Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Face in the Hat and a Few Other Nifty Magic Tricks

Never saw this image before.


“But this isn’t new. I learned about it in Seminary/Institute/Sunday School.”

“If the members don’t already know this, then they are lazy. The church never hid it. It’s always been there.”

“There’s not time in Sunday School to go over every detail of church history. Church is about learning doctrine not history.”

“There’s a 1992 article in the Ensign, an article from 40 years ago in The Friend, and another one in the early 1900’s in the Improvement Era about this. The church has been honest about it all along.”

“I found it right away by googling on the internet.”

“It’s not important. Who cares how Joseph Smith translated it.”

“I don’t care how he translated it. It’s true.”

“You’re not supposed to follow the leaders blindly. You’re supposed to study it out for yourself.”

“If you weren’t taught about this, then it’s the teacher’s fault.”

“Isn’t it great that the church is being so open about this? What are you complaining about?”

I’ve heard all these arguments now that discussion is open about Joseph’s face in the hat. Here’s what I heard from church members prior to this more open discussion.
Image shown in manuals


“Face in a hat? That’s anti-Mormon stuff. You’re not supposed to read anti-Mormon stuff.”

“Be careful of being an apostate.”

“When the brethren speak, the thinking has been done.”

“Follow the prophet. He will never lead you astray.”

“Beware of the Tanners. They spread anti-Mormon stuff.”

“Stay away from outside sources. All the truth you need is in the church. The church never lies.”

“Only teach from the manuals. Do not use other sources other than the scriptures. You don’t need other sources.”

I must say, the LDS members are adaptable when it comes to the truth.

Joseph using the breastplate and spectacles 



I will admit that the information is on the internet, now. But the internet hasn’t been around for decades, and the information has been on the internet for far less time. So prior to the information being available so readily how was a member supposed to learn the truth?

First a member has to question. It’s hard to find an answer to a question if you don’t have a question. I had never questioned the Urim and Thumim story. It was in the manuals, it was consistent, and it never occurred to me that it wasn’t accurate. You see, I trusted my church to be truthful and even if they didn’t tell me every minutia of history, I expected that they would tell me significant points, especially within context of the subject.

A member also has to have access to the information. Now this may come as a shock to many Mormons who live in Utah, but the rest of the world does not revolve around the Mormon Church. Sure you can go to your local library, university library or church library and have access to all kinds of church books. But the rest of us don't have that. If I go to my local library, I will probably find a Book of Mormon and some biographies of people who have escaped polygamous cults. Hardly enough to do study of Mormon doctrine especially when you don’t really find Mormon doctrine in the Book of Mormon. And I’m more fortunate than many in the church because I speak and read English.

Now there are church bookstores in my area, but I’m lucky that way. Not everyone has those either. However, even if I want to I might not be able to afford the books in the store. Not everyone has large book budgets and it's not like you find church books in the local thrift store.

So out of curiosity I pulled some books from my home library. Books that have been sitting on my
Familiar representation

Joseph doing it without help
shelf for years. I decided to look through them to see if there was anything about Joseph sticking a stone in a hat and then sticking his face in a hat.

I pulled the following books based on whether I thought they might have this information in them.

Articles of Faith – James E. Talmage 1890, David O. McKay Trustee in Trust for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1959)

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder – Legrand Richards, Deseret Book Company, 1950

Essentials in Church History – Joseph Fielding Smith, George Albert Smith Trustee-in-Trust for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1950

The Restored Church – William Edwin Bennett, Deseret Book Company, 1973

Truth Restored – Gordon B. Hinckley, Corporation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1979

Gospel Principles – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. (Two separate editions. Original date 1978. One copy dated 1997, the other 2009. This was a manual initially intended for investigators and new members.)

Come Unto Me: Relief Society Personal Study Guide 1988 – Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (pulled because of church history chapters)

Follow Me: Relief Society Personal Study Guide 1989 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (pulled because of church history chapters)

Doctrine & Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324-325 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1981 (Institute manual)

Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341-343 – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1993 (Institute manual)

The Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1991

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History: Class Member Study Guide – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 1999

Our Heritage: A Brief History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 1996 (Additional Sunday School Manual)

Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 2007 (RS/Priesthood manual)

So I looked in each of these for information on the translation process. Not one of them mentions that Joseph put a rock in a hat and then put his face in the hat. The Urim and Thumim is spoken about. The story of Joseph being led to the plates, his problems getting the plates, the breastplate, the Harris incident where they lost the translation, the plates and the Urim and Thumim being taken away and given back again, but nothing about a hat. Joseph mentions that he translated straight from the plates using the Urim and Thumim, but again nothing about the rock in the hat. At one point it’s stated in The Restored Church that Joseph didn’t always need the Urim and Thumim but that he could read directly from the plates. When these books are focusing on the translation process, the Urim and Thumim is mentioned several times making it clear that Joseph translated with their aid.

There’s an entire chapter in “The Restored Church” on the translating process, and none of it mentions that Joseph didn’t really need the plates, he just used a rock in a hat.

In my mind, there is a huge difference between having a device from God for translation of a sacred text that’s kept safe and hidden for centuries, and a man sticking a rock in a hat without even needing the sacred text.

What was the point of the plates?

Or of the Urim and Thumim?

The other books do much of the same thing, either offering the testimony of Oliver Cowdrey that is full of ellipses, thereby letting the reader know that the author has left out something that Cowdrey said, or else saying something cryptic like “Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon into English by the gift and power of God.” 

Some of the books just avoid the whole subject of translation, merely skirting around the issue while asserting that the Book of Mormon is true.

So to those out there, who ascertain that I have been lazy, or should have trusted the leaders less, and it is my fault that the first time I heard about this was on an episode of South Park, which many would have declared I shouldn’t have watched and was anti-Mormon (and I was conditioned to believe it was anti-Mormon and false too), tell me how I was supposed to find the truth? Because I had all these church books on my shelf, and none of them told me the truth even if I had known enough to look for it.

It seems to me that the church was hiding something, otherwise it would surely be mentioned in any one of the above church published books, some of which were intended to teach church history. In fact entire classes and courses were intended to teach church history.

Oh, and the rock that Joseph actually used? According to outside sources (which turns out are more trustworthy than the whitewashed and carefully pruned history that the church reports), he found it and convinced people to hire him to use it to find treasure. I guess it didn’t occur to those who hired him, that if he could find treasure, he wouldn’t have been poor. He never found any treasure but he took the money and was subsequently brought up on charges – another part of history missing from these books.

So he figured out another use for that stone.

And the Nifty Magic Tricks?

  1. Joseph convincing people that he translated an ancient record he received from God.
  2. Joseph convincing people that he could do it by sticking his face in a hat.
  3. The church leaving out that piece of information, yet flashing it a handful of times so that current members can point to it and say “see, it was there all along”. If you blinked or weren’t even around, you missed it.
  4. The church making itself appear to be transparent and honest by being forthright long after members have brought it to the public and made so many others aware. Like the kid whose hand is caught in the cookie jar and says, “Yes, I’m taking cookies, but I didn’t tell you because you didn’t need to know.”
  5. Members suddenly saying “oh yeah, I knew that all along” even though they’ve been quiet about it until now and many would have denied it. Suddenly everyone claims that they knew it all along and it was taught to them in seminary, institute and Sunday School even though the manuals don’t cover it. It's amazing what we all suddenly remember knowing today when we couldn't recall it yesterday.
  6. Getting investigators to join the church by using false or misleading information. They call it “milk” and everyone buys into this. I call it a bait and switch.
  7. That wonderful sleight of hand that causes everyone to look in one direction while the church does something else. "Do not look at what we're doing over here, look over there and testify of it."
  8. Blaming members for not knowing when it was there all along – in a handful of obscure articles spanning over a hundred years.
  9. Warning members about outside and evil influences, including the Tanners who have been revealing the truth for decades, and Michael Quinn who was a devoted member and excommunicated for writing about such things.
  10. While espousing that history is important and using history to claim authority, downplaying this piece of history as unimportant even though it directly relates to “the keystone of our religion.”
  11. Creating an atmosphere where members will throw truth seekers, victims, artists, writers and even God under a bus in order to protect the church and the leaders.

I’ve heard the argument that “the leaders are not perfect” and I know and can accept that. Only Christ was perfect. But we’re not talking about an isolated event here, a single man who screwed up. We’re talking about decades of groups of men who together created a falsehood which was passed on to other men who agreed to perpetrate the lie. That’s not imperfection. That’s conspiracy. That’s secret combinations which ironically is warned about in the very book in question. That my friends, is dishonesty, a condition the Gospel Principles manual hits on directly while still avoiding the translation process.  

“When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.” – Gospel Principles

I want to bear my testimony that I did not leave because I wish to follow Satan, or live a life of sin. I left because I want to live a life of honesty. I have not left because I am being deceived. I left because I have been deceived. I am on a search for truth because I believe it is out there and I don’t believe that God can be found in a web of lies.

68 comments:

  1. I'm a convert. I joined back in 2009. Despite this new info I still believe the church to be true. I love God and everyone Mormon and non Mormon. Mormon and exmormon. I understand where you're coming from. But I disagree. I hope you find the truth. :)

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    1. Truth
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcH3E9QATSk&feature=youtu.be

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    2. More power to you if you know ALL the information and still believe it is true. Have you read cesletter.com ?

      Robbie - Can you at least admit the church has been dishonest about the rock in the hat?

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    3. Robbie Gorman, if the church makes you happy, then I support that. We are all on different paths or the same path but in different spots. Just keep your eyes and ears open, listen more to the spirit and less to men, and follow Christ.

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    4. I hope YOU find the truth, Robbie. All you have to do is look for it. Your church is demonstrably built on lies.

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    5. Hey Robbie, obviously integrity does not mean much to you or your family. Good luck in feeling good about believing in a fraud.

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  2. Loved your thoughts and they are spot on! Hopefully a few, will consider this new information as well as the lies told to us about other church softened historical events and facts: "Only one first vision story", when there were actually three different accounts published by Joe Smith himself! I hope they will look up the real, accounted historical facts including court documents proving the Mountain Meadow Massacre of men, women and children killed by true believing Mormons because their prophet and God told them to. And the horrific way these "saints did it". I hope they consider where all of their tithing dollars are going, with mega malls being built, hunting lodges being built, first class tickets all around the world for the 12 and 70's, their wives and body guards costing millions..... all paid for by members tithing. It saddens me that they swallow all of this nonsense just to believe. God does not have conditions. Anyone is welcomed by God to dedicate your life to him, be good, do good, and have a spiritual relationship with the everlasting God......all without the Mormon God and all of his conditions. Consider the temple endowment.... originally given to just men who entered into poisonous polygamy. Now it's refined, reworked and readjusted and it keeps changing to keep members so they are able to reach the highest degree of celestial glory...... oh wait.... ONLY if they follow the Mormon God and all his life chocking rules. Sad really. I am hoping some wake up and realize the oppression the church brings to members....... how it excludes by it's teaching so many who are not members....... how they are made to feel sorry for those whom have left. It blows my mind, it seems so sad.

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    1. Actually there were more then three accounts of the First Vision published. The accounts differed according to the audience. Joseph Smith would emphasize different parts according to the audiences understanding. Sort of how the Four Gospel tell the same story of Christ according to their audience. For example, Matthew is speaking to the Jews so he includes Christ's genealogy.

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    2. Actually there were more then three accounts of the First Vision published. The accounts differed according to the audience. Joseph Smith would [make it up as he went along]. Sort of how the Four Gospels [are made up]. For example, Matthew [and Luke give conflicting accounts] of Christ's genealogy.

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    3. Yeah, Lin... I wouldn't use the New Testament as an example here. Even if you believe that they weren't made up, or even allow for some problems given the translation process, they are still full of irreconcilable doctrinal and historical contradictions. It is hard to notice the problems when you read the book as a devotional text in small sections at a time.

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    4. Codfish...since the Four Gospels were written some 30 years later, the exact details can get blurry. And then add four different individuals telling their story, some might doubt their recall, but not have to doubt the main theme, which is Jesus Christ as our Savior. It is foolish to throw out the baby with the bath water. When witnesses to an event recount their stories, they are inevitably different.

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    5. Anonymous...I take it you don't believe in any scripture. Your opinion doesn't validate whether the scriptures are real or fake. It's just your opinion.

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    6. "Throwing the baby out with the bathwater".......interesting analogy. I think there never was any baby, just plenty of dirty bath water.

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    7. If you insist in believing in a fraud, a fraud you become!

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  3. After all the information available, how can a recent convert still believe the (mormon) "church is true". In that case I have to ask what does "true" mean to that person? Is that person like Pilot who asked Jesus "What is truth?" True means something that is consistent with historical records, archeology, science, manuscripts, etc. Certainly the Mormon church is NOT gruel

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  4. Thanks for this article. I officially resigned from the church 2 years ago, though it was 6 to 8 months after I'd realized the deception that I'd been a victim of and party to since I perpetuated that deception, even if unknowingly. I'd like to say that I never looked back, but I do. I have friends and family still in the church, including my inactive husband. Not only that, but after 18 years of being lied to I initially found it very difficult to not be angry and resentful over it. I'm 2 years out, but I still feel a sense of loss at everything I thought was true. And loss of the friends I had. And most of all a sense of loss over the friendships my children had. A scant few have survived. Maybe one day I'll be over the hurt and humiliation of realizing that I was duped for so long.

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    1. hope you will experience peace (and much joy !) So happy that you were searching for truth...and found it ! <3

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  5. Thank you for your post. I agree with you 100%. :)

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    1. Really, then why did you agree Anonymously?
      Nobody listens to those who won't identify themselves ...

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    2. Nobody? Really?. I listen, weigh, and decide.

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    3. There are many reasons to remain anonymous. The consequences to speaking out can be devastating. People will out themselves when they're ready. As long as the post is thoughtful, I have no problem with anonymous comments. It's when they get nasty or have nothing to do with the post that I have a problem.

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  6. Mormon leadership is willing to perpetuate mind control… This is a human atrocity. With all of the recent acknowledgments, it is abundantly clear that they have been the very wolves in sheep's clothing they have been warning the members about. They readily dissociate from all of the negative fruits of this. Whether it is because of lack of integrity, lack of courage, or lack of honesty, or any other reason, it is not right… And they need to be more forthcoming, and accountable when it comes to the inherent problems in asking for obedience and loyalty to them. Granted, there can be some bliss in ignorance, but when quantifiable harm is coming to large groups of people, standing up for injustices, seems to be at the heart and soul of LOVE! Mormons and non-Mormons alike… ask yourselves, "Are there really people being harmed because of the behavior of those in Mormon leadership?" Stand up against mind control! Families are being torn apart because of the specific behaviors, and teachings of those who are revered as Prophets of God. This must stop!

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  7. Although I had been inactive since my late teens and although I had been questioning the church's teachings for years, I first researched the church's history about three years ago and finally washed my hands of the church. As an individual who love research, I spent weeks looking up early Mormon history in online newspaper archives after saying a prayer in which I asked God to simply lead me to the truth. I found a lot more of it than I had bargained for.

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  8. I was born and raised in the Reorganized church, back in the days when it was still conservative. :-) By studying the historical facts, in 1977 I decided Joseph Smith was a false prophet and I left the church. But I did not leave God or Jesus. The truth is still out there for you to follow! Don't give up on your spiritual quest just because you got temporarily led astray.

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    1. No giving up here. I still have a testimony. Just not of the church.

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  9. For those of you that still believe even after the Church keeps lieing to you , well like Forrest Gump said " Stupid is as Stupid Does " its like voting for a politician after he or she has lied numerous times but they are so likable you keep voting for them , i mean how deaf , dumb and blind do you have to be to still believe in this crap.
    You all realize that out of the whole worlds population only 1.4% are Mormon .

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    1. It's called "rescuing your equity". It's a psychological trap. A good psychological trap has prey, predator and attractive bait. Denial is a good way for a person to maintain some sort of emotional equilibrium.

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    2. Actually, even being generous and giving the church 20 million members (15 million is probably more accurate, and a much smaller number are actually active), 20 million / 7 billion * 100 ≈ 0.29%. That's less than 1%. By a lot. Just look at the little blue, almost imperceptible sliver that is Judaism on this chart and that's about how much Mormonism represents of humanity. http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

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  10. I love this. Sadly the easiest way to get people to trust you is to pretend to warn others about corruption while you are the one that is corrupt. It is a genius deception that has been created and mastered by the masons. Knowing this trick also sheds light on the bishop pace memo and why it was written. Deflection.

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    1. Yep. Sadly the church breaks one of the ten commandments "Thou shalt not bear false witness". It has frequently through the years attacked people's characters, beginning with Joseph Smith. It continues to do so now with the recent excommunications. "If we label them bad by excommunicating then, then members won't listen to them." Sadly, that is often true.

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  11. Another powerful post, Anna.

    I have been going through old manuals, books and Ensigns looking for references. Plenty state that he used the Urim and Thummin. The more recent ones gloss over the details and rush past the parts dealing with translation. I found that disturbing. Someone knew and did not want to perpetuate stories they knew were not true, but they also were not willing to come out and say how things actually happened.

    There was one article in a 1977 Ensign that mentioned the seer stone but whoever wrote it gathered other stories and printed them as well. The result was not comforting but I really respected the author for printing the accounts he found without editing them to make sure things added up.

    It has been years since I stumbled across the information on the old FARMS site. I was devastated - not by the idea of Joseph translating with a seer stone - but that I had been taught differently my whole life. I had sat through enough missionary discussions with friends to know that the church was having the missionaries tell a incomplete and sanitized version of the story. The rock in the hat was only the tip of the iceberg. I still love the gospel. I even love the Book of Mormon. But I can't trust the church anymore.

    Telling the truth finally was a good move. People can forgive much more easily when they hear the truth from the church. But it was too little, too late for me. The church's website is only recently becoming more accessible when it comes to controversial topics. You used to have to know exactly where to look and what to key in to find this information on their site. It was there, so that they could say it was there, but it was hard to get to.

    I think that the church might want to review the steps for repentance. I am not seeing remorse or even an apology, let alone restitution. That would make it easier for me and others to forgive and let it go.

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    1. I think the church could be a very viable and rewarding Protestant church, if they did follow through with the steps to repentance. Of course that would change everything about the church.

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    2. We can't always blame the writers when it comes to church publications. It's the editors decision what stays in and what goes out. Who knows what was rejected by the church before publication. The authors may very well have mentioned the rock in the hat, but the church rejected it.

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  13. https://www.templeinstitute.org/beged/priestly_garments-8.htm

    How the Urim and Thummim functioned. Surprised?

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  14. Even if the Church had said something about the seer stone in the hat in General Conference every year, there would still be people who would not know. All one would have to do is miss General Conference and ignore the Ensign magazine, which has General Conference talks in the issue directly following Conference.

    The seer stone was mentioned in the Friend, a children's magazine, in 1974. Something was said about it in the Ensign in 1977, 1993, and (I believe) in 1996. More was said in a couple of speeches in 2014. In only one instance is the hat not mentioned, if memory serves. The online archive of LDS magazines on LDS.org does not go back beyond 1970, leaving the interested to delve into other available archive.

    Consider the parable in the New Testament where a man set a banquet and invited all of his friends. All of them turned down the meal, even though it was freely offered, and they were his friends. So, he sent a servant out to bring in the poor and destitute to enjoy the meal, and they came.

    The Church has set the table and invited the membership to the feast. If people do not take advantage of the information when it is offered, who is really to blame?

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    1. Don - "Even if the Church had said something about the seer stone in the hat in General Conference every year, there would still be people who would not know."

      Interesting. They do tell the story about the translation, that it was through the urim and thummim, translating off the plates. How many members know that? 99%? 99.9%?

      Then you say they mention it 4 times in 40 years.

      And how many times did they mention the false narrative of U&T?

      Can you at least admit they were not talking about it on purpose? That they talked about other methods of translation openly and plainly, while hiding this one, or talking about it 100x less?

      Is that honest? Especially when the rock in the hat is the only way in which the primary sources say he did it?

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    2. Don Neighbors, did you read the post? Did you not notice that nothing about the hat was mentioned in basic sources? I joined the church in 1980 and therefore didn't have access to previous magazines. Granted, I missed the two later ones while I was raising seven children and doing my church callings. But I hardly think it's fair to expect me to pick up on those when I may very well have missed it because I was busy teaching falsehoods based on the manuals. All of these excuses don't explain why this information was deliberately left out of the manuals and the classes and the books and the missionary discussions. Like I said, it's a magic trick. Flash the info so quickly that if you blink you miss it.

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    3. And I would hardly call a handful of brief mentions a feast.

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  15. I think the fictional series, "The Work and the Glory" mentioned the seer stone, but I could be wrong. I only read the first two books, didn't read the rest and got rid of the set, so I don't have the books for reference.

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  17. I love the way you put all the thoughts in my head into such eloquent words. I wish I had the courage to share this with all of my friends and family. They know where I stand but I don't want to be seen as constantly attacking their sacred beliefs.

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    1. Hi Amy,
      Your new beliefs are just as "sacred" as the beliefs as your family and your beliefs deserve just as much respect as your family's.

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  18. Thank you - I am saving this and printing it out for the next time the missionary come over ..I am going to ask them point blank on how it was translated and l see how many times they lie.

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  19. So, is the point of this post that the author believes the Book of Mormon deceives people, or the church deceives people in believing the Book of Mormon, or that the method in which was used to translate an ancient record of scripture was the deception???
    My thoughts...I grew up LDS and still very much active. I've lived inside and outside Utah, so I've been on both sides (if you will) of the bubble. The story I learned about the translation was 2 stones were involved, a hat and the plates. the light coming from the stones were so bright that the hat was used to darken/shade it so Joseph could see the text and be able to interpret it to the scribe (usually Oliver Cowdery). If anyone reads the Book of Mormon, more specifically in Ether, it talks about the Urim and Thummim, as well as other references to them being stones used for interpretation of languages.
    Now that being said, I pose a thought and a challenge. Thought...how is it that a 20-something farm boy from Vermont with a grade school education write such a compelling and inspiring spiritual "story" and be very concise in every detail and be historically and scripturally accurate? Have any of you read the Book of Mormon? My guess is that a fair amount of you have. Did you read it trying to prove it wrong or misleading, or to lead you closer to Christ? Everything you need to or want to know about the Book of Mormon is in...the Book of Mormon. Fancy that. 😀
    Now the challenge. I consider myself a pretty good fictional writer, but no matter how God I am, I could never write something even close to the Book of Mormon. So, I challenge anyone reading this, to write a book of scripture (similar to 1st or 2nd Nephi) and include historical and scriptural references and make it as chronological in events as you can, but if you do flash back to a previous story, tie it in flawlessly with the rest of the text and lead it back into the current timeline, all the while telling a "story" that inspires millions and brings people closer to Christ. I honestly would love to read it and put it to the test of "by his fruits ye shall know them." I'm not being sarcastic, I really would like to read it. But, as far-fetched as that sounds, put yourself back in Joseph's shoes, without the internet, limited education, and not even a great speaker (a little known fact about good authors, they usually can tell stories just as well or better than they write them) and then consider the possibility that, under those circumstancest, how would he have been able to come up with the content of the Book of Mormon? And to what end? The church was nearly dirt poor during the entire time he was prophet. So if it wasn't for money, then what was it for? Do you think he was thinking about deceiving millions of people hundreds of years into the future? Or rather, do you think that maybe, just maybe, God had something to do with it. "By small and simple things (Joseph Smith)are great things brought to pass."

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    1. I find it interesting that you have side stepped the actual message of this post- the fact of the matter is that the church intentionally omitted parts of the story for the past 100+ years. A lie of omission is still a lie. And your story is actually not correct, in fact it is a blend of two different things. There were the Urim and Thummim that were supposedly used to "translate" the plates that were taken when the 116 pages were lost and never returned, and then this "seer stone", which Joseph had previously used to look for buried treasure and was found in someone's well, which was used to "translate" the plates and involved putting the stone in a hat, not even using the plates at all, to translate. (so, three different stones- the Urim and Thummim, and then the seer stone). The problem is that the seer stone was what was used to actually "translate" what is known as the Book of Mormon, but the LDS church has conveniently left that out of the narrative aside from a small handful of references meanwhile promoting the Urim and Thummim narrative.
      And I am getting so tired of the argument that people make about Joseph's educational level- his dad used to teach school during the winter when he couldn't farm- were you aware of that? And anyone can be inspired by a book, just because it is inspirational doesn't mean it's not made up. There are a lot of things in the Book of Mormon that I would say aren't inspiring, though. Like the fact that an entire group of people were supposedly punished for the sins of their fathers (the dark skin that Laman and Lemuel and all their descendents were cursed with), or the fact that, for the most part, women were completely left out of the narrative.
      And, let's put this into perspective. The "great things" brought to pass? The church accounts for less than 1% of the world's population, and if you look at those that are actually active in the church, that number is even smaller. That's a horribly ineffective message that God is trying to get out.
      I saw that you also questioned Anna Maria Junus' statement that the Book of Abraham is false. Have you looked at the church's own essay on this? They say that it isn't a literal translation that it served as "inspiration" for him. The fact of the matter is that the papyri were not written by Abraham's own hand as JS said, they were a common funeral text often buried with the dead. The proof that it's false is right in front of your eyes. The facsimiles prove that Joseph's "translation" doesn't hold weight.

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    2. You make several false assumptions about the uneducated farm boy Joseph Smith. Yes, JS was uneducated but he had a remarkable memory and imagination. It is reported by his family in their journals that before he received the plates from Moroni that Joseph would tell "amusing recitals" of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent.

      "During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them." --Dan Vogel (editor), Early Mormon Documents (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1996–2003), 5 vols, 1:296. citing Lucy Mack Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations (Liverpool, S.W. Richards, 1853), 36-173. --

      Here is a list of books that either JS had in his personal library, had access to or was familiar with that have remarkable similarities to the Book of Mormon. I think with his imagination, memory and the books in his library he plagiarized the Book of Mormon. Some of these are:

      1. 1769 King James Version of Bible along with the translation errors common only in that version. These include passages in the 1769 KJV of Isaiah that scholars say were written after the time that Lehi left Jerusalem with the Brass Plates. (Joseph just copied them word for word out of his 1769 Bible.)

      2. "View of the Hebrews" by Ethan Smith. Ethan Smith was Oliver Cowdrey's minister in Poultney, Vermont at the time the book was written. I think Cowdrey was involved in the writing of the BofM from a plagiaristic viewpoint.

      3. "Spaulding Manuscript" by Solomon Spaulding. Has a story of Ancient Hebrews becomng the descendants of American Indians. Even the early LDS Church's own top apologist, B.H. Roberts, privately researched the parallels between the two works and concluded that the similarities suggested embarrassing problems. You can read B.H. Roberts own conclusions in "Studies of the Book of Mormon" http://www.amazon.com/Studies-Book-Mormon-B-Roberts/dp/1560850272/ref=cm_cr_dp_asin_lnk which was originally intended for internal dissemination only but is now published and available on Amazon.

      4. "The Late War between the United States and Great Britain" by Gilbert J. Hunt. This was an 1819 textbook written in King James Version style language for New York state school children, one of them very likely being Joseph Smith. The first chapter alone is stunning as it reads incredibly like the Book of Mormon. See CES Letter.

      5. "The Fist Book of Napoleon" by Modeste Gruau (1809)

      The following are a side-by-side comparison of the beginning of The First Book of Napoleon with the beginning of the Book of Mormon: (Taken from CES Letter.) http://cesletter.com/

      The First Book of Napoleon:

      Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Napoleon…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…their inheritances their gold and silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of their hearts…small in stature…Jerusalem…because of the perverse wickedness of the people.

      Book of Mormon:
      Condemn not the (writing)…an account…the First Book of Nephi…upon the face of the earth…it came to pass…the land…his inheritance and his gold and his silver and…the commandments of the Lord…the foolish imaginations of his heart…large in stature…Jerusalem…because of the wickedness of the people.

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    3. I'm with Melanie and Allen. You response to an excellent post by Anna misses the point. The problems with it are many.
      In your post you write "Everything you need to or want to know about the Book of Mormon is in...the Book of Mormon. Fancy that". That's the same as believing what someone says because they said they said it. Circular reasoning.
      The historical narrative that the church promotes about the Bom translation is false. The church now even admits that the plates were not used for the BoM that we have now, that JS "dictated" it out of a stone in a hat, and the plates weren't even used. Count how many times you have seen a painting of Joseph translating with the plates in front of him. Those images are all over the official church curriculum. Now, have you ever seen an official painting of JS with his head buried in a hat, with the plates nowhere in sight? Because apparently that is how it happened. Allen and Melanie have listed many other problems, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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    4. For details on how he could have written the BoM (not!), go to mormonleaks.com. It's all there!

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    5. Hey Mr. Levitt, you do realize that the BOM has had over 150 YEARS to correct and EDIT the entire book...right?? Now...Here is what was actually so called TRANSLATED and you tell me if this is something ANYONE COULD HAVE WRITTEN? I think even my 7yr old could have written the BOM without any sweat whatsoever.

      This is direct from the "Joseph Smith Papers" website.
      This is exactly as written.


      "tae his family & deprt into the wilderess me to ass that he was obediant unto the word of the Lord wherefo did as the Lord commanded him & it came to pass that he departd into the wilderness & he left his house & the land of his in heritance his gold & his silver & his precious things & took nothing with him save it were his family & provisions & tents & he departed into the wilder ess & he came dow by the borders near the shores of the Red Sea & he trav eled in the wilderness in the borders which was nearer the Red Sea he did traveld in the wilderness with his family which consisted of my mother Sariah & my elder Brethren which were Laman Lemuel & Sam & it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness he pitched his tent in a vally beside a river of water & it came to pass that he built an altar of stones & he made an offering unto the Lord & gave thanks unto the Lord our God & it came to pass that he called the name of the River Laman & it empted into the Read Sea & the vally was in the borders near the mouth thereof & when my father saw that the waters of the River empted into the fountain of the Red sea he spake unto Laman saying O that thou mightest be like unto this River continually runng into all righteousness & he also spake unto Lemuel saying O that thou mightest be like unto this vally firm & steadfast & immoveable in keeping the commandments of the Lord now this he spake because of the stiffneck edness of Laman & Lemuel for behold they did murmur in many thin ngs against their father because that he was a visionary man & that he had lead them out of the land of Jerusalem to leave the land of their in heritance & their gold & their silver & their precious things & to perish in the wilder ness & this they said that he had done because of the foolish immagionations of his heart & thus Laman & Lemuel being the eldest did murmur against their father & they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them neither did they believe that Jerusalem that great City could be destroid according to the words of the prophets & they were like unto the Jews which were at Jerusalem which saught to take away the life of my father

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  20. Yes! Thank you for this. These were the exact responses I got when I posted about the seer stone on Facebook. I couldn't believe how everyone was rushing to the church's defense (well, actually I can, and it's sad).

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  21. BTLeavitt, I have read the Book of Mormon with faith and my favorite part was when Christ visited the Nephites. I hated to let that go.

    However, it appears that you are not aware of all the resources that JS had, nor of the stories he told long before the "first vision", nor of the dream that his father had. The Book of Mormon appears to be an amalgamation of a lot of resources and JS's talent for telling tales. He wasn't as dumb nor as uneducated as members like to make him appear.

    Added to that is the proof that the Book of Abraham is false. Did you know that?

    But you did not even address what my post was about, which is that the church has not been completely honest about the method of translation. Why was that and why is it that so many members have no problems with lies? Where is honesty and integrity?

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  22. Anna, what proof, real proof, do you have that the book of Abraham is false (I'm talking justifiable proof, not an article on the Internet, because let's face it, anyone can write anything on the Internet and call it truth).
    Also, you give Joseph Smith way too much credit. Even if he had all these resources (and yes I know about his fathers dream), there is still no way he would have been able to do what he did at the age he did it. Heck, he wouldn't have been able to pull it off later in life either. Not without help, anyway (such as revelations from God, for instance). As far as his fathers dream, that is no proof that he is a fraud. I have had dreams myself that preceded events in my life and the lives of close friends and family members. His father had 7 dreams, or visions. He, like Lehi, could have had precluding visions that were fulfilled at the time of the translation of the plates. It's not unheard of to have heavenly visions prior to major events (ie. The restoration).
    I agree with looking for truth and checking all your facts, but make sure the sources you are using are correct and factual. If not, then you fall prey to the "truths" of the Internet and lose your faith and hope for nothing more than false information.

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  23. And is it false information that Joseph did not use the Urim and Thumim or the plates but instead stuck his face in a hat and used a stone that he had found and previously used to con people out of their money?

    It's not just articles on the internet that I relied on. It was interviews with well respected LDS historians and researchers. Now where are you getting your information from? The church which has been holding back?

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  24. By the way, I have not lost my faith. I still believe in Christ and in God. I don't need the church for that, because He's out there too.

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  25. BTLeavitt- " there is still no way he would be able to do what he did at the age he did it."
    I respectfully disagree. There are many gifted people born into this world with a variety of gifts, and some are considered prodigies. So, you state "there is no way...." but actually the truth is that there is, in fact, a way, just not a narrative that you embrace.

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  26. Thank you so much for this post! I left the church two years ago and resigned this year. I was a faithful and devoted member and even served a mission and married in the temple. When I read real church history, like you, I knew the church I had loved and served in was a lie. It takes real courage to stand up for integrity and leave. Thanks again for your post.

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    1. YUP!!! me too..........I have a husband though who still drinks the magic Mormon Koolaid.It's sad cuz I love him,but he still hangs on and sometimes I fear this will end in us getting divorced! I agree thanks for your courage!

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  27. I too was a convert,baptized in 1984.....I always had tons of questions that NO one was able to answer including my husband! I use to believe all the BS was true...well,as of Nov 2014 I found out the TRUTH!! I still feel angry,frustrated and being lied to is just WRONG on so many different levels!!! My husband still believes in the magic Koolaid,I DO NOT!!! The LDS church is a cult,Joe Smith was a con man,pervert and pedophile!! When I read he married 33 women ,most being VERY young and that he sealed himself to other men's wives that was the straw that broke the camel's back!!! A person would have to be really hard up and desperate to still believe this BS!!! I want NOTHING to do w/h the church ever again!!!! I still believe in God an Jesus just NOT the Mormon God!!!

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  28. Dear Woman at the Well,
    I read your blog a little while ago and it has stayed with me because it is such an insult tome personally and to members of the Church. Just because you have lost the Spirit and your testimony for the Gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t mean you are accurate when you say all the other members are either, blind, being deceived or just corrupt. By saying this, you discount all the experiences we have had with the Holy Ghost through studying the scriptures, using the Atonement of Jesus Christ and strengthening our relationship with Father in Heaven. Which by the way, is the doctrine of Christ, and found so perfectly in the Book of Mormon.
    Pretty clever how you use phrases out of context to deflect and justify your behavior (i.e “be careful of being an apostate”), when that is exactly what your blog reveals about you. At least have the courage to admit it.
    Sure, it would be nice to know everything that transpired during the Restoration. It would be nice to have a million dollars. But my testimony doesn’t hinge on what method was used to translate the scriptures, it is based on what is IN the scriptures, namely, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the only means by which we can return to live with Heaven Father.
    When missionaries teach those who are seeking Christ, they focus on the doctrine of Christ, the saving ordinances – which you called “milk” in your list of magic tricks. It is just rude to say these investigators are being deceived. You are actually saying God is deceiving them because that is whom they are praying to when they are finding the truth.
    I think what offends me most is the damage you are causing in your loud and dramatic departure from the Church. There are people with tender testimonies who have felt the Spirit and are working to strengthen them through their study of scripture and prayer. Your anti-Mormon (and inaccurate) words can cause a lot of damage. And if that is your intent, shame on you!

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    1. I would like to know where you feel I've been inaccurate.

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    2. @lin, no shame on you for lying to people by omission. It is people like YOU who are prideful and full of hate. shame on you...shame on you. BTW there are MORE people who have LEFT the LDS fraud than are now in it. Again..shame on you..

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  29. I have not lost the spirit nor my testimony of Jesus Christ. You are misinformed if you believe that only members of the church have Christ. He loves us all. And anyone can feel the spirit. The "milk" I referred to was the whitewashed story of the translation. Why lie? Is it of God to lie to people. Does God need us to lie? As for what's in the scriptures, are they actually scriptures if they weren't really translated but instead made up by a young con man with his face in a hat?

    The damage that is happening is from the lies and abuses in the church. Just because you don't recognize them or have not experienced them does not mean they do not exist.

    I have no real hopes of changing the minds of those who are devout but I hope to reach those who are struggling and need to know they are not alone.

    From my understanding "apostate" is someone who has actually known Christ and denies him. Some might argue it would have to be someone who has seen Him face to face. Either way, I do not deny Christ. I deny Joseph Smith. He is not Christ.

    I was a convert too. But you know what? I experienced God before I knew the church. And my experiences with God are separate from the church. You have twisted them up together that you can't recognize the difference between the two.

    Christ's church is anyplace where people gather to worship Him and follow Him. It is far bigger than the Mormon church. His temple is the entire earth. His love is bigger than the lists of things members have to do to be accepted by Him.

    The fact that Elder Oaks has stated that he will not apologize for anything would show a prideful man who does not believe in repentance. The fact that so much of the history has been left out shows a church that has purposely hid things.

    I find it sad that you think the truth has no meaning.

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  30. Thank you for this post, my husband and I are on a journey out of the lds Church...Thankfully like you we are converts and so we had a relationship with God before the Church..."wherever 2 or 3 are gathered in my name there shall I be also" right? This has helped us to reconcile how God still blessed our lives in the Church without that having to mean the Church is true...we are on a journey of learning now what He would have us do...one thing we know for sure is He wants us out of this Church that has perpetuated so many lies on so many subjects....we learned in the Church that sins are not just things we do but tha there are sins of omission where we neglect to do something we should be doing...well The Brethren at the top are incredibly guilty of sins of omission...much love to all of you who are spreading the good word and helping people like us through this journey x

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    1. May you and your husband find joy and peace. The gospel isn't exclusively for members of the LDS church.

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