Origin of the "Reorganized" Church and the Question of Succession
By Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr.
Salt Lake City
During the summer of 1906 and continuing until the summer of 1907, a number of Reorganite ministers who were engaged in missionary work in Salt Lake City and Ogden, were greatly encouraged by one or two apostates and the local anti-"Mormon" press. Their method of proselyting was of the usual nature, a tirade of abuse and false accusation hurled at the authorities of the Church. Encouraged by the anti-"Mormon" help, they became extremely vindictive in their references to President Brigham Young and the present Church authorities. Their sermons were so bitter and malignant—which has been the character of most of their work from the beginning, in Utah—that they raised considerable protest from many respectable citizens. Even non-"Mormons" declared that in no other community would such vicious attacks be tolerated. It appeared at times that these missionaries were attempting to provoke the "Mormon" people to some act of violence, that it might be seized upon and published to the world through the anti-"Mormon" press that they had been mobbed, and thus capital for their cause be made of it. Fortunately they were not molested to the credit of the people so constantly abused. One of these meetings was attended by a prominent gentleman from the East who was somewhat acquainted with Utah and her people, he said, in conversation with the writer a few days later, that never in his experience has he witnessed such a thing before. "If that fellow"—referring to a Reorganite who has since been promoted in his church—"should come to our town and abuse the ministers of our church, calling them murderers, thieves and liars, as he did Brigham Young and your churchmen, we would kick him off the streets."
While this agitation was going on, a number of the young people of Ogden appealed to their stake presidency asking that some reply to those assaults be made for the benefit of those who were not grounded in the faith, and in danger of being deceived. Acting on this request the presidency of the Weber Stake invited the writer to speak along these lines in the Ogden Tabernacle. The invitation was accepted and two discourses were delivered, the first, March 10, 1907, on the subject of the "Origin of the Reorganized Church," and the other April 28, 1907, on the question of "Succession." These remarks were subsequently published in the Deseret News, and many requests were received asking that they be published in pamphlet form, where they could be preserved by those who had to meet the ministers of the "Reorganization." An edition was therefore published in the summer of 1907, which has been disposed of, evidently without supplying the demand, for in the summer of 1909 the orders for the pamphlet were so great that is was deemed necessary to issue a second edition. In the meantime a reply appeared in the Saints' Herald, commencing with the issue of June 30, and ending that of July 21, 1909. This reply will be remembered more for the unfair way matters were treated and the fact that the greater part of the evidence was left untouched, than for any merit in the argument presented. Wherever it was deemed necessary, for the sake of those who may be deceived, answers are given in this work in footnote references to the argument set forth in the Reorganite "defense." However, there was nothing presented in the "defense" that really required any reply; by reading carefully the discourses mentioned, the ordinary reader can readily perceive the trickery, deception and sophistry, of the Reorganite reply.
Part one of this book contains the discourse delivered in Ogden on the "Origin of the 'Reorganized' Church;" part two contains the discourse on the "Succession in the Presidency," and part three deals with the most prominent differences existing between the Church and the "Reorganization," wherein they accuse us of departing from the doctrines of the Prophet Joseph Smith. This matter in part three is added by request of a number of parties who have had to meet the sophistry of the Reorganite missionaries.
This book is not put forth to replace any other work, neither with the idea that it will turn Reorganite ministers from the folly of their ways; but with the hope that some honest soul who have been deceived may see the light and embrace the truth, and that the feet of the weak may be strengthened in the path of righteousness that they may not falter on their way. Neither is it intended to be an exhaustive treatise in of the subjects it contains; the idea has been in the main, to present matters that have not been treated elsewhere.—J. F. S., Jr.
ORIGIN OF THE "REORGANIZED" CHURCH.
The Question of Rejection—Salvation for the Dead
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Remarks made in the Weber Stake Tabernacle, Ogden City, March 10, 1907, by Elder Joseph F. Smith, Jr.
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My beloved brethren and sisters and friends: The great majority of you who are assembled here today are, without doubt, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I suppose that most of you have a divine testimony of the truth of this latter-day work—the Gospel of Christ—which we have received. To you who have a testimony, my remarks shall not be addressed particularly, but if you will bear with me in what I have to say that I may be led to say something that will strengthen the faith of those who may be weak, or that will encourage those who have no faith at all, I will feel amply paid.
I am not here for the purpose of assailing any man for his religion, for we Latter-day Saints hold that every man is entitled to his religious views and should have the privilege of worshiping according to the dictates of his conscience, let him worship, how, where, or what he may. And we will protect him in this right. But we are opposed to the custom adopted by certain men who travel through the settlements of our people abusing the authorities of the Church, distorting our doctrines and defaming the dead, for the purpose of destroying the faith and confidence of the Latter-day Saints. Therefore in treating the subject of the "Reorganized" Church this afternoon, it will be in the spirit of self-defense.
We will first consider the statement made by the senior senator from Michigan, Mr. Burrows, in his speech delivered in the United States Senate on the 11th of last December. After stating that the membership of the Church at the martyrdom in 1844, was 50,000 adherents, he continues:
"The death of Joseph Smith in 1844, carried dismay and demoralization throughout the entire membership of the Mormon Church, scattering its adherents in divers directions and for the time being seemed to presage the complete overthrow and dissolution of the organization. Recovering, however, from the shock, the scattered bands soon reappeared in various parts of the country and promulgated their doctrines with increased zeal, and set to work to reassemble and reorganize their scattered forces, resulting finally in the formation of what is now known and recognized as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with headquarters at Lamoni, Iowa, and presided over by Joseph Smith, a son of the prophet."
"During this period of disintegration one Brigham Young, who had identified himself with the 'Mormon Organization' as early as 1832, a man of indomitable will and undaunted courage, bold and unscrupulous, seized upon the occasion of the demoralization incident to the death of the prophet to place himself at the head of some 5,000 Mormons, and marching over desert and mountain, established himself with his adherents in the valley of Salt Lake, July 24, 1847, then Mexican territory, where he