Portal:Latter-day Saints

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Stained glass depiction of the First Vision of Joseph Smith, Jr., completed in 1913 by an unknown artist (Church History Museum).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes referred to as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church, describes itself as the restoration of the original church established by Jesus Christ. It is classified as a Christian church; separate from the Catholic or Protestant traditions, though many of those denominations disavow the LDS Church.

The church teaches that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, Jr., called him to be a prophet and to restore the original church as established by Jesus Christ during his mortal ministry. This restoration is often referred to by members of the church as the Fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which they believe was had by prophets and righteous civilizations throughout the earlier history of the earth. The restoration included all elements that had been missing from Christianity since the early days of Christianity due to apostasy. This restoration included the return of priesthood authority, new sacred texts, and the continual calling of a prophet and twelve apostles. The LDS Church was organized under the leadership of Smith in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830, soon after Smith's translation of the Book of Mormon from which adherents—also called Latter-day Saints—get their nickname Mormons.

Smith led the church until he was killed in 1844. After a period of confusion during which the church was led by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and various claims of succession were made, Brigham Young led a group of Mormon pioneers away from the former church headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois, and then eventually to Utah's Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. Young was sustained as the church's president at general conference in December 1847.

Now a more international organization, the church has its world headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah where Thomas S. Monson serves as its sixteenth president. The church sends tens of thousands of missionaries throughout the world yearly, with over 85,000 currently in service. As of December 31, 2013, the church reported a worldwide membership of 15,082,028, with more than 50% living outside the United States.

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An anti-Mormon political cartoon from the late 19th century.

Anti-Mormonism is discrimination, persecution, hostility or prejudice directed at members of the Latter Day Saint movement, particularly The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The term is often used to describe persons or literature that are critical of their adherents, institutions, or beliefs, or physical attacks against specific Mormons or the LDS Church as a whole. Opposition to Mormonism began before the first Latter Day Saint church was established in 1830 and continues to the present day. The most vocal and strident opposition occurred during the 19th century, particularly during the Utah War of the 1850s, and in the second half of the century when the practice of polygamy in Utah Territory was widely considered by the U.S. Republican Party as one of the "twin relics of barbarism" along with slavery. Modern-day opposition generally takes the form of websites offering alternative views about Mormonism or non-violent protest at large Latter-day Saint gatherings such as the church's biannual General Conference, outside of Latter-day Saint pageants, or at events surrounding the construction of new LDS temples. Opponents generally allege that the church's claims to divine origin are false, that it is non-Christian, or that it is a religion based on fraud or deceit on the part of its past and present leaders.

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Map of the Mesoamerican setting
Credit: Utto

A Limited geography model for the Book of Mormon is one of several theories by Latter Day Saint movement scholars that the book's narrative was a historical record of people in a limited geographical region, rather than of the entire Western Hemisphere as believed by some early Latter Day Saints. According to a subset of LDS scholars investigating the field, the application of the Book of Mormon limited geography model to a Mesoamerican setting produces a "highly plausible match." LDS scholars use "contextual knowledge" in order to establish a plausible setting (not necessarily accepted by mainstream academia or other LDS) for the cultural events of the Book of Mormon within the context of known Mesoamerican historical settings. The goal is to determine places and times at which Book of Mormon events occurred that correlate with similar events in the Mesoamerican historical record.

Selected history

A statue commemorating Mormon handcart pioneers

The Mormon handcart pioneers were participants in the westward migration of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who used handcarts to transport their supplies and belongings while walking from Iowa or Nebraska to Utah. The Mormon handcart movement began in 1856 and lasted until 1860.

Motivated to join their fellow Church members in avoiding persecution but lacking funds for full ox or horse teams, nearly 3,000 Mormon pioneers from England, Wales, and Scandinavia made the journey to Utah in 10 handcart companies. For two of them, the Willie and Martin handcart companies, the trek led to disaster after they started their journey dangerously late and were caught by heavy snow and bitterly cold temperatures in the Rocky Mountains of central Wyoming. Despite a dramatic rescue effort, more than 210 of the 980 pioneers in the two companies died along the way. "Many a father pulled his cart, with his little children on it, until the day preceding his death."

Although fewer than ten percent of the 1847–68 Latter-day Saint emigrants made the journey west using handcarts, the handcart pioneers have become an important symbol in LDS culture, representing the faithfulness, courage, determination, and sacrifice of the pioneer generation. The handcart treks were a familiar theme in 19th century Mormon folk music and handcart pioneers continue to be recognized and honored in events such as Pioneer Day, Church pageants, and similar commemorations.

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Front of Washington Temple

The Washington D.C. Temple (formerly the Washington Temple) is the 18th constructed and 16th operating temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It is located in Kensington, Maryland, in the United States, near the Capital Beltway just north of Washington, D.C. The temple was dedicated in 1974 after an open house that attracted over 750,000 people, including several international dignitaries. The temple was the first temple built by the church east of the Mississippi River since 1846, when the original Nauvoo Temple was dedicated.

Built at a cost of about $15 million, the temple is the church's tallest; its easternmost spire is 288 feet (88 m) tall. Its floor area of 160,000 square feet (15,000 m2) is the third-largest among church temples. Its design emulates the Salt Lake Temple with six spires, three on each end, and the building is encased in white Alabama marble. It has a visitors' center. The architecture and highly visible location of the temple along the Capital Beltway has made the temple a local landmark in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area.

Selected biography

Brigham Young by Charles William Carter.

Brigham Young (/ˈbrɪɡəm/; June 1, 1801 – August 29, 1877) was an American leader in the Latter Day Saint movement and a settler of the Western United States. He was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1847 until his death in 1877. He founded Salt Lake City and he served as the first governor of the Utah Territory. Young also led the foundings of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.

Young had a variety of nicknames, among the most popular being "American Moses" (alternatively, the "Modern Moses" or the "Mormon Moses"), because, like the biblical figure, Young led his followers, the Mormon pioneers, in an exodus through a desert, to what they saw as a promised land. Young was dubbed by his followers the "Lion of the Lord" for his bold personality, and was also commonly called "Brother Brigham" by Latter-day Saints. Young was a polygamist and was involved in controversies regarding black people and the Priesthood, the Utah War, and the Mountain Meadows massacre.

Selected Quotes

The Book of Mosiah
Chapter 3

King Benjamin continues his address—The Lord Omnipotent will minister among men in a tabernacle of clay—Blood will come from every pore as He atones for the sins of the world—His is the only name whereby salvation comes—Men can put off the natural man and become Saints through the Atonement—The torment of the wicked will be as a lake of fire and brimstone.

1 And again my brethren, I would call your attention, for I have somewhat more to speak unto you; for behold, I have things to tell you concerning that which is to come.

2 And the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me.

3 And he said unto me: Awake, and hear the words which I shall tell thee; for behold, I am come to declare unto you the glad tidings of great joy.

4 For the Lord hath heard thy prayers, and hath judged of thy righteousness, and hath sent me to declare unto thee that thou mayest rejoice; and that thou mayest declare unto thy people, that they may also be filled with joy.

5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.

6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.

7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.

8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.

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