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Religion Library: Mormonism

Quick Facts

Formed1830 CE
OriginUnited States
DeityGod, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost
Sacred TextsBible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, The Pearl of Great Price
HeadquartersSalt Lake City, UT USA

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), more commonly known as the "Mormon" church, is a religion derived from Christianity that traces its origins to Joseph Smith. Founded by Smith in 1830 C.E. in New York, Mormonism developed as a sectarian movement in a turbulent period of American religious history. Joseph Smith claimed to have been called by God to restore the church that Christ had established on the earth, but which had been lost after the deaths of the original apostles. Smith said that heavenly messengers, including John the Baptist, visited him and conferred upon him the divine authority to perform valid Christian baptisms. Later, Smith introduced the practice of plural marriage as part of his desire to reintroduce all biblical practices into the modern world. The Mormons moved several times during the 1830s and 1840s, often due to violent persecution and disputes with their non-Mormon neighbors. After Smith's murder in 1844, leadership of the church passed to Brigham Young, a dynamic organizer and frontiersman who led the church to the relative isolation and security of the American West. The church abandoned polygamy in 1890, and gradually found a place within traditional American culture. Today, members of the church maintain strict dietary laws that prohibit the consumption of alcohol, tea, coffee, and the use of tobacco and illegal drugs. The church is also known for its emphasis on traditional family life, a strong work ethic, and a respect for authority and order. The Mormons also have distinct theologies including a unique doctrine of God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit in which the three are separate entities, and continuing revelation through modern prophets.


Quick Fact Details:

  • Origin: Joseph Smith first received his revelations in western New York.
  • Deity: Mormons believe in a three-member Godhead that includes the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This differs from the Nicene-based understanding of the Trinity that emerged in Christian history.


Quick Fact Sources include,, The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions (2006), The Encyclopedia of Religion (2005), the Religious Movements Page at the University of Virginia, The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (2002), and the Encyclopedia of World Religions (1999).

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