Skip to comments.Adultery from apostle rocked Mormon Church 125-plus years ago
Posted on 03/20/2012 8:58:09 PM PDT by Colofornian
More than 125 years ago, the young Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was roiled by a tawdry affair of power-based predator adultery by elderly apostle Albert Carrington, who once named to the church hierarchy used his authority to seduce far younger women, including British converts barely out of their teens. Despite allegations stretching back a decade, Carrington escaped punishment until one of his mistresses confessed the sexual escapades to her new husband. At that point, his fall was swift.
Historian Gary Bergera recounts the Carrington case in the Summer 2011 issue of Journal of Mormon History. (Its the first of a three-part series on LDS leaders who were disciplined for sexual misconduct). Carringtons case is interesting not only for his bizarre defense, which echoes U.S. President Bill Clintons 100-plus years later, but for the culture of sexual dysfunction of that era, where elderly male church leaders were urged to select young plural brides while on assignments, yet excessive indulgence in the marital relation were denounced as sinful from LDS pulpits at the same time.
Theres no doubt that Albert Carrington, once editor of the Deseret News, was a despicable rake, and the outrage of his fellow apostles, who excommunicated him, was sincere. As Bergera relates, in 1882, more than a decade after being called as an apostle, Carrington was finishing his tenure as head of the LDS Churchs European mission when word reached his successor, John Henry Smith, that the 69-year-old Carrington has been seen in compromising positions with his housekeeper, Sarah Kirkman, 20.
Although church leaders were concerned enough to do a formal investigation and request a detailed response from Carrington in 1883, his denials brought a temporary end to the matter. Carrington rather shrewdly confessed to being unwise in his familiarity with Kirkman, but strongly denied any sexual misconduct. That was explanation enough for the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, which unanimously retained him as a member.
However, as Bergera relates, it wasnt too long before the Quorum learned that Carrington had lied to them. In 1885, Kirkman, now married, told her husband, Richard Bridge, of her past sexual relations with Carrington, some of which had occurred in Utah after her marriage. After this reached the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, more investigation revealed that Carrington had committed adultery with other young women.
Confronted by his peers in the Quorum, Carrington admitted to sexual activity but used what might have been called a Clintonian defense a century later. He denied he had committed adultery because he had not mixed his seed with the women. Using what was later disgustingly referred to as a four-inch defense, Carrington insisted that withdrawing and ejaculating outside the women he had sex with cleared him of adultery. As his fellow apostles listened in horror and skepticism, Carrington described his activities as a little folly in Israel and thanked the Lord for clearing him of the sin of adultery.
As Bergera notes, the Quorum was quickly excommunicated him. Besides disapproval of the sins, his peers must have been angry with how Carringtons behavior would hurt the churchs image, already suffering due to its practice of polygamy. Yet in his diary, Carrington, who had two wives, was mystified as to why he was cast out, insisting, Bergera records, that he had never committed, even in thought, adultery.
The former apostles health declined rapidly and before long he was bedridden. For more than a year, the now-repentant Carringtons pleas for rebaptism were rejected by the apostles, many of whom were outraged at the blatant adultery, his explanations, and his longtime deception to them. One apostle, Moses Thatcher, Bergera records, was so incensed as to wish that adultery was a life-forfeiting sin. Future LDS President Heber J. Grant noted in his diary that Thatcher hoped that the day was not far distant when the adulterer would forfeit his life, and then the question of rebaptism would never be raised. Other apostles, with their new perception of the disgraced Carrington, recollected that he had never been a positive force in the quorum.
Time heals anger, as well as feelings of betrayal, and eventually mercy was granted Carrington. By the fall of 1887, the Quorum approved his re-baptism and confirmation. It occurred at the bedriddens Carringtons home. More than 30 years later, Grant, as LDS prophet, noted in General Conference that it was Section 64 of the LDS scripture Doctrine and Covenants, that moved him to OK Carringtons rebaptism. Verse 10 reads, I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.
Bergera, in his JMH article, writes that many of the LDS apostles may have wondered why Carrington, as family patriarch, had not simply brought Kirkman to Utah and married her regardless of his wives reaction. Carrington was alone in London while mission president. Interestingly, Carrington and other missionaries had been urged by LDS President Brigham Young to get married. Bergera notes, from the Journal of Jesse Nathaniel Smith, that Young told Carrington and others in 1868: When you get over there I want each of you to select a good girl and marry her. However, Bergera adds that Carrington refused to marry another wife unless his first wife, Rhoda Maria, was with him to help select a plural wife.
As Bergera writes, There are hints that Carringtons first wife, Rhoda, did not respond favorably to the prospect of additional wives; and as a consequence, Carrington may have felt less constrained regarding extramarital sexual activity. If thats so, it was a life-wrecking assumption.
Carrington had been member of the LDS Church since the Nauvoo era. The stress of his excommunication doubtless contributed to his rapid physical and mental deterioration after 1885. (It also helped end his daughter Janes long marriage to Brigham Youngs son, apostle Brigham Young Jr.) In fall 1889, as the 76-year-old Carrington was dying, LDS leaders agreed to his familys request that he receive the LDS priesthood so he could be buried in the faiths garments. As Bergera relates from the diary of John Nuttall, secretary to the First Presidency, Carrington died minutes before he was to be ordained. It was afterwards decided (that) Bro. Carrington may be buried in his Temple clothing, Nuttall recorded on Sept. 19 1889.
In fact, 15 minutes after his death, LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff directed elders to ordain the deceased former apostle an elder.
This is "funny"...Here this was the swinging 1880s in the Mormon church...when men usually were heading off to other bedrooms to sleep with women other than their (first) wife...and they toss a 71 yo geezer out for sleeping with a 20 yo a few years earlier...
From the article: In 1885, Kirkman, now married, told her husband, Richard Bridge, of her past sexual relations with Carrington, some of which had occurred in Utah after her marriage.
Now let me get this straight: Joseph Smith "married" 11 women who were married to other men -- and stayed married to those men. But this Lds "apostle" has sex with a woman both before and after her marriage to another man...and he's tossed?
From the article: Carringtons case is interesting not only for his bizarre defense, which echoes U.S. President Bill Clintons 100-plus years later, but for the culture of sexual dysfunction of that era, where elderly male church leaders were urged to select young plural brides while on assignments...Theres no doubt that Albert Carrington, once editor of the Deseret News, was a despicable rake...Confronted by his peers in the Quorum, Carrington admitted to sexual activity but used what might have been called a Clintonian defense a century later. He denied he had committed adultery because he had not mixed his seed with the women. Using what was later disgustingly referred to as a four-inch defense, Carrington insisted that withdrawing and ejaculating outside the women he had sex with cleared him of adultery. As his fellow apostles listened in horror and skepticism, Carrington described his activities as a little folly in Israel and thanked the Lord for clearing him of the sin of adultery. As Bergera notes, the Quorum was quickly excommunicated him...in his diary, Carrington, who had two wives, was mystified as to why he was cast out, insisting, Bergera records, that he had never committed, even in thought, adultery.
Ah, the old Mormon "no seed, no sin" adultery bed alibi.
From the article: In fact, 15 minutes after his death, LDS Church President Wilford Woodruff directed elders to ordain the deceased former apostle an elder.
Ah, see. Mormons not only baptize the dead...but give the Mormonic priesthood to dead men! (So...white dead men could become Mormonic priests in 1889...but black alive men could not become Mormonic priests in 1889!)
adultury?? who would have the time when they have a dozen wives?
Why didn’t he just marry em all first? They were already married? If he was an “apostle” couldn’t he just declare those marriages null and void like Joey Smith did?
The Strange Case of Parley Parker Pratt - Mormon Apostle and Ancestor of Mitt Romney
By Eric Holmberg
Unless you’re a devote member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) and/or a member of the Romney family, you likely have never heard of the Mormon missionary, Parley Parker Pratt. I mention the Romneys because Mitt’s grandmother on his father’s side, Anna Amelia Pratt, was Parley’s granddaughter.
Pratt is considered by the Mormon church to be one of the more prominent apostles of the “restoration.”
(An aside: According to Mormon doctrine, true Christianity declined during the Great Apostasy that took place during and after the first century AD as all but one of the original apostles was martyred. “The apostolic authority to bestow priesthood keys and to receive revelation for the Church was lost along with many precious teachings. Errors about His teachings crept into the church resulting in conflicting opinions and lost truths.” (From the official LDS website http://mormon.org/restoration/; the following quotes are taken from the same publication.) Despite the valiant efforts of later reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin to fix things, the story goes, the apostasy continued, for “without the authority of the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, His gospel and Church could not be returned to their original form.” But in 1920, that apostolic authority was finally restored as “God selected a 14-year-old boy as His messenger.” The boy was Joseph Smith and the true Christianity he restored came to be known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; more commonly known as Mormonism. And men like Brigham Young and Parley P. Pratt continued that apostolic tradition. This is the restoration. And this further means that every other Christian denomination or church is still under the thralldom of the great apostasy. Mormonism, according to LDS teaching, is the only true church.)
The April 2007 edition of Ensign, the official magazine of the LDS church, featured a six-page article on the “Extraordinary Life of Parley P. Pratt.” “One of the original Twelve Apostles” in the line established by Joseph Smith, Pratt’s “devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ had taken him far from his youthful home in New York. He had crossed the
Atlantic six times on missions to England, explored the western United States, visited gold rush California, and eaten figs fresh from the trees in Chile. As a minister of Christ, Parley had ‘been honored and received as an Apostle, and scorned as a Devil. Indeed, his beliefs had entangled him in a wide range of difficulties: ‘I have lain months in gloomy dungeons, and been loaded with chains. I have been visited there by visions of Angels and Spirits, and been delivered by miracles.’ During his life, he said he had been a farmer, a servant, a fisher, a digger, a preacher, an author, an editor, a traveler, a merchant, an elder, and an Apostle of Jesus Christ.”
The article mentions his marriage to his first wife, Thankful Halsey. Interestingly, it also notes in passing the longing he experienced for “his second wife, Mary Ann Frost” while he was imprisoned. (This does not mean, as the modern reader would assume, that poor Thankful had passed away and the grieving widower had found consolation in a second wife. Pratt at this point had two wives, soon to be followed by many more. One can only wonder how thankful Thankful was to hear that her husband was longing only for Mary. And by the way, Mormon historians tend to either state outright or imply that the frequent imprisonments Mormon leaders experienced were acts of religious persecution; that these great men were suffering for their faith. In reality, often they were simply arrested for bigamy and sexual licentiousness.) The article then concludes with an account of his supposed martyrdom:
While on his mission, Parley sensed his approaching death. He wrote home, “I long to do my duty while here and then go to rest in the paradise of God.” Indeed, Parley stated, “I neither dread nor fear death, but I anticipate changing worlds with joy inexhaustible.” In May 1857, shortly after his 50th birthday, Parley was murdered outside the small town of Van Buren, Arkansas.
As he lay dying, Parley testified to those who had come to help: “I die a firm believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ as revealed through the Prophet Joseph Smith. . . . I know that the Gospel is true and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of the living God, I am dying a martyr to the faith.” Indeed, Parley’s testimony of Jesus Christ and the Restoration resonates down through the years and strengthens us today.
What the article fails to mention is the proverbial “rest of the story.” Indeed, this omission is symptomatic of Mormon theology and history in general. With the possible exception of Islam, there had never been a world religion that is rifer with redactions, suppressions and cherry-picked “facts.” The plain, unvarnished truth is that Pratt had 12 polygamous wives and the last one he took was married to another man. The “apostle” was killed by this other man who wasn’t happy Parley had added his wife and his children to his harem. A summary of the account is as follows:
Parley P. Pratt was sent to explore a southern route from Utah to California in 1849. He reached San Francisco from Los Angeles in the summer of 1851, remaining there until June, 1855. He was a fanatical defender of polygamy after its open proclamation, challenging debate on the subject in San Francisco, and issuing circulars calling on the people to repent as “the Kingdom of God has come nigh unto you.”
While in San Francisco, Pratt induced the wife of Hector H. McLean, the former Elenor J. McComb, to accept the Mormon faith and to elope with him to Utah as his 12th wife. Elenor was the mother of three children, a girl and two boys. In the S. F. Bulletin of March 24, 1877, it is stated that the apostle made the acquaintance of Mrs. McLean while engaged in missionary work in San Francisco; that her husband, who was a custom-house official and a respectable citizen, ordered him to discontinue his visits, and kicked him out of the house for continuing them surreptitiously; and that the woman was so infatuated with the Mormon Elder that she devoutly washed his feet whenever he visited her.
It is reported that she was married to Apostle Pratt November 14, 1855, in Salt Lake City. Concerned that his (Hector’s) wife [we have not found any record of divorce] would take his children and follow Pratt to Utah, McLean sent his children to his wife’s parents in New Orleans, Louisiana. Hearing that her children were in her own father’s home, she made plans to go to New Orleans and gain possession of them. After pretending that she had abandoned the Mormon belief, her parents allowed Elenor to take the children. When McLean learned of this he went to New Orleans, and traced his wife and Pratt to Houston, Texas, and thence to Fort Gibson, near Van Buren, Arkansas. On arriving at Fort Smith (near Van Buren), McLean found letters from Parley Pratt addressed to his wife, one of them signed ‘Your own,—.
In May of 1857, Pratt was arrested near Van Buren, Arkansas by a Captain Little of the U.S. Cavalry on a warrant stemming from charges filed by Hector McLean. Pratt was transferred under guard to Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas, where the nearest federal court convened. Judge John B. Ogden, U.S. Commissioner, presided over the examining session on Tuesday, 12 May 1857. Evidence presented against Elder Pratt was considered insufficient to warrant holding him, and he was to be released. However, the judge purposely did not announce the decision to release Elder Pratt at that time, hoping to dissuade McLean from his avowed determination to kill him. Elder Pratt was kept at the jailhouse overnight in protective custody. Early the next morning Judge Ogden brought his horse to him at the jail, saw that he was discharged, and at the same time offered him a knife and a pistol as a means of self-defense. But Elder Pratt declined, saying, “Gentlemen, I do not rely on weapons of that kind, my trust is in my God. Goodbye, gentlemen.”
As soon as Pratt was released, he left the place on horseback. McLean, who had found letters from Pratt to his wife at Fort Gibson which increased his feeling against the man, followed him on horseback. Although Pratt rode a circuitous route to escape his pursuers, a light rain allowed Hector McLean and two accomplices, James Cornell and Amasa Howell, to track him. They caught up with the fleeing man some twelve miles northeast of Van Buren (near Alma, Arkansas) in front of the Winn farm. McLean fired shots, but they failed to take effect. Riding up to Elder Pratt, McLean stabbed him in the left breast with his bowie knife. The wounded man fell from his horse. About ten minutes later McLean returned and, placing a gun next to Pratt’s neck, deliberately fired into the prostrate figure.
Following the assassination of her second husband, Parley Pratt, by her first husband, Hector McLean, Elenor returned quickly to Salt Lake City, where she relayed the details (as she knew them) of Pratt’s death [some say reporting directly to Brigham Young]. Some say that it is was her report that set off the sequence of events that culminated in the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
List of Pratt’s wives [with his age and the bride’s age annotated]:
Wife #1: On the 9th of September, 1827, Parley P. Pratt [age 20] and Thankful Halsey [age 30] were solemnly united in the bonds of matrimony by Elder Palmer, minister of the Baptist Church, in Canaan, Columbia County, New York.
Wife #2: On May 9, 1837, Mary Ann Frost Stearns [age 28] married Parley P. Pratt [age 30].
Wife #3: In 1843, Elizabeth Brotherton [age 27] was married to Parley Pratt [age 36] in Nauvoo by Patriarch Hyrum Smith.
Wife #4: Mary Wood [age 26], daughter of Samuel and Margaret Orr Wood of Glasgow, Scotland, became a plural wife of Parley P. Pratt [age 37] on September 9, 1844.
Wife #5: Hannahette Snively [age 32}, daughter of Henry Snively and Mary Heavnor of Woodstock, Shenandoah County, Virginia, Hannahette married Parley P. Pratt [age 37] on November 2, 1844, in the Nauvoo Temple. They were married by Brigham Young.
Wife #6: Belinda Marden [age 24], the seventh daughter and the fourteenth child of John and Rachel Shaw Marden of Chichester, Merrimack County, New Hampshire, married Parley P. Pratt [age 37] on November 20. 1844 at the home of Erastus Snow.
Wife #7: Sarah Huston was born August 3, 1823. in Starke County, Ohio. She [age 22] married Parley P. Pratt [age 38] October 15, 1845 at Nauvoo.
Wife #8: Phoebe Soper moved to Nauvoo in February 1846. She [age 23] married Parley Parker Pratt [age 38] on February 8, 1846.
Wife #9: Martha Monk was born in Raynor, Chestershire, England, the daughter of Thomas and Sarah Monk. She [age 22] became the wife of Parley P. Pratt [age 40] in 1847.
Wife #10: Ann Agatha Walker was born at Leek, Staffordshire, England. Her parents were William Gibson Walker, a schoolteacher, and Mary Goodwin, the town milliner. Ann Agatha [age 18] married Parley P. Pratt [age 40] on April 28, 1847 at Winter Quarters.
Wife #11: Kezia Downs was born May 10,1812 at Raynor, Chestershire, England. She was baptized by Elder Parley P. Pratt and arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1851. December 17, 1853, she [age 41] was married to Pratt [age 44].
Wife #12: Elenor J. McComb was born December 29. 1817 in Wheeling, West Virginia, the daughter of James McComb. Elenor married Hector McLean and they went to San Francisco, where she became acquainted with the Mormon elders and was later baptized. Elenor was the mother of three children, a girl and two boys. Elenor became acquainted with Parley P. Pratt while he was on a “mission” to San Francisco. She [age 38] was married to Pratt [age 48] November 14, 1855, in Salt Lake City.
 The following was taken verbatim from the excellent web site MormonThink (http://mormonthink.com/joseph-smith-polygamy.htm#doctrine.
Distributed by www.worldviewweekend.com
Pussy. It was really all about pussy.
That makes Parley the great-great grandfather of Mittens. I wonder which wife it was through. Given Mitt's propensity to flip, I'd guess it was the last one, the one who left her husband.
2 of Willards grandsons are named for their polygamist ancestors...
One is Parker for this guy
another is called Miles for a guy who had 12 wives..
Who honors ancestors who were into immorality so deep by naming their children after them ???
Just popped in to ask who cares? Sounds like old news to me.
Well, im not going to blame Willard for what his kids named their kids, unless there’s some evidence he encouraged it. My parents had no idea what we were naming our kids. It’s proably due to the whitewashing of history among mormons, they dont even know about this stuff.
Obvious sin found in leadership will 'rock' ANY church!
Polygamy had its place/time. It did encourage reproduction, and created a warrior class of men unaqble to find wives (lost boys).
Men marrying men is far more repulsive.
I've always wondered: Why do they have 12?
Since EVERY vote they take seems to be UNANIMOUS!
I wonder if MORMONism ever preachs about Onan?
"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.
The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings.
This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race--that they should be the 'servant of servants', and they will be, until that curse is removed."
Brigham Young-President and second 'Prophet' of the Mormon Church, 1844-1877- Extract from Journal of Discourses.
Here are two examples from their 'other testament', the Book of Mormon.
2 Nephi 5: 21 'And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.'
Alma 3: 6 'And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.'
August 27, 1954 in an address at Brigham Young University (BYU), Mormon Elder, Mark E Peterson, in speaking to a convention of teachers of religion at the college level, said:
(Rosa Parks would have probably told Petersen under which wheel of the bus he should go sit.)
1967, (then) Mormon President Ezra Taft Benson said,
"The Communist program for revolution in America has been in progress for many years and is far advanced. First of all, we must not place the blame upon Negroes. They are merely the unfortunate group that has been selected by professional Communist agitators to be used as the primary source of cannon fodder."
We are told that on June 8, 1978, it was 'revealed' to the then president, Spencer Kimball, that people of color could now gain entry into the priesthood.
According to the church, Kimball spent many long hours petitioning God, begging him to give worthy black people the priesthood. God finally relented.
Sometime before the 'revelation' came to chief 'Prophet' Spencer Kimball in June 1978, General Authority, Bruce R McConkie had said:
"The Blacks are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty.
The Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from, but this inequality is not of man's origin, it is the Lord's doings."
(Mormon Doctrine, pp. 526-527).
When Mormon 'Apostle' Mark E Petersen spoke on 'Race Problems- As they affect the Church' at the BYU campus in 1954, the following was also said:
"...if the negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory."
When Mormon 'Prophet' and second President of the Church, Brigham Young, spoke in 1863 the following was also said:
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so."
(Journal of Discourses, Vo. 10, p. 110)
Yeah; Native Americans are althroughout the Book of MORMON; too.
I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today ... they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.... For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.... The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.
At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl-sixteen-sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parentson the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather.... These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness.
One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.
(Improvement Era, December 1960, pp.922-23). (p. 209)
114, Joseph Smith is commanded to make a solemn proclamation of the gospel to the president of the United States, the governors, and the rulers of all nations; 1521, Hyrum Smith, David W. Patten, Joseph Smith, Sr., and others among the living and the dead are blessed for their integrity and virtues; 2228, The Saints are commanded to build both a house for the entertainment of strangers and a temple in Nauvoo; 2936, Baptisms for the dead are to be performed in temples; 3744, The Lords people always build temples for the performance of holy ordinances; 4555, The Saints are excused from building the temple in Jackson County because of the oppression of their enemies; 5683, Directions are given for the building of the Nauvoo House; 8496, Hyrum Smith is called to be a patriarch, to receive the keys, and to stand in the place of Oliver Cowdery; 97122, William Law and others are counseled in their labors; 12345, General and local officers are named, along with their duties and quorum affiliations.
127 I give unto you my servant aBrigham Young to be a president over the Twelve traveling council;
129 aThey are Heber C. Kimball, Parley P. Pratt, Orson Pratt, Orson Hyde, William Smith, John Taylor, John E. Page, Wilford Woodruff, Willard Richards, George A. Smith;
(It works better with a wave of the imperial hand.)
Then this thread is NOT for you; but for the HUNDREDS to whom it is NEW 'news'.
This is exactly it; but they WILL come to 'know' this stuff!