Major World Religions Christian Sects Latter-Day Saints or Mormons

About the Latter-Day Saints or Mormon sect of Christianity, some of the history of the church, beliefs and meanings behind the religious tradition.

Latter-Day Saints (Mormons)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, whose members are generally known as Mormons, was founded in the U.S. in 1830 at Fayetteville, N.Y. Its headquarters today are in Salt Lake City, U.

Two men played outstanding roles in the founding and development of Mormonism: Joseph Smith (1805-1844) and Brigham Young (1801-1877).

Smith, son of a poor New England farmer, declared in 1827 that a vision had led him to dig up golden plates covered with sacred writings. Translated by him, they were published as the Book of Mormon. As a result of other revelations, he affirmed that he had been chosen as a priest and was to found a new religion. Believers flocked to him, but the hostility of neighbors repeatedly forced him and his followers in the new movement to travel onward--1st to Ohio, then to Missouri and Illinois. In 1844, after introducing polygamy, he and his brother were murdered by a mob. (See also: U.S.A.--Year by Year, Chap. 4.)

Brigham Young, a New York painter and glazier, was selected to head the Mormons after Smith's death. Under his leadership the Mormons trekked West in 1846-1847, settling in Salt Lake City. With Young in command, the Church flourished, and when Utah was made a Federal Territory he was appointed its 1st governor. Young, who continued to promote polygamy among the Mormons, had 27 wives.

Mormons believe in a purposeful universe in which humans have been placed to make themselves more like God by faith and works. They hold that God was once a man, and men, too, may become gods. They believe in the Trinity as 3 distinct personages and they practice baptism. Missionary work is emphasized, and abstinence from coffee, tea, and alcohol is considered important.

The Mormon Church has a membership of close to 4 million, about 80 % of whom live in the U.S.

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