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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. tysnowboarder`

    I am not Mormon/LDS, but I do know a couple. They have always have been very nice to me and my family. Last year when my house flooded they offered to help me with the clean up and gave my family a place to stay while we gutted out the house. I do not belive all of the things in Mormonism, but I do respect them and do know that they have a love for other people and god.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  2. Horus

    Tolerarion,
    Agree. Mormons are more likely to have a 'COEXIST' (http://mpinkeyes.files.wordpress.com/2007/10/coexist2.gif) bumper sticker than any other religious person.
    Horus, The God.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  3. Pres. Monson

    They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23).
    This is from the Mormons website-
    They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23).
    They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see D&C 132:19–20).
    The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter.....into polygamy". BYoung; Journal of Discourses; Vol. 11, pg. 269

    June 24, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • DireS

      The mormon haters are out in mass number on this blog. But their works are easy to recognize. They leave you feeling empty and bitter. The more they scream the more people set up and take notice of the mormon church. The mormon haters need to go away and preach their own doctrine, we all get tired of their crazy rants.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  4. Troy

    Magic underpants, Egyptian-style hieroglyphics? All religions may believe in sky wizards, but most religions are at least not demonstrably false. Mormons are truly wacko.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • Nickell

      We need a President that is not religious.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • spr

      theirs is just a new religion that hasn't had the bennefit of 2,000 years of time to kiill all the nay sayers and hide the contradicitons, ammend the bigoted ways. etc.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  5. Anthony

    To know them is to love them. Never met a Mormon I didn't like. I can honestly say that, and I've known a few over the years.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • CJ

      DItto that. Good people those Mormons!

      June 24, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • spr

      obviously the same person is posting... it is seriously funny that you think you are fooling anyone at all.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Kim

      I agree with Anthony. Most the hateful comments on here must be from angry people with a dark outlook on life. Time to wash the windows and open the shades people! Mormons are here to stay and they are decent people.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • spr

      haven't you run out of names to post yet?

      June 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Mormon.org

      Check out the truth and ignore the hatemongers!

      June 24, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Thinkformyself

      Opposite POV! They are brainwashed and EXTREMELY judgmental! If you don't fit into the mold, you are an outcast of outcasts. I grew up in mormonism. My mothers family are mormons all the way back to Joseph Smith. They did NOT teach much about Jesus until recenlty. When I was growing up in that cult (1960s – 1990s), it was all about Joseph Smith! Now they are trying to become mainstream so the talk about Jesus but it most definately is a cult.

      They think drinking tea is evil and you can't go into their temples if you drink tea! Yet, they drink cola products and Mountain Dew like there is no tomorrow.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • spr

      if you're a guy check it out.... cuz you get to marry as many girls as you want. Then when you go to heaven you get to have an INFINITE number of spirt children, where eventually you get to populate your own planet and become the Heavenly Father (aka GOD) to your spirit children.

      YES THIS IS TRUE.

      ... but if you are a women you get to submit, submit, submit

      June 24, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Funny

      Haven't we learned from 1,000's of years of human history that casting stones accomplishes nothing. Too many hater-sayers on CNN blog.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Jones

      Love 'em or leave 'em. I guess spr decided to leave 'em. Where's the love?

      June 24, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
  6. Brandon

    Regardless of where I've lived throughout the world I always seem to have Mormon neighbors. I can honestly say I've never met more stable, kind people as a whole than these people. I may have differing religious beliefs, but I hold them in high esteem for the moral standards they uphold despite pressures from outside to be more mainstream. The bigoted statements from people claiming to be "real Christians" against Mormons is flat out ridiculous. Nobody's perfect, but the Mormons as a whole sure seem to be trying! For me personally, Romney and Huntsman just seem to stand out in a good way. Not entirely sure why, but they do instil confidence in their leadership. Peace and love to all:)

    June 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • spr

      man you mormons have really mobilized to this forum.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
    • Sal

      I am Mormon and proud to be. Tell us what you believe "spr" instead of what you do not.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Jackson6

      spr has nothing good to say. His mother never taught him that principle.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  7. Joey

    This was a pretty fair presentation regarding my beliefs, i can't believe I'm going to say this but good job CNN. For those of you who feel the story of our faith is kind odd, you're right, but you should really read the book of mormon, you might think differently about that guy named Joseph Smith.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  8. Jamie D

    I'm not a strong baptist but im grateful for the example of the mormons. they are very devout Christians

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

      except for the polygamy and believing in multiple gods.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Honor1

      Hate yields a very bitter fruit spr.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
  9. unowhoitsme

    Another religious cult...I was brainwashed by marrying a member. I was his 7th wife! (for 28 days...when I was being abused, then learned that he was "earning" his way into heaven by marrying all these women). He's currently in prison!

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

      I'm pretty sure you did not marry a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but rather one of the radical groups that is in no way linked to the church.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  10. actually

    Mimi-you must not believe in the bible because its older than the Book of Mormon

    June 24, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Mimi

      haha... you're right. I'm a science loving, paleo anthropologist loving ATHEIST. Believe in the facts people.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • Mimi

      And I was referring to the 'golden tablets' with that comment. Yes I do know Mormonism was born here in the New World. But if you think about how long the Native Americans have been here than you would know that those tablets (had they actually been made by the 'indians') have the possibility of being close to 10,000 yrs old.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  11. SPR waisted a lot of time writing that LOL

    and nobody really cares because he's been on here for over 2 hours LOL

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

      But it's awesome how he can shut down the basis for a religon in that time. Nice work SPR.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  12. Mimi

    dumb du dum dum dumb. Ancient texts?? From before JC came along?? Possibly older than the 4000 yr old earth? Wait... where are those tablets again? Right. You don't have them. I can't see how anyone can fall for this crap heap but whatever floats your boat. I will say the that Mormons for the most part are a very loving community. So thank you for not trying to spread hate like some of your christian cousins.

    June 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  13. Mormon.org

    Check this out

    June 24, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  14. Toleration

    I'm not religious but if I was I'd join the mormons. Sounds like they really practice what they preach

    June 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • spr

      you are obviously the same person posting non stop under different names.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  15. spr

    mormons (including mit romney) believe that God lives on Planet Kolob. – TRUE

    mormons believe that native americans (in dians) are decendants of the lost tribe of israel – TRUE
    since Joesph Smith concocted that story, archaeologists have since proven that native americans are decendants of asian nomads. DNA evidence has proven that this is false, yet mormons continue to believe.

    mormons wear unde rwear from the 1800's – TRUE.

    Joesph Smith was a convicted conman and felon before he translated the golden plates – TRUE

    Mormons believe there is a local god over this planet (sort of like local/state/federal gov't) that they worship too (polytheism). Mormons all intend to be gods themselves some day, and are helping to earn their exaltation to godhood by going door to door and talking to people and converting them. Each mormon intends to have many wives in heaven, carrying on multiple ss e x relations throughout eternity, until they have enough children to populate their own earth, so they can be "Heavenly Father" over their own planet. – TRUE

    Joeseph Smith taught that there were inhabitants on the moon, and Brigham Young taught there were inhabitants on the sun as well – TRUE

    June 24, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • JT

      Yeah...as ridiculous as their co-cults called Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • elysummers

      Thank you spr. I live in a predominately Mormon community, and while they are very nice people, when you start researching their history ~ it is as you said. I just don't get it. How could anyone swallw that non sense.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Gerald

      You forgot one which most people don't know. Black people are called "Sons of Perdition" in older editions of the Book of Mormon, before they removed those references in a miraculous re-writing (note: the Book of Mormon is supposedly just as much the word of god as the Christian bible). As "Sons of Perdition" blacks were unable to enter heaven and eternally cursed. You won't hear Mormons admit to this today, but for 100 years it was one of the tenets of their religion, along with native tribes being descended from the lost tribe of Israel.

      The Book of Mormon is continually re-written to remove these idiotic beliefs of Smith, and yet Mormons still claim the book is the word of god. Doesn't that mean god makes mistakes?

      June 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • spr

      @gerald, well they haven't had the benefit of 2,000 years to cover their tracks and rewrite the word of God.

      June 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • bcwilliams

      I wonder where you're finding your facts......

      June 24, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Sarah

      Why do you care what kind of underwear people wear? Why is that such an issue for you? Frankly, I don't care what kind of undergarments someone wears, Mitt Romney could be wearing Spanx for all I care, as long as he can do the job well I'll vote for him.

      June 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  16. Verdict One

    I respect the mormons as one of the greatest Christian churches today

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

      I respect you as an idiot.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Huh?

      Mormons are not Christians. I'm not judging, just stating the facts.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
  17. Horus

    I'd like to point out that priesthood was forbidden to black members of the church until another 'revelation' by god.
    Mormon members are generally kind, honest and very respectful. Also they don't push too much their religion, if you know what I mean. They can co-exist with believers of other religions.
    Horus, The God.

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

      Just as many Christians do, we reveal to others what we want others to see. I'm not bashing your comment on Mormons directly – but people in general. We reveal what we want for others to see.

      Your subtle barb on Christians pushing their faith on others – well frankly it's because Christians love their life as Christians. Do you not share something you enjoy with others – a movie, a restaurant, etc? And don't you often share this finding without even being asked?

      June 24, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
  18. Catholic through and through

    We really need to learn to accept each others beliefs and stop trying to make a bad guy out of it. Our economy is about to crap on our faces and here are countless people with nothing better to do than bash a Christian

    June 24, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • lokiman301

      I agree wholeheartedly, throw in celebrities and political love scandals and criminal trials......oh wait there goes 90% of what interests Americans. I firmly believe that the looming financial, military, and environmental issues are just way to scary for most of the public to even contemplate, that is until it is far to late to make any difference. I wished that I was wrong on this, but we all know that I am not.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  19. Catholic through and through

    I have no problem with Mormons or their beliefs. Honestly, its appalling listening to so many of you bash their religion. Are you afraid to tolerate them but asking them to tolerate your gay marriage?

    June 24, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • JT

      "your gay marriage"?...lol. You do realize that the vast majority of your priests are gay, right? I can only guess as to how many r@pe children and how many are aware of a child r@ping priest but stays silent in fear of being defrocked.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  20. AFM

    Glad to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Couldn't be happier. I read the Bible and the Book of Mormon – both testify of Jesus Christ. He that diligently seeketh shall find.

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

      Good for you. Just keep your delusions out of the public sphere and our government and we'll all coexist successfully. Other than your cyclebots going door to door I have no issues. Don't get like the evangelicals.

      June 24, 2011 at 6:57 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.