Reason #181: Sanitized Documents

Recently a reader of The Mormon Mirage was engaged in an online discussion with Mormons. Under discussion was a
“cleaned-up” version of some of the last hours of Joseph Smith. In the present edition, it reads:

Dr. Richards was taken sick, when Joseph said, ‘Brother Markham,… go and get the doctor something he needs to settle his stomach,’ and Markham went out for medicine. When he had got the remedies desired, and was returning to jail,…” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 614). (Bold added for emphasis by LCS.)

Critics of the LDS church, such as I, maintain that this account has been sanitized to remove a reference to tobacco. The online discussion’s Mormon representatives say that no, the earliest editions of History of the Church all say “medicine,” and not “tobacco.”

However, most of the materials that were collated and eventually became History of the Church were first published in magazines. One of them was Millenial Star. The account as first published did indeed mention an apparent approved use of tobacco.

You can read it for yourself in the original documents online here:

Look under Vol. 30, click on “History of Joseph Smith,” and go to page 471.

You will see that the original reads,

“Dr. Richards was taken sick, when Joseph said, ‘Brother Markham,… go and get the Doctor a pipe and some tobacco to settle his stomach,’ and Markham went out for them. When he had got the pipe and tobacco, and was returning to jail,…”¬†

What’s the big deal?

The only person whose stomach would be settled by smoking is a smoker. So if it were indeed medicine for that person, why did the editor of History of the Church feel it necessary to replace the reference to apparent habitual use of tobacco with “medicine”?

To sanitize the account, as the LDS church would do with all the “warts” of its history.

How different from the Bible, which did not shy away from chronicling, and condemning, Abraham’s lies, David’s adultery, Peter’s cowardice. . .

For more information, see The Mormon Mirage.

 

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