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Carole Mikita ReportingTo more than 12-million Latter-day Saints Joseph Smith was a prophet who changed the face of Christianity. To others, he remains a controversial American figure. In Washington, D.C. a two-day symposium about the life and contributions of Joseph Smith will get underway tomorrow.
The Library of Congress is hosting and co-sponsoring this symposium with scholars from around the country. They will examine Joseph Smith as a church founder, a religious leader, a family man--his thoughts, his writings, his legacy. Most of the participating scholars are Latter-day Saints, but one of the conference coordinators says they will not just be talking to themselves.
Robert Millet, Ph.D., "The Worlds of Joseph Smith": “Not one scholar, not of our faith, not one of them said no. Every one of them said, ‘I would be thrilled. When is it going to be? I’ll fix my schedule.’ And so I think they see it as a significant moment in history.”
Nathan Hatch, Ph.D. Notre Dame University: "I think you have to examine why it was that people found him so appealing and I think he had an extremely powerful message, a message drawn from scriptural sources."
Joseph Smith's legacy looms large in Utah. Eldred Smith is the great-great grandson of Joseph's brother, Hyrum. At age 98 he marvels at what has happened to the faith in his lifetime.
Eldred Smith: "I think it's wonderful, almost miraculous that the world has accepted Joseph. We need to let people know that the Smiths were just normal individuals. They were not any different than anybody else."
An upstate New York farming family, the reason for the fascination, even controversy about Joseph Smith. We will bring you reaction from the symposium and a look at artifacts from Joseph Smith's life that curators at the Library of Congress were surprised to find they had, tomorrow.