I got an interesting communication asking me if I, or anyone else related to Thomas B. Marsh, had ever contacted the Church on “setting the record straight.”

Hi Stephen how are you? We haven’t had any communication in years. I have always wanted to ask you if you were a distant relative of Thomas B Marsh. If you are and knowing what you know have you or any Marsh’s asked the church to set the record straight. http://bycommonconsent.com/2009/07/01/the-milk-strippings-story-thomas-b-marsh-and-brigham-young/

Tradition is that the Marsh’s in the United States who were here before WWII are related, descendents of John Marsh. cf  Marsh Genealogy Giving Several Thousand Descendants of John Marsh of Hartford, Ct. 1636-1895 Or of his brothers who he helped bring over.

John came over as a bond servant (a slave) and became free March 4, 1633. His brothers came over later, as bond servants as well (Samuel, for example, was made a free man May 2, 1647).

That said, none of them have done much to “set the record straight” on Thomas B. Marsh, and you might wonder why.

Well, the problem, as it surfaced when my brother Mark was researching it, was that Thomas B. Marsh returned to the Church after he had a stroke and was convinced death was near.  At that point, he repented, gave up everything, and moved to Utah to be with the Church.  In Utah, he was castigated rather mercilessly by Brigham Young.

In response, he preached a few times in public, and talked widely in private, a number of times which were recorded in journals.  Therein is the problem.

He agreed with Brigham Young. He stated that he had left the Church foolishly, over petty personal pride, that the narrative everyone wants to correct was true and that his life was an example of what happens when you let pride and foolish hurt feelings dominate.

Which makes “setting the record straight” problematic in the extreme.  You have to conclude that Thomas was lying about what happened, his life story, and the lessons of his life story.  That when he gave his initial public address (and later ones) “Ascribing his apostasy to his own hubris, jealousy, wrath, and hypocrisy” that really is not what happened.

Now yes.  Brigham Young got rather personal in some of the things he said, and he did that more than once.  But as Thomas perambulated about Utah, Thomas B. Marsh appeared to actually embrace what was said, both as it was his personal narrative and as a sign that he had returned to the Church out of faith in the gospel, not for personal gain, recognition or benefit other than reconciliation with God.

It was important to him to both acknowledge his past faults and to emphasize his motivations.

I do not feel comfortable making an effort to deprive him of that narrative posthumously.

Which is how I responded to the initial link sent me at the time (see here).  You can see others quoting to some of Thomas B. Marsh’s later comments here.

I think it is important to correct records, but I also think it is unfair to try to usurp someone’s life story and their own narrative, trying to hijack it so to speak, to make a point alien to the one they espoused and contrary to their own story.  Which is what, with good intentions, some attempt to do with Thomas B. Marsh. (Not what the person contacting me was trying to do, they were just curious).

So I thought I would address the theme, in response to the invitation I received this month to “set the record straight.” The record is straight, I have no desire to make it crooked.

Post script, to avoid confusion

  • No, I don’t have internet links.  When my brother shared his research it was in the late 70s or so.  Sure, I had a Cybernet and an ARPAnet account back then, but it wasn’t the same.  Photocopies cost as much a page as candy bars from a vending machine (assuming that I’d been able to keep the copies for almost thirty years or so …) so I did not make copies.
  • No, it wasn’t — or — (names people have suggested as the person who contacted me).
  • No, I don’t think the record needs to be “set straight” because I think it already is “straight.”
  • My alternative posts were either on utopia or the alternative was to blog on this talk: http://www.lds-mormon.com/face.shtml


    Why correlation, and how Elder Packer came to believe in it because of the times he was wrong.
  • Yes, I’m curious as to what you think and why.

For someone else’s efforts to “put the record straight” you can read the five part series that concludes with:

OK, let’s recap, just in case somebody joins this discussion at the end. In part 1, I proved that nearly every Christian evangelical, fundamentalist, and/or Biblical literalist church and ministry in America is teaching a false gospel. They teach that a magical ritualistic prayer will guarantee your admission into Heaven after death, whether or not it changes your behavior; Jesus, the judge of all the dead, specifically contradicted that message in his description of Judgement Day in Matthew 25:31-46. And what’s fascinating about that point is that what He says He will use to measure whether or not you really meant your repentent prayer was how you treated the poor, sick, unfortunate, and oppressed, whether they deserve it or not. In part 2, I made a big deal out of the fact that charity whether the object “deserves it” or not is, of course, completely antithetical to traditional Republican policies, which are more consistent with Satanism than with Christianity. And I demonstrated that, based on an eyewitness account by someone who was in the room when the decision was made, the leaders of the evangelical and fundamentalist churches and seminaries decided to preach Satanism under the guise of Christianity if that was what it took to win elections for what they thought was the more reliably anti-communist political party. And in parts 3 and 4 I demonstrated two of the specifically Republican anti-Christian gospel messages that are taught from almost every evangelical or fundamentalist pulpit in America, specifically to persuade people that God endorses only Republicans: the lie that the Bible prohibits rights and protections for homosexuals (part 3), and the lie that the Bible prohibits abortion (part 4).


Sets the record straight on what is classic, historical Bible based Christianity and what is not.