Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) are referred to as Mormons. This top-down organized Church was first established on April 6, 1830 in western New York by Joseph Smith, the Church's first prophet. Mormons believe the LDS Church is a restorative Church, structured like the first Church established by Jesus Christ.
Members of the LDS Church believe that all Churches fell away from the real Gospel after the death of the first twelve apostles or disciples of Jesus Christ and they refer to this as the Great Apostasy. In addition to the King James Bible, Mormons believe the Book of Mormon and other books are sacred scripture for today, which they characterize as the latter-days.
Today there are over 14 million members of varying degrees of activity and the National Council of Churches ranks the Mormon Church as the fourth largest Christian denomination in the US. It is the largest Church to have originated in America.
From the beginning, Mormons have been forced to deal with varying degrees of prejudice, distrust and hard feelings, mostly due to some beliefs and practices that appear very strange when viewed from a historic Christian viewpoint.
First, they consider the LDS Church to be the only true Christian Church in the world today, with the restored Gospel and structural organization created by Jesus Christ in his ministry on the Earth. This certainly does not sit well with other Churches, priests and ministers.
Second, they use scriptures in addition to the Bible and in the early years practiced polygamy until forced, by public opinion and the Federal government's threat to seize all Church assets, to abandon the practice. Again, with an expanded scripture and plural marriage, the public was outraged at their practices.
There was even a Mormon war during the 1840s when the US Army invaded Utah and the surrounding region to destroy their independent territory or nation called Deseret. This was the first military invasion and occupation aimed at American citizens and was a precursor of Lincoln's invasion and occupation of the lawfully seceded Southern States during the Civil War.
Third, Mormons generally use all tithes and offerings to advance the growth of the Church and its humanitarian efforts and to build meeting houses and temples where some secret, strange or sacred (depending on one's point of view) worship activities take place, open only to active members following Church rules and commandments. Their lay ministry is threatening to the leadership of other churches and pastors who are often salaried.
After the Mormon wars and military occupation, the Church eventually retreated from polygamy to survive. Like Southerners following their defeat during the War Between the States, Mormons became super-patriots and tried to enter the mainstream of American civic and political life.
After that they became known more for strange but benign beliefs and prohibition against alcohol, coffee and tea, and their PR campaign was very successful until the Internet Reformation began. LDS Church leadership had in error prohibited individual congregations and church units from having individual websites and instead, concentrated on a few excellent but official Church websites to promote and explain Mormon beliefs. Their long, successful missionary program using tens of thousands of mostly young men and women with some older couples was quickly outdated and rendered ineffective as anti-Mormon websites exploded across the Internet.
Google then crippled Church growth in the US as investigators lured by the missionaries suddenly had a way to learn more and ask questions about the Church on the Internet. Every keyword search was met by massive anti-Church propaganda or education, which has slowed the growth of the Mormon Church.
In summary, the fastest growing Church in the US, with a highly structured organization and centralized top-down leadership, has been unable to compete with the full disclosure and information overload or prejudice of the Internet. It is much the same for the power elite organizations and establishment media forced to compete and counter the alternative media on the Internet.
So what does the future hold for the Mormon Church? They have been invaded, smeared and forced to move from New York State, to Ohio, then Missouri and Nauvoo, Illinois before making their final move under Brigham Young to what is now Utah and surrounding states. Some of the prejudice toward Mormonism and disbelief of the Church teachings is justified but other attacks are unwarranted and disingenuous.
Mormonism has survived military invasion, practices far outside of mainstream Christian beliefs like plural marriage and temple worship. The Church may well recover from their Internet marketing mistakes and there is an even chance Mitt Romney may become the first Mormon president of the United States. The Mormon founder and first prophet, Joseph Smith, also ran for president. Smith was assassinated in 1844.
|09/22/12||Mormons, Romney and the White Horse Prophecy|