Name: Joseph Smith Jr.

Born: December 23, 1805

Home Town: Sharon, Vermont

Died: June 27, 1844

Age at Death: 39

College: N/A

Father: Joseph Smith Sr.

Mother: Lucy Mack Smith

Wife: Emma Hale Smith ...

Wives: 24-48 depending on the source (only 1 according to him)

Special Interests: Treasure seeking, the Masonic temple, religion, egyptian artifacts, marriage

Favorite Food: Johnny Cakes

Interesting Fact: Ran for President of the United States

Joseph Smith Jr.

Much has been written about the man, and the wikipedia link to the left is an excellent resource for moderate views on his life, writings and works.

However, there are undeniable events in Joseph Smith Jr.s life that impugn his reliability, corrupting his trustworthiness for anyone willing to admit that his actions warrant honest analysis.

Joseph Smith Jr.s Reliability

Doesn’t God choose less than stellar people as prophets? Moses was a murderer, and Jonah was something of a jackass. Many of God’s prophets made mistakes, so what makes Joseph Smith any different?

It is a matter of basic discernment: It is simply not a good idea to believe someone who says that they are a prophet of God when they have a track record of being untrustworthy. Does history show that Joseph Smith Jr. earned your trust or did he squander it?

Let’s review some of the behaviors that made him unreliable as a person, seer, friend, and especially as a prophet or godly man... behaviors that create a basis for his trustworthiness.

Glass Looking / Treasure Seeking Arrests & Conviction

Joseph Smith Jr. hired himself out to land owners, offering to find buried treasure on their property, for a fee, by looking into a hat that contained one or more ‘seer stones’ inside it. Did he actually find treasure? Did the people who trusted him to find treasure ever recover treasure on their property? There is no record of Joseph Smith Jr. ever finding buried treasure.

Not only was he arrested four times in the mid 1820’s, he was ultimately convicted of a misdemeanor.

He was convicted, and whether or not you think this was training for his future role in life, the activity was patently against the law, it was considered to be on par with fraud or what we might call con-artistry. This type of behavior was then and is now considered to be socially unacceptable. Was Joseph Smith Jr. participating in activity that was socially unacceptable -- even against the law? He was in fact taken to court and convicted of the misdemeanors; disorderly conduct and being an imposter. Does this make him more or less trustworthy?

Text from the 1826 trial record:

  1. “...he had a certain stone, which he had occasionally looked at to determine where hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth...”

  2. “...the Prisoner could tell and possessed the art of seeing those valuable treasures through the medium of said stone...”

  3. “Josiah Stowel sworn, says that, prisoner had been at his house, something like 5 months, had been employed by him to work on farm part of time—that he pretended to have skill of telling where hidden treasures in the earth were by means of looking through a certain stone...”

  4. “... that Smith arrived at Spot first, was in night, that Smith looked in Hat while there and when very dark, and told how the chest was situated...”

  5. “... And therefore the Court find the Defendant guilty.”

For the non-Mormon story click Here.

For the Mormon story click here.

Also, it should be noted that the same seer stone-medium with which Joseph was unable to successfully find treasure, was also used to translate the Book of Mormon and for receiving revelations. Was this trustworthy behavior?

The Visions of the Smith’s

A lot of weight is given to the visions of Joseph Smith Jr., and his seemingly revolutionary conversations with holy entities.

According to the book Biographical Sketches Of Joseph Smith the Prophet, And His Progenitors for many Generations written by his mother Lucy Mack Smith, between 1811 and 1819 Joseph Smith Sr. (J.S. Jr.s father) had a number of visions. This is before Joseph Smith Jr.s claim of his first vision in the woods. Does this make Joseph Smith Jr.s vision more or less trustworthy?

First Joseph Smith Jr. said he saw an angel, then the angle was given the name Nephi, which was then changed to Moroni. He later expanded his visions to include Jesus, God & Jesus, Peter, James, John, John the Baptist and the Archangel Michael.

Joseph Smith Jr’s visions followed his typical pattern of expansion  of scope and fantasy over time; he would start out a story, albeit fantastic to begin with, and then expand it repeatedly until it reached a level of gloriousness that he thought it needed. This is a “big fish” story telling motif that is threaded throughout the Book of Mormon and Joseph’s writings.

Polygamist or Monogamist?

As a religious leader, he demanded in public that he only had one wife. He said that he was not involved in polygamy. For 10 years he was practicing plural marriage, but had been lying about it. Was this trustworthy activity?

Joseph Smith Jr. used his Book of Commandments (later called the Doctrine & Covenants) to publicly humiliate and manipulate church members to do his bidding; his wife Emma was abused unmercifully in this way.

The Reorganized Latter-Day Saints (RLDS) believe Smith.

History tells a different story.

This site was created in memory of the women who suffered this affliction of polygamy with “the Prophet Joseph.”

An Illegal Bank

Joseph Smith stated, “It is wisdom and according to the mind of the Holy Spirit, that you should call at Kirtland [Ohio], and receive counsel and instruction upon those principles that are necessary to further the great work of the Lord, and to establish the children of the kingdom, according to the oracles of God; as they are had among us: and further, we invite the brethren from abroad, to call on us, and take stock in our Safety Society; and we would remind them also of the sayings of Isaiah, contained in the 60th chapter and more particularly the 9th and 17th verses,…Also 62nd chapter, 1st verse…

When confronted with the illegal nature of the “Kirtland Safety Society Bank,” Joseph Smith Jr. tried to rectify the letter of the law by turning his illegal bank into an “anti-Bank” by adding the word “anti” in front of the word bank and “ing Co” after it; creating the “Kirtland Safety Society Anti-Banking Company” -- by over-printing the word in place on all the available currency that had already been created (see image below -- and here for what it looked like before), but the government was not happy about the whole situation. The “anti-bank” faced stiff legal action and penalties that it could not absorb. Joseph Smith Jr. and Sidney Rigdon, whose names appeared on all the currency, were being held to account for their illegal behavior -- but they had other plans. Faithful LDS and LDS apologists claim that it was always the “Anti-Bank” and therefore did not violate banking laws, but that is simply not true. The Kirtland Safety Society Bank was formed and headed by the LDS leadership, Joseph Smith Jr. and Sidney Rigdon, and they ran from the law when it was clear that capture and legal action was upon them. Was this trustworthy behavior?

Author Fawn Brodie wrote:

  1. "Thirteen suits were brought against him between June 1837 and April 1839, to collect sums totaling nearly $25,000. The damages asked amounted to almost $35,000. He was arrested seven times in four months, and his followers managed heroically to raise the $38,428 required for bail. Of the thirteen suits only six were settled out of court-about $12,000 out of the $25,000. In the other seven the creditors either were awarded damages or won them by default.

  2. Joseph had many additional debts that never resulted in court action. Some years later he compiled a list of still outstanding Kirtland loans, which amounted to more than $33,000. If one adds to these the two great loans of $30,000 and $60,000 borrowed in New York and Buffalo in 1836, it would seem that the Mormon leaders owed to non-Mormon individuals and firms well over $150,000." (
    No Man Knows My History, pp. 199-202)

Was this trustworthy?

The wikipedia pages are here.

FAIR wiki web page is here.

Non-Mormon site here.

At Least One Bad Land Deal

Joseph Smith Jr. said, “This place (Kirtland, Ohio) must be built up, and will be built up, and every brother that will take hold and help secure these contracts (for land) shall be rich.

In fact, all those who invested in Joseph Smith Jr. vis-a-vis land in Kirtland, Ohio ended up losing all of their investments when the Mormons were driven from there -- in direct contradiction to Smith’s promise. Was this trustworthy?

Men On The Moon

Like many issues surrounding the life and claims of Joseph Smith Jr, we often have to look at circumstantial and witness accounts to paint the whole picture of his life. Such is the case with his arrests and conviction -- which is not documented in official LDS church documents, so we must look at evidence from the day; newspaper reports, court documents, etc. However, in this case we are relatively lucky, because we not only have a published LDS member write his first-hand account of Joseph Smith Jr. teaching this doctrine of men on the moon, it was also published in an LDS publication.

Even though the LDS church once endorsed the view that Joseph Smith taught this, nonetheless the inhabited moon doctrine is hotly contested by LDS, because the apologists claim that there is not enough in the way of direct physical evidence to prove that Joseph Smith Jr. taught the doctrine.

We know that Brigham Young spoke of this in the Journal of Discourses, but we also have a first-hand account of Joseph Smith teaching it, and this recollection was included in an official LDS publication, The Young Woman's Journal, Vol. 3, pages 263-264, wherein it was written:

  1. “As far back as 1837 Joseph Smith said the moon was inhabited.”

The LDS apologists dismiss Oliver Huntington as having questionable memory, and that the article was written 40 years after Joseph Smith’s death, so it has no weight -- they claim.

Not even first-hand accounts of respected and published LDS elders is ever quite good enough for the LDS apologist spin machine.

For the non-Mormon story click here.

For the Mormon story click here.

Masonic Temple Rites & Joseph Smith’s Temple Rites

Most LDS are blissfully unaware that their temple ceremonies were not restored to the earth as Joseph Smith Jr. claimed, but that they were directly taken from the Masons.

Here are the facts:

  1. BulletJoseph Smith Jr. became a “sublime degree” Mason shortly before the LDS temple ceremonies were introduced.

  2. BulletFirst-degree in Masonry received:
    March 15, 1842 (History of the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 550-551)

  3. BulletTemple Endowment Ceremony Introduced:
    May 4, 1842 (History of the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 1-2)

  4. BulletLDS temple garments have the Masonic compass and square embroidered on them.

  5. BulletEarlier LDS temple oaths and penalties directly tracked the Masonic versions...
    “We, each of us, covenant and promise that we will not reveal any of the secrets of this, the first token of the Aaronic Priesthood, with its accompanying name, sane or penalty. Should we do so, we agree that our throats be cut from ear to ear and our tongues torn out by their roots.”

  6. BulletSecret names, secret signs and tokens -- handshakes, all track with Masonry

  7. BulletLDS symbolism is tightly coupled with Masonic symbols:
    - The Carpenter’s Square
    - The Compass
    - The Beehive
    - The All-Seeing Eye

    - The Sun with face
    - The temple aprons
  8. BulletThe similarities only start here.

As a side note, LDS should be asking themselves how this “revealed and restored sacred institution”, was seemingly-arbitrarily “fixed” in 1990 (the same is true for plural marriage). This is repeating theme in Mormonism, where the LDS claim that God restored His perfect thing, but it is later repaired due to circumstances that suddenly came up.

For the non-Mormon story click here.

For the Mormon story click here.

The Lost Book of Abraham

This is the single most important book in LDS history, because this is one irrefutable piece of direct physical evidence that proves that Joseph Smith Jr. was lying about his ability to translate ancient texts. For the LDS to believe that the Book of Abraham (and thus the Book of Mormon) is what Joseph Smith Jr. claimed, they must ignore the evidence, no, they must believe Joseph Smith Jr. in spite of the evidence of the Book of Abraham. Where is the discernment of truth in the LDS church?

In 1835 Joseph Smith Jr. once more called on ‘the saints’ to fund a project for ‘the church’ -- purchasing mummies and other Egyptian artifacts from Michael Chandler for $2,400, because Joseph Smith Jr. claimed that the papyri scrolls and other pieces of the artifacts held the lost books of Abraham and Joseph.

Joseph Smith Jr. toiled for months, ‘translating’ the Egyptian hieroglyphics on the papyri, ultimately producing the book of Abraham that is now found in the Pearl of Great Price.

Egyptologists from 1859 until now, such as Theodule Devaria of the Louvre, and Samuel A. B. Mercer of Western Theological Seminary, and James H. Breasted of the University of Chicago, and W. M. Flinders Petrie of London University, have consistently refuted any and all ‘translation’ performed by Joseph Smith Jr. based on the materials produced by Smith.

Recapping these refutals, in 2001 Robert K. Ritner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Egyptology at the University of Chicago, was commissioned to perform a full translation of the papyri (rediscovered in the Spring of 1966). He indicated that the papyri are funeral documents dedicated to the resurrection of a deceased Egyptian priest, and that Abraham is not mentioned once. He also mentioned that the narrative style of the Book of Abraham, as written, does not correspond to Egyptian verbiage.

In the reconstruction work performed by Joseph Smith Jr. on facsimile 1 in the Book of Abraham, he represented the jackal-headed Egyptian god Anubis with a human head, and put a knife in Anubis’ hands, which is completely out of context for the resurrection scene of the original documents. Also, his interpretation of the papyri represented by facsimile 3 in the Pearl of Great Price has nothing to do with the papyrus documents.

Commentary on the Book of Abraham:

Wikipedia pages on the Book of Abraham are here.

One Mormon Apologist’s explanations are here.

One Non-Mormon explanation is here.

Commentary on the papyri:

The Egyptologist Interpretation of the papyri.

The Mormon FARMS reaction to the interpretation.

It is clear to Egyptologists and to the casual observer that Joseph Smith Jr. was not able to translate Egyptian. When he called on ‘the saints’ for the $2,400 required to obtain the artifacts because he amazingly discovered the lost books of Abraham and Joseph, which are clearly not what he claimed, was that trustworthy?

Examples of Claims That Could Not Be Readily Disproved In the 1800’s

Joseph Smith Jr. had another tactic that he used often, what you could call the “prove it isn’t true!” tactic.

This is a partial list of the types of claims that Joseph Smith Jr. made in his day, which most people had no way of validating the truth of:

  1. BulletTotal apostasy - God removed his church from the earth

  2. BulletGolden plates in the Hill Cumorah that an angel took back

  3. BulletInhabitants of Americas are the Lost Tribes of Israel

  4. BulletMassive battles of the Lamanites/Nephites; millions dead in up-state New York (see: Zelph the White Lamanite)

  5. BulletReformed Egyptian language

  6. BulletPeople live on the moon

  7. BulletAll churches are wrong

  8. BulletBook of Abraham & Book of Joseph contained in Egyptian papyri

  9. BulletHe saw God (any of his visions for that matter)

  10. BulletWhen his prophecies didn’t come true, God had a reason

  11. BulletGod was once a man, and you can be just like Him

  12. BulletThe Bible was corrupted

After each statement you could say, “prove it didn’t happen” -- and in the context of the 1800’s you would have only Joseph Smith Jr’s word to go on.

Of course today it’s a different story -- we have historic records, we have DNA evidence, we have Egyptologists, archaeologists, linguists, and of course NASA who have all proven that Joseph Smith Jr’s claims were false.

Also, be sure to visit our page that shows how Joseph Smith Jr. exploited these historic holes to deceive people and enhance his mystic appeal.

The Bottom Line

Did Joseph Smith Jr. mislead the people who trusted him while he was alive? If so, he is misleading people from the grave, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a knowing and willing accomplice. All of this information is publicly available, it simply does not fit into the mould that the church has cast for its prophet.

Knowing what you know, would you trust him? Would you trust the man that behaved these ways in the name of God? Would you trust Joseph Smith Jr. with your eternal soul?

Thanks to Bob McCue and Mike Norton for the basic inspiration for this page.

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