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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. Margaraett of Alabama

    My neighbor is a mormon and probably the best Christian I know! Honest to goodness

    June 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  2. Rosemary

    I recommend an 11th fact: it wasn't until 1978 that the LDS church recognized men of African descent as being worthy of priesthood. Of course, like many religions, women are still not accorded recognition.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • Cami

      We, as women in the Church, work side-by-side with the men who hold the Priesthood. We are their equals in every way. One is not more superior than the other. I don't need to hold the Priesthood to feel like I'm worthy or that I belong. Men and women were divinely appointed with different responsibilities here on earth and I'm okay with that. I heard it said once that "men get the Priesthood to teach them how to love. Women don't need it because they already know how."

      June 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  3. Joseph Mzrnski

    I am a Catholic but I would vote for either Romeny and Huntman afore Obama. Obama and his wife do NOTHING but go on vacations and laugh at the number of homeless and hungry they have created!

    Romeny 2012!

    June 24, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
  4. Johnny

    As per the link below, the growth rate is not quite what it seems. They estimate there are only about 4 million active mormons out of the 14 million... More and more people are waking up and experience what Neo did in the matrix 😉

    http://www.sltrib.com/ci_2890645

    June 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  5. jack279

    Where is the evidence for the existence of this "book" that J. Smith found and transcribed?

    June 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • A

      it's called "The Book of Mormon"

      June 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Mitch

      You asked you better be willing to listen

      http://mormon.org/book-of-mormon/

      June 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  6. Thinkformyself

    I'm pretty sure that the majority of the posters on here who are sugar coating Mormonism ARE MORMONS! And, for the posters who claim to have a neighbor, friend, realtive etc who are Mormon and they too are suger coating it, ARE MORMONS!

    Its a cult!

    June 24, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
    • Cami

      You know what, I am a Mormon and I thought the same thing. Part of me wishes people wouldn't hide behind their computer screen and pretend to be someone their not. I am proud to be a Mormon! But for the record, we are not a cult. I would encourage you to learn more at mormon.org rather than going off what someone may have told you. Do what your screen name suggests and "Think for yourself".

      June 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  7. Michelle

    Mormons believe in Christ, but are not true Christians. Mormons pride themselves on being American Citizens, but do not believe in Freedom for all! Mormons are prejudice as hell and fake. Ask a non-mormon living in Utah, or a person of any color living in Utah. The Mormon Church is nothing but a thriving business that steals your money.

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

      Sorry you feel that way. I used to live in Utah and had a completely different experience.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
    • Jason

      You can only see in others what you see in yourself

      June 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • spr

      i think it is mainly the polytheism thing that makes christians believe mormons don't belong.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • George

      The last I read, the good book said "By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Loving God and man is the key!

      June 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • M-dawg

      And how do you know all of this?

      June 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  8. A little correction

    Although the reporter was did a great job of trying to be fair and honest, there is a key point missing that would clear up a LOT possible confusion caused by the article.
    One of the reasons for the Church "differ[ing] from traditional Christianity in key ways" is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints isn't a spinoff of another church but rather a restoration of the church formed by Jesus himself when he walked the earth 2000 years ago.
    This is THE main reason for the differences, we don't claim to be another protestant church but rather THE church Christ organized in these last days.

    For more info: http://mormon.org/

    June 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  9. AFM

    Proud to be a Mormon. 1 wife. 4 kids. 1 faith... and I love Jesus Christ.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  10. Jamie D

    I love all Christians and especially the mormons

    June 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Thinkformyself

      You're a MORMON!!!!! LOL

      June 24, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  11. Marty

    And in response to James:

    If some of your doubt comes from any "editing" that would have seemingly adulterated the Biblical Scriptures as they are passed down through the generations like a big long game of telephone, I encourage you read up on the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scolls, dating back to the 1st century, or the start of the Christian church, show very few differences between the modern Bible as we know it today and the Scriptures when they were first written. Are there differences from translating from one language to another? Yes of course, but none so glaring as to demonstrate an adulterated text.

    So again, if one of your complaints is that "Who could believe in a book like the Bible, which has been changed and edited countless times as it has passed down through the ages that it doesn't even say the same things it did when it was first written?" Please see that this complaint is not valid. The Dead Sea Scrolls confirmed that what we have today in the form of our Biblical Scriptures is still incredibly accurate when compared with the ORIGINAL source text from the 1st century. So to the contrary, I would say that the evidence provided in the accuracy of this "2000 year game of telephone" seems more like proof of the Bible's legitamacy than a chink in its armor.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  12. AwarenessNeeds to visit LDS.org

    🙂

    June 24, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  13. Jrob

    Can't believe a guy spent that much time writing a comment...on the floor laughing

    June 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Dzerres

      I can't believe these are the 10 points the writer wants to highlight when there are hundreds of things about Mormons that are a lot nuttier. The Mormons were run out of NY, Illinois and Missouri because they came in there and made foolish demands of the people who already lived there. Smith raised an private army in Illinois and was actually trying to overthrow the government there. Smith "translated" the ancient tablets using two stones placed in a hat. When some of the original translations were lost he couldn't do it again. And then there's the incident with the white salamander. All religions have some kooky ideas but this one goes over the top.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  14. Aware Ness

    regarding #3 – there is no archaeological proof that those ancient societies ever existed. Plus there is no trace of the society in ancient traditions handed down from legitimate Native American societies.

    Also – the Book of Mormon as it stands now is the second version. Joseph Smith, Jr loaned the original first book to his friend (Harris was his last name IIRC) because Harris' wife was becoming disgruntled because her husband was spending so much time and their money on Joseph's project. Harris lost the original book. Then Joseph the used his "seer stone" in a hat to get the Book of Mormon after the Angel Moroni wouldnt return the gold plates to him so he could recreate the book transcribing it to his wife Emma.

    Joseph Smith, Jr was a well known fraud. He's been convicted of defrauding landowners. Read "No Man Knows My History" by Fawn Brodie, a former Mormon. Ms Brodie accessed court records to prove that Joseph Smith, Jr is a fraud.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  15. getreal

    they also believe that god lives on the planet Kolob. Gimme a break.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  16. Muneef

    Seems as if I as well became found of Mormons and would be glad and proud to have on of them as a second wife if they will allow it ? But we have first a problem here to understand and try to solve for the sake of humanity ;

    Understand that during Alex-and-er the Great time and the Romans time men free or en-sla-ved were taken and for-c-ed into becoming gays,actually they had their private parts taken off into becoming a third kind...heard many others if were not ra-p-ed they will have their private part taken off to live with out,for serving in the name of religions the worship houses or the rulers palaces...

    Guess no one would think to became as gay if was not abused during childhood either by elders or the dominant ones at his age in the neighborhood... There is always a reason for that act and no way related to genetical reasons unless the body was deformed...! Many cases we heard of males had their private parts into the inside and thought of as females,brought up as females, only found out when no pregnancy signs were shown and scanned at hospitals to find out being a male...

    Another case was a male who had a stomach pain when taken to hospital it was found out he was a female having a period pain...although she had a small private part as of a male pointing out...as a he she was married to another female and has children... So had to divorce and marry a man after having had an operation...!?!  What we call those who unintentionally had been mistaken for?? Can we call it genetically cases and are excused..

    But now it became a fashion as understand in Far East&S.E.Asia that males have their private part taken off and made as a female with a female breast....so many of them until it became hard to tell which is a female and which is a male!? 

    Am sure non of us non gays would want to get married to find out being married to a male or as you say it be laid by a male rather than a true female and not artificial female....!!!

    No wonder that the world is filled with unmarried single females it is because males are busy looking for males rather than females..adding to that the Polygamy and Divorce laws imposed by some Religions and Countries has deprived those females the chance while married males are left stuck with one female whether there is love and respect between them or not but just because of children or religious ties..!!

    These acts of tyranny has driven married males and females to fall for adultry for their needs...same as well for single females having not found a legitimate male partners,had to seek pleasure by falling into adultery....

    Isn't there some thing wrong with the formula adopted that drives all into adultery and gayness for both $exs...? So where are the human rights they tell us about's when many suffer because of those in this world...it is only for those cases you see people become as good as the "Three Wise Monkeys"...?!  
    ------

    [6:159] Those who divide themselves into sects do not belong with you. Their judgment rests with GOD, then He will inform them of everything they had done.

    [6:160] Whoever does a righteous work receives the reward for ten, and the one who commits a sin is requited for only one. No one suffers the slightest injustice.

    [6:161] Say, "My Lord has guided me in a straight path – the perfect religion of Abraham, monotheism. He never was an idol worshiper."

    [6:162] Say, "My Contact Prayers (Salat), my worship practices, my life and my death, are all devoted absolutely to GOD alone, the Lord of the universe.

    [6:163] "He has no partner. This is what I am commanded to believe, and I am the first to submit."

    [6:164] Say, "Shall I seek other than GOD as a lord, when He is the Lord of all things? No soul benefits except from its own works, and none bears the burden of another. Ultimately, you return to your Lord, then He informs you regarding all your disputes."

    [6:165] He is the One who made you inheritors of the earth, and He raised some of you above others in rank, in order to test you in accordance with what He has given you. Surely, your Lord is efficient in enforcing retribution, and He is Forgiver, Most Merciful.
    -------–

    June 24, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @Muneef

      Hey buddy ! Are you keeping yourself safe and out of the trouble going on in Yemen...?

      You Said: "Seems as if I as well became found of Mormons and would be glad and proud to have on of them as a second wife if they will allow it ?"

      O.K... I think you got bigger things to worry about than taking on more wives now, don't you think...? 😯

      You know, I'm just 'kidding' with you. 😀

      Again, i hope that you are safe and doing o.k...

      Regards,

      Peace...

      June 24, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Muneef

      Peace2All.
      Hi there friend where you been, it's been some time since last time there was any sign of you...you've been always the kindest to all.
      Any way friend yes time here is troubled and not giving any chance for man to think of adding a wife or even have a proper sleep with his wife..Only yesterday and today we got steady supply of public electricity otherwise was all generated by my electric generator and diesel scarce with a black-market price reaching 700% of actual cost...today some one was offering a Litter of diesel for $1.50 when it was $0.21 cent a litter..

      Even if times were better I don't think my wife will allow me to add a younger wife with out making troubles for me or ask for a divorce....the women today are not as were the women before when had big hearts for sharing and caring...

      Any way thank you friend and may God be on your side for your pure kindness...God bless.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  17. Janice

    Read the Book of Mormon, got baptized and now Im a Mormon! Love the people in the church and love Jesus Christ!

    June 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Aware Ness

      read "No Man Knows My History" for the real story behind your new religion

      June 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  18. Scientific Poetry

    Golden plates brought by an angel in 1830 and translated... really...? I mean... REALLY? Proof that ignorance and stupidity truly has no bounds...

    June 24, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Mitch

      Really, I mean really? You hardly know what your talking about and you say something like that? I would encourage anyone who would think of themselves as educated to really look at the facts of the matter and then determine for themselves what is truth and what is error. 300 hundred years ago one might of laughed at the idea that something as simple as sand could be turned into silicon which is used in computers that do everything they do today. Admit there is much we do not understand and will not understand for a long time. Please keep an open mind until you can honestly and truthfully say you have fully examined the situation from every angle.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • spr

      Joesph Smith being a hunted felon doesn't help his credibility. a little proof would lend to his sects beliefs.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  19. Horse

    can't we all just get along? After all we are all brothers and sisters and none of us are getting out of this life alive!

    June 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      Guess not before they have a ride...!

      June 24, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  20. Baptist BibleBelt

    I love the mormons and dont really care what y'all think. I'd vote Romney or Huntsman judging by who they are as men

    June 24, 2011 at 6:18 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.