A Student of History

December 12, 2007

More on History & Mormonism

Filed under: Early America,The world today — John Maass @ 2:11 pm

A follow up to my previous post entitled Hitchens on Mormonism.  It should be noted that Hitchens is absolutely no friend of religion at all, of any stripe, except his own secular beliefs which act as a religion (if not faith) for him.  Thus, his comments should be read in that light.  That is not to say he has no points to make.  I think he does make some interesting observations, especially about Joseph Smith’s history, reputation, and character.


An interesting piece at www.boston.com on historians and the hostility they face from the Mormon church makes a point I was trying to do in my post, only better.  The author states:

As a newer religion, the LDS church is particularly susceptible to the challenges of historical muckraking. No one will ever discover if Moses truly heard God speak from a burning bush. But Joseph Smith left behind a long historical record – he wrote; his friends wrote about him; we know where he lived. Polygamy, a sensitive subject in the church, was banned in 1890, when the grandparents of many living Mormons were in plural marriages; history can seem painfully close.

This bears emphasis.  Unlike Christianity, which has its roots somewhat obscured by the passing centuries, historians and (as Hitchens implies) anyone who’ll bother to look can get a pretty good and recent look at Mormonism’s beginnings and Smith’s activities in the early 19th century, and compare his claims against the known facts or reasonable inferences from them.  This immediacy of this sect’s origins is a large hurdle for it to get over as far as credibility, and as such, when Mitt Romney says he believes in the sect’s core foundation, many see his own credibility as suspect as well.


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