Question: Has the Church deemphasized references to Joseph Smith in recent years?


Question: Has the Church deemphasized references to Joseph Smith in recent years?

This is false--Joseph's role as the first prophet of the restoration continues to be a point of emphasis

This is false--Joseph's role as the first prophet of the restoration continues to be a point of emphasis. Joseph is, of course, out-ranked in important by God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.

Several critics of the Church have come up with a surprising claim that the Church is publicly de-emphasizing Joseph Smith. This is a rather amazing statement to make. Surely anyone who visits Temple Square can test this statement and see that it is completely false. The authors obviously took their tour of Temple Square with Steven and Charles Crane whose similar claim, in the anti-Mormon work "Ashamed of Joseph," is soundly proven false in FARMS reviewer LeIsle Jacobson's onsite test.14 Jacobson's visit, as recounted in the endnote, found interactive and readily available video displays about Joseph and guides who easily spoke about him on the "basic beliefs" tour.

If there were still any doubt as to LDS public references to Joseph Smith, consider for example, that immediately adjacent to Temple Square is found a massive structure that was formerly the Hotel Utah. It was renovated a number of years ago to what today is known as the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and has a very large nine-foot marble statue of the prophet in the lobby; this cannot be missed. This is the very building where the missionaries on Temple Square send visitors to view current Church movies.

Another example comes in the form of an official Church letter of clarification issued to religion writers and editors regarding a Newsweek report on the Latter-day Saint faith. In an excerpt from the September 7, 2001 letter, the Church wrote:

Most importantly, our Church spokesmen emphasize our position that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a Restoration of the ancient, biblical Church of Jesus Christ. The conviction among our Church members that this Restoration took place through the Prophet Joseph Smith in the early 1800s is so central to our thinking that no understanding of the Church is complete without it. A moment spent checking the Church's media Web site http://www.lds.org/media will affirm that this message of a distinctive, restored Church, is a consistent one.15

In this media library is found a significant article on Joseph Smith. In that article, "From Farm Boy to Prophet," it clearly states:

Latter-day Saints revere Joseph Smith as a prophet in the tradition of biblical prophets like Moses and Isaiah. Church members believe that his doctrinal teachings and instructions concerning the Church's organization resulted from divine revelation, not his own learning.

While critics lead the reader to believe otherwise, the Church is clear and direct in telling the esteem to which Joseph is held.

Notes