bcspace has decided to spread lies about me, even going so far as to perpetuate his lies on other forums and in threads that have absolutely nothing to do with the parent threads in which the initial conflict took place. For that reason I have chosen to compile this thread documenting his lies as well as the absurdity of his claims so that I can bump it whenever he chooses to repeat said lies, similar to what beastie has done with Yahoo Bot (AKA "Plutarch," "Lee Bishop," "Null H.") in her thread "Rcrockett's libel."
I've observed bcspace long enough to know that engaging him is by and large a waste of time and he will never cop to his lies or admit to a mistake. However, I present this thread so that informed forum members and lurkers who wonder what bcspace is talking about can come to their own conclusions.
Let's get started.
The Comments That Started It All
On Thursday, June 10, 2010, long-time forum member Jason Bourne, an active member of the LDS church who seems to be struggling with the difficult parts of the church's history, made the following remark:
Jason Bourne wrote:Joseph Smith commmitted adultery many times over and used an alleged revelation to justify it.
To this, bcspace responded with one of his typical calls for references ("CFR"). Recognizing that Jason Bourne was merely offering his own polemical interpretation on facts about Joseph Smith that virtually all LDS historians accept (i. e. he had sex with women whom he claimed were his plural wives), I facetiously replied:
Ms. Jack wrote:Todd Compton, In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City, Utah.: Signature Books, 1997): 1-788.
Sarcasm is one of many things that inevitably seems to go over bcspace's head. There are only 788 pages in Todd Compton's book plus the introductory material. When you call for a reference and someone gives you all of the pages in an entire book, it is not a serious attempt to provide a reference. It is a sarcastic way of saying, "You're ignorant on this topic. Read a book on it."
My use of Compton is actually very simple: Compton makes the case that Joseph Smith's relationships with his "celestial wives" were sexual. These arguments are spread throughout his chapters on Smith's wives, but he presents the bulk of his historical and theological conclusions for thinking so on p. 12-15. My intention in citing Compton was not to say, "Compton argues that Smith's marriages were adulterous," but rather, "Compton presents evidence of sexuality in Smith's marriages that readers are within their rights to draw their own conclusions on." Jason Bourne made it clear in his comment that he does not think God issued any commandment to practice polygamy. That Smith's unions were adulterous is a reasonable conclusion for anyone who rejects the argument that God commanded Smith to institute polygamy.
Furthermore, it should be obvious that evangelical Christians such as myself reject the idea that God commanded Smith to practice polygamy. Many evangelicals interpret Jesus' teachings on divorce in Matthew 19:8-9 as a staunch prohibition of polygamy that equates polygamy with adultery (for an example of this argument, see here). I don't agree with that interpretation of the text myself, but I would lose credibility in the evangelical community if I were outright dismissive of the idea that post-OT polygamy = adultery.
It is worth taking a moment here to pause and point out that the likelihood of sexuality in Joseph Smith's marriages has been admitted by numerous pro-LDS and apologetic sources. Faithful historian Richard Lyman Bushman acknowledged this in Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 438-39. In the FARMS Review of George D. Smith's Nauvoo Polygamy: ... but we called it celestial marriage, reviewer Gregory L. Smith acknowledged that there was "persuasive" evidence for a "conjugal relationship" with at least 8 of Joseph Smith's wives as well as "late, hostile evidence of intimacy with Fanny Alger" [Gregory L. Smith, "Review of George D. Smith's Nauvoo Polygamy," FARMS Review 20.2 (2008): 71]. One of the anonymously authored FAIRWiki articles on Smith's polygamy also acknowledges that Smith's marriages could have very well been sexual.
(H/T on the above paragraph: MormonThink)
In addition to this, respected non-LDS historian Lawrence Foster, one of three non-Mormons to have served as President of the Mormon History Association and a man who is referenced later by Compton in the excerpt that bcspace himself cites, agrees that Smith's marriages were almost certainly sexual, writing, "[T]he almost unanimous testimony of Smith's followers, informed ex-Mormons and anti-Mormons, and his plural wives themselves was that his wives were, indeed, wives in every sense of the word, lacking only public acknowledgement. It is difficult to understand how Smith's followers could have been induced to adopt the new practices if he had not led the way himself." [Lawrence Foster, Religion and Sexuality: Three American Communal Experiments of the Nineteenth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981): 156]
Conclusion: There is nothing "Tannerite"-esque about thinking sexuality happened in Joseph Smith's marriages. There is also nothing "Tannerite"-esque about allowing others to draw their own conclusions concerning the spiritual validity of Smith's marriage practices. The idea that Smith's marriages were adulterous in God's eyes is as much a valid take on the data as the pro-LDS sentiment that Smith's marriages were earnestly commanded by God.
I myself would never write in a published essay that Smith committed adultery "again and again," as I think such an interpretation is the historical equivalent of leading the witness. However, if people on Internet message boards (a format that I consider laid back and refuse to take seriously) want to publish such opinions, I don't really mind.
Apparently, my sarcastic reference to Compton upset bcspace very deeply. With no further evidence whatsoever, he immediately jumped to the bizarre conclusion that I am, in actuality, a covert disciple of the Tanners, reasoning that my use of Compton somehow proved this. He opened a new thread containing the following smear (emphasis mine):
bcspace wrote:I certainly don't agree with some of Compton's conclusions or his liberal pov, but I often see Compton's work being used as the Tanner's use it (Such as was recently the case with Mrs Jack Meyers outing herself as an intellectually dishonest Tannerite) which Compton has criticized.
I repeatedly challenged bcspace to demonstrate that I am in any way, shape, or form a disciple of the Tanners or a fan of their work or methodology. He has failed to provide anything other than my reference to Compton as discussed above, which does not demonstrate what he claims. His smear may have originally been an irrational mistake born of an ill-conceived emotional reaction to my words, but since he refuses to retract the statement in spite of evidence to the contrary, he is knowingly perpetuating an untruth, which makes him a liar. He is now utilizing exactly the sort of "yellow journalism" tactics that he so often feigns to denounce.
Strangely enough, bcspace took his lies over to MADB in a duplicate thread on the subject, but edited my name out of his smears--likely because he knew he would never be able to substantiate his lies among people who have known me for years.
In addition to being unable to substantiate his "Tannerite" claim, bcspace has failed to show a single incident of "intellectual dishonesty" on my part. It is another one of his lies.
bcspace has also blatantly lied elsewhere concerning this exchange:
bcspace wrote:[Ms. Jack] gave only one claim, that Compton's work proved that Joseph Smith had adulterous affairs and never could give a specific reference.
I never claimed that Compton's work "proved that Joseph Smith had adulterous affairs." See above for my use of Compton.
Evidence That I Am Not a Tannerite
On the thread in which bcspace started his lies about me, I immediately explained to him how wrong he was in positing any sort of connection between my work and those of the Tanners. I wrote:
Ms. Jack wrote:BCSpace, you are a presumptuous idiot. I have never in my life owned a book by the Tanners, nor am I anything that can remotely be called a "Tannerite." Compton is one of my favorite LDS historians (I just mentioned this fact in a blog post earlier today---final paragraph in the post) and I read his book on Joseph Smith's plural wives in high school long before I had ever read an entire book by the Tanners.
In addition to this, I met Sandra Tanner in March when a group of TEDS students traveled out to Utah. She did one of her presentations on LDS doctrine and what goes on in LDS temples, complete with male and female temple clothes and showing us one of the tokens, and I was given no forewarning that she would do this. I was intensely uncomfortable with the entire experience because I've promised my LDS husband to avoid discussion of temple content as much as possible, but there were very few people in the room and I didn't want to draw attention to myself by making a hasty exit.
I was working on a paper for one of my history classes at the time on the evolution of interactions between Mormons and evangelicals in the last 13 years (see my blog post here for my gutted bibliography of that paper) and I wanted to get the counter-cult perspective, so Sandra Tanner was kind enough to grant me an interview, which I still have a recording of and for which I am grateful. That is the extent of any involvement I have ever had with the Tanners.
Additionally, back on May 29, 2009, a trollish counter-cult commentator who came to my blog to argue about Mormonism being a cult and God having sex with Mary asked me, "I’m curious as to your opinion of the Utah Lighthouse Ministry," to which I replied:
Ms. Jack wrote:UTLM has done some good work in bringing little-known Mormon historical documents and information to light, but they’d have gone a lot further with it if they had been professional about it instead of digging in with the sensationalism and polemics.
Hardly a glowing endorsement of the Tanners' work.
Bottom line: bcspace was just wrong, wrong, wrong in positing any connection between myself and the Tanners, intellectual or otherwise, and he has failed to substantiate his claims. Like CBS in the RatherGate fiasco, he thought he could get away with making crap up, and now the crap is stuck to his face. What's next? "Fake but accurate"?
Other Reasons Why BCSpace's Claims Are Absurd
I've discussed the following personal information about me on this forum, and other information is available elsewhere in public. None of these positive and friendly connections to the LDS community can be claimed by the Tanners:
- I did my undergraduate degree in classics at Brigham Young University having never been a member of the LDS church. As such, I have many friendly connections to professors there, including people in the religion department and members of FARMS.
- The school newspaper printed a front-page story about me while I was there (yes, that is an awful picture of me and yes, spring term at BYU is that boring).
- I am married to an active, TR-holding Mormon, and we have one daughter who is a member of record with the LDS church and attends her father's ward and my own congregation. We use the Book of Mormon in our household religious observances. How many evangelicals can say that?
- I'm one of three non-members to have ever been invited to guest-blog for the pro-LDS blog Times & Seasons (Guest Bloggers; How Wide the Divide, and Can We Ever Bridget?). Other guest-bloggers to this blog have included Daniel Peterson, Blake Ostler, Kevin Barney, Richard Bushman, and Claudia Bushman.
- I attended the 2003 and 2004 FAIR Conferences in Orem and Sandy as a student at BYU. I was invited by FAIR President Scott Gordon to introduce one of the speakers at the 2004 FAIR Conference (see the first paragraph here).
- I have contributed two articles for the Patheos Mormonism Gateway: One Evangelical's View of Mormonism and An Evangelical View of (Mormon) Deification
In addition to this, I am currently completing my MA thesis proposal on a Book of Mormon-related topic. My hope is to recruit a Mormon studies scholar as an outside reader on my thesis committee to help insure fairness and accuracy in my subject matter.
Am I sometimes critical of Mormonism's claims from time to time? Yup. I'm probably more critical of the church's teachings on women than anything else. I have a daughter who is being raised (in part) in the church and I think I would be an irresponsible parent if I did not monitor and critique the influences she is being exposed to. However, I'm just as critical of similar areas in my own religion and I try very hard to be fair to both.
If anything though, I tend to be accused of being too positive about Mormonism. "Going native," "climbing into bed with Mormonism," "you can't call a spade a spade," etc.
- bcspace lies when he accuses me of "intellectual dishonesty." He has failed to establish any such thing on my part.
- bcspace lies when he accuses me of being a "Tannerite." He has failed to establish any evidence that I am a covert disciple of the Tanners.
- bcspace lied when he claimed that I had said Compton had proven Smith an adulterer. I made no such claim.
- The Tanners do not have, never have had, and never will have the amicable relationship to the LDS community that I do.
I have no expectations that bcspace will own up to his lies, but I intend to bump this thread debunking him whenever he attempts to spread them.