I have to be honest. I have no idea where this one originated from. I can’t trace it anywhere, but I even remember someone mentioning it to me when I was a teenager. Additionally, I have received emails through my website just to ask me what I knew about it, and I have seen it on various sites 3 times in the last year alone. My personal thought is that this goes back to a need to add deeper meaning to the symbol of the statue, and to emphasize Independence because of the importance of the city to the restoration of the Gospel.
Despite the uncertain origin, let us take a look at just the first 4 angel statues placed to see how this idea pans out. Mapping this out is difficult.
First, the earth is not flat. Because it is a sphere, you can’t just grab a map and draw a line straight east. any line that goes truly east from a temple must wrap all the way around the earth and come back to the beginning, and at the very center of that circle must be the center of the globe. The very center, as in the earth’s core. This means that any line going east doesn’t stay straight when laid out on a map. This type of line is called a great circle and is used to calculate the shortest distance between two cities on a globe. It is also why if you were to flay from the Salt Lake Temple to the Kyiv Ukraine Temple you would fly near the north pole.
Second, because of the curve problem mentioned above, directions like East and West loose meaning over long distances. One way to correct this is to use a bearing instead of a direction. The bearing will allow for the great circle mentioned above, but will show up on a map as a curve instead of a straight line. This leads to interesting results. Here, for example, is a line going straight out on a bearing of 90 degrees (East) from the Salt Lake Temple, projected onto a flat map:
On a flat map, this line will zigzag up and down like this:
Whereas on a globe, it is like stretching a rubberband right around the sphere in a perfect circle like the equator, but at an angle across it
As you can see, the path curves as it passes the Kansas/Missouri border where Independence is located. The end result is that the path passes about 23.5 miles (37.82 kilometres) North of Independence.
That being said, I was able to use some online calculators to calculate the bearing to Independence from these 4 temples and where necessary, the bearing of Moroni to get a difference. In the following chart, gold arrows represent the direction the Moroni faces, blue arrows represent the direction from the temple to Independence Missouri. The number to the right of each temple shows the difference, in degrees, between the direction the statue faces and the direction to Independence
While half of them could be considered pointing roughly towards Independence Missouri, the other two face almost completely the opposite direction. In my studies I have not found any Moroni Statue that actually points directly to Independence.
In addition, I have not identified any single point, or even multiple single points, that all Angel Moroni statues point to. This is one myth that is impossible to justify its continuing spread due to the lack of any evidence.