01. Was Joseph Smith a Freemason?

02. Why was Joseph Smith imprisoned at Carthage?

03. Was Joseph Smith a polygamist?

04. What was the peep or seer stone?

05. How did Joseph translate?

05. Did Joseph kill anyone?

06. Was Joseph racist?

07. Is there a timeline of Joseph Smith’s History?

Was Joseph Smith a Freemason?

Yes, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many other early church leaders were Masons. More info

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Why was Joseph Smith imprisoned at Carthage?

He was imprisoned for ordering the destruction of the printing press of the Nauvoo Expositor, a newspaper that printed an article exposing Joseph’s involvement in polygamy. More info

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Was Joseph Smith a polygamist?

Yes. Joseph Smith had many wives. For more information see the dedicated page about polygamy.

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What was the peep or seer stone?

Long before Joseph had been visited by Moroni or seen the Urum and Thumum, he discovered a seer stone in a well. Though he originally used it to find buried treasure, he also used it translated most of the Book of Mormon.

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How did Joseph translate?

Mormon art has led many members to believe that Joseph was reading directly from the Golden Plates as he translated. Actually, Joseph would bury his face in a top hat with his seer stone at the bottom and dictate to his scribes.

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Did Joseph kill anyone?

During the attack on Carthage Jail, Joseph pulled the trigger 6 times in self defense, though only 3 bullets fired, injuring 3. Though there is speculation they died of their wounds, there is no evidence supporting this.

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Was Joseph racist?

The short answer is no, Joseph believed strongly in equality. For the long answer, see the FAQ on Mormons and slavery.

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Is there a timeline of Joseph Smith’s history?

Yes. Here is a chronology of the events in the life of Joseph Smith.
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18 Responses to "The Prophet Joseph Smith"

  1. Terry Holland Posted on June 13, 2013 at 8:27 pm

    From my experience, investigators only very rarely ask the questions listed on this page, with the exception of the one about polygamy. Again, this site is intended not to educate future missionaries, but to present the information that is most likely to strike at their testimonies. This isn’t an attack on the information, but it is an accusation against the honesty of the creators of this site.

    • Will
      Will Posted on June 14, 2013 at 2:55 pm

      Terry, if the information is true, why would knowing it “strike at the testimony” of a member? “Truth never lost ground by inquiry” etc.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on June 20, 2013 at 9:36 pm

      Terry I wholeheartedly agree with you . I’m a convert and when I was approached by missionaries i hadnt even heard of Joseph Smith . This is a blatant attempt to rock the faith of not just future missionaries but anyone on shakey ground . I also have doubts about some of the comments left on here . It’s a sneaky attempt to discredit the church from those appearing to be on the inside but obviously are they are NOT true LDS . It all comes back to the Holy Spirit .I have had it confirmed to me that the church is true and everyone needs to remember its the Holy Spirit that converts not knowing this information .

  2. Terry Holland Posted on June 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Will, my point was that the makers of this site are being dishonest about their motives. I don’t have a problem with true information that by its nature strikes at someone’s testimony. I have a problem with the intent; and the creators of this site are lying about theirs. As I said, this isn’t an attack on the information; it’s an attack on the deceptive approach.

    • Chris
      Chris Posted on June 15, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      What makes you believe the creator is being deceptive about it?

    • Aussie
      Aussie Posted on August 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm

      I agree they are dishonest about their motives. That said, as a TBM, yes, its all true, however they present it. Don’t shoot the messenger and pretend the message is false

  3. Jenna Posted on June 19, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Wow. I have to agree with Terry. It’s very clear what the agenda is here, and it’s not to help future missionaries. Pretty sad.

  4. Josh Posted on June 20, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I find the information helpful. None of it is false, but it was a shock to learn this stuff on the doorstep while tracting. It is more fair, I think, to know our history before you’re expected to knock on doors so you know what you’re getting yourself into. Great website, I will recommend it to my prospective-missionary family.

  5. Terry Holland Posted on July 1, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Chris, I’ll refer you to my first post on this page. The questions they are presenting are not realistic. They would do very little to prepare a missionary. They are the questions that critics would ask, not honest investigators. This site is not intended to prepare missionaries, and the creators are dishonest, cowardly people.

    • Brett Robbins
      Brett Robbins Posted on December 26, 2013 at 5:02 pm

      Well, let;s be honest here. There is a reason why not one historian, archeologist, anthropologist, or linguist – that isn’t a Mormon – considers the Book of Mormon to be actual American History. There is a reason why civilizations known as “Nephites”, “Lamanites”, or “Jaredites” are absent from any public US education or higher education institutions. There is a reason why both the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian Institution do not regard the Book of Mormon as a work of ancient American history.

      And finally, there is a reason only Mormons believe in it.

      You draw your own conclusions. In the meantime, I will enjoy this site for everything that it is.


  6. Jani Posted on July 9, 2013 at 4:07 pm

    You may not realize this, but not everyone agrees on church history, even though they are members of the church. Look up New Order Mormons. Unfortunately, the history of the church is complicated and is not all pretty and nice the way you want it to be. Just because someone is pointing out the “flecks” of history, doesn’t mean they are lying or spreading lies. If you spent the time studying the history, you’d respect the creators of this website more. You might still remain Mormon, but you would have a respect for the different angles of opinion that exist among even true blue Mormon scholars. Try starting with Rough Stone Rolling and In Sacred Loneliness, both written by church members.

  7. Anon Posted on August 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Terry, you say that honest investigators would not ask these questions, but I myself am an honest investigator and these are exactly the questions I have been asking. Does that mean I am trying to disprove the LDS church? No, it means I am searching for the truth. I think that this is a great website because it shows the different angles from which people with different backgrounds might view the church as opposed to someone who has been raised within it. Knowledge is power, and if you educate yourself on the things you believe in it should only strengthen your testimony. I’m not trying to argue, or point fingers, but it’s important for you to know that people DO ask these questions, and while they may not hold a lot of weight for your own testimony, for someone who is contemplating transforming their whole lifestyle based on this gospel, the answers to these questions can play a very crucial role.

  8. Terry Holland Posted on August 15, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Jani, I’m very much aware of the uglier parts of church history. I don’t dispute the facts presented here. What I dispute is the deceptive presentation.

    Anonymous commenter, thanks for sharing your experience. Of the hundreds of people I taught on my mission (in the suburbs of a major US city), none asked these sorts of questions. A few times I heard them on doorsteps, but that was it. The weight of evidence to me is against the idea that these sorts of concerns are more than marginally relevant to missionaries.

  9. Joel Peterson Posted on January 27, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I am amazed by the fear of fact and truth by the LDS. (responding to some posts) If knowing the truth shakes your faith then I submit your faith is either misplaced or very weak indeed. How does it make you feel that so many outside the Church know more about LDS history that you do? For those of you who said “these questions won’t come up” let me ask this – what if they do and most certainly will. Are you suggesting that the uninformed and unprepared missionary deny what is known by the asker as truth? Or just sit there with a blank stare and say “I don’t know”? Do you feel it’s better to “not know” as much as those they are attempting to entice in the Church? What is this ostrich head in the sand approach to truth if not an attempt to deceive ones self or the potential convert? And hears by biggest question: would you use this kind of logic in other areas of your life, such as investments, buying a car, etc.? If so then God help you.

  10. Lee L. Posted on April 13, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    Joel, amen. At a time when there is more apostasy in the church than any time since Kirtland, and where every member has a personal “Urim and Thummim” called “Google,” the often unflattering truth of early church history will reach every person willing to look up his or her own faith or a few minutes. The overwhelming response is first, “Is this true?” (Yes) and second “Why wasn’t I ever taught this? I now feel like a fool.” This happened to me, and luckily my faith is strong enough that I was able to research sufficient answers on my own without leaving. Not all my family was able to do the same. I have four future missionaries living under my roof. It is critical to me that my children are inoculated to the challenging aspects of church history in a loving setting long before they get near a name badge.

    Hiding it is like avoiding the sex talk with your kids, hoping no one else teaches it to them. I would rather they learn it from me than in a locker room. Every member of the church is eventually going to learn the early history. We as parents choose the setting and method. Teach it soon, teach it with faith and love, and teach it often so it cannot irreparably damage faith later on.

  11. Laura Posted on August 6, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    This website is completely designed to lead people astray. No one has ever pretended like the church is perfect. A simple look into the history of the church will reveal exactly how human the people were in the earliest days; trying their best to do a perfect Gospel justice.

    The Gospel is perfect, the LDS Church is not. The LDS Church is not run by higher beings, it’s run by human, mortal people who make mistakes and stumble around blindly sometimes. If God didn’t expect us to have faith, He would make things more clear. But things in the past aren’t clear because we have to have faith. It makes me so sad to know of so many who had strong testimonies that were led away by such deception and lies mingled in with bits of truth.

    I hope everyone on this website will use the spirit to discern for themselves how deceiving it is.

  12. Anonymous Posted on February 2, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    “If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed.” – President J. Reuben Clark
    “The Book of Mormon can and should be tested. It invites criticism, and the best possible test for its authenticity is provided by its own oft-proclaimed provenance in the Old World.” – Hugh Nibley
    “Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground.” – Joseph Fielding Smith
    “We believe in all truth, no matter to what subject it may refer. No sect or religious denomination in the world possesses a single principle of truth that we do not accept or that we will reject. We are willing to receive all truth, from whatever source it may come; for truth will stand, truth will endure.” – Joseph F. Smith

  13. David Posted on September 8, 2017 at 9:21 am

    As a lifelong member who discovered many of these things only a couple of years ago, I would have appreciated knowing this years ago. The Church’s efforts to keep this stuff secret only made me more concerned about it as I entered a period of doubting everything about Church history.

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