The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better known as the Mormon Church, has about 15 million followers. He is also one of the fastest growing Christian churches in the world, thanks to 74,079 actively preaching missionaries. Mormons are the fourth largest church in the United States, but many of its practices are incomprehensible to most people, and therefore often frightening. Here are ten of the most common misconceptions about Mormons.
1. Mormons are polygamous
It is true that this church once adopted the practice of polygamy and distributed it among its members, but this was abandoned in 1890 after numerous confrontations between the church and the federal government of Utah. Since then, only groups that are considered “fundamentalists” (but not Mormons, and therefore they are not connected with the church) continue to practice polygamy. Any Mormon, who is caught in polygamy, is excommunicated from the church.
2. To join the church, you need to come to Utah
Since the great migration of Mormons to Utah in 1846, a significant percentage of the state’s population (about 62%) is Mormon, and the headquarters of the church is in Salt Lake City, the state capital. At the same time, although most American Mormons live in Utah, parishioners exist in every state and in more than 100 countries around the globe. Therefore, living in Utah is not a requirement for entering the church, as many believe.
3. Mormons cannot use contraceptives
In Mormon families, as a rule, more children than in average families. In the United States, Mormon families have an average of 3.4 children, while in Christian families, as a rule, only 2.3 children are on average. The Church teaches that every Mormon should encourage the growth of his family. This led to the mistaken belief that Mormons, like Catholics, can not use birth control measures. In fact, the church teaches that the closeness between husband and wife is equivalent to the closeness between them and God, so the number of children in each family depends only on her desire.
4. Women play a subordinate role in Mormonism
The persecution of women in Mormonism has been criticized for many years. This led to a fundamentally misconception about the status of women and their role in church and family. Beyond the fundamentalist groups that treat women truly horribly, the role of women in Mormon society has changed significantly. When the church was founded in the beginning of the XIX century, there really were restrictions on the rights of women, however, as in all American society. But as the movement of suffragettes and feminism gained momentum, the role of women gradually began to change. The modern church was adapted to gender equality.
5. The Mormon Church is a racist
The Mormon Church was founded at a time when slavery was lawful in the United States. Naturally, Mormons at the time, like many other religious leaders, believed that slavery was approved by God. Fortunately, times have changed, and slavery was abolished, but it did not help to change the church policy towards blacks until relatively recently. As a result, even modern Mormons are often considered racists, although this is a misconception. In fact, in 1978, black parishioners were allowed to participate in temple ordinances.
6. Mormons worship Joseph Smith and consider him a saint.
People who have a passing acquaintance with Mormonism, as a rule, know about Joseph Smith. But usually (among followers of other denominations) it is commonly believed that Mormons worship Smith as someone like Jesus. In fact, Mormons consider Joseph Smith to be the founder of faith and a great prophet, but not a god. Moreover, Mormons refer to prophets as “imperfect earthly” people who were called by God to fulfill their holy duty to man.
7. Mormons do not believe the Bible
Due to a number of statements from the Book of Mormon, some people believe that Mormons do not “believe” in the Christian Bible. In fact, Mormons believe that the Bible is “the word of God”, but with some reservations (it allegedly contains errors that crept into the text during the compilation of the Bible, its translations and changes over the centuries). But, despite these mistakes, Mormons consider the Bible to be one of the four most revered texts that contain the doctrine of faith (also referred to as the “Book of Mormon”, “Doctrine and Covenants” and “The Pearl of Great Price”). The biggest difference between the church and other branches of Christianity is that Mormons believe: the revelations of God did not stop after the Bible was written.
8. Prohibition of caffeine
This misconception is due to the Mormon Word of Wisdom, in which the ban on “hot drinks” was set. At the same time, the church specified that “hot drinks” include coffee and tea, and not caffeine in general. Mormons do not use tobacco and alcohol or play casino games on that page, but they can safely drink drinks containing caffeine.
9. Mormons practice strange rituals
There is indeed an element of secrecy in Mormon rituals and sacraments, which contributed to a further misconception that followers of this faith practice strange rituals in their temples. In fact, Mormons simply practice some activities that can only be carried out in their temples (christenings, marriages, prayers, etc.). In comparison with other religions, Mormon practices do not differ in any kind of strangeness.
10. Stubborn work will ensure the believer hits the heavens
In all Christian faiths, it is believed that believing in Jesus as the Savior and the desire to receive forgiveness for past sins will allow a baptized person to go to heaven. There is a misconception that Mormons believe a place in heaven to a person can also “provide” a job. This is fundamentally wrong.