The Church currently has 15 Presidents of the Church Manuals, if we include next year’s edition. They have been processed and thoroughly edited through the Correlation Department of the Church. For this reason, we can expect a good deal of censorship and whitewashing to exist in them. They offer a good barometer for what the Church believes, accepts as doctrine, and what they want the members to digest as approved curriculum. What is missing or distorted in them offers a window into the soul of the Church and the 15 men who run it.Let’s take a journey through some of these manuals to get a peek behind the scenes as to what the leaders are publishing as truth.
Our first stop will be the Joseph Smith Manual.The first thing that jumps out is Joseph Smith is not engaging in polygamy or polyandry. The only female companion mentioned is Emma. Here is the lone quote in the entire 567 pages that refers to polygamy,
“As commanded by God, he also taught the doctrine of plural marriage.”
Notice, it does not say he practiced polygamy. It just says he taught it to the saints. Now this is the official sanitized version, so I don’t expect an honest discussion on the “dirty, nasty, filthy affair of his and Fanny Alger’s,” as Oliver Cowdery described it. But no mention of polygamy when it was an integral part of the early Church. Why? I suppose the leaders are embarrassed by the fact they were polygamists. It does not fit with the image the Church wants to project in this modern age.
Next up is seer stones. No mention of them in the manual. This particular manual came out before 2015, when the Church reluctantly published a photo of it and announced it was used by Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. The interesting thing is we get comments like this in the manual that don’t make any sense with increased knowledge of the translation process.
“With the sacred record in his possession, Joseph soon discovered why Moroni had warned him to protect the plates (see Joseph Smith—History 1:59–60). A local mob began harassing the Prophet, making repeated efforts to steal the plates.”
It turns out Joseph didn’t use the plates to translate the Book of Mormon anyway. He just stuck his face in a hat and the words appeared on the stone. He read them to Oliver and they were written down. The entire story of people always trying to take the plates from Joseph only made sense in the discarded version of Church history, where Joseph actually used them to translate. In the new version, everyone is left to wonder why he had to keep hiding the plates. They have no use whatsoever.
Next up is the sanitized version of his death. It is in the interest of the Church to paint Smith as a religious martyr.There is nothing in the chapter about how he he drank alcohol, fired shots at his attackers, or yelled masonic words at his death.I love this quote from the manual,
“On June 10, 1844, Joseph Smith, who was the mayor of Nauvoo, and the Nauvoo city council ordered the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor and the press on which it was printed. The Nauvoo Expositor was an anti-Mormon newspaper that slandered the Prophet and other Saints and called for the repeal of the Nauvoo Charter. City officials feared that this publication would lead to mob action. As a result of the action by the mayor and city council, Illinois authorities brought an unfounded charge of riot against the Prophet, his brother Hyrum, and other Nauvoo city officials.”
They were afraid the paper would cause a riot so what did Joseph and the local leaders do? They caused their own riot to stop a phantom riot that might happen. Yea, that makes sense! It should be noted the Expositor did not slander Joseph. Everything it printed was correct and true. Slander occurs when something is NOT true.
Let’s move on to the Brigham Young Manual and see what is going on with Brother Brigham.
It turns out the Church turned the Lion of the lord into a monogamist. No mention of his 55 wives or taking other men’s wives unto himself. His first wife is mentioned who dies before he marries his second wife. The second wife is mentioned, but that is it. In fact, he does not even teach about polygamy in this manual. In this example, the Church turned his polygamy quote into a sterile monogamous talk. Let’s take a look. The first example is from the manual.
“Let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his God, and then instruct his [wife] and children in this lesson of self-government by his example as well as by precept, and his neighbors also, showing them how to be brave and steadfast..”
Here is what Brigham actually said, ” Let the husband and father learn to bend his will to the will of his God, and then instruct his wives and children in this lesson of self-government by his example as well as by precept, and his neighbors also, showing them how to be brave and steadfast..”
They censored one word and made the most famous Mormon polygamist a monogamist and teacher of it.
No mention of violence among saints during his reign, his wealth from his position as prophet, or his saloon. Correlation sprayed sanitizer over two teachings with the next quote. They eliminated Adam-God doctrine and that God was once a man. This is from the manual,
‘Adam. God was once known on the earth among his children … as we know one another. Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents. The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him; and the children of Adam were more or less acquainted with him, and the things that pertain to God and to heaven were as familiar among mankind in the first ages of their existence on the earth, as … our gardens are to our wives and children, or as the road to the Western Ocean is to the experienced traveler.’
Here is the full quote from Journal of Discourses,
“Adam was as conversant with his Father who placed him upon this earth as we are conversant with our earthly parents. The Father frequently came to visit his son Adam, and talked and walked with him; and the children of Adam were more or less acquainted with their Grandfather, and their children were more or less acquainted with their Great-Grandfather; and the things that pertain to God and to heaven were as familiar among mankind, in the first ages of their existence on the earth, as these mountains are to our mountain boys, as our gardens are to our wives and children, or as the road to the Western Ocean is to the experienced traveler.”
They certainly did not use this quote in the manual,
“Now hear it, O inhabitants of the earth, Jew and Gentile, Saint and sinner! When our father Adam came into the garden of Eden, he came into it with a celestial body, and brought Eve, one of his wives, with him. He helped to make and organize this world. He is Michael, the Archangel, the Ancient of Days! about whom holy men have written and spoken He is our Father and our God, and the only God with whom we have to do. Every man upon the earth, professing Christians or non-professing, must hear it, and will know it sooner or later …. When the Virgin Mary conceived the child Jesus, the Father had begotten him in his own likeness. He was not begotten by the Holy Ghost. And who is the Father? He is the first of the human family; … Jesus, our elder brother, was begotten in the flesh by the same character that was in the garden of Eden, and who is our Father in Heaven. Now, let all who may hear these doctrines, pause before they make light of them, or treat them with indifference, for they will prove their salvation or damnation” (April 9, 1852, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, pages 50-51).
Let’s move on. Next stop is the Lorenzo Snow Manual.
I suppose it would be too much to ask for an interesting lesson about how Snow lied for the Lord when as Prophet he publicly said polygamous marriages had stopped. I mean, after all, the manifesto had been voted on and accepted by the Church at this point. How about a lesson on the ages of his polygamous wives. Let’s take a look at his last three wives.
At age 43, he married 17-year old Mary Elizabeth Houtz and had 6 kids.
At age 44, he married 16-year old Phoebe Amelia Woodruff and had 5 kids.
At age 57, he married 16-year old Sara Minnie Ephramina Jensen and 5 kids
Let’s see what the manual did to his teaching on tithing.Here is the quote from the manual.
“I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child … shall pay one-tenth of their income as a tithing.” Notice the ellipsis after “child”? It is there for a reason. Here is the actual quote that Lorenzo Snow said,
“I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child who has means,shall pay one-tenth of their income as a tithing.”
Three words were censored from the manual with the skillful use of an ellipsis that makes all the difference in the world. The original quote taught some in the Church do not make enough to pay tithing because it is to be paid on surplus income. In the modern Church, it is to be paid first even if you cannot pay rent, mortgage, bills, etc. So, the leaders had to adjust a dead Prophet’s words to fit the modern day policy. Quiet censorship to put more money in the coffers of the Church.
Next stop is Joseph F. Smith. The most interesting omission in this manual is the Second Manifesto. It is missing. No mention of it on any page. Here is a critical piece of history and doctrine with all sorts of implications and the Church is afraid to put it in their own manual.If it had been put in, it might have led to a conversation about Joseph F. Smith’s divorce from his first wive due to his “adulterous intercourse” with his “concubines”. Maybe the members would have been exposed to his involvement on a personal level and as leader with post manifesto polygamous marriages in Mexico and Canada.We would not want that. Maybe some priesthood instructor or relief society sister would have accidentally stumbled upon the age discrepancy between Joseph F. Smith and his wives, while preparing the lesson. Can’t have that information being discussed in a Church meeting. It could lead to some critical thinking on the part of the member.
Final stop is the George Albert Smith Manual. Let’s look at two examples of censorship. The first is a complete omission of anything related to his life long struggle with mental illness. This one is tragic. The Church has a history of avoiding this topic and when leaders do address, it they don’t offer much enlightenment or research based assistance. A lesson on the subject in this manual would have been a step in the right direction. Instead, they wipe it under the rug.
The second is another example of an ellipsis involving tithing once again.The footwork on this one was done by Nearing Kolob website. This is from their site. They show how an ellipsis can leave off lots of information. Here it is:
“What’s in the Ellipsis? George Albert Smith on Tithing
Below is the quote from the manual:
The Lord has given us the privilege of contributing one-tenth of our interest, for His Church, for the development of His work in the world. Those who pay their tithing receive their blessing. … We cannot expect to earn blessings without earnest effort. We will be required to make what appears to some to be sacrifices. I suppose people think when they pay their tithing that they are making a sacrifice, but they are not; they are making a real investment that will return an eternal dividend. Our Heavenly Father gives us all that we have. He places all in our hands, authorizing us to retain for our own use nine-tenths of it, and then He asks that we put His tenth where He directs, where He knows it will accomplish the most good in developing His Church.
When we heard the reports this morning of this great Church [during a session of general conference], the financial report impressed me much—to know that a great organization like this, with its multitudes of people, functioning in so many ways, in the midst of the world’s turmoil and distress is in such a condition that one of the Presidency of the Church could stand here and truthfully say to us this Church is out of debt. With the nations and most of the people in debt, yet the Church has been so managed that it is out of debt. Let us think about it. Let us sustain the Church. Let us follow the active leadership of the Church. Let us so live that the Lord can bless us as He blesses the Church.
See the ellipsis in the top half of the first paragraph? Let’s see what was left out (interesting things emphasized/underlined by me and comments added in brackets):
The Lord has given us the privilege of contributing one-tenth of our interest, for His Church, for the development of His work in the world. Those who pay their tithing receive their blessing. [ELLIPSIS BEGINS] If we do not desire the blessing, we may withhold our contribution. The Lord promises His blessing if we honor His law and not otherwise.
Everything that He has asked us to do is for our good, not for somebody else’s benefit particularly, though, of course, it benefits others when we set a good example. With this great body of Priesthood and the membership of the Church assembled here, what an influence we ought to have, if we are keeping the commandments of the Lord.
The President referred to the fact, this morning, that there were offices in the Church, and that men who hold those offices ought not to expect to hold them unless they magnify them. Why? Because they receive no benefit from it, only as they keep the commandments of the Lord and magnify their callings. It is of no particular advantage to be a High Priest or a Seventy or an Elder in this Church, just to hold that office. But if we live up to the teachings of the Lord, if we do what He asks us to do, then we have promise of a blessing. The Lord, all the years from the beginning of time, has been ready to bless His children whenever they will permit Him to do it.
There are some who do things they ought not to do, and yet they hope for a blessing. We sing: “God Bless America.” What a wonderful hymn that is ! How beautifully it is sung in large congregations ! But God cannot bless America if the people who live in America refuse to keep His commandments. We must earn the blessing if we would receive it.
We are commanded by the Lord to teach our children what they should do, that they should have faith, that they should repent, and that they should be baptized when eight years of age ; and He says that if we fail in our responsibility, the sin be upon our heads. What does that mean ? It means, to me, that if our children fall away because of our neglect and because of our carelessness, there will come a time when we realize that we did not prepare them for the blessings the Lord wanted to give them, and the result is that they have failed to receive the blessings and the sorrow will be upon our own heads.
I am grateful that I belong to a church that does not compel obedience. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not coerce. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love, intelligence, a wonderful guide for our lives. That is what it is for. It is for everybody. Yet we find people who resist the very thing that would make them happy. They will not live the Gospel but seek happiness only in the pleasures of life that will not endure.
I think this great organization that we belong to ought to be able to set such an example that people in our neighborhoods, not members of the Church, seeing our good works, would be constrained to glorify the name of our Heavenly Father. That is the way I feel with regard to that. All that we need to do is to set an example, be good men and good women, and they will observe it. Then perhaps they will afford us the opportunity to teach them the things that they do not know.
Every blessing that we desire must be earned by obeying the law upon which that blessing is conditioned. Now, we understand that, brethren and sisters. How unwise we are if we fail, if we ourselves decline to do the thing that will earn us a blessing, when we know that we cannot obtain it in any other way except to earn it. That is the difference in the attitude of those who understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the people of the world. I have had people tell me : “Oh, it doesn’t make so much difference what you do. After a while everybody will be saved in the Kingdom of God.” It used to be quite customary when I was in the mission field in early days, to hear that. That is what the devil is telling the world. That is the way the Adversary teaches. If he can just keep them doing wrong all the time, and neglecting that which is right, he has them just where he wants them to be, and he has us where he wants us, when we fail to do right.
THE PRIESTHOOD TO BE HONORED
To be ordained to the Priesthood may not prove a blessing. We should not at any time feel that it will be a blessing to us, unless we honor it, unless we magnify it, and have in our hearts the desire that the Lord intended we should have, when He bestowed that gift upon us, and we should always desire to do good.
What a wonderful group we have enrolled in this organization! Lovers of all that is good and beautiful, marvelous choirs that come from different parts of the Church to sing for us here ; to supplement the delight that the Tabernacle Choir and Organ give to us ; this lovely build- ing in which to meet, not another like it in the world. We have every blessing that the world has anywhere, plus the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of course, the world does not understand it if we say it that way, but we ought to understand it.Everything that I can find that is good in any- church in all the world, is a part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No other church can say that. This is the Lord’s Church. I sometimes hear people speak of it as “our church.”
This is the Lord’s Church. Our Heavenly Father ordained that it should come at this particular period of the world’s history, and He directed that it receive the name of His beloved Son. Fortunate are we if while we are members of it we live up to the opportunities that it offers, lest we fall into transgression and lose our faith and forfeit the blessing that the Lord desired us to possess.
ADVICE TO SEEK FOR IMPROVEMENT
Now, brethren, let us do better than we have ever done before. Let us renew our determination to be real Latter-day Saints, and not just make-believe. I do not think I ought to be talking just like that to this group, because I feel that perhaps the cream of the Church, very much of it, is in this building; but I do not know anybody who can not do a little better than he has been doing, if he makes up his mind.
I think that with the distress everywhere, with the prediction that the Lord made in the first Section of the Doctrine and Covenants, that “peace should be taken from the earth,” we must feel that that time has come. Surely we ought to take stock of ourselves, and our homes should be the abiding place of prayer and gratitude and thanksgiving. Husbands should be kind to their wives, and wives considerate of their husbands. Parents should hold the love of their children by their righteous living. Our homes would then not only be the abiding place of prayer and thanksgiving, but would be the place where our Father could bestow His choicest blessings, because of our worthiness.
I pray that the peace that cometh from our Heavenly Father may abide in our hearts and in our homes, that we who have been honored by fellowship in the Church of His Beloved Son may appreciate that honor every day, and so live when the race is run that we shall have earned an inheritance in the Celestial Kingdom. We must not surrender to temptation, but should meet our problems in the spirit of love and kindness toward all men, ever serving God and keeping His commandments. And we are always serving Him when we are blessing our kind ; do not forget that.
FAITH SHOWN BY GOOD WORKS
On to the Harold B. Lee Manual. Here is a quote from the manual. Note the ellipses. We will come back to them. Here is a quote from Lee about scriptures from the seventh chapter in the Manual.
“All that we teach in this Church ought to be couched in the scriptures. … We ought to choose our texts from the scriptures, and wherever you have an illustration in the scriptures or a revelation in the Book of Mormon, use it, and do not draw from other sources where you can find it here in these books. We call these the standard Church works because they are standard. If you want to measure truth, measure it by the four standard Church works. … If it is not in the standard works, you may well assume that it is speculation. It is man’s own personal opinion, to put it another way; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, you may know by that same token that it is not true. This is the standard by which you measure all truth. But if you do not know the standards, you have no adequate measure of truth.”
Here is what he actually said,
“All that we teach in this Church ought to be couched in the scriptures. It ought to be found in the scriptures.We ought to choose our texts from the scriptures.If we want to measure truth, we should measure it by the four standard works, regardless of who writes it. If it is not in the standard works, you may well assume that it is speculation. It is man’s own personal opinion, to put it another way; and if it contradicts what is in the scriptures, it is not true. This is the standard by which you measure all truth.”(Harold B. Lee, Improvement Era, Jan.1969,p.13)
Lee emphasized how it did not matter who was teaching, including apostles and prophets. They had to teach from scripture and not add to or take away. The manual softened that part because as we all know, the prophet is more important than the scriptures in the Church.
In conclusion, we see a lot of information was missing that the Church would rather the members not be exposed to . Censorship is alive and well in the Church. There are other manuals and topics we could look at but the point is the Church is not an open book . It has a long history of censorship. The brethren throw around the word “truth” but only use it when it benefits the their point of view.