Category Archives: Polygamy

LDS Church Essays Tackle Controversial Issues

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[This article first appeared in the Student Review. It has been reposted here with slight alteration.]

In a fireside devotional given at Utah State University in November 2011, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, an emeritus Seventy and former Church Historian and Recorder for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, included a question and answer segment in his remarks. During this Q&A, one member of the audience asked about the concerning trend of Church members, particularly younger members, leaving the Church over controversial historical issues they encounter online and elsewhere. “Is the Church aware of that problem?” the questioner asked. “What about people who are already leaving in droves?” Jensen’s response to this question has gone viral, having been reported in the press and discussed on a number of blogs and other sites. “The fifteen men that are above me in the hierarchy of the Church . . . really do know. And they really care. And they realize that, maybe, since Kirtland we’ve never had a period of—I’ll call it apostasy—like we’re having right now, largely over these issues.” Jensen then explained that the Church was then in the process of creating resources to address these concerns. “So we are trying to create an offering that will address these issues and be available for the public at large and to people who are losing their faith or have lost it.” Continue reading

A New Church History Seminary Manual

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The cover page of the new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History seminary manual.

[Cross-posted from Ploni Almoni: Mr. So-and-So's Mormon Blog.]

The Church has released a new edition of the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History manual for seminary students. One of the remarkable aspects of the new manual is that it includes a discussion of several sensitive topics in church history. These topics include the following.

1. The various accounts of the First Vision are highlighted in the new manual. “There are nine known accounts of the First Vision—four written or dictated by Joseph Smith and five written by others retelling his experience,” the manual states (p. 20).

The multiple accounts of the First Vision were prepared at different times and for different audiences. In these accounts, Joseph Smith emphasized different aspects of his experience of the First Vision, but the accounts all agree in the essential truth that Joseph Smith did indeed have the heavens opened to him and see divine messengers, including God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Because the 1838 account was part of Joseph Smith’s official history and testimony to the world, it was included in the Pearl of Great Price as scripture. (p. 20)

The manual then recommends students to read articles by Milton Backman and Richard Lloyd Anderson published in the Ensign discussing the various accounts of the First Vision (pp. 20, 22).

2. There is an entire chapter devoted to the Mountain Meadows Massacre and the Utah War (Lesson 151). The manual gives a brief historical overview of the events leading up to the massacre and acknowledges the participation of “Latter-day Saint leaders and settlers” in the crime (p. 523). Besides citing an article on the Mountain Meadows Massacre published in theEnsign, the manual also reproduces this quote given by President Henry B. Eyring at the 150 year anniversary of the massacre.

The gospel of Jesus Christ that we espouse, abhors the cold-blooded killing of men, women, and children. Indeed, it advocates peace and forgiveness. What was done [at the Mountain Meadows] long ago by members of our Church represents a terrible and inexcusable departure from Christian teaching and conduct.

3. In a chapter on the history of the Pearl of Great Price there is a brief overview of the history of the Book of Abraham, including the loss and recovery of several papyrus fragments once in the possession of Joseph Smith (pp. 524–526). Included in the discussion about the Book of Abraham is this (which is actually reprinted from the Church’s Pearl of Great Price Student Manual).

In 1966 eleven fragments of papyri once possessed by the Prophet Joseph Smith were discovered in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They were given to the Church and have been analyzed by scholars who date them between about 100 B.C. and A.D. 100. A common objection to the authenticity of the book of Abraham is that the manuscripts are not old enough to have been written by Abraham, who lived almost two thousand years before Christ. Joseph Smith never claimed that the papyri were autographic (written by Abraham himself), nor that they dated from the time of Abraham. It is common to refer to an author’s works as ‘his’ writings, whether he penned them himself, dictated them to others, or others copied his writings later. (p. 525)

(Incidentally, yours truly has written a thing or two on this subject over at the Interpreter blog, which you can access here.) The manual also states, “Although we do not know the exact method Joseph Smith used to translate the writings, we do know that he translated the book of Abraham by the gift and power of God” (p. 525).

4. The new manual has material covering the practice of plural marriage, including an entire chapter on Joseph Smith’s plural marriage (Lesson 140) and a mentioning of Post-Manifesto plural marriage. Below are a few pertinent excerpts from the manual.

In this dispensation the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and many other Church leaders found this commandment difficult, but they obeyed it. After receiving revelation, President Wilford Woodruff issued the Manifesto, which was accepted by the Church as authoritative and binding on October 6, 1890. This led to the end of the practice of plural marriage in the Church (see Official Declaration 1). (p. 204)

While Joseph Smith was working on the inspired translation of the Old Testament in 1831, he read about some of the ancient prophets practicing plural marriage (also called polygamy). Under this practice, one man is married to more than one living wife. The Prophet studied the scriptures, pondered what he learned, and eventually took his questions about plural marriage to Heavenly Father in prayer. . . . the Prophet Joseph Smith was reluctant to begin the practice of plural marriage. He stated that he did not begin the practice until he was warned that he would be destroyed if he did not obey. . . . Because of a lack of historical documentation, we do not know about Joseph Smith’s early attempts to comply with the commandment. However, by 1841 the Prophet had begun to obey the commandment and to teach it to some members of the Church, and over the next three years he married additional wives in accordance with the Lord’s commands. The Prophet Joseph Smith’s obedience to the Lord’s commandment to practice plural marriage was a trial of faith for him and his wife Emma, whom he loved dearly. (pp. 477–478)

Practicing plural marriage brought additional challenges. Because the practice was initially kept very quiet, rumors began to spread about Church leaders marrying additional wives. These rumors greatly distorted the truth, slandered the names of the Prophet and other Church leaders, and contributed to increased persecution against the Saints. (p. 479)

A small number of Latter-day Saints continued to enter into new plural marriages after the Manifesto was given. In 1904, President Joseph F. Smith announced “that all [plural] marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage he will be . . . excommunicated”. . . . This policy continues today. (p. 530)

Towards the end of the chapter on Joseph Smith’s plural marriage, the manual warns, “Much unreliable information pertaining to plural marriage exists on the Internet and in many print sources. Be cautious and wise with such information. Some authors who write about the Church and its history present information out of context or include partial truths that can be misleading. The intent of some of these writings is to destroy faith” (p. 479). I myself have raised a similar point in this post. The manual then concludes by recommending, “Reliable historical research concerning the practice of plural marriage can be found at josephsmithpapers.org and byustudies.byu.edu” (p. 480).

5. On describing the nature of the Joseph Smith Translation, the manual says the following.

Around the fall of 1830, Joseph Smith was commanded by the Lord to translate the Bible. He did not translate the Bible from one language to another; nor did he have an original biblical manuscript to work from. Instead, Joseph would read and study passages from the King James Version of the Bible and then make corrections and additions as inspired by the Holy Ghost. Thus, the translation was more of an inspired revision than a traditional translation.The Joseph Smith Translation is estimated to have affected at least 3,400 verses in the King James Version of the Bible. These differences include additions (to clarify meaning or context), deletions, rearranged verses, and complete restructurings of certain chapters. The Joseph Smith Translation clarified doctrinal content, especially the mission of Jesus Christ, the nature of God, the nature of man, the Abrahamic covenant, the priesthood, and the Restoration of the gospel. (pp. 180–181)

6. The historical circumstances surrounding the priesthood ban and President Spencer W. Kimball’s 1978 revelation are discussed in a chapter on Official Declaration 2 (Lesson 157). As part of this discussion, the manual reprints the introductory material to OD 2 printed in the 2013 edition of the scriptures.

The Book of Mormon teaches that ‘all are alike unto God,’ including ‘black and white, bond and free, male and female’ (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.

There is also the recommendation at the end of the chapter for students to “go to Gospel Topics on LDS.org and search for ‘race and the priesthood’” to learn more about the priesthood ban (p. 545).

7. Finally, in discussing section 77 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the manual straightforwardly says, “The 7,000 years [in vv. 6–7]  refers to the time since the Fall of Adam and Eve. It is not referring to the actual age of the earth including the periods of creation” (p. 280).

I am sure there is more that could be said about the new manual, but suffice it to say from the above examples that the Church is implementing productive measures towards introducing these sort of issues in a faith-promoting, safe, and positive environment (seminary). This will hopefully serve to “inoculate,” to use the popular metaphor, seminary students against the often highly debatable claims and negative information one can currently find on the Internet. While one might perhaps quibble over how certain issues are addressed in the new manual, that there is even a discussion at all in Church curriculum is, in my estimation, a step in the right direction.

Mormon Fair-Cast 187: Polygamy Roundtable

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hales

The Church recently released a new Gospel Topics article addressing plural marriage and families in early Utah. As a supplement to this material, FairMormon is reposting this Special Roundtable Discussion on Polygamy that was hosted by the Interpreter Foundation and posted August 15, 2013. The discussion is moderated by Andrew C. Smith and involves three experts on the history and practice of plural marriage within Church History.  Craig L. FosterBrian C. Hales, and Gregory L. Smith have all published and presented widely on this topic.  The topics include:

  • A historical overview of how and why Joseph and others began its implementation
  • The historical context for marriage in the 19th century (issues of age and timing, as well as economic and historic influences)
  • The development of the institution theologically
  • A discussion of polyandry and sexuality in general within plural marriage relationships and potential offspring
  • A discussion of Mormon historians treatment of such; and
  • The accusations and rhetoric used against Joseph Smith and other leaders for their practice of polygamy.

The discussion ends with some practical suggestions for us in the Church today: why should we know the details of the early Church history of polygamy more than a century after the fact and how can we talk about this polygamous history better in the Church.

Additional resources and links on polygamy and plural marriage can be found below:

FairMormon Frameworks 4: Brian Hales Polygamy

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hales

We sit down with Brian Hales, LDS author of “Joseph Smith’s Polygamy.”  We ask him the hard questions fast and furious and he does a great job answering them.  We discuss polygamy, polyandry, and Joseph’s withholding the knowledge of the practice from the public and even the general membership.  Brian handles every question that is thrown at him. This is a must listen for every person who struggles with polygamy and polyandry. 

The opinions expressed in this podcast and in the referenced books, presentations, podcasts and articles do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or of FairMormon.

 

Bro. Hales books can be found here

Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

 Brian’s Websites

http://www.josephsmithspolygamy.com/

http://www.mormonfundamentalism.com/

FAIR Examination 9: Joseph Smith’s Polygamy-Responding to the Tough Questions

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hales

When people first learn that Joseph Smith practiced plural marriage, many jump to the conclusion that this is another example of someone who used religion for power and sex. In this podcast interview with Dr. Brian Hales, author of Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Dr. Greg Smith asks Dr. Hales some of the most difficult questions that are ever posed regarding polygamy. Smith asks, what do we know about why plural marriage was instituted? What did Emma know, and when did she know it? What was her reaction to plural marriage? How can we begin to understand polyandry, or instances in which Joseph married women who were married to other men? Is it possible that polyandrous marriages were not consummated? Even though there’s no good evidence for consummation of polyandrous relationships, what do we know about sexuality in the other marriages to single women? How can we begin to understand why Joseph married several women who were under the age of eighteen, including two brides that were likely 14 years old? Did Joseph send men on missions to “steal their wives” or marry them? Did Joseph threaten or manipulate women into being married to him? Could and did women refuse him? What were the consequences of doing so?

In addition to his three-volume work entitled Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, Dr. Brian C. Hales is the author of Setting the Record Straight: Mormon Fundamentalism and also Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto, which received the “Best Book of 2007 Award” from the John Whitmer Historical Association. In addition he co-authored the 1992 publication The Priesthood of Modern Polygamy: An LDS Perspective, and is webmaster of mormonfundamentalism.com. Brian works as an anesthesiologist at the Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton, Utah, where he serves as Secretary of the Medical Staff. He also served as President of the Davis County Medical Society in 2009.

An active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Dr. Hales has fulfilled many Church callings and is a former full-time missionary. He has presented at the Mormon History Association meetings, Sunstone Symposiums, and the John Whitmer Historical Association meetings on polygamy-related topics. His articles have also been published in Mormon Historical Studies, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and the Journal of Mormon History. In addition to his historical works, Brian has authored three books on doctrinal themes entitled The Veil  (Cedar Fort, 2000), Trials (Cedar Fort, 2002), and Light (Cedar Fort, 2004).

Dr. Hales has a website on Joseph’s plural marriages here. His material on Mormon “Fundamentalism” is available here.

gsmith

Dr. Greg Smith studied physiology and English at the University of Alberta. After medical school, he did his medical residency in Montréal, Québec, learning all the medical vocabulary and all the French Canadian slang that he didn’t learn during his LDS mission to Paris, France. He is now an old-style country doctor in rural Alberta with interests in internal medicine and psychiatry. A clinical preceptor for residents and medical students, he has been repeatedly honored for excellence in clinical teaching.

A member of FAIR since 2005, Greg helps manage the FAIR wiki. Due to his research interest in plural marriage, he has spoken to the Miller-Eccles study group and been published in the FARMS Review on this and other topics. With twelve years of classical piano training, he is a life-long audiophile and owns far too many MP3 files. He lives happily with his one indulgent wife, three children, and four cats.

The talk about Dr. Smith’s own experience is available at: Gregory L. Smith, “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Plural Marriage (*But Were Afraid to Ask),” FAIR Conference presentation (7 August 2009). The audio version of this presentation can be heard here. You can also hear an interview with Dr. Smith at FAIR Podcast, Episode 1: Gregory L. Smith.

Additional materials from the FairMormon wiki and elsewhere are provided below, as well as cross-references to Hales’ books for readers who wish to study his evidence in more detail.

  • Regarding the types of evidence that exist for studying Joseph’s plural marriages: See Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:6–21.
  • On fiction written about the Mormons rather than history or even journalism: See Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:23, 27–29
  • Regarding Joseph’s behavior and character:
  • On the Introduction of eternal marriage
  •  On Fanny Alger and Willaim McLellin
  • Regarding the reports of Joseph telling people about an angel commanding him to implement plural marriage.
  • On Polyandry
    • A YouTube presentation by Dr. Hales at a recent FAIR conference can be found here, with a transcript here.
    • FairMormon wiki articles can be found here and here.
    • See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Vol. 1, 303–474.
  • On the case of Sylvia Sessions Lyon.
  • Regarding other marriages to single women?
    • See Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Vol. 1, 277–302.
    • A more dated analysis is also available in Smith, “George D. Smith’s Nauvoo Polygamy,” 108–112.
  • Regarding children
    • See the FairMormon Wiki article here.
    • See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Vol. 1, 277–302.
  • With respect to marriages to young women
    • See the FairMormon Wiki article here and here.
    • See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 2:286–300, and Craig L. Foster, David Keller, and Gregory L. Smith, “The Age Joseph Smith’s Plural Wives in Social and Demographic Context,” in Newell G. Bringhurst and Craig L. Foster eds., The Persistence of Polygamy: Joseph Smith and the Origins of Mormon Polygamy (Independence, John Whitmer Books Press 2010), 152–183. Keller also explores some of the data discussed in this article on-line here and here.
  • A summary of the Temple Lot case, with citations from Hales’ volume is available here. See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:404–407.
  • With respect to whether Joseph sent men on missions to marry their wives
    • See the FairMormon Wiki articles here and here.
    • Marriage to Orson Hyde’s wife is discussed here.
    • See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 313–315, 515–594.
  • Did Joseph threaten or manipulate women into being married to him? Could and did women refuse him? What were the consequences of doing so?
    • See the FairMormon Wiki articles here and here.
    • On Nancy Rigdon and Sarah Pratt, see here.
    • See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:274–275; 2:31, 115, 120–121.
  • With respect to Emma’s reaction to plural marriage
    • See the FairMormon Wiki article here.
    • See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Vol. 2, 33–138.
  • Regarding the unique dilemma in which Emma was placed by plural marriage
    • See the FairMormon Wiki entry here
    • See also Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy Vol. 2, 113–138.
  • For views on why was plural marriage instituted

The opinions expressed in this podcast and in the referenced books, presentations, podcasts and articles do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or of FairMormon.

Subtle . . . and Significant! Our New 2013 Edition of the Scriptures Address Controversies

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On Friday, March 1st, the Church announced the immediate availability in digital format of a new edition of scriptures in English that incorporates changes, updates, and improvements over the 1981 edition that has served Church members for 32 years. On its website, the Church stated that the reason for the updates was to take advantage of the need to replace the printing master plates in use since 1979 and 1981 by making corrections and updates.

Such changes to scriptures are not new.  The most significant changes in recent history were made to the 1981 print edition, which included updated chapter headings, an enhanced Bible Dictionary, a more comprehensive index, cross-referenced footnotes, pronunciation guides, improved and updated maps, as well as a few changes of substance that added clarity to scripture readings. Continue reading

Mormon FAIR-Cast 90: Mormons on the BBC

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This episode of the BBC World Service program, World Have Your Say, features members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The five-member panel answers questions from listeners from all over the world, including: Whether Mormons want to be recognized as a mainstream religion? What part of the Mormon faith is influenced by the Bible, and what part is influenced by the culture of its founders? Why is polygamy stereotypically linked to Mormonism? Would Mitt Romney be expected to spread the Mormon faith as a president? Why are Mormons secretive? Why are they not as open as other churches? What effect will the past ban on ordaining African Americans to the priesthood have on Mitt Romney’s ability to win over minority voters? What is the purpose of temples? What has generated the rapid spread of Mormonism? What would Christ think of a religion that teaches that it is the only true church? What is the Mormon view on the separation of church and state? What is it like to be a female member of the Church and a member of the Relief Society, the largest women’s organization in the world?

This program is posted here by permission of the BBC. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent the opinions of FAIR or of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint.

Review: No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues

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Review of No Weapon Shall Prosper: New Light on Sensitive Issues
Edited by Robert L. Millett
Published by BYU Religious Studies Center and Deseret Book, 2011

Rather than focusing primarily on the methods commonly used by critics as other recent books of this genre do (such as Michael Ash’s Shaken Faith Syndrome, which I also highly recommend), this book contains essays that address some of the most common issues that are used to attack the faith of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is intended to help the reader gain a better understanding of these topics in a faith-promoting, but scholarly and honest environment, against the flood of misinformation available online today. Indeed, the editor notes that “The Internet is filled with thousands of pages of anti-Mormon polemic, and it is extremely difficult for people to receive an honest and fair appraisal of Mormonism without significant effort on their part” (page viii).

Besides those by the editor, Robert L. Millett, the book contains contributions by Daniel L. Belnap, J. Spencer Fluhman, Steven C. Harper, Brian M. Hauglid, Daniel K. Judd, Kerry Muhlestein, Ugo A. Perego, Brent L. Top, and John W. Welch. They are split into four categories: Restored Christianity, Latter-day Saint Church History, Scriptural Perspectives, and Doctrinal Teachings. The topics include what it means to be a Christian, the various accounts of the First Vision, the Smiths’ involvement in money-digging and the supernatural, the Kinderhook plates, Joseph Smith’s youngest plural wife, DNA and the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, and Jesus Christ and salvation, among many others. Many of the topics are written by experts in the area – for example, a population geneticist discusses DNA and the Book of Mormon, two Egyptologists discuss the Book of Abraham, and an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers tackles the subject of multiple versions of the First Vision. I would like to concentrate on a few topics of particular interest to me in order to give an idea of the overall book.

Kent P. Jackson’s cleverly titled “Are Christians Christians?” discusses what it means to be a Christian from the point of view of mainstream Christianity and where it came from. He examines statements from the Presbyterian and Methodist churches that declare us to be unchristian. He explains why their definition is unbiblical, and happily admits that we should not be included in it. “We, of all people, should not be offended that other churches consider our baptisms invalid and do not recognize the authority of our priesthood holders to officiate in their ordinances. Since the first days of our church’s history, we have denied the validity of the authority and ordinances of all other churches (see D&C 22). We concede that we are not members of the historic Christian church that includes our Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant brothers and sisters. But to consider us not Christians on issues of belief is another matter” (page 55). He then goes on to explain that our definition of the word Christian is scriptural (although we have no official statement of such), and that by that definition we would also include those of other faiths previously mentioned.

Steven C. Harper, an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers, wrote about the accounts of Joseph Smith’s First Vision, saying it “may be the best documented theophany (vision of God) in history.” He finds the five different known accounts in eight statements (plus contemporary hearsay) to be “rich documentation” and “a good reason to believe him” rather than being evidence of an inconsistent and evolving story as others contend. (Page 63.) He describes how Fawn Brodie and Wesley Walters shaped the criticisms that are popular today, and did not reconsider their interpretations even when new evidence against them came to light. He points out that “those who share the skeptics’ assumptions will likely arrive at the same conclusions as the skeptics. But those who are open to the possibility that Joseph told the truth can discover other meanings from the same facts” (page 71).

Ugo A. Perego, who holds a PhD in genetics and biomolecular sciences, handles the question of whether DNA proves or disproves the Book of Mormon. He goes into great detail explaining how DNA is used in research, the current theories about migrations into the Americas, and describes the various theories for and against the Book of Mormon based on available DNA evidence. He points out the problems with each of these theories (such as evidence showing up in the wrong time period, wrong assumptions being used, and misunderstandings of the limitations of DNA research) and arrives at the conclusion that DNA evidence can neither be used to prove nor disprove that the people in the Book of Mormon actually existed. (In fact, he points out that it can’t even be used to prove that Jesus existed.) He says that “I find no difficulties in reconciling my scientific passion about Native American history with my religious beliefs. I am not looking for a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon in the double helix. …Anyone using DNA to ascertain the accuracy of historical events of a religious nature – which require instead a component of faith – will be sorely disappointed” (page 208).

One of the essays on the Book of Abraham is by Kerry Muhlestein, who has a PhD in Egyptology from UCLA. He begins by explaining how he got interested in the Book of Abraham, and why Egyptologists outside the church dismiss it. He also found that many members of the church who struggle with the issues involved with the Book of Abraham aren’t looking for an excuse to leave the church, but have “encountered well-written (though not necessarily well-documented or researched) arguments…and did not know how to answer the questions posed by these arguments.” He found that those publishing critical information are generally unaware that it is “based on incorrect information and bad assumptions. They are misled by the mistakes, lies, and trash put out by a few, and they unwittingly pass the information along without really looking into their sources” (page 219).

He then goes on to debunk some of the misinformation, such as the idea that there was no human sacrifice in ancient Egypt. He also found that one of the words supposedly made up by Joseph Smith (Olishem) has been discovered in two ancient texts. He discovered that Egyptians had access to biblical stories by 200 BC (which was the right time period for the papyri), and were particularly interested in Abraham. He presented this information to a conference put on by the Russian Academy of Science and received positive reviews. He talks about evidence that what we actually have possession of today was a very small part of what Joseph had, and gives reasons why it likely was not the source of the Book of Abraham, other than Facsimile 1. He also briefly discusses the mystery of the Kirtland Egyptian Papers, which were not likely to have been used in the translation process, as some critics have claimed. Another important point he makes is that “written by his own hand, upon papyrus” does not mean that the actual papyrus we have was written by the hand of Abraham, but that it is a copy of the original that Abraham would have written on much earlier. He also devotes several pages to Facsimile 1, pointing out many evidences (and some possible theories) for the authenticity of the interpretations provided by Joseph Smith.

Overall, I thought the book was quite good, although some essays were better than others. Some of the more doctrinal ones, in particular, presented a few points as given that not all members would agree on. But such is the nature of Mormonism. The book could be used to answer questions for oneself, to help a member friend or an investigator, or for inoculation against misinformation and half-truths encountered in a hostile environment. It would be useful reading for those preparing to serve a mission, for families, and for any individual interested in learning more about these issues or defending the church.

This book is available at the FAIR bookstore here.

Mormon FAIR-Cast 85: Foundations of fundamentalist polygamy

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What is the connection between some of the modern polygamist groups and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? In this episode of Religion Today that originally aired on February 26, 2012, Martin Tanner discusses the arguments used by some fundamentalist groups to justify their practice of polygamy, and why these arguments are inconsistent with the modern doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This recording was used by permission of KSL Radio and does not necessarily represent the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FAIR.

FAIR Examination 9: Polygamy as an Abrahamic Sacrifice–Dr. Valerie Hudson

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The Book of Mormon condemns polygamy, and calls it abominable. Modern leaders of the Church have condemned the practice. In light of this, what are we to make of the ancient practice of polygamy and of the practice of polygamy by early Mormons? Does the Book of Mormon contradict the Doctrine & Covenants? What of polygamy in the next life? Is polygamy necessary to exaltation? If polygamy is legalized in the United States, will the Church reinstitute polygamy? In this episode of FAIR Examination, Dr. Valerie M. Hudson shares her thoughts on these and other questions.

While Dr. Hudson was a professor of political science at Brigham Young University, she was listed as one of the “100 Top Global Thinkers of 2009″ by Foreign Policy Magazine. In January 2012, she became a Professor and George H.W. Bush Chair in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, teaching in the masters of international affairs program. More of her views on polygamy, women and the priesthood, and other women’s issues are discussed in the book Women in Eternity, Women in Zion that she co-authored with Alma Don Sorenson.

For further information on polygamy, see the FAIR Wiki article posted here.

The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or of FAIR.