As we examine the pamphlet, Jerald and Sandra
Tanners Distorted View of Mormonism, it becomes very obvious
that the author has not carefully read Mormonism-Shadow or Reality?
or else he is deliberately misrepresenting its contents. It is perhaps
more charitable to believe that he has only skimmed through the
book. On page 3 of the pamphlet he says he felt like he was "enduring
a Chinese water torture when I read the book," and on page 28 he
says that our "extensive" use of emphasis "discourages reading each
word or even every sentence and paragraph."
At any rate, the author makes a very serious mistake
when he accuses us of suppressing information concerning the 1831
revelation on polygamy. On pages 16-17 of his pamphlet, he makes
this serious charge against us:
Moreover, the attention of Lorenzo Snow's interrogators
was upon the 1843 published revelation on polygamy, but there
were earlier unpublished revelations concerning polygamy as far
back as 1831. In 1831 a Mormon defector wrote that Joseph Smith
had given a revelation concerning polygamy, and in 1861 an early
Mormon wrote a letter to Brigham Young in which he gave the text
of that revelation. The Tanners could not have been unaware of
this when they published the revised Shadow-Reality in
1972, because such a revelation was referred to in the 1834 Mormonism
Unvailed (which the Tanners quote from on page 58), in Helen
Mar Whitney's Marriage as Taught by the Prophet Joseph,
in the 1887 Historical Record (which they quote from on
page 203), in the 1922 Essentials in Church History (which
they quote from on page 31), in a 1970 article on the 'Manifesto'
(which they quote from on page 231), and in the Journal of
Discourses (virtually every volume of which is quoted by the
Tanners).... Although the most conscientious and honest researcher
can overlook pertinent sources of information, the repeated omissions
of evidence by the Tanners suggest an intentional avoidance of
sources that modify or refute their caustic interpretations of
If the author of Jerald and Sandra Tanner's Distorted
View of Mormonism had taken the time to thoroughly read our
book, he would never have made the serious error of accusing us
of suppressing information on the 1831 revelation. On page 203 of
Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? we give this information about
Just when and how the practice of plural marriage
started in the Mormon Church has caused much controversy. There
is evidence, however, to show that it was secretly practiced when
the Church was in Kirtland, Ohio. In the introduction to Vol.
5 of Joseph Smith's History of the Church, the Mormon historian
B. H. Roberts stated that the 'date in the heading of the Revelation
on the Eternity of the Marriage Covenant, including the Plurality
of Wives, notes the time at which the revelation was committed
to writing, not the time at which the principles set forth in
the revelation were first made known to the Prophet.' Fawn Brodie
states that Joseph Fielding Smith told her "that a revelation
foreshadowing polygamy had been written in 1831, but that it had
never been published. In conformity with the church policy, however,
he would not permit the manuscript, which he acknowledged to be
in possession of the church library, to be examined.' (No
Man Knows My History, page 184, footnote) Mormonism--Shadow
or Reality? p. 203)
Actually, the author of Jerald and Sandra Tanner's
Distorted View of Mormonism could not possibly have picked a
worse area to criticize. The claim that we suppressed knowledge
concerning the 1831 revelation is about as far from the truth as
it is possible to be. In fact, we have probably done more than anyone
else to bring this revelation to light. We made a brief mention
of the 1831 revelation in our book, Joseph Smith and Polygamy,
which was published in 1967. We referred to it again in 1969 when
we published The Mormon Kingdom, Vol. 1, and, as we have
already shown, we mentioned it in Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?
published in 1972. During all these years the Mormon leaders kept
this revelation suppressed from their own people.
Some time after we published Mormonism--Shadow
or Reality? Michael Marquardt, a young scholar who was very
disturbed with the Church's policy of suppressing important records,
became interested in doing research with regard to the 1831 revelation.
He found that some Mormon scholars had copies of the revelation,
but they had had to promise not to make any copies. Finally, Mr.
Marquardt learned what appears to be the reason why the revelation
was suppressed--i.e., that the revelation commanded the Mormons
to marry the Indians to make them a "white" and "delightsome" people.
Those who are familiar with the Book of Mormon know
that it teaches that the Indians were cursed by God with a dark skin. In Alma 3:6 we read that "the skins
of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set
upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their
transgression. . . " The Book of Mormon, however, promises that
in the last days the Lamanites--i.e., the Indians--will repent and
become "a white and delightsome people." (2 Nephi 30:6) Spencer
W. Kimball, President of the Mormon Church, feels that the Indians
are actually becoming a "white and delightsome people":
I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the
Indian people today as against that of only fifteen years ago....
they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.... they
are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised....
The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter
than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation...
These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and
The day of the Lamanites has come... today the
dark clouds are dissipating. (Improvement Era, Dec. 1960,
President Kimball feels that the Indians are being
made "white and delightsome" through the power of God, and he certainly
would never recommend intermarriage with the Indians to make them
white because he does not believe that the races should mix in marriage.
The Salt Lake Tribune for September 8, 1976, quotes President
Kimball as saying:
'We recommend that people marry those who are
of the same racial background, in somewhat the same economic and
social and education background, and above all, the same religious
background,' President Kimball said.
Because of the Mormon leader's feelings on intermarriage
with darker races they have suppressed Joseph Smith's 1831 revelation
on polygamy. It was only after a great deal of research that Michael
Marquardt was able to obtain a typed copy of the revelation. Unlike
the Mormon leaders, we felt that this revelation should be brought
to light; therefore, we published it in full in the book Mormonism
Like Watergate? in 1974. The most important verse of this revelation
reads as follows:
4 Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of man,
in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges
of my holy priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness
by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye
should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that
their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even
now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.
Even after our publication of the revelation in
1974, the Mormon leaders continued to suppress the revelation. Robert
N. Hullinger made these comments in an unpublished manuscript:
Jerald and Sandra Tanner,... printed W. W. Phelps'
version of a little-known 1831 revelation... Dr. Leonard Arrington,
Church Historian of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-dlay
Saints, Salt Lake City, confirmed the existence of the Phelps
copy. In a telephone conversation on June 13,1975, he stated that
the revelation may be released for scholarly study sometime in
the future, but not yet. ("In Defense of God," typed copy, page
334, footnote 23)
Three years after our publication of the revelation,
the Mormon scholar Donna Hill, finally published the important part
about the Indians: "'... For it is my will that, in time, ye should
take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity
may become white, delightsome and just..."' (Joseph Smith--The
First Mormon, New York, 1977, p. 340)
For more documentation and verification of the 1831
revelation on polygamy see our book, Mormonism Like Watergate?
Now, in the light of this information, how can Dr.
Clandestine honestly accuse us of suppressing anything concerning
the 1831 revelation? Was it not his own church that kept the revelation
hidden from its members? It is also extremely interesting to note
that although Clandestine refers to the 1831 revelation on pages
16 and 17 of his rebuttal, he does not tell us about the revelation
commanding the Mormons to marry Indians to make them become "white,
delightsome and just." Why does he suppress this information? He
does give a reference to the letter of "Ezra Booth in Ohio Star
8 December 1831" in footnote 12, but he does not tell us what Booth
says and is probably well-aware of the fact that most people will
never see this newspaper. This is only one example of D r. Clandestine's
"repeated omissions of evidence." Fortunately, the reader does not
need to remain in the dark concerning this matter because we have
reprinted Booth's statement in Mormonism Like Watergate?
The important portion of it reads as follows:
..... it has been made known by revelation, that
it will be pleasing to the Lord, should they form a matrimonial
alliance with the Natives;... It has been made known to one, who
has left his wife in the state of N.Y. that he is entirely free
from his wife, and he is at liberty to take him a wife from among
the Lamanites. (Ohio Star, Dec. 8, 1831)
Dr, Clandestine's work on the 1831 revelation seems
to show that he is the one who does not want the full truth about
the 1831 revelation to come out.