South Park Part 3 (Plates of Gold)


Mormons on South Park – Part 3: Finding The Plates of Gold

South Park mormon testimonySouth Park’s portrayal of Joseph Smith finding the Golden Plates is play on history but is pretty close to how it happened. In the South Park episode, Joseph Smith runs into town to tell everyone that he’s found “another New Testament of Jesus Christ.” Joseph Smith tells everyone in town that after being visited by the Angel Moroni the night before, he “dug around all morning” and almost gave up until he stumbled upon a stone box. Inside, Joseph Smith finds two “magical seer stones” and “four gold plates.” When the townspeople ask to see the plates and the seer stones, Joseph hesitates and explains that the Angel Moroni told him not to show them to anyone. The lyrical song ends the segment singing: “nobody else ever saw the plates.”

Hill Cumorah

In fact, there are several different accounts of how Joseph Smith obtained the golden plates, but all of them indicate that the Angel Moroni showed Joseph Smith the exact spot in a hill, which Moroni called the “Hill Camorah.” (Not to be confused with the Island of Camora off the coast of Africa with its capital city Moroni.)

Golden Plate Box

Furthermore, South Park gives the impression that Joseph Smith found his seer stones buried with the golden plates. In fact, Joseph Smith had been using seer stones for many years prior to his obtaining any golden plates. According to the Official History of the Church, as early as 1822 Joseph Smith had a seer stone, which:

“was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum, for a Mr. Clark Chase, near Palmyra, NY. It possessed the qualities of a Urim and Thummim, since by means of it, as well as by means of the Interpreters found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters – engraven on the [golden] plates.”
History of the Church, Volume 1, Page 128

Joseph Smith did not find any of his seer stones with the golden plates, although that is what South Park depicts.

Seer Stones

In a letter Joseph Smith wrote to a Chicago newspaper, he describes the ancient records and “interpreters” he found at the hill:

“These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume, as the leaves of a book with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called “Urim and Thummim,” which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate.
Joseph Smith, March, 1842 letter to the editor of the Chicago Democrat, also published in The Times and Seasons, Vol. III (No. 9)

The fact that Smith’s “interpreters” and his seer stones looked different is confirmed by special Book of Mormon Witness Martin Harris, who said Joseph Smith’s seer stones “differed in appearance entirely from the Urim and Thummim that was obtained with the [golden] plates, which were two clear stones set in two rims, very much resembling spectacles, only they were larger.”
History of the Church, Volume 1, Page 128

What South Park incorrectly shows buried with the golden plates are only two of Joseph Smith’s seer stones.

According the church history, Joseph Smith possessed at least three seer stones. He had a white opaque stone, a greenish-colored seer stone (shown in South Park) and a brown seer stone that remains in the possession of the First Presidency of the LDS Church.

For more information and photos of seer stones, see:

Real Mormon History – All About Seer Stones

Smith’s Three Seer Stones

As far as nobody seeing the plates of gold but Joseph Smith, the beginning of the Book of Mormon contains a statement that the plates were real, with the names of several of Joseph Smith’s associates below it. No original copy of this statement with their signatures exists, but the Church demonstrates this as evidence other people saw the gold plates.

Years after the Book of Mormon was published, special Book of Mormon witness Martin Harris testifed that “I never saw the gold plates, only in a visionary or entranced state. …In about three days I went into the woods to pray that I might see the plates. While praying I passed into a state of entrancement, and in that state I saw the angel [Moroni] and the plates.”
– Martin Harris Interview, Anthony Metcalf, Ten Years Before the Mast, n.d., microfilm copy, p. 70-71

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Golden Plates



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