Believing Lies

image[Image used by a scammer in “friend” requests]

Over the past years posting here at M*, I have been perplexed by those unwilling to consider the facts I am bringing forward. From time to time I wander across a thread elsewhere on the Internet where I am specifically derided.

In one thread, I recently saw that I had written that perhaps this opposition was for my experience and would prove to be for my good.

Little did I anticipate how my new “muscles” developed in discussing truth despite derision would serve. Bottom line: those you love can believe a lie no matter how hard you try to lovingly persuade them it is a dangerous error.

The Scam

I have a relative who lives alone. Let me call them Riley. 1 Riley shared holidays with my family. When it snowed, we would shovel Riley’s driveway.

About a year ago we became aware Riley was making friends on the Internet. Except some of the friends turned out to be dishonest. We showed Riley how to block unwanted callers and thought we were done.

Riley was in the habit of coming to our house to print things. So we noticed when Riley wanted to print something about accepting a gold shipment. The associated information was classic scam:  “I have inherited gold mine in Africa. Need assistance. Send money.”

We pointed out that the correspondence was clearly suspect. Riley nodded agreement and left.

It was only months later that another person in the extended family let us know Riley had sent money and expected a shipment of gold. Riley had contacted the other person because they lived near the airport where Riley planned to meet the people who allegedly had the gold. We mobilized and called Homeland Security and the FBI, among others. Everyone said it would be dangerous for Riley to personally accept the “gold” shipment. And Riley nodded and agreed they had been misled.

Then we learned from other extended family members that Riley was requesting early repayment of loans. Riley had taken out a mortgage on their home, but now the thousands of dollars Riley had in the bank were gone. Lacking the stores of liquid cash, Riley was leaning on everyone they could to obtain more money.

Concerned, we contacted Adult Protective Services. Riley turned APS away, denying they needed help. Adult Protective Services had referred us to the Financial Crimes division of the police force. The police told us since the money was being wired overseas, only the FBI had true jurisdiction. But the police sent Riley a letter with pamphlets.

The FBI agreed to meet with Riley. The agent explained that there would be no hope of getting back any of the money. Riley happily replied that they were rich enough to absorb the loss. The agent was surprised. Wires over $10,000 are routinely reported to the FBI, and from what the agent could see, Riley had wired approximately $600,000 to various Africans in the past eight months. Riley confirmed they had started the calendar year with $700,000 in the bank and now had less than $10,000.

After we left the FBI field office, Riley confided there were details the FBI didn’t know anything about. The money wired to Africans was for fees associated with a gold mine and £100 million a female friend in Africa had given to Riley in exchange for their kindness. Riley explained they had never seen the friend except in pictures, and the monies and gold couldn’t be sent to America or Riley would be forced to pay taxes on the large amount. But Riley sat back and smiled contentedly at the windfall they’d stumbled across.

When we suggested it was a scam, Riley became angry, threatening to cut us off from inheriting the portion of these new riches Riley had planned to leave us. And it was real, Riley insisted. Riley had a copy of the friend’s passport, which they had promised to send to the FBI for validation.

A few days the FBI responded. The passport number belonged to a man born decades before the supposed female friend. The place of birth on the passport only gave a city, rather than indicating state and country. And “Los Angelos” isn’t the way the name of the supposed birthplace should be spelled on an official document.

We offered to help Riley break off communication with the scammers. Riley refused and broke off communication with us.

We did our own research, and found the image of the supposed female friend was actually a picture of a Las Vegas woman who sells intimate videos of herself engaged in unseemly activities. Riley replied to this, explaining that there could be a perfectly reasonable explanation for why the supposed female friend had used pictures of someone else. After all, Riley asserted, the pictures of the Las Vegas woman resemble the female friend. A female friend Riley has never seen, not even in video chat.

As I live closest to Riley, I contacted a lawyer and entered a petition to become conservator of Riley’s financial assets. Upon learning of the legal petition, Riley e-mailed me that the female friend was going to be their family and together they would manage the gold mine, and I would be sorry, as Riley had planned to include me in their will but would now be cutting me out. When this didn’t cause me to withdraw the petition, Riley claimed they would petition to become conservator of my assets, as I was clearly the one who didn’t understand. Riley called various members of the extended family to have a message conveyed to me that Riley was going to hire lawyers and rack up tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, which I would be forced to pay when my supposedly ridiculous legal petition was denied by the court.

Then Riley did hire a lawyer and things have gotten peaceful (if expensive) for the moment. But I suspect Riley still believes they have a beautiful female friend who loves them enough to give them a gold mine and millions.

Meanwhile, I have learned that other co-workers have had instances of this need to assume responsibility for a faltering relative.

Believing That Which is Not True

My experience with Riley has been instructive on how willing someone can be to believe a thing despite obvious clues the thing is wrong, even when  valued resources and significant relationships are on the line.

There are times when someone will proclaim the righteousness of their cause, because they are “giving up” so much and therefore the thing for which they are “giving up” so many precious resources and relationships is therefore good by definition. I’ve seen that kind of rationale from those who have left the Church, for example, as though the losses they have sustained by leaving the Church somehow prove that they are courageous and brave to have severed their ties.

Riley believes that it is an admirable thing to have given away hundreds of thousands of dollars and alienated family in the pursuit of helping the woman in Africa who supposedly has gifted Riley so much. Riley has certainly argued the virtuousness of their path to me.

Similarly there are those who have left the Church who will threaten, explaining that if the Church hadn’t been so obdurate and its adherents so unfeeling, then the individual who has left would not be forced to consider suicide or other harmful action(s).

Riley has similarly asserted that we are the problem, that our failings are causing the harm that is occurring. If only we would leave well enough alone, Riley could be loved and rich without any of this bothersome legal action and mental pain. Riley asserts it is all our fault (mostly my fault).

May It Please The Court

In the case of my concern for Riley, there will come a time when a guardian ad litem 2 will make their recommendation to the court regarding what is best for Riley. Then the judge will consider what the guardian ad litem has recommended and make a ruling on Riley’s future control of assets.

In the case of us all, there will come a time when Jesus will make His recommendation to God the Father regarding what is best for each of us. Inasmuch as we have thrown ourselves on the mercy of Jesus, that recommendation will include Jesus pointing out that He has paid for our sins. For those who have refused to participate in Jesus’ mercy, it will not be possible for Jesus to recommend that His suffering on behalf of that individual should be taken into consideration. Then God the Father will consider what Jesus has recommended and make a ruling on the individual’s future role in heaven.

Those who refuse Jesus or any possibility that God exists or that God might find them in error are like Riley, confident that there is no need for any curb on their actions. They declare themselves the captains of their own lives, sovereign unto themselves and justified in anything they may choose to do.

The Outcome

I don’t know what the judge will determine with respect to Riley. If I am declared conservator, then I will accept that role. If my petition is wholly denied, then I will accept the court’s judgment and stand down.

Similarly, I cannot be certain what God’s final judgement will be for any individual soul of my acquaintance. At the end, however, I expect we will accept God’s judgment.

As we interact with our own loved ones on matters that we have reason to believe are of eternal import, may we always remember the prayer authored by Reinhold Niebuhr:

God, grant me the
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

Notes:

  1. I use the name Riley because it is the androgynous name with the highest ranking for both males and females.
  2. A guardian ad litem is a guardian appointed by the court to represent the interests of Infants, the unborn, or incompetent persons in legal actions. See the guardian ad litem entry in The Free Dictionary: Legal Dictionary, online 6 Nov 2016 at http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/guardian+ad+litem.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ (of Latter-day Saints) for decades. She lives in the DC area with her husband, Bryan, and several daughters. She is an engineer by vocation and a writer by avocation. Meg is the author of Reluctant Polygamist, laying out the possibility that Joseph taught the acceptability of plural marriage but may have privately defied the commandment for love of his wife, Emma.

31 thoughts on “Believing Lies

  1. I have many friends currently being scammed in exchange for their vote. . No way to dissuade them.

  2. I read the whole story and found it to be very interesting. Classic scam of course. Scammers rely on naive people (I don’t mean that in any defamatory sense, naive people are often the nicest fellows, they just believe everybody around them has the best intensions). You did your best to educate your friend about the real intensions of the person she was communicating with.

    However, your decision to petition the court to become a legal guardian for your friend is something I would not have done. Is your friend mentally impaired so that she or he cannot take care of her or his own life? Most people wouldn’t agree with somebody giving away their savings to some scammers. But after all it is their life not ours. We can educate them, help them, be a friend and a counselor, but ultimately we are not in charge of their lives.

    If Riley really is not capable anymore to care for her or his own life, than a guardianship might be the right way. Family members, if willing, should take the role of guardian. Does Riley have any family left? I suppose not.

    If no family is available I still wouldn’t have offered myself as a possible guardian. A possible conflict of interest is just to obvious. Riley told you that she or he considered you as an heir. At least that is how I understand it from your story. In this case I would have tried to find someone without any obvious or even possible risk of conflict of interest.

    That is how I would have done it. That might not be the perfect solution or even necessarily the right one. But that is how I see it based on your story. But I also see that you deeply and honestly care about your friend. And that is something Riley can be thankful for.

  3. In the original draft, I used “my relative” to describe the person being scammed. But then I decided to go with an androgynous name. I hadn’t realized it might be thought I was petitioning the court regarding someone for whom their is no familial relationship.

    Perhaps it would clarify to explain that this is not mere theft, but involves money laundering, which is a felony. Because Riley has been informed this is a scam many times, they are no longer legally a victim but actually accessory to felony money laundering.

  4. By not being more particular about your relationship the story becomes confusing. If you had disclosed that ‘Riley’ is a close relative and elderly it would’ve made a difference to perceptions of your actions. As much as we may care for neighbors we are not usually permitted to sue for conservancy.

  5. I have an in-law who has been scammed by a relative who claims they are doing a major media project. There is no project. The in-law continues to believe the project is real and has drained their retirement account borrowed money to pour into the imaginary project. They are now facing bankruptcy. I hope there is a special place in hell for people who do these scams.

  6. I’d actually specified that Riley is my relative in the post. But I only mentioned it at the beginning, with other indications being less clear (such as mentioning “other relatives” which implies that I am also a relative).

    I didn’t want to be explicit about Riley’s relationship to me. But in the case of co-workers or other close friends with similar situations, the relative in question is usually a parent (father in one case, mother in another case) or a parent’s sibling (uncle in one case).

    Close reading would suggest an elderly relative, since this is someone who has granted loans to various individuals yet didn’t know how to block unwanted calls to their cell phone.

  7. Hi Steve

    Since it seems the scammer in your in-law’s case is in the United States, there should be some sort of legal recourse.

    In the case of my relative, the money was wired to a country where there is no ability to get the other government to help get the money back or at least get the scanners locked in jail.

  8. Excellent post all around, but I think it has a wider application than you are appreciating.

    While I we can certainly see this fault in others, does it exist in ourselves? Are there things we are believing in preference to the truth? (Politics seems pertinent, if obvious, at the moment)

    Do we have unrepented sins, where we prefer the lie, to the undiluted truth?

    It reminds me of D&C 84:54
    ” your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received”

    Or Ether 4:14
    ” it hath not come unto you, because of unbelief.”

    Perhaps this is part of why belief features so prominently, because it is a willingness to disbelieve comforting lies.

  9. Meg, that would be possible if the victim would step up. But, in the situation I mentioned, the victim (like your scenario) is still on board. Believes 100%. Supposedly a big (make believe) foreign investor is involved. The silly part is that the instigator who has never done a movie is purportedly being entrusted with millions. Yeah, right.

  10. There is certainly broader applicability of this general idea, butt as we see even in this extreme case, there is not always consensus that something is terribly wrong.

    As we expand this to other things, such as perhaps a belief that French kissing before matrimony is or is not acceptable, it really does start getting into something that is not critical to Salvation.

  11. Much depends on the extent to which the willing dupe is hurting others. For those with dependents such as minor children it can be a tragedy. If ‘Riley’ has no dependents and the only other people hurt are the victims of the criminal activities of the scammers, taking control of their activities is more a matter for law enforcement. From what you indicate, ‘Riley’ could be left indigent but may still retain family support.

  12. To Steve,

    To convolve what Yoda and Niebuhr said, “There is serenity or there is courage. There is no whining.” If there is something that can be done, have the courage to do it.

    To Pat,

    Here’s the lovely thing. If the guardian ad litem and the judge decide it’s none of my business, then it’s none of my business. Otherwise I am prepared to assume whatever support role the court deems appropriate. In either case, I will have positive closure on whether serenity or courage is my appropriate posture.

  13. Thanks for the essay. I found it fascinating that the section “Believing That Which is Not True” really depends on the assumption that the narrative voice knows the truth. I’m sure you “know” otherwise, and, given the lengths to which you will go (an entire book prooftexting a presentist and apologistic view of The Prophet’s polygamy!) to believe that which is not true, I’ll not persuade you. But consider:

    My experience with Meg has been instructive on how willing someone can be to believe a thing despite obvious clues the thing is wrong, even when valued resources and significant relationships are on the line.

    There are times when someone will proclaim the righteousness of their cause, because they are “giving up” so much and therefore the thing for which they are “giving up” so many precious resources and relationships is therefore good by definition. I’ve seen that kind of rationale from those who have stayed in the Church, for example, as though the losses they have sustained by staying in the Church, or the constant risks of persecution they run for rejecting the World and withdrawing from their dangerously misguided family somehow proves that they are courageous and brave to have severed their ties with daughter or son, sister or brother, mother or father.

    Meg believes that it is an admirable thing to have given away hundreds of thousands of dollars and alienated family in the pursuit of helping the powerful men in Salt Lake and the Intermountain West who supposedly have gifted Meg so much. Meg has certainly argued the virtuousness of her path to me.

    Similarly there are those who have stayed in the Church who will threaten, explaining that if their apostate family member hadn’t been so obdurate and her or his friends and loved ones so unfeeling toward the Church, then Meg, who has stayed, would not be forced to feel the pain when she is forced to consider her family’s spiritual death, or other harmful outcomes, like being eternally impotent, that Meg knows they will suffer.

    Meg has similarly asserted that I am the problem, that my “failings” are causing the “harm” that is occurring as she pines for our souls—but she’s the only one creating the problems for which she then provides the only answer! If only we would leave the Church well enough alone, Meg could be loved and blessed and maybe even prosper financially without any of this bothersome legal action and mental pain. Meg asserts it is all my fault.

    =====
    I’ve been inside the bubble where I thought that the Problems that the Plan of Salvation solved were what everyone everywhere has always and would always wonder about. But then I left the bubble and realized that I was the odd man out, and that most of the world sees a steadfast belief in Joseph Smith’s claims to have received ancient American scripture inscribed on gold plates by transplanted Jews and discovered under a few inches of soil in upstate New York to be just as insane, and money donated to the LDS Church in Salt Lake, just as irreparably lost, as we U.S. white folk see money scammed by those wicked Nigerians and their get-rich-quick-for-helping-me-with-wire-transfers.

    Yes, I’m aware that I’m a troll. I am sincerely sorry for that. You shan’t see me again.

    Yes, I’m also aware of the irony of appropriating a metaphor and then putting my own self in the position of “Riley,” the Poor, Deluded Sucker Slavering for Gold. I don’t know if I’m right. But I know that, after having been on both sides of the belief in late-20th-century LDS truth-claims fence, it strikes me as incredibly arrogant for the privileged few within any bubble to anoint themselves (or even think themselves) Special, or Chosen—and beyond arrogant to attempt to legislate that bubble morality.

    Bubbles can even be yuge, it turns out!

    Listen, please don’t tell gay people that they need to be celibate or “repaired” for Russell Nelson’s god to love them.

    That is all. Bless you. You and I are one. As each of us is Christ and Christ is each of us. As each person is every other person, and every other person is her and him. May the Lord bless and the Dude abide. Peace.

  14. Self-proclaimed troll, Dude Abiding, said many things, starting with:

    “I found it fascinating… the lengths to which you will go (an entire book prooftexting a presentist and apologistic view of The Prophet’s polygamy!) to believe that which is not true… Meg… can… believe a thing despite obvious clues the thing is wrong…”

    I know I’ve elided, but I think I get to the essence.

    Dude Abiding states, without giving any examples, that I have put forward a presentist view. This is absolutely not true. I put forward a view that in fact looks at the realities of the time under discussion to a level that few other historians have done with respect to Joseph’s actions as well as the actions of his contemporaries. Give three examples where I am demonstrably presentist in a manner that makes my conjecture impossible.

    Dude Abiding also states, without giving any examples, that I have put forth an apologetic view. I would counter that finding Joseph disastrously reluctant to obey and key Mormon leaders guilty of sexual misconduct or suasion is hardly an apologetic stance.

    Finally Dude Abiding suggests that I believe a thing despite obvious clues it is wrong. Which thing is that, and what are the obvious clues that objective historians would agree destroy reasonable belief?

    Lastly, I don’t know how the OP was construed as having anything to do with Dude Abiding’s issues with Russell Nelson’s God and gays.

    As for being sincerely sorry for being a troll, there was a space between writing those words and hitting “post comment.” Sincerely sorry folks don’t hit “post comment” if they have written something they consider truly trollish and for which they are honestly sincerely sorry.

  15. It certainly is common for close family to obtain guardianship; a little less common for people further removed from the person in need, and even less common for someone who’s just a good acquaintance. Nonetheless, I think it’s better for someone to seek guardianship because ideally, it will be under court scrutiny, there will be accountings made, a bond issued to protect the person and third parties, and so forth. It is not an easy process and is difficult for everyone involved unless the person is clearly incapable of administering their own affairs. I imagine there is a special punishment awaiting those who abuse the elderly.

  16. “There are times when someone will proclaim the righteousness of their cause, because they are ‘giving up’ so much and therefore the thing for which they are ‘giving up’ so many precious resources and relationships is therefore good by definition. I’ve seen that kind of rationale from those who have left the Church, for example, as though the losses they have sustained by leaving the Church somehow prove that they are courageous and brave to have severed their ties.”

    This isn’t just used for those who left the church. People inside the church (and usually on their way out of it) use this same rationale when they have a pet cause (LGBT rights, gender equality, etc.) that they view more important above the gospel. They don’t care how their actions hurt others or destroy testimonies because their cause is right and just and collateral damage doesn’t matter. Any damage incurred is proof that what they’re doing is the right path.

  17. Meg says:”Similarly there are those who have left the Church who will threaten, explaining that if the Church hadn’t been so obdurate and its adherents so unfeeling, then the individual who has left would not be forced to consider suicide or other harmful action(s).”

    Unfortunately, those that are committing suicide are those that are unable to leave the church because of their age and situation. Yesterday I spoke with a young LDS gay man who has lost 3 friends this year to suicide. all were high school age.

    LDS gay people that are college age are able to navigate this area in a much healthier manner which usually is severing all ties from the toxic church environment. Most the 20 somethings I know have completely left the church that wants to make them unhappy in the year since the “policy”. May others see reason as well.

  18. Those who say that you should leave “Riley” to his own devices because he isn’t hurting others are not looking very far down the road.
    Riley is draining his resources that would provide a comfortable end-of-life experience. If he has nothing left to take care of himself financially, that burden will fall upon relatives, or he will pass his remaining days in a care center as a ward of the government.
    Meg, and others who care, are correct to do intervention in this matter, just as you would for a brother/spouse/child who is caught in drugs, gambling, or any other vice.
    There are challenges for those who care.
    Stay close enough to detect self-destructive behavior.
    Be willing to take the “hurt of displeasure” that will result in standing up against another’s self-destructive behavior.

    Although it took some effort for me to read through it all, I am grateful to you, Meg, that you shared such insights. It has been an “eye-opening” week for me in various matters.

  19. Ah, the gay specific comments are coming from my mention of suicide.

    It’s just that Riley has appropriated the suicide threat, though they are in no way personally linked to the LGBTQ segment of the wider Mormon community.

    You have all read Malcolm Gladwell? You recall his essay about suicides in the Pacific (I think it was the Philippines)? Suicide became a fashion in the culture he was discussing. In similar fashion, I assert that making “a thing” of suicide of LDS persons struggling with gender issues is itself causing more such individuals to consider (and commit) suicide.

    When I was young I also considered suicide, though I think I did so because of depression arising from physical abuse, combined possibly with a touch of OCD. My God expressed to me how utterly pissed He would be if I showed up early. And so fear of God substantially kept me from taking any harmful actions towards myself.

    I have lived long enough to see various people I know or care about commit suicide. In none of these cases was the problem associated with gender issues. One such suicide occurred in the wake of the shooting at the Navy Yard (where I work) and in combination with the government furloughs which caused many to lose a day or so of pay each week. In addition to the one who took their own life, I learned that guards had been stationed at similar locations where someone could use gravity to perform “assisted” suicide. Per my informant, at least two other people had attempted to kill themselves, who were prevented from doing so by the guards.

    People under stress will sometimes consider the benefit of opting out. This is a particular problem in the Armed Forces. And we regularly receive training on how to identify and deal with the possibility that a colleague or loved one is at risk of self harm. But that training does not include a call for ending the individual’s association with the Armed Forces, in part because the stress is often a residue of a past that can’t be unlived. Rather we are called to band together as caring family.

    Please stop associating suicide uniquely with those raised to believe in Mormonism who now self identify as LBGTQ. Inasmuch as that unique association is encouraged, it becomes unclear how many of the suicides are purely due to stress and how many are because it is culturally acceptable in the Mormon LGBTQ community to declare one’s anger and pain by selfishly taking the suicide path.

    My God is as pissed at people showing up early as He ever threatened to be at me in my youthful depression.

  20. P.S. The mention of people threatening suicide also arises from an incident where an individual wished to guilt me into having sex with them. They bemoaned the fact that they had become Mormon explicitly because of me and talked about all the tithes they had paid.

    I offered to pay them an amount equivalent to the tithes they had paid. They refused this offer.

    Instead they said they needed me so badly that if I wouldn’t have sex with them they would commit suicide. They pulled out the push dagger they planned to use and appeared about to perform the deed in my presence.

    Then they stopped and said they couldn’t kill themself. They handed me the push dagger and requested that I dispatch them.

    I refused and threw the dagger out of the room. And I left.

    So people threatening suicide to force others to comply is not merely a hypothetical matter for me.

  21. “Please stop associating suicide uniquely with those raised to believe in Mormonism who now self identify as LBGTQ. Inasmuch as that unique association is encouraged, it becomes unclear how many of the suicides are purely due to stress and how many are because it is culturally acceptable in the Mormon LGBTQ community to declare one’s anger and pain by selfishly taking the suicide path.”

    That is very well put. I dont wish suicide or early death on anyone, and any suicide is heartbreaking.

    I trully believe that Mosiah 3:19 would help solve so many problems in the world (if not all of them). In addition, the vision of the Tree of Life says the following:

    1 Nephi 8:33 “And great was the multitude that did enter into that strange building. And after they did enter into that building they did point the finger of scorn at me and those that were partaking of the fruit also; but we heeded them not.”

    I think we tend to forget that last sentence (to heed not [the words from those in the great and spacious building]). Everyone has something within them that the world can use to try to make us “feel ashamed” of the fruit of the tree, or we may even have a “thorn in the flesh” (as Paul put it) that stays with us despite our fervent prayers. Yes, it takes faith to ignore pointing fingers, mocking those who partook of the fruit, or even to stay faithful when our thorns are deep, perdonal and very sensitive. But I have a testimony that doing so does make a positive difference in our day to day grind through life. It allows us freedom from defining ourselves by how the world sees us, and instead allows us to partake of the fruit of the Gospel daily, which fills the soul with incomparable joy. I believe everyone can get to that point if they hold on to the rod and ignore pointing fingers.

  22. You spent several paragraphs recounting a tale about how an elderly relative refuses to see that they’re being scammed in the face of massive amounts of evidence – and then goes on to say that people who leave Mormonism are the same way because:

    – They proclaim the righteousness of their cause
    – They feel the failings of others is causing the harm that is occurring

    That’s quite a reach, frankly. There’s a much better analogy. Mormonism *is* the scam. Joseph Smith is the African guy spinning you a story, and if you just wire 10% of your income to your bishop, you’ll get to his Super VIP Heaven. He’ll even throw in some extra Masonic handshakes and goofy baking hats! Everyone else is trying to show you the proof – there are no Lamanites, there are no Nephites, the Book of Abraham is massively fradulent, and every objective test of Joseph Smith’s powers of translation and prophecy indicates he’s a fraud – but just like Riley, members continue to smile and ignore literally every single credible Egyptologist and archaeologist on the matter. When the Smithsonian refutes the LDS rumors that the Book of Mormon is used to assist in research, members just brush it off. When the church’s own efforts to prove the historicity of the Book of Mormon turn up zilch, members ignore it. When troubling church history turns up things like Joseph bedding 14 year olds and other married women, members just shrug it off or make up excuses.

    Fortunately, in the case of Riley, there is recourse to fix the problem. In the case of members who continue to believe in the face of increasing evidence against their positions, one must simply tolerate them as the sops they are and hope they come around someday.

  23. This being a Mormon blog, I am disappointed that the androgynous pseudonym chosen was not LaVern.

  24. To JosephsMyth,

    The problem with the Book of Mormon is that members have long sought naturalistic explanations that fit their modern paradigms rather than study what Joseph and those who assisted with the translation actually said about the Book of Mormon. The things that have been disproved are not things Joseph ever claimed were “true.”

    Joseph never claimed he “translated” using anything similar to what moderns think of as translation. He used the seer stone(s) to obtain the Book of Mormon and Book of Abraham texts. Use of seer stones was common in 1820s America, but Joseph’s use of seer stones to receive written language was unique.

    Later Joseph grew away from the need to rely on the seer stone(s) to receive revelation. And subsequent prophets have relied on their collective understanding of God’s will via revelation to inform their actions.

    As for the “troubling” history of Joseph’s covenants with various women, it appears you have not read any of my writings on the subject. I issue you the same challenge I have continually thrown out to others (most recently to Dude Abiding) that you present any error in my logic that reflects credible historical interpretation of fact. So far the “criticism” has amounted to “I just don’t believe you” without any effort to seriously torpedo my conjecture.

    If I’m wrong, it should be possible to prove I am wrong. So prove it, rather than content yourself with flinging tired regurgitations of “Letter to a CES Instructor” palaver.

    The book is Reluctant Polygamist and you can get the PDF here if you don’t want to buy the physical book via Amazon.com.

    Pick something simple, if you like, such as tearing apart my assertion that the shooter who killed Joseph Smith and Hyrum used sniper techniques (e.g., a rifle steadied by a rest). Or prove that Esther Dutcher Smith couldn’t have been the person who reported Gustavus Hills’s attempt to seduce her in spring 1842. Or prove that it’s reasonable for no one to have conceived a child by Joseph other than Emma Smith if he was engaging in sexual relations with that many women.

    By the way, no credible historians insist that Joseph’s relationships with Helen Mar Kimball and Nancy Winchester were sexual. So the “having sex with fourteen year olds” is merely an example of Internet laziness for shock value.

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