[TBC: Both Islam and Mormonism have a practice of bending the truth to further their agenda. Islamists interpret their scripture to say that they are allowed to lie about the nature of Islam in order to further their political and religious goals. In the excerpt which follows, a former Mormon details the clear distortions of their history the LDS made in order to give a better impression.]
Lying for the Lord [Excerpts]
I began this list when I was a full time employee of the LDS Church Education System (CES). I worked as a Seminary Principal/teacher, Institute teacher/Director, and Stake CES Coordinator from 1975-2002. My last assignment was brief. I signed a Letter of Agreement with CES to serve as the Director of the Pullman, Washington LDS Institute of Religion adjacent to Washington State University in July 2002. I resigned from CES a month later. I carry fond memories of the students, ward leaders and others I grew to respect in the LDS Church. I started this list in an effort to defend the church from its detractors.
As an informal defender, I discovered that those accusing the church leaders of being dishonest sometimes had the facts on their side (when I took the time to check)…My belief was that those who accused church leaders with deception were deceivers themselves. But as I read more church history my list leaders' prevarications grew, and at some point it occurred to me that Joseph Smith established a pattern of institutionalized deception.
Evidence presented in this list establishes that when the church or its leaders needed protection, it was, and is, okay to fib, deceive, distort, inflate, minimize, exaggerate, prevaricate or lie.
D. Michael Quinn called the use of deception by LDS church leaders, "theocratic ethics." (The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, p. 112) Dan Vogel in his excellent work, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, described Smith as a pious deceiver. Smith used deception if in his mind; it resulted in a good outcome. Smith believed he knew when God approved of lying. For example, Smith wrote that God commanded the prophet Abraham to lie to protect himself and his wife Sarah from harm (Abraham 2:23-25).
Deception came naturally to Smith. Before assuming his role as prophet, he operated confidence schemes. He guaranteed clients that he could see underground treasure using a magic stone in the bottom of his hat. Gullible "clients" paid him to locate treasures using this vision-in-the-hat method. (He never found anything.) Smith's arrest, trial and conviction in Bainbridge, NY for fraud in 1826 documented his activity. He was found guilty of glass looking. The modern term for Smith would be a con artist. (Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet, pp. 82-86).
List of Prevarications by Church Leaders [Excerpts, see link for the full 21 examples along with the footnotes.]
1. The official version of the First Vision by Joseph Smith, fashioned in 1838, nearly 20 years after the event, was unknown to church members until published in 1842. It evolved after years of creative editing. It describes a more spectacular and miraculous event than earlier versions of the same event. The 1832 account is the original handwritten version and lacks the spectacular claims. The early version does not mention God the Father as one who appeared to Smith, or the religious excitement that motivated Smith to pray, persecution by unbelievers, being attacked by the devil, being told not to join any apostate Christian Churches by Jesus; and he was not called to restore a church and serve as its Prophet in the earliest version. The 1832 "vision" resembles a common Christian epiphany where he imagined Jesus forgiving his sins. Church leaders suppressed the contradictory and less impressive version for over a century. (James B. Allen, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1966, pp. 29-45. See also Fawn Brodie, No Man Knows My History, pp. 24-25; and The Changing World of Mormonism, pp. 148-166) http://www.mormonthink.com/firstvisionweb.htm
2. The LDS church consistently describes in sermons and paintings, the visitation of an angel named Moroni (pronounced More-oh-nye) to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823. Moroni is pictured floating above Joseph or next to his bed, alone in his bedroom. The pictures do not accurately portray Joseph's five brothers that slept in the same room with him. A restored Smith house is used for LDS tours showing the small room and only two beds for six brothers. Nothing resembling the actual sleeping arrangement is hinted at in the church's official literature and pictorial recreations of the scene. It would seem inconceivable to most investigators (and perhaps many members) that Joseph's brothers sleeping in the same room and bed would not have been awakened by the events as described by Joseph. The inaccurate depictions and lesson manuals are an attempt to make the event seem more believable. http://www.mormonthink.com/moroniweb.htm
3. The LDS Church permits members and others to believe that the History of the Church was written by Joseph Smith. Smith dictated the history of the church to a scribe but was killed before completing the project. The Joseph Smith History was completed in August 1856 by historians who wrote it as if it was written by Joseph. Brigham Young required the historians to write it that way. Sixty percent of the history was written after his death. The church consciously led members believe that the official history was written by Joseph Smith. (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1971, pp. 466, 469, 470, 472) In the middle of the 20th century after the deception was pointed out by critics, the church admitted it.
4. The famous Rocky Mountain Prophecy (the prediction that Salt Lake would be the place the saints would settle after leaving Nauvoo, Illinois) was a later addition to the official church history and not predicted by Joseph Smith. Despite the fact it is not true; the church presented it as such for more than a century. The 'Rocky Mountain Prophecy' was added after the Mormons arrived in Utah. (The Changing World of Mormonism, p. 406)
5. A fundamental change is the name of the angel who, it was claimed, appeared in vision in Joseph Smith's bedroom. In the history as it was first published by Joseph Smith, we learn that the angel's name was Nephi: "He called me by name and said ... that his name was Nephi" (Times and Seasons, vol. 3, p. 753). In modern printings of the History of the Church, the name was changed to "Moroni" (History of the Church, vol. 1, p. 11).
"The original handwritten manuscript shows that the name was originally written as "Nephi," but that someone at a later date wrote the word "Moroni" above the line (see photograph in Mormonism-Shadow or Reality? p. 136). The book Falsification of Joseph Smith's History, page 13, authors demonstrated that this change was made after Joseph Smith's death. An examination of the duplicate copy of the handwritten manuscript, Book A-2, provides additional evidence that the change was not made during Joseph Smith's lifetime. This manuscript was not begun until about a year after Smith's death. Like the other manuscript (Book A-1), it has the name "Nephi" with the name "Moroni" interpolated above the line.
"It is interesting to note that Joseph Smith lived for two years after the name "Nephi" was printed in the church's official publication Times and Seasons, and never published a retraction or correction. In August, 1842, the Millennial Star, published by the church in England, also printed Joseph Smith's story stating that the angel's name was "Nephi" (see Millennial Star, vol. 3, p. 53). On page 71 of the same volume it reads that the message of the angel Nephi ... opened a new dispensation to man..." "The name was also published in the 1851 edition of the Pearl of Great Price as "Nephi." Walter L. Whipple, in his thesis written at BYU, stated that Orson Pratt "published The Pearl of Great Price in 1878, and removed the name of Nephi from the text entirely and inserted the name Moroni in its place (reprinted in The Changing World of Mormonism, Chapter 13, pp. 409-410)."