Book of Mormon Proved a Fraud - 1902

   Globe-Democrat September 29, 1902


Joseph Smith's Work Traced
to a Manuscript Stolen
from an Ohio Man.

Proof that Joseph Smith's Book of Mormon, the foundation of the Mormon Church, is a fraud is claimed by the Rev. J. E. Mahaffey, of Grantesville, to be in his possession. Dr. Mahaffey is a prominent figure in the South Carolina Methodist Church and has spent ten years in his investigation.

He says he has ascertained that Mormonism is undoubtedly the greatest religious deception that has ever been perpetrated. So adriotly was the fraud carried out that he believes many Mormons of to-day are ignorant of their error.

Mr. Mahaffey says that 2,000 Mormon missionaries are now in the field and that the sect is fast becoming the most formidable element in modern civilization. They hold the balance of power in seven of the United States, are adriotly colonizing in half a dozen others and have a present membership of more than 500,000. In the last year alone they gained 63,000 members in the east.

The age of strange things has not passed away. When Mormonism was first organized and the Book of Mormon circulated in Conneaut, Ohio, many of the friends and acquaintances of Reverend Solomon Spalding affirmed that it was the writings of that gentleman, who had been dead about fourteen years. Attempts were made to secure his writings at that time and compare them with the Book of Mormon, but either through lack of interest by proper persons, or through some trickery of the Mormons, the attempt failed its purpose and rather resulted in a victory for the Mormons.

All of Spalding's writings mysteriously disappeared, and over seventy years have passed away and nothing further of any consequence has been done in this direction. The Mormons have gone on deceiving and being deceived with Joseph Smith's tale of angels and golden plates until to-day they have a membership of nearly 500,000. During the past ten years they have gained 96,982 members. During the last year alone they gained 65,000 members in the East. They now have 2,000 missionaries in the field, and are fast becoming the most formidable element in modern civilization. They hold the balance of power in seven of the United States and are adroitly colonizing in half a dozen others.

But truth is coming to the front at last. The original Spalding manuscript has been found. It was resurrected in Honolulu, Hawaii, our new possession, and is now deposited in the library of Oberlin College, in Ohio, and through the kindness of that institution I have had the loan of it for the purpose of examination and comparison with the Book of Mormon. A careful examination of the two documents shows more than twenty features of perfect identity. Lack of space forbids their appearance here in full, but the following examples briefly stated will give an idea of how they stand. For example:

Both stories pretend to be translations or abridgments of other and more elaborate records found buried in the earth.

Both stories trace the ancestry of the American Indians from the old world, and give tragic accounts of their providential passage across the ocean to the American continent; their settlements; the rise and fall of nations; their political divisions; terrible wars, &c.

Both stories cater to the use of the same transparent stone, through which sights could be seen, hidden treasures translated, &c.

Both stories contain the same account of an army contending in battle, and painting their foreheads red in order to distinguish themselves from their enemies in times of confusing excitement.

Both stories are characterized by the same tale of a "sacred roll," which was believed to have been of divine origin, and which formed the basis of religious beliefs and teaching.

Both stories contain accounts of the discovery of other nations who had preceded them to the American continent, and that some of these other nations were in a savage state, but were soon educated and restored to civilization.

One more important feature is this: "The hieroglyphics of the "plates" described by Joseph Smith are identical with the literary style of a people described in the Spalding Romance. The identity here is perfect in every respect.

These are only a few examples of the many features of identity, some of which are three-fold in detail, and will bear even the closest analytical subdivision -- all proving conclusively that either the Book of Mormon is a plagiarism of the Spalding manuscript, or the manuscript a plagiarism of the Book of Mormon. It is either the one or the other. But as a result of eight years of careful and painstaking work, I have collected abundant reliable proof that Spalding wrote and rewrote his romance on this subject several times between the years 1810 and 1816. Smith says he got in possession of his wonderful document in 1827, and had known where it was for four years previous to that time. The evidence at hand indicates that Smith appropriated a final revision of Spalding's Romance from an old hair-covered, moth-eaten trunk which was left at the residence of Mr. Sabine during Smith's employment at that place as teamster, about the year 1820, and had doubtless known where it was ever since that time.

The evidence also shows that Sidney Rigdon got possession of another copy which had been left in Patterson's printing office in Pittsburg in 1815, and a perfectly plain connection is established between those two gentlemen through the mediation of Parley Parker Pratt, showing how they finally got together and inaugurated their wonderful scheme of deception, which is undoubtedly the greatest religious fraud that has ever been perpetrated.

I wish to say, in conclusion, that I do not believe the Mormons of to-day are aware of their error. I believe they are ignorantly sincere in their beliefs and labors, and nothing I have said or done is to be construed as a refutation on the honesty or sincerity of those who are living up to the light they have. But it is our solemn duty to give them the true story of their delusion and fortify others against being led astray.

Note: See Rev. Mahaffey's 1902 booklet, Proof Positive... for more on his views concerning the origin of the Book of Mormon. The Globe-Democrat's article was partly reprinted and briefly responded to in the pages of the Oct. 15, 1902 issue of RLDS Saints' Herald. There the reviewer remarks, "We fear Mr. Mahaffey is somewhat behind the times... has made several errors in his figures... Our best way is to... pay no attention to such misrepresentations until we are compelled to."