Mormonism is a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Christian faith founded in 1830, now headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah (USA), with about 16 million members spread among 150-or-so countries. A member of this faith is sometimes called a Latter-day Saint; we prefer not to use the nickname Mormon for the Church or ourselves, using it just for the Book of Mormon (discussed below). I hold no position in the Church–these comments are based only on my views and experiences.
Religion is integrated into many aspects of the life of an “active” member of the Church of Jesus Christ: They attend meetings each Sunday; they may participate with youth groups and volunteer work during the week; they often pray and read scripture each day; they visit other members of their congregation regularly and may be involved in family history research, mission outreach, humanitarian work, or similar activities.
Some Christian faiths condemn us as non-Christian because our doctrines about God do not fit the ideas of traditional Christianity. Yet members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (myself included) regard Jesus Christ as the divine Son of God and the Savior of the world and of each individual who accepts Him. We accept the Bible as true, and also claims the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.
The Book of Mormon (from which the nickname Mormon was taken) is a book of scripture similar to the Bible, which recounts the experiences of a group of people in ancient America. It contains the writings of their prophets and describes the visit of Jesus Christ to ancient America after he was resurrected. It was translated by Joseph Smith (founder of the faith) from metal plates that he was given by an angel in 1827.
A key part of our faith is that God communicates with people today: That there is a living prophet on the earth (like Moses in Old Testament times), and that individuals can receive answers to personal prayer for individual needs and for confirmation of both religious doctrine and of instructions from religious leaders through the influence of the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit), which speaks to the human soul in various ways that an individual can recognize but that are difficult to explain to someone who has never experienced it.
Another key part of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ is that we lived with God (our Heavenly Father) before we were born, and our goal is to be reunited with Him after this life. If we live well, and accept the ordinances of the Gospel of Christ, we will live as families in heaven. Some of these ordinances, including marriage, are performed in our temples (there are about 150 of these worldwide). A temple differs from the meetinghouses where we worship each Sunday.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration of the same structure, doctrine, priesthood, etc. that Jesus Christ set up when he lived on the earth 2000 years ago. We believe that the original Christian church became corrupted and lost the authority to act as Christ’s church. That authority was restored and a new church established by Joseph Smith in 1830, under the express direction of Jesus Christ. (This does not mean that members of other faiths are “bad” or condemned—they do many wonderful things. But the authority of Jesus Christ is held solely by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
In the New Testament, Jesus instructed his apostles to take the Gospel to everyone. They did that. We feel the same obligation to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone. Sometimes we talk about it openly. More often, we try to set a good example and hope others will want to know more. That’s not easy in a secular world that so often dismisses religion. As do many youth in the Church, I spent two years serving as a volunteer missionary. I was assigned to the south of Italy from 1986-88.
We value family, respect for others, hard work, education, and what are usually called “traditional values”. We try to live morally clean, honest lives; to work hard and try to contribute to our communities and nations; and to raise our children to be productive citizens and good parents.
There are many online attacks against my religion; most are based on a misunderstanding of or disagreement with our religious doctrine. Sometimes people say “Mormons are nice people but the religious is terrible.” People attack unusual beliefs, or belief in religion generally. They refer to historical incidents or new scientific studies. They mock us in ways that would not be tolerated if directed against any other ethnic or religious group (for example, the Book of Mormon musical).
I don’t want to address those issues in this brief summary. I think that contention is a poor way to arrive at religious truth. But I will suggest that you consider this statement from the Bible: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” As for myself, I have been studying my religion for about 40 years now and I hope I’m educated enough to have the sense to judge wisely. (I have three graduate degrees, for whatever that’s worth.) Yes, religion always requires faith, but the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also holds up to scrutiny. It makes sense intellectually and yields incredible spiritual benefits. Faith in and adherence to the Gospel of Jesus Christ as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints creates a joyful and peaceful life that builds up and benefits individuals, their families, and their communities.