Sounds like a rock band. Paul Revere and the Raiders. Rod Stewart and the Faces. Huey Lewis and the News. But no, in Mormon folklore the Three Nephites are long-lived persons who roam the land doing good deeds and covertly supporting God’s Kingdom here on Earth. John the Apostle, the model for the Three Nephites, apparently has the same power and duty, but doesn’t get the same sort of attention in Mormon folklore as his fellow
bandmates apostles. Folklore? Doctrine? Superstition? Magic? Let’s discuss these related terms in their LDS context.
Another musician defined superstition as “when you believe in things that you don’t understand.” Let’s refine that a bit. Superstition is when you half understand something, to the extent that you are convinced that if you avoid doing this or that act (stepping on a chalk line, breaking a mirror, avoiding the number 13 or 666) you also avoid some mystically associated bad consequences. Magic involves half understanding how to control those mystic forces or spirits in such a way as to make good or bad events happen to others or to oneself. Superstition and magic, fairly ubiquitous in human history, naturally get carried over into religion. And one of the rules in religion is you never call religious superstition “superstition,” and you never call religious magical practices “magic.” Their odd beliefs are superstition; ours are doctrine. Their powers are magical; our powers are divine, delegated from God Himself. That’s how religious people (all of them, not just LDS) think. Let’s dig a little deeper.
There was this thing called the Enlightenment. There are hundreds, nay thousands, of books on the Enlightenment, and the term has bloated to include just about everything that happened over the course of the 18th century. There is one Enlightenment topic of particular interest for us: a dramatic decline in general belief in witchcraft and similar superstitions. Belief in witches, of course, was previously a fixed and potent fear that led to persecution of suspected witches. (I’m inclined to believe there were many suspected witches but no actual witches, as commonly defined.) During times of panic this could lead to the torture and execution of dozens or hundreds of suspected witches. Americans tend to think of the Salem Witch Trials (1692) and attendant executions (about 20), but that sort of thing was much more widespread in Europe for two or three centuries. If you were accused of being a witch, you were in deep, deep trouble.
The conviction that some humans can injure or destroy people, livestock and crops by spells, the evil eye or the assistance of supernatural beings is found in most cultures and was endemic in European popular belief. … In the later Middle Ages, however, the Church exerted its authority against heretics, declaring them to be in league with the Devil. The image of the heretic became conflated with that of the witch. … All sides of the Reformation found convenient scapegoats in witches and Jews.The Enlightenment, Ritchie Robertson, HarperCollins (2021), p. 14-15.
By the end of the Enlightenment, such a belief was regarded as almost silly. Even at the beginning of the 18th century, belief in witchcraft was already in decline. “The Enlightenment did not cause the diminution of witch-beliefs; rather, that diminution was among the preconditions which enabled the Enlightenment to emerge” (Robertson, p. 14). Diminution, yes, but not elimination. Belief in superstitions, both secular and religious, continues right into our own 21st century. For evidence, just read the headlines in your local newspaper, then go check out the astrology column (almost every paper has one).
In my lighter moments, I have been known to claim that yes, the Enlightenment made it to America, but it stopped at Chicago. The Enlightenment never made it to Utah (I know the timing is a little off …). My claim, in other words, is that the Mormon mindset and worldview is still, in many ways, rooted in the 16th century: pre-Enlightenment (the 18th century) and even pre-scientific (the 17th century, the period of the Scientific Revolution). You might feel differently, and certainly the strong science programs at BYU, including evolution courses and research, are a counter-argument. But then there is the Religion Department, a strange array of enlightened teaching mingled with religious superstition and folklore.
Well, I could go on and on about the Enlightenment in general, the strange staying power of superstition and evidence-free beliefs right up to our day, and religious superstition in particular. But let me offer a bullet list of just a few LDS superstitions (folklore? beliefs? doctrines?) and then wind up with some questions for our studio audience.
- The Three Nephites. Do you believe they are abroad in the land, doing good deeds like rescuing cars stranded off the road in the snow? Do other Mormons in your neighborhood believe it? You don’t hear Three Nephite stories in General Conference anymore, but this might be a belief that has gone underground rather than one that has been quietly rejected by LDS leaders.
- Possession and Exorcism. Do you believe there are millions of spirits zooming around Planet Earth, eager to possess the bodies of susceptible humans, particularly Mormon humans? Do other Mormons believe this? My sense is Mormons believe this in theory, but not in practice. I just can’t see any LDS bishop, even the most orthodox zealot, telling a concerned member that they (or a troubled family member) are likely possessed and in need of an LDS priesthood exorcism. It’s an odd combination of belief (in spirits and possession) and denial (that it actually happens or ever merits an exorcism).
- God Sent the Seagulls. This is a Utah thing, I think. Some birds eat insects, and when there are a whole host of crickets near a lake with seagulls, the seagulls go feasting. That’s just how the world works. But try explaining that to a Utah Mormon who was raised on The Miracle of the Seagulls. It even has a Wikipedia entry. And there’s a Seagull Monument on Temple Square (again, with its own Wikipedia entry).
- Patriarchal Blessings. It’s easy to reject the advice in your local newspaper’s astrology column, supposedly based on your astrological sign and the insight of a particular astrologer. Active LDS are encouraged, almost required, to get advice through a patriarchal blessing, which is based on their tribal affiliation and the insight of a particular LDS patriarch. Some LDS find them very meaningful and helpful. And some people find astrological advice meaningful and helpful.
I’m sure readers can add other examples. I’ll ask that you not bring LDS temple practices or garments into the conversation. There are plenty of other examples to work with and other forums to pursue that particular conversation if you just have to have it.
So what gives? Why is the LDS community so open to religious superstition? (Or you may think differently, holding that the LDS community is *less* open to religious superstition than other religious denominations.) I haven’t even touched on seer stones or a dozen Jaredite submersible barges crossing the ocean or Zelph the Warrior or Korihor the witch-heretic (a constant reference point for LDS discussions). If one rejects the grab bag of LDS superstitions, does one also reject the Church (or get rejected by the Church)? In theory, senior LDS leaders try to separate key or essential doctrines of the gospel and Church from folklore and superstition. In practice, some local leaders can’t tell the difference.
Please note that the topic of this week’s post is drawn from comments to last week’s post (“You Make the Call”) asking for blogging topics. Commenter Di asked about “dubious Three Nephite stories” and commenter Trish asked “Does anyone believe Three Nephite stories anymore?”
With regard5 to patriarchal blessings, I think it is mixed. Mine made references to a personal experience that I had not shared with anybody and addressed a few specific items on my mind at the time. Nice and brief with some general guidance that was needed. My patriarchy was a kind, humble man.
My oldest son’s was super long with a lot of specific declarations, some of which were way off. There was some veey specific guidance that still makes no sense. Personal opinion, that patriarch was a bit of a self indulgent blowhard who liked to here himself talk. Likely not very inspired.
I grew up hearing Three Nephite stories. People seemed to really believe them. Mormons are plenty superstitious, for sure. I don’t know how many garment-saving-lives stories I’ve heard. However, at the same time Mormons are a curious, unique bunch, having among them a distinct believing intellectual class that you just don’t find among the Pentecostals or many of the more conservative Christian denominations.
I think this has to do in large part to the fact that you had a large group of people building a community in the mountain West where they acquired land, control of local politics, and strong group identity. As generations passed, rising from this community you found some best and brightest folks deeply socialized in the religion and way of life who would marry young, go off to Harvard or whatever prestigious school, come back to Utah and inject the Mormon community with intellectualism mixed with religion. These preaching intellectuals were under close supervision by the general leadership who would tarnish their names of they said anything out of hand. But at the same time, the general leadership relied greatly on these intellectuals to provide narratives to stem the tide of secularism that inched its way into Mormondom post-WWII.
I grew up in Provo, in a BYU-employed community. Steve Robinson was my neighbor and a dear friend of ours. The community I grew up in had many figures who regularly spurned and softly ridiculed many of the traditional superstitiousness embedded in Mormon culture. So much so, I remember thinking I was liberal and progressive at BYU simply because I didn’t believe many of the superstitions that I found many other students at BYU to believe. Little did I know that I still believed all sorts of fantasies and strange myths and was hardly progressive in a larger non-Mormon context. But that has since changed.
I made the mistake of privately letting a mother know that her 13-year old son was raising heck in our Sunday School class. The woman was highly influential in the ward and I got a scathing letter from her (she sent copies to the Bishop and Stake President) which stated I was under the power of demonic forces. I did not have a calling for several years. Yes, this was in Utah. Nice vacation.
Our patriarch is a wonderful, kind man, but very politicized in his opinions. In one young man’s patriarchal blessing, the young man was repeatedly instructed that one of his life’s callings was to “defend the U.S. Constitution.” The young man understood this as referencing a military career and tried to enlist. Luckily, he was found to have a nut allergy which made that impossible.
I am afraid that much like children in a bowling alley, Latter-day Saints still need bumpers to keep our balls in the lane. Yes, we believe that there are spirits, prophecy, etc., but in a world of modernity we frequently overcompensate and become fundamentalist. We can just as easily go “off the rails” by rejecting science, the Enlightenment and rational thinking as we can by an over-reliance on spiritual guidance, speaking to the dead and expecting automatic healings without utilizing real medical developments such as vaccinations.
The one Mormon legend that really bothers me is the transfiguration of Brigham Young into the image of Joseph Smith. Most accounts of that event were given by folks not even present at the meeting (like Orson Hyde) and folks like W Woodruff who were there made no mention of the event even though his diary mentions many other details. This legend is not some kind of random unimportant event. It’s the one single experience that seemed to really cement the idea that Brigham Young was indeed the chosen successor to Joseph Smith contrary to the strong cases made by James Strange, Sidney Rigdon, and the son (11 years old?).
I guess this bothers me because we (LDS) speak so confidently about authority but the reality is that Brigham Young made a power play via his Q12 leadership but as far as I know the Lord never revealed his succession plans. And that affects us today. How many members realize that all we do is promote the Q15 member with the most seniority? In other words, the longer you live and serve in the quorum, the more likely it is you make it to “President”. There’s no mention of anyone ever being chosen as the “Prophet”. It’s very corporate. And it all goes back to the false legend of Brigham Young’s transfiguration.
I understand what your are saying. There is a tendency for spiritual accounts “evolving” over time to fulfill a need. But there was a much stronger case for Young, as President of the Q12 to consolidate control. It is outlined in Andrew Ehat’s Master’s thesis.
When I was a new missionary, there were photocopied stories that were being shared among the missionaries that included some of these folkloric “proofs.” There was a story (I’m not going to go digging around in the garage looking for my mission binder, sorry folks) about a farmer ploughing a field in Utah I think who unearthed the skeletal remains of a young girl who then slowly resurrected before his eyes. He said he recieved a spiritual witness that she was a Lamanite child whose father had blessed her to resurrect as soon as her remains were discovered.
I had so many mixed feelings when I read that story. My first reaction was something like Indiana Jones: “That skeleton belongs in a museum!” Or at least, some type of scientist should have had a look at it because if she was a Lamanite, that would mean she had died 1500-1600 years earlier and not decayed past recognition! But then I thought, “Maybe he doesn’t distinguish between Native Americans and Lamanites.” And then I thought, well, if she’s from one of the Native American tribes in the American Southwest, do they believe in resurrection? I don’t really know. And would they have the priesthood power/authority to make that happen? And then I thought, wait a minute, do any humans have that power? Because even Lazarus, raised from the dead by Jesus, was not resurrected. He just went back in his same old body and presumable took a shower. He hadn’t been dead long enough to require resurrection. And if Jesus can’t do it, do we really think anyone else can? Isn’t resurrection supposed to be God’s doing, after the final judgment? And of course I thought “What if this was literally some murder victim this guy unearthed with his plow? Why weren’t the police involved?” and then I remembered that she “resurrected” and was taken into the heavens afterward. This line of thinking certainly opens up some sinister possibilities to this story.
But one thing I noticed after reading this story was that I had a secret thirst for proof that the Church was true that I had not really believed I had up to that point. I really felt that if it was true, there would be stories like this that proved it, even if they weren’t well known. Of course, I suspect that’s one reason that the miracles exist in the Gospels. Different authors seemed to find different miracles more compelling, and the feeding of the multitudes is the only one to appear in all four gospels.
One of the most painful superstitions that is still repeated over and over at every level of the church is that if parents are faithful in having FHE, family prayer and family scripture study, the children will not go astray. Well, we did all of those things faithfully during the time that all of our kids were growing up. Now, one of the four is active and one will be removing his name from the records. This superstitious teaching turned out to be total bunk.
Old Man: thanks for the response. I look forward to reading the enclosed doc.
I grew up in California and didn’t really hear any stories about the 3 Nephites being alive today or the “seagull miracle” until I was in college (also in California, but going to institute where I was among groups of Utah Mormons for the first time). They told and retold those pioneer folklore stories like they were gospel truth. I chalked it up to the fact that they were taught Utah history in school growing up and the facts of history got intertwined with the faith-promoting “facts” of Church history. That kind of stuff just didn’t matter that much to me, and still doesn’t. I’m naturally skeptical and usually roll my eyes at such claims.
My wife has roots in southern Utah, where the old story about Lorenzo Snow traveling to St. George in the 1890s during a drought, promising rain if they paid their tithing, is still talked about among members there today. The episode was immortalized (or rather, mythologized) in the awesomely bad Church film “Windows of Heaven” from the 1960s. It seems like every LDS kid from that area grew up hearing versions of this story at the feet of their grandparents, who may have had an ancestor that was present for Snow’s visit or at least remembers when the rain came. To this day, even the coffee-drinking jackmormon farmers and ranchers in southern Utah are willing to pay tithing when they need rain badly enough. I find the idea of God expecting His children to pay Him money in exchange for blessings to be absurd and sacrilegious. I teach my kids that if any religious leader asks for your money with promises of improved weather, to turn around and run away as fast as you can. But some folks who are only a couple generations removed from witnessing that “miracle” are still affected by it. And as it turns out, the facts of the story were grossly exaggerated; weather data from that era indicates the drought persisted for years afterward, with only occasional rains of an inch or two, and the brief rainstorms actually caused extensive damage. It bothers me that this episode still comes up in lessons about tithing.
Our standard works scriptures will forever justify and keep alive LDS-specific religious superstitions until certain doctrines or practices are de-canonized. And we owe nearly all of that to Joseph Smith, who came from a culture (early America), and family (masons and treasure diggers) that practiced and believed in these things. The rejection of these religious superstitions that are a large part of our tradition, practice, and sacred texts, ironically puts one outside of Church’s actual spiritual foundations and canonized beliefs. But I think it is more common these days to gloss over the stories, practices, beliefs that once provided “proof” of a true and living church, and to simply focus on more widely accepted values, morals, and principles of good, clean living.
Jack Hughes, I remember the “Windows from Heaven” video. That certainly isn’t the only instance where leaders have linked the paying of tithing with material blessings in this life. In fact, there is a general sentiment, a superstition if you will, among Mormon believers that by obeying commandments such as paying tithing, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and other such thing they’ll will reap material rewards somehow. The opposite is believed to be true as well, that breaking the commandments will bring hardship in life. If you pay tithing, you’ll be blessed with wealth somehow. That was President Nelson’s 2018 message to his audience in Kenya:
“We preach tithing to the poor people of the world because the poor people of the world have had cycles of poverty, generation after generation. That same poverty continues from one generation to another, until people pay their tithing.”
If you don’t pay tithing, God will punish you. Punishment may not come immediately, but whatever hardship comes to you in life, you should interpret that as a divine punishment for not paying tithing or buying something at the store on Sunday. Same goes for those who leave the church. Whatever hardship comes their way after leaving the church, well, that is God’s punishment on them for leaving the church.
My mother once told me that paying fast offerings is the only “donation” to the church that is guaranteed to somehow be returned to you in actual cash , dollar for dollar.
Patriarchal blessings are quite interesting…
1- Got my blessing in 1987 and the patriarch died in 2013. His obituary talked about a phrase in his blessing that years later he included in my blessing. Talk about feeling deflated…
2- A young millenial relative, completely inactive, wanted to recover his blessing and was dismayed that it was more Ezra Taft Benson than Eckhart Tolle in terms of “advice.”
3- I have a strong-willed child which I think the patriarch could sense; thus, the blessing is quite generic. If he had mentioned the typical gospel milestones I think this child would have punched him in the face.
Early Mormonism and the Magic World View.
D Michael Quinn
short version; it’s in our DNA
Until missionaries are allowed to go swimming, we will always be a tribe of mystics. (Referring to Satan controlling the waters).
Chadwick, ah yes, missionaries and swimming. I find it interesting how members now try to explain this policy as rooted in common-sense thinking of protecting missionaries from drowning and downplay the idea that Satan controls the waters. But every indication I’ve found in the culture and the historical leadership teachings points to the policy being rooted first and foremost in the superstition that Satan controls the waters. I’ve heard many members tell missionaries that they can’t swim for that very reason. It isn’t over concern of drowning.
I agree that turning tithing into some sort of “prosperity gospel” would be horribly wrong. I suggest such thinking INCREASES materialism as one then believes that everything comes from personal effort (paying tithing) rather than realizing how interconnected the human family is and needs to become… and how reliant we are upon others, including God. But I suspect that such a notion would be dismissed as “socialism” in today’s environment!
Like @John W mentioned, I think it’s a fairly standard belief that members can “magic” blessings for themselves through obedience. With the help of confirmation bias, I know many members that attribute any good thing that happens to them as divine intervention as a result of their righteousness.
I feel like I was taught this and fully believed this for a long time. I will still agree that “All blessings come from God/Christ (since He created everything)”, but I don’t think that God intervenes to bless/not bless me based on how obedient I’ve been. Rather, I believe that doing good will lead to good outcomes (whether you believe in God or not).
As for the topics mentioned, here’s my guess of how much others believe in them (based on nothing but my gut feeling about others)
-3 Nephites I think will have a 50% literal belief/ 50% believe it’s a legend
-Demonic possession I’d guess 5-10%% of members believe/ 90-95% don’t
-Seagulls being sent by God 75% believe/ 25% believe it’s a natural phenomenon
-Patriarchal blessings 90% believe as scripture/ 10% are wary
Like the author, I’d be curious to hear what others’ perceptions of the church members’ beliefs are.
I grew up in Utah and used to believe alllll these things. The three nephites, the seagulls, Brigham Young transfiguration, all of it. It’s so weird because I was generally a critical thinker, and I actually believed a lot of biblical stuff was metaphorical, but it’s like LDS-specific Church stuff was just stored in a separate part of my brain that was untouchable. The ultimate shelf. Same went for social issues where I gave the Church a get out of jail free card on things I wouldn’t for anything else.
While as I mentioned I did keep that mostly separate from the way I viewed the rest of the world / reality, that kind of magical and superstitious thinking did influence the rest of my thinking to some extent and I’m still working on unpacking it.
I went through the MTC in 1975 and was lectured on how the rules against swimming were the same as those against football—purely for practical safety and anything else was just urban legend.
Which, interestingly enough, is what the seagull story turns out to be.
This probably sounds scandalous but my husband has pictures of missionaries, including sister missionaries in swimsuits who joined the local members water skiing on the Great Lakes in Ontario, Canada. The. 50s though 🤣
Re patriarchal blessings – in a FB group several years ago a woman shared how disturbed she was after sharing her blessing with a friend to discover that they were word for word identical. After the patriarchs’s death his daughter found a binder with pages of different blessings that he obviously recycled to give to those seeking a personal blessing. She also found evidence of other personal indiscretions. Sad.
The existence of the Three Nephites/John raises so many questions.
What would a typical day in their life look like? Do they own property and live together—a trio/quartet of celibate missionaries? Or maybe they’re more like the Eternals from the recent Marvel film—splitting up, changing identities every few decades, possibly having families of their own but unable to grow old with them, learning languages and applying for visas and choosing internet plans. Or is their essence of a more supernatural nature—do they simply appear then vanish, traversing the globe at the speed of Santa Claus, then hie-ing to Kolob and back in the twinkling of an eye?
If their primary purpose on this globe is to further the work of the kingdom, do they have church callings? Do they disguise themselves as rank and file members putting on the tie and nametag? As mission presidents perhaps? The higher up the church leadership ladder they go, the harder it would be to explain away their immortality (conspicuously succumbing to age is the most consistent feature of LDS leadership). And how did they spend the centuries when there was no COJCOLDS on the earth? “Hello we’d like to share a special message with you about a church that won’t exist for another 800 years…”
From the perspective of God (just go with me, here) let’s say you have this extraordinary asset—four men who are immortal (possibly invincible?) who were personal associates of Christ in his ministry in the Old and New Worlds. They’re angels for all intents and purposes, except they don’t get time off in the marble and chiffon low-earth-orbit observatory with Michael and co. You can communicate with them at will, either through revelation or angelic visitation. And you can deploy them anywhere in the world on whatever assignment you, in your infinite wisdom, see fit. You can send them on direct missions of relief or rescue through quite miraculous means while having them appear as ordinary Good Samaritans. You’ve got baked-in plausible deniability for your children to continue their mortal probation without seeing too many miracles (especially once they figure out how to record them on their smart phones).
Why send Moroni to Joseph Smith when there are three *living* Nephites around who could have hand-delivered him the plates? Why use a stone in a hat when actual characters from the book, presumably fluent in both English and Reformed Egyptian, are standing right next to you, offering to help you with your homework? Why send an angel with a drawn sword to threaten Joseph about polygamy when the Three Nephites could have pulled a pistol on him? “The boss wants the job done, kid. Or have you gone soft?” In fact, why have a Joseph Smith at all when you’ve got three or four immortal superheroes walking around who could preside over the church, accumulate financial resources and political savvy over centuries, and kung-fu hustle their way through the entire mob at Carthage?
The answer is obvious of course. It’s because Bigfoo—I mean Cain—wanders this earth as well, thwarting their ministry at every turn. They can’t make themselves known to the general membership because they’re too busy fist-fighting with him: that hulking, hairy giant who would otherwise be leading the children of God astray. It takes all four of them to keep him at bay. They are locked in an epic eternal struggle, just out of view.
Ok I need someone to make this a Netflix series and I need it now.
@Kirkstall “touched by an angel” reboot … touched by a nephite. I think you’ve already got several good episodes sketched.
I am reluctant to comment on patriarchal blessings as I’ve heard and experienced mixed things – some that seemed personal and helpful – plus my FIL is a patriarch. But as I’ve thought about it and gotten a little older I feel increasingly uncomfortable about the undue influence of an older man telling a teenage girl that she’ll marry in the temple and have a bunch of kids (I mean, is there a single woman in the church whose blessing *doesn’t* say that?). Etc etc for various other life paths doled out that I imagine all look quite similar and follow pretty gendered and “you better stay active for forever or else” patterns. I have to wonder if that doesn’t mitigate agency somewhat and I have heard plenty of stories like @Di’s. There was some helpful stuff in mine and also some stuff that actually just made me unnecessarily anxious and honestly downright paranoid for many, many years because of some “warnings” and other stuff that could be interpreted in strange ways. Still processing that tbh.
My patriarchal blessing has been one of the major items that undermined my faith. At the time I had it I had followed the direction of my seminary teacher to fast and pray before for specific guidance on a few key issues. Not one was addressed. More disturbing, the entire blessing is so generic that it convinced me that God doesn’t care about me in particular. In fact, it doesn’t reflect my personality or needs one bit. I try to avoid rereading it as it makes me sad every time I do.
@Kirkstall: I would watch that Netflix series!
@Kirkstall…sounds like Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”. He just needs to add the Mormon pantheon to his existing wandering gods.
Thanks for the great comments, everyone.
John W: “I grew up hearing Three Nephite stories. People seemed to really believe them.” People who believe them will retell them because they are true. People who don’t believe them will retell them because they are fun or funny. So they will never go away. Everyone retells them.
josh h: “The one Mormon legend that really bothers me is the transfiguration of Brigham Young into the image of Joseph Smith.” Stories and legends get repeated and inserted into the curriculum not because they are necessarily true but because they are useful and effective at keeping mainstream LDS happy and secure and willing to keep writing checks. That sounds cynical, but who doubts that inconvenient true events get left out of curriculum stuff, and plenty of questionable stuff is kept in? That’s why most of us don’t trust most of what the Church says most of the time. Credibility.
Jack Hughes, thanks for the Lorenzo Snow story and context. A perfect example of what I stated in the prior paragraph: the story keeps getting told and recited in manuals *not* because it is accurate but because it is useful (to keep Mormons happy about paying tithing).
Kirkstall, nice commentary. If they can make reality shows about Mormon polygamy, they can make un-reality shows about Mormon folklore.
I’m disappointed no one followed up on my band name theme. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Gwen Stefani and the Miami Sound Machine. Bennie and the Jets. Eddie and the Cruisers.
Seagull story taught in seminary as evidence for tithing here in the UK 45 years ago. Also in seminary we were taught that stories about polygamy were put about by enemies of the church, which implied that it was nothing but anti mormon gossip. Little did we know…