Mormonism Overview

March 17, 2004 · updated February 15, 2022

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christian but is neither Catholic nor Protestant. Rather, it is a restoration of the original church established by Jesus Christ.”
Fast Facts on Mormonism
Adherents 12.2 million
Beliefs God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate individual beings who are one in purpose (the "Godhead"). The Father and Jesus Christ have physical bodies.
Practices Abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and tea; baptism for the dead; eternal marriage; temple garments under daily clothes; active evangelism.
Holidays Easter, Christmas, celebrations of events in Mormon history.
Texts Christian Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price
Symbols No official symbol; cross is not used; the angel Moroni raising a trumpet is seen atop Mormon temples.

Mormonism was founded by Joseph Smith in the mid-19th century Northeast United States. The largest Mormon religious body is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS for short). The LDS church has distinct beliefs, an interesting history, and its influence is increasing in America and elsewhere in the world. Modern-day Mormonism is known for its family-centered churches, excellent geneaological records, worldwide missionary efforts, elaborate temples, and famous members such as Mitt Romney.

Mormonism and mainstream Christianity share a number of common characteristics, including belief in Jesus Christ as a divine figure, belief in the Bible as divine authority, some similar worship practices, and a similar moral code. On the other hand, Mormons depart from Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestant Christianity in some beliefs, such as those relating to Jesus, the Trinity, salvation, and the revelations to Joseph Smith recorded in Mormon scriptures.

Mormon history is closely tied to that of the American West. Early Mormons, pioneers fleeing persecution, journeyed west and eventually settled in Utah. It also has its share of controversies, particularly issues related to racial equality and polygamy. The LDS church has changed its position on these issues, which sometimes leads to misunderstandings about what Mormons believe and practice today.

Latter-day Saints are distinguished especially by active proselytizing by full-time volunteer missionaries, belief in modern prophets, acceptance of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price as works of scripture, currently requiring abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and illegal drugs, belief in God the Father, the Son (Christ), and the Holy Ghost existing as three separate individual beings or personages, formerly practicing polygamy (plural marriage), wearing ceremonial temple garments under their daily clothes, performing baptisms for the dead, and other ordinances by proxy, in temples and doing attendant genealogical research.

Table of Contents