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3 Reasons Why I Don’t Trust Joseph Smith and His Mormonism.


In his book Jim Wallace, a homicide detective and former atheist turned Christian, identifies three key motives to a crime. These, he explains, are sexual lust, power, and financial greed. Having read his book I found this to be a good “template,” as he calls it, especially for identifying the genuineness of the motives of a specific person. However, I found Wallace’s diagnosis of Joseph Smith (1805 – 1844), the founder of the religion of Mormonism, to be quite illuminating. Since Smith is the founder, and should he be found to be deceitful, then it would imply that Mormonism is a false, manmade religion. So, how does Smith stack up when we apply this template?

1. Sexual Lust.

Smith is interesting as after having penned his book at age 24, the Book of Mormon, he managed to win over tens of thousands of followers. This, of course, led to his religion that is still quite alive today. Smith, however, taught and practiced polygamy. He had many wives, in fact, he had some 28 wives (1) (some would put it higher; historian Compton puts it at 33) (2). Smith claimed that God revealed to him that polygamy was a holy practice (3). However, Emma, his first wife, defended him in saying that none of his divine revelations related to polygamy. But when Emma caught wind of Smith’s polygamous activities Smith dictated a revelation in which he directed Emma to accept plural marriage. Alternatively, others, such as the founding members, left the group when Smith started this practice.

2. Power Hungry.

Through his alleged divine position Smith stood in as the only speaker for God. He used his authority to teach that the Church of Christ restored through him was a latter-day restoration of the early Christian faith. He claimed that the Church of Christ had been lost in the Great Apostasy (4). Smith’s followership grew and thus resulting in him gaining increasing power and authority. In fact, in 1843 he would try to compete to become the next president of America (5) with his goal to establish a theocratic monarchy (a “Theodemocracy”) (6). Smith then taught that this kingdom would be governed by theocratic principles, and at the time he would send ambassadors to a few countries around the world.

3. Financial Greed.

However, to realize his goals Smith required the backing of his followers through their financial support. Finances he received from his followers would be diverted to his own projects. At one point in Smith’s career he alleged that God have revealed to him that he should launch a bank. This was called the Kirtland Safety Society. Unfortunately, for him, the bank went under within a month (7), and many bankrupted Mormons left the church because they believed Smith’s only goal was to enrich himself and the Mormon leadership (8). Smith was also seemingly disingenuous in that he promised his followers that God would never allow his bank to fail of which it did.

Putting it Together.

Putting Joseph Smith to the test via Wallace’s template doesn’t paint a very appealing picture. Smith clearly stood to gain a lot by getting people to buy into his movement. I would find myself hard pressed to agree with Smith, and his followers, that he really did receive divine revelation from God especially given what seemed to be his motives. Smith stood to earn a lot through his fame and financial pursuits. He tried to found a bank with the intent of making himself and his leadership wealthy. I don’t think that His polygamous activities are also morally questionable. This strikes me as unfaithful, lustful, and the taking of advantage of women. Even when his wife Emma disagreed with his polygamous desires he then alleged that God gave him the command to tell Emma to accept it. This surely strikes me as manipulative and also an attempt at using divine justification as a vehicle in forwarding one’s own agenda. If God really has revealed himself to man it wouldn’t have been through Joseph Smith. The motives speak for themselves.


1. Jenson, A. 1887. Historical Record. p. 233-234.

2. Compton, T. 1997. In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith. p. 11.

3. Compton, T. 1997. Ibid. p. 22-23; Foster, L. 1981. Religion and Sexuality: The Shakers, the Mormons, and the Oneida Community. p.206–11.

4. Remini, R. 2002. Joseph Smith: A Penguin Life. p. 84.

5. Bushman, R. 2005. Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling. p. 377.

6. Bushman, R. 2005. Ibid. p. 522.

7. Brodie, F. 1971. No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith. p. 195-196.

8. Adams, D. 1983. Chartering the Kirtland Bank.

2 replies »

  1. Imagine trying to reconstruct the life of Joseph Smith if our only sources were the official Mormon histories written after the Latter Day Saints went to Salt Lake City. We would probably know nothing about the Kirtland bank fraud. As the Church did not openly acknowledge polygamy before it reached Utah, we might have no evidence that Smith was anything other than the faithful husband of a single wife.

    We know about the unsavory aspects of Smith’s life because we have contemporaneous sources from people outside the movement. We have the writings of non-Mormons who dealt with Smith and his followers and those of ex-Mormons who left the fold. We learn from these sources that the reports of the true believers were not reliable.

    For Christianity, we only have the reports of the true believers written decades after the fact. Why should we consider them any more reliable than the Mormon accounts?

    • – ”For Christianity, we only have the reports of the true believers written decades after the fact. Why should we consider them any more reliable than the Mormon accounts?”.

      Ok, I see two objections:

      1.- : That the Gospels can’t be trusted because they were wrote by followers of Jesus.

      2.-: That the miracles and events recorded in the Gospels were wrote decades after the fact.

      For the first one:
      This a very radical position, in my opinion. Socrates didn’t wrote anything down, and most things about his life and work were mostly written by his student, Plato. Should the testimony of Plato be doubted because he was a follower of Socrates? I don’t think so. The early Christians who wrote the Gospels were trying to communicate the life, works and message of Jesus of Nazareth to different audiences. Luke, for example, tries to legitimaze his work by saying that he has examined everything from the beggining. The whole Gospel of John was wrote with the intention of making people believe in Jesus by providing a first hand account of His life.

      Also, I don’t know by a non-follower of Jesus of Nazareth would want to write a biography of Him. Most people who were not Christians were very anti-Christian. Tacitus called the early Church a superstition, for example. It’s clear that Tacitus, being a first rank historian, wouldn’t want to know anything about the life and works of Jesus.

      For the second one:
      Most of events recorded by ancient historians are not even contemporary. Take for example the eruption of Mount Vesubius in 79 C.E. This eruption was a very important and dramatic event in the Roman Empire. It’s estimated that 5,000 to 60,000 people perished in such eruption. Remember: this event affected far more people and mostly affected well educated people, who could read and write without problems. But we don’t have any contemporary mentions of it. Nothing, none, nada… The only mention of the eruption is not even contemporary. It was written by Pliny the Youner in honor to his uncle, Pliny the Elder, who died in such eruption.

      The fire of Rome is not mentioned in any contemporary sources neither. The cancellation of Passover by Herod was not mentioned in any sources, other than Josephus. See? Important events in ancient history are not always contemporary. In fact, oral tradition played a better role there.

      I hope I answered your question well. If you have any objections to make, be my guest.

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