The word “Mormons” usually refers to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a worldwide church with over 14 million members. People have nicknamed members of the Church “Mormons” after the Book of Mormon, the translation of an ancient scripture recorded by a branch of Israelites on the American continent, and a second witness that Christ lived, was crucified, rose on the third day, and is the Savior of the world. There are others who call themselves “Mormons.” They are sects that have spun off from the main body of the Church sometime during its history. These sects are small; tend to be reclusive; and some practice polygamy, banned by the real Mormon Church in 1890. Some members of these various sects live on compounds, mostly in the U.S. and still wear pioneer clothing. They are not members of the “real” Mormon Church.
Since members of the Mormon Church live in normal communities and interact with others in a normal way, you may have met or associated with a member of the Mormon Church and not have known it. Mormons do stand out, however, for their moral behavior, and the fact that they follow a health law that forbids them to drink alcohol, use tobacco, drink coffee or tea, or abuse drugs. Mormons have a strong work ethic, like wholesome recreation and entertainment, and are very family-oriented. In fact, Mormons believe that marriage and family can be eternal, so they strive to be whole spiritually and emotionally in their family relationships. Active Mormons are devout Christians. They are busy, since the Mormon Church has a lay clergy so all Mormons serve in positions in the Church.
Education and the development of talents are encouraged in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The most active and involved Mormons are actually the best educated, opposite from most religions. Mormons also follow the Law of Chastity, which forbids sexual activity outside of marriage and demands absolute fidelity within marriage. Mormons uphold traditional marriage, but the traditional marriage they cite is that of Adam and Eve, wherein purity and procreation are commandments of God. Mormons who are worthy may marry in one of the over 130 temples around the world and covenant for eternity.
Mormons worship on Sunday in most countries (Saturday in Israel, and Friday in Egypt), keeping the spirit of the law of the Sabbath. Mormon meetinghouses, or chapels, are very plain. Artwork depicting the life of Christ can be found in the hallways and classrooms, but not in the chapel. Mormons don’t use statuary or crucifixes in their worship. Mormons meet together in a 3-hour block on the Sabbath, with the most important meeting being called “Sacrament meeting,” wherein they partake of bread and water in remembrance of the body and blood of Christ and renew vows made at baptism to take His name upon themselves and keep His commandments. Sunday School classes and classes for women, children, men, and youth are also held. The Church has a correlation system, so everyone studies the same thing at the same time all over the world. In Sunday School Mormons study the scriptures in a four-year rotating system: Old Testament for one year; New Testament for one year; Book of Mormon for one year; and Doctrine and Covenants/ Church History for one year. To keep the Sabbath day holy, Mormons refrain from shopping and recreation on that day.
Mormon temples are different from Mormon meetinghouses. Temples are open on most days (not Sunday, and usually not on Mondays, or holidays) for long hours. Temples are ornate and rich with symbolism in their design and decor. They are houses of God, so once dedicated, only the pure may enter. In temples, eternal covenants are made, and patrons may meditate and pray. In temples ordinances are also performed by proxy for the dead who may have not heard the gospel of Christ during their lives. The dead may choose whether to accept or reject those ordinances.
Many Mormons choose to serve missions for the Church. Most Mormon missionaries are young men (aged 19-26) or young women (aged 21 and up) who serve missions full-time, leaving family, personal relationships, vocations, and schooling behind. Young men typically serve for two years, and young women typically serve for eighteen months. Although the Church pays for transportation costs, the young men and women and/or their families pay living expenses during their missions. Retired couples also may serve for 6 to 23 months, and many retired couples serve multiple missions. Missions for retired couples include medical, humanitarian aid, education, leadership, grounds maintenance, and other types of service rather than or in addition to proselyting.
Some well-known Mormons include Mitt Romney, Harry Reid, Orin Hatch, and Jon Huntsman in American politics; David Archuleta, Ricky Schroeder, Brooke White, Donny and Marie Osmond, Brandon Flowers, and Gladys Knight in show business; Stephenie Meyer, Brandon Mull, Richard Paul Evans, Tracy Hickman, and Anne Perry—writers; and Steve Young, Danny Ainge, Ty Detmer, and Jimmer Fredette—athletes.
The short videos below will introduce you to some other Mormons: