Mormonism 101: A primer for gentiles

  • Joseph Smith

    COURTESY MUSEUM OF CHURCH HISTORY AND ART
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "Being Green in the Land of the Saints."

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.

Joseph 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 paradisiacal glory.”

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 authorities.”

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.

Mormon theology 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.”

High Country News Classifieds
  • PUBLIC LANDS PROGRAM MANAGER
    Conserve Southwest Utah is seeking a candidate with excellent communication skills and a commitment to environmental conservation for the position of Public Lands Program Manager....
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Western Slope Conservation Center in Paonia, CO, seeks a dynamic leader who is mission-driven, hardworking, and a creative problem-solver. WSCC is committed to creating...
  • PLANNED GIVING OFFICER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks a Planned Giving Officer. Do you find energy in...
  • NORTHERN NEW MEXICO PROJECT MANAGER
    Seeking qualified Northern New Mexico Project Manager to provide expertise, leadership and support to the organization by planning, cultivating, implementing and managing land conservation activities,...
  • REGIONAL TRAIL STEWARDSHIP COORDINATOR
    Are you passionate about connecting people to the outdoors? The Pacific Crest Trail Association (PCTA) is looking for someone with trail maintenance and volunteer engagement...
  • TRAIL CREW MEMBER
    Position Title: Trail Crew Member Position Type: 6 month seasonal position, April 17-October 15, 2023 Location: Field-based; The RFOV office is in Carbondale, CO, and...
  • CEO BUFFALO NATIONS GRASSLANDS ALLIANCE
    Chief Executive Officer, Remote Exempt position for Buffalo Nations Grasslands Alliance is responsible for the planning and organization of BNGA's day-to-day operations
  • IDAHO DIRECTOR - WESTERN WATERSHEDS PROJECT
    Western Watersheds Project seeks an Idaho Director to continue and expand upon WWP's campaign to protect and restore public lands and wildlife in Idaho, with...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Development Director to join our team in supporting and furthering our mission. This position will create...
  • DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS, NA'AH ILLAHEE FUND
    Na'ah Illahee Fund (NIF) is seeking a highly qualified Operations Director to join our team. This position will provide critical organizational and systems support to...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners (GSEP) is seeking a leader to join our dynamic team in the long-term protection of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). We...
  • GRASSLAND RESEARCH COORDINATOR
    The Grassland Research Coordinator is a cooperative position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that performs and participates in and coordinates data collection for...
  • HYDROELECTRIC PLANT
    1.3 MW FERC licensed hydroelectric station near Taylorsville CA. Property is 184 deeded acres surrounded by National Forrest.
  • "PROFILES IN COURAGE: STANDING AGAINST THE WYOMING WIND"
    13 stories of extraordinary courage including HCN founder Tom Bell, PRBRC director Lynn Dickey, Liz Cheney, People of Heart Mountain, the Wind River Indian Reservation...
  • GRANT WRITER
    JOB DESCRIPTION: This Work involves the responsibility of conducting research in the procurement of Federal, State, County, and private grant funding. Additional responsibilities include identifying...
  • MATADOR RANCH STEWARD
    The Matador Ranch Steward conducts annual stewardship projects at the Matador Ranch Preserve and occasionally supports stewardship projects elsewhere in Montana's Northern Great Plains. The...
  • ASPIRE COLORADO SUSTAINABLE BODY AND HOME CARE PRODUCTS
    Go Bulk! Go Natural! Our products are better for you and better for the environment. Say no to single-use plastic. Made in U.S.A., by a...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in the natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau, with lodge and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • ATTORNEY AD
    Criminal Defense, Code Enforcement, Water Rights, Mental Health Defense, Resentencing.
  • LUNATEC HYDRATION SPRAY BOTTLE
    A must for campers and outdoor enthusiasts. Cools, cleans and hydrates with mist, stream and shower patterns. Hundreds of uses.