Murder Among Mormons

“On October 15, 1985, a pipe bomb wrapped with nails exploded in the hands of Steve Christensen, a young Salt Lake City businessman. Two hours later, a similar bomb shattered the calm of a quiet cul-de-sac in one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods…The next day, as the city reeled in panic, the unthinkable happened a third time. A bomb ripped the roof off a car belonging to Mark Hofmann, a young, highly respected rare-documents dealer. Unlike the others, Hofmann survived.

“All three victims were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, known to the world as Mormons.

“The story that linked these three people in a circle of forgery, fraud, and murder would shock the world and shake the foundations of the Mormon Church…The frantic effort to suppress that story would bring the Mormon Church to the edge of lawlessness and thrust its highest officials into the middle of a murder investigation…and shine the spotlight of police and media attention into the darkest corners of Mormon history and doctrine…

“The Mormon Murders recounts the scam in which mild-mannered Mark Hofmann sold to the highest officials of the Mormon Church documents – including the ‘White Salamander’ letter – that cast doubt on the truth of the Church’s founding revelations. A remarkable tale of bribery, intrigue, forgery, and murder – and of the intrepid investigation that culminated in a trial itself as dramatic and unpredictable as the crimes themselves.” (Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, The Mormons Murders – A True Story of Greed, Forgery, Deceit, and Death, Book Club Edition dust jacket)

Wow – pretty exciting. The true story of the Mark Hofmann forgeries and murders dominated newspaper and magazine headlines for weeks, if not months, and generated many full-length books as well. It is the stuff of which movies and television mini-series are made. Isn’t it odd that a movie has never been made about the Hofmann crimes?

With all the attention generated by the current Broadway hit “Book of Mormon,” television executive Arthur Axelman has been remembering “the longest and most difficult mini-series development in the then-William Morris Agency’s history.”

Mr. Axelman recently wrote an article for The Wrap titled “’The Mormon Murders’ — the Mini-Series the Latter Day Saints Shut Down.” In it, he recalls reading the newly completed manuscript for Steven Naifeh’s and Gregory White Smith’s then unpublished book, The Mormon Murders, declaring the story to be “a four-hour miniseries.” After a poorly conceived attempt by one screenwriter, another, Dale Wasserman (“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Man of La Mancha”), was called in for a rewrite based on Naifeh’s and Smith’s book.

“Wasserman’s rewrite was good, but not great. We believed the underlying material deserved better as we wanted to attract a major director and star talent who would elevate this beyond the ordinary television movie. In order to accomplish that we needed a four-hour teleplay that approached brilliance.

“After several drafts, Wasserman delivered and CBS ordered what had now become Murder Among the Saints to production. A license fee was negotiated and it came in around nine million dollars.

“When word hit Salt Lake that CBS was committed to tell the Mormon [M]urders story as a four-hour mini-series, it is said that LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley called CBS founder and chief William S. Paley and asked, ‘How would you like some outsiders doing a vicious four hour attack on your Jews?’”

“Murder Among the Saints” was dead in the water. Over the years several “outsiders” have passed on producing the mini-series, while insiders wouldn’t dream of doing it. But Mr. Axelman holds out hope:

“It was and is a brilliant script, the most concise and coherent of all, and one day, perhaps, will be produced.”

Until then, since Naifeh and Smith (who later won the Pulitzer Prize for An American Saga) have done an admirable job in presenting the detailed truth of this compelling story — as have many other authors — you can settle in and read all about it.

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 Gordon B. Hinckley, Mormon Culture, Mormon History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Murder Among Mormons

  1. falcon says:

    There is a lot of intrigue in this story that generates some very interesting questions. In my mind the foremost question is, “How in the world did these Mormon leaders get so scammed?” First of all, they’re suppose to be hearing from the Mormon god and one would think, be operating with a hyper-sense of spiritual discernment. Secondly, aren’t these guys suppose to be smart and even on a human level, be able to sniff out a scam?
    What lies at the foundation of their getting conned was their fear that what Hofmann had was true.
    From Wikipedia:
    “Perhaps the most notorious of Hofmann’s LDS forgeries, the Salamander letter, appeared in 1984. Supposedly written by Martin Harris to William Wines Phelps, the letter presented a version of the recovery of the gold plates that contrasted markedly with the church-sanctioned version of events. Not only did the forgery intimate that Joseph Smith had been practicing “money digging” through magical practices, but it also replaced the angel that Smith said had appeared to him with a white salamander.[23]
    After the letter had been purchased for the church and become public knowledge, Apostle Dallin Oaks asserted to Mormon educators that the words “white salamander” could be reconciled with Joseph Smith’s Angel Moroni because in the 1820s, the word salamander might also refer to a mythical being thought to be able to live in fire, and a “being that is able to live in fire is a good approximation of the description Joseph Smith gave of the Angel Moroni.”[24]”
    The shocking thing is not only that the Mormon leadership got scammed but that they believed the story was true and they wanted to hide it.
    This whole episode was spun by Mormons to present their leaders as objects of sympathy and not hopeless dupes.

  2. falcon says:

    Dallin Oaks explanation of the White Salamander is an example of the childish and immature explanations Mormon leaders and apologists will offer to explain away embarrassing and revealing evidence regarding their religion. What’s appalling is that the rank and file Mormons will accept these explanations without even batting an eye. Thus are the lengths people will go to believe something they desire to believe. This desire to believe is mistaken for faith. The more preposterous a claim is an the explanations to support it, the more the faithful embrace it. It’s counter-intuitive but in Mormonism it works.
    The Wikipedia article has a good final summary:
    “According to the Ostlings, the Hofmann forgeries could only have been perpetrated “in connection with the curious mixture of paranoia and obsessiveness with which Mormons approach church history.”[51] After Hofmann’s exposure, the Church tried to correct the record, but the “public relations damage as well as the forgery losses meant the church was also a Hofmann victim.”[52] Robert Lindsey has also suggested that Hofmann “stimulated a burst of historical inquiry regarding Joseph Smith’s youthful enthusiasm for magic [that] did not wither after his conviction” despite “even harsher barriers to scholars’ access to [LDS Church] archives… The Mark Hofmann affair had emboldened many scholars to penetrate deeper and deeper into recesses of the Mormon past that its most conservative leaders wanted left unexplored, and it was unlikely that those in the Church Administration Building would ever be able to contain fully the fires of intellectual curiosity that Hofmann had helped fan.”[53]”
    When credulity has been stretched too far for even the most devout Mormons, they are left to believe in Mormonism because they want to regardless of the over whelming evidence that the religion and it’s founder are frauds.

  3. Rick B says:

    I am not one bit surprised that the LDS church was and will fight to the bitter end to never allow this to be a movie. Just one more thing they wont allow. They really just hate the truth dont they.

  4. falcon says:

    What’s interesting is that an exMormon, Jerald Tanner, figured out the scam.
    “Interesting side note: Jerald Tanner, who has been called a “career a***-Mormon” and who with his wife Sandra runs the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, was actually highly suspect of the document’s validity, even though it clearly vindicated his point of view. He was suspicious because the story closely matched the Willard Chase affidavit found in Eber D. Howe’s Mormonism Unveiled, published in 1834, which has the distinction of being the first a***-Mormon publication. As it turns out, the Salamander Letter actually was a forgery, of course, which boosted the Tanners’ reputation for honesty, since they refused to tout a document they couldn’t authenticate, no matter how damning to the LDS Church. This also leaves faithful Mormons with the unenviable task of reconciling the fact that a career a***-Mormon could detect a forgery while the “prophets, seers, and revelators” of the Mormon hierarchy could not. ”

    Granted, Mark Hofmann was a very skilled forgerer and accomplished con man but why would the Mormon leadership believe that it was actually a White Salamander that appeared to Joseph Smith and not the angel Moroni? The answer lies in the gullibility of those who would believe in the Joseph Smith tale. Remember, Smith could convince people that he could see buried treasure in the ground by the means of a magic rock. He told tales of all sorts of spirit beings appearing to him including an angel that threatened to kill him if he didn’t start practicing polygamy.
    It’s all beyond ridiculous.

  5. falcon says:

    Mormon offers this observation regarding the claim of special spiritual discernment for Mormon prophets:
    “………Bruce R. McConkie, formerly a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in his book Mormon Doctrine under the heading Discernment:
    “. . . the gift of the discerning of spirits is poured out upon presiding officials in God’s kingdom; they have it given to them to discern all gifts and all spirits, lest any come among the saints and practice deception. . . Thereby even ‘the thoughts and intents of the heart’ are made known.”
    Lest anyone think that McConkie was merely giving his own opinion, the same thing was stated by God Himself (according to faithful Mormons) in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 46, verse 27:
    “And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.”

    A recent Mormon poster here wrote that it was optional to believe the revelations proclaimed by the Mormon prophets. This is part of the contortions that Mormons must be able to do to remain faithful to the religion. On-the-one-hand they claim their prophet/leaders have super spiritual discernment are hearing from the Mormon god. This is a major selling point of the religion. Then again it’s been demonstrated countless times that these prophets are not only inconsistent but flat out contradictory in their pronouncements. The Hofmann affair, as it has become known, demonstrates that the Mormon prophet/leaders have little if any supernatural discernment or ability.
    They’re simply flawed men who are caught up in a fantasy that they know they need to protect.

  6. Kate says:

    The part that bothers me the most is that the LDS leadership lied about it. I read through the investigation (that is easily accessible online) and the answers given to the investigators by Gordon Hinkley should be appalling to the members of the church. Mark Hoffman should have went to trial and found guilty by 12 of his peers, not given a fantastic plea deal. Once again, the leaders of the LDS church didn’t stand by the honesty and integrity that it demands of it’s members. It makes me wonder why they believed in, and wanted to bury, the salamander document. That is a huge red flag. Why the lay members of the church just shrugged their shoulders and moved on, not questioning this stuff is beyond me. I was in High School at the time this happened and remember it on the news. My family “didn’t even bat an eye” as falcon said. The only thing I can come up with is that people want to believe what they want to believe. No matter how much evidence is shown to them. I believe that this mini series should be made. I don’t understand why the LDS leadership even has a say in it. It happened, it’s true, it’s history and it should be told. Too bad if it brings to light how the leadership of the LDS church operates. Innocent people died as a result of this and I believe their story should be told, just as the story of the Mountain Meadows was told. A movie was made about that, why not a mini series about the Mark Hoffman story?

  7. jackg says:

    Falcon hit the nail on the head when he said, “The more preposterous a claim is and the explanations to support it, the more the faithful embrace it.” I was once held captive by such thinking. The faith angle is critical for Mormons to accept the teachings of JS despite all the evidence against such teachings. A head in the sand is better than admitting you’ve been duped all your life.


  8. falcon says:

    There’s a Lutheran denomination that OK’d congregations calling homosexual pastors who are in committed relationships. The selling point for this change was that the local congregations had the option, they weren’t compelled to do it. It’s a long story but I went to a meeting of a congregation were the pastor was explaining the change. A whole six people showed up and it was between church services so it wasn’t like anyone had to make a great effort to attend. It was pure apathy because, I think, folks were thinking that they didn’t have to call a gay pastor, it was just permitted so it didn’t effect them. The larger question of belonging to a synod that permitted this didn’t even cross the peoples’ minds.
    What’s my point? It’s part of the “it doesn’t effect me so why get excited” syndrome. I can see this with the Mark Hofmann case. Mormons have been conditioned to shut-up and go with the flow. They weren’t going to disrupt their lives over something that they didn’t think effected them. Some probably didn’t even know what the fuss was about. Others probably just felt sorry for the leaders because of what that bad man did to them.
    The implications for what an event like this says about the leadership and their spiritual abilities never dawned on some Mormons I’m sure. The LDS church is an autocratic organization. Do you think that an individual Mormon is going to stand up and call into question what the leadership has done? Not on your life.

  9. What I think is interesting is that unless you were around during this time (and old enough to remember), most Mormons are clueless to this. I’ve been around Mormons for the last 15 years or so, and honestly, Mormon Coffee was the first place I ever heard about this. Of course, why would any Mormon want to talk about it? It’s embarrassing. These men claim to be prophets and super-spiritual leaders of God, yet they couldn’t recognize a scam when they saw it? Did they not pray and ask God if this were true or not? Isn’t that the Mormon test? So what was the result? Because if they got a feeling that this could be true, what should this mean for everything else they get fuzzy feelings about?
    Currently, there’s a video going around about how the LDS priesthood saved this young man’s life at a HS football game. Sure, it’s touching. But they’re trying to say it happened because of these men being obedient and worthy of holding the priesthood. The problem with this is that God chooses to heal who He wants to heal. I’m pretty sure every religion has its “miracle stories” used to pump up the members and try to prove that they’re right. With the LDS though, as long as there are these kinds of feel-good stories and happy little ditties from the prophet saying things like, “the future is as bright as your faith” (seriously?? that’s considered a prophecy?? what happened to all the fun stuff?!), then there’s no way they’re going to call anything into question. Unless it’s faith-promoting, they don’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Which is why most of my generation (of Mormons) has never heard of it or doesn’t talk about it.

  10. grindael says:

    What bothers me is that Gordon Hinckley was more concerned with the Church’s image, then actively participating in a murder investigation to get justice for those that Hoffman duped and murdered. What a hypocrite. What he did was deplorable, but this is par for the course for Mormon ‘authorities’, who have made lying a policy, and the truth something to be manipulated. _johnny

  11. Mike R says:

    When I think of the whole Hoffman affair the thing that stands out to me is how the
    Mormon penchant for relying on their feelings, their conviction , to evaluate spiritual
    truth was seen to be fully on display here and the results were clear. First , there was
    the Mormon leadership and how they met with Hoffman for several years and in the
    end their conviction or spiritual witness testified to them that Hoffman could be trusted.
    Then there was Mark Hoffman’s father, who testified that his son was innocent of the
    murders based on his spiritual witness, but later his son admitted to the deeds . Nobody
    denies that personal convictions are important or that the Holy Ghost speaks to the heart
    today, but Mormon leadership seem to have fostered in LDS that feelings are the primary
    criteria for embracing spiritual truth . This is very dangerous . This episode in Mormon
    history put this issue on display for all to see . The Mormon people deserve more reliable
    spiritual guides, not those that offer a hit and miss track record on spiritual discernment .
    The question every Mormon needs to ask themselves is : what other important issues have
    their leadership failed to accurately relay the truth to them ? Prov.14:12

  12. falcon says:

    I could sense your righteous indignation raising up as you wrote about the veracity of the Mormon leadership.
    I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a religious denomination that considers itself “Christian” so intent on keeping information from people, covering up, and outright lying like this Mormon bunch. The only thing that I might see as somewhat similar, but not really, was the Catholic Church and the pedophile priest scandal. Although as it turns out, the Catholic Church wasn’t/isn’t the only religious group that has had an issue with sexual misconduct and the clergy.
    The problem for Mormonism is that factual information is its enemy. That’s why there’s such an emphasis on personal revelation as a testimony to the truth of Joseph Smith’s claims. Digging into the tales Smith told and finding the truth is not faith promoting but rather faith defeating.
    Something we haven’t discussed here that has been rewritten to make it sound like something it definitely wasn’t, is the story of the Mormon handcart brigades. These folks are hailed as heroes when the fact of the matter is that these people suffered mightily because of poor decision making on the part of the leaders including Brigham Young.
    I’m still intrigued by the fact that the Mormon leadership thought that the White Salamander story Mark Hofmann sold them was true. They believed it and wanted to bury it. At the very least they had to spin the story in such a way as to make it fit the Smith narrative. Even this turned into a total debacle.
    The Mormon formula is to rewrite the Smith story, sanitize it and embellish it. Then hide any information that is contrary to the approved version.

  13. falcon says:

    I’m sure there are Mormons who don’t even bother to question events like the Hofmann scam because the idea that the leaders of the LDS church could be a bunch of bumblers would be too much for them to even contemplate. It hits right at the main points of the Mormon canned testimony and if one part isn’t correct what about the other points.
    Was Joseph Smith really a prophet of God?
    Is the BoM an actual history of an actual people?
    Is the current Mormon prophet really speaking for God?
    Is the LDS church the one true church?
    As important as these first four points are to the Mormon, the last point (of the testimony) is really the most important in terms of the definition of who Jesus is. Because if a person doesn’t get Jesus right, then nothing in their religious dogma matters. It’s at this fifth point that Jesus finally gets mentioned in Mormonism. Jesus is sort of the caboose of the Mormon religion. After all, while Mormons will insist that Jesus is important and will speak in reverence about Him, He isn’t as important as the authentic Jesus is to Christians.
    First of all a Mormon doesn’t need Jesus. A Mormon can make it to the Celestial Kingdom and become deified on their own initiative. Jesus comes in at the end if a Mormon hasn’t done enough to become a god and adds what ever loose change might be needed to pay off the bill. Jesus might even leave the waitress a tip if necessary. But it’s never really been defined what “enough” is when it comes to doing what’s necessary for a Mormon male to become a god.
    Christianity isn’t about who heads your denomination, it isn’t even about testifying to the Bible. It’s all about Jesus.

  14. grindael says:

    One reads this kind of braggadocios nonsense, and then scratches their head in wonder at how Hinckley (or any of them for that matter), could get so thoroughly duped by Hofmann:

    “The gift of discernment consists of the spiritual quality or skill of being able to see or understand, especially that which is hidden or obscure. This ability is shared in a general way by all of God’s children, but “discerning of spirits” is one of the gifts of the spirit that comes, under certain circumstances, specially from God (1 Cor. 12:10; D&C 46:23). The fuller gift of discerning in all spiritual matters—to know whether their occurrence is of God or not—is given by the Lord to “such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church” (D&C 46:27). To possess this gift is to receive divinely revealed understanding of opposing spirits—the spirit of God and the spirit of the devil. Persons possessing such a gift also correctly perceive the right course of action (D&C 63:41).

    Not only can the power of discernment distinguish good from evil (Moro. 7:12-18), the righteous from the wicked (D&C 101:95), and false spirits from divine (D&C 46:23), but its more sensitive operation can also make known even “the thoughts and intents of the heart” of other persons (Heb. 4:12; D&C 33:1). “The gift of discernment [embodies] the power to discriminate…between right and wrong…[and] arises largely out of an acute sensitivity to…spiritual impressions…to detect hidden evil, and more importantly to find the good that may be concealed. The highest type of discernment…uncovers [in others]…their better natures, the good inherent within them” (Richards, p. 371).

    Every Latter-day Saint has spiritual leaders who, by virtue of their callings, are entitled to the gift of discernment to enable them to lead and counsel correctly. “

  15. grindael says:

    “The gift of discernment is essential to the leadership of the Church [of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints]. I never ordain a bishop or set apart a president of a stake without invoking upon him this divine blessing, that he may read the lives and hearts of his people and call forth the best within them. The gift and power of discernment…[are] essential equipment for every son and daughter of God…. The true gift of discernment is often premonitory. A sense of danger should be heeded to be of value” (Richards, p. 371).~ From the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Discerment, Gift of

    Richards, Stephen L. “The Gifts of the Spirit.” IE 53 [May 1950]:371.
    Smith, Joseph Fielding, ed. TPJS, pp. 202-215. Salt Lake City, 1938.

  16. grindael says:

    Where was Hinckley & Kimball’s “sense of danger” as they stood next to the plotting murderer, Mark Hoffman? Seems they only failed miserably “to detect hidden evil, and more importantly to find the good that may be concealed.”

    Seems they also lacked “The highest type of discernment…[which]uncovers [in others]…their better natures, the good inherent within them.” Cause they sure could not uncover the deplorable nature of the man that so thoroughly duped them all, or they wrongly saw a ‘good nature’ in him, so it just goes to show that they didn’t have a clue, and still don’t. _johnny

  17. Mike R says:

    I was reading the March 1987 issue of Salt Lake City Messenger , it mentioned a interesting
    article from the New York Times ( 1-24-87) concerning Mark Hoffman murder case :
    ” Spurning his father’s appeal that he submit to execution to atone for his two murders , a
    former Mormon missionary chose instead today to plead guilty to the crimes in return for
    a sentence of life imprisonment ….According to family members , the plea arrangement that
    spared his life was delayed in recent weeks by the intervention of his father, a Mormon , and
    other family members who said they believed that if the younger Mr. Hoffman was guilty of
    the murders he should be executed. ” The article goes on to inform readers that this belief
    in blood atonement is rooted in Mormon history , principally by prophet Brigham Young .
    The article closes with :
    ” In the end, church experts said, Mr Hoffman’s father accepted the idea that his son would
    not have to be executed. In an effort at atonement , Mr. Hoffman , through his attorney ,
    apologized to members of his victim’s families at a meeting Thursday . ”
    It appears Mark Hoffman’s father was well versed in the teachings of a “latter-day ”
    prophet concerning atoning for serious sins such as murder . There’s a lot in this whole
    Hoffman affair that the Mormon people can , especially the amount of trust in their leaders
    who claim to watchmen on the wall guarding their followers from spiritual deception .
    These spiritual guides erred in their effort here and I wonder if the Mormon people
    can see the similar error in what they teach –2Tim2:15

  18. helenlouissmith says:

    On October 18, 1995, after Hofmann’s arrest, Gordon Hinckley said, “I frankly admit that Hofmann tricked us….We bought those documents only after the assurance that they were genuine…..I am not ashamed to admit that we were victimized. It is not the first time the Church has found itself in such a position. Joseph Smith was victimized again and again. The Savior was victimized. I am sorry to say that sometimes it happens.” Meridian Magazine.

    Has a Prophet in the past ever been tricked?

    1 Kings 13:16-19 – The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water in this place. I have been told by the word of the Lord…” The old prophet answered, “I, too, am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the Lord, ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat and drink water.'” (But he was lying to him.) So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.

  19. falcon says:

    grindael and Mike.
    The point with these Mormon leaders is that there is no “there there”. They are empty suits. Clouds without water, autumn trees without fruit; doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam, wandering stars for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
    Mormonism is an easy trip for these guys because of all of the confidence Mormons place in them. These leaders can say anything and it’s embraced. They can do anything and it’s defended.
    It all comes down to a false belief system that values feelings and form over substance. They have an ecclesiastical ticket to steal, so to speak.
    Here’s an interesting article concerning “revelation” by church leaders and what is required of church members. It relates to polygamy and the testimony of Joseph F. Smith before a congressional committee in about 1903 regarding the seating of Reed Smoot as a senator from Utah. The Mormon church went under the microscope during the hearings.
    Joseph F. Smith said,
    “I should like to say to you, in point, that a revelation on plural marriage is contained in [the Doctrine and Covenants]. If has been ascertained by actual count that not more than perhaps 3 or 4 per cent of the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ever entered into that principle. All the rest of the members of the church abstained from that principle and did not enter into it, and many thousands of them never received it or believed it; but they were not cut off from the church. They were not disfellowshipped and they are still members of the church; that is what I wish to say.”
    Mormonism is indeed a maze. It thrives on ambiguity, misdirection and stealth.

  20. falcon says:

    Some comments from the cited article’s author:
    “…….Joseph F. Smith makes the now common mistake of claiming that only about 3% of Mormons lived in polygamy at the peak of the practice. Modern historical and demographic research has shown that this statistic is simply incorrect. More reasonable estimates are in the neighborhood of 20% (see, for example, Van Wagoner’s Mormon Polygamy: A History). It is somewhat unclear to me how President Smith derived the 3% figure, but it has become a standard mistake over the last century; President Hinckley has, on occasion, made the same error.

    Third, in defining what a person must believe in order to be a Mormon in good standing, Smith uses the phrase “the main principles of the gospel.” This phrase is, on its face, vague enough that it could be made to include about as much or as little as one would like. However, in his subsequent comments, Smith gives this initially vague standard quite precise content. He explains that various behaviors can result in a loss of good standing, but he only really offers two criteria related to belief. An individual must believe in God and have “a little faith” in the church organization. Smith does not see these standards as requiring acceptance of everything the church leadership teaches. In fact, he explicitly states that rejection of the doctrine of plural marriage was a relatively common phenomenon among members in good standing. At the time (1904), plural marriage was a profoundly important part of the church’s teachings for most living members, and certainly for Joseph F. Smith himself. So even people who flatly reject important doctrines taught by church leadership are allowed to remain in full fellowship and good standing.
    I find this inclusive view of Mormonism quite attractive–as, it would seem, did Joseph F. Smith. “

  21. falcon says:

    So could a Mormon in good standing speak out publicly and boldly regarding the total lack of spiritual discernment of the Church leadership in the Hofmann case? Could a person declare a vote of “no confidence” in the leadership? Could a person declare publicly that there is reason to believe that these leaders are false prophets and are leading the LDS church into apostasy?
    I think not! There is way too much pedestal sitting on the part of the leadership and the rank-and-file have never quite figured out that it is they, the members, who put these frauds on that pedestal and maintain them there.
    It would seem, from the testimony of Joseph F. Smith before the congressional committee, that there is a certain amount of freedom within Mormonism to accept or reject the proclamations of the Mormon prophets. I would guess there’s a distinction here. While the revelations that become doctrines can be questioned and even accepted or rejected, the prophets themselves cannot be questioned as to their authority and veracity.
    This is really all about power; getting it, securing it and maintaining it. Mormonism as an institution is set-up to maintain control over the members. It’s a structure that breeds slavish devotion to the prophet which insures the prophet’s authority and maintains his power.
    Actually power can be an illusion in some respects. Once a leader loses the illusion of power, the aire of invincibility, his days as leader are numbered.
    I would say that the Hofmann case went a long way to punch holes in the invincibility of the authority structure of the Mormon church. Unfortunately the followers didn’t recognize that the leaders were naked. They still saw them as splendidly attired.

  22. f_melo says:

    Gordon Hinckley said:

    Gordon B. Hinckley called CBS founder and chief William S. Paley and asked, ‘How would you like some outsiders doing a vicious four hour attack on your Jews?’”

    So, to tell the truth now is the same as to attack? How much more hypocrisy will we have to see coming from the Mormons? And that story should be told, the world needs to know that those self-appointed prophets and apostles are just pretending and that they have no gift of anything, other than the ones they were born with and developed in the jobs they performed during their lives. I mean, Dallin Oaks tried to explain it away and in the process of preparing the material he didn´t get a single word from the holy spirit telling him it was all a hoax? Not a word or impression? Is that the man i should trust my eternal life with? No way.

    Helen, you´re using an example of a true prophet of God who disobeyed a clear command, and did you see what happened to him? HE DIED, punished by God! What happened to your “true” prophet for supposedly not obeying a command that God gave him that caused him to make such an embarrassing mistake like that? Sorry, Helen you embarrass yourself when you try to compare your prophet wanna-be with real prophets of God recorded in the Bible. Why don´t you just admit the blunder and say, yeah, maybe i should put my trust in God because those men are just as flawed as i am? Nope, that can´t happen, you can´t trust God to talk directly to you through His Word, you won´t be able to understand unless they tell you what it means, plus you need their authority to please God too.

  23. helenlouissmith says:

    Gordon B. Hinckley called CBS founder and chief William S. Paley and asked, ‘How would you like some outsiders doing a vicious four hour attack on your Jews?’

    Very good, but it was supposed that he said this! Circumstantial is not evidence backed by any hard core evidence. Nice try, but I could say the same about something critical to Christendom, and state it was supposedly said by whomever.

  24. f_melo says:

    This whole case exposed the house of cards mormonism is. When everything is fine they all walk around as special people who found favor in the sight of God and pretend to have all sorts of miracles and manifestations. When real life hits, they all run away and hide like cockroaches running away from the light. The very fact that the Church was more concerned in protecting its image than actually doing what was right is a clear demonstration that they are a scheme, a con designed to turn people into blind slaves and use them for building their own little private empire.
    That´s is further confirmed if you observe that what´s is at stake is its authority before their own people and their image which is what helps them get into non-members houses and convert them, to grow in influence and finances. That´s the true mark of a wolf in sheep´s clothing, when they are pressed against the wall they reveal who they truly are underneath. That ought to be enough for anyone who values truth and for members of the church who attended primary and took to heart the lessons on honesty and good works. Do as i say but don´t do as i do should be the new motto of the LDS church, instead of “i´m a normal person and i´m a mormon”.
    This is a good podcast dealing with a new cult leader emerging in MN, notice the similarities with the mormon church –

  25. helenlouissmith says:

    Sadly you did not read very far.

    20 And as they sat at the table, the word of the Lord came to the prophet who had brought him back. 21 And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the command that the Lord your God commanded you, 22 but have come back and have eaten bread and drunk water in the place of which he said to you, “Eat no bread and drink no water,” your body shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.’ ” 23 And after he had eaten bread and drunk, he saddled the donkey for the prophet whom he had brought back.

    It does not state he was punished by God, where in the world can you quote me that, please you do assume to much.

  26. f_melo says:

    Helen, you´re the one who didn´t read far enough, had you continued one vers. further you´d have read it:

    24 And as he went away a lion met him on the road and killed him. And his body was thrown in the road, and the donkey stood beside it; the lion also stood beside the body. 25 And behold, men passed by and saw the body thrown in the road and the lion standing by the body. And they came and told it in the city where ythe old prophet lived.
    26 And when the prophet who had brought him back from the way heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the Lord spoke to him.”

  27. helenlouissmith says:

    “It is the man of God who disobeyed the word of the Lord; therefore the Lord has given him to the lion, which has torn him and killed him, according to the word that the Lord spoke to him.”

    Very good except this was spoken by the Prophet that had lied. Not God. You still fail to see that you assume to much.

    I fail to see where a false prophet, one who lied once, can say and speak for God, this is a man who clearly speaks for himself and assumed that God killed the prophet. Yes, do you have anything more to clarify your misrepresentation.

  28. Kate says:

    There it is, right there in the standard works. I have to wonder that if the Spirit didn’t speak to these men about Mark Hoffman being a forger and a murderer, then how can we be sure that the Spirit is telling them they are prophets of God. Or that the Spirit is telling them that the Book of Mormon is true and another testament of Christ? Did the Spirit tell Gordon Hinkley to lie to investigators? He knew darn well that Mark Hoffman had been in his office, yet when asked this question he said “probably.” He was either being dishonest, arrogant or both.

    Everything that doesn’t agree with Mormonism is an “attack” on the Mormons. The persecution card is overplayed. Most Mormons don’t know their history. Mormons were and are just as bad as anyone else. They complain about Haun’s Mill but NEVER talk about what led up to it. In fact most of my family members don’t know what led up to that. In the history of Mormonism, less than 50 people have been killed for their beliefs. Mormons butchered more than twice that many at Mountain Meadows and how many were killed by the Danites or the Mormon Malitia? What about “the avenging angel?” It would seem that sometimes Mormons are the persecutors, but SSSHHHH don’t tell them, it isn’t faith promoting! Maybe instead of trying really hard to find someone, ANYONE in the Bible they can try to compare to, they should be thinking about how hundreds of thousands of dollars of their tithing money was used to buy documents that were damning to their religion. Maybe they should be thinking about how their leaders were hiding those documents or maybe even destroying them so they didn’t know about them.

  29. helenlouissmith says:

    And he cried to the man of God who came from Judah, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because you have disobeyed the word of the Lord and have not kept the command that the Lord your God commanded you.

    So according to you, a man who already lied and stated that the Lord had spoken to him and that it was said he must come back and eat with him, a lie, now proclaims that, Thus says the Lord, — you got to be kidding, right? This prophet is a fraud, lied once and now all of sudden you think he speaks for God, egad no wonder Christians are apostate, they twist everything.

  30. Kate says:

    Or maybe, just maybe, they should be thinking about those innocent people who died a horrific death at the hands of Mark Hoffman. If the LDS church had not been sending him out to find these damning documents so they could get rid of them, paying Mark Hoffman all that money, these people would not have been murdered. This is the real tragedy of this story. People died. What about them? The LDS leadership seemed to care more about it’s image and damage control than the people who died. This story should be told. Their story should be told. It is not a persecution towards the LDS church! If they didn’t want to be in the spotlight, they shouldn’t have been doing dishonest things. Lying to it’s members. I can not understand how ANYONE can defend any part of this. It only shows how brainwashed people can be.

  31. Rick B says:

    F-melo said

    So, to tell the truth now is the same as to attack?

    According to mormons it is, or at least when we tell them the truth. I hear all the time, You being mean or your persacuting me, or I dont have a clue, yet they wont tell me where I am wrong.

    Helen said

    egad no wonder Christians are apostate,

    Please fill us in on something Helen, Why is it you say we are apostate, yet at the same time you guys get mad when we say, You not Christian. You mean you want to be known as an apostate Christian? Thats what it seems like to me.

    Then Helen said

    they twist everything.

    You say we twist everything. Really? We Do?. Then please do tell me, How come you say we twist everything, but cannot tell us exactly what it is we twist and then cannot tell us what exactlty the truth is? You never answer questions, you dodge and avoid to the point no one here takes to serious, and we (I) love using you as the poster child for what we say about How mormons cannot answer questions. so dont sit here and tell us we twist everything unless you can provide facts, It seem to me you are being very… You know the word, Yet again. I say this because you told me I was judging you, but know you make a judgment upon us with out evidence. That speaks volumes.

  32. f_melo says:

    Helen, read through the text again, because you´re the one who are assuming to much. The text says the spirit of the Lord did speak the to the lying prophet and at the moment he did speak truth. His final conclusion that he was killed according to the Word of the Lord wasn´t a revelation but his witnessing of God´s word being fulfilled.

  33. Mike R says:

    Helen, your use of the statements by Gordon Hinckley in Meridian magazine was interesting.
    I notice how he chooses his words . It would be more in line with what transpired with the
    Hoffman affair if we use the word ” deceived” instead of “tricked ” . Let me add some of my
    perspective on his statement. My comments are in brackets. Hinckley : ” I frankly admit that
    Hoffman [ deceived] us…..We bought those documents only after the assurance that they were
    genuine [ this assurance came our spiritual witness ] ….. I am not ashamed to admit that we [ the
    First Presidency ? ] were deceived . It’s not the first time the Church [ the LDS people ] has
    found itself in such a position .[ it’s also not the first time we as leaders have issued doctrines
    that we claimed to be consistent with God’s will , but later turned out to be only our human ideas]
    ….. I am sorry [ Mr. Hoffman was also sorry to his victims families, how did they feel ? ] to
    say that it sometimes happens.” [ this despite the promise by Mormon leaders that they would
    never be deceived in spiritual truth and pass that on to their followers, as God would’nt allow it ]
    Now concerning your use of 1 Kings 13-19 . This whole scenario looks a lot like that which is
    described in Gal.1:8-9. Pushing aside the word of God in favor of trusting in a message allegedly
    from an angel or even from their prophets who testifies that they’ve “heard from God ” ,
    is dangerous , and the Mormon people need to take this seriously–Matt 24:11

  34. grindael says:

    I have to laugh. 🙂 I really do. I mean, Here is the scenario. Mormon “authorities” make outrageous claims. Mormon “authorities” fail to live up to outrageous claims. Critics remind Mormons of these same “outrageous claims”, by their “authorities” in relation to actions/statements of said “authorities”, when they constantly don’t live up to their own teachings/statements/prophecies/propaganda/etc.

    In response to this we get a variety of answers, and the one I’ve seen most often (which makes me laugh 🙂 ) is their habit of taking some obscure prophet from the Old Testament—who lived anywhere from 2 to 3 thousand years ago, who did something that they think they can divert the issue with.

    What they are doing, is trying to shift the focus of the criticism to something other than what it was originally: (and in this case it was): that Mormon ‘Authorities” have made certain claims (about discernment), and cannot live up to their claims. This is the criticism against Gordo & Spencer & the whole “bunch” of Authorities that were duped by Hoffman:

    Mormons claim to have a special “power of discernment” that allows them to see into the hearts of people and know their “true” intent. D&C 46:27 is really quite the verse. It gives Church “authorities” awesome powers:

    27 And unto the bishop of the church, and unto such as God shall appoint and ordain to watch over the church and to be elders unto the church, are to have it given unto them to discern all those gifts lest there shall be any among you professing and yet be not of God.

    Gee, The Mormon Church should NEVER have a problem with apostates or getting duped by ANYONE! They have the magic “discernment key”. They boast:

    “The gift of spiritual discernment is a supernal gift.

  35. grindael says:

    It allows members of the Church to see things not visible and to feel things not tangible. Bishops are entitled to that gift as they face the task of seeking out the poor and caring for the needy. With that gift, sisters may view trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or even dangerous. Members can discern between schemes that are flashy and fleeting and those refinements that are uplifting and enduring.” (“Apostle” Russ Nelson, Oct. 2009)

    “The words perception and discernment are very similar. Discernment is the ability to comprehend that which might be hidden or obscure. It is a spiritual sense that is a very important element in the whole concept of agency. The development of our spiritual senses is an important part of our ability to function as a human being. I first became aware of this sense when I was on my first mission some 43 years ago. I recall being interviewed by my mission president. I had the distinct impression that he could look right into my soul. Seventeen years later, while I was serving as a mission president, I came to know that he could. I often had the experience of knowing more about a missionary than he or she ever thought I did.” (“Seventy” Monty Brough, Oct. 2006)

    How many Mormon ‘Authorities”, had dealings with Mark Hoffman? How many? And not one, not even one had any inkling that he was an evil man, so evil that he would later murder people, who they allowed to dupe them, and the entire Church? Not one Mormon in the entire Church stepped up and had any feelings of “discernment” about Hoffman or his forgeries either. In fact, two “apostates”: (without this claimed gift) Jerald & Sandra Tanner did have questions.

  36. grindael says:

    I just have to laugh 🙂 at the irony.

    I also have to laugh 🙂 at the logic of taking that story out of the Old Testament and then trying to justify the Mormons lack of discernment (after they claim they can see into the hearts of anyone, at will).

    A “man of God” disobeys the word of God to him, and does something that he was told not to. God punishes said “man of God”. That is the story that is supposed to ‘dismantle’ the claims of Mormon “Authorities” to see into the hearts of people, and “discern” danger. Where in the Old Testament, did this “man of God” claim to have the “gift of discernment” so he could “look into people’s hearts”, and know that they were telling the truth? Mormons claim this “special gift”, but where did this “Man of God” claim it?

    See, this is the problem with the Mormon thinking process. They have defined their own “prophets”, and their “prophetic gifts”, but the problem is, their so-called ‘prophets’, can’t live up to their own hype. It’s easy to brag about such miraculous powers, as “Monty” did, but when it came down to it, there didn’t seem to be any “Monty’s” around in the mid 80’s to help out with Hoffman.

    These guys also harp on about how these ‘gifts’ won’t work, if one is not worthy. Could it be that the whole Church Leadership just wasn’t worthy enough to discern that Hoffman was duping them all? Hmmm. Makes you wonder. _johnny

  37. Brian says:

    Dear Helen,

    You have shared an interesting quotation with us. Thanks. As I read it, some points it made kept bouncing around in my mind. Here’s a portion of your quotation from Gordon Hinckley:

    “I frankly admit that Hofmann tricked us…. I am not ashamed to admit that we were victimized. … The Savior was victimized. I am sorry to say that sometimes it happens.”

    In this, he says he was victimized by a trick. He then makes a list of others whom he apparently believes have been victimized by a trick. What surprised me is among this list is “the Savior.” This got me to thinking. Was Jesus victimized by a trick? Was Jesus victimized? I do not believe this claim is supportable.

    Now, was Jesus betrayed? Most certainly. But was he tricked? No. Jesus knew Judas would betray him (John 6:70-71). He knew Judas would do this before Judas even existed. In this way, Jesus was not “tricked.” Was Jesus victimized? It is true that Jesus was executed as a criminal, yet was entirely innocent. Many may think this makes him a victim. But what did Jesus say? Speaking of his life, he said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). Since he did this willingly, he was not a victim.

  38. falcon says:

    Mormon authorities can’t look into people’s hearts and discern good from evil any more than Joseph Smith could see into the ground with his magic rock and spot buried treasure.
    They’re all a bunch of hoaxers and they got hoaxed from Mark Hofmann. Just ask a Mormon who the Holy Ghost is and who the Holy Spirit is and you will see immediately why these “prophets” have no gift of spiritual discernment.
    The spirit of Mormonism is a deceptive spirit that plies his wares speaking to the emotions of men rather than to their spirits. Having been seduced and deceived by this false spirit, Mormons have no ability or inclination to seek the truth. We can see the depth of the deception with the faulty reasoning and just plain pitiful processing of information with Mormons. They come up with all sorts of laughable explanations to excuse what their leadership and prophets have proclaimed.

  39. falcon says:

    When someone is not born again by the Spirit of God they can’t appraise spiritual things. They are working in the natural. This is what we have with LDS authorities as they were thoroughly exposed for the frauds that they are by Mark Hofmann. But this is the history of Mormonism. These leaders are and have been truly fools.
    The prophets make it up as they go along and change whatever doctrines and practices they want to change on a whim and call it progressive revelation. What keeps the faithful in line? If someone lives in the area where Mormonism dominates the social culture then it’s social pressure.
    Christ Jesus came that people can have life and have it more abundantly. He told us that. Jesus didn’t come to give people a form of religion and some empty rituals. He came to give Himself so that whosoever believes in Him won’t perish but have eternal life. The first verse of the Gospel of John pretty much sums up who Jesus is. He is God. He isn’t “a god” as the Jehovah Witnesses proclaim. He isn’t “a god” as Mormons proclaim He is; one of many spirit off-spring of the Mormon god and one of his goddess wives.
    If someone isn’t born again by the Spirit of God, they won’t comprehend the truth of who Jesus is. In their natural state, “religious people” like the Mormons, settle for a make believe Jesus who hasn’t the ability to save, to grant eternal life. All that Mormonism does is extract money and effort from it’s members and promise them something that the LDS church cannot deliver; that men can become gods.
    There is just One God and One mediator between people and God and that is Jesus Christ. All other Christ’s are false.

  40. Ralph says:

    There is no ‘question’ for which to answer in the above post. So what is it about? Is it about the supposed ‘shut down’ of the miniseries by the ‘LDS church’? Is it about the church leaders being ‘duped’ by a forger? To me it seems to be just a story about how someone decided not to make a miniseries and is trying to blame this on another person (namely the LDS church leaders) because people want to know why a “brilliant script” was not followed up.

    Just to point out something, which Helen also pointed out, the post above states –

    “When word hit Salt Lake that CBS was committed to tell the Mormon [M]urders story as a four-hour mini-series, it is said that LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley called CBS founder and chief William S. Paley and asked, ‘How would you like some outsiders doing a vicious four hour attack on your Jews?’”

    “Murder Among the Saints” was dead in the water. Over the years several “outsiders” have passed on producing the mini-series, while insiders wouldn’t dream of doing it. But Mr. Axelman holds out hope:

    Note the bolded “it is said…” As Helen stated, this is hearsay. There are no names cited nor evidence posted. But it still begs the question – how can a question like that ‘scare’ someone into submission? I mean look at the controversy that Mel Gibson’s “Passion” made before it was released. How about “The Da Vinci Code”. There are many films and TV series that are controversial that are made despite death threats, etc to the producers. So why didn’t this miniseries get made? Maybe it wasn’t such a ‘brilliant script’, or just had no general interest to the community.

  41. falcon says:

    There is a pattern in this country of powerful people and pressure groups shutting down or exerting pressure not to air controversial miniseries or films. We just had that situation with a miniseries called “The Kennedys”. It was finally aired on one of the cable networks. There was also one that raised the ire of supporters of Ronald Reagan who felt the former president was portrayed in a less than flattering manner.
    So folks both on the political right and left attempt this. Religious groups are also engaged in this type of pressure be it Catholics, Jews and in this case Mormons.
    Actually it isn’t as uncommon as you might think. In the case of the Mormons, the last thing they want is their leaderships’ behavior exposed and the history of the LDS church laid out, warts and all for the world to see. For goodness sakes Ralph, Mormons don’t even want to be up front about their basic doctrines to possible recruits. Do the MM tell prospects how Joseph Smith supposedly translated the golden plates. Of course not. They’re shown a picture of Joe, pen in hand with the golden plates sitting next to him as he ponders the meaning and waits for inspiration as to what the Reformed Egyptian language says. You know as well as I do this is a lie. The guy put his magic rock in a hat and shoved his face in the hat. The whole thing is total deception on the part of the LDS church. That’s how the LDS church gets a reputation for being a bunch of liars and frauds. The Hofmann case just adds to the characterization.
    You’re just speculating on the quality of the script.

  42. grindael says:

    The New Movie “Joseph Smith and the Gold Plates”, makes Falcon’s point perfectly. From a review of the new movie:

    In this case, viewers shouldn’t be concerned. Anyone familiar with Vuissa’s earlier work will know he’s not going to be presenting an “edgy” version of Joseph Smith that will challenge faithful Mormons’ view of The Prophet. Despite Richard and Claudia Bushman’s presence in the credits as “Historical Advisors”, this is not Rough Stone Rolling: The Movie – there’s no seer-stone-in-a-hat on display here, nor any other historical elements that would fall outside of the standard picture presented of Joseph in LDS Sunday School classes.

    What is the “standard picture”? A lie. But the reviewer still calls it, “a faithful biography of LDS founder and prophet, Joseph Smith”. How can this be, when it is based on a lie, that Smith translated the plates without the hat and the seer stone? Is this Mormon “truth”, the “not very useful” kind that Boyd K. Packer spoke of in 1981? Why don’t they make an accurate movie with Smith doing the things he actually did? Because it would “challenge the faithful”, and make them question why they have been taught lies in Sunday School. _johnny

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