Journal of Mormon History 36:4 (Fall 2010), Part 1

By November 20, 2010

Table of Contents


Dixie Dillon Lane’s article discusses Alexander von Wendt, “a Russiaon baron with business interests in Arizona” who becomes close friends with James Henry Martineau and eventually asks the hand of Martineau’s daughter Gertrude. The problem, for Martineau, is that von Wendt is agnostic, and the prospect of seeing his daughter marry out of the faith troubled Martineau and his wife Susan. Martineau received revelations that indicated to Martineau that the union would be acceptable to the Lord. Martineau consented, with trepidation, to the engagement, which lasted two years until von Wendt’s unexpected death. “I have attempted to show in this article that a commitment to the Latter-day Saint family ideal was the firm base of everyday Mormon interfaith interactions for men like James Martineau in the late 1800s.”

Jiro Numano’s article tackles hasty baptisms in Japan in the late 70s and early 80s “which some Japanese members still remember negatively.” He argues that despite the retention of some strong LDS members from that period that  “the manner and consequences of proselytizing at that period cannot be justified as positive.” He places the blame[?]/responsibility on local leaders who desired to fulfill President Kimball’s injunction to increase proselyting efforts. The pattern of these hasty baptisms will be familiar to those acquainted with the “baseball” baptism phenomenon. I found interesting the use of interviews and print outs from list servs as well as local memorandum to flesh out the process of forming and carrying out these policies. Feels a bit polemical for my taste.

To be continued…

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Thanks for the write-up, Jared.

    A close family member of mine served in the very Japanese mission that Numano’s article discusses while Pres. Groberg was running his shady program. He felt so betrayed and appalled that church leaders would encourage this type of proselytizing that it ultimately led him to leave the church (among other things). After sending the article to him, he confirmed that Numano got it right. He served as Pres. Groberg’s secretary for a while and feels strongly that leaders all the way up the chain of command knew about and supported these practices.
    From the article, though, I didn’t get the impression that local leaders supported these actions. Because there were seperate meeting houses for early investigators, most of the local membership were very disconnected from what was happening, or felt frustrated when they suddenly had large numbers of inactives on their rolls. The program was ultimately one organized and executed by Groberg and other regional leadership. That being said, I know what you mean that the interviews and list-serv approach feels a bit sketchy, especially since they are coming so many years after the fact. Still, that this program caused lots of bitter feelings and defection from the church is indeed true.

    Comment by DLewis — November 20, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

  2. It is a wonderful issue. Well done.

    Comment by DavidH — November 20, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

  3. DLewis, thank you for the added thoughts about that article and the situation. I actually didn’t feel that the use of those sources was sketchy so much as I thought it was creative. And I can see also how such negative feelings about the program could come out in the article, especially since it was written by someone who was there on the ground as it unfolded [IIRC], a “local.”

    I should also mention that the person featured on the cover is Junius Romney. I’m looking forward to checking that article out.

    Comment by Jared T — November 20, 2010 @ 8:53 pm


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