(10492) Fri 5 Mar 93 9:41p
By: Albertus Magnus
Re: Mormons, mormons, mormons...
@MSGID: 93:9609/0 2b985a31
@PID: TeleMail 1.51
Seems people are always asking about Mormons. I don't think I go a
day in this network without at least seeing one message about this
group. So... to this end... I give you the following:
MORMONS, or LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more commonly
known as the Mormons, was founded by Joseph Smith in 1830.
In formulating his religion, Smith combined elements of Judaism
and Christianity with several distinctive features of his own
creation. The organization that grew out of Smith's teachings
differs markedly from traditional Christianity. The basic Mormon
scripture is the Book of Mormon, written by Smith. The Book of
Mormon is accepted as a supplement to the Bible, rather than as
a substitute for it. Other scriptures are his Pearl of Great
Price, Book of Abraham, and Book of Moses.
The Book of Mormon was first published in Palmyra, N.Y., in 1830.
Mormons accept it as a divinely inspired work revealed to Smith and
translated by him. It tells the story of a group of Hebrews who left
Jerusalem in about 600 BC and came to North America. They eventually
split into two factions, the Lamanites and the Nephites. The Lamanites
forgot their ancient Jewish religion and became the ancestors of the
American Indians. The Nephites remained faithful and built a great
civilization. They were, however, destroyed by the Lamanites in about
Prior to this time Jesus Christ had appeared on Earth and given his
teachings to the Nephites. These were recorded on gold plates by a
prophet named Mormon. His son Moroni buried the plates. They remained
buried for 1,400 years, until Moroni returned in the form of an angel
and showed the plates to Joseph Smith. After Smith translated them
they were returned to Moroni and never seen again.
Mormon teaching states that God had originally evolved from mankind.
Therefore present humanity could become gods. Contrary to
Christianity, Mormon belief asserts that the three persons of the
Godhead (the Trinity) are three separate beings. Jesus Christ appeared
on Earth to save mankind, but each person's salvation nevertheless
depends on the quality of his own life. A baptism by immersion is
practiced, and there is also a baptism on behalf of the dead. Because
Mormons believe it is possible for dead ancestors to participate in
salvation there is great interest in genealogy--tracing one's
Smith originally believed in a concept of heaven and hell for the
afterlife. In 1833, however, he had another revelation that there
would instead be three kingdoms to which all people would eventually
be assigned after the end of the world. There would be no place of
Mormons call themselves Christian and share much of Christian culture,
even though Mormons consider other Christian churches as being in
error. Members of these denominations are called gentiles, a word that
means simply, "non-Mormon."
Mormonism believes that it has restored the ancient priesthood of
Israel. In so doing, it has erased the distinction between priests and
lay members of the church. There have remained, however, significant
role differences between men and women. Males at age 12 may become
deacons. Two years later they become teachers, and at 16 they are
admitted into the priesthood. At 18 they may be admitted to another
order of priesthood and be called upon to serve as missionaries for 18
months. Certain ceremonies and rites are performed within the confines
of the temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, a building to which non-Mormons
are not admitted.
Missionaries have been sent by the thousands, at their own expense, to
carry the Mormon message to the world. They have gone to all inhabited
continents since the 19th century, but the majority of Mormons--more
than 7 million in the early 1990s--live in the United States.
The Mormons have a well-defined doctrine and plan of church
government. Through its organizations the greatest possible number of
people are given real responsibilities. The local unit is the ward,
presided over by a bishop and two counselors. Wards are grouped into
stakes. Each stake is governed by a president and two counselors.
Lives of individual Mormons are closely regulated by these two units.
The authorities who preside over the church as a whole are the
president and two counselors, the quorum of 12 apostles, the seven
presidents of the 70 (a group of elders), the presiding patriarch, and
the presiding bishops. There is no paid ministry. Headquarters of the
church are in Salt Lake City, the location of the main temple and the
famed tabernacle. There is a semiannual General Conference open to all
Mormons. The church is financed through a mandatory system of
tithing--giving a percentage of one's income as an annual
The history of Mormonism was quite turbulent during the 19th century.
In the 20th century it has become an established and accepted
Joseph Smith and six associates organized the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830, in Fayette, N.Y. Smith and his
followers soon moved to Kirtland, Ohio, where he established a
headquarters. Another center was established in Missouri, to which a
number of Mormons had migrated. Wherever they lived the Mormons were
victims of persecution by non-Mormons. Armed skirmishes led several
thousand Mormons to leave Missouri in 1839 to found Nauvoo, Ill.
Following more trouble with nonmembers the Mormon leaders were thrown
into jail in Carthage, Ill. On June 27, 1844, a mob stormed the jail
and killed Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum.
It was at this point that the Mormons decided to leave Illinois and
move to the Far West. Leadership had passed to Brigham Young
In 1846-47 he led his membership on a thousand-mile trek to the Great
Salt Lake in what is now Utah. They arrived in July 1847. This first
band of emigrants consisted of 143 men, three women, and two children.
Thousands more followed in the next few years. It was under Young's
leadership that the Mormons built Salt Lake City and founded the
state of Deseret.
Young became governor in 1851 and instituted the practice of plural
marriage, or polygyny, in 1852. This custom, though authorized by
Smith, was severely criticized by other Americans. It endured for 40
years in the face of strong opposition from the United States
government. In 1890 the president of the church ordered members to
refrain from contracting any marriages forbidden by the law of the
land. By this time Utah had become part of the United States. Military
conflicts led to the end of direct Mormon political control of the
state. Plural marriages persist in a few isolated places in the West,
though the groups that maintain the custom are not affiliated with the
Mormons in Salt Lake City.
The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the
largest of several groups that have broken with the main Mormon
church. It was set up in Wisconsin in 1852 by members who repudiated
Brigham Young's leadership. Joseph Smith, a son of the founder, was
president from 1860 to 1914. His son Frederick succeeded him. The
headquarters were established in Independence, Mo.
Members of the Reorganized Church deny that Smith had ever advocated
plural marriages. They accept the Book of Mormon but deny the notion
that God evolved from humanity or that humans will become gods. They
also reject baptism on behalf of the dead and mandatory tithing. No
secret ceremonies are held in their temple as they are in the temple
in Salt Lake City.
... My head is like lettuce; go on, dig your thumbs in. - FNM
--- Blue Wave/TG v2.12
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