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President Gordon B. Hinckley: It's behind us. Look, that's behind us. Don't worry about those little flecks of history.
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This is why IOTR was launched in 2007, with the following explanation and challenge:
Many interesting and informative events in the development of Mormonism have never been depicted in visual art, and remain concealed in big, dry history books. This gallery represents an attempt to bring some of these events to light. Hopefully, after viewing these images, those history books won't seem so big or dry anymore.
Many other important facts and events in the development of Mormonism have appeared in Mormon art, but some have been depicted in ways that are materially inaccurate and misleading. This is a place to find Mormon historical illustrations that are as true as possible to the historical record. We welcome constructive comments and critiques of these images. The artists are willing to change the images to reflect better, more accurate information. So please feel free to make a convincing argument, appropriately supported, and your input will be incorporated into a new version of the image.
This approach worked out well, as these images have been widely used (both on the internet and in actual printed books) to separate historical fact from Church authoritative spin. There was a modest initial response in the media to the blog and its challenge, DETAILED HERE, where an official Church spokesperson, on the record, called it "anti-mormon," and an LDS bishop compared it to "the writings of Adolph Hitler," but the images have stood, unrefuted, for almost a decade. In fact, the publication, in recent years, of official Church essays delving into LDS history (HERE) have largely vindicated the validity of the images.
Does the recent Church gesture toward engagement with historical reality change the relevance of these IOTR historical illustrations? Not yet. Not before the Church has published its own versions of these images. Versions that don't spin reality.
All images contained herein are used with permission, and subject, as indicated below, to a Creative Commons license. Please do not misuse these images.
This gallery was previously featured as a stand-alone blog, published at www.imagesoftherestoration.org ("IOTR"), which originally launched in 2007. IOTR was a response, by lifelong members of the LDS Church, to the persistent efforts of Church leadership to reframe, ignore, deny, or edit (i.e., "spin") historical facts that the wondrous majesty of the internet was now irrevocably exposing to the world. The Church leaders' motivation for behaving this way was obvious: historical facts, in many respects, do not support the stories that have long been presented by the Church to explain its existence and its theology, and without those stories, the Church leaders would lose some of the absolute religious and moral authority they enjoyed in LDS culture. The LDS prophets and apostles' disincentives to admit being wrong about anything, especially Church history, is the source of the entire religion's uncomfortable and contradictory relationship with objective reality.
Here is an illustrative sample of LDS Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley's...er... "engagement" with the complexity of vital historical facts, during the years immediately prior to the launch of IOTR: