SL09123 The Scandal in the Practice: Joseph Smith as Religious Performer

Joseph Smith’s prophetic identity is rooted in part in his assumption of a biblical prophetic role like that of Moses or Elijah. Some Latter-day Saints have been troubled by the seeming contradiction of his involvement in magic. This paper seeks to demonstrate how tension between current notions of appropriate religious practice and historical data on Smith continues to shape critical and apologetic assessments of his claims. It will also raise questions about the utility of the term “pious fraud” in characterizing Joseph’s religious activities.

Trevor Luke