Old Themes and Stereotypes Never Die: The Unchanging Ways of Anti-Mormons
by Craig L. Foster
A writer once said, “If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.”1 While obviously tongue-in-cheek, this statement, nonetheless, delivers a powerful message concerning the importance of the printed word.
At the beginning of the year my book, Penny Tracts and Polemics: A Critical Analysis of Anti-Mormon Pamphleteering in Great Britain, 1837-1860, was published, in which I examined the history and literature of anti-Mormonism in Great Britain.
As with most other aspects of history, the creation of English (or, for that matter, American) anti-Mormon pamphlets did not occur within an historical vacuum. The publication of cheap street literature had been a popular means of communicating ideas and defending causes since the sixteenth century. Indeed, by the seventeenth century, there was a veritable tidal wave of printed literature in circulation in England. This collection of printed matter included such items as broadsides, ballads, catchpennies, chapbooks, and pamphlets.2
These items of literature provided the medium of communication and entertainment for those of the lower classes because, for the first time, the printed word, in the form of cheap literature, was accessible to the common people in large quantities. Because of the great demand for and dependence on printed matter, the rate of learning and literacy began to rise. As one historian explained, “In such a society, illiteracy was no longer merely a social stigma, it was a fundamental economic disadvantage.”3
Practically all aspects of life were addressed in these broadsides and chapbooks. The subjects ranged from religion and politics to crime, romance, superstitions and humor. By the end of the seventeenth century, the publication of such items was a profitable business with a “brisk trade in unseemly reading matter for the masses”.4 The publications were, in fact, filled with sexual references and bawdy humor. The content of the reading material for the working classes did not go unnoticed by the keen eyes of the religious reformers.
Perhaps the most vocal against what she considered to be bawdy and unhealthy reading material for the lower classes was Hannah More. Hannah had been a part of the early Sunday School movement created by her mentor, Robert Raikes of Gloucester. Aware of the vast amount of questionable reading material circulating among the workers, Hannah wrote, “Vulger and indecent penny books were always common, but speculative infidelity, brought down to the pockets and capacities of the poor, forms a new [era] in our history.”5
With this concern in mind, Hannah More formed the Religious Tract Society, with its Cheap Repository Tracts. These tracts, which contained moral tales, Biblical teachings, and other aspects of “good Christian living”, were designed to drive the other type of literature “from the face of England”.6
The success of the Religious Tract Society was phenomenal. Within the first six months of its creation in 1795, three hundred thousand copies of the various tracts had been sold. By March 1796, the total had reached two million.7 These tracts were distributed by the thousands among the poor and the working class. Indeed, “tracts were to become a common feature of Victorian working-class life.”8 In describing the impact and importance of this early tract distribution by this and other religious societies, one historian has written, “…by 1803 the tract had become a weapon.”9 This was particularly true with the cheap religious tracts. There is very little question that The Religious Tract Society, with its millions of tracts a year, and the numerous other religiously oriented publishing societies influenced the “social conscience of the day”.10
It was within this context that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was introduced into Britain. Hannah More’s Religious Tract Society and the numerous other penny tract publishers had laid the groundwork for the Latter-day Saint missionaries by increasing the rate of literacy among the working class through the wide distribution of tracts and the introduction of Sunday Schools. A larger portion of the British population was in a position to hear, read, and accept the Mormon missionaries’ message.
In modern technical societies the art of communication and dissemination of knowledge are of extreme importance. These are enhanced through the circulation of various ideas, concepts and beliefs. Without the publication of such, it would be extremely difficult to communicate new ideas and beliefs to large populations. While oral traditions and other forms of verbal communication have existed among the inhabitants of the world since time immemorial, the power of the written and printed word cannot be underestimated.
This is particularly true with religion. Indeed, it does not seem at all unlikely to surmise that both Islam and Judaism would have remained local, tribal religions if it had not been for the recording of the teachings of their respective prophets and leaders. The same can be said concerning Christianity. If the disciples of Jesus Christ and the early Church Fathers had not recorded their experiences and beliefs in the form of narratives and epistles, Christianity would probably have dwindled into obscurity with countless other religious movements of that part of the world. Thus, the recording and publication of beliefs and doctrines can be considered an integral part of the success, and even survival, of a religious movement.
This is just as true with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. David J. Whittaker, in his ground-breaking study of early Mormon pamphleteering, explained in his introduction, “In one sense, Mormonism began with a book.” This, in turn, “…spawned a prolific amount of published material expounding and defending the early doctrines and history of the movement.”11
Mormonism, as with almost every other religious movement in history, has had not only its adherents, but also its adversaries. Much like the apologists of a religious movement, its adversaries are also responsible for producing large amounts of published materials. As an example of the conflict between believers and antagonists and the voluminous products of such religious turmoil, one needs to look no further than the mountains of material containing attacks and counter-attacks between Catholics and Protestants.
From Elizabethan times, tales of Catholic atrocities and rumors of “popish” invasion plots were common among the British. Indeed, there existed among Protestants on both sides of the Atlantic an unhealthy fear of Catholic political domination and inherent immorality.
Perhaps the best known anti-Catholic work of the nineteenth century was Maria Monk’s Awful Disclosures of the Hotel Dieu Nunnery. Published in 1836 in New York City by the American Society for Promoting the Principles of the Protestant Reformation, the tract launched a flourishing genre of works detailing the purported immorality of Catholic priests and nuns.12
Among the anti-Catholic tracts printed on the European side of the Atlantic were The Adventure of Isabella with a Fryer who … debauched her before an Alter, at Thirteen Years old (London: n.p., n.d) and The Cloisters Laid Open (London: n.p., n.d.). However, sensational and titillating polemics were not published only against Catholics. The Female Husband (London: n.p., 1746) portrayed Methodists as “hypocritical perverts keen on lesbian and homosexual activities,” while The New Bath Guilds (London: n.p., 1766) ridiculed a “fornicating Methodist preacher.” Indeed, a number of the religious denominations which varied from the accepted mainstream denominations were the targets of polemical writers.13
Today the publication of literature against Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and just about every other religion and denomination continues. Indeed, the various forms of polemic literature have proliferated at an incredible rate, in a very large part because of the introduction and growing popularity of the Internet. The parallels between the popularity of the Internet and the mass publishing of an earlier time for a popular audience are amazing.
Perhaps most important of these parallels between the Internet and printing for the masses in an earlier time is the availability of the literature. In fact, the veritable tidal wave of printed material of the seventeenth and later centuries would be nothing more than some ripples in a bathtub in comparison to the endless sea of writing that is expanding daily “on-line” with web sites and chat-lines. With the Internet, a large population across the world is capable of not only being the reading audience but also the writers. It is not an understatement to say that every person who accesses the Internet is a potential author.
However, the kaleidoscopic changes in communication and publishing notwithstanding, the imagery and themes used by critics of various religions and denominations remain surprisingly static, notwithstanding some variations and a certain tweaking in order to give the tired old stereotypes a fresh face and new appeal.
For instance, modern anti-Catholic attacks, which involve not only traditional print media but also the Internet, film and television, include the same insinuations of illicit sexual relations between priests and nuns as well as priests and their parishioners. For example, the British film, The Magdalene Sisters (2003) bases the plot on the actual Magdalene Laundries which were run by the Sisters of Mercy for girls who were “regarded as sinners and [had] to do penance.” However, while the film is not based on any real girls, it portrays the characters as real, including little epilogues at the end of the film explaining what happened to them in their later lives. The film includes cruelty by the nuns against the girls, a seducing priest and female nudity in what one Catholic apologist compared to the adventures of Maria Monk.14
Catholics are not the only religious adherents to be accused of improper activity or be described with sensational imagery and stereotypes. Among the numerous victims of attack are Pentecostals who are described in some sources as “sex-crazed.” Even Christians in general are depicted in clichÈd stereotypes as judgmental, narrow-minded, determined to spoil the party, and fanatical.15
Stereotyping is a natural function of the human mind to “simplify a complex reality.” “A stereotype is a standardized conception or image of a specific group or people or objects.” In other words, “stereotypes are ‘mental cookie cutters.’” However, stereotypes are also used to introduce or reinforce negative attitudes about a group of people based on characteristics such as age, sex, race, nationality or religion, like the examples already given for the Catholic and other Christian churches.16
The same is true with Mormonism. As numerous as the attacks against Mormonism are the various themes and arguments used by anti-Mormon writers. As with any other genre of literature, anti-Mormon writers write with their audience in mind. They select the themes which they think will be the most entertaining or believable or influential and, ultimately, persuasive in regard to their message. With these themes come tried and true images and stereotypes. This paper will look at anti-Mormon themes and how they have and have not changed from the 1800s to the present.17
While anti-Mormons have used many themes and images, this paper will focus on only two inter-related themes–first, denigrating the character of Joseph Smith and second, accusations of immorality of Mormons and Mormonism. Obviously, a person could write a book about each of these categories. Therefore, the examples will be limited for time and space purposes.18
The Character of Joseph Smith
Mormonism Unvailed [sic], published in 1834 by Eber D. Howe, was “the genesis of many later anti-Mormon works.”19 The book itself was, in large measure, a compilation of affidavits and stories collected by Doctor Philastus Hurlbut a former member of the church. This book laid the foundation of future anti-Mormon works as it introduced the themes and methods of attack used by many future anti-Mormon publications. One of the major themes introduced in the book was the character of the Smith family. The Smith’s were described as being “lazy, indolent, ignorant, and superstitious.” Joseph Smith and his family were also described as being involved in money-digging and folk magic, and Joseph’s use of a seer stone was also discussed.20
Other anti-Mormon writers have used Howe’s arguments and accusations. For example, the first known anti-Mormon pamphlet published in Great Britain included a large portion of material taken from Howe’s book. Indeed, the theme of the Rev. Richard Livsey’s tract was the questionable character of Joseph Smith and his family, and their involvement in money digging. Livesey accused the Smith family of being known “fortune-tellers” and described how they “used certain arts of juggling” to find treasure.21
Other British writers who attempted to depict the Smith family as disreputable were the Rev. John Simons whose tract, A Few More Facts Relating to the Self-Styled “Latter-Day Saints” included arguments to portray the supposed evil characters of those involved with the founding of the church. He related the money-digging activities of the Smith family, and gave examples of the evil character of Joseph Smith. He discussed the low characters of Martin Harris and Oliver Cowdery. These included examples of lying, quarreling, intemperance, and the use of profanity.22
The Rev. Samuel Haining, a Manx Independent Calvinist preacher, stated that not since the days of Mohammed had there been a more awful delusion to mislead men. According to Haining, Joseph Smith’s character had been evil from the very beginning.23 An American writer even went as far as to suggest the whole Smith family “were unqualified atheists.”24
The evil character of Joseph and other members of the Smith family was also a theme expounded upon by William Palmer in his tract, The External Evidences of the Book of Mormon. He began by stating that Joseph Smith was “a sorcerer, a liar, an imposter, a vagabond, a swindler.”25
As an example of the evil character of Smith and his followers, Palmer portrayed the men as a group of necromancers. He related how Smith used a “peep-stone” to look for buried treasure that was guarded by evil spirits. He described how Joseph Smith had sacrificed a goat in order to get past the evil spirits. However, according to Palmer, “The devil kept his money, and the Smiths ate his mutton.”26
The intent behind relating these instances of occult activities was to show that if Smith had been involved in necromancy, he could not have been a true prophet and, therefore, Mormonism was a hoax created to get gain. Palmer’s pamphlet contained probably the most detailed account of the Smith’s connection to treasure-digging and folk magic of any of the English tracts from that time.
Modern anti-Mormon publications have also included attacks on Joseph Smith’s character. In recent years the attacks have particularly focused on the theme of Joseph Smith as a treasure-seeker who used folk magic. Joseph Smith has been described as “a man who pretended to discover, for a fee, where buried treasure was located,” and the Smith family “was given to dabbling in the mysteries of divination, glasslooking, peepstoning, and ‘Abrac’.”27
Of even more significance has been the attempt to portray Joseph Smith as a necromancer using black magic. William Palmer’s description of Smith’s sacrificing a goat in order to appease evil spirits guarding a buried treasure was not by happenstance. The practice of black magic is akin to devil worship. Indeed, satanic rituals involve animal sacrifice and a goat’s head is symbolic of a pentagram which is referred to as “the consummate symbol of Satan.”28
William J. Schnoebelen, whose shady past and questionable activities should cause concern to any discerning reader, has been particularly outspoken in his accusations of Joseph Smith’s involvement in the occult. Furthermore, Schnoebelen’s sensationalistic pamphlets, Mormonism’s Temple of Doom and Whited Sepulchers…, claim the temple ceremonies have their foundation in witchcraft and Masonry.29
Not all anti-Mormon publications come from ministries and other openly antagonistic publishers like Triple J Publications which published Schnoebelen’s works. In fact, there is a very recent example of an anti-Mormon work published by Doubleday, a large, mainstream publisher. Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, which borrows heavily from polemical works on Mormonism, picks up on the theme of Joseph Smith’s treasure hunting and folk magic. For example, he describes Smith’s “scrying” and “treasure hunting,” stating, “Soon his necromantic skills were sufficiently in demand that he was able to command respectable fees to find buried treasure for property owners.”30
However, Krakauer does not stop there. In relating the birth of Mormonism in upstate New York, he writes, “…Joseph’s flirtation with folk magic as a young man had a direct and unmistakable bearing on the religion he would soon usher forth.” In fact, in introducing Moroni’s original visit, Krakauer continues, “…peepstones and black magic would again loom large in Joseph’s life.”31
While the focus of this paper is not Krakauer’s new book, his background, biases and poor scholarship cannot go unnoticed as an example of anti-Mormonism masquerading as a scholarly work or a book which will supposedly allow readers a glimpse at the true history, doctrines and nature of Mormonism. Furthermore, his book boils down to nothing more than a regurgitation of old anti-Mormon themes such as Joseph Smith’s character, Mormon polygamy, Danites, the Mountain Meadows Massacre, and other so-called problematic areas of Mormon history.
Krakauer catapulted to fame with the publication of Into Thin Air, a cathartic, biographical account of climbing Mount Everest. In fact, practically all of his previous works have dealt with extreme behavior in outdoor pursuits. Thus it was surprising a man of his background, especially given the fact he admits being raised an atheist, would take on such a complex subject that had nothing to do with mountains–other than the fact LDS Church headquarters is nestled in the Wasatch range.32
The book and its author have gained a lot of publicity and reviews have come down on both sides. A San Francisco Chronicle review declared Krakauer “masterfully weaves Mormon history and modern polygamy into a seamless story about the strangest subculture in the American Southwest.” The St. Petersburg Times Review described the book as “a piece of solid reporting…” and USA Today declared that “Krakauer also explores the often blood-soaked roots of the Mormon faith.” On the other hand, The Wall Street Journal described the book as “quite misleading” and a Deseret News review described Krakauer lacking “the personal understanding of religious devotion necessary to deal with such a complex topic.”33
However, according to one Salt Lake Tribune review, “Krakauer never pretends to be historian or master of theology. He is a journalist, powerfully gifted in writing non-fiction.” Obviously, for this fellow journalist, gifted writing supersedes thorough research and accuracy. This same reviewer continued by writing, “The fact is, Krakauer probably knows more about early, unvarnished church history than most practicing Mormons today. His premise for connecting zealotry with unspeakable violence is as sound as any.” On the other hand, Krakauer is described as being a “one-sided journalist” and viewing such religious actions as wearing sacred garments as “freakishness rather than fervor” and concluding that the book “provides more voyeuristic astonishment than curiosity or understanding.”34
Unsurprisingly, the LDS Church has reacted quickly and negatively to Krakauer’s book. He, in turn, has publicly vacillated between anger and belligerency and hurt and puzzlement. In a Salt Lake Tribune editorial, he stated he was saddened the Church had “elected to regard [his] book in such a reductionist light.” He then proceeded to accuse the Church of sanitizing their historical record and concluded by lamenting, “I am disappointed [the LDS Church leaders] continue to do everything in their considerable power to keep important aspects of the church’s past hidden in the shadows. And I am especially disappointed that they feel such an urgent need to attack writers, like me, who present balanced, carefully researched accounts of Mormon history that happen to diverge from the official, highly expurgated church version.” In stark contrast to this combative response Krakauer later commented how hurt he was about the Church’s negative reaction and then said, “I hope people don’t think this is an anti-Mormon book.”35
Jon Krakauer’s denials of being an anti-Mormon fly in the face of his comments, as well as his book signing schedule. On Krakauer’s own web page, his book signing and speaking engagements included not only bookstores but also the First Parish of Cambridge Church (Cambridge, MA), Unity Church (Boulder, CO), First Congressional Church (Portland, OR), and Unity Temple on the Plaza (Kansas City, MO). Either Krakauer is knowingly playing to the critics of the Church in order to sell more books or he truly has been, as some people have suggested, “into thin air” a little too often.36
Either way, Krakauer not only focuses on Joseph Smith’s folk magic and treasure hunting, but also on the ever popular theme of Smith’s supposed sexual impropriety by recounting the same old stories and accusing Joseph Smith of “sexual recklessness.”37 However, Krakauer certainly is not alone with his accusations, most of which go back to the early days of the Church.
Although the theme of the prophet’s immoral character had been suggested very early in anti-Mormon literature, it had been one of the lesser themes for the first decade of the Church. This began to change by the late 1840s and early 1850s and was due, in part, to the exposÈs of John C. Bennett and the Van Dusens. Stories accusing Joseph Smith of adultery and polygamy began to circulate while he was still alive and became even more numerous after his death.
Accusations of Joseph Smith’s immoral character continue to this day, as we have already seen. For example, Jay Jacobson’s Three Reasons Not to Become a Mormon mentioned Fanny Alger and Smith’s plural marriages while in one of the editions of Jerald and Sandra Tanner’s Salt Lake City Messenger in an article titled, “Joseph Smith and Women,” he is accused of having a “sexual problem” in that “he was unsatisfied living with just one wife.” This sexual problem, according to the Tanners, led him to introduce plural marriage. Furthermore, the article emphasized Smith married several teenage women and that “the system of polygamy he set up was very detrimental to young women and children.”38
The Tanners, obviously, are not the only modern anti-Mormons to accuse Joseph Smith of sexual promiscuity. Among the numerous anti-Mormon writers who have tackled this theme with an inordinate amount of enthusiasm are Ed Decker and Dave Hunt with The God Makers. In both the film and book they repeatedly accused Smith of adultery and illicit sexual relationships, thus building on the theme of Smith’s immoral character.39
Immorality of Mormons and Mormonism
While Joseph Smith was and continues to be the main target of stories of sexual impropriety, his prophetic successors,40 as well as the regular membership, have also been the focus of tales describing licentious activity. The non-Mormon obsession with Mormon sexual mores is found in three distinct forms, all of which merge to a degree one with another. These three forms are the temple ceremony and supposed sexual activity therein, plural marriage and tales of rape and bondage, and the idea of Mormon immorality as a result of teachings and experience.
The juxtaposing of sexual license and the temple ceremony began with the first known exposÈ on the Mormon temple. This was published by a husband and wife team, Increase McGee and Maria Van Dusen (also spelled Van Deuzen). Both had been active members of the Church in Nauvoo and had received their washings, anointings, and endowments in the Nauvoo Temple on 29 January 1846.41
Shortly after their temple experience, both Increase and Maria Van Dusen apparently left the Church and Nauvoo. For several years they were affiliated with James J. Strang and the Strangites. However, by 1847, having tired of Strang and living in New York City, they published a pamphlet concerning the inner-workings of the Nauvoo Temple.
Between 1847 and 1852, the Van Dusens published at least seven pamphlets on Mormonism and the temple ceremony. The tracts varied little in their content from each other. All of them claimed to disclose the deep, dark secrets of Mormonism. It appears that by the later 1860′s, Increase Van Dusen was able to purge himself of the animosity which he had earlier felt toward Mormonism, for his last twenty years of life appear to have been quiet and without any contact with his former religion.42
However, in the 1840s, Van Dusen was still bitter over what he considered to be the false and evil teachings of the LDS Church. In A Dialogue between Adam and Eve, The Lord and the Devil, Called the Endowment, the underlying message was the thinly veiled eroticism and sexual incontinency of the ceremony. According to the tract, the first step taken in the ceremony was for the couple to be separated, undressed, and washed and anointed all over their body. In explaining this part of the ceremony, Increase wrote: “There is a variety of ceremony going on in this room, some of rather too delicate a nature to speak of as this work is designed to be read by all classes of both sexes.” This vague reference left the impression of lascivious behavior on the part of the Mormons.43
Van Dusen also mentioned the “spiritual wife” doctrine. By 1852, the underlying message of sexuality had become blatant. The cover of the twelve and one half cent tract portrays a man pointing to a woman draped provocatively in some robes. The woman’s legs and left breast are bare. Within the text is found another illustration entitled “Bridal Couch of the Spiritual Wife”. This pictures a woman reclining on a couch, with a robe covering only the lower half of her body.
The text is even more interesting. Rather than recount his own experiences, Van Dusen portrayed those of a young woman. He explained that she is “…divested of the remainder of her clothing, which leaves her in a perfect state of nakedness. The conductor next takes this nude female into a bath of water, and washes her all over…”44 As she is washed, the person blesses different parts of her body, such as her eyes, mouth, etc. Van Dusen, of course, emphasizes the more personal aspects of the body by writing, “…your breast, that you may give suck to a numerous posterity; your loins, bowels, &c., that you may conceive and bring forth spiritual sons and daughters; your____, that you may____; and so down to the feet….”45 By leaving parts blank he allowed the reader to try to envision something too explicit to be printed.
Other early anti-Mormon writers used the Van Dusen’s theme of sexual impropriety in the temple. In Mormonism Exposed, John Bowes gave an interesting discussion concerning the temple ceremony and the plurality of wives. Chapter 2 of his pamphlet had the titillating title, “Hidden Orgies of Mormonism Practiced in the Nauvoo Temple.” Bowes quoted extensively from the Van Dusen’s works, and described in detail the different parts of the ceremony, adding to it an air of scandal.46
Bowes described the “spiritual wife” doctrine or, as he termed it, “universal female prostitution.” The system described was taken from John C. Bennett’s History of the Saints, and involved the different degrees of the “Mormon harem” and warned his readers to “take care of their wives and daughters, and preserve them from ever being contaminated by the pestilential breath of adulterers and fornicators.”47
Perhaps one of the most sensational nineteenth-century tracts discussing the temple and supposed Mormon immorality was The Gates of the Mormon Hell Opened! The author quoted Increase Van Dusen by stating the temple ceremony is to prepare women for the Mormon Harem.48 He then went on to explain the washing performed on the female’s nude body, and her being led (still in a state of nudity) into a room to represent the Garden of Eden. After she partook of the forbidden fruit, Brigham Young, portraying the Lord, rushed in:
This lecherous “High Priest”, having feasted his eyes as he had oftentimes before, or done whatever he pleased with the “sheep led to the slaughter,” according to the privilege and power appertaining to his office, now goes through the remainder of the obscene farce, by re-dressing the spiritual bride for the inner chamber, or “paradise,” gorgeously bedecked for the occasion; also kissing her, blessing her, feasting her on the bridal supper, and rejoicing with her in the name of the Lord. And while invoking the holy name of Jesus, they often revel at a libidinous bacchanal composed of a great number of these spiritual wives (mothers and daughters) and their saintly paramours, as a fitting finale to the disgusting ceremony before celebrated.49
The theme of illicit and immoral activity in conjunction with the temple ceremony certainly continues to the present. For example, the movie, Temple of the God Makers, discusses what they call “bizarre, secret practices” in the temple and later refer to the Mormon concept of eternal life as “endless celestial sex.” Although Deborah Laake’s self-analytical “tell all” about Mormonism, titled Secret Ceremonies, ended up being more revealing about her own sex life and hang-ups than an exposÈ on the temple ceremony, she still hinted at an overt sensuality in the washings and anointings and other parts of the ceremony. Judy Robertson, in her book, Out of Mormonism: A Woman’s True Story, also discussed parts of the temple ceremony and described being in almost a trance-like state during a large portion of the ceremony in which she “felt defiled, ashamed, and bewildered.”50
Nineteenth century accusations of licentious temple ceremonies, as well as the accusations of “spiritual wifery” and “religious prostitution” were increased an hundred-fold with the 1852 public announcement of the doctrine and practice of polygyny or, plural marriage. During the next few decades a particularly colorful and interesting genre of polemical literature arose. This was the narrative genre of kidnap and seduction, rape and bondage.
Most of these stories had a certain format which was, ironically enough, borrowed from eighteenth and nineteenth century pornographers. This format involved the following: the story was related in the first person, the story involved kidnap and/or seduction of an innocent and naÔve virgin to an exotic place, rape and/or deflowerment of said virgin, subsequent depression and despair because of the depravity of the situation, and, finally, escape and the opportunity to tell all.
One of the earliest and best examples of the resemblance of themes used by both pornographers and those writing sexually oriented fiction was The Lustful Turk (1828). The book’s plot is simple, as is the case with most works of that genre. The story concerned two young ladies named Emily and Sylvia. Sylvia was kidnapped by the Dey (Lustful Turk) who then set up a scheme wherein she would be in a state of mind to be subjected to his desires. She was taken to a slave market where she was handled, fondled, and humiliated. The Dey then arrived, disguised as a representative of the French Consulate, and bought her. This, he told her, was to save her from the Lustful Turk. He then arranged for a fake marriage to be performed by a fake English priest. She was then deflowered and gained a new sense of her sexuality. At this moment, the Dey revealed his true identity.51
Sylvia was then reunited with Emily, who had already become the Day’s sexual slave before Sylvia’s own seduction. They were content to be with the Dey in a “mÈnage a trois.” However, it all ended abruptly when the Dey attempted to deflower yet another young virgin and was castrated by the girl. The Turk, no longer feeling as lustful as before, released Sylvia and Emily and they returned to England to tell all about their adventures.52
Although obviously a fictional tale, the book took on a certain air of reality by, as previously mentioned, being related in the first person. This is because “in some primitive way, a story told in the first person may seem closer to actuality, less invented, less a fantasy, more immediate and authentic than a narrative in any other form.”53 For this reason, The Lustful Turk used this format. Also:
…in the subtitle to this novel, we are told that its scenes ‘faithfully and vividly’ depict the full particulars of what happened, ‘with the zest and simplicity which always gives guarantee for its authenticity.’ And another subtitle states that this novel is ‘an interesting history, founded on facts.’54
The similarities with these subtitles and those found on some anti-Mormon works are remarkable.55 This is particularly true with works written by former Mormons. Most of these follow the format of going to an exotic place (Salt Lake City), being held in some form of captivity (physical or emotional), witnessing or experiencing sexual bondage and licentiousness, and eventually escaping and publishing the experiences.
Probably the most important convention for both pornographer and anti-Mormon writer was the image of the innocent victim, a device borrowed straight from Maria Monk’s exploits in a Catholic nunnery. A main theme of Victorian pornography “was the defilement of purity, and the most pure object available for exploitation was a young virgin, usually blond, and always having large eyes.”56 Maria Ward in her 1855 book Mormonism Unveiled, described her heroine as “scarcely 18 years of age, of full rounded form, and complexion that rivaled the peach when ripened by the southern sun, lips of the cherry, and eyes liquid and blue as the heart of a spring violet.” Orvilla Belisle’s heroine had a “soft voice” and “pearly lids drooping over her dove-like eyes, while the mass of golden curls fell over her . . . brow and neck.”57
Personality and character were seldom important in creating these icons for ravishment. Ronald Pearsall, a historian of Victorian sexuality, explained: “A virgin adored from afar and a virgin raped have one thing in common. They are not real people; they serve to answer a need. We see this in pornography where virgins cram the pages awaiting their traducers, the pallid reflections of readers’ fantasies.”58
In pornography, women are disposable; they cease to exist once they have served their purposes. In the case of Victorian anti-Mormon literature, the seduced girl almost always dies, not only heightening the pathos and stressing her passivity, but tidying up any loose ends quickly. For example, one sensationalistic tract titled Appalling Disclosures! matched its lurid seductions with victims’ deaths from sorrow and shame, tempered by a few who went mad. However, in these tales of pathos there is always at least one woman who lives to escape and publish her horrible experiences with the Mormons.
Although not as sensationalistic or explicit as nineteenth century anti-Mormon literature, modern anti-Mormon literature still uses borrowed imagery and literary motifs. For example, Utah Missions’ The Inner Circle once published an article supposedly written by a concerned mother. This mother recounted how her daughter Heather, “who has blond, curly hair and ‘piercing blue eyes,’” had been lured away from Christianity to Mormonism.59
Another modern example of using the “narrative imagery” already discussed are the two novels written by Marian Wells, whose family background is LDS, although she appears to never have actively participated. Both of her historical/romantic novels are clichÈd and excruciatingly amateurish. However, while both books use traditional imagery such as describing the heroine, Rebecca Wolstone, as an innocent young orphan with “heavy taffy-colored braids” who later travels to far off southern Utah, neither of the books describes any overt sensuality.
The books describe Rebecca’s journey to Utah, her continued questions about Adam-God, blood atonement (a recurring theme throughout both books) and other discomforting issues. She eventually fell in love with Andrew, one of the presiding elders of the southern communities, and married him only to discover too late she was his second wife. Naturally, Wells described the misery and despair of living in polygamy.60
Eventually Rebecca fled her cruel and blood-thirsty husband to warn the Fancher wagon train wending its way to their fate at Mountain Meadows. Inexplicably, she remained with the wagon train and was present when they were attacked. She also accompanied them out of the enclosed wagons and witnessed the brutal massacre. She too was shot by her own husband who wanted to blood atone her for her apostasy. After shooting her, he assumed she was dead. However, she was later rescued by Indians who nursed her back to health. She was then rescued from Utah, along with another former plural wife who was running for her life, and the grasp of the Mormons by Joshua, a Christian young man who had loved her since she was a young girl. Later in the second novel she accepted Jesus Christ or, in her words, “it was like the Lord Jesus Christ threw a bucket of understanding over me the other day.” In time, she confronted Andrew who had followed her to finish the job he did not succeed in the first time. She bore testimony of Jesus and asked him if he could “surrender his kingdom and his godhead for the privilege of being a love slave” for Jesus. Andrew eventually showed his cowardice and fled into the dark night never to be seen again.61
While Wells’ books are, to say the least, rather unimaginative and unsophisticated, they do, never-the-less, utilize certain themes and imagery mentioned above. These themes are aimed at a certain audience and are meant to reinforce already existing misconceptions about Latter-day Saints. Obviously, one of the main themes was the evil nature of polygamy. A sub-theme in the second book was how dirty Rebecca felt for having been involved with plural marriage and other Mormon teachings.
The idea that members of the LDS Church have become desensitized to accepted mores has been a common theme since the nineteenth century. For example, in The Mysteries of Mormonism, the author lamented the “indecency in conversation” of “women and children . . . . Several wives of one man, with their children present, have been known to indulge in such indecent conversation as would bring the blush to the face of a modest woman if repeated to her alone.” Sexualized early, “urchins of eight and nine know more of what they should not know than youths of 16 or 18 in a refined community. They are not only afforded opportunities of thus corrupting their minds, but often encouraged to do so.”62
Furthermore, Orvilla S. Belisle in her book In the Grip of the Mormons, asserted the Mormons “were . . . unaccustomed to modesty.” An anonymous work published in the 1920s by a former Mormon claimed that Mormon girls in revealing attire shamelessly attempted to lure non-Mormon boys out of a party into the darkness. Another critic, John Benjamin Franklin, complained how polygamy made men and women lose “all decency and self-respect, and degenerate into gross and disgusting animals.”63
As a result of this supposed degeneration of moral values were, according to anti-Mormons, the existence of child sexual abuse and incest among the Mormons. Indeed, several early anti-Mormon writers charged the Mormons with practicing “the fearful sin of incest which is so intimately and closely connected with polygamy.” Another writer claimed he knew a man with four wives who was “Actually the father of children by his own daughter.” In fact, one writer asserted “Literally, in Utah men marry a whole family.”64
Two contemporary examples of “Mormon immorality” were found in The God Makers and The Evangel. Both discussed sexually active teenagers and accused the Church of creating an atmosphere where such activity and subsequent out-of-wedlock births would be so prevalent. In fact, The Evangel article, “Teenage Immorality,” ended by stating, “Yet the fact that it [meaning teenage pregnancies] happens to the extent it does in Utah is evidence that Mormonism does not improve morals. Indeed, the numbers appear to show that except for a minority of Utah’s Mormons, being a member of the LDS church actually erodes moral values,” ignoring the fact that Utah teenage pregnancies continue to be well below the national average. However, The Evangel is following the well known anti-Mormon mantra, the truth should never get in the way of a great, sensational accusation.65
The same insinuation of the Church creating the perfect climate for immoral activity can be found in a multi-issue series of The Utah Evangel titled, “Child Sexual Abuse and the LDS Church: A Personal Journey.” This series of articles described the experiences of Jack McCallister who was abused over a long period of time by his bishop. In introducing the subject, McCallister wrote, “…while the problem crosses many lines certain teachings and practices in the LDS church lead to a real problem with this kind of abuse.”66
A very recent and very public example can be given to better illustrate the misinterpretation of facts, the misunderstanding of personal actions vs. Church doctrine and procedure, and, ultimately, an underlying bias against the Church. This is a direct result of misinformation, which if not actually planted by old as well as contemporary anti-Mormons, has certainly been reinforced by their propaganda being promulgated both in print and in different media such as the Internet.
This past March young Elizabeth Smart was found alive and well in Sandy, Utah. Her kidnapping the previous June had made news not only in Utah but across the country and, indeed, around the world. Smart’s kidnappers were arrested and she was returned to her family. It would not be an exaggeration to say that people all over the world were able to celebrate a happy ending when similar stories too often end in horrible tragedy. However, very soon after her rescue, rumors began to filter out to the media that Elizabeth Smart’s captors were religious fanatics with a connection to the LDS Church and she had been kidnapped in order to become a polygamous wife.67
Although the media attempted to distinguish between the mainstream church and its various offshoots, more often than not all were mixed together and the resulting newspaper and television reports blurred the lines to the point that the average reader or listener would not be able to differentiate between the various groups. Moreover, at the public announcement of the charges against David Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, Smart’s abductors, the rumors and suggestions of sexual assault were confirmed. For many critics of the church the charges of sexual assault incomprehensibly reconfirmed for them previously held notions of Mormonism and immorality.68
An e-mail sent to various news outlets and other places by an Arizona woman claiming to be a doctor made incredible accusations which appear to reflect some of the themes of anti-Mormonism:
If I were fifteen years old, in excellent athletic health and could run, rich, talented, popular, a virgin not used to sex, had a great life and family to return to, abducted just 15 miles from my home which is less than a day’s journey, been missing for 9 months, being sexually mistreated by a pedophile, being held by a non-murderer, I would find a way to escape my abductor when he is asleep, taking a bath, going to the bathroom, shopping, reading, watching TV, listening to the radio, etc. having sex with the other woman, or whenever he took his attention off me for a second, or found a way to say something to another person to help me. I would have found the right moment with God’s help and fled. I would have persisted until a window opened or the door broke down, or someone heard me asking for help, or kept on seeking until I found a way out.
All of our alarms are going off when a 15 year old, beautiful girl, does not find an exit from a pedophile who is not threatening her with a knife or gun. There would have been at least one moment in nine months. A newborn can find a way out by the end of nine months. It is the law of science that states there is an escape at least every nine months.
I have watch [sic] a TV program about the Mormon religion and the belief that a father, uncle, or male household authority figure feels he has the right to introduce his daughter to sex. The daughter is taught that she is to accept sex from male spiritual leaders.
It is my opinion that this situation could have occurred because the daughter had been repeatedly ‘introduced’ to sex by male religious leaders. This was a familiar situation to her. She did not panic or have a mental breakdown.69
This supposed doctor was not alone with accusations of Mormon immorality, child abuse, etc. One on-line essay titled, “About Elizabeth Smart on Polygamy,” referred to plural marriage as “a hideous, disgusting legacy that will forever haunt the annals of Mormonism,” and another accused the church of permitting “abuses of wimmin [sic] and children.”70
Jon Krakauer also discussed the Elizabeth Smart case. His book mentioned Mitchell’s desire to make Smart a “polygamous concubine.” Krakauer concluded Smart would have been susceptible to Mitchell’s “weird, self styled wedding ritual” to “seal” Elizabeth Smart and himself in “‘the new and everlasting covenant’–a Mormon euphemism for polygamous marriage.”71 He then explained:
Raised to obey figures of Mormon authority unquestioningly, and to believe that LDS doctrine is the law of God, she would have been particularly susceptible to the dextrous fundamentalist spin Mitchell applied to familiar Mormon scripture. The white robes Mitchell and Barzee wore, and forced Elizabeth to wear, resembled the sacred robes she had donned with her family when they had entered the Mormon temple. When Mitchell bullied Elizabeth into submitting to his carnal demands, he used the words of Joseph Smith–words she had been taught were handed down by God himself–to phrase these demands.72
To back up his claim, Krakauer quoted Debbie Palmer, a former fundamentalist plural wife and currently an anti-polygamy activist, “Being brought up as she was made her especially vulnerable. Mitchell would never have been able to have such power over a non-Mormon girl.”73
These two statements demonstrate not only a bias that any decent scholar or journalist would seek to avoid but also a profound ignorance of Mormon doctrine and practice. Two examples will suffice. First, Krakauer stated that Elizabeth would have worn temple robes when she accompanied her family into an LDS temple. This, of course is patently false. As she was born in the covenant, she would not have gone into any part of the temple but where youth are allowed to go, such as the baptismal font. Even if she had not been born in the covenant and had later been sealed to her parents, she would not have worn the temple robes as she had not personally gone through the endowment ceremony.
Secondly, the statement by Debbie Oler Blackmore Ralston Palmer is ridiculous when carefully analyzed. Palmer moved with her parents to the fundamentalist community of Creston Valley, British Columbia when she was two years old. She was raised in this community and entered into her own plural marriage when she was fifteen years old. Eventually she left the Fundamentalist LDS Church and has been an outspoken critic of Mormon fundamentalism. Therefore, for Palmer to speak as an expert on whether or not Mitchell would have influence over a girl who has been raised in the LDS Church is like comparing broccoli to cauliflower. Broccoli may have come from cauliflower but it is now significantly different and is considered a completely separate vegetable.74
From the questionable background and immoral character of Joseph Smith to the licentious teachings and practices of Mormonism and its adherents, both old and new anti-Mormon works have trumpeted the supposed problems of the prophet and members of the Church. From the beginning, Joseph Smith has been a primary target of attack by critics of the Church. Indeed, attacks have ranged from demeaning his family background to accusations of treasure hunting and black magic to more accusations of lying and deception and, finally even charges of adultery and immoral behavior.
Remarkably, the themes have not changed that much from the earliest days. Eber D. Howe and later writers accused Joseph Smith of being “lazy, indolent, ignorant, and superstitious,” as well as being involved in money-digging and folk magic. Modern anti-Mormons such as R. Philip Roberts, William Schnoebelen, and John L. Smith have also made the same accusations. Furthermore, Joseph Smth was accused by John C. Bennett, Increase Van Dusen and numerous other writers of sexual impropriety and introducing sensual temple rites. A theme continued by Fawn M. Brodie, the Tanners, John L. Smith and others. Just recently, Jon Krakauer has continued the “me too” approach to anti-Mormonism by happily repeating stories without any verifying research or critical analysis.
Significantly, accusations of immorality have extended from Joseph Smith to the church membership as a whole. However, of a necessity, tales and tactics have changed over time. For example, with the availability of the temple ceremony on audio and videotape, tales of the temple ceremony rarely include accusations of actual sexual intercourse taking place, unlike some works in the past. Instead, most modern anti-Mormons only suggest an innate sensuality in certain parts of the ceremony.
Furthermore, while stories of sexual abuse, underage brides and other stories are told about Fundamentalist offshoots, most readers would be too sophisticated or skeptical to unquestioningly believe accounts of innocent virgins kidnapped and held in the temple for the pleasure of the Mormon elders. Even so, some of the imagery remains, with the problems of Fundamentalist polygamy being projected onto the mainstream church in sensationalistic descriptions as a result of the supposed original evil introduced by Joseph Smith. Continuing in that theme are the stories of moral problems among Mormons in general as a result of their history and doctrines.
The practice of accusing church members of immorality and other moral and social degeneracy in generalized terms is also of a necessity. Even as the availability of the temple ceremony has limited the breadth of accusations of lascivious activity in Latter-day Saint temples, so has the growth of the church limited the extent to which stories of Mormon immorality can be believed.
For example, as more people become members of the LDS Church, non-members find it more difficult to believe their neighbors, friends, siblings or cousins could be involved in licentious ceremonies or would be involved in satanic or other immoral activities. Indeed, on a number of occasions, people left presentation of The God Makers commenting that no group of people could be as evil or immoral as portrayed in the film.
Therefore, focusing accusations on the church leadership and a nameless, faceless church membership allows anti-Mormons to still attack the church with so-called “believable” stories and concerns without offending or turning off the majority of a large reading audience. In an effort to make the accusations believable, stories are more subdued than the over the top style and verbiage used in nineteenth-century tracts and novels. Even so, the underlying message remains the same.
Why then do anti-Mormons so viciously attack the character of Joseph Smith and members of the Church? In an excellent article titled, “Celsus and Modern Anti-Mormonism,” Aaron Christensen compared the significant parallels in the writings of an early anti-Christian named Celsus with the methods of modern anti-Mormon writers. Both “Celsus and his modern counterparts” attack the Church through “exaggeration, distortion, sensationalism, and casting everything in the worst possible light.”75
Even more significant to those who have studied anti-Mormon literature were the terms Celsus used to describe Jesus Christ and his family. He described Mary as “a woman of no breeding,” and Jesus himself, as a “sorcerer,” “arrogant,” “a liar,” “a magician,” a profaner,” “deceitful,” and “poor.” His apostles were “ten or eleven unsavory characters,” and his followers were stupid and “shady moral characters.” Celsus even presaged modern anti-Mormon writers by accusing Christians of being a “secret society” with their “secret anointings.”76
Even as Celsus tried to dissuade people from converting to the original Christian Church by making a “direct assault on the character of the Saints in general and the most prominent leaders in particular,” so too do anti-Mormon writers attack Joseph Smith in particular and members of the Church in general with accusations of corruption and immorality. Hugh Nibley has written, “It has been the practice of religious polemic in every age to attack not what the opposition practice and preach but our impression of what they practice and preach.” I will add that polemical writers also attack by creating or building on popular impressions, images and stereotypes of the leaders and members with hopes that by destroying the respectability and thus the credibility of a religious leader or the people, the Church, itself will suffer. Thus we see yet again, there really is nothing new under the sun when it comes to anti-Mormon literature.77
1 Sir Kingsley Amis, as quoted on The Quotations Page at www.quotationspage.com. Amis (1922-1995) was a well-known British poet, novelist and playwright.
2 Leslie Shepard, The History of Street Literature (David & Charles Newton Abbot: Great Britain, 1973), 224-225. Ballads were traditional narratives associated with songs and dancing. A catchpenny was a term for deceptive or hasty work, while a chapbook was the term used for pamphlets that were specifically prepared for the lower classes.
3 John Feather, A History of British Publishing (Croom Helm: New York, 1988), 130.
4 Richard D. Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 1800-1900 (University of Chicago Press: Chicago, Illinois, 1957), 74.
5 Ibid., p. 74. Hannah More (1745-1833), was a philanthropist and devotional writer. She was born in Stapleton, near Bristol, England and became known for her religious writing. She was involved in the Sunday School movement, which was created by Robert Raikes of Gloucester, England, and later wrote a series of religious tracts (known as the Cheap Repository Tracts) exhorting “the poor to be content with their lot and rejoice in the thought of their reward in Heaven.” Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok, Who’s Who in Christianity (London: Rutledge, 1998), 211. Raikes’ Sunday School movement was created a number of years before the LDS Sunday School program which was started in Salt Lake City by Richard Ballentyne in 1849.
6 Ibid., 75.
8 Feather, 162.
9 Victor E. Neuburg, Popular Literature: A History and Guide from the Beginnings of Printing to the Year 1887 (London, New York: Woburn Press, 1977), 257.
10 Russell M. Goldfarb, Sexual Repression and Victorian Literature (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1970), 20-21.
11 David J. Whittaker, “Early Mormon Pamphleteering”, (Ph.D. dissertation, Brigham Young University, 1982), 2.
12 Peter Gardella, Innocent Ecstasy: How Christianity Gave America an Ethic of Sexual Pleasure (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 15-16. Ray Allen Billington, “Maria Monk and Her Influence,” Catholic Historic Review 22 (October 1936): 295-296, points out that Maria not only supposedly bore a child conceived from a sexual encounter with a priest in a convent, but bore a child out of wedlock in 1838, greatly discrediting her previous claims to lost innocence through a Catholic priest. In 1849 she was arrested for picking the pockets of a client in a brothel and died in prison shortly afterward.
13 The anti-Catholic works as cited in Pisanus Fraxi, Centuria Librorus Absconditorum (New York: Documentary Books, Inc., 1962), 260-261, 494-501, and, the anti-Methodist works as cited in Peter Wagner, Eros Revived: Erotica of the Enlightenment in England and America (London: Secker and Warburg, 1988), 77, 67.
14 The Magdalene Sisters (2003), a Peter Mullan film, reviewed by www.funprox.com . The comparison of The Magdalene Sisters to Maria Monk is found in an exchange between a Father Bloom and Ben found at www.geocities.com/Heartland/2964/magdalensisters.html . The paranoia of popish power and control, as well as the suggested league between the pope and the devil, continues to be a theme of anti-Catholic literature as seen in Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast (Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 1994, 2001), a part of Fundamental Baptist Information Service. An interesting response to this book and other attacks against the catholic Church may be found at www.catholic.com under “Anti-Catholic Whoppers” and “Hunting the Whore of Babylon.”
15 “Are Pentecostals Sex-Crazed?” Christianity Today (11 September 2001): and Jeffrey Overstreet, “Film Forum: Good, Bad, and Ugly Christians in the Movies,” Christianity Today (9 June 2003). In “Why Hollywood Doesn’t Like You,” Christianity Today (10 August 1998), the author states, “Hollywood is guilty of ugly and cheap stereotypes of people of faith. If they tried those stereotypes with sexual orientation or gender or race, they would be justifiably castigated.”
16 The definitions and examples of stereotypes used for this paper were found on-line at www.serve.com/shea/stereodf.html under the title of “The Meaning and Significance of Stereotypes in Popular Culture.” They are comparable with definitions and explanations found in printed matter.
17 Among the works discussing anti-Mormon literature is the ground-breaking article of David Brion Davis, “Some Themes of Counter-Subversion: An Analysis of Anti-Masonic, Anti-Catholic, and Anti-Mormon Literature,” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review 47 (September 1960):205, 208, 212, which describes how Masonry, Mormonism, and Catholicism were used as symbols of internal subversion by writers. These three entities were merged into a common stereotype for the purpose of ridicule and attack because of the aura of secrecy which surrounded their organizations. Another significant work is that of Leonard J. Arrington and Jon Haupt, “Intolerable Zion: The Image of Mormonism in Nineteenth Century American Literature,” Western Humanities Review 12 (Summer 1968):245-248. The article discusses the prevalent nineteenth century themes of seduction by the lustful Turk, a sinister secret society and a sinful, fallen city (Salt Lake City). Terryl L. Givens’ award-winning book, The Viper on the Hearth: Mormons, Myths, and the Construction of Heresy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997) also discusses the prevalent themes which defined the general populace’ perception of Mormonism.
18 In selecting these two themes, I have consciously stayed away from the theme of The Book of Mormon as a false scripture with its various sub-themes given the experts we have at this conference who are better suited to discuss this topic.
19 James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard, The Story of the Latter-Day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 70.
20 Ibid., 70-71. The most detailed and important discussion of the Smith’s belief in and practice of folk magic is found in D. Michael Quinn’s Mormonism and the Magic World View (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1987).
21 Richard Livesey, An exposure of Mormonism… (Manchester: Wm. Shakleton & Son, 1840), 4-5. With the publication of Richard Livesey’s pamphlet the theme of Joseph Smith’s questionable and immoral character became an integral part of numerous British tracts concerning Mormonism. Some of the major pamphleteers to discuss the character of Joseph Smith were F.B. Ashley, William Palmer, John Whitney, and Henry Caswall.
22 John Simons, A Few More Facts Relating to the Self-Styled “Latter-Day Saints” (Ledbury: J. Gibbs, Jr., 1840), 2-3.
23 Samuel Haining, Mormonism Weighed in the Balances of the Sanctuary and Found Wanting . . . (Douglas: Robert Fargher, 1840), 21.
24 Pomeroy Tucker, Origin, Rise, and Progress of Mormonism (New York: Appleton, 1867), 18.
25 William Palmer, The External Evidences of the Book of Mormon, Examined (London: Briscoe, 184?), 1.
26 Ibid., 3.
27 “Little Known Facts About Joseph Smith,” The Evangel 37 (December 1990): 9; R. Philip Roberts, Mormonism Unmasked (Nashville, Tennessee: Bradman & Holman, 1998), 30; and, The Mormon Manuscripts 1: The Birth of Heresy (Issaquah, WA: Saints Alive in Jesus, n.d.), 2. The Evangel was published by John L. Smith’s Utah Missions, Inc. In the article titled, “Mormon Makeover: An effective evangelical witness hinges on understanding the new face of Latter-day Saints,” Christianity Today (6 March 2000), a very revealing comment is made concerning the anti-Mormon approach:
Evangelical assessments of Mormonism have typically utilized one or more of three strategies: we have attempted, on historical and literary grounds, to challenge the ‘revealed’ character of The Book of Mormon; we have argued, often with a rather simple doctrinal checklist, that Mormonism is a radical departure from traditional Christian orthodoxy; and we have denounced Mormonism’s spiritual rites and practices, sometimes by alleging occult influence.
28 William J. Schnoebelen and James R. Spencer, Whited Sepulchers: The Hidden language of the Mormon Temple (Boise, ID: Triple J Publishers, 1990), 28.
29 Ibid., and Schoebelen and Spencer, Mormonism’s Temple of Doom (Boise, ID: Triple J Publisher, 1987). Schnoebelen continues his accusations of Smith’s black magic and satanic worship in his rather pedestrian but colorfully titled review of D. Michael Quinn’s Mormonism and the Magic World View, We Thank Thee, O God for a Warlock found at www.saintsalive.com. A Cox News Service article picked up by the Deseret News (14 March 1993) by Lawn Griffiths and titled, “What drives people who try to shake faith or others?” mentioned a man who wrote a ten page letter quoting sources about the supposed satanic symbols found on the Salt Lake Temple. Schoebelen’s extremely shady past, questionable chronology and known lies were discussed in detail by none other than Jerald and Sandra Tanner in “Covering Up Syn: Ex-Satanist Brings Confusion to Mormons and Their Critics,” Salt Lake City Messenger (April 1988): 1-26.
30 Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (Doubleday: New York, 2003), 56-57.
32 Timothy Egan, “What’s Left After Everest?” The New York Times (13 July 2003) mentions one skeptical editor asked Krakauer, “Where are the mountains?” In an interview between Jon Krakauer and Tom Brokaw, which appeared on Dateline NBC (www.msnbc.com/news/939380.asp) Krakauer admitted, “And my own family was for all intents and purposes, atheists…”
33 Don Lattin, “Blood Faith and Fanaticism: Krakauer weaves ’84 murders into enthralling history of Mormon breakaway polygamists,” San Francisco Chronicle (13 July 2003); Ellen Emry Heltzel, “Obsession, Murder and Mormonism,” St. Petersburg Times (13 July 2003); and Deirdre Donahue, “Murder by zealot Mormon sect sparks deeper look,” USA Today (14 July 2003). Other positive book reviews include: Lauren F. Winner, “Of Marriage and Murder…,” Newsday (14 July 2003); Lev Grossman, “Thou Shalt Kill,” Time (21 July 2003); Malcolm Jones, “Murder in the Name of God…,” Newsweek (21 July 2003); Tom Walker, “Mormons, author battle over accuracy,” Denver Post (13 July 2003); “Banner ruffles some feathers,” Book Magazine (July 2003); Cathy Lynn Grossman, “In the name of God,” USA Today (17 July 2003); and, Jane Lampman, “When certainty reigns, reason goes into thin air,” Christian Science Monitor 17 July 2003). In regard to the negative responses, Naomi Schaefer, “Review,” The Wall Street Journal (11 July 2003); Dennis Lythgoe, “Author blunders over LDS history,” Deseret Morning News (16 July 2003); and, Janet Maslin, “The Mormon Image, From Alien to Human,” The New York Times (17 July 2003).
34 Holly Mullen, “Mullen: ‘Banner’ account of early Mormondom stirs the beehive,” Salt Lake Tribune (3 August 2003); C.G. Wallace, “Krakauer causes headaches for Mormon church leaders,” Go Erie (14 July 2003); and, William J. Hamblin and Daniel C. Peterson, “Religion and Violence: An Unholy Combination,” Meridian [on-line magazine at www.ldsmag.com] (21 July 2003). One of the best reviews was a press release prepared by Richard E. Turley, Jr. which is available on www.lds.org/newsroom/mistakes/0,15331,3885-1,00.html. However, Mullen’s review berates Turley for questioning Krakauer’s “admitted lack of faith in God.” While Mullen sees no problems with Krakauer’s methodology and analysis, Robert Wright’s “‘Under the banner of Heaven’: Thou Shalt Not Kill,” The New York Times (3 August 2003) gave a mixed review, complementing the fascinating chapters but questioning some of the analysis. Lee Benson, in his review titled, “Krakauer’s Writing is One-sided,” Deseret Morning News (21 July 2003) goes even further by questioning not only the analysis but accusing Krakauer for being “unfair” in his approach.
35 Jon Krakauer, “Krakauer: Church rigidly controls its past,” Salt Lake Tribune (12 July 2003).
37 Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven, p. 122. Krakauer also discusses Joseph Smith’s marrying several “pubescent girls,” thus implying Smith was a sexual predator who abused girls. Krakauer’s approach is not surprising given the book’s topic. Furthermore, he lists (on pages 335-336) Fawn M. Brodie as one of the three most important people in interpreting Mormon history. D. Michael Quinn and Juanita Brooks are the other two people listed.
38 Jay Jacobson, Three Reasons Not to Become a Mormon (Alta Loma, California: Religious Research Center, [197?]), p. 4-5. Jacobson unfortunately demonstrates his ignorance of LDS Church history by suggesting Joseph Smith had an affair with Fanny Alger while they were living in the Mansion House in Nauvoo rather than in Kirtland where it supposedly occurred. Also, “Joseph Smith and Women,” Salt Lake City Messenger 91, which appears on their website at www.utlm.org/newsletters/no91.htm
39 Gilbert W. Scharffs, The Truth About ‘The God Makers”: A Response to an Inaccurate Portrayal of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Publishers Press: Salt Lake City, Utah, 1986, 1989), 222, 223, 227, and 229. The God Makers appears in both book form and video/film. The films were produced by Jeremiah Films, a Hemet, California company whose president and founder is Patrick Matrisciana. Jeremiah Films specializes in “religious” and conservative films, including videos about Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholicism, and Seventh-Day Adventism. The company has also produced videos about Free Masonry, New Ageism, the occult, anti-Halloween and even a video titled, Harry Potter: Witchcraft Repackaged. In terms of politically conservative videos, Jeremiah Films produced The Clinton Chronicles and other anti Clinton videos. Regarding the LDS Church, Jeremiah Films advertises the following: The God Makers (1982); Temple of the God Makers (1987); The Mormon Dilemma (1988); The Secret World of Mormonism (2003); and The Truth About Gordon B. Hinckley (no date). Furthermore, the company produced a 13-part series titled, Pagan Invasion with two of the parts discussing the Church as follows: The Latter Day Empire and Joseph Smith’s Temple of Doom.
40 While alive, Brigham Young, as the second President, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of the LDS Church, became to many outsiders the symbol of Mormonism. As such, he was the prime target for numerous articles and cartoons describing him and his perceived powers (both political and sexual). Examples of some of the articles, stories, and cartoons that portrayed Brigham and the Mormons as licentious and over sexed can be found in Douglas McKay, “The Puissant Procreator: Comic Ridicule of Brigham Young,” Sunstone 7 no.6 (November-December 1982): 15-17. Gary L. Bunker and Davis Bitton, The Mormon Graphic Image, 1834-1914: Cartoons, Caricatures, and Illustrations. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1983, is an excellent study of the imagery used by cartoonists to portray Mormons in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Upon Brigham Young’s death in 1877, numerous cartoons were produced poking fun at his large number of wives and at Mormonism in general. Examples of this are found in Gary L. Bunker and Davis Bitton, “The Death of Brigham Young: Occasion For Satire,” Utah Historical Quarterly 54 no.4 (Fall 1986):358-370. Brigham Young continues to be the target of insult and accusations in anti-Mormon publications.
41 Nauvoo Temple Endowment Register of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, n.d.), 222, and Craig L. Foster, “From Temple to Anti-Mormon: The Ambivalent Odyssey of Increase Van Dusen,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Fall 1994): 278-279. Although John C. Bennett discussed celestial marriage and aspects of the temple ceremony in his publications, the Van Dusens are considered the first to print a detailed discussion in tract form.
42 Craig L. Foster, “From Temple to Anti-Mormon: The Ambivalent Odyssey of Increase Van Dusen,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 27 (Fall 1994): 284-285. In the 1860s the van Dusens settled in Kirtland, Ohio where Increase Van Dusen died in 1882 after having suffered for a long time with kidney disease. Maria Van Dusen died in 1906. Both were buried in the Kirtland Temple cemetery.
43 Increase and Maria Van Dusen, A Dialogue between Adam and Eve, The Lord and the Devil, Called the Endowment (Albany: C. Killmer, 1847), 5.
44 Increase McGee and Maria Van Dusen, Startling Disclosures of the Wonderful Ceremonies of the Mormon Spiritual-Wife System, Being the Celebrated “Endowment,” (New York: n.p., 1852), 6.
45 Ibid., 7.
46 Ibid., 22.
48 The Gates of the Mormon Hell Opened! or the Licentious Revellings of the Rev. Brigham Young, and the Elders, Apostles, and Priests of the Church of Latter Day Saints, with their Many Spiritual Wives and Concubines; and all the other Abominations of Mormonism Denounced (London: James Gilbert, n.d.), 5.
49 Ibid., 6-7.
50 Deborah Laake, Secret Ceremonies: A Mormon Woman’s Intimate Diary of Marriage and Beyond (William Morrow: New York, 1993), 79. Deborah Laake was really Deborah Elspeth Legler who was born in Clearwater, Florida in 1952. She attended BYU, married and divorced three times and eventually left the LDS Church. Laake committed suicide in 2000 after having fought breast cancer since 1994 and depression most of her adult life. For more background on Deborah Laake, please read: Ellen Fagg, “Devout and Then Out…”, Private Eye Weekly (14 April 1993): 8-11 and “Latter-day Secret Sharer: A Pray-and-tell Book Mocks Mormon Rituals,” Newsweek (28 June 1993): 59. By far the most in-depth look at Laake and her book is Newell G. Bringhurst, “Fawn M. Brodie and Deborah Laake: Two Perspectives on Mormon Feminist Dissent,” The John Whitmer Historical Association Journal 17 (1997): 95-112. Laake’s cathartic autobiography is more of a commentary on her sexual hang-ups and warped fixation on temple garments than on Mormonism. For example, on the same page (p. 79) she mentions receiving her sacred garments, which she refers to as “Mormon underwear,” she writes, “The garment had one other characteristic that, if not actually biblical, did have something to do with creation: Women’s garments were slit in the crotch, very generously, so that they flapped open and left a girl’s greatest fascinations exposed.” Judy Robertson, Out of Mormonism: A Woman’s True Story (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 1997, 2001), 46-47. Robertson also mentions receiving “special underwear” after having allowed “every part of [her] body” to be washed and anointed with oil.
51 Steven Marcus, The Other Victorians: A Study of Sexuality and Pornography in the Mid-Nineteenth Century England (New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1966), 202.
52 Ibid., 202-203.
53 Ibid., 203-204.
54 Ibid., 204.
55 While such works as The Prophets; or, Mormonism Unveiled (1855) by Orvilla S. Belisle, Female Life Among the Mormons (1855) and The Mormon Wife: A Life Story of the Sacrifices, Sorrows and Sufferings of Woman (1872) by Maria Ward can best be compared to the style and contents of The Lustful Turk, similarities can also be found among anti-Mormon pamphlets.
56 Helen Hazen, Endless Rapture: Rape, Romance, and the Female Imagination (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1983), 35.
57 Maria Ward, Mormonism Unveiled: A History of Mormonism, From its Rise to the Present Time, (London: Charles H. Clarke, 1855), 160 and Orvilla S. Belisle, The Prophets: or, Mormonism Unveiled (1855) later published as In the Grip of the Mormons: By an Escaped Wife of a Mormon Elder (London: Henry Hardingham, 1919), 107-108.
58 Ronald Pearsall, Public Purity, Private Shame: Victorian Sexual Hypocrisy Exposed (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976), 38. Maria Ward’s Female Life among the Mormons, 323, pushes objectification to an extreme by having a Mormon father refer to his daughters as “woman flesh.” Helen Hazen, in Endless Rapture, 16, argues that the perennial popularity of romance provides “plentiful evidence that both rape and a broader spectrum of seemingly unpleasant impositions are forced onto women by themselves for the sheer sake of enjoyment.” Thus fictional rape and its consequent victim status allowed a woman to simultaneously enjoy sex without being morally accountable for her activity.
59 “Mother Grieves Loss of Daughter to Mormonism,” The Inner Circle (Summer 1998): 5.
60 Marian Wells, The Wedding Dress (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 1982), 9, 110-113, 125, 140-143, and 166-168. Wells also describes Rebecca’s discomfort at and antipathy toward the “terrible garments” (p. 140).
61 Marian Wells, The Wedding Dress (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 1982), 243-245, 253-262; and, Marian Wells, With This Ring (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Bethany House, 1984), 12, 183-185. Wells shows her profound ignorance of the Mountain Meadows Massacre by calling the Baker family the Barker family and by referring to the leader of the wagon train as Charles Fancher rather than Alexander Fancher.
62 The Mysteries of Mormonism: A Full Exposure of its Secret Practices and Hidden Crimes, by an Apostle’s Wife (New York: Richard K. Fox, Proprietor Police Gazette, 1882), 61.
63 Orvilla S. Belisle, The Mysteries of Mormonism, 61; Mormon Morals (Cleveland: Utah Gospel Mission, ca 1920s), 3; and John Benjamin Franklin, The Mysteries and the Crimes of Mormonism, 11.
64 William Cook, The Mormons: the Dream and the Reality (London: Joseph Master, 1857); John E. Davis, Mormonism Unveiled: or, A Peep Into the Principles & Practices of the Latter-day Saints, 3rd Ed. (Cardiff: J.G. Patterson, 1858), 30; and The Mysteries of Mormonism, 57. Jessie L. Embry in her article, “Ultimate Taboos: Incest and Mormon Polygamy,” Journal of Mormon History 18 (Spring 1992): 94, “It was, perhaps, inevitable that nineteenth-century attacks on Polygamy as a debased and debasing sexual practice became linked with the ultimate taboo-incest.”
65 Decker and Hunt, The Godmakers, 19 and “Teenage Immorality,” The Evangel (January-February 1991): 6.
66 Jack McCallister, “Child Sexual Abuse and the LDS Church: A Personal Journey,” The Utah Evangel (January/February 1996): 9. The series continued throughout 1996 and into 1997.
67 “Elizabeth a ‘Plural Wife’?,” Salt Lake Tribune (15 March 2003); “Polygamy May Be Motive,” The Ogden Standard-Examiner (16 March 2003); “Abduction May Be Rooted in Polygamy,” Los Angeles Times (15 March 2003); “Utah Girl’s Ordeal Poses a Puzzle Strange and Biblical,” The New York Times (16 March 2003); “Hostage Girl ‘Wed’ Abductor,” The Daily Mirror [London, England] (15 March 2003); and, “Prosecutors Weigh Chances in Smart Case,” The Manchester Guardian [Manchester, England] (17 March 2003). The 17 March 2003 issue of The National Enquirer ran front page pictures of Elizabeth Smart in the robes and veil she was forced to wear in public with the headline, “Elizabeth Smart’s Life on the Run,” and a sub-headline read, “Their Shocking Wedding Night.”
68 Ibid., and “Charges Delayed in Elizabeth Smart Case,” Washington Post (17 March 2003); “Abducted Girl’s Relatives say Her Captor Brainwashed Her,” The New York Times (17 March 2003); “Suspects Charged in Utah Teen’s Abduction,” Washington Post (18March 2003); “Charges filed in Utah abduction,” USA Today (19 March 2003); “Accused Abductors Charged with Felony Sexual Assault,” The Salt Lake Tribune (19 March 2003); and, “Mitchell Charge” found at www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/mitchellcharge1.html
69 E-mail dated 12 March 2003 from Pmlmdminsaz@aol.com toFNS@foxnews.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. The supposed writer claimed to be a Pamela, MD, from Arizona.
70 John R. Llewellyn, “About Elizabeth Smart on Polygamy,” found at www.utahbooks.com and “Communist opinion on the Elizabeth Smart case,” found at www.extext.org/Politics/MIM/elizsmart.html. The communist view is warped, but not as warped as other web sites in regard to Elizabeth Smart. Smart’s family had hoped to save her the embarrassment and emotional pain of publicly announcing she was sexually assaulted. However, the police and district attorney felt they needed the extra charges to complete their case against Mitchell and Barzee. Unfortunately, the sexual assault charges seemed to not only encourage anti-Mormons but also a number of very sick people out there as the titles of miscellaneous web pages would suggest in regard to Elizabeth Smart. Both of the essays cited demonstrate a lack of understanding or unwillingness to differentiate between the mainstream church and fundamentalists as Internet article, “Mormons Rape Children With Near Impunity As Religious Freedom,” suggests. While the title mentions Mormons, the text itself is about the Kingston clan. The article can be found at www.skeptictank.org/mormnut4.htm
71 Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven, 44.
72 Ibid., 45.
74 Ibid., 30-37.
75 Aaron Christensen, “Celsus and Modern Anti-Mormonism,” p. 2, found at The Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research web site located at www.fairlds.org.
76 Celsus, On the True Doctrine, translated by R. Joseph Hoffmann (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987), 53, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 64, 65, 66, 89, 96, 98, 99 as quoted in Christensen, “Celsus and Modern Anti-Mormonism,” 2 and 6.
77 Ibid., 2, and Hugh Nibley, Tinkling Symbols and Sounding Brass: The Art of telling Tales about Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, edited by David J. Whittaker (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), 551.