EARLY OPPONENTS* * * * * * * *
experts on Joseph Smith would have no difficulty at all condemning Jesus. They
could have been of real assistance to the high priest when he was embarrassed
because his witnesses contradicted each other. . . . The Sanhedrin could have
used the useful theory that such disagreement was proof positive that Jesus had
been deceiving all those people. And to what did the diligent perjurers bear
witness? It was the old story: "We heard him say . . ." "Once he
told me . . ." In vain the Lord pointed out that he did not make secret
disclosures to individuals. They convicted him in the end for claiming he was the
Messiah—which was legally no crime at all.
"Myth Makers," CWHN 11:276* * * * * * * *
The devoted followers of religious leaders are not noted for
restraint and objectivity in the things they tell about their adored leaders,
and the least reliable class of all are former believers who have turned
against a leader. The only authority for what John says is John, and the only
acceptable authority for Joseph Smith's story is Joseph Smith, not the Whitmers
or Willard Chase or Pomeroy Tucker.
"Censoring the Joseph Smith Story,"
CWHN 11:61* * * * * * * *
Combine the ambition and jealousy of small souls with the
sanctions of religion and you have the most powerful motivation for persecution
and chicanery, however the guilty parties may protest their freedom from bias
and their Christian motives.
"Myth Makers," CWHN 11:128* * * * * * * *
[As portrayed in early anti-Mormon literature] women are
the fragile and helpless victims of male brutality, commanding sympathy and
attention. Women cannot be questioned too closely in delicate matters. The
natural modesty of the sex exonerates them from the task of telling shocking
stories or giving any proof for them while at the same time the humanity and
idealism of the same sex requires them to be sure to mention the stories and
tell about them. To be emotional rather than explicit
is woman's prerogative, which no one with a spark of chivalry would question.
Small wonder, then, that the feminine touch is the hallmark of
"Sounding Brass," CWHN 11:550-51* * * * * * * *
Far more Christians were martyred under the eyes of
prefects, governors, and emperors than by spontaneous mob action, but it was
almost invariably done "for fear of the multitude. . . ."
purest form of the mob is the lynch-mob. But when are such not acting as
vigilantes defending law and order? What the Mormons call "the Missouri
mob" were in their own eyes defending home and country as they marched
under the leadership of duly constituted civil, military, and ecclesiastical
"Acclamatio," 11* * * * * * * *
How can they presume to criticize a religion in which they
do not believe? Is that not akin to the folly of criticizing a painting which
one has not seen or music which one has not heard? The insider and the outsider
do not experience the same thing at all.
of Greek religion, however they may yearn for a whiff of incense or asphodel,
can smell today nothing but the musk and floorwax of the stacks, the last
labyrinthine retreat of the ancient mysteries. . . . There is something in
Greek religion which even at this vast remove of time and in spite of the
officious and bookish handling of evidence can still reach us and move us. To
become aware of this thing, the modern analytic mind must be subjected to a
gentle softening process, first by placing it over the low flame of harmless
"Sophic and Mantic," CWHN 10:311:12
THE ANTI-MORMON STYLE* * * * * * * *
years ago I made a long study of just what objections had been raised against
Mormonism in the past. From the beginning it was always the same. Nobody was
really worried about polygamy, which was in fact a welcome stick to beat the
Mormons with; the ferocious denunciations from press and pulpit, the incitement
of mobs, and the stampeding of legislatures always rested on one thing
alone—the incredible fact that in an age of modern enlightenment,
universal education, and scientific supremacy there should be found coexisting
with Christian civilization a community of primitives so ignorant, so deluded,
and depraved as to believe in revelations from heaven and the operation of
"Sophic and Mantic," CWHN 10:360-61* * * * * * * *
The exotic [anti-Mormon] literature . . . has always been
esteemed by Latter-day Saints as something beneath notice, and by their enemies
as a treasure beyond price, the value of which, to quote Pomeroy Tucker's
panegyrist, "will increase as time takes the world farther from the origin
of the delusion."
indeed, the passing of time has invested with an aura of antiquity and hence of
authenticity documents which have no other merit than their age. It is these
documents which remain to this day the rock on which the critics of Joseph
Smith and the Mormons have built their house. The experts accept them with
straight faces because they have no choice. These are not merely the standard
sources for early Mormon history, they are virtually the only sources, unless one is willing to make the
supreme sacrificium intellectus [intellectual sacrifice] and
listen to the Mormon side of the story.
the only witnesses against Joseph Smith these poor gossips must be allowed
permanent tenure. We can expect that for years to come they will be solemnly
quoted in scholarly writings which will in turn be solemnly praised by
overworked reviewers who are only too glad to believe that every footnote is
authentic and that an appendix is enough to establish the total veracity of any
if some waggish reviewer were to take off a few hours some day to make a
spot-check of the references in the latest books and articles on Mormon
beginnings, he would soon find out what the fortunate reader of this book is
about to discover—that the whole structure of anti-Mormon scholarship
rests on trumped-up evidence.
Foreword to Myth Makers* * * * * * * *
The commonest objection to this writer's mystery thriller,
The Myth Makers, is that the book is waste of
paper—less in a literary sense than as a laboring of the over-obvious,
the beating of a dead horse. Would that were so!
friends and enemies protest that the charges against Joseph Smith are brought
by witnesses so obviously prejudiced and unprincipled that only a[n] . . .
idiot would make an issue of their accusations, it is the writer's painful duty
to point out that those accusations are to this day the soul and substance of a
large and flourishing school of anti-Mormon literature, most of it going under
the banner of serious scholarship.
the investigator really wants to know how far supposedly intelligent and
serious-minded people can go in their myth making, we would recommend a calm
appraisal of Mr. Wallace's story of Ann Eliza's wondrous romance with Brigham
Young [The Twenty-seventh Wife]. As a piece of sheer effrontery it
is unsurpassed in the annals of literature, or at least in the literature that
this writer has got through in forty years of grimly systematic reading.
it be clearly understood, then, that but for one peculiar circumstance the
discussion that follows is a total waste of time and paper. The peculiar
circumstance is that the drivel we are to survey is taken seriously by large
numbers of our fellow citizens and were it to go unchallenged would pass in
time as a correct and accurate history, a true portrait of Brigham Young and a
true measure of his religion.
"Sounding Brass," CWHN 11:581-82* * * * * * * *
For your readers, Mormonism is what you [the anti-Mormon writer] say it is. It is to
establish that thesis that you have been at such pains with your personal
buildup. Once entrenched as an official guide, you can take your readers where
you please. It is not the thing you are showing them from then on,
but your interpretation of the thing.
has been the practice of religious polemic in every age to attack not what the
opposition practice and preach but our impression of what they practice and
preach. "Blasphemy!" was the heading of the first published report on
the Book of Mormon, and Alexander Campbell sincerely believed it
was blasphemy. The early anti-Christian writers were just as
sincere. Blasphemy had been from the beginning the stock charge against Jesus
and the apostles, just as it is the favorite word of anti-Mormon writers. Didn't
Jesus recommend publicly that those who "offended" should be glad to
have a millstone hung about their necks and be cast into the sea? Blood
atonement! Didn't he instruct his followers to hate—yes, hate—their
own mothers and fathers and children? Horrible, horrible! To hate even their
own lives? A cult of suicide, no less! And then to have innocent babes and
venerable ancients damned eternally for no other sin than not having had the
ridiculous dunking that so shocked Ann Eliza; and to proclaim that an offender
should cut off his own hand or pluck out his own eye—a cult of self-mutilation!
And didn't the founder spend his time in private "conversations" with
women, including women of ill-repute? And weren't his followers the dregs of
society, who admitted that respectable people avoided them? Didn't they preach
the shocking doctrine of a physical resurrection?—even doctors of the
Church like Origen and Jerome squirm uncomfortably. Their notorious "love
feasts"—too indecent to write about—show they meant it
literally when they called each other "brother" and "sister"
and then proceeded to intermarry in a cult of incest.
"Sounding Brass," CWHN 11:510-12* * * * * * * *
When one is making grave criminal charges, either directly
or by broad implication as all anti-Mormon writers do, questions of evidence
can be very bothersome unless one has the wisdom and foresight to avoid all
such questions. Surprisingly enough this can be done rather easily [as we shall
illustrate] . . . in a situation which we shall call "The House That Jack
is common knowledge that Jack built a house. It is that house which we are now
are rumors that a good deal of malt—very probably stolen—was stored
in the house. What lends plausibility to the report is the building of the
house itself—by Jack. Why a house, if not to store the stolen malt?
is said that the malt was eaten by rats, and in view of the high nutriment
content of malt (see Appendix A for references to scholarly and scientific
studies proving beyond a doubt that malt is nutritious), there is no good
reason for doubting this report.
rats may very possibly have been killed by a cat, as some believe, and there is
certainly nothing intrinsically improbable in the event. On the contrary,
studies made at the Rodent Institute of the University of So and So, etc. . . .
The report that only one rat ate the malt is of course erroneous,
since the consumption of such a large quantity of malt would require many years
and probably a large number of rats.
the cat was chased by a dog is only to be expected. Only a fanatic would
same applies to the dog's being tossed by a cow, though it is admittedly a less
any rate" (a very useful expression) we can be reasonably certain
that the cow was milked by a milkmaid—what other kind of maid could it
have been?—and also (since there is no good reason to doubt it) that the
milkmaid, whose name may have been Bertha, was wooed by a man all tattered and
torn. There are unmistakable references in the newspapers of the time (or at
most a generation later) to poorly dressed men known as "tramps"
roaming parts of the country. There can therefore be little doubt that Bertha
was engaged in a passionate public wooing.
exact date of Bertha's marriage to her tatterdemalion lover is not known,
though it may have been some time late in January 1858. Certainly
the court records of the time are silent on any earlier or later marriage.
there is no direct evidence that Bertha was mistreated by the man who wooed her
so passionately, there is every evidence of cruel neglect both in the proven
fact that Bertha apparently had no house to live in (at least there is no
record of her having a house in the county archives) and in the character of
the man who married and abused her.
will hardly be necessary to point out to the student the solid advantage of
such little touches as "the exact date" . . . in No. 8.
Since no date at all is known, it is perfectly true to say that the exact date
is not known, implying that an approximate date is known: "it
may have been in January 1858"—true again, perfectly
true—it may also have been in September 1902 or May 1320. Again, if there
is no evidence whatever that Bertha was mistreated (or even that she existed),
it is both shrewd and correct to say that there is no direct
evidence, implying, while not saying, that there is plenty of indirect
the student check the above ten points for evidence. There is none! We have
given the world a suffering Bertha and her brutal spouse without having to
prove a thing.
"Sounding Brass," CWHN 11:495-98