We are all familiar with young Joseph Smith’s partiality for Methodism. Joseph even conceded in his now-canonized history that he was “partial to the Methodist sect, and…felt some desire to be united with them.” This affinity for Methodism is reflected in the organization of his nascent Church. Priesthood was made up of the offices of Teacher, Priest, and Elder. Missionaries weren’t required to be educated and preached itinerantly. Even words like “General Conference” stem from early Methodism. By the end of his life though, Joseph’s perspective had changed, and there was a new tradition in which to find parallels.
After Joseph delivered his King Follette discourse at the April, 1844, general conference, apostates took the controversial principles and ran. Joseph stood up to this controversy on June 16, with his famous Sermon in the Grove. He had prepared for days and delivered a discourse on the nature of God. Then, after describing the destiny of humanity in the plan of salvation, he stated, that the “old Catholic Church is worth more than all.”
Joseph had been pejoratively compared to the Pope for years. He was the soul director of his Church. He introduced rituals and practices that offended antebellum protestant sensibilities. After making his supportive comment of Catholicism, Joseph went on to argue that all protestants were essentially Catholic apostates. Joseph then taught that God never recognizes apostates and that “any man who will betray the Catholics will betray you.” Perhaps, at this moment of Joseph’s betrayal, he felt to sympathize with what he recognized as the previous dispensation’s heir.