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June 24th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Explain it to me: Mormonism

With two Mormons running for the Republican presidential nomination and a play riffing on the religion tearing up Broadway, the country appears to be having a Mormon moment.

Here are 10 facts about Mormonism. What other questions do you have about the faith?

1. The official name of the Mormon church is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2. Mormons consider themselves Christian but their beliefs and practices differ from traditional Christianity in key ways, including belief in sacred texts outside the Bible and practices like posthumous proxy baptism and wearing special undergarments.

3. There are about 14 million Mormons today, with more than half living outside the United States.

4.  The Mormon religion was founded in upstate New York in 1830, when Joseph Smith published a translation of writings he said he found and translated from Egyptian-style hieroglyphics into English.  That's the Book of Mormon, which believers say consists of writings produced by ancient American civilizations.

5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has outlawed polygamy since 1890.

6. Early Mormons faced intense persecution, so church headquarters relocated from New York to Missouri to Illinois in rapid succession. Joseph Smith was killed by a mob in Illinois. His successor, Brigham Young, led early Mormons to the Great Salt Lake in what's now Utah, where church headquarters remains.

7. Mormon men are expected to perform two years of missionary work beginning when they're 19 years old. Women can also do missionary work when they turn 21, but there is less pressure to do so.

8. Famous Mormons include J.W. Marriott, founder of the hotel chain, Glenn Beck and Gladys Knight, a convert.

9. Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney represent different generations of Mormonism that have related pretty differently to American culture.

10. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is running some major ad campaigns to take advantage of burgeoning interest in the religion.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mormonism

soundoff (3,741 Responses)
  1. Randolph Chater

    This is very poor journalism. CNN doesn't understand mormons either. The Book of Mormom wasnt translated from egyptian anything. The person who wrote this is ignorant, biased, and clearly has an agenda. CNN has sunk to the level of garbage misinformation websites.

    November 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
  2. donner

    Go to YouTube and search "Banned Mormon Cartoon" See what Mitt Romney believes in. Then tell your friends.

    September 5, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  3. Rational

    This is pretty ridiculous to have a Honda salesman explain Nissan to you. First off, to underst and the LDS church's principle beliefs you can look up the '13 articles of faith' that Joseph Smith Jr. published to let people know the core principles of the church.
    I have told students 'If you want to learn about the Jewish religion; don't ask a Jehova Witness, ask a Jewish believer.'
    Any anti Mormon comments on a page like this is ridiculous again because they tend to be bitter people who feel they know more than actual practicing Mormons. Please be weary of these ignorant attacks and if you have enough patience, you can try to explain to them what errors they speak of.
    I also want people to rid themselves of this ridiculous belief of what Christians are. Christians are people who accept Christ as their savior and redeemer. If you think Mormons do not fall under this category you are blind to truth. The Book of Mormon is clearly stated as 'Another Testament of Jesus Christ'. Any lawyer will attest this is not saying 'replacement', 'better', 'the only', 'possibly', 'maybe', and etc. The word itself implores a feeling of a belief in Christ and proof that He did come to this earth.
    If you want a history argument you can claim that every 'Christian' church today is technically a break off of the Catholic church and if you feel catholics are un-Christian then you are denying every other church of being Christian. Just some easy logic for the readers.
    Anything can be taken out of context, it is done in so many false arguments to fool people who can't recognize them. Please use some amount of common sense and take not that the majority of trash thrown at the Mormons is completely taken out of context and I am sure any practicing Mormon would be glad and more than happy to explain the proper principles behind them. I recommend that you ask without malice though because trying to fight will only bring about a fight. (more logic, go figure)

    September 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • nottolate

      "I have told students 'If you want to learn about the Jewish religion; don't ask a Jehova Witness, ask a Jewish believer.'
      Any anti Mormon comments on a page like this is ridiculous again because they tend to be bitter people who feel they know more than actual practicing Mormons."

      That's a bogus argument id I ever saw one. You ridiculous heresy and blasphemy has been well publicized and is therefore well apprehended by any who wishes to research it.

      September 2, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • MilitaryAF

      I'm a nevermo living in Utah, surrounded by BOM-thumpin' mormons. Ask a mormon about their faith and they will tell you NOTHING! They are, by far, the most secretive cult you'll ever encounter. There is a reason for their secrecy; they're scared, and cognizant, of what people's reactions would be IF they were to tell you what they truly believe!

      September 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Hannah Wray

      Thank you so much for finally being rational! Yes you're right. Mormons are SOOOOO secretive. That is why they send missionary's out to knock on peoples doors all day long to tell you EVERYTHING about the church. Hmm. Doesn't seem very secretive to me. Everything the church practices and does is clearly written in the library of congress. However. This practices, although spoken about, are still sacred and not meant to be talked about in an unsacred manner. Talk to somebody who is actually a member of the church instead of an anti to find out what mormons TRULY practice.

      September 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • otter j ott

      Hannah – i see you are keeping up the fine tradition of 'Lying for the Lord'.

      November 6, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
  4. 2Sliqq

    The most unspoken, hidden, and yet most significant aspect of Mormonism is the belief that you are on the path to become a god and ultimately be worshipped just as God is now. This concept is a flaming arrow directed right to the core of human pride. Is there a more satanic concept than believing you will progress to the level that God is now, becomeing a god and being worshipped just as God is now? Is there?

    August 31, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • Critic

      No, worshiping a zombie Jew by ritual symbolic cannibalism is much less satanic.

      August 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
    • Rational

      I would assume that you know this is a completely false argument. That to take claim that Mormons believe they take the place of their Heavenly Father (yes their Father) is a complete lie. Also considere a 'red herring' to deter people from seeing the underlying concept. I know Mormons believe in the scripture (from the Bible) the God wants His children to become like him, more specifically, to be as Him. That would literally mean that just as your parents wanted you to have what they had, if not better. Then wouldn't the Heavenly Father want everything He has for His children, if not more?
      I guess that would use logic. Please try to understand the principles before you bash against them. It makes people who strive for knowledge have less faith in the human race to see you attack good people for things you don't understand.

      September 2, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  5. 2Sliqq

    The most unspoken, hidden, and yet most significant aspect of Mormonism is the belief that you are on the path to become a god and ultimately be worshipped just as God is now. This concept is a flaming arrow directed right to the core of human pride. Is there a more satanic concept that believing you will progress to the level that God is now, becomeing a god and being worshipped just as God is now? Is there?

    August 31, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • nottolate

      @2Sliqq,

      Your post is right on point. This Christian then cannot vote for someone that subscribes to the very thing (I will be like the Most High) that got Satan kicked out of Heaven.

      September 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.