“Extortion or coercion by threats especially of public exposure or criminal prosecution.” Such is the dictionary definition of blackmail. Since threats of criminal prosecution of the Church or its general leaders are ludicrous, we will concentrate on “coercion by threats especially of public exposure.” These types of threats are also absurd, but have still become increasingly popular among desperate anti-Mormons seeking publicity for their grievance or cause. The reason I say absurd is because in order for blackmail to work, they have to have something substantial—some leverage—behind their threat—and anti-Mormons don’t.
A couple more definitions should be reviewed: “Whistleblower”; “a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity.” (Note that illicit is usually equivalent to illegal, though not always.) And also “traitor”; “a person who betrays a friend, country, principle, etc.” I mention these words because people fitting these descriptions are often involved with blackmail schemes. Whistleblowers, those who expose illicit/illegal activity, are sometimes thought, even begrudgingly, to be principled, even heroic, people for enduring the risk of exposing such activity. Traitors, on the other hand, are thought to be among the lowest forms of humanity; no principles, only deceit and money (or fame) motivate them. They are thought or spoken of like Judas or Benedict Arnold. Often, alleged whistleblowers are simply traitors, designated so because they just didn’t like something they found out about and are using illicit/illegal means to expose something that may be quite innocuous, ethical, and/or legal.
Having laid this groundwork, let us examine some examples of anti-Mormons trying to blackmail the LDS Church with various schemes. First, we quickly review an incident from Mormon history. David R. Seely gives us this narration:
On 16 September 1911, the Salt Lake Tribune published an account of certain individuals who had secretly taken pictures of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple and who had attempted to sell them to the church. The headlines read: "Photographs secretly taken of Mormon Temple's interior; sent for sale to Church chief. President replies: 'Church will not negotiate with thieves and blackmailers."' The blackmail scheme was perpetrated by Max Florence, who was at the time in New York City trying to sell sixty-eight unauthorized photographs of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple. Florence had employed the help of a recent convert to the church, Gisbert Bossard, who, disenchanted with the administration of the church, had, assisted by a gardener for the temple grounds, gained access to the Salt Lake Temple and had taken a series of photographs of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple. Apparently motivated by money and "revenge" on the church, these individuals had taken the pictures when the Salt Lake Temple was closed for renovation during the summer of 1911. Florence and Bossard had sent a letter to the First Presidency with a proposal of blackmail—that the church would give them $100,000 and the photographs would be returned; otherwise. they would be shown publicly. President Joseph F. Smith, the recipient of the letter, was outraged, and his response was, "I will make no bargain with thieves or traffickers in stolen goods. I prefer to let the law deal with them."