I’ve been reading a lot about the vision John Taylor supposedly had known as the “horseshoe prophecy.” I’m wondering if there is any validity to it? Does the Church recognize it as a prophecy or is it just some story that can’t be verified?
The “Horse Shoe Prophecy”, is a vision accredited to President John Taylor. In the “prophecy,” John Taylor is quoted as having seen the incredible growth and prosperity of the Salt Lake City area. He in turn supposedly saw how half of the Saints would begin to ignore/reject the counsel of Church leaders and eventually turn away from the gospel. This turning away would lead to great trials, destruction, an actual war and the eventual collapse of the region. The turmoil would be so great, even the Church would flee the area, taking all of their records with them. This type of prophecy has struck fear into many living in the SLC region. While the events described in the supposed prophecy are not impossible, the “prophecy” and its origins are not factual. Unfortunately, there are Mormon myths or lore that grow roots and once told enough times over a long enough period creep into mainstream Mormonism appearing as fact. This particular lore apparently gained enough traction that the First Presidency of the Church released a statement regarding it in the Church News on April 4, 1970. It reads as follows:
“PRESIDENTS OF STAKES, BISHOPS OF WARDS AND PRESIDENTS OF MISSIONS IN THE UNITED STATES AND CANADA – March 30, 1970
We have had called to our attention by several people, a purported revelation, or dream, or vision, which President John Taylor, the third president of the Church, allegedly had received and communicated to a housewife in her kitchen while at the home where he had been resting between conference sessions while attending meetings in Cedar City, Utah.
This purported statement, if ever given under such unheard of circumstances, was never presented to any of his associates or in any council of the Church and no record whatsoever is to be found in the historian’s office.
We have the following memorandum from the Church Historian’s Office in Salt Lake City under the date of February 11, 1970 which reads as follows:
“TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
The so-called `Horse Shoe Prophecy’ of President John Taylor has a questionable background and history.
1. The `prophecy’ was first written down in 1951 by Edward Lunt which is between 64 and 74 years after it was supposed to have been given.
2. His mother ran the hotel from 1877 to 1888 during which time the `prophecy’ was supposed to have been given. President Taylor died July 25, 1887.
3. George A. Smith was supposed to have been there with President Taylor but he died in 1875, which was two years prior to the time Brother Lunt’s mother was in the hotel.
4. He states that his mother did not tell him until 1903 or 1904, which was about 25 years after it was supposed to have been given.
5. We have five different copies and no two of them are identical in wording.
6. One contains a statement about the Negro that purportedly is not in any of the others and particularly the one `version’ which was signed by Edward Lunt.
7. In checking the Deseret News we can find no record of President Taylor being in Cedar City after 1883. Nor is anything in the Parowan Stake Conference minutes.
8. There is no record by any of the General Authorities about it nor is there anything in the diaries of which we have copies.”
This is just another evidence of the cleverly designed motives of individuals who seize upon the emotionalism of our present day to get publicity, and to further agitate the feelings of Church members on matters which must be left to the wisdom of the Lord and his guidance, which are under his divine control.
We would urge you to caution our people against accepting these purported statements of the presiding brethren, past or present, without verification. You may be sure if there is anything that has substance in regard to the safety and welfare of our people, we will see that the leaders of the Church are immediately advised so that we might act wisely and unitedly in order to not over react to present situations.
The real danger lies in our people becoming confused and frustrated and looking elsewhere than to their Church leaders or to civil authorities in matters pertaining to their welfare.
JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH
HAROLD B. LEE
N. ELDON TANNER,
The First Presidency”
Gmerrill, I hope this successfully answers your question regarding the “Horse Shoe Prophecy,” or rather the lack thereof.