Mormonism Unveiled: Eyewitness testimonies against Joseph Smith

by Matt Slick

Mormonism Unveiled is a book written in 1834 by E. D. Howe.  It was printed and published by the author.  The copyright on it is long expired so I am free to reproduce the information here.

Mormonism Unveiled can be considered the first 'anti-Mormon' work.  It is an examination of the teachings of Mormonism existing at that time and claims to contain eye-witness accounts and sworn affidavits by those who knew the family of Joseph Smith. If this is true, then we can actually read what people who knew Smith and his family had to say about their character, manners, disposition, etc. These written accounts, gathered by a Mr. Philastus Hurlbut and included in the book by Howe, were taken under oath and before judges and justices of the peace, are legal documents, and worthy of examination regarding Joseph Smith's character. 
Howe said,

We have not only testimony impeaching the moral characters of the Smith family, but we show by the witnesses, that they told contradictory stories, from time to time, in relation to their finding the plates, and other circumstances attending it, which go clearly to show that none of them had the fear of God before their eyes, but were moved and instigated by the devil (Mormonism Unveiled, p. 232.).

Of course, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) repudiates the claims of Howe and the testimonies of the witnesses by stating they are not trustworthy since they had an agenda hostile to the Smith family and are, therefore, prejudiced.  This sword cuts both ways since that would then invalidate anything from Mormon sources that support the idea that Smith's character was admirable since they too would be authored by those with an agenda.

Also, it is alleged that statements from Mormon scholars and, they claim, non-Mormon scholars, validate the proposition that Howe himself wrote the affidavits against Smith.  The proofs offered from these scholars are, from what I have seen, opinions dealing with alleged similarities in style of the testimonies.   But, I see no evidence of this as I read the testimonies.  Also, note that many of the testimonies are purported to have been made under oath, before judges, and pastors.   It would be up to the LDS church to prove that these are all lies.  They haven't yet, so far as I am aware.

The Mormons must attempt to repudiate the eye-witness accounts against Joseph Smith.  Because, if Smith's character is shown to be untrustworthy, it would cast a huge shadow of doubt over Mormonism as a whole.  The LDS church does not want this.

But, these testimonies are not needed to cast a doubt upon Mormonism's validity.  Doubt is automatically cast when the doctrines of Mormonism come to light and are compared to the Bible.  For example:  God used to be a man on another world; he has a goddess wife; they both have bodies; they produced spirit children; Jesus, Satan, you and I are all brothers and sisters from the spirit realm; a good temple-worthy Mormon has the hope of becoming a god of his own world with his own wife with whom he can populate that planet, etc.  Such doctrines defy common sense but are gradually swallowed, bit by bit, by those who do not know God's word, nor possess true spiritual discernment, and are slowly led astray by the teachers of Mormonism.

I leave these testimonies for your examination.

 

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