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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. GSA

    @Tyedye and @Alison – Are you two just clarifying that Mormons are not Christians? Nothing wrong with that but you seem to be hating on the Mormons, very un-Christian like. You're just sounding hateful and lending fuel to the fire for others to hate on your beliefs, which some can say have a lot of false facts in them as well.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Sean

      Mormonism is not Christianity.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
    • Rethink

      From the Book of Mormon:
      "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." (2 Nephi 25:26)
      Sean, if Mormons aren't Christians, then I don't know who is.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Sean

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1nsY2iUiF0&w=425&h=349]

      June 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Sean

      Rethink: Sorry That was wrong here is the link. Mormonism is not Christianity.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Sean

      Apparently I can't embed or post links, so I'll make my point. Mormonism teaches that Jesus was a man who became God. Biblical Christianity teaches that God became a man (Jesus) to atone for our sins. Mormonism teaches you can become a God like Jesus did. And in fact, they are polytheists who believe in multiple Gods. Those Gods are of course are people who (while previously on earth) became Gods of other planets like Jesus. ONCE AGAIN, NOT BIBLICAL CHRISTIANITY.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Sean

      actually that was the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1nsY2iUiF0&w=425&h=349

      June 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Rethink

      Sean,

      To clarify, Mormons believe the following:
      1. God and Jesus and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings.
      2. God (whom Mormons call "Heavenly Father") is the father of our spirits, and we are therefore his spiritual offspring. This is why in the church, Mormons refer to each other as "Brother So-and-so" or "Sister So-and-so." Jesus Christ is also Heavenly Father's offspring and is our older brother. We refer to both Heavenly Father and Jesus as "God," so admittedly it can sometimes get confusing.
      3. Heavenly Father (not Jesus) was once a man before becoming a god. Jesus, while on the earth, was the offspring of both Heavenly Father and Mary. He was therefore sort of a god and sort of a man. Mormons believe this was necessary.
      4. Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ to the earth to perform the atonement and the resurrection and to set a perfect example.
      5. Through the atonement of Jesus, we can repent and become like God, although we can never be perfected in this world.
      6. God procreates, just like all living things do, and if we were to become a god, we would procreate, as well.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • FACT

      I thought Christians were supposed to love one another. I guess some of you have forgotten that little tidbit. Sure glad Christ had more self control.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Free

      FACT
      On a more practical level Christians are also in compet.ition with one another. You can 'love' your rivals but, deep down, you really want them to fail.

      June 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm |
    • Pres. Monson

      @GSA
      Interesting how you associate facts with hate. YOU must be a Mormon, or an IDIOT..or both!

      June 25, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • Tay Tay

      I have great respect for the Mormon faith, but I also feel very sorry for Mormons, honestly. They are some of the kindest people, I have ever met, but they are missing out on Biblical truths. I blame most of it on Joseph Smith. He started it all. Joseph Smith prayed for answers and claimed to have recieved them, and thus "restored" the Church. My question is....where did the Church go?? Jesus told Peter in Matthew 16:18, "And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Theses are Christ's words!! His Church didn't need restoring. We have a perfect example of it in the New Testament. I would put my faith in Jesus Christ over Joseph Smith anyday!!

      June 25, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • heliocracy

      You guys are fighting over whose fairy tale is correct. I say Snow White hung out with eight dwarves...discuss.

      June 26, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Thought process

      Religion is a strange thing however, if you are in fact a christian (including The LDS church members). are you here to really preach the TRUE gospel and invite others to christ or are you here to bash with any other religion other than your own? it would make more sense if your christian to just not worry about sad and rude comments about how your not christian from other commenters. Do not worry about MANS opinion on you. only worry about Jesus Christs opinion on you above all other opinions because, those opinions would seem to fall below Jesus Christs opinion. why waste your time arguing amongst eachothers OPINIONS. . .

      July 2, 2011 at 3:04 am |
  2. Free

    The Mountain Meadows massacre is another interesting chapter in Mormon history. I wouldn't recommend the movie September Dawn however. They really pressed the parallel that it happened on a September 11 (1857) too far. The actual facts are telling enough.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • knn

      The facts ARE telling. Some mormons did something very bad, it's true. But hollywood's attempt to implicate Brigham Young is absurd. The only way he could have participated is if they had telephones back then. You weren't looking for facts, you were looking for a reason to pad your disdain for Mormons.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Jesus

      The article stinks! There are so many insane aspects of Mormonism that anyone with a room temperature I.Q. would reject this cult out of hand. Just that dogma about blacks having to turn white to enter heaven (repealed in 1978) is enough grist for a comedy routine. I would NEVER vote for a Mormon, especially one who defends this nonsense.

      October 8, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  3. Lisa

    @ Free – they also skipped the part about the seven levels of Heaven and that men - if "spiritual" enough - will become gods of their own planets when they die.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Lisa

      Different Lisa here letting you know it's 3 levels of heaven, not 7.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Culture Bearer

      And as the men get their own planet, what happens to the women? What is their lovely reward? Come on, don't be shy about telling. It's something every woman would want.... Just curious why we hear so little about what the women have to look forward to.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • BilCat

      To Culture Bearer – In the Celestial Kingdom men and women are together as couples – most likely because they were husband and wife on earth and lived good, clean lives. Women receive the same blessings as a man in the Celestial kingdom.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • CF

      Culture Bearer

      And as the men get their own planet, what happens to the women?

      Sounds sorta like the 72 virgins thing.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Toosliq

      The woman will be the "goddess" married to her "god-husband" and as they eternally copulate she will be eternally pregnant populating their own personal universe to rule, just as GOD does now! How wonderful to be like GOD! Wait – that sounds familiar...
      Serpent to Adam and Eve: Eat this and you will be like GOD...
      I KNEW I heard it all somewhere before!

      June 24, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • sector9

      oh are we reading an article about dante's inferno now? you know, with 9 circles of hell? or are you still trying to talk about the mormons? your "7 heavens" thing is weird since it applies to neither mormons nor dante's classic. oh i got it– you were posting in an article about 7th Heaven!

      June 24, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Blake

      Toosliq, you are either really funny or really ignorant. Were do you get the women will be eternally pregnant? Yes, LDS members believe that they can have children as God has us children but where do you get that they are created the same way as on earth? Obviously from someone who knows nothing of the LDS faith and simply seeks to attack it with false information. Can you really trust someone to tell the truth for something he hates? If you wanted to learn about the Jews would you ask a Nazi or ask a KKK member about African Americans? Yet it is ok to seek information from someone just as hateful on the LDS church?

      June 24, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Adam

      The funny thing is that the Serpent's half truth was actually exactly that, half true. By eating the fruit, mankind did indeed become like God knowing good and evil. God did not intend to keep man from becoming self-aware but He wanted the choice to be made by mankind. Satan's lie was that mankind would not die. It had nothing to do with becoming like God. That part was the truth. God even agreed.

      June 27, 2011 at 11:27 pm |
    • Joseph Smith

      I am REALLY bummed Woodrow Wilson ruined my play for polygamy.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Paul

      @Lisa who made the comment about "3 Levels of Heaven".. So if your not good enough you only get to Level 1 or Level 2 but not Level 3? I know it may sound sarcastic but seriously, what are the rules here... Can you provide a link so that this can be better explained...

      October 9, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
  4. RightturnClyde

    It is hard to understand (like the Catholic religion). That impedes recruitment. The young fellows (who come to your door) are nice but cannot explain their religion (it is complicated). The Book of Mormon is NOT like the Bible and is very difficult to (accept). They are good people, loyal, hard working, ethical, family values, generous, law abiding. They have many business successes and have been good leaders in public office. They have a very positive history and so they are terrific Americans (as a matter of fact)

    June 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • John

      Not (sure why) you made your sentences (like this). It makes it much (harder to read).

      June 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Doubtful

      I find it interesting that you're able to accept the Bible, a random compilation of scrolls and letters that monks have been hoarding in the Vatican for 2000+ years. The Bible was a compilation of what they thought would be interesting, they voted out stuff that would go against them, and they subsequently locked away the rest.
      Although the Joseph Smith story requires just as much faith, how could any one person accept the Bible more willingly than the Book of Mormon? At least you know he gave you all the writings he translated. Not as much mystery when compared to the monks of the dark ages.
      If the Bible isn't sketchy at all, then how come more of those ancient transcripts and letters haven't been released? The Vatican controls most of the religious text in the world.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • someoneelse

      Saying they are good people is just as wrong as saying they are all evil. Both are generalisations and not correct. Religion on the other hand, has proven itself to be the most destructive thing our society has ever developed.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Culture Bearer

      No, they actually do NOT have a positive history. Do a little google research and you'll realize you shouldn't have said that! As for them being nice people, that's fine. I like nice people. What I DON'T like is people who try to impose their beliefs on me. They fought to have marriage taken away from gay and lesbian couples in California. Why? It doesn't hurt them, and they can go on being "nice" people if gays can marry. But they donated millions to impose their religious beliefs on others. Suddenly, they don't seen so nice to me.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Free

      RightturnClyde
      It is hard to understand (like the Catholic religion).
      Are you saying that the other Christian sects are any less mystifying?

      June 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • bam

      no one can explain any religion as u have no idea what the original wacko was thinking when he created it. u lost your chance to ask John Smith..... this particular religion just points out how all religion started out and it was not from some mystical being.
      United States the land of creating things out of nothing. All other religions had to endure the trails and tribulations of life over thousands of years...... poor American Indians had theirs taken from them by the peace loving white man

      June 24, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Free

      bam
      The US is the land of innovation and opportunity wrapped up in a free market, and this is also seen in our range and creation of religious products. For every need there is a religion and for every lifestyle, a church. What religion does not cover, which isn't much, self-help gurus do.

      June 26, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • Form Your Own Opinion

      @Culture Bearer
      I have nothing against two men or two women wanting to have a "civil union" but please don't call it marriage.

      We have our reasons why we don't want it recognized as marriage, mainly because we believe that marriage is between a man and a woman as the Bible says. And if our government recognizes it as "marriage" then the next step is to try to force Mormons to "seal" gay marriage in our temples, which we cannot do, because we don't believe it to be ordained by God.

      The whole thing is to try to protect ourselves from having beliefs thrust upon us. Like when the gay couple sued the Catholic church to allow them to hold their wedding in their cathedral. The courts ruled in the couples favor (in NY I believe) and forced the Catholic Church to let them hold their wedding in the cathedral.

      We just don't want the same thing to happen to us.

      I love gay people. I have many friends who are gay. I don't think it wrong for them to be a monogamous couple. I want to give them all the same rights as married couples, just don't call it marriage.

      June 27, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Paul

      @Form Your Own Opinion
      First off the Seperation of Church and State would prevent the US Government from forcing the Mormons to "seal" gay marriage in your temples… Therefore you will not have conflicting beliefs pressed upon you by the government. We all know that the Church of LDS would prevent it even if gay "marriage" was made legal and defined as such… So I don't see the logic in your reply.

      Also God isn't bothered by gay people he created them, in fact he told me so… And before you go craft a witty reply about my comment that God speaks to me, it is no different than the LDS president getting a message from God is it?

      I do have to say I am glad that you have gay friends and support them. I only hope you support the Gay LDS members of the church who are dealing with these issues with the same amount of unconditional love and acceptance you would give anyone else… I should be noted that if the LDS Church did seal gay marriages they would probably have more members, just my opinion tho'.

      October 9, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The word "marriage" is not owned by any religion. If a religion is not happy with the evolving definition of marriage, they should come up with their own word or phrase – "holy union" seems perfect to me.

      October 9, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  5. The Lorax

    The article is about the mainstream Mormon church, yet the picture is of the FLDS. This links the church to the break away group that still practices polygamy. The atempt to visually link the LDS church, Mitt, and Jon to the group that was investigated in Texas for child brides in wrong.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Andrew

      All originated from the same place.

      June 25, 2011 at 2:37 am |
    • Manifold Density

      Both the LDS and the FLDS are insane religions. They are cults. They do not question their religious precepts, and thus every change in doctrine, every addition to the dogma, leads to insanity, as none of it, even the previous religion they had, makes any sense and does not match up with the universe we can all perceive and test.
      Religions are insane. They do crazy stuff. No "devout" anybody should be in charge of our nuclear ar-senal and all our defenses.
      When you listen to voices in your head, you are already insane and getting there is the easy part, not the hard part.
      I don't care if it's the FLDS or the LDS because they all act like they're on LSD. Religions are insane.

      June 25, 2011 at 2:48 am |
    • Form Your Own Opinion

      @Manifold Destiny
      Do you think it was wrong for George Washington to be in charge of the military? He was an extremely religious person.

      June 27, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  6. RationalThought

    TyeDye... yeah, crazy. I also hear stories about people who believe that a guy walked on water, turned water into wine, and then became a zombie. #ArguingOverWhereOneLivesOnCrazyStreet.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Culture Bearer

      People generally believe what their parents told them to believe. With Christian cults, that includes the admonition that you will burn in hell if you turn away from those beliefs. That's powerful stuff. In the end, there is very little difference between the Christians and the LDS, which is why it's so funny to watch the Christians suggest that the LDS beliefs are "weird" or that they are a cult. Both groups are cults.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Jesus

      Amazing isn't it that in this 21st century there are people who believe this nonsense. Santa Claus has about as much credibility as the Jeebus myth.

      October 8, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  7. perrypoint

    So if this piece is about Mormons (or LDS church members) why does the still image representing the video show a picture of the FLDS polygamists, who are in fact, an entirely different church with different beliefs?

    June 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Artist

      Fundie Mormons and regular Mormons...do they read the same bibles?

      June 24, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • LDSRevelations

      The authors should not use the FLDS image related to this piece and they should know better by now. That said to say that FLDS are "entirely different" than LDS I think is a bit of a stretch. I would call them at least cousins as religions go rather than complete strangers. Both accept Joseph Smith as their founder. Both believe in the BoM, D&C, PoGP and the Bible. Both believe in exclusive priesthood authority. Both believe in temple rites as outlined by Joseph Smith. Both believe in being led by a prophet who reveals God's will. Both believe in the Law of Consecration. They even sing the same hymns. etc etc.

      True the FLDS continue to practice some things that the LDS Church have dropped such as plural marriage but this ways actually makes them more like the early 'restored' Mormon Church than the modern SLC church. I think they have at least as much claim to the name Mormon as anyone. Reporters though should make a distinction between the 2 branches of the religion.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  8. Courtney

    There is a typo in J.W. Marriott's name. There are two T's at the end.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  9. someoneelse

    The thing that gets me is anyone who believes in any kind of religion (even new age spirituality or whatever other crap is out there nowadays) making fun of other religious people. Don't Christians understand their views are just as moronic as a Wiccan?

    June 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Mikey

      Actually I think Wicca makes more sense.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • RightturnClyde

      Actually you seem moronic when you say something like that (and young and arrogant) (or maybe ignorant)

      June 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Lisa

      I think it makes total sense. It really is arguing over who's beliefs are more valid when all of them lack any sort of actual evidence. Believing in anything without any sort of viable proof is crazy.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • RationalThought

      Again #ArguingOverWhereOneLivesOnCrazyStreet.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • John

      It's the argument of perception. How people perceive religion... because we all know there are no logical religious debates.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • someoneelse

      @rightturnclyde, people who say others are arrogant are usually just too small or pathetic to understand and don't like to be reminded of it. Smart people are not arrogant enough nowadays, and allowing the small people of society dictate how it evolves. It's sad really.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  10. Mr071

    Always so endearing to see one group of religious zealots denouncing another group's beliefs as "crazy" and "ridiculous" and saying "how can they believe THAT". I guess the irony of the fact that THEIR religion is as ridiculous and as crazy as any other is lost on them LOL

    June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • heliocracy

      I personally believe that Cinderella's slipper was made of Lucite, but the pro-glass-slipper people violently disagree. They're going to he ll for that.

      June 26, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Jesus

      Religion is a business. It is there to quell the masses and strip them of their cash. It does all that quite well.

      October 8, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  11. jeffRI

    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. DO BEAR IN MIND THAT THE ABILITY TO TRANSLATE HIEROGLYPHICS into ENGLISH was not established with any veracity until 1832 – WIKIPEDIA – it's easy to find! – – you would also do well to search GOOGLE for "New Yorker Article Mormonism" – you will learn MUCH that should give you great concern about electing a Mormon president – this is a religious cult, founded on overt lies and polygamy – and any other explanation is JUNK – period!

    June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Lisa

      If it's a cult, I wonder how I left so easily...

      June 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
    • Floyd Johnson

      By definition, all religions are cults. Jews are a cult. Baptists are a cult. Catholics are cult. The word itself has no negative connotation. For some reason we throw it around as an insult and accusation. Just like Jeff, Mormons do not want to say "I am a member of a cult," so they deny it. Jeff's implied negative connotation comes from the fact that Mormons are members of a different cult than he is.
      Joseph Smith's autobiography outlines a translation process that was in no way dependent on academia. Their position is easy to access, no reason to speculate.

      June 24, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  12. Mikey

    I find it interesting that they stopped the ads that offered a copy of the Book of Mormon and switched to offering a Bible. Almost like the leaders decided to appear more mainstream..... Perhaps the religion is just maturing but I have my doubts and frankly in 2011 NO RELIGION should be trying to actively convert the masses. It is ridiculous.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • LDSRevelations

      Religions that think they're Gods one truth faith feel compelled to try to do exactly that— convert the world. They can't even imagine that any other faith will be as good for all people as their own.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Form Your Own Opinion

      I believe that they have both ads out there still.

      June 27, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Adam

      Preaching the gospel to all the world was a commandment from Jesus Christ. It makes sense that if you have something that you believe can help other people that you would actively try to share it. I don't understand people's opposition to missionary work. If you aren't interested just say that. It is the same with everything. If you don't want it just don't take it. Don't be angry that somebody wants to share something with you.

      June 28, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  13. Alison

    When you say "like other christian faiths" you imply Mormans are Christians. Mormans are NOT Christians. They are not a Christian denomination. They deny the key orthodox Christian beliefs as found in the Holy Bible. They are also polythiestic. They believe in many gods not the ONE TRUE GOD as found in the Bible. They also, in spite of God's Word saying if even AN ANGEL brings you another gospel, let him be cursed, say an angel brought them the book of Morman. They do not believe in Christ Jesus the ONLY Son of the Living God. Setting about to establish their own righteousness they disdain the righteousness of God which is only in Christ Jesus His Only Son. This doesn't even touch upon the long standing beliefs of poligamy (only departed from so Utah could be accepted into the Union) and discrimation against people of color (and only changed their own prophet writings after Civil Right Laws were enacted). Mormans are not Christians. They are another religion. Which is fine as this is a nation that allows free practice of religion. Just don't imply you are another Christian denomination.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Lisa

      Unless you're Jesus, I don't think you have the right to decide who is and isn't Christian.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Deborah

      You can say that Mormons don't believe in Jesus, but that just proves you don't know anything about the church. I am a Mormon and I believe that Jesus is the only begotten son of the Father. He is my Savior. I believe His is the only way to salvation. I may believe differently that you, but you don't have the right to decide who believes in Jesus and who doesn't.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • The Lorax

      @ Alison – WOW. where in the world did you get your information. sounds like the talking points from some sermon. how about checking into it yourself. More than one God – No. There is only One God – the Father, His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, and the Holly Ghost. And do more research on the history of the Bible itself. many books were added – taken out – and changed over time. Even after the – do not add anything or be cursed part...

      June 24, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • Chris

      I believe that Jesus Christ died for my sins, that he resurrected, and that through his grace I will be save. I have read both the Bible and the Book of Mormon various times, they both testify of Jesus Christ. I am Christian, and I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Jackie Smith

      you're right, mormons aren't christians.

      this is a statement of fact, not a moral judgment. it's not something that "only god or jesus" can make. mormon teachings simply aren't in line with christianity in fundamental ways. it's not hateful or bigotry or denegration to say this. it's simply fact.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • TooBad

      You're an idiot!

      June 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Lisa

      Jackie Smith, did you suddenly receive authority from your God and Jesus to decide who's Christian and who's not? If not... then what you're stating is opinion not fact.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Deborah

      But how do you decide which beliefs make you Christian and which do not. Many of the so called mainstream Christians disagree with each other on the interpretation of things in the bible and basic practices such as how to baptize. So is one Christian and one not because they disagree? Are Mormons not Christians simply because some of their beliefs are different than others.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • John

      Alison,
      I respectively disagree. Many people have inaccurately heard that Mormons are not Christians; this is not so. Mormons are Christians; they do their best to implement the teachings of Jesus Christ into everyday life. A simple dictionary definition of a "Christian" is "one who professes belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ". The formal name of the church is "The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints"; if this alone is not evidence enough, I would challenge you to read the Book of Mormon to compare what is taught in the Book of Mormon to what is taught in the Bible. Since the best information one can get is from the source and not from the critic of the source, I would encourage you to meet with someone who is a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to discuss any sincere questions you may have.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • BilCat

      To Jackie Smith – you are correct in that we don't believe the way the Catholic Church and the groups that protested the Catholic teachings do (the Protestant religions).

      After thinking about it for a while (after my baptism) I figured that the LDS church is a "Restorationite" church. The authority to act in the name of God was lost on the earth and church after the deaths of the apostles. Since the authority to act in God's name was no longer on the earth it took a 'restoration' to put it back.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • brian

      The Mormon church is correctly called the Church of Jesus Christ. We believe in Christ and strive to follow Him. We love Him.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  14. Valerie

    South Park's explaination of Mormonism was all I really needed, but thanks anyway!

    June 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • moronism

      dum da dum dum DUMB!

      they really do a great job.

      /would like to see their play

      June 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • TooBad

      You're and idiot!

      June 24, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
    • Badpav

      Not that I am defending SP, but what was wrong with their explanation?

      June 24, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
    • Floyd Johnson

      Loved it. There was another episode where people were at the Pearly Gates, "what do you mean we can't go in? Who was right then?" "That would be the Mormons" Writers of South Park reject all religions, Mormons are just more fun to poke fun at because they are so nice and polite when they respond. "Won't Mormons be offended with your Broadway play?" "No, they will appreciate it, they will send us stuff."

      June 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  15. Jarrod Rager

    Could you give a detailed description of eternal progression? I've heard rumors that Mormons believe the eventually become Gods themselves.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Segev Stormlord

      According to my understanding of mormon doctrine (as a member since I was about 5 years old), Eternal Progression is a key part of the Plan of Salvation, the plan for which God created the earth and sent us here to dwell upon it. We were created in spirit long before any events in the Bible took place, as the spiritual children of Almighty God. In the name of brevity, I will leave out detailed explanations, but we progressed there, in our Heavenly Father's presence, up to the most advanced point we could reach a) without bodies and b) without faith. (When in the presence of God, we had absolute knowledge of Him and His plan and everything; knowledge destroys faith, because faith is hope for things which are not seen, but are true. And, for reasons not quite clear to us as mortals, but quite clearly stated by Christ and God in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, faith is absolutely essential as a skill/attribute/trait to employ God's power.)

      God, like any loving parent, wants His children to "grow up" to have at least the glory He Himself enjoys. Since He is perfect, exceeding that glory might be *just a touch* difficult. But still, He wants us to have all He has to offer us.

      So, because we needed at least two things – bodies and faith – to further progress, He came up with the plan to send us here where we would gain bodies and have the opportunity to learn faith. There are a number of things we have to do here, but the nutshell version is "learn to control our bodies and spirits and exercise faith" and thus gain the ordinances and keys we could not beforehand.

      The end goal is, after all things have come to pass in this mortal world, for all of us to be Resurrected like Christ was (thanks to Christ's doings, this is possible), and for us to continue our eternal progression along the same paths that God Himself treads. After all, God is our Heavenly Father, and if we "grow up" to be capable individuals of His divine species, it only stands to reason that we will progress along similar (or identical; who knows how much variation there is in absolute Perfection?) paths.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Badpav

      @Segev Thanks for the terrific explanation. I just wish I could get as stright an answer from the LDS.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
    • RLP1509

      Finally someone asked a perfectly good question about Mormon beliefs!!!! Good grief.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    • Manifold Density

      @Segev – Since controlling one's body is always outside one's control, and since we can't control our minds either, what makes you think we can control our "spirits" when there is no proof that we have any?

      As for your leaving out "controlling one's mind", that is probably because your religion is doing that for you.

      June 25, 2011 at 3:01 am |
    • Truth

      In Romans 8:16-17 in the Bible, it states: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children ofo God.
      And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ, if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
      Heirs: meaning that if one follows Christ, we can inherit which God has, celestial glory and the power of creaton.

      October 9, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
  16. Sherrie Dame

    If you are going to write an article about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the least you could do is include a picture of people who are actually LDS. The picture you have included is of a polygamist sect, and NOT of members of the LDS church. It's unfortunate that people who write for national publications do not research before they publish. How many other "facts" that influence the public are printed without verification. You help to shape the opinions of people on many subjects. Before you print PLEASE RESEARCH and get your FACTS verified.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Valerie

      Yes, I noticed that too, and I'm a Catholic! Mormons don't dress like that!

      June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • LDSRevelations

      Well, let's clarify here. The image is of FLDS— and FLDS are Mormons just as other religions that have come out of Joseph Smith 's teachings. They are not however members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the largest of the sects that grew out of the teachings and revelations of Joseph Smith Jr. So yes Valerie, some Mormons do dress like that (FLDS) and no those people are not members of the CoJCoLDS. Why there's an image of them attached to an article about the Salt Lake based church is beyond me.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  17. ron

    As a Mormon, let me compliment you on your fair summation of the church and its teachings.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • jeffRI

      albeit a selective narrative of your belief system – there is much more to learn and know about Mormonism that should give all of us concern (like the property owned, the money secreted away, the mummification of your leaders, etc. – TRUTH is TRUTH – HUBRUS is HUBRUS – it has always been so – and Joseph Smith knew it too – and put a ring through all of your noses at the same time!!!!

      June 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • RLP1509

      @JeffRI where in the world do you get your information??!! Mumification of our leaders? That is just not true. The last president of the Mormon Church is buried in the Salt Lake cemetary. You really ought to question your sources and find some reliable information.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • heliocracy

      "You really ought to question your sources and find some reliable information." Coming from a Mormon, I find that absolutely hilarious. You might want to take your own advice.

      June 26, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
  18. Susan

    Whatever their (to me odd) beliefs, mormons seem to weave their religion into their everyday lives. Far from being a positive, I find this creepy and I simply distrust their motives in anything because of this. I am spiritual, have been religious at times, however have not had it foremost in my mind at all times, worrying about other people's beliefs, and trying to "spread" any kind of message or word to others. Separation of church and state I believe is very important, so much so that I practice it even in my daily life. They are completely opposite. It literally makes me shudder.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • jeffRI

      Susan – that's because of their insistence to prostelyze their faith – the only way you gain converts is to appeal to the ill-informed and un-inquisitive – seems to work for some – I find it lacking in conviction. If your faith is so pure and true – it should sell itself – this seems to lean toward "snake oil".

      June 24, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • MOMe2_5

      You really believe that you shouldn't incorporate religion and daily life? I just cannot imagine that. My beliefs are a part of me, and they affect how I live and who I vote for. True religion should be that way. It would be like saying that I should not incorporate my gender, or my ethnicity into my daily living??? It would seem quite hypocritical to believe one way, but live another? Maybe I misunderstood you?

      June 24, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Segev Stormlord

      Not to be offensive, but if you believe something to be true, do you not act on it as if it were so? If you believe, for instance, that murder is morally wrong, would you "keep that separate" from your daily life and consider murdering somebody if you thought you could get away with it? If you believe that eating ice cream makes you fat, and you wish to not be fat, do you "separate that belief from your daily life" and eat ice cream anyway, or do you consider that belief in line with your desire to be not fat and thus at least consider moderating your ice cream intake? If you believe that greenhouse gasses cause global warming, do you "keep that belief separate from your daily life" and go ahead and emit as much carbon as you like and not elect politicians who believe as you do? (I happen to NOT believe man-made global warming is even based in undoctored and unbiased science, considering that greenhouse gasses wouldn't even rise in the atmosphere to the level the theory says they must to do what they're supposed to do, and that the temperature changes on mars match those on earth pretty closely over time, so it's not likely that man is causing them, but my point still stands, I think.)

      If you believe something to be true, you certainly act on it if you are a rational being. I doubt, if you believe that you should be paid a certain amount for your work, you would "separate that from your daily life" and let your employer decide not to pay you this week. I contend that anybody who believes something – truly believes it – will act on it. Will incorporate it into their daily life. After all, believing something means that you think it's true and accurate; only the insane act on things that they do not believe to be true.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • RLP1509

      Well said @Sergev!!! We could also put in there about using a light switch to turn on the light in the room. Are we going to live in darkness rather than incorporate into our lives the truth that light switch A turns on light bulb B?

      June 24, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Manifold Density

      @MOMe2_5 – I might be misreading what you have said, but you appear to be saying that bigots should be bigots and that you think you need to be a bigot because that's how you feel?
      What does your gender or "ethnicity" have to do with anything? Vote for whoever is going to do the best job regardless of religion, gender, or ethnicity. That's how Obama became President. He was the best choice. It was amazingly obvious, too.

      June 25, 2011 at 3:12 am |
  19. Free

    They skipped my favorite part, the ...ah...'lost' 116 pages of the Book of Mormon. Martin Harris' wife should be a saint amongst skeptics. 🙂

    June 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  20. Tyedye

    Joseph Smith stuck his head in a hat to translate the "Golden Plates". The plates mysteriously disappeared. I don't trust anyone who wears magic underwear and even if the Mormons say they are Christian, they are really not.

    June 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • frank

      He probably had some coke or opium in the hat, and was sniffing it for "divine guidance."

      June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Lacking Evidence since 14 billion BCE

      It's pretty much as stupid as all the other religions just without the convenience of having 2000 years to try to cover up the fact that it's BS.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Brandon

      The definition of a Christian is a follower of Christ, they believe in Christ in his teachings, they just also believe he didn't just stick to the Middle East and Europe. This clearly shows you have no idea what you're talking about and are just another "Oh well I heard about the Mormons" person.

      June 24, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Artist

      Like other religions of faith, their faith is in a man.

      June 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • LDSRevelations

      @ Brandon-
      Exactly what did Tyedye write that shows 'he has no idea what he's talking about?' The part about the BoM translation and the plates is pretty much accurate.

      June 24, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • Swangster

      The special undergarments that mormons wear serve as reminders and don't hold any magical powers. Orthodox Jews also have a special undergarment called the Tallit Katan. Go here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tallit_katan.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Manifold Density

      Mormons are just wannabe-jews. They even call outsiders "gentiles". The underwear thing is funny though.
      Just crazy people with another crazy bunch of nonsense. They loooove their "golden Jews".

      June 25, 2011 at 3:17 am |
    • Form Your Own Opinion

      @Manifold Destiny
      We actually consider ourselves Gentiles and those with actual ancestoral jewish heritage and Jews. Just thought you might want to know. 🙂

      And I don't know who our "golden jews" are but if you mean the people in The Book of Mormon, why wouldn't we? Other Christians love Moses, Noah, and Abraham. Why can we not love Nephi, Abinadi, and Alma, if we believe them to be real people and believe The BoM to be true? (BTW... we also love Moses, Noah, and Abraham)

      We don't want to be anything other than what we are. We are a happy, loving people, and we love our religion or we would not be a part of it. Anyone that doesn't believe as we believe in the LDS Church are not forced to join us.

      June 27, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
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About this blog

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.