Skip to Content

The Mormons

The Mormons, or Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, are by far the largest in the “other Christians” category with over five million adherents. The church was founded in western New York State in 1830 by Joseph Smith, who claimed to have received his authority by direct divine bestowal. Mormons believe in the Bible and in their own complementary work, The Book of Mormon. They believe in immortality and in the need for the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They believe that people travelled to ancient America from Israel to settle and that some of them were prophets. A prophet named “Mormon” wrote the Book of Mormon which God preserved on gold plates for Joseph Smith to find in 1820 and translate. The Book of Mormon shows how Jesus Christ visited ancient America after his Ascension.

Mormons were greatly persecuted in their early years and eventually found a home in the desert of Utah. In earlier days, they were associated with polygamy (having many wives), though the church now eschews this practice. They abstain from all alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea. Mormons believe in active proselytization, and each strives to serve at least a year as a missionary.

Because the Mormons believe a person can have his or her ancestors ordained and be capable of eternal life, Mormons place great store on genealogy and finding one’s ancestors. They maintain large genealogical databases which they allow outside researchers to use.

Next Section:Christian Science

Religion in America: Chapter Home

Life in the USA Home Page.