This is a timeline of 43 dates and events that took Joe and the Mormon Church deep into apostasy.

Joe Prone to Sin – July 1828

6 And behold, HOW OFT you [Joe] have transgressed the commandments and the laws of God, and have gone on in the persuasions of men [incl. changed revelations].
7 For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—
8 Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.
9 Behold, thou art Joseph, and thou wast chosen to do the work of the Lord, but because of transgression, if thou [Joe] art not aware THOU WILT FALL. (Doctrine and Covenants 3)

Joe Lost 116 Pages – Summer 1828

The “lost 116 pages” were the original manuscript pages of what Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, said was the translation of the Book of Lehi,[1] the first portion of the golden plates revealed to him by an angel in 1827. These pages, which had not been copied, were lost by Smith’s scribe, Martin Harris, during the summer of 1828 and are presumed to have been destroyed. Smith completed the Book of Mormon without retranslating the Book of Lehi, replacing it with what he said was an abridgment taken from the Plates of Nephi. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lost_116_pages)

1 Now, behold, I say unto you [Joe], that because you delivered up those writings which you had power given unto you to translate by the means of the Urim and Thummim, into the hands of a wicked man, you [Joe] have lost them.
2 And you [Joe] also lost your gift at the same time, and your mind became darkened. (Doctrine and Covenants 10)

Changed Revelations – Mar 1829

And to none else will I grant this power, to receive this same testimony among this generation, in this the beginning of the rising up and the coming forth of my church out of the wilderness — clear as the moon, and fair as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners (D&C 5:14 compared with Book of Commandments IV:4; the red part was added later by Joe).

And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I WILL WORK A REFORMATION among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old. And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto Satan, for he reigneth and hath power at this time, for he hath got great hold upon the hearts of the people of this generation; and not far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah, do they come at this time: and behold the sword of justice hangeth over their heads, and if they persist in the hardness of their hearts, the time cometh that it must fall upon them. Behold I tell you these things even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem, and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified (D&C 5:20 compared with Book of Commandments IV:5; segment with a strikethrough was removed by Joe).

Additional Records Withheld – Apr 1829

2 And then, behold, OTHER RECORDS have I, that I will give unto you power that you may assist to translate. (Doctrine and Covenants 9)

Don’t Add to Doctrines of Salvation

Whoso shall declare more or less than this [Christ’s doctrine in the Book of Mormon] and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil…and the gates of hell stand open to receive such. (3 Nephi 11:40)

I will bring to light my gospel [Book of Mormon]…yea, the only doctrine which is in me. (D&C 10:62, dated Summer 1829)

Whoso among you shall do more or less than [Book of Mormon]…the gates of hell are ready open to receive them. (3 Nephi 18:13)

And every one that heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them not shall be likened unto a foolish man…and great was his fall! (3 Nephi 14:26-27)

New Jerusalem Hi-Jacked – Feb 1831

The New Jerusalem would be established before The Holy Book of Mormon came forth:

22 But if they (Gentiles) will repent and hearken unto my words, and harden not their hearts, I will establish my church among them,* and they shall come in unto the covenant and be numbered among this the remnant of Jacob (Indians), unto whom I have given this land for their inheritance;
23 And they (Gentiles) shall assist my people, the remnant of Jacob (Indians), and also as many of the house of Israel (Jews) as shall come, that they may build a city, which shall be called the NEW JERUSALEM.
24 And then shall they (Gentiles) assist my people (Indians) that they may be gathered in, who are scattered upon all the face of the land, in unto the NEW JERUSALEM.
25 And then shall the power of heaven come down among them; and I also will be in the midst.
26 AND THEN shall the work of the Father commence at that day, even when THIS GOSPEL SHALL BE PREACHED among the remnant of this people. Verily I say unto you, at that day shall the work of the Father commence among all the dispersed of my people, yea, even the tribes which have been lost, which the Father hath led away out of Jerusalem. (3 Nephi 21)

Joe replaced the already fulfilled New Jerusalem with his own:

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) WILL BE BUILT upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory. (Article of Faith #10)

Until the time shall come when it shall be revealed unto you from on high, when the city of the New Jerusalem shall be prepared, that ye may be gathered in one, that ye may be my people and I will be your God. (Doctrine and Covenants 42:9, Feb 1831)

And it shall be called the New Jerusalem, a land of peace, a city of refuge, a place of safety for the saints of the Most High God; (Doctrine and Covenants 45:66, Mar 1831)

1 Hearken, O ye elders of my church, saith the Lord your God, who have assembled yourselves together, according to my commandments, in this land, which is the LAND OF MISSOURI, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.
2 Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion.
3 And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called INDEPENDENCE IS THE CENTER PLACE; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse. (Doctrine and Covenants 57:1–3, July 1831)

2 Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.
3 Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the STATE OF MISSOURI, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.
4 Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at THIS PLACE, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation.
5 For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:2–4, Sep 1832)

High Priests – Jun 1831

The next grievous error which crept into the church was in ORDAINING HIGH PRIESTS, June, 1831. This error was introduced at the instigation of Sidney Rigdon. The office of high priests was never spoken of, and never thought of being established in the church until Rigdon came in. Remember that we had been preaching from August, 1829, until June, 1831—almost two years—and had baptized about 2,000 members into the Church of Christ, and had NOT ONE HIGH PRIEST. During 1829, several times we were told by Brother Joseph that an elder was the highest office in the church.

In another part of this pamphlet I devote a chapter to the subject of High Priests. I will remark here, that in that chapter I give you the solemn news—at least, news to many of you—that when the first high priests were ordained at Kirtland, Ohio, in June 1831, THE DEVIL CAUGHT AND BOUND TWO OF THE HIGH PRIESTS AS SOON AS THEY WERE ORDAINED.

Harvey Whitlock, who the devil caught, bound and twisted his face into demon-like shape, also John Murdock, whom the devil bound so he could not speak. Thus showing that God’s displeasure was upon their works when they ordained the first high priests in the church. None of the brethren understood this fact then. We still thought that anything Brother Joseph and Sidney Rigdon would do must be all right and according to the will and mind of the Lord.

THE WHOLE CHURCH ACQUIESCED in the error of ordaining high priests. Marvel not that we began to be led into error so soon; the children of Israel went into gross error in forty days, following Aaron while Moses was in the mount. (David Whitmer, An Address to all Believers in Christ, p. 35)

Child Baptism – Nov 1831

26 For this shall be a law unto the inhabitants of Zion, or in any of her stakes which are organized.
27 And their children shall be baptized for the remission of their sins when eight years old, and receive the laying on of the hands. (D&C 68, Nov 1, 1831)

Attempt to Castrate Joe for Sexual Advances – Mar 1832

“In the fall of 1831 [March 24, 1832], while Joseph was yet at my father’s, a mob of forty or fifty came to his house, a few entered his room in the middle of the night, and Carnot Mason dragged Joseph out of bed by the hair of his head; he was then seized by as many as could get hold of him, and taken about forty rods from the house, stretched on a board, and tantalized in the most insulting and brutal manner; they tore off the few night clothes that he had on, for the purpose of emasculating [castrating] him, and had Dr. Dennison there to perform the operation; but when the Dr. saw the Prophet stripped and stretched on the plank, his heart failed him, and he refused to operate; the mob then scratched his body all over, saying, ‘Damn you, this is the way the Holy Ghost falls upon you.’  And in attempting to force open his jaws, they broke one of his front teeth to pour a vial of some obnoxious drug into his mouth.

The mob became divided, and did not succeed; but poured tar over him and then stuck feathers in it and left him, and went to an old brick yard to wash themselves and bury their filthy clothes. At this place a vial was dropped the contents of which ran out and killed the grass. About the same time, part of the mob went to the house that Sidney Rigdon occupied, and dragged him out, and besmeared him with tar and feathers. (“The History of Luke Johnson (By Himself.),” Deseret News, May 19, 1858, p. 1)

Those who suggest this wasn’t motivated by revenge for inappropriate sexual advances by Joe need to explain why the mob did not prepare Sidney simultaneously for castration by Dr. Dennison.

Curse of Condemnation – Sept 1832

54 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the WHOLE CHURCH UNDER CONDEMNATION. 56 And THIS CONDEMNATION resteth upon the children of Zion, EVEN ALL. 57 And they shall remain under THIS CONDEMNATION until they REPENT and REMEMBER the new covenant, EVEN THE BOOK OF MORMON and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, BUT TO DO according to that which I have written (Doctrine and Covenants 84)

Adultery with 16-Year-Old Fanny Alger – 1833

Fanny Alger is Joseph’s first known plural wife, whom he came to know in Kirtland during early 1833 when she, at the age of 16, stayed at his home as a housemaid. Described as “a varry nice & Comly young woman,” according to Benjamin Johnson, Fanny lived with the Smith family from 1833 to 1836. Martin Harris, one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, recalled that the prophet’s “servant girl” claimed he had made “improper proposals to her, which created quite a talk amongst the people.”

Mormon Fanny Brewer similarly reported “much excitement against the Prophet [involving] an unlawful intercourse between himself and a young orphan girl residing in his family and under his protection.” Former Mormon apostle William McLellin later wrote that Emma Smith substantiated the Smith-Alger affair.

According to McLellin, Emma was searching for her husband and Alger one evening when through a crack in the barn door she saw “him and Fanny in the barn together alone” on the hay mow. McLellin, in a letter to one of Smith’s sons, added that the ensuing confrontation between Emma and her husband grew so heated that Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, and Oliver Cowdery had to mediate the situation.

After Emma related what she had witnessed, Smith, according to McLellin, “confessed humbly, and begged forgiveness. Emma and all forgave him.” While Oliver Cowdery may have forgiven his cousin Joseph Smith, he did not forget the incident. Three years later, when provoked by the prophet, Cowdery countered by calling the Fanny Alger episode “a dirty, nasty, filthy affair.”

Chauncey Webb recounts Emma’s later discovery of the relationship: Emma was furious, and drove the girl, who was unable to conceal the consequences of her celestial relation with the prophet, out of her house. At least one account indicates that Fanny became pregnant. Chauncey G. Webb, Smith’s grammar teacher, later reported that when the pregnancy became evident, Emma Smith drove Fanny from her home (Wyl 1886, 57).

Webb’s daughter, Ann Eliza Webb Young, a divorced wife of Brigham Young, remembered that Fanny was taken into the Webb home on a temporary basis (Young 1876, 66-67). Fanny stayed with relatives in nearby Mayfield until about the time Joseph fled Kirtland for Missouri. Fanny left Kirtland in September 1836 with her family. Though she married non-Mormon Solomon Custer on 16 November 1836 and was living in Dublin City, Indiana, far from Kirtland, her name still raised eyebrows.

Fanny Brewer, a Mormon visitor to Kirtland in 1837, observed “much excitement against the Prophet [involving] an unlawful intercourse between himself and a young orphan girl residing in his family and under his protection.” (http://mormon-church-history.blogspot.com/2009/10/joseph-smith-and-marriage-in-1830s.html)

Mormons Evicted from Jackson County – 1833

The eviction came because Joe gave an alarming and false revelation that said the Saints would have all the land in Independence “by purchase or BY BLOOD”:

29 Wherefore, the land of Zion shall not be OBTAINED BUT BY PURCHASE OR BY BLOOD, otherwise there is none inheritance for you. (D&C 63)


Removed “Jesus Christ” from Church Name – 1834

“When Christ established his church upon this land, in the days of the Nephites, he gave them special instructions from his own lips concerning the name by which his church must be called. He gave them a strict commandment to call the church by his name, which he said was Christ.

“In June, 1829, the Lord gave us the name by which we must call the church, being the same as he gave the Nephites. We obeyed his commandment, and called it “THE CHURCH OF CHRIST” until 1834, when, through the influence of Sidney Rigdon, the name of the church was changed to “The Church of the Latter Day Saints,” DROPPING OUT THE NAME OF CHRIST ENTIRELY” (David Whitmer, An Address to all Believers in Christ, p. 73).

Banking Failure – 1837

“The Kirtland Safety Society (KSS) was first proposed as a bank in 1836, and eventually organized on January 2, 1837, as a joint stock company, by leaders and followers of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.”

“However, by November 1837, KSS failed and its business closed. In the aftermath, Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, was fined for ‘running an illegal bank’.”

“On January 12, 1838, faced with a warrant for his arrest on a charge of illegal banking, Smith fled with Rigdon to Clay County, Missouri just ahead of an armed group intending to capture and hold Smith for trial. Smith and Rigdon were both acquainted with not only conflict and violent mobbing they experienced together in Pennsylvania and New York, but with fleeing from the law.”  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kirtland_Safety_Society)

“The audible voice of God instructed him [Joe] to establish a Banking-Anti-Banking Institution, which, like Aaron’s rod, should swallow up all other Banks…and grow and flourish and spread from the rivers to the ends of the earth, and survive when all others should be laid in ruins.” (Warren Parrish, The Ohio Repository, March 22, 1838)

“The stock ledger of the Safety Society reveals that 200 persons subscribed to 79,420 shares of stock at a face value of approximately $3,854,000. Yet the paid-up cash reserve totaled a meager $20,725.” (Stanley B. Kimball, “Sources on the History of the Mormons in Ohio: 1830-38,” BYU Studies, Vol. 11, Summer 1971, pp. 531-532)

Danites Formed – Jun 1838

Mormon Missouri War – Aug 1838

Masonic Lodge – March 15, 1842

Hired Rockwell to Kill Gov. Boggs – May 1842

Temple Endowment – May 4, 1842

According to the predominant view by historians, Smith used and adapted material from the Masonic rituals in creating the endowment ceremony. All of those first initiated by Smith on May 4, 1842, were longstanding or recent Masons: Adams was the Deputy Grand Master of the Masonic Grand Lodge of Illinois; Whitney, Miller and Kimball had previously been Lodge Masters; Smith’s brother, Hyrum, had been a Mason since 1827; and the remaining five participants (Law, Marks, Young, Richards, and Smith himself) had been initiated as Freemasons just weeks before the meeting. (The Nauvoo endowment and Freemasonry)

Joe anointed King  – Summer 1842

Quorum of the Anointed – May 1842

Included women and was used for decision making for the Church.

No Books of Mormon Printed 1842-1869

Mormons did not print a single copy of the Book of Mormon in America between 1842 and 1869 (27 years). Finally, after 18 years, an independent publisher printed 4000 copies in New York:

The present edition of the Book of Mormon is an accurate reprint of the third American edition, originally published at Nauvoo, eighteen years ago, under the official sanction of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ. The apostasy of the great body of the Church, through the influence of false teachers, who privily brought into the Church Damnable Heresies, even denying the Lord, that bought them; together with the fact that they have for a long time suppressed the Book, on account of its pointed condemnation of their practices, has appeared to th6e Publisher as a sufficient reason for reissuing it; so that the many firm believers of the Book that are scattered through the land, earnestly desiring the spread of truth, may have an opportunity to avail themselves of its precious truths, and put into their own and their neighbors’ possession the real weapon with which to put down Polygamy and its kindred institutions. In this republication, the Publisher has yielded to a general desire for information in regard to the nature and origin of the Book, and has placed in the Introduction a mere synopsis of the evidences of its Divinity, and what it purports to be. (“Advertisement,” Book of Mormon, J. O. Wright & Co., 1858, New York; See also 1, 2, 3)

Wright Advertisement
Wright Advertisement

This edition of the Book of Mormon was published by Russel Huntley, and known as the Brooks edition, and sometimes as the Huntley edition. Some 4000 copies were printed, as in the imprint shows, by James O. Wright and Company, 377 Broadway, New York (in 1858). The introduction was written by Elder Zadoc Brook (Church of Christ), who labored for a time at Kirtland, Ohio. (Journal of History, vol. XIV, no. 1, Lamoni,  January 1921, p. 19) 

New & Everlasting Covenant (of Marriage) – July 1843

4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.
7 And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead. (D&C 132)

Second Anointing – September 28, 1843

Founder Joseph Smith taught that the function of the ordinance was to ensure salvation, guarantee exaltation, and confer godhood…Most modern LDS adherents are unaware of the ritual’s existence. (Wikipedia)

Run for President Decided – January 29, 1844

Council of 50 Formed – March 1844

Truth Tellers Persecuted – June 10, 1844

Joe & Hyrum Slain – June 27, 1844

Fled “Babylon” for Utah – 1846

We do not want one saint to be left in the United States after that time,” said the message. “Let every branch,” he continued, “in the east, west, north and south be determined to FLEE OUT OF ‘BABYLON,’ either by land or sea, as soon as then.” (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1930, vol. 3, p. 25)

Brethren awake!—be determined to GET OUT FROM THIS EVIL NATION next spring. We do not want the saints to be left in the United States after that time. Let every branch in the east, west, north, and south, be determined to FLEE OUT OF BABYLON, either by land or by sea, as soon as then. JUDGMENT IS AT THE DOOR; and it will be easier to go now, than to wait until it comes. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, vol. 7, p. 516)

Claimed Mesoamerica in BoM – 1879

Cursed the United States – 1904

Between 1904 and 1906, the temple ceremony received very public scrutiny during the 1904 Senate investigation of LDS Apostle and U.S. Senator, Reed Smoot. Of particular concern to senators was the ceremony’s “LAW OF VENGEANCE”, in which, during the hearings, it was revealed that participants TOOK AN OATH OF VENGEANCE to pray that GOD WOULD “AVENGE THE BLOOD OF THE PROPHETS [JOSEPH & HYRUM] ON THIS NATION”.  (Later modifications by the LDS Church)

Finances No Longer Shared – 1959

Claimed Mesoamerica as Book of Mormon land – 1972

Hebrew Book of Mormon Failed – 1981

“The year 1981 saw the publication of this scripture into still more languages: Catalan, Russian, Icelandic, Niuean, Quechua-Bolivia, Cuna, Romanian, Polish, and Hebrew” (Kerril Sue Rollins, “The Book of Mormon in Polish,” Ensign, June 1982).

Hebrew Book of Mormon
Hebrew Book of Mormon

The story being circulated is that a deal had been brokered with Israeli authorities in exchange for the Church being able to build its Jerusalem Center; it would pull the Hebrew Book of Mormon from circulation. The quality of the translation was such that it was an embarrassment, and that’s the real reason it was pulled. Members of the Community of Christ (RLDS) did sponsor a “good” translation in 1988, and why the Mormon Church will not use, corroborate, or recommend that Hebrew Book of Mormon (entitled “Chronicles of the Nephites”) is a good question (see David Galbraith and John Tvedtnes, Shunary Abridgment; comment 1 and 2; alternative).

Let Them Govern Themselves – Mar 1990

Leadership admits errors and establishes a “course correction” that, ultimately, local leaders fail to execute.

Truth Tellers Persecuted – September 6, 1993

First Shell Company Created to Hide Funds – 2001

Russell M. Nelson Becomes President – Apr 2018

Removal of Moroni Statues from Temples – Apr 2018

Stop Using the Name “Mormon” – Aug 2018

Hill Cumorah Pageant Discontinued – Oct 2018

Mormon Tabernacle Choir Name Change – Oct 2018

Moroni’s Trumpet Dislodged – March 18, 2020

New Church Logo – Apr 2020

Church Pays $250M into Fund for Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Claims – 2021

Securities and Exchange Commission Charges Church – 2023

Church Hires LGBT Ally as Head Spokesman – Jan 2024