Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Absurd claims

One Nation Under Gods: Absurd claims

A FAIR Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods, a work by author: Richard Abanes

Unlike most men, however, Jesus did not need these wives, nor temple rituals to become a god. He became a god before coming to earth through perfect obedience to Elohim's commands. For others the road to godhood is far more difficult and takes considerably longer.
—The author, stating that Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ took the easier road to godhood. One Nation Under Gods, p. 288

∗       ∗       ∗

Some claims made in this work are simply absurd to the point of being unrecognizable by any practicing Latter-day Saint. Some of these claims are discussed in this section. The following claims (highlighted in bold) are simply absurd.

Reference The claim... The rest of the story... Use of sources


"LDS documents are strangely silent about their prophet's activities during the three years immediately following his 1820 First Vision." Why would there be any "LDS documents" dealing with Joseph's life between 1820 to 1823? The Church didn't even exist until 1830, and Joseph wrote the stories of his First Vision and Moroni's visit well after 1823. The author simply wants to dramatically set the stage to talk about Joseph's money digging activities.
  • No source provided


The author claims that the Book of Mormon "describes Arabia as being 'bountiful' because of its fruit and wild honey. The fact is that Arabia has never had bountiful supplies of either fruit or honey." This is an absurd statement to make. The Book of Mormon does not describe Arabia as being bountiful in fruit and honey. It talks of a specific place within the Arabian peninsula which was bountiful in fruit and honey—such a location does indeed exist.
  • No source provided.


"Until well into the late 1800s it was widely understood that Smith found the golden plates not by a dream, or a ghost, or a vision—but by looking into his peep-stone and seeing where they had been deposited. (emphasis added)
  • Orasmus Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, and Morris Reserve. (1852)


"The Missourians actually seemed committed to continuing their pursuit of a peaceful co-existence with the Mormons."
  • This after the Saints had been driven from their homes in Jackson County? The Missourians were the peacemakers? This claim is absurd.
  • The "Manifesto of the Mob" makes the Missourians' attitude clear:
in consequence of a pretended religious sect of people that have settled, and are still settling in our county, styling themselves "Mormons;" and intending, as we do, to rid our society, "peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must," and believing as we do, that the arm of the civil law does not afford us a guarantee, or at least a sufficient one, against the evils which are now inflicted upon us....
these fanatics, or knaves, (for one or the other they undoubtedly are) made their first appearance amongst us, and pretended as they did, and now do, to hold personal communication and converse face to face with the Most High God; to receive communications and revelations direct from heaven; to heal the sick by laying on hands; and, in short, to perform all the wonder-working miracles wrought by the inspired Apostles and Prophets of old.
We believed them deluded fanatics, or weak and designing knaves....they would have been entitled to our pity rather than to our contempt and hatred; but from their appearance, from their manners, and from their conduct since their coming among us, we have every reason to fear that, with but very few exceptions, they were of the very dregs of that society from which they came, lazy, idle, and vicious. This we conceive is not idle assertion, but a fact susceptible of proof, for with these few exceptions above named, they brought into our country little or no property with them and left less behind them....
More than a year since, it was ascertained that they had been tampering with our slaves, and endeavoring to sow dissensions and raise seditions amongst them....It manifests a desire on the part of their society, to inflict on our society an injury that they know would be to us entirely insupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the country; for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to, to see that the introduction of such a caste [free blacks] amongst us would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.
They openly blaspheme the Most High God, and cast contempt on His holy religion, by pretending to receive revelations direct from heaven, by pretending to speak unknown tongues, by direct inspiration, and by divers pretenses derogatory to God and religion, and to the utter subversion of human reason.... [1]
  • Author's opinion.


After Sidney Rigdon's July 4th sermon in Far West, "long-buried suspicions were raised and old prejudices renewed" among the Missourians.
  • The Missourians had "long-buried" their suspicions and lost their "old prejudices" about Latter-day Saints?? This claim is ridiculous.
  • Author's opinion.


"Along the way they succeeded in driving nearly all Mormons from their homes. Bogart then crossed into Caldwell County and began threatening Mormons in their own territory."
  • Does the author mean to imply that those "Mormons" who were driven "from their homes" were not living "in their own territory?"
  • Author's opinion.


"...the 'grandeur of Joseph Smith's life' was noted as the all-important truth that the world needed to hear. Levi's prayer was that thousands would turn not to God, but to Joseph.'"
  • This claim is so absurd that it is not worthy of comment.
  • Author's twist.


"Highly invasive" questions asked of Church members during the 'Mormon Reformation':
  • Many are analogous to modern temple recommend questions:
  1. Have you shed innocent blood or assented thereto?
  2. Have you committed adultery?
  3. Have you betrayed your brother?
  4. Have you borne false witness against your neighbor?
  5. Do you get drunk?
  6. Have you stolen?
  7. Have you lied? (This was expanded to include questions "made specific as to the use of fields, animals, lost property, strays, irrigation water, and to borrowing and branding"—see below.)
  8. Have you contracted debts without prospect of paying?
  9. Have you labored faithfully for your wages?
  10. Have you coveted that which belongs to another?
  11. Have you taken the name of the Lord in vain?
  12. Do you preside in your family as a servant of God?
  13. Have you paid your tithing in all things?
  14. Do you teach your family the gospel of Salvation?
  15. Do you speak against your brethren or against any principle taught us in the Bible, Book of Mormon, Book of Doctrine & Covenants, revelations given through Joseph Smith the prophet and the Presidency of the Church as now organized?
  16. Do you wash your body and have your family do so as often as health and cleanliness require and circumstances permit?
  17. Do you labor six days and rest or go to the house of the Worship on the seventh?
  18. Do you and your family attend ward meetings?
  19. Do you oppress the hireling in his wages? [2]
  • Expanded questions in conjunction with #7 above:
  1. Have you cut hay where you had no right to, or turned your animals into another person's grain or field, without his knowledge and consent?
  2. Have you branded an animal that you did not know to be your own?
  3. Have you taken another's horse or mule from the range and rode it without the owner's consent?
  4. Have you fulfilled your promise in paying your debts, or run into debt without prospect of paying?
  5. Have you taken water to irrigate with, when it belonged to another person at the time you used it? [3]
  • Those who administered the questions were cautioned:
In answer to the above questions, let all men and women confess to persons they have injured and make restitution, or satisfaction. And when catechizing the people, the Bishops, Teachers Missionaries and other officers in the Church are not at liberty to pry into sins that are between a person and his or her God, but let such persons confess to the proper authority, that the adversary may not have an opportunity to take advantage of human weakness and thereby destroy souls. [4]
  • N/A


"Blood began to flow profusely" in Utah during the Mormon Reformation
  • No source provided.


"More spirit children means more power, which in turn pushes a Mormon male further up the hierarchical ladder of gods in our universe."
  • Where did this idea come from? This is never taught in the Church. Brigham Young taught that the doctrine of theosis did not imply any separateness or competition with others, including God the Father.
  • No source provided.


"Unlike most men, however, Jesus did not need these wives, nor temple rituals to become a god. He became a god before coming to earth through perfect obedience to Elohim's commands. For others the road to godhood is far more difficult and takes considerably longer."
  • The author has no idea how Jesus Christ became a god, and his statement actually implies that Latter-day Saints believe that it is more difficult for men to achieve such a thing than it was for Jesus Christ himself! This is an arrogant statement. In his effort to ridicule the statements of past LDS leaders such as Orson Pratt, the author makes a comment which completely ignores Christ's suffering for us through His atonement.
  • No source provided.

302, 582n109 (PB)

"Because the counsel of church leaders was to acquire plural wives, to do otherwise was tantamount to apostasy, a crime worthy of death."
  • This claim is ridiculous—there are no primary sources that link failure to obtain plural wives to the application of such a penalty.
  • The author misrepresents his source. (Only 2 out of 5 women was in a polygamist marriage in their study; the author would apparently have us believe this meant that 60% of the entire female population was considered "apostate" and at risk for death.) There is no claim in Cornwall et al. that not having plural wives was apostasy, or worthy of death. Rather, the authors explain the prevalence of plural marriage by citing:
    • increased social acceptability
    • the example of leaders
    • social status
    • economic factors
  • Marie Cornwall, Camela Courtright, and Laga Van BeekHow, "Common the Principle?: Women As Plural Wives in 1860," Dialogue: a Journal of Mormon Thought (Summer 1993), vol. 26, 142.

381, 601n26 (PB)

"The Christian gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:1-4). Compare this message with that of early LDS authority George Q. Cannon, who, after saying that the Saints believed in the "evolution of man until he shall become a god," revealed: "That is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, believed in by the Latter-day Saints."
  • This claim is absurd—the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is central to Latter-day Saint belief and worship. The administration of the Sacrament each Sunday in Sacrament Meeting is enough evidence to counter this claim. Note that the author had to work hard to find a quote by George Q. Cannon to mine in order to produce his contrasting "LDS view."
  • George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, vol. 1, 9.


"[T]he LDS hierarchy will have to at some point, once and for all, completely sever its ties with Christianity. Only by taking such an approach will Mormonism be able to forever distance itself from the "cult" label and claim for itself some degree of legitimacy and integrity in the eyes of many religion researchers, especially those adhering to the historic Christian faith." The idea that Latter-day Saints will ever disassociate themselves from Christ is an absurd claim.
  • Author's opinion.


  1. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 1:374–376. Volume 1 link (emphasis added)
  2. Gustive O. Larson, "The Mormon Reformation," Utah Historical Quarterly 26/1 (January 1958): 53-55.
  3. Glen M. Leonard, A History of Davis County, Utah Centennial County History Series, Allan Kent Powell and Craig Fuller, editors, (Utah State Historical Society, 1999), 65–66.
  4. Larson, 55; citing Andrew L. Neff, History of Utah, 1847-1869, Leland H. Creer, ed. (Salt Lake City, 1940), 550.