I've heard a lot of strange stories about LDS church history. What I didn't know is that many of them were created by a man who is considered by forensic experts to be the best forger yet caught.

Mark Hofmann, who made many convincing forgeries, including a fake of Oath of the Freeman–which the Library of Congress bid $1.5 million to purchase–also forged a somewhat unknown number of controversial documents and letters that he sold to the LDS church, claiming that they were written by early leaders of the church. Despite the uncertainty of their authenticity, the church agreed to purchase many of these documents based off of the judgements of the examiners that concluded they were genuine.1

It wasn't until Hofmann was arrested as a suspect for murder–after he executed a number of bombings in an attempt to cover up one of his forgery schemes–that it was discovered that he was producing forgeries.

My question is, how many persistent myths about the church's history are a result of Mark Hofmann's forgeries?

1. Recent Events Involving Church History and Forged Documents

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    Neither. I'm asking about what information critics of the church still circulate, whether deliberately or in ignorance of the fact that it was manufactured by a criminal. The LDS never published any of the works into the D&C, it was the Community of Christ that did that in their D&C.
    – ShemSeger
    Mar 18, 2015 at 14:37

1 Answer 1


The only thing that occasionally pops up is references to the Salamander Letter but most any light search reveals its origins.

Mark Hofmann is usually used by critics of the Church as an example of the failure of the leadership. Their criticism usually goes like this: "Since the Prophet is supposed to be inspired, why didn't he know that the letters were forged?" The assumption is that, since God is certainly omniscient, He would obviously have told His earthly prophet not to be fooled by Hofmann's forgeries.

Mormons make no such assumptions. God is omniscient but He decides what and when to communicate to the Prophet and does so according to His will and pleasure, not ours.

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    And Hoffman was soon thereafter revealed to be a fraud, so there was no real risk of lasting damage to the Church to begin with, so no real need for divine intervention. They criticize President Hinkley, but the church has never made any claims that the prophet is infaliable or omniscient. Hinkley never accepted any of the documents authenticity anyways, he went down on record saying he'd accept the judgment of the examiner, but that no one could be certain of the documents authenticity, he even said it could have been a forgery from the 1800's.
    – ShemSeger
    Mar 18, 2015 at 19:40

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