The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; More commonly known as the Mormons are certainly people of unique beliefs and actions. Take a moment and get to know them just a little better.
10. The Temple
There always seems to be an air of secrecy and whispered rumors regarding the temple practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The truth is, the temple is a special place which is dedicated as a House of God where faithful saints gather to worship and learn of Christ. A bulk of the teachings in the church focus on the importance of family. Because of this, members are able to be sealed with their families in the temple so that they will have the option to spend the afterlife together. While you must have a specific clearance in order to enter the inner parts of the temple, everyone is welcome on the temple grounds and to the visitor centers.
The Salt Lake City, Utah visitors center has a model display showing a cut out of the temple which allows everyone a peek at what the inside of the temple actually looks like. This model is very accurate and explains the purposes of the different parts of the temple well. This is a great tool to help do away with some of the secrecy and clear up misunderstandings.
If you want an opportunity to go inside one of these temples you can go to the church website and check out any open houses that are coming up. Before the dedication of each temple there is an open house which is open to the public. Reservations are preferred to help with crowd control and are free. If there are no open houses near you there are also photographs posted on this website. Church meetinghouses are also open to the public for all Sunday services.
9. How many wives does your dad have?
Many people who grew up active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will likely have had this very question posed to them on more than one occasion. The truth behind this is that the church today no longer practices polygamy—although there was a time it did.
During the mid-nineteenth century the church faced staunch opposition and many women were left widows with young children to feed in a country that did not even allow them to own their homes or property. Many of these women had been disowned by their own parents when they joined the church and were left destitute. This is one of the reasons which men (specifically those with wealth) would take on second wives and ensure that they and their children were cared for. There is still the belief that polygamy which existed in the Old Testament will be practiced in the afterlife but is no longer practiced on the earth today.
There are groups in the United States who still practice polygamy, but they are not associated with the official Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If any current member is found to be practicing polygamy, they will face a disciplinary council and will lose their church membership.
8. Mormons and their Funny Underwear
Ah how many times have we all heard about the Mormons and their funny underwear. Faithful members of the church do wear special undergarments as a sign of devotion and protection. This does not mean that wearing the undergarment you will be able to say, stop a speeding bullet; but it does symbolize a type of spiritual protection from sin and temptation. Think of it in a similar fashion as a Jewish yamaka; worn to symbolize a devotion to God and a faith that He will take care of you even when it is not obvious. These special undergarments are to be worn and kept covered nearly all the time with some exceptions. People are not required to wear them when participating in certain activities; such as swimming for example.
The undergarments are considered sacred to faithful members of the church and are to be cared for with respect.
7. Are Mormons Christian?
A common misconception is that Mormons are not Christian. Members of the Mormon faith do consider themselves Christian. In fact, the full name of the church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Members of the Church study and believe in the bible as well as another book called the Book of Mormon. This book is considered a companion to the bible. The Book of Mormon revolves around the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles.
A couple of reasons that other Christians do not view members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints as Christian is because members of the church do not revere the cross or believe in the Trinity. The reason for this is that the teachings of the church focus more on the resurrection of Christ as opposed to solely the Crucifixion. The focus is on life after death and hope for the future. They also believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are three separate, and individual beings. The teachings of Christ are a central point of study and discussion within the church.
6. Do Mormons believe in the Bible?
Yes. Many people do not think that those who belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe in the bible because of their belief in The Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon is considered to be a companion piece to the bible. It describes the people who left Jerusalem around the time of Jeremiah and came to the Americas. These people are believed to be one group of several who travelled to America before the time of Christ. It also goes on to describe Christs’ visit to America and His teachings while there. These teachings go hand in hand with what is taught in the bible regarding gospel principles.
5. Sexist Against Women
There are many accusations of the church discriminating against women in various forms. There are those who will abuse their power and believe that women ought to be subservient. In a church with so many members across the world this is inevitable just as it is with any other organization in existence. Within the church there are many women who chose to stay home with their children. Just as there are many women within the church who go out into the workplace and have careers.
Outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints the role of staying home to raise children is seen as a demeaning role. However, within the church that is not the case—raising children is viewed as one of the most important and challenging roles that any man or woman can undertake. These women are raising the leaders of tomorrow. This difference in viewpoints often cause some contention and are where a lot of the claims of sexism come in. In a world where teenagers eat Tide pods for fun and lick ice cream cartons at the grocery store it may not be a bad idea to have a stay at home parent to teach them better.
In recent years the practice of men being the only ones to hold the priesthood have been hotly debated. Many view the priesthood as a mere honor to be bestowed on only the males. There is much more to it than that, however. Holding the priesthood is a great responsibility more so than it is an honor.
To learn more about women in the priesthood there is an excellent book by Sheri Dew—CEO of Deseret Book Companies—which gives more insight than could possibly fit into a short article titled “Women in the Priesthood”. Sheri Dew was also the president of the Relief Society for several years. The Relief Society is an organization within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints which is operated by women for women. They have weekly meetings and have semi-annual meetings around general conference in the same exact manner as the men do.
4. Church as a business rather than a church
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has two branches. The nonprofit church side and the for-profit business side. The business side invests in real estate and pays corporate taxes just like any other business. Also, the church side builds churches, temples and donates humanitarian aid wherever needed.
The City Creek Center mall in Salt Lake City is a prime example of the corporate portion of the church. Taxed and built as a business it revitalized the downtown area of the city which had fallen on difficult times. It has also offered gainful employment for many people who are able to work and live in the city.
A great example of the churches not for profit side is welfare square, also located in Salt Lake City. This is a location where much of the church’s humanitarian efforts take place. Welfare, square consists of a dairy, cannery, bakery and thrift store. Those in the area who are in need can spend time working at one of the centers and take home groceries in return. Many of the products produced here are sold at cost or given for free to those in need. Most if not all the work preformed here is on a volunteer basis.
3. Only Mormons live in Utah
A surprising assumption in a day and age when people move jobs and travel with relative ease, but an assumption which exists all the same. Many of the smaller, rural towns in Utah may host a majority of members of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. This is often due to the fact that pioneers who travelled to Utah settled these small farming communities and the traditions have been handed down from parent to children for over a century now.
When you get to the larger cities you will find a great deal of diverse peoples from all walks of life. Every year Salt Lake hosts a number of festivals to celebrate the heritage of many in the community such as the Brazilian Festival, Native American Pow-wows, Oktoberfest and the Living Traditions festival. Park City, Utah is also home to the well-known Sundance Film Festival every winter.
2. What’s in a Name?
The name Mormon came about in the 1800’s as a nickname which was given to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by those who opposed the church. The name was derived from The Book of Mormon and was ironically meant to be a derogatory term. While the saints have embraced the nickname for a century and a half now there have been recent changes to this.
President Russell M. Nelson—president of the church today—announced in an address in October 2018 that the church ought to be called by its official title; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. President Nelson stated that the reason for this is that it was vital to keep the name of Christ in the church. The church is not the church of Mormon, or the church of the LDS. While members revere Mormon as a prophet, they do not worship him any more than they worship the current prophet.
“Mormons” are a mixture of imperfect people who are just trying to do their best the same as any of us. Within the Mormon culture and religion, you will meet people who may be overly pious or holier than thou or those who don’t follow all the teachings exactly as they might—just as you will with any large group of people anywhere in the world. It is a worldwide organization made up of people who are as different as they are similar to their non-Mormon neighbors. You have probably crossed paths with quite a few without even realizing it.