RE: The Sinister Entity Behind the Christian Facade of Mormonism?
So, this article in OpEdNews popped up in my Google News alerts today: The Sinister Entity Behind the Christian Facade of Mormonism. It’s by a guy named Douglas A. Wallace, who appears to be an embittered ex-Mormon who actually had a rather prominent position at some point in the past – mission architect (per his own bio, mind you). The article appears to be an ad for his book, Under The Mormon Tree.
My first question: Does anyone know anything about this guy? Has anyone heard of him before?
My second question/comment: It seems like it would be a good contribution by MSP to actually dissect the claims he makes in his OpEdNews post. Obviously I don’t want to legitimize a cooky conspiracy theorist if that’s clearly what he is. But I’m not sure if that has been established. So, anyone interested in dissecting his claims?
Here are the claims that seem falsifiable (i.e., we could determine whether or not they are accurate):
- Few others who were descendants of early converts have taken the risk of suffering excommunication for their visible outspoken efforts to bring intelligence, questioning debate and new learning into the church to correct perceived errors. These individuals both men and women suffered the rebuke of the local elders of the church by way of excommunication but never heard one word directly from the top leaders of the church to whom they had addressed their concerns. Among those we can name C.D. McBride of Logan, Utah who was a boyhood playmate of the past church president Spencer Kimball: G.T. Harrison of Orem, Utah who challenged the leaders on the changing history and doctrines of the church only to be excommunicated and Dr. John Fitzgerald of Holladay, Utah who wrote letters to the editor of the Salt Lake Tribune challenging the church on its then racism only to be excommunicated. Each of these men had performed a mission for the church in their youth but like so many other returned missionaries, later learn the falsehood of the Mormon claim which they had preached and promoted. In every case an effort is later made to discredit these men with assertions of moral infidelity as the reason for excommunication rather than admit to doctrinal disputes with the church leaders.
- In 1982, author John Gardner published a book, MICKELSSON’S GHOSTS. The story was about a college professor who bought an old house in Pennsylvania and went through the process of remodeling it only to find hidden within its walls evidence of the life of Joseph Smith, Jr. the founder of Mormonism. The professor learned of the existence of killer Danites of the church and in fact discovered that some of his own college faculty were indeed Danites. In time, as the professor probed into the issue, he was deliberately run off the road on his bicycle and killed. While of course the book was fiction, Gardner did rail against the historically correct existence of Danites within the church and enlarged the theme to a point of belief. Shortly after the book was published, Gardner, a motorcycle enthusiast was run off the road and killed in the same manner as the hero of his book. Not accurate per comments below.
- The Springville murders were another example of criminally sanctioned atrocities by the church against dissidents attempting to leave the Utah territory.
- The so-called Morrisite war in Ogden Canyon, Utah, where dissident Mormons were laid siege against by men under authority of Brigham Young. Cannons were used to blow apart their fortification and all the men and boys were killed. Women were saved for polygamous adventures. Not accurate per comments below.
- The Gunnison survey party was massacred near Delta Utah as they surveyed the route for the transcontinental railroad. An historical marker was made and is likely (as it was when I took a picture in 1993) in a state of vandalized desecration. Not accurate per comments below.
- The church pretty much dominates the Salt Lake Police Department and any number of actions in defense of the “pristine” image of the church is carried on by undercover operatives of the PD.
- U.S. Representative Allen Howe was set up for an arrest and conviction for soliciting by female officers of the police because he voted against the will of the church. Humiliation was so great for Howe afterwards, that he was buried in a secret grave for fear that it would be desecrated by the criminally insane order of the church. Not accurate per comments below.
- The kidnapping of Howard Hughes by the so-called Mormon Mafia led by recently deceased Bill Gay is another story of intrigue which I outlined in the March-April 1978 issue of the Millennial Messenger leading to capitulation on the part of the church to the cause of black priesthood ordination. John Meier was an aide to Howard Hughes and he had been set up by Bill Gay under the guise of Summa Corporation as a defendant in a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City. An attempt was made to extradite John from Vancouver, Canada. In an effort to obtain John’s presence in Utah, the sinister entity of Mormonism attacked and discredited John’s Vancouver attorney in a shameful way as reported to me by the Member of Parliament [MP] for Delta, BC. Not accurate per comments below.
- Two men were involved with me at the time of the ordination of a black man to priesthood in a pool at a motel in downtown Portland, Oregon April 2nd, 1976. One man – Darrell Lee – was an associate attorney and was a non participant but we had shared the same office letterhead. The other, John Evans, was an aviator and flight instructor and he did participate with me at a Conference in Salt Lake City on April 6, 1976. When Evans refused to identify himself outside Temple Square to the media, the church named him as Darrell Lee. Being an attorney, Darrell saw an opportunity to sue for slander and did so naming the church, Salt Lake PD, News wire services and local Portland area newspapers as defendants. The source for the false naming of Lee was the church as they took the name from the joint letterhead (which I had used in a communication with the church presidency) and making a giant leap in speculation gave it out to the media. Ultimately the case being a res ipsa [it speaks for itself] situation, an out of court settlement was agreed upon and the record sealed. Following that settlement, Lee with an associate invested in the Portland Meadows Race track in Portland, Oregon. Subsequently, an evil rumor was widely circulated that Lee had pilfered Jockey Trust fund monies. There was no proof offering of the allegations but the issue was a matter of great publicity in the Portland area. Lee and his wife Vicky were barred from stepping foot on the race track again even though they were innocent of any charges. Lee and his wife have pretty much gone into seclusion, having been taught a lesson by the anonymous criminal entity of the Mormon Church and likely have not connected the dots. I have regretted having used an office letterhead in my prior correspondence with church leaders whereby his name could have arisen in the first place.
- Earlier in Shelton, Washington on June 21, 1978, an assassin of the Danite order had shot an attorney in the back of the head as an apparent suicide in an elaborate scheme to set me up for discreditadation. That issue is presently before the criminal division of the IRS upon a request to deprive the church of its tax exemption status due to its racketeering.
Here’s one that seems questionable given the latest research into this:
- The well known massacre of the 1857 Fancher wagon train at Mountain Meadows in southern Utah is but one example of the work of criminal killers within the Mormon Church. Recently the church admitted its complicity yet blamed in on the elders in southern Utah. Yet anyone who knows anything about the political structure knows full well that an atrocity of that nature could never have happened without the sanction of Brigham Young. Not often known was the escape on foot after darkness of two men from the Fancher Train. After the massacre at Mountain Meadows, elders of the church rode their horses to locate these escaping men and upon finding them, slit their throats.
- From what I’ve read, the complicity of Brigham Young has never been established with 100% certainty. Anyone care to comment?
I’ve got newspaper clippings on file from the 70’s about Doug. He was under surveillance by the Salt Lake PD and one of the officers was accidentally shot and paralyzed. The police commissioner at the time was Glen Greener, who went on to co-manage the LDS Yes on 8 campaign in 2008, which is why I’ve got the file.
Oh, also, I corresponded with Doug in 2008. When I get into the office on Monday, I’ll drop him a line and ask if he’d like to weigh in here. And I’ll send you some of the clippings in jpg format if you’d like to post them. Wild times. Wild headlines.
Mission architect is from the time when members were called on building missions and refers to them playing the role of architect. From the timeline (1951), he would have been typical missionary age and, I presume, not all that high up in the church.
I don’t buy this at all. It doesn’t matter if the individual events are true or not as stated. The author makes a very bold statement “the church is secretly run by a mafia-style racketeering organization who controls the brethren” and then lists a handful of incidences, none of which actually support his main thesis. Yes, some of them, if true, are shady. But none of them are supporting evidence for shadow control by a racketeering organization–they can be better explained by any number of other theories, and their is no explicit evidence that substantiates choosing this particular theory.
As far as facts, I found a link where about John Gardner’s death where John’s brother, Jim, described John as having a death wish played out by “copious drinking”, “lack of sleep”, and “reckless motorcycle driving”. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/13/AR2006071301122.html
The author, Wallace’s assertion in his credentials that he ordained a black man in 1976, “leading to a public struggle with the church yielding and ordaining Black men about 2 years later” is at best stupidly vain. Subversive ordaining of blacks occurred, according to stories I’ve heard, on multiple occasions as a grass roots civil disobedience–he wasn’t the first, and he wasn’t the last. However, more to the point, by 1976 the wheels were already set for the church to start allowing ordination (read Leonard Arringtons Adventures of a Church Historian for an insiders account of the matter)–the brethren had been divided, somewhat bitterly, on the issue since the 1950s; one of the supporters, Kimball came into the role of president with a goal of making it a reality. Certainly dissidents and public opposition played a very strong role in the matter, but at most, Wallace was one of thousands of voices on the matter, not the single-handed catalyst towards change.
This is a Fox-news style accusation: a bold premise followed by a list of arguable, not particularly relevant accusations. “Obama continued the Bush bank bailout plan and therefore is a socialist nazi communistic muslim terrorist who is bent on the destruction of the party.” The factuality of the supporting premises is less relevant when they don’t actually support the thesis, even if true.
Per Rick’s link it looks as though #2 in my list has been illustrated to not be true. Gardner was not, per the article, run off the road but rather was prone to drunken, high speed motorcycle riding.
So, Mr. Wallace is clearly wrong on two points so far – Brigham Young and Mountain Meadows. Anyone else want to tackle one of the points above?
As far as the general claim that you address, Rick – that this guy’s broader argument can’t be supported by his claims – I agree. That’s why I said that it seems as though this guy could just be a conspiracy theorist crank. I’m not trying to legitimize his claims, but sometimes it is worth a bit of effort (particularly for others on the internet who may search for information about his book) to debunk claims. In short, I agree that it is very, very unlikely that some mafia-like group is controlling the brethren. But the best way to show this guy is a conspiracy theorist is to show that the fact claims he makes are bogus. Once we’ve established that, there will be no reason to take any of his other claims seriously.
I don’t know how reliable this book is, but #3 in the list is generally sourced to “Brigham Young and his Mormon Empire,” by Cannon and Knapp (1913:p. 268).
FAIR’s best argument against this claim – internal contradictions that seem unrelated to the actual claim:
So, maybe he has a hit on #3?
#4 is clearly B.S.:
Those who laid siege to the fort were under the command of the territorial government. All the men and boys were not killed; mostly women were. Yeah, this one is definitely erroneous.
#5 appears to be a controversial claim with evidence both for and against Mormon involvement:
#6 is one of those claims that is basically impossible to prove – lack of evidence would be used to support the conspiracy.
#7 seems untrue. John Sillito, a respected historian who wouldn’t have a reason to cover up Mormon involvement in a prostitution sting, wrote a Utah History Encyclopedia entry on Allen Turner Howe that says nothing about Mormon involvement:
#8 appears to be unsubstantiated. Yes, Hughes had Mormon advisors who were called “The Mormon Mafia,” but they didn’t kidnap him. Definitely a miss here:
Numbers 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8, along with the Mountain Meadows claim, are not accurate.
Of the remaining, I haven’t found anything substantive for 1, 9, or 10. 6 is likely not provable. And 3 could go either way. So, he’s batting below 50%. Being generous, let’s say 1, 3, and 9 are true – that’s an accuracy rate of 30%. I don’t think there are hard and fast rules about when someone crosses the line from historian/raconteur to conspiracy theorist, but I’d say Mr. Wallace is definitely leaning toward conspiracy theorist.
This guy reminds me of Bob McCue, basically a crock of merde. The Howe thing is funny, as I was at BYU at the time. Like someone held a gun to the Howe’s head to approach a police decoy? The LDS church is full of shady characters, history and practices in full view. Why make stuff up?
For full disclosure, I remain LDS, but I take the church on my own terms.
I agree. Ideological and institutional factors more than explain the shortcomings of Mormonism. No conspiracy necessary.
On the contrary, if there really was a parasitic intelligence that guided Mormonism then it would become quite hard to explain the mismanagement of the missionary program, for example.
Bob McCue’s writing may not be easily accessible but his ideas are first rate.
Besides the ridiculous efforts of some apologists to bolster the prophet’s authority by deploying postmodernism against reason, McCue is the only scholar who applies post-structuralist philosophy to Mormon studies.
There are not many people who can do that.
On #7, I found some old newspaper articles in which 1) Howe claimed that he was lured to the area and found only a car with two women in it and that 2) he didn’t solicit prostitution from them, and 3) the police issued a “transcript” of a non-existent tape recording of the solicitation to the media.
So, although 2) is what everyone who’s ever been caught in a police sting says, 1) and 3) at least suggest the possibility of some sort of conspiracy and police misconduct beyond the usual entrapment issues. On the other hand, Howe had two trials and was convicted both times, so juries didn’t find his claims credible. (Not sure why there were two trials; I assume the first was overturned for some reason.)
So I would leave #7 open as very unlikely but possible.
I recognized the name, but I didn’t know where from until you got to point 10 on your list.
This guy or someone who reads him followed my blog for a bit in 2008 or 09.
I remember looking into it, and determining Wallace was a paranoid schizophrenic nutjob.
Hope you are well. While Ive changed in the last five years, McCues stuff so sickened me back in 2005, Ive never been tempted to wade through his cesspool again.
I respect your opinion of the guy, but just cant risk my health to re-examine McCue.
Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you:
Salt Lake Lawmen Justify Dissident Wallace Surveillance
Mormon Renegade Demands Apology from Salt Lake City Police for Spying
Paralyzed, blind officer finds he’s ‘not worth dime’
Steve, thank you for your kind words. I have to say though that McCue’s account of Mormon theology reflects what I learned in Sunday school.
Of course, there are other ways of reading Mormon theology but they are not all equal. Sunstone interpretations or New Mormon History may be just as Mormon but they are less authoritative.
We need to be realistic. The Hugh B. Brown Mormons lost to the Harold B. Lee faction during the late 60s.
McCue may not properly explore the shades of Mormon doctrine. That’s not his purpose. He does give an honest account of the dominant discourse of Mormonism during the 70s, 80s, and 90s.
You are right. There have always been voices that were less doctrinaire and more nuanced but their narrative has always been marginalized.
The Brethren and the PR office are only now falling back on more liberal arguments as conservative dogma has been crushed by the evidence.
Steve, I find your strong reaction to Bob McCue’s writings surprising. I think it says more about you than it does about McCue. As Hellmut points out, McCue doesn’t argue against a strawman but the Mormonism that I and many others grew up with. It’s the Mormonism we hear in General Conference. You don’t seem to believe in that Mormonism, but that doesn’t make it illegitimate or unreal, nor does it justify ad hominem attacks against McCue.
Someone doesn’t like Philo? Impossible! 🙂 But I sympathise with the accusation of attacking a straw man. It’s a problem with anything who attacks the church: the church has no doctrines, so the only thing we can crtiicize is our own experience.
By “no doctrines” I mean that trying to define a doctrine or practice is like nailing jello to the wall. Everything from the nature of God (once like us?)to our relationship with Christ (too close? unconditional love?) to saving ordinances (temple changes) is subject to change. Anyone who has ever tried to find an authoritative and ambiguous statement on anything knows how frustrating it is.
Regarding the John Gardner Allegations. I would refer interested parties to the article by Terrence DesPres “Accident and Its Scene: Reflections on the Death of John Gardner” in Writing into the World” Viking Press 1991. The only definitively false statements in point #2 regard the summary of Mickelsson’s Ghosts, which Wallace clearly didn’t read. In fact the protagonist, “the professor” as Wallace refers to him, doesn’t die at all, although is held at gunpoint by a crazy person who ‘identifies’ with the Danites, but who is probably not. That said, with respect to Gardner’s actual death: Des Pres who was a friend of Gardner’s had the opportunity to inspect the accident site. He casts suspicion on the police version of the story, and roundly discredits the death-with theory. Please visit http://www.enochsthread.com for further exploration of John Gardner the Danites and Mormon witchcraft. Look for the publication of Enoch’s Thread later this year (2012) which weaves it all into a fictional quest by two misfit scientists who think they have discovered a conspiracy underlying the acceleration of global warming.
The university of Rochester has a searchable database of all of John gardner’s papers. Go to it an search ‘Dan’. In the last year of his life gardener received an anonymous postcard from Salt Lake City. It’s only message was ‘greetings from the sons of Dan’