Publisher releases collection of early Mormon who left the church

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A Salt Lake City publisher has released the papers of William McLellin, an early Mormon convert who was close to church founder Joseph Smith.

McLellin eventually left the church. He writes that he never heard a contemporary account from Smith of a visit from God and Jesus Christ in upstate New York.

McLellin says he also wasn't aware of the angel Moroni, who led Smith to buried gold plates that became the church's foundational text.

The apostate's claims raise questions about whether Smith was padding the Mormon story as time passed. Or McLellin could have been so embittered he was trying to undermine the church.

McLellin's writings are being published by Signature Books, which specializes in Mormon history.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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