Grant Palmer on Sexual Allegations Against Joseph Smith, William and Jane Law, and His Resignation

February 26, 2012
By

In this episode Grant Palmer, author of “An Insider’s View of Mormon Origins,” returns to Mormon Stories to discuss:

  1. Sexual allegations made against Joseph Smith during his early years
  2. The story of William and Jane Law, and
  3. An update on Grant’s resignation from the LDS church

Warning: The material on this podcast is very sensitive and will likely be considered offensive by traditional LDS church believers.  Please do not listen if your faith is tender, or if you are seeking to avoid any critical discussion of Joseph Smith or the LDS church.

Finally, to listen to our original interview with Grant Palmer please click here.

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190 Responses to Grant Palmer on Sexual Allegations Against Joseph Smith, William and Jane Law, and His Resignation

  1. February 26, 2012 at 5:01 am

    It’s hard to say I enjoyed this podcast since many of the things discussed are hard to hear.  Having said that, I did in fact enjoy it because (pending further research) I learned a few new things, such as the fact that D&C 132:51 was a “revelation” in which God gives Emma a new sexual partner (William Law, happily married to Jane Law) because Joseph was too busy having sex with younger, hotter girls. William Law refused to join the swinger’s club and said NO to Joseph.  After soliciting William Law to become the sexual partner of his wife Emma, Joseph then made an advance on William’s wife Jane.  Joseph tried unsuccessfully for two months to make Jane Law his wife number 22.  Jane flatly refused him. Do you remember the story of the Devil tempting Adam to no avail, so he then goes after Eve?  Same story, different outcome.  Good for Jane Law.

    Considering Joseph’s sexual advances on the Rigdon family and the Law family, and in the context of John C. Bennett’s perverted adventures, it’s fair to say that the entire first presidency was inflamed in actual or proposed sex circles in all directions.  Ironically, William and Jane Law were the only people in the first presidency who had integrity and a good conscience–so Joseph excommunicated them.

    What a First Presidency!

    I had already read the accounts of Joseph Smith issuing orders to have people killed, as in the case of Porter Rockwell’s attempted assassination of Lilburn Boggs.  Grant Palmer mentioned Emma fearing for her life, fearing that she would be “destroyed” according to Joseph’s revelation about her, but Palmer failed to mention that Joseph feared Emma as well; feared that she had poisoned him.  Brigham Young also thought that Emma had indeed poisoned Joseph.

    What a marriage!

    Perhaps that’s what happens when you introduce infidelity, lies, ego-maniacal grandiosity, and vindictiveness into a marriage.  That does seem like a bad mixture.

    Any time someone can shed light on Joseph Smith’s annointing as King (and God) of all the Earth, I’m going to enjoy it and soak it up.  Joseph was a total narcissist to the Nth degree, with a capital N.

    Joseph’s life is a case study in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). Why do we give so much authority to these people?  It’s gotta stop.

    • February 26, 2012 at 9:05 am

      Jonah, I just read your response and agree with your NPD assessment.  You might be interested in my 2008 Salt Lake Sunstone presentation: “Did Joseph Smith know himself?” With subtext: “Did he know his shadow? Do we know ours?”

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Jonah,

      You write:

      “William Law refused to join the swinger’s club and said NO to Joseph.”

      Perhaps he didn’t have to … the Lord let him off the hook. Consider ..

      D&C 132: 51 Verily, I say unto you: A commandment I give unto mine handmaid, Emma Smith, your wife, whom I have given unto you, that she stay herself and partake not of that which I commanded you to offer unto her; for I did it, saith the Lord, to prove you all, as I did Abraham, and that I might require an offering at your hand, by covenant and sacrifice.

      You also write

      “Perhaps that’s what happens when you introduce infidelity …”

      Well, perhaps that’s just what happens when the Lord tries to use sex as the basis of Abrahamic tests (same verse).  Interestingly, the Lord stepped in and gave Emma her “ram-in-the-thicket” (“stay herself … partake not”) but seemed to forgetting to send Joseph his – 30 times!

      On second thought, I think you are probably right .:)

      JT

      • Joe
        February 27, 2012 at 10:48 am

        Actually, what you are all not getting, including Grant Palmer, is that the Lord is using historical allegations of improprieties to give you all your own Abrahamic tests.  William Law and his wife failed their Abrahamic tests, and all of you that reject Joseph Smith on the basis of these things are also failing your own Abrahamic tests.  You seem to all forget that Abrahamic tests are all about “head games” to see what people will do, and if they will continue to have simple faith and humility, or whether they will apostatize when confronted with things like this.  The Lord has to allow you free agency, and cognative dissonance caused by stuff like this is one way he can do it.  You that reject Joseph Smith over stuff coming from the likes of William Law are not persisting and waiting paitiently for your own ram in the thicket.

        • Anonymous
          February 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

          The God I believe in doesn’t need to play head games.

          • Joe
            February 27, 2012 at 12:34 pm

            As Yoda said to Luke, “And that is why you fail.”

          • Anonymous
            February 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

            Where have I failed, Joe? Enlighten me. And while you’re there, tell me how you dare make such an arrogant statement about somebody you don’t know. Here’s my theory: you’re a recent RM who still sees the world in black and white. You believe, like President Benson, that the answer to every problem is in the gospel. You have never seen anyone suffer and your ability to empathize ends at the limts of others’ disagreement with you.

          • Joe
            February 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

            Wow.  That’s quite a lot of assumptions to make.  I guess you will keep guessing.

          • Anonymous
            February 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm

            Granted: lots of assumptions. But I won’t be giving you any more thought or guesses. Best wishes in your evolution.

        • Anonymous
          February 27, 2012 at 12:28 pm

          Please tell me this is satire!! 

          • Joe
            February 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

            Actually, I’m quite serious.

          • Verminpants
            February 27, 2012 at 1:25 pm

            Scary! 

          • Denise Clifford
            February 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm

            Stupid scary.

          • Anonymous
            February 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm

            Blind scary. 

        • Verminpants
          February 27, 2012 at 1:24 pm

          Joe! The history is pretty darned clear. There are no head games. The argument you employ could be used by David Koresh, Jim Jones and others. Sometimes you have to use good old common sense.

          • Joe
            February 27, 2012 at 4:17 pm

            So Abraham was an ancient Jim Jones cult leader I guess.

          • Denise Clifford
            February 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm

            Hell yes.

          • Verminpants
            February 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm

            If I tried to sacrifice my son because a voice from the sky told me to do so, I would be locked up in the funny farm and my son placed in local authority care. And quite right too. Abe’s parenting skills are probably not a good example to use Joe. At any rate I do not believe that story occurred any more than I believe that Joseph’s marital practices were from God. However, to give the Mormon Church some credit, you are perhaps not the best spokesman for the church in terms of intelligent argument.

          • Michael Johnson
            February 28, 2012 at 3:03 am

            He also heard voices telling him to cut off the end of his penis.

          • Verminpants
            February 28, 2012 at 2:46 pm

            Yikes!

        • February 27, 2012 at 3:36 pm

          I’m not sure I want to worship a God who would do such a thing.  Thinking about it, I am sure, I don’t and I won’t worship a God who would do such a thing.  Of course a simple application of Occam’s Razor is useful in this situation.  What’s more likely.  That Joseph Smith, a know philander, was trying to have sex with Jane Law, or was trying to test the Law’s.  I think it is much more likely that the first case is true.

          • Joe
            February 27, 2012 at 4:21 pm

            Well, your reductionist philosophy with which you judge Joseph Smith will always result in a judgement like that that you are using.  It is only after you are dead anyway that you know the sureity of anything.  For many Mormons, Mormonism works for them regardless of anything Joseph Smith or Brigham Young might have done.  Individuals like yourself always seem to conflate the message with the messenger which is fallacious thinking to begin with, even if Joseph Smith was precisely as you say.

          • Denise Clifford
            February 27, 2012 at 4:33 pm

            You need to watch the Southpark episode, Meet The Mormons. 

          • Anonymous
            February 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm
          • Weatherforcast55555555534343
            February 27, 2012 at 9:16 pm

            It is morally as bad not to care whether a thing is true or not, so long as it makes you feel good, as it is not to care how you go your money as long as you have got it – Edmund Teale

          • Verminpants
            February 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm

            OK so you accept that it is only when you are dead that you can ‘know of a surety’? So following that reasoning, it would be logical to assume that even your reasoning in this matter is not certain? You are not dead yet Joe and therefore your ‘sure knowledge’ is just as faulty as mine.
            That said, all we have is sensible thinking, reason, common sense and perhaps a touch of realism to assess the likelihood of what you are saying.
            I feel very confident that you are very much mistaken. Please look at this situation without the bias you are burdened with. Look at it with a sensible, thinking mind which I am sure you have.

          • Joe
            February 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm

            I do look at it rationally.  It is my detractors in this conversation that think, quoting Nibley, that the answer no can never be as wrong as the answer yes, and only the answer no can be rational.  I have the testimony of all the scriptures, and all the people that came before me that lived a happy life.  My eyes are wide open, and every time I “suspend disbelief” long enough when I am asked to have faith, I end up with a testimony after the fact that my faith was not in vain.  Getting lost in the details of the history to such a degree that you lose faith in the basic fact that Joseph Smith is at his core everything that he claimed to be is a great tradgedy, and it is only because individuals refused to CHOOSE to have faith, because they choose to give heed to stuff that may well have particles of truth in it, but that are fundamentally flawed from the standpoint of what they really mean in the big picture.  I choose to have faith in the end product of this thing, not to get too worked up in the bumps along the way in the ride to get there.  All of you take this stuff way too seriously.  You say that you are skeptical, but you refuse to be skeptical about anything that would suggest that Joseph Smith was a fraud.  You refuse to give him any kind of benefit of the doubt because to you that is too unreasonable.

          • Verminpants
            March 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm

            Joe you talk about your own faith as if that alone affords you divine virtue that the rest of us are bereft of and that your kind of faith should not be questioned or criticised. Surely faith should be subject to scrutiny and we should all have opportunity to question our faith. As I was growing up in the church I was taught that black people were an inferior race. Cain’s sin brought upon him a mark, which was the negroid condition. I was taught as truth that black people were not valiant in premortality and while man was not responsible for Adams transgression, black people were responsible for the murderous psychosis of Cain!!!! Can you not see how evil and sickening that is. I’m not black but I can remember the affect that had upon black people in the church. Now the church have issued a statement suggesting that it was totally wrong, this is done without any kind of apology and without any acknowledgement of the pain, trauma or distress that this brought to people for over 100 years. It is criminal. It is wicked. The church should be brought to account for its behaviour. So do you really think that faith should never be questioned?

          • A friend
            March 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

             Joe – You are contradicting the church itself with this post.  When I was an investigator, the “hook” that the missionaries used was basically that “if the Book of Mormon is true, then the Church is true, and the things Joseph Smith said are also true.”  They were trying to hook you in with one, and force you to acknowledge that they must all be true.  Of course they are all completely false, but I digress.  Your post above is interesting in that it reflects what I have heard from other Mormons recently too, the whole “You can’t judge the Church based on the bad choices of a couple of members over a hundred years ago.  Only these aren’t a couple of members, they are the founders and leaders of the church, and, according to the argument provided over and over again by missionaries back in the day, the veracity of the church does indeed hinge on their trustworthiness and integrity.  This is just one of the major shifts that I have noticed in the Mormon position in the time I have been familiar with it.  Another is a complete shift away from the whole “you have to have as many babies as possible because the souls awaiting their bodies deserve to be born into a Mormon family” mindset.  Now it seems common to hear Mormons I know say – “We’ve got two, and we’re done!!”  This shift has been rapid and doesn’t seem to be directed by some “revelation” from the church leaders, but more just a shift that has taken place in the culture of the church.  I think the church realizes that too much has come out about the true history of the church and what a charlatan and sexual predator Joseph Smith was and so they are letting issues like these slide.  The reality is that they need the membership mostly to keep up the pretense of being a church, so they can give their cronies and sons in law contracts in the 100s of millions of dollars range to build malls and the like, using the church members tithe money.  You are being duped, Joe, and you are being used to serve their selfish purposes.  I wish you  luck in teasing out the truth for yourself.  Jesus Christ is real, the Mormon  Church is one big lie.  Good luck.

          • Nataliya S
            April 30, 2012 at 2:47 pm

            And, people like you are nothing but pedantic little piss-ants, with your thumb up your butt.
            I think it is past your bedtime, there, Sparky.
            (Nobody, here, is going to change their mind because of your personal put-downs, you little sack of dog mess!)

          • Nataliya S
            April 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm

            Smith, the narcissist, was first trying to “test” them, to see if they would “obey their prophet, in all things”.  If they HAD obeyed him, then they would have passed the “test”: and, Smith would have added yet again another duped soul, into his harem.

        • Denise Clifford
          February 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

          I feel sorry for you Joe.  People choosing rational thought over head games are not failing any test.  I don’t believe in God, but if I did, he/she/it wouldn’t expect humans to forget they were born with a brain!  I want to shake you!!!

          • Joe
            February 28, 2012 at 10:26 am

            It is quite rational to expect that these extreme things in life are more about a test of loyalty and obedience than about things that can be subjected to “occam’s razor.”  This life is the first stage of a test of loyalty.  We were told so in the scriptures, specifically in the Book of Abraham where it says that we will prove them herewith to see if they will do everything that they are commanded.  Those of you that turn aside from things that you are commanded on the basis that Joseph Smith did this and that are precisely not passing that kind of a test.  yes, Joseph_P, this is what I say that a person “fails” when he takes that kind of attitude against it.  The test is precisely to weed out those who will versus those who will not, because there is “no other way” to test what people are really made of.

            And the difference between Joseph Smith and Jim Jones is that one is upheld by the Spirit of the Lord, and the other was indeed a “cult leader” with no substance.  Those that “hear the Lord’s voice” and put that above all else, even to the extreme of setting aside expectations that everything in life is supposed to be logical when it comes to Abrahamic tests are the ones that actually do pass the tests of loyalty.  This is precisely at the core of D&C 132 and Abraham’s calling to sacrifice his son.  This is all very rational, and we were told in the scriptures to begin with that we would be subjected to these very types of tests.  Those who deny that aren’t reading those scriptures carefully.  If you pass this off as “convenient” as an excuse for joseph smith’s immorality, then obviously, you are precisely what the test was designed to weed out.  There is no self-sacrifice in your tendency to assume that joseph smith was doing this as a convenient way to justify his so-called iniquities.

          • Anonymous
            February 28, 2012 at 10:44 am

            OK Joe.

            How about we get two of your children and tell one that God wants them to blow the other’s head off with a shotgun, and then we pressure them and abuse them until they feel like they have no choice.  And remember they must believe they are ACTUALLY going to blow their siblings head off. 

            Please explain how you would rationalize this as a parent who loves your children.

            One of the hallmarks of a cult is that it will require or advocate behavior that would be inappropriate or wrong under any other circumstance.

            Your “abrahamic test” idea would land you in jail for a long time if you ever tried it.  It’s use in any other familial, employment, educational or social context, in any form, would be manipulative, abusive and deceptive on its face, or patently criminal.

            This is the only “rational” analysis of this idea and its use as an excuse for damaging and outrageous behavior.

          • Joe
            February 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

            Slippery Slope fallacy.  You cannot equate being asked to have faith in spite of historical problems to someone being asked to blow someone else’s head off.  Nephi was faced with the same type of test, being asked to kill Laban.  Those of us that are regular, everyday people, are not being asked that much.  To be asked to have faith in Joseph Smith in spite of all is a very SMALL thing.  The stuff that we are asked to have faith in are very small things.  No more than looking to the snake on the pole.  That was the Abrahamic test for Israel, and those that failed to look failed to live.  Those that fail to CHOOSE tohave faith in Joseph Smith in spite of all of this are failing the same type of simple thing.

          • Apeirongnosis
            February 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

             Joe, I don’t think you know what a ‘Slippery Slope Fallacy’ is.  You might want to read up on it.  

          • Joe
            February 28, 2012 at 2:50 pm

            Actually, now that you have decided to split hairs on this one, “slippery slope” is an easy way to refer to this particular fallacy, as it is very technically related to it.  But since you are going to split hairs on semantics, then we shall split hairs.  What Paul Bunyon has done is to invoke the applealing to extremes fallacy in order to invoke an emotional response(http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/rgass/fallacy3211.htm)

            “APPEALING TO EXTREMES: A fallacy very similar to slippery slope, which involves taking an argumentative claim or assertion to its extreme, even though the arguer does not advocate the extreme interpretation. The difference between the two fallacies is that appealing to extremes does not necessarily involve a sequence of causal connections.
            example: Husband to ex-wife: Well, if you want to be completely fair about dividing everything up, you should get one of my testicles and I should get one of your breasts!
            example: Debtor to creditor: Hey, you’ve already repossessed my car and my television. Why don’t you just draw a quart of blood or carve a pound of flesh from my heart too?”

          • Erico
            February 29, 2012 at 12:39 am

            Joe, 

            Wouldn’t it be more of an Abrahamic Test for one to use his or her own sense of moral agency to determine what is right or wrong in the face of duress from an authority figure?  It is easier to be a mindless sheep who is commanded in all things.  It takes courage to stand up to a coercive, manipulative authority figure who has the power to blacklist you, bankrupt you, and otherwise ruin your life.  

            If any test had to be passed, the Laws certainly passed theirs with flying colors.  And it certainly is our test in this life to find our way in this world using our own sense of right and wrong even when the rest of the herd is mindlessly pointing in the other direction.  I promise you that Joseph Smith was not taking orders from the Almighty when he was trying to marry and bed other men’s wives or arrange a sexual surrogate for himself to pacify Emma.  Crazy, crazy stuff…  Way to play the ol’ Abrahamic test card. 

          • Joe
            February 29, 2012 at 12:28 pm

            You promise me that, huh?  Well, what this is really about is everybody is placing bets on the table for where they stand until the day of reckoning.  You have confidence that your bet based on your supposed sense of “integrity” going up against authority is going to result in you being ok in eternity.  The time for me to “retract” if I am wrong is after I’m dead.  I am into this until death, because that is what is asked of me to pass the test.  The bet that I am making is that what I believe is the Spirit of the Lord is actually that.  The definition of apostasy is not preaching false doctrine.  It is precisely when one goes up against the priesthood keys and has no regard for them.  In other words, the happiness I have in my life is not contingent upon Joseph Smith’s lack of perfection.  If Denver Snuffer is right, the only thing I have to do is seek the divine for myself.  It doesn’t matter what Joseph Smith did or who he slept with.  It doesn’t hurt me any to be patient and wait until death to see the fruits of my faith.  That is a sacrifice that has been asked of me.  It is one that I’ve committed to make.  So, more power to you if you think that apostasy and going up against authority is going to do you well in the end.  We shall see.  Praise to the man that communed with Jehovah.  I can’t wait till I can meet that man and shake his hand in the flesh, and thank him from the depths of my soul for what he has done for my salvation.  I can’t wait till I can drink of the fruit of the vine with him and Moroni at Adam Ondi Ahman.

          • Anonymous
            February 29, 2012 at 1:30 pm

            Joe, why do you listen to the podcasts and participate in the discussion? Doesn’t seem there’s anything in it for you. Unless you just like to argue, which is a good enough reason I guess.

          • Joe
            February 29, 2012 at 5:26 pm

            pot calling kettle black.

          • Jim G.
            March 2, 2012 at 3:35 pm

             Sounds like it’s Pascal’s Wager for you?

        • March 1, 2012 at 8:43 am

          I have to say that I am proud to “fail” my Abrahamic test, since succeeding would only destroy what seems to me like the best part of my humanity.

          • Jeff S.
            March 1, 2012 at 6:30 pm

            I’ve changed my thinking since leaving the church.  Abraham failed his test.  I chose to save his own a$$ by killing his own son.  When instructed by God to kill his own son, to pass the test Abraham should have said, “God, you can kiss my …”

        • Desert_sailor2003
          April 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

           What??  What are you smoking, dude!!!  I’ve never heard a more asinine theory in all my life!   Some people will go to any length to preserve a delusion, that’s all this idea proves.  Get real.

        • Warrencrutcher
          April 3, 2012 at 10:08 am

          I don’t believe the lord plays “head games” with people. That is a disgusting idea.

        • Anonymous
          April 12, 2012 at 7:03 am

          In D&C 132 it’s not the Lord speaking – it’s Joseph silly!!

          Can’t you see that???

        • Joshua ben Joseph
          April 18, 2012 at 1:34 am

          At some point in this string I suppose you yourself began to feel under attack, like your faith was on trial.  I think it is regrettable that the conversation took such a turn.  But I hope you will remember that it started with you insisting that people have “failed” the Abrahamic test, and been “weeded out” from among the righteous.  I am glad that your faith is a source of happiness for you and generations before you.  I am glad that it has been validated by your experience.  But I urge you to strive for empathy with those you make such judgements about.  For there is a gospel matter which is weightier than intellectual assent to the doctrines of the church.  I have commanded men that they should love one another.  Remember it is the merciful that shall obtain mercy.   

        • Smorg
          May 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm

           I have to say… anyone who would subscribe to the notion that an ‘Abrahamic test’ is something a god would sanction either has no respect for the idea of a moral god at all or is subscribed to a very immoral sort of god. If there is a god that is capable of morality it would be appalled at such a thought. And if there is a god that actually approves of the Abrahamic test, it is no god worth worshiping to begin with… and kudos to all who refuse to bow to so psychopathic a cosmic bully.

        • john
          June 9, 2012 at 6:12 pm

          Joe is sick. I don’t mean this as in insult. Joe, honestly, do you really believe that God will test people by asking them to do something that he commanded them not to do? What a twisted, sick joke! What will you do, Joe, one day when you think God tells you to do something morally wrong? How far will you go in violation of law, God’s or man’s, just to prove that you believe? That’s a dangerous road, pal. I hope you don’t live in my town.

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 9:09 am

      “Joseph’s life is a case study in Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)”

      Since the 90s I have thought Joseph Smith was cut from the same genetic cloth as Bill Clinton.

    • Antauljn
      February 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm

       Jonah, Why do you think that just because someone said it or wrote it, it is true?

      It’s pretty easy to condemn the messengers of God instead of actually researching all sides of the issues. Grant Palmer’s research gave him the results he chose to look at, the results he chose to accept. It happens all the time with all of us.

      I seriously doubt that Joseph was part of a den of murderers and sex-aholics. In fact, in my research, I have reason to doubt that Joseph actually had more than one wife even though people love to bring him up on that and other charges. It seems he was offered that as a test, just like Abraham was offered a test.

      Just for the record, I’ve read the “anti-Mormon” books. I had a brother who began to research church history from the time I was 12 (a looong time ago). I have learned to separate myself from the emotionalism and the “it MUST have beens” and the inconsistencies rampant in each book against Joseph, as well as painting God’s truths as somehow evil.

      Go ahead, revel in your belief that Joseph and his fellows were Satan incarnate, but it isn’t true – and one day you will discover what is true – at some point in your existence.

      Finding flaws (real or imagined) in the messenger has been one of the devil’s ploys since Adam had children old enough to think for themselves – and we humans keep falling for it over and over and over again. It “must” make him pretty happy to see how stupid and self-centered we are.

      • March 4, 2012 at 5:41 pm

        Antauljn,
        You’re going to have to do the real research. The fact that you still doubt whether Joseph Smith had other wives is evidence that you haven’t read anything of value on topic.  Not even church apologists would say that. 

        In fact, you should read Palmer’s papers and his book, as well as other books such as: In Sacred Loneliness The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith, Mormon Polygamy, Rough Stone Rolling, No Man Knows my History, Emma Smith Mormon Enigma, etc.

        What in the world have you been reading?

        Jonah

      • Karl
        April 18, 2012 at 1:03 am

        Or even just go to the BYU website and look at the reviews on “In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith.”  As you might imagine, BYU folks will alert you to any misinformation they percieve in the book.  But what’s more?  they also confirm a great deal.  Even their scholarly apologetic critique leaves you with alot to think about. I’m not here to demonize Joseph Smith… He is probably my favorite person in history after Jesus.  But he had multiple wives.    

  2. Jeff
    February 26, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Many have speculated about the motivations behind Joseph Smith’s behavior and fortunately Occam’s Razor provides us with a possible answer.  See page 2, acute mania.

    http://www.brown.edu/Courses/BI_278/Other/Clerkship/Didactics/Readings/Bipolar%20Disorder.pdf

    • February 26, 2012 at 12:06 pm

      Jeff,
      There are substantial differences between bi-polar and narcissistic personality disorders.  Here is a quick video that explains the difference and it’s illuminating in the context of Joseph Smith.

      When you watch this, you’ll understand why Joseph Smith was a narcissist, not a bi-polar.

      Acute mania is just one element of the disorder and more importantly, narcissists and bi-polars experience mania very differently and for different reasons.

      • February 28, 2012 at 12:22 am

        Not to get all PC here, well, okay, I will. :)

        Can we cut out the “bi-polars” and the “narcissists” – the latter is almost tolerable because some people with NPD actually take pride in the fact, but regardless, we should not be identifying a group of people as their diagnosis.

  3. Tamlindner
    February 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    Having listened to only the update on Grant’s life, I have to say how much I appreciate his willingness to share his experience.  Specifically, I relate to his concluding comments about being frustrated when attending church.  He, as I do, felt that he couldn’t make opposing statements in fear of hurting other members; yet, he could not sit quietly, either.  March will mark the one year point at which I opted to stop attending my own ward because of the hateful rhetoric continuing to be espoused regarding Proposition 8 and any opponents of the proposition.   While it has been a struggle of dealing with guilt, if I have only known one thing in my life it is this:  equality is the RIGHT thing to enact and this church will not have my support or fellowship as long as it maintains its current trajectory against LGBT equality.

    Thank you, Grant, and thanks to Mormon Stories for the podcast.  I look forward to listening to the other two interviews…….

    • Michael Johnson
      February 28, 2012 at 3:00 am

      I’ve actually considered going back to church so I can sit in EQ and tell them when the correlated lesson manual is false. Then again, it would probably be like going back to ancient Egypt and telling those people that the Sun is a star, not Ra being reborn each morning after visiting the underworld.

  4. Anonymous
    February 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Very brave.  The same can’t be said for the leaders of the church.

  5. Paul
    February 26, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Usual Grant. The case for the prosecution similar to an An Insiders view…he leaves out  anything that counters his viewpoint.
    Looking forward to second interviews for Daniel C. Petersen, Terryl Givens etc as we are going to be ” fair and balanced here”.
    Part three was very good.

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 6:11 am

      Paul, an offer was tendered in the podcast for countering evidence – all you need to do is contact John, accept the offer and go for it.

    • Sam
      February 27, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      “Usual Grant. The case for the prosecution similar to an An Insiders view…he leaves out anything that counters his viewpoint.” Perhaps, Palmer didn’t need to include all that counters his viewpoint; That’s all the stuff we’ve already heard, all throught the decades of correlated teaching, in the church. Namely that Joseph  was ALWAYS falsely accused of the bad stuff, he never committed adultry, all  his marriages were legit, even the polyanderous marriages Joseph was always upright. But we’ve already heard all that.

      • Anonymous
        February 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm

        Sam, that’s a very good point!

        For the average Mormon (particular BIC Mormons) Mr. Palmer’s presentation WOULD be countering evidence to CES and other official church sources.

        I hadn’t considered that – good catch!

    • Michael Johnson
      February 28, 2012 at 2:54 am

      I’m not sure how Daniel C. Petersen would present a fair and balanced view since on many subjects he strays from correlated LDS material. In fact I would go so far as to say that ANY correlated response to this material is impossible due to the fact that the factual history of the Church is rarely mentioned. You can’t get fair and balanced when one side is manufacturing its own version of history.

    • Chas Rivera
      October 27, 2012 at 3:09 pm

      Paul, you seem to be in the know of some kind of “counterargument” to journals, diaries, legal records and documents and, oh yes the Expositor itself that Palmer offers. The author promised to correct where there are mistakes, and there be none. Have you got a counter viewpoint?

  6. Joe Geisner
    February 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you John for doing this interview with Grant. What a pleasure to hear Grant again interviewed by you. I want to say that I appreciate your comments at the beginning of the interview. I think they are appropriate, but my only warning would be that in my experience, many of the “faithful” Mormons want the conversation to be one sided. You seek to allow all/most voices to be heard, but for the people from FARMS, FAIR, Maxwell Institute, Mormon Defense League, and Mormon Voices (and what ever name they will come up with this week) will never be happy until they can silence any other voice but their own.

    I have not listened to Grant’s comments on Wm Law, but I am very happy this discussion is taking place. When I rad Lyndon Cook’s amazing article in the late 1980s, I was shocked to discover that Law was really the person I had been taught was Joseph Smith’s character and that Smith was really what I had been taught was Wm Law’s character. What a shock for me! The fact Lyndon’s article was published in BYU Studies 20 (Winter 1980), even made it more powerful for me as a student of Mormon history.

    I am not convinced anything happened in 1832 between Marinda Johnson and Smith. I find the evidence very shaky, and the fact Marinda was not in Hiram, but away at school even makes it more shaky. I think the evidence is very strong that this all had to do with money. For the people in Hiram, Smith was robbing the Hiram members blind, and many of these people were going to loose everything they had spent their lives working for. Money and sex are the two most commons things in acts of violence. I think we have to stick with money on this mobbing. The only part of the events I can not reconcile is why Dennison was their, and clearly he was reluctant at being there.

    As for Joseph and Emma and what they meant to one another, I keep reflection of what Wm Law said about Emma:
    “Emma was a full
    accomplice of Joseph’s crimes. She was a large, coarse woman, as deep a woman
    as there was, always full of schemes and smooth as oil. They were worthy of
    each other, she was not a particle better than he.”

    • Tom
      February 27, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Joe, how do you account for the attempted castration on Joseph by the mob at the Johnson farm? 

    • Joe Geisner
      February 27, 2012 at 12:21 pm

       Tom, (If this really is “the Tom”) LOL

      I agree that Dennison’s presence is difficult. I don’t have an answer. It seems most historians believe he was there.

      But the motive for the mobbing is clear to me. We have Symonds Ryder’s own words for the mobbing:

      ” During the next spring and
      summer several converts were made, and their success seemed to indicate an
      immediate triumph in Hiram. But when they went to Missouri to
      lay the
      foundation of the splendid city of Zion, and also of the temple, they left
      their papers behind. This gave their new converts an opportunity to become
      acquainted with the internal arrangement of their church, which revealed to
      them the horrid fact that a plot was laid to take
      their property from them and place it under the control of Joseph Smith the
      prophet. This was too much for the Hiramites, and they left the Mormonites
      faster than they had ever joined them, and by fall the Mormon church in Hiram
      was a very lean concern.

       But some who had been the
      dupes of this deception determined not to let it pass with impunity; and,
      accordingly, a company was formed of citizens from Shalersville, Garrettsville,
      and Hiram, in March, 1832, and proceeded to headquarters in the darkness of night,
      and took Smith and Rigdon from their beds, and tarred and feathered them both,
      and let them go. This had the desired effect, which was to get rid of them.
      They soon left for Kirtland.”

      All of the castration allegations are from non-participants. Luke Johnson was on a mission to the east, all his information would have been second hand. I think he is a credible witness., but I also am hesitant to put too much weight on his account about Dennison and the “emasculating” of Smith. Grant seems to believe, as I do, that the poisoning part is incorrect. That most like Smith lost the tooth when the mob was trying to put the paddle with tar in his mouth. But the poisoning part comes from Luke also.

      I will stick with the account of Ryder.

  7. Anonymous
    February 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Part three was excellent. I feel the same uneasiness when I attend LDS services. It is the worst in priesthood. For years I taught the high priests, so a longing remains (especially among old time friends) to say “Wait, I have further light and knowledge to share…” As Grant suggests, to worship with a church centered on the life and teachings of Jesus… so much more uplifting.

  8. February 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Best MS episode ever.  Thanks Grant and John.

  9. David Stoker
    February 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm

    In the spirit of “fair and balanced,” here are reviews of Grant Palmer’s book: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?reviewed_author=513

    • Jeralee
      February 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm

       The article “Prying into Palmer” by Louis Midgley is very detailed, and does give one reason to pause and wonder…Definitely worth the time to read.

      • Anonymous
        February 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm

        How exactly is an article length ad-hominem abusive argument a “fair and reasonable” response? 

        After all, ad-hominem arguments are by their very nature fallacious and, therefore, irrelevant.
        (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem ) 

        Arguments that ignore the evidence and attack the presenter speak for them self. In fact, they say a whole lot more about the attacker (and or the group the attacker represents – not to mention those who use, endorse, or approve of such tactics) than anything else.  

        Thank you

        [and please not that I will reposting this as a response to your other post recommending this article as well]

      • Midwest Mormon
        April 27, 2012 at 5:17 am

        Most enlightening, that “Prying into Palmer.” On future visits to this site, I will have to remember how credible I considered Palmer after reading it.

        Dehlin was more gentle with him than he has been with some other guests. But, as the name of the podcast indicates, guests are not invited here to debate but to simply tell their stories. So maybe the “Entertainment Tonight” style of interview was more appropriate than a “60 Minutes” approach would have been.

        I don’t remember Dehlin taking it quite as easy with Givens, but maybe I need to listen to that podcast again.

        • johndehlin
          April 27, 2012 at 6:54 am

          Midwest Mormon – I’ve lost count of how many apologists I’ve invited on the show to refute Grant Palmer. Still waiting to find a good one…happy to entertain. But as of now, Daniel Peterson, Mike Ash, Blair Hodges, and many others have all politely declined. FWIW.

    • Ryan M.
      February 27, 2012 at 11:22 am

      Andrew Jenson summarizes the Church’s view on William Law in General Conference, October 1921:

      “William Law acted for a while as second counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith in Nauvoo, Ill., and while on terms of intimate friendship with the Prophet he was, Judas-like, plotting with his enemies to destroy him. His treachery was found out and he was dropped from his position and excommunicated from the Church. But so strongly did this base man profess to believe in the doctrines of the Church that after declaring Joseph Smith to be a fallen prophet he actually attempted to organize a church of his own. He put himself at the head of it as a prophet, chose two other apostates to act with him as counselors, and proceeded to select twelve men to be his apostles. This movement of his and his confreres was the height of impudence and hypocrisy, and of course it failed.”

    • Jason H.
      February 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

      Also in the spirit of “fair and balanced,” here’s the Signature Books response to the FARMS reviews:

      http://signaturebooks.com/2010/06/a-reply-to-farms-and-the-joseph-fielding-smith-institute/

    • Michael Johnson
      February 28, 2012 at 2:48 am

      In the spirit of “fair and balanced”, I could have done without reading that nonsense. Even the Church won’t publicly stand behind this stuff.

      I’m not sure that an opposing viewpoint on ALL subject matter is always fair and balanced. An interview about the rotation of the Earth doesn’t gain anything from allowing flat-Earthers to “refute” the statements made.

  10. Lucy Harris
    February 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Thank You  Grant for telling the other side of the story!

  11. Juneprincess24
    February 26, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    This was a hard episode to listen to but I was grateful for it.  I want to know the truth. I was left wanting to know if there are other sides to the story. I can’t imagine its as simple as it sounded in the podcast and I would be really interested in hearing a different perspective. I guess the lack of offering another view point makes me less likely to trust the ideas, nothing is that clear cut in history.

    • Midwest Mormon
      April 27, 2012 at 12:23 am

      The podcast made at least one reference to an excellent BYU Studies paper on the subject by Lyndon Cook. The paper raises a lot of questions not addressed in the Palmer presentation (which probably would have made the podcast too long.)

      Was William Law really guilty of adultry or was he just practicing polygamy without telling Jane?

      Did Jane really seek a polygamous relationship with Joseph before he sought one with her?

      Were Bathsheba Smith and John Hawley correct in reporting Jane actually *was* sealed to Joseph?

      With these for starters, you probably can think of a lot more questions. I share your suspicions that there was a lot more to the story than William Law was willing to tell.

      Here is a link to the Cook paper: https://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=5507

  12. Velska
    February 26, 2012 at 11:12 pm

    Palmer is fairly reasonable, that I have to say, for someone with basically a negative attitude. Just to comment on two things, and there aren’t that many that have anything worthwhile. 

    About Laws claiming (and I don’t claim they lie about that) that their property was worth $30,000: John just says that that’s a huge amount today. That may be true. Opportunity cost of that money, if you’d used it in 1844 would be $727,000 in 2010 money by the GDP rate, and yes, if they’d had the money leaving Nauvoo they would have been well off indeed. See measuringworth.com http://bit.ly/xFH7zf for 2010 values of 1844 money. 

    Two things about that, though. If they had kept the real estate then, they would have lost all but the farming land anyway. Because Nauvoo’s population started shrinking in 1844, and practically all were gone by January 1847, so it was fire sale pretty much July 1844 onwards. They would have been hard pressed to get any money for their Nauvoo lots or even house. Think of a suburb or even subdivision that had popped up in 2004 and grown from pretty much zero to 10,000 by the time Lehman Brothers went down in September 2008, and think what you would have got from your house, let alone empty lots, when mortgage closures were hitting everyone around you. 

    1849, a group of French Utopians arrived in Nauvoo to practise their ideal life style, and from then on their peak number reached 500. Nauvoo was all but ploughed over.   See History of Nauvoo, Illinois, in Wikipedia. 

    The other one I wanted to comment about was Palmer’s comment that crimes of passion is usually a heat of the moment thing, and they could have waited for the meetings next day to talk about Johnson farm “takeover”. True enough, except in the morning they would not have been drunk! There’s probably any in that group that would have denied having been drunk, as WoW was still years ahead in the future. Palmer’s just lazy in not reporting that part into why they would have come for Joseph after midnight rather than the morning (or then worse), and John lets him off without a question. 

    I’m just saying that if you’re just getting this from the podcasts without having read Rough Stone Rolling, No Man Knows my History or any other well-sourced books, then you should not be listening to Palmer, because he does indeed leave out a lot of stuff that talk about things that don’t support his conclusion. Leaving out information that is readily available is a conclusion in itself, and there’s certainly more in this than 4 pages worth plus footnotes. And if you don’t want to write it, don’t talk about it for two hours. 

    Anyhow, I’m not saying that Palmer isn’t generally telling the truth. Just not critical history. Even I, as a number guy understand that much. Joseph Smith was perhaps a prophet, but he definitely was a guy who was able to make enemies as well as friends. Smith would be just as quick to forgive his enemy as he could be quick to get mad. 

    People in those days would get mad at someone and go swear out an affidavit against someone and take it to a sheriff saying they wanted to sue, and the sheriff would send out a deputy for a trial a couple of days down the line. They might have changed their mind by then, and end up saying in court that had happened. 

    There might be a slight cost, but not much, compared by what suing someone means today. Some would stay mad for the rest of their lives and repeat their allegations at every opportunity, bringing plenty of grief down the line, appearing even resurrected in historical documents that end up quoting those affidavits and the later reiterations despite never a shred of evidence turning up. 

    This comes just over the left shoulder after two episodes. 

    • Anonymous
      February 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm

      Velska – I don’t pretend to be an expert in history…but if you can find someone to present a more accurate/balanced view of all this, I’m totally game. Unfortunately, apologists rarely seem to want to engage outside of their own carefully controlled environments. But if you can find someone, I’d gladly welcome them on the show. Gladly. I think I’ve shown that.

      • Anonymous
        February 29, 2012 at 5:27 pm

         Yes, well, I’m definitely no FAIR insider, barely even reader. But I like more the kind of history that is less about conclusions and more about documented evidence that you can point me to and let me look at the evidence. But thanks, I’d love to be able to put enough things together to present something more complete, but then I’d have to have Richard Bushman or someone as a guide. Maybe Palmer, if he’s such a researcher as he seems to be. I don’t care about their preconceived notions.

        To be sure, I have no good explanations to polyandry etc. To me it’s a bit like the priesthood issue: I don’t think we’ve ever had an authoritative statement about blacks and priesthood. Mormon Doctrine or Doctrines of Salvation don’t count as authoritative in my book. The racism comes through so bad I cringe when I read them.

        I am not sure whether I can find someone who can give a more accurate view of what GP was talking about. He seems to set himself up as an expert on the issue, having documents that others don’t have, knowing things that others don’t. I’m not sure what to make of it, other than that he does have his own axe to grind here. Apparently some books are in the works that will shed more light. Looking forward.

        Unfortunately, I do not have enough documents at my disposal as of now, because I’ve had to return some borrowed books and such, but I’ve sometimes felt that I should put enough stuff together to put forth an even-handed view; I have nothing against showing evidence, no matter what conclusions you might make of it, I think all evidence deserves to come out. If the Church is of God, we have nothing to fear from scrutiny in the end, you can quote me as a temple recommend holder for most of my adult life. It may be embarrassing, though.

        And I just do get the nagging feeling from what GP stresses in the interview that he just wants to justify himself. Look, “sexual allegations” remind me of Gary Hart, Clarence Thomas, Herman Cain etc, etc. There are a gazillion allegations against powerful, charismatic men, and I’d be more interested in whether they ever were substantiated.

        And what if Joseph was adulterous?

        And the best evidence we have is what could have been an affair, or a polygamous relationship, in the barn, witnessed by Emma and Oliver, who was already really pissed at Joseph at that time to begin with. To me, it seems that it’s becoming so much “he said, she said” that I’m left wondering if something has gone missing.

        I admire the work you do, John. I think it’s important, and I think it’s important that people like Palmer get a forum. What you, or anyone interviewing these guys, could perhaps do is know beforehand what they’re presenting, and then not sounding so much like everything he says is Gospel. An interviewer should sound more like a friendly inquisitor than a co-conspirator. I’m not sure that’s the impression I’ll get the second time over.

        Oh, and I do think the FAIR guys deserve some questions asked of them, too. I don’t like the way they criticise the messenger when the message is something they don’t like. Not the way I’d like to see things handled. It’s not about us, it’s about historical facts, whatever we can shed light on.

        If Joseph was adulterous, it doesn’t make the books he left behind and the message in them anything less. The false image that some of us have been worshipping deserves to go. First off, we should not be worshipping a man, and then every prophet has always been a fallible man.

        And I think the question still would deserve an answer: If Joseph was such a philanderer that he had to sow his seed everywhere, where are the children? I’m not saying it proves anything much, but really? AFAIK, he didn’t have condoms at his disposal. Brodie speculates that he had some unknown contraceptive at his disposal. Unknown indeed.

        • Anonymous
          February 29, 2012 at 6:36 pm

          Velska – I see this as valuable feedback, so thank you.

          • Anonymous
            March 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm

            An individual with more depth on the polygamy and sexual accusations history would be Brian C. Hales.  I don’t know if he would qualify as a scholar (meaning PhD in history on JS sexuality) but he is an anesthesiologist who has performed more research on this topic.

      • Anonymous
        April 7, 2012 at 7:37 pm

        Just a few comments.  Aleander Neibaur’s diary entry from May 24, 1844 where he comments on the seduction event sounds similar to Genesis 39/Jasher 44 where Zelicah tries to entice Joseph, then after a few refusals she turns on him.  Also have the Bathsheba Smith deposition where she [JL] goes with Joseph to church a few times.  One counter testimonial on the seduction event is Jane’s son Tommy where he says that his father would have shot his [Joseph's] head off if he had attempted a seduction on his mother.  A few quotes which counter good ole’ Joe Jackson’s Adventures and the curious “offer” wife swap is when William Law himself says in the SLC tribune in ’87 that “I never heard of it till I read it in your book.”  WL also takes issue with Wymetal’s MP book when he says “your informants may now and then drawn a little on their imagination, and have reached false conclusions”  - as to what?  R Bushman wrote an email to Hales saying, “Personally I found all the assertions about the Prophet’s promiscuity pretty feeble.”  I don’t to fall into an ad hominem ditch here but Jackson really took issue when Hyrum turned him down on a proposal to his daughter Lovina, and may not have been in on the inside circle, as JS called Jackson a rotten hearted scoundrel a few days after meeting him.   Hales says that Emma may have turned down an eternal sealing before may 1843, and the “offer” was a divorce so she could be sealed to another.  I don’t buy it.  
        Sounds like a tabloid mess to sort through, but as in the mov Men In Black there has to be some truth in there. 

    • Jeralee
      February 27, 2012 at 12:05 am

       I just finished reading this article about Palmer that you might also find interesting:
      http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?reviewed_author&vol=15&num=2&id=514

      • A.B.
        February 27, 2012 at 5:47 pm

        Were you trying to help make Palmer’s point about Ad Hominem attacks being made against him rather than disputing the facts? If so, Bravo!

        • Anonymous
          March 1, 2012 at 1:57 pm

          You’re right in a way, but Palmer also points his finger at Joseph Smith because of his behaviour in his private life (not as a Church leader). If Joseph’s message is less believable because he apparently had adulterous tendencies, isn’t Palmer’s message equally vulnerable to scrutiny of his behaviour in his private life. 

          Most of what he presents in the sex allegations part is “she said, he said” if that. The William Law journal is a valuable document, but its value is more in estimating his own development than Joseph Smith’s. I always thought that the Laws were good people, who got run over in the rough happenings in Nauvoo. I still say Laws would not profited too much from their Nauvoo lots unless they were already selling them, but didn’t have time. 

          Nauvoo was typical of a boom-town. They have a tendency to rise out of nowhere and sometimes that’s where they often go…

          People who bring sources to light are what we need more than people who dig for stuff that justify their own preconceived notions, on either side. I can see how Palmer has developed from his last interview, where he already was telling how he had a much better plan of how the Church should work… 

          • Anonymous
            March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm

            Oh, yeah, forgot to say: Fair’s fair. Play by the same rules? No, I don’t like to shoot the message down because I don’t like the messenger. 

          • Kris Fielding
            March 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

             I think it depends on what argument is being presented or responded to. In the case of Grant, the ad hominem has nothing to do with his claims or arguments, they are just meant to try and discredit him on different issues without addressing the facts or arguments. The book could have been written by anyone and it wouldn’t matter because it doesn’t claim to be anything other than a book, so it stands on its own.

            In the case of Joseph, the quality of his character is an essential aspect to the claim that he was a prophet. Since most of what he represents depends on whether or not he is a trustworthy source, it’s not a fallacious argument to compare what we know about Joseph’s behavior and what he claimed to be.

          • Anonymous
            March 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm

            I really don’t care when Grant “lost his testimony”, but I also see that he’s skipped stuff that is available for us in books like Rough STone, that are trying to bring evidence to light, not trying to prove their own point. 

          • Kris Fielding
            March 1, 2012 at 5:04 pm

            I’m with you. If there are legitimate criticisms of the work itself it would be much more of an affective argument. Like FredWAnson says below, ad hominem attacks speak more to the attacker and the weakness of their position than the person being attacked.

          • Anonymous
            March 1, 2012 at 5:49 pm

            If you go through Rough Stone Rolling and No Man Knows My History and check the sources,  you see they’re well sourced. Insider’s View has many sources listed, but we should remember that the evidence is carefully picked to support Grant’s insider view.

            How can Grant have so many sources that others don’t have, even antis… (so it’s not about that)?

          • Jeff S
            March 1, 2012 at 6:39 pm

            Velska,  You should actually read both books.  The truth is that Rough Stone Rolling cherry picks like crazy.  If you know anything about church history then you know that the thread of polygamy is everywhere.  Even if it is not front and center, polygamy is just under the surface of an astonishing number of church history events.  This is true even if you support or believe polygamy is divinely commanded.

            Now, try this experiment:  Open the index for Rough Stone and tell me how many entries you see regarding polygamy.  Talk about cherry-picking…

          • Justin
            March 27, 2012 at 8:37 pm

            Sorry for the crosspost, Kris.

          • Justin H.
            March 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm

            Velska, Palmer’s private life is not fair game here, because he’s not making the sorts of claims that the Prophet was. Palmer is presenting a (presumably) verifiable historical record. He’s doing history (whether well or poorly, you can decide).

            Smith’s private life is fair game, though, because he was not doing history. He was claiming to be a leader chosen by God to restore Truth to the earth. Given that he claimed to be the spiritual leader and judge appointed by God for His chosen people, Smith’s personal conduct is absolutely par for the course. Understanding him as a person is important in evaluating his claims. 

            As a historian, Grant’s assertions should be verifiable (or not!) by recourse to original historical sources, regardless of his character. As a prophet, Smith’s character is about the only evidence we have for his claims.

      • Anonymous
        February 27, 2012 at 6:00 pm

        How exactly is an article length ad-hominem abusive argument a “fair and reasonable” response? 

        After all, ad-hominem arguments are by their very nature fallacious and, therefore, irrelevant. (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ad_hominem

        Arguments that ignore the evidence and attack the presenter speak for them self. In fact, they say a whole lot more about the attacker (and or the group the attacker represents – not to mention those who use, endorse, or approve of such tactics) than anything else.  

        Thank you

        [and please not that I will reposting this as a response to your other post recommending this article as well]

      • Jeff S.
        February 28, 2012 at 10:09 am

        When Grant’s first book (Insider’s View…) came out, I had the experience of first reading it and then afterwards reading all the FAIR/FARMS “reviews” of Grant’s book.  Astonishing.  Up until that point, I had a somewhat positive impression of FAIR/FARMS.  However, after this experience, FAIR/FARMS forever lost their credibility in my eyes.  BTW, I also had a similar experience with Todd Compton’s book “In Sacred Loneliness” and FAIR/FARMS’ reviews.  FAIR/FARMS clearly demonstrated:
        1) They had no real answers to the difficult issues in church history.
        2) They have the lack of integrity needed to resort routinely to ad homin attacks.
        3) They are not oriented to seeking truth — they are oriented to protecting the tribe at all costs.
        4) Their “reviews” are not designed to review.  Their reviews are designed to scare the sh*t out of believers and prevent believers from reading the books they are reviewing.

    • Michael Johnson
      February 28, 2012 at 2:41 am

      People are still drunk the morning after, especially if drinking to excess all night.

  13. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 2:35 am

    This has been a sad podcast.
    I would like to add a few thoughts to the comment stew…

    I was surprised by Grant’s explanation for Emma’s desire for a surrogate Joseph.
    I suspect the motivations were a bit different.  I think in propositioning Law, she was actually trying to put the shoe on the other foot, and have Joseph understand what it feels like.  Perhaps she was attempting to pique Joseph’s jealousy, and help him recognize the receiving end of unfaithfulness.

    I also found the description of the First Presidency, Porter Rockwell, and the ‘King of the World’ incidents indicative of an interesting phenomenon.  Suppose we remove the names and titles of the people, and say they are…  hyenas.  You have the alpha male under whose tyranny the tribe operates.  The privilege of being an alpha male would be as many young females as desired.  You have the alpha male’s lackeys who do the alpha male’s bidding in exchange for access to young females.  (This would include fighting the alpha male’s rivals.)  So, oddly enough, we can find examples of this kind of behavior in the natural world.  

    By contrast, the Laws come across as bewildered humans among a pack of wolves…  

    Though not exemplary by any means, one has a glimpse at what happens when a person has access to unlimited power and unlimited opportunity.

    • Michael Johnson
      February 28, 2012 at 2:35 am

      I agree with your assessment of Emma. I also get the impression she wanted her life to be more simple, and she did not like polygamy at all. Any dalliances would be for reasons other than sexual gratification for Emma.

      Your assessment of the alpha male is interesting. One thing missing from such control of females and rivals in the natural world is the claimed link to God’s power and authority. Maybe humans need to be scared more than hyenas – our threatened punishment extends to the next life. 

      The problem with claiming God’s authority is that when you act like a sexually insatiable psychopathic predator, your “God-cred” kind of evaporates. If you want to convince others that God is truly on your side you would do well to do the opposite of everything Smith did. 

      • Anonymous
        February 28, 2012 at 10:41 am

        Michael, I appreciate your reply.  It is over 30 years now since I studied utopian societies in 19th century America.  I’ve had to refresh some of my recollections, but some of my most potent memories are of the many (over 100?) utopian communities that existed then.  
        Although we mainly remember the sex-negative shakers as representative, most utopian communities were based on more open communal values.  Those values included shared work responsibilities, the common ownership of property, etc.  One of the typical traits of such communities is a more equal role of women in society.  Another is unconventional attitudes toward ‘traditional’ marriage.  Monogamy was often  seen as a self interested relationship in direct opposition to how the individual could act in order to benefit to the whole community.  One example is the idea of ‘complex marriage’ where the male was effectively married to all the females, and the female was married to all the males.  The emphasis was to not spend any more time with any one partner than any other.  Children were also usually raised communally as well.  
        I’m not sure the origins of these communities were always religious or spiritual.  They were probably more philosophical/idealistic and utopian.  The basis was usually a less authoritarian, more egalitarian ideal with a lot of hard work and selflessness thrown in.  I think that all of these experiments were about a group of people determining how they would live–  this self determination led to questioning what are often considered the very basic givens of human society.  (marriage, family, education, societal roles, ownership, the relationship of community to the self, etc.)  The remarkable thing is that if you really look at the colonization of America, and its history, it really is mostly about peoples’ finding a place to experiment on unconventional lifestyles.  (Whether repressive puritanism, communalism, or perfectionism, people wanted to live their ideals.)  Unfortunately, contemporary Republicans have no grasp of their history.I see Joseph Smith, and early Mormonism as having been born of that era, and those experiments.  (Polygamy, the United Order, etc. follow these patterns exactly.)  I understand your thinking when it comes to our conventional ideas regarding ‘God-cred’, but it is interesting to note that Joseph was doing what many of the other utopian thinkers were doing at that time. 

        • Michael Johnson
          February 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm

          I see the Utopian or religious societies where sexual freedom played a central role as simply means to an end.

          The more I learn about Joseph Smith, the more it appears that he created (or at least expanded) Mormonism, and its support communities in part to satisfy his sexual urges. 

          Not a simple whore’s “John”, Smith created a society where he could have sex with almost anyone he pleased, including other men’s wives, with their full knowledge as well as that of his own wife.

          Power and wealth were other motivators, although the power he sought and exhibited was often linked to his sexual gratification. The power to take sexual partners at will from other males was flaunted. This podcast seemed to suggest much of Smith’s acts of aggression and control were motivated by his desire to keep his sexual activities out of public scrutiny, and to force his desires on others such as the Laws.

          Something changed in Smith. Although he lied from the beginning, he could not have planned how his religion ended. Sex became a primary motivator. Perhaps a little power allowed him to woo Fanny Alger easier than he thought possible. Power and sex drive then fed each other.

          It’s easy to see why so many of Smith’s closest followers and allies considered him to be a fallen prophet. He became drunk with power – out of control. God was conspicuously absent. 

  14. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 7:20 am

    Fascinating podcast. Thank you.

    Until Grant Palmer’s reference to William Law’s diary, I had never heard anything suggesting that Joseph Smith’s followers may have declared him to be a god while he was still alive. But there seem to be several references from later years. Along with Brigham Young’s comments from 1859 and 1869 which Mr. Palmer cites on his home page, there is a reference to an 1847 letter mentioning “our god Joseph” on p. 91 of Todd Compton’s “In Sacred Loneliness.”

    It’s not too uncommon for people with severe mental illnesses to claim that they are God or a god. In Mormon history, for example, there was Arnold Potter, who started a splinter group in 1857 and printed the words “Potter Christ – the Living God” on his forehead.

    This makes me think twice about the persistent theories that Joseph’s inner circle was alarmed about his increasingly bizarre behavior, and may have either helped instigate — or at least refused to prevent — Smith’s murder, in the interest of preserving Mormonism.

  15. February 27, 2012 at 7:38 am

    I am an active member of the church and I love these podcasts.  I want to know everything about my religion – warts and all.  We should not be afraid to ask hard questions because we are afraid the answers will make us uncomfortable.  

    I have kids and I want to be the one who tells them about the amazing attributes of their religion as well as its skeletons in the closet.  

    Keep it up.  

    • Michael Johnson
      February 28, 2012 at 2:26 am

      Is there any chance you will tell them when one of the skeletons is speaking at General Conference and not telling the truth, or will you explain away Mormon historical obfuscation as something the church did in the past?

  16. Frog
    February 27, 2012 at 8:05 am

    When I listen to Mr. Palmer I get the sense that he is tired, perhaps even world weary. He spent his whole life dedicated to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and would never have been questioned on his integrity. Suddenly he went over to the “dark side.” I don’t think so. I think he applied that same integrity then as he does now.

  17. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 9:21 am

    With regard to the Nancy Miranda Johnson allegation … the fact that Rigdon was also attacked points away from sexual misconduct being the primary motivation.  

    Perhaps there were several factors at play and for the mob members (otherwise normal folk) to get themselves worked up enough to do it they went reaching (or overreaching) for as many as they could think of.  

    For all we know Nancy had a crush on Joseph that was never reciprocated – but was noted by the brother.  Or, then again, maybe Joseph did make advances on her.

    • Joe Geisner
      February 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

       Her name is actually Miranda Nancy Johnson. I believe it was Fawn Brodie who first transposed the names.

      As for Miranda having a crush. I have no idea, but it does not matter. Smith was the adult, Miranda was 14 or younger during this time period. Smith was the responsible party, but as I point our in my earlier comment, Miranda was not in Hiram, she was away at school.

      It also needs to be remembered that Smith “married” Miranda in Nauvoo after Orson Hyde was sent on a mission. So, even though I do not think the attack on Smith was about Miranda, he wanted her as his “wife”and sent her husband off on a mission so he could have her. After Smith was done with these women, their lives were never the same. Miranda lived a very unhappy life after Nauvoo. Smith destroyed everything he touched.

      If Velska thinks you can make Smith look better by giving more details, I would suggest the more you uncover, the worse Smith looks.

  18. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 9:39 am

    William and Jane Law … the patron saints of Latter-day saint apostates  :)

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 10:21 am

      William and Jane Law,

           the patron saints,

               of Latter-day

           saint

      apostates

      (chiasmus)

      • Weatherforcast55555555534343
        February 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm

        Have you read about what happened to William Law after Nauvoo?  How did William and Jane Law end up? 

        • Anonymous
          February 28, 2012 at 12:35 pm

          The Article “William Law, Nauvoo Dissenter” by Lyndon W. Cook was mentioned in passing in this interview.  It can be found at:

          https://byustudies.byu.edu/showtitle.aspx?title=5507

          On the last page Cook writes:

          “In the end, WIlliam Law’s disillusionment with Mormonism resulted in a complete rejection of institutionalized religion.  William spent the remainder of his life seeking to implement Christian principles in his own way.

          After he left Nauvoo, he continued another decade as a merchant in northern Illinois (Hampton and later Galena) but eventually turned his attention to medicine.  Regionally acknowledged as a competent physician and surgeon, Dr. Law practiced nearly 40 years near Apple River, Illinois, and at Shullsburg, Wisconsin.  He died of pneumonia at the age of 82.  By design, William Law’s pot-Naurvoo years were quiet and reserved.  Any publicity naturally would have resurrected a past that he wished not to remember.”
           

  19. Sean
    February 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I have been stalking this site for a month now.  Thank you John for putting this together and contributing in this manner.  These are valuable truths, insites, and even herosies that deserve to be addressed.

    The William and Jane Law portion was very interesting and if Grants conjecture is even partially accurate then there are some very real issues about the last years of Josesph and the Church.  I agree with a previous post that Grant sounded tired if not haunted about his “resignation”.  I applaud him for doing it on his terms but feel a sense of saddness that his true intent was just to fade into the shadows.  Even at 72 he has feelings first about any possible embarrassment his family could endure because of his Church status. Very easy to empathize.

    Anyway, thanks again John.  Your work is very much worth contributing to.

  20. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 11:45 am

    John, can you help clarify something? In episode 2, Grant twice misquotes D&C 132:51, then on the third time he quotes it correctly when the Abrahamic test nonsense is brought in. In the first two misreads, was he referring to an earlier version of the text? Sorry I don’t have time stamps for you. 

  21. Carrie
    February 27, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    I don’t why you, John, to apologize for your content or topics.  If people don’t like what you are producing, then they don’t have to listen.  I realize that you get some negative feedback, but it is only coming from those that are closed and are not willing to listen to truths as they really are, but only the truths that they are spoon fed.  You are doing an amazing job and I appreciate the information that you provide.

  22. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    The third segment was really interesting, especially where Grant compares reform movements within the church to the sixteenth century Catholic Reformation (aka the Counter-Reformation) and to the reforms in the Soviet Union under Gorbachev.

    The Gorbachev comparison is probably more on target. Just as the church claims that it can be relied upon because it is led by a prophet, so the Soviet Union claimed that it had a reliably “scientific” method which would inevitably lead to a workers’ paradise. Very few Soviet people still believed this by the 1980s, but most pretended to believe. What finally destroyed the Soviet Union was its leaders’ acknowledgement that “scientific socialism” was simply wrong.

    Church leaders seem to get the point. That’s why no one hears any official pronouncement that a former doctrine was ever just wrong. Instead, the doctrine is dismissed as unofficial, or folklore, or an opinion, or a speculation, or an anti-Mormon lie, or the result of misquotes or typos or — in the case of pre-1978 racial discrimination — a God who simply issues a decree without taking an extra minute to explain it.

    On the other hand, the Catholic Reformation occurred because Catholic leaders were able to say that some church practices were horrible and that some former Popes were scoundrels. You won’t hear anything like that at General Conference.

    Though Grant has resigned from the church, there was one point in the podcast where he got pretty orthodox. At about 17 minutes in, he suggested that Jesus could arguably have come from another planet. If only he had been talking about God the Father, maybe he’d get a little more respect from TBMs.

  23. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    John, really loved this podcast. I read some apologist responses to many of these accusations and kept coming across a FARMS apologist by the name of Gregory  L. Smith (he wrote the FARMS apologist review for the book “Nauvoo Polygamy” by George D. Smith). Anyway, Gregory L. Smith might be a great interview response to Grant Plamer (if he would be willing to come on). Here is Gregory L. Smith’s Wikipedia bio: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_L._Smith

    Great job on this interview by the way. Love Grant’s work, and I wish him much happiness in his future endeavors.

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 6:25 pm

      I hope it would be better than, on one side, the FAIR polygyny defense that boiled down to essentially saying that, yes, Joseph intended a sexual aspect to his polygynous marriages but that he had the keys to loose and bind any marriage he so chose — thus avoiding moral culpability by the values that instinctually resonate with most members — and, on the other side,  the horrible (and dated) FARMS review of In Sacred Loneliness that denied any evidence to a sexual purpose behind the polygynous marriages.

  24. Verminpants
    February 27, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Does Grant sound a bit on edge or is it me? He seems at times to be giving John a bit of a gobfull.

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      I had the same thought. He sounds emotionally invested in the material. Nothing wrong with that, but it’s different from the first series of GP interviews. I don’t know what you mean by gobfull, though.

      • Verminpants
        February 27, 2012 at 5:53 pm

        The ‘Gob’ in UK is the mouth. So he was giving John a bit of a mouthful. Ie getting a bit snappy. But I agree with you Grant is a bit of a hero in my opinion, so was surprised to hear him so tetchy. Maybe he was on edge as a result of his disclosure that he had resigned his membership.

        • Joseph S.
          February 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

          I think he just didn’t want this interview to go on for five hours like the last one, which it would have if he had gone into detail on every point.

          • Michael Johnson
            February 28, 2012 at 2:16 am

            Maybe he was still at a new angry stage. I’m sure he thought he had heard it all too.

    • Irondukesteve
      February 28, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Verminpants…where are you from in the UK? Do you affiliate with the UK Mormon Stories group?

      • Verminpants
        March 1, 2012 at 12:24 am

        Yep! I live in Lichfield Stafforshire. Right where they found the Anglo Saxon hoard of gold.

  25. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Brutally honest assessment here . . . 
    I don’t see how after listening to that series of podcasts any reasonable Mormon could see ANY difference between Joseph Smith, Warren Jeffs, David Koresh, Jim Jones, L. Ron Hubbard, or any other cult founder who has used their position power as a means of having sex with member’s wives and daughters.

    They all, including Joseph Smith, Jr., seem to have been cut from the same cloth.

  26. Anonymous
    February 27, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Thanks, Grant!  What a powerhouse interview, and thanks to John and Grant for making it happen.  Absolutely astounding.  For some reason Fanny Alger was the earliest sexual deviance story I had heard, but little did I know, there was a couple torrid prequels.

    Not much to say other than I had the guitar riff of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” bouncing through my brain as the interview progressed.  Bomb-dropping interview!  I look forward to reading the papers posted on your website, Grant.

  27. Weatherforcast55555555534343
    February 27, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    John seriously didn’t know that William Law was a member of the 1st presidency?? 

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      I’ve known that for years. Not sure what gave you that impression.

      • Weatherforcast55555555534343
        February 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm

        You ask Grant as much in the interview…no big deal…however, how could Luke Johnson have written something per Palmer in 1864 when Luke had been dead for 3 years?? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luke_S._Johnson

        • A.B.
          February 28, 2012 at 3:16 am

           At 26:36 in the second interview John clearly includes Law in the first presidency.  He’s referred to Law in the first presidency dozen of times over the years.

          • A.B.
            February 28, 2012 at 3:17 am

             Dozens. whoops.

  28. Garth
    February 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Ouch! That one kind of hurt. I thought I had heard it all.

    • Where's Porter Rockwell?
      February 29, 2012 at 5:42 pm

      I hear you on that one, Garth.  I must confess I’ve read and heard a good bit of information critical of Joseph Smith in my day but the whole swinging shenanigan and putting a hit on dude was a first for me.  Thanks for filling in some of my shelf space.

  29. Sam
    February 27, 2012 at 9:03 pm

    I was only able to download about nie and a half minutes of part 3. But the time of the file says 36minutes. Any sugggestions anyone. I so want to heat the ending.

  30. Sam
    February 27, 2012 at 9:04 pm

    Ok, my spelling was atrocious in that last comment. Here it is again:
    I was only able to download about nine and a half minutes of part 3. But the time of the file says 36-minutes. Any suggestions anyone? I so want to hear the ending. Thanks anyone.

    • Anonymous
      February 27, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Just re-download. Must have timed out. You can download directly from the site if necessary.

  31. Goodfootdr
    February 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    Jon, I thought you did a good job getting to the sources. It took time but I’m glad you did. I like Grants attitude of ” I’m just putting out there” Thank You

  32. Michael Johnson
    February 28, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Really? MS is now warning TBMs that if they want to continue in their deluded stupor, they should not listen to facts that the LDS church does not want you to hear? Wow.

    Maybe the warning should read “If you want the church to be true more than you want to know the truth, don’t listen.” Does anyone else find this sad?

    • Anonymous
      February 28, 2012 at 9:25 am

      I think it was completely appropriate. John tries to meet people where they are, not where he thinks they should be. He was just being sensitive to the needs of his believing listeners.

    • Ben
      February 28, 2012 at 2:56 pm

      I don’t find it sad at all. What John is demonstrating is that it’s possible to be a truth seeker and not be hostile towards believing members of the church. His attitude in this respect is, in my opinion, the pragmatic approach for encouraging change in the church. As soon as John acts condescending in any degree many people will feel justified in shutting it off and simply dismissing John as an anti-Mormon. I feel like John is very sincere in this regard and it’s one of the reasons that I love to listen. My feeling is that truth will win in the end and there’s absolutely no need to resort to hostility or condescension when you have the facts on your side.

      • Michael Johnson
        February 28, 2012 at 6:15 pm

        I don’t agree that telling the truth is a hostile act.

        John talks about feedback – code for complaints – about the podcast getting “negative”. It’s only negative from the perspective of someone who wants to keep secrets such as those discussed in this podcast.
        Personally I consider truth to be very positive. There is nothing so uplifting as to have people stop tip-toeing around those who love the lie, and tell it like it is.

        This podcast is POSITIVE! It’s about truth!

        I refuse to let the believers in the correlated, phony history label truth as negative! You know you are under some serious mind control when you consider truth to be bad and negative.

        • justme
          February 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm

          Sure, but recognize that John is seeking to create a space where people can encounter historical truths with as few negative emotional  effects as possible. I think the disclaimer shows the depth of of John’s integrity and his desire to respectfully pursue truth without crushing those who are not yet ready.

  33. Mohochris
    February 28, 2012 at 7:16 am

    Very sad that a disclaimer had to be included. Very sad that people can’t handle truth. 

  34. Anonymous
    February 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Many thanks to John Dehlin and Grant Palmer for their courage and personal integrity in addressing church history.  You have both become an inspiration to me and  I am grateful  for all the work you have done.  Love your books Grant.

     I  hope that both of you continue to STAND TALL and not shrink under the glare from church leaders or apologists.  Keep up the good work–you are doing the world a good service.  Grant’s experience with the church and subsequent forced resignation should be a reminder to everyone that nothing has really changed since the days of Joseph Smith.  Church leaders ( not all, but usually the more vocal ) will continue to marginalize, villify and smear any who dare speak the truth about the church.  These are the wolves among the flock.  It will be interesting to watch the progress of the church and the attitudes of leadership as further light and knowledge comes forth.  Thank God for the internet!  

  35. Anonymous
    February 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Loved the following quotes from Palmer in the last section:

    “The internet is to Mormons what the Guttenberg bible was to the Catholic Church.”

    “Right now we have prophets that don’t prophesy, seers that don’t see, and revelators that don’t reveal anything.”

  36. Rude Dog
    February 28, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you John, these interviews I find highly important, and the comment in part 3 about historians being an important voice in helping to rectify the course of the church (if it can at all be rectified) is not lost on me.  I especially enjoyed the comparison of understanding the “writing on the wall” of the fading Soviet Union by Gorbechev.  Reading Chaste and Benevolents comments a few comments up reminded me of the Prof. Dr. Micheal Coe interview you did, and how he mentioned the “Marxist Anthropologists” beng almost identical in worldview as the “Mormon Anthroplogists” (as opposed to Anthroplogists that are Mormon), and again, like so many times before, the bigger picture came together, as huge social structures built on untenable dogma and philosophy will eventually, one day, disintegrate.  

    I love Grant Palmer and was captivated with his book “Mormon Origins”, as I always had suspected the great sermons in the BoM had a Evangelical/Protestant Revivalist flair to them.  I have personally stepped away from belief and have let the objective blocks fall into place, as it’s easier to see the bigger picture once you’ve backed away from the myopic positions of ingrained religion.  I for some reason I had never connected the “Porter Rockwell” attitude to Brigham Young’s Blood Atonement doctrine, and that makes all kinds of sense, and was an aha moment that took a chilling interpretation of DC132:53 “but if she will not abide this commandment, she shall be destroyed”.   

    Although Palmer fairly asserts that these allegations and writings are for us to interpret, for me they weave a fabric of convincing argument.  This is where the FAIR/FARMS apologetics break down for me.  Apologetics is inherently myopic.  They will focus like a laser on one cancerous cell, treat it with unproven methods, declare it whole, then straighten up, snap off the surgical gloves, insist their brows wiped, and head to the 10am tee time (Irony is, that if they explained their methods of healing to lay church members, of whom they want me to dutifully and obediently return to, these good people would be as perplexed by these explanations as members, as I am as a doubter).  I admit, the 5 cases of sexual allegations against JS may not on their own convince me, but weaved into a bigger picture of the polygamy and polygny narrative, it now holds sway.  I might find some sway in apologist’s argument for Joseph having non-sexual relations with his polygynous and polygamous marriages, but the fact that his conduct was dishonest, un-integrous, and just plain dishonest and sneaky, that behavior weaves into the bigger picture that Joseph’s behavior in the question, was behavior more towards the “base” allegations of sex and power.   I don’t think any arguments justify any of Joseph’s behavior in regards to the subject of polygamy, and don’t look now, but there’s a bigger picture, a line that goes out the door and around the block.  That line is filled with other truth claim problems, with as many if not more questions that our thinking members want answered.  Questions that Apologists in thier cowardice will label as “anti-Mormon”.  I love Grant’s reminding us of the what the true definition of what “anit-Mormon” ought be, and that is anything that is not truth.  

    • Anonymous
      February 28, 2012 at 8:24 pm

      I agree that it’s important to try to get the most comprehensive possible picture of Joseph Smith and early Mormonism. It often seems that the apologists do the opposite: They focus on one small facet and try to make it the crux of the argument.

      This is especially true of their insistence that Joseph may not have had sexual relations with his plural wives. Even if that were credible in light of Joseph’s reputation, what would it imply? That God intended plural marriage to exclude sex?

      If so, then almost all of the other Mormons who practiced polygamy over the next eighty years – including all the prophets, seers, and revelators – seem to have never caught on to that part of the revelation. On the other hand, if God thought that sex within plural marriage was fine, then what does the apologetic argument gain by suggesting that Joseph kept his pants on? 

      If people insist on continuing to argue after they have ceased to make sense, they aren’t doing much good for their cause.

  37. John Richarsdon
    February 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Palmer sounds very Evangelical talking about the “Mormon Jesus” vs the “Biblical Jesus”, advising the Church to move closer to Chist. He talks of conspiracies within the Church trying to hide the history and that the internet is the church’s worst enemy and that the church is hemeraging. He’s welcome to believe whatever he wants to believe, but these misguided memes are simply holdovers of the believe system Grant began to forge durning the 80s (a la Ed Decker), spurned by his piqued interest in the Hofman forgeries. Conversely, a close monitoring of any General Conference will show that talk of the Savior is predominant. Although there is no discussion of the trinitarian Christ, there certainly is talk of the Christ of the Old and New Testament. LDS scriptures are flooded with talk of Christ and preaching of Christ. Temple worship revolves around Christ and his sacrifice for us. Furthermore, the Chruch certainly cannot be accused of hiding it’s history. Certainly, faithful members can be accused of misreading the history, or reading from a faithful perspective, but so what. As John D said, everyone can read history and draw their own conclusions…Palmer has certainly done that. His reading of Church history seems misguided and wrong to me, but to each his own. His interpretations certainly aren’t new, but are simply regurgitated accusations going as far back as Fawn Brodie. People are so quick to discount the apologetic responses to threse criticisms found at the Maxwell Institure and FAIR. They say attacks are ad hominem. Not so. Palmer is an interesting case because he sets himself up as an “insider” and therefore opens himself up as fair game so that his insider status must be examined. Nonetheless, a reading of the many critiques, from a faithful perspective, of Parmer’s work ( http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/search/?fulltext=grant+palmer&jbms_vol=&jbms_num=&review_vol=&review_num=&author=&search=Search+The+Maxwell+Institute ) will show that his criticisms are recycled and have been answered many times over.

    John, sorry for the long post and thanks for providing this forum for us to post different perspectives about a Church we all feel strongly about.

    • Anonymous
      February 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

      JR, when CES and church manuals fail to tell anything but the most sanitized version of foundational stories; when members are censured and silenced for raising tough questions; when a top leader says, “Not all that is true is useful,” then yes, the church can be accused of hiding its history.

      • John Richarsdon
        February 29, 2012 at 4:18 pm

        JP, one leader making one statement does not mean that the entire Church is trying to hide its history.” I agree that CES and church manuals mostly stick to the very basic foundational historical stories. Their purpose is to primarily teach the doctrines of the Church.

    • Jeff
      February 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm

      @651ef3884f34d7270a0784e4355119dd:disqus  Please have a little more intellectual honesty to say  “the Chruch certainly cannot be accused of hiding it’s history”…when I was going through my ordeal of finding all this stuff out about polygamy I borrowed a book from our Church Library called “Joseph Smith the Prophet, Joseph Smith the Man”, It was a book from many church leaders, including prophets and GA’s alike.  I wanted to see what the brethren had to say about Joseph Smith “the man”….there was one….yes only one (1) indirect reference to plural marriage about Joseph Smith…I got so frustrated with the book that I almost threw it away….1 indirect reference to polygamy in a 300 page book?  
      From what view point do you make the statement that the church has not hid its history?  Is it from the view point that the church encourages members, teachers, priesthood leaders to “only” use church curriculum and nothing else?  Is it from the view point that they should only study the history from approved sources?  Is it from the view point that anything that is contrary to church opinion is perceived as “anit”?  

      Where does the church bridge the gap between real history and its version of Joseph Smith put out in its movies with the Mormon Tab choir singing in the back ground?  Is that the REAL history of Joseph as shown in the movie?  Is there any mention in the movie of his institution of one of “Gods” most important revelations?  The revelation of plural marriage?  Why not?  Does the modern church believe or not believe that plural marriage was of God?  Hinckley made it sound like they did not.

      For you to say that the church has not done anything to hide its history makes me discount your opinion all together.  Because as a former Bishop, Seminary teacher I can tell you they have, and it is an insult to all members who have had their faith chucked out the window when they find all this stuff out….that once again….this is not the churches fault we did not know this….it is my fault that I did not know all this….Of course!

        

      • Jeff
        February 28, 2012 at 4:14 pm

        Correction:  “Anit” = “Anti”

      • John Richarsdon
        February 29, 2012 at 4:46 pm

        Hi Jeff. I’m sorry that my statement about church history has caused you to disregard everything else that I mentioned in my original post. I first encountered critical statements regarding Church history during my teenage years in the 1980s (during the hay day of Ed Decker and the God Makers). In that light, I will say that official Church statements regarding controversial historical issues were pretty non-existent and probably continued into the 1990s. The implication is that the Church was trying to hide it’s history. I understand your point of view here, however, I don’t think the Church had an effective mechanism, like it does now (in the late 90s and into the 2000s with the power of the internet) on how to tell the faithful side of it’s history. Now, with organizations such as the Maxwell Institute and FAIR and the publishing of the Joseph Smith Papers (oh and let’s not forget publishing of the Church History volumes so many years ago) I don’t see how the Church can be accused of hiding it’s history. And perhaps it’s too little too late for you. I respect your opinion even if I may not agree with it. As for me, I feel that I’ve been able to fully investigate just about every critic’s claim (including the historical issues that you mention) and my faith has only grown stronger. Take care. 

    • Rude Dog
      February 28, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      John Richardson, how many people know of the problems with the Book of Mormon geography?  How many people that sit in our weekly Gospel Doctrines class would still identify Ameri-Indians as descendants of the Lamanites?  Answer:   Most.  How many of these same people know that the scholars of the church, and even many GAs are postulating a limited and small BoM population, with no impact culturally, linguistically, and genetically, and purports two hill Cummorahs?  That these scholars are in conflict with another school of thought by LDS scholars that places the BoM narrative only in the Great Lakes area.  Answer:  Not many.   How many of these same poeple are aware that the Temple Endowment has borrowed heavily, word for word in many parts from the Masonic ceremony, and that the Masons know along with historians and scholars that there is no connection with their ceremony and the Temple of Solomon?  Answer:  Not many.  How many of these same people know of any controversy surrounding the Book of Abraham?  Answer:  Not many.  How many of these same people even know of Joseph’s polygamy?  Answer:  Not many.  

      In a culture where we are just embracing the reality of stones in the hat translation, and culpability at Mountain Meadows, to say the church has been honest and forthright with its history is naive to say it least, dishonest to say it best.  

    • Billy
      February 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

      John you must really like shiz sadwiches.

      • John Richarsdon
        February 29, 2012 at 4:49 pm

        I prefer a good ol’ PG&J with homemade jam!

  38. Jeff
    February 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Grant Palmer, Thank you for your courage!  Thanks for speaking up!  Thanks for lending your voice against all this!!  I attended a fireside the other night on the Book of Mormon and Lehis journey through the Arabian peninsula.  There were so may times I wanted to engage in discussion with the things being presented.  But I did not have the guts!   I did not want to be a detractor of peoples faith.  But like all good mormons the presenter was only presenting points that made sense….and ignored all the points that have no answers…..he left us with a probability that he said: “the probability of Joseph knowing all 81 points that he discusses in First Nephi was like 1:4000000000000000000000000000000000000000000….it ended up being that the probability was more than all the stars in the universe….that Joseph could have known all the things he talked about….1:4×10^42 power…..I am glad he did not see me throwing up on the back row.  The problem was…..everyone was believing him……many people were nodding, and kind of laughing in the back ground…..kind of like “Yeah….look at all this truth God has given us through Joseph Smith”

    It was a classic mormon scenario of half baked truth claims that everyone took hook line and sinker. 

    So thanks for speaking out!!  I really enjoyed your book “Insiders View”.

    Good luck in your future en devours!  

  39. Bradley
    February 28, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    Grant Palmer would make a great apostle and lead the chruch in the rigth direction.  He is a saint.

  40. Anonymous
    February 29, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Despite my gripes above, I’ll say thank you. Thank you for the work you put in this.
     

  41. Anonymous
    March 1, 2012 at 12:10 am

    I just finished the Maxwell Institute Louis Midgley’s review. ( http://bit.ly/ybFGDK )

    I’m not happy with the tone of the review, which does go uncomfortably into the ad hominem zone.

    However, if Palmer is the Paul Pry character who compiled and distributed New York Mormonism–I certainly can’t know for sure either way–it would beg the question of how honest he has been in his claims that he’s been above the board (teaching seminary, attending temple…).

    So yes, I’m sorry but the question has been raised before about how “faithful” he’s been since the mid-1980s (as he’s marketing himself; if he weren’t underlining it himself it would be different)?

    And how he can have been thinking that the Church’s foundational story is a lie, and that the BofM is a purely 19th century product, and be drawing a salary (and presumably being on some kind of retirement plan)?

    But the main question for me would be is it true that Palmer is the author of New York Mormonism? I went through the interview with Palmer four years ago, and his “evidence” is like, yeah, they had it in the local library, so it was in his cultural surroundings, and other innuendo that can mean something or then not; no proof of anything. Palmer like some others assume that any book that might have circulated in that area is fair game as having been an influence to Joseph Smith. I’m pretty sure he didn’t read all the books in the library. I don’t take the family as a very literature-oriented.

    Even if Joseph Smith had read ETA Hoffmann, what about Mark Hofmann? Did he know the similarity in the name? Hoffmann was a famous storyteller/liar in is time, if perhaps not in New England as much as Europe. Besides, the salamander was a forgery, so there never was a salamander, right? Mike Quinn did the paper about the priesthood lineage of the LDS Church based on the Joseph Smith III patriarchal blessing which that, too, was a forgery. I read the paper and the Patriarchal blessing and was a bit pensive about the transition. I realised the provenance or lack thereof of the Patriarchal Blessing only afterwards. I was trying to fit pieces back together and then read a list of Hofmann’s forgeries.

    There’s been a bunch of revisionist history that many people still think is valid despite them being based on known forgeries. I guess there’s no use trying to get them straightened out. One guy here was talking to the missionaries and was digging this shit up on the Web and his favorite meme was one of these things that was based on Hofmann forgeries.

    Oh, well. So who’s selling himself as something he’s not? I don’t think that asking that question is ad hominem.

  42. Lukebailey
    March 1, 2012 at 7:14 am

    whats this guys website. he mentions it but does not give an address. have i missed anything!

  43. Sherah
    March 1, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Hi John.  I don’t really have anything substantive to add to the discussion, and at this point, with something like 140 comments, I don’t actually have time to read them all in order to adequately join the discussion.  I did want to give you a very heartfelt thank-you for your work on Mormon Stories over the years, and your courage in dealing with difficult matters in Mormonism.  I’ve listened to dozens of your podcasts at this point, and they all have opened my eyes, and more importantly my heart, to new ways of thinking, being, interpreting.  Awesome work.  

  44. Darth_Bill
    March 1, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    I would like a source for his William Law comments. I didn’t read anything first hand from him that even implied that JS was hitting on his wife, or where the change in 132:51 came from.

  45. Buffalo
    March 2, 2012 at 9:33 am

    John, please don’t shout into the microphone! It’s painful for those of us using headphones

    • Anonymous
      March 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

      When did I shout?

  46. jja
    March 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

     I find this interesting, hearing stuff on this webcast sounds so shocking and then to actually read it in the official church manual is just crazy. 
    “On June 10, 1844, Joseph Smith, who was the mayor of Nauvoo, and the Nauvoo city council ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor and the press on which it was printed. The Nauvoo Expositor
    was an anti-Mormon newspaper that slandered the Prophet and other
    Saints and called for the repeal of the Nauvoo Charter. City officials
    feared that this publication would lead to mob action. As a result of
    the action by the mayor and city council, Illinois authorities brought
    an unfounded charge of riot against the Prophet, his brother Hyrum, and
    other Nauvoo city officials. The governor of Illinois, Thomas Ford,
    ordered the men to stand trial in Carthage, Illinois, the county seat,
    and promised them protection. Joseph knew that if he went to Carthage,
    his life would be in great danger from the mobs who were threatening
    him.”
    http://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-smith/chapter-46?lang=eng&query=expositor

  47. New2podcasts
    March 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I really liked this podcast for the content, the objectivity and its real search for TRUTH. I get tired of the Hollywood approaches of yet another mini series to drag on the unknown into years and years of marketing followership. Sunstone at times gives me the impression that folks just like to talk and they like to be heard and the cycle goes on and on. Thank you John and especially thank you Grant! I will always be grateful for the rest of the story. Tar and feathers just because of religious newness never sounded correct to me. Irate families trying to solve abuse definitely makes sense. Shame on the corporation for its image lie spin.

  48. Anonymous
    March 8, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    this last podcast with Grant Palmer truly broke my heart, I have listened to almost everyone several times as I tried to make some sort of sense of it all. I look back over the 30+ yrs. in the church, serving myself to death in multiple callings, doing family history, food storage constantly, driving kids back and forth to church activities, faithfully holding FHE, worrying myself to death before every Temple Rec. interview whether I was worthy enough to be there..lliving on poverty level so my kids could serve missions, .the list is endless….and all this, so I could find out it all is a joke.

    • justme
      March 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      brokenhearted123 – I understand, and can so deeply relate to all you have shared. But that said, doing good to others is never truly wasted, even if the organization the service takes place in is not all it claims to be. Hang on, go slow, act with integrity to yourself and your own true beliefs. As Rude Dog notes, this can be a new beginning.

  49. Rude Dog
    March 11, 2012 at 8:43 pm

     brokenhearted123,

    I don’t do this very often, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever said this.  I wish I could offer you my hand, pull you in and hug your neck.  You are not alone, and we have all sacrificed an incredible amount only to see the work disappear into an organization that still believes in a literal flood, Adam and Eve, and Hebrews in Meso-America.

    Look at it like this.  You are a lucky individual.  Most will never escape it.  Take a moment and stop in on youtube and watch the following:

    1.  Tribute to Richard Dawkins:  We are going to die.
    2.  Science saved my soul.  (philhellenes)
    3.  We are star stuff – Cosmic Poetry

    Then go outside, look up, and drink in your station of life, and that station is a new beginning, to really start to understand with humility and gratitude, where we fit in.   

  50. Lennox
    March 14, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    a fucking men.  in that order.

  51. Anonymous
    March 21, 2012 at 2:07 am

    Learned a lot from this information. Thanks to John, Grant and those behind the scenes.

  52. Bill McGee
    March 27, 2012 at 11:34 am

    Here are the problems with this podcast series:

    1. Palmer’s conclusions are based on comments from people with an agenda. For example, a lot of this is from William Law’s interview on the topic delivered some 43 years after the fact. Other material is based on looking at a variety of documents and seeing what he wants to see.
    2. Palmer prooftexts information from a variety of sources and draws conclusions not entirely supported by his source material. His 1+1=3 sort of analysis breaks down pretty quickly when held to academic standards. 
    3. Palmer never differentiates between hard evidence and speculation (and a majority of this is wildly speculative.) Credible historians have had access to nearly all of tis information for years, and no one has extracted the kinds of salacious conclusions that Palmer has.
    4. John speaks about 1/3 of the time. He asks softball questions, and never questions any of the conclusions drawn by Palmer. In fact, he draws many of the conclusions himself, which seems inappropriate.

    I’m not saying JS was an innocent. He clearly had issues around sexuality. But Palmer is so fascinated by the salacious nature of his own conclusions that he has lost academic perspective. 

    Shame on John for promoting this before subjecting it to any sort of scrutiny.

  53. Jpenmar
    March 27, 2012 at 11:56 am

    If Grant believes the LDS church does not focus on Christ, I think he’s slept through the meetings, conference, church publications, etc…

  54. Elizabeth
    April 1, 2012 at 4:22 am

    Nothing Grant Palmer said in this podcast was a surprise to me.  I’ve heard it all from other sources.  Grant Palmer is just detailing the historical records.  He is not putting any kind of negative spin on it or making new conclusions about it.  It is what it is. 

    • Anonymous
      April 12, 2012 at 10:14 am

      Yes Elizabeth, for many TBM here, the truth really does hurt!

  55. April 14, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Joe and others who believe in a God who “tests” their loyalty and devotion by commanding them to do irrational, immoral things like killing their sons, committing adultery and lying about it, etc. — has it ever occurred to you that, once you invoke a God who plays such games, how can you ever be confident that everything you think is from this god is really just a “test”? Perhaps the true and living god is actually allowing Satan to “test” you with the entire LDS Church, and your devotion to the Church and its leaders is failing the test of devotion to god? Perhaps the “burning in the bosom” you claim to experience as your “testimony” is just a “test” from this game-playing god to see if you will be led astray by “feelings”?

    Once you invoke such a manipulative god, there is no way to have any confidence in the words of that god. For ought you know, that god will come to you as “an angel of light” or a “White Salamander”, trying to deceive you the better to “test” you. Once you have convoluted moral judgment like that, you cannot possibly hope to make sense of things, and you are on the fast road to cutting off defense-less, unconscious men’s heads, murdering 120 members of a wagon train, including innocent men, women, and children, and even flying jet airliners into skyscrapers! Where does the “test” end? And how do you know which part is the “test” and which part is the “ram in the thicket”?

    The simple answer is, you cannot. That is the horrifying danger of this kind of thinking.

  56. Value4Value
    April 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    The one thing I always feel I’m asked to do when considering the truth of  the church, the idea of Joseph Smith being a true prophet, the BOM as a work of God…  is to abandon reason and replace it with a “feeling”, or technically faith.  I believe what makes humans the greatest of God’s creations is that we have a brain that allows us to reason and make a choice.  Why would God want me to abandon or discard the greatest physical gift that He has given me.  Where is there ANY evidence that “feelings” are a reliable source for knowing what truth is?  I would argue that “feelings” are very subjective and far from being a reliable source of truth.  So without feelings, I’m left to use my brain to determine what truth is.  I choose to use God’s greatest gift He has given me and it becomes easy to determine that not only is the LDS church a creation of man, but more than likely all organized religion is.  

    To listen to these Podcast, it becomes almost unbearable to hear what some of these apologist are asking me to do with my brain.   Unfortunately I was raised in the church and have held many prominent callings.  The doctrine has been so ingrained in me for so long, that I’m addicted to the practice of trying to find a good “reason” to believe.  Otherwise it would be so easy to walk away from this whole nonsense.  None of these apologist or active members of the church would accept these arguments or practices from any other leader or organizer of other religions.  Their “reasoning” would have them discard those people immediately, i.e. Warren Jeffs or Muhammed.  I’ve listened to friends and family talk about other faiths or their leaders and make reasonable observations that easily discredit the faith, yet they would never use that same reasoning with the LDS faith.  When it comes to the church we are taught the opposite, trust your feelings and abandon reason.  As Ayn Rand teaches a person who abandons their ability to reason becomes a nothing, no better than the lowest of animals.  

  57. April 30, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    MEN OF GOD dont have SEX with 14yr old LITTLE GIRLS !!!! ave age of marriage was over 20 then !

  58. Martha
    July 10, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    http://www.mazeministry.com/mormonism/newsletters_articles/newsweek/newsweek/lawint2.htm

    In this letter from William Law, he specifically refutes the idea that Joseph Smith ever approached him about swapping wives.

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