JK Rowling invokes golden plates of Mormon church founder in row over her trans views

A graphic composed of an image of JK Rowling, who is wearing a dark dress with a cape, in front of a picture of books washed in a green colour

JK Rowling has defended herself from accusations of transphobia by using a niche Mormon analogy.

In a tweet that not one person had on their 2022 bingo card, Rowling tweeted about those asked to give examples of her anti-trans views, and wrote: “It’s like when Joseph Smith found the golden plates and nobody else was allowed to look at them.”

Joseph Smith was the founder of Mormonism, officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who practiced polygamy with children as young as 14 yet openly opposed interracial marriage.

In 1823, when Smith was 18 years old, he claimed that he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who told him the location of a set of golden plates.

The angel told him that the plates were buried in a hill near Smith’s house in what is now New York State, and after taking four years to dig them up, he was tasked with translating them from an ancient language he called “reformed Egyptian”.

However he also said that the angel had said he was forbidden to show the plates to anyone else, and he dictated his translation to a scribe without looking at the plates, and instead getting the words from a stone inside a hat. He then returned the plates to the angel Moroni so no one would be able to ever see them.

In 1830, Smith published the translation as The Book of Mormon, the basis of the anti-LGBTQ+ religion.

JK Rowling’s suggestion that the golden plates didn’t really exist as an analogy for examples of her own anti-trans views managed to simultaneously aggravate both queer people and Mormons.

One Twitter user told her: “While you are correct that Joseph Smith was a charlatan, tons of trans people have made videos and written essays about why you are spreading misinformation and transphobia.”

“You literally call trans women men on the regular,” pointed out another.

While a Mormon Twitter user added: “Please don’t mock my religious denomination to try and make your point. It’s not even a good comparison.”

Bizarrely, the entire affair turned into a Mormon history lesson when Rowling tweeted: “I’m now being told that lots of people saw the golden plates. I’m genuinely fascinated: how many people?

“I’ve just gone to look it up. Eleven people claimed to have seen the plates, some of them related to Smith, but there’s debate as to whether this was a metaphysical experience or they genuinely saw them. And one man was allowed to hold the box but not look inside it.”