Smith’s Immoral Character
The second of Morey’s two-pronged strategy for eroding the Mormon foundation rests on describing the many historically documented examples of Joseph Smith’s immoral character. His lifestyle of debauchery proves Smith was the polar opposite of a biblical man who lived in total faith in the Trinitarian God of the Bible and in holiness and obedience to sound biblical doctrine.
Joseph’s Smith’s own testimony demonstrates that the man was a serial liar. He claimed at the ripe age of 15 to have been visited by “two glorious personages surrounded with a brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noonday,” whom he identified as “the Father and the Son,” and they supposedly taught him to despise Christian creeds and denominations as abominations and to teach that the Bible had been corrupted and in need of restoration.8
Smith some three years later next claimed that an angel named Moroni directed him to find golden plates hidden in a hill called Cumorah near the village of Manchester, New York, along with the Jewish high priest’s Urim and Thummin stones by which he could look through and so translate the plates from ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics into English.9 These plates, ironically enough, “happened” to reside right near his own home.
Once Smith had finished “translating” these golden plates, he then claimed that John the Baptist had appeared to him in order to ordain him into the Aaronic priesthood.10 In listening to and obeying the “serpent who deceived Eve” who was “masquerading as an angel of light,” Smith’s mind had been corrupted, and so he abandoned the simplicity that is in Christ, and having received a different spirit and Gospel, became a “false apostle and deceitful worker” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4,13-14 NKJV).
Once Joseph Smith officially founded Mormonism on April 6, 1830, and began amassing followers who had been disenfranchised with traditional Christianity, Smith as their leader began behaving more like a gang member than a man of God. When anyone spoke out against his false teachings, Smith would strike out with a vengeance. For example, in one historic account, Smith had hired two Mormons to kill a man who was outspoken against his teachings.11
In another historic account, Smith claimed he had a vision from God which told him that “the redemption of Zion must needs come by power,” and so formed an army of 200 men to march on Independence, Missouri, where he was summarily routed, and backtracking, then claimed that God had changed his mind about the attack.12 Smith’s army, called the Danites, was described as “a band of murderers whose vile misdeeds were later written in blood on the blackest pages of the history of Mormonism;” and because of their treasonous actions Missouri Governor Lilburn W. Boggs ordered a General Clark to treat the Mormons as enemies and that they “must be exterminated or driven from the state, if necessary, for the public good” for “their outrages are beyond description.”13 Porter Rockwell, chief of the Danites, was “a powerful man physically, with a mind of narrow perceptions, intense convictions, and utterly depraved motives,” known to “cut throats without compunction,” so much so that records from the time reveal that Rockwell was charged with close to one-hundred cold-blooded murders.14
Smith had also claimed “divine revelation” to justify his acts of polygamy. He amassed his own collection of some 33 known wives, maybe even more, with some as young as 14 years old.15 This lurid behavior led the town of Kirtland, Ohio to tar and feather Joseph Smith and his friend, Sidney Rigdon.16 Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, even went as far as blasphemously claiming, “Jesus Christ was a polygamist, Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, were his plural wives, and Mary Magdalene was another.”17 Polygamy and pedophilia defined Smith’s behavior towards women and his contempt for God’s moral law.
Wherever Smith and his followers went they sowed discord and violence, even among themselves, eventually being forced out of Ohio, then Missouri, and finally settling in Illinois. Once there, Smith ordered his followers to burn down the Nauvoo Expositor newspaper for publishing the horrors of Mormon rule and practice.18 This act of arson led to Joseph Smith’s arrest. An angry mob stormed the jail where he was being held and shot Smith and his brother Hyrum in a gunfight. For all his supposed divine appointment, Smith died like the criminal that he was on June 27, 1844. And, for all his proclamations of being a divinely appointed prophet of God, Joseph Smith proved to be a lying, thieving, violent, sexually immoral miscreant who clearly did not live a life as the Apostle Paul preached, “worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10 NKJV).
Reason 2: Witnesses for Joseph Smith
While it is a simple task to prove that Joseph Smith was a false prophet who lacked any godly moral character, if Smith alone had been the only one to have laid eyes on the golden plates, then the combination of these two faults should dissuade any Mormon from continuing to remain in the cult. Alas, Smith proved to be a highly devious individual who was keen enough to claim that three witnesses — Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer — could testify that the plates had indeed existed while Smith kept them out of sight during translation.19 Nobody else could have viewed the plates, for Smith conveniently announced that the angel Moroni had returned to recover the plates and deliver them up to Heaven.
These witnesses own wretched moral character makes their testimony completely dismissible. Both Whitmer and Cowdery were later charged by their fellow Mormons as thieves and counterfeiters, and Harris eventually admitted that he never had really laid eyes on the plates but instead gazed upon them through his “eyes of faith.”20 Once the supposed plates were translated and became the Book of Mormon, later revisions went so far as to declare eight witnesses, even if Smith himself had only claimed three witnesses.
In the third and last segment, we will address the third of three irrefutable reasons why Joseph Smith was a fraud.
8. Letter of Joseph Smith to John Wentworth, “Times and Seasons,” Vol. Ill, 706-707.
9. Charles Α. Shook, Cumorah Revisited (Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing Co., 1910), 22.
11. Robert Frederick Boyd, “Bible and Modern Religions, Pt 4: Mormonism.” Interpretation 10, no. 4 (October 1956): 432. http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=rfh&AN=ATLA0000648437 &site=ehost-live.
12. Ibid. 433.
13. C. Kelly and H. Birney, Holy Murder (New York: Minton, Balch & Co., 1934), 31.
15. Ron Rhodes, The Challenge of the Cults and New Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001), 57.
16. Boyd. 432.
17. Jan Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of the Cults (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1938), 118.
18. Boyd. 435.
19. Charles W. Ferguson, The Confusion of Tongues (New York: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1928), 371.