George Washington’s Secret Mormon Life

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a recent and laughable book that claims George Washington was a proto-Mormon. (See the post here.) Given the echo chamber that is my social network, most of the readers and responders agreed with me that the books’ claims are silly, though I hope it was clear that I think there’s an important cultural tension beneath that silly surface. Anyway, there were a few commenters at the end of the thread (and a few on social media) who asked me to actually engage the book’s arguments rather than dismiss them. I’d respond by saying 1) I’m lazy, and 2) there are literally two centuries of scholarship that this author ignores, so I’ll just rely on them. Anyway, Ardis Parshall is a much more patient and thorough historian than I am, so she did an excellent take-down of one of the Washington claims at her blog, Keepapitchinin. (See here.) Here’s a good summary:

Provenance, people. Provenance matters.

Basic honesty matters, too. You damage the Latter-day Saint cause by promulgating unsupportable nonsense like this. What non-Mormon with a modicum of sense is going to listen to missionaries tell about Moroni visiting Joseph Smith, after this? What are you doing to the future faith of Latter-day Saints who think they feel the Spirit testifying to this thrilling nonsense but who later find out how unworthy it is? How likely are they to trust their impressions the next time?

By the way, if you are interested in Mormon history–or, really, history in general–you should be a frequenter of Ardis’s blog.

Sadly, it is evident Deseret Book is still going to promote this book at all costs, which will further devalue their credibility as a publisher. A shame.

Also, the image for this post comes from my old pal, Jon McNaughton (see here), and depicts the same problematic theme. That guy’s the best.


  1. Kristine A · May 23, 2016

    Well, I would say my tweet was more about making fun of the deniers, but I did bring you in because I hoped you’d see the humor. And of course Ardis blows us all away. #riseup

  2. Benjamin Park · May 23, 2016

    Oh, of course I am referring to the person that you are quoting in your tweet, not you. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

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