Top 10 Facts about Mormons You Might Not Know
By Catalogs Editorial Staff
Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
With all the attention being paid to the Mormon Church in the current presidential election, it’s surprising how much misinformation is still floating around. And how much has been overlooked.
Think you know everything about the Mormon Church? Ready to test yourself? Here are ten facts about the Mormons you might not know. See how many are new to you!
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10. The name comes from the New Testament
Although members of the church are commonly called “Mormons”, that is actually a nickname derived from the Book Of Mormon. The official name, “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” is actually based on several passages in the New Testament such as Acts 9:32 and Ephesians 2:19 where followers of Jesus were referred to as “saints”.
The “Latter-day” portion of their name refers to a belief that we are in the last days before the second coming. They do not put a specific time frame on that event, however.
9. Polygamy has been outlawed since 1890
The popular media associates the Mormons with polygamy, and in fact some popular TV shows have perpetuated this image. But in reality, polygamy among members of the LDS Church has been against church rules since the late 1800’s.
While some groups do practice polygamy, they are not recognized as members of the church. Church members who attempt to marry more than one wife are excommunicated from the church, according to official policy.
8. Brigham Young favored education for women
Brigham Young, one of the church’s early prophets and leaders was actively in favor of women receiving a college education.
In fact, in his Journal of Discourses, he wrote “If I had a choice of educating my daughters or my sons because of opportunity constraints, I would choose to educate my daughters … You educate a man; you educate a man. You educate a woman; you educate a generation.”
He later went on to say that women needed to be trained as doctors, a pronouncement which result in a number of women attending medical school including Romania Pratt, the first women to follow that call.
7. Mormons believe Jesus came to the Americas
Mormons don’t believe that Jesus limited his ministry and time to Israel and surrounding areas. In fact, the Book of Mormon is all about Jesus’ time and message in the Americas where he shared the same essential messages other Christians are used to reading in the New Testament.
6. Mormons believe Eden was in Missouri
Unlike traditional Christian beliefs that place the Biblical Garden of Eden somewhere in the Middle East, Mormons believe that the garden was located in Jackson County, Missouri.
Other religions have claimed that the garden was located in Iraq, Africa, the Persian Gulf and Lebanon.
5. There are as many Mormons as Jews
According to the Pew Foundation, there are approximately 14 millions Mormons worldwide. But surprisingly, the vast majority of the members of this American-founded religion do not live in the U.S. Roughly 5.5 million members of the LDS Church live in the U.S., but almost 9 million live elsewhere in the world.
Coincidentally, the number and the US/non-US ratio is almost identical for Jews, with about 5.4 million Jews in the U.S., and the rest in other countries including Israel.
4. More than 50,000 missionaries in the field at all times
At any time, the Mormon Church has about 50,000 missionaries serving at any one time. Most missionaries are under 25 years of age, and must pay their own expenses for their mission travel, housing, food and other needs.
The missionaries are trained in one of 15 mission training centers worldwide, the most famous of which is the “MTC” (Missionary Training Center) near Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
3. There are no services in LDS Temples
Although the church has 139 Temples around the world (and several others under construction), Sunday church services are never held in the Temples.
Mormons gather for weekly church services, classes and meetings in buildings called “wards”, which correspond to churches or synagogues. These services and buildings are open to both church members and guests.
Temples are reserved for certain sacred services or “ordinances” such as sealings, endowments and proxy baptism for ancestors who have passed without joining the church. Only church members who meet certain standards are allowed into dedicated Temples.
The one exception is when a Temple has just been completed, or a has undergone a major remodeling. For a few weeks, these Temples usually hold open houses to allow the public to see inside of the buildings before they are dedicated.
2. Mormons don’t say “Till death do us part”
Unlike the standard wedding ceremony which involves promises of loyalty and fidelity as long as both partners are alive, the Mormon wedding ceremony (or sealing) which occurs in a Temple is believed to be a marriage for time and all eternity.
Mormons believe that families who follow the rules of the church can be reunited with family members, including spouses and children, in the next life. Mormon weddings performed outside of the Temple are for time only, but most of those couples eventually go on to have a “sealing” of their marriage in the Temple later on, ensuring its eternal nature.
1. The LDS Church is #1 for genealogical records
With records for over 112 countries on nearly 2.5 million rolls of microfilm, 800,000 microfiche, almost 400,000 books and more than 4,000 periodicals, the church’s family history library is the largest repository of genealogy records worldwide.
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All of these records are available to church members and the general public at the main library in Salt Lake City, or via hundreds of local Family History Centers around the world.
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