Millennialism goes through fits and spurts through Mormon history. The earliest Saints gathered in Zion expecting to be sheltered from the imminent storm. The Reformation and Utah War and later the repeal of polygamy were all interpreted as being signs of the impending doom. The World Wars and the Cold War captured the fancies of those who envisioned the last and archetypal confrontation of Good and Evil. Was 2000 AD going to be it?
Mitt Romney’s campaign for the US Presidency has stirred the pot sufficient for opponents to circulate whispers and accusations of purported theocratic prophecies that have bubbled to the surface. A classic is the “White Horse Prophecy.” The prophecy was widely circulated by, among others, Robert W. X. Smith in his The Last Days which was repeatedly printed in the 30′s and 40′s then updated in the late sixties in order to incorporate more misconstrued modern prophet goodness. As you can see from the title, “Time is being shortened!” “It is later than you think!” and the “Greatest Sign of the 2nd Advent Has Already Occurred!” In short, get your food storage and a shotgun, because the time is now. Unfortunately, this kind of worldview is not only goofy and creepy, but also dangerous.
The White Horse Prophecy is best treated by George Cobabe’s FAIR article (PDF). Unfortunately, while Cobabe addresses the content and institutional reaction to the prophecy, he falls completely flat on historiography. He doesn’t do any source material work or track the dispersal of the prophecy. Consequently, he gives more credence to the prophecy than is even remotely warranted. Apparently the first accounts of the prophecy were recorded by two faithful Saints a decade or so after the fact and the accounts have never been publicly examined (perhaps something for the JS Papers?).
Aside from whether the prophecy is genuine or not, the Church hierarchy has officially disavowed it. Speaking at the 1918 fall conference and just before his death, President Joseph F. Smith stated:
The ridiculous story about the “red horse,” and “the black horse,” and “the white horse,” and a lot of trash that has been circulated about and printed and sent around as a great revelation given by the Prophet Joseph Smith, is a matter that was gotten up, I understand, some ten years after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, by two of our brethren who put together some broken sentences from the Prophet that they may have-heard him utter from time to time, and formulated this so called revelation out of it, and it was never spoken by the prophet in the manner in which they have out it forth. It is simply false: that is all there is to it.