(Investigator 13, 1990 July)

In 1983 the Mormon philosopher/historian Sterling M. McMurrin, of the University of Utah, said during an interview:

"I am a member of the church. I was reared in it, and my parents and all of my grandparents were reared in it. My personality and character, for good or bad, are to a large degree a product of it; its teachings continue to greatly affect my attitudes and ideas…

I never did consider the Book of Mormon to be authentic. I don't think that it is what the church teaches it to be. I know of no real evidence in its support and there is a great deal of evidence against it…

I do not agree with the common Mormon view that the Book of Mormon was necessary as a "new witness for Christ." The Bible itself was a sufficient witness as far as literature is concerned. I know of nothing in the Book of Mormon that is of importance for religion and the moral life that is not already at least in principle in the Bible.

I believe that the church has intentionally distorted its own history by dealing fast and loose with historical data and imposing theological and religious interpretations on those data that are entirely unwarranted."
(Free Inquiry, Winter 1983/84 pp 33-34) 

Mormonism, also called "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" was founded in western New York in 1830 by Joseph Smith (1805-1844).The Mormon cult grew approximately as follows:


In 1847 the Mormon headquarters was moved to Salt Lake City, Utah. They practiced polygamy until 1890 when the Mormon president told them that it was time to obey the law.

Mormons believe they are the only true religion. In his book Pearl of Great Price Joseph Smith claimed God and Jesus visited him in 1820 and told him to join no other church: "for they were all wrong."

The official Mormon publication Church News fully endorses the claims of Joseph Smith:

"The Angel Moroni did in reality come as a messenger from Almighty God to the boy Joseph Smith… It was an actual visit, not a dream, not a seance of any kind. It was the visitation of one physical being (a resurrected personage) to another physical being here on this physical earth. And be left a physical reminder of his coming … He revealed the gold plate record of the Book of Mormon…that is Moroni’s evidence, that is the memento he left of his visit." (1983 September 18 p.16)

The Book of Mormon says that a band of Israelites moved to America around 600 B.C. and gave rise to the American Indians.

The trip to America was allegedly aided by a mariner's compass (1 Nephi chapter 18) – not invented until 1100 A.D. approximately.

The American Israelites gave rise to two groups – Lamanites and Nephites. Jesus visited them in 34 A.D. after his resurrection. (It was the Lamanites who became the Indians.)

In 365 A.D. the Lamanites wiped out the Nephites in battle.

Moroni, the last surviving Nephite, wrote the history of the American Israelites on gold tablets and buried them.

On various occasions from 1823-1827 Moroni, now changed into an angel, visited Joseph Smith and gave him the golden plates to translate.

That’s how the Book of Mormon supposedly originated.

When Joseph Smith died in 1844 the new leader was Brigham Young (1801-1877). A smaller group of Mormons waited for the son of Joseph Smith to grow up and then formed "The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints". This now has about 200,000 members but the main branch regards them as apostates.

In the 1970s a letter from Joseph Smith, dated January 17, 1844, was discovered. In it the senior Smith says of his son Joseph Smith III:

"For he shall be my successor in the Presidency of the High Priesthood and a Seer, and a Revelator and a Prophet unto the church which appointment belongeth to him by blessing and also by right."

It seems then that the main branch are the apostates.

Regarding polygamy Fawn Brodie wrote:

"There is reason to believe also that women secretly hated polygamy. No promise of heavenly reward could quite compensate for the humiliation, social degradation and tragedy inherent in the plural wife role. Of course, once a woman accepted polygamy it became imperative that she defend it publicly less she reduce her social position to concubinage and that of her children to bastardy. The more social ostracism from the non-Mormon world, the harder she fought to maintain her status. Yet the stories are common enough among polygamous families in Utah that when they learned of Woodruff's Manifesto, the women wept on their doorsteps and asked each other, ‘Why could it not have come sooner?’" (The American Mercury April 1946 p. 400)

Clearly, if the Mormons had accepted the New Testament’s teaching on one man/one wife marriage from the start a lot of suffering might have been avoided.

The wives of Brigham Young have been variously estimated as numbering between 17 and 80.

Although the golden plates of Moroni were supposedly completed around 400 A.D. The Book of Mormon includes many long quotes from the 17th century King James Bible and includes copyist errors made in manuscripts of the 5th century and later.

Over 20,000 Mormon missionaries are spreading their faith to over 100 Third World countries.