I got home last night to find one of the walls of our house covered in paper hearts. At first I thought Fox had done it. Awwww. Then I inspected more closely. Nope. Not Fox. Not Chrissy. Instead it was some unknown Mormon ladies – and the hearts were intended for Chrissy. She dropped out of the church 20+ years ago, but, like the mafia or Hotel California, you can check out of the Mormon church any time you like, but you can never leave. They recently found out where she lives (we’re still not sure how). A couple of months ago, pre-covid, a couple of middle-aged white men knocked at our front door one afternoon. I opened it and they asked if Christine lived here. Now just imagine that for a second. A couple of unknown men knock on your door and ask for your wife by name. What’s your immediate conclusion? I asked where they were from and quickly established they weren’t from the CIA (whew), but from the LDS. At that time, Chrissy asked them respectfully to please not contact her again as she has no intention of re-joining the church. But then, last night, some of their fellow church members decided to walk onto our property, while we were not at home, and plaster messages over our wall. If it was up to me, I’d march down to their local church and ask to speak to the women who did it. Then I’d ask them how they would like it if I snuck into their yard and posted stickers all over their house saying “Joseph Smith was a polygamist who had sex with a 14 year old girl because God told him to!” Or “Rent Marketing The Messiah Today For Only $4.99 (USD) – marketingthemessiah.com/watch“. Chrissy is much nicer than me, though, so that probably won’t happen. Don’t get me wrong – I love the Mormons. I think they are fascinating. I’d love to make a documentary about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and their 14 year old wives. But I have to wonder what they hope to achieve by sneaking into people’s yards and pulling these kinds of… stunts. It’s wrong on many levels and I’m sure they wouldn’t like the “favour” returned. So take a note from Jesus’ book and DO UNTO OTHERS. Or, as I always put it on our podcasts – Don’t Be A… Stunt.
An ex-Mormon bishop using the nick “monomor” did an “Ask Me Anything” Q&A on reddit today. His answers are fascinating and, sometimes, quite heartbreaking. Worth a read, especially if you enjoyed the recent podcast with Brad.
Mr Deity (aka Brian Dalton) has a laugh at the expense of the Book Of Mormon in the latest episode of Mr Deity. Close to his heart – he’s a former Mormon (or FoMo) himself as you would already know if you listened to my interview with him back in 2007.
Seriously though – my dear Mormons – your book is so far removed from historical fact – how do you take it seriously?
My guest today is Brad Heitmann. Brad lives in Utah, has a background in investment banking and start-up strategy and loves history. Today, however, he joins me to talk about his religion – The Church Of Latter Day Saints aka Mormons. To all those people asking me for years “when are you going to a show about Mormons” – you can now shut the hell up.
Brad and I discuss the life of the founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith – I especially wanted to focus on his trial for being a conman (he was found guilty), his polygamy and the reasons behind his eventual murder. We also discuss the methods by which we search for Truth.
I’d like to thank Brad for having the balls to come on the show. He was a good sport and I hope he takes me up on my offer to come back soon. You can follow him on Twitter @bradheitmann
If you’re interested in the Mormon religion, here’s a few links I recommend:
I totally endorse this rant by Penn Jillette. Sure, what Mormons (and Scientologists) believe sounds batshit crazy to most of us. But is it really any crazier than what mainstream Christians, Jews or Muslims believe? Hell no. “Just more modern, not more crazy”, as Penn says.
I’m as confused as Penn is about how otherwise intelligent-sounding people can just spout crazy stuff and act like it’s totally normal. It’s especially scary when you hear it from politicians, the people who are supposedly running the country. Surely there should be a sanity test that you have to pass before you can be elected to public office.
I wonder how many Mormons know Joseph Smith was put on trial for being a conman a few years before he founded the church?
The story goes like this:
“For several years preceding the appearance of his book, he was about the country in the character of a glass-looker: pretending, by means of a certain stone, or glass, which he put in a hat, to be able to discover lost goods, hidden treasures, mines of gold and silver, &c. Although he constantly failed in his pretensions, still he had his dupes who put implicit confidence in all his words. In this town, a wealthy farmer, named Josiah Stowell, together with others, spent large sums of money in digging for hidden money, which this Smith pretended he could see, and told them where to dig; but they never found their treasure.
“At length the public, becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of Justice. But, considering his youth, (he being then a minor,) and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape. This was four or five years ago. From this time he absented himself from this place, returning only privately, and holding clandestine intercourse with his credulous dupes, for two or three years.”
The above account is taken from the first published telling of events, written by Abram W. Benton and published in the Evangelical Magazine & Gospel Advocate in 1831, about 5 years after the events occurred (via Omninerd).
The LDS apologists I’ve read online (including the author of the article on Omninerd) tend to try to brush it off by saying “well back then money digging wasn’t unusual”, missing the point that he wasn’t tried for “money digging” per se, he was tried (as far as we can tell from the surviving records) for being a conman, that is, he kept pretending he actually could locate buried treasure using his supernatural powers when, in fact, as far as the records show, he was totally unsuccessful in finding any treasure.
It speaks about the man’s character. And this trial happened 6 years after Smith claims that he had been visited by Jesus. I’d like to ask Mormons to engage their critical mind and ask themselves: is a conman who was going around the country trying to scam money out of gullible people the kind of person that you would put your trust in today? If someone who was a known conman turned up today and told you that he’d been visited by an angel or Jesus, would you believe him?
Read more about Joseph Smith’s career as a hustler here.
In addition, there is plenty of evidence that a lot of Mormon rituals and symbols were copied by Smith from what he learned from the Freemasons. His father was made a master Mason in 1818, quite a few of the original Mormons were also Freemasons and Smith himself became a master Mason in 1840. According to “MORMONISM AND MASONRY” by S.H. Goodwin (1920), Mormon temple worship shares an extensive commonality of symbols, signs, vocabulary and clothing with Freemasonry, including robes, aprons, handshakes, ritualistic raising of the arms, etc. The LDS church was started during a time in the United States when there was a backlash against the Masons. Did Smith just transform the Masonic lodge into a church?
Anyone interested in Joseph Smith’s story should read the classic “No Man Knows My History” by Fawn Brodie published in 1945.