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Cover image: Carthage Jail, Illinois, ca. 1885.

Back in April 2015, the following figures drawn from the previous twenty general conferences of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — indicating the frequency with which the name Joseph Smith was mentioned in those conferences — drew the attention of certain critics of the Church.  The numbers, they suggested, demonstrated that the Church was embarrassed by Joseph and that it was attempting to distance itself from the Prophet and, thereby, to go “mainstream.”

Average = 31.05 per conference (29.6 excluding the extremes).

Median = 28.Average = 31.05 per conference (29.6 excluding the extremes).

High = 84 in Oct 2005

Low = 4 in Apr 2015

I have no idea whether the figures given were accurate or not.  But, even if they were, there’s an obvious explanation for the very high spike shown October 2005:  We were approaching the bicentennial of Joseph’s birth.  And it’s probably not insignificant, that the April 2015 general conference of the Church fell on Easter weekend.  Jesus tends to be mentioned quite a bit at Easter.

Moreover, I wonder what the figures since April 2015 have been.  Does anybody know?  My guess is that that will typically have ranged from the low twenties to the high thirties, occasionally straying into the low forties — in other words, just as they were from October 2005 through October 2014.  In other words, April 2015 was very likely an outlier.

I’m unaware of even the slightest disposition among believing Latter-day Saints and their leaders to back away from the Prophet.  I’ve detected not a trace of such a retreat.

In any event, so as to remove any possible doubt about my own position, I quote the words of John Taylor, who nearly died with Joseph and Hyrum at the hands of that anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois, and who eventually succeeded Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as the third president of the Church of Jesus Christ in this dispensation:

Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. . . .  He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum. . . .

Hyrum Smith was forty-four years old in February, 1844, and Joseph Smith was thirty-eight in December, 1843; and henceforward their names will be classed among the martyrs of religion; and the reader in every nation will be reminded that the Book of Mormon, and this book of Doctrine and Covenants of the church, cost the best blood of the nineteenth century to bring them forth for the salvation of a ruined world; and that if the fire can scathe a green tree for the glory of God, how easy it will burn up the dry trees to purify the vineyard of corruption. They lived for glory; they died for glory; and glory is their eternal reward. From age to age shall their names go down to posterity as gems for the sanctified.

They were innocent of any crime, as they had often been proved before, and were only confined in jail by the conspiracy of traitors and wicked men; and their innocent blood on the floor of Carthage jail is a broad seal affixed to “Mormonism” that cannot be rejected by any court on earth, and their innocent blood on the escutcheon of the State of Illinois, with the broken faith of the State as pledged by the governor, is a witness to the truth of the everlasting gospel that all the world cannot impeach; and their innocent blood on the banner of liberty, and on the magna charta of the United States, is an ambassador for the religion of Jesus Christ, that will touch the hearts of honest men among all nations; and their innocent blood, with the innocent blood of all the martyrs under the altar that John saw, will cry unto the Lord of Hosts till he avenges that blood on the earth. Amen.

I join my voice with that of John Taylor and millions of others; I’m not backing away from Joseph Smith, the Prophet who opened this last dispensation.  Not even close.