Conversations about the religious and spiritual life on the other side of fundamentalism
189: The Book of Mormon as a 19th Century Political Commentary: Christopher C. Smith

189: The Book of Mormon as a 19th Century Political Commentary: Christopher C. Smith

Credit: John Wiesenfeld ‘Susquehanna Staircase’ @Flickr

Chris Smith is not LDS but has been fascinated with the tradition since he dated the local Mormon bishop’s daughter in high school.  His research as a religious historian has lead him to the conclusion that Joseph Smith sought to resolve 19th Century America’s political conundrums allegorically through the Book of Mormon.  He argues that Joseph’s hope was that one day the church he established would redeem the USA and become the Kingdom of God on Earth.

The Book of Mormon is not, he argues, a literal history of an extinct Native American civilization.  Unless of course the Nephites and Lamanites were experiencing exactly the same political, social, economic, racial and cultural issues that characterized antebellum USA.


  1. (1:06:44) Gina: “This is probably one of the most incendiary podcasts that I will ever do and the one that will get me in the most trouble. And I hadn’t realized how important it is to consider that for some Mormons that the Book of Mormon must be true. I hadn’t realized how much rigidity there was around this. So you must have come across Mormons who find what you say inflammatory.”

    “Chris: Oh yes. I’m used to it. I accepted a long time ago that if you want to make a mark on he world, you have to be somewhat disagreeable and that you have to be okay with certain people deciding that you’re their enemy. I’m just going to say what I think and if people hate me for it, I’ll just live with that.”

    Bon courage, mes amis! Bon courage!

    This is why I stay in Mormon studies, some 18 years after ending my formal practice of the religion. It’s because of the courage and the inspiration of colleagues like both of you.

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