Comments about ‘Defending the Faith: Joseph Smith was known as truthful’

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Published: Wednesday, Dec. 14 2011 2:00 p.m. MST

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New Yorker
Pleasant Grove, UT


caleb in new york
Glen Cove, NY

I'm interested in knowing what the support is for this statement in the article - "Even more important, this same jury, in conjunction with the local justice of the peace, found the young boy Joseph Smith Jr. to be both a credible and competent witness". I'm curious because the jury itself could have still decided in favor of Joseph Sr. and Alvin even if the jury had found Joseph Jr. to be completely uncredible. This could happen if the other witnesses for Joseph Sr. and Alvin gave especially believable testimony. I'm a believer in Joseph Smith as a prophet but I am interested in knowing what the basis is for the statement that I quoted from the article. I also wonder if it was the jury or the judge who tested witnesses before the witnesses were permitted to testify at the trial.

BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

This does not qualify as "News". What would qualify as "News" is Newt G. letting one of his Staffers in Iowa go after the Staffer made some unkind comment about Mitt's Religion in an Iowa Focus Group meeting. The L.A. Times just reported this

Phoenix, AZ

It is difficult to know where the truth begins and ends with Joseph Smith, if in his earlier years he was trust worthy, in his later years he was not truthful with his wife Emma. That presents a question of what is relevant and where is the beginning and where is the end. What is one to believe.

Stay the Course
Salt Lake City, utah

some of the above comments are utter nonsense
this is a great article thanks Dan

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

To the critics: Joseph was a man who made errors but as for being honest many who knew him outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints all found him truthful and a good person. It is said that if he could sit down with his critics he could actually teach them a thing or two of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As for not telling the truth about his marriages later, one needs to read very carefully Bushman's ROUGH STONE ROLLING to actually see that not only did Emma know more than she let on, but at times even agree with some of the marriages. She knew quite a bit, just that she refused to admit the truth on many occassions. In fact, Emma even invited one of the wives to live in the house for a time. So though I revere Emma, I know that she went through a lot and knew much more than what some want to have reported. The reason for this is so as to put doubt on the Presidency of Brigham Young.

I also think the author of this piece proves why Joseph at 13 was competent to testify.

Layton, 84041

An excellent column demonstrating the integrity of not only Joseph Smith but his family. It was only when Joseph publically announced his visions and mission that neighbors began accusing the Smiths of lying, laziness and other negative attributes. In the New Testament is states that "A prophet is not without honor, except in his own country..."

Red Headed Stranger
Billy Bobs, TX

To Mr. "Utter Nonsense",

This article is not drivel. It presents an interesting historical snapshot from an official, unbiased source about the Smith family prior to Joseph Smith first vision. The Smith family was considered by a jury of twelve peers to be telling the truth. In fact you had to be comparatively better off to sit on a jury. Like Dr. Peterson says, Joseph Smith Sr. wouldn't have qualified. So the Smiths were considered to be more truthful than a wealthier, established family just prior to the 1820 first vision experience. What does that prove? Well, that Joseph had been evaluated and was considered to be telling the truth. Dr. Peterson presented evidence and then a reasoned analysis of that evidence.

What is drivel is making an off-handed unfounded criticism without any back up. Is there a problem with the court records? Did Dr. Peterson misrepresent the outcome of the case? Did Dr. Peterson make an egregious error in his analysis? Unless you have something to add to clarify the topic, then you just end up looking silly.

Phoenix, AZ

Mr Peterson presents the case that young Joseph Smith was honest and considered a competent witness by authorities of the the United States court juticial system. About a year later, a year older and still more mature and competent, Joseph Smith experiences the greatest single amazing event in all man's history: Joseph Smith sees and talks with God and the son Jesus Christ.
However, Joseph Smith being and experienced witness does not document this wonderful encounter until twelve years later and then what he witnessed needed to be revised three times to its current presentation. There seems to be some what of a disconnect in this history of Joseph Smith. It would be appreciated if Mr. Peterson will explain why.

layton, UT

RE: Bill in Nebraska, all found him truthful and a good person. It is said that if he could sit down with his critics he could actually teach them a thing or two of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was confident as well,

Joseph Smith said, Dont employ lawyers, or pay them money for their knowledge ,for I learned that they dont know anything. I know more than they all (DHC v. 5). And
I have more to boast of than every man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me . Neither Paul,John,Peter,Nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. (DHC v. 6)

Salt Lake City, UT

The proof is in the pudding.

You can either accept the fact that Joseph Smith was telling the truth and enjoy all of the benefits the Gospel offers, or you can continue to be critical and act like you are doing the world a favor trying to "expose" something that isn't perfect.

Your choice.

It's not too late to learn to that love is better than hate, and that faith is better than doubt.

Riverside, CA

Thank you for this piece. I learned something new. Certainly appropriate for the Faith section of the DN.

If you think the article isn't newsworthy don't read it.

Pete in Texas
Copperas Cove, TX

I read the comments made by some of the "nay-sayers" on here, and am amazed at the lack of humility portrayed by them. Everyone seems to be an "expert" on Joseph Smith Jr. because of this or that article they've read in their lives. If I googled his name, I'm sure I could read for days and days articles written in his behalf and some written that would condemn him. So is someone more enlightened believing the articles written in his behalf or those written that would condemn him? My feeling is that nay-sayers want to believe he couldn't be a prophet simply because it would incriminate them or their lifestyle. There is certainly enough "evidence" out there to support Joseph being a prophet and the Book of Mormon being what it says it is, another testament of Jesus Christ. Yet for many, it's more convenient for them to believe the stories and "evidences" that would deny that. Are those who deny him any more enlightened than those who believe him? Has any of us living now talked personally with Joseph Smith and can believe first hand knowledge? If not, your arguements are as convincing as mine.

Weber State Graduate
Clearfield, UT

With all due respect, if Petersen is using one court case to establish that "Joseph Smith was known as truthful," then it's certainly fair to use another court case in context. The 1826 "money-digging" trial of Joseph Smith certainly brings into question the issue being truthful. In this case, Smith was arrested, tried and found guilty.

What does this trial prove? Well, nothing really. But it sure excites the critics after church apologists went to great lengths to deny that such a trial ever took place, but have now admitted as such with the discovery of court records verifying that the trial indeed took place.

What it does show is that in addition to the case Petersen cites, Joseph had been evaluated in another court case and found NOT to be truthful with respect to his "money-digging" activity.

Of course, this is trivial to "defenders of the faith" and very disconcerting to church critics.

Joan Watson

Peterson is a first rate scholar as well as a defender of his church and its leaders. Regardless of what he writes concerning Joseph Smith there will always be skeptics and detractors. Hopefully reasonable minds will continue to gain insights and interest in Peterson's historical research.

Orem, UT

Joseph Smith was found guilty in the 1826 trial?

Evidence, please!

(Hint: Gordon Madsen, another prominent lawyer and legal historian, has analyzed that case in detail and published his conclusions.)

Las Vegas, NV

Great article. Red is exactly right either you accept brother Joseph or you don't. Those who chooses to focus in his imperfactions will never see the light in the gospel.

In Jesus days lots of the so called "learned" did not accept Christ as the Lord and Savior just because he was a son of a carpenter and they rejected His message just because of that "imperfaction".

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

Weber does a misjustice to imply Joseph was found guilty of being a money digger. This is utterly false as stated by Verdad. In fact, the reason the trial was never approved of is because of the so called proof originally displayed.

One thing to note is that the original book from which certain aspects of the trial are used has never been produced by anyone including the man who brought the whole thing to light. Secondly, it wasn't until 1971 that bills for charges pertaining to the so called trial were ever found.

However, evidence leads that this was never a trial. It was an examination, a pretrial that never got any further. There were 7 known witnesses but more that were able to testify. There are 8 different accounts and none of which is the same, yet in two accounts they had the same documents to go by. In 1830 Joseph Smith was brought up on the same charges again and documents from the first were used. Since, no damning evidence came from 1826, he was acquitted in 1830 of all charges. So where does this put Weber at. As one who uses critics information to mislead.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

How is this mislead.

First there were a total of seven witnesses with only five paramount to the discourses. No one was sworn in as Judge Neely from which the documents come from state, "in examination of above case".

Second, it wasn't a trial but a pre-trial hearing.

Third, no guilty verdict was ever reached because it was a hearing, not a trial.

Fourth, no fine was levied at Joseph Smith. The bills were paid to the witnesses that testified. Documentation supports this status.

Fifth, there is no court record. Only felony trials were recorded. This was a misdemeanor. No witness signatures as required by law at the time if a trial.

All if this leads to the fact that the basis for the charges were religious in nature and against Joseph Smith as a prophet.

Finally, "Understanding the context of th case removes any threat it may have posed to Joseph's prophetic integrity."

Case closed.

Salt Lake City, UT

Article by LDS-paid apologist in LDS-owned newspaper contradicting the large amounts of historical evidence testifying to Joseph Smith's dubious honesty?

How can you not trust an article of such unassailable objectivity?

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