If you haven’t yet heard yet, LDS prophet, seer and revelator Thomas S Monson has been summoned to a UK court to address a charge of fraud in regards to the church. The story broke a few days ago in a small way on a website called Mormonthink.com, it was simply a short post of the charges and the court summons. One might wonder if being a prophet he would have saw this coming. Maybe he did, as one blogger pointed out, he hasn’t been making the claims that are part of the suit since 2005.
Setting aside the fact that if you do think he was prophetic enough to stop testifying of the foundational claims of the church that implies you are good with prophets lying by omission for the lord. Most believing members will claim, simply that this is nothing new, the church has faced opposition before and accordingly they will claim its no big deal.
And you know what? They are right! It isn’t anything new at all for the church. In fact what quite a few members do not know is charges of fraud go back to the very beginning of the religion. Being a former believer I know it surprised the heck outta me to discover this fact to be true. Sure some will say our history is an open book, we aren’t hiding anything to this I say let me know when Deseret news prints the story linked above. But I digress, fact is there is a story of fraud way back at the beginning of the church that if you haven’t heard you should.
There were traces of history indicating that Joseph had been arrested for a crime called glass looking. Early records of Mormonisms detractors claimed that Smith had been arrested for it.
In 1961, Hugh Nibley ventured to boldly debunk these assertions of “glass-looking.” Nibley said:
“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.” 1
Now before we move on you should understand what this crime is. Kay Burningham a lawyer explains a bit about fraud in the early 1800s. Fraud wasn’t as well defined then as it is now, you could however charge a person as an impostor. Meaning you claimed you could do something and if you charged money for it you would in essence be defrauding the person. This happened to Joseph Smith in 1826 and we know that from court records of the proceedings. Reading through the history we find that Joseph Smith claimed he could find buried treasure by looking in to a peep stone, (also called seer stone) he would hire himself out to people to search for lost things and hidden treasures, ran with a whole group of guys doing the same thing. If you had heard that Joseph Smiths father in law wasn’t all that excited about him, its because of this. As for the treasure seeking , apparently he couldn’t actually do it, he would often tell the people paying him that the treasure got slippery and sunk into the earth, to that there were angels with swords protecting it. In the end he always came up empty handed after doing the glass looking and that was the reason for the charge in 1826. Here’s some not so light reading on the topic from the Maxwell Institute.
The year 1826 is very important, here’s why. The first time Joseph talked about the golden book he had found was over a year later, in 1827. Now the official history of the church says Joseph Smith was talking to the angel Moroni 4 years earlier and puts the first vision in 1820, several years before that. It is easy to prove however, these accounts were written and only talked about after the this first charge of fraud. The story of Moroni we didn’t get till at least 1827, possibly later. The self proclaimed prophet stated this in 1831 after Hyrum Smith invited him to explain more fully how the Book of Mormon came forth. Joseph responded that: “it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon; and…it was not expedient for him to relate these things.” 2
Maybe now you are wondering why…
If you put it all in a timeline, we have record of a guy that hunts treasure for money with a seer stone, then he finds a gold book that he claims to translate with the very same stone, then he relates a story about an angel showing him where to find this book and then in 1832 to 1838 he tells of his first vision in half a dozen different ways. I found it interesting to note that the earliest version of the first vision is much closer to the story of Moroni (as an angel come to talk to him) than it is to the later canonized account. But hey who doesn’t exaggerate a little right? The important point is all the foundational stories, the first vision, Moroni coming to the bed room, they didn’t get told until after they came out with the book. They didn’t get told until after the glass looker fine. Just a little grain of salt for the next time the topic comes up in sunday school. Now if you are a believer reading this, I am sure in most cases (unless you have been digging through apologetics) this is all gonna sound like a flat out lie. So don’t take my word for it, do your own research. As you can see above I am linking to sympathetic sources as much as possible in this article. Keep an eye out though, this article used to have links to 100% church friendly sources, I read them all myself a year ago, but now the links are all broken… especially to LDS.org. Who was saying there is nothing to hide, again?
This wasn’t the last time that ole Joe as his enemies called him would face charges of fraud, it happened again after he started an illegal bank that even printed a 3 dollar bill.
Google the Kirkland Safety Society for more fun on that topic for the Fridge expects you to learn to seek out truth for thine self and not always require it be it handed unto you.
So you see, charges of fraud are nothing new, in fact the founder of the church was arrested many times. Of course the official history says that all was just the devil trying to stop the work. Isn’t it odd though how the official history doesn’t mention something as queer as a 3 dollar bill?3 Or maybe you noticed that sunday schools and missionaries don’t ever mention the fact the prophet was convicted of being an imposter in saying he could find buried treasure by looking into a seer stone… only 18 months before he found gold plates and translated them with the very same stone seer stone. 4
Nothing to see here…move along
Will a church that began with fraud end with it? I sincerely doubt it. People are stubborn folk once the are invested in a belief system. Last I checked Warren Jeffs while convicted and in prison for raping a 12 year old girl still has plenty of followers. They are so confident it is just the devil trying to stop the work that they are 10,000 strong and willing to give up sex till he is released… a minimum of of 20 years from now. If he can do that to a little girl and people will still follow him, it is no big surprise that this whole UK fraud deal will be just a bump in the road for the church, quickly passed by. Unless…
Unless you ask yourself why do people still follow Warren Jeffs? Do they just put all that nasty info on a shelf and stop thinking about it?
Unless you deeply investigate the Fridge and understand why that belief is as legit as any other.
Unless you ask why are charges of fraud nothing new?
- The Mythmakers page 142 ↩
- HC 1:220 ↩
- One of the beauties of Fridge worship is when serendipitous things happen, such as when you are looking up the original reason for the saying ‘queer as a 3 dollar bill’ and then stumble onto a limp bizkit album by that name and a remake of the song faith, its the little sings like this that you know your faith is in the right thing 🙂 and to top it off it made for a good pun! ↩
- look up Sally Chase in connection with this seer stone for more info ↩