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(Also called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. LDS)

This religious body had its origin during the early part of the nineteenth century.

Joseph Smith, the founder and first president of the sect, was the son of a Vermont farmer, and was born in Sharon township, Windsor County, in that state, on 23 December, 1805. In the spring of 1820, while living with his parents at Manchester, Ontario (now Wayne) County, New York, he became deeply concerned upon the subject of his salvation, a condition partly induced by a religious revival which proselytized a few of his relatives to the Presbyterian Faith. Joseph himself was inclined toward Methodism; to satisfy his mind as to which one of the existing sects he should join, he sought Divine guidance, and claimed to have received in answer to prayer a visitation from two glorious beings, who told him not to connect himself to any of these Churches, but to bide the coming of Church of Christ, which was about to be re-established.

According to his own statement, there appeared to him on the night of 21 September, 1823, a heavenly messenger, who gave his name as Moroni, and revealed the existence of an ancient record containing the fullness of the Gospel of Christ as taught by the Saviour after his Resurrection to the Nephites, a branch of the House of Israel which inhabited the American continent ages prior to its discovery by Columbus. Moroni in mortal life had been a Nephite prophet, the son of another prophet named Mormon, who was the compiler of the record buried in a hill situated about two miles from the modern village of Manchester.

Joseph Smith states that he received the record from the angel Moroni in September, 1827. It was, he alleges, engraved upon metallic plates having the appearance of gold and each a little thinner than ordinary tin, the whole forming a book about six inches long, six inches wide, and six inches thick, bound together by rings. The characters engraved upon the plates were in a language styled the Reformed Egyptian, and with the book were interpreters — Urim and Thummim — by means of which these characters were to be translated into English. The result was the "Book of Mormon", published at Palmyra, New York in March, 1830; in the preface eleven witnesses, exclusive of Joseph Smith, the translator, claim to have seen the plates from which it was taken. By renouncing Mormonism subsequently, Cowdery, Whitmer, and Harris—the three principal witnesses—implicitly declared this testimony false.

The "Book of Mormon" purports to be an abridged account of God's dealings with the two great races of prehistoric Americans — the Jaredites, who were led from the Tower of Babel at the time of the confusion of the tongues, and the Nephites who came from Jerusalem just prior to the Babylonian captivity (600 B.C.). According to this book, America is the "Land of Zion", where the New Jerusalem will be built by a gathering of scattered Israel before the second coming of the Messiah. The labours of such men as Columbus, the Pilgrim Fathers, and the patriots of the Revolution, are pointed out as preparatory to that consummation. The work of Joseph Smith is also prophetically indicated, he being represented as a lineal descendant of the Joseph of old, commissioned to begin the gathering of Israel foretold by Isaias (11:10-16) and other ancient prophets.

In another part of his narrative Joseph Smith affirms that, while translating the "Book of Mormon", he and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, were visited by an angel, who declared himself to be John the Baptist and ordained them to the Aaronic priesthood; and that subsequently they were ordained to the priesthood of Melchisedech by the Apostles Peter, James and John. According to Smith and Cowdery, the Aaronic priesthood gave them authority to preach faith and repentance, to baptize by immersion for the remission of sins, and to administer the sacrament of the Lord's Supper; the priesthood of Melchisedech empowered them to lay on hands and bestow the Holy Ghost.

The "Book of Mormon" being published, its peculiar doctrines, including those just set forth, were preached in western New York and northern Pennsylvania. Those who accepted them were termed "Mormons", but they called themselves "Latter-Day Saints", in contradistinction to the saints of former times. The "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" was organized on 6 April, 1830, at Fayette, Seneca County, New York; Joseph Smith was accepted as first elder, and prophet, seer, and revelator.

The articles of faith formulated by him are as follows:

"(1) We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.
"(2) We believe that men will be punished for their own
sins, and not for Adam's transgression.
"(3) We believe that through the
atonement of Christ all men may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
"(4) We believe that these ordinances are: First,
faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost
"(5) We believe that a man must be called of
God by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.
"(6) We
believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, viz. apostles, prophets, pastors teachers, evangelists, etc.
"(7) We
believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, etc.
"(8) We believe the
Bible to be the word of God, as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the 'Book of Mormon' to be the word of God.
"(9) We believe all that
God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that he will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
"(10) We
believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes. That Zion will be built upon this continent. That Christ will reign personally upon the earth, and that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisaic glory.
"(11) We claim the privilege of worshipping
Almighty God according to the dictates of our conscience, and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship how, where, or what they may.
"(12) We
believe in being subject to kings, president, rulers and magistrates, in obeying. honouring and sustaining that law.
"(13) We
believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul, 'We believe all things, we hope all things' we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely or of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."

Six months after its inception, the Mormon Church sent its first mission to the American Indians — called in the "Book of Mormon" the Lamanites, "the degenerate remnants of the Nephite nation." Oliver Cowdery was placed at the head of this mission, which also included Parley P. Pratt, a former preacher of the Reformed Baptists, or Campbellites. The missionaries proceeded to northern Ohio, then almost a wilderness, where Elder Pratt presented to his former pastor, Sidney Rigdon, a copy of the "Book of Mormon", published several months before. Up to that time Rigdon had never seen the book, which he was accused of helping Smith to write. The Mormons are equally emphatic in their denial of the identity of the "Book of Mormon" with Spaulding's "Manuscript Story", now in Oberlin College; they quote in this connection James H. Fairchild that institution, who, in a communication to the "New York Observer" (5 February, 1885), states that Mr. L.L., Rice and he, after comparing the "Book of Mormon" and the Spaulding romance, "could detect no resemblance between the two, in general or detail".

Elder Cowdery and his companions, after baptizing about one hundred persons in Ohio went to western Missouri, and, thence crossing over at Independence into what is now the State of Kansas, laboured for a time among the Indians there. Meanwhile the Mormons of the East, to escape the opposition awakened by their extraordinary claims, and to be nearer their proposed ultimate destination, moved their headquarters to Kirtland, Ohio, from which place, in the summer of 1831, departed its first colony into Missouri — Jackson County in that state having been designated as the site of the New Jerusalem.

Both at Kirtland and at Independence efforts were made to establish "The United Order", a communal system of an industrial character, designed to make the church members equal in things spiritual and temporal. The prophet taught that a system had sanctified the City of Enoch, whose people were called "Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness," with "no poor among them". He also declared that the ancient Apostles had endeavoured to establish such an order at Jerusalem (Acts 4:32-37), and that, according to the "Book of Mormon", it had prevailed among the Nephites for two centuries after Christ.

In the latter part of 1833 trouble arose between the Mormons and the Missourians, based largely, say Mormon writers, upon a feeling of apprehension concerning the aims and motives of the new settlers. Coming from the north and the east, they were suspected of being abolitionists, which was sufficient of itself to make them unpopular in Missouri. It was also charged that they intended to unite with the Indians and drive the older settlers from the land. The Mormons asserted their innocence of these and other charges, but their denial did not avail. Armed mobs came upon them, and the whole colony — twelve hundred men, women, and children — were driven from Jackson County, and forbidden on pain of death to return.

In Ohio the Mormons prospered, though even there they had their vicissitudes. At Kirtland a temple was built, and a more complete organization of the priesthood effected. Mormonism's first foreign mission was opened in the summer of 1837, when Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde, two of the "twelve apostles of the Church", were sent with other elders to England for that purpose. While this work of proselytizing was in progress, disaffection was rife at Kirtland, and the ill-feeling grew and intensified until the "prophet" was compelled to flee for his life. It is of importance to bear in mind that the opposition to the Mormons in the localities where they settled is, from the contradictory and divergent statements made by the Latter-Day Saints and the neighbours not of their belief, difficult of explanation. It is safe to assume that there was provocation on both sides. The main body of the Mormons, following their leader to Missouri, settled in and around Far West, Caldwell County, which now became the chief gathering place. The sect had been organized by six men, and a year later was said to number about two thousand souls. In Missouri it increased to twelve thousand. A brief season of peace was followed by a series of calamities, occasioned by religious and political differences. The trouble began in August, 1838, and during the strife considerable blood was shed and much property destroyed, the final act in the drama being the mid-winter expulsion of the entire Mormon community from the state.

In Illinois, where they were kindly received, they built around the small village of Commerce, in Hancock County, the city of Nauvoo, gathering in that vicinity to the number of twenty thousand. Another temple was erected, several towns founded, and the surrounding country occupied. Up to this time there had been no Mormon recruiting from abroad, all the converts to the new sect coming from various states in the Union and from Canada. In 1840-1 Brigham Young and other emissaries visited Great Britain, preaching in all the principal cities and towns. Here they baptized a number of people, published a new edition of the "Book of Mormon", founded a periodical called the "Millennial Star", and established a permanent emigration agency. The first Mormon emigrants from a foreign land — a small company of British converts — reached Nauvoo. by way of New York, in the summer of 1840. Subsequently the emigration came via New Orleans.

The Legislature of Illinois granted a liberal charter to Nauvoo, and, as a protection against mob violence and further drivings and spoliations, the Mormons were permitted to organize the "Nauvoo Legion", an all but independent military body, though part of the state militia, commanded by Joseph Smith as lieutenant-general. Moreover, a municipal court was instituted, having jurisdiction in civil cases, as a bar to legal proceedings of a persecuting or vexatious character.

Similar causes to those which had resulted in the exodus of the Mormons from Missouri brought about their expulsion from Illinois, prior to which a tragic event robbed them of their prophet, Joseph Smith, and their patriarch, Hyrum Smith, who were killed by a mob in Carthage jail on 27 June, 1844. The immediate cause of the murder of the two brothers was the destruction of the press of the Nauvoo Expositor, a paper established by seceders from Mormonism to give voice to the wide indignation caused by the promulgation of Smith's revelation of 12 July, 1843, establishing polygamy, which had been practised personally by the prophet for several years. Another avowed purpose of this paper was to secure the repeal of the Nauvoo Charter, which the Mormons looked upon as the bulwark of their liberties. The "Expositor" issued but once, when it was condemned as a public nuisance by order of the city council, its printing-office being destroyed and its editor, Foster, expelled. This summary act of anti-Mormon sentiment, and, on Smith's preparing to resist by force the warrant procured by foster for his arrest, the militia were called out and armed mobs began to threaten Nauvoo.

At Carthage was a large body of militia, mustered under Governor Thomas Ford to compel the surrender of Nauvoo. Smith submitted and repaired to Carthage, where he and his brother Hyrum, with others, were placed in jail. Fearful of a bloody collision, the governor disbanded most of his force, and with the remainder marched to Nauvoo, where the Mormons laid down their arms. During the governor's absence, a portion of the disbanded militia returned to Carthage and assaulted the jail in which the Mormon leaders were imprisoned, shooting Joseph and Hyrum Smith, and all but fatally wounding John Taylor; Willard Richards, their fellow-prisoner, escaped unhurt.

In the exodus that ensued, Brigham Young led the people westward. Passing over the frozen Mississippi (February, 1846), the main body made their way across the prairies of Iowa, reaching the Missouri River about the middle of June. A Mormon colony, sailing from New York, rounded Cape Horn, and landed at Yerba Buena (San Francisco) in July, 1846. Prior to that time only a few thousand Americans had settled on the Pacific Coast, mostly in Oregon, which was then claimed both by Great Britain and the United States. So far as known, no American had then made a permanent home in what was called "The Great Basin". The desert region, now known as Salt Lake Valley, was then a part of the Mexican province of California, but was uninhabited save by Indians and a few wandering trappers and hunters.

The Mormon pioneers, marching from the Missouri River in April, 1847, arrived in Salt Lake Valley on 24 July. This company, numbering 143 men, 3 women, and 2 children, was led by Brigham Young. Most of the exiles from Nauvoo remained in temporary shelters on the frontier where they entered into winter quarters in what is now Nebraska. Well-armed and disciplined, they accomplished the journey of over a thousand miles to Salt Lake Valley without one fatality. A few days after their arrival they laid out Salt Lake City.

The people left upon the Missouri migrated in the autumn of 1848, and after them came yearly to the Rocky Mountains, generally in Church wagons sent to the frontier to meet them, Mormon emigrants from the States, from Europe, and from other lands to which missionaries continued to be sent. Most of the converts were drawn from the middle and working classes, but some professional people were among them.

While awaiting the time for the establishment of a civic government, the Mormons were under ecclesiastical rule. Secular officers were appointed, however, to preserve the peace, administer justice, and carry on public improvements. These officers were often selected at church meetings, and civil and religious functions were frequently united in the same person. But this state of affairs did not continue long. As soon as a civic government was organized, many of the forms of political procedure already in use in American commonwealths were introduced, and remained in force till statehood was secured for Utah.

In March, 1849 thirteen months after the signing of the treaty by which Mexico ceded this region to the United States, the settlers in Salt Lake Valley founded the provisional Government of the State of Deseret, pending action by the American Congress upon their petition for admission into the Union. Deseret is a word taken from the "Book of Mormon", and signifies honey-bee. Brigham Young was elected governor, and a legislature, with a full set of executive officers, was also chosen. Congress denied the petition for statehood, and organized the Territory of Utah, naming it after a local tribe of Indians. Brigham Young was appointed governor by President Millard Fillmore (September 1850) and four years later was reappointed by President Franklin Pierce. The period between 1850 and 1858, during which the Mormons defied the authority of the Federal Government, is one of the least creditable chapters of their history.

One reason given for the persistent hostility to the Mormons was the dislike caused by the acrimonious controversy over polygamy or plural marriage. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed to have received a revelation and a command ordering him to re-introduce plural marriage and restore the polygamous condition tolerated among the pre-Judaic tribes. Polygamy now became a principle of the creed of the Latter-Day Saints, and, though not enforced by the laws of the Mormon hierarchy, was preached by the elders and practised by the chiefs of the cult and by many of the people. The violation by the Mormons of the monogamous law of Christianity and of the United States was brought to the attention of Congress, which prohibited under penalty of fine and imprisonment the perpetuation of the anti-Christian practice, refusing, however, to make the prohibition retroactive. The Mormons appealed to the Supreme Court, which sustained the action of Congress, and established the constitutionality of the anti-polygamy statutes.

The Latter-Day Saints, strangely enough, submitted to the decrees of Congress, unwittingly admitting by their submission that the revelation of their founder and prophet, Joseph Smith, could not have come from God. If the command to restore polygamy to the modern world was from on High, then, by submitting to the decision of the Supreme Court, the Mormon hierarchy reversed the apostolic proclamation and acknowledged it was better "to obey man than to obey God".

So long as Utah remained a territory there was much bitterness between her Mormon and non-Mormon citizens, the latter termed "Gentiles". The Mormons submitted, however, and their president, Wilford Woodruff, issued a "Manifesto" which, being accepted by the Latter-Day Saints in General Conference, withdrew the sanction of the Church from the further solemnization of any marriages forbidden by the law of the land. One of the results of this action was the admission of Utah into the Union of States on 6 January, 1896.

Instances of the violation of the anti-polygamy laws subsequent to the date of the "Manifesto" having been brought to light, the present head of the Church (1913), President Joseph F. Smith, in April, 1904, made the following statement to the General Conference assembled at Salt Lake City, and it was endorsed by resolution and adopted by unanimous vote:


Inasmuch as there are numerous reports in circulation, that plural marriages have been entered into, contrary to the official declaration of President Woodruff, of September 24th, 1890, commonly called the 'Manifesto', which was issued by President Woodruff and adopted by the Church at its General Conference October 6th 1890, which forbade any marriages violative of the law of the land; I, Joseph F. Smith, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hereby affirm and declare that no such marriages have been solemnized with the sanction, consent or knowledge the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints; and I hereby announce that all such marriages are prohibited, and if any officer or member of the Church shall assume to solemnize or enter into any such marriage, he will be deemed in transgression against the Church he will be liable to be dealt with according to the rules and regulations thereof, and excommunicated therefrom.

Joseph F. Smith,
President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Saints.

In an "Address to the World", adopted at the General Conference of April, 1907, President Smith and his counsellors, John R. Winder and Anthon H. Lund, in behalf of the Church, reaffirmed its attitude of obedience to the laws of Congress. The practice of plural marriage is indeed fast becoming a thing of the past.

Mormonism announces as one of its principal aims the preparation of a people for the coming of the Lord; a people who will build the New Jerusalem, and there await His coming. The United Order, the means of preparation, is at present in abeyance, but the preliminary work of gathering Israel goes on, not to Zion proper (Jackson County, Missouri) but to the Stakes of Zion, now numbering sixty-one, most of them in Utah; the others are in Idaho, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Oregon, Canada and Mexico. A stake is a division of the Mormon Church, organized in such a way as to constitute almost a "church" in itself; in each stake are subdivisions called wards, also fully organized. The area of a stake is usually that of a county, though the extent of territory differs according to population or other conditions. Each stake is presided over by three high-priests, who, with twelve high councilors, constitute a tribunal for the adjudication of differences among church members within their jurisdiction. Each ward has a bishopric of three, a lower tribunal, from whose decisions appeals may be taken to the high council. The extreme penalty inflicted by the church courts is excommunication. In each stake are quorums of high-priests, seventies, and elders, officers and callings in the Melchisedech priesthood: and in each ward, quorums of priests, teachers, and deacons, who officiate in the Aaronic priesthood. This lesser authority ministers in temporal things, while the higher priesthood ministers in things spiritual, which include the temporal.

Presiding over the entire Church is a supreme council of three high-priests, called the First Presidency, otherwise known as the president and his counsellors. Next to these are the twelve apostles, equal in authority to the First Presidency, though subject to and acting under their direction. Whenever the First Presidency is dissolved, which occurs at the death of the president, the apostles take the government and reorganize the supreme council — always, however, with the consent of the Church, whose members are called to vote for or against this or any other proposition submitted to them. The manner of voting is with the uplifted right hand, women voting as well as men. Besides the general conference held semi-annually and the usual Sabbath meetings, there are stake and ward conferences, in which the consent of the people is obtained before any important action is taken. The special function of the apostles is to preach the Gospel, or have it preached, in all nations, and to set in order, whenever necessary, the affairs of the entire Mormon Church.

Among the general authorities there is also a presiding patriarch, who, with his subordinates in the various stakes, gives blessings to the people and comforts them with sacred ministrations. The first council of the Seventies, seventy in number, assist the twelve apostles, and preside over all the quorums of seventies. Upon a presiding bishopric of three devolves the duty of receiving and disbursing the revenues of the Church, and otherwise managing its business, under the general direction of the first presidency.

The Mormon Church is supported by the tithes and offerings of its members, most of whom reside in the Stakes of Zion, though a good number remain in the several missions, scattered in various countries of the globe. About two thousand missionaries are kept in the field; while they consider themselves under the Divine injunction to "preach the Gospel to every creature", they have special instructions to baptize no married woman without the consent of her husband, and no child under age without the consent of its parents. The tithes are used for the building of temples and other places of worship, the work of the ministry, the furtherance of education and indigent, and for charitable and philanthropic purposes in general. Nearly every male member of the Church holds some office in the priesthood, but only those who devote their entire time to its service receive support.

In every stake are institutions known as auxiliaries, such as relief societies, sabbath schools, young men's and young ladies' mutual improvement associations, primary associations, and religious classes. The Relief Society is a woman's organization, having a special mission for the relief of the destitute and the care of the sick. An "Old Folks committee" is appointed to care for the aged. The Church school system comprises the Brigham Young University at Provo, the Brigham Young College at Logan, and the Latter-Day Saints University at Salt lake City. There are also nearly a score of stake academies. There are four Mormon temples in Utah, the principal one being at Salt Lake City. It was begun in April, 1853, and completed in April, 1893, costing, it is said, about $4,000,000. In these temples ordinances are administered both for the living and the dead. It is held that vicarious work of this character, such as baptisms, endowments etc., will be effectual in saving souls, once mortal, who believe and repent in the spiritual state. The Mormons claim a total membership of 584,000. [Note: As of 2005, this number stood at 11 million.] According to the United States Census Report of 21 May 1910, there are 256,647 Mormons within the Federal Union.

Common Issues of Concern


Concerns with
the Book of Mormon


Lamanites No More: DNA and Lost Ties to Father Lehi

Take a look at what Mormon prophets and apostles have proclaimed regarding native American peoples and where 'Lamanites' can be found.

DNA Evidence v. the Book of Mormon

New documentary film featuring secular and Mormon scientists raises questions about historicity of the Book of Mormon. Available in Spanish and English.

Answers to FARMS' objections to DNA evidence against the Book of Mormon  

Changes to Mormon Scripture 

Changes to Latter-day Scripture

Examine some of the thousands of changes Mormon Church leaders have made to Mormon scriptures.

1833 Book of Commandments

View scanned pages of the entire 1833 edition  (precursor to the Doctrine & Covenants).

1830 Book of Mormon

View scanned pages of the entire 1830 edition.

Testimonies of Former Mormons, and their Transition

Personal accounts of former members of the LDS Church from many walks of life. They explain the issues in Mormonism that troubled them and their personal journeys to a new understanding. 


Concerns with
Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith's 33 Secret Wives

A review of the book, In Sacred Loneliness by Mormon scholar Todd Compton. He documents Joseph's clandestine relationships and 'marriages' to teenage girls and women already married to other men.

The Lost Book of Abraham: Investigating a Remarkable Mormon Claim

A compelling new documentary film that examines Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith's controversial claim of recovering and translating a lost book of the biblical patriarch Abraham. Available on VHS and DVD.

Joseph Smith's "New Translation" of the Bible

Smith did his own "inspired" revisions to the King James Bible, claiming to restore it to its original purity. How does his work measure up to ancient Bible manuscripts?

Joseph Smith's Changing First Vision Accounts

Every early published account, in many cases with scanned pages of the original documents.

New Light on Joseph Smith's First Vision

Historical evidence undermines key points in the official account.

Other Various Concerns

Was Mormon President Gordon B. Hinckley dissembling

When he told Time magazine the Mormon Church doesn't teach that God was once a man?

Where Does It Say That?

Scanned pages of original Mormon historical sources, such as the first edition of the Book of Mormon, Journal of Discourses, and rare 19th century Mormon newspapers and diaries, that document the Adam-God doctrine, prophecies of Joseph Smith, the various First Vision accounts, etc.

What Has Caused LDS Members to Leave the Church

Was it Joseph Smiths sexual conduct, i.e. his rape of minors, adultery, polygamy, polyandry, lying to Emma and others, and the extreme level of deceit he crafted in order to justify his sexual activities?

Or was it Joseph Smith's fake "Book of Abraham", which is maybe the easiest way to expose him as a fraud?

Was it Joseph's constant re-inventing of his so-called first vision tales, each one getting bigger and better than the previous version?

Was it the exposure of the Book of Mormon as a fraud, and the discovery that DNA science and technology proves conclusively that Native Americans did not descend from the Jews?

Was it the countless failed prophecies of Joseph Smith that the church seeks to hide, and which you never learn about in the official church manuals?

Was it the blatant racist doctrines which persisted in the church for so long?

Was it the intolerant, homophobic doctrine and homophobic culture that polluted and still polutes the lives of the members?

I once listed 50 things that were problem areas for this so-called church:

1. Joseph Smith – Paedophile Activity
2. Joseph Smith – Polygamy
3. Joseph Smith – Abuse of Emma Hale
4. Joseph Smith – First Vision/s – Re-inventing the Tale
5. Joseph Smith – Evolution of Concept of God
6. Joseph Smith – Free Mason Activity
7. Joseph Smith – Temple Rituals & Garments
8. Joseph Smith – Occult Activity
9. Joseph Smith – Law Breaker
10. Joseph Smith – Book of Mormon
11. Joseph Smith – Book of Abraham
12. Joseph Smith – Kinderhook Plates
13. Joseph Smith – Priesthood “Resoration”
14. Joseph Smith – Corruption of Other Mormon Leaders
15. Joseph Smith – Destruction of Nauvoo Expositor
16. Joseph Smith – Failed Prophecies
17. Joseph Smith – Add-ons and Other Gospels
18. Joseph Smith – Counterfeiter – Kirtland Bank Scandal
19. Joseph Smith – Bankrupt
20. Joseph Smith – Mis-appropriation of Church Property and Funds
21. Joseph Smith – Political Activity
22. Joseph Smith – Promise Breaker
23. Joseph Smith – Military Activity
24. Joseph Smith – Worship of by Members
25. Joseph Smith – The Gate to Heaven
26. Joseph Smith – Changing the Mormon Scriptures
27. Brigham Young – Degenerate
28. Brigham Young – Murderer
29. Brigham Young – Abuse of Emma hale Smith
30. Brigham Young – Extreme Misogynist
31. LDS Inc – Racism – Doctrines & Policies regarding Blacks
32. LDS Inc – Corporation / Conglomerate / Enterprises
33. LDS Inc – Investor in Brothels
34. LDS Inc – Hallmarks of a Cult
35. LDS Inc – The Reed Smoot Debacle
36. LDS Inc – No Focus on Jesus
37. LDS Inc – Sons of Dan (Danites)
38. LDS Inc – Continuation of Polygamy after the “Manifesto”
39. LDS Inc. – The Gospel of Hopelessness
40. LDS Inc. – Homophobic Activity (then hide the evidence)
41. LDS Inc – Shopping Malls v’s Charitable Donations
42. LDS Inc. – No Financial Disclosure
43. LDS Inc – Lying about Membership Statistics
44. Gordon B. Hinckley – Media Interviews
45. Gordon B. Hinckley – The Dissembling Prophet
46. Gordon B. Hinckley – The “I don’t know” Prophet
47. Gordon B. Hinckley – Gullible - The Salamander Hoax
48. Gordon B. Hinckley – Gullible – Paul H. Dunn
49. Gordon B. Hinckley – On Being a Prophet
50. “Prophets Seers & Revelators” – They Never Give a “Special Witness”

If the mormon church really was the church of Jesus, do you honestly think these problem areas would exist?

The church is on the back foot, with every single problem. It doesn't have a single half decent explanation for any of these problems.


Christian or Cult?

Mormonism, known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah -- a state that is now 70% Mormon), was officially founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith Jr. (1805-1844). Smith claimed to have had a personal visit from God the Father at the age of 15, who introduced him to Christ.1 Jesus then supposedly told him not to join any church because they were all wrong and all the Christian church's doctrines "were an abomination" (Joseph Smith -- History 19, Pearl of Great Price). After Smith's murder in 1844, Brigham Young took the cult to Utah, where there is now a major University named after him, and the number of Mormons exceed one million. The Mormon Church currently claims about 11 million baptized members worldwide (5.2 million U.S., ranking it 5th among the largest 25 U.S. denominations), up from about 2.5 million in 1970. 1970. Over the last decade, nearly 300,000 individuals over the age of eight have joined the Mormon Church every year. Membership is expected to grow to over 23 million over the next two decades. It is growing fastest in Latin America and Asia. Official publications include Church News, a weekly 16-page newspaper, and the Ensign, a monthly magazine.

The Mormon Church collects at least $6 billion a year from its members, and generates at least another $5 billion in sales from its various business enterprises; total church assets exceed $30 billion. (At least 100 companies are controlled by the Mormon Church, and some estimate its total annual revenues in excess of $20 billion! The church also owns 18 radio stations in the U.S.) Part of the Church's income goes to operate an elaborate internal welfare system so its members avoid any governmental assistance. The Mormon Church also has a 58,000-plus missionary force working in more than 160 nations in 102 languages. The Church's Provo, Utah, 26-acre Missionary Training Center receives 500 new missionaries a week into its 3-9 week intensive missionary training program. (All boys, once they turn 19, are expected to dedicate two years of their lives to missionary service.) Fielding missionaries is a $500 million per year effort and currently reaps more than 300,000 new converts each year. Nevertheless, only about 46% of Mormons attend a church meeting at least once a month. (The clean-cut image that Mormons have attained has been a major factor in the attractiveness of the Mormon Church to outsiders. They are forbidden to drink coffee, tea, and alcoholic beverages, and use tobacco products.)

The Mormon church (LDS) is organized so that one prophet leads the church. Beneath the prophet in authority is the Council of the Twelve Apostles. A third group of men are called the First and Second Councils of the Seventy. All of these men together are called the General Authorities. Local churches are called Wards or Stake Centers and meet for worship in what the Mormons call "meetinghouses." The Temples are not for worship, but are used for ceremonies for the living and the dead. Less than ten percent of all LDS members are allowed to enter these structures.

As of year-end 2002, there were 114 operating temples of Mormondom worldwide, with another 14 under construction or approved (albeit less elaborate than the 50 temples in existence at the end of 1997). (Approximately 65,000 members must be in an immediate area to qualify for a temple.) Temples are required for Mormon marriages and for proxy baptisms of ancestors. Most people assume Mormon temples are places of worship. This is not true. Only secret, occult rituals for the living and the dead are performed there, and Mormons think they must perform them to have eternal life. It is tragic that over eleven million Mormons think they need secret handshakes, oaths, incantations, and rituals, which originated in occultic Scottish Rite
Freemasonry, in order to be with God in heaven! (In the final years of Joseph Smith Jr.'s life, he became a "worshipful master" in the Masonic Lodge.)

Many today are under the false impression that Mormonism is merely another Christian denomination, when in actuality, Mormon beliefs are not only unbiblical, but anti-Christian. Below are the highlights of what Mormons believe concerning their source of authority, the Trinity, God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin, salvation, and heaven and hell:

1. Source of Authority. Mormonism teaches that the canon of Scripture was not closed when the Bible was completed. They have three sources in addition to the Bible, all of which they believe contain God's revelations -- the Book of Mormon 2 (changed in more than 4,000 places since 1830), Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. However, Mormons follow the teachings of these three books even when they contradict the Bible. For example, Mormonism teaches that the Bible is the Word of God "as far as it is translated correctly." Then whenever a Mormon belief contradicts Scripture, the Mormons say that particular part of Scripture is translated incorrectly, and that the correct translation is in one of the Mormon scriptures (The Maze of Mormonism, p. 131). Thereby, the Bible is rejected as the infallible Word of God. [e.g. "The Bible is considered usable, but suspect due to its many errors and missing parts" (Articles of Faith No. 8, Ensign, January 1989, pp. 25, 27).

2. Trinity. Mormonism teaches polytheism (versus monotheism taught in the Bible), believing that the universe is inhabited by many gods who produce spirit children. Joseph Smith declared, "I will preach on the plurality of Gods. I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370). Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke about the Godhead in this way, "Plurality of Gods: Three separate personages: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us, speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the only Gods we worship. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods" (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577). 

3. God.  In Mormon theology, the god of our planet is believed to have once been a man on another planet, who through self-effort and the help of his own father-god, was appointed by a counsel of gods in the heavens to his high position as the god of planet Earth, and now has a physical, resurrected, glorified body. Mormonism teaches that through the atonement of Christ and by their good deeds and "holy" living, men can one day become gods, and with their multiplicity of "goddess wives," populate their own planets. (This is what the celestial marriage and the Mormon temple vows are all about.) Mormon theology, therefore, humanizes God and deifies man.3

4. Christ. Mormonism acknowledges the divinity of Christ, but as noted above, Mormon doctrine on what constitutes divinity falls seriously short of the Biblical standard. Mormonism teaches that Jesus, Lucifer, and all the demons, as well as all mankind, are actually all spirit brothers and sisters, born in the spirit world as spirit babies to our man-god Heavenly Father and his goddess wives. Mormon leaders have consistently taught that God the Father ("Adam-god") had sexual relations on earth with Mary (his own spirit daughter), to produce the physical body of Jesus. Early Mormon apostles also asserted that Christ was a polygamist, and that His wives included Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus) and Mary Magdalene.4

5. Holy Spirit. In Mormonism, a distinction is drawn between the Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit. As LDS Apostle Marion G. Romney stated: "The Holy Ghost is a person, a spirit, the third member of the Godhead" (Ensign, May 1977, pp. 43-44). The sixth LDS prophet, Joseph F. Smith, explains that the Holy Spirit is not a person but rather an impersonal force: "You may call it the Spirit of God, you may call it the influence of God's intelligence, you may call it the substance of his power; no matter what it is called, it is the spirit of intelligence that permeates the universe" (Mormon Doctrine, McConkie, pp. 752-753).

6. Sin. In Mormon theology, it is not quite clear how the first humans, Adam and Eve, came to live on this earth and received bodies, but somehow they did and began the process of human procreation, whereby bodies are produced for their spirit children. But at the very beginning of the process of human generation, sin entered necessarily. The earthly bodies of Adam and Eve were intended to be immortal tabernacles for their spirits, "but it was necessary for them to possess through mortality and be redeemed through the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ that the fullness of life might come." Therefore, they disobeyed God's commands. Since the fall of man was necessary, it became necessary for men to disobey God in order to do His will. Adam's fall, thereby, was a fall "upward."5 Concerning the transmission of sin to Adam's posterity, Mormons take a negative position -- they believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression. Having rejected the doctrine of the imputation of the guilt of sin, Latter-Day Saints likewise repudiate the transmission of inherent corruption or original sin.

7. Salvation. Mormon theology teaches that the atonement of Christ was essential to our salvation and eternal life with God, but that it is not sufficient. Christ's shed blood on the cross provides for universal resurrection of all people, but does not pay for personal sins; according to Mormonism, only Christ's blood shed in the Garden of Gethsemane atones for personal sin. Besides faith in Christ, complete and permanent repentance of all sin as well as many good works are required.6 Mormonism also teaches that one must be baptized in water to be saved (baptismal regeneration), and that salvation will also be available in the next world for those "missing-out" in this one. Therefore, Mormons avidly pursue genealogy and practice baptism for the dead.7

8. Heaven and Hell. Mormonism teaches that there are three degrees of glory: Celestial (for good Mormons able to cease sinning in this lifetime -- see endnote #6 below), Terrestrial (for good people who do not comply with all the teachings of Mormonism), and Telestial (for those who have lived unclean earthly lives). (See also Mormon Doctrines, p. 348.) Mormonism teaches that there is a hell, but only for the "sons of perdition," a very small number of souls that cannot be redeemed. According to Mormonism, then, the vast majority of mankind will be "saved," though it should be obvious that no one will make it to the Celestial Kingdom. [Blacks used to be totally out of the equation: "Black people are black because of their misdeeds in the pre-existence" (Three Degrees of Glory, LDS Apostle Melvin J. Ballard, p. 21); "The Negro is an unfortunate man. He has been given a black skin. But that is nothing compared with that greater handicap. He is not permitted to receive the priesthood and the ordinances of the temple, necessary to prepare men and women to enter into and enjoy a fullness of glory in the Celestial Kingdom" (Elder George E. Richards). In 1978, however, the Mormon Church announced that God had lifted his curse from the African race.]

9. Temple Rituals. A typical temple ceremony would take place as follows: "The ritual began in a small cubicle where we had to strip completely. We then put on 'the shield,' a poncho with a hole for the head, but open on the sides (similar to a hospital gown). We went through a series of 'washings and anointings,' as various parts of our bodies were touched by elderly temple workers who mumbled appropriate incantations over them. Our Mormon underwear, 'the garments,' are said to have powers to protect us from 'the evil one.' It had occult markings, which were so 'sacred' that we were instructed to burn them when the garments wore out. The endowment ceremony mocked all doctrines held to by Biblical Christianity, and Christian pastors were portrayed as servants of Satan. We had to swear many blood oaths, promising we would forfeit our lives if we weren't faithful, or if we revealed any of the secrets revealed to us in the temple ceremonies. We were made to pretend by grotesque gestures to cut our throats, chests, and abdomens, indicating how we would lose our lives. We were never told who would kill us! The inference was, and history testifies to, that it would be the Mormon priesthood." (Testimony of a former Mormon.) [Note: The blood oaths and portrayal of Christian pastors were removed in April of 1990, despite the fact that the ordinance was purported to have been given originally by a revelation and was never to be changed.]

10. More from the Mouths of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. 

  Joseph Smith

"God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me to be God to you in His stead, and the elders to be mouth for me; and if you don't like it, you must lump it" (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 6, pp 319-320).

"I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I" (D.H C., vol. 6, p. 408-409).

"The whole Earth shall bear me witness that I, like the towering rock in the midst of the ocean, which has withstood the mighty surges of the warring waves for centuries, am impregnable ... I combat the errors of ages; I meet the violence of mobs; I cope with illegal proceedings from executive authority; I cut the gordian knot of powers, and I solve mathematical problems of universities, with truth -- diamond truth; and God is my right hand man." (D.H.C., Vol. 6, p. 78).

"And I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, unless the United States redress the wrongs committed upon the Saints in Missouri and punish the crimes committed by her officers that in a few years the government will be utterly overthrown and wasted and there will not be so much as a potsherd left, ..." (D.H C., vol. 5, p. 394). [This prophecy was made in May of 1843, and the United States government has not been overthrown and wasted.]

"Here then is eternal life -- to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you..." (Teachings of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, p. 346).

"In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it" (Ibid., p. 349). 

"The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead" [Our God of the Bible has forbidden us to have anything to do with the dead (Deut. 18:10,11).

Brigham Young

"I have never yet preached a sertuon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good a scripture" (Journa1 of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95; also see vol. 13, p. 264). 

"I say, rather than the apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my Bowie knife, and conquer or die. [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put on the line ... If you say it is right, raise your hands [All hands up], let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 83) 

"I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins ... This is loving our neighbor as ourselves, if he needs help, help him, and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 4,  p. 220). [Many were killed under what is called the "Blood Atonement Doctrine" Leaving Mormonism was one of the sins that the blood of Jesus could not atone for, and a person's own blood must be shed by Mormon priests as an atonement for sin.]

"I intend to meet them on their own grounds. ... and if any miserable scoundrel comes here, cut their throats." [And they obeyed; a wagon train of innocent men, women, and children were massacred at Mountain Meadows under the orders of Brigham Young. They were passing through Utah, and Brigham thought they were from Illinois where Joseph Smith had been killed. Many more were "atoned."]

"Gold and silver grow, and so does every other kind of metal, the same as the hair upon my head or the wheat in the field; ..." (JOD., vol. 1, p. 219).

"Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the Moon? ... So it is with regard to the inhabitants of the Sun. Do you not think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No Question of it; it was not made in vain." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 219).

"Do you think we shall ever be admitted as a State into the Union without denying the principal of polygamy? If we are not admitted until then, we shall never be admitted." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 11, p. 269). [The Edmunds Act was passed in 1882 forbidding polygamy in the territory, and only then was Utah allowed to enter the Union. At that point the LDS church officially gave up polygamy. Another false prophecy from the Mormon prophet!]

"I think these preliminaries will satisfy me, and I feel prepared to take my text. It is the words of Jesus Christ, but where they are in the Bible I cannot tell you now, for I have not taken pains to look at them.  I have had so much to do, that I have not read the Bible for many years. I used to read and study it, but did not understand the spirit and meaning of it ..." (1854 Conference discourse, October 8). [Brigham Young obviously did not understand the Bible, and neither do any of the other Mormon prophets!]

* In recent years, Mormon leaders, including the church's modern-day "Prophet," Gordon B. Hinckley, have sought to align the LDS' public teachings and practices with those of politically correct, global ecumenicism. But it is only until recently that Mormons wanted to be called "Christians," preferring not to be included with Christian denominations, which Joseph Smith Jr. said were, "all wrong ... all their creeds were an abomination in His sight, and that those professors (Christians) were all corrupt" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith, 2:18-19); Mormons have preferred to be called "saints." However, in the recent years, the LDS church has spent millions of dollars in an intense "PR" campaign aimed at moving the Mormon church into the mainstream of Christianity. The political and economic benefits of Mormons being included in the mainstream of Christianity are obvious. Further, for Mormons to be accepted as traditional Christians would greatly aid in proselytizing the members of Christian denominations into the LDS church. This is why the LDS church is trying so hard to present itself as Christian and is trying to overcome the stigma of being a cult (9/16/96, FBIS, "Are Mormons Christians," by Cooper P. Abrams III). Moreover, Mormons let it be known in early-2001 that they no longer wanted to be referred to as "the Mormon Church," "the Latter-day Saints Church," or by "LDS Church." If the name must be shortened, "the Church of Jesus Christ," or "the Church" is acceptable, they said (3/19/01, USN&WR).  [Back to Top]

This report has been excerpted and/or adapted from two sources: (1) "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," Rick Branch (Watchman Fellowship Profile, 1993); and (2) Examining & Exposing Cultic & Occultic Movements, Jack Sin, "What is Wrong with Mormonism," April 2000, pp. 21-25.


1  The Bible lists six identifying marks of false prophets, any one of which is sufficient for identification: (1) through signs and wonders they lead astray after false gods (Dt. 13:1-4); (2) their prophecies don't come to pass (Dt. 18:20-22); (3) they contradict God's Word (Isa. 8:20); (4) they bear bad fruit (Mt. 7:18-20); (5) men speak well of them (Lk. 6:26); and (6) they deny that Jesus, the one and only Christ, has come once and for all in the flesh (1 Jn. 4:3), thereby denying His sufficiency in all matters of life and godliness (2 Pe. 1:3). Most cults are founded upon false prophecies, which, if pointed out, offer an effective way to open blind eyes and rescue cultists. Mormonism boasts of its prophets -- but they have all been false. In the course of 18 years, founding prophet Joseph Smith made 64 specific prophecies. Only six of them were fulfilled -- fewer than 10 percent. Many of his proclamations dealt with the future of his church. For example, in August of 1831 he stated that God had told him, "The faithful among you shall be preserved and rejoice together in the land of Missouri." In September of 1832, he stated that the city of Independence would become the "New Jerusalem ... even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation." Six years later the Mormons were driven out of Independence. No temple was built there. Eventually they were driven from Missouri and settled in Utah. In 1833, Smith prophesied that the United States would suffer unparalleled multiple disasters ("pestilence, hail, famine, and earthquake") which would sweep the wicked (non-Mormons) off the land, leaving Mormons safe in their Zion haven in Missouri. Instead, they fled to Utah. Among Smith's many other false prophecies was the declaration in 1835 that Christ would return within 56 years and many living then would "not taste of death till Christ comes" (History of the Church [Vol. 2], p. 182; [Vol. 5], p. 336). Smith's successor, Brigham Young, prophesied that the Civil War would not free the slaves.  [Back to Text]

2  The Book of Mormon, purported by Joseph Smith Jr. to be "inspired by God," is the most famous of specifically Mormon "scriptures." Smith concocted the preposterous yarn that an angel named Moroni (pronounced ma-roe-nee) appeared to him in 1827 and told him of some golden plates hidden in a hillside near Palmyra, New York. From these plates, Smith supposedly translated the Book of Mormon. [Published in 1830, this was to become the first of many scriptures for the Mormon Church. By this time, Smith had also officially organized the LDS Church and was gaining a following. Over the next ten years, the church headquarters would move to Kirtland, Ohio; Independence, Missouri, and Far West, Missouri. Finally it would find a resting place in Nauvoo, Illinois.] In actuality, the Book of Mormon is a fraud, having been plagiarized from the Bible, from Shakespeare, from the pope's Essays on Man, from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and from other leading authors of the last few hundred years prior to Smith's death. Despite its plagiarisms, the Book of Mormon contradicts the Bible in hundreds of places (9/95, Maranatha Baptist Watchman).  
[Back to Text]

3  Joseph Smith explained, "I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. He was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did" (LDS History of the Church, Vol. 6, p. 305). "The Father has promised us that through our faithfulness we shall be blessed with the fullness of his kingdom. In other words we will have the privilege of becoming like him. To become like him we must have all the powers of godhood; thus a man and his wife when glorified will have spirit children who eventually will go on an earth like this one we are on and pass through the same kind of experiences, being subject to mortal conditions, and if faithful, then they also will receive the fullness of exaltation and partake of the same blessings. There is no end to this development; it will go on forever. We will become gods and have jurisdiction over the world, and the world will be peopled by our own offspring. We will have an endless eternity for this" (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol. 2, p. 48).  [Back to Text]

4  Brigham Young stated, "The birth of the Saviour was as natural as are the births of our children; it was the result of natural action. He partook of flesh and blood, was begotten of his Father, as we were of our father" (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 8, p. 115). Mormon Apostle McConkie explained, "And Christ was born into the world as a literal Son this Holy Being; he was born in the same personal, real, and literal sense that any mortal son is born to a mortal father. He was begotten, conceived and born in the normal and natural course of events (Mormon Doctrine, p. 742). Jesus, according to Milton Hunter of the LDS First Council of the Seventy, is the brother of Lucifer: "The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become the Savior of mankind" (The Gospel Through the Ages, p. 15).  [Back to Text]

5  On June 8, 1873, speaking from the Salt Lake City Tabernacle, Brigham Young said, "The Devil told the truth ... I do not blame Mother Eve. I would not have had her miss eating the forbidden fruit for anything. ..." Another Mormon president declared, "The fall of man came as a blessing in disguise... We can hardly look upon anything resulting in such benefits [i.e., godhood] as a sin." Incredibly, Mormonism is based upon the belief that Satan's central lie is the gospel truth!  [Back to Text]

6  See: (1) Book of Mormon: 3 Nephi 27:13-27; Moroni 10:32-33; Mosiah 15:26-27; Alma 12:14-28; 34:32-35; 1 Nephi 3:7; (2) Doctrine & Covenants: 14:7; 58:42-43; and (3) Miracle of Forgiveness (Kimball): pp. 206-210, 313-315, 321-322, 354-355. 
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7  Mormons believe that everyone who lives and dies on this earth goes to a place called the Spirit Prison, except faithful Mormons, who go to Paradise. Mormon Spirit Missionaries go down from Paradise to the Spirit Prison and teach the Gospel of Joseph Smith to the lost Christians and others there. Those who accept Mormonism must remain in prison until a worthy Mormon performs certain essential rituals, called "Ordinances," for them in one of the Mormon Temples. Then they are released from Spirit Prison to join the Mormons in Paradise. Since these rituals or Ordinances require a physical body to be washed, anointed, baptized, etc., they can only be performed by a living person in the place and manner prescribed by Deity, acting under Universal (Mormon) cosmic laws.  [Back to Text]

The Other Mormon Church - Reorganized Latter Day Saints (RLDS)
(Community of Christ)

We are often asked about the "other Mormon church" that is headquartered in Independence, Missouri. The questions vary from: "are they a cult?" to "what is the difference between them and the Utah Mormons?"

The answer to the first is easy. YES, they are a cult.

The answer to the second is a bit more complicated. The RLDS (Reorganized Latter Day Saints) actually had its start after the assassination of Joseph Smith Jr., the founder and prophet of all LDS churches. After his death in 1844, there were many men who rose up and declared themselves to be the true prophet to replace Smith. Many of these new "prophets" began their own version of the "only true church." In fact, there have been over 100 distinct groups claiming to be the church that would end all controversy about the "restored" gospel. The RLDS is the largest of these spin-off groups.

When Brigham Young led most of the "saints" to the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, several leaders, who did not accept Smith's revelation on polygamy, branched off and formed the RLDS church. One of these men, Jason Briggs, who had been an elder in the LDS church in Nauvoo, Illinois, had his own revelation that Joseph Smith III (Joseph Jr.'s son) was the one to rightfully assume the mantle of "prophet." He, along with about 300 others, followed Emma Smith (Joseph Jr.'s first and only non-polygamous wife), to Independence, Missouri. At first, Joseph Smith III refused to take on the job of prophet, but he later relented and became the official head of the RLDS church on April 6, 1860. Its official publications are the monthly magazine Saints Herald and the bimonthly Restoration Witness.

Similar to most other churches which claim Joseph Smith Jr. as their founder, the RLDS Church is led by a Prophet and his counselors. These men are known collectively as the First Presidency. In addition, the RLDS Church has a Council of Twelve Apostles. There are lesser offices in the RLDS Church such as Bishops, Elders, etc. An RLDS Fundamentalist or Restorationist is one who believes the Book of Mormon is historically and theologically accurate. They also believe the RLDS Church, as defined by Joseph Smith III, is the only true church.

Since its founding, each RLDS prophet had to be a descendent of Joseph Smith Jr. This was not a problem until Prophet Wallace B. Smith failed to produce a male heir. But, the god of the RLDS was not to be foiled by this unfortunate turn of events; he "revealed" to Wallace in 1984 that it was now acceptable for women to hold the Mormon priesthood. Since Wallace does have daughters, it seemed likely that the next prophet of the RLDS church would be a prophetess. However, Wallace B. Smith retired several years ago, and for the first time in the church's history, a person not in direct lineage of Joseph Smith was appointed to be president -- Grant McMurray.

Strange as it may seem, the RLDS church has built its doctrinal statement on points of disagreement with the doctrine of the Utah Mormons. Unlike the Utah Mormons, they do not accept polygamy, marriage for time and eternity, that men can become gods, and blood atonement as taught by Joseph Smith Jr.  Rather, they blame all these errors on Brigham Young. Here they had to change history, because both Young and Smith practiced and taught those things, semi-secretly until Smith's death.  Later, Young taught all this in public without blushing. But, the RLDSs have plenty of heresies of their own.

Historically, the RLDS has taught the following doctrines:

  • The RLDS versions of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants are considered to be scripture. They also accept Joseph Smith's rewritten version of the Bible, the Inspired Version [I.V.], as scripture.
  • Complete apostasy of the early Christian church (Fundamentals, F. Henry Edwards, pp. 175-210).
  • Joseph Smith Jr. was a prophet who restored God's church (D&C 1:4a and 1:5d-e).
  • Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthoods were restored (History of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Vol. 1, pp. 34-35).
  • Baptism for the remission of sins (D&C 39:2a-b, 16:4e).
  • Zion will be established in, and Jesus will return to, Independence, Missouri (I.V. of Gen. 7:20-25, D&C 57, Times and Seasons, Vol. 3, p. 710).
  • Heaven has three levels (D&C 76:5-7).
  • Those who do not hear the RLDS gospel in this life will have another opportunity in the next (D&C 76:6c).

Of the Holy Spirit, Kurt Goedelman of Personal Freedom Outreach, writes, "While it is easy to find stated that the Father and Son are regarded as persons in RLDS literature, it is difficult to find references to the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) as a person. Rather, He is mainly regarded as 'the living power and presence of God'" (Quarterly Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1, p. 7).

Unlike the Mormon Church, most RLDS members view the Book of Mormon as a 19th century product (Position Papers, pp. 103-112). The RLDS version of the Doctrine and Covenants also contains additional and different revelations than will be found in the Mormon version. In addition, they do not use the Pearl of Great Price as do the Utah Mormons.

In recent years, the RLDS Church has avoided viewing the Restoration of the Church as an actual historical event. In a speech given at the First Presidency Meetings in 1979, it was stated, "When we are honest about our own personal and corporate history, we realize that the apostasy and the Restoration were not events that happened one time in history but rather are processes continually at work among us" (Presidential Papers, p. 28). Thus, by denying the Restoration was an actual historical event, the RLDS Church has undermined the very foundation upon which all of Joseph Smith Jr.'s later work depends and, thereby, undermining their own foundation.

Even these RLDS' doctrines that had been cast in stone are giving way to modern day liberalism and New Age thinking. Paul Edwards, the dean of the Park College Graduate School of Religion and Temple School Center director, has stated that each member must look to his or her own existential experience for a basis of truth. They should not base their beliefs on the Bible or even the Book of Mormon, for each individual must form his own belief founded on his experiences. The Bible is considered a springboard for each person to form his or her own theology without help from any authority. Here is a quote from Edwards: "One of the most important needs for RLDS people today is to look existentially at primary experiences as the starting point for their theological activity." (Emphasis ours.)

Simply stated, Edwards is advocating that each individual view theological truths from a personal, subjective perspective, rather than from an historical, objective perspective. Instead of beginning with the Bible, or even RLDS scripture, such as the Book of Mormon and/or Doctrine and Covenants, the RLDS dean of theology recommends that each believer looks to his or her own existential experience for a basis of truth. Based on this idea, it would be difficult for the RLDS hierarchy to adopt any single Statement of Faith; for each individual would interpret those beliefs in his own existential way.

Echoing Edwards' views, Anthony Chvala-Smith, who received his Ph.D. from Marquette University, "explained there can be no 'perennial theology, only a theology of wayfarers'" (Ibid., p. 9). Thus, each believer in the RLDS religion is left to stumble in darkness, making their own way through the maze, with no help from higher authorities.

Finally, Robert Mesle, professor of religion at Graceland, in speaking about the place of the Bible in RLDS theology, stated, "We need to be teaching our young people to be responsible, discriminating readers of scripture (who) use scripture as a springboard not a trap" (Ibid.). In RLDS theology, the Bible is simply a beginning point for the individual's personal theology. The important source for theological truth is not God's word, but rather that subjective, existential experience. It is felt by many cult researchers that this ambiguity of doctrine may be due, in part, to both the on-going controversy between Fundamentalists and Liberals within the RLDS Church and the church's tendency to reflect the latest social trends.

Sacred Books of Mormonism

The Bible
The Bible is considered the fundamental sacred text by Mormons.

The Book of Mormon

Pearl of Great Price

Doctrine and Covenants

The Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Historical Accounts

Unfiltered accounts from 19th and early 20th century sources.

History of Utah, 1540-1886 by Hubert Howe Bancroft [1889]
The saga of the Mormon persecution and exodus, by the foremost historian of the wild west.

Tenderfoot Days by George Robert Bird [1918] [SD]

The Story of Mormonism By James E. Talmage [1918]

Under the Prophet in Utah By Frank J. Cannon and Harvey J. O'Higgins [1911] [SD]

The Book of Abraham, Its Authenticity Established... by Elder Geo. Reynolds [1879] [SD]

The Angel of the Prairies, A Dream of the Future by Parley Parker Pratt [1880] [SD]
About The Angel of the Prairies Commentary by Mormon scholars about the preceeding document.


More Articles about Mormonism

Mormons believe Christ visited the Americas after his resurrection and preached to the natives.

"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christian but is neither Catholic nor Protestant. Rather, it is a restoration of the original church established by Jesus Christ."

"Prophet and polygamist, mesmerizer and rabble-rouser, saint and sinner: Joseph Smith is arguably the most influential native-born figure in American religious history, and is almost certainly the most fascinating."
- Newsweek, October 17, 2005

Mormonism Basics
Mormon Beliefs

Mormonism Bibliography

Mormon Denominations

Mormon History
  Mormon Holidays

Mormon Organization & Leadership

Mormon Practices
Mormon Texts

Mormonism Store



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