View Full Version : Mormonism -- Top 10 Mormon Urban Legends

10-29-2004, 09:18 AM

Mormons are fond of spreading "faith-promoting rumors." Members so badly want for the church to be true, in the absence of any evidence they are prone to grab on to anything that might help promote that belief. Then that rumor gets repeated and embellished to the point where most actually believe it to be true. Here are my top ten, yours may differ.

1- The Smithsonian Institute uses the Book of Mormon in its research.
This one started over a hundred years ago and just won't die. Periodically the Smithsonian Institute (and the National Geographical Society) sends notices to the church saying "please, please tell your people to stop calling us. We have never found any connection with your book and any archeology discovered in the Americas."

2- Polygamy was needed in the early church because there was an overabundance of single women who needed husbands.
Not so! A check of every census record of Illinois and Utah, from 1840 through 1900 reveals that (like all western frontier locations) men outnumbered the women by a good margin.

3- The LDS church has no paid ministry.
This in true only at the local level through the stake presidency. The top 85 or 90 leaders (General Authorities) do quite well. They receive a salary, allowances, and also are paid as board members for the vast number of church-owned corporations. In the early history of the church, Joseph had a revelation that God desired "he should not labor" and in an act of nepotism, he named his dad the "patriarch," authorizing him to charge a dollar a blessing. (today's patriarchs receive no compensation)

4- The LDS church is the fastest growing church in the world.
It's certainly fast growing, but if you are talking raw numbers, the Catholic church is probably growing fifty times as fast, simply from the birth rate alone. If you are talking percentages, the Assembly of God in Brazil went from almost zero to ten million in only four years! It took the LDS over 160 years to reach that level.

5- The reason the original LDS temple ceremony and the Masonic ritual were virtually identical was that they were both the original ceremonies of Solomon's Temple.
Completely untrue! Secret ceremonies weren't practiced in Solomon's Temple, it was open. Masonic leaders will explain that when Masonry originated in the 16th century, few people could read or write, so it designed a ritual of skits and symbolism to convey its message, as was done in Solomon's time. Within a few days after he became a Master Mason, Joseph simply copied the same ceremony for the Mormon Church.

6- The church name, "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," is divinely inspired.
If it is, God sure fumbled around a good while before doling out a little inspiration. The original church name in 1830 was "Church of Christ." In 1834 it was changed to "Church of the Latter Day Saints." Then four years later, in 1838 it was again changed to its present name.

7- Joseph Smith made a great prophecy in 1842, the Rocky Mountain prophecy, by predicting the Mormons would come to the Rocky Mountains and become a mighty people.
Church historian Dean Jessee produced the original manuscript from History of the Church showing the authorship was in 1845, after Smith's death. Then years later, after the Saints were in Utah, someone penciled "Rocky Mountains" into the document. Jessee was chastised for revealing this historical tidbit.

8- After Joseph Smith was killed, the apostles knew Brigham Young was the successor by his "transformation" into the image of Joseph.
All the apostles were requested to keep diaries, which are now historical documents. On this Aug. 8, 1844 meeting not a single one recorded it. It didn't pop up as a folk legend until about twenty years later.

9- In the first year of the Mormon settlement in Utah, a plague of locusts (Mormon crickets) threatened to wipe out their crops. God responded with a "miracle", sending an army of seagulls to devour the insects.
This one is true -- however the miracle part is somewhat embellished. The locusts have a seven-year hibernation cycle, and unfortunately the early settlers hit it on the end of the seventh year. For mutual protection, they had made the mistake of planting all their fields together. Therefore, the locust attack was concentrated in one spot in the valley. And the seagulls, which by their fossil remains have been at the Great Salt Lake for over 2,000 years, simply enjoyed their every-seven-year feast. They still do -- only now it's spread over thousands of square miles. (2001 was a bad year, 2008 is next).

10- And for the last one, I want to collectively group thousands of "magic underwear" tales. You've got to hear some of these! When any TBM survives any accident, calamity, or near miss, the reason is always attributed to his/her wearing the holy drawers.
The reality is that safety records, medical records, and the observations of safety experts, paramedics and hospital emergency room personnel all show that Mormons have the same percentages of accidents per capita, and the same injury/death ratios as anybody else in the general population. But the imagined protection continues to make good fodder for monthly Testimony Meetings.