He is the head of the Wordwide United Foundation, an organization that claims it alone has the solution to worldwide poverty and inequality. But this claim pales in comparison to Christopher Marc Nemelka’s belief that he is the reincarnated Hyrum Smith, the brother of Mormonism’s founder, Joseph Smith.
Nemelka insists that while working as a security guard in the Salt Lake temple on June 16, 1987, he was personally visited by Joseph Smith and told he was Smith’s reincarnated brother. Joseph and Hyrum met their demise while incarcerated at the Carthage Jail in June 1844. Nemelka claims that Smith told him that he was to finish the job Hyrum was unable to complete.
As many Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon gives divine proof of Joseph Smith’s calling, a similar validation is given to Nemelka by his followers. His writings include several books, including one titled The Sealed Portion: The Final Testament of Jesus Christ, which is purported to be a translation of the sealed portion of the gold plates that Joseph Smith did not translate. Using the flawed rationale of Moroni 10:4 in the Book of Mormon, Nemelka claims that those who criticize his books do so, “not because they have taken the time to read the books of this work with an open mind, a sincere heart, and with real intent, but because this work has offended them in some way.” On this Sealed Portion web page he also claims that the Bible is a work of man, and not of God.
“The Bible was created by men, who, throughout history, wanted to present a philosophical idea of our relationship with a God as our Creator. The Bible has been the cause of much war and misery since its inception. Most of the world’s misery is caused by those who are misled by the Bible’s teachings and also by those who interpret and teach their followers that it is the ultimate “word of God.” It is NOT the word of God. It is the word of men.”
He boasts that his book Sacred, Not Secret: The Official Guide in Understanding the Temple Endowment, is the definitive work on the temple ceremony.
“There has never been, nor will there ever be, a more concise and complete explanation given of the purpose of LDS temples and the instruction given therein. Although not published by the mainstream LDS Church, this book stands as the [Authorized and] Official Guide In Understanding the endowment because it’s author is the only one who has ever been privy to the true meaning of all the endowment’s symbolism.”
In June 2010, Nemelka caused quite a stir when he announced that he was going to have a headstone bearing his and Hyrum’s name dedicated in the Smith family plot of the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Ida Smith, the great-great granddaughter of Hyrum Smith, who became convinced that Nemelka was called of God after reading The Sealed Portion, donated her plot to Nemelka.
On June 16, 2010, a press conference was called in the southwest corner of the cemetery to dedicate the controversial headstone. Though he did not appear personally, Nemelka sent his legal counsel, Rodney J. Vessels, to explain the importance and controversy surrounding this event. Vessels converted to Mormonism in his college years, served an LDS mission, married in the temple, and fulfilled several church callings before coming to the conclusion in November of 2008 that Nemelka is the “bearer of the message of Christ to all the world.” As a result of this decision, his wife of 32 years divorced him and he was excommunicated from the LDS Church. In his personal testimony, he says he now lives “singly and alone.”
In his prepared statement, Vessels explained that “members of the Smith family are not happy with the placement of this headstone, and they are not happy that one day at this gravesite, among descendants of Hyrum Smith, the remains of my client, Christopher Marc Nemelka, will be buried here.” Vessels stated that Nemelka’s name appears alongside Hyrum’s name on the headstone “because Christopher was Hyrum Smith. This is a memorial therefore to Hyrum and to Christopher, as the same person.” Not long after the headstone was dedicated, it was vandalized by being knocked over. It was removed for repairs but has since been replaced.
Following the dedication of the headstone, the small crowd moved from the Salt Lake Cemetery to the First Unitarian Church just a few blocks away. Here, Nemelka made his appearance and proceeded to explain the significance of June 16 and his personal visitation by Joseph Smith in the Salt Lake temple in 1987. Nemelka announced to the crowd that he was going to finish a sermon that Joseph Smith failed to finish on June 16, 1844 – a message that he believes was divinely preempted by a rain storm because Smith was about to tell what really happened in his First Vision. He claims that historians “don’t have a clue of what happened back then. That all that is written is biased and prejudiced based on what they want the world to believe about Joseph Smith.”
In his speech, Nemelka explained that the Bible was invented by men, but that “The Book of Mormon was erected by advanced human beings to counter the Bible.” He claimed that “God is nothing more than an advanced man” and that it was “an advanced human being” that appeared to Joseph Smith when he was but a boy. Nemelka claimed that he too, “met the advanced human beings that Joseph met.” He believes that “every human is a god” and all people are “advanced human beings going through a mortal experience.” He says, “Our creators live in another galaxy way, far away,” but not in a “Star Wars type.”
“His [Joseph Smith’s] last sermon was simply that, that human beings are gods. Christians don’t want to see that. You know why Christians don’t want to believe that, born-again Christians, and others, and other people? Because they look around and they see what human beings are like. How can these human beings be god, when they’re so bad to each other, they’re so mean, they’re so rude? How can they be even close to a god? The Christians don’t want to accept the fact that they alone are responsible for what they do. For their actions towards each other. For their thoughts, everything. They’re responsible. They don’t want that responsibility so they create a god who will forgive them and everything. They create a Christ that died on a cross for their sins. So they don’t have to worry about anything. They can go out and cheat a neighbor. . . That’s exactly how they are.”
He believes that all humans will one day have a similar experience to what Joseph Smith had:
“What do you think is gonna happen when all of us have the first vision, the first visitation? Cause that is what’s gonna happen someday. Every human being is going to have the same experience that Joseph had back on April 6th of 1820. They’re gonna have the same thing. These advanced human beings are gonna show up and they’re gonna go, ‘Whoa!’ But these advanced human beings are not going to get into philosophical debates with them. They’re not going to be talking about scriptures or anything else, because that’s all invented by men.”
Instead, Nemelka says, these advanced human beings are going to teach us all “how to be humane with each other, how to love each other, how to take care of each other. How to incorporate technology for the benefit of all, equally.”
Nemelka claims to have special insight into every recorded event in history via two rocks he claims to have in his possession called the Urim and Thummim. He says,
“I know these advanced human beings. I’ve been taught by them I know what’s happening in that universe. I know why we’re here. I know what’s going on. I know what’s happened. What’s happened in this world. I’ve seen it through these two rocks, they’re called the Urim and Thummim. Much of that information. And anytime at any point in history that I want, I get out those rocks and it tunes right into their advanced technology and they’ve recorded every event that’s ever happened and I can see exactly what’s going on.”
In contradiction to the New Testament’s occurrences of Jesus accepting worship, Nemelka claims that this “Christ guy” does “not want us worshipping at his feet.” “When you understand who he really is, you’ll learn to love him, and understand him. He doesn’t want to be worshipped. He’s a servant. He always has been, He always will be.”
Nemelka insists that he is but a reluctant servant:
“Now, Joseph wanted to tell you guys those things. He wanted to tell the world on June 16th. He couldn’t, but he is now. Because it is under his direction that I am here today. Do you think I like doing this? No. But I do know this. I do know that this world needs the true history of what happened back then. They don’t need the fallacies and the confusion that the histories of the world are giving to people. They need to know the truth.”
Nemelka claims that in an advanced human world, freedom to do what you want is the norm:
“I’ve been there, folks. I’ve seen it, with these imperfect eyes. I’ve seen an advanced society of human beings where there’s no judgment at all. No measurement. Needless to say I was the oldest person in that society at the time. True. I’m almost 50 and they grow to 30 for men, early 20’s for women, and they stop growing, and they don’t age. But in that society you would never feel any judgment at all. It doesn’t matter if you wanted to be the craziest person in the world. They would say, ‘Go for it. We support you in that.’ That’s the beauty, that’s the beauty of an advanced human world. An advanced human world that one day will be introduced to this world, but we have a lot to go through before that. Joseph’s mission was to do one thing, and one thing only, to counterbalance the biblical world that transformed our world into one of arrogance, pride, hate, bigotry, and inequality.”
Nemelka claims that there are only two important things in this world and they are that “you love yourself, that you learn who you are,” and that you treat your neighbors “as the gods they are.” He asks,
“Why is it that we can’t get along? Why is it that one person thinks they’re right, and the other person thinks they’re right? Is it that they’re both wrong? Yes, pretty much. Why can’t we just accept the fact that the universe revolves around each one of us, because that’s what Christ taught. It was convoluted when it came out in their little Catholic New Testament this way, ‘The Kingdom of God is within you.’ Christ taught the people that the universe revolves around you — each one of us. We are the god of that universe, and that there should be no other god before us. We should listen to no other man, no other woman, nobody else but our own hearts and our own minds. With this one caveat, do unto others, love others as you love yourself. Treat them as the god that they are. That’s what Joseph was trying to say, treat each other like the god that you are.”
Of course, one could ask, if we are to listen to “no other man, no other woman,” why should anyone listen to him? Yet many do. Members of the Mormon Church who are familiar with Nemelka tend to look upon him with disdain. In fact, during his June 16 message, several LDS members walked out mumbling under their breath as he spoke. As an outsider, I couldn’t help but wonder what criteria they used to judge Nemelka so harshly. After all, he, like Joseph Smith, claimed to have personal visitations from heavenly beings. He, like Smith, claimed God gave him a book(s) to write. And he, like Smith, made outlandish claims without any supporting tangible evidence. Nemelka is in many ways just a 21st century version of Mormonism’s founding prophet.