Christian Standard March 16, 1915

 

THE  TACTICS  OF  MORMONISM.

CHARLES A. SHOOK.

Author of "Cumorah Revisited," "The True Origin of Mormon Polygamy,"
"The True Origin of the Book of Mormon," etc., etc.
Published by The Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, O.
 

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, so called, was founded by Joseph Smith, the Mormon "prophet," at Fayette, Seneca Co., N. Y., Apr. 6, 1830, with six members. From this small beginning it continued to grow until, at the time of its prophet's death in 1844, there were twenty thousand Mormons in Nauvoo, Ill., and vicinity, who are declared to have been the "great bulk of the Saints" in the United States, and 7,797 in the British Isles. According to the statistics compiled by Dr. Carroll in 1913, there were 356,000 Latter-day Saints in this country, with 3,560 ministers and 2,520 churches, a gain for the year of 3,500 communicants, 200 ministers and 100 churches.

Within the ten years following the assassination of the prophet, Mormonism found some troubled seas, and dissensions and revolts split the body into no fewer than fourteen factions. Most of these, however, were small and soon went to pieces, the main body, nearly twenty thousand strong, adhering to Brigham Young and his polygamous coadjutors. Most of the members of those factions that became defunct rallied under the banner of the "new organization," which was founded in 1852, and which has latterly been known as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," the inveterate foe of the pretentious and polygamous practices of the Mormon Church of Utah.

After seventy years of contention and dissension, the number of Mormon sects has been reduced to three: those who acknowledge Brigham Young as having been a lawful prophet and leader, and who are known as the "Brighamites," or the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," those who acknowledge Joseph Smith the Third, the son of the original prophet, as the lawful head, and who are known as "Josephites," or the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," and those who have followed Granville Hedrick, and who are called the "Hedrickites," or the "Church of Christ." Among these three bodies there is a constant and incessant warfare, one charging the other with having departed in faith and practice from the original ideal.

The main differences between the Brighamites and Josephite branches are five in number. (1) The Josephites maintain that the head of the church must be of the lineage of Joseph Smith, while the Brighamites hold that any individual, called of the Lord, may so act; (2) the Brighamites teach that polygamy is a true and righteous principle, and that it originated in a revelation which came through Joseph Smith, all of which is strongly denied by the Reorganizers; (3) the Brighamites have been accused of teaching that the shedding of an apostate's blood is an atonement for the sin of apostasy, which the Josephites also condemn; (4) the doctrine of Adam-god-ism, according to which Adam was God, is affirmed by the first and denied by the second; and (5) the two bodies disagree on the gathering-place of the Saints, the Brighamites maintaining that it is in Utah, the Josephites denying it. There are also certain other points of difference, but these are the most important. The Hedrickites, the third faction, reject all of Smith's revelations received after February, 1834, claiming that in that year he became a fallen prophet.

Several influences have contributed to the growth and spread of Mormonism. Among these may be mentioned the ignorance of the people in respect to the character of the new faith, the perfect organization of its missionary propaganda, the intense zeal of its missionaries, the startling and specific interpretations which it gives to the Scriptures, and the element of credulity which seems to be ever present in most of us, and which has been taken into good account by the propagators of the Mormon faith. These are a few of the causes which have contributed to the growth and spread of that ecclesiastical system which had its inception in the minds and lives of the "Prophet of Palmyra" and his coadjutors.

It is the purpose of this paper to call the attention of the reader to some of the methods and tactics employed by the Mormon Church and its missionaries to spread the tenets of their peculiar faith among the nations of the earth. The understanding of these methods and tactics will better equip the opponents of this delusion to counteract its influence.

1. Mormonism tells only a part of the truth in regard to its own history; the remainder, as far as possible, is carefully concealed from the eyes and ears of the general public. With streaming eyes, it recounts its sacrifices and privations; with manifested pride it points to its rapid growth and great advancements, and with sanctimonious fervor it declares the holiness of its doctrines and practices. But it is as silent as the tomb upon the questionable character of its originators, the Kirtland Bank swindle, the licentiousness of Joseph Smith and the Mountain Meadows massacre. And, if these facts are referred to, it either assumes an air of injured innocence or indignantly shouts "Falsehood." Yet the charges that its originators were men of poor reputation, that the Kirtland "Safety" Bank was a swindle pure and simple, that Joseph Smith was a man of poor moral character, and that the Mormons were the instigators of the massacre of over one hundred Gentiles at Mountain Meadows in 1857, are susceptible of the clearest proof.

2. Mormonism tries to draw heavily upon the sympathies of the public. The peripatetic elder, as he "hoofs" it over the country, pours his tale of woe into every willing ear. He has left home without purse or scrip, he has been maligned, his church has been lied about, his ministry have been tarred and feathered and shot, and his prophet has been assassinated. This is the same old song that all the elders sing and it does not always fall unpleasantly upon non-Mormon ears. But is this appeal for sympathy well founded? I have gone over Mormon history carefully; I have read it in their own books and papers and in the works put out by their opponents, and I have not been able to find a single instance in which their persecutions were not brought on by their own bigotry, greed and licentiousness. Take, as an example, their treatment at the hands of the people of Illinois. When, in 1839, half-starved and half-naked, they fled from the vengeance of Missouri, they were welcomed, fed and clothed by the citizens of Quincy. And, when they settled in Nauvoo, it was with the best wishes of their Gentile neighbors. But what did they do? They betrayed every confidence that had been imposed [on] them; they played fast and loose in the game of politics; they sheltered criminals fleeing from justice, and in one instance the municipal court discharged a man under indictment for high treason against the United States and assessed the costs against the Government; they railroaded a charter through the State Legislature which granted them the right to make any ordinance that they saw fit, provided it did not conflict with the Constitution of the State and nation, although it might render null and void every statute that had ever been enacted in that State; they sent out Danites to rob and plunder those who had befriended them; they practiced the grossest immorality, and they maintained a standing army of over two thousand men, armed to the teeth, to fulfill the mandates of their prophet. When these things are known, the public should stop contributing funds, in the shape of meals and lodging, to the hierarchy of Utah. If the Mormon Church sees fit to send its missionaries into the field, which it has a perfect right to do, let it support them like other religious bodies support their missionaries, or else let it keep them at home.

3. Mormonism resorts to deception and misrepresentation in order to win its way into the good graces of the public. Whoever heard of a Mormon elder, going into a new community, and beginning his work by preaching upon the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon? These principles of his faith are reserved to the last. He begins with those things upon which all Christians agree, and introduces his "strong meat" only when he thinks his congregation can stand it. If he goes into an Adventist community, he will seek to disarm suspicion by telling Adventists that William Miller obtained his doctrines from the Mormon apostle -- Jared Carter -- who is said to have preached in Miller's neighborhood in 1832; or, if he is preaching in a "Disciple" community, he will tell them that Alexander Campbell was right as far as he went, but that he did not go far enough, and then will proceed to argue baptism for the remission of sins, and, by misapplying passages from our historical works, will prove that we believe that Campbell was a prophet, that he taught an universal apostasy, and that he claimed to refound the church or kingdom in the last days. The facts are that Miller held every view from which the Mormons claimed he obtained from Carter, in 1818, and, as for Campbell, nothing could be further from our thoughts than to claim that he was a prophet, in the inspirational sense, or that he refounded the church, or that he taught an universal apostasy.

4. Mormonism quotes a plenty of Scriptures to sustain its positions. If you admit its applications, the entire Mormon system is elaborated in the Bible to a nicety. This continent is described; the tribes who were to inhabit it are mentioned; the coming out of the Book of Mormon is foretold, and some contend that even Smith is mentioned by name in Isa. 54:16. But, under careful examination, these applications negate themselves to that class to which belongs the theory that Nahum's chariots are the railroad trains, and are found to be evidences of great ingenuity, but not of sound reasoning. In presenting their Scriptural evidences, Mormon preachers and writers ignore every legitimate rule of Biblical exegesis. Often the context would give a different meaning to that which they attach to their quotations, but what do they care for the context just so long as the jingle of the passage harmonizes with the Mormon story. I say fearlessly that every passage of Scripture which they bring forward to prove their peculiar beliefs, is misapprehended and misapplied, and, when rightly understood, bears to the reader an entirely different message than that derived from it by Mormonism.

5. Scientific facts are misrepresented by the Mormons in order to establish their claim of the historical credibility of the Book of Mormon. Mormon preachers and writers tell us with great emphasis that American archaeology and ethnology are certainly and surely proving their claims. And yet not a single authority on these sciences to-day holds to the theory that the American Indians are of Jewish descent, advocates that the Christian religion was preached upon this continent in pre-Columbian times, or places the ancient Americans in the iron age, while the large majority now deny the exotic origin of American culture, the racial distinction between ancient and modern inhabitants and scores of other positions taken in the Book of Mormon. The book is built upon theories in vogue in 1830, most of which have passed away before the light of modern research as the mists dissipate before the rising sun. The old temples, palaces, mounds and fortifications of this continent tell to the practiced eye an entirely different story to that written on the pages of the record of Nephi.

6. Mormonism is ever on the lookout for sensational archaeology "finds," and presses them into its service to bolster up its false theory of the historical credibility of its sacred book.

In April, 1843, six copper plates were found in a mound at Kinderhook, Ill. These plates were bell-shaped and had engravings on them. Within a few weeks after their discovery, the Times and Seasons, with a translation of them, according to which the individual buried with them was a son of Ham, who had received his kingdom from the Lord of heaven and earth. It was afterwards ascertained that these plates had been made by the village blacksmith, and that the characters on them were Chinese, copied from the lid of a Chinese tea-chest! In 1850 a number of tablets were found in the mounds near Newark, O., with Hebrew writing upon them. Joseph Smith was dead, but his followers took hold of these things with zeal, and have repeatedly introduced them to prove that the ancient Americans were Israelites. It is not saying much in their favor when it is remarked that these tablets were made and buried in the mounds by "Dave" Wyrick, the county surveyor, who had gone crazy over the belief that the American Indians are of Jewish origin, and after repeated attacks of rheumatism! In 1890 two pieces of copper musical instruments were found in a mound at Mendon, Ill. There had been pounded out flat, and on one of them were engraved in a number of characters like those said to have been inscribed on the Palmyra plates of Joseph Smith. The Mormons immediately got busy, and this find was heralded through their books and papers as a confirmation of the Book of Mormon. Rev. S. D. Peet, the noted archaeologist, who examined them, wrote me that the plates were parts of a fiddle that some one had tried to make out of sheet copper, and that the farm on which the mound stands was formerly owned by a Mormon! Today a certain class are exercising themselves over certain reported "finds" in Michigan, consisting of clay caskets with sphinxes on them, slate tablets and copper plates -- all containing designs and hieroglyphics. Of course the Mormons are in the field, and the two leading Josephite papers carried an advertisement of these wares for nearly two years, while one of their leading men, with the full knowledge of the church, is going over the country selling a book describing them for $1 per copy, "or more." I have written archaeologist after archaeologist and have failed to find one who has any faith in these things. The lid on one of the caskets was found to have been dried on a machine-sawed board, while others were so soft that they readily disintegrated in water, which shows that they could not have withstood the test of the elements for centuries. A stone with curious marks upon it will throw some Mormons nearly into a spasm, when it may be nothing but a fake or a natural production.

7. Mormonism resorts to the slander and abuse of every man who dares to give up the faith and expose its secret workings. It assumes that "pure, honest, virtuous men do not apostatize and turn against the principles of the gospel;" therefore it brands all apostates as impure, dishonest and unvirtuous. Smith would come out one day with a revelation commending certain of his followers, and the next publish them through his papers as liars, knaves and rascals. No man stood higher with the Mormons at Nauvoo in 1840-41 than Dr. John C. Bennett. They showered their favors upon him. He lived in the prophet's family. And to him was largely due, as the Mormons themselves admitted, the advancement and progress of their city. But when he and Smith fell out, he was published to the world as all that was vile and dishonest. Such men as Williams, Cowdery, Harris and Whitmer, the Laws, Fosters and Higbees, Cowles and Johnsons were high members of the Mormon Church, and were the recipients of Smith's favors until they apostatized and told what they knew about the prophets, when Smith turned upon them and denounced them in unmeasured terms. The fact is that most of these men were decent, and when they discovered his sins they opposed them and were cut off. Today Mormonism hates no man with a more bitter hatred than it does Frank J. Cannon -- he has given away its secrets.

Thus, wherever you may turn, Mormonism will present to you the evidences of its own falsity.

  Eddyville, Neb.

 

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