Mormon Beliefs and Practices and Church Structure

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Mormonism: Delving into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

According to statistics gathered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the formal name for the Mormon Church), more than two-thirds of Utah’s inhabitants are Mormon. The current Church membership is almost 13 million people worldwide, and Mormonism is allegedly the second fastest growing U.S. religion. The Church is the most affluent church per capita in the United States. Despite all these facts and figures, the Church remains shrouded in much mystery and misrepresentation, though the presidential run of Mitt Romney has given Mormonism much more public attention. This guide will teach you about Mormon beliefs, practices, and history; introduce you to Mormon news sources and illustrate the religion’s place in current events; and help you connect with the Mormon online community.

Mormon Beliefs and Practices and Church Structure

As aforementioned, Mormon beliefs are not well known internationally or even in the United States, where it was founded and where a Mormon is running for president. This section will elucidate Mormon beliefs and practices, as well as the organization of the LDS Church.

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  • When Mormonism’s founder Joseph Smith was killed, the Mormon movement split. But the followers of Joseph Smith were and are considered part of the LDS(Latter-day Saints) Restoration Movement, the umbrella term.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“the Church”) is by far the largest sect of the LDS Restoration Movement, and it is based in Salt Lake City.
  • Members of this denomination go by many names, including Mormons and Latter-day Saints. There are a number of other branches of the LDS Restoration Movement with some, not all, calling themselves Mormon. Making matters more complicated, the Church is opposed to calling sects other than itself “Mormon.”
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the official name of this primary sect. The Mormon Church, the LDS Church, and the Church of the Latter-day Saints are less formal names, and the Church tends to avoid those titles. Here is a link to a naming style guide created by the Church.
  • Mormons categorize themselves as Christians.
  • Mormon.org, an official Church site, offers free copies of the Bible or the Book of Mormon (scroll down to the bottom of the page). The Church promotes the use of the King James Version of the Bible for English speakers.
  • Keep in mind that certain Mormons may not agree with the content found in all of the Web sites we’ve listed here.

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The History of the Mormon Religion

Mormonism is a fairly young religion. It was founded by Joseph Smith in the first half of the 19th century, which was a time of great religious fervor in the United States; the area of upstate New York where Smith’s story began was known as the “Burned-over District” because of the vigorous evangelism that occurred there. Smith, who was supposedly visited by various divine spirits, attracted a substantial group of followers. This section traces Mormon history from its founding under Joseph Smith to its journey out West. We will also trace the history of and offer some contemporary information about polygamy and fundamentalist groups below.

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  • This part of the guide contains a cross-section of sources. You’ll find historical information about Mormons written by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and you’ll see sources from Hollywood movies and television shows. We wanted to show you how certain facets of Mormonism are perceived in different media; note that some of these sources may be biased toward a particular perspective.
  • The Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of God, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (no hyphen)were names of the church at different points throughout the 1800s, but are no longer official today.
  • As you will learn in this section, Mormons no longer practice polygamy. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not consider polygamists to be Mormon. You will find, however, that these groups are sometimes referred to as “fundamentalist” Mormons by the media.

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For an overview of early Mormon history …
For facts and fiction about polygamy …
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Mormon News, Current Events, and Contemporary Issues

Mormonism has existed for more than 175 years now, but recently it has spent significant time in the spotlight. With the Mormon Mitt Romney running for president, the American public, which has elected only one non-Protestant candidate before, is seeking more information about the religion. Use the links below to learn how Mormonism has entered the mainstream news. There are also sites in this section for Mormon news and opinion publications, so you can keep up with current events in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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  • Keep in mind that the sources listed under “For a Mormon perspective on the news …” may not provide the most complete picture of the news. To see more sides of an issue, you should compare these sources with other non-Mormon publications.

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For a Mormon perspective on the news …
For information about Mitt Romney …
For a scholarly Mormon journal …
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Connecting With the Mormon Community

There are many more ways to become a part of the Mormon community besides staying on top of the news. Once you find a place of worship or a Mormon meetinghouse, you can get involved in a more specific Latter-day Saint community. The sites below can direct you to places of worship as well as online communities for Mormon women and minority groups. There are also sites for Mormon humanitarian efforts worldwide. Make the most of this vast Mormon network.

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  • Blogs are also an integral part of the Mormon online community; there are so many interesting ones out there that the following section, “Mormon Blogs” is entirely devoted to them.
  • Many of the “community” sites in this section are also gateways to other resources. Use these links as a starting point, and the sites should lead you to forums, discussions, blogs, articles, and more.

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For finding a place of worship …
For specific Mormon communities …
For humanitarian efforts …
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Mormon Blogs

The Mormon blogging community is extensive and has a lot to say. Not only are these blogs a fantastic way to stay in touch with the greater Mormon community, they also allow individuals to find their niche within that population. Do you feel like nobody else is thinking the same thing you are? Chances are, you’re wrong.  

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  • The Bloggernacle (or Bloggernacle Choir) refers to the Mormon blogging community.
  • As the Bloggernacle is quite large, the few links below may not satiate your reading desires. For a more comprehensive list of Mormon blogs, visit LDS & Mormon Blogs, a directory of blogs about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • If you enjoy reading some of the blogs below, take a look at their “blogrolls,” usually situated on the right side of the page, to find other recommended blogs.
  • Some of the community sites in the previous section may also link to blogs concerning that specific group.
  • The content found in these blogs may be offensive to some; keep that in mind as you go through the links.

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For general Mormon blogs …
For blogs about Mormon arts and culture …
For blogs dedicated to Mormon women …
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Exploring Mormon education, arts, and culture

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is an influential entity, and its strictures reach far and wide. The Church provides a great deal of reading material, both religious and secular, and some top-notch institutions for higher education. It has developed one of the foremost genealogical records in existence, as keeping track of family history is a vital part of the religion. This section provides information about Mormon education and books, genealogy, and culture.

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  • The practice of genealogy for Mormons is used partly so they can perform proxy baptisms for the dead. In the 1990s, the use of proxy baptisms for Jews who perished during the Holocaust caused a great deal of controversy. Read more about that episode from CNN.com or PBS’s special on the Mormons.

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For Mormon education …
For Mormon books …
For Mormon music …
For genealogy tools …
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