We’re continuing our conversation with Bill Russell, a former professor at Graceland University. We’ll talk about RLDS views of apostasy as well as the breakup of the RLDS Church following the 1984 revelation on women & priesthood. We’ll also discuss Jeff Lundgren, a man who committed mass murder in Kirtland, Ohio based on the story of Laban in the Book of Mormon. Bill will also tell about his interactions with bomber Mark Hofmann. Check out our conversation…
RLDS Views of Apostasy-Restoration Branches
Bill 54:08 They also disagreed with so many other things, the theological things that had happened in the church. So, it was very understandable that they would be opposed, not just the women in the priesthood, but just opposed to– they’d say, “Well, the church leaders don’t seem to value the Book of Mormon like they used to. They just don’t value the ideas of restoration.”
Bill: This whole history of there was an apostasy about 750 [AD.] That’s a crazy date to use for the apostasy. Why not, if you’re going to say there was an apostasy, why not Constantine in 320-338 [AD,] or whatever that was. So, the reason that we get come down with 570 is that we had two prominent leaders in the church back in the 1920s, who said that there was, around 520, there were things happening in the Catholic Church that were signs of apostasy. I can never really remember them, because they don’t make any sense. So, then that’s why, in 570, apostasy begins. The apostasy ends in 1820, amazing.
GT 56:04 When Joseph…
Bill 56:05 They’re very good. They may not have very good historical arguments, but they’re real good at subtraction, subtracting one number from another and they come up with the number they’re looking for. So, yeah, they’ve never been able to give, these two guys have never given any kind of real, rational argument for why 750. Roy Cheville was the first guy with a PhD in religion, and in the church. He taught at Graceland from the 1920s to 1958, when he became the presiding patriarch. I was in his classes. I was in those last classes that he taught. So, I kind of knew the late Cheville. But, anyway, he published this book around 1962, or so, after he’d been presiding patriarch for three or four or five years. He said, “Well, some people say that that 570, something happened, but, no,” he said. “There was always vibrance,” or some word like that. “There was always vibrance in the church. There was never a time when God would have just disowned the church, because there were great theologians and popes and bishops, and people of great character. There were people of great character in every generation,” just as there are some–I think if you read Ladderettes Christianity, you just see that it just kind of goes up and down kind of like in the Old Testament. There are good judges, and then there’s bad judges, and then there’s good judges. Then, the Book of Mormon is kind of on that theme, of that character, too.
Bill: So, anyway, Cheville decided that it was time to try to get people to think in other terms. In 580, there was this big apostasy. So, the result is, as I see it, the problem with our traditional teachings is you’ve got this apostasy whenever you want it to start, 320 or whenever. There’s these 15 generations or 15 centuries or so, when we don’t even study those centuries. That’s a great part of Christian history. So, now, in the Community of Christ, we’ve got our theologian in residence is Tony Chvala-Smith. You might meet him because he comes up and teaches a couple of courses every semester. Well, he’s got his PhD in Biblical Studies at Milwaukee, I mean, at the University in Milwaukee. What is it called? I can think of it right now. He’s got a Master of Divinity as well. So, he’s really well-educated in the Middle Ages. And that’s the big hole in the RLDS and the LDS traditional teachings, as I see it.
GT 59:49 Yeah, it’s interesting because I didn’t realize the apostasy was also a big deal in the RLDS church. It sounds like very similar with the LDS Church.
Bill 59:58 Yeah, yeah. So if you went to a restoration branch today you’d probably get this kind of apostasy might be 570, probably, and nothing happened worth remembering in that period.
GT 1:00:14 So, I know I’ve heard you say before, I don’t remember where this was. It was at MHA or Sunstone, probably, that when the conservative people left that, in a way, it was kind of a good thing because you guys that stayed kind of had the church you wanted.
Bill 1:00:33 It was good for them, too.
GT 1:00:34 Yeah.
Bill 1:00:35 I mean, I’ve said that here’s a group of people that want women to be ordained, and want a lot of these changes to be made, and so the changes, was really good for them. They’re really pleased with it. But then, on the other hand, there’s these other people like the Remnant Church and so forth, who really were hampered by the leadership of the church putting them down, and not letting them have the kind of worship experiences and so forth that they wanted to have. So, you can say, I mean, I have some reservations about saying this, because they’ll tell you, “Yeah, but we didn’t want this to happen. We wanted the church to continue to be the church that it was supposed to be.” Anyway, not only that, they have a church with what they think of as the correct doctrines, and so forth. But another important factor is they don’t have to pay tithing anymore to Independence. They have their own their own giving of financial resources, but that goes entirely to their local congregation. And they don’t have to give, 10% or whatever, to Independence. Ten percent of their resources, they have their own resources. So, that’s a real benefit for them.
Bill 1:02:06 I think what happens is–I’ve gone to about 40 Restoration branches, at least, and usually I’ve have gone Sunday morning, but sometimes you go Sunday night or Wednesday night, too. So, this gives me a decent idea, at least, of what this particular church is doing. The thing I noticed is that they spent a lot more time on the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon, than we ever did before while the church was conservative. I mean, the Church hasn’t paid enough attention to the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon, so we’ll make sure. I hardly ever heard the New Testament referred to, in my meetings with them. There’s almost always a Sunday School class on [the Old Testament or the Book of Mormon.] I remember one time I went…
GT 1:03:01 You’re talking about the restoration branches.
Bill 1:03:02 Yeah, the restoration branches, yeah.
RLDS Mass Murderer Jeff Lundgren
Bill 1:03:05 I remember a former friend, I mean, an old friend of mine, who I think I’d had in class, I also knew that he had been in Kirtland with Jeff Lundgren. The year that he was in Kirtland, the summer he was in Kirtland, he was the only one that didn’t join Jeff Lundgren’s suicidal pact, you know. (Chuckling) I have had a lot of high regard for him in that respect. So, he was listed as a speaker at the restoration branch closest to Lamoni, about six to eight miles away. So, I went to it, and it was just the most dead sermon about some Old Testament figure that I hardly heard anything about. And I knew a very little bit about and there wasn’t really much that I felt anybody really needed to know about that Old Testament figure. I thought, “If you’re a leader in the restoration branches, why don’t you talk about the Book of Mormon or New Testament, as well as the Old Testament?” It’s like, Jeff Lundgren, himself, you never heard about the New Testament from Jeff Lundgren except two things: The wages of sin are death. That’s the Apostle Paul. What’s the other one? There’s another one that’ equally bad.
GT 1:04:31 Is it the, “Better that one man should die?”
Bill 1:04:35 Well, that’s from the Book of Mormon, isn’t it? Yeah. There’s another, oh, I know, Ephesians. Women should keep silent in the churches. I think that’s the one, although that might be another one from Paul. But, anyway, there’s a really a bad one from Ephesians, chapter five. I think it’s chapter five. It’s picked up in Colossians, as well, because Colossians and Ephesians are closely connected with each other. But, anyway, that’s all I ever heard from Jeff Lundgren. Yet, he taught class after–I have had 50 tapes of his classes. I listened to every one of them. I would listen to him on the radio in the car, as I was going out to Kirtland to visit people. Otherwise, I never would have listened to him. If I had been a member of the Kirtland congregation, I wouldn’t have gone to more than one of his classes. In fact, the bishop’s wife was a person that he just couldn’t stand. One day, the bishop’s wife, she hardly ever came to his class. But, one day she came to his class. Isabel Fisher is her name. On the tape, Jeff says, “Well, I just don’t feel a good spirit today. I don’t feel the Holy Spirit or don’t feel the right spirit. So, I think we might as well just call off the class.” And so, the class was dismissed, after two minutes or something, I guess, because Isabelle Fisher was in the class, the bishop’s wife, who he just did not like it at all.
GT 1:06:17 So, I know a lot of people don’t know who Jeff Lundgren is. By the time this airs, there’s a new TV series out on the Lafferty’s.
Bill 1:06:28 Yeah.
GT 1:06:29 The murder that happened in American Fork, Utah, Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer wrote.
Bill 1:06:37 I want to see those.
GT 1:06:37 Yeah, so, most of my audience are probably, some of them, anyway, are familiar with the Lafferty brothers, with the double murder that happened there. But very few of them are going to be familiar with Jeff Lundgren. It’s kind of a similar story.
Bill 1:06:58 Oh, yeah.
GT 1:06:59 I’ve heard you speak. I believe it was a Sunstone presentation. Somehow, I got a recording of it. It was probably decades ago, where you talked about the Book of Mormon. I know [that] my LDS audience is going to be very surprised to hear your take on the story of Laban.
Bill 1:07:18 Yeah.
GT 1:07:18 [The story of] Nephi and Laban. So, I’d love to have you tell that story and how you tie it into to Jeff Lundgren.
Bill 1:07:26 I will introduce it by telling about my 10 year old daughter. She said, “Dad, I want to read, I’d like to read that Book of Mormon thing.” Okay. So, I dig one out and give it to her. Just a few days later, I think it was, she gives it back to me.
I said, “Well, you didn’t finish it, did you?”
“No, I got to page,” she mentioned whatever page it was that this story, the killing of Laban was. “I got to page 12, and that was enough. I didn’t want to read anymore.”
Bill 1:08:01 So, I certainly, that’s what I think is that the story of Laban is a terrible story. It should never have been in a book of Scripture. I mean, I realize there’s going to be things in books of scripture–there’s a lot of things in scripture that are terrible we should realize. I think we have a moral obligation to teach our children the things that are good from scripture, in the tradition of the church. We also have a moral obligation to teach to them that there are certain things that are really bad that we should avoid. And that’s one of them. Then, that relates to the to the Lundgren case, because here was a guy who was just throwing scriptures at his followers all the time. But they were Book of Mormon scriptures, like, “Repent or be destroyed.” That’s really a nice scripture. And things like that, which should never, we should never give any credence to those kinds of scriptures. So, anyway, I just think that under Jeff, these people were–I mean, Jeff Lundgren is probably the only guy in that group, well, there’s one other one, I guess, that I’d be uncomfortable having him as my next-door neighbor. These are good people, but they were taught terrible things, as if they were the gospel of Jesus Christ. And they are not the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are demonic things. So, it’s just, we’ve got to learn that everything in the Bible, in the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants isn’t something we should obey. There are some things that we should say, “That’s terrible.” The story of Laban being killed, that wasn’t necessary. He didn’t have to kill him. I gave a sermon…
GT 1:10:07 You reject the idea that it’s better for one man to perish than a whole nation to dwindle in unbelief.
Bill 1:10:12 Yeah, I reject that. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. Absolutely.
GT 1:10:16 So, tell us why that’s a terrible…
Bill 1:10:20 Well, because, the person who’s being killed, because it was the better that one man should perish than the whole nation should dwindle in unbelief, well, first of all, I just think we don’t have the basis for making that judgement. So, I consider that a very bad passage of scripture, as well. Because that just gives us an excuse to kill people, and that doesn’t sit well with me. That comes right there with the story of Laban, doesn’t it?
GT 1:11:19 Yeah. Well, I think you said, you even said you compared it to justification for holy war.
Bill 1:11:27 Yeah, I probably did. That sounds all right to me. Yeah.
GT 1:11:33 So , how did Jeff use that scripture to the detriment of his neighbors?
Bill 1:11:40 Well, he decided that there was a group of people within his cult that weren’t living according to the Gospel. And, unless they can be forgiven of all their sins–then if you can’t be forgiven of all your sins, then you need to be killed. Because, we’ll never have a chance to meet Christ. Christ is up there, ready to come down. If there’s ever a group that’s fully taught according to the full gospel, and has repented of all their sins, then Jesus will say, “Wow, Jeff Lundgren’s group has got it all together. I’m coming down there and joining them.” When he was in prison, and I’ve seen him write this stuff…
GT 1:12:53 Because he killed a family of five?
Bill 1:12:55 He killed a family of five that he decided they are never going to be fully repented. And it’s no accident that it was the father, and then a mother who was kind of the kind who wore the pants of the family. The mother really kind of was the boss of the family. [Lundgren,] “That’s terrible for that to be, look at Ephesians chapter two.” Then, there’s three daughters, and those daughters, they’re 15, 13 and 6, but those three daughters are going to grow up to be just like their mother. So, they are they are hopeless to…
GT 1:13:34 Better for one family to perish.
Bill 1:13:36 Yeah, because you might as well kill them all. And he considered killing five others, but he finally decided that they have a chance of, they still have a chance to live.
GT 1:13:46 Because he had a hit list of sorts.
Bill 1:13:48 Yeah.
GT 1:13:51 Were they prominent RLDS members?
Bill 1:13:53 They were all RLDS members who joined his cult, yeah, Jeff.
GT 1:13:58 Was like a breakaway, or was this still part of RLDS?
Bill 1:14:01 Oh, they were definitely a break away. They would never step inside the RLDS Church. I mean, Jeff attended the RLDS Church in Kirtland, until there came a point when they weren’t accepting him anymore. So, he just broke off.
Bill 1:14:22 Most of the people that were his disciples, had come to Kirtland after Jeff had kind of withdrawn from the church. Dale Luffman, I don’t know if you’ve ever met Dale Luffman, and he is a good friend of mine. He, unfortunately, died about a year ago. But, he was an apostle until he retired as an apostle. Then, about two years later, he died. But, anyway, he was a stake president in Kirtland, I guess the first step would be he silenced Jeff from the priesthood. Then, he saw that Jeff–then, they began to find out that Jeff wanted to kill him. Dale Luffman kind of thought that was going overboard. (Chuckling) So, that’s when he decided to have him kicked out of the church. Dale Luffman wrote a letter to Independence, and he said, “I know that you’re not supposed to remove anybody’s membership unless they sign, themselves. But I think you should I think you should make an exception in this case, because Jeff has written a letter to Independence resigning church membership for all the members of his cult.” Dale Luffman said, “Go ahead and grant that request, even though that’s not according to church law.” But, anyway, Dale Luffman expelled him from that. What’s the word? He kicked him out of the church.
GT 1:16:02 Excommunicated.
Bill 1:16:03 Yeah, exactly, but we don’t use that in the same way.
GT 1:16:06 You don’t use that term.
Bill 1:16:07 But, that’s what LDS would see. But, I can’t think of our word we use for that. But, anyway, we kicked him out of the church and just left the others kind of hanging there, because they hadn’t really…
GT 1:16:21 Approximately what year were these murders?
Bill 1:16:23 The murders were in 1989, April of 89.
GT 1:16:31 So, I was surprised to hear, we were talking off camera that you actually testified on Jeff Lundgren’s behalf. Tell us that story.
Bill 1:16:42 Yeah, Jeff Lundgren’s behalf. So, the Ohio Public Defender’s office in Columbus was assigned to defend Jeff. So, I think they had sociologists, or social workers. They both came to Independence. I mean, they came to this area of the country where a lot of RLDS members are at. They talked to a lot of people who knew Jeff, like his high school teachers, his high school coach, his pastor. Dick Hughes, whose funeral I went to today, was the RLDS Church minister to the church members that were students at Warrensburg, Central Missouri State University. So, they interviewed Dick Hughes. Dick told about going with Jeff to a practice. He told everybody that he been given a baseball scholarship to Central Missouri. But it turns out, he had no scholarship and he just went out to the practice to be a walk on. Dick says that after the practice, he wasn’t very happy. He knew he hadn’t done very well. So, he didn’t make the team.
Bill 1:18:22 I wrote to Warrensburg baseball people later, when this thing happened, and, “Do you have any record of Jeff Lundgren ever being on your team or anything like that?”
They wrote back said, “No, his name does not appear anywhere at all in any of our baseball statistics and so forth.” But anyway, he was telling people he had done it. So, they interviewed Dick and so forth. They had two people that mentioned me. Jeff’s uncle, Harvard Gadbury, lived down the street from me. He knew I was working on this. He knew I was writing on the schism in the church, not necessarily the Lundgren case. Then, they talk to Kerry, an LDS guy that lives near Kirtland. Kerry Norman, no, that’s his wife’s name. Anyway, Keith Norman, I think his name is. (Even though I couldn’t remember his name, I know him pretty well.) I’ve spent some time in his house. But, anyway, because I was recommended by both an RLDS and an LDS person, they contacted me.
Bill 1:19:38 I got a call from Linda Pugman, who was kind of head of the operation, as far as gathering information. So, I said, “Sure, I’d be happy to help out on the defense and if the two lawyers want me, yeah, I’ll be happy to do so.” My mother, oh, she just [thought it was terrible.] Jeff Lundgren represented the worst thing that ever could happen in the church. Then, of course, the president of Graceland, she said she wanted to know, just so she could answer questions, if anybody [asked.] I think she might have understood that, yeah, that Jeff has a right to legal defense of his own choice. Because, otherwise, our system would not work. There are so many people that would never get a lawyer to defend them. If the lawyer could just say, “No, I don’t want to,” if you didn’t have the right to subpoena. But I didn’t ask for a subpoena because I didn’t need one. I’d be happy to go. So, anyway, I went. First, I went out there and spent a day talking to the staff. There were 12, so-called experts that were on his defense, of which I was one.
Bill 1:20:58 So, I spent a day with one of the lawyers talking with Jeff and then a second day later, talking with Jeff. Those were interesting. I mean, Jeff, has studied the scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon so much, that I mean, I just had a good conversation with him. But then Chuck Grieshammer, one of the attorneys, he sat in on the discussion, too. Because they were trying to figure out, “We don’t know much at all about the Utah Mormons. And we don’t know anything about you guys. So, we’d really, really like to get all this figured out.” So, Chuck then got a sense of where the RLDS Church was at. Then, I also testified at the trial. I testified at two trials because Ron Luff, the second most culpable guy, who is a wonderful, a wonderful guy–he’s doing 150 years, so he’s not going to get out, I suppose. But, I mean, he is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever known. I mean, I’d be delighted to have him live next door. But, anyway, so I testified, secondly, in his trial. It was such a different case. In Jeff’s case, I was the only person he paid any attention to because I was talking about religion, and all the other stuff. He sat there reading the Book of Mormon, during his trial, except for when I testified, and then he listened to what I had to say, laughed when I cracked jokes, and so forth.
Bill 1:22:47 I said to Linda, before I went out, I said, “It’s probably not a good idea for me to use any levity in a situation like this.”
“Oh, no,” she says, “It’s good to have somebody crack a joke or introduce some kind of levity, because it’s such a–the tension is so great in the courtroom.” So, I had a number of very good jokes. I mean, that seemed to be good jokes, because everybody laughed, including the judge. And Jeff, and prosecuting attorney and his defense attorney and so forth, and the people in the audience [laughed.]
The one that I remember was when Chuck Grieshammer said, “Well, now, you RLDS, are you supposed to have these revelations at a certain time of day or night?”
I had talked to him, to Chuck, about this and I thought I’d long ago disabused of him of any idea that you had these revelations, like 5am or something like that. I said, “Oh, no,” I said, “We’re open to Revelations any time of day or night.”
GT 1:24:02 (Chuckling)
Bill 1:24:02 That’s the one that everybody laughed at. But, I mean, I told him time and again– I mean, there’s no time set. I don’t know, I could see in our church, sometimes a guy like Frank Huff, our president at Graceland, he would say, well, actually, W. Wallace Smith, sometimes would say, “I was awakened at 3am and had this revelation.”
So, yeah, a person could pick up on something like that and decide, “Oh, I guess you’re supposed to have your revelations at three o’clock in the morning.” Because Wallace would sometimes had mentioned he was awakened at a certain time and had the revelation. Yeah, his revelations weren’t very good. But, I mean, they were they were they were just so routine. Grant and the two non-Smiths have really had the best revelations in terms of being just really good pastoral statements that can be very useful in the worship life of the church. Now, Wallace B. Smith, the one with a medical degree, I mean, he had some pretty decent ones. But Grant and Steve, I think, have had the really good ones.
GT 1:25:28 Good revelations.
Bill 1:25:29 Good revelations, yeah.
GT 1:25:30 What are your favorites under McMurray and Veazey?
Bill 1:25:34 Oh, I don’t have a favorite particularly. But I just, I know Grant’s first one.–I have a good friend who’s a Methodist minister. He was raised in our church. He didn’t go to St. Paul, but he went to a Methodist seminary somewhere, and he ended up as a Methodist minister. He was kind of negative toward our church. He’d been raised in it and then he left. But, then, he said, “When I read Grant McMurray, “ and he knew Grant and some of his criticism of the church was directed toward Grant, I guess, I think. But, anyway, he said, “When I read Grant’s revelation, it’s a really good pastoral statement.” As a minister himself, a Methodist minister, he felt that that would be a statement that would be very useful to a minister in whatever church.
Then I read it, and I, I said, “Yeah, I think Grant has really put something forward here, that could be of great use for the church.” But I don’t have a favorite one. I just think Grant’s a good writer and Steve’s a good writer. Maybe that’s the point. You write something really clear, and really useful, as a minister in the church, reading it and looking for a chance to make some use of it.
Interaction with Mark Hofmann
GT 1:27:07 Well, cool, I think last thing I want to finish up on, we talked a little bit about this on the phone. I had asked you if you had any interactions with Mark Hofmann. And you told me you had one. So, can you tell us that story?
Bill 1:27:21 Yeah, that’s right. Yeah. I had to think. In 1982, at the Mormon History Association meeting in Ogden, Utah–see, we did not know, yet, that Mark had forged all these revelations and stuff. At that time, the big story was Mark’s finding Joseph Smith, Jr. designating Joseph, the Third, as the one to succeed him. We had a had a panel. Mark, who spoke first, told us how he found the thing. Then, we had a Mormon historian, I can’t remember who it was. Then we had Alma Blair, RLDS guy, he teaches at Graceland. He did then. He’s retired now. Then, they had another Mormon guy, I’m forgetting who that was. Then, I was the last speaker, the fifth speaker. Paul Edwards was chairing a session. I don’t know if you know, Paul, but Paul teaches history and philosophy at Graceland, and he’s really popular. I mean, he’s, he’s funny. It’s hard to describe him. But, anyway, he is well-liked by both the LDS and RLDS, people at Sunstone and John Whitmer and Mormon History [Association,] and so forth. When it got down to me, well, first of all, Mark spoke. I thought, “Yeah, unfortunately now that you have found, apparently, this document, there’s going to be more emphasis in the RLDS Church on the idea of Wallace B. Smith, should come up with a Smith, somehow.”
GT 1:29:17 Yeah, because, it definitely helped with lineal succession.
Bill 1:29:20 Yeah, and he has three daughters. I had them all in class at Graceland, well, except for one. I had all, but one at Graceland. They’re good people, but none of them went for a career in church leadership. Now, one of them, the youngest one, did work as an editor at Herald House, for about three years, after she got out of Graceland. I think Roger Yarrington, the managing editor Herald House taught, “Well, she might possibly be somebody that went for high places in the church.” I don’t know. But, anyway, she spent about three years, but then she left and went into the secular world. I don’t what she’s doing now, but working some other job. But anyway. So, I’m thinking, while he’s talking, I’m thinking, “This is terrible. Because we’ve come to a point where there’s only women as successors to the President. And this will lead to–now, I would have been happy if that led to women in the priesthood, of course. But still, I wouldn’t–I’d rather it didn’t happen that way.
Bill 1:30:32 Well, I mean, that has been the rumor that the reason why they had the 1984 revelation was because Wallace only had girls.
Bill 1:30:40 No, I asked Wallace. Well, you know, it’s possible. Maybe Wallace didn’t tell me the truth. But I asked Wallace about this, and he said, “No.” He said, “That’s kind of something people say, but we need somebody who is prepared for the job.” When he was called, they said, “Okay, he’ll study for two years, and then he’ll become the president of the church.” And I think that’s what he told his dad, because his dad probably didn’t think about this. But Wallace said, “I’m just an eye doctor. I’m not a prophet. Give me at least two years to prepare for this job.” So, that was the message of the 1976 conference, that W Wallace is the president– I started to say…
GT 1:31:41 Pro-tem?
Bill 1:31:43 No, he’s not pro-tem, but President designate.
GT 1:31:47 Okay.
Bill 1:31:49 For two years, he’ll study, and then he’ll be president of the church two years later, in 1978. So, that’s the way it went. I’m confident. I mean, I’ve never been told this, but I am confident that it would have had to have been Wallace’s, Wally B.’s statement, “Dad, give me two years.” I mean, they probably negotiated how long he should have, but “I need some time.” So, two years is what he’s going to have. He’s the president designate for two years.
Bill 1:32:21 So, some character in the British, Isles in the UK, went to hear Wallace speak when he came and met with the saints and in some place in the UK. He said that this one woman had had problems with their eyes. So, when they had a potluck after the service was over, she got down there and she got across from Wallace B, because he said that she wanted to talk to him about her eyes. It’s said, the guy said, “An eye-doctor prophet is just who she wanted, just whom she was wanting.” So, this guy made just made a lot of jokes about him being the new prophet–but not yet. “He can’t have any genuine revelations, yet, but he can have them next year,” whenever that two-year period is up.
GT 1:33:26 (Chuckling)
Bill 1:33:26 I really respect Wallace for thinking, “I’ve got to have some time to prepare.” Like you said, as a doctor, you want really good facts, good details. You don’t want to just blow you own horn. You don’t want to just think whatever happens to come to mind. So, he spent two years. Now, unfortunately, as far as I’m concerned, he was scheduled to have Lindsey Farrago, the New Testament professor who I think is the most important professor I’ve ever had. He was scheduled to have Lindsey Farrago, but then they had him lined up to go to Africa, because part of his preparation was to go all around the church and meet people in all sorts of different places. So, he didn’t take the classes. But these professors came to his house and tutored him on their subject matter. But he never got the New Testament tutoring from Farrago, which I think is unfortunate.
GT 1:34:45 Can we jump back to that Mark Hofmann story?
Bill 1:34:47 Oh, sure.
GT 1:34:48 So, Mark spoke first. You spoke last.
Bill 1:34:54 Yeah.
GT 1:34:54 And then, was it Dick Howard that was in the back of the room.
Bill 1:34:58 Yeah.
GT 1:34:58 That’s a great story.
Bill 1:34:59 Yeah, Dick was in the back of the room.
GT 1:35:02 He’s the RLDS Church historian?
Bill 1:35:04 Yes, the RLDS Church historian. He was sitting behind the three editors of Sunstone.
GT 1:35:11 Peggy Fletcher.
Bill 1:35:11 Peggy Fletcher and Susan–what’s her name?
GT 1:35:15 Staker.
Bill 1:35:16 Staker and then, somehow, I can’t think of a name now. Anyway, all three of them were right in front of Dick Howard. Dick, to his credit, was the only guy I know of, either among the LDS historians, or the RLDS historians who did not trust Mark Hofmann, because he’s the one that had to work with him. Right away, he recognized [that] this his guy’s not to be trusted. So, yet, he had to deal with him. So, they sent a document to some expert and the expert came back…
GT 1:35:50 Said it was authentic.
Bill 1:35:51 It was fine. It was true, which Dick had a hard time believing. When Dick heard Mark talking, every now and then Dick would say, “Bull shit.” So, these three women were just…
GT 1:36:13 Laughing.
Bill 1:36:13 They were trying as hard as they could to keep from laughing. I think that information is in a footnote in the…
GT 1:36:26 Salamander, the book?
Bill 1:36:27 Salamander letter, yeah, that book. I haven’t looked it up. But I’ve heard that, that it is footnoted in that book. There was a book that was really popular about 15 years ago. One of the Lafferty guys was part of it.
GT 1:36:46 It was Under the Banner of Heaven.
Bill 1:36:47 Yeah, and what I heard was that the guy that wrote the book…
GT 1:37:00 Jon Krakauer.
Bill 1:37:01 Jon Krakauer, yeah. Krakauer was granted admission to get in and talk to Mark. He went in to talk to Mark, but, Mark said, “Well, I don’t really want to talk about it, but my roommate, my cellmate here, Lafferty, he’ll talk to you.” So, the book ended up [being about Lafferty.}
GT 1:37:29 Yeah, I’ve heard that story.
Bill 1:37:34 That book was hard to read at certain points, like when he kills a little baby. Oh, my gosh, it was bad. But, I thought it was a good book.
GT 1:37:47 I’m sure you know Will Bagley.
Bill 1:37:49 Yeah.
GT 1:37:49 Because he referred to Mark Hofmann and Dan Lafferty as the Prophet and his, well, Lafferty, as the Prophet and his scribe, Mark Hofmann. (Chuckling)
Bill 1:38:02 (Chuckling) Yeah. Paul Edwards, he looked over a lot of his information. He said that Hofmann was so good at forging that he almost–I mean, I think maybe Paul was saying, “I think he made mistakes, because he got to where he thought that–people were accepting his forgeries so readily, that he wasn’t showing, wasn’t taking the kind of care that he really should have, and that he was lucky he didn’t get caught sooner. I wish he had been caught sooner. When that happened, I heard Norma Hiles one of RLDS people who wrote that book about Israel A. Smith. She called me. I mean, somebody had to call–somehow she had found out and she called me and told me about it. So, I called Linda Newell, because Linda and Jack were the editors of Dialogue, at that time, Linda Newell and Jack Newell. They were very good friends of mine. We’d been to their house. They had been to our house several times. So, I called her and she said, well, Linda said, “Well, it looks like it was a financial thing.” So she was buying the original theory that he had just killed Sheets, was that his name?
GT 1:39:33 Well, it was Steve Christensen, and Kathy Sheets.
Bill 1:39:35 Yeah, but this second murder of Kathy Sheets was…
GT 1:39:40 Intended for her husband, Gary Sheets.
Bill 1:39:43 Yeah and so Linda thought it was just some kind of some kind of dispute over funding, over money, between the two people who used to be partners. Because I said, “I think you and Jack have got to get the hell out of town, right away. Because who knows who’s going to be next? Who’s next on his list?” But, she poo-pooed that. Then, the next day, of course, Mark almost kills himself and then has to deal with the legal process. Yeah, the thing I think is funny about it is that Linda felt so irritated about him. One time he fell deathly ill, I can’t remember what happened. But they rushed him into Salt Lake City to the hospital.
GT 1:40:43 In prison? Is that what you’re talking about?
Bill 1:40:45 Yeah, from prison to the hospital.
GT 1:40:46 It was a suicide attempt.
Bill 1:40:48 Oh, was it?
GT 1:40:49 He had swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills.
Bill 1:40:50 Oh, yeah. Linda said, “Why didn’t they just let him die? Why didn’t they just let that SOB die?” You can kind of understand because, she had a bunch of junk in her book that she got from his forgeries.
GT 1:41:07 Are you talking about the Emma Smith book?
Bill 1:41:09 Yes. But, then, she did get a chance to do the second edition, which cleaned it up by quite a bit. The guy who seemed to be believing Mark the longest was Ron Walker. He came to speak at Graceland, after we had pretty well come to believe that it was a forgery. And he’s still saw it as a legitimate thing. I don’t know why he stuck with it longer than anybody else.
GT 1:41:48 Well cool. I know it’s getting late.
Bill 1:41:49 Just one more thing about it. When it came my turn to speak, at that session, here’s Paul Edwards. He’s real popular with a lot of the people. He’s a direct descendant of Joseph Smith. So, I said, “Would you want Paul Edwards to be president of your church?”
And during the course of the week, there were probably three or four women that came up to me and said, “Yeah, we’d be happy for that.” I mean, the president of our church, he was always, it seemed like he had a special appeal to the women. In Graceland, they would often be two or three women waiting outside the door to his office to go in and talk to him. He was kind of a father figure, and he ministered to them in his own way. Yeah.
Bill 1:42:55 Well, it was very enjoyable.
GT 1:42:57 Yes. Thanks. I appreciate it, Bill Russell. I so really appreciate you being here on Gospel Tangents.
Bill 1:43:03 I thought you were probably going to hit me with all my heresies, you know.
GT 1:43:10 (Chuckling)
Bill 1:43:10 You already knew a lot of that.
 Mormon Enigma by Linda Sillitoe and Valeen Avery Tippets can be purchased at https://amzn.to/2KZuyA6
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