Some reader suggested I look for the Book of Mormon in my hotel room, since Bill Marriott, the CEO of the hotel group, is an important Mormon. As his Wikipedia bio notes:
He is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In an episode of 60 Minutes aired on April 7, 1996, Marriott was interviewed regarding his faith by Mike Wallace. The episode also included interviews with football star Steve Young and church leader Gordon B. Hinckley. In 1997 Marriott was called by the church to be an Area Authority Seventy and member of the Fifth Quorum of Seventy. This was split in 2004 and Marriott joined the newly created Sixth Quorum of the Seventy, serving until his release on October 1, 2011.
Sure enough, I opened the drawer next to my bed and found both the Book of Mormon and the work it was copied from:
Now if you open the Book of Mormon, you will find two sets of testimonies by witnesses who purported to have seen the famous Golden Plates conveyed by the Angel Moroni and translated by the charlatan Joseph Smith. This is the “Testimony of Three Witnesses” signed by Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, and published in the introduction to every edition of the Book of Mormon since the first one in 1830:
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, his brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shewn unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvellous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
Direcctly below that is further attestation by witnesses: “The Testimony of Eight Witnesses“, who also saw the plates around 1829:
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shewn unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shewn unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
This was signed by Christian Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Jr., John Whitmer,Hiram Page, Joseph Smith, Sr., Hyrum Smith, and Samuel Harrison Smith.
Now Christians defend the truthfulness of the Gospels because they were written beginning a few decades after Jesus’s death, and none of the writers had actually witnessed the events they reported. But here we have a case in which eleven people verified in writing that they had actually seen the plates on which Mormonism was founded.
So why isn’t Mormonism regarded as better founded, historically, than Christianity? Why isn’t it widely seen as the True Religion? Only because all this happened in recent times. Because know about the duplicity and the clearly man-made nature of this religion, most of us dismiss it as a human-devised cult. (This is also one of the reasons many dismiss Scientology.) But the same was surely true of Christianity—and all other religions. The farther we are from the inception of a religion, the more credibility it attains—up to a point. We no longer adhere to the Greek gods or the bloodthirsty deities of the Aztecs.