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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. Shecky

    I thought we were supposed to have religious tolerance in this country.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Johnny

      That is only tolerated in Kolob

      June 24, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  2. David

    After 50 years of being a Mormon I left and consider ita cult. They require 10% of your income with no accounting and their temple ceremony requires the slitting of the throat and or the cutting out of the bowles if on devuldges what truely goes on inside their temples. Their facade is outstanding but really search their history and find their leaders married 14 year old girls and other men's wives..Cult

    June 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
    • Laura

      Obviously NOT a member of the church with this type of comment. Slitting of throat and disembowling? Come on man!

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

      I think the audit report read over the pulpit to the entire world every six months in general conference is considered an accounting. Maybe I'm crazy.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
  3. Anthnony1969aaa

    Mormon chicks are easy and wild!

    June 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Johnny

    I think one thing that is missed is that even though in 1890 a manifesto was published (different than the rest of the ... Thus saith the Lord revelations) most leaders in the LDS Church continued the practice in 1904. This resulted in a second manifesto, and it wasn't until 1910 that people were excommunicated.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  5. Charly Garcia

    This is a good laugh cartoon...!
    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cuh0eA19PKg&w=640&h=360]
    Enjoy!

    June 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  6. penny

    I highly respect the mormons

    June 24, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  7. Vernon

    Can't tell you all how gratifying it is to have a bunch of folks complement me by calling me "normal." Beside that, anyone trying to learn something from this forum should know that the "wisdom" presented here is coming in the form of some of the most bizarre and half-baked mis-information imaginable. To respond would take way to much time and not convince the ignorant folks posting some of this propaganda in the slightest. If you have questions, check Mormon.org or ask a Mormon. We're happy to answer questions as best we can. This stuff? Some of it makes me want to take a bath.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Laura

      Here here Vernon. Thanks.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  8. Bible Guru

    Bible also says that in Deuteronomy 24 but if we took that literally, 3/4 of the book would be invalid? right?

    The truth is in the context of the scriptures. You cant extract one line and interpret it any way you please.

    The books in the bible are also out of chronological order

    June 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  9. Rich

    I agree with Sean; if you do some research you will find in some of their writings that Jesus and Satan were brothers. And they do not beleive in the diety of Jesus Christ. A church that started in 1830 is pretty sad and pathetic. They are not a Christian religion but only profess to be one.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Laura

      Sigh. So many falsehoods being told here and yours is one of them. I am LDS and believe that Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Cami

      If you did your own research you would see that the LDS Church wasn't "started" in 1830. It was reorganized. In order for something to be reorgranized, it had to have already existed at some point. We believe that the LDS Church is the same church that Christ organized when he was on the earth. After the great Apostacy His church was no longer on the earth so in 1830 he reorganized it through Joseph Smith. We have never claimed to have "started" anything. This isn't Joseph Smith's church. It is Christ's church. You may not believe that, but I do. And believing it has never made me happier! For more information you can go to mormon.org. 🙂

      June 24, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  10. Charly Garcia

    yeap, According to Mormoms when Jesus disappeared from the eyes of His disciples it wasn't because He was alone praying in a solitary place as the Gospels states them. It was because He was "preaching" in America... Don't you recognize all those indians that were discussing openly, friendly and heartily about Jesus with the Catholic priests that came with the Conquerors in the very first time they crossed words and greetings? Jeez... the ignorance of some people...
    LOL! =)

    June 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  11. Matt

    I've known many Mormons and been friends with many of them. My best bud is a Mormon. I must admit though, with all due respect to community that does a lot of good, the theology of LDS is just too far fetched... to the point of foolishness.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  12. Steph

    I am confused as to why Mormons say they do not practice polygamy. All Mormons believe that a man can be sealed (married) to more than one woman in heaven. Of course women can only be sealed to one man! This is polygamy! Maybe they aren't practicing it here on earth, but they sure as heck say believe they practice it in heaven!

    June 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • knn

      Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were polygamists and most religions revere them. Sounds like an eternal principle to me when commanded by God.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
  13. KD

    definition of cult: the church down the street from your own.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  14. James

    My sister in law is a mormon and she is one of the nicest people ive ever met. They are a very devoted group of Christians. I'd actually say they are the best Christians I know of in terms of entire groups of peoples

    June 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
  15. Jodi

    Living in Utah - Mormons have great family values - I would have no issue voting for a mormon. However, they do add to the Bible, - meaning the Book of Mormon. The Bible clearly states in Galatians that nothing should be added beyond the Bible. They also believe in prophets. They are good people but believe on the wrong track.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • SP

      The Christians added to the bible. The Mormons just added more.

      June 24, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • JeramieH

      Which version of the Bible are we talking about?

      June 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Cami

      I believe the Bible states (in Revelation) that nothing should be added to IT, meaning the Bible. Mormons didn't add anything to the Bible. The Book of Mormon is it's own book of scripture completely separate from the Bible. We read both and we believe in both.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  16. SP

    Joseph Smith was called a Prophet.

    Dum dum dum dum dumb

    June 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  17. Rob

    Everyone seems to feel sorry for the Mormons for beinj "chased" out of Ohiio, Inidana, Missouri and Illinois. Not me. I only wish it had all ended in Illinois. The cult believes in additonal saits. Who created these saints? Does Mormonism believe in the Trinity? If not, then it is a conservative Unitarianism. And with all of it's history of hate toward African Americans until the head honcho had a vison, they have not trasnsered that hatred to gay people.
    What a great forgiving and inclusive religion.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • knn

      The Trinity concept of a god without parts or passions was a 3rd or 4th century creation by a council of men. The LDS faith, as a restoration of the church of Jesus Christ, would not include such a teaching. We do not believe in the Catholic concept of Saints; rather, we believe saints are those who have made a covenant to follow Christ.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  18. Gerald of San Fran

    I live in a city where people ask for the world to tolerate their belief of marriage. I think the folks bashing on the mormons need to get a life and learn to tolerate others beliefs. good riddance

    June 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  19. AJK

    If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

    June 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  20. David Stone

    In a nutshell....it's sort of like Christianity, but you can have more than one wife, and Jesus came back to visit in the 1800's....pretty hokey

    June 24, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • MW

      Wait didn't it state in the article that polygamy was outlawed in 1890? Ya, it did. You can't even get the facts straight that are right there, in the article you are commenting on! You are just here to be derogatory.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:02 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.