Mormon ‘magic stone’ revealed

Mormon ‘magic stone’ revealed

Following its bid to demystify its ‘magic underwear’, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints this week  revealed for the first time the ‘magic stone’ that allegedly enabled its founder, Joseph Smith, to translate sacred texts that were to become the Book of Mormon.

It seems from this report that the Internet has forced the Mormons’ hand.

Richard Bushman, a Mormon historian and emeritus professor at Columbia University, said that the church had paid a price for its past decisions to stay silent on certain topics or keep “key artifacts” hidden.

Their faithful members would stumble on information on the Internet. Not having heard about them, they were shocked and disillusioned. They felt they had been lied to and got pretty angry.

He added that publication of the pictures of the stone are important because some speculated that it was buried in the archives and never to be seen.

They probably won’t persuade non-believers who don’t buy the story, but they offer another indication the church is moving toward opening up.

The church has always possessed the stone, which was transported across the country during Mormon pioneers’ trek from Illinois to Utah in the mid-1800s, but it decided to publish the photos now to allow people who “prefer visuals to words” to better understand the religion’s roots, said Richard Turley, assistant church historian.

The picture brings a kind of tangibility to something that has been previously been talked about just in words. That helps people connect with the past. We’ve discovered that artifacts and historical sites are a way to give a sense of reality to things that are otherwise somewhat ethereal.


Mormons believe that 185 years ago, Smith, above, found gold plates engraved with writing in ancient Egyptian in upstate New York. They say that God helped him translate the text using the stone and other tools, to concoct the Book of Mormon.

This latest revelation is is part of a church campaign to release books containing historical documents that shed light on how Smith invented the religion.

It has also issued a series of in-depth articles that explain or clarify some of the more sensitive parts of its history that it once sidestepped, such as the faith’s past ban on black men in the lay clergy and its early history of polygamy.

Church historian Steven E Snow said:

The Internet brings both challenge and opportunities. We’re grateful for the opportunity to share much of collection through the use of the Internet.

The church’s new transarency seems aimed at preventing current members from leaving, and showing non-Mormons that they aren’t hiding anything, said Terryl Givens, professor of literature and religion and the James Bostwick chair of English at the University of Richmond.

As an American-born religion much younger than most world religions, the origins of Mormonism have come under greater scrutiny and put pressure on the church to prove their stories, Givens said.

The other churches’ origins are concealed by the mist of history. Mormonism is the first world religion in which the origins were exposed to public view, to documentation, to journalists and newspaper reporting.

43 responses to “Mormon ‘magic stone’ revealed”

  1. Dr Henry Jones Junior says:

    It’s hardly the Ark of the Covenant, is it?

  2. barriejohn says:

    Stone me!

  3. dvlaries says:

    “Whatever it does, it’s doing it now.” – Marge Simpson

  4. Trevor Blake says:

    Early editions of the Book of Mormon read that after death, the heathen Indians would be reborn “white”in heaven. Now it reads “pure.” No black leaders in the Mormons until the 1970s. They have a long history of change – resisting it then following behind secular society’s morals.

  5. Broga says:

    I’ve got a stone just like that. I bought it in a shop selling items like a fossilised 500 million year old shark’s tooth (got that as well as my daughter bought it for me – they pander to their dad’s weird ways). Anyway, back to the stone. Looks like I could have unused powers just waiting there for me to use. For a start:

    1. No more Thought for the Day;

    2. No more faith schools;

    3. No more bishops in the House of Lords.

    That’s just the start. I’m working on the rest. Hope I haven’t lost the magic stone.

  6. Dave Godfrey says:

    Well I’m convinced. Can anybody tell me where I can get some of those magic undercrackers?

  7. Barry Duke says:

    Up next, the Mormon “magic slingshot” used to propel “magic rocks” at sceptics and bearers of rainbow flags.

  8. Daz says:

    Pah! Any Terry Pratchett reader knows that only stones with holes in them are magic.

  9. Angela_K says:

    So what does this stone actually do, cure the sick, useful for smiting unbelievers or as I suspect:Nothing.

  10. Lurker111 says:

    Nothing in the pic to give us an idea of size. Could be the size of a pebble or of a watermelon.

    Ineffectual, of course, whatever the size.

  11. Barry Duke says:

    Damn, should have headed this piece “Mormons Rock!”

  12. Stephen Mynett says:

    “So what does this stone actually do” – It allows you to con the gullible and brainwashed.

  13. Laura Roberts says:

    For those who really are unfamiliar with LDS, I recommend two podcasts: “Naked Mormonism” and “My Book of Mormon”. I also recommend Jon Krakauer’s book, “Under the Banner of Heaven”. As with the Bible, it’s hard to imagine anyone over the age of about 8 taking the Book of Mormon seriously. And no surprise that Joseph Smith was a career con man and snake oil salesman.

  14. barriejohn says:

    This may seem a very strange story, but Joseph Smith looked no further than his own Bible for inspiration, and many Christians and Jews still believe that Old Testament leaders used similar means – Urim and Thummim – to divine God’s will:

    “Insert the Urim and Thummim into the sacred chestpiece so they will be carried over Aaron’s heart when he goes into the LORD’s presence. In this way, Aaron will always carry over his heart the objects used to determine the LORD’s will for his people whenever he goes in before the LORD.” (Ex.28:30 NLT)

  15. barriejohn says:

    Laura Roberts: Many years ago I bought a S/H copy of the Book of Mormon to see what all the fuss was about, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so much in all my life. It is so obviously a pastiche of the King James Bible as to be laughable, and as for all that nonsense about the “Lost Tribes” wandering across Asia and populating America – a blatant rip-off of the Book of Exodus – it beggars belief that anyone could entertain the idea for more than a couple of seconds.

    Some quotes here:

    “For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19)

    What does that mean?

  16. tonye says:

    For some, bizarre, reason the followers of this man seem unable to equate his history of fraud and run ins with the law and the fact that only he could see the golden plates.

    There is a point where gullible becomes stupid.

  17. Stephen Mynett says:

    I have posted this before but worth another look at the Mormon version:

  18. barriejohn says:

    Here’s a link to Steve Wells’s blog:

  19. Richard Chamlin says:

    About 40 years ago I heard the full spiel from two very nice,pleasant young missionaries. It became completely obvious to me that their whole argument fell apart if you could prove Native Americans are not from the lost tribes of Israel. I pointed out there was no archeological, anthropological, or historical evidence of this and the linguistic evidence is clearly contrary to this.They had an answer (I forget what this many decades ago). Since then the genetic evidence (DNA) is absolute.

    Yet they believe. Cognitive dissonance?

  20. dennis says:

    sorry for loss of the thread here but the JW were in Belton TEXAS at least Saturday. My wife and I took a trip to Austin just to get out of town but we got back to early. there were 3 middle 50′ to early 60′ men standing in the street with repent blazoned on their signs at the Walmart exit. the fact that they were in late stages of life and not young recruits I believe may be a sign of destruction for them and hopefully not just urban lore from my vantage point.

  21. Denny Law says:

    Man, like all animals, is endowed with a compulsion to survive. Death seems to augur against that. Charlatans promise an “After Life” to all who “believe” and bring them money. People who choose what to believe rather than deduce, from facts, what to believe are called wishful thinkers. Their brains do not enter into determination of what is true. These people are called, “churchgoers” The Mormon Church does a superb job of focusing their subjects on their promised afterlife.

  22. asquith says:

    Is it a bit like unto a Babel fish?

  23. L.Long says:

    Big deal! I have better magic stones that that one or the one muslins have. My magic stones can fly thru the air, and hit your head and you fall down dead!! Now let’s see what their stone can do…Waiting…Still waiting!
    And if you don’t think my stones are magic then walk into a country church and choose 5 at random and see if they can explain how they work!

  24. barfly says:

    I have a stone like that its a stramatolite its 3.5 billion years old. I bought it in Jurassic jims a small shop in Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. It cost the sum of £3 now where can I get some gold tablets to translate.

  25. asquith says:

    Moronism (like Seventh-Daay Adventism and Jehovah’s Witnessing) gives the game away because it’s so flagratly and undeniably a load of made-up cobblers it makes the rest uncomfortable to think abou the comparison to themselvs 🙂

  26. At the root of the problem with Mormonism is how members of a religion and its enablers simply do not care if people waste their time labouring for a God who does not exist or for a religion that they think is from God when it is not. Too many people in Catholic Ireland here I have noticed do not care if a young man is fooled into becoming a priest as long as they receive his good works. The man says that he does all the good he does for God – its not about benefiting the flock even if it does. If there is no God then the man is a slave to a man-made invention. The other problem is that the young men might not often be as innocent as you would think. If you want to feel you do good but don’t want to do much for people, there is nothing better than praying for them and casting spells for them and turning bread into the body of Jesus for them. Religious devotion can be a substitute for being truly good. It is human nature to prefer its own version of good over real good. There is something warped about believing that in principle praying for a person helps better than actually getting the doctor for them. I am not accusing religious people of not using or believing in doctors. I am saying that they regard prayer as more important for they think prayer is the reason doctors exist in the first place! They feel that doctors in themselves are useless and it is God working through them that makes them useful. This is essential fanaticism.

  27. Vanity Unfair says:

    I knew there would be a simple explanation.
    However, being as doubtful as Smith was originally and in the lamentable absence of gold plates may I propose a couple of simple exercises?
    (1) Give the stone and a copy of Die Blechtrommel (The tin drum by Gunter Grass) to a non German-speaker and ask for a translation. On passing this preliminary process proceed to:
    (2) Translating museum documents written in Linear A.
    Then, having earned the thanks and adulation of the World’s archaeologists, await the mass conversion of milliards (I love that word) of previous disbelievers, the foundation of a universal theocracy and everlasting peace in the certain knowledge that at last a religious foundation myth had been proved to be historically and scientifically valid. Huzzah!
    However, should permission ever be given for the test I’d bet that the stone turns out to be a one-time cipher key and useless for any other task.

  28. Broga says:

    @Vanity Unfair: Great post. Thanks. My stone is not working. I tried to translate some Russian script. Nope. Still a mystery.

    However, my wife who has been studying Russian for a few years reads the same script easily.

    I think there is a conclusion to be drawn from this experience.

  29. 1859 says:

    ‘Ye blocks! Ye stones! Ye worse than senseless things!’

  30. 1859 says:

    On a less frivolous note – this stone thing does highlight a disturbing thought: that despite the immense intellectual and scientific progress we have made as a species, there is still a part of our brains that is so, so susceptible to superstition. Look at the fucking toilet stain in Mali. Here are people surrounded by mobile phone technology bowing down to some stupid patch of piss on a wall. They watch television showing live programmes from the other side of the planet and yet they can still behave in this way!. And here are the Mormons with their ‘magic stone’ – yet some Mormons, it seems, are university professors! Belief in superstitious crap may be big business for some, but I’m convinced that’s not the whole story.

  31. Stephen says:

    The only stones I believe in are the Rolling Stones. I don’t worship them, I just admire their tenaciousness. I’ve been a fan since 1964. Saw them in July in Buffalo, NY. Amazing!!

    I have an ex-friend who embraced Mormonism because his parents embraced it. He’s a fair weather Mormon. Uses the doctrines of the church when it’s to his advantage. So sad. He’s ruined his life and our 50+ years of friendship.

  32. Robster says:

    Those tainted by religious nonsense just lurve the impressive but ultimately meaningless names, the quoted emeritus professor says the “internet opens things up”. I’ve got a distant family member sucked into the mormon void of silliness, he tells me they can’t use the regular internet, instead he must use the church’s very own internet service and server. None of that real internet stuff, no way he can be exposed to anything resembling truth or an alternate point of view. The mormon church is hyper scared by the internet. Don’t believe a word they say, it’s all slight of hand. I’d love to hear how they explained the magic underwear with the sacred skid marks.

  33. John the Drunkard says:

    ‘They FELT they had been lied to’?????
    Actually, Trevor, the Book of Mormon (or maybe the Pearl thing) declared that Native converts to LDS would TURN ‘white and delightsome.’ In real life. And there are claims from early missionaries that this really happened…or someone’s friend’s cousin said they had heard that it did.

  34. Brian Jordan says:

    It’s no good, you people with stones. Ordinary or not, they still won’t work unless they’ve been pinched from Solomon Spaulding. Like Smith’s book.

  35. Broga says:

    My magic stone is already getting results. I wanted faith schools abolished and Wales has made a start. Thought for the Day next?

  36. […] water, gold, and treasure, often for hire. Smith himself used his seer stones in this way.” FreeThinker (UK) has their writeup here (with a decent dose of […]

  37. barriejohn says:

    “a decent dose of snark”?

    Shome mishtake, shurely!

  38. John says:

    barrie john above cites’… the course of the Lord is one eternal round.” (1 Nephi 10:19).’
    So which boozer is it where this ‘eternal round’ of drinks is on offer?
    Then, I can join all the “jack” Mormons and really have fun !!!

  39. stuart atton says:

    I have a shiny stone of a similar size, a piece of copralite, fossilized dinosaur shit. i bought it to remind me that turds can be polished if you leave it undisturbed long enough.

  40. lesliedubow says:

    Well stone a crow but I now get it completely Joseph Smith was stoned when it all happened

  41. 1859 says:

    I have a magic rooster
    That crows in the dead of night,
    When I look between the sheets
    The rooster’s taken flight.

    I have a magic pebble
    That rolls around my head….

    Any takers?

  42. Marky Mark says:

    The only reason this cult became so popular at the time is because the male members were allowed to have more than one wife…always about the sex these religious people are!
    Stopped in Navoo, IL. while on a bicycle trip across the state, saw Smith’s house…it was huge. Also stopped at the courthouse in a nearby town where Smith was lynched…it seems the other religious nut-jobs in the area didn’t like his flavor of beliefs, so they killed him. The good and loving christians that they are.