Mormon: Prophet Smith’s Martyrdom Solemnly Recalled; LDS Legacy Remains Controversial in ‘8’ and ‘Polygamist’

SUNDAY, JUNE 27: Mormons mark the anniversary of the Martyrdom of Prophet Joseph Smith (and Brother Hyrum). Details of the event are at the LDS Church website.

Today, in 1844, Joseph Smith was attacked at a jail in Carthage, Ill., the same state where he was the mayor of another city. Ironically, Joseph Smith was running for the office of President of the United States when he was charged with treason by the State of Illinois.

In the year preceding his death, Joseph Smith continually came into conflict with enemies of his newfound Church. Knowing his death was imminent, Smith met frequently with his Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to instruct them and give them “keys” to carry out the faith after he was gone. (Wikipedia has more.) Eventually, Smith—the mayor of Nauvoo, Ill., and founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—was charged and ordered to stand trial along with his brother, Hyrum, at Carthage, Ill. (The Carthage Jail remains a common destination for visiting Mormons.) Then, on June 27, a group of attackers killed them.

The legacy of the Mormon movement is featured in ReadTheSpirit this week in the form of a new comic novel by Brady Udall, “The Lonely Polygamist.” Of course, polygamy is condemned by the mainline LDS church. But, that hasn’t stopped all Mormon spin off groups from exercising the traditional practice.

This month, Mormons also are at the center of another controversial media launch: the documentary movie “8: The Mormon Proposition.” Controversial to its core, the film examines anti-gay activism in the LDS church. California newspapers that are closest to the 2008 Proposition 8 are mixed in reviewing the film. The LA Times calls it “outstanding and urgent,” but the San Francisco Chronicle writes that the documentary is “marred by loaded language and a propagandistic tone that undercuts rather than promotes its purposes.”

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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