|Doctrines|| ||Mormon doctrine differs widely from orthodox Christianity in its conception of God and humanity. Mormons believe that the Persons of the Trinity are three separate beings: God the Father and Jesus Christ (who are corporeal), and the Holy Ghost (who is spiritual). God was once a human being who became divine through self-perfection. Human souls preexisted in a spirit world where they lived as God's children before descending to earth. Humans possess the capacity to become Gods, and many have done so.|
Christ came to earth to atone for humanity's sins. Salvation is attained through obedience to the church, baptism by immersion, and the reception of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. Deceased ancestors can be baptised by proxy. Christ will return to establish a new kingdom in Independence, Missouri from where he will rule the world.
|History|| ||Mormonism originated with Joseph Smith (1805-44), the unschooled son of a New York Farmer. Smith claimed that in 1827 he had a vision of the angel Moroni who revealed to him a set of golden plates, written in a mysterious language by the Prophet Mormon, which contained the history of the ancient inhabitants of America. Using a pair of magic spectacles, Smith translated the golden plates into English, and this was published in 1830 as The Book of Mormon.|
Within a few months of the book's publication a church was established in Fayette, New York. In January 1831 the churchmoved westwards to Kirtland, Ohio where the first Mormon temple was built. Smith and his followers remained here until 1838 when debt and internal strife forced them to flee to Missouri. Violent conflict between the Mormons and the Missouri civil authorities forced the church to uproot again, this time to Illinois where, in 1840, the community of Nauvoo was established.
At first free from outside interference, the community flourished, becoming a virtual theocracy with its own charter and military force. It was here that Smith received a series of revelations which led him to introduce new teachings and practices, including plural marriage. The radical nature of these teachings, combined with the growing political power of Mormonism, earned it the hostility and jealousy of those around it. In 1844 Joseph and his brother Hyrum were arrested and lynched while awaiting trial.
Fearing further persecution, Smith's successor, Brigham Young, led his followers away from Illinois to the territory of Utah where they built Salt Lake City. In 1851 Young became governor of Utah and instituted the practice of plural marriage the following year. The deposition of Young by the federal government in 1857 led to the outbreak of skirmishes between Mormons and non-Mormons, the most infamous incident being the massacre of a groupd of non-Mormon settlers on their way to California. Gradual federal control led to the end of direct Mormon rule, the abolition of plural marriage, and the granting of statehood to Utah in 1896.
The need for accommodation with the outside community reflected a fundamental shift from the movement's early communitarian ideals to an acceptance of stability and capitalism. The election of Utah's first non-Mormon governor in 1916 indicated a general decline of Mormon influence in the state.
Instead of aspiring to establish an isolated political kingdom, twentieth century Mormonism sought to consolidate itself within the United States and to establish missions throughout the world. These are frequently supported by young Mormons who are expected to give two years free service. Today Mormon missionaries are particularly active in Latin America, Canada, Europe (especially in the United Kingdom) and New Zealand.
|Symbols|| ||Some of the more familiar biblical symbols and image such as the dove, the lamb, the rock, the vineyard, bread and wine, and the waters of baptism are found in The Book of Mormon. A distinctive, and highly controversial, aspect of Mormon symbolism involves the use of black and white to represent the opposition of negative and positive. According to The Book of Mormon God punished those who were disobedient to him causing "a skin of blackness to come upon them" (2 Nephi 5:21). In contrast , the Virgin Mary is described as "exceedingly fair and white" (1 Nephi 11:13). Mormon depictions of Jesus emphasize the whiteness of his skin and clothes.|
|Adherents|| ||Worldwide membership is estimated to be about 5 million (Harris et al. 1994, 151).|
| ||50 E. North Temple Street, Salt Lake City, Utah 84150.|