I was surprised to learn the LDS Church sued Matthew Gill, essentially to shut down his church. Matthew tells more about the suit.
Sued by LDS Church
Matthew: Then, one day, I come home, from taking my boys out, and I’ve got this big envelope with the LDS Church stamped all over it, and I’m like, “Uh oh,” and then they go, “We’re going to sue you.” I was like, “Oh, wow.” Our sites, I mean, we’re not huge, and we don’t have lots of money. So, you’re not going to get much. So, we went to a lawyer, and we got lawyers, as best as we could. We took the fight to them as best as we could with our limited resources. Instead of them suing us, in the end, we came to an agreement, because the LDS Church wanted us to stop using the Book of Mormon. They wanted us to stop referring to Joseph Smith. They wanted us to basically give up everything that we believe that we are, and we simply can’t do that. Because we believe the Book of Mormon is true. We believe Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. We can’t just say we don’t believe in those things. That’s who we are. So, we came to an agreement that they would back off if we changed our name, pretty much. You know, touch wood, we’re still alright. So, we changed that name. We changed the website.
GT: This is in 20–, what year is this?
Matthew: Oh, 2014.
GT: Okay, so, now you’re the Restored Branch. I think your website’s the restoredbranch.org. Is that right?
Matthew: Yeah, the restoredbranch.com.
GT: Dot com, okay.
Matthew: That’s the beauty to get .com. Everything else is terrible. So, yeah, we just we changed our name, changed the website. We totally overhauled the website, put a big disclaimer on the website that we are not affiliated with the LDS Church in any way, shape or form, which is one of the prerequisites, of course.
GT: But, you believe in the Book of Mormon.
Matthew: We believe in the Book of Mormon, we believe Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, we don’t believe in polygamy. We certainly don’t believe Joseph was a polygamist.
Restored Branch Scripture
Matthew: Yes, we threw out the Book of Abraham. We’ve got the Book of Moses, because the Book of Moses is a part of the Inspired Version of the Bible, it’s right there. So my argument is you don’t need the book of Moses, if you’re using the IVB. If you’re using the Inspired Version, you don’t need the Book of Moses. The only reason, in my opinion, the LDS Church used the Pearl of Great Price is, firstly, the Book of Abraham, and secondly, because they don’t print out the Inspired Version of the Bible. They print extracts from it, but they don’t print the entire thing. So, hence, the need to put the Book of Moses into a new book of Scripture.
GT: So, anyway, because I’m trying to remember, so you threw out the Book of Abraham, but you still probably have the First Vision, what’s it called, Joseph Smith History?
Matthew: Yeah, we have a we have a Joseph Smith history, which is taken from the Wentworth letter.
GT: So you just call it the Wentworth letter?
Matthew: No, no. We call it Joseph Smith History, because when Joseph Smith wrote the Wentworth letter, basically, he wrote a history of himself and the Church. So, we wanted a history, for obvious reasons, that wasn’t linked to the LDS Church. So, the best one that we thought we would go with, was the last real history Joseph Smith gave, I suppose, was the Wentworth letter. So, we put that into our Doctrine & Covenants as Joseph Smith History.
GT: So, you’ve got a new version of the Doctrine & Covenants.
Matthew: Oh, we have our own version of the Doctrine & Covenants, yes.
GT: The LDS Church was okay with you calling it Doctrine & Covenants? They didn’t sue you over that?
Matthew: They had no problem with that, which is really weird. They had no problem with–the only things–the problem was with the name and the Book of Mormon. In America, you see, the Book of Mormon is public domain.
Matthew: Anybody can use it. Here, it’s not.
GT: Oh, really?
Matthew: Yes, so, before we left the European Union, we were tied to European Union regulations. In the European Union, they have, what’s the word, copyrighted the Book of Mormon, so only they can use it, nobody else. We said, “That’s unfair, because what you’re doing is potentially hamstringing people from not being in your church.” Then, of course, we left the European Union anyway, so we don’t have to abide by those rules anymore. But, this was prior to Brexit. So, we just came to a conclusion. Our lawyers spoke with their lawyers. When they came back, they gave us a list of things they’re prepared to budge on, and a list of things they weren’t prepared to budge on. Then, we just sat down as a branch and went, “You know, we can’t afford a huge legal battle here. We can afford to push on some things, but we can’t afford to push on others.” So, we went back to them, and said, “This is what we’re going to change our name to. Are you happy that this is okay? It’s not going to be a problem down the road?” They said, “No, the name is fine. But you’ve got to change your website.” We agreed that we could still use the Book of Mormon and we could still refer to Joseph Smith. Our argument was, “If we were in America, this organization, written in America, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” So, they could push it here, because they have done things here that they can’t do in the States.
GT: So, you threatened to just incorporate in America? (Chuckling)
Matthew: I mean, yeah. It’s just ridiculous, though. Yeah. I mean, we made the point that we’re not a massive organization. So, we’re not a threat to you guys. I mean, this is a multibillion-pound organization. I mean, why did you feel threatened by this in the first place? We couldn’t understand why they felt so threatened to be suing us.
GT: So, as far as the Pearl of Great Price, your Book of Moses, you’ve incorporated, you probably just use the Inspired Version from the Community of Christ, right?
Matthew: No, not from the Community of Christ. We get ours from Price Publishing.
We’ll talk more about the scriptures his church uses. He tells why he thinks Joseph didn’t practice polygamy.
GT: I’m going to try really hard not to argue with you about polygamy, but can you just give some justifications why you think Joseph Smith was not a polygamist? Before 2005, did you believe Joseph was a polygamist?
Matthew: Oh, that’s a good question.
GT: You hadn’t given it much thought?
Matthew: It’s not a thing that really came up in. I mean, obviously, we knew polygamy was there. We knew it was there, I don’t know about your ward, but it’s not something that was really spoken about in great depth every other week at church. Now, obviously, it wasn’t something that I grew up being really, really in-depth knowledge about. I mean, I knew it existed. But I really haven’t given it much thought, I suppose, prior to 2005.
Matthew: The first time that polygamy really became an issue for me, was when I’d left the LDS Church, and people were asking me questions, and people were saying to me, “Do you believe in polygamy?” I’m like, “Well, I don’t know. I don’t think… Then, we have to go back, and then you study, for me, anyway. I know people believe in polygamy, and they practice it, some of them, and they hold dear to it. But, I don’t believe that Joseph Smith was a polygamist. I certainly don’t believe he sanctioned it. I really believe that he was going to do something about it before he was killed. Now, people say to me, how’d you get to that conclusion? Well, Joseph Smith, for me, spoke publicly on the issue many times and said, “People have accused me of these things, and I’m not.”
Matthew: They released, while they’re in Nauvoo, even, they released a statement. Hyrum Smith released a statement saying, that we are not polygamists. So, my feeling, look, I either believe Joseph Smith spoke to God, and when he spoke to people, he spoke to them as a prophet. So, I’ve got to believe in a Joseph Smith that was not only concealing sexual acts, or extracurricular activities, from his from his peers, and was secretly involved in a secret society within his own church. I just, I’m sorry, I don’t believe that. I just don’t believe that’s the sort of man he was. You could argue, as I do with people, well, the Book of Mormon condemns it. Other people say it doesn’t condemn it, it supports it. Well, this is one of those arguments, for me, that you could go backwards and forwards it all night. Which leads, of course, wonderfully into the martyrdom. But, this is what we believe. We don’t believe he was a polygamist. We can show that Joseph Smith publicly stated, and the Church publicly stated it wasn’t a polygamist organization. That’s the Joseph Smith I want to believe in. It’s not necessarily the Joseph Smith, everyone else believes in, but that’s the Joseph Smith I believe in.
Book of Rayaneck
He also gives basic details about his church beliefs, and his newest scripture, the Book of Rayaneck.
GT: So, lets jump up to 2015 and the book of Rayaneck. So, how did you get that book and translate it? Was there an angel involved and that kind of thing?
Matthew: I was given the book by Rayaneck.
GT: Did he just drop it off?
Matthew: I met him.
GT: You met him, okay.
Matthew: He gave me the book.
GT: So, he was an angel?
GT: He’s still [alive.] He never died. He’s like the three Nephites?
Matthew: He’s still here. He gave me the book. Now, it was about yay high, fairly big. It was on, like parchment, I suppose.
GT: So, it wasn’t gold plates or brass plates.
Matthew: So, the parchment book is quite thick.
GT: And it was written in a strange language?
Matthew: Yes, it’s written in the language of his mother and his mother’s people from–unless you know the descriptions, it’s hard. His mother’s people were from the people of Ritenon. Anyway, it’s written in another language. So yes, we had to translate that. I was involved. Another elder was involved.
GT: Do you still have these red and blue translators?
GT: Oh, so, what happened to the brass plates? Sorry to change the subject back to there, but…
Matthew: Then, they were taken back when the work was done. It was taken away. We had them for a lengthy period, anyway. Once we finished, I wasn’t comfortable having them just lying around, because I certainly wasn’t going to invite some kid to come and see them, you know, take them on the road. So, I beseeched the Lord, to take them away. So, I wouldn’t have to worry of looking after them, and that’s what happened. They were taken.
GT: So, an angel came.
Matthew: And took them away, yes.
GT: Raphael or somebody else?
Matthew: Raphael took them away, and I haven’t seen it since. So, I’m not likely to. Then, we had this big, long period, and then we had this record given to us by Rayaneck, son of Jeraneck. Then, we spent some time translating, putting that down. That took a longer period of time to do that, than it did the Book of Jeraneck. Then, we just followed the same procedure: had them, prayed about them. We invited those who wanted to be involved in the translation process to come and see and have a look.
When Matthew Gill was called as prophet of the Restored Branch of Jesus Christ, he claims that Joseph Smith returned to ordain him prophet.
Ordained by Joseph Smith
GT: Did you receive like an angelic ordination to be prophet?
Matthew: Yes, that took place in 2006, and that was by Raphael. That was on the 12th of July, 2006.
GT: Did your dad have that too?
Matthew: He had a similar experience.
Matthew: Within that experience, I had met Christ and Joseph Smith, and Jeraneck, although I didn’t realize at the time who he was. Then, obviously…
GT: This was a physical, not just a vision. But they appeared and laid hands on your head, I assume.
Matthew: Not Christ. Christ didn’t lay his hands on my head. He didn’t touch me at all. Joseph did, and Jeraneck.
GT: So, you were ordained by Joseph Smith?
Matthew: Yes, under Joseph’s hand. It’s documented in our Doctrine & Covenants. So, yeah, it’s all documented. It’s all there. It’s all in black and white. So I was, in that experience, I was taken with Raphael, and I saw Christ. He didn’t lay hands on me. He just spoke to me. Then, I saw Joseph, who did lay hands on me. Then, once he’d finished, Jeraneck laid hands on me. Then, of course, we had the call to Stonehenge and the records.
GT: Okay, so this was before you received the Book of Jeraneck.
Matthew: So, the series of events would be, really, I have an experience when I’m 12 in 1990, where I see Moroni and the gold plates. Then, I have another experience in October 2005, where I see Raphael for the first time. He tells me that something’s going to happen. I need to prepare, that I’m going to be given this gift, what the gift is. Then, there are a series of visitations where I’m shown things and taught things. Then, the 12th of July 2006, I see Christ and Joseph Smith laid hands on me. Then, after that, we are called to Stonehenge in August of that year, and then the plates come in September of 2006, the same year. Then, all the work’s done and completed by December. So, 2006 wraps up really nicely throughout that period.
Matthew: Joseph Smith needed to be there.
What are your thoughts about Matthew’s claims? Do you think the LDS Church’s suit against Gill was wise?
No one is going to say that that sounds 1) fairly insane and 2) remarkably like something Joseph Smith claimed.
OK. Then I guess I have to.
I agree that this is very similar to Joseph Smith’s claims. But I’m not a big fan of calling it, or most religious beliefs, insane. I don’t think I could personally believe it, but it’s similar to things that I have believed about the LDS church. And unlike some beliefs, it doesn’t seem to be hurting anyone. As far as I can tell, there’s no sexual coercion, and whatever Gill does for donations, I doubt it’s any stricter than tithing. Mainly, I’m impressed that either Gill or God did all of this in the twenty-first century, when people seem a bit more skeptical than they did 200 years ago.