TO THOSE WHO ARE INVESTIGATING
By RICHARD PACKHAM
Revisions as of May 14, 2005
If you are investigating Mormonism (the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints" or "LDS Church"), you are probably studying it in private meetings in
your home with missionaries from that church. Here are some of the key things
that they are probably telling you:
- Mormonism began in 1820 when a teen-aged boy in western New York named
Joseph Smith was spurred by a Christian revival where he lived to pray to God
for guidance as to which church was true. In answer to his prayers he was
visited by God the Father and God the Son, two separate beings, who told him
to join no church because all the churches at that time were false, and that
he, Joseph, would bring forth the true church. This event is called "The First
- In 1823 Joseph had another heavenly visitation, in which an angel named
Moroni told him of a sacred history written by ancient Hebrews in America,
engraved in an Egyptian dialect on tablets of gold and buried in a nearby
hill. Joseph was told it was the history of the ancient peoples of America,
and that Joseph would be the instrument for bringing this record to the
knowledge of the world. Joseph obtained these gold plates from the angel in
1827, and translated them into English by the spirit of God and the use of a
sacred instrument accompanying the plates called the "Urim and Thummim." The
translation was published in 1830 as The Book of Mormon, now
revered by Mormons as scripture, along with the Bible.
- The Book of Mormon is a religious and secular history of the
inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere from about 2200 BC to about 421 AD. It
tells the reader that the American Indians are descended from three groups of
immigrants who were led by God from their original homes in the Near East to
America. One group came from the Tower of Babel, and two other groups came
from Jerusalem just before the Babylonian Captivity, about 600 BC. They were
led by prophets of God who had the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is thus
preserved in their history, the Book of Mormon. Many of the descendants
of these immigrants were Christians, even before Christ was born in Palestine,
but many were unbelievers. Believers and unbelievers fought many wars, the
last of which left only degenerate unbelievers as survivors, who are the
ancestors of the American Indians. The most important event during this long
history was the visit of Jesus Christ to America, after his crucifixion, when
he ministered to (and converted) all the inhabitants.
- Joseph Smith was directed by revelation from God to reestablish
("restore") the true church, which he did in 1830. He was visited several
times by heavenly messengers, who ordained him to the true priesthood. He
continued to have revelations from God to guide the church and to give more
knowledge of the Gospel. Many of these revelations are published in the
Doctrine and Covenants, accepted by Mormons as scripture, along with
the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
- Joseph Smith and his followers were continually persecuted for their
religious beliefs, and driven from New York State to Ohio, then to Missouri,
then to Illinois, where Joseph Smith was murdered in 1844 by a mob, a martyr
to his beliefs. The church was then led by Brigham Young, Joseph's successor,
to Utah, where the Mormons settled successfully.
- The LDS church is led today by the successors of Joseph Smith. The present
president of the church is a "prophet, seer and revelator" just as Joseph
Smith was, and guides the members of the church through revelations and
guidance from God.
- The modern LDS church is the only true church, as restored by God through
Joseph Smith. Other churches, derived from the early Christian church, are in
apostasy because their leaders corrupted the scriptures, changed the
ordinances of the original church, and often led corrupt lives, thus losing
- By accepting baptism into the LDS church you take the first step necessary
toward your salvation and your ultimate entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven
(the "Celestial Kingdom").
WHAT THE MISSIONARIES WILL NOT TELL YOU
Until recently, the missionaries were required to present Mormonism in
six "discussions", which were a series of memorized sales talks. They are now
encouraged simply to "follow the spirit" in their presentations. The basic
message and approach, however, is still essentially the same. A thorough,
thoughtful and balanced discussion of each of the six "official" lessons as
the missionaries formerly presented them to investigators is at
https://www.lds4u.com, together with the
techniques and strategies which the missionaries are instructed to use. (The
actual texts of the discussions were also on this site at one time, but the
Mormon church threatened the webmaster with a lawsuit, and he removed them;
click on "next" at each window to read a summary and commentary.)
Here is a summary of important facts about the Mormon church, its doctrine,
and its history that the missionaries will probably not tell you. We are not
suggesting that they are intentionally deceiving you --most of the young Mormons
serving missions for the church are not well educated in the history of the
church or in modern critical studies of the church. They probably do not know
the all the facts themselves. They have been trained, however, to give
investigators "milk before meat," that is, to postpone revealing anything at all
that might make an investigator hesitant, even if it is true. But you
should be aware of these facts before you commit yourself.
Each of the following facts has been substantiated by thorough historical
scholarship. And this list is by no means exhaustive! For links to
articles substantiating each of these points, CLICK
on the word NOTES following the
- The "First Vision" story in the form presented to you was unknown until
1838, eighteen years after its alleged occurrence and almost ten
years after Smith had begun his missionary efforts. The oldest (but quite
different) version of the vision is in Smith's own handwriting, dating from
about 1832 (still at least eleven years afterwards), and says that
only one personage, Jesus Christ, appeared to him. It also mentions
nothing about a revival. It also contradicts the later account as to whether
Smith had already decided that no church was true. Still a third version of
this event is recorded as a recollection in Smith's diary, fifteen years after
the alleged vision, where one unidentified "personage" appeared, then another,
with a message implying that neither was the Son. They were accompanied by
many "angels," which are not mentioned in the official version you have been
told about. Which version is correct, if any? Why was this event, now said by
the church to be so important, unknown for so long? NOTES
- Careful study of the religious history of the locale where Smith lived in
1820 casts doubt on whether there actually was such an extensive revival that
year as Smith and his family later described as associated with the "First
Vision." The revivals in 1817 and 1824 better fit what Smith described later.
- In 1828, eight years after he supposedly had been told by God himself to
join no church, Smith applied for membership in a local Methodist church.
Other members of his family had joined the Presbyterians.
- Contemporaries of Smith consistently described him as something of a
confidence man, whose chief source of income was hiring out to local farmers
to help them find buried treasure by the use of folk magic and "seer stones."
Smith was actually tried in 1826 on a charge of moneydigging. NOTES
It is interesting that none of his critics seemed to be aware of his claim to
have been visited by God in 1820, even though in his 1838 account he claimed
that he had suffered "great persecution" for telling people of his vision.
- The only persons who claimed to have actually seen the gold plates were
eleven close friends of Smith (many of them related to each other). Their
testimonies are printed in the front of every copy of the Book of Mormon.
No disinterested third party was ever allowed to examine them. They were
retrieved by the angel at some unrecorded point. Most of the witnesses later
abandoned Smith and left his movement. Smith then called them "liars." NOTES
- Smith produced most of the "translation" not by reading the plates through
the Urim and Thummim (described as a pair of sacred spectacles), but by gazing
at the same "seer stone" he had used for treasure hunting. He would place the
stone into his hat, and then cover his face with it. For much of the time he
was dictating, the gold plates were not even present, but in a hiding place.
- The detailed history and civilization described in the Book of Mormon
does not correspond to anything found by archaeologists anywhere in the
Americas. The Book of Mormon describes a civilization lasting for a
thousand years, covering both North and South America, which was familiar with
horses, elephants, cattle, sheep, wheat, barley, steel, wheeled vehicles,
shipbuilding, sails, coins, and other elements of Old World culture. But no
trace of any of these supposedly very common things has ever been found in the
Americas of that period. Nor does the Book of Mormon mention many of
the features of the civilizations which really did exist at that time in the
Americas. The LDS church has spent millions of dollars over many years trying
to prove through archaeological research that the Book of Mormon is an
accurate historical record, but they have failed to produce any convincing
pre-columbian archeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon
story. In addition, whereas the Book of Mormon presents the picture of
a relatively homogeneous people, with a single language and communication
between distant parts of the Americas, the pre-columbian history of the
Americas shows the opposite: widely disparate racial types (almost entirely
east Asian - definitely not Semitic, as proven by recent DNA studies), and
many unrelated native languages, none of which are even remotely related to
Hebrew or Egyptian. NOTES
- The people of the Book of Mormon were supposedly devout Jews
observing the Law of Moses, but in the Book of Mormon there is almost
no trace of their observance of Mosaic law or even an accurate knowledge of
- Although Joseph Smith said that God had pronounced the completed
translation of the plates as published in 1830 "correct," many changes have
been made in later editions. Besides thousands of corrections of poor grammar
and awkward wording in the 1830 edition, other changes have been made to
reflect subsequent changes in some of the fundamental doctrine of the church.
For example, an early change in wording modified the 1830 edition's acceptance
of the doctrine of the Trinity, thus allowing Smith to introduce his later
doctrine of multiple gods. A more recent change (1981) replaced "white" with
"pure," apparently to reflect the change in the church's stance on the "curse"
of the black race. NOTES
- Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon contained the "fulness of
the gospel." However, its teaching on many doctrinal subjects has been ignored
or contradicted by the present LDS church, and many doctrines now said by the
church to be essential are not even mentioned there. Examples are the church's
position on the nature of God, the Virgin Birth, the Trinity, polygamy, Hell,
priesthood, secret organizations, the nature of Heaven and salvation, temples,
proxy ordinances for the dead, and many other matters. NOTES
- Many of the basic historical notions found in the Book of Mormon had
appeared in print already in 1825, just two years before Smith began producing
the Book of Mormon, in a book called View of the Hebrews, by
Ethan Smith (no relation) and published just a few miles from where Joseph
Smith lived. A careful study of this obscure book led one LDS church official
(the historian B. H. Roberts, 1857-1933) to confess that the evidence tended
to show that the Book of Mormon was not an ancient record, but
concocted by Joseph Smith himself, based on ideas he had read in the earlier
- Although Mormons claim that God is guiding the LDS church through its
president (who has the title "prophet, seer and revelator"), the successive
"prophets" have repeatedly either led the church into undertakings that were
dismal failures or failed to see approaching disaster. To mention only a few:
the Kirtland Bank, the United Order, the gathering of Zion to Missouri, the
Zion's Camp expedition, polygamy, the Deseret Alphabet NOTES.
A recent example is the successful hoax perpetrated on the church by
manuscript dealer Mark Hofmann in the 1980s. He succeeded in selling the
church thousands of dollars worth of manuscripts which he had forged. The
church and its "prophet, seer and revelator" accepted them as genuine
historical documents. The church leaders learned the truth not from God,
through revelation, but from non-Mormon experts and the police, after Hofmann
was arrested for two murders he committed to cover up his hoax. This scandal
was reported nationwide. NOTES
- The secret temple ritual (the "endowment") was introduced by Smith in May,
1842, just two months after he had been initiated into Freemasonry. The LDS
temple ritual closely resembles the Masonic ritual of that day.
NOTES Smith explained that the Masons had corrupted
the ancient (God-given) ritual by changing it and removing parts of it, and
that he was restoring it to its "pure" and "original" (and complete) form, as
revealed to him by God. In the years since, the LDS church has made many
fundamental changes in the "pure and original" ritual as "restored" by Smith,
mostly by removing major parts of it. NOTES
- Many doctrines which were once taught by the LDS church, and held to be
fundamental, essential and "eternal", have been abandoned. Whether we feel
that the church was correct in abandoning them is not the point; rather, the
point is that a church claiming to be the church of God takes one
"everlasting" position at one time and the opposite position at another, all
the time claiming to be proclaiming the word of God. Some examples are:
- The Adam-God doctrine (Adam is God the Father); NOTES
- the United Order (all property of church members is to be held in common,
with title in the church);
- Plural Marriage (polygamy; a man must have more than one wife to attain the
highest degree of heaven); NOTES
- the Curse of Cain (the black race is not entitled to hold God's priesthood
because it is cursed; this doctrine was not abandoned until 1978);
- Blood Atonement (some sins - apostasy, adultery, murder, interracial
marriage - must be atoned for by the shedding of the sinner's blood,
preferably by someone appointed to do so by church authorities); NOTES
All of these doctrines were proclaimed by the reigning prophet to be the Word
of God, "eternal," "everlasting," to govern the church "forevermore." All have
been abandoned by the present church.
- Joseph Smith's early revelations were collected and first published in
1833 in the Book of Commandments. God (as recorded in the
Doctrine and Covenants Sections 1 and 67) supposedly testified by
revelation that the revelations as published were true and correct. Because
the Book of Commandments did not receive wide distribution (most
copies were destroyed by angry opponents of the Mormons in Missouri, where it
was published), they were republished - with additional revelations - as the
Doctrine and Covenants in 1835 in Kirtland, Ohio. However, many
of the revelations as published in Kirtland differed fundamentally from their
versions as originally given. The changes generally gave more power and
authority to Smith, and justified changes he was making in church organization
and theology. The question naturally arises as to why revelations which God
had pronounced correct needed to be revised. NOTES
- Joseph Smith claimed to be a "translator" by the power of God. In addition
to the Book of Mormon, he made several other "translations":
- The Book of Abraham, from Egyptian papyrus scrolls which came
into his possession in 1835. He stated that the scrolls were written by the
biblical Abraham "by his own hand." Smith's translation is now accepted as
scripture by the LDS church, as part of its Pearl of Great Price.
Smith also produced an "Egyptian Grammar" based on his translation. Modern
scholars of ancient Egyptian agree that the scrolls are common Egyptian
funeral scrolls, entirely pagan in nature, having nothing to do with Abraham,
and from a period 2000 years later than Abraham. The "Grammar" has been said
by Egyptologists to prove that Smith had no notion of the Egyptian language.
It is pure fantasy: he made it up. NOTES
- The "Inspired Revision" of the King James Bible. Smith was commanded by God
to retranslate the Bible because the existing translations contained errors.
He completed his translation in 1833, but the church still uses the King James
- The "Kinderhook Plates," a group of six metal plates with strange engraved
characters, unearthed in 1843 near Kinderhook, Illinois, and examined by
Smith, who began a "translation" of them. He never completed the translation,
but he identified the plates as an "ancient record," and translated enough to
identify the author as a descendant of Pharaoh. Local farmers later confessed
that they had manufactured, engraved and buried the plates themselves as a
hoax. They had apparently copied the characters from a Chinese tea box. NOTES
- Joseph Smith claimed to be a "prophet." He frequently prophesied future
events "by the power of God." Many of these prophecies are recorded in the LDS
scripture Doctrine and Covenants. Almost none have been fulfilled, and
many cannot now be fulfilled because the deeds to be done by the persons named
were never done and those persons are now dead. Many prophecies included dates
for their fulfillment, and those dates are now long past, the events never
having occurred. NOTES
- Joseph Smith died not as a martyr, but in a gun battle in which he fired a
number of shots. He was in jail at the time, under arrest for having ordered
the destruction of a Nauvoo newspaper which dared to print an exposure (which
was true) of his secret sexual liaisons. At that time he had announced his
candidacy for the presidency of the United States, set up a secret government,
and secretly had himself crowned "King of the Kingdom of God."
- Since the founding of the church down to the present day the church
leaders have not hesitated to lie, to falsify documents, to rewrite or
suppress history, or to do whatever is necessary to protect the image of the
church. Many Mormon historians have been excommunicated from the church for
publishing their findings on the truth of Mormon history. NOTES
- Mormonism includes many other unusual doctrines which you will probably
not be told about until you have been in the church for a long time. These
doctrines are not revealed to investigators or new converts because those
people are not yet considered ready to have more than "milk" as doctrine. The
Mormons also probably realize that if investigators knew of these unusual
teachings they would not join the church. In addition to those mentioned
elsewhere in this article, the following are noteworthy: NOTES
- God was once a man like us.
- God has a tangible body of flesh and bone.
- God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.
- God ("Heavenly Father") has at least one wife, our "Mother in Heaven,"
but she is so holy that we are not to discuss her nor pray to her.
- We can become like God and rule over our own universe.
- There are many gods, ruling over their own worlds.
- Jesus and Satan ("Lucifer") are brothers, and they are our brothers - we
are all spirit children of Heavenly Father
- Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father by having sex with Mary,
who was temporarily his wife.
- We should not pray to Jesus, nor try to feel a personal relationship
- "God" ("Jehovah") in the Old Testament is the being named Jesus in the
- In the the highest degree of the celestial kingdom some men will have
more than one wife.
- Before coming to this earth we lived as spirits in a "pre-existence",
during which we were tested; our position in this life (whether born to
Mormons or savages, or in America or Africa) is our reward or punishment for
our obedience in that life.
- Dark skin is a curse from God, the result of our sin, or the sin of our
ancestors. If sufficiently righteous, a dark-skinned person will become
- The Garden of Eden was in Missouri. All humanity before the Great Flood
lived in the western hemisphere. The Ark transported Noah and the other
survivors to the eastern hemisphere.
YOUR LIFE AS A MORMON
If you should decide to become a member of the LDS church, you should be
aware of what your life in the church will be like. Although you will find
yourself warmly accepted by a lively community of healthy, active and generally
supportive people, many of whom are very happy in Mormonism and could not
imagine their lives without it, there is another side:
- You will be continually reminded that to enter the highest degree of
heaven (the "Celestial Kingdom"), you will have to go through the endowment
ceremony in the temple and have your marriage to your Mormon spouse "sealed."
(If your spouse is not Mormon, or if you are not married, you cannot enter the
highest degree of heaven.) To get permission to have these ceremonies
performed in the temple, you must prove yourself to be a faithful and obedient
member of the church and do everything commanded by the church authorities,
from the Prophet down to the local level. You will have to undergo a personal
"worthiness" interview with the local church authorities inquiring into your
private life and your religious and social activities.
- You will be expected to donate at least ten percent of your income to the
church as tithing. Other donations will be expected as the need arises. You
will never see an accounting of how this money is spent, or how much the
church receives, or anything at all about its financial condition; the church
keeps its finances secret, even from its members. NOTES
- You will be expected to give up the use of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and
- You will be expected to fulfill any work assignment given to you. These
assignments may be teaching, record keeping, janitorial work, cannery or farm
work, helping in the Sunday nursery - any job that needs to be done. Each task
you perform successfully will make you eligible for others, with more
responsibility and more demands upon your time. The members who perform these
jobs, even those involving sensitive pastoral counseling, receive no formal
training whatsoever (there is no paid, trained clergy). You will be told that
God has called you to your assignments. Many Mormons find much of their spare
time taken up with church work, trying to fulfill the numerous assignments
that have been given them.
- You will be expected to be unquestioningly obedient to church authorities
in whatever they might tell you to do. "Follow the Brethren" is the slogan,
and it means to follow without doubt or question. Discussion of whether a
decree from above is correct is discouraged. You will be expected to have
faith that the leaders cannot possibly lead you astray. Even if they should
tell you something which contradicts what a previous prophet may have said,
you will be told "A living prophet takes precedence over a dead prophet."
- You will be able to "vote" on those who have been called to positions of
authority over you, but the voting will be by the show of hands in a public
meeting. Only one candidate for each office will be voted on (the one "called
by God"). The voting is therefore almost always unanimous in favor of the
- You will be advised not to read any material which is "not
faith-promoting," that is, which may be critical or questioning of the church
or its leaders, or which might place the church or its leaders in an
- You will be advised not to associate with "apostates," that is, former
Mormons. (You will be asked in your "worthiness" interview about this.)
- If you are unmarried, you will be encouraged to marry a good Mormon as
soon as possible. When you do marry, in a wedding ceremony in the temple, your
non-Mormon family members and friends will not be allowed to attend the
ceremony, because only "worthy" Mormons are allowed to enter the temple.
- If you are homosexual, you will be pressured to abandon this "evil" aspect
of your nature. If you do not, you will probably not be fully accepted by
other church members. If you do not remain celibate, you may be
- If you are a male over 12 years of age and "worthy" (that is, if you are
obedient, attend meetings, do not masturbate NOTES,
etc.), you will be ordained to one of the levels of priesthood, and, if you
continue to be faithful and obedient, you will gradually advance through the
priesthood ranks. If you are female, you will receive the benefits of
priesthood authority only indirectly, through your Mormon father or your
Mormon husband. The role of the Mormon woman is to be a wife and mother and to
obey and honor her priest husband (or father). NOTES
- If you prove yourself to be faithful, hard working and obedient, you will
eventually be considered worthy to "receive your endowment" in a Mormon
temple. You will not be told in advance exactly what to expect in this lengthy
ceremony, except that the details of the ritual are secret (Mormons prefer to
say they are just "sacred," but they treat them as though they are secret). As
part of that ceremony you will be required to swear a number of oaths, the
penalty for violation of which is no longer stated but until 1990 was death by
various bloody methods, such as having your throat slit from ear to ear. You
will be given the secret signs and passwords which are required to enter
heaven. (Although most Mormons who have not received the endowment know very
little about the ceremony, the entire liturgy is now available on the Internet
to Mormon and non-Mormon alike.) After receiving the endowment you will be
required to wear a special undergarment at all times. NOTES
- If you should ever decide that you made a mistake in joining the church
and then leave it, you will probably find (judging from the experiences of
others who have done so) that many of your Mormon friends will abandon and
shun you. If you are unable to convince your family members to leave the
church with you, you will find that the church has broken up your family and
your relationship with them may never recover. NOTES
Consider very carefully before you commit yourself, and remember that any
doubts you may have now will likely only increase.
Examine carefully both sides of the Mormon story. Listen to the stories of
those who have been through an unhappy Mormon experience, not just those Mormons
who may speak glowingly of life in the church. NOTES
The Mormon missionaries are often charming and enthusiastic. They have an
attractive story to tell. At first it sounds wonderful. But remember the old
saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!" Be careful not to
fall into the trap of believing something simply because you want it to be true.
Mormons may tell you that those who criticize the church are lying, misquoting
and distorting. If you examine the sources used by the critics, however, you
will discover that most of their source material is from official or
semi-official Mormon writings. You, too, should examine those sources.
Is Mormonism a "cult"? Many experts on religious cults see in Mormonism the
same fundamental characteristics as cults which have entrapped the unsuspecting,
even though most people think of "cults" only as small, unknown groups. Use a
"cult checklist" to evaluate Mormonism, or any group, before you commit
To get more information about the other side of Mormonism, or to see the
evidence supporting any of our statements about the church, feel free to contact
us. Our only aim is to make sure that you hear both sides. We promise not to
preach at you, but only to provide you with facts to balance the Mormon story.
Click here for the names
and e-mail addresses of people to contact. Click
here to read personal stories of people
who have left Mormonism.
For a version of this INVESTIGATOR'S INFORMATION TRACT which can be
downloaded and printed for handing out or mailing
click here. It contains
instructions on how to edit it for use as a hand-out.
NOTES AND LINKS TO MORE FACTS
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links and references listed here, in addition to
containing valuable material about Mormonism, also contain Christian
proselytizing material. Their inclusion here is not intended as an endorsement
of any religion or religious organization.
INTERNET SITES AND LISTS OF LINKS
https://www.exmormon.org/goodsite.htm Links to other sites.
https://www.mormonismi.info/jamesdavid/table.htm An alphabetical list, by
topic, of Mormon-related links; many articles. Originally by James David.
https://www.lds-mormon.com Articles and
links; one of the oldest and most extensive Internet sites on Mormonism.
https://www.josephlied.com Mike Norton's
excellent analysis of Mormon problems.
https://utlm.org/ Many articles by Jerald and
Sandra Tanner, especially from their newsletter The Salt Lake City Messenger.
Also several complete books are online here, including their complete book
The Changing World of
https://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/mormon.shtml Text of many early Mormon
publications, including the 1830 version of the Book of Mormon and the
original Book of Commandments. Curt Van Den Heuvel's site.
https://www.irr.org/mit "Mormons In
Transition," sponsored by the Insitute for Religious Research, with many
articles; Christian orientation; an on-line newsgroup, (MIT-Talk) with
https://www.mrm.org The "Mormon Research
Ministry," an evangelical Christian group headed by Bill McKeever; many good
articles on Mormonism
https://www.bcmmin.org/ The "Berean
Christian Ministry," headed by John Farkas; many articles, a useful
chronology of church history, and a
long refutation of a Mormon
scholar's attempt to discredit critics of the church.
A collection of historical quotations from Mormon leaders themselves
which cast doubt on Mormonism.
Mormonism" - an excellent site by former Mormon "Deconstructor"
https://trialsofascension.net/mormon.html "20 Truths About Mormonism" by Jim
Day, Ph. D.
Opposing Religions Views - LDS More links on Mormonism
side-by-side listing of internet articles on both sides of controversial Mormon
issues - maintained by Cora Judd
Listed here are only a few "must read" books. There are hundreds of others. If
your local library does not own them, your librarian can obtain them for you on
interlibrary loan, usually for a very small fee. Most books listed are linked to
on-line reviews or order information.
No Man Knows My
History: The Life of Joseph Smith by Fawn M. Brodie, 2nd ed., Knopf, New
York, 1993. The most authoritative biography of Joseph Smith. Brodie is a well
Mormonism: Shadow or Reality
by Gerald and Sandra Tanner, 5th edition, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987, Salt
Lake City. The Tanners have done extensive research on early Mormon history and
made many rare publications available by publishing photocopies of them at a low
price. This book is a good summary of the contradictions and problems of
Mormonism. Available from Utah
Lighthouse Ministry, where a catalog of their publications is available.
Also published in a slightly smaller version as The Changing World of
Mormonism, Moody Press, Chicago, 1981 (now
Mormonism: Tradition and the Historical Record by H. Michael Marquardt
and Wesley P. Walters, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 1994. A detailed
examination by historians of Mormonism's origins.
and the Origins of the Book of Mormon (Second edition) by David
Persuitte, McFarland & Co., 2000
Eden: Coming to Terms With Mormonism and Science by Duwayne R.
Anderson, Authorhouse, 2003 - a scientist and former Mormon examines Mormonism's
Losing a Lost Tribe:
Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church by Simon G. Southerton
(DNA scientist, former Mormon bishop), Signature Books, 2004
An Insider's View of
Mormon Origins by Grant Palmer (Mormon, retired instructor in the
church's educational system); a frank disclosure of many aspects of early Mormon
For Any Latter-day Saint:
One Investigator's Unanswered Questions by Sharon I. Banister, Star Bible
Publications, Fort Worth, 1988 (available from the author, Rt 1 Box 20, Ladonia,
TX 75449, for $8.00 postpaid). Over 600 problematical questions about Mormon
history and doctrine, very clearly presented, with many photographic
reproductions of the relevant Mormon books and diaries. (See my review
REFERENCES TO SPECIFIC TOPICS
THE "FIRST VISION"
https://www.irr.org/mit/fvision.html The official version, and why it is a
https://www.i4m.com/think/intro/must_believe_vision.htm The church insists
that belief in the validity of the "First Vision" is the basis of Mormonism
https://www.irr.org/mit/First-Vision-Accounts.html All of the early (and
contradictory) accounts, from Mormon sources
https://www.irr.org/mit/inventbk.html (a review of the book Inventing
THE 1820 REVIVAL
The question of whether there was a revival in 1820 matching Smith's story has
been hotly debated by Mormon and non-Mormon scholars. See the exchange between
Richard L. Bushman (Mormon) and Wesley P. Walters (non-Mormon) in
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, (Spring 1969) 4:1:58ff. A summary
of the opposing points of view (by a Mormon scholar) is Marvin Hill, "The First
Vision: A Critique and Reconciliation," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon
Thought, (Summer 1982) 15:31-46.
https://www.xmission.com/~research/about/index.htm (Michael Marquardt's site)
The following three links are about Marquardt's book Inventing Mormonism,
a scholarly investigation into Mormonism's early years:
JOSEPH SMITH AND THE METHODISTS
For Smith's connection with the Methodists, see
Mormonism, pp 54-55, citing Turner, History of Phelp's and Gorham's
Purchase, p. 214, which relates that Smith was an informal "exhorter" at
Methodist camp meetings before 1822; Pomeroy Tucker, The Origin, Rise and
Progress of Mormonism (NY 1867), p 18: Smith joined the "probationary class"
of the Methodist church; there was no Methodist church in Palmyra until July
1821 (Inventing Mormonism, p 60 n 41);
JOSEPH SMITH AND "MONEYDIGGING"
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/ny_js.htm The report of Smith's 1826
arrest and court appearance for being a "glass-looker"
https://utlm.org/topicalindexc.htm#Money-Digging and Magic
BOOK OF MORMON "WITNESSES"
https://www.irr.org/mit/address1.html The book by David Whitmer, An
Address To All Believers in Christ, testifying that God revealed to him
that Joseph Smith is a fallen prophet.
https://www.xmission.com/~research/about/docum4.htm (Martin Harris interview
in Tiffany's magazine)
https://utlm.org/onlineresources/anthon.htm (Martin Harris' visit to
Professor Anthon with a copy of characters from the gold plates)
METHOD OF TRANSLATION OF THE
BOOK OF MORMON
https://www.irr.org/mit/address1.html (David Whitmer's Address To All
Believers in Christ; see p. 12, 30)
https://utlm.org/topicalindexa.htm#Black Hole The significance of the 116
pages of lost manuscript for testing the authenticity of the book
Martin Harris, Millennial Star 6 Feb 1882, cited in Robert N. Hullinger,
Joseph Smith's response to Skepticism, p 9-14, Salt Lake City 1992, said
that the plates were not needed, also quoted by John Clark, Gleanings By the
Way, 1842, p 228, cited in Hullinger p 11, n 23.
BOOK OF MORMON ARCHAEOLOGY
https://mormonscripturestudies.com/bomor/twm/lamgen.asp Recent study by DNA
expert Tom Murphy, for which he was threatened with excommunication from the
Mormon church, showing that the American Indians are not Semitic
Losing a Lost Tribe by
Simon Southerton, former Mormon bishop and professional DNA expert; excellent
book explaining the science and how it disproves the Book of Mormon
"Answers to Apologetic Claims about DNA and the Book of Mormon" by Simon
https://mormonchallenge.com More on DNA
studies, including offer of a video about DNA's relationship to the Book
of Mormon's claims
https://www.nowscape.com/mormon/zindler1.htm "How Do You Lose a Steel Mill"
by Frank R. Zindler
JEWISH LAW AND THE BOOK OF MORMON
Salt Lake City Messenger, Issue #74, February 1990, available from
"Feasts in the Book of Mormon"
BOOK OF MORMON CHANGES;
https://utlm.org/topicalindexa.htm#Changes Changes made in revelations after
their first publication, to reflect Smith's changes in doctrine.
The original texts of the Book of Mormon 1830 edition and the 1833
Book of Commandments (predecessor to the Doctrine and
Covenants can be found at
PRESENT MORMON DOCTRINE
CONTRARY TO BOOK OF MORMON
https://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/birth.html On the Virgin Birth, how Jesus
https://www.irr.org/mit/CHANGOD.html The changing concept of God.
Changing doctrines of Mormonism.
THE 1825 BOOK View of the
Hebrews by Ethan Smith
https://www.irr.org/mit/Books/View-Hebrews/viewhe1a.html (text of View)
https://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/voh/voh.shtml (text of View)
https://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/bom/written.shtml Could Joseph Smith have
written the Book of Mormon?
https://www.lds-mormon.com/voh.shtml Parallels between View and the
Book of Mormon. See also
https://www.irr.org/mit/bhrobert.html B. H. Roberts' conclusions.
FAILURES OF GOD-INSPIRED PROJECTS
Failure of the Kirtland Bank:
Gathering of Zion:
Polygamy - see notes at: #POLYGAMY
THE HOFMANN MURDER SCANDAL
Murders: A True Story of Greed, Forgery, Deceit, and Death by Steven
Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, New York, 1988. The role
of the Mormon church leadership in this scandal is carefully documented here.
A Gathering of
Saints: A True Story of Money, Murder and Deceit by Robert Lindsey,
Simon and Schuster, New York, 1988. Another book on the Hofmann scandal.
The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders by Linda Sillitoe and Allen
Roberts, 2nd edition, Signature Books, Salt Lake City.
THE MORMON TEMPLE CEREMONY (THE
https://home.teleport.com/~packham/temples.htm: "Mormon Temples and Temple
Rituals" - a detailed overview of this most secret part of Mormonism.
The next five links contain the actual text of the ceremony in the various forms
it has had since the early days of the church.
https://i4m.com/think/temples/temple_ordinance.htm for a discussion of the
significance of the 2005 changes)
Several articles on temples
https://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/garments.html A description of the sacred
undergarment which Mormons are required to wear after receiving the endowment.
https://www.nowscape.com/mormon/undrwrmo.htm More on "garments"
https://www.lds-mormon.com/veilworker/recommend.shtml The questions that are
asked in the "worthiness interview" to determine whether a member is worthy to
receive admission to the temple.
MASONIC INFLUENCE ON MORMONISM
Paul Graham's comprehensive site, with many links from all points of view
https://utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech4.htm#Joseph Smith's Magic Talisman
Joseph Smith's magical talisman
THE "ADAM = GOD" DOCTRINE
The changes in the Mormon doctrine about God.
https://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/adam-god.html (Text of Brigham Young's
https://home.teleport.com/~packham/byoung.htm#ADAMGOD More statements by
A good discussion, with photocopy of Bruce R. McConkie's private admission that
Brigham Young did teach the doctrine, is in Tanner, LDS Apostle Confesses
Brigham Young Taught Adam-God Doctrine, available from
Utah Lighthouse Ministry.
Similar material is in Banister's book For Any Latter-
https://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/mcconkies-letter.html The text of
McConkie's letter admitting that Brigham Young did teach that Adam was God
See also: Adam is God??? by Chris A. Vlachos, pamphlet available from
Utah Lighthouse Ministry
POLYGAMY ("CELESTIAL MARRIAGE")
https://www.irr.org/mit/enigma.html A review of
Emma Hale Smith, by Linda King Newell and Valene Tippett Avery,
University of Illinois Press, 1994; a biography of Joseph Smith's first wife,
relating the development of Smith's ideas on polygamy and her opposition to it.
In Sacred Loneliness:
The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith by Todd Compton, Signature Books
https://www.wivesofjosephsmith.org/home Biographies of all of Joseph Smith's
https://www.mormonismi.info/jamesdavid/denpract.htm Smith's public (and
untruthful) denials of the rumors about his practice of polygamy.
https://www.mormonismi.info/jamesdavid/menwives.htm Documentation of Smith's
seduction of other men's wives.
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/clndest2.htm An early and generally
unknown revelation about polygamy
A History by Richard S. Van Wagoner, Signature Books, Salt Lake City. An
excellent history of its theory and practice, reviewed at
https://www.polygamy.org Home page of
Tapestry of Polygamy, a group of formerly polygamous women who are exposing
its evils as practiced by some Mormon groups today.
THE "CURSE OF CAIN": THE CHANGING
DOCTRINE ON SKIN COLOR
https://home.teleport.com/~packham/byoung.htm#NEGRO Brigham Young's Doctrines
on the Black race
THE DOCTRINE OF "BLOOD ATONEMENT" AND
THE DANITES ("AVENGING ANGELS")
The role of violence in Mormonism is the subject of
Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon
Krakauer, Doubleday, 2003; this book was on the best-seller lists for a number
The authoritative work on the Mountain Meadows Massacre has been Juanita Brooks,
Meadows Massacre, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
Brooks is now supplemented by new evidence in Will Bagley,
The Blood of
the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows,
Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 2002.
J. F. Gibbs's complete book Mountain Meadows Massacre is online at
THE BOOK OF COMMANDMENTS
https://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/boc/boc_main.shtml The complete text of
the Book of Commandments, showing the revisions made to them in the Doctrine and
THE BOOK OF ABRAHAM
https://www.irr.org/mit/boapage.html The complete book By His Own Hand
Upon Papyrus by Charles M. Larson
https://utlm.org/topicalindexb.htm#Book of Abraham
https://www.xmission.com/~research/about/alphabet.htm The text of Smith's
so-called Egyptian Alphabet & Grammar
THE "INSPIRED REVISION" OF THE BIBLE
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, (RLDS, now renamed
"Community of Christ")
has long used the version by Smith.
https://utlm.org/topicalindexc.htm#Inspired Revision of the Bible
THE KINDERHOOK PLATES
JOSEPH SMITH'S PROPHECIES
https://home.teleport.com/~packham/prophet.htm A listing of many of Smith's
https://www.mrm.org/multimedia/text/civilwar.html Joseph Smith's famous
prophecy of the Civil War
https://www.lds-mormon.com/civilwar.shtml Another article on the Civil War
https://utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech13.htm#Rocky Mountain Prophecy Joseph
Smith's prophecy about the Mormon move to the Rocky Mountains
For some of Brigham Young's failed prophecies, see:
JOSEPH SMITH'S DEATH
https://www.solomonspalding.com/docs/exposit1.htm The text of the Nauvoo
Expositor, the opposition paper which Smith destroyed, thus leading to his
imprisonment and death. It contains all the true accusations which Smith
https://utlm.org/onlinebooks/changech17.htm#Destruction of Expositor The
destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor
For a detailed discussion of Smith's political ambitions, his title "king" and
his secret government, see the book by D. Michael Quinn,
Hierarchy: [Volume 1] The Origins of Power, Signature Books, Salt Lake
City, 1994. (Quinn was excommunicated from the Mormon church for his historical
researches, but remains a believer)
MORMON FALSIFICATION OF MORMON
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/mormhist.htm D. Michael Quinn's Talk
"On Being A Mormon Historian" in which he urges the church authorities to be
more open in telling the entire history of the church, without coloring it.
Rather than follow his advice, the church excommunicated him.
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/legacy1.htm An evaluation of the
propaganda film Legacy, produced by the church.
https://www.bcmmin.org/persecutor.htm An evaluation of the church's claim
that it was persecuted.
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/dunn.htm The uncovering of the lies
told by a high-ranking Mormon official
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/mantle.htm A speech by Boyd K.
Packer, a high-ranking church official, on how the church justifies its
distortion of its history. Also discussed at
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/purge.htm The recent purge of Mormon
historians who told too much
A discussion of speech by Dallin Oaks, a high-ranking church official, on the
need for withholding the whole truth.
https://home.teleport.com/~packham/gbh-god.htm The present "prophet" Gordon
B. Hinckley lies about church doctrine in two interviews for the news media.
https://home.teleport.com/~packham/lying.htm More examples of Mormon lying.
A good example of the church's distortion of history is its long cover-up of
the Mountain Meadows Massacre. See Juanita Brooks,
Meadows Massacre, Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1991.
- God was once a man like us:
- God has a tangible body of flesh and bone: D&C
- God lives on a planet near the star Kolob: Book of Abraham
- God has at least one wife, our "Mother in Heaven": Joseph Fielding Smith,
Man, His Origin and Destiny, p 348-355: "All men and women are in
the similitude of the universal Father and Mother..." (More citations in
The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 7)
- We can become like God and rule over our own universe.
- There are many gods, ruling over their own worlds: Citations in
The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 7
- Jesus and Satan ("Lucifer") are brothers: D&C
- Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father by having sex with Mary:
The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 7
- We should not try to feel a personal relationship with Jesus:
"Our Relationship With The Lord" by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie
- God ("Jehovah") in the Old Testament is the same being named Jesus in the
New Testament: D&C 110:2-4;
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, article "Jehovah";
1 Nephi 19:10
- In the the highest degree of the celestial kingdom some men will have more
than one wife: D&C 132:63
- "Pre-existence": See Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation,
Vol. 1, ch 4, esp pp 60-61
- Dark skin is a curse from God:
1 Nephi 12:23,
2 Nephi 5:21,
3 Nephi 2:15,
- The Garden of Eden was in Missouri: D&C
116:1; see also D&C
PROHIBITION ON COFFEE, ETC. (THE "WORD OF
The text of the Word of Wisdom is in the Doctrine and Covenants
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/w_wisdom.htm Problems and
inconsistencies with this revelation.
https://utlm.org/onlinebooks/mclaims8.htm#The Word of Wisdom
TITHING, CHURCH WEALTH
On the wealth of the church, see: Anson Shupe,
Wealth and Power
in American Zion, Lewiston NY 1992, or John Heinerman and Anson Shupe,
Corporate Empire, Beacon, 1988.
OBEDIENCE: "FOLLOW THE BRETHREN"
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/cannon.htm Excerpts from Under
The Prophet In Utah by Senator Frank J. Cannon, showing how the church
leaders exert power over members.
https://www.zionsbest.com/fourteen.html A speech by Ezra Taft Benson, a
recent prophet and president, instructing members to obey the prophet without
questioning and without checking his advice against scripture.
https://www.lds-mormon.com/thinking.shtml A critical article on the church's
https://www.xmission.com/~country/reason/purge.htm The recent mass
excommunications of intellectuals and historians who questioned church
https://www.zionsbest.com/heresies.html Bruce R. McConkie on the heresy of
website of Affirmation, an organization for Mormons with homosexual
leanings. Much information about the church's stance on sex.
The treatment of male homosexuals at the church university
https://www.affirmation.org/masturbation.htm A talk by Mormon apostle Mark E.
Petersen, on how to prevent masturbation.
https://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/9156/WSWWB.HTM A critical article
by Jeffery R. Jensen, M.D., on the harm done by the church with its stance on
https://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/9156/HLDSSS.HTM Another article by
Dr. Jensen, criticizing the church's department of social services
A speech by Boyd K. Packer on the evils of masturbation in young men, and how to
POSITION OF WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
Books by two exmormon women describing their difficulties with the church's
treatment of women:
Secret Ceremonies, Dell, 1993
From Housewife to Heretic, Doubleday, 1981. Johnson was excommunicated
for her activism in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment.
https://www.exmormon.org/mormwomn.htm A woman's viewpoint.
https://www.lds-mormon.com/lying.shtml How the church misrepresents its
stance on the role of women.
"Mormon Women, Prozac,
and Therapy" by Kent Ponder Ph.D. explores the causes for so many Mormon
women being on anti-depressant medications.
PERSONAL STORIES BY FORMER
https://www.exmormon.org/ has the
personal stories of over two hundred people who left the church and their many
different reasons for doing so.
For briefer comments from former Mormons, see
See also these longer accounts:
Mary Ann Benson (granddaughter-in-law of Ezra Taft Benson, president of the
Steve Benson (grandson of Benson, Mary Ann's husband):
Ken Clark (former teacher in the Church Educational System):
For longer (booklength) accounts, see:
Suddenly Strangers: Surrendering Gods and Heroes by
the Morin brothers.(https://suddenlystrangers.com
- click on "Excerpts")
Beyond Mormonism: An Elder's Story by James R.
Spencer, who converted to Mormonism and left it to become a Christian minister
Martha Beck (daughter of Mormon apologist Hugh Nibley), Leaving the Saints,
Crown, 2005, ISBN
IS MORMONISM A CULT?
The following links are to checklists and other guidelines, to help you to
evaluate whether any group (not just Mormonism) is a "cult."
home page of Steve Hassan, an authority on cults and brainwashing.
"[Hassan's] BITE Model Applied Toward Mormonism"
Jan Groenveld's Cult Awareness Centre
https://www.factnet.org FACTnet, resources
on psychological coercion and mind control
Please let me know if you find that any links are out-dated, or if you
can suggest additional links. Thanks!
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© 1998, 2002, 2005 Richard Packham Permission
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