Every story has at least two sides, but those who enter into the practice of persecution know it is obligatory to suppress details about the enemy which weakens their, the persecutors,' case. Positive information must be suppressed or passed over in silence and without shame on the part of detractors who do not hesitate to manufacture untruth or repeat any untrue material in the promotion of hatred. Material that is patently irrational is joyfully used if it will pad out a weak proposition. Data which serves the end, irrespective of its being vile or false, is readily admitted. Many of the allegations made by Forest Brinkerhoff bear this out, although Brinkerhoff is not alone in his willingness to cross the line of truth and sanity in his fantastic theorising.
One author whose methodology is remarkable for its imaginative invention is Forrest Brinkerhoff, whose book MORMONISM - An Historical and Scriptural Analysis sounds as if it would offer a reasoned, scholarly approach to its subject, but which is no more than a concoction of others writers' material that is seldom acknowledged, frequently unsourced, and never adequately analysed. His appeals to history and scripture are inadequate, serving only to reveal his deep-rooted presuppositions without displaying respect for his subject.
Attempts to damn Joseph Smith have turned attention to his family who are described as "worthless" to infer that Joseph must also have been "worthless". Brinkerhoff quotes Walter Martin's “Maze of Mormonism” to promote this point of view.
...Judge Woodward went on record in 1870, with a statement to the effect that the elder Smith definitely was a treasure hunter and that "he also became involved with one Jack Downing in counterfeiting money, but turned state's evidence and excaped [sic] penalty".
He also says that Joseph Smith
did not have the advantage of much schooling, and he had rather strange parents, who had more ambition and dreams than they had integrity".
But he meets himself coming back when, quoting from Joseph Smith, The First Mormon, he offers,
[Lucy Mack Smith] set for her children a vivid example of fortitude, integrity, belief in a God who had a personal interest in His children and who would respond to prayer.
Brinkerhoff has failed to see the contradiction in the passages he has pasted together. He does not explain how a mother who "set for her children a vivid example of fortitude, integrity, [and] belief in a God...", could also have been responsible for his being "less than candid with his associates...not above shading the truth...[a] charlatan [who] devoted his life to error...who went for the easy solutions".
Further evidence of Brinkerhoff's inconsistency is his treatment of the alleged 1826 trial. He quotes from Brodie,
At length the public becoming wearied with the base imposition which he was palming off upon the credulity of the ignorant, for the purpose of sponging his living from their earnings, had him arrested as a disorderly person, tried and condemned before a court of justice. but considering his youth, he then being a minor, and thinking he might reform his conduct, he was designedly allowed to escape.
He goes on to say that,
Smith admitted [his conviction] later when he said, "I was visited by a constable and arrested by him on a warrant, on the charge of being a disorderly person, of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, etc.
In coupling these passages together Brinkerhoff displays poor judgement. The Book of Mormon had not been published in 1826, which shows that the two reports are not connected. The reference, one of the few that Brinkerhoff provides, shows the date of the trial to be 1830, which was four years after the trial to which Brodie refers, and contains the evidence that Smith was acquitted on all charges, as well as providing primary contemporary testimony to his blameless conduct and good character.
11th June, 1830. Before the baptizing was entirely finished, the mob began to collect, and shortly after we had retired they amounted to about fifty men. They surrounded the house of Mr. Knight - whither we had retired - raging with anger, and apparently determined to commit violence upon us. Some asked us questions, others threatened us, so that we thought it wisdom to leave and go to the house of Newel Knight. There also they followed us, and it was only by the exercise of great prudence on our part, and reliance in our heavenly Father, that they were kept from laying violent hands upon us; and so long as they chose to stay, we were obliged to answer them various unprofitable questions, and bear with insults and threatenings without number.
We had appointed a meeting for this evening, for the purpose of attending to the confirmation of those who had been the same morning baptized. The time appointed had arrived and our friends had nearly all collected together, when to my surprise, I was visited by a constable, and arrested by him on a warrant, on the charge of being a disorderly person, of setting the country in an uproar by preaching the Book of Mormon, etc. The constable informed me, soon after I had been arrested, that the plan of those who had got out the warrant was to get me into the hands of the mob, who were now lying in ambush for me; but that he was determined to save me from them, as he had found me to be a different sort of person from what I had been represented to him. I soon found that he had told me the truth in this matter, for not far from Mr. Knight's house, the wagon in which we had set out was surrounded by a mob, who seemed only to await some signal from the constable; but to their great disappointment, he gave the horse the whip, and drove me out of their reach.
Whilst driving in great haste one of the wagon wheels came off, which left us once more nearly surrounded by them, as they had come on in close pursuit. However, we managed to replace the wheel and again left them behind us. He drove on to the town of South Bainbridge, Chenango county....
On the day following a court was convened for the purpose of investigating those charges which had been preferred against me. A great excitement prevailed on account of the scandalous falsehoods which had been circulated....
At length the trial commenced amidst a multitude of spectators, who in general evinced a belief that I was guilty of all that had been reported concerning me, and of course were very zealous that I should be punished according to my crimes. Among many witnesses called up against me, was Mr. Josiah Stoal - of whom I have made mention as having worked for him some time - and examined to the following effect:
Did not the prisoner, Joseph Smith, have a horse of you?
Did he not go to you and tell you that an angel had appeared to him and authorized him to get the horse from you?
No, he told me no such story.
Well, how had he the horse of you?
He bought him of me as any other man would.
Have you had your pay?
That is not your business.
The question being again put the witness replied:
I hold his note for the price of the horse, which I consider as good as the pay; for I am well acquainted with Joseph Smith Jun., and know him to be an honest man; and if he wishes, I am ready to let him have another horse on the same terms.
Mr. Jonathan Thompson was next called up and examined:
Has not the prisoner, Joseph Smith Jun., had a yoke of oxen of you?
Did he not obtain them of you by telling that he had a revelation to the effect that he was to have them?
No, he did not mention a word of the kind concerning the oxen; he purchased them the same as any other man would.
After a few such attempts, the court was detained for a time, in order that two young women, daughters of Mr. Stoal, with whom I had at times kept company, might be sent for, in order, if possible, to elicit something from them which might be made a pretext against me. The young ladies arrived, and were severally examined touching my character and conduct in general, but particularly as to my behaviour towards them, both in public and private; when they bore such testimony in my favor as left my enemies without a pretext on their account. Several other attempts were made to prove something against me, and even circumstances which were alleged to have taken place in Broome county, were brought forward, but these my lawyers would not admit of as testimony against me; in consequence of which my persecutors managed to detain the court until they had succeeded in obtaining a warrant from Broome county, which warrant they served upon me at the very moment that I was acquitted by this court....
Next day I was brought before the magistrate's court at Colesville, Broome county, and put upon my trial...my former persecutors were arrayed against me. Many witnesses were again called forward and examined, some of whom swore to the most palpable falsehoods, and like the false witnesses which appeared against me the day previous, they contradicted themselves so plainly that the court would not admit their testimony. Others were called, who showed by their zeal that they were willing enough to prove something against me, but all they could do was to tell something which somebody else had told them.
In this frivolous and vexatious manner did they proceed for a considerable time, when, finally, Mr. Newell Knight was called up and examined by Lawyer Seymour, who had been especially sent for on this occasion. One Lawyer Burch, also, was at his side on the prosecution; but Mr. Seymour appeared to be a more zealous Presbyterian, and appeared very anxious and determined that the people should not be deluded by any one professing the power of godliness, and not "denying the power thereof."
Mr. Knight was sworn, and Mr. Seymour interrogated him as follows:
Did the prisoner, Joseph Smith, Jun., cast the devil out of you?
Why, have you not had the devil cast out of you?
And had not Jo Smith some hand in its being done?
And did not he cast him out of you?
No, sir; it was done by the power of God, and Joseph Smith was the instrument in the hands of God, on the occasion. He commanded him to come out of me in the name of Jesus Christ.
And are you sure it was the devil?
Did you see him after he was cast out of you?
Yes, sir! I saw him.
Pray, what did he look like?
Do you, Mr. Seymour, understand the things of the spirit?
No, I do not pretend to such big things.
Well then, it would be no use to tell you what the devil looked like, for it was a spiritual sight, and spiritually discerned; and of course you would not understand it if I were to tell you of it.
Mr. Seymour now addressed the court, and in a long and violent harangue endeavoured to blacken my character and bring me in guilty of the charges which had been brought against me. Among other things, he brought up the story of my having been a money-digger; and in this manner proceeded, hoping evidently to influence the court and the people against me.
Mr. Davidson and Mr. Reid followed on my behalf. They held forth in true colours the nature of the prosecution, the malignancy of intention, and the apparent disposition to persecute their client, rather than to afford him justice. They took up different arguments which had been brought by the lawyers for the prosecution, and having shown their utter futility and misapplication, then proceeded to scrutinize the evidence which had been adduced, and each, in turn, thanked God that he had been engaged in so good a cause as that of defending a man whose character stood so well the test of such a strict investigation.
Perhaps Brinkerhoff's attitude to Mormonism is understandable for like other hostile critics his religious faith is exercised in another denomination. This appears to make him unable to value any other religious system. And this inability to find value in the belief system of another is at the root of religious persecution. But this does not excuse historical inaccuracy in the course of persecution. The introduction to his book states:
The original research for this book was done as fieldwork for a Master of Anthropology degree from the University of Adelaide, South Australia. It was a study of the methods by which the Mormon Church creates a new 'reality' for their young missionaries. The task was to investigate how a group of young men and women could be sent into 'the field' to preach for and defend an organization that was really undefendable in a traditional Christian context.
His method of studying Mormonism through the eyes of its enemies is even more surprising in the light of his statement that
The study had the full support and cooperation of the Church hierarchy. The First Quorum of Seventies (the mission board) and the Apostle of the Church Mr. Gordon Hinckley, gave this task their full encouragement...The only important condition placed upon the study was that we tell the truth about what we might learn, because they know from bitter experience that they don't always get fair treatment from their 'reviewers'.
It is readily apparent that Mormonism didn't get fair treatment from Brinkerhoff, for he acted like a viper in the bosom and savaged the very hand that invited and encouraged him to make a fair report from all the resources made available to him.
Pretending to be consulting the vast resources made available to him, Brinkerhoff ran swiftly to the likes of the bogus "Dr' Walter R Martin, and republished his lies along with the lies of other hostile publications foisted on the gullible by Anti-Mormon Cults.
Brinkerhoff duied some years ago, and my attenmpt to contact his family and his abettors proved fruitless as they did not deign to discuss his study.
Therefore, in spite of his pretensions and opportunities Brinkerhoff has settled for the production of just another anti-Mormon book. His work serves only to sustain the machinery of hatred which is essential to the continuing persecution of Mormons and Mormonism by attacking the character of Joseph Smith.
I must say that those Christadelphians with whom I corresponded in the matter of Brinkerhoff's book were distressed that he could have done such a thing as he did. It has been my happy lot to know many Christadelphians and I have always found them to be educated, intelligent, and less likely to believe foolish gossip and hostile writings than almost any other denomination of Christian. Brinkerhoff stands out as a signal anomaly from those of his fellows with whom I have had dealings down the years. I question his honesty, integrity, and scholarship. The University the Brinkerhoff claimed he had done the work towards a Master Degree had no record of the man.