In this Mormon moment, LDS Church history blooms

On this date 167 years ago, an angry mob shot and killed LDS Church founder Joseph Smith in an Illinois jail. Believers and skeptics have been telling and retelling the story of Smith and the movement he launched ever since.

Historians’ task now has grown more urgent, more complicated and more visible in the 21st century as two Mormon candidates vie for the U.S. presidency and a Tony-winning Broadway musical spells out the tale in broad, satirical strokes. The Utah-based church works strenuously to correct misperceptions even as pro- and anti-Mormon websites duke it out on the Internet.

Fortunately, says premier LDS historian Richard Bushman, the field of Mormon history is flowering as never before.

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