Part I: In 1908 and 1909, B.H. Roberts learned that some high-level LDS leaders continued to sanction secret polygamous marriages despite the two Manifestos forbidding the practice. Roberts compared this situation to president Smith’s “whisper campaign” supporting the Republican Party in violation of the Church’s policy of political neutrality. At the October 1909 General Conference, Roberts denounced such double-dealing as a stain on the Church’s honor and pleaded for integrity and consistency in Church marriage policy. But what Roberts, a polygamist and Democrat, seems to have really wanted was for the Church to drop the pretense of monogamy and political neutrality altogether and to openly endorse polygamy and the Democrats. Roberts’s conference talk doubles as a critique of both the secret violation of the polygamy ban and of the ban itself. Both represented a breach of faithfulness to the laws of God and the Church. Part II: This paper will explore the life and legacy of B.H. Roberts and his Mormon faith. The publication of B.H. Roberts’s Studies in the Book of Mormon in 1985 led many to conclude that at the end of his life, Roberts had lost his faith in the Book of Mormon as an ancient record. one must therefore ask, “Why did Roberts not leave Mormonism?” This paper will demonstrate that even after this crisis of faith, Roberts remained Mormon through and through.
Christopher Smith, Joe Geisner, D. Michael Quinn