Along with their strong emphasis on education, the Mormons believe in sports, hobbies, dramatics, music, homemaking courses for prospective brides, dances, and festivals. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has become famous and is well known to all radio listeners. The choir contains 350 singers and has a repertoire of hundreds of anthems. Those who would tend to write off the Mormons as an influential force in the US would do well to remember that Mormons have more adherents listed in Who’s Who in America than any other one religion.

 

Mormon leaders have become powerful in almost all branches of American government and hold positions such as Former Secretary of Agriculture, former Treasury Secretary, former Education Secretary, former governors, numerous US Ambassadors, dozens of US Senators and Representatives, and former runner up for the Presidency to name but a few. The Mormons are indeed a potent political and social force to be reckoned with, a fact that few informed persons would doubt.

 

-Church Authority:

The organization and general administration of the Mormon Church is directed by its “General Authorities.” At the top is the “First Presidency” who presently is Thomas S. Monson and two “Counselors,” (First Counselor and Second Counselor) who are presently Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf. They are assisted by a “Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” also by the “Presidency of the Seventy,” (7 members) the “First Quorum of the Seventy,” and the “Second Quorum of the Seventy,” and finally the “Presiding Bishopric.” (3 members)

 

All authority resides in the Mormon “priesthood,” established under the titles “Aaronic” (lesser) and “Melchizedek” (higher). Nearly every male Mormon 12 years of age or over belongs to the Aaronic priesthood, and if “worthy” these are ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood at age 18. The Mormon Church administration is divided into territories made up of “wards” and “stakes.” Each ward consists of from 500 to 1,000 people.

 

Each ward is presided over by a bishop and his two counselors. Wards are consolidated into stakes, each of which is supervised by a stake president and two counselors, aided in turn by 12 high priests known as the “stake high council.” As of 2002 there were approximately 26,000 plus wards, 2,600 stakes, and 333 missions functioning in the Mormon Church.

 

The average active Mormon is usually marked by many sound moral traits. He is generally amiable, almost always hospitable, and extremely devoted to his family and the teachings of his church. Sad to say, however, the great majority of Mormons are in almost total ignorance of the shady historical and theological sources of their religion. They are openly shocked at times when the unglamorous and unchristian background of the Mormon Church is revealed to them. This little known facet of Mormonism is a “side of the coin” that innumerable Mormon historians have for years either hidden from their people or glossed over in an attempt to suppress certain verifiable and damaging historical evidences to the religion of Joseph Smith Jr.

 

Early Mormon History:

The seeds of what was later to become the Mormon religion were incubated in the mind of one Joseph Smith Jr. “The Prophet,” better known to residents of Palmyra, New York as “Joe Smith.” Born in Sharon, Vermont, December 23, 1805, the future Mormon prophet entered the world with the proverbial “two strikes” against him in the person of his father and his environment.

 

Joseph Smith Sr. was a mystic, a man who spent much of his time digging for imaginary buried treasure. Former Mormon historian D. Michael Quinn has thoroughly documented the fact that both Joseph Sr. and Jr. were avid treasure-seekers. In his book entitled “Early Mormonism and the Magic World View,” Quinn writes, “Joseph Smith, the founding prophet and president of the new church organized on April 6, 1830, had unquestionably participated in treasure seeking and seer stone divination and had apparently also used diving rods, talismans and implements of ritual magic.” Quinn states on page 207 of his book that Smith was interested in treasure-seeking even after he became president of the LDS Church and that occult dimensions of treasure digging was prominent among the first members of the Quorum of the twelve apostles, organized in 1835. It should be noted that D. Michael Quinn was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1993 after refusing to keep silent about his unflattering research.

 

In 1820, Joseph Smith Jr. was allegedly the recipient of a marvelous vision in which God the Father and God the Son materialized and spoke to young Smith as he prayed in the neighboring woods. The “prophet” records the incident in great detail in his book “The Pearl of Great Price,” wherein he reveals that the two “personages” took a rather dim view of the present Christian church and, for that matter, the world at large, and announced to him the restoration of true Christianity was needed, and that he, Joseph Smith Jr. had been chosen to launch the new dispensation.

The Mormon Church has always held the position that they alone represent true Christianity. Mormon leaders have consistently taught that after the death of the apostles, true Christianity fell into complete apostasy, making it necessary for a “restoration.” Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie in his book “Mormon Doctrine” writes on page 512 that “Mormonism is Christianity; Christianity is Mormonism…. Mormons are true Christians!” In 1995 Mormon Apostle Dallin Oaks stated that the differences between “other Christian Churches” and the LDS Church “explain why we send missionaries to other Christians.”

 

It is interesting to observe that Smith could not have been too much moved by the “heavenly vision,” for he shortly took up once again the habit of digging for treasure along with his father and brother, who were determined to unearth treasure by means of “peep stones,” “divining rods,” or just plain digging. In later years the “prophet” greatly regretted these superstitious expeditions of his youth and even went on record as denying that he had ever been a money-digger.

 

In 1820 Joseph Smith Jr. claims to have had a heavenly vision that he said singled him out as the Lord’s anointed prophet for this dispensation, though it was not until 1823, with the appearance of the angel Moroni at the quaking Smith’s bedside, that Joseph began his relationship to the fabulous “golden plates,” or what was to become the Book of Mormon.

 

According to Smith’s account of this extraordinary revelation, which is recorded in the book, “The Pearl of Great Price,” the angel Moroni appeared beside Joseph’s bedside and thrice repeated his commission to the allegedly awestruck treasure hunter. Smith did not write this account down until some years later, but even that fails to excuse the blunder he made in transmitting the “angelic” proclamation. This confusion appears in the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price, wherein Joseph Smith identifies the messenger as Nephi, an entirely different character found in the Book of Mormon. This unfortunate crossing up of the divine communication system was later remedied by thoughtful Mormon scribes who have exercised great care to ferret out all the historical and factual blunders not readily explainable in the writings of Smith, Brigham Young, and other early Mormon writers. In the remedied editions, Moroni is identified as the nighttime visitor but this blunder seems to make little difference to the Mormon faithful.

 

In 1827 Smith claimed to receive the golden plates upon which the Book of Mormon is alleged to have been written. Shortly after this historic find, unearthed in the Hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, New York, Smith began to “translate” the “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphics, inscribed thereupon by means of the “Urim and Thummim,” a type of miraculous spectacles, which the angel Moroni had the foresight to provide for the budding seer.

 

 

During the period of time when Joseph Smith was translating the plates (1827-1829), one Oliver Cowdery, and schoolteacher, visited Smith at the home of his father-in-law, where he was duly “converted” to the prophet’s religion and soon afterward became one of several “scribes” who wrote down what Joseph Smith said the plates read, in spite of the fact that he and Smith were separated by a curtain during the supposed translation.

 

In the course of time, Smith and Cowdery became fast friends, and the progression of the “translation” and spiritual zeal had allegedly attained such heights that on May 15, 1829, John the Baptist, in person, was speedily dispatched by Peter, James, and John to the humble state of Pennsylvania with orders to confer the “Aaronic Priesthood” on Joe and Oliver!

 

Smith then returned to the home of Peter Whitmer in Fayette, New York, where he remained until the “translation” from the plates was completed and the Book of Mormon published and copyrighted in the year 1830. On April 6th 1830, the “prophet” in the company of his brothers Hyrum and Samuel, Oliver Cowdery, and David and Peter Whitmer officially founded a “new religious society” entitled “The Church of Christ” (later to be changed to the Church of the Latter-day Saints in 1834 and finally to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1838).

 

Shortly after the original conference meeting on April 6th, 1830, the nucleus of the Mormon Church moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where in a period of six years they increased to over 16,000.  It was from Kirtland that Smith made his initial thrust into Missouri. While there in Jackson County Missouri, Smith purchased 63 acres of land which he deemed “holy ground” and there marked the exact spot on which he declared that the temple of Zion, the earthly headquarters of the kingdom of Jesus Christ, would eventually be built.

 

It appears that the chief reason for the move to Kirtland, Ohio was the extreme unpopularity of Smith and his revelations among the people who knew him best and who regarded his new religion as a sham and a hoax. Smith, of course, had a revelation from God as authorization for the move. In fact, between the years 1831 and 1844, the “prophet” allegedly received well over 135 direct revelations from God, revelations that helped build Kirtland and, later, the Mormon metropolis of Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith’s infamous practice of polygamy was instructed at Kirtland and later confirmed by “divine revelation.”

 

The Mormons grew and prospered in Nauvoo, Illinois, and as the practice of polygamy began to be known by the wider Mormon community and outsiders as well, increasing distrust of prophet Smith multiplied, especially after one of his former assistants, John C. Bennett, boldly exposed the practice of polygamy in Nauvoo.

When the prophet (or general, as he liked to be known in this phase of his career) could tolerate this mounting criticism no more, he ordered the destruction of its most threatening mouthpiece, and anti-Mormon publication entitled “The Nauvoo Expositor.” The “prophet” and his brother, Hyrum, were put in a jail cell in Carthage, Illinois, to away trial for their part in destroying the Expositor. However, on June 27, 1844, a mob comprised of some 200 people stormed the Carthage jail and brutally murdered Smith and his brother, thus forcing upon the vigorously unwilling prophet’s head the unwanted crown of early martyrdom, all but insuring his perpetual enshrinement in Mormon history as a “true seer.”

 

With the murder of Joseph Smith, the large majority of Mormons accepted the leadership of Brigham Young, then 43 years of age. In 1846 Young announced that the Saints would abandon Nauvoo, Illinois, and in 1847, after a brutal trek through the wilderness of the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains, Young bought the first band of Mormons to the valley of the Great Salt Lake, and is credited with the exclamation, “This is the place!” The destiny of the Saints was sealed, they were what was to become the state of Utah.

 

For 30 years Brigham Young ruled the Mormon Church, and as is still the case, he inherited the divinely appointed prophet mantle of the first prophet. So it is that each succeeding president of the Mormon Church claims the same authority as Joseph Smith Jr. and Brigham Young, an infallible prophetic succession.