Monday, March 12, 2012

'Mormonism Exposed': A 1916 Lecture

Lately I've been leafing through some old local newspapers and decided to search for references to the LDS faith. The following is an article, "Mormonism Exposed", taken from the 19 May 1916 issue of The Nazareth Item, published in Nazareth, Pennsylvania; it details a (rather paranoid and deranged) lecture delivered at a local Moravian congregation by an ex-Mormon:
Vernon J. Danielson, of Independence, Missouri, a converted Mormon, a lawyer and a member of the Bar of Kansas City, Missouri, spoke in the Moravian Church, on Sunday evening. It was indeed a lecture that those who heard, will never forget and the tales told were a revelation. "The Evils of Mormonism" was the speaker's topic and in elaborating on it he told of the practices of the Mormons and of their hold on each other and the government of this country. He declared that the followers of the faith were politically in control of eleven states of the union and that should they procure control of two additional states, they could effectively block any legislation, not to their liking. With instances he explained how these visions were imparted to the powers of the state and said through them the elections were carried to suit the Mormon church.

He gave illustrations of the great power the Mormon Church has in this country, the great wealth controlled by this church and said it is no church in the true sense of the word, but was nothing more or less than a great political machine, and devotes all its energies and power for the accumulation of wealth and power with the object of some day securing control of the government.

He said polygamy is still practice in Utah, notwithstanding it was supposed to have been abolished years ago. He spoke, as a man of knowledge, as Mr. Danielson, himself had been sent to Europe as a missionary of the Mormon Church where he served three and one-half years. Some of his statements were startling and gave much information not generally known to the public.
The same issue also notes, two pages later, under the heading "Professor Defended Mormonism":
Mr. Danielson, of Missouri, lectured in the theatre at Bethlehem, on Sunday afternoon exposing Mormonism, and Prof. Hinze, of Lehigh University, South Bethlehem, who was in the audience stood up and defended Mormonism. The Bethlehem "Times" says: Mr. Danielson arraigned the evils of Mormonism with great eloquence and received the approval and applause of the people. He presented a series of resolutions to be forwarded to the governmental authorities in condemnation of the practices of Mormonism, which were adopted unanimously. However, before the meeting closed, and afterwards, Professor Hinze, of Lehigh University, an adherent of the Mormon faith, took the speaker to task for certain strictures placed upon the Mormon Church, which resulted in an animated discussion. But no new light was thrown on the Mormon problem and propaganda to justify the existence of Mormonism in the United States.
A few months earlier, Danielson was yet lecturing in Pennsylvania, as indicated in this notice from the 4 February 1916 issue of The Daily Times, published at Beaver, Pennsylvania:
Secrets of the mysterious Mormon temple will be told Sunday afternoon at the First Presbyterian Church by Vernon J. Danielson, a former Mormon elder. The address will be given under the auspices of the National Reform Association, and is for men only.
It likely doesn't take much imagination to deduce how the LDS Church tended to view Danielson's labors. In Liahona: The Elders' Journal 14/11 (12 September 1916): 172, an update from the Central States Mission includes the following paragraph:
Elders Wesley Hubbard and Chester Flint, working in Mexico, Mo., state that though the people are extremely busy at this time of year, they have had an enjoyable time. Vernon J. Danielson, an anti-Mormon propagandist, has had very little success in his crusade against the Church and has opened the way for the elders to present the Gospel to some people who could not have been reached in any other way.
Danielson went on to write, the next year, a booklet titled Mormonism Exposed; or, the Crimes and Treasons of the Mormon Kingdom.

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