There is a group in South America that claims to have access to the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon. What proof do they have? Is this a recycled Hofmann forgery? Dr. Casey Griffiths, author of 50 Relics of the Restoration will tell us more.
Casey: If you go back and look through the Ensign in the early 1980s, I mean, there’s a lot of mentions of Hofmann forgeries that are in there. Those forgeries in and of themselves have become part of the tableau of the restoration, part of the history of it. In fact, that Anthon transcript, just in a weird twist, one of the restoration factions in Independence, had a guy contact them from South America, who said that he had the plates, and that the angel had given him the plates, and that he was going to translate the sealed portion. He was trying to raise funds from these people in Independence.
GT: This is recently?
Casey: This is recently. This is within the last two or three years. Everybody in Independence is like, “Well, take a picture of the plates and send it to us.” And he was like, “Well I can’t take a picture of the plates, but I can send you a transcript of what’s on the plates.”
GT: Oh, brother.
Casey: So, he sent the transcript, and somebody took a look at it and realized, “Well, this is Hofmann’s forgery.”
GT: Really? I hadn’t heard that.
Casey: The guy in South America wasn’t aware that Hofmann had made this forgery, and he must have found it on the internet somewhere or something like that. He said it was legitimate proof that he had the plates. Well, a well-informed person in Independence, produced a document basically comparing what Hofmann had produced with what this guy from South America had sent. That sort of really impinged the movement.
GT: I did not know that, I had not heard that.
Did you know there was an official swimsuit of the Los Angeles Temple?
Casey: The temple swimsuit, which like I said, those two things seem a little incongruent. This is the temple swimsuit, for those of you that are out there. There was a lady named Rose Marie Reid, who was a member of the Church. She grew up in Idaho, and moved to Southern California, married a guy who was Jewish, and became the top swimsuit designer in the world and she ran this business where she…
GT: This was in the 50’s, probably.
Casey: This was in the 40’s and 50’s, yeah. So, she designed swimsuits for Hollywood stars for high profile people, and was very, very well known.
GT: Marilyn Monroe would have been one of them.
Casey: Yeah, and, basically, in the early 1950s, they’re raising funds for the Los Angeles temple. Rose Marie designed the swimsuit, specifically to raise money for the temple. For whatever reason, it became known by the name the temple swimsuit. Apparently, this was so popular that someone stole a version of it and got caught and there was a whole scandal in the news relating to it because her swimsuits were so desirable. But Rose Marie Reid, eventually, she had the Relief Society women in her ward sew the sequins on the on the suits that they sold to raise funds for it.
Did you know that the first pioneers that entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 received a gold medal, including a black man in the company of Brigham Young?
Casey: This is an object that’s in this book that’s never been photographed before. But everybody that was in the vanguard pioneer company of 1847, they rounded up in 1897, the 50th anniversary and gave them a gold medal, basically, to say, “This person was part of the vanguard company, and we want to recognize and honor them.” Well, in the middle of those celebrations, a guy shows up at the Deseret News office, a black guy and said, “Hey, I was part of the vanguard company, too. His name was Green Flake. They gave Green Flake a medal and honored him as part of the vanguard company.
GT: He was the one that drove Brigham Young’s wagon, right?
Casey: Yeah, Green’s background is fascinating. When you dive into it, like I said, it kind of shows the complexities linked to race and the Church in the 19th century. For instance, Green is a slave owned by the Flake family, the Isaac Flake family that owns a plantation in Mississippi. Missionaries come, they convert the Flakes, and there’s variants in the sources, but the general story that’s told is that when the Flakes converted. They decided to migrate to Nauvoo, and they freed their slaves. But Green is 16 years old at the time, and he elects to stay with the Flakes. At that point, there’s some question as to, is he a family friend or is he a slave?
At that point, Brigham Young intervenes and says, “Look, Green has a wife and Green has kids. He can’t just pick up his life and move down there because you guys need him to,” which suggests that in Brigham Young’s mind, Green was not a slave. This is all in the 1850’s before slavery is outlawed, but it kind of does show that Brigham Young’s attitudes towards slavery, servitude and black members of the Church was more complex now than we depict it.
Dr. Casey Griffiths, author of 50 Relics of the Restoration, will tell us more about some of these relics of the restoration. What do you think of how Brigham handled the Green Flake situation? Were you aware that the Hofmann forgery was being re-used? Do you have any thoughts about a swimsuit being used as a fundraiser for the Los Angeles Temple?
I just read a whole post by the Sistas In Zion about Green Flake since there’s a film coming out and their version is different in many ways from Casey’s. They say Green was still a slave in Utah.
I do love the swimsuit! As an Idaho native, I’d never heard of Rose Marie. She sounds so cool!
I agree wholeheartedly that pioneers of every race and national origin should be celebrated. I issue my strongest possible condemnation to racism in any and every form.
You can see a picture of the Sealed Plates from Brazil here: http://salemthoughts.com/Topics/Plates.shtml
You can also see a video of when they unsealed the portion that is allowed to be translated at this time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avPtzKW7qm4
Thanks, cachemagic. I’d wondered what became of John P. Pratt who was often entertaining, even if he was “seeing stars”. Some wondered if he had disappeared into a “black hole.” But it seems he got seriously into the Brazilian BoM plates stuff. His name still shows up on the Maxwell Institute site, but without any other information or explanation of his connection to it or its end.
I really don’t know how to describe Brigham Young’s “complex” attitudes on race and slavery. But I could do a pretty good job of describing Mark E. Peterson’s or Ernest Wilkinson’s, and those are within my lifetime. Today’s Church leaders say all the right things but we still have certain BOM verses that are hard to accommodate.
I respect people who condemn racism in 2021. I REALLY respect members of the Church who were doing so prior to 1978. Just like:
I respect people who condemn homophobia in 2021. I REALLY respect members of the Church who were doing so during the Prop 8 battle.
Rose Marie Reid’s daughter, Carole has presented her mother’s story at RS events, with her daughter modeling her vintage suits. Rose Marie did design for movie stars (the granddaughter modeled a gold suit: “Rita Hayworth famously wore the “Glittering Metallic Lamé” suit to publicize her 1946 hit film, Gilda.” Wikipedia. Rose Marie’s granddaughter walked with her hand fashionably placed on her hip. Carole wryly commented that she was covering the hole in the bathing suit).
She also wanted every lady to feel lovely in her suits, artfully and creatively finding ways to enhance an array of figures. The suits for Hollywood stars sold for $100, the “Relief Society suit” cost $50, while her other suits were $12-17.95.
“Rose Marie was adamant about ‘never designing an immodest bathing suit.” (p. 88). “In 1950 Rose Marie designed a bra that buttoned out of the suit so it could be worn with strapless summer dresses or evening gowns… [she also did] the impossible by making a strapless swim suit with a back so low that it defied all laws of nature (stopping scarcely three inches above the waits).” (p. 90).
Perhaps our definition of modesty has evolved over the last 71 years?
Rose Marie Reid: An Extraordinary Life Story, by Carole Reid Burr and Roger K. Petersen, (1995). Covenant Communications.
“Everybody in Independence is like, ‘Well, take a picture of the plates and send it to us.’ And he was like, ‘Well I can’t take a picture of the plates, but I can send you a transcript of what’s on the plates.’
“GT: Oh, brother.”
That “oh, brother” reminds me of a certain professor’s reaction to Martin Harris. It’s interesting to contemplate how Joseph Smith’s behavior regarding the plates would be perceived in a modern context, even by those amongst us more inclined to belief.
As for BY’s views on slavery: he lays them out pretty clearly in this address: https://mit.irr.org/brigham-young-we-must-believe-in-slavery-23-january-1852. I don’t know how much more complex they are than that. BY seems to think his position is magnanimous and his capacity to be friendly towards individual black people is well documented in spite of his believing they were all less deserving of God’s favor and unfit for basic human rights.
Sasso, thanks for sharing! That was very interesting.
Kirkstall, you are correct. Modern LDS are very skeptical of new claims about gold plates, and don’t question Joseph Smith’s claims. We should probably be more understanding of these newer claims, or be more sympathetic to skeptic claims, or both.
However, in not a fan of the one-sided link you posted. I am very aware of the Brigham Young speech mentioned, but I believe Brigham is more complex than you give him credit for. From what I understand, Paul Reeve is working on a new book about the 1852 legislature that argues the “Act in Relation to Service” was passed with the idea of gradual emancipation of slaves. I still wish Brigham had listened to Orson Pratt and never legalized slavery but (1) Young wasn’t a fan of slavery and(2) was trying to broker a compromise in a highly contentious issue of the day that led to the Civil War within a decade after that speech. I think that should be acknowledged, and not post an anti-Mormon link that fails to acknowledge the complexity of slavery in 1852.
Of course critics like to engage in simplistic attacks just like proponents do. It’s easier to lob simple explanations than to talk about the full complexity that Casey is pointing out.
Rick B, I’m not sure how the link I posted is one-sided (or anti-Mormon for that matter). It’s simply the text of the address without commentary—an address cited in the Church’s gospel topic essay on race and the priesthood.
Forgive me for disagreeing with Dr. Griffiths, but if there’s a case to be made for BY’s views on slavery being more complex than what is laid out in his January 1852 address, I don’t think his treatment of Green Flake is strong evidence for that.
John Pratt is Snufferite (e.g. FRLDS) and spoke in their conference recently.
I don’t think John Pratt is a Snufferite any more. I understand he is in the First Presidency of the group with the Brazilian Plates. I believe the group is called the Reborn LDS Church. John reached out to me and I’m working on arranging an interview with him.
Kirkstall, I don’t believe 1 single data point refutes the1852 speech either, but there are more issues than just Green Flake to discuss. Despite legalizing slavery in the Utah Territory, Young generally did what he could to free slaves too. You won’t get any of that context by reading a single speech and claiming that is the end-all to the conversation, and Casey was just using Green Flake as one of many data points to point out the complexity of Young.
There is also Christopher Nemelka, who has claimed to be the reincarnation of Hyrum Smith and to have translated the Sealed Portion of the Book of Mormon. There used to be a website where it was available in full, including with translations into a couple of languages, but I can no longer find it. I don’t remember which languages it was translated in to except for one: Latvian, in which a select few portions were available. Random, right?
Interesting interview – thank you.
The big problem with what BY is saying in the speech shared in the comments is that all of Cain’s so called descendants bear responsibility or a lingering curse whereas other scriptures state that Adam’s descendants are not responsible for his sins. It all seems rather contradictory and a convenient excuse. It’s also a huge assumption and another convenient one to suggest that black races were descended from Cain. Evolutionary evidence points to Africa to being the cradle of humanity – not that BY would have known that.