This is one of a series of web pages I created between 2001and 2006. I was angry and frustrated at the LDS Church. Since then I have moved on and calmed down. So please remember, if you read these pages, that they reflect my past and not my present feelings. Thanks for your understanding!      -  Chris Tolworthy


Joseph Smith: Face the Facts!

A modern painting of Joseph Smith,
as he appears in church magazines:
A photo (a Daguerreotype) of the real
Joseph Smith.
OK, it's just a picture. But it illustrates an important point: the real Joseph Smith is nothing like the Joseph Smith you hear about in church.
  1. The real Joseph Smith taught polygamy.
  2. The real Joseph Smith married other women.
  3. Some of these women were already married to other men and stayed married to them.
  4. Some of these women were just children.
  5. The real Joseph Smith taught that Polygamy is for sex.
  6. The polygamous wives were pressured to accept or God would do bad things.
  7. Joseph Smith kept it secret and lied about it.

Don't take my word for it, you can read about it in official church documents and reputable history. Mormons try and make this look spiritual and holy, but it isn't. It's ordinary, sordid and nasty.

1. Polygamy taught.

Joseph Smith taught polygamy. See for yourself. It is in your scriptures, in Doctrine and Covenants 132. Emma is told to let Joseph Smith marry other women. I have added a screenshot to the bottom of this page. If you have your own scriptures, see for yourself.

61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood—if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.

62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

63 But if one or either of the ten virgins, after she is espoused, shall be with another man, she has committed adultery, and shall be destroyed; for they are given unto him to multiply and replenish the earth, according to my commandment, and to fulfil the promise which was given by my Father before the foundation of the world, and for their exaltation in the eternal worlds, that they may bear the souls of men; for herein is the work of my Father continued, that he may be glorified.

64 And again, verily, verily, I say unto you, if any man have a wife, who holds the keys of this power, and he teaches unto her the law of my priesthood, as pertaining to these things, then shall she believe and administer unto him, or she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord your God; for I will destroy her; for I will magnify my name upon all those who receive and abide in my law. - Doctrine and Covenants 132

2. Polygamy practiced.

Joseph Smith married other women. Some of them are listed on the church's own "Family Search" website. There are others, but let us just start with these.

3. Bigamy.

Some of these women were already married to other men. Follow the links on FamilySearch! Find out about their other husbands. Todd Compton's book In Sacred Loneliness is a biography of each of the wives, and shows how they often had to live a double life.

Todd Compton is not an anti-Mormon! He is one of the editors of “Mormonism and Early Christianity” by Hugh Nibley – the most famous defender of the church. It was published by FARMS – the part of BYU that researches the Book of Mormon and defends the church. He contributed to the “Encyclopedia of Mormonism,” which was approved by the apostles. He received the Best Article Award from the Mormon History Association (an organisation made up mostly of faithful descendants of pioneers). Compton is a faithful member who just happens to be a historian.

Apologists - those who defend the church - now admit that Joseph Smith married other men's wives. One of the best known apologist organizatioons, FAIR, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, defends the practice here:

4. Child brides.

Some of these women were very young. Look at Helen Marr Kimball for example. She was born in November 1828. And married Joseph Smith in May 1843. So she was still just fourteen years old! It's right there on

5. Sex.

According to the scriptures, the whole purpose of polygamy is sex. Read Section 132:

"they are given unto him to amultiply and replenish the earth"

How do you multiply and replenish the earth without sex? Still don't believe it? Read their journals. Todd Compton's book In Sacred Loneliness has the details. His book only confirms what is indicated in the scriptures in section 132: Joseph Smith practiced polygamy, the purpose of Polygamy is to raise up seed, and Joseph said women would "be destroyed" if they did not accept.

If you don't trust him, check his sources for yourself. Many of the wives later testified under oath, in court, that these were real marriages in every sense. Compton summarised this trial in a radio interview:

"You know, there was something called the Temple Lot Trial in 1893. The RLDS Church was trying to prove that it was the true church, so it could claim the temple lot. The LDS Church was trying to claim the same thing. Anyway, as part of this, polygamy became an issue. And so, the Church encouraged the plural wives of Joseph Smith who were still alive to testify wholly in these trials. And, they testified, “yes, these were real marriages, yes, they included sexual relations.” And it was really explicit, which is remarkable because it was such a Victorian era. But, it was very important for the Mormons to say, “yes, these were real marriages” and, “yes, they included sexual relations.” -

It is true that some women were sealed to him after the prophet died. We must remember that in Mormon doctrine, the body is physical and we can still have offspring in heaven. But the more than thirty women in Todd Compton's book were "wives" to Joseph Smith in this life.

6. Pressure.

Why did the wives accept this? They were put under pressure by "the prophet." It's right there in the scriptures: God would destroy Emma Smith if she did not agree.

"But if she will not abide this commandment she shall be destroyed, saith the Lord; for I am the Lord thy God, and will destroy her if she abide not in my law. - Doctrine and Covenants 132:54

If that is not pressure, what is? Joseph used similar tactics with the other women. Compton summed it up in an interview:

Interviewer: Let’s talk about some of the other means that Joseph Smith used in coercing some of these women. One that I thought was just….almost ridiculous, you know, from my point of view, was when he said that… He sent somebody called Dimitry to tell Zina “an angel of the Lord appeared to me with a drawn sword, and if you don’t agree to this polyandrous marriage I will be killed, and you won’t be saved, or something to that effect.” Am I misrepresenting that one?

Compton: I think that’s fairly close to what happened.

Interviewer: I mean, that is not a nice thing to do, is it?

Compton: Well, as I said, I believe that coercion is always counter-productive to the best interest of the Church and not part of the eternal gospel. It’s an example, though, of how Joseph Smith introduced polygamy as a moral imperative. It wasn’t just like something that you could take or leave. When he introduced it to someone, he said that “okay, now that I’ve told you about this doctrine, you have to…” ... “You must practice it, or you’ll be damned.” -

Again, if you don't believe it, check the original sources. It's all in Compton's book. Other people have written about it in the past, but his book is the most throrough and the most sympathetic to Joseph Smith.

7. Lies.

Joseph Smith lied about this.

This is from the official church newspaper Elders' Journal in 1838. You can read it in the official History of the Church, volume 3, page 28. I keep using the word official because you need to know that I mm not making this stuff up. This is not the twisted iumagination of some bitter ant-Mormon. This is from the History of the Church, the same History of the Church that is "by Joseph Smith" and is referenced in the section headings of the Doctrine and Covenants. It is there in black and white.

"Tuesday, 8.--I spent the day with Elder Rigdon in visiting Elder Cahoon at the place he had selected for his residence, and in attending to some of our private, personal affairs; also in the afternoon I answered the questions which were frequently asked me, while on my last journey but one from Kirtland to Missouri, as printed in the Elders' Journal, vol. I, Number II, pages 28 and 29, as follows: [skipping over questions 1 to 6] Seventh--"Do the Mormons believe in having more wives than one?" "No, not at the same time. But they believe that if their companion dies, they have a right to marry again.

That was in 1838. There is considerable evidence that Jiseph Smith practiced polygamy at least as early as 1836 (with Fanny Alger, then aged 16). An 1831 document shows that he was thinking of it as early as 1831. The heading to section 132 says "Although the revelation was recorded in 1843, it is evident from the historical records that the doctrines and principles involved in this revelation had been known by the Prophet since 1831." - Doctrine and Covenants 132

This is from the official church newspaper, Times and Seasons, vol. 4, pg. 939 (October 1, 1842)

"All legal contracts of marriage made before a preson is baptized into this church, should be held sacred and fulfilled. Inasmuch as this church of Christ has been reproached with the crime of fornication, and polygamy: we declare that we believe, that one man should have one wife; and one woman, but one husband, except in the case of death, when either is at liberty to marry again." - Joseph Smith Denies and Practices Polygamy

Don't take my word for this. Go to your local Deseret Book shop, order any CD-ROM that contains back issues of church newspapers, such as Gospel Link. Read them all for yourself. Notice the date. 1842. If you look on, you will see that Joseph Smith had already married several other women by then.

Not convionced? Look at the date of section 132,. it was published in 1843. The next year, in 1844, Joseph Smith published this in the church newspaper Times and Seasons, volume 5, page 423. Go and buy the Deseret CD-ROM and see for yourself.

"As we have lately been credibly informed, that an Elder of the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter-day Saints, by the name of Hiram Brown, has been preaching polygamy, and other false and corrupt doctrines, in the county of Lapeer, state of Michigan.

This is to notify him and the Church in general, that he has been cut off from the church, for his iniquity; and he is further notified to appear at the Special Conference, on the 6th of April next, to make answer to these charges.

Presidents of said Church."

In summary, Joseph Smith knew about polygamy in 1831, he practiced it long before 1842. The revelation came in 1843. By 1844 he had had numerous wives. Yet all this time he denied polygamy and said it was a "false and corrupt doctrine."


So we accept that Joseph Smith pressure church members into letting him have sex with their wives and daughters (sometimes with wives and daughters in the same family). He told them it was sacred, that they did not really have a choice. But he kept it secret and in public he lied about it. And millions of Mormons remember him as a prophet. We have to admire Smith's audacity even if we despise his morals!

Frequently Asked Question:

If Joseph had sex with so many wives, where are the children? According to Sarah Pratt, wife of apostle Orson Pratt:

"Joseph Smith, the son of the prophet, and president of the re-organized Mormon church, paid me a visit, and I had a long talk with him. I saw that he was not inclined to believe the truth about his father, so I said to him: 'You pretend to have revelations from the Lord. Why don't you ask the Lord to tell you what kind of a man your father really was?' He answered: 'If my father had so many connections with women, where is the progeny?' I said to him: 'Your father had mostly intercourse with married women, and as to single ones, Dr. Bennett was always on hand, when anything happened.'" from, from 'Joseph Smith the Prophet- His Family and Friends'

Dr Bennett was mayor of Nauvoo and a close friend of Joseph Smith. When they later became enemies, he was denounced as an abortionist. This is from the official history of the Church:

"[Dr. Bennett] endeavored to seduce them, and accomplished his designs by saying it was right; that it was one of the mysteries of God, which was to be revealed when the people was strong enough in faith to bear such mysteries - that it was perfectly right to have illicit intercourse with females, providing no one knew it but themselves, vehemently trying them from day to day, to yield to his passions, bringing witnesses of his own clan to testify that there were such revelations and such commandments, and that they were of God; also stating that he would be responsible for their sins, if there were any, and that he would give them medicine to produce abortions, provided they should become pregnant." (Affidavit of Hyrum Smith. History of the Church, Vol. 5, p.71)

Dr Bennett used more than just medicine. This is from Sarah Pratt's account again:

"One day they came both, Joseph and [Doctor] Bennett, on horseback to my house. Bennett dismounted, Joseph remained outside. Bennett wanted me to return to him a book I had borrowed from him. It was a so-called doctor-book. I had a rapidly growing little family and wanted to inform myself about certain matters in regard to babies, etc., -- this explains my borrowing that book."

"While giving Bennett his book, I observed that he held something in the left sleeve of his coat. Bennett smiled and said: 'Oh, a little job for Joseph; one of his women is in trouble.' Saying this. he took the thing out of his left sleeve. It was a pretty long instrument of a kind I had never seen before. It seemed to be of steel and was crooked at one end."

"I heard afterwards that the operation had been performed; that the woman was very sick, and that Joseph was very much afraid that she might die, but she recovered."

Remember that many of Smith's secret partners were already married. If a baby appeared, it would naturally be assumed to belong to the first father. But there is one interesting case where Joseph sent Orson Hyde away on a mission, and ten months Orson's wife had a baby. Ten months, not nine. At the time there were numerous rumors and claims about Joseph's relationship with Orson's wife. Coincidence?