Home The Catalog of Accusations

Were the Witnesses Coerced with Threats to their Families?
by Woody Brison

Accusation: The Book of Mormon witnesses stuck to their story because they were coerced with threats to their families.

I included this accusation for completeness. There isn't much evidence for it.

Mormon leader Sidney Rigdon made a famous speech in 1838, the "Salt Sermon". In it, he made some rather un-Christian references to violence against apostates if they didn't leave that area. It's generally conceded that Sidney was "talking out of school", ie. should not have said what he said. Joseph Smith and the rest of the leaders were not in agreement with it and Sidney evenually left the Church.

According to this accusation theory, this sermon was really a message to the Book of Mormon witnesses, present or not, that they must not deny their supposedly pretended testimony of seeing the plates, or they or their families would be killed.

We don't have a transcript of Rigdon's speech, but several people left brief notes of it, and there's no mention of the plates or the witnesses denying their testimony.

If we are going to assume that this sermon had a hidden meaning, there might be thousands of different possible ones, with no way to determine which hidden meaning was intended. If we decide that it was really aimed at the Witnesses, we should be aware that we must be so desperate to get that conclusion that we're willing to rely on bizzare reasoning.

There's no explanation how this threat continued to control all the witnesses after Joseph Smith was dead, after Sidney was dead, after the Latter-day Saints moved a thousand miles away.

Besides, anyone familiar with the LDS at all knows they are not vicious, desperate cutthroats.

I have to evaluate this accusation as hysterical.


1. Woody Brison is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this website is not affiliated with the church. It may be thought of as an additional, somewhat independent witness.

2. I want this page to be as accurate as I can make it. If you have a correction, please email me.

3. All biblical quotations are from the King James unless otherwise noted.

Copyright 2013 Woody Brison. All rights reserved.