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Religion Library: Mormonism


Written by: Stephen Taysom

Now refugees, the Mormons found a new gathering place, a swampy area along the Mississippi that Smith purchased and named Nauvoo (after the Hebrew word for beautiful, he claimed). In Nauvoo, Smith aimed to create a semi-independent Mormon kingdom where the Mormons could defend themselves against their persecutors.  The city possessed its own militia and soon began construction of a temple. Conflation of temporal and spiritual affairs under Smith's expanding authority, however, along with rumors of polygamy, led to internal dissent and external opposition.

Following the destruction of an anti-Mormon press in 1844, Joseph and his brother Hyrum Smith were arrested and jailed. They were both shot and killed by a mob. Smith's death was followed by a period of uncertainty, as over two dozen men claimed the authority to assume Church leadership. The struggle was won by Brigham Young (1801-1877), who became the second president of the Church. With prospects in Illinois increasingly dim, Young led the Saints across the plains to the Salt Lake Valley, arriving there in 1847.

Study Questions:
1.     Why could it be argued that Joseph Smith's childhood was influential for his founding of Mormonism?
2.     Why did Smith consider himself to be a prophet?
3.     What is The Book of Mormon? How was it inspired?
4.     Why did the geographical headquarters of Mormonism change over time?


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