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A short excerpt from the article:

An Incredible Story Part III — Joseph Smith on Trial

Rich Kelsey

Joseph Smith

To read the entire article click HERE



Joseph Smith has

"got the plates?"




Please follow me into the courtroom and take a seat in the jury box.  The trial is about to begin.


People vs. Joseph Smith

The Charges:

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, stands before the court for the offense of fabricating written works and attributing those works to holy men of old. The plaintiff’s contention is that Smith is an imposter; damages caused by his pretensions are enormous. 

How the Defense Represents Smith: 

"Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it." (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3) 

What is being said here?

LDS leaders are conveying the belief that Joseph Smith restored the gospel. In Mormon thought, part of the gospel’s restoration was bringing the Book of Mormon into the world. Other factors in the restoration are the supposed revelations given to Smith, pertaining to doctrine, ordinances, and salvation. These revelations are found in Mormon scripture: The Doctrine and Covenants. 

Joseph Smith explained, 

"Take away the Book of Mormon and the revelations, and where is our religion? We have none." (History of the Church 2:52)

Mormonism is a religion founded[i] upon Smith’s written works.


Clerk to jurors:

Do you solemnly swear that you will carefully hear this case and come to a verdict based upon the evidence presented?

Your response:

Yes? or No?

Standard Exhortation:

Members of the jury are asked to proceed with caution. The defense may try to send you looking in a thousand different directions. It is your responsibility to keep focused. If there appear to be too many shadows and not enough substance in one testimony, then disregard it and move on. The virtues of a good juror are to keep an open mind and to carefully weigh the evidence.

Let us proceed:


Opening Statement:

Using clear and convincing evidence I will prove that the Book of Mormon and the revelations which the defendant brought forth are fabricated works. I will also establish that the accused is morally responsible for causing gross injustice to his victims. He had knowledge that people seeking spiritual answers generally have a trusting nature and he took advantage of them. 

There is little tangible evidence available for the court to examine, because the golden plates which the defendant supposedly found, the stone glasses, the breastplate which he said was deposited with the plates, and the sword of Laban which three witnesses were supposed to have seen, were supposedly taken to heaven by an angel.



As we examine the following evidence let’s keep in mind an admonition from the tenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints given to investigators of Mormonism:

“Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this world has ever seen. There is no middle ground. …the doctrines of an impostor cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deceit, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188)



If it pleases the court, at this time I would like to introduce a brief rundown of Smith’s interaction with his first principle scribe Martin Harris, and also Martin's wife Lucy Harris.


You may proceed.


Consider what the early days were like for Joseph Smith. Many had heard of the incredible story he was telling of finding golden plates[ii] with ancient writing upon them. The supposed translation of the language on the plates into English started slowly and progressed through difficult times. In the beginning Joseph’s scribes were his wife Emma and her brother Reuben Hale. Then, Martin Harris, a wealthy farmer, took over.


The Trouble With Lucy Harris:

As Martin Harris was making preparations to leave the farm and become Smith’s scribe for a season, his wife Lucy asked if she could come with him and stay for a week or two. Martin agreed. Together they traveled from their farm in Manchester, New York to Harmony, Pennsylvania where Joseph and Emma Smith were living at Emma’s parent’s home.

However, while in Pennsylvania, Lucy

“…did all that lay in her power to injure Joseph in the estimation of his neighbours— telling them that he was a grand impostor, and, that by his specious pretensions, he had seduced her husband into the belief that he [Joseph Smith] was some great one, merely through a design upon her husband’s property…” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

Things did not work out well between Lucy and the Smiths; she ended up staying with a neighbor.[xxxii] After about two weeks, Martin took her back home.

There, Lucy tried,

“…to dissuade her husband from taking any further part in the publication of the Record; [Book of Mormon] however, Mr. Harris [Martin] paid no attention to her, but returned and continued writing.” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)

While Lucy was back home in New York,

“…she went from place to place, and from house to house, telling her grievances, and declaring that Joseph Smith was practising (sic) a deception upon the people, which was about to strip her of all that she possessed…” (Lucy Smith: Biographical Sketches, 1853 edition, Cory/Pratt, chapter 24)


What an embarrassing history! The defendant was called a “grand impostor” by none other than his principal scribe’s wife. She also claimed that he was, “practicing a deception upon the people.” In other words, Lucy Harris was telling people that Joseph Smith was a con-man.

If Joseph Smith was an illusionist then the following statements were part of his trickery. If he was a con-man, then they were part of his confidence game. If what Smith was selling was imaginary, then there would be no substance to what he was saying.


Counsel, tell the jury what you intend to demonstrate.


I intend to demonstrate that the Doctrine and Covenants is a fabricated work. 





Revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Harmony, Pennsylvania, March 1829, at the request of Martin Harris. … Three witnesses shall testify of the Book of Mormon…  Martin Harris may repent and be one of the witnesses.


Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates of which you have testified and borne record that you have received of me;


Verse (26) And I the Lord command him, my servant Martin Harris, that he shall say no more unto them concerning these things, except he shall say: I have seen them, and they have been shown unto me by the power of God; and these are the words which he shall say.


Verse (27) But if he deny this he will break the covenant which he has before covenanted with me, and behold, he is condemned (Doctrine and Covenants 5:1, 26-27).



When Martin Harris heard the words of the Lord, spoken through the Prophet Joseph Smith, he did as instructed.  He bore witness that he had been shown the plates:


“…they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates…” (The Testimony of Three Witnesses)


John H. Gilbert, the man who did most of the typesetting for the original 1830 Book of Mormon, asked Harris about his testimony as he was setting the type for “The Testimony of Three Witnesses.”



“Martin was in the office when I finished setting up the testimony of the three witnesses,--(Harris--Cowdery and Whitmer) I said to him,--‘Martin, did you see those plates with your naked eyes?’ Martin looked down for an instant, raised his eyes up, and said, 'No, I saw them with a spiritual eye.'"




·   Leading the witness — Martin Harris was told exactly what to say. 

·   Unsubstantiated Evidence — Martin is led out into the woods, but instead of seeing the plates with his eyes, he sees them with a spiritual eye or, in other words, “by faith.”  He could have had his natural eyes closed for all we know. 

·   Making a False Statement — nowhere in the Testimony of Three Witnesses is it explained that the witness, Martin Harris, only saw the plates with a spiritual eye.  In fact, the Testimony of Three Witnesses clearly records:

“…an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates…” 


This comes about as close to perjury as one can get! 


·   Coercion — Martin was told that if he did not say, “I have seen them” (the plates), then he would have broken a covenant with the Lord and he would be condemned.  The rules of evidence do not allow testimony gathered under the threat of divine condemnation; therefore I ask that this testimony be marked inadmissible. 

Note of Caution:


Judge to defense attorney:


If the defense continues to submit testimony obtained by intimidation, you will leave this court no choice, but to order an official reprimand.  Consider yourself warned.


Side note:


(By introducing that testimony the defense has opened up an opportunity for the prosecution to present corroborating evidence demonstrating that the defendant has a history of threatening Martin Harris with God’s wrath).


Attorney for the prosecution:


I would like to introduce Section 104 of the Doctrine and Covenants at this time:




You may do so.




Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, April 23, 1834, concerning the United Order…


Verse (18) Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.


Verse (26) And let my servant Martin Harris devote his moneys for the proclaiming of my words, according as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., shall direct (Doctrine and Covenants 104).


Threatening people with hellfire is the ultimate intimidation tactic.  And, Martin Harris was pressured to do exactly what came forth from the defendant’s lips, even to the point of giving the defendant control over his money.


Let us proceed:


God allegedly said that when Martin is shown the plates, the event will convince Martin that the defendant has,


“…got the plates…”


Yet, according to the Testimony of Three Witnesses, the angel that came down from heaven showed Martin the plates; not the defendant!


Obviously, if the defendant had the plates, there would be no need for an angel to come from heaven to show them to Martin!  To the contrary; the story of an angel showing the plates to Martin established that Joseph Smith Jun. did not have the plates.


To make matters worse, in the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants Section 17, it is written,


By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items…”




The Prophet inquired of the Lord, and this revelation was given in answer, through the Urim and Thummim.  1 – 4, By faith the Three Witnesses shall see the plates and other sacred items;…


Verse (1) Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my [God’s] word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim


Verse (5) And ye shall testify that you have seen them, even as my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith.


So we're clear; for the record, the witnesses were to see the plates and the other items,


"even as … Joseph Smith, Jun., has seen them; for it is by my [God’s] power that he has seen them, and it is because he had faith" (D&C 17:5).


Side Note:


(This revelation is a bombshell for the defense.  Basically eliminating any tangible nature of the plates, and putting them into a spiritual state of existence; one in which faith and God’s power are the keys to seeing them).


“…the prophet had always given out that they [the plates] could not be seen by the carnal eye, but must be spiritually discerned; that the power to see them depended upon faith…” (Thomas Ford, A History of Illinois, from Its Commencement as a State in 1818 to 1847, Chicago: S. C. Griggs and Co., 1854, 256-258)


Let us proceed:




Verse (3) And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God;


Verse (4) And this you shall do that my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed, that I may bring about my righteous purposes unto the children of men in this work.


Was it God putting pressure on the three witnesses to testify?  Or was it the defendant?  In either case the witnesses were told that it was God, who was telling them,


“…this you shall do…”


which is a textbook example of leading the witness.

God also supposedly told the witnesses why He was asking them to testify;


“[So His servant] Joseph Smith, Jun., may not be destroyed…” 


On that summer day in 1829, when the defendant walked Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris into the woods near the Whitmer home to see the gold plates, surely they were compelled to follow the commandments of God.  No doubt they put their best effort into obtaining faith necessary to see the plates.  But did they see the plates with their eyes like God supposedly said they would?


No!  Not according to one Mormon leader, who left the LDS Church after hearing,


“…Martin Harris state in public that he never saw the plates with his natural eyes only in vision or imagination, neither [did] Oliver nor David” (Stephen Burnett letter to Lyman E. Johnson dated April 15, 1838).


This corresponds with what Harris told the Book of Mormon typesetter.  Yet, God supposedly said that Martin, Oliver, and David would see the plates with their “eyes.”  Was it God who couldn’t keep His story straight or was it the defendant?



A character from the Book of Mormon brings the gold plates for this group of witnesses to examine:


"…Joseph had been instructed that the plates would be carried there by one of the ancient Nephites."  (Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches, First Draft, 1844 – 45, p. 456)


Let’s consider how the defendant prepared these witnessesWere they manipulated like Martin Harris was?  Did they also sign a statement that did not resemble what really took place?




There are strong reasons to believe that Joseph Smith used the same type of confidence game with this new group of witnesses that he had used on his original witnesses.


John Whitmer claimed,


"I now say, I handled those plates; there were fine engravings on both sides. ...they were shown to me by a supernatural power" (History of the Church, Vol. 3, p. 307)


Members of the jury, doesn't it seem a bit odd that Whitmer started his testimony with the words,


"I now say..."


That's a clear indication that he has altered his original testimony; yet, the most glaring problem is Whitmer's assertion that a


“a supernatural power”


made it possible for him to view the plates?  If he handled the plates, did he handle them while in a visionary state of mind; or, in his imagination?  How many people in this courtroom have with them a wristwatch?  Please take that watch and place it in your hands. 


Now, look at it.  Are you seeing your watch by a supernatural power?




Because the watch you have is tanagble, unlike the golden plates, which the Eight Witnesses supposedly handled.

We find the same inconsistencies with the Testimony of Eight Witnesses as we do with the Testimony of Three Witnesses.  These testimonies fall short of the standards of proof expected from sound evidence.


Side Note:


(Just because, as in this case, the burden of proof rests on the prosecution; that doesn’t mean the jury has to buy into every questionable statement that the defendant submits).




Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.


Christian Whitmer
Jacob Whitmer
Peter Whitmer, Jun
John Whitmer
Hiram Page
Joseph Smith, Sen
Hyrum Smith
Samuel H. Smith


Four words jump right off of that page,


“And we lie not…”


It is common knowledge that when people are trying to convince others they are not lying, they probably are lying.


Also, if what was recorded in that Testimony is true,


“…and [we] know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates…”


Then, why could the witnesses only see the plates by supernatural means?


One more thing; the defendant used the same phrase


“got the plates”


in “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses” as God supposedly used while speaking through the defendant to Martin Harris:  


Verse (1) "Behold, I say unto you, that as my servant Martin Harris has desired a witness at my hand, that you, my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., have got the plates" (Doctrine and Covenants 5:1)


It is so easy to see through the duplicity.  God was not the one speaking; it was the defendant.


There is absolutely no substance to the stories and written works brought forth from the Mormon Prophet. Joseph Smith gazed into his crystal ball, then reached into his magic hat; what he pulled out was pure smoke!


Now it is time to come up with a verdict. If you determine that Joseph Smith is guilty of being an imposter, with the offence of creating forgeries with the intent to deceive people, then please move on to the sentencing phase.

Sentencing Guidelines:


“If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who willfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false…”(Doctrines of Salvation, Joseph Fielding Smith, 1954, vol. 1, p. 188)

Since Smith is no longer living, we cannot impose penalties upon him personally. Yet, to this day his published works are thriving in the literary market. Therefore, the penalty will be imposed upon the defendants published works, specifically, the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants.

Souls Crying Out For Justice:

Envision a young woman putting her trust in Joseph Smith’s claims only to find out years later that she had been deceived by the defendant. Consider the anguish that victim is suffering. Then, multiply this scenario by the tens of thousands. How much sorrow do people need to go through before action is taken to end th cycle of pain?

The Sentence:

To serve justice, the order of this court is to expose Joseph Smith as an imposter, by sending links to this treatise as well as other parts in this series to individuals in need, and to all those who care about the truth. 


LDS Missionary Series:

■  Preach My Gospel — Are We Prepared?

■  What to say to Mormons at the door

■  Excerpts from LDS.org: Joseph Smith's Use of Seer Stones








"No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith...every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith, junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are... [Joseph Smith] reigns there as supreme a being in his sphere, capacity, and calling, as God does in heaven. Many will exclaim–"Oh, that is very disagreeable! It is preposterous! We cannot bear the thought!" But it is true." Brigham Young, (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p.289-91)


"I see no faults in the Church, and therefore let me be resurrected with the Saints, whether I ascend to heaven or descend to hell, or go to any other place. And if we go to hell, we will turn the devils out of doors and make a heaven of it." (History of the Church 5:517; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 316)


"Come on! ye prosecutors! ye false swearers! All hell, boil over! Ye burning mountains, roll down your lava! for I will come out on top at last. I have more to boast of than ever any 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. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet...When they can get rid of me, the devil will also go." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 408, 409)

"If we get our salvation, we shall have to pass by him; if we enter our glory, it will be through the authority he has received. We cannot get around him [Joseph Smith]" (Apostle George Q. Cannon, as quoted in 1988 Melchizedek Priesthood Study Guide, p. 142)

"Whosoever... does not confess that God has sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting Gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist..." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p. 176)

[There is] "no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was verily a prophet, and if he told the truth...no man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God" (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p.190)

"He that confesseth not that Jesus has come in the flesh and sent Joseph Smith with the fullness of the Gospel to this generation, is not of God, but is anti-christ" (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 9, p.312)


"Full salvation is attained by virtue of knowledge, truth, righteousness, and all true principles. Many conditions must exist in order to make such salvation available to men. Without the atonement, the gospel, the priesthood, and the sealing power, there would be no salvation. Without continuous revelation, the ministering of angels, the working of miracles, the prevalence of gifts of the spirit, there would be no salvation. If it had not been for Joseph Smith and the restoration, there would be no salvation. There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." (Doctrines of Salvation Vol. I, p. 190)



“…Most of our readers have probably heard of the Golden Bible, which it is asserted was found not long since, in some part of Ontario county. Some of the circumstances attending the remarkable discovery of this truly remarkable work, may not be uninteresting to some of our readers, as they serve to show how easily ignorance and superstition are made to support whatever doctrines may be advanced -- no matter how revolting they may appear in the light of reason. An angel appeared to an ignorant man near Palmyra and directed him to dig at a designated place, with a promise that he would there find a new revelation engraved on plates of metal. The man obeyed the messenger, and on digging, soon discovered an oblong box tightly cemented together. Upon opening this, he found enclosed a bundle of plates similar to gold, about 7 inches long, 6 broad, and all about 6 inches deep each sheet being of about the thickness of tin. They were united at one edge with 3 silver wires, so that they opened in a manner similar to a book.” (AUBURN FREE PRESS, Vol. VII. Auburn, N. Y., Wednesday, December 8, 1830. No. 28)