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Why Denver Changed on Joseph’s Polygamy (Part 4 of 7)

In Denver Snuffer’s book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, he argued that Joseph Smith practiced polygamy.  Since that book was written, Denver has changed his mind and now believes Joseph was a monogamist.  How did he come to change his mind?

Denver:  The Fanny Alger stuff, and you’ve got all of these points to triangulate from. What do you make of it? I can tell you that story and make Joseph Smith an adulterer, and a plural marriage practitioner, or I can tell you that story, and I can make Joseph Smith absolutely chaste, and that what happened there was not by any stretch, a sexual liaison. Fanny Alger would have nine children from a husband.

Denver:  Joseph Smith fathered eight children through Emma Smith. They were both at the peak of their fertility when the two of them had something going on, and yet there was no progeny. There was no child. In fact, there’s no child born, that was fathered by Joseph Smith, other than the children that came through Emma Smith. So if you’re going to turn Joseph Smith into something that is akin to the narrative tour by the LDS Church, one of the questions that ought to enter into your balancing of what happened, is the absence of any progeny when you’ve got a fertile man, and you’ve got fertile women who bore children to other men, but never bore a child for Joseph Smith.  What effect ought that have on your thinking and interpretation of the historical events?

Denver: You consider nothing that got written down or got introduced after June 27, 1844. You are limited, absolutely, to the material that got its existence, put pen to paper before that date. Okay. What do you have? What do you have to support Joseph Smith practicing plural marriage with sexual relations with other women than Emma?

While I understand that Denver is a lawyer, it seems inapproprate to throw out all evidence after the death of Joseph Smith.  Do you agree or disagree?  Check out our conversation….

Denver Snuffer explains why he now believes Joseph didn’t practice polygamy.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Denver!

439: Denver’s Outreach to Hebrews/Native Americans

438: Is Trinity in Lectures on Faith/Book of Mormon?

437: New Scriptures in Remnant Movement

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Did Emma Deny Joseph Practiced Polygamy?

The RLDS Church was founded on the claim that Joseph Smith never practiced polygamy.  Even on her death bed, Emma Smith made the startling claim to some that Joseph never practiced polygamy.  Conservative bloggers such as Rock Waterman (see his post here) and even Denver Snuffer have made the claim that Joseph Smith was a monogamist.  However, current RLDS Church prophet/president Stephen Veazey has made the claim that historical records show that Joseph Smith did practice polygamy.  What does Dr. Brian Hales believe about these allegations about monogamy and Joseph Smith?

I have an article that I have been pitching to different people to publish on the denials.  To be quite honest with you, there are at least two other denials that clearly were not senility, were clearly not specially phrased questions where Emma just comes right out and they’re fairly well documented, said “Joseph did not practice polygamy.”

How do I deal with that?  I don’t know.  I do not have a good explanation.  I think Emma was an amazing woman.  I look forward to meeting her someday.  You know in our theology that’s a possibility.  She had the worst row to hoe of all the polygamist wives in my view.  She did remarkably well.  She stumbled, but I believe there’s plenty of forgiveness on these things for her, but I honestly don’t know how she was able to say these things that she said.  Hopefully these will be published. I’ve put them together, I just haven’t got them published yet.  It’s pretty clear that she just denied it flat out.  I don’t know how she made that work for her, but they’re there.

I also asked Brian how he deals with the idea that Joseph practiced only monogamy.

Brian:  You know it’s interesting, Rick, that you would bring that up because by the time this interview is aired, The Interpreter {a Mormon history journal} will have published a very long article that I have written where I don’t just give evidence that Joseph did it, but I actually attack the arguments by, I mention Rock Waterman, I mention the Prices, and then Denver Snuffer who is in my view just the latest false prophet.  Remember I started looking at Mormon fundamentalism and I documented and wrote articles on men or came as great leaders who came for this reason or that reason and then they just fall by the wayside.  There’s a number of these that I talk about in my book.  I think Denver is just the latest in all of this type of a pattern.

For those who have questions, the easiest way probably to detect Denver is he said Joseph didn’t practice polygamy, and then just look at the evidence.  I outline it all here.  It is true that most of the evidence that Joseph practiced plural marriage is from late sources, but not all of it.  The Nauvoo Expositor states right in there that Joseph Smith had a revelation.  It was read to the high council.  We’ve got testimonials from William Law and Jane Law saying that Joseph was teaching polygamy.  These are contemporaneous.  There are entries in William Clayton’s journal.  John C. Bennett clearly had heard some rumors.  I don’t know that he was ever in confidence of Joseph with it.  But to say that it’s all old is not true.  There are some very important contemporaneous sources.

What do you think of the arguments Brian makes against monogamy?  (As a reminder, this is part 10 of our conversation with Brian.  Check out parts 19 to learn the facts behind polygamy.)  Look below for a video and transcript.

Emma Denied Joseph Practiced Polygamy?