse of July 14, 1861, Church Archives; quoted in Truman G. Madsen, Joseph Smith the Prophet, p.123)

“With no thought for his own safety, Brother Richards rushed to the window, determined to see the end of the Prophet he loved. Miraculously, in fulfillment of Joseph’s prophecy, Elder Richards was preserved without even a hole in his garments.” Source

Summary:  Willard Richards was very lucky to survive the shootout at the Carthage Jail, but Brigham Young used the story to create a false miracle about Joseph Smith predicting it in advance....and the Primary Manual took it one step further by lying about him not getting hurt.  

Some other fun facts about the Carthage Story:

Joseph and Hyrum weren't wearing their garments!!
“Elder John Taylor confirmed the saying that Joseph and Hyrum and himself were without their robes in the jail at Carthage, while Doctor Richards had his on, but corrected the idea that some had, that they had taken them off through fear. W. W. Phelps said Joseph told him one day about that time, that he had laid aside his garment on account of the hot weather” (An IntimateChronicle: The Journals of William Clayton, 222)

Read More lies told in the "Church History" Primary Manual:

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Doctrine and Covenants Section 97 Timeline


Joseph Smith is in Kirtland, Ohio.  About 1000 Saints are in Jackson County, Missouri 800 miles away.  The members moved to Missouri because it had been promised to them that this would be Zion.

Things are about to get really bad....

July 20th

Mob violence erupts in Independence. Mobbers destroy W. W. Phelps’s printing office and scatter pages of the Book of Commandments. Bishop Edward Partridge and Charles Allen are tarred and feathered. 


July 23rd

The mob appeared again on 23 July with rifles, pistols, whips, and clubs. They searched for Church leaders, cursing and profaning as they went. They set fire to haystacks and grain fields and destroyed several homes, barns, and businesses. The mob eventually confronted six leaders of the Church who, seeing the property and lives of the Saints in jeopardy, offered their lives as a ransom. 


They were forced to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County. 

August 2nd (Not on July 20th or 23rd)

Joseph is 800 miles away but the Lord can see everything and sees the suffering of his Saints in Missouri.  So he gives Joseph Smith a revelation.  What does it tell the Prophet about those saints in Missouri?  

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, August 2nd, 1833.

Doctrine and Covenants 97

My paraphrasing-  

Your school is good, 

build a temple, 

pay your tithing, 

it will all be OK. .... if you keep the commandments.

October 31

How it ended

Determined to settle the matter decisively, the old settlers mobilized to drive the Mormons out. Renewed violence began on October 31, 1833, with an attack on the Whitmer Branch a few miles west of the Big Blue River, near Independence. The mob demolished houses, whipped the men, and terrorized the women and children. For a week, attacks, beatings, and depredations against the Saints continued. 

Full Text of Section 97

Section 97

Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, August 2, 1833. This revelation deals particularly with the affairs of the Saints in Zion, Jackson County, Missouri, in response to the Prophet’s inquiry of the Lord for information. Members of the Church in Missouri were at this time subjected to severe persecution and, on July 23, 1833, had been forced to sign an agreement to leave Jackson County.
1–2, Many of the Saints in Zion (Jackson County, Missouri) are blessed for their faithfulness; 3–5, Parley P. Pratt is commended for his labors in the school in Zion; 6–9, Those who observe their covenants are accepted by the Lord; 10–17, A house is to be built in Zion in which the pure in heart will see God; 18–21, Zion is the pure in heart; 22–28, Zion will escape the Lord’s scourge if she is faithful.
Verily I say unto you my friends, I speak unto you with my voice, even the voice of my Spirit, that I may show unto you my will concerning your brethren in the land of Zion, many of whom are truly humble and are seeking diligently to learn wisdom and to find truth.
Verily, verily I say unto you, blessed are such, for they shall obtain; for I, the Lord, show mercy unto all the meek, and upon all whomsoever I will, that I may be justified when I shall bring them unto judgment.
Behold, I say unto you, concerning the school in Zion, I, the Lord, am well pleased that there should be a school in Zion, and also with my servant Parley P. Pratt, for he abideth in me.
And inasmuch as he continueth to abide in me he shall continue to preside over the school in the land of Zion until I shall give unto him other commandments.
And I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings, in expounding all scriptures and mysteries to the edification of the school, and of the church in Zion.
And to the residue of the school, I, the Lord, am willing to show mercy; nevertheless, there are those that must needs be chastened, and their works shall be made known.
The ax is laid at the root of the trees; and every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit shall be hewn down and cast into the fire. I, the Lord, have spoken it.
Verily I say unto you, all among them who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me.
For I, the Lord, will cause them to bring forth as a very fruitful tree which is planted in a goodly land, by a pure stream, that yieldeth much precious fruit.
10 Verily I say unto you, that it is my will that a houseshould be built unto me in the land of Zion, like unto the pattern which I have given you.
11 Yea, let it be built speedily, by the tithing of my people.
12 Behold, this is the tithing and the sacrifice which I, the Lord, require at their hands, that there may be a housebuilt unto me for the salvation of Zion—
13 For a place of thanksgiving for all saints, and for a place of instruction for all those who are called to the work of the ministry in all their several callings and offices;
14 That they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.
15 And inasmuch as my people build a house unto me in the name of the Lord, and do not suffer any unclean thingto come into it, that it be not defiled, my glory shall rest upon it;
16 Yea, and my presence shall be there, for I will come into it, and all the pure in heart that shall come into it shall see God.
17 But if it be defiled I will not come into it, and my glory shall not be there; for I will not come into unholy temples.

18 And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible.
19 And the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there;
20 And he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower.
21 Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.
22 For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it?
23 The Lord’s scourge shall pass over by night and by day, and the report thereof shall vex all people; yea, it shall not be stayed until the Lord come;
24 For the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works.
25 Nevertheless, Zion shall escape if she observe to do all things whatsoever I have commanded her.
26 But if she observe not to do whatsoever I have commanded her, I will visit her according to all her works, with sore affliction, with pestilence, with plague, with sword, with vengeance, with devouring fire.
27 Nevertheless, let it be read this once to her ears, that I, the Lord, have accepted of her offering; and if she sin no more none of these things shall come upon her;
28 And I will bless her with blessings, and multiply a multiplicity of blessings upon her, and upon her generations forever and ever, saith the Lord your God. Amen.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Many people were healed through fasting and prayer and 600 PEOPLE DIED

Lesson from LDS Church History Primary Manual:  600 People died in the winter of 1846, but many were healed through fasting and prayer.

I don't even know how to comment on this.  If it wasn't so tragic, the paragraph would feel like a joke.  

Background story:   In 1846, as the Mormons were fleeing Illinois after the murder of the Prophet Joseph Smith, around 8000 pioneers spent the winter near what is now Omaha, Nebraska.  Malaria, bitter cold and starvation killed more that 600 people.  

.... when you are starving, does that count as fasting to God?  Or does it only count when you have food in the fridge and you choose to not eat?  

The Mormon Myth of 1000 Young Indian Braves

The Mormon Myth of the 1000 Indian Braves

Is it morally acceptable to teach something that is false if it helps children believe in a religion?  

The current Primary Manual has the following story.  

Tell in your own words the following story:
"A group of Latter-day Saint pioneers, led by Brigham Young, were near the Rocky Mountains. One night they camped in a small valley. After supper they built a big bonfire. They sang and danced around the bonfire to help them forget their fears and worries.
Before they went to bed in their wagons, leaving a single guard on duty, they sang “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” a song they used to encourage each other and show their dedication to the Lord.
That night there were a thousand unfriendly Indians hiding around the camp, ready to attack the pioneers. But after the Indians heard the pioneers sing “Come, Come, Ye Saints,” they were unable to attack. They knew the Great Spirit (their name for Heavenly Father) was watching over the pioneers, so they got on their horses and rode away, leaving the pioneers alone.
Some time later, the man who had been chief over the group of Indians told this story to some Latter-day Saint missionaries. When he finished the story, he took out a violin and began to play “Come, Come, Ye Saints.” He explained to the missionaries, “This is your song, but it is my song, too. I play it every night before I go to bed. It brings the Great Spirit here to me and makes me and my people calm and happy.”
(See Lucile C. Reading, “Song of the Pioneers,” Children’s Friend, July 1965, p. 37.)

The Manual quotes a story from the Children's Friend 1965.  

The Children's Friend version of the story quotes a 1958 book called A Century of Singing.  Which is about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The book version of the story adds two more layers of sources.  It says that the story was told to four missionaries told the son of the Chief of the 1000 Indian Braves.  

So let's review the source trail....

Ten Other Issues With the Story:
See other versions of story below.

#1 - There is no evidence that the 1847 / 48 Mormon Pioneers sang, "Come, Come Ye Saints". 

#2 - 1000 Young braves  on 1000 horses would take up almost 2 miles if spaced every ten feet. 

#3 - The 1000 Indians managed to come into the valley, hide behind rocks and trees and then leave without being noticed by the Mormons.

#4 - The chief was able to give a signal in the dark that 1000 Indians could perceive but the Mormons did not. 

#5 - In one version of the story, the teller also plays the tune on the violin.  

#6 - 1000 Indians in one place was extremely rare and nearly never seen in a war party outside the open planes.  Think of the amount of food, supplies, horse feed that a camp of 1000 would need.  Additional Reading

#7 - Why would mid 19th century Indians claim a song in English about pioneers as their song?

#8 - Does this feel a bit too much like the story of the 2000 Lamanite Warriors from the Book of Mormon?  

#9 - How many Indian Villages in 1840's Wyoming would it take to recruit 1000 YOUNG Braves?

#10 - There are no stories from Mormon History, Oregon Trail History or California Gold Rush History where a party of 1000 Warriors attacked a wagon train.  They just didn't travel in groups that big.  

Things to Think About

#1 - Why does the LDS Church teach its children a 4th or 5th hand story as fact, but reject nearly every other source of history outside its own correlated material?  

#2 - Is it OK to teach a story that is false if it makes children believe in the message?  

#3 - Would it be OK for the missionaries to teach the First Vision or Book of Mormon stories to millions if they are also false, if they help people believe the message?

# 4 - Is this story racist?  Does it create a stereotype of blood thirsty 19th century Native Americans? 

It is NOT morally acceptable to teach something False, while presenting it as fact.  



The John Moyle Story from the same Lesson Manual

Other Sources and Materials:

LDS Living Article about the Story
Ms. Fish Blog Post about Story
Stand a Little Taller Blog Post

Different Versions of the Same Story

The Century of Singing Version:

A most unusual account pertaining to this song is reported to have come to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from an old Indian chief who claimed he heard about the incident from his father:

Many, many moons ago my people were on the warpath. We hated the palefaces. We held council and decided to kill everyone. A band of palefaces were going west. They had almost reached the Rocky Mountains. I was the chief of 1,000 young braves. That night silently we waited on a mountain pass for these people, which were led by Brigham Young. There were braves with bows and arrows behind every rock and tree, waiting to pounce down upon the palefaces. The pioneers camped for the night and prepared dinner. The big bonfire was burning brightly, and the palefaces danced around the fire. Everyone then sat down and began singing, "Come, Come, Ye Saints." I gave the signal, but our fingers were like stone—not one arrow was shot. We mounted our horses and rode back to camp. We knew the Great Spirit was watching over the palefaces. This is your song; it was your forefathers' song and is my song every night before I go to bed. It brings the Great Spirit near to me and makes me and my people happy.