Joseph Smith Jr. – the founder of Mormonism
Joseph Smith Jr. was born on December 23, 1805 in Sharon, Vermont. Smith’s family later moved to the Manchester, New York area. As historical accounts record, he was raised in ignorance, poverty, and superstition. His reputation was one of indolence. Sixty-six of the Smith’s neighbors in New York gave testimony in affidavits as to the Smith family’s character. Unanimously, these neighbors affirmed that the Smith’s character and the character of their associates was bad. Joseph Smith was known to be the worst of them all. From this affidavit evidence, those knowing Joseph Smith stated that he nor his friends could be believed under oath, and that there had been many many contradictory stories told about his “Golden Bible.” It was written of Joseph Smith that he had a remarkable ability to live without working, and that he wondered about the country as a “water-witch,” claiming to point out where good veins of water were by the deflection of a hazel rod held in his hand. He also acted as if he could locate hidden treasure and stray cattle. As early as 1820, he publicly declared that he had visions and divine revelations. He said that an angel named Moroni revealed to him where some gold plates were hidden. After obtaining these plates, he used a peep-stone placed in his hat to “translate” them. From this translation came the Book of Mormon, Mormonism’s main scriptural text. It contains modern phrases and ideas that could not have been known to its supposed author in 420 A.D. It contains many quotations from the King James version of the Bible, which was published in the 1600’s. Smith had three men witness in writing that they had seen his gold plates. One of these men was disciplined in Kirtland for living in open adultery with a servant girl; expelled from the church in Missouri for lying, counterfeiting, and immorality; and ultimately died in Missouri as a drunkard. Another witness was expelled from the church after he refused to comply with Joseph Smith’s “celestial marriage revelation” which made living in polygamy necessary. He also did not agree with Smith’s use of the Danites, a group of violent henchmen, also called the “avenging angels.” Today it is believed that the true origin of the Book of Mormon is a manuscript written by Solomon Spaulding; which was a fictional historical romance. Smith and Oliver Cowdery added to Spaulding’s manuscript doctrinal commentary on universalism, anti-masonry, and baptism.
The Pearl of Great Price, another Mormon scripture text, materialized after Smith purchased some mummies and funeral scrolls from a salesman traveling through Kirtland, Ohio in 1835. In his ignorance, Smith claimed that the funeral papyrus contained writings from the Old Testament’s Abraham and Joseph of Egypt. However, in the late 1960’s, Egyptologists confirmed that the papyrus that Smith claimed to use to write the Pearl of Great Price was actually a pagan funeral scroll; part of the Egyptian Book of Breathings. The Book of Breathings was a coffin text full of magic formulas claiming to assure the dead person’s passage into the afterlife. The Pearl of Great Price has nothing to do with Abraham or Joseph of Egypt. The “First Principles of the Gospel” were adopted from Alexander Campbell, the founder of the Church of Christ denomination. Most early Mormons came as apostates from other Christian churches.
Joseph Smith organized the Mormon Church in 1830. The first Mormon temple was completed in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836. Smith also organized a “quorum of twelve apostles.” The more prosperous Smith became, the more dictatorial he became. He was known to live in much greater luxury than his Saints did. Smith was known for his adultery. In 1831, he received a “revelation” commanding the Saints to settle in Missouri (the land of “Zion”). The Mormons denounced Gentiles (those not believing in Mormonism) as “enemies of the Lord.” Smith and Sidney Rigdon fled to Missouri in 1838 to avoid imprisonment after a Mormon bank that Smith had created failed in Kirtland, Ohio. Smith and Rigdon were “tarred and feathered” for swindling people out of their money. In Far West, Missouri Smith and Rigdon declared their “independence” from the United States government. Rigdon delivered his “salt sermon,” warning that there would be a war of extermination between the Saints and the Gentile government, where the Mormons would follow any people coming against them until the last drop of their blood was spilled. Smith received another revelation in Independence, Missouri in 1831 which allowed church members as “agents on the Lord’s errand” to take property whenever they pleased from the Gentiles, and pay for the property only if they wanted to. History records that the Mormons followed this revelation and often openly took property from the non believing Gentiles. The Mormons claimed that God had given them the entire land. They claimed that bloody wars would ensue which would drive all other religious sects from the area, and that those who survived the wars would be “servants” to the Saints. A civil war broke out between the Saints and the Missouri Gentiles. Missouri Justice of the Peace Adam Black affirmed through affidavit that 154 armed Mormons surrounded his house and threatened to kill him if he did not sign a paper agreeing to issue no warrants against the Saints. As a result of the chaos and rebellion brought on by the Mormons, Governor Boggs of Missouri called out 400 mounted militia to maintain order. The Mormons had a reputation of arrogance and spiritual pride, claiming that they were “Kings and Priests” of God. Their lawless behavior led to their being driven out of Missouri in 1839 by an order from the Missouri governor.
Joseph Smith was determined to have a government ran by priests, or in other words, a theocracy. People were killed on both sides of the civil disputes between the Mormons and Missouri Gentiles. Eventually, Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith along with forty other Mormons were arrested and put on trial for treason, murder, robbery, arson, larceny, and breach of the peace. By the end of 1838, twelve thousand Mormons began their trek to Illinois. Smith and the others escaped from jail the following spring, and headed for Quincy, Illinois.
By 1840, Smith was the leader of thousands of Mormons who built a settlement or town called Nauvoo, Illinois. The Nauvoo city charter created by Smith established a government within a government. It set up a legislature that was enabled to pass ordinances which conflicted state laws, as well as a military force governed by its own laws and ordinances. In 1841 Joseph Smith was elected mayor of Nauvoo. Smith was not only the mayor, but the Lieutenant-General of the legion, and ex officio Judge. On January 19th of 1841, Smith received a long revelation which reorganized the entire church, and consecrated the cash of wealthy members to various purposes. At this time it was common for robbers and murderers to flock into Mormonism as a cover for their crimes. Thousands of Mormons hastily gathered in the city of Nauvoo. Poverty among the Saints was rampant. Free love was known to be common among Mormons. Smith became a Mason in Nauvoo, which led to the creation of his masonic secret temple ceremony. Gentile cattle that strayed toward Nauvoo were known never to return. Gentiles who sued in Nauvoo courts were rewarded with only costs and insults. “Whittling deacons” (groups of teenage boys with knives) were known in Nauvoo for intimidating and harassing anyone speaking against Joseph Smith. Smith’s Danites, or “avenging angels” would terrify and insult Gentiles with strange oaths and blasphemies, as well as threaten them with death. In May of 1842, Governor Boggs of Missouri was fired upon and wounded in the head. A Mormon, Orrin Porter Rockwell was indicted for this crime, along with Joseph Smith as accessory.
In 1844 Joseph Smith announced himself as a candidate for the U.S. Presidency. Smith also anointed himself as a “temporal prince,” as well as spiritual leader of the Mormons. His followers who upheld his throne were anointed his “kings and priests.” Smith also required the Saints to take an oath of allegiance to him. He claimed that he had descended from Joseph of the Old Testament. The Mormons proclaimed during this time that the government of the United States was utterly corrupt, about to pass away, and due to be replaced by the government of God administered by none other that Joseph Smith.
Joseph Smith took wives away from other Mormon leaders. He established himself as the only person in Mormonism who could issue marriage licenses, and sell real estate and liquor. A paper called The Expositor was started in order to expose Smith’s increasing despotism. The first issue contained the testimony of sixteen women who had been seduced by Smith and other Mormon leaders under the pretense of “divine” permission (permission for fornication, adultery, and polygamy). Smith gathered his Common Council and held a fraudulent trial finding The Expositor a “public nuisance.” Smith ordered the City Marshall and the Nauvoo Legion to destroy the newspaper. The newspaper was destroyed and both Gentiles and apostates were driven out of Nauvoo under threat of death. Smith as Lieutenant-General of the Nauvoo Legion eventually declared martial law in Nauvoo and instructed the Legion to take up arms. Joseph Smith’s actions in destroying the Expositor newspaper, as well other crimes he committed ultimately led to his being imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois. He died in the Carthage Jail in a shootout with an angry militia.
Smith was known for his enormous ego. He boasted that he had more to brag about than any other man. He said that he was the only person ever to be able to keep a whole church together since the time of Adam. He said that Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus were able to do it, but he was able. The Mormon Church tried for years to hide the truth about their founder Joseph Smith, Jr. However, today the historical evidence about who he really was is available. Unfortunately, the Mormon Church continues to produce propaganda about him in order to bring people under their delusional influence.
Beadle, J. H. Polygamy or, The Mysteries and Crimes of Mormonism. Washington D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1904.
Martin, Walter. The Kingdom of the Cults. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2003.
Tanner, Jerald, and Sandra. Mormonism – Shadow or Reality? Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 2008.