Glenn Beck Perpetuates Mormon Myths

Back in September of 2012 Blaze TV aired a special program wherein Glenn Beck sought to dispel the ‘biggest Mormon myths.” I watched the first segment on YouTube where Mr. Beck answered the viewer-submitted question, “We often hear the word polygamy and Mormonism coupled together. Why?” Mr. Beck’s response was quite disappointing. Rather than dispel Mormon myths, he perpetuated them with gusto.

Brigham Young with some of his 56 wives

Brigham Young with some of his 56 wives

Mr. Beck began his response by taking a couple of minutes to mock FLDS polygamists and criticize the media, but then he got serious.  Acknowledging that early Mormons did engage in polygamy, he said, “Why did they practice it?” For the following six minutes Mr. Beck laid out a story rife with historical inaccuracies and myths. Here are a few:

Mr. Beck said you can’t understand why Mormons practiced polygamy unless you know the story of the Book of Mormon and that many people died for it – “to have and to read and to share it.” (2:40) And, “In the 1800s people were dying because of the Book of Mormon.” (3:00)

This is pure conjecture; as far as I know, no such historical evidence exists. Mormons have died and continue to die, of course. But there is nothing to tie Mormon deaths directly to having, reading and sharing the Book of Mormon. Mormon persecution was not primarily about the doctrines of the faith, but rather due to politics, finances, polygamy and societal conflict.

Mr. Beck states that Mormons had been driven out of New York, Ohio, Missouri and Illinois. (3:35)

Nope. Joseph Smith decided to leave New York for Ohio because more members of the Church lived in Ohio and it was a stronger base for Church operation. Joseph Smith decided to leave Ohio for Missouri because his failed banking venture had resulted in numerous lawsuits from bilked investors. Joseph owed more money than he could repay, so he snuck out of Kirtland under cover of night, and headed to Missouri; faithful Church members followed him. In Missouri, as Mr. Beck said, the Mormons were forced to leave and found temporary peace in Nauvoo, Illinois. A few years later, with Brigham Young now leading the Church, the Mormons agreed to leave the state after continuing conflicts between Mormons and non-Mormons. However, according to Brigham, they already had plans in place to move west – plans they had made before any “recent disturbances” with the non-Mormons of the area.

Mr. Beck talked about the Missouri “Extermination Order” which, according to Beck, “ordered that all Mormons should be exterminated – killed – you were legally able, according to this order from the Governor, to kill a Mormon. You find out somebody is a Mormon, kill him. Or, drive him from the state.” (3:50)

The so-called Extermination Order, while definitely deplorable, was not what Mr. Beck claimed it to be. Mormons love to perpetuate this particular set of myths. In truth, Governor Boggs’ Executive Order No. 44 sought to avoid bloodshed, not legalize it. As a military order, it called for the Missouri militia to “exterminate” — that is, “remove” — Mormons from their homes and force them to leave the state. This was clearly understood in 1838. It was never “legal” to kill Mormons in Missouri.

Mr. Beck said that this was unique in American history – no one had ever been exterminated before. (3:42)

Between the years of 1830-1838 various Native American tribes had been forcibly removed from their lands at least five times. The concept of people-group removal, noted Mormon historian William Hartley, “was not new” in 1838 Missouri.

Trail of Tears, Robert Lindneux

Trail of Tears, Robert Lindneux

Mr. Beck said that the Mormons who lived in Caldwell County, Missouri were forced to sign over their property to the Missourians and then were ordered to pay for the military campaign against them. (4:40)

In fact, the deed of trust (for the purpose of paying the expenses of the war) signed by the Mormons after their surrender in Missouri was quickly deemed illegal and was therefore never enforced. The Mormons retained ownership of their property after the war, and many of them sold or traded it to help pay for their expenses in moving to Illinois. However, they did often sell it for much less than it was worth.

Mr. Beck said that the Mormons left Missouri for Nauvoo, “then the mobs came in and burned down that city as well.” (5:40)

Actually, “the mobs” never burned down any Mormon city. After some years in Illinois, troubles between Mormons and non-Mormons started up again, and both sides in the conflict engaged in raiding, plundering and intimidating one another. These raids included burnings of crops and outlying buildings, but the city of Nauvoo was never burned down.

When the Mormons began to leave Nauvoo, according to Mr. Beck, “most of the men were dead.” (6:00)

No, this is not true. There has never been an official accounting of the Mormons who died in the Missouri war/exodus (to the best of my knowledge, none but the Smith brothers died in the Nauvoo conflicts), but according to Mormon historical sources, the number of Mormon deaths was somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 souls. These were sad, tragic and needless deaths; nevertheless, these deaths do not represent “most of the men.” Furthermore, a few seconds after making his nonsensical claim, Mr. Beck mentioned the Mormon Battalion. If “most of the men were dead” as he claimed, where did the 500 battalion volunteers come from?

Finally Mr. Beck returned to the question of polygamy. He said, “there weren’t a lot of dudes left,” so one reason polygamy was instituted was to repopulate and to care for women and children who were left alone. (6:55)

Given the historical fact that relatively few Mormon men had died during this turbulent time, Bill McKeever asks a good question: “Are we really to believe God decided to alter the one man, one woman tradition of marriage embraced by much of the western world because fewer than a hundred women living in 19th century America lost their husbands to indefensible acts of persecution or while relocating to the Salt Lake Valley?”

Mr. Beck claimed that only 5% of Mormons practiced polygamy. (7:30)

Five percent is a great underestimate. Author B. Carmon Hardy put Mormon polygamy numbers in perspective: “Recent studies suggest that the number of Mormons living in polygamous families between 1850 and 1890, while varying from community to community and year to year, averaged between 20 and 30 percent. In some cases the proportion was higher. The practice was especially extensive with Mormon leaders, both locally and those presiding over the entire church. These calculations would indicate that, during the entire time the principle was practiced, the number of men, women, and children living in polygamous households amounted to tens of thousands” (Solemn Covenant, 17).

This Blaze TV program dedicated to the so-called dispelling of Mormon myths is so disappointing. What I’ve addressed here is not exhaustive; it does not attempt to deal with all the myths Glenn Beck perpetuated in his “myth buster” segment on polygamy. But one thing is clear: Mr. Beck really had no interest in setting the record straight.

In Sacred LonelinessIn addition to sustaining long-held, faith-promoting myths so beloved by Mormons, Mr. Beck completely ignored the doctrinal — and darker — side of Mormon polygamy. He never mentioned that Joseph Smith claimed to have received a revelation in which Mormon men were commanded to take multiple wives, and wives were commanded to accept it. Mr. Beck didn’t mention men marrying women who already had living husbands (this fact would not fit with the assertion that polygamy was instituted for the care of women who had lost their husbands). He did not mention the fact that often, plural wives were not adequately cared for by their husbands and lived in poverty while trying to support their children on their own. Mr. Beck never mentioned that Mormon leaders taught polygamy was “was a necessity to man’s highest exaltation in the life to come” (First Presidency, “Petition For Amnesty,” December 19,1891).

The LDS Church no longer allows members to practice polygamy in this life, yet it once encouraged it, while claiming God commanded it, and required obedience to it. Explaining these things to those who wonder why Mormonism and polygamy are linked together is the only way to truthfully dispel Mormon myths.

Sources and additional information (in no particular order):

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
This entry was posted in Early Mormonism, Misconceptions, Mormon History, Polygamy and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Glenn Beck Perpetuates Mormon Myths

  1. Rick B says:

    Sad as it is, it seems mormons off all types seem to leave out information and not provide all the facts. Then they wonder why we don’t trust them or claim they lie. Seems as if this is taught behavior in the lds church.

  2. Ralph says:

    Sharon,

    You say that the so-called “extermination order” is misunderstood and that the word ‘extermination’ in it meant to ‘remove’ (your words above). In a past post you wrote –

    Consider the definition of “exterminate” from Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:

    EXTERMINATE, v.t. [L. extermino; ex and terminus, limit] Literally, to drive from within the limits or borders. Hence,

    1. To destroy utterly; to drive away; to extirpate; as, to exterminate a colony, a tribe or a nation; to exterminate inhabitants or a race of men.

    2. To eradicate; to root out; to extirpate; as to exterminate error, heresy, infidelity, or atheism; to exterminate vice.

    The emphasis of the word had to do with driving out, not with killing.

    Here is the famous line –
    ”The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description.”

    So to render this text the way you want it to read would make it read as –
    The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be driven out or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description.

    I believe that the correct grammatical term for that is redundant. I do not think the governor is trying to say that the LDS need to be driven out or driven from the state, I think it means exactly as most people interpret it today.

    This on top of another comment you referenced by Sydney Rigdon which predated this order and, you infer, incited the order. Sydney Rigdon said –
    ”And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us”

    When you wrote the previous article you commented that because of the words used in this statement Rigdon actually meant to kill – I agree. But if this did incite the order, then the use of the word ‘exterminate’ in both would refer to the same meaning as they were meant to parallel each other – ie the order from Gov. Boggs was meant to counter the comment by Sydney Rigdon.

    I do agree with your sentiment, and Gov. Boggs view, that it wasn’t meant to cause bloodshed, however, it was basically threatening the LDS with death (extermination) if they did not move out, thus they were driven from the state by fear of death. If Gov. Boggs didn’t mean the word to mean ‘kill’ then why didn’t he explain that succinctly when asked to explain himself after the fact? Since we weren’t there and we don’t know his mindset, none of us can say for sure exactly what he meant. But unless he was being redundant in his speech and he never heard Sydney Rigdon’s words (which I am sure most of the state would have heard about and understood), then I do think that his use of the word ‘exterminate’ is a conscious effort to counter what Sydney Rigdon said and give the powers to the military (as that is who the order is sent to) to use whatever means necessary to wipe the state clean of LDS.

  3. JanB says:

    Ralph,

    You bring up a good point, but the way I looked at it, the word “or” in the order to “exterminate or drive out” indicates which meaning is meant by exterminate. Such as “he is the boss or someone totally cool” or you can say “he is the boss or the one you report to at work”.

  4. Ralph wrote:

    “So to render this text the way you want it to read would make it read as –
    The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be driven out or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description.

    “I believe that the correct grammatical term for that is redundant. I do not think the governor is trying to say that the LDS need to be driven out or driven from the state, I think it means exactly as most people interpret it today.”

    I see this (grammatically) as an appositive and basically agree with the Deseret News article I cited in my source list, that Governor Boggs most likely meant, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or (in other words) driven from the state if necessary for the public peace.” I believe that in this way Governor Boggs did explain exactly what he meant.

    Over the last few months I have read through the Missouri Mormon War Papers and many additional contemporary accounts about the short-lived Mormon War. Through these it is abundantly clear that everyone understood that the Mormons were to be driven out of Missouri; no one was talking about killing them. It was not, “Leave or be killed,” it was more like, “Leave with your possessions when you are prepared or we will push you out empty-handed.”

    The truth of what happened to the Mormons in Missouri is bad enough; there’s no reason to make it sound worse than it actually was.

  5. Pingback: Mormon myths | Glenn Beck | correcting | Beck is wrong | Christianity

  6. Mike R says:

    I’ve watched Glenn Beck’s news show several times , he brings to my attention some
    important information about what our Government is up that I agree with . I wish he
    would stick to that . Because of his jovial personally and his strong patriotism , both
    displayed constantly in public , he no doubt has influenced people to consider his
    religion . I have to think that he would be a very strong candidate to run the Mormon
    church P.R. Dept . because of his ability to serve the public Mormonism and make it
    taste as good as apple pie . Thank goodness there are ministries like MRM that make
    information available to people so that they can get beyond the personality of Mormons
    like Glenn Beck and be informed about what Mormonism teaches .

  7. grindael says:

    Headquarters of the Militia, City of Jefferson, Oct. 27, 1838.

    Gen. John B. Clark:

    Sir: Since the order of this morning to you, directing you to cause four hundred mounted men to be raised within your division, I have received by Amos Reese, Esq., of Ray county, and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aids [sic], information of the most appalling character, which entirely changes the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this state. Your orders are, therefore, to hasten your operation with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace–their outrages are beyond all description. If you can increase your force, you are authorized to do so to any extent you may consider necessary. I have just issued orders to Maj. Gen. Willock, of Marion county, to raise five hundred men, and to march them to the northern part of Daviess, and there unite with Gen. Doniphan, of Clay, who has been ordered with five hundred men to proceed to the same point for the purpose of intercepting the retreat of the Mormons to the north. They have been directed to communicate with you by express, you can also communicate with them if you find it necessary. Instead therefore of proceeding as at first directed to reinstate the citizens of Daviess in their homes, you will proceed immediately to Richmond and then operate against the Mormons. Brig. Gen. Parks of Ray, has been ordered to have four hundred of his brigade in readiness to join you at Richmond. The whole force will be placed under your command.

    I am very respectfully, yr obt st [your obedient servant],

    L. W. Boggs, Commander-in-Chief

    Notice that Boggs uses the words “exterminated OR driven from the state if necessary for the public peace… He did not give a blanket extermination order. He also qualified it with “IF NECESSARY”, (which applies to the “extermination” part of the order – most likely dependent on what the Mormons did) so it wasn’t a blanket order for genocide (as many Mormons still claim today).

    What prompted the order was that the Mormons engaged State Militia at Smith’s order. (That order was given to David Patton, ol’ Capt’n Fearnaught) Bad move. Also, the Missourians weren’t the first to use extermination language, which Boggs may or may not have known about, but the Danites had been in operation since the summer before, and that may have been reported to Boggs.

    We take God and all the holy angels to witness this day, that we warn all men in the name of Jesus Christ, to come on us no more forever. For from this hour, we will bear it no more, our rights shall no more be trampled on with impunity. The man or the set of men, who attempts it, does it at the expense of their lives. And that mob that comes on us to disturb us; it shall be between us and them a war of extermination; for we will follow them till the last drop of their blood is spilled, or else they will have to exterminate us: for we will carry the seat of war to their own houses, and their own families, and one party or the other shall be utterly destroyed.—Remember it then all MEN. (Sidney Rigdon, July 4th “oration”)

    After Boggs was shot, Wilford Woodruff wrote,

    Vengance is mine. I will repay saith The Lord. Sunday True information has just reached us that the Noted Governor Boggs of Missouri who By his orders expeled ten thousand Latter Day Saints, Has just Been assassinated in his own house & fallen in his own Blood. Three Ball wer shot through his head two through his Brains & one through his mouth, tongue & throat. Thus this ungodly wretch has fallen in the midst of his iniquity & the vengance of God has overtaken him at last & he has met his Just deserts though by an unknown hand. This information is proclaimed through all the papers & By dispatched messengers & hand Bills through the land. Thus Boggs hath died as a fool dieth & gone to his place to receive the reward of his works. */* Boggs was shot but did not die but has sinc recove[red] from his wounds./(Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.176, May 15, 1842)

    Funny that this is what Brigham Young said about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. (Vengeance is mine and I have taken a little). Smith, after being kidnapped and almost returned to Missouri to face charges of treason gave a speech in which he declared,

    In speaking of my Journey to Nauvoo I will relate a circumstance. When Mr Cyrus Walker first came to me they said I should not speak to any man & they would shoot any man that should speak to me. An old man came up & said I should have council & said he was not afraid of their pistols & they took me from him, & I had an opportunity to have killed him but I had no temptation to do it to him nor any other man, my worst enemy not even Boggs. In fact he would have more hell to live in the reflection of his past life than to die. My freedom commenced from the time the old man came to me & would talk to me. We came direct from Papa grove to Nauvoo. We got our writ directed to the nearest court having authority to try the case & we came to Nauvoo. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.254, June 30, 1843)

    But then in the same speech picked up the violent rhetoric again,

    Quote:
    Furthermore if Missouri continues her warfare & continues to Issue her writs against me & this people unlawfully & unjustly as they have done & our rights are trampled upon & they under take to take away my wrights I sware with uplifted hands to Heaven I will spill my Blood in its defence. They shall not take away our rights, & if they dont stop leading me by the nose I will lead them by the nose & if they dont let me alone I will turn up the world. I will make war. (ibid)

    Later that year (1842), Smith again spoke of Boggs,

    If the people will give ear a moment I will address them, with few words in my own defence as touching my arest. In the first place I will state to these that Can hear me that I never spent more than six months in Missouri except while in prison. While I was there I was at work for the support of my family. I never was a prisioner of war during my stay for I had not made war. I never took a pistol, a gun, or sword & the much that has been said on this subject is false. I have been willing to go before any governor Judge or tribunal whare justice could be done & have the subject investigated. I could not have committee treason in that state while there. I had no controll any whare in temporal things while there but in spiritual. I was driven from that state by force of arms under the exterminating order of Govornor Boggs.

    I have never commited treason. The people know vary well I have Been a peaceable Citizen but their has been a great hugh & Cry about Jo Smith Govornor Bogs being shot. No crime can be done but what it is laid to Jo Smith. Here I was again dragged to the United States Court, & was cleared & now it comes again. But as often as God sees fit for me to suffer I am ready. But I am as innocent of these crimes as the Angels in heaven. I am not an enemy to mankind. I am a friend to Mankind. I am not an enemy to Missouri nor any governors or people.

    As to the military station I hold & the cause of my holding it is as follows. When we came here the State required us to bear arms & do military duty according to law, & as the Church had just been driven from the State of Missouri & robed of all their property & arms they were poor & destitute of armes: They were liable to be fined for not doing duty when they had not arms to do it with. They Came to me for advice. I advised them to organize themselves into independant companies, & demand arms of the State. This they did. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 2, 1841–1845, p.258, July 4, 1843)

    Surely not true, because other people saw him with guns. For example,

    Fri., Nov. 16, 1894: . . . While there the Presidency were talking about the spirit which has resulted from the political campaign. He said that for a long time Moses Thatcher has not enjoyed the Spirit of God, and he has fears for him unless he repents. He told of the spirit which led away from the Church in early days six of the Twelve Apostles. He said that the Prophet Joseph frequently did peculiar things in order to try those who were with him. One Sunday two Methodist preaches came to visit him in his house. He talked with them for some time, and then took a coal from the ash pan and marked on the floor. He then jumped, and said to one of the brethren present that he could not jump as far. This very much offended his sanctimonious visitors, when he opened out on them and said he merely did it to try them, as he perceived they were visiting him merely to find some sin in him. When Pres. Woodruff first met him and his brother Hyrum they were coming in from target shooting with pistols, which they held in their hands. Bro. Joseph remarked that he was intending to go up to Missouri, and thought he would have to do some shooting, and wanted first to see if he could hit anything. (Diary of Abraham H. Cannon)

    The crux of Smith’s defense was that he “HAD NO CONTROL OF TEMPORAL THINGS”. But this is a lie. D. Michael Quinn writes,

    By the time of the 1833 revelation on theocracy, Smith was already establishing an authoritarian system of priesthood that he intended to be monolithic. In his dictated revelations of the 1830s the voice of God commanded Mormons to be one in all things and to make their decisions unanimously (D&C 101:50, 102:3, 104:21, 107:27). Thus Mormons were supposed to view any factionalism in spiritual or temporal matters as contrary to God’s will. In a manner left unclear in Smith’s revelations, these contradictory prerogatives were supposed to mesh with the republicanism of the U.S. Constitution.

    A decade later the church would begin implementing this theocracy as a city-state in Illinois. In the American West Mormonism would dominate the social order of millions of square miles. But the Mormon hierarchy was already influencing political events in the Mormon commonwealth at Kirtland, Ohio. The communitarian practices and doctrine of gathering to a common place gave Mormons increasing political importance in the voting districts where they resided. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.86)

    Smith wrote for the Times and seasons in July of 1842 (Quinn again):

    “It has been the design of Jehovah, from the commencement of the world, and is his purpose now, to regulate the affairs of the world in his own time; to stand as head of the universe, and take the reins of government into his own hand,” the editorial began. The prophet observed that Moses and Aaron “taught the people in both civil and ecclesiastical affairs; they were both one; there was no distinction; so will it be when the purposes of God shall be accomplished.” He added that “the government was a theocracy, they had God to make their laws, and men chosen by Him to administer them.”

    Smith wrote the editorial three months after he received a revelation outlining the political Kingdom of God. The full content of his revelation of 7 April 1842 is presently unknown, but it [p.112] provided the name for a future theocratic organization: “Verily thus saith the Lord. This is the name by which you shall be called—The Kingdom of God and His Laws, with Keys and power thereof, and judgment in the hands of his servants, Ahman Christ.” A few months later Smith preached, “I have the whole plan of the kingdom before me, and no other person has.”

    In tandem with this revelation on formal laws, Smith also wrote an explanation of his theocratic ethics. To justify his polygamous proposal to the nineteen-year-old daughter of counselor Sidney Rigdon, Smith wrote this letter within a few days of his 7 April revelation on theocracy:

    That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be and often is, fight under another. God said thou shalt not kill,—at another time he said thou shalt utterly destroy. This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted—by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is fight, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added… even things which may be considered abominable to all who do not understand the order of heaven

    This was the first written statement of Smith’s theocratic ethics, a doctrine he had originally announced when performing the illegal marriage ceremony in Kirtland nearly seven years earlier. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.111-112)

    The “outrages” of the Mormons in Missouri were well documented, as was the response to them by the Missourians. If it was Boggs intention to just exterminate the Mormons, then why did he write this:

    “You will not attempt to try them (Smith, et. all) by court-martial, the civil law must govern.” (Governor Boggs to General Clark, 19 Nov. 1838, in Document, 81.)

    How much easier it would have been to declare that Smith had committed treason and then just shoot him? All done by the military. Instead, Boggs appealed to the civil courts. Smith was still charged with treason though, because of the many statements that he made (which I’ll document in my follow up post). If everyone interpreted Executive Order 44 in the same way that Beck and man modern Mormons do, then why did they not just wholesale shoot the Mormons? They did not. They were driven from the State, which Boggs clearly intended. I agree that the language of the Order was bad, but there were also men carrying that order and then implementing it, and their later actions prove that the extermination rhetoric was only to drive them from the state, not an order to physically kill all the Mormons.

  8. grindael says:

    Sidney Rigdon confirmed this doctrine (of the Church governing the temporal affairs of men) on April 5, 1844:

    “When God sets up a system of salvation, he sets up a system of government; when I speak of a government I mean what I say; I mean a government that shall rule over temporal and spiritual affairs.”

    Then Rigdon revealed to thousands of Mormons that the purpose of Mormon’s theocratic “system of government” was to set aside at will the laws of the United States and of all other secular governments:

    A man is not an honorable man if he is not above all law, and above government….The law of God is far more righteous than the laws of the land; the laws of God are far above the laws of the land. The kingdom of God does not interfere with the laws of the land, but keeps itself by its own laws. (Times and Seasons 5 (1 May 1844): 524, also printed with punctuation changes in History of the Church, 6: 292. D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.123)

    This is not true, (that they don’t interfere) and the Mormons still do this today (Prop 8 in California being a good example). Again, Quinn:

    Until the hierarchy began to reveal the extent of the theocracy, Latter-day Saints had no reason to conclude that they were participating in an alternative to the present forms of [p.124] American government. Increasingly in the spring of 1844 Smith let it be publicly known that such an alternative was in the making.

    Two days after this general conference Smith became Mormonism’s theocratic king. The kingdom’s clerk William Clayton wrote that during the 11 April 1844 meeting “was prest. Joseph chosen as our Prophet, Priest and King by Hosannas.” Clayton did not describe what happened immediately after this secret sustaining vote by the Council of Fifty. Although he had participated, William Marks never referred to the sustaining vote on 11 April but later stated that the Council of Fifty performed an ordinance “in which Joseph suffered himself to be ordained a king, to reign over the house of Israel forever.”

    Some have been uncomfortable with the assertion that Smith became a king. They have claimed that Marks and other critics either confused or misrepresented Smith’s reception of the strictly religious ceremony of the second anointing as “king and priest.” As already noted, the prophet taught that the second anointing had theocratic meaning, but he received that ordinance nearly six months before Clayton’s entry for 11 April. What occurred that day was clearly something different from the second anointing ordinance for a heavenly “King and Priest.”

    In fact a later revelation to the Council of Fifty affirmed that God called Smith “to be a Prophet, Seer and Revelator to my Church and Kingdom; and to be a King and Ruler over Israel.” In detailed minutes of this same ceremony years later, the Council of Fifty’s standing chairman, John Taylor, was “anointed & set apart as a King, Priest and Ruler over Israel on the Earth.” As Mormonism’s theocratic sovereign Smith gave the revelation of August 1833 its most radical expression. In a veiled reference to Smith’s kingship, Apostles Lyman Wight and Heber C. Kimball wrote in 1844 that “you are already President Pro tem of the world.”

    [Kimball would later “prophesy” that Brigham Young would be President of the United States.-grindael] Three days after receiving theocratic kingship, Smith informed the non-Mormon press of his new political order.

    As the “world is governed too much,” and there is not a nation or dynasty, now occupying the earth, which acknowledges Almighty God as their lawgiver, and as “crowns won by blood, by blood must be maintained,” I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely for a THEO-DEMOCRACY, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness, and where liberty, [p.125] free trade, and sailor’s rights, and the protection of life and property shall be maintained inviolate for the benefit of ALL. (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p.124)

    This type of thinking had been going on in Missouri, and was manifested in Smith’s Danites, of which he admitted for a fact that they existed and that he approved of them:

    We have a company of Danites in these times, to put to right physically that which is not right, and to cleanse the Church of very great evils which hath hitherto existed among us inasmuch as they cannot be put to right by teachings & persuasions.” (Joseph Smith diary, Missouri Journal, 1838, March to September, under July 27, 1838; also Dean Jessee, ed., The Papers of Joseph Smith, 1992, v. 2, p. 262 (this quote is crossed out in this book at a later date because it was so damning to Smith); also in Faulring, An American Prophet’s Record, p. 198.)

    Although Governor Boggs had done virtually nothing to protect Mormons from predatory Missourians, the Danite assault on the militia at Crooked River put the politician into action. On 27 October 1838 Boggs issued a directive to Major-General John B. Clark, which read in part:

    Since the order of this morning to you…I have received, by Amos Rees, Esq., of Ray county and Wiley C. Williams, Esq., one of my aid[e]s, information of the most appalling character, which changes entirely the face of things, and places the Mormons in the attitude of an open and avowed defiance of the laws, and of having made war upon the people of this State. Your orders are therefore, to hasten your operations and endeavor to reach Richmond in Ray County, with all possible speed. The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated, or driven from the State, if necessary for the public peace.

    The governor’s “extermination order,” as it subsequently became known, was supported by the unwritten—though frequently avowed—right of American citizens to expel unwanted groups or individuals from their midst. Rigdon himself had used this reasoning to justify forcing Mormon dissidents from Far West. Boggs later said his principal desire was to quell Mormon insurrection without bloodshed. The muster of such a massive military force from his perspective was merely to “awe [the Saints] into submission.” Initially Mormons, unaware of the size of the military contingent, were not awed. Responding to a rumor that the governor had called out the militia, Smith scoffed:
    I care not a fig for the coming of the troops. We’ve tried long enough to please the Gentiles. If we live together they don’t like it; if we scatter they massacre us for it. The [p.237] only law they know here is that might makes right. They are a damned set, and God will blast them into hell!

    If they try to attack us we will play hell with their applecarts. Before now, men, you’ve fought like devils. But now I want you to fight like angels, for angels can whip devils. And for every one we lack in number to match the mob, the Lord will send an angel to fight alongside.

    Albert Rockwood, impressed with Smith’s bravado, recorded in his diary that “the Prophet goes out to the battle as in days of old. He has the sword that Nephi took from Laban.…The Prophet has unsheathed his sword and in the name of Jesus declares that it shall not be sheathed again untill he can go into any County or state in safety and in peace. (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p.236-237)

    John Corrill testified about Smith’s establishing religion by the point of a sword,

    “At the second, or at least the last meeting I attended, the presidency, [to wit: Joseph Smith, jr., Hiram Smith, and Sidney Rigdon,] and also George W. Robinson, was there. There was at this meeting a ceremony introducing the officers of the society to the presidency, who pronounced a blessing on each of them, as introduced exhorting to faithfulness in their calling, and they should have blessings.

    After this, President Smith got up… he observed to the people that they should obey the presidency, and, if the presidency led them astray they might destroy them. In the last, or in some public meeting, Joseph Smith jr., said: ***IF THE PEOPLE WOULD LET US ALONE, WE WOULD PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THEM IN PEACE; but, IF THEY CAME ON US TO MOLEST US, we would establish our religion BY THE SWORD;*** and that he would become to this generation a second Mahomet. [John Corrill, Senate Document 189]

    Footnote to page 167 of The History of the Church Vol. III:

    The chief points in the affidavit of Thomas B. Marsh, referred to in the text, are as follows: “They have among them a company, considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the Church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong. Many, however, of this band are much dissatisfied with this oath, as being against moral and religious principles. On Saturday last, I am informed by the Mormons, that they had a meeting at Far West, at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the ‘Destruction Company,’ for the purpose of burning and destroying, and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell, and committed depredations upon the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe; and if the people of Clay and Ray made any movement against them, this destroying company were to burn Liberty and Richmond. The Prophet inculcates the notion, and it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith’s prophecies are superior to the laws of the land. I have heard the Prophet say that he would yet tread down his enemies, and walk over their dead bodies; and if he was not let alone, he would be a second Mohammed to this generation, ***AND THAT HE WOULD MAKE IT ONE GORE OF BLOOD FROM THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS TO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN; that like Mohammed, whose motto in treating for peace was, ‘the Alcoran or the Sword.’ So should it be eventually with us, ‘JOSEPH SMITH OR THE SWORD.’*** These last statements were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adam-ondi-Ahman was between three and four hundred.
    “THOMAS B. MARSH.
    “Sworn to and subscribed before me, the day herein written.
    “HENRY JACOBS,
    “J.P. Ray county, Missouri.
    “Richmond, Missouri, October 24, 1838.”
    AFFIDAVIT OF ORSON HYDE.
    “The most of the statements in the foregoing disclosure I know to be true; the remainder I believe to be true.
    “ORSON HYDE.
    “Richmond, October 24, 1838.
    “Sworn to and subscribed before me, on the day above written.
    “HENRY JACOBS, J.P.” (End of History of the Church Footnote)

    Testimony from Senate Documents:

    They have among them a company consisting of all that are considered true Mormons, called the Danites, who have taken an oath to support the heads of the church in all things that they say or do, whether right or wrong. Many, however, of this band are much dissatisfied with this oath as being against moral and religious principles. On Saturday last, I am informed by the Mormons, they had a meeting at Far West at which they appointed a company of twelve, by the name of the destruction company, for the purpose of burning & destroying, and that if the people of Buncombe came to do mischief upon the people of Caldwell & committed depredations on the Mormons, they were to burn Buncombe & if the people of Clay & Ray made any movement against them, this destroying company was to burn Liberty & Richmond. This burning was to be done secretly by going as incendiaries. At the same meeting I was informed they passed a decree that no Mormon dissenter should leave Caldwell County alive, & that such as attempted to do it should be shot down & sent to tell their tale in eternity. In a conversation between Doct. Avard & other Mormons, said Avard proposed to start a pestilence among the gentiles, as he called them, by poisoning their corn, fruit &c and saying it was the work of the Lord. And said Avard advocated lying for the support of their religion, & said it was no harm to lie for the Lord.

    The plan of said Smith, the prophet, is to take the State, & he professes to his people to intend taking the U.S. & ultimately the whole world. This is the belief of the Church & my own opinion of the prophet’s plans & intentions.

    It is my opinion that neither said Joseph Smith, the prophet, nor any one of the principal men who is firm in the faith could be indicted for any offense in the county of Caldwell. The prophet inculcates the notion, & it is believed by every true Mormon, that Smith’s prophecies are superior to the law of the land. I have heard the prophet say that he should yet tread down his enemies & walk over their dead bodies; that if he was not let alone he would be a second Mahamet to the generations, & that he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic ocean. That like Mahamet, whose motto in treating for peace was the Alcoran or the sword, so should it be eventually with us – Jo Smith or the sword.

    These last statements were made during the last summer. The number of armed men at Adamondiamon was between three & four hundred.**

    Thomas B. Marsh

    Richmond, Mo.
    October the 24th 1838
    Sworn & subscribed before me the day hereon written
    Henry Jacobs, J.P., Ray County, Mo.

    The most of the statements in the foregoing disclosed of Thomas B. Marsh I know to be true. The remainder I believe to be true.

    Orson Hyde

    Richmond, Oct 24th 1838
    Sworn to & subscribed before me on the day above written
    Henry Jacobs, J.P.

    The undersigned committee on the part of the citizens of Ray County have no doubt but that Thomas B. Marsh & Orson Hyde, whose names are signed to the foregoing certificates, have been members of the Mormon Church in full fellowship until very recently when they voluntarily abandoned the Mormon Church & faith. And that said Marsh was, at the time of his dissenting, the President of the Twelve Apostles & President of the Church at Far West, and that said Hyde was, at that time, one of the Twelve Apostles. And that they left the church & abandoned the faith of the Mormons from a conviction of their immorality & impiety.

    Richmond, Oct 24th 1838

    Thomas C. Burch
    William Hudgins
    Geo. Woodward
    J. R. Hindley
    C. R. Morehead
    O. H. Learcey
    Henry Jacobs
    **Affidavit of Thomas B. Marsh, Richmond, Missouri, October 24, 1838, Document Containing the Correspondence, Orders, &C. in Relation to the Disturbances with the Mormons; and the Evidence Given Before the Hon. Austin A. King, Judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit of the State of Missouri, at the Court-House in Richmond, in a Criminal Court of Inquiry, Begun November 12, 1838, on the Trial of Joseph Smith, Jr., and Others for High Treason and Other Crimes Against the State (Fayette, Missouri: Boon’s Lick Democrat, 1841), 58-59.

    TESTIMONY OF George M. Hinkle:

    “I have heard Joseph Smith, jr. say that he believed Mahomet was a good man; that the Koran was not a true thing, but the world belied Mohamet, as they had belied him, and that Mahomet was a true prophet.” -Testimony of George M. Hinkle, Document, 128

    TESTIMONY OF George Walter:

    “Soon after the dissenters were driven away from Caldwell county, I was in Far-West, in Corill’s [Corrill’s] store, perhaps the last of June last, and heard Joseph Smith, jun., say, that he believed Mahomet was an inspired man, and had done a great deal of good, and that he intended to take the same course Mahomet did; that if the people would let him alone, he would, after a while, die a natural death; but if they did not, he would make it one gore of blood from the Rocky Mountains to the State of Maine.

    He further said, that he had, or would have, (the witness does not-remember which,) as regular an inquisition as ever was established, and as good a set of inquisitors as ever was. This conversation was had when talking about the dissenters.” (Testimony of George Walter, in James H. Hunt, Mormonism: Embracing the Origin, Rise and Progress of the Sect, with an Examination of the Book of Mormon; Also, Their Troubles in Missouri, and Final expulsion from the State; With and Appendix, giving an Account of the Late Disturbances in Illinois, Which Resulted in the Death of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, by G. W. Westbrook. (St. Louis, IL: Ustick & Davies, 1844), 217. Like Hinkle and Corrill, Walter was witness for the state of Missouri at the November 1838 hearing where JS was tried for treason. For unknown reasons, Walter’s testimony was not included in the 1841 printed compilation of evidence and documents (see note #1), but was printed with in Hunt’s 1844 history. The manuscript hearing record containing all the testimony is located in the archives at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri)

    TESTIMONY OF Abner Scovil:

    “In the latter part of June last, I heard Joseph Smith, jun., say, that if the people would let him alone, he would conquer them by the sword of the spirit; but if they would not, he would beat the plough-shares into swords, and their pruning-hooks into spears, and conquer them he would.” (Testimony of Abner Scovil, in Hunt, Mormonism, 227. Like Walter’s testimony, Scovil’s was also omitted from the 1841 printing but was included in Hunt’s history).

    It was well known in Nauvoo that Jo had “prophesied” the death of Boggs.

    The attempt on Boggs’s life took place on the night of 6 May 1842. Orrin Porter Rockwell, one of Smith’s closest friends, was arrested later that year and charged with the attempted murder. Although neither the prophet nor Rockwell was convicted of the crime, Rockwell never denied shooting Boggs. (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, p.314, Note 8)

    Rockwell was acquitted for lack of evidence, which is not surprising in this case. Equating his innocence based on his getting acquitted in Missouri is ridiculous, because not all Missourians were [filtered profanity or slur]s, there were many that helped the Mormons, and it is quite easy to believe that Rockwell got a fair trial, and that there just wasn’t enough evidence to indict him. I’ll leave it up to the reader to decide that since Smith would lie about his reasons for NOT being involved in Bogg’s killing, (was not involved in temporal affairs) then how are we to believe him when he says that he didn’t order the killing?

    Brigham Young would later say that the men who opposed the “saints” must submit to blood atonement to be forgiven:

    President Young in his address to the Saints remarked that He was determined to have order in all things & righteousness Should be practized in this land. That we had come here according to the direction & council of Br Joseph Smith before his death & that He would Still have been alive if the Twelve had been in Nauvoo when He recrossed the river from Montrose to Nauvoo.

    He spoke of the saints being driven from place to Place, And Said the ownly way Boggs, Clark, Lucas Benton & all the leaders of the mob could have been saved in the day of the Lord Jesus would have been to have come forward voluntarily & let their heads been cut off & let their blood run upon the ground & gone up as A smokeing incens before the heavens as an antonement but now they will be eternally damned. (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 3, p. 240, July 28, 1847)

  9. falcon says:

    I’m sort of surprised at Beck’s presentation. I think he prides himself on being a historian of some sort. And here he is simply repeating Mormon myths. If he knows better he’s just acting as a shill for the LDS church and I can’t help but believe he knows better. So he chooses his burning in the bosom over being accurate and forthright.
    There’s more to Sharon’s article than the “extermination” order.
    “What I’ve addressed here is not exhaustive; it does not attempt to deal with all the myths Glenn Beck perpetuated in his “myth buster” segment on polygamy. But one thing is clear: Mr. Beck really had no interest in setting the record straight.”

    Personally I have a tough time listening to Glenn Beck’s radio program. I like it a lot better when he’s not there and his two subs sit in tandem.

  10. spartacus says:

    This video is really something! A seemingly educated, even worldly wise (surely he is given his politic experience), person not just spreading the most obvious inaccuracies, but about his own religion AND in a segment about clearing up myths!!I saw this video earlier last year and he gets it wrong on everything.

    LDS like to point out how the average member is higher educated than those of other religions, but it doesn’t do them any good. Once you accept the mostly unspoken skepticism of religious truth and accept the narrow extreme of spiritual experience only,it all goes out the door. Add in a good helping of “these people are so nice and respectable surely they wouldn’t…” Be wrong, spread misinformation, lie, and you get this kind of abominable crap. I’m sorry d for any offense but that is what this video is. You either have to hope he us lying to spare his intelligence or you have to hope he is duped to spare his morality. But, in the later, what about intellectual morality?

    When do oh so serious about morals mormons take intellectual morals and ethics seriously?? When do they realize they throw away the tools Good has given us to learn about him and not be deceived when they accept subjective experience over every thing else by far? How is this loving God with all your mind?

    And then there’s falcon’s favored point about mormons just digging it.. That helps the lapse of intellect and judgment too.

    I understand cynicism, especially about human ability to find truth, let alone understand it. I get that the world and Christianity seem too complicated and difficult. I even kind of understand the temptation to either give up or crawl into a shall dark box with only one small night light called personal revelation. But if Good is rally important to you.If truth is rally important to you. If you think God is really worth any thing, any sacrifice, any service, then FIGHT! Fight the confusion and despair! Fight the feeling of bring lost and vulnerable! Seek God first! Seek first the Kingdom of God. Above and before your comfort and personal experience of peace and even understanding! Seek the God that Is before ANY OTHER GOOD THING.

    Seek God as He really Is, not as you would like or feel encouraged or even special…and surely not only if you think you understand! Reality is raw and unexpected.Truth is stark and uncompromising and complex and confusing and yet there, it is. Should God be any different?

    If your God is too nice, comfortable, and understandable, you better think again. You may be having your ears tickled.

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