Mormonism 101

By Duane Shank 01-26-2012
Brigham Young, Mormon leader and Western pioneer. Via Wiki Commons.

Brigham Young, Mormon leader and Western pioneer. Via Wiki Commons

With Mormonism frequently in the news, do you wish you knew more about its beliefs and practices?  Cathy Lynn Grossman has a good basic summary, and a comparative chart to Christian denominations.

Grossman writes:

Mormon ways are little-known, yet many Americans are suspicious of them. That could be because:

•Mormons are unfamiliar to many. There are 6 million, adults and children, accounting for fewer than 2% of the U.S. population, and 76% live in just a handful of Western states.

•Outspoken evangelical pastors, such as Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Dallas, call Mormonism a "cult," saying followers aren't Christians. Are, too! Mormons say. They just center their faith on a different understanding of God, Christ, Scripture and salvation than Catholics or Protestants. Even so, Christian private schools and home-schooling associations specify in their statement of faith that the Bible is the only Scripture, thereby excluding Mormons, who add three more holy books.

•Unlike Judaism, Mormonism is not a faith commonly studied in comparative religion classes. When Mormons show up in history books, it's generally limited to a saga of persecution (they were driven from the Midwest to Utah in the 19th century) and legal conflicts over polygamy. Polygamy was banned by the church in 1890. But many Americans are schooled by the fundamentalist Mormon splinter groups pictured in Big Love and Sister Wives on cable TV and in crime headlines, such as the August trial and conviction of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

And, well, there are the gold plates and the underwear.

Read Grossman's full report HERE.

Duane Shank is Senior Policy Advisor for Sojourners. Follow Duane on Twitter @DShankDC.

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