Episodes

Radio Free Mormon: 014: Apostolic Coup-D- Etat

Today we delve into the process by which Apostles became the ruling body in the LDS Church.  The different leadership bodies, who had a higher authority and stewardship, what happened at Joseph Smith’s death, who he had appointed as his successor, and how the Quorum of the twelve removed every other possible contender to take leadership upon Joseph’s death.

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20 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 014: Apostolic Coup-D- Etat

  1. RFM…wow. The Q12 changing history?…adding lines and making deletions?

    That is just wrong. Its like….telling lies?…

    • The current LDS power structure rests on a shaky foundation. It’s strength depends on the members not asking how it is the apostles came to have absolute control.

      Once the members understand an apostolic coup d’-etat has taken place, the power wielded by the apostles over the members may be substantially reduced.

      • If that is so….Who’s to navigate the Ship? Considering that the Church is an International Church now and that is engaged in a large number of projects per year…. WHO IS to keep the lights on or should the Church revert to the 19th Century Church? Should it not be an International Church? Should it be a loose confederation of pastors a la Pentecostal [who allegedly speak in tongues, hear revelations and fly on private jets a la Creflo or Steen]or a more structured Church a la Methodist?

        • Who’s to navigate the Ship? …….. Christ
          Should it not be an International Church? that seems like an extreme position to insist the data leads to.
          fly on private jets …… our team does that already and when they fly commercial they go first class…. nothing less than the best.
          more structured Church a la Methodist? you can be more structured than mormonism? wow…. call me impressed

          • The Methodist Church is fairly structured Church. Kanon wise they’re as good as the LDS and offshoots. But they do not have the leadership structure of the LDS Church, and by that I don’ necessarily mean kanon wise. Instead they rely on a council type structure. Without a doubt there are influential pastors within the council but is not as vertical as the LDS. Which comes to the matter of the podkast Bill…..Were u not implying that a council like structure should have elected the successor to JS? Second Question. paraphrasing Bob Dylan… Has anybody seen JC lately? [other than Denver, of course] 😉

        • How ’bout Jesus’ words already there, just for starters, which are ignored and contradicted…

  2. Dear RFM,

    Thank you for this most interesting post. You have a talent for taking the confusion out of documents which can be interpreted into many varying conclusions.

    I have long noticed that the LDS church seems to be mirroring the US gov’t in how power has been usurped from the people to a ruling kingship.

    Tinglingly anticipating part 2.

    • I think you have anticipated an analogy I plan to use in part 2 comparing the LDS Church power structure with the U.S. Government.

      I will give it a go here.

      Imagine that the President and Vice-President of the U.S. were assassinated and the Legislature took over those positions by filling the slots with Senators. (Even though the Constitution in this analogy says nothing about who should lead in such an eventuality.)

      After having taken control of the Executive Branch, the Legislature does away with the Judiciary by the simple expedient of failing to appoint any new justices and letting them die out.

      Would any American feel duty bound to support such a government?

      Would the failure to support such a government make somebody “un-American”? Or, heaven forbid, “anti-American”?

      Would such a government have legitimate power to discipline any American who refused to recognize its arrogated power?

      Just a few questions I want to explore in part 2.

      Thanks for listening!

      RFM

  3. I laughed out loud at ‘the testimony of the earthquake’ as I visualized a group of head-hunters in Borneo witnessing an eclipse of the sun, and surmising that the god’s had spoken that their medicine man was indeed powerful in ways mere humans could not comprehend. hehe

    • This is an interesting story I have been aware of for some time.

      I have learned in the last few weeks though that a lot of Mormons have not heard of it.

      But you are right–it is a strange story where an earthquake is alleged to have happened and everybody “in the neighborhood” somehow seems to know exactly where it came from–Orson Hyde’s house where the apostles are meeting.

      That is different from any earthquake I have experienced. I usually have to wait for the news to find out where the epicenter was located.

      RFM

  4. Dear RFM,

    Near the end of this podcast you talk about how BY had to dismantle the various quorums, and therefore diminish their authority. Being female, I also must note that BY dismantled the Relief Society which was just beginning to come into its own. He reconstitutes it some years later with Eliza Snow as a VERY restricted president of that organization. Seems kinda suspicious to me. No one was allowed to challenge BY nor his power and authority.

    • You are right that the ever-diminishing role of the Relief Society is part of the pattern. I am not very well acquainted with this part of LDS history, except that I am aware that the fatal mistake RS leaders made was to ask the male leaders for permission to continue to do the things they had been doing; and the answer kept coming back “no.”

      In other words, the RS ended up yielding authority to their male counterparts by the simple method of asking for permission. As soon as they asked for permission, they tacitly acknowledged that the permission to do such things came from the current apostolic leadership.

      Which meant that the apostles were to a large extent given authority over the Relief Society by the Relief Society itself.

      There are probably some lessons from this we all could learn.

  5. Gale,…I just read your post, and it is VERY interesting to me. RFM…if you ever consider it,…would be interesting to have a podcast on the changing role or women, especially with regards to when women gave blessings with laying on of hands. Anything along those lines. Also, the really sexist nature of the LDS church would be interesting.

    My $0.02

    • I have a few more subjects in the queue for upcoming episodes, but will definitely give this some thought.

      I put together a few notes on the subject some years back and it may be time to bring them out and dust them off for public consumption.

      Thanks for the idea!

      RFM

  6. Nice work RFM.

    Please continue to share that which you know and consider yourself an expert on the subject. It must have been very time consuming to compile all the info you put into that last post.

    Your credibility with me is very high.
    As with everything in Mormon Discussion Podcast.

    I think we need to remain credible witnesses no matter what version of truth we testify to… Sadly, only the awaken will listen and give any credence to what you have spoken on this episode.

    • Thanks for the kind words, David. I did put an awful lot of time and work into research for this podcast (and part 2 coming up later) and I am glad it shows.

      You are right. It is very important to me to be as accurate as possible in the things I say. If I should get anything wrong, I am hopeful that listeners will bring it to my attention so that, if nothing else, I can correct the record in the comments section, which I have done on at least one prior occasion.

      My goal isn’t to destroy the LDS Church (regardless of what some may think), but only to be as factually accurate as I can be on the subject.

      Thanks for your comments!

      –RFM

  7. Love your podcasts!
    Great insight on the gaps between prophets deaths and organization of the new presidencies. From what I have read I was under the impression that the gaps were due to the Twelve dragging their feet because these time periods were the only instances when the Twelve had any decision making power. Once a new president was sustained he pretty much called all the shots and the Twelve were powerless. They relished these moments of not having a supreme leader so delayed the next sustaining as long as possible. Perhaps it was some of that as well as not being comfortable with the unauthorized reorganization as you proposed. Any thoughts?

  8. Great job! Leaned as lot in this one. Any chance we can get references for this?

  9. Great podcast. Lots of interesting information and connections. A bit of other information…at the time of the martyrdom, Hyrum Smith was an associate president of the church appointed by Joseph as seen in D and C 124:94-95. It appears Joseph had appointed someone who would take the leadership of the church in his absence whether that absence was created by his death OR by his moving on, for example, to more involvement in the Council of Fifty. It is not clear that Joseph ever intended to be a lifelong President.

  10. This is really interesting. One thing I would like to clarify, though, as I understand it, is your statement about Brigham Young changing the way seniority in the Quorum is determined to deny Orson Hyde the Presidency. I think BY changed the rules so that if any member had left the Church or been disciplined, then reinstated, their seniority in the Quorum was forfeit. I also read that a change was made by the Quorum after BY died that significantly changed seniority rules. Previously it had been determined by length of ordination to the Apostleship, and this is where it gets interesting. Brigham Young had ordained his son John W. Young as an Apostle at the age of eleven (and one or two of his brothers, I believe). Evidently this was an attempt by Young to create a dynasty of Church governance by the Young family, since being ordained as a child would put John at the top of the seniority list by the time BY passed away. However, John Young was a wash-up, who wasted a lot of his father’s money (and the Church’s money) on failed business ventures and was something of a ladies man back east. Towards the end of BY’s life, he came back to Utah and was called by BY as an extra counselor in the First Presidency. However, after BY died, the Quorum changed the way seniority is calculated to “years served in the Quorum of the Twelve” , rather than by years since ordination as an Apostle. Since John had not actually served in the Quorum, he was disqualified from consideration. He went back to New York and eventually died nearly penniless working as an elevator operator at a hotel. Have you heard of John W. before? Fascinating figure.

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