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The LDS Restorationist movement,
including the Mormon churches

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

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Topics covered in this essay:

bullet Terminology
bullet Practices
bullet Opposition
bullet Off-shoots

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By far, the largest faith group within the LDS Restorationist movement ia "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," centered in Salt Lake City, UT, U.S.A. They teach that God revealed the full name 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:

bullet Leaving off "The"

bullet Capitalizing the first letter in "day"

bullet Omitting the "-" after "Latter."

In the past, most references to the main denomination by the media and on the Internet have used abbreviations, like "Mormons," "Mormon Church," "LDS Church," etc. The Church discouraged the use of the first two because there are almost 100 LDS Restorationist denominations to which this nickname could apply.

During 2018-AUG-16, the denomination believes that God instructed them to abandoned all abbreviations of the church name. They are now to use the full denominational title: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

The next day, Jana Riess, a columnist for the Religion News Service wrote:

"Yesterday, the church that invested millions in its Meet the Mormons movie and exports its Mormon Tabernacle Choir as its ambassador to the world asked us all to stop using the word 'Mormon.'

Ahem. It seems Iím no longer a Mormon columnist. Iím a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints columnist, and isnít that just so fun to say?

Whatís more, this is being presented not as a simple branding change but in the language of divine revelation:

'The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name He has revealed for His Church, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,' said President Russell M. Nelson. 5

There is considerable doubt about whether other faith groups will abandon the terms "LDS" and "Mormon." Richard E. Bennett, a church history professor at Brigham Young University said:

"I don't think it's going to stop our friends outside the church from calling us nicknames. But certainly among members of the church, we'll be making a greater effort to follow the directions."

The famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which as been singing for over 150 years, has changed its name to "The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square." Choir president Ron Jarrett said:

"A new name for the Tabernacle Choir will represent a change after so many years. But we have always been a forward-looking people, and we are focused on what is not changing: the world-class musicianship, the inspiring arrangements and programming, and our weekly ĎMusic and the Spoken Wordí broadcast." 6 [Repeated from this web site's LDS Church menu.]

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, and with most of these groups not recognizing each other as legitimate, using the full name is clear and unambiguous. 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 have used the term "LDS church" to refer to "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." As we update existing essays and write new essays, we will use their full title.

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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:

bullet Prior 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.

bullet A 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. A recommend expires after two years, or immediately if the person is found to be unworthy.

bullet A 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.


The 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. According to Wikipedia:

"As of the end of 2016, there were 70,946 full-time missionaries serving in 421 church missions throughout the world. Their work, often in cooperation with local members, resulted in 240,131 convert baptisms in 2016." 6

They dedicate two years of their life in seeking converts. They are trained in one of 15 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 to avoid 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.

bullet At least in the early years of the Church of Christ, there appeared 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.

bullet There are a number of annual days of celebration that are related to the LDS church:
bullet JAN-13: The city of Parowan celebrates its birthday on this date. This was the first Mormon pioneer settlement in Southwestern Utah.

bullet JUL-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:
bullet APR-6: The date in 1830 CE when the LDS church was founded in New York state.
bullet MAY-15: The date in 1829 CE when Joseph Smith was visited by John the Baptist, who restored the Aaronic priesthood.

bulletMormons rarely date persons 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 LDS "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.


Voters in Utah will be voting in a ballot initiative at the mid-term elections during early 2018-NOV. It is called Proposition 2 and concerns the legalization of medical marijuana. If passed, it would allow some edible forms, lotions, and electronic cigarettes for health reasons. Smoking marijuana would remain illegal. The LDS Church opposed the initiative as it was originally written. However, ranking global leader Jack Gerard said that they are now "thrilled [to be part of the effort to] alleviate human pain and suffering." Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT) expects to hold a special session of the legislature to consider a new law. 7

bullet Most 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 of these 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:

bullet Aaronic Order: unknown membership; 6 centers; 20 ministers

bullet Apostolic 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.

bullet Church of Christ (Fetting/Bronson): about 2000 members.

bullet Church of Christ (Temple Lot): about 2400 members.

bullet The Church of Christ "With The Elijah Message," established anew in 1929: 12,500 members worldwide.
bullet Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite): On the order of 10,000 members.
bullet The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: about 12 million members.
bullet The 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 (1955-), who is, as of 2018-OCT, in jail serving a sentence of life plus 20 years. 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.

bullet The 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.
bullet United 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:
  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:
  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:
  5. Janet Riess, "Iím a Mormon! But Iím not supposed to call myself that anymore," Religion News Service, 2018-AUG-17, at:
  6. "Missionary (LDS Church)," Wikipedia, as on 2018-OCT-08, at:
  7. "Mormon church backs deal to allow medical marijuana in Utah," Religion News Service, 2018-OCT-08, at:

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Copyright © 1995 to 2018 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2018-OCT-08
Author: B.A. Robinson

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