Criticism of Mormonism/Online documents/A Letter to an Apostle

Response to "A Letter to an Apostle"

Summary: A Letter to an Apostle is an online document which is critical of Latter-day Saint truth claims. The document is comprised of a list of issues that the author states are related to "specific questions I had and still have with the truth claims of the Church". [1]

About this work

The text of the July 2017 version of the document is generally respectful in tone, significantly more so than the "Letter to a CES Director," and generally covers much of the same material.

Mockery comes into play, however, when the document relies heavily upon provocative images to illustrate the points that the author is making and generate emotional triggers, thus destroying any semblance of respectability. Given that the author complains at one point in his document that the Church utilizes "bogus pictures and hangs misleading paintings," the use of the artwork described below seems hypocritical.

  • Image of a Nez Perce war chief riding a tapir - The image is used in several locations within the "Research document" without explanation (pages 16, 53, 58). The original image of a War Chief on a horse is hosted on the First People web site Nez Perce War Chief, with specific instructions that it is "Not to be used on file sharing sites." Despite this prohibition, a member of the ex-Mormon subreddit modified the image to exchange the horse for a tapir. This is the image that the author includes three times in his letter. It is intended to be a mocking reference to the popular ex-Mormon notion that apologists believe that Native Americans rode tapirs, despite the fact that no such apologetic claim actually exists. The idea of tapirs as a possible "loan-shift" for horses in the Book of Mormon originated with anthropologist John Sorenson. Apologists don't even claim that Book of Mormon people rode horses.
  • The wolf in sheep's clothing - The author uses a photograph of a wolf wearing sheep's clothing (pages 19 and 118) when he talks about Joseph Smith being a false prophet.
  • The rape victim - The author uses a stock photograph representing a rape victim (page 24 and 166) with a torn nightgown and a large bruise on her arm to illustrate his claim that Joseph Smith bragged that he had "whipped" seven men at once and again later when the author discusses "Joseph's coercive stratagems," the implication being that Joseph abused women.
  • Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice - The author uses a picture from the 1969 movie "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (pages 25 and 180) showing two couples in bed together when he discusses Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, William Law and Jane Law.
  • Image of Joseph and Emma Smith with a naked woman on the bed in the background - The image is used when the author discusses Fanny Alger (page 150). This image is popular on ex-Mormon web sites.
  • Image of a young girl in a nightgown with an adult hand grasping her neck - The author uses a stock photo of a young girl with an adult hand grasping her neck (page 154), listed on the web as "Oppressive man behind a female victim of domestic violence or abuse," to illustrate Joseph Smith's marriages to young women.

The following links respond to individual claims contained in the following document:

  • Paul A. Douglas, A Letter to an Apostle (Research Document) (July 2017)

Response to claims made in "A Letter to an Apostle" by Paul A. Douglas

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Response to claims made in "A Letter to an Apostle: The Letter"

Summary: This section responds to claims made in the actual letter which was sent to President Uchtdorf's office.

Jump to details:


  1. Paul A. Douglas, Letter to an Apostle, (July 2013), p. 7.