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.
— Benjamin Park (@BenjaminEPark) May 12, 2016