Who is the founder of the Mormon religion?
While some people might answer with the name of “Joseph Smith”, this is not entirely accurate. Mormons believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of the original Church, established by Jesus Christ. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the founder of the Church.
Then what about Joseph Smith?
Joseph Smith was the first prophet in modern times. God has called prophets throughout history in order to lead His people on the earth.
When Jesus Christ established His Church, He also called apostles to help spread the gospel and lead the Church. From lds.org:
After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread apostasy, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth.
In 1820, God and Jesus Christ appeared to the young man Joseph Smith and initiated the restoration of the Church to the earth. Just as Abraham or Moses of old, Joseph Smith was called as a prophet to lead this great work.
In this brief video, Elder L. Tom Perry, an Apostle today, describes this restoration that occurred through the Prophet Joseph Smith.
Who leads the Mormon Church today?
Jesus Christ is at the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since Joseph Smith, He has continued to call prophets and apostles to guide the Church and His disciples. Today, the prophet is President Thomas S. Monson.