Interesting Wikipedia Articles About Latter-day Saints

Martin Luther King Jr.’s Murderer, Ex-Mormon (according to Wikipedia) James Earl Ray

A recent project of mine has been to figure out a way to generate a list of all Wikipedia articles that mention the word “Mormon” or “Latter-day Saint” so that we can generate the comprehensive compendium of all things Latter-day Saint/Mormon on Wikipedia. 

This project was inspired in part by an episode of the Omnibus podcast by Ken Jennings and Jon Roderick (incidentally, IMHO the wittiest podcast out there) about a prison breakout by James Earl Ray, the man who killed Martin Luther King Jr. Ken Jennings, who as most of us know is a member, bemusedly noted that the Wikipedia article on Ray indicated that he had been raised a Mormon. After preliminarily digging into the cited reference, however, Jennings seemed skeptical, and when I checked the page myself that little bit had been removed. (As an aside, given the sensitivities around racial issues given our history, I’m 1000% sure we would all know if the killer of Dr. King was raised Mormon). 

Still, it made me curious about other less-known tidbits, plus I thought it would be fun to have a variety of other comprehensive lists: a complete list of all celebrities raised Mormon, a complete listing of all organisms named after Mormons (more than you’d think), etc., which could easily be generated by scraping the meta-tags on the ur-list.  

To create such a list I preliminary looked into using their API, scraping all of the Wikipedia pages on by one, and even downloading the text of Wikipedia and analyzing one big text file, before I found out that they have an advanced search function built within Wikipedia that does exactly that (with a little tweaking of the URL to show a lot of the pages at once), so here it is for Mormon (14,124 articles) and here it is for Latter-day Saint (32, 226 articles). Sometimes we are too quick to bring out the fancy tools when a simpler option is available. 

Anyway, for all of the Wikipedia editors out there are a lifetime of articles that are waiting to be developed. It’s tragic that BYU’s Wikipedian-in-Residence, who has been stalwartly objective, was permabanned from editing Mormon-related topics by what appears to be a collective effort of anti-Mormon Wikipedia Bros. (Ostensibly she was banned because she didn’t disclose that she was friends with Michael Austin, the BCC blogger, before she created his Wikipedia page. Because nothing smacks of a dark Mormon institutional conspiracy and historical manipulation like writing a Wikipedia article about a liberal blogger). 

While I was initially going to do a multi-series post of all interesting Wikipedia articles that mention Mormons or Latter-day Saints, I realized that it was taking way to long to go through all of them by hand, so I only made it through the first 3,000, but attached are interesting/unique/bizarre Wikipedia articles involving the Church from the first 3,000.

Manacled Mormon Case: This was the case where the male missionary was kidnapped and raped by a woman. I was aware of the broad details, but the Wikipedia article has a lot of information about the perpetrator’s life afterwards. 

Mormon pornography: I didn’t know that this existed, but of course it does, and it has a Wikipedia page on it that I have not visited (although Wikipedia is *generally* good about not being too explicit). 

Mormon Gold Coinage: Evidently the Church used to issue private gold coinage in the Deseret Alphabet back in Brigham Young’s day; I didn’t know this. I’m sure these are worth quite a bit as collector items. 

Mormon foodways

Mormon Yankees: Missionaries formed a basketball team in Australia in the early 20th century that ended up playing in their version of the NBA. More inspiring than the fact that LDS missionaries helped coach the German basketball team at the Berlin Olympics (oops). 

Mormon Meteor: Racing car that held various speed records.

Portrayal of Mormons in comics

Exorcism: The Church has a subsection for this article. 

Independent Anti-Mormon Party of Oneida County: Sometimes they don’t even try to dog whistle. 

There is an “Early Mormon Theology” section in the “Jesus Bloodline” article

List of Mormon missionary diarists (North America)

Yukihiro Matsumoto A Japanese Latter-day Saint creator of the programming language Ruby who is renowned for his friendliness. I knew about him before I ran across his Wikipedia page, but I’m re-upping it here because I like stories of accomplished members outside of the US. 

Paul Stokey of Peter, Paul, and Mary, was raised by an ex-Mormon

Don Bluth Mormon Filmmaker (Anastasia, All Dogs Go to Heaven, etc.)

El Coyote Cafe Famous Mexican restaurant that served the last meal of the victims of the Manson family murders. Owned by members; was boycotted after Prop 8 when it was found that the owner donated $100, but still appears to be going strong. 

Ronnie Lee Gardner Murderer who requested to be executed by firing squad in 2010 for blood atonement reasons.   

Eldridge Cleaver Early Black Panther who converted to Mormonism. 

Nathaniel Baldwin Early inventor and figure in headphone technology. Used his resources to support the FLDS movement. 

Margarito Bautista Early Mormon Mexican missionary who fused Latter-day Saint theology with Mexican nationalism, arguing that Mexicans were destined to lead the Church. Was excommunicated and formed his own church that still exists. 

Count von Count The Count from Sesame Street. I didn’t know that he performed with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. 

Biddy Mason Slave of members who successfully sued for her freedom in California. She became wealthy, was one of the first African American women to own land in Los Angeles, and helped establish one of the first Black churches in California. 

John Browning “Father of modern firearms.” Member. 

Glen Helzer Odd that I’ve never heard of this former member, but he sounds interesting. “He had plans to train Brazilian orphans to assassinate Mormon leaders so that he could take over the LDS Church and start a self-help group called Transform America, which was intended to “create a state of peace and joy.”Helzer collectively referred to himself and his followers as the Children of Thunder.”

Phoenician Ship Expedition A replica of a Phoenician ship that was constructed to show that such a ship could make it across the horn of Africa. Purchased by Heartlanders to put in their museum. 

Don Leo Jonathan “The Mormon Giant” Professional Wrestler who beat Andre the Giant. 

Benjamin Patch First openly gay athlete in a German sports league. Volleyball player. 

Lester Brockelhurst Early 20th century spree/serial killer 

Richard Peery Maybe the richest Mormon

We get a shoutout in the “Christian Communism” article

House of Aaron A splinter group I wasn’t aware of in Eksdale, Utah

Los Lunas Decalogue Stone Hoax stone that purports to have Hebrew writing in the ancient Americas. May have been inscribed by Mormon Battalion members. 

James Dashner Didn’t know that the Maze Runner author was raised LDS. 

Michigan relics A sophisticated hoax purporting to show Jewish settlement in the New World. “The Michigan Relics are considered to be one of the most elaborate and extensive pseudoarchaeological hoaxes ever perpetrated in American history.” Proclaimed a fraud by James E. Talmadge they were nevertheless used by amatuer BoM archaeologist types. 

Robert Rey (plastic surgeon) Celebrity TV plastic surgeon who was encouraged by then-missionary Orson Scott Card to move to the US from Brazil. 

Prince Ata Son of the Tongan King who became a member contrary to his father’s wishes. 

List of attacks against Latter-day Saint churches

Ghost shirt Apparently there’s an argument to be made that the indigenous belief that Ghost shirts, a special garment of theirs, could repel US Army bullets was inherited from the Latter-day Saint belief about garments. 

Zarate Willka Armed Forces of Liberation A Bolivian terrorist group that attacked a Mormon meetinghouse and missionaries.

Hyde v Hyde A landmark case in British common law that established the definition of marriage in the UK based on a ex-member whose wife left him and moved to Utah. 

Deseret (Unicode block) Typographic entry about the Deseret Alphabet script.

Tongan Americans

Mike Allred DC Comic artist, identifies as a liberal Mormon

Angellica Bell British television presenter, raised Mormon

Edwin Catmull Co-founder of Pixar. At least raised LDS, don’t know if currently is. 

Singer–Swapp standoff An FLDS group bombed an LDS meetinghouse and had a standoff with federal law enforcement. 

Matthew McBlain Thomson Convert who fraudulently sold Masonic degrees

Ally Condie NYTimes bestseller-member I hadn’t heard of. 

Satanic panic (Utah)

Messenger of Death “A 1988 American vigilante action thriller film starring Charles Bronson. It is about an attempt by a water company to start a family feud among fundamentalist Mormons to take the family’s land for the company.”

Icelandic Americans

Students for Life of America Large anti-abortion group. In its early days it was about half Latter-day Saint. 

Shannon Hale Author of the Goose Girl and the Princess Academy. Didn’t know she was LDS. 

Surrender Dorothy A whole piece about the well-known graffiti by the DC temple.

David W. Allan Renowned inventor/Atomic clock physicist/member

China Mary Early Chinese-Mormon couple

Mehrsa Baradaran Iranian American Legal Scholar/Member

5 comments for “Interesting Wikipedia Articles About Latter-day Saints

  1. Ah, the Singer-Swapp standoff. I used to see that crew at my extended family reunions when I was a kid, before the crazy went down.

  2. I didn’t know about them at all; I’m ‘gradually realizing how many fundamentalist-related massacres and hits there have been.

  3. Based on her talk page, Ms. Helps is being much more stoic and Christ-like about the situation than I would have been.

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