What you need to know about the Mormons
What should you know about Mormons? What a simple question. Searching for that question returns several promising results from a web search. I decided to review the seven most promising sites that lured me in with the goal of telling me what I should know about Mormons. Out of those seven sites, only one attempted to use accurate and true information. The other six wanted to tell me why Mormons were wrong, and while they tried to represent parts of Latter-day Saint beliefs correctly, the majority of their data was false and misleading, inaccurate, or misrepresented.
Why do they do this? Are we that scary? What truly perplexes me are those that profess to believe in the Bible who then knowingly lie about Mormon beliefs. I sometimes get the impression from them that they are attempting to persuade people not to learn what Mormons really believe by feeding them some outlandish idea to scare them away. Many others are simply misguided because they have picked up bad information from someone else. The most entertaining logic I have heard yet is from those who argue about the Book of Mormon without ever having read the Book of Mormon.
I'm okay if you don't believe in the same things I do, but if you want to tell me why I'm wrong, at least use my actual beliefs to do so.
So what do you need to know about the Mormons? If it was me I'd start with the basic beliefs or the Mormon fact and myth cheat sheet. The goal of this page, however, is to tell you what you should know about what is being misrepresented about the Mormons.
My goal here is not to convert you to Mormonism. I don't care what you believe. If you believe that Mormons are crazy, I'm okay with that. If you want to hate me for my religion, I'm okay with that too. If you hold firm to the religion of the projectile gourds, then continue your devotion to pumpkin chucking. If you're really feeling the need to be converted for some reason there are only a handful of pages on this site that lean in that direction. This isn't one of them. My motive here is to provide accurate data.
(This page is still in progress and needs referencing)
What you need to know about the Mormons that isn't actually accurate about the Mormons
"Mormons believe that God was once a man on his own planet!"
Critics often couple someone's interpretation of our beliefs with other misrepresented information to make Mormon beliefs sound crazy. This is an example of one that commonly makes that list. While there is some accuracy to this claim it is usually misrepresented or coupled with some crazy random statement that is completely false.
Here is what we believe in regards to this:
We believe that God is eternal, which we believe is true of all souls. We believe that He existed before the worlds were created and He will continue to exist forever.
We also believe that God went through a process to get to where He is, and that He did not just sit around in eternity until one day He decided to put some plan into action. We believe this process happened before the creation of all that we know, as we believe that God is the architect of all things that humanity can know.
Latter-day Saints believe they can become like their Father in Heaven, but that this is something that will happen long after the work on the earth is done. We believe that He modeled our own process after the one that He has already gone through, however, we don't know any of the specifics of that original process.
While latter-day saints believe they can become like their Father in Heaven, we believe that He will always be God, and no other will replace Him.
In relation to this claim, we also believe that God has a body of flesh and bone, which is how mankind could be made in His image. If He lacked a physical definition of a body, then we could not be patterned after it.
"Mormons believe in many Gods!"
We believe there is one God and that He will always be God, and He will never cease to be our Father. While we believe that mankind can eventually progress to become like our Father in Heaven and thus technically gods, this in no way changes His position as the one and only God. The term "gods" is also used in one of our scriptures to identify those that helped organize the earth. They are called this because they would later have the possibility to become joint heirs with Christ, as the Bible states that we all do. While they are called gods by terminology, they are not God.
"Mormons do not worship Jesus Christ"
Mormons worship Jesus Christ who we believe gives all glory to our Father in Heaven. We do all religious things in the name of Christ. We believe He is the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind, and is the only name under heaven by which we can be saved. He is Lord of lords, King of kings, He is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and His name is above every name. He is the Lord our God and He will always be the only one that we worship. There will never be any other that we worship before or after Him. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ and we dedicate our churches and temples to Jesus Christ. Latter-day Saints believe that complete salvation is possible only through the life, death, resurrection, doctrines, and ordinances of Jesus Christ and through no other way.
This claim arises because of the way that we start our prayers. We follow the same pattern as found in Mathew 6:9-13 by addressing our Father in Heaven first. This pattern is found several times in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. We close our prayers in the name of Jesus Christ, as Christ instructed His disciples to do in the New Testament. While we are taught that this is the proper way to pray, it is not all inclusive. A prayer to God is heard no matter how it is said, whether you start it in the name of Christ, God, Allah, or just plain 'help.'
"Mormons believe the virgin Mary was not a virgin; that Christ was conceived through physical intercourse with God"
Mormons believe that Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Christ. We do not believe that God had any physical relation with Mary to produce Christ. Both the Bible and the Book of Mormon clearly identify that it was by the power of the Holy Ghost that Christ was conceived. As latter-day saints believe the Holy Ghost to be a spirit, such a physical relationship would be impossible in Mormon theology.
This claim arises from documents written by early Mormons which were not doctrine of the church. Several such publications by Orson Pratt were so objectionable that the church released an official statement clearly identifying that it was not doctrine "so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it." In this same article the First Presidency then explained how doctrine is revealed for the Church itself, explaining that Orson Pratt could not create doctrine on his own.
Latter-day Saints also do not subscribe to the concept of the Immaculate Conception as defined by Pope Pius IX in 1854; in which Mary was free from the original sin. The reason for this is because Latter-day Saints believe that mankind is held accountable for their own individual sins and not for "Adams transgression." We believe that all mankind is already free from the original sin because of the atonement of Christ. Mary is included in all of mankind.
Latter-day Saints also do not believe in the idea that Mary remained in a state of perpetual virginity. We believe it highly likely that Mary had a physical relationship with her husband after the birth of Christ.
"Mormons believe Joseph Smith is a God!"
Latter-day Saints do not believe that Joseph Smith is now a God. We believe he is "exalted," which is a fancy way to say "Good job! You passed the test of life!" in Mormon speak. We do not believe that mankind instantly progresses to become like their Father in Heaven, but rather that we become like our Father in Heaven after a lot of learning and progression after the work on the earth is complete.
"Mormons worship Joseph Smith"
The Bible makes it clear not to worship any one or thing other than God. We believe Joseph Smith was chosen to restore the gospel in the last days and that he was a prophet of God. As such he is often revered as a prophet similar to how the pope is revered by the Catholics. However, we do not pray to him, we do not believe that he was the savior of mankind, and we do not worship him. We believe that he was mortal and that God would have easily replaced him with another if Joseph had chosen not to do the work.
This claim usually comes from a song in our Hymn book called "Praise to the Man" which is singing about Joseph Smith. It's included within a section of the hymn book of which the primary topic is the restoration of the gospel and prophets. We also have "God save the King," "America the Beautiful," and "The Star Spangled Banner" in our hymn books as well. While we sing of these things because we are grateful to God for them, we do not sing them to worship Joseph Smith, the flag, America, or the king.
"Mormons believe they get their own planet or world to rule"
Mormons do not believe that they will one day get their own planet. There is nothing in LDS teachings that states this. This claim originated from an author who was antagonistic to the Mormons, and has later been propagated through other things like "The Book of Mormon Musical."
Latter-day Saints believe that long after the work of the earth is complete that they can become like their Father in Heaven, and joint heirs with Christ. The term "kingdom" or "mansion" as Christ stated is believed to represent this, though the full specifics of what this means is not completely defined. Latter-day Saints believe that the learning and progression that will happen after this life includes the knowledge of how the world was created, and the knowledge and ability to create worlds in a similar fashion, like their Father in Heaven.
"Mormon women cannot enter Heaven unless invited by their husbands"
This claim is directly against part of our scriptural canon. We believe the atonement affects all mankind, married or not. In Mormon doctrine marriage is an equal partnership. According to Mormon doctrine a woman who lives righteously cannot be denied entry into the kingdom of Heaven even if her husband is unrighteous and does not want her to do so.
Mormon doctrine is very clear that mankind is responsible for their own transgressions. Someone's spouse cannot stop them from earning their Heavenly reward based on their faith and works. The Savior will provide a way to make it right.
Related pages on this site: How do Mormons view women?
"Mormons are secretive"
Critics of the LDS church often try to convince others that Mormons are secretive and have things to hide, however this claim does not hold up well to examination.
Mormons place all of their teachings on the internet available for anyone to read without a login. You can access all the material that they teach at www.lds.org/manual. If you want to know what they teach their Elders and High Priests, the lesson schedule is found at www.lds.org/manual/melchizedek-priesthood. This address will link you to the manuals and resources that the teachers use. In addition, you can use this to find the materials used for Relief Society, the children's Primary courses, and all of the other Sunday school lessons. Also included in the manual section are the missionary handbook and the handbook on how to run the church for church leaders. All of this is under the main menu of the LDS church's website, available to the public.
The LDS website also tells you all of the ordinances that happen in the temple. The only things that are not discussed in regard to the temple ordinances are the words and symbols that Latter-day Saints consider most sacred. Latter-day Saints believe that God has almost always charged His children to keep sacred things in sacred places, such as the items that were carried in the tabernacle in the Old Testament. This is also true now of these ordinances. The only places that are dedicated as such sacred sites are the temples themselves. Even on an island consisting only of latter-day saints who had gone through the temple where it could be guaranteed that every person had these ordinances, these things would still not be discussed among the members outside of the temple because they are considered sacred.
A highly in-depth look at Mormon doctrines can be found publicly online in the "Encyclopedia of Mormonism" which is provided online by BYU. As the encyclopedia is not a primary source itself, the LDS church does not consider it to be authoritative in doctrine; however, much of the work that the encyclopedia references is considered official doctrine. As the encyclopedia itself states:
"The Encyclopedia of Mormonism is a joint product of Brigham Young University and Macmillan Publishing Company, and its contents do not necessarily represent the official position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In no sense does the Encyclopedia have the force and authority of scripture."
"Mormons are taught to lie for the Lord"
Critics claim that Mormons believe it is ok to lie for the Lord, citing ex-Mormons and using quotations that are missing most of their text to support their views. This is false.
In Mormon doctrine lying is a cause for damnation. There is no distinction made between a small white lie, a large lie, a lie about church doctrine or about why you are not showing up to the family event. Lying requires repetance which entails that the person strives not to commit the same act again.
The LDS church defines that Honesty "means to be sincere, truthful, and without deceit at all times."
Related pages on this site: Are Mormons lying to you?
"The prophet or bishop can tell anyone what to do and they have to do it or lose their salvation"
Because Mormons believe in ongoing revelation from God critics often try to convince others that the president of the church or a bishop could tell someone that they have to do something, and they would either have to obey or lose their eternal place in Heaven. This is false and directly against our scriptural cannon.
The terms of salvation and exaltation in the LDS church are very static, meaning they are well defined, for all mankind. The requirements for these do not change from person to person.
Both the prophet and a bishop cannot go out of these bounds on their own. While both of these offices can receive guidance and revelation for members of their church on a one-on-one basis, they cannot redefine the requirements of how one gets into the kingdom of Heaven.
The prophet receives revelation for the church as a whole. It must then be unanimously agreed on by the quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency before it becomes church doctrine. The prophet cannot redefine requirements of the gospel without changing them for every member of the church. The bishop cannot redefine them at all.
Mormons are taught that they should follow the council of the prophet because it will bring them closer to God and usually happiness, but they are also taught not to follow the prophet blindly. Each member is supposed to gain their own testimony of what is right and what is wrong and whether or not what the prophet teaches is true or not.
This claim often arises from the first book in the Book of Mormon. In the book a man named Nephi is commanded to kill another man named Laban. In Nephi's case he was already the witness to angels and other miracles at the time and knew clearly when he received direct revelation from God.
|1 -||The Deseret News, August 23, 1865, pg. 373 (third column), accessed 07/19/2012|