Category Archives: joseph smith

Ask Mormon Girl: How should I teach tough aspects of Mormon history to my 14 year old Sunday School class?

Happy Monday, readers—and a quick programming note.  This Thursday, February 28, please join me at the Porch in Provo, Utah, for a fantastic night of storytelling on the theme “Good Girls Don’t.  . . “  Two shows, both benefitting the Feminist Mormon Housewives Tracy McKay Scholarship for Single Mothers.  It would be fantastic to see you there.

Now, to this week’s query:

I’m 27 and have been LDS all my life. I recently decided to educate myself on issues swept under the rug by the Church and I guess you could say I’m going through a faith transition. I’m currently in the process of learning about and reconciling our troubled history, but I still believe the gospel at its core is true. I teach Sunday School to a group of 14 and 15 year olds. They’re great kids with strong testimonies, but they regularly come to class regaling stories from the past week of what “crazy lies” their classmates confronted them with. Often these aren’t lies at all; they’re some of those troubling stories from early church history, or past doctrines. My students’ peers are researching the Church online, finding the most bizarre (but historically accurate) parts of our past and culture, and then reporting their findings. What can I say to my students when they bring them up in class? I personally think that these things should be discussed, but at what age? How much information should I give? So far all I’ve said is something about the gift of continuing revelation, and that no matter what wacky thing they’re approached with, if it hasn’t been taught recently, we don’t believe it.

I’m dreading the day one of my students asks, “Is it true that Joseph Smith married a girl my age?” No one ever told me the truth about these things, but then again I never asked because I had no idea. I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to say too much, either.

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Ask Mormon Girl: How do you deal with the real history on Joseph Smith?

Thanks, everyone, for all of your kindness after the death of my dad.  It was a rough first week and a half for me, but the family is doing okay now, and I feel a great sense of affection and gratitude towards so many friends and readers who reached out.  Thank you.

Last week, I travelled to New York City where I did some talking, including a stint as a guest on the Brian Lehrer morning show at the big public radio station WNYC, where I talked about Mormonism, Mitt, the upcoming August 7 release of the new and expanded Book of Mormon Girl with the Free Press / Simon & Schuster and other usual subjects.  Not twenty minutes after I walked out of the radio station, that email arrived in my inbox.

“You sound like a delightful person,” began the message from a listener in NYC . . .  “BUT DON’T YOU KNOW JOSEPH SMITH WAS A PEDOPHILE AND A CON MAN.”

All caps.  No joke.

Yes, that email.  I get that email all the time.

It usually comes from non-Mormons who take some kind of perverse pleasure in imagining they’ve rocked my Mormon girl world by taking a shot at the prophet Joseph.  Like Mr. All Caps in NYC.  Or another fellow named “James,” who wrote me last week:

I’ve read at Mormon websites that Joseph Smith translated the Golden Plates by putting a rock in a hat and puting (sic) it over his face.  A rock in a hat?  I believe miracles can happen, but a rock in a hat?  What’s with that? Tell me, Mormon girl, how did that work?  It also said that he was paid to do this for people and they took him to court when it didn’t work. Of course, it wouldn’t work, it’s a rock in a hat. Did the prophet do that?  If so, why?  Continue reading


Filed under joseph smith