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!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

The \LDS Restorationist movement,
including the Mormon cnurches

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
Terminology, Practices, Opposition....

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Topics covered in this essay:

bulletTerminology
bulletPractices
bulletOpposition
bulletOff-shoots

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Terminology:

The largest faith group within the Mormon movement, centered in Salt Lake City, UT, believe that God revealed the full name of "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" to Joseph Smith in 1838. Many incorrect versions of this name are seen on the Internet and in non-Mormon sources. The most common are:

bulletLeaving off "The"
bulletCapitalizing the first letter in "day"
bulletOmitting the "-" after "Latter."

The Church discourages the use of the nickname "Mormon Church." There are almost 100 LDS Restorationist denominations to which this nickname could apply.

When printed in full, the name is rather long. Where an abbreviation is needed, "the Church" or "the Church of Jesus Christ" is encouraged. Unfortunately, there are over 1,000 faith groups in the U.S. to which the term "the Church" would apply. There are over 20 faith groups who use the term "Church of Jesus Christ."

The Church states that the term " 'Mormonism' is acceptable in describing the combination of doctrine, culture and lifestyle unique to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." They do not recognize the many dozens of other restorationist denominations as legitimate Mormon groups. In return, most or of the other restorationist denominations do not recognize each other. 1

With almost 100 faith groups considering themselves to be the only legitimate successor to Joseph Smith's original Church of Christ. With most of these groups not recognizing each other as legitimate, the umbrella term "Mormon movement" would probably be rejected by most of them. We suggest that the preferred term to represent those groups who believe they are following God's revelation through Joseph Smith is "LDS Restorationist movement."

We use the term "LDS church" to refer to the largest of the LDS Restorationist movement's denominations, centered in Salt Lake City.

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LDS Practices:

Their practices are similar to those of other conservative Protestant Christian groups. Church teachings on marriage, church attendance, tithing, and their opposition to most abortions, divorce, pre-marital sex, equal rights for women, etc. differ little. Exceptions are:

bulletPrior to the dedication of a temple, the general public is invited to an open house to inspect its various facilities. After it is dedicated, only worthy members with temple recommends can participate in temple ordinances such as eternal marriage or baptism for the dead.
bulletA regular temple recommend requires that an individual be a member for one year, and be found "worthy." i.e. has paid a tithe in support of the church, followed the "Word of Wisdom", followed the commandments, remained "morally clean," and has passed an interview with the stake president. They expire after two years, or immediately if the person is found to be unworthy.
bulletA limited use recommend can be obtained from their bishop by youths (12 to 20 years of age) or for new members of any age after a few months' membership. This allows the person to do baptisms for the dead.
bulletThe church sponsors a massive missionary movement involving tens of thousands of young missionaries at any one time (typically a ratio of 4 male elders to each female sister). As of the end of 2003, there were 56,237 full-time missionaries worldwide. This decreased to 52,060 by the end of 2005. They dedicate two years of their life in seeking converts. They are trained in one of 17 Missionary Training Centers (MTC) which are located in Provo, UT, and in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, England, Ghana, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, and Spain. 3 Missionaries live under very strict restrictions devoid of entertainment and contact sports. In the past, they could indicate a preference for their country of service. Now, they go wherever they are called. They finance their own way.
bulletAt least in the early years of the Church of Christ, there appears to be a close association between Freemasonry and the Church. Founder Joseph Smith's father was a Master Mason. His older brother, Hyrum, was also a Mason. Author Terry Chateau has written:

"The first five Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow were all made Masons in Nauvoo Lodge. ... When the first Mormon pioneer company entered the Salt Lake Valley on July 24, 1847, under Brigham Young's leadership, a significant body of Masons entered with him. As of that date, the full Mormon Hierarchy was comprised of Masons. Also practically every member of the hierarchy was or became a Mason shortly after the Prophet was raised to the degree of Master Mason." 4

Some Mormon ceremonies have very strong similarities to rituals of the Masonic Lodge and were probably derived from that source. The LDS use of ritual handshakes; their images of square, compass and rule; signs, etc. have obviously been adopted from the Masons, with little or no alteration.

bulletThere are a number of annual days of celebration that are related to the LDS church:
bulletJAN-13: The city of Parowan celebrates its birthday on this date. This was the first Mormon pioneer settlement in Southwestern Utah.
bulletJUL-24: Pioneer Day is generally celebrated to recall the first entry of Mormons into Salt Lake Valley in 1847, after a long trek westward to escape religious persecution.

Other dates that are sometimes recalled are:
bulletAPR-6: The date in 1830 CE when the LDS church was founded in New York state
bulletMAY-15: The date in 1829 CE when Joseph Smith was visited by John the Baptist, who restored the Aaronic priesthood.

bulletMormons rarely date outside their faith. This can be a hurdle for non-Mormons living in Utah, where most of the population is Mormon.
bulletDevout Mormons follow the "Word of Wisdom" and do not smoke. They avoid coffee, black teas, any harmful drugs (particularly street drugs or abused prescription drugs) and alcohol. Some also avoid caffeinated sodas.
bulletMost conservative Christian groups strongly support the spanking of children; they follow the many Biblical passages in the book of Proverbs which they believe require parents to discipline their children through the use of physical force and pain. However, the LDS church has consistently discouraged this approach to child rearing. President Hinckley:

"called physical abuse of children unnecessary, unjustified and indefensible ... I have never accepted the principle of 'spare the rod and spoil the child.' I am persuaded that violent fathers produce violent sons. Children don't need beating. They need love and encouragement." 2

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Other denominations and sects in the LDS Restorationist movement:

Joseph Smith taught a theology of restorationism: that the Christian church abandoned the teachings of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) and the apostles in the very early 2nd Century CE.  Joseph Smith restored the original beliefs and practices of the primitive Christian church when he founded the Church of Christ in 1830. LDS Restorationism currently consists of almost 100 denominations, many centered in Utah and Missouri. Many consist of a single congregation and a few hundred or even fewer members. Some broke away from the LDS church over matters of theology. Many regard their own group, however small, to be the only legitimate Christian church. These groups include:

bulletAaronic Order: unknown membership; 6 centers; 20 ministers
bulletApolstolic United Brethren: about 7,000 members. They disagree with the LDS' decision to allow ordination of African-Americans and allowing women to assume leadership positions.
bulletChurch of Christ (Fetting/Bronson): about 2000 members
bulletChurch of Christ (Temple Lot): about 2400 members
bulletThe Church of Christ "With The Elijah Message," established anew in 1929: 12,500 members worldwide
bulletChurch of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite): On the order of 10,000 members
bulletThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: about 12 million members
bulletThe Community of Christ: about 250,000 members. This denomination was formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints -- the "RLDS Church". It was formed in 1860 by remnants of the original church who did not make the trek to Utah. They reject certain beliefs and practices of the LDS church, including marriage sealing for eternity; they allow both men and women into the priesthood; their services are open to the public.
bullet The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) This is a theocratic dictatorship led by a single prophet, Warren Jeffs, who is, as of 2006-OCT, in jail. They have an estimated 6,000 to 11,000 thousand members in the U.S., and a single colony of about 1,000 members in Canada. They practice polygyny freely and openly with little interference from state, provincial and federal governments.
bulletThe Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: It split from the Reorganized Church in 1991 because of the latter's liberal theology. It is centered in Independence, Missouri, and had an estimated membership of 2,500 in mid-1996. They publish a periodical "The Restoration Advocate" six times a year.
bulletUnited Order Effort: a polygyny practicing group, excommunicated by the main LDS church, of perhaps 10,000 members

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Style Guide - The Name of the Church," LDS, (2006) at: http://www.lds.org/.
  2. Art Toalston & Herb Hollinger, "SBC in Salt Lake City to top 1 millionth messenger mark," BaptistPress Archive, Stories for 1998-APR-15. Search at: http://www.baptistpress.org/
  3. "The Ensign," the official magazine of the LDS Church, 2004-SEP, Page 76.
  4. Terry Chateau, "The Mormon Church and Freemasonry," California Freemason On-line, 2001-MAY/JUN, at: http://www.freemason.org/

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Copyright © 1995 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2010-MAY-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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