About Craig L. Foster

Craig L. Foster earned a MA and MLIS at Brigham Young University. He is also an accredited genealogist and works as a research consultant at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. He has published articles about different aspects of Mormon history. He is the author of two books, co-author of another and co-editor of a three volume series discussing the history and theology of plural marriage. Foster is also on the editorial board of the John Whitmer Historical Association Journal.

Conversations with Mormon Historians

Review of Alexander L. Baugh and Reid L. Neilson, eds., Conversations with Mormon Historians, Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, in cooperation with Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, 2015. pp.580 + xv, including index. $34.99.

Abstract: Conversations with Mormon Historians is a compilation of interviews with sixteen Latter-day Saint scholars. The book reveals why they went into their chosen professions, their rise to prominence as historians, and their thoughts regarding important topics such as the Prophet Joseph Smith and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

An Easier Way to Understanding Joseph Smith’s Polygamy

Review of Brian C. Hales and Laura H. Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy: Toward a Better Understanding. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2015, 198 pages + index.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ history of plural marriage can be difficult and uncomfortable for even the most stalwart of modern members. Because of the Internet and easy access to both accurate and inaccurate information, accidental discovery and/or inadequate teachings about the Church’s history and relationship to plural marriage have caused crises of faith which have alienated members of the Church and, in many cases, led to their eventual departure from the faith. Anti-Mormons and critics of the Church are constantly pushing and picking at members’ faith in order to plant seeds of doubt and to destroy members’ testimonies. Plural marriage has proven to be a prime weapon because knowing only a little of the truth can be devastating.1 Continue reading

Big Trouble in River City: American Crucifixion and the Defaming of Joseph Smith

Review of Alex Beam. American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church. PublicAffairs, 2014. 352 pp.

Abstract: On April 22, 2014, PublicAffairs, an imprint of a national publisher Persues Books Group, released American Crucifixion: The Murder of Joseph Smith and the Fate of the Mormon Church, authored by Alex Beam. Beam, who openly declared he entered the project without personal biases against Joseph Smith or the Latter-day Saints, spent a couple of years researching his work, which he declares to be “popular non-fiction” and therefore historically accurate. This article challenges both of these assertions, showing that Beam was highly prejudiced against the Church prior to investigating and writing about events leading up to the martyrdom. In addition, Beam’s lack of training as an historian is clearly manifested in gross lapses in methodology, documentation, and synthesis of his interpretation. Several key sections of his book are so poorly constructed from an evidentiary standpoint that the book cannot be considered useful except, perhaps, as well-composed historical fiction. Continue reading

Separated but not Divorced: The LDS Church’s Uncomfortable Relationship with its Polygamous Past

Abstract: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’s uncomfortable relationship with its polygamous history is somewhat like an awkward marriage separation. This is, in part, because of the fitful, painful cessation of plural marriage and the ever present reminders of its complicated past. This essay looks at examples of members’ expression of discomfort over a polygamous heritage and concludes with suggestions of possible pathways to a more comfortable reconciliation. Continue reading

Misunderstanding Mormonism in The Mormonizing of America

Abstract: The Mormonizing of America by Stephen Mansfield has been touted as a solid, impartial look at Mormon history and doctrine. Unfortunately, on closer examination, the book is seriously lacking both in substance and impartiality. This article discusses the book’s numerous problems.

Review of Stephen Mansfield. The Mormonizing of America: How the Mormon Religion Became a Dominant Force in Politics, Entertainment, and Pop Culture. Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing, 2012. 264 pp. $22.99. Continue reading