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Posted by: steve benson ( )
Date: September 22, 2012 03:27AM

In another thread, RfM poster "4t4mag" makes note of the Mormon Church's (and, specifially, Brigham Young's} involvement in the wonderful world of whiskey:

" . . . I am reading a few accounts of the early Church big wigs running and owning distilleries even having their own brand of whiskey. Such as Brigham Young running a distillery in Salt Lake and price gouging the city government where clearly cheaper whiskey could be had once the railroad came through town. Isn't that interesting, price fixing from the top levels of the church on whiskey. I know, I know many TBM's will say Brigham only rented it to the city. Yes, exactly dear TBM avoid the appearance of evil. . . ."

("Brigham Young--Whiskey Extraordinaire," by poster "4t4mag," on "Recovery from Mormonism" bulletion board, 22 September 2012)

Booze-Bottle Briggy wasn't the only Mormon up to his gills in the whiskey business. The Mormon Church, as a commercial institution, was. In fact, Mormon Church-owned business enterprises sold whiskey by the cartload to Brigham Young's family.

Follow the Money, not the Word of Wisdom.

I have a good friend/source in Utah who, back in the 1990s, visited with a LDS collector acquaintance of his in the Berkeley, CA, area. This collector of Mormon memorabilia had all kinds of books and documents in his possession, including some protected by a fire-proof safe in which were secured original ZCMI bills of sale to the family of Brigham Young of various and significant supplies of liquor. My friend/source (who is as solid as they come in terms of veracity), personally saw these records and attested to their existence.

--If lurking TBMs here (or others burdened by secret shaky faith syndrome) doubt the reality that the Mormon Church-owned Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institute actually trafficked in spirituous liquors, take the word of the sixth president of the Mormon Church, Joseph F. Smith, who said the following when he was also president of ZCMI:

“Some of our pretended pious people, a few years ago, were shocked and horrified by seeing the symbol of the All-Seeing Eye and the words 'Holiness to the Lord' in gilt letters over the front of Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution.

"Especially was this the case with some of our brethren when they found these letters over the drug department of Z.C.M.I. Why was it? Why some of these pious Mormons found that Z.C.M.I. UNDER THE SYMBOL OF THE ALL-SEEING EYE AND THE SACRED WORDS, 'HOLINESS TO THE LORD,' SOLD TEA AND COFFEE AND TOBACCO and other things possibly that Latter-day Saints ought not to use; and at the drug store, Z.C.M.I. KEPT LIQUORS of various kinds for medicinal purposes.

"It was terribly shocking to some of the Latter-day Saints that UNDER THESE HOLY WORDS LIQUOR SHOULD BE KEPT FOR SALE. Has it injured me, in any sense of the word, because Z.C.M.I. drug store kept LIQUOR for sale? Has it made me a drunkard? Have I been under the necessity of guzzling liquid poison? Have I made myself a sot because liquor was KEPT FOR SALE BY Z.C.M.I.? I am not the worse for it, thank the Lord. And who else is? No one, except those pious Mormons who in open day or under the cover of night would go into the drug store and buy liquor to drink. . . .

"Those who were the most horrified at seeing the All-Seeing Eye and 'Holiness to the Lord' over the front door of Z.C.M.I., I will guarantee are the ONES THAT HAVE BOUGHT THE MOST TEA AND COFFEE, TOBACCO AND WHISKEY THERE. . . .

"It does not matter to me how much tea and coffee Z.C.M.I. sells, so long as I do not buy it. If I do not drink it, am I not all right? And if the poor creature that wants it can get it there, that ought to satisfy him. IF HE COULD NOT GET IT THERE, HE WOULD NOT PATRONIZE Z.C.M.I. AT ALL, BUT WOULD GO SOME WHERE ELSE TO DEAL.”

("Conference Report," April 1898, p. 11, quoted under the headline, "Joseph F. Smith Justifies the Sale of Coffee, Tea and Liquor at the Mormon Store ZCMI (He was president of ZCMI when he said this)," at "Drinkin' & Smokin' Prophets," emphasis added)

--Further confirmation that the Mormon Church deliberately trafficked in consumptive alcoholic beverages through tts wholly-owned ZCMI is provided below:

In 1908, the "Salt Lake Tribune" fingered the LDS Church for doing business in booze:

". . . [T]he Mormon priesthood . . . resisted to the utmost the establishment of liquor houses by Gentiles here for a good while, not because they were liquor houses but because the Gentiles were getting the trade. . . .

"This fierce effort to retain the liquor traffic here as a monopoly of the Church was quite in accord with the present status of affairs here where the church is running the biggest liquor business in the state, through its Z.C.M.I. drug store and also through the big liquor business done by Apostle Smoot in his drug store at Provo. . . .

"By means of auxiliary companies like the Z.C.M.I. drug company they maintain a huge liquor trade for the benefit of the Church hierarchs and the trustee-in-trust for the Church, and at the same time claim to be special advocates of the temperance cause; and while taking the tremendous profits of that trade, throw up their hands in horror at the idea of people spending so much money for liquor . . . . denying all responsibility for it, while at the same time pocketing the profits and getting away with the rewards."

("Salt Lake Tribune," 14 July 1908)

--Joseph F. Smith, while president of the Church, was, in fact, identified as the president of ZCMI during the time it was in the business of selling alcohol to its patrons. Congressional testimony, given under oath during hearings associated with the Reed Smoot case, makes this clear, as admitted by ZCMI's own sales manager. From the testimonial record:

"Mr. Carlisle: You are traffic manager of the Zion Cooperative Mercantile Institution, I believe?'

"Mr. Love: 'Yes, sir.'

"Mr. Carlisle: 'Does it not deal in liquors?'

"Mr. Love: 'It does.'

"Mr. Carlisle: 'Who is the President of that concern?'

"Mr. Love: 'Joseph F. Smith."

("Reed Smoot Case," vol. 4, pp. 318-19)

--Jerald and Sandra Tanner, writing in their book "The Changing World of Mormonism," note the blatant two-faced faithlessness of it all:

"Heber C. Kimball, who was a member of the First Presidency, once claimed that 'virtuous Saints . . . will not sell whiskey, and stick up grogeries, and establish distilleries" ('Journal of Discourses,' vol. 2 p. 161).

"This statement seems very strange when we learn that Joseph Smith sold whiskey in Nauvoo and that Brigham Young built a distillery and sold alcoholic beverages in Utah.

"Even the Mormon-owned Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution (now known as ZCMI) sold the items forbidden in the Word of Wisdom. On October 7, 1873, George A. Smith, a member of the First Presidency, admitted: 'We are doing a great business in tea, coffee, and tobacco in the Cooperative Store.' ('Journal of Discourses,' vol. 16, p. 238)"

(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "The Changing World of Mormonism," Chapter 18, "The Word of Wisdom," at:

--And now. as a telling aside, we find out that the Hotel Utah's original bar--with all its hard (not "medicinal") liquor--was allowed in by President Joseph F. Smith in order to pay off construction debts. "Thuth saith the Lard (hic!)":

"'The largest and finest bar in the West [was built] in the basement of the Hotel' to pay off a $2 million construction loan. The financing was secured by Presiding Bishop Charles W. Nibley, from New York financier Charles Baruch. But the scheme obviously required the sales of hard liquor. When informed of building a bar, 'President [Joseph F.] Smith went through the ceiling; which was it to be, the word of Wisdom or fiscal soundness?' In the end, President Smith capitulated."

("Joseph Smith Memorial Building," under "History," at:

The Mormon Church hypocritically selling booze with forked tongue while claiming to be following their God's Word of Wisdom?

And all in the name of beating non-Mormon Gentiles at their own game?

Anyone want to drink to that?


But don't blame it all on Booze-Bottle Briggy--He learned from the best: Jugster Joseph Smith

--Pickled proof that Smith was "proofed":

Take a hearty gulp of Lamar Peterson's "Hearts Made Glad: The Charges of Intemperance Against Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet."

Cover shot here:

--Ordering here (not booze, the book), accompanied by this review:

"Although now excommunicated, Lamar Petersen (born 1910) was a member of the Advisory Board of Editors for the Utah Historical Quarterly for 18 years; he also directed the Mozart School of Music for 30 years 'and has been for 70 years a professional organist in Salt Lake churches.' He is also the author of 'The Creation of the Book of Mormon: A Historical Inquiry and Problems in Mormon Text' . . .

"The author writes in the 'Introductory Note' to [his] book: 'Joseph Smith may have been a little amused at the frequent charges of his inebriety for he seldom dignified them with a reply. It is not surprising that there are more charges than rebuttals; no man need respond to every slur against him.'

"Here are some quotations from the book:

"'Another who reported that Joseph drank too much liquor while translating was Martin Harris, first scribe for the modern scripture. "When the wine goes in, strange things come out." But after censure from the High Council . . . [Harris] confessed that his mind was darkened, and that he had said many things . . . to wound the feelings of his brethren . . . .' (pp. 65-66) . . .

"'Did such a man (as Joseph Smith) have time to drink? The sophisticate might well ask, Under the weight of such unlikely banners how could he desist?' (p. 166)

"'Biographer Harry M. Beardsley [writes] . . . "Some Mormon writers attempt to make the Prophet a teetotaler; but in the face of testimony of his contemporaries, their efforts fail . . . . At Kirtland, Joe . . . apparently was circumspect in his drinking, taking his tipple at his own home, or the home of close friends, and seldom drinking in public or permitting himself to appear intoxicated on the streets. . . . By the time the Mormons reached Nauvoo, however, Joe's inhibitions had vanished. . . . He was frequently drunk in public, nearly always so on holidays and festive occasions . . . ." (pp. 166-67)'"

("An Enlightening Study of Joseph Smith's Use of Alcohol," from review of "Hearts Made Glad: The Charges of Intemperance against Joseph Smith, the Mormon Prophet," by Steven H. Propp, Sacramento CA, 28 Februrary 2011, at:

--More on the topic on Mormonism's non-teetotaler here:

“'Ordinance on the Personal Sale of Liquors.'

"'Section 1. Be it ordained by the City Council of Nauvoo, that the Mayor of the city be and is hereby authorized to see or give spirits of any quantity as he in his wisdom shall judge to be for the health and comfort, or convenience of such travelers or other persons as shall visit his house from time to time. Passed December 12, 1843.

"'Joseph Smith, Mayor. Willard Richards, Recorder.' (Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., "History of the Church," v. 6, p. 111, Tuesday, December 12, 1843

“'Called at the office and drank a glass of wine with Sister Jenetta Richards, made by her mother in England, and reviewed a portion of the conference minutes.' (Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., "History of the Church," v. 5, p. 380, Wednesday, May 3, 1843)

“'We then partook of some refreshments, and our hearts were made glad with the fruit of the vine. This is according to the pattern set by our Savior Himself, and we feel disposed to patronize all the institutions of heaven.' (Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., "History of the Church," v. 2, p. 369, Thursday, January 14, 1836)

“'Elders Orson Hyde, Luke S. Johnson, and Warren Parrish, then presented the Presidency with three servers of glasses filled with wine, to bless. And it fell to my lot to attend to this duty, which I cheerfully discharged. It wsa then passed round in order, then the cake in the same order; and suffice it to say, our hearts were made glad while partaking of the bounty of earth which was presented, until we had taken our fill . . . .' (Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., "History of the Church," v. 2, p. 378, Wednesday, January 20, 1836)

“'April 17--This day the Twelve blessed and drank a bottle of wine at Penworthan, made by Mother Moon forty years before.' (Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., "History of the Church," v. 4, p. 120, Friday, April 17, 1840)

“'Drank a glass of beer at Moessers.' (Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., "History of the Church," June 1, 1844)"

("Word of Wisdom," under "Joseph Smith, Jr.[1805-1844"], from "Mormon Quotes," at:

--Still more here on Joe and beer:

*Did Joseph Smith Suffer from Mixed Drinks and a Mixed-up Head?

Is it possible that Smith was both liquored and loony?:

"'Joseph's associates sometimes spoke of his paleness when "in vision" or when receiving a revelation. A daughter of Adaline Knight Belnap recorded her mother's impression of the Prophet in an instance of spiritual (spirituous?) passivity. "How well she remembers one day before her father died (Vinson Knight) of a little excitement in school. The children were busy when the school room door was carefully opened and two gentlemen entered, carrying the limp form of Joseph Smith. The children all sprang to their feet, for Brother Joseph lay helpless in their arms, his head resting on his brother's shoulder, his face pale as death, but his eyes were open, though he seemed not to see things earthly. The teacher quieted them by telling them that Brother Joseph was in a revelation, and they were carrying him to his office above the schoolroom.' (Peterson, "Hearts Made Glad," 1975, p. 206)

"While there is no question that Joseph Smith and other early Mormon leaders did use alcoholic beverages . . . , this strange incident could be viewed as evidence supporting [the] hypothesis of manic depression."

(Jerald and Sandra Tanner, "Salt Lake City Messenger," May 1996, Utah Lighthouse Ministry, under "Topical Index S-Z," at: ; click on "#90 Messenger, 'Joseph Mentally Ill?'")

--The cold facts about Joe's cold drafts:

The Mormon Church hypocritically selling booze with forked tongue while claiming to be following their God's Word of Wisdom? And all in the name of beating non-Mormon Gentiles at their own game?

Again, anyone want to drink to that?

Jospeh Smith certainly would. Ain't that right, Brigham? :)here,

Edited 11 time(s). Last edit at 09/22/2012 04:07AM by steve benson.

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Posted by: 4t4mag ( )
Date: September 22, 2012 11:23AM

Great post Steve. I think it is also interesting how the church changes on so many different fronts to meet the pop culture of the current day. OR, how the church changes how it depicts and words the information that it disburses to the sheep. As a former stock broker, "follow the money" is the surefire way to find out where the fraud is in a transaction. Follow the money with the church, you will find out where they are deceiving members and fraudulent in business dealings, according to their own teachings.

So, in early days in the church many of the members even the first presidency had alcohol for "medicinal" purposes. My analogy is alcohol in the early church is equal to "medicinal" marijuana today. It's "medicinal", now pay your tithing and buy your boozs.

Current day alcohol involvement in the church? Does it still own stock in Budweiser?

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Posted by: Pat ( )
Date: February 15, 2015 09:28PM

Thanks Steve. I have been what i consider a faithful member for 33 years. I have served in many positions including stake President.Until recently i have never questioned my leaders however a few months ago i started looking at church history, & like many others i feel that i have been deceived & because of that deception i have deceived others.I currently find my self between a rock & a hard place with a wife who is a fourth genetration member. It is very difficult to express how i feel, given that our friends are all active members. I have tried to to to talk to my wife without success, she does not want to hear anything that may contradict what she has been taught. You aricle blows me away, to think that our Temple worthiness is dependent on our keeping the word of wisdom. Thank you .

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Posted by: slskipper ( )
Date: February 15, 2015 10:04PM

When the Saints were leaving Nauvoo the leadership put together an official list of required things to take on the trip. Among these were whiskey and either coffee or tea.It's in the official History of the Church (the seven or so volume set put together by Willard Richards).

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Posted by: popcorn on the apricot tree ( )
Date: April 16, 2018 03:16PM

"The surprisingly stout and spirited history of the liquor industry in 19th century Utah!

During the late 1800s, Utah had a thriving liquor industry. LDS Church President Brigham Young had no qualms about producing or selling alcohol. He built a distillery at the mouth of Parley’s Canyon and owned Salt Lake City’s first saloon. In 1861, Young had a winery established in Toquerville, in southern Utah, and received frequent shipments of 40-gallon barrels of port for “medicinal and family use.” The Mormon-owned mercantile ZCMI sold beer, wine and liquor, while the Deseret News regularly advertised home-brewing equipment to its readers, as well as alcohol such as Kentucky Bourbon and Old Tom Gin.

Mormons also produced their own brand of whiskey, called “Valley Tan.” This paralyzing intoxicant was reputed to have quite a punch, and was known variously as leopard sweat, liquid strychnine, and tarantula juice. Valley Tan was served in Salt Lake’s numerous downtown saloons, which were frequented by US soldiers who came with Johnston’s Army in 1858. The troops spurred such a trade in alcohol that Salt Lake’s Main Street soon earned the nickname “Whiskey Street.”

Utah was also home to fifteen commercial breweries, several of which were owned by faithful members of the Mormon Church. For example, Brigham Young’s bodyguard Orrin Porter Rockwell owned the Hot Springs Brewery at the Point of the Mountain. Beer was consumed by many Mormon immigrants from Europe, as well as Germans, Italians, and Irishmen who came to work in the Utah mines.

Liquor was big business. In 1863, the Salt Lake City government reported more revenue from the liquor industry than all city taxes combined. By 1871, a liquor license in Salt Lake cost $750 per month, as compared to $56 per year in Chicago. But profits were not enough to stem the tide of temperance sweeping the state. By the turn of the century, attitudes about alcohol were changing and Utah prohibition was just around the corner."

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