Mormonism, is a religious movement founded by Joseph Smith in the early 1800's.
The LDS church was founded by Joseph Smith. The official story is that a fourteen-year-old, Joseph Smith, walked into a grove of trees, near his home in Palmyra, New York, to pray. During his prayers, he asked God to tell him which church was true. In answer to his prayers, God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ, appeared to the young Smith and told him that there was no true church on this earth. Furthermore, Joseph Smith proclaimed that God and Jesus (although this version of the revelation would be changed many times) told him that he had been chosen by God to restore God's "true church" on this earth. This first revelation is usually set in the Spring of 1820.
It is the claim of Joseph Smith that, over the next ten years (from 1820-1830), he was visited by other heavenly messengers. Mainly an angel named Moroni. Moroni was the last historian of a people that lived in ancient america named the Nephites.
He told Joesph that hidden in a near by hillside was a record engraved on golden plates, that contained the history of his people. HE told Joseph he was to get these plates and translate them. This is what ultimately became the Book of Mormon.
The church was orginized on April 6th, 1830.
Church members are known as Mormons, or amoung themselves the saints. The Mormon Church is officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Church headquarters are located in Salt Lake City, Utah.
(need to add more detail and expound)
Joseph Smith Jr. was born in Sharon, Vermont, to Lucy Mack and Joseph Smith, on December 23, 1805. Smith grew up on a series of tenant farms in Vermont, New Hampshire, and New York. Smith's education consisted of a very limited exposure to the reading, writing, and arithmetic. It is known however that his Father Joseph Sr. was a school teacher.
In 1823, Joseph Smith said he was visited by an angel named Moroni, who told him of an ancient record containing God's dealings with the former inhabitants of the American continent. These writings served as the foundation of the Mormon religion, with Joseph Smith as prophet.
Mormon World View
The following statement best sums up how LDS members understand the universe and their purpose: As humans are, God used to be; as God is, humans may become. The conclusion might be drawn, then, that Mormonism is a polytheistic system. For if you accept that all humans might become God, you then set up the potential for more than one God. Mormons often argue that the beings of this earth need not concern themselves with those "other Gods" since their allegiance is only to God the Father, of this earth.
Mormons believe that a person's existence doesn't begin with their birth. Mormons believe that all people lived, as sprirts, in another realm before being born on this planet. Mormons view this earthly life as a test. For Mormons, there is no beginning and end to their lives, because each person has an eternal essence that has always existed. Mormons explain the physical form (or body) as the "house that God built" for your eternal soul.
Mormons beleive that the faithful will be exalted to the Celestial Kingdom (the highest of three levels of heaven). Here they will become Gods and populate their own planets with spirit children. It is believed that in order to become a God a man must have at least three wives. While polygamy is not practiced by the modern main branch of the Mormon church, devote members beleive there will be Polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom.
Church Doctrine and/or Holy Books
Despite claims that they are Christians, LDS members do not solely rely upon the Bible as a basis for their beliefs. According to Mormonism's eighth Article of Faith, "(they) Believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." The "in so far as it is translated correctly" leads to the ninth Article of Faith: "Mormons believe in continuing revelation." So, while the LDS Church recognizes the King James Version of the Bible as "a text", the understanding is that the Bible is not correctly translated and may be added to by later prophets.
Book of Mormon The Book of Mormon (BoM) is, according to Mormons, "another testimony of Jesus Christ." This tome is a saga that spans from approximately 600BC to 421AD. It proports to tell the story of the "Lost Tribes of Israel" that floated to the North American Continent. The BoM has 15 books, which are divided into chapter and verse, much like the Bible. Mormons believe that this work, by Joseph Smith, is more accurate than the Bible itself.
Joseph Smith claims that he was shown the "golden tablets", upon which the BoM was written in "reformed Egyptian", during the second vision. An angel, Moroni, proportedly entered the bedroom of Joseph Smith, in 1823 (although this date changes depending on the source), and revealed the location of the buried, Golden Tablets. Moroni also instructed Joseph in the use of the Urim and Thummin (seer stone) which would help translate the tablets. Moroni apparently came a third time and cautioned Joseph that he should not try to make any money off of the golden plates/tablets. The next day, Joseph claims to have found the golden plates buried on the hillside that Moroni had dictated. Each day, for four years, Joseph claims to have revisited the spot (where the plates were buried), only to be turned away by Moroni. Finally, in 1827, Joseph was allowed to unearth and take home the plates. Joseph claimed "each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not quite so thick as common tin.... The volume was something near six inches in thickness....”(Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, v3:9, March 1, 1842, 707.) Scholars have pointed out that, if Smith's description were true, the plates would have weighed around 200 pounds. Yet, Smith claims that he "ran, with the plates tucked under his arm" through the woods, to his home. His wife, Emma Smith, later recalled that she "occasionally lifted the plates, covered in cloth" to dust under.
A translation of the plates began in 1829. Eyewitnesses claimed that they saw Joseph; place the seer stones into a hat, cover his head with a cloth, and then dictate the translation to transcribers. After 116 pages of the BoM had been transcribed, Martin Harris asked Joseph if he might take those pages to his wife, Lucy. Lucy was skeptical of Smith's claims about the BoM and wanted to see the work for herself. Smith agreed to let Harris take the 116 pages home to Lucy. Upon receiving the pages, Lucy destroyed them (though, by what means is still unknown). She told her husband that; If Smith was the prophet, then he should be able to retranslate the work with ease. Harris returned to Smith with great trepidation. Smith was angry! He spent two days in prayer. When he emerged from prayer, he told Harris and Emma Smith, that an angel had appeared before him and told him not to re-write the missing 116 pages. The angel had instructed him to cease work on the "Book of Lehi" and instead write the "Book of Nephi". The Book of Nephi would be similar to the Book of Lehi, but since they were written from different point of views, of course, there might be a few differences.
The Book of Mormon was printed in 1830.
Doctrine and Covenants
The Doctrine and Covenants is a collection of "revelations" that Joseph recieved from Jesus Christ. It contains amoung other things instructions for how the church should be run. It was originally called the "Book of Commandments"
A key section is D&C 132 which gives the requirements for Polygamy. Specificly versus 61-65.
Pearl of Great Price At 60 pages, this is the thinnest of Joseph Smith's works. The main section is the Book of Abraham. Smith bought Egyptian papyri from a travelling mummy exhibit and proclaimed, to his followers, that the papyri contained the Book of Abraham. He claimed it was written by Abraham in his own hand. According to Smith, the papyri recounts the story of Abraham's early life as well as a vision he received concerning the creation of the world. The book is a source of some distinctive and controversial Latter-day Saint doctrines such as the exaltation of humanity, the plurality of gods, priesthood, pre-mortal existence, and other inhabited worlds in the cosmos.
For many years the original papyri were considered lost. In 1966 eleven fragments of the papyri were found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Modern Egyptologist have studied these and found them to be a funerary document for a man named Hor, dating to around the 2nd century B.C.
Also contained in the Pearl of Great Price are several other texts. included are The Book of Moses, The Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith—Matthew, Joseph Smith—History and The Articles of Faith. The Joseph Smith history was written in 1838 and is considered the offical account by the modern LDS church. However several other histories written or orated by Smith exist and have some contraditory accounts.
Journal of Discourses
The Journal of Discourses (often abbreviated J.D.) is a 26-volume collection of public sermons by early leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first editions of the Journal were published in England by George D. Watt, the stenographer of Brigham Young. Publication began in 1854, with the endorsement of the church's First Presidency, and ended in 1886. The Journal is one of the richest sources of early Mormon theology and thinking. It includes 1,438 sermons given by 55 church leaders, including most numerously Brigham Young, John Taylor, Orson Pratt, Heber C. Kimball, and George Q. Cannon.
While the J.D. is not considered scripture by the modern church it is still important to it's history.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the largest church devoted to the Latter-Day Saint movement, openly endorsed and encouraged polygamous relationships for nearly the first century of its existence. Early church leaders such as Brigham Young and Joseph Smith, Jr. had as many as 50 wives, and preached that it was the only way to enter heaven. As the Utah Territory, settled by Mormon pioneers, fought the government of the United States for recognition as a state, the Church came under criticism for its practice of polygamy, and in 1890, Church president Wilford Woodruff issued a manifesto that renounced the practice, as a condition of Utah's statehood.
Today, practice of polygamy can lead to disfellowship (excommunication) from the LDS church, and the church claims it works with the government to stop those who practice polygamy. Nevertheless, many Latter-Day saint sects, collectively known as fundamentalist Mormons, continue the practice of polygamy, outside the recognition of the LDS church or the US government, seeing it as a sacrament. The largest of these groups is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), which is based in Texas and has approximately 10,000 members across North America.
Great Migration to Salt Lake City
Temples and Ceremonies
Women's Roles in Mormonism
Brigham Young (who was the 2nd prophet of the LDS church) taught that Adam and God where in fact the same being. He taught that God came with one of his many wives to the Garden of Eden, and he was Adam. - Journal of Discourses, vol. 1, p. 50