When People Leave Because of Lies

Lot and his family fled Gomorrah based on a belief that it was a rotten place that God would destroy.

Various moderns have fled the LDS Church because they believe it is a rotten place (though it’s not always clear they think there is a God who cares to exact revenge on the Church, often taking up that task themselves).

One of the stories the disaffected love to tell is how rotten Joseph Smith was, portraying him as an abusive sexual addict. Given today’s headlines, one can only imagine such disaffected folks consider Joseph in the same class as abusers such as Harvey Weinstein and Dr. Larry Nassar.

(If you don’t know who Weinstein and Nassar are, you are possibly living in a cave and probably aren’t reading this anyway.)

The most effective arrow in this quiver has been the story spun around Josephine Lyon, daughter of Sylvia Sessions Lyon.

But I assert that the detractors have their story wrong. Now that I’ve had a chance to visit the Special Collections at the Family History Library, my conjecture has flesh.

Covenants: Conjugal or Not?

It is undisputed that Joseph Smith covenanted with many individuals other than his legal wife, Emma Hale Smith. It is undisputed that Joseph’s successor, Brigham Young, considered that such covenants ought to involve conjugal relations.

The reasonable inference was therefore that Joseph covenanted with women for the purpose of engaging in conjugal relations. However that inference is not more than inference.

Recently DNA evidence has allowed scholars to be certain that, in every case that has been tested, the children supposedly engendered by Joseph with a woman other than Emma are not, in fact, Joseph’s biological get.

For those who don’t want to believe anyway, this has persuaded some that Joseph was still having sex, but suppressed the evidence through various means, such as birth control, abortion, and dumb luck.

Josephine

Sylvia Sessions [Lyon Clark] reported to family that she covenanted with Joseph Smith sometime after her husband, Windsor Lyon, was out of fellowship with the Church, which occurred in the latter part of 1842. In 1844 Sylvia gave birth to a daughter, Josephine.

When Sylvia was dying, she reportedly told Josephine that Joseph Smith was her father.

At face value, the story is simple. Based on only these facts, Sylvia appears to be telling Josephine that Joseph was her biological father.

However Phebe Clark Ellis, a daughter born to Sylvia in 1852, was also present, and wrote the confidence regarding Joseph Smith also applied to her. Phebe couldn’t have been Joseph Smith’s biological daughter. Further, Phebe writes about how she and her mother had discussed this special heritage in the past. 1

One of the questions that arises is why Phebe would have spoken of this covenant heritage with her mother while Josephine seemed ignorant of this fact until Sylvia’s death.

Looking at the Records

For years I have asked that people go to the Special Collections area at the Family History Library to look at the sealing records for Josephine and Phebe. I felt certain that there would be something that suggested a reason Phebe would have been told about her mother’s sealing to Joseph while Josephine was not told.

This past weekend I found myself in Utah. And so I took myself downtown to the Library.

As a matter of procedure, one can only gain access to the Special Collections area if one has a recommend from the bishop presiding over the area where you live (for active LDS members, a temple recommend suffices). With that and a government-issued picture ID, two Family History Librarians will remain present while you access records that are restricted for some reason.

First, I reviewed the record of the sealing of Marietta Holmes to Job Welling. That record is the reason I posit that children often only learned of their covenant relationship to Joseph Smith when they, themselves, married in the temple. I noted again how Job Welling’s name had been recorded as Wellings, with another hand marking out the terminal “s” and ‘No “S.”‘ written above Job’s name. Marietta’s name had been recorded as “Smith Marietta Holmes”, and above that name was written in another hand “Holmes, not Smith”. Wilford Woodruff was the one who officiated at Marietta’s sealing, a man aware of Nauvoo covenants.

Sealings in Utah during that time weren’t like today. There weren’t large groups of friends and extended family there to witness the event. The sealings took place in the relatively tiny Endowment House or an office of some member of the First Presidency.

In the case of Marietta’s sealing, it appears a perturbed Marietta went back to Farmington and demanded of her parents how it was that she was considered a “Smith.” There are several records that appear to arise from that time, when the family and neighbors were told a simplified version of Nauvoo events that was deemed sufficient.

Looking up Josephine’s sealing record, she was sealed to John Fisher on 2 Mar 1869 by Daniel H. Wells, with David Evans and W. W. Phelps as witnesses. Josephine had married John Fisher on 15 Aug 1863, so her sealing lagged her original marriage by many years. None of those participating in the ceremony were privy to information about Nauvoo covenants at the time they took place.

Looking at Phebe’s sealing record, she and her full-blood sister were sealed to their respective husbands on the same day, 31 Jan 1870. The officiator was Daniel H. Wells again, but this time the witnesses were Joseph F. Smith and W. W. Phelps.

Joseph F. Smith, by 1870, was actively involved in compiling affidavits to prove that Joseph covenanted with women other than Emma. Joseph F. Smith hoped to thereby prove that his cousins, Joseph Smith Jr.’s sons, were wrong to reject the LDS Church and the covenants performed in the temple. Therefore Joseph F. Smith would have been very likely to talk with Sylvia’s daughters about what they might know about their mother’s covenant with Joseph Smith.

Joseph F. Smith would prepare two affidavits for Sylvia’s signature, but it appears she declined to sign either. The date of Sylvia’s covenant with Joseph Smith is usually taken from the drafted affidavit that indicates that she covenanted with Joseph in the early portion of 1842. But as Sylvia never signed that affidavits and told her daughters the covenant took place after Josephine’s father was out of fellowship with the Church, the covenant seems not have taken place in early 1842.

Joseph F. Smith’s presence at the sealings of the Clark girls suggests that this may be where they initially learned about Sylvia’s covenant. The continuity of two individuals (Wells, Phelps) who were present at Josephine’s sealing may even explain why the family would know that Josephine had not similarly learned of her “special heritage” as a covenant child of Joseph Smith.

Sylvia’s concern that Phebe be acknowledged Joseph’s covenant child was so great that Phebe would approach Joseph F. Smith years later, having him stand as proxy for Joseph as the ceremony was formally performed to ensure Church records reflected what Sylvia felt was the case.

Why Does This Matter?

The Relief Society had been formed on 17 March 1842. On 30 March 1842 the society was reminded that “one principle object of the society was to purge out iniquity.”

But by June the person believed to be the root of that iniquity, Dr. John C. Bennett, had been evicted from the Church and Nauvoo. Enraged, Bennett accused Joseph Smith of vile misconduct in newspaper articles that would be reprinted throughout the United States and which would echo through time to our current day.

On 31 August, 1842, Joseph explained to the Relief Society, “Although I do wrong, I do not the wrongs I am charged with doing.”

A hint regarding what the wrong might have been can be gleaned from a subsequent comment from that day, “If you know anything, hold your tongues, and the least harm will be done.”

Instead of being a libidinous seducer, it seems Joseph Smith may have felt his wrong was in failing to detect the initial corruption. Certainly in 1844 he would suggest that his wrong by that time included allowing some (e.g., the Higbees) additional time after 1842 to repent.

It makes a difference if Joseph was “wrong” by not detecting evil for a mere six months, given that he thereafter acted with urgency to purge that evil. Joseph was no Cardinal Bernard, spending decades covering up sexual abuse. Joseph exposed the primary sinner(s) and denied the insufficiently repentant access to privileges, as when Sister Nyman was denied accession to Relief Society in 1842.

Nor was Brigham Young a Cardinal Bernard. Where Joseph forgave multiple times, Brigham was quick to excommunicate any who persisted in error after Joseph’s death. Not only were sexual relations outside of covenants punished, by the latter 1840s incorrectly administered covenants resulted in punishment of both the officiator (e.g., Henry Jacobs) and the man who had entered into wrongfully administered covenants (e.g., W. W. Phelps). 2

Many of the disaffected will state that plural marriage itself was sinful. Yet the LDS view can been seen in George Q. Cannon’s response to the ruling in Reynolds v. United States, where he stated:

Our crime has been: We married women instead of seducing them; we reared children instead of destroying them; we desired to exclude from the land prostitution, bastardy and infanticide. 3

Plural marriage served to allow all women who wished a way to honorably bear children within a covenant family, giving each woman who wished a husband with whom they could share their life’s burden. Under plural marriage there would be no reason for a woman to become so economically desperate that she must sell herself (prostitution). There would be no reason for a man to deny any child he had engendered (bastardy). There would be no reason for a woman to be so ashamed of her pregnancy that she would consider terminating the pregnancy (infanticide).

Given the LDS belief in eternal marriage, plural marriage served to ensure no man’s wife would be put aside because of another wife was already sealed to a man. No child would become an eternal bastard because they were the child of a less-favored wife.

Minds aren’t changed in a single day. Those who despise past Mormon leaders will likely continue to do so. But we can move forward with respect for our past leaders, love for our disaffected fellows, and polite refusal to swallow damning and incorrect stories that have been told about our past.

Notes:

  1. See “Phebe Jane Clark Ellis,” Carr Family Record and Journal, pp. 124-129, particularly p. 127, online 17 Jan 2018 at http://mormonpolygamydocuments.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Phebe-Clark-chapter.pdf.
  2. For more information in the circumstances leading to the 1848 excommunication of Henry Jacobs and W. W. Phelps, see <a href=”https://www.millennialstar.org/zina-diantha-huntington-young-exploring-a-confusing-legacy/”>Zina Diantha Huntington Young – Exploreing a Confusing Legacy</a>.
  3. Cannon, George Quayle, A Review of the Decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Geo. Reynolds vs. The United States, Deseret News Printing and Publishing Establishment, Salt Lake City, Utah, p. 52.
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About Meg Stout

Meg Stout has been an active member of the LDS church 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.

32 thoughts on “When People Leave Because of Lies

  1. Thanks for the update, Meg. Glad someone is pouring over those old records with such an eye and memory for detail.

  2. Thanks Meg, I really appreciate the work you’ve done in this area of church history.

  3. Perhaps the LDS view can been seen in George Q. Cannon’s response to the ruling in Reynolds v. United States. But Cannon’s statement doesn’t only apply to the polygamous Mormon’s of that time. It applies to most everyone. He only lists some values that were widely held across society and still are. Most everyone upholds and strives to support such values. I liked your characterization much better. In your wrap up, you did a much better job of pointing out some of the benefits of plural marriage.

    However, it was the “Why Does This Matter” section that I found the most intriguing. Why does it matter, really? Why go to such great lengths to establish Joseph Smith’s advocation of polygamy? In what way could this be said to be affirming? Is it really that big a deal, either way? I’m not saying that it’s unimportant. But it seems abundantly clear to me that the effort that has gone into this issue of Joseph Smith’s polygamy greatly overshadows the intrinsic merit of the ostensible objective of the many researchers. Meanwhile, a big piece of the puzzle is missing. In your piece, you point out some of the benefits of plural marriage, yet you left out the big one.

  4. Ophelia: Is “the big reason” you refer to the fact (well, we suppose it to be fact, but I don’t know that it can be proven via scripture or official doctrine) that there will be more women worthy of exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom than men?

    BTW, this is only tangentially related, but have you read Meg’s book “Reluctant Polygamist”?

  5. Hi Ophelia,

    This post is part of a larger conversation, so there may be things I didn’t emphasize here because I feel I’ve adequately emphasized them elsewhere.

    I am a descendant of many plural marriages, so if you’re referring to the “main benefit” being offspring, I don’t entirely disagree. But there are those who have done some math that suggests that husbands with only one wife engendered more children per wife than husbands with multiple wives. I get their argument, but I would counter that the men with multiple wives were bearing such a heavy load of service that the would have engendered many fewer children per wife had they been monogamists.

    That said, I don’t consider the “raising up seed” bit to actually be the main benefit of plural marriage during the time it was being actively practiced by members of the mainstream LDS Church.

  6. This is indeed part of a larger conversation, but I’m not sure you have addressed it elsewhere. Plural marriage was looked upon, first and foremost, as a way to help jump start membership. Missionary work was intended to compound this effect. But a fast growing membership was not an end unto itself. The ultimate objective was to cultivate an ideological movement that would be sympathetic to Zionism whilst simultaneously prosthelytizing on a global scale to help the whole world to sympathize. About 40,000 missionaries would do just that during the first century of the Church alone. The cause was of course controlling the most socioeconomically important and geopolitically significant real estate on the planet, which Central Asia was even before the discovery of oil, long before. It is instructive to note here that The Great Game ran almost perfectly concurrent with that first century of the Church.

    Britain finally overthrew the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Jerusalem in 1917. The Balfour Declaration was made by British Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour in a letter to to Baron Rothschild, president of the British Zionist Federation, expressing sympathy for Jewish Zionist aspirations. In 1921, on the fourth anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and during the period when the Mandate for Palestine was being created, David O. McKay, already one of the Twelve at that time, would travel to the Mt. of Olives, despite civil unrest in the region, to pray for the return of the Jews to their homeland and commemorate Orson Hyde’s visit to the Mt. of Olives in 1841. In 1922, the League of Nations gave Britain the power to administer the Mandate for Palestine. This didn’t just establish a homeland for the Jews. First and foremost, it established legitimacy for foreign control in the region. – the endgame.

    Today there have been over a million missionaries in about 40 different countries, providing a theological, doctrinal basis for what has been happening on the global, geopolitical landscape, much the way “manifest destiny” did during the westward expansion in North America. And the significance of that real estate in Central Asia has never been more apparent. This is no criticism of Mormonism or Zionism. I love Mormons. I agree with prominent literary critic, Harold Bloom, who described Mormonism as intrinsically American and admired “the imaginative vitality of Joseph Smith’s revelation.” And what could be wrong with the restoration of an oppressed people to their ancestral lands? There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with that idea. But the fact still remains that Mormonism and Zionism have been abused and exploited by the forces of imperialism, which have always had an uncanny knack for cloaking themselves in the guise of a noble cause in order to validate their encroachments upon the sovereignty of others and their resources, drawing other factions into the fray to do their bidding. These factions only support an ulterior motive unbeknownst to them, while believing they are supporting a noble cause.

    Were you aware that the Church leaders (egs; Brigham Young, John Taylor) had liaisons with the Rothschild family?

  7. Ophelia,

    You suggest plural marriage was intended to jump-start membership. I would counter that if that was the case, the plural marriage initiative was a notable failure. Not only did the accusations regarding plural marriage lead many to abandon the Church in the 1840s, we see a drastic decline in new converts once the LDS Church openly embraces plural marriage starting in 1852. Similarly, the issue of plural marriage is grossly misunderstood by many modern Mormons and has led to significant defections in the past decade, particularly once the world media announced (circa November 2014) that the LDS Church website agreed that Joseph Smith had married approximately 40 women.

    You appear to be coming to this topic from a paradigm focused on traditional Zionism, with your understanding of Mormonism the product of study under people who also lack a direct tie to Mormon belief and practice.

    You assert that various Mormon leaders “had liaisons” with the Rothschild family. In the context of plural marriage discussions, the term liaison could be taken many ways. I assume you are talking about the possibility that they wrote letters and possibly met with one another. I am not aware that any members of the Rothschild became conjugal partners to leading Church members, speaking in this case specifically of Brigham Young and John Taylor (Taylor happens to be one of my ancestors, and I have in-laws and numerous friends who are descended from Brigham Young).

  8. It could well be that the plural marriage initiative could be seen as a failure. That is a very complicated issue, however. The Church’s history with splinter groups, schisms, factions and dispensations complicates this tremendously and that is just one factor amid many. Either way though, it isn’t at all a stretch or unfair to look upon plural marriage, along with missionary work, as a strategies to bolster membership.

    I too am unaware of any conjugal relations between early Mormon leaders and the Rothschild family. (I can, however, demonstrate familial connections between the early Church and certain prominent families of the old Eastern Seaboard, families which were also prominent families on the Skull and Bones roster. The Whitneys and Tafts, for example. And financial support was also involved here. I don’t consider such connections as necessarily damning. But I don’t consider them meaningless either.)

    In his book, Presidents of the Church, former emeritus professor of religion and philosophy at Brigham Young University and director of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, Truman G. Madsen, alludes to an interaction between John Taylor and Baron Rothschild during a Rothschild visit to Salt Lake City in 1876;

    “During his presidency John Taylor gave an interview that seems to me to have great significance. At one point he was visited by a Jewish man named Baron Rothschild, who was known at the time as the wealthiest man in the world.”

    “How much influence did President Taylor have on Baron Rothschild to do those things? We cannot know. But it is clear that in some ways John Taylor understood the future of the Jewish people better than the Jewish people themselves.”

    Madsen also points out;

    “Baron Rothschild became a major factor in peparing the way for what is known as the Zionist movement in the Holy Land.”

    I agree with Madsen. We really cannot know for sure. Nor can we know how Rothschild might have influenced Taylor and Mormonism at the time. Liaisons like this, and like the 1875 visit of Baron Lionel de Rothschild, Prince Frederick of Wittgenstein and Count Turenne to Brigham Young, are shrouded in secrecy. No surprises there. We are left to wonder what sort of financial connections there may have been. What was the true nature of the relationship between Rothschild family and the Mormon Church? Has this had anything to do with the Church’s financial success?

    Orson Pratt’s discourse in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on March 10, 1872, offers other insights. It isn’t just prophetic. Pratt also seems to assume a quite sympathetic stance towards the idolatry of wealth, even obscene wealth in this case;

    “When the Rothschilds and great bankers among the Jewish nation shall return back to their own land to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, carrying their capital with them, it will almost ruin some of the nations, and the latter will go up against Jerusalem to take a spoil.”

    There are still more questions than answers. But given the shared Zionist sympathies, what was at stake on the geopolitical front and the reputation of the Rothschild banking dynasty, which is purported to have amassed the largest private fortune in modern world history, one could hardly be faulted for wondering if there was some sort of secret combination in the making there.

  9. Hi Ophelia,

    I remain confused by your viewpoint here. You appear to be studying these matters at a vast ideological distance from Mormon practice and faith.

    As to wealth in the LDS Church, the US government confiscated everything John Taylor wasn’t able to get transferred into private hands. The Church was heavily laden by debts as a result until relatively late into the 20th century.

    Contrary to what one read in dime novels, there are no vast caverns filled with gold underneath Church headquarters.

    The modern Church does have significant financial resources, but even here the main “wealth” is in the vast store of volunteer labor, which the Church takes effort to train up (as with the recent Self-Reliance and Pathway programs). The wealth of today’s Church is not based on collaboration with Rothschild.

    An instance of financial priorities can be seen in the handling of the mine where John Taylor dedicated his share to the Redemption of Zion, which was not about the Holy Land but about the temple lot in Missouri. Once Taylor’s heirs diverted the mining shares to private gain, the mine failed. If the Church has vast wealth, it would have been seized. Had Taylor had access to riches from Rothschild, there would be some evidence of the subsequent disposition of thiose funds.

    Please provide evidence.

  10. It could be Meg, it could be. Again, I do not consider any of the facts I have presented as definitive evidence of misdeeds. I reiterate that we really do not know for sure. But there is, without a doubt, a narrative here that is based on historical facts. It is not unreasonable, given these facts, to maintain that this counter narrative is a plausible one. This is very different than saying that it’s absolutely true.

    Likewise, in fairness, we don’t know exactly what the US government confiscated from the Church or the (complete) details of how the Church got out of debt. Nor can we demonstrate that any financial support from the Rothschilds would have necessarily left a trail of evidence. How could we really know any of this?

    The devil is in the details. And I think it’s reasonable to say that, given who controls the flow of information in our society, ordinary folks don’’t usually have all the details. Whether we like it or not, there are interests in the world that prefer it that way. It would be very easy for any higher ups to conceal anything they want to conceal, especially the players we’re talking about here!

    We do know, for sure, that the Church is very, very wealthy. One look at Temple Square alone makes it pretty clear. A bit of research crystalizes it. Is this the sort of spectacle Joseph Smith would have wanted to symbolize himself and his people?

  11. Ophelia,

    In this response, you seem to come out of your obscurity to reveal yourself as a conspiracy theorist who may actually have more than a passing familiarity with things Mormon.

    However your assertion that lack of any evidence is therefore consistent with an alternate history is relatively irresponsible. Mormons document things in excruciating detail.

    I don’t know why you’re commenting on this post, as Rothschild and use of the term “Zion” by both Jews and Mormons (albeit often meaning different things) have nothing to do with Sylvia Session’s dying words.

    Perhaps you have heard the Meg Stout engages in baseless speculation that is without proof, and therefore feel that I may be a fellow spirit. However my conjectures are not without proof. Contemporary documents support my conjectures. And all history is ultimately conjecture, with those conjectures (usually written by the survivors if not the victors) which thread extant fact often being the ones that the world embrace.

    I don’t see how your asserted conjecture meets the test of threading sufficient extant fact to justify credence.

  12. “In this response, you seem to come out of your obscurity to reveal yourself as a conspiracy theorist who…”

    Meg, It took you that long? I figured it out with her 2nd comment.

    The Great Game, Balfour, Rothschilds, imperial powers. All tied in to trips Hyde and McKay made to the Mt of Olives. Oooooooh-kay.

    The clincher was “… abused and exploited by the forces of imperialism, which have always had an uncanny knack for cloaking themselves in the guise of a noble cause in order to validate their encroachments upon the sovereignty of others and their resources, drawing other factions into the fray to do their bidding.” Sounds something like a recruiter for the rebels would have said in Star Wars. DARN those forces of imperialism!

    Kind of amusing. The Rothschilds/Zionists must have had their hooks into Solomon Spaulding when he wrote the Book of Mormon, and into Sidney Rigdon when he helped Joseph write the D&C.

    I say let the comments stand. Share the humor.

    Wheat! Wheat!

  13. I think you do see it. You just don’t know quite what to do with it. You’re a bright young lady. But you lack the experience to see the world the way it really is. No fault of yours.

    I have billed my assertions, repeatedly, not as facts, but as plausible. They are plausible because they are based upon facts, many facts, none of which have been (or can be) challenged. Interesting, no? Again, describing assertions as plausible is very, very different from calling them facts. I would never do that.

    You’re quite right about one thing, Meg. History is written by the victors. Don’t forget it.

  14. Hi Book – I knew Ophelia was coming from a conspiracy-theory perspective, but I wasn’t sure they actually understood anything about Mormonism until that last comment.

    Ophelia, history is written by the survivors and their descendants drawing from surviving data and documents. I recommend you consider the emerging consensus on conscientious history that derives from the case of Irving v. Lipstadt/Penguin Books. Speculation that ignores fact and distorts reality (as your theory appears to do) is no longer seen as acceptable.

  15. You were right the first time about the victors Meg. You’re also correct about all history being conjecture. And that’s important to understand. But there’s a lot more to those “surviving data and documents” than you know, based on your statement. It’s that data which does not “survive” that would have been the most important, and which necessitates the work of responsible scholarship.

    I wish you all the best.

  16. As an aside to this discussion, I wish to respond to Ophelia’s comment–“Is this the sort of spectacle Joseph Smith would have wanted to symbolize himself and his people?”

    Spectacle is the wrong word, though others, like you, might see it that way, but Joseph Smith absolutely would have approved of the evident display of wealth, not for grandstanding or to astound, but to attract interest in the works being done there. You forget that he caused the Kirtland and Nauvoo temples to be built and they were not typical, mundane buildings–they were Houses of the Lord. These two temples as well as the Salt Lake temple were literally built on the backs, poverty, faith, and sacrifice of the Saints of the day–all of which Temple Square symbolizes. Call it a spectacle if you want, but we as LDS members are proud of the early Saints, many of whom are our ancestors, and we remember them, and honor their dedication to the Lord’s work.

    Joseph saw a vision of the Saints becoming a mighty people in the Rockies and there would fulfill the scripture in Isaiah 2:2-3: “And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Exalted? You bet! A curiosity and attraction for people near and far? Absolutely!

    Perhaps you have forgotten that Salt Lake is the headquarters of the LDS church, so it is natural to have our most impressive edifices there. Though times and practices have changed, temples now dot, and will continue to dot, the earth and each one is built on the tithing of church members, as a symbol of our faith and obedience to the Lord’s commandments.

  17. As a general musing on conspiracy-fancies, and particularly this one, I question the supposed motivation of the hypothetical plot. Why would the richest man in the world try to create secret ties to a pack of fringe Christians who had been driven from the organized United States to live in a desert, and whose leadership was in regular peril of being jailed, and in demonstrable danger of being assassinated if taken into custody? I can think of nothing temporally substantive that the nascent Church would have to offer the Rothschilds. They didn’t have an industrial base to invest in. They couldn’t offer banking (or money-laundering) services. They’d be a poor choice for white slaves or smuggled gold bullion. The Church had nothing the Rothschilds would have needed. There’s no leverage for the Church there, and no reason beyond credulity-stretching charity for the Rothschilds to involve themselves with the Church.

    If we want to get crazy, though, what if that sweet sweet Rothschilds money has worked quietly on behalf of the Church because the Rothschilds secretly joined (or wished to, but for political reasons couldn’t)? What if Baron Rothschild is the Pilate’s Wife of the dispensation of the fullness of times?

    I declare it … plausible. 🙂

  18. “…plausible.”

    Not really. Any more than it being plausible that you’ll meet a Ghanaian heir/heiress via social media who will offer to marry you and share $100Ms and gold mines within the first 24 hours.

  19. You’re gonna regret saying that when the Nigerian prince wires me the 3.2bnUSD he promised. I expect it any day now. And I hope it gets here soon, because my bank balance looks oddly low.

  20. Mormontarian: the odd thing is the BoM has some very Zionist passages about Jews returning to the land of their inheritance/promise. 2 Nephi 9:1–2 is one example.

    I used to mark that chapter as an explanation of the Atonement in the BoMs that I gave out. But the first line of the chapter heading (which summarizes verses 1-2) generated a negative response from the Muslim man to whom I had offered it. He just randomly opened it to one of the passages/chapters where I had put a Post-it note, and that was the one he started reading.

    D&C too, though the section doesn’t come to mind immediately, but I think it’s about where the tribe of Joseph gathers to Zion and the tribe of Judah gathers to Jerusalem just prior to the Second Coming.

    So yeah, I could see B.R. approaching the church and saying “Yeah, we like that part.” Or a church leader approaching him, and saying “Hey look, read this. We officially like Jews.”

  21. Hi Book,

    No question that Mormons think they are more of a Zion people than those traditionally associated with Zion (the Jews). And Orson Hyde went to Palestine specifically to dedicate that land for the return of the Jews.

    But it is ludicrous to imagine Rothschild actually thought the Mormon Zion and Gathering were sufficiently similar to his views on Zion and the Gathering to justify bankrolling the Mormon Church. That is where we call Ophelia’s theory cracked.

  22. Exactly, Meg. I have no problem with the notion that Rothschild visited Salt Lake City. Lots of worldwide dignitaries have, and pretty much all of them have come away saying complimentary things. Even Trump seemed surprised and impressed with the current Church’s welfare system. It’s not difficult to believe that Rothschild was passing through or something, and decided to meet with the leaders of a Christian sect who preached from a book that specifically calls for the return of the Jews to their homeland.

    But the idea that such a meeting would lead to some sort of larger secret combination is pretty absurd.

  23. I must admit, Ophelia’s narrative had me pouring over historical records today. Though I’m a bit surprised, I don’t find cause for alarm here, true or not. Even if true, it’s the exploiters who are guilty – not the exploited.

    I don’t need to defend the Rothschild banking dynasty. I have no problem with wealth, in and of itself. In many ways, wealth has very positive impacts on the world. Wealth which is ill begotten is another story altogether.

  24. So I’m curious if you found that Ophelia’s conjecture appears to have merit. Is there gold in them there hIlls?

  25. Honestly, I don’t care. Why should I? My people have nothing to be ashamed of, either way.

  26. So, Jeff, I have reason to think you and Ophelia know one another (or are the same person). So I don’t know that I’m particularly interested any more in whether you found Ophelia’s claims intriguing. And since neither you nor Ophelia have clarified who you consider to be your “people,” I don’t know what you mean to state they have nothing to be ashamed of.

  27. Why, yes. I do know Ophelia. You’re some gumshoe, Meg! But I’m not sure that is relevant here.

    And I believe it is self evident, in context, what I meant when I said “my people.” And, given what I indicated regarding the exploiters vs the exploited, isn’t it also clear we Mormons have nothing to be ashamed of? Ophelia used the word “unbeknownst.” She implies therefore that Mormon leaders were not in league with the Rothschilds. So it appears to me she is not evaluating Mormons here. It appears to me she is evaluating the Rothschilds, who I have no desire to defend.

  28. Jeff B, I too was unclear of which people you were identifying with. Even in context, it could have been Jews, bankers in general, Rothschilds, Mormons, or conspiracy theorists.

    Actually, I do somewhat subscribe to conspiracy theory in general as regards to governments, wars, big money, international trade, etc. The Book of Mormon term is “secret combinations.” It has and will happen whenever evil men gather.

  29. And it still isn’t entirely clear (which people you were identifying with). Though I suppose you mention “we Mormons.”

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