Mormonism is a way of life that is practiced by members of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over two-thirds of the church’s membership is in
the United States. However, members are also located in many other countries
around the world. Mormons use the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and two other
books or revelations to Joseph Smith, founder of the church. These other two
revelations are the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. The
Mormon organization consists of a three member First Presidency and a twelve man
Council of Apostles who make up the major policy-making body of the church.
Mormonism’s founding doctrine was based on the assumption that Christianity was
corrupt and that it was necessary to restore the “true” Christian gospel. The
Mormon church sees only itself as recognized by God. Joseph Smith founded the
church in New York in 1830. He said that he had visions of God and other
heavenly beings that told him to establish the restored Christian Church. He
was “directed” to some thin metal plates that he translated into what is now
called the book of Mormons. This book describes the history, wars, and
religious beliefs of a group of people who migrated from Jerusalem to America.
Smith attracted a small group of followers who settled in Kirtland, Ohio, and
Jackson County, Missouri. Because of persecution, the church moved to northern
Missouri, then to Nauvoo, Illinois. The people of Illinois welcomed the
persecuted Mormons, and Smith began to construct a temple and a hotel there. In
1843, Smith secretly instituted the practice of plural marriage among a group of
his followers. This could be because he himself had 50 wives. The Mormons
lived in relative peace until 1844 when a group became mad about Smith’s
practices. They started a newspaper called the “Nauvoo Expositor” and attacked
him, accusing him of practicing polygamy.Smith denied this charge but was
killed anyway. Brigham Young took over as their new leader. In 1852 , polygamy
was officially announced at the Mormon conference.
Points of Debate
What was so wrong with their views?
* Belief in the Bible and Book of Mormon
==; How? The Mormons believe the Bible and The Book of Mormon to be the Word of
God. However, the Bible states that it is the only Word of God. ==; Mormonism
believes that God has a physical body. The Bible contradicts this belief
* Belief in Polygamy
==; Teach that Jesus Christ himself is a polygamist.
* Mormonism and Blacks
==; Mormonism teaches that African Americans have dark skin because they are
cursed by God, and are an inferior race.
* King James Bible is Plagiarized
==; An analysis by Michael Marquard, shows that the portion of the Book of
Mormon that was supposed to have been written during the Old Testament period is
literally peppered with phrases and quotations from the King James New Testament.
==; The book of Mormon virtually copies the life of the Apostle Paul with its
own teacher, named Alma.
* Blunders in Biblical Material
==; Peter’s paraphrase of Moses’ words in the Bible is referred to as Moses’ own
words in the Book of Mormon. Thus Peter is accidentally quoted hundreds of
years before the book of Acts was written or Peter had ever uttered his words.
Are their limits on acceptable beliefs in our democracy?
* Yes, but not enough
==> There are limits to keep religious beliefs from physically harming us, such
as the Branch Dividians, but there are no limits on beliefs that can spiritually
harm us, such as the Mormon religion.
Should we welcome and tolerate all views?
* We should listen, then judge
==> We should allow these religions to state their purpose and determine how
their teachings will affect us. ==> We should not tolerate any view which is
detrimental to our society or to our country.
Mormonism goes against all beliefs of the early Christian church. The Mormon
Church was too radical for the people and that is why they were persecuted.
Allen, James B., and Leonard, Glen M., The Story of the Latter-day Saints (1976).
Arrington, Leonard J., and Bitton, Davis, The Mormon Experience (1979).
Bitton, Davis, and Beecher, Maureen, eds., New Views of Mormon History (1987).
Hansen, Klaus J., Mormonism and the American Experience (1981).
Shipps, Jan, Mormonism: The Story of a New Religious Tradition (1984).
Walters, Wesley P. Mormonism (1996).