In time, Bringham Young became the Mormon leader and led the Mormons further west ultimately to the Salt Lake Valley.
What are the Tenets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
According to the Mormon website, there are six key points that believers must adhere to in the Mormon Church: a) "God Is Our Father" (God is the "Father of our spirits," humans are "created in His image" and humans have a "divine nature and destiny"); b) "We lived with God" (before people were born they lived with God and hence, "All persons on earth are literally brothers and sisters in the family of God"; c) "Earth Life Is Part of God's Plan" (the lives of people are purposeful, and by coming to Earth -- through Jesus Christ -- God's plan for us is "…to gain a physical body and learn to choose between good and evil"); d) "Jesus Christ Is The Way" (God sent his Son to be our "Savior and to show us the way to live according to God's plan"); e) "We Can Find Happiness" (by following God's plan people are assured of finding "happiness and enduring life's challenges"); and f) "We Can Live With God Again" (if we live according to the teachings of God through Jesus, "Our lives will not end when we die") (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints).
How do the Mormons Differ from members of other Christian Faiths?
For one thing, the Mormons are the only major religion in the history of the United States that has ever engaged in the practice of polygamy. Michelle Gibson notes that polygamy was referred to as a "barbaric aberration" by the Republican Party in 1856 (the Republican Party at that time was the liberal party). In fact, the political platform of the Republican Party in 1856 called for a "prohibition of 'those twin relics of barbarism -- Polygamy, and Slavery" (Gibson, 2010, p. 281). Of course there are still some sects of Mormons today that do practice polygamy, albeit the main church in its setting as a supposed mainstream Christian church no longer practices polygamy.
Martin Johnson and Phil Mullins explain that there are many similarities and differences between Mormons, Roman Catholics, and Protestant faiths. In this article the authors collected data from 405 adults attending church in one of 12 congregations that represent six denominations. Johnson notes at the beginning of the article that "Evangelicals have chided Mormons for not really being Christians" and for not truly accepting the Bible (Johnson, et al., 1992, p. 51).
Others downplay the differences between Mormon "peculiarities" and still others suggest that Mormonism "…is a radically different stream that has matured from an obscure cult into an authentically new religious tradition" (Johnson, 51).
One thing Mormons have in common with several other denominations is that they hold that their church "is the true church and that their construal of the Christian message is alone accurate" (Johnson, 53). Mormons believe, as do other faiths, that Jesus Christ is the son of God and the Bible is a "very important sacred text"; moreover it is true with Mormons as it is with other faiths that not every member of the church buys into every tenet. In fact, "official rhetoric" from the church leaders may not be fully accepted by members, especially when "church leaders' teaching… are out of step with broader social-cultural views" (Johnson, 52).
In their survey, Johnson and colleague found that 85% of Mormon respondents "strongly believed" in the following statement: "The teachings of my church are more correct and true than those of any other church." Eleven percent of Mormon participants in the survey "agreed" with that statement. The Roman Catholic respondents were the only other group out of the six denominations that had a majority to agree with the above mentioned statement; 56% of Roman Catholics agreed (23% "strongly agreed" and 33% "agreed") (Johnson, 58).
The Mormons accept the following ideas in their "official church doctrine": a) the pre-mortal existence of spirits; b) eternal marriage; c) non-biblical scripture (that came from the gold plates found by Smith); and d) the existence of "modern prophets" (Johnson, 60). Did the Roman Catholic and Protestant participants in this survey buy into the four church doctrines mentioned above? "They were generally uncertain, or they disagreed with the items included with this factor," Johnson reports.
Hence, since conservative Protestants (evangelicals, for example) showed a "basic disapproval of these items" that Mormons wholeheartedly agree with, it is fair to say that Mormons so not line up with fundamentalist and conservative Protestants, Johnson concludes.
Meanwhile, Tim Heaton and Sandra Calkins write that Mormons' view of birth control dovetails quite seamlessly with the practices of other Christians. Surveys taken in 1965, 1970, and 1975 show that: a) Mormons are "at least as likely" as white Protestants to use birth control; b) Mormons are "less likely" to be current birth control users than Catholics or Protestants; c) 50% of Mormons delay using birth control until after the first child and 25% of Mormons delay using birth control until after the second child; and d) like the U.S. population, Mormons "…as a whole adopt modern effective methods of contraception" (Heaton, et al., 1983, p. 102).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will always be controversial to some extent because of the mystery of the "plates" that were reportedly found in upstate New York, and because of the lingering negative image of their practice of polygamy. However, the literature regarding Mormonism reveals a denomination that practices, for the most part, traditional Christian teachings, and moreover, the American society was established in part because Pilgrims wanted freedom to worship any way they desired to worship. That Constitutional guarantee is to be respected by all faiths and all peoples, including those who may disagree with the Mormons.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (2011). Our Eternal Life. Retrieved August 11,
2011, from http://lds.org/plan/print/our-eternal-life?lang=eng.
Gibson, Michelle. (2010). "However Satisfied Man Might Be": Sexual Abuse in Fundamentalist
Latter Day Saints Communities." The Journal of American Culture, 33(4), 280-294.
Hardy, Grant. (2005). The Book of Mormon: A Reader's Edition. Chicago: University of Illinois
Heaton, Tim B., and Calkins, Sandra. (1983). Family Size and Contraceptive Use Among
Mormons: 1965-75. Review of Religious Research, 25(2), 102-114.
Johnson, Martin, and Mullins, Phil. (1992). Mormonism:…