Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1838 to 1839/051909

< Mormonism and Wikipedia‎ | Joseph Smith, Jr.‎ | 1838 to 1839

Revision as of 22:03, 8 June 2017 by FairMormonBot (talk | contribs) (Bot: Automated text replacement (-{{Articles(.*)}} +))

  1. REDIRECTTemplate:Test3

A FairMormon Analysis of Wikipedia: Mormonism and Wikipedia/Joseph Smith, Jr./1838 to 1839
A work by a collaboration of authors (Link to Wikipedia article here)
The name Wikipedia® is a registered trademark of the Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.. Wikipedia content is copied and made available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

An analysis of Wikipedia article "Joseph Smith, Jr." (Version 19 May 2009)

1835 to 1838: Missouri

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–1835_to_1838:_Missouri Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

After being forced from Clay County, the Missouri Saints had established themselves slightly north and east in Caldwell and Daviess Counties. Mormons from New York, Ohio, and Canada streamed to this frontier territory, and Smith encouraged the pioneers "with a revelation promising to 'make solitary places to bud and to blossom, and to bring forth in abundance.'"

  • 'D&C 117:7;
  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 345-46.

Smith even called the new settlement around Far West, the "church in Zion,"

  • 'D&C 115:3
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    The statement is incorrect. According to Bushman (p. 345), the revelation called "the Saints in Caldwell 'my Church in Zion,' implying that Far West was to take the place of Independence." It refers to the members of the Church located in Zion—it does not name the "new settlement around Far West" as the "church in Zion."
  • The revelation states, "And also unto my faithful servants who are of the high council of my church in Zion, for thus it shall be called, and unto all the elders and people of my Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, scattered abroad in all the world;"
  • See DC 115꞉3

"implying that Far West was to take the place of Independence."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 345.
  • According to Smith, it was in Far West that the name of the church was revealed to him: "For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."'D&C' 115:4.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Far West

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Far_West Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

The disaffection in Kirtland had spread to Missouri, and four of the earliest Mormon leaders, David and John Whitmer, William Phelps, and Oliver Cowdery were now expelled from the church, which had come under stronger influence of Sidney Rigdon. When the dissidents and their families lingered in Missouri, they were threatened by a group of semi-secret ruffians, the Danites, led by a cunning, resourceful, and unscrupulous recent convert, Sampson Avard, who put his band under oath to be "completely submissive" to Joseph Smith.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 346-51;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 213-20.
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Synthesis off-site: Do not put together information from multiple sources to reach a conclusion that is not stated explicitly by any of the sources.
    Violated by John "Foxe" —Diff: off-site

    We cannot find a reference in either of the cited sources that indicate that Avard made the Danites take an oath to be "completely submissive" to Joseph Smith. The two sources both refer to the Danites being responsible to the First Presidency.
  • Brodie (p. 216): "Avard was shrewd enough to make heresy against the presidency the most heinous crime in the church....Avard told his men that they 'should support the presidency in all their designs, right or wrong.'"
  • Bushman (p. 350): "George Robinson, Sidney Rigdon's son-in-law and keeper of Joseph's journal...may exaggerate the First Presidency's backing He also depicts the Presidency, not Joseph, as the effective governing body of the Church. Smith recedes as a personality in Robinson's records, and the Presidency as a group, with Rigdon as First Counselor, appears to be in charge. In Robinson's record, Joseph goes along with Rigdon, rather than taking the lead..."

Once the dissidents had been driven out, Smith warned the Missourians that the Saints would not "be mobbed anymore without taking vengeance." As Fawn Brodie has written, "From the bottom of his heart Joseph hated violence, but his people were demanding something more than meekness and compromise."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 355;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 213: "It was common gossip among the old settlers that the Mormons would never fight; and Joseph came to realize that in a country where a man's gun spoke faster than his wits, to be known as a pacifist was to invite plundering."(Brodie, 213.)
  •  Violates Wikipedia: Citing sources off-site— There is either no citation to support the statement or the citation given is incorrect.

    The wiki editors completely leave out the fact that it was Sidney Rigdon who gave the inflammatory speech that Joseph endorsed. Rigdon's warning has been converted to "Smith warned."
  • The cited source (Bushman, p. 355) notes: "The Mormon press printed Rigdon's talk, and Joseph urged the elders to get a copy, underscoring the passage saying the Saints would not 'be mob[b]ed any more without taking vengeance.'"

Furthermore, as Mormons increased in Daviess County, non-Mormons "watched local government fall into the hands of people they saw as deluded fanatics."

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 357.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

On election day, August 6, 1838, a Missouri rabble-rouser incited a riot in which the Danites gave as good as (or better than) they got.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 345;
  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 225-26.
  • The Bushman citation is incorrect: It should be page 357.
  •  Insufficient Citation— The citation does not include sufficient material to make the author's meaning clear.

    Both cited sources note that the "Missouri rabble-rouser" was not simply a member of a mob—He was candidate William Peniston, a "local Whig politician and colonel of the county militia." (Bushman, p. 357) According to Brodie, "one of the candidates, William Peniston, harangued against the Saints." (Brodie, p. 225).

The Mormon War

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–The_Mormon_War Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

Thereafter "the Saints were bullied and threatened," and they responded in kind. Latter Day Saint families were driven from their farms, and Saints burned buildings belonging to the Missourians. In October 1838 a Mormon contingent skirmished with the Richmond County militia at the Battle of Crooked River. Three Mormons and a Missourian were killed. Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs declared that the Mormons be "exterminated or driven from the state",

  • Boggs' executive order stated that the Mormon community had "made war upon the people of this State" and that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace." Bushman (2005) , p. 367
  • "Bullied and threatened" is a gross over-simplification of what happened at Far West. According to the cited source (Bushman, p. 367), the Mormons were required to sign away their property to the state of Missouri "while militia men stood by and struck anyone who protested...Marauders were attacking outlying farms, molesting women, whipping men, and killing animals."

an executive order for which there was no formal apology until 1976.

  •  Correct, per cited sources

A few days later a small party of Missourians surprised and massacred a Latter Day Saint settlement at Haun's Mill.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 358-66.
  • Actually, the Missourians, who were part of the state militia, massacred the residents of Haun's Mill, and they did this before they became aware of the Extermination Order.

Far West was shortly surrounded by 2,500 militiamen. Smith, whose earlier "angry rhetoric [had] stirred the blood of more militant men," surrendered to the Missourians on November 1, 1838; and he and four associates were taken prisoner.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 366-67,371
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Latter Day Saint property was confiscated and the Saints driven from Missouri by the spring of 1839.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 371.
  • The state of Missouri did not reverse and issue a formal apology for the Extermination Order until 1976, during the administration of Governor Christopher S. Bond. The Missouri Mormon War: Executive Orders, Missouri Secretary of State, (accessed August 29, 2008) who stated "Gov. Bogg’s order clearly contravened the rights to life, liberty, property and religious freedom as guaranteed by the Constitution of the State of Missouri." His Executive Order read "Expressing on behalf of all Missourians our deep regret for the injustice and undue suffering which was caused by this 1838 order, I hereby rescind Executive Order Number 44 dated October 7, 1838, issued by Governor Lilburn W. Boggs.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

For a few hours Smith and his comrades were in real danger of being killed out of hand by the Missourians. Eventually the Mormon leaders were charged with "overt acts of treason" by a circuit court meeting in Richmond, where the majority of state witnesses were or had been Mormons. Chief among them was the former leader of the Danites, Sampson Avard, who whitewashed himself and heaped blame on Rigdon and Smith.

  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 367-70;
  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 225-26.
  • To say that they were in "real danger of being killed" by the Missourians seems to imply a mob was involved. General Lucas of the state militia held a "court-martial" for the Church leaders, convicted them of treason, and sentenced them to be executed the next day. It was only Alexander Doniphan's refusal to carry out the illegal order that saved them.

Liberty jail

- Wikipedia Main Article: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Liberty_jail Wikipedia Footnotes: Joseph Smith, Jr.–Notes A FAIR Opinion

The prisoners were then transferred to the jail at Liberty, Missouri, the Clay County seat, to await trial. Although he frequently called down imprecatory judgments on his enemies and perceived enemies, as Fawn Brodie has written, Smith bore his harsh imprisonment "stoically, almost cheerfully, for there was a serenity in his nature that enabled him to accept trouble along with glory."

  • Brodie (1945) , p. 245;
  • Bushman (2005) , pp. 375-77.
  • However, Rigdon was both sick and a whiner, and Smith became disillusioned with him during their period of enforced association in Liberty jail. Brodie (1945) , p. 251.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Smith wrote to his followers "with skill and tact" attempting to dispel the now current notion that he was a fallen prophet.

  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 245-46. Smith claimed to have been ignorant of many of Avard's devices; and "oddly, he chose to deny the ubiquitous rumor of polygamy—though it had not been mentioned in the Richmond trial."
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Brigham Young later claimed that even Smith's brother William said he hoped that Joseph would never get out of the hands of his enemies alive.

  • Statement of Brigham Young (1865) quoted in Brodie (1945) , p. 246.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Smith and his companions also made two unsuccessful attempts to escape from jail before, on April 6, they were started under guard to stand trial in Daviess County.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 375;
  • Brodie (1945) , pp. 250-51.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

Once the Latter Day Saints no longer posed a political threat, Missouri leaders realized that Mormon behavior could hardly be classified as treason whereas, as Fawn Brodie has written, the governor's "exterminating order stank to heaven."

  • Brodie (1945) , p. 247.
  • "The prisoners had long suspected they were an embarrassment to the state because the vigilante action and Bogg's extermination order would cause a scandal if widely publicized." Bushman (2005), 382.
  • Brodie also noted that it was common knowledge that "one member of the legislature had participated in the Haun's Mill massacre." Brodie, 247.
  •  Correct, per cited sources

On the way to trial, the sheriff and guards agreed to get drunk on whiskey purchased by Joseph's brother Hyrum and looked the other way while their prisoners escaped.

  • Bushman (2005) , p. 382;
  • Brodie (1945) , p. 255. The Mormons may also have bribed their guards. Joseph Smith III remembered his father paying $800 to the sheriff.
  •  Correct, per cited sources


Wikipedia references for "Joseph Smith, Jr."
  • Abanes, Richard, (2003), One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church Thunder's Mouth Press
  • Allen, James B., The Significance of Joseph Smith's "First Vision" in Mormon Thought off-site .
  • (1992), The Mormon Experience University of Illinois Press .
  • (1980), The Lion and the Lady: Brigham Young and Emma Smith off-site .
  • Bergera, Gary James (editor) (1989), Line Upon Line: Essays on Mormon Doctrine Signature Books .
  • Bloom, Harold, (1992), The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation Simon & Schuster .
  • Booth, Ezra, Mormonism—Nos. VIII–IX (Letters to the editor) off-site .
  • Brodie, Fawn M., (1971), No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith Knopf .
  • Brooke, , (1994), The Refiner's Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644–1844 Cambridge University Press .
  • Bushman, Richard Lyman, (2005), Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling , New York: Knopf .
  • Clark, John A., (1842), Gleanings by the Way , Philadelphia: W.J. & J.K Simmon off-site .
  • Compton, Todd, (1997), In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith Signature Books .
  • Foster, Lawrence, (1981), Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community , New York: Oxford University Press .
  • Harris, Martin, (1859), Mormonism—No. II off-site .
  • Hill, Donna, (1977), Joseph Smith: The first Mormon , Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co. .
  • Hill, Marvin S., (1976), Joseph Smith and the 1826 Trial: New Evidence and New Difficulties off-site .
  • Hill, Marvin S., (1989), Quest for Refuge: The Mormon Flight from American Pluralism Signature Books off-site .
  • Howe, Eber Dudley, (1834), Mormonism Unvailed: Or, A Faithful Account of that Singular Imposition and Delusion, from its Rise to the Present Time , Painesville, Ohio: Telegraph Press off-site .
  • Hullinger, Robert N., (1992), Joseph Smith's Response to Skepticism Signature Books off-site .
  • Jessee, Dean, (1976), Joseph Knight's Recollection of Early Mormon History off-site .
  • Lapham, [La]Fayette, (1870), Interview with the Father of Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet, Forty Years Ago. His Account of the Finding of the Sacred Plates off-site .
  • Larson, Stan, (1978), The King Follett Discourse: A Newly Amalgamated Text off-site .
  • Mormon History off-site .
  • Mack, Solomon, (1811), A Narraitve [sic] of the Life of Solomon Mack Windsor: Solomon Mack off-site .
  • (1994), Inventing Mormonism Signature Books .
  • Marquardt, H. Michael, (1999), The Joseph Smith Revelations: Text and Commentary Signature Books .
  • Marquardt, H. Michael, (2005), The Rise of Mormonism: 1816–1844 Xulon Press .
  • Matzko, John, (2007), The Encounter of the Young Joseph Smith with Presbyterianism off-site .
  • Morgan, Dale, Walker, John Phillip (editor) (1986), Dale Morgan on Early Mormonism: Correspondence and a New History Signature Books off-site .
  • (2008), Joseph Smith Jr.: reappraisals after two centuries Oxford University Press .
  • Newell, Linda King, (1994), Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith University of Illinois Press .
  • (1999), Mormon America: The Power and the Promise HarperSanFrancisco .
  • Persuitte, David, (2000), Joseph Smith and the origins of the Book of Mormon McFarland & Co. .
  • Phelps, W.W. (editor) (1833), A Book of Commandments, for the Government of the Church of Christ , Zion: William Wines Phelps & Co. off-site .
  • Prince, Gregory A, (1995), Power From On High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood Signature Books .
  • Quinn, D. Michael, (1994), The Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power Signature Books .
  • Quinn, D. Michael, (1998), Early Mormonism and the Magic World View Signature Books .
  • Remini, , (2002), Joseph Smith: A Penguin Life Penguin Group .
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1902), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1904), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1905), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
  • Roberts, B. H. (editor) (1909), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , Salt Lake City: Deseret News off-site .
  • Shipps, Jan, (1985), Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition University of Illinois Press .
  • Smith, George D., (1994), Nauvoo Roots of Mormon Polygamy, 1841–46: A Preliminary Demographic Report off-site .
  • Smith, George D, (2008), Nauvoo Polygamy: "...but we called it celestial marriage" Signature Books .
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., (1830), The Book of Mormon: An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon, Upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi , Palmyra, New York: E. B. Grandin off-site . See Book of Mormon.
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1832), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith , Salt Lake City: Deseret Book .
  • Jessee, Dean C (editor) (1839–1843), Personal Writings of Joseph Smith Deseret Book .
  • (1835), Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of the Latter Day Saints: Carefully Selected from the Revelations of God , Kirtland, Ohio: F. G. Williams & Co off-site . See Doctrine and Covenants.
  • Smith, Joseph, Jr., Church History [Wentworth Letter] off-site . See Wentworth letter.
  • Smith, Lucy Mack, (1853), Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet, and His Progenitors for Many Generations , Liverpool: S.W. Richards off-site . See The History of Joseph Smith by His Mother
  • Tucker, Pomeroy, (1867), Origin, Rise and Progress of Mormonism , New York: D. Appleton off-site .
  • Turner, Orsamus, (1852), History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps and Gorham's Purchase, and Morris' Reserve , Rochester, New York: William Alling off-site .
  • Joseph Smith: The Gift of Seeing off-site .
  • Van Wagoner, Richard S., (1992), Mormon Polygamy: A History Signature Books .
  • Vogel, Dan, (1994), The Locations of Joseph Smith's Early Treasure Quests off-site .
  • Vogel, Dan, (2004), Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet Signature Books .
  • Widmer, Kurt, (2000), Mormonism and the Nature of God: A Theological Evolution, 1830–1915 McFarland .

Further reading

Mormonism and Wikipedia


FairMormon's approach to Wikipedia articles

FairMormon regularly receives queries about specific LDS-themed Wikipedia articles with requests that we somehow "fix" them. Although some individual members of FAIR may choose to edit Wikipedia articles, FairMormon as an organization does not. Controversial Wikipedia articles require constant maintenance and a significant amount of time. We prefer instead to respond to claims in the FAIR Wiki rather than fight the ongoing battle that LDS Wikipedia articles sometimes invite. From FAIR’s perspective, assertions made in LDS-themed Wikipedia articles are therefore treated just like any other critical (or, if one prefers, "anti-Mormon") work. As those articles are revised and updated, we will periodically update our reviews to match.

Who can edit Wikipedia articles?

Editors who wish to participate in editing LDS-themed Wikipedia articles can access the project page here: Wikipedia:WikiProject Latter Day Saint movement. You are not required to be LDS in order to participate—there are a number of good non-LDS editors who have made valuable contributions to these articles.

Recommendations when editing Wikipedia articles

FAIR does not advocate removing any references from Wikipedia articles. The best approach to editing Wikipedia is to locate solid references to back up your position and add them rather than attempting to remove information. Individuals who intend to edit should be aware that posting information related to the real-world identities of Wikipedia editors will result in their being banned from editing Wikipedia. Attacking editors and attempting to "out" them on Wikipedia is considered very bad form. The best approach is to treat all Wikipedia editors, whether or not you agree or disagree with their approach, with respect and civility. An argumentative approach is not constructive to achieving a positive result, and will simply result in what is called an "edit war." Unfortunately, not all Wikipedia editors exhibit good faith toward other editors (see, for example, the comment above from "Duke53" or comments within these reviews made by John Foxe's sockpuppet "Hi540," both of whom repeatedly mocked LDS beliefs and LDS editors prior to their being banned.)

Do LDS editors control Wikipedia?

Although there exist editors on Wikipedia who openly declare their affiliation with the Church, they do not control Wikipedia. Ironically, some critics of the Church periodically falsely accuse Wikipedia editors of being LDS simply because they do not accept the critics' desired spin on a particular article.

Do "anti-Mormons" control Wikipedia?

Again, the answer is no. The truth is that Wikipedia is generally self-policing. Highly contentious articles do tend to draw the most passionate supporters and critics.

Why do certain LDS articles seem to be so negative?

Although some LDS-related Wikipedia articles may appear to have a negative tone, they are in reality quite a bit more balanced than certain critical works such as One Nation Under Gods. Although many critical editors often accuse LDS-related Wikipedia articles of being "faith promoting" or claim that they are just an extension of the Sunday School manual, this is rarely the case. Few, if any, Latter-day Saints would find Wikipedia articles to be "faith promoting." Generally, the believers think that the articles are too negative and the critics believe that the articles are too positive. LDS Wikipedia articles should be informative without being overtly faith promoting. However, most of the primary sources, including the words of Joseph Smith himself, are "faith promoting." This presents a dilemma for Wikipedia editors who want to remain neutral. The unfortunate consequence is that Joseph's words are rewritten and intermixed with contradictory sources, resulting in boring and confusing prose.

FairMormon's analysis of LDS-related Wikipedia articles

We examine selected Wikipedia articles and examine them on a "claim-by-claim" basis, with links to responses in the FairMormon Answers Wiki. Wikipedia articles are constantly evolving. As a result, the analysis of each article will be updated periodically in order to bring it more into line with the current version of the article. The latest revision date may be viewed at the top of each individual section. The process by which Wikipedia articles are reviewed is the following:

  1. Update each Wikipedia passage and its associated footnotes.
  2. Examine the use of sources and determine whether or not the passage accurately represents the source used.
  3. Provide links to response articles within the FairMormon Answers Wiki.
  4. If violation of Wikipedia rules is discovered, identify which Wikipedia editor (by pseudonym) made the edit, provide a description of the rule violated and a link to the Wikipedia "diff" showing the actual edit.
  5. If a violated rule is later corrected in a subsequent revision, the violation is removed and a notation is added that the passage is correct per cited sources. This doesn't mean that FAIR necessarily agrees with the passage—only that it is correct based upon the source used.

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, "Mormonism and Wikipedia: The Church History That “Anyone Can Edit”"

Roger Nicholson,  Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, (2012)
The ability to quickly and easily access literature critical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been made significantly easier through the advent of the Internet. One of the primary sites that dominates search engine results is Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia that “anyone can edit.” Wikipedia contains a large number of articles related to Mormonism that are edited by believers, critics, and neutral parties. The reliability of information regarding the Church and its history is subject to the biases of the editors who choose to modify those articles. Even if a wiki article is thoroughly sourced, editors sometimes employ source material in a manner that supports their bias. This essay explores the dynamics behind the creation of Wikipedia articles about the Church, the role that believers and critics play in that process, and the reliability of the information produced in the resulting wiki articles.

Click here to view the complete article

Wikipedia and anti-Mormon literature
Key sources
  • Roger Nicholson, "Mormonism and Wikipedia: The Church History That 'Anyone Can Edit'," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 1/8 (14 September 2012). [151–190] link
Wiki links


Copyright © 2005–2024 FAIR. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The content of this page may not be copied, published, or redistributed without the prior written consent of FAIR.
We welcome your suggestions for improving the content of this FAIR Wiki article.

Sites we recommend: