Some years ago, some representatives from another church came to my door. They shared some scriptural thoughts with me, and we briefly talked about some Gospel principles. As they prepared to leave, they asked if I would like a pamphlet of information. I told them I wouldn't be interested because I have my own religion. They asked what religion, and when I told them, they said that they had one pamphlet in particular that spoke about my religion. I was curious to see what that pamphlet had to say, so I took one. As I read through it, I was shocked to find inaccuracies about our religion. I found it odd that another religion would spend time and money to print something that was untrue about another religion. I know that the people in that church are good people, so I doubt that they had an ill intent to print lies, I think they just didn't research well enough. During the time that I have blogged and read and commented on others' blogs, I have been surprised by the fact that most people go to other sources to learn about our religion. The problem is that some sources are biased, or simply don't understand. How can you single out one belief and make assumptions about it without understanding the underlying doctrine? My advice to anyone wanting to learn about ANY religion is to go to the source. First, ask members of that church, and in the case of our church, let the missionaries teach you. There will be many other churches that will tell you our religion isn't Christian. They will tell you that we are a cult. They will tell you that we are devil followers. All of these things are incorrect, and if they really understood what we believe, and the doctrine behind it, they would also come to see that we are none of those things. So please, go to the source.
Recently, Elder Melvin J. Ballard gave a talk about this subject titled, "Faith, Famly, Facts, and Fruits." You can read the entire talk by clicking here, but I will paraphrase it for you.
Here are some facts that he would like those not of our faith to know about us:
First, “Mormon” is a nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members are often referred to as “Mormons,” “Latter-day Saints,” or “LDS.” The term “Saint” means “member.”
Second, the Church was restored in 1830 in upstate New York with Joseph Smith as its first prophet and president. Today it is headquartered in Salt Lake City, with President Gordon B. Hinckley as the present prophet. ( This talk was given in 2007. Since then, Pres. Thomas S. Monson has become the president of the church.)Third, there are now over 13 million members in 176 countries and territories. About 6 million of these are in the United States, making us the fourth largest Christian denomination in America. As one of the fastest growing Christian faiths in the world, we complete a new chapel every working day. Members pay a tithe, which is 10 percent of their income, making this and other programs possible.
Fourth, local congregations are led by volunteer, unpaid members. Both men and women serve in assigned leadership positions.
And fifth, Mormons are well represented in politics and government. (In the United States, for example, there are 16 members in Congress, from both political parties.) Members also serve in high and trusted positions throughout the world in business, medicine, law, education, media, sports, and entertainment.
--We believe in the eternity of the soul, that God is the Father of our spirits, and that we can return to Him after death.
--We believe that Jesus Christ is our personal Savior, and we try to model our lives after Him and His teachings. We commemorate Christ’s atoning sacrifice in our Sunday worship services, similar to taking communion in other churches. We accept as fellow Christians all who believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God and the Savior of all mankind. Many Christians do not understand that we have much common ground with them. Joseph Smith taught that Jesus Christ is the core of our belief, and everything else is an appendage to it (see Elders’ Journal, July 1838, 44). The name of the Church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
--We believe the original church that Jesus established was lost and has been restored again in our day. The priesthood, the authority given to man to act in the name of God, with apostles and a prophet to lead us, has been restored as have all necessary ordinances of salvation.
--We believe in and we use the Holy Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.
And we believe in the Book of Mormon and other books of scripture which support and authenticate the Bible and testify of the ministry and divinity of Christ and of God’s ongoing revelation to man. Indeed, the Book of Mormon is “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
Now, even as someone begins to understand a few facts about us and comes to know us more accurately by our faith and the importance of family, it was the Savior who said “by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20; emphasis added). A church, or any way of life, should be judged by the fruits or the results that it generates. Here are a few examples based on United States statistics. But these would be similar throughout the world among practicing Mormons (by which we mean those who attend church and the temple regularly):
One of the fruits is a longer life. Studies show that practicing Mormons are healthier and therefore live longer than the national average. In 1833 the Lord revealed to Joseph Smith the Word of Wisdom, which is the way to live in order to enjoy a long and healthy life.
Second, those who are married in and attend the temple regularly have a divorce rate far below the national and world average.
Third, we achieve an educational level that is higher than the national average.
Fourth, over 70,000 members volunteer at their own expense to serve for 18 to 24 months in humanitarian efforts, Church service assignments, and full-time missionary service throughout the world.
And fifth, we place strong emphasis on self-reliance and a solid work ethic. We encourage active involvement in our communities and in providing service to others. The Church continues to donate substantial money, goods, and services to humanitarian causes around the globe, including untold hours of labor donated by members to assist in disaster cleanup and relief."
I hope that Elder Ballard's explanations have been helpful to any who might be seeking to understand our beliefs. Once again I caution that the internet, and world do not always give accurate information. If you would like to know more about our beliefs, please go to the source. When I say "source" I am also speaking of God, the eternal Father. As you study about our beliefs, please study it out in your mind, with an open mind, and ask God if these things are true. A scripture in the Book of Mormon also gives this council. This scripture was given in connection with the reading of the Book of Mormon, but it's council is applicable to every facet of our life.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.