In his 2003 book, Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer wrote:

"In the summer of 1831 the Johnson family took Joseph and Emma Smith into their home as boarders, and soon thereafter the prophet purportedly bedded young Marinda.  Unfortunately, the liaison did not go unnoticed, and a gang of indignant Ohioans-including a number of Mormons-resolved to castrate Joseph so that he would be disinclined to commit such acts of depravity in the future" (90).

In a July 2003 review of Krakauer's book, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints took issue with this interpretation and wrote:

"Although Marinda likely became a plural wife of Joseph Smith later...Krakauer present[s] only part of the evidence...

Consider the more balanced analysis in Todd Compton, "In Sacred Loneliness: The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2001):

'The motivation for this mobbing has been debated...The castration attempt might be taken as evidence that the mob felt that Joseph had committed a sexual impropriety; since the attempt is reported by Luke Johnson, there is no good reason to doubt it. Also, they had planned the operation in advance, as they brought along a doctor to perform it...[and] Joseph Smith did tend to marry women who had stayed at his house or in whose house he had stayed.

Many other factors, however argue against this theory...In accounts [by two other people] the reason for the violence is economic...The castration, in this scenario, may have only been a threat, meant to intimidate Smith and cause him to leave Hiram [where the Johnsons lived]...(231-32)"

Several months after publishing this review, the LDS Church removed it from their website and replaced it with a modified review, minus any mention of Joseph's wife, Marinda Johnson, or this event.  The original review, written by Managing Director of Church History, Richard Turley, is now available in PDF form at the FAIR website.



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