Imitating Joseph Smith?

Mormon Teaching Fundamentals

As I see it, there are four great foundation stones on which this Church stands, irremovable. The first, the Great Vision, the visit of the Father and the Son to the boy Joseph Smith, the opening of the heavens in this the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times, the great bringing together of all of the work of God in all the past dispensations throughout the history of the world. The curtain was parted with that First Vision, and it stands as an absolute fundamental in the Church and its history and its well-being. (Messages of Inspiration from President Hinckley, LDS Church News, 1998, 03/07/98 .)


Alleged killer saw himself as ‘destroying angel’

By Laura Crimaldi
Friday, October 9, 2009

The aspiring Mormon missionary accused of cold-bloodedly hacking a New Hampshire mom to death saw himself as a “destroying angel,” confided to friends he wanted to murder his father and once said the hardest commandment to obey was “Thou shalt not kill.”

Nineteen-year-old Christopher Gribble now has friends wishing they had done more to intervene before he allegedly took a machete to Kimberly L. Cates, 42, and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaimie.

“He did say he hated his father and he wanted to kill him,” said one friend, who requested anonymity. “I was thinking I should go to the police.”

The friend said Gribble calmly explained his desire to slay his father and called himself a “destroying angel” during a conversation last year about his Mormon mission plans.

It is unclear whether Gribble was referring to a 19th century Utah lawman, Orrin Porter Rockwell, nicknamed “the Destroying Angel of Mormondom,” who was said to be as famous in the Wild West as Wyatt Earp.

The woman said she did not report Gribble to cops, but she recommended he seek counseling. Another person she knows urged him to get help from the Mormon church’s social services arm.

Gribble, who was home-schooled, had been at odds with his parents and lived for months with a Nashua, N.H., family who took him in after he spent time living in his truck and showering at church, a confidant said. He was back home at the time of the grisly murder, and his friends described his father as a “great man.”

In another disturbing episode, Gribble told a group of church members the commandment against murder was the most difficult to obey.

“He comes out and says the hardest commandment to keep is murder,” said one person who was present when Gribble made the comment and requested anonymity. “You just don’t want to think that your friend could ever do something like that. They say things about killing someone and you don’t know they are going to do it. You just brush it off and hope he’s going to get help. Really, we should have been calling the police.”

Gribble and friend Steven Spader, 17, of Brookline face murder charges in the predawn attack. The machete-toting teens randomly targeted Cates’ secluded home in sleepy Mont Vernon, N.H., and agreed to kill anyone they encountered there, prosecutors said.

Two alleged accomplices, Williams Marks, 18, and Quinn Glover, 17, have been charged with robbery.

Another woman, who has known Gribble for about a year through their church, said she never heard him talk about harming himself, his family or others.

Yet she recalled Gribble lamenting that girls preferred “bad boys” to guys who are “gentlemen” and “nice.” She said Gribble boasted about knowing gang members and said she wouldn’t be surprised if he joined the Cates attack to change his image.

“He felt very unappreciated by everyone,” said the woman, who requested anonymity. “This was a horrible choice and mistake that he made. I don’t think there’s anyone that can explain this.”


The Killers prove name isn't exactly apt

Band's lead singer is a devout member of LDS Church.

By David Burger
The Salt Lake Tribune

Most lead singers of rock bands don't ask the tour-bus driver to drop them off in Nauvoo, Ill., on cross-country tours.

Most lead singers of rock bands aren't The Killers' Brandon Flowers, a proud and practicing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I had two days off, so I spent some time in Nauvoo with my nephew, a couple of crew members and the bus driver," said Flowers, whose progressive alt-rock band will stop at the E Center Sept. 26 as part of its tour supporting its fourth major-label album, "Day & Age."

The Killers were created in 2002 in Las Vegas after Flowers responded to a newspaper ad looking for band members who counted Oasis, The Cure, U2 and The Beatles as influences. Flowers, the singer and keyboard player, joined Dave Keuning (guitar, vocals), Mark Stoermer (bass guitar, vocals) and Ronnie Vannucci Jr. (percussion, drums), and the band gained a European following with its synth-pop-inspired sound. The Killers then caught on in the United States in 2004 with their platinum singles "Mr. Brightside" and "Somebody Told Me," the latter boasting the memorable chorus:

Well somebody told me

You had a boyfriend

Who looked like a girlfriend

That I had in February of last year

It's not confidential

I've got potential

In a day and age of fickle tastes, The Killers have been able to maintain their success, with 2006's "Sam's Town" and this year's "Day & Age," which produced the hit singles "Spaceman" and "Human." The latter featured the question, "Are we human? Or are we dancer?"

The chorus to "Human" doesn't provide an response, but it does include the line, "I'm on my knees / Looking for the answer."

"I think I mention God more than anyone else," Flowers said in an interview.

Flowers, 28, was born in Henderson, Nev., to a mother who was practicing Mormon and a father who wasn't. He remembers being taken to church on Sunday mornings with his five older siblings.

When Flowers was 8, the family moved to Payson, Utah, where his father worked at a Smith's grocery store. Three years later, the family moved to Nephi, where he attended Juab High School.

"I feel my formative experiences were in Utah," said Flowers, who returned to Las Vegas when he was 16.

Flowers married his longtime girlfriend, Tana Brooke Mundkowsky, in 2005, after she converted to Mormonism, and the two have two children: Ammon, born in 2007, and Gunnar, born in July. (Mormons will note the influence the Book of Mormon had on his first son's name.)

"My faith is very important to me," Flowers said. "It's become stronger for me with a wife and two boys. I'm grateful that I have the church in my life."

As for songwriting, Flowers said his faith is involved. "It influences the songs I don't write," he said.

Missing boy’s parents marvel at happy ending

Family describes the pain of the boy’s four-day disappearance

NBC News and news services

June 23, 2005

BOUNTIFUL, Utah - Jody Hawkins buckled and collapsed as she climbed into a sheriff’s truck, convinced that authorities were about to tell her that her 11-year-old son had been found dead four days after getting lost in the Utah wilderness.

Instead came the shocker: Her boy was found alive. And not only that, but he was unscathed.

“I really didn’t think he could survive that long in the wilderness,” Hawkins said, her voice breaking at times. “When they told me Brennan was still alive and in good shape, my brain still cannot comprehend that.”

Jody and Toby Hawkins described their ordeal Wednesday during two news conferences at the family’s suburban Salt Lake City home, where Brennan Hawkins made his first public appearance. He answered only one question, saying he felt “good” — before crouching on the ground by his mother’s knees while his parents and four siblings carried on with the news conference.

Source of inspiration
“His personality hasn’t changed one tiny bit,” Jody Hawkins said earlier, adding that one of the first things Brennan asked about was whether the Pokemon cards he bought on eBay last week had arrived.

“I tell you, that’s what got him off that mountain,” she said.

“They were here.”

As for Brennan’s reaction when he saw his picture on TV: “Sweet.”

The boy disappeared last Friday in the Uinta Mountains, about 100 miles east of Salt Lake City, somewhere along a dirt road at a Boy Scout camp. He was found on an ATV trail Tuesday by a volunteer looking for him outside the search area.

Brennan does not remember much of the four days he was missing, his parents said. They said they do not plan to push him to talk about his time in the woods, but they have learned a few answers.

He told his parents and a friend that he would sleep in a crouch, with his sweatshirt pulled down over knees to keep warm. And the parents said Brennan probably took their advice a little too literally about avoiding strangers.

“When an ATV or horse came by, he got off the trail. When they left, he got back on the trail,” Jody Hawkins said. “His biggest fear, he told me, was that someone would steal him.”

It is unclear if that delayed his rescue.

Uphill path
Brennan defied conventional wisdom during his time in the mountains: He went uphill instead of down, while “typically children walk downhill, along the least path of resistance,” Sheriff Dave Edmunds said. As a result, search crews ended up in the wrong area.

Brennan’s mother said he believes he was gone only one or two nights, and doesn’t remember even going camping or much else, because “most of it was a blur to him.”

“It’s going to take a while to get everything out,” Toby Hawkins said. “This is how he approaches all situations.”

The couple said their son was born prematurely, and they described him as immature and a little slow, but not mentally disabled.

Delirious, but unscathed
“Brennan continues to amaze us,” Toby Hawkins said. “I thought that he was the most ill-prepared out of our five children to deal with it, and now I think he was maybe the best prepared.”

Brennan had hiked more than five miles into the mountains to the spot where searcher Forrest Nunley found him Tuesday.

“I turned a corner and there was a kid standing in the middle of the trail. He was all muddy and wet,” said Nunley, who dialed 911 on his cell phone and said he was lucky to find a signal.

“He was a little delirious. I sat him down and gave him a little food,” Nunley said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Note: Never follow a bad example or fables coming out of Utah.


Pennsylvania Court Rules Mormon Man Can Teach 13 Year Old Daughter About Polygamy

September 29, 2006

Mary K. Brunskill - All Headline News Staff Writer

Harrisburg, PA (AHN) - A man who describes himself as a fundamentalist Mormon has a right to teach his young daughter about polygamy if he sees fit, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Thursday.

The court said that, despite polygamy's illegality and formal renunciation by the Mormon church, it would be a denial of a constitutional right to prohibit a man from speaking about his beliefs with his 13-year-old daughter.

The girl's mother, Tracey L. Roberts, testified that her marriage with Stanley M. Shepp dissolved due to his interest in polygamy. According to court opinion, Roberts fears Shepp will introduce their daughter, whom they share the custody of, to men in preparation for poligamist marriage.

A county judge had barred Shepp from teaching his daughter about his polygamist beliefs before she turned 18, and the state Superior Court upheld that decision. The state Supreme Court was the first to disagree.

Justice Sandra Schultz Newman wrote, "Where, as in the instant matter, there is no finding that discussing such matters constitutes a grave threat of harm to the child, there is insufficient basis for the court to infringe on a parent's constitutionally protected right to speak to a child about religion as he or she sees fit."

Roberts' lawyer, Richard Konkel, said an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is being considered.


LDS conundrum: A few bad seeds or a need for more missionary training?

By Jessica Ravitz
The Salt Lake Tribune



    Robert Fotheringham had seen these missionaries at their best. He can speak to how they assisted the elderly, dug cars out of snowbanks and hauled firewood to people who were stranded.

    So the news that broke earlier this week, after photographs revealed three LDS Church missionaries allegedly mocking Catholicism and vandalizing a shrine in San Luis, Colo., has left the Colorado Springs mission president more than shocked.

    "I can tell you story after story that's noble and uplifting and, of course, this is just the opposite," said Fotheringham, who's served this mission for about 2 1/2 years. The behavior depicted in these pictures, taken in August 2006 and discovered on the Internet by a Sangre de Cristo parishoner late last week, is "so counter to the regular pattern that it's just stunning."

    Two former missionaries, and one whose call has now been terminated, reportedly snapped pictures of themselves preaching behind a church altar, while waving a Book of Mormon, pretending to sacrifice one another and holding the head of a Mexican saint whom one missionary claimed to have decapitated. The photos, taken at the Stations of the Cross, the Chapel of All Saints and the Shrine of the Mexican Martyrs - all located on a mesa overlooking San Luis - were found on Photobucket, a Web site. They have since been taken down, but their discovery and their impact continue to rock the small southern Colorado town and have set online chatrooms ablaze.

    Many entries, including those on The Salt Lake Tribune Web site, are cries of outrage and dismay, sentiments echoed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has issued an apology, promised disciplinary action and vowed to seek ways to restore goodwill. But handfuls of writers are swapping stories of similar behavior from their own mission experiences.

    Though people may chalk the behavior up to immaturity, typical of the age, this explanation doesn't fly for Fotheringham.

    "It's not enough for people to say they're just 19 years of age," the mission president said. "They're held to a much higher standard, and that's part of the disappointment."

    The events in Colorado raise the question: Are Mormon missionaries properly equipped, through training, to go out into the field and uphold this higher standard?

    Mark Tuttle, spokesman for the LDS Church, said in a written statement that Missionary Training Centers teach missionaries "to respect people of all faiths, to be sensitive to doctrines and beliefs that other religions hold sacred, and to obey the law. Once in the mission field, mission presidents provide additional training on local customs and traditions."

    A former Provo MTC Finnish teacher, Anthony John, said he wasn't aware of a "regimented senstivity training" and believed the responsibility rested primarily on individual teachers. He, for instance, remembered offering do-and-don't tips to his students and discussing the predominance of the Lutheran faith in Finland, a tradition that needed to be respected. His own mission president, he added, encouraged him and the other missionaries to visit and simply take in other churches on their free, or preparation, days.

    "A lot of them were very impressive," said John, 27, who's working on a master's in organizational psychology in Missouri. "Even as a Mormon person," visiting other houses of worship "doesn't mean I can't have a religious experience."

    It's one thing, however, to be heading to a foreign country, where obvious cultural differences are fodder for discussion and where missionaries spend many more weeks in training, in large part because they're learning new languages. John had his students for 11 weeks; missionaries who don't need language training, he said, only attend the MTC for three weeks. But Fotheringham was quick to recite from the missionary handbook a line oft-repeated and meant to guide behavior for the more than 53,000 full-time Mormon missionaries who span the globe: "Respect the culture, customs, traditions, religious beliefs and practices, and sacred sites in the area where you serve."

    Perhaps nowhere have the repercussions of ignoring these guidelines been more salient than they were in Thailand in 1972.

    Only four years after the Thailand Mission was established, two LDS Church missionaries touring an ancient and famous Buddhist temple area whipped out cameras and snapped photos that sparked an international incident and landed them in jail for six months.

    R. Lanier Britsch, a retired Brigham Young University history professor and author of From the East: The History of the Latter-Day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996, recounted the story of what happened.

    He said the young men were walking through the ruins, "a highly venerated place," when they came upon a large Buddha statue that was easily accessible. One elder climbed onto the statue, straddled the Buddha's neck, placed his hands on the Buddha's head (the top of which "represents the Buddha's enlightenment, his expanded capability,. . .thus making the head the most sacred part of his body," Britsch explained) and smiled for the camera.

    The Thai store proprietor who was later asked to develop the film was so upset when he saw the images that he submitted them to a newspaper. The two young men "paid a rather severe price for the indiscretion," serving six months in a Thai jail, and the incident "set the church back for many years" in that part of the world, Britsch said. And this, he added, wasn't an event that left anything broken.

    What happened in Colorado, he said, "sounds like zealous antagonism," worse than the "momentary cultural insensitivity" that happened in southeast Asia.

    "I find it unconscionable and extremely difficult to explain," Britsch said.

    As for what punishment seems appropriate for these three missionaries who served in Colorado, the historian speculated that that will take care of itself.

    "Their souls are going to be roasted for years over this. I don't think anyone else is going to have to put their feet to the fire.. . . They're going to feel so stupid."