James Strang

James Strang Comparison to Joseph Smith

CES Letter Core Question

Was James Strang Joseph Smith 2.0?


James Strang and his claims are fascinating. He was basically Joseph Smith 2.0 – but with a twist. Like Joseph, Strang did the following:

  • Claimed that he was visited by an angel who reserved plates for him to translate into the word of God. “The record which was sealed from my servant Joseph. Unto thee it is reserved.” (Since Joseph Smith’s story was well known, for an imitator to claim a similar experience is not unexpected or even noteworthy.)
  • Received the “Urim and Thummim”. (Strang claimed to have a Urim and Thummim, but provided no witnesses to substantiate that claim. In contrast, the Three Witnesses were promised to see Joseph’s Urim and Thummim (D&C 17:1) and later testified to the same.)
  • Produced 11 witnesses who testified that they too had seen and inspected ancient metal plates.
    • Strang's eleven witnesses experienced nothing supernatural.
    • "Chauncy Loomis, in a letter to Joseph Smith III dated 10 Nov. 1888 and published in the Saint's Herald, talked of a conversation that he had with George Adams. Adams described how Strang had asked him to dress in a long white robe and use phosphorous to impersonate an angel. Adams also reported that Samuel Graham talked about how he and Strang fabricated the Plates of Laban. Loomis reported that Samuel Bacon discovered fragments of the plates hidden in the ceiling of Strang's house, and then left the Strangite Church." (see FAIR)
    • None of the Book of Mormon witnesses recanted their testimonies. The Three Witnesses reported a vision where they saw an angel who presented the gold plates to them.)
  • Introduced new scripture. After unearthing the plates (the same plates as Laban from whom Nephi took the brass plates in Jerusalem), Strang translated it into scripture called the “Book of the Law of the Lord.” (Many religionists then and now claim revelation. This is not singular or significant.)
  • Established a new Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite). Its headquarters is still today in Voree, Wisconsin. (Many new churches were formed in the nineteenth century. This is insignificant.)

CES Letter, Page 95

James J. Strang’s apparent similarities to Joseph Smith initially attracted many followers.  Most left after a few months or years because they did not see in Strang the same prophetic gifts Joseph Smith manifested.

If Strang sought to gain a following among the Latter-day Saints after the martyrdom, imitating Joseph Smith’s general accomplishments would be the most effective.

Multiple differences exist between Joseph Smith and James J. Strang.

Joseph Smith James J. Strang
Book of Mormon or equivalent Yes


Three Witnesses

Yes No
Shared visionary experiences Yes-multiple


Temple emphasis

Yes No
Uttered prophesies fulfilled Yes


Continued Church expansion

Yes No

Different Doctrines

Leading Church authority

President King
Assistants Counselors


Quorum of the Twelve

Apostles Princes in his Kingdom
Other priesthood High Priests


Blessing the Sacrament

Priests High Priests and Apostles

Sacrifictors and Singers



Rabboni, Rabbi, Doctor, Ruler, and Teacher

Marshals, Stewards and Ministers


High Council

King’s Council or King’s Court

Ten Commandments

Common Decalogue

Adds an elevenths commandment

Ordination of women None

Priest and Teacher

Animal Sacrifice

None an element of religious festivities
Eternal marriage Temple ceremony

Priests, Elders, High Priests or Apostles may perform this ceremony

Temple ordinances

Highest ordinances





Strangite parallels to the Book of Mormon Witnesses