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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

Smith, Joseph (1805-1844) Joseph Smith, who was to become founder of the Mormon church, worked at first as a conjuror in New York State. At one point, he was charged and convicted in court with being “a disorderly person and an imposter,” having claimed to be able to divine “hidden treasures in the bowels of the earth,” booty to which he said he could direct any willing and paying clients. There were many.
      Then he claimed that at age twenty-two he had unearthed some “plates of gold” which bore “revised Egyptian hieroglyphics” that told the story of a lost book of the Bible, which he called The Book of Mormon. Fortunately there were two special optical instruments found with the plates, which enabled Smith to dictate to chosen scribes a translation of the sacred text. He did this from behind a curtain, since he was the only person privileged to see the plates or to see or handle the instruments. Indeed, to this very day, no one else has ever seen either the plates or the instruments. Where could they be?
      In 1830 he founded the Mormon church, which went through many difficulties, as did Smith. While he was held in prison at Carthage, Illinois, a mob attacked and lynched him.
      See also The Book of Coming Forth by Day.

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