Paint Your Own Past

Josh Tenes
3 min readMay 24, 2020


One of the strangest attacks on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints concerns the artwork displayed in their chapels, temples and official publications.

The complaints tend to focus on the ‘inaccuracy’ of the artwork.

It is sad to me that so many of these assaults come from people who clearly do not understand art.

Let’s take a popular critique – Depictions of Joseph Smith sitting with the uncovered golden plates.

Ok so this never actually happened. Big flip**g deal!

These images are meant to edify and uplift, not be truthful or historically accurate in any way.

Since when is the truth uplifting? Or important?

Do you think a painting of Joseph staring into a hat with the plates out of sight would be inspirational or evoke feelings of peace and loyalty!?

What would the young children think? And the thinking adults?

Was Picasso’s Weeping Woman historically accurate? Did Van Gogh’s Starry Night represent a real night?

Who cares?

We really must stop blaming the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for commissioning, approving and printing thousands of paintings that are utterly misleading and incorrect.

Paintings that make the history of the church look a lot less strange and cult-like than it actually was.

The church hasn’t misled you. You’ve just failed to look beyond the brush strokes. The truth is out there (if not in the paintings themselves).

Ask yourself this.

Why would you be so stupid as to believe that the paintings you’ve been exposed to thousands of times as a child, in family home evenings, primary and young adult classes, sunday school lessons, along the corridors of chapels and temples you’ve visited weekly, online and in the very printed scriptures themselves, depict what actually happened during the crowning and pivotal moments of the religion you have dedicated your life, income and soul to?

Why would anyone in the leadership of the church think that a priority?

And anyway, these fake Joseph Smith images have all been pushed to the back of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints chapels now, along with WWE roidhead Nephi, party hat Korihor, & Ryan Gosling Alma.

We don’t care about Joseph and his stories any more. It’s 2020, the age of transparency, so those visuals have been hidden in dusty offices and primary rooms.

We focus on the truth.

We focus on Christ.

Long live Nordic Jesus.