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Writing about an unfamiliar religion may be daunting, and so we’d like to offer this quick list of very basic facts. (See also the Mormonism 101: FAQ at mormonnewsroom.org.) Additional issues are covered in much greater detail in other MormonVoices posts.
- “Mormon” is a nickname for a member of “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Other nicknames for Church members include “Latter-day Saints” and “LDS.”
- Mormons worship God the Father, his son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They do not worship any other being or person.
- Mormons believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ, which saves and perfects those who repent and faithfully try to keep covenants of righteousness.
- The nickname “Mormon” derives from “The Book of Mormon,” which, along with the King James Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, comprises the scriptures studied and revered by Church members.
- Official information regarding the LDS Church is found at www.lds.org and mormonnewsroom.org. Mormon.org is a site specifically designed for individuals interested in learning more about the Church.
- The LDS Church officially began in 1830 in New York, with Joseph Smith as prophet and leader. The Church is now headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, with Thomas S. Monson as prophet and president.
- There are 14 million Mormons living in 176 countries worldwide. About 6 million live in the United States, making Mormons the 4th largest Christian denomination in the U.S.
- All local Mormon congregations (called “wards”) are led by volunteer, unpaid members. Only a miniscule percentage of total Church membership are full-time leaders supported with earnings from Church assets. Such leaders have wider, Church-wide responsibilities and are referred to as “general authorities.”
- Mormons believe that after the death of Jesus and his apostles, Christianity drifted into apostasy. That necessitated Joseph Smith’s calling as a prophet through whom Jesus could restore the full gospel and priesthood.
- Because the LDS Church is a restoration of original Christianity and not an offshoot of any other denomination, Mormons do not accept any of the traditional creeds, such as the Nicene Creed. (It is also incorrect to refer to Mormons as Protestants.)
- Local Mormon chapels (often called meetinghouses) are open to the public for Sunday worship services and mid-week meetings. Visitors are welcome. Mormon temples, which are more rare, are open to the public for several weeks immediately after construction is completed. They are then dedicated and only open to LDS members who have passed a worthiness interview.
- Mormon temples are not used for Sunday worship. They are used for ordinances including proxy baptism for the dead and LDS marriages. These and other sacred ceremonies emphasize Christian principles of faithfulness to the gospel and Christ’s atonement. They also strongly emphasize eternal family ties.
- Mormon Sunday meetings include a congregation-wide gathering where communion (or “the sacrament”) is served, Sunday School, and separate classes for men, women, teenagers, and children.