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A towering complex of granite buildings in downtown Salt Lake City, overlooked by the magnificent Wasatch and Oquirrh mountain ranges, holds the headquarters of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The streets around Temple Square are so wide they seem deserted even during rush hour; Brigham Young, the city’s founder and president of the church for 30 years until his death in 1877, demanded that the thoroughfares be broad enough for a wagon team to turn round without “resorting to profanity.”

On the second floor of the stately Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the scene is one of meticulously…

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