In the April 1840 edition of the Times and Seasons (Vol. 1, No.6) the History of the Missouri Persecutions continued. That installment explained how lies by insiders managed to inspire Missouri mob violence. The bad deeds of others (including Sampson Avard) were attributed to Joseph. People still debate whether Joseph knew and approved of Avard’s underground vigilantes called the “Danites.” Joseph, however, was unequivocal in denying his involvement or awareness.
This pattern of attributing bad deeds to Joseph and others behind their backs was an effective technique in Missouri. It destroyed the peace and stirred up mob violence. The same technique was later used again by insiders (including members of the first presidency) to inspire the mobbing and murders of Joseph and Hyrum.
In the Times and Seasons article, after recounting the violence, murder, burning of homes and crops, theft of property and imprisonment, the question was posed of “why” the Missourians behaved this way:
Was it for commiting adultery? We are aware that false and slanderous reports have gone abroad, which have reached our ears, respecting this thing, which have been started by renagades, and spread by the dissenters, who are extremely active in spreading foul and libilous reports concerning us; thinking thereby to gain the fellowship of the world, knowing that we are not of the world; and that the world hates us. By so doing they only show themselves to be vile traitors and sycophants.
…We have learned also since we have been in prison that many false and pernicious things, which were calculated to lead the saints astray and do great injury, have been taught by Dr. Avard, who has represented them as coming from the presidency; and we have reason to fear, that many other designing and corrupt characters, like unto himself, have taught many things, which the presidency never knew of, until after they were made prisoners which, if they had known, they would have spurned them and their authors as they would a serpent.
Thus we find, that there has been frauds, secret abominations, and evil works of darkness going on leading the minds of the weak and unwary into confusion and distraction, and all of which has been endeavored to be palmed upon the presidency, who were ignorant of these things which were practised upon the church in our name.
…We could enumerate the names of many who have acted in a mean and dastardly manner, some of whom we once considered our friends men whom we once thought would never condescend to such unhallowed proceedings, but their love of the world and the praise of men has overcome every feeling of virtue, and they have yielded obedience once more to their old master, consequently their last end will be worse than the first.
The circumstances seem to fulfill the Lord’s description of the gentiles to whom the gospel would be given in the last days:
And thus commandeth the Father that I should say unto you: At that day when the Gentiles shall sin against my gospel, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, and shall be lifted up in the pride of their hearts above all nations, and above all the people of the whole earth, and shall be filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations; and if they shall do all those things, and shall reject the fulness of my gospel, behold, saith the Father, I will bring the fulness of my gospel from among them. (3 Ne. 16:10.)
Joseph’s words describing the saints of his day, (“frauds, secret abominations, and evil works of darkness going on“) are similar to the Father’s quoted by the Lord, (“filled with all manner of lyings, and of deceits, and of mischiefs, and all manner of hypocrisy, and murders, and priestcrafts, and whoredoms, and of secret abominations“).
Things did not improve in Nauvoo. Conspiracies there would attribute worse behavior to Joseph; more allegations of secret teachings, more foul and widespread adulterous relationships, and darkness resulting in Joseph and Hyrum’s murders.
The tragedy is that the LDS Church attributed to Joseph and Hyrum what their false accusers claimed. Those who told lies about Joseph did it to cover their own sins. LDS leaders adopted many of the lies and practiced many of the abominations. They inherited lies. They believed them and were led to publicly practice foolish lusts and claim it as integral to their religion. Now if the truth is told it is not believed.