Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Nauvoo and Carthage Experience

Okay, I'll just get this out of the way at the beginning. Holy Crap, this is some fucked up shit! Okay, now I feel better. lol. This is a very long post, sorry.

Alright, today I went to Carthage Jail and Nauvoo, Illinois. These are holy places for Mormons. Joseph Smith created a Zion town with Nauvoo and the temple. He was also shot to death in Carthage Jail. Every Mormon knows about these places. Since I had the opportunity, I needed to see them again. I saw them when I was a kid, but that is not quite the same.

I first went to Carthage Jail. I took the tour just like anyone else would. They showed a 20 minute video that portrayed all of the great things that Joseph Smith did. I then had a missionary guide walk me through the jail. I was lucky in that I was the only one in his tour. It was nice to have a one on one tour session. After he finished with his presentation in the room that Joseph Smith was killed in, I took some pictures and also had him take a picture of me. Good stuff. I then decided to ask him a direct question about the events that happened in the jail room before Joseph was shot. I asked, "I think I read somewhere that Joseph Smith had some wine brought up to them and they drank it because they were feeling down and out. Did this happen?" He replied with a disturbed look on his face, "No, that did not happen. The Word of Wisdom was in effect and Joseph did not drink at that time."

Okay, now first off, that is complete bullshit. I have the full seven volume set of The History of the Church with Joseph Smith as the author and B.H. Roberts as the compiler. If you have this set, go look at volume 6 page 616. “Before the jailor came in, his boy brought in some water, and said the guard wanted some wine. Joseph gave Dr. Richards two dollars to give the guard; but the guard said one was enough, and would take no more. “The guard immediately sent for a bottle of wine, pipes, and two small papers of tobacco; and one of the guards brought them into the jail soon after the jailor went out. Dr. Richards uncorked the bottle, and presented a glass to Joseph, who tasted, as brother and the Doctor, and the bottle was then given to the guard, who turned to go out.” (History of the Church, Vol. 6, page 616)

Here is another from volume 7 page 101. "Sometime after dinner we sent for some wine. It has been reported by some that this was taken as a sacrament. It was no such thing,; our spirits were generally dull and heavy, and it was sent for to revive us.... I believe we all drank of the wine, and gave some to one or two of the prison guards." (John Taylor, in History of the Church, Vol. 7, page 101)

I have some pretty strong empirical proof from the Church's own official history that Joseph Smith did drink wine before getting shot. Either this missionary was lying to me or he is ignorant of his own church's history.
Well, after that disappointment, I went to Nauvoo; a very interesting place. You can drive through the historic city and walk through the various buildings. The missionaries there are all dressed up like early Mormon pioneers with their pioneer dresses and such. I went through various buildings and then I went through the Brigham Young house; I asked the sister missionary if Brigham Young practiced polygamy. She said that she thought that he did. I also asked about Joseph Smith. She wasn't sure, but she thought that he did too. I found this answer to be quite common. All the missionaries wanted to downplay polygamy and they did not seem to know much about it.
I went to the visitor's center and actually sat down a senior missionary with some questions. I pretended to be a non-member because I wanted to see how he would answer. He told me about Joseph Smith, the BoM, and the Saints in Nauvoo. I asked him about how the BoM was translated. I asked, "I think I read somewhere that Joseph Smith translated the BoM by putting stones into his hat then placing his face in the hat to read the stones. Did he do it like that?" He answered, "I have never heard about him translating the BoM like that. He did not do it that way. He used the breastplate and Urimm and Thummim."
Once again, complete bullshit. We can turn to the Church's own website for this one.
Take a look at the statement by David Whitmer. I also have the book, Joseph Smith Rough Stone Rolling written by Richard Lyman Bushman that gives Joseph Knight as a witness of Joseph Smith translating with his head in a hat on page 72. This is a book that you can buy at Deseret Book, very much a Mormon approved book.
This missionary also told me that the Nauvoo Council destroyed the Nauvoo Expositor printing press because it was printing lies and false claims about the Church and Joseph Smith. Well, if you get the opportunity to read the one and only issue before destruction, it is William Law telling the world that Joseph Smith was practicing polygamy. Joseph Smith didn't like that too much and decided that the press needed to be destroyed. Ever heard of freedom of the press?
Well, after meeting with such disappointment from the Mormon missionaries, I went to the section of Nauvoo owned by the Community of Christ. This is the church that used to be called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They own all of the Joseph Smith properties since Emma Smith did not follow Brigham Young and the Mormons. She stayed in Nauvoo and lived there until she died.
Let me say how refreshing it was to talk to these people! They were open and honest. They openly admitted that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy. They don't agree with it and also think that he may have wanted to stop practicing polygamy. They did not shoot me down for asking uncomfortable questions. They realize that Joseph Smith has some issues. They also openly admitted that both Joseph and Emma drank coffee and tea. I enjoyed visiting with them so much more than with the Mormons. I did not feel like they were covering things up and white washing history.
Before I left, I went up to the new Nauvoo Temple. I walked around it and took some pictures. There was a young couple up there doing wedding photos. Standard stuff for young Mormon couples.
From my experience today, I came away very troubled with the Church. They are white washing and covering up history. They romanticize the history of the Church and Joseph Smith with their rose colored glasses. Joseph Smith could do no wrong; he was the innocent martyr. Polygamy? What polygamy? We don't really know about that. Head in a hat, what?
How can this church do this and still claim to be the one and only true church on the earth? Historical accuracy is not their strong point.


  1. It would have been interesting to be there with you, but I may have lost it when the missionaries denied things that did actually happen. That stuff makes me crazy! XOXO

  2. Wow, and there it is. I'm kind of (in a twisted way) looking forward to when we next move house and some missionaries unknowingly knock on our door... I'm sure they have been told to stay far away from us for now. The members do not know their history, nor do the missionaries. Joseph Smith certainly was not 'next to Godliness'.