Summer 1844: Sorrowful Times in Nauvoo

Latter-day Saints Isaac and Sarah Scott were married in Massachusetts in 1843. They moved to Nauvoo, Illinois, where they became eyewitnesses to the events surrounding the deaths of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Sarah wrote to her in-laws beginning on July 22, 1844, a few weeks after the murders; Isaac added a short note at the end. Their letter provides a rare and personal narrative from those dark days in Nauvoo.

The Scotts began to distance themselves from the main body of the Church in early 1844. Their candid account of the murders of the Smith brothers dispels some myths that are usually included in the standard LDS telling of this event. For Mormons, the story has become a legend; for the Scotts, it was a turbulent and trying time through which they lived.

I have minimally edited their personal account here as indicated by ellipses. You will find the entire text of the Scott’s letter in Cultures in Conflict: A Documentary History of the Mormon War in Illinois, John E. Hallwas and Roger D. Launius, pages 256-259.

Nauvoo, Illinois
July 22, 1844.

My Dear Father and Mother:

I supposed you received our letter and was somewhat prepared, when you heard of the dreadful murder of Joseph and Hyrum Smith in Carthage jail. Little did we think that an event like that would ever transpire. The Church believed that he would be acquitted as he had been on former occasions, and Joseph prophesied in the last Neighbor [LDS newspaper] that was published before his death that they would come off victorious over them all, as sure as there was a God in Israel. Joseph also prophesied on the stand a year ago last conference that he could not be killed within five years from that time: that they could not kill him till the Temple would be completed, for that he had received an unconditional promise from the Almighty concerning his days, and he set Earth and Hell at defiance; and then said, putting his hand on his head, they never could kill his Child. But now that he is killed some of the Church say that he said: unless he gave himself up. My husband was there at the time and says there was not conditions whatever, and many others testify to the same thing.

I suppose you have heard from Mr. Haven and Martha before this and have learned their mind concerning Joseph and Hyrum, but I cannot help believing that had they been innocent, that the Lord would not have suffered them to fall by the hands of wicked murderers. I believe they would have been living men to-day, had they been willing for others to enjoy the same liberties they wish for themselves.

The governor visited Nauvoo the day that Joseph and Hyrum were killed and made a speech. He told the people of Nauvoo the burning of that press [dissenter’s newspaper the Nauvoo Expositor] was arbitrary, unlawful, unconstitutional, and that they had hurt themselves more than ten presses could have injured them in ten years.

The governor was met on his return to Carthage by a messenger informing him of the assassination. Many of the Mormons blame the governor for not bringing them with him and others do not. I think it looks strange his leaving a guard of only eight men with them and taking so many with himself. I have no doubt however but he was afraid of his own life or he would not have taken the number of men he did with him. I heard there were three hundred. The governor did not dare to stop in Carthage that night, and men, women, and children fled from there. I believe there was only three or four men that stopped in the place that night. I think the people of Carthage so far have suffered more than the Mormons. Who the vile murderers were I suppose never will be known till the day when all flesh shall stand before God to answer for the deeds done in the body. Many of the Mormons lay it on the Missourians, others to the apostates, as they call them. If it is apostasy from Mormonism to come out against the doctrines of more Gods than one, more wives than one, and many other damnable heresies that they have taught, I hope and pray that I and all the rest of the Church may become apostates.

Mr. Haven told me last spring before I was married that those doctrines tried his faith very much till he heard Hyrum Smith explain them and now or then he thought it was right. But a few weeks before the murder Hyrum denied that Joseph had the revelation concerning it but said that it referred to ancient times; and it was published [so] in the Neighbor. After I saw it I said to Mr. Haven: “What do you think of that? Is it not a plain contradiction to what you told me? What do you think of it?” He said that he supposed Hyrum saw what a disturbance it was making and thought he would say it on account of their being much excitement.

When the news reached the governor of the destruction of the press and of the trouble in Nauvoo, he hastened here as fast as possible just in time to save an attack upon the city of Nauvoo. Writs were then issued for the Smith’s and others to bring them before the proper authorities for trial. When they were taken to Carthage, it was with difficulty the governor saved their lives. The repeated outrageous laws they had made, made the inhabitants hate the very sight of them. One example: whoever was heard speaking against the [Nauvoo] city council, charter, or ordinances should be fined five hundred dollars…

Dear Mother: I have seen some sorrowful days since I left you and some happy ones. But I can tell you it is a sorrowful time here at present. Those that stood up for Joseph before his death are getting divided among themselves.

I have since learned that it was a mistake concerning the governor leaving only eight men with Joseph, but that he left a large company. Willard Richards and John Taylor were in jail with them.

August 9: Yesterday I attended a conference in Nauvoo. I suppose Martha will give you the particulars of it. The twelve were appointed to take charge of all the concerns of the Church both spiritual and temporal. Brigham Young said that if he had been here, he wouldn’t have consented to give Joseph up and he would be damned if he would give himself up to the law of the land. He would see them all in hell first; the Church, and then he said he would see all Creation in Hell before he would. These statements are correct, and they needn’t any [of them] attempt to deny them. If they do, they are ignorant of the matter or they are willful liars…

Sarah Scott

At my wife’s request I write a few words…Joseph and Hyrum Smith are murdered; Samuel is dead and buried. The Smiths are all gone the way of all the earth except William, and why all this murder and death in the Smith family? I believe it is because they taught the people of God to transgress His holy laws as did the sons of Eli of old;…

You will likely hear a great deal about Joseph’s innocence such as: “I go like a lamb to the slaughter, and if I die, I die an innocent man.” All these statements, I believe, are false and got up for the purpose of reconciling the minds of the Church. I believe they had not the least idea that they were going to be murdered. Hyrum said the last time I heard him preach, which was only a few days before he and Joseph were taken to Carthage, that their enemies could not kill brother Joseph, for he had a great work to accomplish yet. There was also considerable said in Carthage which proves beyond dispute that they did not expect death. They blame the apostates, as they term them, with being accessory to the murder of the Smiths. This is not the case: the Laws and Fosters were not in the state at the time the murder was committed, and if they had been here, they would have been the last to stain their hands with human blood!

Remember me to all your family in the kindest manner…

Yours respectfully,

Isaac Scott

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 Mormon History, Nauvoo and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

90 Responses to Summer 1844: Sorrowful Times in Nauvoo

  1. falcon says:

    Great article Sharon. The letter from these folks allows for some first hand information and fantastic insights. It can be seen from the letter the turmoil surrounding this situation and also the contorversial teachings and practices that were being hidden from the church members. Quite a bit of the letter addresses Joseph’s skills as a prophet. It would seem he was basically shooting off his mouth and bragging. The part about him meeting such a violent and untimely death as God’s retribution for his (Smith’s) reprehensable teachings and practices was an interesting take from a church member of that time.
    The Mormon church has done its best to sanitize its history and present Smith in a way that was totally different than reality.

  2. setfree says:

    I can’t help but notice how early on the “cover-up” stuff started.

    The Scotts’ letter reminds me of these verses:

    Deut 13: 1-3, 5 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth (is testing) you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul…And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God…

    Deut 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

  3. Michael P says:

    I noticed in there a fine of $500 for speaking against the council of Nauvoo. Does anyone know if we have records of the city ordinances at the time?

    This letter is very interesting. Thanks for posting.

  4. Michael P says:

    Another quick post. I researched quickly Isaac and Sarah Scott. Not much came up in my simple search, but the first page of an article called “The Death of a Mormon Dictator” at a site called Jstor. Don’t know much about the site, but it only gave the first page. The site itself seems to be a non-profit place to go to get documents for research on a wide range of topics.

    I was curious if anyone knew anything about this article, which also did not reveal much in a google search… It was written by a George F. Partridge.


  5. “If it is apostasy from Mormonism to come out against the doctrines of more Gods than one, more wives than one, and many other damnable heresies that they have taught, I hope and pray that I and all the rest of the Church may become apostates.”

    I love that line.

  6. setfree says:

    Wouldn’t it be awesome to see some of our friends here take the courage?

  7. kholland says:

    That was a good read. Gave some great insight. Thanks for the post!

  8. setfree says:

    This is a little off-topic, but it came to mind and so I’ll share it.

    As a Mormon youth, I would hear things about what wonderful things Mother Teresa was doing, and I would quickly say to myself “but she’s not THAT great, because she’s not Mormon”. My friends believed that way too. We didn’t think anything of her because she was not Mormon.

    Now, I’m not saying that we were taught by the podium speakers this way. We just knew. If it’s good, it’s Mormon. If it’s not, it’s not.

    That’s why we were convinced that whoever wrote the Karate Kid must be a Mormon. And Disney movies. And of course, George Lucas. Lol.

    My point, I guess, is that to listen to what has been written above, you have to step outside of what you have always “felt” and wonder why the Church would ever present Joseph Smith in such pure and pretty light as they do. It messes with the entire concept of yourself as a Mormon. He’s the first Mormon. Of course he was not as they paint him (or else he had a GOOD REASON!). Else all my life, all my thinking has been skewed.

    Nowadays, if it’s good, it’s Mormon. If it’s bad, it’s Anti-Mormon. Don’t listen to it! Run away! If it’s ugly, it’s just a lie!


    There is only One who is altogether Lovely, altogether Worthy… only One who sparkles like a diamond no matter angle the light is shining on Him. Jesus.

    You want someone that holds up to your dream image of purity and prettiness? Jesus is the One you’re looking for.

  9. falcon says:

    I was thinking of a list of issues related to Joseph Smith both as a “prophet” and a man that have had to be covered-up, rationalized or whitewashed by the LDS church and Mormons as individuals. I’ll give it a shot and maybe some of our other posters can add to or expand on it.
    *convicted fraud, in court, as it related to using a seer stone to find buried treasure.
    *practioner of magic arts including second sight vision.
    *user of alcohol and tobacco.
    *adulterer, defrauder of women (at least 33)including those already married and adolecent girls.
    *false prophet as per his prophetic proclamations.
    *fraudulent claims of translation of ancient texts i.e. BoM and BoA.
    *bank fraud.
    *heretic and proclaimer of false doctrines as they relate to the nature of God and man.

    What have I missed?

  10. Just to be clear, the “[filtered profanity or slur]” setfree used was the a-word that MRM filters 🙂

  11. Ralph says:

    As far as the article goes, it proves nothing to me. I have been on a jury and the 3 witnesses for an armed robbery gave 3 different descriptions of the same person so we could not find him guilty. Also my parents went to the same meeting once and heard the same story, but both tell it completely differently, even though the main theme behind the story is the same. It shows that peole hear and see what they want to hear and see. We see the same in the Bible for many of the prophets and Jesus as well. I am not discounting these peoples’ version of what they heard and saw off hand, I am just saying that because of my experiences, what they say does not sway me from my faith.

    Here we go again Falcon,

    We have covered ‘user of alcohol and tobacco’ and ‘adolescent girls’ a number of times but you still keep coming up with them. The answers given are neither white-washed, rationalised or cover-ups.

    The WoW was not a life-style ‘commandment’ at that time. JS and all of the other members were not beholden to it as we are today. This did not come into place until the saints had moved to Utah. So there is nothing to be said about JS using alcohol or tobacco.

    The average age for a girl to be married in JS time was 15 years old. The age of consent (ie when a girl can give consent to sex without it being illegal) was 10 years old. I have given the links to these facts in the past but I dont have access to them at this point in time so I can’t give them right now. Everytime you bring this point up (ie about the 14 year old wives) you are just using an emotional argument not a logical or objective one, and trying to get people to judge JS by the societal standards we have today even though you know that the societal standards they had then were different. Everytime you bring this up you are showing that either you do not understand this point, or you want to ‘prove’ the LDS church wrong by any means possible including lying.

  12. Free says:

    Chilling words from Joe Smith himself:

    I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet. You know my daily walk and conversation. I am in the bosom of a virtuous and good people. How I do love to hear the wolves howl! When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go. (History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409)

  13. falcon says:

    Hay Ralph,
    Every time you give the “explanation” you expose yourself either to your total naivete, depravity or your total lack of any amount of normal decency. If your immorality is considered “logic”, I will be very happy to be moral and in your twisted mind, illogical. See here’s the problem Ralph, you are so sold out to Joseph Smith and his fraud, that you will do anything to justify it.
    You provide a prime example of what is termed “situational morality”. Using your sense of judgment, slavery was not immoral in America. It was just a different time, with a different moral outlook.
    Ralph, the reason I recycle this stuff every so often is so that people (especially the lurkers) can see how Mormons like you will justify anything in defense of Joseph Smith. That draws a very clear line between your mentality and moral perspective and that of morally decent people. Mormons like to proclaim themselves as clean living, upright, and moral folks. Then you come along and justify Joseph Smith’s behavior. I guess the fact that he was “marrying” women who were already married is, in your twisted mind, just fine. The fact that he manipulated women in regards to the salvation of their families and themselves to get them in the sack, is also perfectly permissible in your moral world. Telling a woman that an angel with a sword threatened to kill him if he didn’t start practicing plural marrage, is perfectly normal in the world of Ralph. Marry me babe or an angel will kill me. No manipulation there.
    I’m serious Ralph, are you OK? I mean that. You’ve told me on more than one occasion that you would steal or kill if ordered by the prophet. Ralph, little buddy, you are one sick puppy. But please, never go away. Keep posting here for all the world to see the mind set of someone trapped in the cult of Mormonism.

  14. What an interesting document!

    What strikes me is the apparent disconnect in the primitive Mormon Church between the leadership and the congregation.

    Isaac and Sarah Scott evidently held to the orthodox views of One God, One Wife, and the acknowledgement that heresy actually exists; to quote; ‘If it is apostasy from Mormonism to come out against the doctrines of more Gods than one, more wives than one, and many other damnable heresies that they have taught, I hope and pray that I and all the rest of the Church may become apostates.’

    We also know from the abundance of documents in LDS libraries that the ‘inspired’ pronouncements of Joseph Smith and co. were pointing in an entirely different direction (strictly speaking, a number of different directions). The kindest thing I can say about Smith’s views is that they were theological experimentation, though Falcon might have got nearer the mark with his comment that Joseph was just shooting his mouth off and bragging.

    Ironically, it seems that as the Mormon Church started out, so it is today. You get the neo-orthodox views of the common rank and file (One God, One Wife, Heresy) contrasted with the completely different views of the LDS leadership at its highest level (Many Gods, Many Wives, Nothing can be Heresy because its all open to interpretation).

    I wonder if, like Isaac and Sarah Scott, most common or garden Mormons are in a kind of half-way house, which is somewhere between the orthodox gospel of Christ and the radically different gospel of Joseph Smith.

    If LDS don’t know they are in this half-way house, I hope this blog will make it clear to them. This, and the choice that confronts them regarding which direction they should go in.

  15. falcon says:

    Check out the Community of Christ. It really reflects the beliefs of Isaac and Sarah Scott. This was the group that at one time were called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They weren’t buying Smith and companies nonsense. They held pretty closely to the evangelical revialism of the time with the BoM as a modern day revelation. Today, now known CoC is pretty ambivelent regarding the BoM (it can be a “spiritual” book) but they don’t hide from the history.
    The Temple Lot is very distinctive also sounding more like the Scott’s brand of Mormonism. Then we have the FLDS which is pretty much Brigham Young and Joseph Smith on steroids. The Utah LDS are just floating around out there in never-never-land, neither fish nor fowl. All of these groups I would imagine claim to be the “true” restoration even though they don’t resemble each other in any real way.
    The CoC folks are pretty refreshing as far as Mormons go. They don’t feel the need, in my estimation, to rationalize all of the bizarre goings on in the early history of the Mormon church, nor do they have to explain away the history that the Utah bunch is stuck with post Nauvoo.

  16. Michael P says:


    Others have brought up good questions and points ni regards to your shrugging off the letter as not convincing you of anything.

    I’d like to comment on them myself.

    First, I want to say I understand what you are saying. Everyone has a view of a story, and how these people viewed Smith may just be their view of the story. So, on a level, we can just take it with a grain of salt and dismiss it as only their view.

    But, would you not agree that behind every story is truth? So, here, we have their story, and that story has some truth behind it. Either they tell the truth, or they don’t, and there are reasons for their false statements. Given the first scenario, why dismiss them as only their view if it is truth? And if they are not telling truth, why only dismiss as only their view? I’d suspect you should be doing all you can to either determine the truth, or exposing the lies for what they are. But that’s not what you are doing. You are shrugging your shoulders and saying they have their opinion.

    A second point is that there are explicit facts put in the letter, like the fine for speaking against the council, Hyrum’s changing his tune, Joseph’s claims he would not be killed, the immediate blaming of the apostates, the Laws being out of state, etc. These things are more than just a point of view. If a fine existed, it existed. If the Laws were gone, they were gone, if the Mormons blamed people, they blamed people. Each of these things happened, or they didn’t. I’d think you would want to know their veracity or falsity, and not dismiss as their views only.

    There is some truth behind every story. Certainly each of us see them in our own way, but the story happened. We cannot go back and relive those events, but we can look at what those who lived at the time thought to know what happened because behind each recounting of a story is truth. Sure, we must be discerning, but to dismiss them is faulty.

  17. Enki says:

    Well, most people are sure that Joseph Smith actually existed. Some have expressed doubts that ‘geezes’ ever existed.

  18. Ralph says:


    I read their view, and I saw that they had written “But now that he is killed some of the Church say that he said: unless he gave himself up. My husband was there at the time and says there was not conditions whatever, and many others testify to the same thing.”


    “You will likely hear a great deal about Joseph’s innocence such as: “I go like a lamb to the slaughter, and if I die, I die an innocent man.” All these statements, I believe, are false and got up for the purpose of reconciling the minds of the Church”

    This indicates that people were starting to change the story right then and there. I have read other eyewitness accounts (in church manuals) that tell the exact opposite story to what these 2 are saying above and are most likely the people that these 2 are charging with falsifying the story. All of the eyewitnesses to the events are dead now and so we cannot interview them. Thus we need to make our own decision as to where we stand and which witnesses to believe. Since these 2 admit in their letters that they did not strongly support JS and HS, in my opinion they will not be giving a supportive comment about their deaths and the events at that time.

    Couple that and the experiences that I have had in my life, I will believe in the LDS church. So these letters do not bother me one bit. I am not saying they’re false, but I am not saying they’re true either, I am just saying I have found the truth through different means andI am sticking to it.


    If marrying a 14 year old girl was not against the law then, then there is nothing wrong with it. If you have a ‘moral’ problem with it then you have a ‘moral’ problem with the Bible as most girls were married in the Bible between 12 and 16 years of age from what I understand – including Mary, who I have read was between 13 and 15 when she was pregnant with Jesus. Your only argument is about polygamy because the age was OK by both Biblical and legal standing.

  19. falcon says:

    My “ONLY” argument is about polygamy? Ralph you can’t be serious? You want to shift the discussion regarding Joseph Smith’s sexual abuse of a young girl to the approved age of marrage in the early 1800s? That’s not going to work friend. The legacy of Joseph Smith’s sexual debauchary can be seen in the polygamus cults that follow his example today where adolecent girls are forced into marrages with older adult men who already have wives. Some legacy Joseph Smith left and his example is being followed by the true believers today. I’m really surprised you haven’t followed the “prophet” into polygamy given your devotion to him and your unwavering support of everything Joseph.
    I knew a guy once who was trying to hit on this young woman but she wasn’t going to take him up on his offer. I remember him saying, “The ONLY reason she wouldn’t go out with me is because I’m married.” Really, the ONLY reason. The fool didn’t get it.
    Your use of the word “ONLY” and the sentiment it represents shows the true depth of the delusional world you live in. You’re so deep into cult thinking that your judgement and moral outrage have taken leave of themselves. There isn’t a whole lot of difference here with what you’re doing than within families where sexual abuse takes place and everyone rallies around and protects the perp. To your shame, you’re on the wrong side of this argument Ralph. The fact that you can’t see it is very troubling.

  20. Ralph says:


    I strongly disagree with teenage brides these days as it is illegal and I am the father of a 14 yr old girl. But that is these days and that is what we see as norm. Rewind yourself back to those days and you too would see nothing wrong with it. As I said, you are judging someone from the past by today’s standards. If you want to do that then you may as well condemn Joseph, Jesus’ step-father who married Mary when she was between 13 and 15 yrs old. Then most of the Biblical marriages the brides were around that age as well. It was a societal norm then and there was nothing wrong with it THEN. Now is a different story.

    If we go back to your argument about slavery, it is legal and allowed in the OT. The Law of Moses, which God gave, gives specific instructions on the sale of people (including family members) into slavery, the keeping of slaves and the term of service, among other things. So then it was OK – I would stipulate that even now it would still be OK by God as long a they are not abused but treated with respect and more as servants. So yes, I agree, the abuse of the slaves in the early American era was wrong, but having slaves and treating them correctly was not.

    So we cannot judge the people of the past by our standards as they had a different standard. And I stand by what I said – age is not a problem legally or Biblically – your only problem with the 14 yr old wives is the polygamy side of things.

  21. falcon says:

    My point is that you don’t get it! Joseph Smith was taking at least a couple of young girls as sex partners. He used his position as a religious leader to exploit them for his own pleasure. This discussion has nothing to do with the legal age of marrage. It has to do with the immoral sexual exploitation of young girls by Joseph Smith not to mention that of married women and other women as well. Your lack of moral outrage at Smith’s behavior, as I mentioned previously, is more than a little troubling.
    You want to come out in favor of slavery but you don’t. The stipulation has something to do with how the slaves are treated. Unbelievable! Please keep writing more on all of these subjects because your readers are being given valuable insights into your thought processes and moral judgement.
    The Scott’s, in their letter, expressed some valuable insights into what was going on in Nauvoo at the time of Joseph Smith’s death. What Joseph and his leaders were up to was being exposed and they were doing all they could to cover it up including wrecking the printing press of the man exposing them. In any group there are those who will stand-up and say “Enough, we won’t be part of this.” Others just go along; their moral senstitivity and sense of outrage surrendered to the cult leaders and the group think of the crowd.
    We are seeing the latter being presented to us everytime Ralph posts his thoughts here.

  22. Michael P says:


    I’ll echo what Falcon said: this letter reveals what the Smiths were doing to cover up certain things, including plural marriage. And I think you are right, they were beginning to change the story, but I read it exactly opposite as you do. I read it as the Mormons whitewashing it so that Smith will be seen in a positive light as a martyr, and not the folks like the Scott’s who had begun to doubt. The quotes you provide show this wonderfully. Why would critics say he was innocent and brought like a lamb to slaughter? Further, if you ask what conditions meant, it meant that theere were no conditions to him saying he would not die, and “unless he gave himself up” is a condition.

    What strikes me about this letter is that it is relatively free from extreme emotion. In fact, Sarah wonders why so few guards were with Smith and why the governor had so many. There are other indications that they are not emotionally driven and are simply relating what happened.

    You say there are other testimonies that speak differently than this one. Provide some specifics and we can compare. And when you think about it, if you charge that the Isaacs were biased or somehow distorting, do you not think it is possible those in support of Smith were just as biased? If so, why should we trust them more?

  23. jackg says:


    My heart breaks for you.


  24. falcon says:

    What we are seeing in the letter from the Scott’s is at least two distinct groups of Mormons in Nauvoo at the time this (letter) was written. There were those who were not going to go along with the direction that Joseph Smith and the leaders were heading and then there were the True Believers that bought the program. That program included plural marrage and the distinct doctrines that were heading away from the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith to which the Mormon religion originally held to.
    Actually we see the same thing today, as reflected in the posts of the Mormons here who go along with the Utah based LDS program and have no real shock or outrage once they find out what Joseph Smith was about. They also cling to the aberrent doctrines perpetrated by Smith, Young and their successors.
    The others, the exMormons, have examined the evidence and have had the courage to walk away from current day Mormonism with it’s aberrent doctrines. In my observation, the exMormons have also rejected the culture of the Mormon religion with its intrusive, legalistic and controlling behavior that would earn it the “cult” label.
    If folks take the time to examine the doctrines and teachings of the Community of Christ and the Temple Lot Mormon groups you notice two distinct characteristics. One is that their doctrines more closely resemble early day Mormonism with it’s Chrisitian type doctrines even though they cling conceptually to a type of continuous revelation. The other thing that I’ve noticed, especially with the CoC, is a more reasonable openness and lack of the cult type of thinking and behavior that permeates Salt Lake Mormonism.
    The legacy of all of these groups is still with us today and the seeds of such can be traced back to Nauvoo and seen in the letter the Scott’s wrote.

  25. falcon says:

    I would guess that at least one of the characteristics of the “those that leave” and “those that stay” groups are that in the “stay” group there is a belief that “everyone in leadership is called by God, is appropriate, and must be trusted.” These “stay” folks have basically handed their power over to the leadership of the group.
    In the Nauvoo group, the folks that were questioning the leadership had not handed their power over to the Smith Brothers and the other leaders. They questioned what was going on and they were holding the leadership accountable. One of the lasting legacies from Nauvoo of the Utah LDS is the “trust the leadership, they were chosen by God mentality”. The Scott’s, as evident by their letter, were not about to go along without making valid observations.
    The system Smith created and that continues today has as much to do with a form of idolotry whereby the Smiths and today’s leaders are placed on a pedestal. The “god” whose spirit permeates Mormonism is an impossible-to-please judge, who obsesses on peopole’s behaviors from a distance, whose mood is dependent on them, It is a god invented to enforce the performance standard and to keep the system intact. The false god created in Nauvoo is all about apearance, or how things l ook; it’s a what people think power-orientation. This ambient spirit in Mormonism provides a distorted image of God; a high level of anxiety based on other people or external circumstances; people-pleasing; high need to control thoughts, feelings and behaviors of others in order to gain a sense of well-being.
    This is a sick system Joseph Smith created and Brigham Young perfected. Young especially when we consider his blood-atonement doctrine. Kudos to the Scott’s delivered across time, to a period when it took some real intestinal fortitude to stand-up and call it the way they saw it. Our exMormon friends who post here grabbed back their power, dignity, self-worth and most importantly…..they gained their salvation.

  26. Michael P says:

    Questioning the leadership is indeed perhaps a key in the difference between the groups. It is interesting to note they included the $500 fine for speaking out against the council. This is a really interesting fact, I think, that indicates some attempts to control the thinking of the people.

  27. Ward says:

    Ralph – I really want to thank you for the transparency that you have shown at MC. Some of the Bros may come on too strong back at you for my taste at times, but while I may feel that, I also see the truth in their words and the scripture they post. WIth everyone dumping on you, I can see how you may cobble together things, and testify, even when your case is weakened. I would get defensive too.

    You say you have a 14 year old daughter, and so this arguing about Joseph is close to home. I grieve that you can seem to me to so blithely gloss over his actions. Can you not see how wrong it was for JSJ to go to young girls and say they held the future of their parents in their hands, and so they had to marry him??? Regardless of our disagreements about the age of consent back then (I have seen posts that the age of consent was up towards 18 even back then), Joseph’s secrecy, manipulation, distortion and and hiding his behavior from Emma and others raises serious doubts as to his own testimony and writings. I am so glad you have not had to have to deal with this situation of the prophet coming to your daughter or yourself. You have been protected.

    I hope you realize that many of us here are praying for your protection and your continuing journey to discover all the truth and the source of that truth. In the meantime, thanks for letting us walk together. His grace is enough…

  28. Free says:

    Michael P. wrote: “Questioning the leadership is indeed perhaps a key in the difference between the groups. It is interesting to note they included the $500 fine for speaking out against the council. This is a really interesting fact, I think, that indicates some attempts to control the thinking of the people”.

    Seems to me there’s not too much of a difference now.

    Go ahead and openly question the leadership of the church now a days and see what happens to you.

    Case in point: Lyndon Lamborn and the Stake President in Phoenix James Molina who shamefully planned to humiliate Lamborn by excommunicating Lamborn publicly. They smile at you and tell you they love you and then they plan to stab you in the back.

    What about the lds 11th article of faith which states “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”


  29. Ward says:

    It seems to me that if Jason were correct in his above assertions, and that Sharon’s sources were wrong, she, and Aaron, and Bill, would publish a correction and apology. However, I will give her the benefit to research all of this before making a response. Although I do not know any of these people personally, I will give them the grace to research and respond, and I believe they will do so with integrity.

    In saying all of the above, Jason, thanks for the tone of your posts. It was a pleasure to read them. There was no “ad hominem” as such, if I understand what that was.

  30. setfree says:

    The following was taken from BYU Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, Winter 1980, 218 (referenced by Jason Rae’s FAIR article) which is an essay by Lyndon W. Cook about William Law:

    “…Prophet Joseph Smith… with divine confirmation selected [William Law] as a counselor in the First Presidency in 1841. For nearly three years William Law served in this high position with dignity, making two important missions to the eastern states…

    By the summer of 1842, primarily because of his ecclesiastical position, William was drawn into the Prophet’s inner circle and introduced to additional sacred truths…

    By the fall of 1843, William had become convinced that the Prophet had abused his authority in the matter of plural marriage. A complete and permanent rupture between William Law and Joseph Smith had occurred by Christmas 1843, when William opted to side with other disaffected Mormons who opposed the Prophet.

    In addition to rejecting the principle of plural marriage, William Law and other dissidents balked at two other of the Prophets’ teachings – a plurality of Gods and unconditional sealing up unto eternal life.

    By the spring of 1844 William and his cohorts had determined not merely to leave Mormonism behind, but to publicly denounce Joseph Smith’s private teachings, which they called doctrines of devils.

    After their excommunication in April 1844, William and his brother, with others, established a printing office and issued one number of a paper called the Nauvoo Expositor, 7 June 1844.

    By publication of personal statements and sworn testimony, they sought to expose Joseph Smith to Nauvoo Mormons and to publicly traduce his character.

    The city council’s decision to defend Joseph and to destroy the printing press as a public nuisance had far-reaching effects, ultimately resulting in the death of the Prophet.

    Menaced by angry Mormons, the Laws left Nauvoo in June 1844…”

  31. setfree says:

    “It needs to be pointed out that at least three months prior to the composition of Scott’s letter the Prophet had told a group of Saints, “There is something going to happen; I don’t know what it is, but the Lord bids me to hasten and give you your endowment before the Temple is finished” (Times and Seasons, vol. 5, no. 17, 15)”

    The above quote from Times and Seasons, vol. 5, no. 17, 15 comes from LDS Church minutes taken at the trial of “Elder Rigdon” on September 8th, 1844.

    I believe it’s Elder Hyde who is talking, and he says “Before I went east on the 4th of April last, we were in council with Brother Joseph almost every day for weeks, says Brother Joseph in one of those councils there is something going to happen; I don’t know what it is, but the Lord bids me to hasten and give you your endowment before the Temple is finished”.

    The Elder is reporting something that Joseph Smith allegedly said in a council meeting that happened sometime before April 1844. So, the testimony being given by the Elder is being given AT THE VERY LEAST 5 months after it happened. To quote the lawyers at FAIR “so the memory of the person who provided the information needs to be taken into consideration”

  32. Ralph says:

    Ok Falcon,

    I think I am beginning to see your point. It is still not about age, but the way in which JS approached the proposal – thus it wouldn’t matter to you how old the woman/girl was, you don’t like the way he ‘threatens’ their eternal welfare during the proposal procedure. JS had 2 wives that were 14 yrs old. From my understanding of what I have read from Todd Comptons book, he states that the majority of the evidence about the marriage to Helen Marr Kimball was only dynastic – meaning there was no sex involved. I don’t know enough about the way JS ‘proposed’ to the other girl to determine if he ‘forced’ the issue by threatening her and her parents’ eternal life as you insinuate. Did he make the threats to the second girl? If he didn’t, and Todd Compton is correct, then your statement about JS threatening the girls and their parents just for sex is incorrect. I am not saying he did not threaten anyone’s eternal well being – there have been a number of quotes posted on this site to show he did, I am just asking about one girl, because there is no evidence of a sexual relationship with the other so in that case the ‘threats’ if any were not for sex.

    But this whole argument is moot IF JS was a true prophet and polygamy was a revelation from God. Anyone who does not follow the prophet (as can be seen in the OT) will suffer the wrath of God.

    And I am not excusing JS. If he did something wrong then he will have to answer to God for it, not to me. If he did something wrong, it does not make him any less of a prophet of God either, as many keep saying on this site – God works through sinful humans.

    To all,

    I can’t leave without this comment – The gospels were written years/decades after the fact and Genesis was written centuries after the fact – I think we need to call these writers’ memories into question here as well !

  33. Jason violated one of four comment policy rules, namely, “Unless permission is otherwise granted by a moderator, links or references to Mormon apologetic material must be accompanied by a summary (in your own words) of the key arguments made.” If he includes a summary of the key arguments in his own words, he is welcome to repost what he did from FAIR.

  34. setfree says:

    lol, i think it’s interesting how much legal expertise (FAIR) it takes to put out all the fires

  35. Ward wrote “Ralph – I really want to thank you for the transparency that you have shown at MC. Some of the Bros may come on too strong back at you for my taste at times…”


  36. I’ve got to admit that this document has changed my view of the origins of Mormonism.

    Previously, I was under the impression that it was all Joseph Smith, but this document gives an insight into a group of people collectively gathered around Smith’s leadership.

    Firstly, the document certainly looks authentic. Its got those ‘incidental’ details that usually get lost in retrojections; it doesn’t labor any particular point; there is minimal rhetoric; and the tone is what you’d expect of a daughter and son-in-law writing to their parents about the unexpected death of one of their colleagues.

    Its the insight into the relationship between the Scotts and the Church that’s fascinating about this letter.

    On the basis of this letter, I’d say the Scotts were fairly orthodox and earnest in their faith. They didn’t like the “many Gods, many wives” that had crept into their fellowship. Importantly, they aspire to drawing the church away from these “heresies”, though they appear helpless to do so.

    Though I have not belonged to a polytheistic, polygamous cult, I can identify with the Scott’s perspective. It appears that they wanted to stay in the church and retain Smith’s leadership. I suspect that it was their personal relationships, in what they considered to be a dynamic, new and exciting movement, that drove this sentiment. They were loyal to the church’s fellowship, if not to all its teachings.

    I wonder if they came to the place where many Mormons might find themselves today; wanting to stay a part of Joseph’s vision, yet wanting to pull the church away from Joseph’s wackier teachings?

    The trouble is, no matter how hard you might pull in one direction, the LDS canon will never let you escape the excesses that the Scotts regarded as heresy. Perhaps the real surprise to the Scotts and most Mormons today, is that these “heresies” find their origins in Joseph himself – they would not be there if Joseph had not “revealed” them.

    Joseph Smith is not good news to Mormons.

  37. falcon says:

    We come to the “nut” of the matter and that has to do with whether or not Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and whether or not polygamy was a revelation (from God). It’s my contention that even a cursory examination of Joseph Smith reveals that not only was he not a prophet but he was in deed a false prophet. The bottom-line: it’s all about Joseph Smith. Once a Mormon has doubts regarding Joseph Smith, the deal is over. Sandra Tanner talks about going through a process where eventually her and Gerald dispatched everything but the BoM. They were going to hold on to that. It wasn’t long before they connected all of the dots and rejected the BoM also.
    It’s a very tough, emotional process for many who leave Mormonism. In the letter from the Scott’s we see folks in Nauvoo who wouldn’t buy the “prophet’s” revelations regarding plural marrage and the nature of God. In every cult like group, there comes a major decision point when the “prophet/leader” takes off in a direction that many find unacceptable and leave and others stay in because of the equity of the emotional investment which they need to “rescue”. Often times the prophet ups the ante to test the loyalty of the group.
    Years ago there was a Christian church group in our area with a very charasmatic leader. He introduced “spiritual connecting” in the church services. He had people dancing together. Pretty soon that evolved to people dancing with partners other than their spouses. The next step was that these new partners would meet outside of the church services. He was directing who was connecting with who, and yes the final step in spiritual connecting was having sex. Some brave souls, I’m sure put the skids on and bolted the place. Others went along with it. The whole program eventually blew-up leaving a trail of emotional turmoil that scarred the participants for life.
    There’s a decision point where people have to deny what they know and stay or get out.

  38. falcon says:

    I also see that in your last post you are questioning the veracity and accuracy of the Bible. One of your contentions deals with oral history becoming written scripture. Your point, I guess, is that anything that is remembered can’t be totally trusted as to its authenticity or inspiration by God. I’m sure you are aware of the fact that there have been thousands of changes to the BoM. Some are grammatical corrections but others deal with significant teachings and doctrines of Mormonism. But in Mormonism this is perfectly acceptable because new information is arriving daily from the Mormon god, hence the need for changes. Mormonism, it seems, is evolving. Perhaps we can only hope that some day Mormonism will evolve back into Christianity.
    The area of textual criticism is very interesting and I think reading a good book on “Where we got the Bible” would be helpful to your understanding of why Chirstians hold God’s Word in such high respect and trust the revelation of God it represents.

  39. setfree says:

    You probably don’t even know it’s there because you are so used to carrying it, but one of these days you’re going to see what it’s like to put down the load you are carrying, take up Jesus’ helium backpack, and breathe like you’ve never known how to breathe before. I’m hoping and praying this for you and the other LDS. It’s a marvelous experience, being forgiven fully, and being overwhelmed with the kind of love that shines right through all of your problems until they are gone. The beautiful, wonderful, unending love of God.

  40. falcon says:

    Ralph really hit the nail on the head with his proposition that it all comes down to whether or not a person believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet and if polygamy was a command from the Lord. For a Christian the answer is a big NO,NO. I’m all for revelation, angelic visitations, visions, dreams, the Gifts of the Spirit as outlined and expanded upon in First Corinthians 12 and 14, and the five fold ministry of the Holy Spirit including the office of the prophet. Because of this I’m unusually vigilant when it comes to someone claiming to be a prophet or offering a “word from the Lord”.
    In the article that started this thread, the Scott’s were expressing a position of dissent from the direction Joseph Smith was taking. From Fawn Bode’s book “No Man Knows My History” p.370:
    “……Like so many other desaffected members, Law believed Joseph to be not a false but a fallen prophet, led into iniquity by the teachings of John C. bennett and his own hot passions. He clung to Joseph’s earliest revelations-to the original purity of the gospel message which had made him a convert-and hoped that something would bring the prophet to his senses”.
    People come to those points of decision as many of our exMormon posters can fully attest to. The choice has often been called “mind snapping” where by the person ignores all the warning signs that something isn’t right and pushes forward going ever further down into the vortex of false belief that makes it increasingly difficult from which to escape.
    It takes courage and it takes conviction but the result is a freedom that Setfree, in his above comments, wrote so eloquently about.

  41. falcon says:

    So the lesson of Nauvoo, among others, is how does someone tell the false from the true and what do adherents to a certain set of beliefs do when their prophet/leader begins to go in a direction with practices and teachings that they (the faithful believers) don’t agree with. What keeps some people following dutifully along while others openly question and perhaps leave the sect?
    On another site a former Mormon by the handle of XMA posted the following (which I’ve edited) entitled: “The Most Dishonest Lesson Under Mormonism”. “…….I extricated myself from Mormonism. I was too honest with myself about myself to set my dobuts aside. When I found that I was being dishonest with myself, and that I was too afraid to directly evaluate church teachings, I investigated my ‘self-dishonesty’ instead. The lesson learned is what I consider to be the most dishonest thing the church teaches. It instructs people to set aside their doubts as character flaws or deceptions from an evil power OBVIOUSLY made all sorts of deceptions possible. Even as a closed-minded mormon, I understood that such lessons had no effect but to corrupt good judgement and would only be useful for an evil deceiver. It wasn’t the facts or the behaviors espoused by the church and its members that got me out of there. It was that I recognized consistent anti-thinking patterns in the form of lessons and statements on ‘building testimony’. When I understood that, if I accepted the exact same lessons in context of some other religion (such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, the People’s Temple, or a great many other such cults in the past) that I would have no power to see through their deceptions because I would have had my ability to reason corrupted and destroyed. In other words, Mormonism has the prototypical deception, which can not be honestly denied, ignored, or apoligized for.”
    An investigative inquisitive mind is the best antedote to false teachings and practices.

  42. Jason Rae says:

    setfree – It is a lie of Satan that you will obtain salvation without effort. That you will obtain simply by acknowledging the supreme leader. The evangelical perversion of the cross propagates the lie of personal responsibility being absolved by a simple nod of the head in the direction of the fuhrer in the sky.

    And that if you don’t acknowledge him he will personally throw you into fire for eternity. What a waste of time.

    Why should anyone abandon the truth for your fascist theology?

  43. setfree says:


    I think what can be seen in Jason Rae’s comment above is another “God the Father could have sinned” type deal.

    What I mean, of course, is that though Mormons don’t necessarily teach from the podium that God is “a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism” (see definition of fascism), the LDS view of God is along these lines.

    Jason Rae,

    You and I believe in two very different Gods. The God of the Bible longs to love us, provide for us, bless us, heal us, restore us to fellowship with Him.

    Personal responsibility being absolved by a skyward nod of the head is a lie your church teaches about Biblical Christianity.

    You want the kind of love and acceptance that gives you peace, hope and joy in every circumstance of your life? Better get reading the Bible 🙂


  44. Jason Rae says:

    setfree, what does the evangelical God do to those who do not go through the salvation process as outlined by mainstream Christianity?

  45. Jason Rae says:

    setfreefromcommonsense, do you even know what you’re talking about?

    Regarding fascist theology you said: “the LDS view of God is along these lines”

    Do you really want to stand by that statement or retract it now? Why even post on this board if you are that vacant when it comes to LDS salvation theology?

    I don’t expect to have to come here and teach our doctrines to those who claim to know them so well.

  46. Jason Rae says:

    setfreefromalllogic, Again – what does the evangelical God do to those who do not go through the salvation process as outlined by mainstream Christianity?

  47. falcon says:

    Jason Rae,
    What’s your beef? Mormonism is obviously a totally different religion from Biblical Christianity. If you don’t accept it, that’s your privilege. You obviously have a real problem with folks who have left Mormonism in favor of the God of the Bible, the Jesus of the Bible, the Holy Spirit of the Bible and finally salvation as outlined in the Biblical text. You don’t have to get so angry about it. The exMormons have made a choice. Setfree, and the others, tested Mormonism and found it to be false.
    If you want to come here and mock God and those who call him Savior, you’re just exposing your own hate and nastiness. I don’t know what you’re so bitter about? But I always encourage the Mormon posters to let loose. I think it’s good for the lurkers to witness this.

  48. Jason Rae says:

    falcon – I have no beef with ex Mormons at all. People leave the church every day and I say more power to them. Could care less. People should choose what’s best for them.

    Now back to the topic:

    What does the evangelical God personally do to those who do not go through the salvation process as outlined by mainstream Christianity?

  49. Jason Rae says:

    falcon – Pegging fascist ideology to evangelical theology is my personal independent thinking. The church has never and does not currently teach it in any way.

    For setfree to make the statement: “the LDS view of God is along these lines” regarding fascist thought tells me quite clearly that he/she is utterly lost when it comes to true LDS salvation theology and therefore maybe we should question his/her honesty when it comes to prior membership claims.

  50. Jason B. of, is that you?

    Update: Oh, I see that it is.

    Evangelicals, ask Jason what he believes about Adam sometime 😉

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