While the LDS Church is the largest Mormon group, there are lots of other churches tracing their founding to Joseph Smith.  John Larsen of the Sunstone Podcast sat down with Rick Bennett to discuss some of these groups who aren’t well-known. Rick refers to them as “our Mormon cousins.”

Rick: I was back in Independence earlier this summer. I wanted to go to the Temple Lot of church. I talked to that guy, probably for six or seven hours. It was amazing. I wish I could have gotten than one recorded. I asked and he said, “No.”  I went to the Cutlerite Church, and I talked to that lady for probably two hours. I got a tour of the church. I even got a quote in Sunstone because it’s something I learned from her. So listen to Mel Johnson’s Sunstone presentation if you want to hear that. I tried to talk to the Remnant Church because I got some friends there and their building was closed. I went to the Community of Christ temple, and then I just would drive around and I would see something that looked–I’m trying to remember what it said. It was like the Restoration Church of Jesus Christ. I said, “That’s got to be one of our churches.”  So, sure enough, it was this guy, he was missing a bunch of teeth. He was out fixing a fence on their church property. I talked to him for probably an hour and I felt bad because he was trying to fix this fence, and I’m stopping him. He’s telling me about angels. He showed me this picture.  He goes, Do you see this white area here? That’s like an angel.”  It was just so interesting to listen to him. I think he was surprised because I listened without judgment, like that’s not an angel. I was like, “Wow, what a story.” The guy named Randy Sheldon at the Temple Lot Church. I found out that they still do speaking in tongues.

We talk about several other groups, even groups that are critical of the Church, like anti-Mormon groups and Mark Hofmann, who is a murderer and forger of Mormon documents.  We discussed some of Rick’s past interviews and knowledge Rick has learned in talking to people who knew or prosecuted Mark Hofmann.

John:  I mean, Hofmann is a murderer, and a criminal. But geez, that man was brilliant.

Rick:  He was brilliant.  He’s got horrible handwriting, too.

John:  We still don’t know because, you can push back, because the church wanted it to go away. So the church got involved. There’s a lot of people who’ve accused this. I’m not the one making this up. The church got involved. They wanted to cut a deal. They cut a deal with Hofmann, that if he pled guilty, he wouldn’t get the death penalty. He got a blanket pass that he wouldn’t have to talk to anybody else. So he didn’t have to answer…

Rick:  Well, that’s not exactly true. There was a deal cut and if you want to get into all the details, watch my George Throckmorton interview, because we talked about that. Also, Sandra was very angry that a deal was made because she’s like, “I think we could have got the death penalty on him.” I don’t know if people know this, but he tried to put out a hit on the Director of the Board of Pardons.

John:  Oh, I didn’t know that.

Rick:  Yeah, while he was in jail, because he should be out of jail by now. He will never leave jail.

Rick:  But yeah, so Mark was supposed to spill the beans and he never did, due to–anyway. George talks about it. There were some mistakes done in the prosecution, and they should have had him tell the stuff before they’d cut the deal and they didn’t. So then he had no incentive to talk after that. A lot of the stuff that he was supposed to tell he never told.

John:  I would invite everybody go out there and read one of the true crime books. The one I liked was one by Sillitoe.

Rick:  Yeah, that’s the best–that’s one of the best ones.

John:  I think it’s called Salamander.

We will talk about other details of the Hofmann saga, and discuss other Mormon critics. Some questions.

  • Do you enjoy learning about Mormon cousins? Have you attended any of their services?
  • What are your thoughts over Mark Hofmann, his forgeries, and murders?