In responding to comments on another post I did quite a bit of research on the question of whether Mormons worship Joseph Smith, so I thought it was worthy of it’s own post.
The question seems to arise due to the amount of praise and attention heaped on Joseph Smith by Mormons. I won’t deny this is the case. We have pictures of Joseph Smith in our churches, we have lessons about him in our classes, we study his life, and we do honestly revere him. But we don’t worship him. Some quotes from LDS leaders past and present should be enough to clarify our position:
President Gordon B. Hinckley said “We do not worship [Joseph Smith] the Prophet. We worship God our Eternal Father and the risen Lord Jesus Christ. But we acknowledge the Prophet; we proclaim him; we respect him; we reverence him as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring to the earth the ancient truths of the divine gospel, together with the priesthood through which the authority of God is exercised in the affairs of His Church and for the blessing of His people” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Joseph Smith Jr.—Prophet of God, Mighty Servant,” Ensign, Dec 2005, 2–6). See Do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?.
From Apostle Henry B. Eyring “The Prophet Joseph is an example and a teacher of enduring well in faith. I do not worship him, but I thank and love him as the Lord’s prophet of the Restoration. He has helped me pray with the intent to obey. I am better able to feast in the word and the love of God. Because of him I feel the Holy Ghost more often in the moments when I try to build the faith of a person in the Lord’s kingdom. And because of what I know of the Prophet Joseph and the scriptures which were revealed through him, I more often feel the love of God for His children and of His for me when I reach down to lift someone up.” – Henry B. Eyring, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, An Enduring Testimony of the Mission of the Prophet Joseph,” Ensign, Nov. 2003, 92.
Elder Penrose said “I bear testimony to you that I know this Church is the Church of Jesus Christ; that it has been built up by the power of God; that God Almighty has revealed it; that Jesus Christ, His Son, has manifested Himself, and that this Church is His Church, because He has built it up, and He guides and directs and controls it, through His servants who stand at the head of the Church. They are but men. We do not worship any man. We do not worship Joseph Smith, as some people imagine; but we look upon him as a very great Prophet, and we have reasons for this.” – Elder Charles W. Penrose, The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, Volume 54, p. 462
Mormons view Joseph Smith the way the children of Israel who were led out of Egypt saw Moses, or how the saints around 60 AD might have seen Peter or Paul. Brigham Young, in a letter to Mary Ann Young (16 Oct 1840, LDS Church Archives), spoke of Joseph Smith as “our Moses that the Lord has given us”.
Though less authoritative, below are links to articles and other informational resources that should make clear how Mormons regard Joseph Smith, and that while we reverence him as a prophet, we do not worship him, nor consider him to be equal to God or Jesus Christ:
Aside from this, a quick Google search for “do Mormons worship Joseph Smith?” will pull up countless responses from LDS faithful stating that they see Joseph Smith as a modern-day Moses, Peter, or Paul, and not a being to worship. If the LDS Church is teaching members to worship Joseph Smith or put him on a pedestal, it seems the message has not gotten through.