|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
|Joseph doing it without help|
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?
- Joseph convincing people that he translated an ancient record he received from God.
- Joseph convincing people that he could do it by sticking his face in a hat.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- Blaming members for not knowing when it was there all along – in a handful of obscure articles spanning over a hundred years.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.