The trial of ex-Mormon-turned-Prophet Brian David Mitchell is well underway, and garnering attention outside of the US.
Mitchell, you may recall, abducted 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart in 2002, insisting that she was to become his second (plural) wife. Mitchell and his legal wife, Wanda, kept Elizabeth for 9 months, until she was found and rescued by police in Sandy, Utah.
The Guardian (United Kingdom) ran an article this week that examines Mitchell’s doctrines and behavior. What makes this particular article unique is that journalist Holly Welker unapologetically compares Mitchell’s actions to those of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith, and tightly ties Mitchell and his beliefs to Mormonism.
What follows are a few excerpts from the article, but I encourage you to go read the whole piece. Once again we see the fruits of a false prophet on display (Matthew 7:15-20).
“Federal Prosecutor Felice Viti asked Smart, ‘During these discussions [of Mitchell’s sexual abuse of Smart], did he ever mention whether the prophets had young wives?’ The question refers to the fact that of the 30-plus wives generally established to have been married to Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith, two (Helen Mar Kimball and Nancy Mariah Winchester) were, like Smart, 14 – a fact many Mormons prefer to overlook.
“Duffy notes that ‘Mitchell believes he is the divinely appointed prophetic successor to Joseph Smith.’ Comparisons of Mitchell to Smith are, therefore, unavoidable – and, I would argue, absolutely necessary.
“Joseph Smith established a church in which an adult man can command reluctant teenage girls to marry him… Smith established a script by which men exert sexual and physical control over women, and Mitchell followed it.
“According to Smart’s testimony, Mitchell used both actual and threatened physical violence against her, his victim. Smith also used the threat of physical violence, though, usually, he made himself the potential recipient of it… he told women that if they didn’t marry and consent to sex with him, they would be responsible for his death.
“Smith was not above using another type of violence: spiritual violence. Smith sometimes threatened those who opposed his plural marriages – including the women he courted – with eternal damnation…Given that Smith was revered by his followers as a prophet who spoke directly to God, these threats were thoroughly dire and utterly terrifying. Their impact and profundity cannot be overestimated: the psychological and supernatural scope of this spiritual violence exceeded any threat Mitchell was able to make against Smart…
“As I and countless others who have served missions for the LDS church before leaving it can testify, it is, indeed, harrowing to confront ways in which an institution you’ve loved and worked to support has harmed and betrayed you…
“Granted, Mitchell did not practise his religion in the same way that Smart practised hers. But many of their beliefs are related, and many of the means of abuse, control and coercion Mitchell used against Smart were scripted and practised by Joseph Smith – who also offered his followers a promise of safety, security and meaning…
“Given what Smart has gone through, I’m glad that she has found comfort where she can. But there are issues beyond her ordeal to consider, and concern for her must not prevent us from addressing them. As long as Mormonism is reluctant to confront the coercive, abusive elements of the doctrine of polygamy, which is, even today, a sacred part of Mormon canonical scripture, the LDS church will fail to fully make good on its ‘promise of safety, security and meaning’ for many of its followers – particularly women, who are most vulnerable to the doctrine’s coercion and abuse.”