Joseph Smith Jr.
Joseph Smith, Jr. (December 23, 1805 – June 27, 1844), a treasure seeker and money digger, occultist, polygamist, freemason, deceiver, and false prophet, was the founder and leader of the Mormon church, which includes such sects as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Community of Christ. Smith's followers revere him as a latter-day prophet who is now "crowned in the midst of the prophets of old" and "mingling with Gods" . Brigham Young is favorably quoted by Mormons as saying, "Jesus Christ excepted, no better man ever lived or does live upon this earth."
Joseph Smith acquired many opponents and enemies because of his immense political power—during his ministry he was a mayor and the commander of at least two militias (Zion's Camp and the Nauvoo Legion). Many of his detractors also opposed his unique religion and his practice of polygamy. Tensions with his enemies continuously escalated until on June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother Hyrum were shot and killed by a large mob.
According to Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph's mother:
- "During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them."
Smith, writing to Sarah Ann Whitney (who he "married" when she was 17), gives an example of his adulterous relationships:
- "...my feelings are so strong for you since what has passed lately between us...it seems, as if I could not live long in this way; and if you three would come and see me...it would afford me great relief...I know it is the will of God that you should comfort me now in this time of affliction...the only thing to be careful of; is to find out when Emma comes then you cannot be safe, but when she is not here, there is the most perfect safty...burn this letter as soon as you read it; keep all locked up in your breasts...You will pardon me for my earnestness on this subject when you consider how lonesome I must be...I think emma wont come tonight if she dont, dont fail to come tonight..."
Money-digging and glass-looking
"In the years immediately preceding any mention of the gold plates and the Book of Mormon, both Joseph Smith, Jr., and his father, Joseph Sr., were money diggers... They openly shared their supernatural abilities to see treasure and other things not visible to the natural eye."  
- "[Of significance] are the affadavits and statements made by a number of Smith's neighbors in Palmyra, about Smith's lifestyle in the 1820's. Several neighbors have stated that Joseph Smiths Senior and Junior were both money-diggers, and that Jr. (i.e. the Mormon founder) was particularly good at it and was the head of a group of money-diggers.
- "In late 1825 a wealthy Pennsylvania farmer named Josiah Stowell (sometimes spelled Stoal) came 150 miles to hire Smith because of Smith's reputation. Smith was hired to help Stowell locate a supposed old Spanish silver mine on Stowell's farm. During this time two significant things happened. First, Smith met his future wife, Emma Hale, and in later interviews her father explained how he didn't like Joseph Smith when he first met him because Smith was a money-digger, and Mr. Hale didn't want any criminals marrying his daughter! Perhaps even more damaging, however, was the fact that Smith was tried and convicted in court in March 1826 for 'glass-looking'. The charge had been brought up by Stowell's nephew, who saw through the con that his uncle didn't. Mormon historians now acknowledge that this trial happened and that Smith was convicted on this charge." 
Mormon scholar Marvin Hill says:
- "There may be little doubt now, as I have indicated elsewhere, that Joseph Smith was brought to trial in 1826 on a charge, not exactly clear, associated with money digging." 
- See main page: Joseph Smith and money-digging
Joseph Smith Jr. was born to Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Smith on December 23rd, 1805. They were living in Vermont at the time. He was the fourth child (third son) in what was to become a large family. The Smith family moved a number of times before they settled in Palmyra, New York.
"According to the historical evidence Joseph Smith could not have been stirred by an 1820 revival to ask which church was true, since there was no revival in 1820 anywhere near Manchester, New York, where he was living. A revival as described by Joseph Smith did occur there beginning in the spring of 1824. However, this then seriously disrupts Joseph's whole story, because there is not enough time between the First vision and the 1830 publication of the Book of Mormon for all the events described in the First Vision story." 
- See main page: First vision accounts
While many LDS believe that Joseph Smith was a true prophet, his writings and Mormon scripture tell otherwise. the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) record many false prophecies that Smith gave, as well as other sources found with the body of Mormon history and literature. These false prophecies reflect Smith's character, and sadly, because every LDS person thinks so highly of Joseph Smith, they have failed and often avoided even studying the claims of critics concerning his prophecies.
- See main page: False prophecies of Joseph Smith
- "Joseph Smith, as Mayor of Nauvoo, ordered the press of the Nauvoo Expositor destroyed because it revealed his political aspirations and the secret practice of polygamy among the Mormons." 
- "Joseph Smith died in a gun battle using a pistol that was smuggled to him while incarcerated at Carthage jail. According to The Documentary History of the Church (published six years after the fact), Joseph Smith pulled this six-shooter from his pocket 'and snapped the pistol six successive times; only three of the barrels, however, were discharged. I afterwards understood that two or three were wounded by these discharges, two of whom, I am informed, died' (John Taylor, Volume 7, pp. 102-103)." 
- [That which] "destroyed him was ignited by sparks he himself struck off by having himself secretly crowned king on April 11, 1844 and ordering the destruction of the press of the Nauvoo Expositor, which had hinted that its forthcoming issue would expose this coronation." 
Theology and other beliefs
Shortly before his untimely death, Joseph Smith delivered a sermon at a friend's funeral service in which he clearly stated his understanding of God. Smith described God as an "exalted man" who sits enthroned in "yonder heavens." He continued saying that if you were to see God "you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man."
- "We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea..." History of the Church 6:305
Smith clearly professed to worship a God who operated within the constraints of time. This deity had a beginning point and proir to that did not exist.
Polygamy and polyandry
- "Most members don’t even know or acknowledge that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. If asked about it, they might mutter an answer, and then rapidly change the subject." 
- "There is absolutely no question in my mind that the Mormon ceremony which came to be known as the Endowment, introduced by Joseph Smith to Mormon Masons, had an immediate inspiration from Masonry." – Dr. Reed Durham, LDS Historian 
- "It seems to be the case, after the Prophet Joseph had been inducted into Masonry that he sensed elements of truth, pieces of antiquity within the Masonic ceremony and then inquired of God." – BYU Professor Robert Millet 
- See main page: Masonic influence
- See main page: Adulation of Joseph Smith
Quotes by Smith
- "I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet." (History of the Church, Vol. 6, pp. 408-409)
- "Now, I ask all who hear me, why the learned men who are preaching salvation, say that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing? The reason is, that they are unlearned in the things of God, and have not the gift of the Holy Ghost; they account it blasphemy in any one to contradict their idea. If you tell them that God made the world out of something, they will call you a fool. But I am learned, and know more than all the world put together."
- "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can find only one..." (1844)
- "If Jesus Christ was the Son of God, and John discovered that God the Father of Jesus Christ had a Father, you may suppose that He had a Father also. Where was there ever a son without a father? And where was there ever a father without first being a son? Whenever did a tree or anything spring into existence without a progenitor? And everything comes in this way. Paul says that which is earthly is in the likeness of that which is heavenly, Hence if Jesus had a Father, can we not believe that He had a Father also? I despise the idea of being scared to death at such a doctrine, for the Bible is full of it." (6 History of the Church 476)
Quotes on Smith
- "From the day that the Priesthood was taken from the earth to the winding-up scene of all things, every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are -- I with you and you with me. I cannot go there without his consent." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:289)
- "Few Mormons today can grasp the polarizing charisma of their founding prophet. Some may feel uncomfortable when confronted with the full scope of Joseph Smith's activities as youthful mystic, treasure-seeker, visionary, a loving husband who deceived his wife regarding about forty of his polygamous marriages, a man for whom friendship and loyalty meant everything but who provoked disaffection by 'testing' the loyalty of his devoted associates, an anti-Mason who became a Master Mason, church president who physically assaulted both Mormons and non-Mormons for insulting him, a devoted father who loved to care for his own children and those of others, temperance leader and social drinker, Bible revisionist and esoteric philosopher, city planner, pacifist and commander-in-chief, student of Hebrew and Egyptology, bank president, jail escapee, healer, land speculator, mayor, judge and fugitive from justice, guarantor of religious freedom but limiter of freedom of speech and press, preacher and street-wrestler, polygamist and advocate of women's rights, husband of other men's wives, a declared bankrupt who was the trustee-in-trust of church finances, political horse-trader, U.S. presidential candidate, abolitionist, theocratic king, inciter to riot, and unwilling martyr." D. Michael Quinn (former Mormon historian), The Mormon Hierarchy
- "Joseph tested the Saints to make sure their testimonies were of his religion and not of him as a personable leader. Amasa Lyman, of the First presidency, related: 'Joseph Smith tried the faith of the Saints many times by his peculiarities. At one time, he had preached a powerful sermon on the Word of Wisdom, and immediately thereafter, he rode through the streets of Nauvoo smoking a cigar. Some of the brethren were tried as was Abraham of old'" (Gary Dean Guthrie, "Joseph Smith As An Administrator", Master's Thesis, Brigham Young University, May 1969, p.161)
- "In conclusion, though it is possible that Joseph had some marriages in which there were no sexual relations, there is no explicit or convincing evidence for this (except, perhaps, in the cases of the older wives, judging from later Mormon polygamy). And in a significant number of marriages, there is evidence for sexual relations." (Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness, p. 15)
- "Second her [Fanny Alger] marriage to him [Joseph] in Kirtland, Ohio, established a pattern that was repeated in Nauvoo, Illinois: Smith secretly marries a teenage servant or family friend living in his home, and his first wife Emma forces the young wome from the premises when she discovers the relationship." (Todd Compton, In Sacred Lonliness, p. 25)
- Arrests and legal trials of Joseph Smith
- Joseph Smith as the only way to salvation
- Joseph Smith Papers Project
- Joseph Smith's Changing First Vision Accounts
- Occultic and Masonic Influence in Early Mormonism
- Failed Prophecies of Joseph Smith
- False Prophecies by Joseph
- Joseph's Vain Ambitions
- Polygamy and Joseph's Many Wives
- Common Mormon Misconceptions
- Joseph Smith's Alcohol Drinking Habit
- Joseph Smith and the First Verse of the Bible (pdf), by Ronald Huggins (JETS)
- Joseph Smith's Death (UTLM.org)
- The last days of Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ compared, by Stacey Speck and Sharon Lindbloom
- "Prophet Puzzle" Revisited, by Dan Vogel - Mormon History Association Meeting, 18 May 1996
- Joseph Smith's Polygamy Timeline (chart)
- Did Joseph Smith have sex with his wives?
- Joseph Smith’s Modalism: Sabellian Sequentialism or Swedenborgian Expansionism?, by Ronald V. Huggins
- Joseph Smith's Changing Doctrine of Deity by Luke P. Wilson
- Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith (lds.org)
- Joseph Smith (lds.org)
- "I Could Not Nelieve it Myself", by H. Wallace Goddard
- The Jupiter Talisman Myth, by Sam Katich
- I May Be Related (By Marriage) to a Direct Descendant of Joseph Smith, by Kevin Barney (who is on the board of FAIR)