Cover image: Art by Larry Winborg.

You may encounter this idea about Captain Moroni: that although a stalwart warrior, the text does not show him to be a particularly religious man. This and similar inaccurate claims have been made in the past few years—too many to be addressed in a single brief article. We will cover some of the other false claims about Captain Moroni in future installments, but for now, we will address this one—the idea that we do not see Captain Moroni pray or perform other personal acts of faith, and that, in general, the text does not show him to be a particularly religious man.

Now this mistaken view of Captain Moroni might seem plausible on its face, since the most memorable scriptural episodes involving Captain Moroni are the detailed descriptions of his combat role. Nevertheless, it is, after all, a mistake. A careful tracking of the information we have about Captain Moroni actually reveals him to be a devout disciple of the Lord. Here is some of what we see:

  1. Despite the claim that we never seem him pray, the text explicitly shows Captain Moroni in prayer—specifically described as “mighty” prayer—and this prayer is detailed over the course of three verses (Alma 46:13, 16, 17).
  2. Captain Moroni receives revelation from the Lord that is more than a spiritual feeling but is expressed in the form of a finished sentence (Alma 60:33).[1]
  3. He writes “In memory of our God” as the first words on the title of liberty (Alma 46:12).
  4. He identifies himself, and those he is defending at this time, specifically as those “who have taken upon us the name of Christ” (Alma 46:18).
  5. He invites the people to rally around the symbolism of the title of liberty “in the strength of the Lord” (Alma 46:20).
  6. He implores the people at this time to “keep the commandments of God” (Alma 46:23).
  7. He quotes the prophet Jacob from the brass plates in order to provide the context for the title of liberty (Alma 46:24).
  8. He ends his discourse on the title of liberty by framing it all in terms of “the faith of Christ” (Alma 46: 27).
  9. He specifically attributes the victory over Zerahemnah to “our faith in Christ” (Alma 44:3–5).
  10. He also speaks to Zerahemnah of the “all-powerful God”; he considers the duty of the Nephites to defend their families as something “sacred”; and declares that the Nephites “owe all our happiness” to “the sacred word of God” (Alma 44:3–5).
  11. He explains the purpose of the Nephites’ defense against Lamanite invasion in terms of “our religion and the cause of our God” (Alma 54:10).
  12. He explains that he is engaged in defense specifically to honor “the covenant which I have made to keep the commandments of my God” (Alma 60:34).
  13. He commands one Lamanite leader to deliver up his army’s weapons and cease their aggression “in the name of” (a) “that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you”; (b) “our faith”; (c) “our religion”; (d) “our rites of worship”; (e) “our church”; (f) “the sacred support” that the Nephites owe their wives and children; and (g) “the sacred word of God” (Alma 44:3–6). Everything Captain Moroni says is framed in spiritual terms.
  14. He is referred to by Helaman, high priest at the time, as his dearly beloved brother “in the Lord” (Alma 56:2).
  15. He is described by Pahoran as having “greatness” of heart, even though Pahoran felt wrongly censured by Moroni (Alma 61:9).[2]
  16. His very first effort in preparing the Nephites to defend themselves from Lamanite assault was to prepare them spiritually—to be faithful to the Lord (Alma 48:7).
  17. His purpose in defending the Nephites was to allow them to “live unto the Lord their God” and to maintain “the cause of Christians” (Alma 48:10).
  18. He explicitly expressed his reliance on the Lord, and attributed the Nephites’ preservation specifically to him (Alma 44:3–4; 46: 18, 20, 23, 27; 48:15–16; 60:25).
  19. He never engaged in military aggression. Every battle he fought occurred on Nephite land and was simply a defense against Lamanite aggression.[3]
  20. He also showed generosity of spirit in the way he dealt with the attacking Lamanites.[4]

These numerous examples show Captain Moroni to be a faithful disciple and deeply spiritual man. And, in addition to all these features of the text, Mormon goes out of his way to praise Captain Moroni’s religious virtues. Working from primary documents, he was able to report that:   

a. Captain Moroni’s heart “swelled” in thanksgiving to God (Alma 48:12)

b. he was a man “firm in the faith of Christ” (Alma 48:13)

c. he “gloried” in keeping the commandments of God (Alma 48:16)

d. he rejoiced in “doing good” (Alma 48:16)

e. “the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever” if all men were like   him (Alma 48:17)

f. “the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men” if they were like him (Alma 48:17)

g. he was “like unto Ammon” and “the other sons of Mosiah” (Alma 48:18) [5]

h. he was even like Alma, high priest over the Church (Alma 48:18).

It is simply not true, then, that the Book of Mormon does not portray Captain Moroni as particularly religious. This can be easy to overlook, since war is such a prominent feature of his appearance in the record. However, as fellow disciples, we can read the scriptures carefully for ourselves and see why the prophet Mormon praised Moroni so highly. The record supports everything Mormon said about him.

In future installments, we will look at other false claims about Moroni and what the text truly reveals about him as a man of God.

Duane Boyce and Kimberly White are father and daughter. Coming soon from them—The Last Safe Place: Seven Principles for Standing with the Prophets in Troubled Times. Published by Meridian Publishing, it is coming soon!

About the Authors

Duane Boyce earned a Ph.D. from BYU and conducted his postdoctoral study in developmental psychology at Harvard University. He is a Founding Partner of the Arbinger Institute, a worldwide management consulting and educational firm. He has authored or co-authored several books, as well as publishing academic articles on gospel topics in BYU Studies Quarterly, Interpreter, Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture, The FARMS Review, and The Religious Educator. Among other callings, he has served as a bishop and a stake president and with his wife in the Russia Moscow mission.

A graduate of BYU in Philosophy, Kimberly White is the author of The Shift: How Seeing People as People Changes Everything and a regular contributor to Meridian Magazine. She works as a technical writer and is currently writing a book on recent findings in brain science and how they relate to human morality. She has served the Lord for 27 years as a wife and mother.

[1] The accuracy of this revelation has been doubted by some, but this is a mistake. A complete discussion appears in Duane Boyce, “Captain Moroni’s Revelation,” BYU Studies Quarterly 58, no. 4 (2019): 155–59.

[2] Pahoran took Moroni’s censure personally, even though Moroni wrote his epistle to all the Nephite governors who had responsibility for managing the war—not just Pahoran. For a discussion of this, see ibid.

[3] This matter is covered at length in Duane Boyce, “Did Captain Moroni Lack the Typical Religious Virtues?” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, 45 (2021): 217–240.

[4] For a full discussion, see ibid.

[5] It has been argued that the text does not actually support Mormon’s comparison of Captain Moroni to Ammon and the other sons of Mosiah. This claim is another mistake, however—a matter also discussed at length in Duane Boyce, ibid.