Don’t Read or Teach the Book of Mormon

Pauline Hancock was RLDS, but separated to follow the Book of Mormon. The following footnotes come from Louis Midgley “Playing with Half a Decker: The Countercult Religious Tradition Confronts the Book of Mormon” in FARMS Review: Volume – 5, Issue – 1, Pages: 116-71, A review of “Meeting the Book of Mormon Challenge in Chile” by Dean Maurice Helland, Provo, Utah: Maxwell Institute, 1993:

39. Wayne Ham estimated that the “Basement Church” in 1986 consisted of “about thirty-five persons.” Also, according to Ham, the Pauline Hancock group had the distinction of baptizing anti-Mormon luminaries Jerald and Sandra Tanner. This took place prior to their eventual submersion into a form of Protestant evangelical religiosity and their full entry into the business of anti-Mormon polemics. See Ham’s useful “Center-Place Saints,” in Maurice L. Draper and Debra Combs, eds., Restoration Studies III: A Collection of Essays about the History, Beliefs, and Practices of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Independence, MO: Herald Publishing House for the Temple School, 1986), 130. Helland places the Basement Church at Christler & Lynden [sic; Crysler and Linden].” Letter from Helland to Midgley, dated 29 March 1993.

40. See Ham’s “Center-Place Saints,” 130. Olive Wilcox, at the Mormon History Association meetings in Omaha in May 1983, commanded me in her charming and morally earnest way not to let people like William D. (Bill) Russell take the Book of Mormon away from Latter-day Saints. This took place during the Presidential address by Bill Russell, who had just said the following:

“When at age twenty-eight, when I first joined the [RLDS] Graceland faculty, teaching religion, I felt guilty for not having read the Book of Mormon. I was,” Russell continued, “surprised to find that my two colleagues in the Religion Department—long since departed—had not read the Book of Mormon either. But there was a course in the catalog entitled “Latter Day Saint Scriptures.’ No one wanted to teach it. In my third year [at age thirty-one] I volunteered”; see William D. Russell, “History and Mormon Scriptures,” Journal of Mormon History 10 (1983): 59.

Olive Wilcox said: “can you imagine someone like him teaching your children religion?” And she followed with the injunction mentioned earlier. I replied by saying that, unlike the RLDS, who seem generally quite indifferent if not exactly hostile to the Book of Mormon, the Latter-day Saints take it seriously, and that she could still have the Book of Mormon in the Latter-day Saint community, if she so desired. She said that for her that possibility, unfortunately, had passed and that she would have to wait to a time after death to get her relationship with it sorted out. I later found that she, like the others involved in the Basement Church, had jettisoned the Book of Mormon and even had the habit of making a fuss out of their stance in the local newspapers from time to time. But there were moments when she could express a certain melancholy over her rejection of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.