The Mormon faith began in 1820, when Joseph Smith, then 14 years old, had a vision of God and Jesus Christ in a grove of trees near his home in Palmyra, N.Y. Three years later, the Angel Moroni appeared to Smith in a vision, and told him to unearth a set of golden plates in the Hill Cumorah. Smith translated the ancient writing on the plates, and published The Book of Mormon in 1830, founding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Mormonism is based on the Bible, as
well as on three other books, which were translated or received
through revelation by Joseph Smith: The Book of Mormon, The Pearl
of Great Price, and The Doctrine and Covenants.
Smith summarized the basic tenets of Mormon belief in the 13
Articles of Faith. The tenth Article of Faith reads: “We
believe … that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon
the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the
earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its
Smith was the first president
and prophet of the church; Brigham Young was the second. Besides
the prophet, the top church leaders are his two counselors, the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the Quorum of the Seventy —
collectively, these 85 men are known as “general
Latter-day Saints practice the Word of
Wisdom, a revelation received by Joseph Smith that admonishes them
to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, coffee and black tea. It also
advises minimal consumption of meat.
The faithful believe
they will live in heaven, known to Mormons as the Celestial
Kingdom, with their families forever. Mormons believe that once
there, humans can continue to progress until they become gods
themselves and create their own worlds.
contains the borderline pantheistic belief that all life forms
— plants, animals, even minerals — have souls.
Contemporary church leaders have stopped short of taking sides on
specific environmental issues, but current LDS Church president and
prophet Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “The earth is (the
Lord’s) creation. When we make it ugly, we offend Him. When
we abuse His works, we abuse Him.”