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The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the best-known architectural symbol of Mormonism

The Mormonism (and Mormonism ) are all Christian denominations attributed that next to the Bible, the Book of Mormon called. According to Mormon tradition, the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. translated the Book of Mormon in 1827 from gold plates found in the Hill of Cumorah . The vast majority of the Mormon denominations have other revelations as well , which are summarized in the Doctrine and Covenants .

In 1830, Smith founded the first Mormon denomination, the Church of Christ . From it emerged the community of Christ , which today is the second largest Mormon church with around 250,000 members. Recognized as the legal successor to the original Church of Christ in 1880, it owns the oldest temple - Mormons call its central offices " temples " - and most of the documents in the estate of Joseph Smith, Jr.

The largest Mormon church with 16 million members, the existing since 1838 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints (often short HLT ; English : The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in short LDS ). She is mostly meant when Mormons are mentioned, although she has not wanted to be called that anymore since 2018.

Geographical distribution

Rome temple at sunset

Mormons live predominantly in the United States with a focus on Utah and the adjacent areas in Arizona , Wyoming and Idaho as well as Missouri and Kansas . In addition, the Church of Jesus Christ LDS has been conducting international missions since 1974 and has members in many countries around the world.

The Church of Jesus Christ LDS claims that it has approximately 16.1 million baptized members worldwide, including 6.6 million in the United States. About 60% live in North America , 25% in South America , 10% in the Anglo-Saxon states of Great Britain, Australia and the Asian island nations, especially the Philippines and Japan, and only 5% in continental Europe, continental Asia and Africa combined. In Europe, the church claims to have more than 510,000 members in 40 countries and around 1,300 local groups / congregations. Over 40,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ LDS live in Germany, 4,600 in Austria and over 9,000 in Switzerland. The official figures include all convert baptisms and newly registered children who were blessed in a church service. However, ties to the Church outside of the United States are rather loose. Only 1.8% of the approximately 2.25 million baptized in South America would have had such an important marriage in the temple for members of the Church.

Beliefs and relation to Christianity

LDS German edition of the Book of Mormon

The Book of Mormon based on biblical events describes additional settlements in America and historical sections of some past American cultures: A first wave of settlement have already after the Babylonian confusion of tongues occurred; However, the Jaredites who emigrated to America at that time died out before another wave of immigration occurred. This second group was after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II and the beginning of the Babylonian exile in 598 BC. Emigrated. These people would have belonged to the tribes of Israel and after some time would have split into the Nephites , who kept the commandments of God, and the apostate Lamanites .

The godly Nephites were visited by Jesus Christ immediately after his resurrection , giving them a gospel essence before ascending to heaven . After several wars between the groups, the Nephites were completely destroyed at the beginning of the 5th century AD . The Lamanites, who had already taken on a darker skin color after the split from the Nephites , remained and are among the ancestors of the American Indians . The Prophet Mormon recorded the story on gold plates in "Reformed Egyptian". The last surviving Nephite was the prophet Moroni , who hid the plates in the Cumorah hill .

In 1823 Moroni Joseph Smith, Jr. as angels in Manchester ( New York have appeared), where he had given Smith clues as to where these plates are to be found. Smith is said to have discovered the plates in Cumorah Hill in 1827 and translated them into English with the help of the seer stones Urim and Thummim before he had to return them to Moroni. This text makes up the Book of Mormon .

During his lifetime, Smith also summarized 133 revelations in his Doctrine and Covenants , which was expanded and revised several times . These include regulations on the organization of the church, in-depth doctrines of salvation, temporal instructions and other ways of life such as information on multiple marriages and regulations on the baptism of the deceased in the form of living representatives, in order to enable the deceased to be admitted to the church and to eternal life . In addition to additions to the Bible, which were later published in the volume of precious pearls , Smith acquired a collection of ancient Egyptian papyri from a dealer and published the book Abraham , which contains further teachings that are said to be an inspired translation of the papyri (also included in the Tape Delicious Pearl). In addition to these scriptures, records of doctrinal conversations and lectures by Smith are another foundation of today's Mormon religious communities.

The image of God of almost all Mormon faiths is anti-Trinitarian . God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit stand side by side as different people. Believers accept an opportunity to ascend to divine dignity themselves beyond salvation , just as "God was once a man". Critics therefore accuse them of polytheism : “The Mormons only worship one god, but believe that there are others besides this who have achieved divine exaltation like him. God himself was once a man who matured into a god through learning, testing and growth. "

Deviating from this, the second largest Mormon church, the community of Christ , teaches a trinitarian image of God. She has also recognized the Nicene Creed and uses the cross as a symbol in her church, while The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints rejects the cross as a central identification mark.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints resolutely identify themselves as Christians and, through the revelations of Joseph Smith to the " great and abominable Church, " see themselves in possession of the original Christian beliefs. They are therefore to be ascribed to the restoration movements who, according to their own conviction, have returned to early Christianity .

In contrast, the major Christian churches take the position that after the canonization of the New Testament, the Christian principles of faith have been concluded and new revelations are not possible. The major Christian churches consider the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not to be a Christian religion, but rather a "separate, syncretistic new religion" and do not recognize its members as baptized Christians. In contrast, the baptism of the fellowship of Christ is recognized. This position is represented by the Roman Catholic Church , the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany , the Evangelical Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church .

According to a 2007 poll, 51% of Americans say they know little about Mormonism. A slim majority of 52% of the Americans surveyed considered Mormonism to be a Christian religion, while just under a third (31%) did not consider Mormonism to be a Christian religion.


Map of the eastern United States showing major LDS movements from 1830 to 1839.
Joseph Smith, Jr.
Brigham Young
Joseph Smith III, son of Joseph Smith, Jr.

According to official Mormon historiography, Smith received his first divine revelation, called the First Vision , when he was 14 years old near his parents' home in Upstate New York . He subsequently produced the Book of Mormon and founded the Church of Christ on April 6, 1830 with six other people .

The young religion grew rapidly as it taught beliefs that were particularly popular with the rural population, and also linked to the archaeological finds and achievements of American Indian cultures through the publication of the Book of Mormon. At the beginning of the 19th century, theories among amateur archaeologists of the time were widespread that a bygone, more developed race - the Lost Tribes of Israel , the Ancient Egyptians , the Ancient Greeks, or others - had colonized the American continent and later left it. By building on such theories in Smith's central scripture, the Book of Mormon, and incorporating the American landscape and, to a certain extent, its indigenous peoples into the biblical plan of salvation, the Mormon religion is considered by some contemporary historians to be the most American of all 19th century revival movements viewed.

Smith's religion also offered a clear possibility of redemption from guilt for oneself and one's own family and had a strict structure in the form of covenants and ordinances, which were later expanded through rituals in special places of worship - the temples . Also, through the office of “prophet, seer, and revelator”, Mormons would always have divine revelations to guide the church.

The growth of the church and the determination of its followers sparked rejection and persecution. Smith and the members of the Church fled west to the Frontier , where they hoped to find their Zion . They settled in the recently established settlements or founded new places themselves. They initially gathered in Kirtland , Ohio . Here Smith established church life in 1831, founded the United Order of Enoch with members living in community of property , and they built their first temple, the Kirtland Temple , from 1833 to 1836 . In 1837 they had to leave the place after the ruin of their bank Kirtland Safety Society . They moved to Independence , Missouri and, when there was conflict with other settler groups, to Far West , Missouri. The conflict caught up with her, escalated the violence, there were several expulsion decisions for all Mormons across the state of Missouri, and Smith was imprisoned in Liberty , Missouri, imprisoned, as his followers in 1839 to Nauvoo in Illinois moved on.

In Nauvoo, Smith continued to develop the Church's beliefs. The book Doctrine and Covenants have been added due to new revelations sections on salvation, baptism for the dead and plural marriage. After the second temple was established, Smith introduced Church members to the rest of the temple ceremonies. Since Smith joined a Masonic lodge during the same period , the symbolic language he learned there may have had an impact on the formation of the temple ordinances.

Furthermore, Smith published the book Abraham in 1842 , a supposed translation of some of the Egyptian papyrus scrolls he had bought in Kirtland, which he himself had made. Smith was not proficient in ancient Egyptian or Egyptian hieroglyphics , but explained that the scrolls also contained passages about the work of Abraham. After the papyrus scrolls were thought to be lost for years, parts of them were discovered by accident in 1967. The recovered and preserved fragments - a large part of the original scrolls were destroyed or lost - are copies of the “Book of Breathing”, a short version of the Egyptian Book of the Dead .

Changes in the church and disagreement in the governing bodies led to the formation of factions and outbreaks of violence between the individual groups. In addition, the growing Mormon community got caught up in political conflict between the two major parties in the state of Illinois. Smith was transferred to Carthage Prison in June 1844 for the destruction of the printing press of a non-Mormon newspaper . Only a few days later, on June 27, 1844, radicalized opponents of Smith broke into the detention center. In an exchange of fire between the attackers and the armed prisoner, Joseph Smith and his older brother Hyrum were shot.

The Church was unprepared for the death of her prophet. There was no generally accepted succession plan. Smith's son Joseph Smith III was only eleven years old at the time. The majority joined Brigham Young , president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles founded in 1835 . He tried a fresh start and moved from Missouri on the Mormon Trail over the Rocky Mountains in 1846 . On formally still Mexican soil, but far beyond the reach of its state authority, he founded the city of Salt Lake City and the state of Deseret - later Utah - on the Great Salt Lake . As Mormon pioneers , they cleared parts of the Rocky Mountains and the desert landscape of the Colorado Plateau , which led to conflicts with the Indians. Young and his followers retained the name Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all of Smith's teachings.

In 1848, the United States also expanded to the west beyond the Rocky Mountains. First, the Mormons and their structures were accepted. Brigham Young was appointed governor of the Utah Territory by US President Millard Fillmore in 1850 . Conflicts soon arose and in 1857 Young was deposed. In response to threats, the federal government of the United States dispatched his successor under the protection of a contingent of troops. Fear of the army approaching sparked the Utah War and Mountain Meadows Massacre , which Mormons wreaked havoc on innocent settlers. Between 1864 and 1874, communities of property under the name United Order again played a major role in building society in Utah. The Mormons formed their own trading companies and boycotted all non-Mormon businesses in Utah until 1882. The economic, political, and cultural power of the Mormons attracted criticism, most notably of plural marriage, in which around 20% of Mormons lived. Federal laws against Mormons were passed in 1862, 1874, 1882, and 1887. More than a thousand Mormons were sentenced as bigamists to prison terms of between six and five years, the political self-government of Mormon localities was restricted and church property was confiscated. It was only after the church leadership abolished multiple marriage in 1890 and the Mormon political party in 1891 that Utah became the 45th state in the United States in 1896 . Several smaller groups disagreed with these changes. They split off from the main church and some of them are still polygamous today.

Others stayed in Illinois or Missouri when Young left and rejected Smith's late teachings. Most of them were brought together in 1860 by Smith's son Joseph Smith III in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints . While the Church of Jesus Christ LDS was under pressure for multiple marriages, in 1880 a Lake County , Ohio court recognized the Reorganized Church as the legitimate successor of the original Church of Christ and became the original Mormon temple, the Kirtland Temple, near what is now Cleveland , awarded. The Reorganized Church has been called the Community of Christ since 2001 and is now the second largest Mormon community.

Today's division

An English timeline showing the many divisions and church plantings within Mormonism.

There were divisions early on in Mormonism. The Pure Church of Christ was the first split. There are around 70 Mormon denominations today, which can be grouped into the following mainstreams:

The largest group, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints , has in the past claimed the designation "Mormons" exclusively for its members in order to avoid confusion with the other groups in the reporting. She relied on the Associated Press Stylebook . This practice was changed in 2018. President Russell M. Nelson redefined that the Church of Jesus Christ LDS no longer wishes to use the Mormon name and use the full name of the Church or an equivalent. A number of the Prairie Mormon Churches agree in that they have always rejected the term "Mormon" for themselves.

See also

Portal: Mormonism  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Mormonism


Web links

Commons : Mormon  album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Mormonism  - Sources and Full Texts
Wiktionary: Mormon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Church of Christ: General Denominational Information (English).
  2. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints v. Williams, Record T, 1880, p. 488, Court of Common Pleas, Lake County Courthouse, Painesville, Ohio (English).
  3. a b Roger D. Launius: Joseph Smith III and the Kirtland Temple Suit ( Memento of October 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 2.8 MB). In: BYU Studies. Brigham Young University, Volume 25 (Summer 1985), pp. 110-116 (English).
  4. Kim L. Loving, Ownership of the Kirtland Temple: Legends, Lies, and Misunderstandings. In: Journal of Mormon History 30 (2): 1-80 (Fall 2004).
  5. Eric Paul Rogers and R. Scott Glauser: The Kirtland Temple Suit and the Utah Church. In: Journal of Mormon History 30 (2): 81-97 (Fall 2004) (English).
  6. ^ A b The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Style Guide
  7. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: President Nelson Discusses the Name of the Church . Press release, 2018-08-21
  8. Mormon Newsroom: Facts and Statistics (December 2018, English)
  9. Cumorah: Law of the Harvest I 01 (English).
  11. Official press page: facts and figures
  12. Statistical Report 2014
  13. Cumorah: Law of the Harvest I 02 (English).
  14. Book of Mormon: 2 Nephi 5 (Dark skin tone is described as a curse here)
  15. Introduction to the Book of Mormon English
  16. Mormon 9:32
  17. This does not apply to the second largest church, the fellowship of Christ . See Steven Shields: Divergent Paths of the Restoration , Independence 2001, p. 68.
  18. Mormon polytheism
  19. Steven Shields: Divergent Paths of the Restoration , Independence 2001, p. 68 (English).
  20. Official press page: Frequently asked questions
  21. a b c Horst Reller (ed.): Handbook of religious communities and world views . Commissioned by the church leadership of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, Gütersloher Verlagshaus, 2000, ISBN 3-579-03585-1 . P. 425.
  22. Gary J. Coleman, “Mom, Are We Christians?”, 2017, accessed August 29, 2017 .
  23. ^ Statements of the Christian Churches on Mormonism., 2017, accessed on August 29, 2017 .
  24. Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church: Responsum ad propositum dubium de validitate baptismatis apud communitatem "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" , June 5, 2001 ( English and Latin )
  25. Document of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church ( Memento of October 21, 2013 in the Internet Archive ) of May 2000, accessed on February 10, 2009.
  26. ^ Presbyterians and Latter-day Saints , accessed February 10, 2009.
  27. ^ Pew Research Center Summary of Findings: Public Expresses Mixed Views of Islam, Mormonism (English).
  28. ^ Richard Lyman Bushman : Mormonism. A very short introduction . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531030-6 , pp. 16 .
  29. ^ Wolfgang Haberland: American Archeology , Scientific Book Society Darmstadt, 1991, ISBN 3-534-07839-X , p. 236 f.
  30. ^ Josiah Priest: American antiquities and discoveries in the West . Albany, New York, Printed by Hoffman & Whit, 1833, p. 279 in Google Book Search.
  31. Jürgen Osterhammel: The transformation of the world. A History of the 19th Century - Munich, Beck Verlag 2009; P. 1270.
  32. ^ Richard Lyman Bushman : Mormonism. A very short introduction . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531030-6 , pp. 11 .
  33. ^ Richard Lyman Bushman : Mormonism. A very short introduction . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531030-6 , pp. 56 .
  34. ^ Brian M. Hauglid: Textual History of the Book of Abraham . Brigham Young Univ Pr (April 15, 2011), ISBN 978-0-8425-2774-3 , pp. 213 f .
  35. ^ Richard Lyman Bushman : Mormonism. A very short introduction . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531030-6 , pp. 13 .
  36. ^ Richard Lyman Bushman : Mormonism. A very short introduction . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531030-6 , pp. 84 .
  37. Thomas G. Alexander: Mormonism . In: Paul Finkelman (Ed.): Encyclopedia of the United States in the nineteenth century . Scribner and Sons 2001, ISBN 0-684-80498-0 , Volume 2, pp. 363-3365 (English).
  38. ^ Relinfo: Mormonism
  40. ^ Richard Lyman Bushman : Mormonism. A very short introduction . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2008, ISBN 978-0-19-531030-6 , pp. 14 .
  41. Style Guide - The Name of the Church (English).