The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the largest attraction in the city's Temple Square.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a religious organization which views itself as the restoration of the original Christian church founded by Jesus and his Twelve Apostles.<ref name="Restoration">Template:Cite web</ref>

Sometimes referred to as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church, the church teaches that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr. and called him to be a prophet and to restore essential elements that were lost from Christianity sometime between Paul's death and the First Council of Nicaea. These elements included new scriptures, the calling of Twelve Apostles as special witnesses of Christ's divinity, and the return of priesthood authority. The Church was organized by Smith and five others in Fayette, New York, on April 6 1830, shortly after the first publication of the Book of Mormon.

Joseph Smith led the church until he was assassinated in 1844. After a brief period of confusion when various claims of succession were made, the church was led by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until a new First Presidency was organized in 1847. Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and soon-to-be President of the Church, led a large group of Mormon pioneers in a forced exodus away from the former church headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois, and eventually to the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847.

An international organization, the church has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah where 96 year old Gordon B. Hinckley serves as its fifteenth President. The church sends tens of thousands of missionaries throughout the world,<ref name="Missionary Program">Template:Cite web</ref> and in 2005 reported a worldwide membership of over 12.5 million.<ref>Statistical Report 2005, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.</ref>

Part of a series on the
Latter Day Saint Movement
Latter Day Saint movement

Mormonism · Latter Day Saint
Mormonism and Christianity

Movement history
Church of Christ · Succession crisis
LDS Church history
Community of Christ history
Latter Day Saint texts
Book of Mormon · Book of Commandments
Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible
Doctrine & Covenants · Book of Abraham
Pearl of Great Price
Significant leaders
Joseph Smith, Jr. · Oliver Cowdery
Sidney Rigdon · Brigham Young
Joseph Smith III · James Strang
Unique beliefs
Views on Godhead · Views on Jesus
Priesthood · Articles of Faith · Restoration
Mormonism and Judaism · Temples


[edit] History

[edit] Early history

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Stained glass depiction of the first vision of Joseph Smith, Jr., completed in 1913 by an unknown artist (Museum of Church History and Art).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in Fayette, New York, on April 6 1830 under the leadership of Joseph Smith, Jr. Joseph Smith was raised in northwestern New York, where he reported a number of heavenly visions and visitations by angels. According to his own account, while he was an adolescent during the early 1820s, Joseph saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in what is known as the First Vision. Joseph also said he received a set of Golden Plates from an angel named Moroni, and dictated a translation of those plates, which he published in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.

According to Smith and his close associate Oliver Cowdery, an angel also gave the both of them the authority to baptize and to build up a new church, meant to be a restoration of 1st century Christianity. This church, originally called the Church of Christ, was formed in the month of April 1830 in Manchester or Fayette, New York, but soon after the conversion of a Church of Christ (Campbellite) minister named Sidney Rigdon in Kirtland, Ohio, most of its members moved to Ohio in 1831.

In Ohio, the church built a temple, and sent missionaries to various places, including Jackson County, Missouri, where the church built up branches. After a series of financial problems with a bank in Kirtland, the main body of members moved briefly to Missouri in 1838, but after the 1838 Mormon War, they were forced to establish a new center in Nauvoo, Illinois.

In Nauvoo, the church grew rapidly, began building a temple, and sent out missionaries to Canada and England. Smith served as a religious, political, and military leader. In 1844, after a conflict with an antagonistic newspaper over Smith's alleged practice of "spiritual wifery", Smith and his brother Hyrum were arrested, taken to Carthage, Illinois, and then both of them were killed by a mob on June 27, 1844.

In the aftermath of the deaths of Joseph Smith and Hyrum, who would have been Joseph's presumed successor,<ref>Four months after their deaths, Brigham Young reflected the predominant Mormon view when he stated, "Did Joseph Smith ordain any man to take his place. He did. Who was it? It was Hyrum, but Hyrum fell a martyr before Joseph did. If Hyrum had lived he would have acted for Joseph" (Times and Seasons, 5 [Oct. 15, 1844]: 683).</ref> several church leaders campaigned to lead the church, a time known as the Succession Crisis. The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, led by Brigham Young, claimed succession. The apostles quickly returned from their missions in America and abroad and were accepted as successor by the largest body of adherents.

[edit] Establishment in Utah

See also: Mormon pioneers and History of Utah

In 1846, Brigham Young led a large group of Mormon pioneers out of Nauvoo, Illinois to Winter Quarters, Nebraska, and eventually to the Salt Lake Valley (initially part of Mexico but soon annexed by the United States as the Utah Territory), where the first company arrived on July 24, 1847. Isolated from any neighbors, Brigham Young initially governed the Utah Territory as a theocracy, and under his direction many colonizing groups were sent to various sites to begin settlements in what was referred to as the State of Deseret. In 1857, however, federal troops replaced him with a non-Mormon territorial governor, in a period called the Utah War or "Buchanan's blunder."

Beginning in 1852, and contributing substantially to the Utah War, many prominent church leaders began openly practicing a previously-secret form of polygamy called plural marriage. Viewed as immoral by mainstream Americans, the US Government began passing laws in the 1870s and 1880s criminalizing the practice, despite Mormon protestations that such marriages were protected by the United States Constitution. Under the new laws Church leaders were imprisoned and the church was disincorporated and its property seized. Faced with this pressure, the church officially abandoned its practice of polygamy in a statement by church president Wilford Woodruff called the 1890 Manifesto. This Manifesto did not entirely end the practice of plural marriages, however, and the church issued a "Second Manifesto" in 1904 by President Joseph F. Smith. Eventually, the church adopted a policy of excommunicating polygamist members.<ref>The church continues to reiterate this policy. See President Gordon B. Hinckley's Statement on Polygamy</ref> The church's abandonment of polygamy led to the formation of several schismatic groups that still embrace the practice.

[edit] Growth into an international church

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the church has undergone a period of nearly exponential growth, due to a high birth rate and extensive proselitism. Additionally, the church has gained more prominence and has taken firm stands on a number of social issues: supporting prohibition, opposing gambling, opposing abortion (with some exceptions),<ref> Abortion. Press release. Retrieved on November 2006.</ref> opposing same-sex marriage,<ref> Same-Gender Attraction. Press release. Retrieved on November 2006.</ref> and opposing euthanasia.<ref> Euthanasia and Prolonging Life. Press release. Retrieved on November 2006.</ref> The church also maintains a position of neutrality politically<ref> Political Neutrality. Press release. Retrieved on November 2006.</ref> and on the issue of stem-cell research,<ref> Embryonic Stem-cell Research. Press release. Retrieved on November 2006.</ref> but is a staunch supporter of civic involvement.<ref> Civic Involvement. Press release. Retrieved on November 2006.</ref>

Church membership has increased dramatically in Third World non-English-speaking countries and, in 1978, the Church ended the policy of racial discrimination in which black men of African descent were denied admission to the Priesthood. The Utah church leadership remains largely white and North American, whereas the leadership throughout the world is made up primarily of members of the respective countries and races.

[edit] Beliefs and practices

See also: Articles of Faith (Latter Day Saints)

[edit] Metaphysics

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Latter-day Saints believe in the resurrected Jesus Christ, as depicted in the Christus Statue in the North Visitors' Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City

[edit] Nature of God

Latter-day Saints believe in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They are three separate and distinct beings who together constitute the Godhead, united in purpose rather than substance. This differs from the traditional doctrine of the Trinity, which maintains that the three are one being. All three members of the Godhead are eternal and equally divine, but play somewhat different roles. While the Holy Ghost is a spirit without a physical body, God the Father and Christ both possess distinct, perfected, physical bodies of flesh and bone.<ref>Doctrine and Covenants 130:22</ref> Because they are omniscient and have the same purpose, Jesus Christ speaks often in the scriptures as though knowing perfectly the will and the words of the Father.<ref>John 12:49-50, John 14, Matthew 26:39</ref> God the Father is the spirit father in premortal life of the spirits of all people who are or have been born on this earth.<ref>Abraham 3:21-26, Doctrine and Covenants 93:29</ref> He is also both the spirit Father and the Father in the flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is thus the Only Begotten Son, inheriting from His Father power over death. Nontrinitarianism is a point of disagreement with Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions.

See also: King Follett Discourse, Exaltation (Mormonism), Plan of Salvation, and Mormonism and Christianity

[edit] Purpose of life

Main article: Plan of Salvation

The term Plan of Salvation is used by the LDS Church to describe how the gospel of Jesus Christ is designed to bring about the immortality and eternal life of mankind.<ref>See also Moses 1:39.</ref>

The first element, immortality, is believed to be a gift freely given to everyone, made possible by Jesus' resurrection.<ref>See 1 Corinthians 15:22</ref>

The Book of Mormon teaches:

The spirit and the body shall be reunited again in its perfect form; both limb and joint shall be restored to its proper frame, even as we now are at this time; and we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.
Now, this restoration shall come to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, both the wicked and the righteous; and even there shall not so much as a hair of their heads be lost; but every thing shall be restored to its perfect frame, as it is now, or in the body, and shall be brought and be arraigned before the bar of Christ the Son, and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit, which is one Eternal God, to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil. (Alma 11:43-44)

The second element, salvation from sin and spiritual death, is also believed to be made possible only by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which washes clean the metaphorical stains of one's imperfections, and justifies and sanctifies one for admission into the kingdom for which that person has qualified. Therefore, one's eternal reward is conditional upon acceptance of, and true faith in, Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, which is demonstrated through baptism and obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, including repentance.

After death, people who have not been offered the chance to hear the doctrines of Jesus Christ during life on Earth will have the opportunity to do so prior to the judgment. All of humanity will then be resurrected and judged by Jesus.

The final element, assignment to one of three Degrees of Glory (known as the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom), occurs after this.

  • The Celestial Kingdom is the highest kingdom, where the righteous will live with God and with their families. As mentioned above, accountable individuals must repent, be baptized, and follow Jesus Christ to gain entrance to the Celestial Kingdom; all children who die before the age of accountability automatically inherit the celestial kingdom. All who die who had no chance to hear the Gospel of Christ who would have believed it, will also have a chance to inherit the Celestial Kingdom. This kingdom includes multiple degrees of glory, the highest of which is exaltation. Exaltation is the reward which Latter-day Saints believe is given to the righteous. Through exaltation, a person can eventually become like Jesus Christ, or as it is expressed in scripture, a joint-heir with Him.<ref>See Romans 8:17</ref>
  • The Terrestrial Kingdom is for those good people who are not valiant in following Jesus through making and keeping covenants with Him, and those who hear the Gospel but do not receive "the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it." (D & C 76:74) This kingdom is one of great glory, but without the presence of God the Father and without the sealing of families.
  • The Telestial Kingdom is the kingdom for murderers, adulterers, and others who do not accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the opportunity to repent until after they suffer for their own sins and finally "confess to him" (Doctrine & Covenants 76:110). This is also considered a kingdom of glory and has been described as being much better than even earthly life. All those who do not qualify for a higher degree of glory will enter this kingdom unless they deny the Holy Ghost by fighting openly against Jesus Christ, a sin it is believed few people are able to commit.<ref>Doxey, Roy W, Doctrine and Covenants Speaks, 1970, Ch. 2</ref>

Those few people who do, after gaining a full knowledge of the Gospel, willfully deny and contend against the Holy Ghost, inherit no glory. This state is referred to as Outer Darkness (not to be confused with traditional Christianity's definition of the term). An individual so banished is called a Son of Perdition. Forgiveness is not possible for these souls because of their wilfull and continuous rebellion, though they will be resurrected.<ref>Doxey, Roy W, Doctrine and Covenants Speaks, 1970, Ch. 2</ref>

[edit] Eschatology

Latter-day Saints doctrine teaches Millennialism, in which after a period of tribulation, the Second Coming of Jesus will occur, followed by a thousand years of peace, after which will occur the Last Judgment. Distinctive within Latter-day millennialism, however, is the idea that Jesus will reign "personally upon the earth" (Article of Faith 10), and direct the government or governments that will exist.<ref>Berrett, William E, Teachings of the Doctrine and Covenants, 1956, Ch. 42, p.280</ref> Jackson County, Missouri is expected to have an important LDS temple during the Millennium, and Jerusalem is expected to be an important center of government in the world.<ref>Brewster, Hoyt W, Isaiah Plain and Simple: The Message of Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, 1995, Ch. 2, p.10-13</ref> As the earth transitions into the Millennial period, only those good and honorable people who stand to inherit the Celestial Kingdom or Terrestrial Kingdom will continue on the earth, because of either the repentance of the wicked or their death by means of disasters and in-fighting among them.<ref>Smith, Joseph Fielding, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 3, 1956, Ch. 3, pg. 38-42</ref>

[edit] Theology of family and gender

See also: Eternal Marriage, The Family: A Proclamation to the World, and Family Home Evening

The LDS Church teaches that, through the ordinances of the restored gospel, families can be "sealed" together so that spouses may remain together after death and live together eternally. LDS doctrine also teaches that children continue in that familial bond in the afterlife; only marriages and sealings performed in LDS temples will continue after death.

Because of these beliefs, the LDS Church places a strong emphasis on the importance of the family to individuals and society. In particular, the Church views the nuclear family (father, mother and children) as the most important single unit in the Church, as well as in society. In 1995, the First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 Apostles published a document or "proclamation" explaining major LDS doctrine concerning the family.

In the latter part of the 20th Century, Church members were counseled to set aside Monday night as a time to dedicate to their own families. No other church meetings were to be held on this night. The Church still encourages members to meet Monday nights in a Family Home Evening (or FHE) to pray, read scriptures, and engage in other familial and recreational activities.

LDS Church leaders and doctrine support the traditional definitions of family and marriage. In particular, the Church leadership has released a number of statements concerning their opposition to same-sex marriage which is, according to the Church, contrary to God's plan for His children.<ref>First Presidency letter to Church leaders, 1994, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.</ref> In accordance with this position, the Church supported the Federal Marriage Amendment.<ref> Newsroom. Template:Cite web</ref> The Church's opposition to homosexual relations has resulted in the creation of multiple LDS-oriented support groups not affiliated with the Church. These groups include both those dedicated to affirming gay identity, such as Affirmation and Gamofites, as well as those dedicated to helping those who wish to change, such as Evergreen International. More recently, a small liberal branch of Mormonism has been established calling itself Reform Mormonism.

[edit] Priesthood

See also: Priesthood (Latter Day Saints)

Members of the Church believe that God has brought a portion of his authority, known as the Priesthood, to rest upon worthy male members of the Church, who are expected to use it righteously to serve and bless their families and others. It is to be used in order to officiate and preside over the Church, or portions of the Church, amongst other things. Holding the priesthood is a stated prerequisite to hold offices within the hierarchy of the church.

The Church teaches that Christianity as a whole departed from what it considers to be the true gospel expounded by Jesus sometime after the death of the original apostles. Christianity as a whole effectively fell into apostasy, resulting in God's withdrawal of priestly authority. It believes that this authority was given specifically to Joseph Smith and the church he founded.<ref name="intro">Introduction to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.</ref> See Mormonism and Christianity

From 1849 until 1978, men of African descent were not permitted to receive the priesthood or marry in the temple, although they could become members and serve within the Church. People of other dark-skinned ethnicities not of African descent (such as the Māori) could still receive the priesthood. In 1978, an official declaration<ref> Official Declaration 2]</ref> of the First Presidency directed all worthy men to be ordained to the priesthood. This change came about because Church President Spencer W. Kimball reported that he had received a revelation directing that this change should take place. See Blacks and Mormonism

Though a few women were given the priesthood very early in the church's history,<ref>In the early days of the church, women were sometimes set apart to give blessings to the sick, which is generally considered a priesthood ordinance. Also, some women claimed to hold the priesthood through their husbands because of temple ordinances.</ref> church doctrine now holds that women cannot receive this power. This has caused some contention with the feminist movement. See Women and Mormonism

[edit] Aaronic Priesthood

The Aaronic Priesthood (also called the Levitical Priesthood), is considered to be a lesser priesthood tracing its roots to Aaron the brother of Moses through John the Baptist. Joseph Smith, Jr. and Oliver Cowdery claimed to have received this Aaronic Priesthood on May 15, 1829, when they were ordained by an angel identifying himself as John the Baptist. <ref>Messenger and Advocate, 1(1), Oct. 1, 1834.</ref> In 1835, Smith and Cowdery clarified that this authority was the "Aaronic, or Levitical priesthood".<ref>D&C 1835 ed., sec. III, v. 2.</ref>

[edit] Melchizedek Priesthood

By early 1831, Latter-day Saint theology also recognized a "higher" order of priesthood, or the "high priesthood". This "high priesthood" had been foreshadowed in the Book of Mormon, which referred to men holding the unique position of "high priest" in the church organization described in that book, holding the "high priesthood of the holy order of God" (Alma 4:20, Alma 13:8); however, the office of "high priest" was not implemented in early Mormonism until some days after Joseph Smith, Jr. was joined in his ministry by Sidney Rigdon, a newly-converted Church of Christ minister from Ohio, who merged his congregation with Smith's Church of Christ. Rigdon believed the teachings of the early Mormon missionaries who converted him, but thought the missionaries were lacking in heavenly power. <ref>Prince, Gregory A. (1995). Power From On High: The Development of Mormon Priesthood. Salt Lake City: Signature Books, p. 116. ISBN 1-56085-071-X.</ref> Therefore, the church's first High Priests were ordained at a special conference held on June 1831. <ref>Cannon, Donald Q., and Lyndon W. Cook (eds.) (1983). Far West Record: Minutes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830-1844. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, pp. 6-7. ISBN 0-87747-901-1.</ref>

By 1835, Latter Day Saints began referring to this "High Priesthood" as the Melchizedek Priesthood, or, the "Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God" <ref>D&C (1835) sec. III</ref>. This priesthood was so named, according to a revelation, because Melchizedek "was such a great high priest". <ref>D&C (1835) sec. III, v. 1.</ref> This priesthood was thought to be the order of priesthood held by Jesus, and a distinction was made between the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods, which derives in part from the Epistle to the Hebrews, whose author argues that Jesus arose "after the order of Melchizedek, and not...after the order of Aaron." (Heb. 7:11).

[edit] Ordinances

Latter-day Saint Sacraments are called ordinances. Latter-day Saints believe in two types of ordinances: saving ordinances and non-saving ordinances. Saving ordinances, such as baptism, confirmation, the Endowment, and Sealing are required for entry into the Celestial Kingdom. Non-saving ordinances include various types of blessings and the "sacrament" (the Latter-day Saint version of the Eucharist). Ordination to a priesthood office is also considered to be an ordinance.

The Church practices baptism by immersion in water. Baptism is symbolic of burial, resurrection, and spiritual rebirth as a disciple of Jesus Christ. The Church teaches that a person who truly repents and is baptized has all prior sins remitted through divine grace.

A person is eligible for baptism beginning at age eight. According to church doctrine, the age of eight was given in latter-day revelation as the age when children become accountable for their sins, that is, they are able to discern between right and wrong. If a person is unable to discern between right and wrong (e.g. those with severe intellectual impairment); they are viewed as fully saved through the Atonement of Christ. The Book of Mormon and modern revelation specifically forbid the practice of infant baptism.<ref>See D&C 68:27 and Moroni 8:4-23.</ref> Baptism is recognized only when performed by one holding at least the office of a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood, thus baptisms from other churches are not accepted because they have not been performed by those holding the restored priesthood of the New Testament.

Following baptism by immersion, individuals are confirmed members of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by priesthood-bearers. This blessing entitles the newly confirmed recipient to have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost as a guide and guardian so long as the recipient lives worthy of the gift. Accompanying this gift, are the gifts of the Spirit, ennumerated in 1 Cor. 12 — 13, D&C 46, and Moroni 10 (emphasized in this last chapter of the Book of Mormon). Members believe that those who have not been confirmed may still receive inspiration and a witness from the Holy Ghost but are not entitled to constant companionship available through the gift of the Holy Ghost.

[edit] Participation outside of worship services

Latter-day Saints have a high degree of participation outside of worship services. Active church membership generally entails missionary work, family history, participation in church callings, Family Home Evening, and payment of tithes.

The Law of Tithing states that members are expected to give ten percent of their income to the Church. These funds are used to build meetinghouses and other buildings, to cover operating costs, education, produce materials for use in church classes and organizations, support the missionary program, and to support family history work and other church functions.<ref>The law of tithing.</ref>

Fast offerings (named for their collection each month after fasting for two meals) are generally expected to be the cost of food for the monthly day of fast practiced by members and go towards humanitarian aid. While payment of tithing is a requirement in order to attend the denomination's temples (not meetinghouses where regular worship is conducted), payment of fast offerings is optional, but highly recommended.[citations needed]

The Church has always taught that its members should be self sufficient and avoid falling into debt.<ref>D&C 104:78</ref><ref>Benson, Ezra Taft. "Pay Thy Debt, and Live." Ensign. June 1987: p. 3. Template:Cite web</ref> This has become a concern in Utah recently where increases in personal bankruptcies have increased to about twice the national average on any given year, usually the highest of all 50 states.<ref>Deseret News article</ref><ref>FAIR Wiki</ref>

Other forms of charity are encouraged, including donations of money, clothing and time to worthy causes. The Church's charitable contributions are handled through an organization called Deseret Industries

see also Worship and Culture below

[edit] Lifestyle code

The church has a lifestyle code which includes the Word of Wisdom (a health code), laws of chastity, and a requirement to obey the laws of the country in which the member lives. The church condemns abortion, and encourages a standard of modesty. Members with gay, lesbian, bisexual identity are officially welcomed in the church, but only if they remain celibate or heterosexually married and monogamous. Transgendered persons are officially accepted in the church, but may not hold a priesthood office if they are post-operative, or if they are considering sexual reassignment surgery. (1999 Church handbook.)

Church members who fail to live the church's lifestyle code may, in more serious cases, be subject to church disciplinary action including disfellowshipment or excommunication.[1] The church considers "serious" cases to include felonies, abortion, taking drugs, non-heterosexual or non-married sex, apostasy, or public and vocal criticism of church leaders.

[edit] Sacred texts and other publications

Image:Latter-day Saint Scripture Quadruple Combination.jpg
The Standard Works of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints printed in the Quadruple Combination format

As part of its canon, the church says it accepts the Bible as "the word of God as far as it is translated correctly".<ref>See the Ninth Article of Faith (lds|A of F|a_of_f|1|9}}</ref> According to its doctrine of continuous revelation, the church esteems the Book of Mormon on at least an equal status with the Bible. These two books, together with the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price comprise what are called the church's Standard Works, and are considered to be scripture. The church also publishes numerous periodicals, manuals, and sometimes "proclamations", which are not officially considered to be scripture.

[edit] Holy Bible

See also: Bible

In articulating its position on the Bible, the church has adopted and canonized the words Smith wrote, "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly".<ref>See the Ninth Article of Faith (lds|A of F|a_of_f|1|9}}</ref> The particular translation to which Smith had access was the King James Version of the Bible. Because Smith believed there were errors in the King James Version, he produced the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (or the Inspired Version), based upon what he said was revelation. Although the Joseph Smith Translation has been published by the Community of Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints never canonized the work. There are many proposed explanations for this, including the fact that the Community of Christ originally held the copyright on the work. Some adherents also suggest that Smith considered the Joseph Smith Translation to be incomplete.

Today, English-speaking adherents use the King James Version<ref>The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (1998), Church Handbook of Instructions, Book 1, Salt Lake City, LCCN: 99181451, pp. 146–147.</ref>, sometimes referring to portions of Smith's translation that have been included in footnotes or appendices to the version of the Bible published by the church.<ref>See Joseph Smith Translation for list of excerpts.</ref> Non-English-speaking adherents use other translations of the Bible.

[edit] Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ

Image:Book of Mormon English Missionary Edition Soft Cover.jpg
The church's latest edition of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ
Main article: Book of Mormon

On par with the Bible, the church canonizes the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This book is said to be named after the prophet/historian Mormon, who according to the text compiled most of the book. It was published by Joseph Smith, Jr. in March 1830 in Palmyra, New York. The book says that it was written by ancient prophets of the Western Hemisphere who traveled there from ancient Israel circa 600 BC. Joseph Smith is said to have translated the record by divine inspiration with assistance from the Urim and Thummim from gold plates, which were returned to the angel Moroni later on.

[edit] Doctrine and Covenants

First published in 1835, The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of revelations, policies, letters, and statements given to the modern Church. This record contains Church doctrine as well as direction on Church government. It is considered by Church members to be scripture, along side the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price.

[edit] Pearl of Great Price

The Pearl of Great Price is a compilation of several books. The Book of Moses contains an excerpt from Joseph Smith's biblical translation of Genesis. Similarly, Joseph Smith—Matthew contains his translation of Matthew 24. Smith also came into possession of some Egyptian papyrus in 1835, (and subsequently lost, although some pages were purportedly rediscovered in 1967<ref>Peterson, H Donl, Story of the Book of Abraham, 1995, Ch. 19</ref>), which he translated into a book called the Book of Abraham. Joseph Smith—History 1 is an excerpt from The Documentary History of the Church containing a letter written by Joseph Smith in 1838. Lastly is an excerpt from another one of Joseph Smith's letters containing thirteen statements of belief and doctrine called the Articles of Faith. (see Articles of Faith 1)

[edit] Non-canonical publications

The Church runs its own publishing house called Deseret Book. Owned wholly by Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by the LDS Church, Deseret Book is managed independently, but distributes media that is in accord with church doctrine. As a publisher, Deseret Book publishes under four imprints with media ranging from doctrine and LDS fiction books, to electronic resources and sound recordings such as Mormon Tabernacle Choir albums.

Deseret Book also owns a chain of LDS bookstores in the western United States.

The Deseret Morning News is a newspaper published in Salt Lake City, Utah, and is Utah's oldest continually published daily newspaper. It has the second largest daily circulation in the state behind The Salt Lake Tribune. The Deseret Morning News is owned by Deseret News Publishing Company, a subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation, which is a for-profit business holdings company owned by the LDS Church.

The newspaper is published by Newspaper Agency Corporation, which it co-owns with the Tribune under a joint operating agreement. Its circulation is roughly half of the Tribune's.

The Deseret Morning News also publishes a weekly publication, the LDS Church News, which is included as a section in the newspaper and also distributed as a separate publication outside Utah.

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The May 2006 issue of Ensign magazine, featuring Gordon B. Hinckley, current President of the Church.

Ensign is an official magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The magazine was first issued in January 1971 along with the correlated New Era (for youth) and the Friend (for children), all of which replaced the older church publications Improvement Era, Relief Society Magazine, Woman's Exponent, the Instructor, and the Millennial Star. Unlike some of its predecessors, Ensign magazine contains no advertisements.

As an official church publication, the Ensign contains faith-promoting and proselytizing information, stories, and sermons.

Semiannually, the Ensign gives a full report of the proceedings of the annual and semi-annual LDS General Conferences of the Church. It contains the full talks and business of the conferences, as well as a current photographic list of the highest officers of the Church, referred to as the General Authorities.

The full text and page layout of every issue of the magazine is available on the Church's web site. This applies to all past and current issues.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Liahona is also the name of the official international magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, named after the usage in the Book of Mormon. The Liahona is regularly published in fifty different languages, from two to twelve times a year depending on the language. It is generally equivalent to Ensign magazine, but contains elements of the New Era and Friend for readers of the respective age groups, as New Era and Friend are not published in languages other than English.

[edit] Worship and Culture

[edit] Worship services

Weekly worship services, including sacrament meetings, are held on Sundays (or Saturday when local custom or law prohibits Sunday worship), in neighborhood based religious units, and twice each year the Church holds a worldwide General Conference. Congregations for Sunday services are grouped geographically, with larger (~200 to ~400 people) congregations known as wards, and smaller (2 through ~200 people) congregations known as branches. These neighborhood congregations meet in meetinghouses, also referred to as "chapels" or "stake centers", on property most often owned by the Church. In some geographic areas, rental property may be used as a meetinghouse. Although the building may sometimes be referred to as a "chapel", the room used as a chapel for religious services is actually only one component of the standard meetinghouse.<ref>A church-maintained virtual tour of a typical meetinghouse</ref>

All persons, regardless of their beliefs or their standing in or out of the Church, are allowed to attend.<ref>Open invitation to attend church, on Church-maintained website</ref> The sacrament (similar to Communion, the Lord's Supper, or the Eucharist in other churches) is offered weekly to the members of the church. Except on Mondays, which are reserved for Family Home Evening, members meet in meetinghouses for various activities throughout the week.

Women usually attend wearing skirts or dresses, while men wear suits or dress shirts (preferably white) and ties. Children are also typically in their "Sunday best."<ref> Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Temple worship

Image:363px-Bern Tempel 20 Jan 1981.jpg
Bern Switzerland Temple, dedicated in 1955, was the first LDS temple in Europe

Two years after the organization of the Church, in 1832, Joseph Smith, Jr., reported receiving a revelation that called upon church members to build a House of the Lord and restore the practice of temple worship. Doctrine & Covenants 124:31 The Church built its first temple in Kirtland, Ohio in 1836. This temple was used primarily for instruction and learning.[citation needed]

In 1846 the Nauvoo Temple was built in Nauvoo, Illinois. With this temple came the introduction of special ordinances, such as the endowment and baptism for the dead.[citation needed]see Ordinance (Mormonism). When the saints moved West to Utah, they were forced to abandon these temples. The Nauvoo temple was destroyed by fire and the Kirtland temple is owned by the Community of Christ.

Soon after the arrival of the Saints in the Rocky Mountains, they began building several temples, including the well known Salt Lake Temple, which took more than 40 years to complete.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> The Church continued to build temples as membership grew. As of November 2006, there were 124 operating temples in the world with an additional 11 announced or under construction. See List of temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Today, in addition to Sunday worship, faithful members of the Church are encouraged to attend temples and participate in ordinances there, such as baptism for the dead. The Church teaches that certain temple ordinances, including being married in the temple, are necessary for eternal exaltation. The Church also regards the temples as places of peace and refuge that are set apart from the world. Adult members who have performed a temple ordinance called an endowment also receive a temple garment, which they wear under their daily clothing. The Church considers the temple ordinances exceptionally sacred and does not discuss them publicly. Non-members or members without a temple recommend are not permitted to attend or observe these ordinances. However the general public, member or non member, is invited to attend an open house of the temple prior to its dedication.

[edit] General Conference

Twice a year (Spring and Autumn), the Church holds General Conference, in which the Prophet and other leaders speak from Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. These talks, given in several sessions over two days, are carried worldwide by radio, television, satellite and Internet broadcasts. They are translated into numerous languages, and are later made available on DVD (complete with translations) and also printed in Church publications such as Ensign and Liahona. Attendees come from around the world.

Conference talks address doctrinal topics drawn from scriptures and personal experiences, messages of faith and hope, Church history and information on the Church as it expands throughout the world.

Throughout the 20th century, Conference talks were given from the Salt Lake Tabernacle. With a maximum capacity of about 8,000 per session, the Tabernacle would be filled and about thousands of other attendees would sit on blankets on Temple Square lawns. In 2001, the LDS Conference Center was opened, and since that time talks have been given in the Center's 22,000-seat main auditorium.

Conference satellite broadcasts may be watched, live, in thousands of chapels worldwide. The public is invited to attend General Conference, either through these broadcasts, in the Conference Center or other areas at Temple Square.

[edit] Culture

Due to the differences in lifestyle promoted by church doctrine and history, a distinct culture has grown up around members of the Church. It is primarily concentrated in the Rocky Mountains, but as membership of the Church spreads around the world, many of its more distinctive practices, such as following the Word of Wisdom, a health code prohibiting the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, coffee and tea, and other addictive substances, follow.<ref>See Doctrine & Covenants, Section 89.</ref> Because of the prohibition on such things as tobacco and alcohol, the culture in high Mormon populations reflects these restrictions.[citation needed] The Church discourages gambling in all forms including lotteries.<ref>Gambling. Gordon B. Hinckley, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.</ref>

Meetings and outreach programs are held regularly and have become part of the Latter-day Saint culture.

[edit] Young men and women

Young men and women, aged 12 to 18, often have an additional meeting during the week (previously referred to as Mutual or MIA, which were short for Mutual Improvement Association), which can involve an activity, game, service project, or instruction. The young men and women may meet separately or take part in a combined activity. Usually, the young men participate in Scouting, including efforts to gain the Duty to God award and an award unique to the LDS Church, "On my Honor." Young women participate in a program titled Personal Progress. Both the young men and the young women try to live by the standards outlined in For the Strength of Youth.

[edit] Home, family, and personal enrichment

Four times a year the adult women (members of the Church's Relief Society) attend a Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Meeting (formerly known as Homemaking Meeting). The meeting may consist of a service project, or of attending a social event, or of various classes being offered. In addition, Enrichment activities are offered (weekly, monthly, or as determined by ward Relief Society leaders) for women with similar needs and interests.

[edit] Social events and gatherings

In addition to these regularly scheduled meetings, additional meetings are frequently held at the meetinghouse. Auxiliary officers may conduct leadership meetings or host training sessions and classes. The ward or branch community may schedule social activities at the meetinghouse, including dances, dinners, holiday parties and musical presentations. Other popular activities are basketball, family history conferences, youth and singles conferences, dances and various personal improvement classes. Church members may also reserve the building for personal or family use, to accommodate such events as music recitals, family reunions, weddings and receptions, birthdays, or funerals.

[edit] Church organization and leadership

[edit] Name of the Church

When the Church was organized in 1830 it was called the Church of Christ. It was also referred to as the Church of Latter Day Saints to differentiate the church of this era from that of the New Testament, and was generally known by that name between 1834 and 1838. In April 1838, the full name was stated as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.<ref>D&C 115:3-4</ref> When the Church was incorporated in 1851, the legal documents used the current standardized spelling and punctuation, capitalizing the first article, "The", and hyphenating "Latter-day": The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There was no standard spelling or punctuation for its official title in church publications prior to 1851, so "the" may sometimes be capitalized or sometimes not in early publications. The Church currently uses the word "The" as part of its official name, as opposed to a modifying article.

The Church is also known as the LDS Church and the Mormon Church. Church members are known as Mormons or Latter-day Saints, both being appellations accepted among Latter-day Saints themselves. The nickname "Mormon" arose soon after the publication of The Book of Mormon in 1830. Although originally used pejoratively to refer to the Church or its members, the term came to be used widely within the Church.

The Church requests that the official name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, be used where possible, stating: "This full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838."<ref name="styleguide">A style guide issued by the Church in 2001</ref> It also encourages the use of "the Church" or "the Church of Jesus Christ" as shortened references, although "LDS Church" is commonly used within the Church's own publications and the Church officially uses "Mormon" as a descriptive term for itself in the name of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. When referring to members of the Church, it suggests "Latter-day Saints" as preferred, although "Mormons" is acceptable.<ref name="styleguide" /> Despite these efforts, the Associated Press continues to recommend "Mormon Church" as a proper second reference in its Style Guide for journalists.

[edit] Legal entities

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally incorporated in 1851. That corporation, however, was dissolved by an act of the United States Congress in 1887 because of the church's practice (now abandoned) of polygamy. Thereafter, the church has continued to operate as an "unincorporated religious association". However, the church has organized several tax-exempt corporations to assist with the transfer of money and capital. These include the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, organized in 1916 under the laws of the state of Utah to acquire, hold, and dispose of real property. In 1923, the church incorporated the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah to receive and manage money and church donations. In 1997, the church incorporated Intellectual Reserve, Inc. to hold all the church's copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property.

[edit] Priesthood hierarchy

The church has a hierarchy, with a clearly defined responsibilities (or stewardship) for the different priesthood offices.

Image:Hinckley message.jpg
Gordon B. Hinckley is seen by church members as God's prophet upon the Earth today.

The leader of the Church is termed President, whom the members revere as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. He is seen as holding the same divine calling as prophets mentioned in the scriptures and has stewardship over the Church as a whole. He is entitled to receive revelation from God to guide the Church and the world as His mouthpiece. The president of the Church serves as such until death. Historically, the senior apostle has become the new President of the Church. Gordon B. Hinckley is the current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.<ref name="Hinckley Biography">Biography of President Gordon B. Hinckley</ref>

The First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the first and second Quorums of the Seventy are all known as General Authorities because they are the people who direct the work of the entire church, throughout the world.

Other authorities of the Church (who are limited in their geographical areas of authority) include all other Quorums of the Seventy, Mission Presidents, Stake Presidents, Bishops, and other quorum presidents.

The Church has no salaried ministry; however, General Authorities who demonstrate need receive a stipend from the Church using income from Church-owned investments.<ref>Ludlow, Daniel H., Latter-day Prophets Speak: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Church Presidents, 1948/1993, Ch. 32</ref> All area and local authorities, as well as holders of all other positions, are unpaid and continue in their normal occupations while serving in leadership positions. See Laity.

As the Church teaches that revelation from God continues today, conflicts could result from the claimed revelations of different members. Thus, the principal of stewardship defines in what capacity a person may receive revelation. Divine revelation for the direction of the entire Church comes from God to the president of the Church. Revelation for the direction of a stake comes from God to the Stake President of that stake. Bishops are entitled to revelation from God for their ward. Parents are entitled to revelation for raising their families. And each member is entitled to divine revelation for themselves: the confirmation of truths, gaining knowledge or wisdom, meeting personal challenges, etc.

Because of their belief in modern revelation, Latter-day Saints give significant weight to the official pronouncements of their church leaders. They consider the words spoken by the prophets and general authorities speak as "moved upon by the Holy Ghost",<ref>D&C 8:3-4. Note also that members are instructed to listen carefully to general conference and pray about its truth (see Joseph F. Smith, in Conference Report, April 1902, and Howard W. Hunter in Conference Report, October 1981.)</ref> as modern-day scripture, and members are encouraged to ponder and pray for revelation regarding the truthfulness of such statements.

See also: First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Authority, Apostle (Mormonism), and President of the Church (Latter Day Saints)

[edit] Relief Society and women's status

Main article: Relief Society

The Relief Society is the women's organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Founded in 1842 in Nauvoo, Illinois the organization, with the motto "Charity Never Faileth", today includes more than 5 million women in over 165 countries.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

The status of women in church leadership positions remains largely unchanged since the early 1900s. Women have been given leadership roles over other women, children, and in providing welfare. In a few other situations, women will preside over some men, such as in Primary, in the Meetinghouse Library, or at a Family History Library. Since the 1840s, women have also officiated for men in certain priesthood ordinances (ritual ceremonies), but only as part of the Endowment ceremony inside temples.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Current membership

The Church reports a worldwide membership of 12,560,869 as of December 31, 2005,<ref>Statistical Report 2005, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.</ref> with 6.7 million members residing outside the United States. It is the fourth largest religious body in the United States.<ref>2005 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, National Council of Churches. See article by Information Please® Database, Pearson Education, Inc.</ref> The Church membership report includes all baptized members, and also "children of record" - unbaptized children under the age of 8. (Children are not baptized before the age of 8.) Members living in the US and Canada constitute 47% of membership, Latin America 36%, and members in the rest of the world 17%. (See membership distribution and growth history). A Survey by the City College of New York in 2001 extrapolated that there were 2,787,000 self-identified LDS adults in the United States in 2001, an increase of 1.3% over their 1991 survey, making the LDS Church the 10th-largest religious body in their phone survey of over 50,000 households.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

[edit] Finances

Image:Lds church administration building.jpg
The Church Administration Building with the LDS Church Office Building tower in the background

The Church receives most of its funding from tithes and fast offerings. About ten percent of its funding also comes from income on its investments and real estate holdings.<ref>Mormon Inquiry article</ref>

[edit] Holdings

The Church has holdings in real estate, as well as for-profit businesses managed through Deseret Management Corporation, estimated in 1996 at more than $30 billion.<ref name=TimeMag>Biema, David Van. Kingdom Come. Time Magazine, Vol. 150 No. 5, August 4, 1997. Retrieved 2006-09-02</ref> Some of the Church's known holdings include:

  • AgReserves Inc, Salt Lake City, Utah - the largest producer of nuts in America.<ref name=TimeMag/>
  • Beneficial Life Insurance Co. - assets of $1.6 billion.<ref name=TimeMag/>
  • Bonneville International Corporation - the 14th largest radio chain in the U.S.<ref name=TimeMag/>
  • Deseret Morning News - a daily Utah newspaper, second-largest in the state.<ref>Deseret News Publishing Company is a Subsidiary of Deseret Management Corporation a for-profit corporation affiliated with the Church[2].</ref>
  • Farmland Reserve, Inc - 228,000 acres (923 km²) in Nebraska,<ref>Duggan, Joe, Mormon land holdings rise. Lincoln Journal Star 2004-10-03.</ref> and over 312,000 acres (1,260 km²) in Florida (dba Deseret Cattle and Citrus).<ref>Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch east of Orlando, Florida is the world's largest beef ranch, and the land is worth an estimated $858 million.(Biema, 1997)</ref>
  • Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii - the leading for-profit visitor attraction in Hawaii.<ref>History from Polynesian Cultural Center website</ref>

[edit] Use of funds

The Church uses most of its financial resources to construct and maintain buildings and other facilities. The Church also spends much of its funds on providing social welfare and relief and supporting missionary, educational, and other church-sponsored programs.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref>

Construction of facilities. The Church builds additional chapels and temples as wards and branches of the Church are organized. The Church built about 40 smaller temples between 1998 and 2001. The Church currently has 124 temples around the world with 10 additional temples either announced or under construction. (see List of temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Social welfare and relief. The Church operates a welfare distribution system, as it encourages members to seek financial assistance from family and church first before seeking public or state-sponsored welfare.<ref>The Stake President’s Role in Welfare Services - General Conference Oct 1978</ref> AgReserves Inc., Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch, and Farmland Reserve, Inc. are part of its welfare distribution system. Welfare resources are distributed by local bishops but maintained by the Presiding Bishop. See Preparedness

Other programs. The Church also spends much of its money collected through tithing on numerous missionary, educational, and other programs which the Church considers to be within its mission. Although the families of missionaries generally pay $400 a month for missions <ref>Acts of Faith: 2005 The News & Observer</ref>, additional general funds of the Church support missionaries unable to pay for their own missions. Additionally, the Church provides a mission office and mission home for each of its 300 missions and pays for television advertising offering free copies of the Book of Mormon, the Bible, Church videos, etc. The Church also owns and subsidizes education at its three Universities (see Education above). It also supports Boy Scout programs for young men. In addition, it supports its Seminary and Institute programs with tithing money.

[edit] Programs

[edit] Church Educational System

Latter-day Saints believe in the value of education. Joseph Smith taught that "the glory of God is intelligence."<ref>D&C 93:36</ref> Accordingly, the Church emphasizes education maintaining Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University-Idaho (formerly Ricks College), and Brigham Young University-Hawaii. The Church also has Religious education programs. Seminary is a program for high school students held daily in conjunction with the school year. The Institutes of Religion program serves young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 and those enrolled in post-secondary education institutions with church owned buildings near college campuses dsignated for the purpose of religious education and cultural socialization.

In addition, the Church sponsors a low-interest educational loan program known as the Perpetual Education Fund. This fund is designed to benefit young men and women from all parts of the world who have served a mission, returned to their home, and need further education to become productive citizens in their respective countries. As they finish their education and enter the work force, they then are able to pay back the funds provided so that other individuals can attend both vocational technical schools and university.

[edit] Missionary program

Main article: Mormon missionary

Young men between the ages of 19 and 26 who are considered worthy (follow the teachings of the Church), are encouraged to consider a two-year, full-time proselyting mission. Women who serve a mission must be at least 21 and generally serve 18-month missions. Elderly, retired couples are encouraged to serve missions as well, and their length of service varies from 3 to 36 months.<ref>Template:Cite web</ref> Elderly adult women also occasionally serve a mission, of varying lengths.

Today there are more than 330 missions and approximately 56,000 full time proselytizing missionaries serving throughout the world. In addition, about 5,100 missionaries are on special assignment missions, serving as health care specialists, doctors, craftsmen, artisans, construction supervisors, agricultural experts and educators for developing countries and educators, family history researchers and leadership trainers.<ref name="Missionary Program"/>

See also: Missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

[edit] Controversies

Main article: Anti-Mormon
Main article: Exmormon
Main article: Blacks and Mormonism
Main article: Women and Mormonism

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes


[edit] External links

[edit] Official websites of the Church

  • - The official website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — with links to Gospel Library, Church History, Family Home Evening programs, and more
  • - Information on basic beliefs, a meetinghouse locator, and a place to email questions

[edit] Church-related websites

  • LDS Today - News related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Meridian Magazine - Webzine for Latter-day Saints; updated every weekday
  • LDS Library - Full text search engine; more than 3,300 important LDS books.
  • Mormon wiki - Wiki for and supported by Latter-day Saints
  • LDSFAQ at - A comprehensive index answering many common questions. Uses large portions of The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
  • Audio Book of Mormon - free download, mp3 format

[edit] Academic forums

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