Dispelling Common Mormon Myths
- Governor Boggs Exterminated the Mormons- Mormons are taught Satan inspired Governor Boggs to exterminate all Mormons. What they are not told is that Governor Boggs was responding to Sidney Rigdon's famous 4th of July Oration given AT FAR WEST, CALDWELL COUNTY, MISSOURI. In the speech, Rigdon announces a war of extermination between the saints and the locals.
- Lorenzo Snow Caused it to Rain in Southern Utah- Mormons are taught Lorenzo Snow visited Southern Utah during a drought on May 18, 1899 and promised them if they paid their tithing rain would appear. According to the legend, after they paid their tithing, it rained. The problem with this is Utah precipitation data is available for that time and region and does not support this claim.
- Pioneer boys died helping others cross the frozen Sweetwater River- Church members are told in General Conference about three brave young pioneer boys who carried others across icy waters and died as a result. They are also told that Brigham Young heard about it, "wept like a child," and announced these young men were all now in heaven. We learned through later research that these young men lived long lives.
- Brigham Young was transfigured into Joseph Smith momentarily- Church members are told when Joseph Smith died there was some question about who should succeed him to become the next prophet. A story arose that Brigham Young was momentarily transfigured to appear as Joseph Smith. We now know this story was embellished.
- Jesus appeared to Lorenzo Snow in the St. George Temple- This myth has been passed down verbally through several generations. The source if this tale is attributed to Snow's granddaughter and was never reported by anyone else who had talked to Snow. Heber J. Grant later discounted the tale.
- Seagulls came and ate all the crickets threatening the saints crops- On June 9, 1848 the saints crops were seriously damaged by frost, then drought, and then crickets. Lots of seagulls appeared and ate the crickets, regurgitating them, and eating more for two full weeks. In reality the California gull is common in the state of Utah and particularly likes antelope island. They are natural enemies to crickets, and eat them regularly, regurgitating the indigestible parts of their bodies. Events like this have recurred over the years and this particular instance wasn't called a "miracle" until 20 years later by church leaders speaking over the pulpit. No journals at the time described this as a miracle. The crops were already damaged by frost and drought and the gulls showed up too late to save anything. More Here.
- Famous painting of Christ really looks like him- According to folklore, Del Parsons painted a portrait of Christ wearing a red robe which church officials said looks just like Jesus. Further, a young woman in a car accident said the person in the portrait held her reassuringly until aid workers arrived. The problem with this claim is that Del Parsons denied this story. What actually happened is the church asked that the painting be altered to add "more intensity, more love, older looking, more Jewish-looking, no forked beard, wider shoulders." You can read how it happened here. There is no original source for the supposed woman in the car accident.
- The Founding Fathers (George Washington, et. al.) Appeared to Wilford Woodruff- According to Wilford Woodruff, who was the fourth president of the church, George Washington and the other founding fathers appeared to him in the St. George temple in 1877 and requested their temple work to be done. The problem with this claim is that the founding fathers temple work had already been performed-several times-by others predating him, as was recorded in the Endowment House records. Haden Wells Church and John M. Bernhisel had performed this work a year before Woodruff's tale. In addition, Charlotte Haven, a non-Mormon visiting Nauvoo, wrote about observing saints being baptized for the founding fathers years before. Apparently, this was a popular theme.
- John Taylor's pocket watch saved his life in Carthage Jail- John Taylor, who was present in Carthage Jail, drinking wine together with Joseph and Hyrum the day they died, supposedly had his life saved by his pocket watch so that he could live to tell the tale. Unfortunately, a forensic study indicated no pocket watch could withstand a musket blast of the time. For example, Hyrum’s watch, which was hit by a musket ball that went through his body, was severely dented and split. Professor J. Lynn Lyon, from the University of Utah, performed experiments and concluded, "Had John Taylor's watch been struck, there would be visible damage," at BYU's Education Week 2010.