What this blog is about...

Every day, often several times a day, a contingent of Mormon-haters initiates discussions on FreeRepublic.com's web site. These intolerant bigots start discussions with the intent of defaming the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If members of the Church speak up in its defense, they coordinate their actions using "pings" to summon up other anti-Mormons.

Acting together, they form up an online mob that "tars and feathers" Mormonism daily. They use the forum rules to their advantage. As best as we can tell, one of the religion moderators of the forum is among their ranks.

This blog has identified the key players and over 50 anti-Mormons who spread hate. The Society for the Prevention of Anti-Mormonism created this site to monitor and conduct statistical research on the incidents of hate speech and anti-Mormon attacks conducted on the Free Republic forums.

Friday, June 28, 2013

The martyrdom of Joseph Smith

June 27th was the 169th anniversary of the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph Smith. As the angel Moroni told Joseph Smith upon his first visit in 1823, his name would be had for good and evil among all people. This prophecy has indeed come true. Why is it that an obscure farm boy still incites such strong passions among some people more than a century-and-a-half after his death?

Joseph Smith grew up a poor farm boy. His father's family suffered one financial reversal after another. He was cheated by associates. Endured crop failures. He and his sons hired themselves out to dig for old gold mines that were rumored to have been abandoned by the Spanish a couple hundred years before their time. Like many people of his time in the frontier Northeast, they dabbled in folk magic and believed the Bible. Joseph's father was known to drink a bit. There is no reason that history would lay its hand upon such a family and make one of their ten children the object of hatred and derision on one hand and praise and devotion on the other.

Joseph Smith was just a man, like any other man. There was nothing in his life that would point to God having his hand upon him. He was like Jesus in that nobody would have singled him out for greatness as a boy. Nobody who lived in the dusty streets of Nazareth would have ever suspected that the young Jesus was God's own Son. Likewise, nobody would have expected that Joseph Smith was the prophet foreordained from the beginning of the world to preside over the literal gathering of Israel in the last days.

We know now, because his family tree has been researched, that Joseph was a pure Ephraimite. He was a descended of Joseph in the book of Genesis. It may well be the case that Joseph, before his birth, was one of the seven angels in heaven in the company of Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and others. Each of these men presided in heavenly authority above and were given authority over dispensations of the gospel below. Modern revelation tells us that Adam, the first man, was Michael. Noah, we learn, was known as Gabriel before his birth and after his mortal life. We learned from modern revelation that Raphael, who is mentioned in the apocryphal book of Tobit, was the prophet Enoch. We don't know the others, but we can speculate that they may have been Seth, Abraham, and Elijah, all of whom presided over gospel dispensations. Joseph Smith is in the company of those men, both as a mortal and as an immortal being.

Joseph grew up in ignominy and simply wanted to find out the truth about religion. Why were there so many religions that contradicted one another, yet all taught from the same Bible? In his town, there were great religious controversies. He saw Baptists condemning Methodists and Presbyterians for their doctrines. He witnessed harsh debates among those who should have called one another brothers and sisters in Christ. He saw that the good feelings were all too often feigned and that deep religious enmity existed between these sects. How was a young boy, only 14, supposed to find out the truth from the Bible when the professors and priests couldn't agree?

He followed the counsel of James in the Bible: “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God” (James 1:5). Joseph prepared himself and asked of God. The Lord answered him because the answer was foreordained. The time had come for his chosen prophet of the restoration to begin his mission. Joseph was chosen before the world was and ordained, just like Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 1:5). Joseph's first lesson was to learn firsthand that the creeds of Christendom were wrong. God did not accept any church that existed then as his own. All were corrupt. All their professors were in error. They taught man's teachings in place of the doctrine of Christ. Joseph saw the nature of God. He saw that God the Father and God the Son were two separate distinct beings, each having a tangible body. He knew that the Holy Ghost was a personage of spirit, separate from the others. The Nicene Creed, the Apostles' Creed, the Athanasian Creed, the Westminster Confession of Faith, and all the rest were man-made abominations that kept mankind in the dark about the true nature of their Creator. God intended to rectify this problem. Like he had done in ages past, he called a modern-day Moses to lead his children from bondage and error.

Prophets are men. None of them has ever been perfect. We don't believe in infallibility. Modern-day anti-Mormons have a problem with Joseph because he wasn't perfect. They would also have a problem with Moses, who committed manslaughter before he was called by God to be his messenger to Israel. They would have a problem with Joshua also because he ordered the slaughter of helpless women and children in the cities the Israelites took from the people of the land. They'd have a problem with David and Solomon. Noah got drunk and naked, then cursed his son Ham. Abraham, who Jesus called the “friend of God,” lied to Pharaoh about being married to his wife. Jonah ran away from God and then he got peeved when the Lord didn't destroy Ninevah according to his word. Elijah got angry at a bunch of children who teased him about his bald head and a she-bear ate them after he cursed them. Even John the Baptist, who Jesus said was among the greatest prophets ever, had his moments of doubt when he sent his own disciples to ask if Jesus was truly the one they had been waiting for.

None of the prophets were perfect. Likewise, neither was Joseph Smith. Nevertheless, they were all called by God. All of them had their critics. All of them met with some opposition. Many of them were jailed without cause. Likewise, the apostles were treated by the world in the same way the prophets were treated before them.

Joseph Smith meekly suffered persecution throughout his life. He was hauled in to court countless times on trumped up charges. Can you imagine anyone being charged in a civil court with “ecclesiastical perjury” today? That was one of the made-up charges against him. Time after time, he was released by judges who saw though the false witnesses, only to be re-arrested and held under other false charges in another nearby jurisdiction.

Some have tried to assert that Joseph Smith was not a true martyr because he fought back at the end of his life. I only know of one perfect man, Jesus of Nazareth, who willingly laid down his life. If you have read the Bible, you'll know that Peter chopped off the ear of one of the men who came to arrest Jesus. Peter was ready to fight until Jesus told him troo stop. Many times, Paul escaped martyrdom by sneaking out of places where people wanted to kill him. It was not until Jesus commanded him to go to Rome in custody that he stopped resisting and evading the authorities. It's not wrong to have a self-preservation instinct, even as a prophet.

It's especially ironic that these critics are often the staunchest defenders of the 2nd Amendment, opponents of gun control.  I suppose they figure everyone has the right to a gun and to defend their lives, except a righteous man, falsely accused.  If it's wrong for a prophet to defend his life with a firearm, let every one of them give up their guns and vow to submit to whatever violence should come their way without resistance!

Some critics have described Joseph's death saying that he was killed in a jailbreak. This is a lie and a damnable one, because history is clear. Even the history written by non-Mormons, including Governor Ford, who was the state executive in Illinois when Joseph was murdered, is clear on these facts.

Joseph was arrested for the destruction of an anti-Mormon paper that was trying to incite violence against Mormons in Nauvoo, Illinois. Joseph, the mayor of the city, consulted with the city council and decided that the paper, called the Nauvoo Expositor, posed a danger to the peace of the community. The paper published libels and slanders and urged the surrounding communities to rise up against the Mormons violently.

Freedom of the press is a sacred thing in America (at least, it used to be). Joseph believed in this constitutional precept. But he had also seen a precedent in Missouri. During the persecution of Mormons by mobs in that state, the mobs attacked a Mormon press that was simply printing our scriptures and destroyed it. There was no constitutional outcry that came from Republican-minded Americans over the destruction of our press. The intolerant bigots considered Mormonism a threat to the safety and peace of their communities and they shut the press down. How curious that Joseph Smith should face arrest for the same “crimes” that had been visited upon us in Missouri.

Joseph was asked by the governor of the state to surrender peacefully and come to Carthage, Illinois to answer the charges. He promised that he would remain in protective custody. Joseph had not yet been charged. He had not had his day in court. He had not been convicted of a crime.

Carthage jail consists of a basement and two above-ground stories. The “prisoners” including Joseph, were offered the jailer's apartment upstairs by the jailer himself. As the mobs grew restless outside in the late afternoon, the jailer grew nervous. He must have been a good, honest man. He knew what was coming—that a mob was planning to storm the jail and kill Joseph. Being a man of conscience, the jailer gave Joseph his own pistol before he left.

Let's reiterate that. The jailer, before leaving the “prisoners” to the mob, gave his own personal firearm to one of them so they would not be totally defenseless. The jailer gave Joseph the gun.

When the mob of some 200 men, with their faces painted black to hide their identities, stormed the jail, they had to come up a very narrow stairway. Again, Joseph and his associates were not in the dungeon cell below, but they were in the jailer's apartment. (Are you getting the point, Colofornian?) They tried to break down the door. Joseph fired through the door blindly. A hailstorm of bullets came through the door. As the muzzles came through the door, one of the men used his cane to try to knock the muzzles down to the floor.

The eyewitnesses then describe a singular scene. Joseph, perhaps sensing that his friends might be spared, calmly—I repeat—calmly walked to the open window. Bullets were raining in from outside. I have been in Carthage jail. The walls are thick and the window narrow. Joseph had already been shot four times at this point. Nevertheless, he calmly walked to the window, and pulled himself up through it.

It is said that his last words were, “O Lord, my God!” I am told that this is part of a Masonic “distress call” that, in full, says, “O Lord, my God, who will help my mother's son?” Joseph was a Mason, like George Washington and many of the founders. He had been urged to join the Masonic Lodge in order to help build bridges and make connections to men of good will of all faiths. As I understand it, any Mason who heard this cry should have been bound to help. None did. Joseph fell from the window and then was shot many more times and his body was mutilated.

Some witnesses said the crowd was discussing the act of beheading him. Then a cry arose, “The Mormons are coming.” The wicked fled when none pursued. Joseph and his companions were alone.

There are some things about the mob that strike me now. They knew they were doing wrong, otherwise why would they paint their faces to hide who they were? In a land of laws, they had acted outside the law. It is unbelievable today that some bigots condone their actions. On Free Republic, one Mormon hater said that “A lynch mob did its duty” (GenXTeacher). Another called it “Justifiable lead poisoning” (Manic Episode). Such comments make my blood run cold because it tells me, in the future, these individuals would not feel any remorse about shedding Mormon blood. Such sentiments erupt from the heart of hell itself.

Some say that Joseph deserved it because he was a polygamist. Does it not say in their own Bibles that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, David, Solomon and others had many wives? Jesus called heaven itself “the bosom of Abraham.” Does that mean that God admits polygamists to heaven? Yes, he does. But he doesn't admit murderers and mobbers.

In fact, one of the great condemnations that will fall upon the sectarian Christian critics of Joseph Smith is because they'll fail to see the Biblical archetypes in him.  Anti-Christian literature of the first centuries A.D. tell that Jesus' family was a bunch of ne'er-do-wells.  His mother became pregnant out-of-wedlock and had to go to Egypt and then return not to Bethlehem, but instead to Nazareth because of the shame.  The enemies of Christ's church then said that Jesus' miracles were just a few magic tricks he picked up during his years hiding in Egypt.  His followers faked his resurrection by stealing the body of Jesus.  And so on it goes.  The supposed believers don't see the parallels in Joseph Smith's life to those of Moses, Samuel, David, and others.  

Some now criticize Joseph saying he was a pedophile because he married a 14-year old. Joseph was commanded to take many wives. Many of them were never “intimate” with the prophet. Theirs was a sealing covenant only. I know from doing my own, non-Mormon family genealogy and helping other people do theirs, that in the old days, people got married much younger than they do now. It was not an uncommon thing to find a 14 year-old girl married back in the days before the Industrial Revolution. If these critics would search their own family history, they might find some surprises that would undermine their arguments. Nevertheless, the law doesn't prescribe capital punishment for bigamy. It certainly doesn't authorize lynching. Anyone who says the murder of Joseph was justified has a heart blackened with sin.

Again, the curious thing is that Joseph Smith should incite such hatred among people who never knew him almost 170 years after his death. What harm has any Mormon done to these people? Knock on their door, perhaps? Why is the hatred so strong? What is it about Joseph that unites the atheist, the gay-marriage activist, and the fundamentalist Christian together against him?

It is because each of these people who spout this hateful talk have given their hearts to the devil himself. What else to they have in common? Nothing except the hatred of Mormons? And why do they hate? Ah, that is the greatest question of all?

Why do they wish to stamp out Mormonism, to render our preachers silent, to remove our missionaries from their streets, to shut down Mormon businesses, and to raze our buildings and temples? It is the same reason that the Pharisees and scribes opposed Jesus. Jesus said:

“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not (John 8:44-45).

In the guise of religious piety or in the name of public order, the Jews and the Romans in Jerusalem “lynched” Jesus using the legal system as a pretext. Why? Because they could not abide someone speaking the truth.

Jesus and Joseph Smith testified that they were following the precepts of men. Jesus and Joseph Smith taught that God rejected their hypocrisy and their using religion as a cover for all manner of sin. Jesus and Joseph Smith told the people that God expected them to repent of their sins, to enter into a covenant relationship with him through baptism, by proper authority, and that they should keep the commandments of God.

Those who opposed Jesus and Joseph Smith did so because those individuals threatened their power, their control over the hearts and minds of men, and their ability to exercise unrighteous dominion in the name of God. Because they could no longer dispute their message, they had to silence the messengers.

Like Jesus, his Master, Joseph Smith told the truth. Like his master, Joseph performed miracles in the name of Jesus Christ. The people who have embraced his teachings have been filled with the Holy Ghost. The people that followed him and his predecessors continue to grow in light and truth while the rest of Christendom gets mired further and further in error. The Mormon pioneers experienced many miracles along the trail that showed that God was sustaining them. There would be no Mormons today had it not been for the miracles of the seagulls in the Salt Lake Valley or the miracle of the quails, on the banks of the Mississippi.

While the rest of Christendom wanders in darkness, fighting among themselves, the latter-day saints are quietly gathering and building a Zion to which even their non-Mormon brethren will one day flee for safety and refuge. When that time comes, there will be a moment presaged in the Old Testament story of Joseph in Egypt.

Joseph's brothers sold him into bondage and rejected him? Why? Because he had visions that they did not. Those visions told him that he would preside over them and that they would honor him one day. They resented him and sought to be rid of him. How is this like Joseph Smith's vision today? The Christian world, who ought to have accepted God's new revelation, have abandoned us and sold us into Egypt.

Ultimately, a famine comes and Joseph's brothers gather and receive nourishment from him, without their knowing who he is. Amos prophesied that there would come a famine of hearing the word of God. A great apostasy would occur. Joseph's brethren today—the sectarian Christians and Israel itself—suffer from the famine for hearing revelation from God's own mouth for centuries. In a future time, they will accept literal and spiritual nourishment from the seed of Joseph, the followers of Joseph Smith.

In Genesis, the time for unveiling came, and Joseph's wicked brethren sought forgiveness, and it was freely given. That time is in our future still. The wicked Gentiles and those who persecuted Joseph Smith's followers will see their error and seek our pardon. It will be given in the same manner as Joseph gave it, freely. In that day, the brethren will be one and Israel's family will be reunited joyously.

This is the legacy of the Prophet Joseph Smith. To those who justify his death and laud his murderers, we invite you to repent of your wickedness, for certainly such feelings are not of God. The apostle John wrote: “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?” *1 John 4:20). Anti-Mormons are haters. The love of God is not in them.

Can you imagine Jesus admitting someone into his presence who revels in the murder of Joseph Smith, calling it “justifiable lead poisoning?” or a “lynch mob performing its duty?” It isn't going to happen. The love of God is not in them.

I testify that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. The Lord called him to preside over the last dispensation before the Savior's return and that he still holds the keys of this dispensation today. How blessed we are to live in a time when God has spoken anew. How blessed we are to have continuing revelation. How blessed we are that the Church of Jesus Christ is still connected to the “home office” in heaven. Praise God and praise to the man who communed with Jehovah, even Joseph Smith.