Ezra Booth had been a popular Methodist minister before going to Kirtland, Ohio with John and Alice (Elsa) Johnson in 1831. After witnessing Joseph Smith healing Elsa’s arm, Booth became a convert and was baptized and ordained an elder in May 1831, and later was ordained to be a high priest by Lyman Wight on 3 June 1831.
Three days later Booth was called to go to Missouri with Isaac Morley and ‘preach the word by the way.’ Booth began his mission by preaching the Book of Mormon to a large audience in Bates Corners, Norton Township (Ohio) in June 1831. On 4 August 1831, Booth was one of fourteen elders attending the Special Conference in Kaw township, Jackson County, Missouri, ‘held by special commandment of the Lord’ called by Joseph Smith.
For unknown reasons, on 6 September 1831, Booth was ‘silenced from preaching as an Elder’ by Smith, Sidney Rigdon, Oliver Cowdery and others. A prophecy by Smith came a few days later, which stated:
“I, the Lord, was angry with him who was my servant Ezra Booth, and also my servant Isaac Morley, for they kept not the law, neither the commandment; they sought evil in their hearts…They condemned for evil that thing in which there was no evil; nevertheless, I have forgiven my servant Isaac Morley.”
Less than three days after being silenced from preaching as an Elder, and after being a member for less than five months, Booth renounced Mormonism in the first of nine letters (12 September 1831) to be published in the Ohio Star, beginning in November 1831. His words are quite moving:
“When I embraced Mormonism, I conscientiously believed it to be of God. The impressions of my mind were deep and powerful, and my feelings were excited to a degree to which I had been a stranger. Like a ghost, it haunted me by night and by day, until I was mysteriously hurried, as it were, by a kind of necessity, into the vortex of delusion.”
In Norton Township (the area Booth was sent to on his mission), the effect of Booth’s letters is such that ‘the public feeling was, that Mormonism was overthrown’ until Reynolds Cahoon, David Whitmer, and Lyman E. Johnson arrived on a mission.
Information about Ezra Booth after 1831 is scarce. However, he later created the Church of Christ. His Church of Christ claimed that Joseph Smith, Jr. was a false prophet and that the Book of Mormon was not true.
In November Ezra Booth charged Joseph with ‘a want of sobriety, prudence, and stability…a spirit of lightness and levity, and temper of mind easily irritated, and a habitual proneness to jesting and joking.’ To Booth, these actions were unbecoming in a prophet. He accused Joseph of having revelations too conveniently for them to originate from God.