Dispelling Myths About The Mormon Religion
Myth: We are Called Mormons
When I refer to my religion I usually use the word "Mormon" or "Mormon Religion", because that is what the general population knows us by. When in reality we are known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The term "Mormon" was brought about by The book of Mormon, which is another testament of Jesus Christ. The original Book of Mormon was engraved on brass plates by many prophets beginning with Lehi, who was shown a vision by God, that Jerusalem and it's people would be captured and carried away into Babylon. Lehi listened to God and left Jerusalem with his wife and children. Another family later joined them and they made the trek to the waters by Bountiful. Nephi, Lehi's son, constructed a vessel which would carry them to what is now the Americas. The brass plates were passed on from generation to generation while others engraved the story of their people, prophecies and teachings of Christ. The man Mormon, organized these plates and called them The Book of Mormon. The plates were later found by the prophet, Joseph Smith, and translated. While we read and listen to the teachings that are written in the book, we are not "Mormons". Christ is the central pillar of our religion, so we prefer to be called "Latter Day Saints".
Myth: We Aren't Christians
Ask someone from any Christian based religion if "Mormons" are Christian and they will probably say no. This is because a lot of Christians don't know what the LDS religion preaches or believes. One way we are different from other Christian believers is we believe that God and Jesus are separate beings, but one in purpose. Most Christians believe God and Jesus are the same person, and hearing what we believe, makes them think we are not Christian, but in every sense of the word, we are Christians. We worship God and Christ and believe that through Christ's sacrifice, we can atone for our sins and return to them in heaven.
Myth: We Worship Joseph Smith
Like I said before, we worship God and Christ. Joseph Smith was a man who was born in December of 1805 in the town of Sharon, Vermont. When he was 14 years old he prayed and asked God what religion he should join. God appeared with Jesus Christ and told Joseph that none of the church's was the true church of God. Later, an angel appeared to Joseph and told him where the brass plates were buried. Joseph found them and translated them. While Joseph Smith did play a big part in the organization of our Church and was a prophet of God, we do not worship him, we worship Christ.
Myth: Mormons Don't Believe in the Bible
The Bible, particularly the King James Version, is part of Mormon canonized scripture. It is one of four such books, including the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price. The Bible is used in classroom discussions, quoted in sermons and essential to missionary outreach. An LDS tenet holds that Latter-day Saints "believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly."
Myth: Temples Are "Secret"
Many people think that LDS temples are places where Latter Day Saints go to do secret things. Some people even think it is a place where Latter Day Saints carry out satanic rituals. This couldn't be farther from the truth. Latter Day Saints start going to temples at a young age. When they turn 12 years old they start going to the temple to preform "Baptisms for the Dead". No, this does not include dead bodies. It is instead an opportunity for someone to be baptized by proxy, or to be baptized for someone who has died and didn't have the chance to be baptized into the church. When they turn 18 LDS members are then able to go to the temple to receive their endowments. This is where they make sacred promises to the Lord to always remember him and to stay pure. When members are married they are also sealed to each other for time and eternity. We believe that marriage lasts for eternity and not just until death. Again, sacred covenants are made with the Lord. Sealings and endowments can also be done by proxy. Temples are sacred, not secret. Members don't talk about certain things that happen in the temple because they are sacred. When we experience something sacred we want to keep it between us and the Lord so that it can remain sacred. Anyone is welcome to go to the temple, but there are rules about if you are worthy to enter. First, you need to be a member of the LDS church. Second, you must have a temple interview conducted by a counselor or bishop and also a stake president. The interview consists of questions such as:
1. Do you believe in God, the Eternal Father, in his Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost; and do you have a firm testimony of the restored gospel?
2. Do you sustain the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the prophet, seer, and revelator; and do you recognize him as the only person on the earth authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
3. Do you sustain the other General Authorities and the local authorities of the Church?
4. Do you live the law of chastity? (This is asked to make sure that you only have sexual relations with your spouse and also to make sure you don't masturbate.)
5. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?
6. Do you affiliate with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or do you sympathize with the precepts of any such group or individual?(This doesn't mean that you can't be friends with people who are not LDS. It just means that you will live the principles that you have been taught even if your friends don't live by the same principles.)
7. Do you earnestly strive to do your duty in the Church; to attend your sacrament, priesthood, and other meetings; and to obey the rules, laws, and commandments of the gospel?
8. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?
9. Are you a full-tithe payer? (Tithing is 10% of what you make. The money goes towards building temples, churches and other things like that).
10. Do you keep the Word of Wisdom? (We believe are bodies are precious gifts from God. Like temples we strive to keep our bodies and minds clean and healthy.
"In addition to emphasizing the benefits of proper eating and physical and spiritual health, God has spoken against the use of:
- Coffee and tea.
- Illegal drugs.
God promises great physical and spiritual blessings to those who follow the Word of Wisdom. Today, the scientific community promotes some of the same principles that a loving God gave to Joseph Smith nearly two centuries ago."
11. Have you ever been divorced or are you now separated from your spouse under order of a civil court? If yes, (a) - Are you current in your support payments and other financial obligations for family members, as specified by court order or in other written, binding commitments? (b) Were there any circumstances of transgression in connection
with your divorce or separation that have not been previously resolved with your bishop?
12. If you have received your temple endowment -- (a) Do you keep all the covenants that you made in the temple? (b) Do you wear the authorized garments both day and night?(I will talk about garments later.)
13. Has there been any sin or misdeed in your life that should have been resolved with priesthood authorities but has not?
14. Do you consider yourself worthy in every way to enter the temple and participate in temple ordinances?
After you answer these questions, the bishop and stake president, with revelation from God, determine if you are worthy to enter the temple. If you are, you get a "temple recommend". Latter Day saints are advised not to lose their temple recommends and not to give it to someone else.
Another way you can enter the temple is on tour dates. Before a temple is dedicated the general public may go and take a tour inside. If you have never seen the inside of a LDS temple I suggest you do. They are very beautiful.
Myth: Garments Are "Magic"
Garments, or "Mormon Underwear", are underclothing that endowed members wear. It is given to members after they have received their endowments in the temple. They are a reminder of the covenants we made with God in the temple. We believe that they are sacred and keep us safe physically and mentally from the devil. They are not "magic" they are a promise that God will protect us if we are worthy while wearing them. Members are advised to wear them at all times with the exception of swimming, working out and sex with your spouse.
Myth: Men Are Better Than Women
A lot of people believe that in the LDS church, women are second class citezens. People mostly think this because men hold the priesthood and women cannot. This does not, however, put women in the back seat of the church. Women have roles to play that are just as important. Here is a link to "The Family: A Proclamation to the World".https://www.lds.org/topics/family-proclamation?lang=eng
It goes over specific roles that men and women play. Here is a video that explain how in God's eyes, Men and women are equal.
Women in the Church
Myth: Mormons Are Polygamists
The prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation from God to institute the practice of plural marriage in the 1840's. Some, but not all Latter Day Saints practiced it. In 1890 the prophet Wilford Woodruff was inspired to end the practice of plural marriage. "In this statement, known as the Manifesto:
President Woodruff declared his intention to abide by U.S. law forbidding plural marriage and to use his influence to convince members of the Church to do likewise." Source: https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-and-families-in-early-utah?lang=eng
Today, people who practice plural marriage can not be a member of the LDS church. The Book of Mormon identifies one reason for God to command polygamy: to increase the number of children born in the gospel covenant in order to “raise up seed unto [the Lord]”(Jacob 2:30).
"Plural marriage did result in the birth of a lot of children. It also shaped 19th-century Mormon society in other ways: marriage became available to virtually all who desired it; per-capita inequality of wealth was diminished as economically disadvantaged women married into more financially stable households; and ethnic intermarriages were increased, which helped to unite a diverse immigrant population." Source: https://www.lds.org/topics/plural-marriage-and-families-in-early-utah?lang=eng
As said before, we no longer practice polygamy, and those who do are breaking the law and can no longer be members of the church. The "Fundamentalist Mormons" are people who broke away from the church and still practice polygamy". People often confuse the LDS church with the Fundamentalist Church. This is why people think Mormons still practice polygamy.
If you want to find out more about the LDS religion please visit Mormon.org or lds.org