Smithsonian Supports Book of Mormon

MYTH: The Smithsonian Institute uses the Book of Mormon in its research.


This myth is old – some claim over a hundred years old – and is well documented all over the internet. Essentially, the claim is that the Smithsonian Institute and/or the National Geographical Society use the Book of Mormon in its historical research of Latin America.

From time to time either of these two well revered institutions will send notices to the LDS Church reaffirming that they have not found any connection with the Book of Mormon and archeological discoveries in the Americas and asking that Church members not contact them regarding this issue.

A form letter I received from the Smithsonian Institution on April 7, 2009 stated:

The Smithsonian considers the Book of Mormon a religious document and not a scientific guide. The Smithsonian Institution has never used it in archeological research and has found no archaeological evidence to support its claims.[1]

In response to numerous inquiries that the Smithsonian receives in regard to this subject, the Smithsonian published the “Statement Regarding the Book of Mormon” providing accurate information about the Smithsonian’s position. It states:

The Smithsonian Institution has never used the Book of Mormon in any way as a scientific guide. Smithsonian archeologists see no direct connection between the archeology of the New World and the subject matter of the book.[2]

The National Geographic Society had a similar response. In a letter addressed to me dated February 23, 2009, they stated:

The Book of Mormon is clearly a work of great spiritual power; millions have read and revered its words, first published by Joseph Smith in 1830. Yet Smith’s narration is not generally taken as a scientific source for the history of the Americas. Archaeologists and other scholars have long probed the hemisphere’s past, and the Society does not know of anything found so far that has substantiated the Book of Mormon.[3]

Although neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the National Geographic Society lends any archaeological value to the Book of Mormon, LDS scholars as well as the former LDS organization FARMS (Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies - now known as the Neal A. Maxwell Institute) have produced an impressive and robust amount of research supporting the potential archaeological value of the Book of Mormon. Their research can be viewed at

[1] Correspondence addressed to myself from the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History MRC 112, Smithsonian Institution, April 7, 2009
[2] “Statement Regarding The Book of Mormon” issued by the National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution and provided by the Smithsonian Institution to Luke P. Wilson at the Institute for Religious Research in a correspondence dated September 28, 1997
[3] Correspondence addressed to myself, from the National Geographic Society, Research Correspondence, February 23, 2009

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