Salt Lake City Messenger
No. 47
March 1982

MORMONISM—Shadow or Reality?

37,000 Copies Sold and Now a New Enlarged Edition

A decade has passed since we published the 1972 edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? Since that time a number of important discoveries have been made which strengthen our original thesis regarding the origin of Mormonism. There have also been some significant developments in the Church. For instance, on June 9, 1978, the Deseret News announced that the President of the Mormon Church received a revelation that the curse had been removed from the blacks and that they could now hold the priesthood. Because of the new discoveries and developments, we felt that it was time for a new edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? We are now happy to announce that the work has been completed and that the new enlarged and revised 1982 edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? is available from Modern Microfilm Company. Although we had presented an extremely strong case against Mormonism in the earlier edition, the new material which we included in the 1982 edition makes the case even more devastating. We feel that all of our readers should have a copy of this new edition so that they will be right up to date on Mormon history and doctrine.

Historians Face Crisis

In the new edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? we deal with the serious problems Mormon historians are having with the leaders of the Church. We show that some of the top Mormon leaders are trying desperately to hide the truth about the origin of the Church from their own people. Since many of the Mormon historians want to "tell it like it is," this has caused a real rift between the Apostles and the historians. For years we have been pointing out that Ezra Taft Benson, who is next in line to be President of the Church, has been trying to destroy the influence of the Mormon Church Historian Leonard Arrington and other prominent historians in the Church. During this last year the situation facing Mormon historians has turned from bad to worse. The big blow to the historians came on August 22, 1981, when Boyd K. Packer, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, "criticized Church historians for 'forsaking things of the Spirit' in their histories." (Seventh East Press, An Independent Student Weekly, Provo. Utah, Oct. 6, 1981) That Apostle Packer really meant business in this speech became evident when it appeared as the lead article in the Summer 1981 issue of Brigham Young University Studies. In this speech, Packer gave the following warning to Mormon historians:

There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not.

Some things that are true are not very useful.

Historians seem to take great pride in publishing something new, particularly if it illustrates a weakness or mistake of a prominent historical figure. . . .

The writer or the teacher who has an exaggerated loyalty to the theory that everything must be told is laying a foundation for his own judgment. . . .

Some time ago a historian gave a lecture to an audience of college students on one of the past Presidents of the Church. It seemed to be his purpose to show that that President was a man subject to the foibles of men. He introduced many so-called facts that put that President in a very unfavorable light, particularly when they were taken out of the context of the historical period in which he lived. . . .

Teaching some things that are true, prematurely or at the wrong time, can invite sorrow and heartbreak instead of the joy intended to accompany learning. . . . The scriptures teach emphatically that we must give milk before meat. The Lord made it very clear that some things are to be taught selectively and some things are to be given only to those who are worthy.

It matters very much not only what we are told but when we are told it. Be careful that you build faith rather than destroy it.

President William E. Berrett has told us how grateful he is that a testimony that the past leaders of the Church were prophets of God was firmly fixed in his mind before he was exposed to some of the so-called facts that historians have put in their published writings. . . .

What that historian did with the reputation of the President of the Church was not worth doing. He seemed determined to convince everyone that the prophet was a man. We knew that already. All of the prophets and all of the Apostles have been men. It would have been much more worthwhile for him to have convinced us that the man was a prophet, a fact quite as true as the fact that he was a man. . . .

That historian or scholar who delights in pointing out the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders destroys faith. A destroyer of faith—particularly one within the Church, and more particularly one who is employed specifically to build faith—places himself in great spiritual jeopardy. He is serving the wrong master, and unless he repents, he will not be among the faithful in the eternities. . . .

In an effort to be objective, impartial, and scholarly, a writer or a teacher may unwittingly be giving equal time to the adversary. . . . The idea that we must be neutral and argue quite as much in favor of the adversary as we do in favor of righteousness is neither reasonable nor safe.

In the Church we are not neutral. We are one-sided. There is a war going on, and we are engaged in it. It is a war between good and evil, and we are belligerents defending the good. We are therefore obliged to give preference to and protect all that is represented in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have made covenants to do it. . . . I want to say in all seriousness that there is a limit to the patience of the Lord with respect to those who are under covenant to bless and protect His Church and kingdom upon the earth but do not do it. . . .

There is much in the scriptures and in our Church literature to convince us that we are at war with the adversary. We are not obliged as a church, nor are we as members obliged, to accommodate the enemy in this battle.

President Joseph Fielding Smith pointed out that it would be a foolish general who would give access to all of his intelligence to his enemy. It is neither expected nor necessary for us to accommodate those who seek to retrieve references from our sources, distort them, and use them against us. . . . Those of you who are employed by the Church have a special responsibility to build faith, not destroy it. If you do not do that, but in fact accommodate the enemy, who is the destroyer of faith, you become in that sense a traitor to the cause you have made covenants to protect. (Brigham Young University Studies, Summer 1981, pp. 263-269)

To the Mormon scholar D. Michael Quinn, Apostle Packer's words were a call to battle. In an emotionally charged speech, Dr. Quinn rebutted the charges made by Boyd K. Packer, Louis Midgley and Ezra Taft Benson, who is next in line to be President of the Church. The Seventh East Press reported:

Mormon apostles Ezra Taft Benson and Boyd K. Packer are advocating a kind of religious history which borders on idolatry, asserted D. Michael Quinn, associate professor of history at BYU in a recent lecture to the university's student history association.

In an address entitled "On Being a Mormon Historian," Quinn, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Yale University, addressed recent criticisms made against Mormon historians by Elders Benson and Packer and BYU Professor of Political Science Louis Midgley.

Stating that he was speaking only for himself, Quinn . . . explained that by the time he was age fifteen he had read all the standard works except for part of the Old Testament . . . Quinn also briefly recounted his entrance into the field of LDS history and his prayerful approach to researching and writing that history.

Turning to Elder Packer's caution that previously published material is not always suitable for re-publishing, Quinn described the "odd situation" created by General Authorities criticizing individuals for reprinting material that was viewed by General Authorities of an earlier era as faith-promoting and "appropriate for children and recent converts."

Quinn expressed the opinion that for LDS historians to avoid what Elder Packer called "the unworthy, the unsavory, or the sensational" would be of questionable honesty and professional integrity and would do a "disservice to the cause of the Church," and open the Church and its historians to justified criticisms.

Quinn also discussed Elder Benson's counsel against "environmental explanations" of the background of revelations and Church history. Quinn stated that to ignore such backgrounds in a non-religious history is "inept at best and dishonest at worst." Quinn agreed with the sentiment expressed by Elder Benson that to use environmental observations as a basis for rejecting Joseph Smith's inspiration would be inappropriate. Nevertheless, he continued, a discussion of such influences is important since "revelations come from specific questions that prophets ask God, and those questions arise because of conditions prophets experience."

Noting Elder Packer's concern that an accurate history of the Church must consider the spiritual powers operating therein, Quinn asserted that Packer has created "an enemy that doesn't exist," for it is impossible for any good historian, Mormon or otherwise, to write about Mormonism without discussing the prophetic claims of its leaders. . . .

Commenting on Elder Packer's statement that historians should "demonstrate the hand of the Lord in every hour and every moment of the Church," Quinn expressed the belief that such an approach demonstrates the "view that the official acts and pronouncements of the prophets are always the express will of God," a position which Quinn sees as "the Mormon equivalent of the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal infallibility." Such a doctrine of infallibility, Quinn explained, denies the principle of free agency and goes against Joseph Smith's assertion that a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such. To ignore the limitations and errors of significant statements of the prophets, Quinn feels, would be as false as to ignore their visions, revelations and testimonies.

Quinn went on to state that to play down the human side of prophets would not be sacred history, for the sacred history of the scriptures portrays not only the "spiritual dimensions and achievements of God's leaders" but also matter of factly demonstrates their weaknesses.

As examples, Quinn cited the scriptures' "treatment of Noah's drunkenness, Lot's incest, Moses' arrogance, Jonah's vacillation," Peter and Paul's disagreements, Alma's youthful iniquity, and "the Lord's condemnations of Joseph Smith in the Doctrine and Covenants." While sacred history shows God's leaders as "understandable human beings with whom people can identify and still revere the prophetic mantle," Elders Benson and Packer, Quinn asserted, expect a history which makes LDS leaders "flawless and benignly angelic." Such a history of "demigod-like Church leaders," Quinn stated, "borders on idolatry."

While Quinn noted that Elder Packer accused Mormon historians of ignoring "fundamentals before presenting advanced information," Quinn expressed the opinion that in reality Elder Packer "is not advocating a gradual exposure to historical truth, but excludes that possibility." He further asserted that Elder Packer's approach is not the same as Paul's recommendation of milk before meat, but rather a steady diet of milk. "A diet of milk alone," Quinn observed, "will stunt the growth, if not kill, a child."

Quinn also accused Packer of advocating a history of the Church that denies any information which might be used against the Church by anti-Mormons. "Using this standard," Quinn stated, "much of the Old Testament, the Gospel of John, and many of Paul's epistles would not have been included in the Bible."

Quinn tearfully expressed discouragement at being labeled subversive and advocated following the example of sacred history in approach and philosophy. (The Seventh East Press, November 18, 1981)

Since Ezra Taft Benson will probably become the next President of the Church, there has been some concern that D. Michael Quinn may have sacrificed his career as a Mormon historian when he made this rebuttal. Many Mormons would count this as a great loss because Dr. Quinn is probably one of the best historians the Church has ever produced. However this may be, Quinn certainly demonstrated a great deal of courage when he publicly challenged the suppressive policies advocated by Benson, Packer and Midgley.

We were so impressed with Dr. Quinn's lecture that we decided to publish it in its entirety. It is now available from Modern Microfilm Company [Utah Lighthouse Ministry] under the title,On Being a Mormon Historian. This is probably one of the most important speeches ever delivered by a Mormon Historian.

Dr. Arrington Demoted

In Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? we demonstrated that the Mormon leaders suppressed important Church documents and that we exerted a great deal of pressure in an attempt to force the release of these documents. Some of the more liberal Mormon scholars became very aroused over the policy of suppression. A group of these scholars presented the Mormon leaders with a list of suggestions on how they should run the Historian's Office. They wanted a trained historian to be appointed as the Church Historian. They also wanted the records to be made available to scholars and for the Church itself to start printing the rare documents. When we heard of these requests we could not see how the Church leaders could possibly comply with them without undermining the entire foundation of the Church. Take, for instance, the idea of appointing a qualified historian. A true historian, if he were honest with himself, could never approve of the methods used by Joseph Fielding Smith and other Church Historians in the past. Besides, it had become traditional for a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to fill this position. It seemed very unlikely, then, that the Church would appoint a trained historian, but on Jan. 15, 1972, we received a real surprise when we read the following in the Salt Lake Tribune:

Dr. Leonard J. Arrington, noted Utah educator and author, has been named historian of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, . . . Howard W. Hunter of the Council of Twelve Apostles will be released . . .

While Dr. Arrington is an active Mormon, many people consider him to be very liberal. At one time Arrington had openly criticized the Church for not publishing the diaries of the early Mormon leaders and for not permitting "qualified historians to use them without restriction." (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1966, p. 26)

While the appointment of Leonard Arrington as Church Historian was certainly a surprise, the choice of James B. Allen and Davis Bitton as assistant historians made some wonder what direction the Church was headed in. Allen had previously published an article which undermined Joseph Smith's story of the First Vision, and Bitton had written an article in which he made an attack on the accuracy of Joseph Smith's History of the Church. Now, what could the Church leaders have had in mind when they appointed such liberals to the Church Historian's Office? The only reasonable explanation is that the policy of suppressing the records had failed and that the Mormon leaders were trying to present a new image to the world. They were apparently going to try to make it appear that they were proud of the records they had suppressed for so many years.

In any case, after his appointment, Dr. Arrington announced great plans for the Historical Department. Many of them, however, have been thwarted by men who follow the philosophy of Ezra Taft Benson, President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. Benson is a man who believes that it is wrong to tell the whole truth about Mormon history. He believes, in other words, that there should be a cover-up with regard to certain things that have occurred in the past. Arrington, on the other hand, is more open and scholarly in his approach.

Dr. Arrington's problems began just after his appointment to the office of Church Historian when he announced the formation of a group known as "Friends of Church History." When about 500 people showed up for the first meeting, the General Authorities apparently became fearful that such a large group studying history might uncover things which would prove embarrassing to the Church. Orders were given to hold up the project, and no meetings have been held since Nov. 30, 1972 (see Answering Dr. Clandestine, p. 41). Although no official announcement has ever been made, it is reasonable to assume that "Friends of Church History" is now defunct.

Some of Dr. Arrington's other projects seem to be endangered by the attitude of the General Authorities. One of his dreams was to have the Church publish a one-volume history. This dream seemed to become a reality in 1976 when James B. Allen and Glen M. Leonard produced the book The Story of the Latter-day Saints. In the Foreword to this book, Dr. Arrington said that "two of our finest historians" had been assigned to the project—as we have already pointed out, James B. Allen is Assistant Church Historian. Dr. Arrington went on to state that he had personally approved the manuscript for publication. Although most Mormons would consider this a harmless publication, President Benson felt that it was too humanistic and it is rumored that he wanted it shredded. In a letter dated June 23, 1978, President Benson stated: "The book, The Story of the Latter-day Saints, will not be republished." It appears, therefore, that as far as Mormon history is concerned, the views of Leonard Arrington and Ezra Taft Benson are diametrically opposed.

Leonard Arrington's most important project was to oversee the production of a sixteen-volume sesquicentennial history of the Mormon Church. These volumes were to be authored by prominent Mormon scholars. The Salt Lake Tribune for April 26, 1975, quoted Dr. Arrington as saying:

"We have signed contracts with 16 persons, each of whom is writing one volume of the set," said the church historian. "Each requires several years of intensive research and none will be available before 1978. We hope all 16 volumes will be ready by 1980."

The original idea behind the project was to have the volumes ready for the 150th anniversary of the Church—the sesquicentennial celebration of 1980. While Dr. Arrington said he hoped "all 16 volumes will be ready by 1980," 1982 has arrived and not a single volume has been published!

From what we have been able to determine, some of the scholars who were working on the volumes were too frank in their presentation and this caused great consternation among some of the Apostles. Since that time Church leaders have been dragging their feet in an effort to delay or even cancel publication of the volumes. The Church leaders find themselves in a difficult situation, however, since Deseret Book Company had signed an agreement with the sixteen authors which would be binding in court. In order to suppress the history without the possibility of lawsuits, the General Authorities decided to pay each author who had finished his work $20,000 (those who have not completed their volumes were to receive a smaller amount). Since there were sixteen authors to be payed off and other costs involved, the Church may have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars. That the General Authorities would approve this massive project and then abort it after some of the Church's top scholars spent years working on it shows a total lack of inspiration.

In the Salt Lake City Messenger, Jan. 1979, we observed:

There is reason to believe that Benson wants to remove Arrington from his position as Church Historian. Some feel that he will gradually be "phased out." It is also reported that it is becoming increasingly difficult for Mormon scholars to get access to documents in the Historical Dept. If Dr. Arrington should survive under the leadership of President Spencer W. Kimball, it is very unlikely that he will remain Church Historian if Ezra Taft Benson becomes President.

It now appears that the Church has begun the process of "phasing out" Dr. Arrington. The Salt Lake Tribune for July 3, 1980, announced:

PROVO (AP) — The history research division of the Mormon church's historical department will move to Brigham Young University, officials announced Wednesday.

The department's library and archives division and arts and sites division will remain at the church's Salt Lake City headquarters, said church President Spencer W. Kimball. . . .

Director of the new institute will be Dr. Leonard J. Arrington, church historian.

Most of the division's personnel will be transferred to BYU, where they will become part of the faculty and staff.

Although President Kimball tries to persuade members of the Church that "This transfer of the work of professional historians from a Church department to an institute in the university is a forward step," (Deseret News, Church Section, July 5, 1980), it is obvious to anyone who really examines the situation that this is a real demotion for Church Historian Leonard Arrington. While he may remain Church Historian in name, it is clear now that Church leaders have removed the powers which used to go with this title. Before Arrington's appointment, the Church Historian had charge of the records and would make decisions as to who could see the various documents. Now it appears that there will be about a forty-five mile gap between the Church Historian and the church records—i.e., the distance between Provo and Salt Lake City:

Dr. Arrington and some History Division staff members eventually will move to the BYU campus but, the institute has not yet been assigned a particular building or office area in Provo. The Church's library and archives will remain in Salt Lake City. (Deseret News, Church Section, July 5, 1980)

It is obvious, then, that Church leaders want to get Dr. Arrington as far away from the Church Office Building as possible and to reduce his influence with the Mormon people. It has been claimed that it will not be too long before Arrington retires, and planning the move and setting up operations in Provo will no doubt take up much of his remaining time.

There now seems to be a question as to whether Dr. Arrington can even be referred to as "Church Historian." Sometime after he was installed as Church Historian he was given the title "Director of the History Division." It is reported that when Dr. Arrington was asked about whether he was still "Church Historian," he replied that he had been sustained in conference as the Church Historian and had never been released from that position; therefore, he still retained the title "Church Historian." Although he was referred to as "the Church Historian" in the March 1979 issue of The Ensign (page 51), a recent advertisement for a book by Arrington and Bitton seems to indicate that he no longer claims the title:

For many years Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton served as Church Historian and Assistant Church Historian for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Arrington is currently Director of the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Church History at Brigham Young University and Bitton is Professor of History at the University of Utah. (Sunstone Review, vol. 1, no. 3, p. 23)

The reader will remember that Apostle Boyd K. Packer criticized a historian for trying to "convince everyone that the prophet was a man." Interestingly enough, the new book by Arrington and Bitton, which deals with "two apostles" and other Mormons, is entitled Saints Without Halos: The Human Side of Mormon History. It is also interesting to note that this new book is NOT being published by the Church but rather by Signature Books in Salt Lake City.

Although Dr. Arrington is trying to be very gracious about the whole matter, it is obvious that the Church leaders have stubbornly opposed his plans to get out an accurate history of the Church. Nevertheless, many important documents have come out of the Historical Department since Dr. Arrington became Historian, and these documents have really helped us in the production of the new edition of Mormonism—Shadow or Reality?


For 140 years the Mormon Church has been suppressing the Nauvoo diaries of Joseph Smith's secretary William Clayton. These diaries have been hidden in the vault of the First Presidency. Recently, however, quotations from these diaries leaked out, and this has caused great consternation among the General authorities and officials at Brigham Young University. In an article entitled, RESTRICTED CHURCH DOCUMENT 'STOLEN,' the Seventh East Press reported the following (the names David Brown and Tom Wilson "are pseudonyms," according to this paper):

A BYU graduate student has accused a member of a bishopric of stealing copies of materials which the student obtained from the vault of the First Presidency.

In doing research in LDS Church history, Andrew F. Ehat, . . . obtained permission to examine the restricted Nauvoo diaries of William Clayton and make notes. He gave a copy of his notes to BYU religion instructor Lyndon Cook, who kept them in his campus office. The notes were taken without permission and photocopied by David Brown, a member of a bishopric which uses Cook's office. In September Brown lent his copy to Tom Wilson, a BYU religion instructor, who in turn lent them to a history student, Scott Faulring.

Faulring had already made five copies for various individuals when Ehat discovered that his notes were being copied without his permission. Ehat spent much of the remainder of fall semester trying to recover all the copies that had been made.

The notes represent approximately 90 typed pages of excerpts from the personal diaries of William Clayton, . . .

Some time ago, Andrew ("Andy") Ehat obtained permission through the Historical Department of the Church to examine the Clayton diaries. Ehat made a copy of his notes for Lyndon Cook, with whom he was working to produce the book The Words of Joseph Smith which appeared in early 1981. . . . In an interview, Ehat implied that he had made copies for others as well, but declined to mention any names. . . .

After borrowing the copy from religion instructor Tom Wilson, Scott Faulring made five copies for student and faculty acquaintances. A few days later, Faulring had the notes in a campus office when Andy Ehat, who was present, happened to recognize Lyndon Cook's handwriting in the margins of the photocopy. Ehat bolted to his feet and demanded to [k]now where the copy had come from. Faulring was reluctant to cooperate at first, but was willing to help when he learned the notes had been copied without permission. Individuals present report that Ehat was extremely upset and at one point said, "If this gets out it could destroy the Church.". . .

Ehat says he was able to obtain the five copies Faulring made within about 12 hours, but that three of the people who turned in copies had secretly made extra copies and kept them back for themselves and others. . . .

Another person to obtain a copy was Hal Palmer, a former student who drop[p]ed out of BYU near the end of fall semester. . . .

Palmer reports that he was surprised to see Andy Ehat on his doorstep as he left for school early one morning last November. Ehat asked for Palmer's copy and, according to Ehat, "reasoned with him from every possible way I could conceive of: ethically, morally, and so forth. And he was unwilling to cooperate." Palmer states that Ehat followed him from his apartment to his class on campus and that the two were "screaming and yelling and I was swearing at him the whole way. People kept turning and looking at us." According to Palmer, Ehat implied that he (Palmer) could be excommunicated if the notes weren't returned. . . .

Angry with Ehat's approach, Palmer gave copies to Special Collections libraries at both BYU and the University of Utah. Ehat has since retrieved both of these copies. At one point, Ehat phoned Elder Boyd K. Pa[c]ker of the Council of the Twelve Apostles to ask for advice on the situation. Ehat declined to comment on that conversation.

To this date, Palmer's copy has not been returned, and it appears that other copies are still being circulated by various individuals, a situation which has left Ehat frustrated. Ehat explains that Brown's actions "cost me getting a master's degree here at the university in the sense that I lost twelve weeks of my life trying to track down all the people who had copies.". . .

While Ehat initially stated that information in the Clayton diaries "could destroy the Church," he has since given very different explanations for wanting to keep the material confidential. Ehat told the Seventh East Press that his concern in this matter was "the fact that the diaries (i.e., his notes) were stolen and . . . that wide publicity of this matter would almost certainly prevent further access to any other materials,". . .

Ehat also believes that use of the diaries should be limited out of respect to William Clayton, who "in a different sphere is still living.". . .

Others, however, see different reasons for not wanting to see the diary made public. Lyndon Cook for example, says the diary contains some "very sensitive entries which may not do us too well if the anti-Mormons got a hold of them.". . .

Cook says the diary gives a lot of information concerning the secret practice of polygamy in Nauvoo and says that for a time Emma Smith was unaware that it was being practiced by her husband Joseph. He also feels that publishing the diary "may injure some who are of weaker faith. (Seventh East Press, January 18, 1982, pp. 1 and 11)

This whole episode led BYU President Jeffery Holland to call for an investigation:

President Jeffery Holland has appointed Vice-president Noel Reynolds to investigate the recent unauthorized circulation of restricted research materials concerning Church history. . . .

Reynolds thinks that incidents such as those surrounding the circulation of the Clayton material may "destroy our credibility as a research institution with the Church archivists.". . .

Palmer . . . denies that he has acted irresponsibly, saying that he would never give information to anti-Mormons. Palmer asserts that he has "an undying testimony of the gospel". . .

Bill Seavey, another student contacted by Reynolds, feels that while irresponsible students in the underground may contribute to the tightening of restrictions in the Church Historical Department, it is equally likely that the reverse is true: the tightening of restrictions encourages students to participate in the underground. (Seventh East Press, January 18, 1982, pages 1, 10, 11)

If the General Authorities had taken Dr. Arrington's advice and published "the diaries of leading Mormons," they would not be faced with the embarrassing situation of having Clayton's material leak out. It would appear, however, that the Mormon leaders feel that the contents of the early diaries and records are so shocking that their release would do irreparable damage to the Church.

Quinn Is "Clandestine"

In 1977 an anonymous Mormon historian launched an attack on our work in a pamphlet entitled, Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism: A Response to Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? In our reply to this pamphlet we pointed out that we had a very difficult time tracing its source and that "the whole matter had all the earmarks of an intelligence operation mounted by the CIA or the KGB." (Answering Dr. Clandestine: A Response To The Anonymous LDS Historian, page 1) Zion Bookstore had "received an anonymous letter containing a key to a room in a self storage company on Redwood Road." When an employee of the store went to the storage company, he found 1,800 copies of the pamphlet. These copies were given to Zion Bookstore without any charge, and the money obtained from their sale was supposed to be used to make a reprint. We, of course, immediately suspected that the Mormon Church had financed this attack "from ambush," and evidence pointed directly to the Church Historical Department. In an unpublished thesis, Richard Steven Marshall told of an anonymous rebuttal that the Historical Department was preparing in 1977:

He [Reed Durham] also said that due to the large number of letters the Church Historian's Office is receiving asking for answers to the things the Tanners have published, a certain scholar (name deliberately withheld) was appointed to write a general answer to the Tanners including advice on how to read anti-Mormon literature. This unnamed person solicited the help of Reed Durham on the project. The work is finished but its publication is delayed, according to what Leonard Arrington told Durham, because they can not decide how or where to publish it. Because the article is an open and honest approach to the problem, although it by no means answers all of the questions raised by the Tanners, it will probably be published anonymously, to avoid any difficulties which could result were such an article connected with an official Church agency. ("The New Mormon History," A Senior Honors Project Summary, University of Utah, May 1, 1977, page 62)

After a great deal of investigation, we were able to obtain a copy of a letter from Church Historian Leonard Arrington which linked him to the distribution of the rebuttal (see photograph of his letter in Answering Dr. Clandestine, p. 24). We also discovered that D. Michael Quinn, the historian who recently challenged the statements of Apostles Benson and Packer, was the author of the anonymous rebuttal. This identification was confirmed by David Mayfield, who worked for the Historical Department at the time the rebuttal was being prepared. (Ibid., p. 4)

In our book Answering Dr. Clandestine we suggested some of the possible reasons why the rebuttal to Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? was printed anonymously. We said that it was "likely that the Historical Department wanted the writer to remain anonymous for one of two reasons:

One, the Mormon leaders approved of a rebuttal being issued but only if it could be put out in such a way that it could not be traced back to the Church. They did not want to engage in a debate which could lead to any unfavorable publicity for the Church. Also, they did not want to give any respectability to our work by officially endorsing a rebuttal.

Two, the liberals in the Church published the pamphlet, and the elaborate cover-up operations are designed to hide the matter from conservatives like Ezra Taft Benson, who is next in line to be President of the Church. This theory presupposes a serious split between the Historical Department and at least some of the general authorities of the Church. . . . We certainly do not believe that Apostle Benson would approve of this rebuttal. It makes far too many admissions concerning historical problems in the Church. For instance, we do not think Benson would be pleased with Dr. Clandestine's admission that the History of the Church, which was supposed to have been written by Joseph Smith himself, was really "written in large part after his death" and that there have been "thousands of deletions and additions" which have not been noted. (Answering Dr. Clandestine, page 7)

That there is a "serious split" between the Church historians and the Apostles has now become evident. Before Dr. Quinn gave his speech at BYU, he tried very hard to conceal this rift. In his rebuttal to our work, Quinn made it plain that he disagreed with the methods of most of the "apologist-defenders," but he did not mention anyone by name. On page 43 of Answering Dr. Clandestine, we observed:

. . . the pamphlet Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted View of Mormonism appeared at just about the time the General Authorities became so disturbed over how scholars like Arrington were affecting the Church. Anyone who reads this rebuttal can tell that it is a product of those who believe in "New Mormon History." It seems, in fact, to contain a thinly disguised attack on Benson's view of Mormon history:

It is regrettable that in our urbane, twentieth century experience as a church, many of our writers (including nearly all of our apologist-defenders) have found it necessary to ignore or even deny the weaknesses, fallibility, and humanity of our prophets and apostles. . . . In the short-run, glorifying our leaders may be good public relations, but in the long-run it makes Mormons vulnerable to shallow, muckraking ad hominum attacks on their leaders. (page 11)

It is certainly too bad that Dr. Clandestine did not have the courage to give us the names of these "apologist-defenders." Anyone who takes the time to study Mormon history, however, would know that he is referring to men like the Mormon Apostles Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E. Petersen and Bruce R. McConkie.

Now that Apostle Packer has come out with a condemnation of those who point out "the weaknesses and frailties of present or past leaders," Dr. Quinn was unable to remain silent about the matter. As we have already pointed out, he has shown a great deal of courage in directly attacking the position of two of the highest officials in the Mormon Church.

Even though we disagreed with some of Dr. Quinn's conclusions in our book Answering Dr. Clandestine, we had to admit "that he is probably one of the best historians in the Mormon Church. His dissertation from Yale University is a masterpiece" (page 5). After reading Quinn's secret rebuttal, we felt that he was actually frustrated with the suppressive policies of his own Church and was taking much of his anger out on us. His BYU talk seemed to show that this was the case.

While Quinn accused us of having a "distorted view of Mormonism," we felt that his view was colored by wishful thinking. Now that the Mormon leaders are becoming more aggressive in their attempt to control and distort the history of the Church, Quinn decided it was time to come out and make a public statement. In doing this, however, he finds himself labeled an adversary of the Church. It is certainly ironic that the man who attacked our work now finds himself "regarded as subversive" by his own Church leaders.


Apostle Boyd K. Packer has warned Church historians not to help apostates "spread disease germs!" (BYU Studies, Summer 1981, p. 271) Dr. Quinn vigorously protested:

In warning Mormon historians against objective history and against telling too much truth about the Mormon past, Boyd K. Packer says, "Do not spread disease germs!" To adopt the symbolism of Elder Packer, I suggest that it is apostates and anti-Mormons who seek to infect the Saints with disease germs of doubt, disloyalty, disaffection, and rebellion. These typhoid Marys of spiritual contagion obtain the materials of their assaults primarily from the readily available documents and publications created by former LDS leaders and members themselves. Historians have not created the problem areas of the Mormon past; they are trying to respond to them. Believing Mormon historians like myself seek to write candid Church history in a context of perspective in order to inoculate the Saints against the historical disease germs that apostates and anti-Mormons may thrust upon them. The criticism we have received in our efforts would be similar to leaders of eighteenth century towns trying to combat smallpox contagion by locking up Dr. Edward Jenner who tried to inoculate the people, and killing the cows he wanted to use for his vaccine.

The central argument of the enemies of the LDS Church is historical, and if we seek to build the Kingdom of God by ignoring or denying the problem areas of our past, we are leaving the Saints unprotected. As one who has received death threats from anti-Mormons because they perceive me as an enemy historian, it is discouraging to be regarded as subversive by men I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators. (On Being A Mormon Historian, by D. Michael Quinn, page 23)

While the Apostles are blaming the historians for the epidemic of apostasy, the historians feel that it is the other way around. George Raine observed:

Intellectuals and historians, all faithful members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for several months have had a vigorous but quiet dispute with influential church leaders who criticized so-called objective church history which includes very human dimensions.

The debate is now formal, as indicated in a speech last week by University of Utah historian James L. Clayton. He characterized "faith-promoting" history, as advocated by at least two LDS general authorities, as "intellectually and morally irresponsible.". . .

Both sides of the debate over history say the point of view of the other can lead to the undermining of faith, that church members can be made vulnerable. (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 28, 1982, page B-1)

If apostasy from the Mormon Church is really an illness, then it is obvious that the disease often begins when a person comes in contact with material preserved in the Church Historical Department. Instead of attacking the historians, Apostles Benson and Packer should ask themselves why the original records of the Church are so full of apostasy germs. If the Church were true, the writings of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and other church leaders would be filled with good things which promote spiritual health. The fact that Benson and Packer want to keep these records hidden shows that they know the archives are really filled with dangerous germs which can infect their people. From our viewpoint, of course, what Apostle Packer calls disease germs are in reality historical facts which can open a person's eyes to the truth about Mormonism. While it is sometimes painful to face these matters, it can lead a person to spiritual health.

In his speech at the University of Utah, James L. Clayton mentioned a dangerous anti-history trend which is growing in the Church. He indicated that Leonard Arrington had been removed as Church Historian and that the Church had gone back on its plans to print the 16-volume history. He also stated that he had just learned that the Church archivists were beginning to suppress a vast amount of material that had previously been available to Church scholars. In his article in the Tribune, George Raine claimed that the Church said the restriction of documents was only a temporary measure:

It was rumored, for example, that church archivists are barring access to diaries, journals and other private materials of church leaders back to the 1830s and that this was illustrative of a narrowing church attitude toward Mormonism's past. But the church responded that these have been withdrawn temporarily for reclassification and reevaluation, and they are still available with permission from the managing director of the church historical department.

Since qualified historians had been working with these documents for ten years, we can see no legitimate reason why the Church would have to reclassify and reevaluate them at this time. We can only believe that this is a move to suppress the material from Church historians. Whether the Church can keep these things hidden remains to be seen. The bad publicity that this is bringing the Church could very well force the General Authorities to reconsider their decision.


The present recession has really affected our work. Although we are doing our best to press forward, we are functioning with a limited amount of capital. This, of course, makes our work less effective. For instance, we are forced to print very limited quantities of the works listed on our booklist. This wastes a great deal of time because we are forced to jump back and forth from one project to another. With more capital we could run things a lot smoother and have far better results in getting out the truth. Last year our sales fell many thousands of dollars short of the amount we needed to cover expenses. Fortunately, however, some of our readers sent gifts and we were able to continue the work. Because the financial conditions of the country have caused a decrease in our sales, we find ourselves in a similar situation this year. We are trusting, however, that the Lord will in some way meet this need. Although we are not a non-profit corporation,  we certainly welcome any donations that our readers are able to make. [Utah Lighthouse Ministry is now a non-profit corporation since 1983 and donations are tax-deductible.]

While most people will not be able to help this work in a financial way, all of our Christian friends are able to pray for us and for the Mormon people. We feel that the Lord has really blessed our work and that it is being widely used as a tool to bring Mormons to the knowledge of the true Gospel. We believe that thousands of Mormons will come to a knowledge of the truth through this work.


Karl Mennenger, one of the world's greatest psychiatrists, once stated that "love is the medicine for the sickness of the world." Jesus certainly recognized this fact, for in the book of John we find that He made this statement to His disciples:

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. (John 13:34-35)

The scriptures tell us that God is love and that when we are "born again" our hearts are filled with love:

Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. (I John 4:7-8)

In verse 20 of the same chapter the Apostle John stated:

If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

In Ephesians 3:19 we are told that the love of Christ "passeth knowledge."

The psychiatrist Karl Menninger made these observations concerning the importance of love:

. . . for the brief period that we love (others than ourselves) we live—which corresponds with astonishing precision to numerous sayings attributed to Jesus and Plato. (Man Against Himself, pages 62-63)

Nothing inhibits love so much as self-love . . . just as self-directed aggressions are harmful because of their immediate consequences, so the self-direction of love is harmful through its secondary consequences, the consequences of the emotional starvation resulting. . . . Thus again psychoanalytic science comes to the support of an intuitive observation of a great religious leader who said, "He who seeketh his own life shall lose it but whosoever loseth his life for my sake shall find it." We need only read in place of "for my sake" an expression meaning the investment of love in others, which is presumably what Jesus meant. (Ibid., pp. 381-82)

The Apostle Paul maintained that love was the most important thing:

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. (1 Corinthians 13:1-6, Revised Standard Version)

Myron Augsburger wrote:

True love cannot be expressed for things, for things only serve personal ends and affection for things is turned inward and is closed and selfish. Love for a person is outgoing and genuine as it cares to share relationship rather than to use the person. . . . Only the born-again person knows the transformation of divine love through the indwelling Spirit, and can express a measure of love that Jesus commanded toward both friends and enemies. . . .

The evidence that one has been delivered from the selfishness of sin is the expression of Christian love. (Plus Living, pages 25-27)

J.B. Phillips stated:

It is plain from the Gospels that Christ regarded the self-loving, self-regarding, self-seeking spirit as the direct antithesis of real living. His two fundamental rules for life were that the "love-energy," instead of being turned in on itself, should go out first to God and then to other people. "If any man will come after me," he said, "let him deny himself" . . . Now the moment a man does this . . . he finds himself in touch with something more real than he has known before. . . . In other words, the moment he begins really to love, he finds himself in touch with the life of God. (And, of course, if God is love, this is only to be expected.) He now knows beyond any doubting that this is real, happy, constructive living. He knows now that the teaching of Christ is not a merely human code of behaviour, but part of the stuff of reality. (Your God Is Too Small, pages 84-85)

Thomas a Kempis wrote: "Know that the love of yourself is more hurtful to you than anything else in the world." (Of The Imitation Of Christ, page 42) Because the love of self is "more hurtful" to us than anything else, the Lord tells us to deny ourselves: "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross, and fellow me" (Matthew 16:24). In John 12:25 Jesus said: "He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal."

Raymound L. Cramer made these observations:

Another effective method for helping the neurotic is in involving him in something outside himself. Jesus taught this principle—who would save his life would lose it. An individual wrapped up in himself is like a circle revolving inward. Losing his life in interest of others, turning the circle outward, giving himself away has the advantage of distracting the neurotic from his own worries and giving him something worthwhile to live for. Being loved by others is pleasant, but it may become boring, while loving the other person is absorbing and creative. (The Psychology of Jesus and Mental Health, page 126)

The phrase, "save his life," refers to saving it for a selfish purpose, utilizing ability in terms of self-gratification—a self-possessed, self-centered life. Jesus was not talking here about some distant future, but physical, down-to-earth, everyday living. He claimed that anyone who used his life in this way would lose it. The word "lose" means to become empty, void, useless and destructive. That which is capable of being useful becomes a source of insecurity, greed, and a vehicle of hostility if it is used for selfish purposes. Fear and anxiety result when man tries to hang onto his life. He loses what he is trying to save—life itself. (Ibid., page 139)

Many people will not become Christians because they fear that the Lord will ask them to give up too much. The truth is, however, that the Lord only asks us to give up the things that will hurt us or make us unhappy in the long run. We are told that true happiness comes only when we submit ourselves to the Lord and that there is only misery in self-love.

For a more complete treatment of this subject and what it really means to be a Christian we recommend our book A Look At Christianity.