The unpopularity of "Mormonism"?

Ronald D. Dennis, trans. and ed., Defending the Faith: Early Welsh Missionary Publications (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003).

Dan Jones Publications: The unpopularity of “Mormonism”?

J30 JONES, Dan. Anmhoblogrwydd “Mormoniaeth”? (The unpopu­larity of “Mormonism”?) Swansea: Printed and published by D. Jones, [1855?].

12 pp. 17.3 cm. Welsh Mormon Writings 90.

Dan Jones attempts to answer the question posed by the title of this pamphlet by proceeding with an inquiry of sorts. By the end of the fourth page he has reached the conclusion that the so-called unpopular­ity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not intrinsic, nor have the members themselves brought it about; rather, the many accusers of the Church are the cause.

He devotes the remaining eight pages to analyzing the Church’s opponents and their motives, but without mentioning anyone by name. Jones chastises them for uniting their forces against the Church and for instructing their parishioners not to listen to the Mormons. Do not the scriptures encourage all to “prove all things and hold fast that which is good?” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Jones ends the pamphlet with a stern warning of the fate of all of the true Church’s persecutors unless they changed their ways:

Just as surely as you are ashamed to embrace Mormonism now, its godly author will be ashamed to embrace you when He comes on the clouds of heaven to bid His obedient subjects to join with the truly popular hosts on His right hand.

The Unpopularity of “Mormonism”?

The unpopularity of what people have chosen to call “Mormonism” is too well-known in our land for anyone to deny or to require proof; almost all agree, especially from among those who profess religion, that there is nothing more contemptuous than it to be had. What the reason is for this and who has caused it are questions we attempt to answer in this small treatise; for, as there is a cause for every effect, so there is for this postulation, whatever it may be.

If “Mormonism” warrants its unpopularity, the cause of this must lie within itself, and the way to have proof of this is by a fair exami­nation; for it is not wise to believe accusations without examination; otherwise, the slanderers and the liars would make the Courts and the Peacekeepers of our land superfluous, and our world would become a madhouse before long. As ones who profess “Mormonism,” we are not ashamed nor does a hair of our heads quiver at the prospect of a detailed, fair, and thorough examination of every detail of our belief: were it not to withstand the examination we would be the greatest winners to understand this, just as conversely its accusers would them­selves be the greatest losers by misjudging it; for it is not the false rather the true judgment of everything that benefits man. Where can a correct standard or rule be found to judge properly what constitutes true popularity? True, we say, because false exists: what constitutes popularity in various countries is so contradictory that one condemns what the other praises; and this is evident even nearer to us; are not the opposing factions of our own country facts to prove the opposing opinions about this? It is no more reasonable for Mormonism to be judged by all than it is for the one to judge the other; there must be a better standard than that. That every kind of evil is said against us no more proves that we deserve such than the evil speaking about Christ and his apostles proved their religion evil or the accusations true.

However, those who profess Christianity admit that religion is truly popular, although they disregard the majority of religions because of unpopularity: yet all who admit the existence of God acknowledge that He is the most popular of all—as a standard of true popularity: thus those who are most similar to Him ought to be considered the most popular; and since it is a correct rule to judge the tree according to its fruit, it should be judged as equally true that those who obey the plan of God ought to be considered the most popular. Although every country has its own standard to judge what constitutes popularity, logically we should expect a readiness in the Bible-worshipers of our “religious land,” to allow the Bible to be the standard to weigh that true religion that is considered so popular. Those who are the most contradictory or anti-Biblical are the most unpopular and not those who are the most Biblical, at least in this country. Not explanations, note, but the Bible we say is the standard: he who chooses the former over the latter can be nothing but an atheist, namely, a disbeliever of the Bible; with such we do not reason now, rather with those who profess to believe the Bible. We believe that we are reasoning fairly, correctly, and clearly now; if so, let the reader follow and judge while we throw the “unpopularity of Mormonism” in clumps as we are able on these true scales. We shall not portray Mormonism as our enemies do, for that is not fair to us, unless it is fair to everyone else. And no one else receives that kind of treatment. Since we alone are the repre­sentatives of our religion, this is logically our right!

Let us go forward, then, and the first principle in Mormonism is faith in the Son of God as an abundant Redeemer. That will certainly be allowed as scriptural; all right, that is one popular principle. The second principle in Mormonism is repentance for all sin, which sig­nifies, besides sorrow for it, a determination to renounce all sin. Of necessity wicked men will call that unpopular, for the Bible teaches repentance very clearly; and so this is an acknowledgement that Mormonism is popular in two things, and the most important things of all, if not the only ones indispensable for salvation in the sight of our accusers. Mormonism is not unpopular so far, then! The next thing that Mormonism teaches is baptism by water; the majority of the accusers of Mormonism believe this also, so that is not the unpopular thing; rather it is our belief in the purpose of baptism more than the manner that is opposed. Well, let us go to the scales and place this topic on one side to see how it weighs. Let us place Peter on the other side, for he says in Acts ii, 38,—”And be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ FOR THE remission of sins.” This is plenty of weight, is it not? But so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses may every word be established, let us call Ananias to Peter, and let him ask, what is the purpose of baptism, Ananias? See Acts xxii, 16. “Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins,” &c. Without pro­liferating witnesses, this is sufficient to prove that baptism for forgive­ness does not make Mormonism unpopular without making equally unpopular the Bible that teaches such!

Next, Mormonism teaches us to expect the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands; this is not so unpopular, for did not the Baptists do this also according to their custom? But the effects that are caused through performing this ordinance are opposed. The resulting prophecy, healing of the sick, visions, speaking in tongues, and inter­pretation of tongues constitute the unpopularity; for all the accusers say “that those things are unnecessary now.” Carefully now, since the Bible is the standard, the accusation cannot be factual unless the Bible itself says so; but the following references prove the complete opposite to that. Mark xvi, 17; Acts ii, 39; John xvi, 13; Acts viii, 17; 1 Cor. xii, xiii, xiv; Eph. iv, 8—14, and many other places that could be noted. But this is sufficient to prove that the Mormons may not be so unpopular for believing in the enjoyment of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to the Bible, as are those who deny them, namely, our accusers!

It is true that Mormonism teaches the singularity of true religion; there is but one gospel and one Savior; and no one can deny this if he believes the Bible—all the Bible thoroughly! If there are two reli­gions, who is the Author of the second? Not the same as the Author of the first, to be sure, for the first religion He made was perfect without any need for the second, which again proves that those who profess multiple religions are the most unpopular, while belief in the singularity of the true religion of the Bible deserves popularity for “Mormonism.”

It is true that Mormonism teaches that there is need for Apostles, Prophets, and inspired Teachers, and gifts as before, and the Bible teaches clearly and definitely such a need. Christ taught this by appointing them,—God teaches this by blessing them, and the Bible teaches in the aforementioned places, and in many other places, that in any age of the world God did not recognize any kind of Church but one like that. Thus, should not the Bible believers confess that Mormonism ought to be considered the most popular since it is more scriptural; and Mormonism is as much more scriptural than are all its accusers as professing and enjoying the scriptural promises are more scriptural than denying their existence and their necessity; for the latter is not scripture but an unscriptural assertion, which should impress shame on the character of the hypocrite who says it while professing to believe the Bible. A small treatise such as this one does not permit us to pres­ent the details of all the beliefs of Mormonism, but it is hoped that the foregoing examples of their scriptural base are sufficient for anyone to believe that the rest of their principles are not contrary to scripture either; so far, at least, the Bible believers cannot doubt that it deserves popularity. It is foolishness and hypocrisy to claim that the lack of a scriptural base is the cause of Mormonism’s unpopularity, for proving even one principle of it contrary to the scriptures is too great a task for all the wise men of the world to accomplish; and we shall leave that assertion to whoever chooses to examine it.

Next, since there is no cause of its unpopularity within itself, could it be that those who profess it are the cause? While we readily admit that the best of us are human, and that our failings are the subjects of sorrow and constant devotion to overcome them, we reason that it is just as appropriate to condemn all the other beliefs as it is to condemn our religion because of the failure of its adepts to live its principles; and since no sect in our country is faulted because of the failings of its people, we need not say that our religion is faulted because of the failings of its adepts; neither does it teach or excuse in anyone the transgression of God’s law.

Well, then, what is the cause of the unpopularity of Mormonism, and who is causing it, since there is no cause within itself or in its adepts? We answer that its accusers are the cause of it all. Yes, we say, that group who speaks against it the most because of its unpopularity is the chief, if not the only, cause of its unpopularity; we dare to assert without hesitation that it is the Reverends, the Preachers, Bishops, Priests, and religious teachers, as they call them­selves, together with the authors and Editors whom God will hold responsible in the judgment for causing the supposed unpopularity of Mormonism; by falsely portraying it in practically every aspect, these people have influenced our nation to believe that Mormonism is the complete opposite of what it really is, and to condemn it with­out a better examination of it than what they hear from its professed enemies! Which sect within our country could not be made equally unpopular as this one is considered if all the preachers of every other sect united to invent all manner of falsehood about it, and if all their pulpits were opened to smear it with slime—if every publication were open to the most shameful tales about it, and if every printing press were so hostile, toiling to grind out false accusations against it, as they do with Mormonism? If the Baptists, the Calvinists, the Wesleyans or any other sect had been treated at its inception the way Mormons are treated now, would that sect not have been considered as unpopular as Mormonism, especially if every means of defense were closed to them as is now being attempted with the few defenders of Mormonism? No doubt the people would likewise believe the accusations of their teach­ers however shameless and untrue they might be.

But whatever of that, the fact is that practically all who belong to the aforenamed clan are striving together to make Mormonism unpop­ular—this cannot be denied—their behavior proves that they want it to be unpopular, no matter what they have to do to make it so. Without pausing to question the purpose behind their zealous and tireless efforts in this, let the reader ask his own logic whether the behavior of the Preachers, Authors, Editors, &c., toward Mormonism is fair, or wise, or beneficial or God like. If logic is used, it must be acknowl­edged that through gaining a good understanding of Mormonism one may see its deceit, if such is in it, and not by standing before thousands to malign it knowingly, and by shouting “deceit, deceit.” Mormonism professes to be a divine religion, containing a message from God that contains the fate of this world and its inhabitants; and does not such a majestic profession merit a better examination into its claims than to accuse it falsely, and shout “deceit,” “Beware of it,” “Do not listen to them,” &c., as did the antediluvians with Noah and his ark?

Thousands of experienced followers of Mormonism in Wales tes­tify that what is called “Mormonism” in the Pamphlets, the Ballads, the Newspapers, &c., is not Mormonism or anything like what they believe, and that the tales and the assertions that are delivered from the pulpits about it are not true; and why are these people not believed instead of their enemies? All their noble efforts to explain what Mormonism is by preaching, publishing essays, &c., proves their desire for the public to understand the nature of their creed,—the incomparable consistency that is between their sermons and their treatises and themselves,—and the fact that thousands of their con­verts remain steadfast through all this confusion are strong reasons to prove that the Mormons themselves describe their tenets more cor­rectly than can their enemies; and it is indisputable that Mormonism would be completely free from all the unpopularity that is thrust upon it if it were permitted the same freedom in sending out its own repre­sentatives as is permitted to every other sect, party, belief, or person throughout our country and the world practically, apart from itself.

Let us put logic to work, if there is such a thing remaining on this subject, and ask in what age or country, before this, have the learned men of opposing factions joined together in attacking a new party that was “unworthy of attention” when it came into their midst; especially when not one of them had one arrow to shoot against it except for lying false accusations? It will soon be admitted that such a thing has never before been seen; and yet, name the sect, the pulpit, or the Press that has not joined in this Crusade against Mormonism. What would people of this age think were they to hear that a group of Mormons were going around the country calling the people together, and falsely accusing the Baptists, but claiming to portray them correctly! Yet, why would they not be believed just as readily as the Baptist preach­ers are believed when they falsely accuse Mormonism from their pulpits? Why would the Independents not go to preach Wesleyanism, and the Wesleyans not go to lecture on Independentism? Why would not the people go to the chapels of the Unitarians to inquire after the true beliefs of Trinitarianism,—the Sprinklers to the chapels of the Baptists, and why is it not the old Mother, Mrs. Episcopal, who shows most correctly to the world the true beliefs of her sectarian daughters? And if it is like that, the old Roman Grandmother is the best to preach the credos of all her descendants. And why would that not be just as logical as it is for the sectarian preachers to preach Mormonism? It is astounding how popular Mormonism is by now! Which sect, from the oldest herself to the youngest of all her daughters, has not sent her champions to preach Mormonism? Who would have believed that the most illustrious gentlemen from the heights of Sectarianism (?) would lower themselves “to the degrading depths of the Mormon preachers!” Yet, there is no need to wonder, it will do no good to deny, it cannot be hidden, here they are! Yes, a host of them of every hue and shape, believers and unbelievers, from every sect, college, and pulpit, darting across the world like shooting stars, no one having asked them, nor anyone having sent them,—Dear me! What is the matter? Has every­one turned into Mormon preachers? Sectarianism and all the others must surely be dead, and their priests must have nothing to do for their daily bread except to go around the country preaching Mormonism! We have seen the time when we could walk the length of Wales, from Anglesey to Abergavenny practically, without seeing one Mormon preacher; but by now, to our great surprise, as if anything could be a surprise in this strange era, behold the whole country turning into Mormon preachers from stem to stern practically. And a still greater surprise to the Mormons, they having seen the presumption of going without being sent, is that this Reverendish herd has not understood any better than to go just as all Sectarians go, without a mission, call­ing, sending, or AUTHORITY! Is it any wonder that such as these preach lies instead of fact, and deceit instead of righteousness? Oh no, it would be a much greater surprise for us to hear anyone of these happen to say anything truthful about Mormonism, they being completely ignorant of it themselves; and we warn all the lovers of the truth to beware of that kind of Mormon preacher; they have no valid license, and they cannot speak the truth nor do they wish to do so; rather they go like those sons of Sceva, without being asked by anyone who has the right to send Mormon preachers and without receiving any request what­soever for their help. And, Gentlemen, we can manage well enough without your assistance: have you no more Sectarianism to preach, or if you are ashamed to claim it, wishing to teach Mormon truths to your fellowmen, be humble enough to receive them yourselves first; until then be so kind as to leave the preaching of Mormonism alone; it will fare better without your help. Had not the malicious Sects sent their bungling preachers to preach Mormonism, we repeat, the people would never have imagined the bogeys they now associate with that name, and in their dark prisons they shall remember that as they rue the day. It would be just as completely reasonable to believe that the pagan priests, or one of the Hindu Brahmas could preach Sectarianism as it would be to believe that one of these Anglo– Mormon Sectarians could preach Mormonism; the more they preach, the less the people will understand what Mormonism is.

Would not a congregation of Baptists be ashamed if they heard one of their preachers falsely portraying Independentism, or Wesleyanism in such a hideous manner as they torture Mormonism? Yet, concerning the latter, there is nothing too wicked to say about it or believe about it!

If one wishes a correct understanding of Mormonism, why not go to its own Chapels to hear its own preachers explaining it? Does one not go to the Chapels of the Baptists to attempt to understand their tenets? And to the Chapels of the Wesleyans to understand their tenets? Does not logic compel the inquirer after the credo of the established Church, or for Socinianism, yes, for anything except Mormonism to go to their respective Chapels, to listen to and to believe the portray­als of their own preachers of their religions instead of what everyone else says? But at the same time they go to the Chapel of every other denomination to listen to every professed enemy of Mormonism, and they believe all the lies that everyone says about it. Yet they will not believe the true portrayal that its own preachers give of it, the only ones who can properly explain it. What is the reason for this? The fact that people go to listen to the Sectarian preachers lecture against Mormonism makes one believe that they do not desire to understand it, rather they wish to misunderstand it—that they love lies instead of the truth about it, and that they want to ease their consciences rather than search into it; and this proves also that they are more reasonable toward any other faith than they are toward Mormonism, which to the wise who use logic, comparative logic at least, is not deceit; oth­erwise all the false religions would not join together against it. The remarkable fact that the people seek lies about Mormonism by asking its enemies, in view of the fact that they ask for the truth about every other denomination by inquiring of that denomination’s adepts, gives strong reason to fear that they are the ones about whom Peter proph­esied,—”Having given themselves up to strong delusion to believe a lie, because they received not the truth out of love for it;” and it proves also that fear that their charmed followers will come to a proper under­standing of Mormonism, is what causes these false accusers to run to preach it without being sent and without understanding it themselves.

One remarkably successful method the “Reverend” men, and the gentlemanly Editors use to make Mormonism unpopular in this proud and snobbish age and generation is to accuse its elders and its mem­bers of being characterless, poor and despised; “old Joe Smith, the gold digger,” “Credulous cheats,” they say, and a thousand and one other accusations that they bring against them; and all of these would be more appropriately applied to them than to him. It is the Reverends and the Editors who have smeared the character of Joseph Smith with those titles, and not Joseph himself, remember; those sinful revilers cannot allow a man his own name, but to satisfy their desire to belittle the ‘person,’ they call him “Joe.” Oh, how contemptuous the nickname “Joe” sounds to the ears of this proud age! They do not consider that it is the nicknamers who deserve the shame they attempt to bring upon the sufferer. He did not call himself “Joe,” nor could he do anything about it, even if he were the evil doer they try to make him and even if he deserved to be reviled. But when Joseph Smith was reviled, in much the same way his Lord was reviled in days of old, his comport­ment was similar to the Lord’s, who “when he was reviled, reviled not again;” consequently, Joseph Smith is better than his “venerable” revilers, just like his elder brother was better than their older brethren, those who reviled Him; and “revilers will not inherit the kingdom of heaven,” said the Sufferer of old. Despite how much Joseph Smith is scorned—although his name frightens the wicked and sets fire to the skin of the false religionists, it is not a burden but a pleasure for the Author to acknowledge him and to defend him; and he testifies also before a worldful of his accusers that Joseph Smith is a better, more just, wiser, and more godly man than anyone else he has ever known. From personal acquaintance with Joseph Smith in many circumstanc­es, we can testify that he was more undeserving of the character given him by the Reverends and the religious Editors than any man we have ever seen. Although a name is not all that important, yet his name is more truly revered because of the reason he was scorned; for we know that it is because God chose him as an instrument in his hand to restore the eternal gospel—to establish his kingdom as Jesus himself established it, and to prepare the way for his second coming that there is such hostility toward him on the part of the false religionists of the world. It makes no difference which name he had, whether Joseph, John, Peter, Thomas, or whatever; he would still be given a nickname; and had God sent an angel to John Calvin, John Wesley, John Knox, Simons Menno, or Peter Waldo, or to any other man, he would have been reviled by the others, the same way Joseph Smith was reviled, to the extent that he delivered his message against their deceit, their hypocrisy, and their wickedness, so as to endanger the source of their daily bread and their respectability. The “god of this world,” namely, the devil, he who is worshiped by the whole world instead of the God of heaven, knows very well concerning the pride of this age; for he has taught that it is the most excellent churches and cathedrals, the most splendid chapels, and the most ornate temples that demonstrate the purest religions. The vain god of this falsely religious generation has taught his worshipers to judge religion by the outward look, and to consider every religion as unpopular unless it has splendid synagogues, and unless the mighty and the wealthy go there. They have forgotten their own beginning; yes, they have forgotten the poverty of gentle Jesus, who, although he possessed an eternal throne, was as scorned as any Mormon, yes, the “most despised of men;” who, although he was the Creator of the world and an heir to everything, was as poor as any Mormon; yes, “without a place to lay down his head.” This vain generation forgets that he himself did not have better company to labor with than did Joseph Smith; just a few poor and disregarded fishermen; and the pious theologians and Reverends of his age took no notice of him except to slander him, falsely accuse him, and try to kill him, as did the Reverends and Editors of this age to Joseph Smith, and so shall their disciples do with his followers.

If the Mormons are unpopular because of their poverty now, we do not believe that they will be ignored by Jesus, the prophets and apostles because of it; for they themselves were considered nothing but the “filth of the world and the offscouring of all things,” wandering from one country to another to preach a religion just as unpopular in their day as Mormonism is now; as a consequence, they were glad to have sheepskins or goatskins as clothing, and they had shelter with the foxes in the caves of the rocks, or with even wilder animals, as punishment for preaching an unpopular religion; yet they were not silenced any more than the Mormons will be silenced despite everything; and this is not surprising since their Lord kept no better company than “Publicans and sinners,” according to the popular ones of his age, and that is all he deserved, they said, such a “gluttonous man and a winebibber as he!” What wicked things have been said against Joseph Smith and the Mormons that were not said about their Lord and their elder brothers in the past ages? We do not know for sure, but perhaps the people of the present are not as good as the people of long ago and do not deserve the beatitude, “blessed are ye when men shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my name’s sake;” for they are not all so godly, perhaps, as to deserve “all manner of evil,” although the list is filling quickly, and the “blessed” is approaching accordingly.

But the world misunderstands our purpose in defending the charac­ter of Joseph Smith, and the other leaders of Mormonism; we consider none of them anything but fallible men, yet honest, truthful, virtuous, and godly men; servants sent by God, through whom we receive the word of the Lord, and divine and priceless blessings; we respect them because God respected them by presenting them with the unsearchable treasure of grace and the “word of reconciliation,” namely, the gospel, and because it was He, from heaven, and not they, who imparted to us the gracious gifts of his Holy Spirit by means of their administra­tion of the ordinances. And who, after receiving these clear proofs that they are servants of God, would not defend them and love them? Well, reader, such are the preachers of this unpopular Mormonism; and here is an opportunity for every man to receive proof from God that Joseph Smith was his servant by enjoying the fulfilment of the promises of Jesus Christ, which will not be obtained without obey­ing the principles that Joseph Smith and his followers taught. If the stories about him are true, he would have been too wicked for God to send; but since God is fulfilling the promises made by Joseph Smith, God proves by so doing that it was he who sent him, and thus by that he proves that all that is said against him is a lie even if it is asserted by the whole world. The foregoing logic applies to all the servants of God and to none else,—deceivers cannot speak in this manner; and instead of going into detail about any other way, let us say this—here is an infallible way for everyone to know from God that Mormonism is true; and thus, if it is unpopular, God must also be.

If Mormons are unpopular on the earth, God proves by giving the blessings of heaven to them, and by sending holy angels to be their servants, and by honoring them with his gospel, that they are not unpopular in heaven, and they should not be despised on the earth. Yes, reader, Mormonism is the most honorable plan that has come from heaven to our earth, and God proves it thus by giving it the bless­ings that are denied to others, and the gifts that are ignored by them. Since He is the standard by which popularity is measured, those most like unto Him are those who are in fact the most popular, and since the Mormons prove through their obedience to him under all scorn, persecution, and sacrifice that they are most like unto him, the true standard proves that they are the most truly popular also. Finally it is seen, then, based on all fair reasoning, that the true standard is not the one that condemns Mormonism as being unpopular in this so-called “Christian” era, rather it should be considered as much more popular as it is more Christian than everything else.

But again, we say, to the Reverends and the Editors who are so desirous of a popular religion,—Gentlemen!—Do not blame us or our religion, for, it is neither we nor our religion who have caused the unpopularity, but you yourselves; and thus if there is any blame in all this, it lies at your door, for you alone can change it. If you consider wealth and a good name to be popularity, you are the ones who have it, for all of us have lost such by affiliating ourselves with Mormonism, and so we cannot make it popular; but you are respected, and “everyone speaks well of you,” so come and bring your popular and respected congregations to Mormonism, and you will make it popular; it deserves that, for it is the true gospel of Christ, and we are WITNESSES of that. As surely as you are ashamed to own Mormonism now, its divine Author will be ashamed to own you when He comes on the clouds of heaven to invite those who obey him to join the truly popular host on his right hand, testifies your friend,