Mormons opened a new church in the hometown of their founder Joseph Smith this month, reports the Rochester Democrat.

Palmyra, New York is now the site of a historically appropriate New England style red brick Mormon church. The new house of worship is down the street from a much larger Mormon Temple dedicated in 1999.

Palmyra is important as a touchstone of Mormon mythology. It is the place where Joseph Smith claimed he first talked with God and later found the so-called “golden plates,” which Smith supposedly translated to create the Book of Mormon.

According to legend the plates were found buried outside Palymra at the Hill Cumorah. Later when pressed about their authenticity Smith said they were taken to heaven.

The Book of Mormon has been repeatedly proven false historically by scholars, archaeologists and anthropologists. Nevertheless, it is viewed as not simply a religious text, but revered as history by faithful Mormons.

Mormons have busily been building tourist destinations to emphasize the importance of their historic sites, which they then fuse into what is called “The Mormon Heritage Tour.” Tour stops include Palmyra, Nauvoo, Illinois, and Kirtland, Ohio.

Earlier this year church officials began negotiations for a property in Pennsylvania where Smith wrote much of his holy text.

Eventually Mormons should be able to drive across the nation in a series of tour stops as a family event. Many Mormons are already flooding into Nauvoo to see the place where Joseph Smith once ruled as mayor, militia general and prophet.

Disney has attractions like “Magic Mountain” and the Mormons have the “Hill Cumorah” outside Palmyra. But faithful Mormons don’t see their main attractions as part of a “fantasy kingdom.”


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