Maureen Dowd rips into Joseph Smith in the New York Times:
The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, who ran for president the year before he died, was a lusty, charismatic Prospero. In “Under the Banner of Heaven,” a best seller about the Mormon faith, Jon Krakauer wrote that Smith was so full of charm, enthusiasm and imagination that “he could sell a muzzle to a dog.”
Not wanting to be a debt-ridden farmer like his dad, young Joseph came of age in Palmyra, in western New York. He was, Mr. Krakauer wrote, “attempting to divine the location of buried treasure by means of black magic and crystal gazing.”
When he was 17, Joseph said, an angel named Moroni came to his bedroom to tell him about some gold tablets that had been buried 1,400 years earlier under a nearby rock. Joseph said he translated hieroglyphics on the tablets using special glasses provided by Moroni, and this became the Book of Mormon.
After marrying a passel of women, some as young as 14, he had a divine revelation about polygamy that steamed his original wife, Emma.
“Emma harangued Joseph so relentlessly about his philandering,” Mr. Krakauer wrote, “that the original intent of the revelation canonized as Section 132 seems to have been simply to persuade Emma to shut up and accept his plural wives — while at the same time compelling her to refrain from indulging in any extracurricular sex herself.”