The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Joseph Smith Ensign (LDS magazine) Doctrine and Covenants

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Official logo since 2020 featuring the Christus statue
OrientationLatter Day Saint movement
Book of Mormon
Doctrine and Covenants
Pearl of Great Price
PresidentRussell M. Nelson
Region176 nations & territories
HeadquartersSalt Lake City, Utah, United States
FounderJoseph Smith[1]
OriginApril 6, 1830; 190 years ago (1830-04-06)[2] as Church of Christ
Fayette, New York, United States
SeparationsLDS denominations
Congregations30,940 (2019)[3]
Members16,565,036 (2019)[4]
Missionaries67,021 (2019)[3][5]
Aid organizationLatter-day Saint Charities
Tertiary institutions4[6]
Other name(s)
  • LDS Church
  • Mormon Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that considers itself to be the restoration of the original church founded by Jesus Christ. The church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the United States, and has established congregations and built temples worldwide. According to the church, it has over 16 million members and 65,000 full-time volunteer missionaries.[7] In 2012, the National Council of Churches ranked the church as the fourth-largest Christian denomination in the United States,[8] with over 6.5 million members there as of January 2018.[9] It is the largest denomination in the Latter Day Saint movement founded by Joseph Smith during the early 19th century period of religious revival known as the Second Great Awakening.

Adherents, often referred to as "Latter-day Saints" or, less formally, "Mormons", view faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement as fundamental principles of their religion.[10][11] Church theology includes the Christian doctrine of salvation only through Jesus Christ,[12] though LDS doctrines regarding the nature of God and the potential of mankind differ significantly from mainstream Christianity. The church has an open canon which includes four scriptural texts:[13] the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. Other than the Bible, the majority of the LDS canon constitutes revelation received by Joseph Smith and recorded by his scribes which includes commentary and exegesis about the Bible, texts described as lost parts of the Bible, and other works believed to be written by ancient prophets (including the Book of Mormon). Because of some of the doctrinal differences, Catholic, Orthodox, and several Protestant churches consider the church to be distinct and separate from mainstream Christianity.[14]

Under the doctrine of continuing revelation, Latter-day Saints believe that the church president is a modern-day "prophet, seer, and revelator" and that Jesus Christ, under the direction of God the Father, leads the church by revealing his will to its president. Individual members of the church believe that they can also receive personal revelation from God in conducting their lives.[15] The president heads a hierarchical structure with various levels reaching down to local congregations, known as wards. Bishops, drawn from the laity, lead the wards. Male members, beginning in January of the year they reach age 12,[16][17] may be ordained to the priesthood, provided they are living the standards of the church. Women are not ordained to the priesthood, but occupy leadership roles in some church organizations.[18]

Both men and women may serve as missionaries and the church maintains a large missionary program that proselytizes and conducts humanitarian services worldwide. Faithful members adhere to church laws of sexual purity, health, fasting, and Sabbath observance, and contribute ten percent of their income to the church in tithing. The church also teaches about sacred ordinances through which adherents make covenants with God, including baptism, confirmation, the sacrament (holy communion), priesthood ordination, endowment, and celestial marriage—all of which are of great significance to church members.[19]

In August 2018, the church's president, Russell M. Nelson, asked members of the church and others to cease using the terms "LDS", "Mormon", and "Mormonism" to refer to the church, its membership, or its belief system, and instead to call the church by its full and official name.[20][21]


The history of the LDS Church is typically divided into three broad time periods: (1) the early history during the lifetime of Joseph Smith, which is in common with all churches associated with the Latter Day Saint movement (2) a pioneer era under the leadership of Brigham Young and his 19th-century successors; and (3) a modern era beginning around the turn of the 20th century as Utah achieved statehood.


Adherents believe that Joseph Smith was called to be a modern-day prophet through, among other events, a visitation from God the Father and Jesus Christ.

The LDS Church, originally called the Church of Christ, was formally organized by Joseph Smith on April 6, 1830, in western New York.[22] Smith later changed the name to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints after he stated he had received a revelation to do so.[23] Initial converts were drawn to the church in part because of the newly published Book of Mormon, a self-described chronicle of indigenous American prophets that Smith said he had translated from golden plates.[24]

Smith intended to establish the New Jerusalem in North America, called Zion.[25] In 1831, the church moved to Kirtland, Ohio (the eastern boundary of Zion),[26] and began establishing an outpost in Jackson County, Missouri (Zion's "center place"),[27] where he planned to eventually move the church headquarters.[28] However, in 1833, Missouri settlers brutally expelled the Latter Day Saints from Jackson County,[29] and the church was unable via a paramilitary expedition to recover the land.[30] Nevertheless, the church flourished in Kirtland as Smith published new revelations and the church built the Kirtland Temple,[31] culminating in a dedication of the building similar to the day of Pentecost.[32] The Kirtland era ended in 1838, after a financial scandal rocked the church and caused widespread defections.[33] Smith regrouped with the remaining church in Far West, Missouri,[34] but tensions soon escalated into violent conflicts with the old Missouri settlers.[35] Believing the Saints to be in insurrection, the Missouri governor ordered that the Saints be "exterminated or driven from the State".[36] In 1839, the Saints converted a swampland on the banks of the Mississippi River into Nauvoo, Illinois, which became the church's new headquarters.[37]

Nauvoo grew rapidly as missionaries sent to Europe and elsewhere gained new converts who then flooded into Nauvoo.[38] Meanwhile, Smith introduced polygamy to his closest associates.[39] He also established ceremonies, which he stated the Lord had revealed to him, to allow righteous people to become gods (joint heirs with Christ, see theosis)[40][41] in the afterlife,[42] and a secular institution to govern the Millennial kingdom.[43] He also introduced the church to a full accounting of his First Vision, in which two heavenly "personages" (God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ) appeared to him at age 14. This vision would come to be regarded by the LDS Church as the most important event in human history since the resurrection of Jesus.[44] Church members believe Joseph Smith is the first modern-day prophet.[45]

On June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother Hyrum were murdered by a mob in Carthage, Illinois,[46] while being held on charges of treason.[47] Because Hyrum was Joseph's designated successor,[48] their deaths caused a succession crisis,[49] and Brigham Young assumed leadership over the majority of Saints.[50] Young had been a close associate of Smith's and was the senior apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve.[51] Other splinter groups followed other leaders in their own interpretation of the Latter Day Saint movement. These groups have no affiliation with the LDS Church.[52]

Pioneer era

Brigham Young led the LDS Church from 1844 until his death in 1877.

For two years after Smith's death, conflicts escalated between Mormons and other Illinois residents. Smith had predicted that the church would go to the West and be established in the tops of the Rocky Mountains.[53] Brigham Young took Smith's advice and led his followers, known in modern times as the Mormon pioneers, to Nebraska and then in 1847 to what became the Utah Territory.[54] As groups (over 60,000) arrived over a period of years, LDS settlers branched out and colonized a large region now known as the Mormon Corridor.

Young incorporated the LDS Church as a legal entity, and initially governed both the church and the state as a theocratic leader. He also publicized the practice of plural marriage,[55] a form of polygamy.

By 1857, tensions had again escalated between Mormons and other Americans, largely as a result of accusations involving polygamy and the theocratic rule of the Utah Territory by Young.[56] The Utah Mormon War ensued from 1857 to 1858, which resulted in the relatively peaceful invasion of Utah by the United States Army,[57] after which Young agreed to step down from power and be replaced by a non-Mormon territorial governor, Alfred Cumming.[58] Nevertheless, the LDS Church still wielded significant political power in the Utah Territory.[59]

At Young's death in 1877, he was followed by other church presidents, who resisted efforts by the United States Congress to outlaw Mormon polygamous marriages. In 1878, the United States Supreme Court, in Reynolds v. United States, decreed that "religious duty" to engage in plural marriage was not a valid defense to prosecutions for violating state laws against polygamy. Conflict between Mormons and the U.S. government escalated to the point that, in 1890, Congress disincorporated the LDS Church and seized most of its assets. Soon thereafter, church president Wilford Woodruff issued a manifesto that officially suspended the practice.[60] Although this manifesto did not dissolve existing plural marriages, so that families would not be split apart, no new polygamous marriages would be performed. Relations with the United States markedly improved after 1890, such that Utah was admitted as a U.S. state in 1896. Relations further improved after 1904, when church president Joseph F. Smith again disavowed polygamy before the United States Congress and issued a "Second Manifesto", calling for all plural marriages in the church to cease, as they were already against church doctrine since Woodruff issued the Manifesto. Eventually, the church adopted a policy of excommunicating its members found practicing polygamy and today actively distances itself from "fundamentalist" groups still practicing polygamy.[61]

Modern times

The Salt Lake Temple, which took 40 years to build, is one of the most iconic images of the church.

During the 20th century, the church grew substantially and became an international organization, due in part to the spread of missionaries around the globe. In 2000, the church reported 60,784 missionaries and global church membership stood at just over 11 million.[62] Worldwide membership surpassed 16 million in 2018. Slightly under half of church membership is within the United States.[63] However, it is estimated based on demographic studies that only one-third of the total worldwide membership (about 4.5 million people as of 2014) are regularly attending churchgoers.[64][65] The church cautions against overemphasis of growth statistics for comparison with other churches because relevant factors—including activity rates and death rates, methodology used in registering or counting members, what factors constitute membership, and geographical variations—are rarely accounted for in the comparisons.[66]

The church has become a strong and public champion of the nuclear family and at times played a prominent role in political matters, including opposition to MX Peacekeeper missile bases in Utah and Nevada,[67] the Equal Rights Amendment,[68] legalized gambling,[69] same-sex marriage,[70] and physician-assisted death.[71] Apart from issues that it considers to be ones of morality, however, the church maintains a position of political neutrality, but encourages its members to be politically active, to participate in elections, and to be knowledgeable about current political and social issues within their communities, states, and countries.[72]

A number of official changes have taken place to the organization during the modern era. One significant change was the ordination of men of black African descent to the priesthood in 1978, which reversed a policy originally instituted by Brigham Young in 1852.[73] There are also periodic changes in the structure and organization of the church, mainly to accommodate the organization's growth and increasing international presence. For example, since the early 1900s, the church has instituted a Priesthood Correlation Program to centralize church operations and bring them under a hierarchy of priesthood leaders. During the Great Depression, the church also began operating a church welfare system, and it has conducted numerous humanitarian efforts in cooperation with other religious organizations including Catholic Relief Services and Islamic Relief, as well as secular organizations such as the American Red Cross.

Teachings and practices

Authorized texts

The written canon of the LDS Church is referred to as its standard works.

The theology of the LDS Church consists of a combination of biblical doctrines with modern revelations and other commentary by LDS leaders, particularly Joseph Smith. The most authoritative sources of theology are the faith's canon of four religious texts, called the "standard works". Included in the standard works are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Mormon is said by the church to be "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" that Smith translated from buried golden plates. The LDS Church believes that the Angel Moroni told Smith about these golden plates and guided him to find them buried in the Hill Cumorah. The church believes that this Angel Moroni is at least partial fulfillment of Revelation 14:6 in the Bible. The church characterizes the Book of Mormon as "the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of [the] religion".[74]

The Bible, also part of the church's canon, is believed to be "the word of God as far as it is translated correctly".[75] Most often, the church uses the Authorized King James Version. Sometimes, however, parts of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (corrections and restorations of assertedly damaged or lost passages) are considered authoritative. Some excerpts of Smith's translation have been included in the Pearl of Great Price, which also includes further translations by Smith and church historical items. Other historical items and revelations are found in the Doctrine and Covenants.

Another source of authoritative doctrine is the pronouncements of the current Apostles and members of the First Presidency. The church teaches that the First Presidency (the church's president and his counselors) and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles are prophets[76] and that their teachings are generally given under inspiration from God through the Holy Spirit. Members of the church acknowledge (sustain) them regularly as prophets, seers, and revelators—this is done publicly twice a year at the church's worldwide general conference.[76]

Distinctive doctrines and practices

A couple after their marriage in the Manti Utah Temple

Several doctrines and practices of the LDS Church are peculiar within Christianity. For example, the Mormon cosmology and plan of salvation include the doctrines of a pre-mortal life, three degrees of heaven, and exaltation. According to these doctrines, every human spirit is a literal child of a Heavenly Father, and each has the potential to continue to learn, grow, and progress in the eternities, eventually achieving eternal life (which Latter-day Saints view as distinct from immortality), which is to become one with God in the same way that Jesus Christ is one with the Father, thus allowing the children of God to become divine beings or "gods" themselves.[77][78][79] This view on the doctrine of theosis is also referred to as becoming a "joint-heir with Christ".[80] The process by which this is accomplished is called exaltation, a doctrine which includes the reunification of the mortal family after the resurrection and the ability to have spirit children in the afterlife and inherit a portion of God's kingdom.[80][81][82][83] To obtain this state of godhood, the church teaches that one must have faith in Jesus Christ, repent of his or her sins, strive to keep the commandments faithfully, and participate in a sequence of ceremonial covenants called ordinances, which include baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, the endowment, and celestial marriage.[84][85]

This latter ordinance, known as a sealing ceremony, reflects a singular LDS view with respect to families. According to LDS Church theology, men and women may be "sealed" to one another so that their marital bond continues into the eternities.[86] Children may also be sealed to their biological or adoptive parents to form permanent familial bonds, thus allowing all immediate and extended family relations to endure past death.[87] The most significant LDS ordinances may be performed via proxy in behalf of those who have died, such as baptism for the dead. The church teaches that all will have the opportunity to hear and accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings that come to those who faithfully adhere to it, in this life or the next.[88] Ordinances such as baptisms for the dead, sealings, and endowments are performed in temples that are built and dedicated specifically for these purposes.

The LDS faithful observe a health code called the Word of Wisdom, in which they abstain from the consumption of alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco.[89] The Word of Wisdom also encourages the use of wholesome herbs and fruits within season, moderate consumption of meat, and consumption of grains.[89]

Latter-day Saints follow a moral code called the law of chastity, which prohibits adultery, homosexual behavior, and sexual relations outside of marriage.

LDS faithful donate a ten-percent tithe on their annual income, for the operations of the church, including construction of temples, meetinghouses, and other buildings, and other church uses.[90] Faithful members also abstain from food and drink (fasting) on the first Sunday of each month for at least two consecutive meals, prayerfully dedicating the fast to a purpose of each individual's choosing. They donate at least the cost of the two skipped meals as a fast offering, which the church uses to assist the poor and needy and expand its humanitarian efforts.[91] Members are further instructed to set aside one night a week, typically Monday, for a "Family Home Evening", where they gather as a family to study gospel principles and participate in wholesome activities.[92]

Missionary service

Missionaries typically commit to 18–24 months of full-time service.

All able LDS young men are expected to serve a two-year, full-time proselytizing mission.[93] Missionaries do not choose where they serve or the language in which they will proselytize, and are expected to fund their missions themselves or with the aid of their families. Prospective male missionaries must be at least 18 years old and no older than 25, not yet married, have completed secondary school, and meet certain criteria for physical fitness and spiritual worthiness. Missionary service is not compulsory, nor is it required for young men to retain their church membership. Unmarried women 19 years and older may also serve as missionaries, generally for a term of 18 months. However, the LDS Church emphasizes that women are not under the same expectation to serve as male members are, and may serve solely as a personal decision. There is no maximum age for missionary service for women.[94] Prior to October 2012, the minimum age for full-time missionary service was generally 19 for men and 21 for women.[95] Retired couples are encouraged to serve missions, and may serve 6-, 12-, 18-, or 23-month terms.[96] Unlike younger missionaries, these senior missionaries may serve in non-proselytizing capacities such as humanitarian aid workers or family history specialists. Other men and women who desire to serve a mission, but may not be able to perform full-time service in another state or country due to health issues, may serve in a service mission. They might assist at Temple Square in Salt Lake City or aide in the seminary systems in schools. Many opportunities are available.[97]

Comparisons with Christian denominations outside the Latter Day Saint movement

The LDS Church shares various teachings with other branches of Christianity. These include a belief in the Bible (subject to an acknowledgement that it is imperfect),[98] the divinity of Jesus, and his atonement and resurrection. LDS theology also includes belief in the doctrine of salvation through Jesus alone, restorationism,[99] millennialism, continuationism, penal substitution,[100] and a form of apostolic succession. The practices of baptism by immersion and the eucharist (referred to as the sacrament) are also held in common. However, the Catholic Church considers doctrinal differences between the two groups to be so great that it will not accept a prior LDS baptism as evidence of Christian initiation, as it will baptism by other Christian groups, such as the Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches.[101] The LDS Church does not accept baptisms performed in any other churches, as it teaches that baptism is only valid when it is conducted through proper priesthood authority.[102]

Nevertheless, the LDS Church differs from the many other churches within contemporary Christianity, and many people do not accept the church as part of Christianity.[103] The faith itself views other modern Christian faiths as having departed from true Christianity via a general apostasy and maintains that it is a restoration of 1st-century Christianity and the only true and authorized Christian church.[104][105] Differences between the LDS Church and most of traditional Christianity include disagreement with aspects of the Nicene Creed, belief in a theory of human salvation that includes three heavens (referred to as "degrees of glory", its interpretation of I Cor. 15:35 et.seq.),[106] a doctrine of "exaltation" which includes the ability of humans to become gods and goddesses in the afterlife,[80] a dietary code called the Word of Wisdom, and unique ceremonies performed privately in LDS temples, such as the endowment and sealing ceremonies.

Latter-day Saints believe in the resurrection of Jesus, as depicted in this replica of Bertel Thorvaldsen's Christus statue located in the North Visitors' Center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Officially, major Christian denominations view the LDS Church as standing apart from creedal Christianity.[107] Leaders of the LDS Church assert that the LDS Church is the only true church and that other churches do not have the authority to act in Jesus' name.[108]

From the perspective of Christians who agree with creeds, the most significant area of departure is the rejection by the LDS Church of certain parts of ecumenical creeds such as the Nicene Creed, which defines the predominant view of the Christian God as a Trinity of three separate persons in "one essence". LDS Church theology includes the belief in a "Godhead" composed of God the Father, his Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as three separate Persons who share a unity of purpose or will; however, they are viewed as three distinct Beings making one Godhead. Other significant differences relate to the church's acceptance of additional scripture, doctrine, and practices beyond what is found in the Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox versions of the Bible.

Comparison with other Latter Day Saint denominations

The LDS Church shares a common heritage with a number of smaller faith groups that are collectively called the Latter Day Saint movement. The largest of these smaller groups is the Community of Christ (previously known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), based in Independence, Missouri, followed by The Church of Jesus Christ, based in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. Like the LDS Church, these faiths believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet and founder of their religion. They also accept the Book of Mormon, and most, but not all, accept at least some version of the Doctrine and Covenants. However, they tend to disagree to varying degrees with the LDS Church concerning doctrine and church leadership.

The main branches of the Latter Day Saint movement resulted from the crisis of succession upon the death of Joseph Smith. Other branches may be considered later offshoots of the LDS Church branch, mainly due to disagreements about plural marriage.

Organization and structure

Name and legal entities

The church teaches that it is a continuation of the Church of Christ established in 1830 by Joseph Smith. This original church underwent several name changes during the 1830s, being called the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of God,[109] and then in 1834, the name was officially changed to the Church of the Latter Day Saints.[110] In April 1838, the name was officially changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.[111] After Smith died, Brigham Young and the largest body of Smith's followers incorporated the LDS Church in 1851 by legislation of the State of Deseret under the name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints",[112] which included a hyphenated "Latter-day" and a British-style lower-case d.[113]

In 1887, the LDS Church was legally dissolved in the United States by the Edmunds–Tucker Act because of the church's practice of polygamy.[114] In the United States, the church continues to operate as an unincorporated entity.[115] Common informal names for the church include the LDS Church, the Latter-day Saints, and the Mormons. The term Mormon Church is in common use,[116] but the church began discouraging its use in the late 20th century.[117] The church requests that the official name be used when possible or, if necessary, shortened to "the Church" or "the Church of Jesus Christ".[118]

Tax-exempt corporations of the LDS Church include the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[119] a corporation sole which was organized in 1916 under the laws of the state of Utah to acquire, hold, and dispose of real property; the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,[120] which was established in 1923 in Utah to receive and manage money and church donations; and Intellectual Reserve, Inc., which was incorporated in 1997 to hold the church's copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property.[121] Non-tax-exempt corporations of the church include Bonneville International and the Deseret News.

In August 2018, church president Russell M. Nelson asked members of the church and others to cease using the terms "LDS", "Mormon", and "Mormonism" to refer to the church, its membership, or its belief system, and instead to call the church by its full and official name.[20][21] Subsequent to this announcement, the church's premier vocal ensemble, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was officially renamed and became the "Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square".[122] Reaction to the name change policy in the media, by the general public, and even among church members has been mixed, with the preferred second–reference terms (such as "the Church of Jesus Christ" and "the restored Church of Jesus Christ") generally being shunned except by the church's own adherents.[123]

Geographic distribution and membership

  Countries and territories with at least one LDS temple
  Countries and territories with no LDS temple, but with organized congregations and/or missionaries
  Countries and territories with no official LDS presence

Church congregations are organized geographically. Members are generally expected to attend the congregation with their assigned geographical area; however, some geographical areas also provide separate congregations for young single adults (between the ages of 18 and 30), single adults aged 31 to 45,[124] or for speakers of alternate languages. For Sunday services, the church is grouped into either larger (150 to 400 people) congregations known as wards, or smaller congregations known as branches. Although the building may sometimes be referred to as a chapel, the room used as a chapel for religious services is only one component of the standard meetinghouse. The church maintains a virtual tour online of a typical example and also an online meetinghouse locator, which can be used to find the locations and meeting times of its congregations all over the world. Regional church organizations, encompassing multiple congregations, include stakes, missions, districts, areas, and regions.

Pew 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study[125] Mormons (U.S.) U.S. Avg.
Married 66% 49%
Divorced or separated 7% 11%
Have children under 18 41% 31%
Attendance at religious services (weekly or more) 77% 40%

The church reports a worldwide membership of 16 million;[126] This is the church's own accounting, based on membership records. The church's definition of "membership" includes all persons who were ever baptized, or whose parents were members while the person was under the age of eight called "members of record" (LDS Church 2006, pp. 145–46), who have neither been excommunicated nor asked to have their names removed from church records [127] with approximately 8.3 million residing outside the United States, as of December 2011.[128][129] According to these statistics it is the fourth largest religious body in the United States.[130][131][132] The church membership report includes all baptized members and their children. Although the church does not release attendance figures to the public, researchers estimate that actual attendance at weekly LDS worship services globally is around 4 million.[64] Members living in the U.S. and Canada constitute 46 percent of membership, Latin America 38 percent, and members in the rest of the world 16 percent.[133] The 2012 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, found that approximately 2 percent of the U.S. adult population self identified as Mormon.[125]

The church continues to seek recognition in regions where it has had little or no influence. On August 30, 2010, church leaders announced that they were making significant progress[clarification needed] on "regularized operations for the Church in China".[134]

Priesthood hierarchy

Russell M. Nelson, current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The LDS Church is organized in a hierarchical priesthood structure administered by men. Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus leads the church through revelation and has chosen a single man, called "the Prophet" or President of the Church, as his spokesman on the earth. While there have been exceptions in the past, he and two counselors are normally ordained apostles and form the First Presidency, the presiding body of the church; twelve other apostles form the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.[135] When a president dies, his successor is invariably the most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve (the one who has been an apostle the longest), who reconstitutes a new First Presidency.[135] Following the death of church president Thomas S. Monson on January 2, 2018, senior apostle Russell M. Nelson was named president on January 14.[136] These men, and the other male members of the church-wide leadership (including the first two Quorums of Seventy and the Presiding Bishopric) are called general authorities. They exercise both ecclesiastical and administrative leadership over the church and direct the efforts of regional leaders down to the local level. General authorities and mission presidents work full-time and typically receive stipends from church funds or investments.[137]

Twice each year (in April and October), general authorities address the worldwide church through general conference, which includes five two-hour sessions over the course of two days. General conference sessions are translated into as many as 80 languages and are broadcast from the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City.[138] In addition to general conference, general authorities speak to church members in local congregations throughout the world; they also frequently speak to youth[139] and young adults[140] in special broadcasts and at the Church Educational System schools, such as Brigham Young University.[141]

At the local level, the church leadership are drawn from the laity and work on a part-time volunteer basis without stipend.[142] Like all members, they are asked to donate a tithe of 10 percent of their income to the church. An exception to that rule is for LDS missionaries, who work at the local level and are paid basic living expenses from a fund that receives contributions from their families or home congregations. However, prospective missionaries are encouraged to contribute the cost of their missions to this fund themselves when possible. Members volunteer general custodial work for local church facilities.

Interior of the Conference Center where the church holds its General Conferences twice a year.

All males who are living the standards of the church are generally considered for the priesthood and are ordained to the priesthood as early as age 11. Ordination occurs by a ceremony where hands are laid on the head of the one ordained. The priesthood is divided into three Aaronic priesthood quorums for young men 11 and up, and a Melchizedek priesthood quorum for men 18 and up.[143][144]

Programs and organizations

Under the leadership of the priesthood hierarchy are five organizations that fill various roles in the church: Relief Society (a women's organization),[145] the Young Men and Young Women organizations (for adolescents ages 12 to 18), Primary (an organization for children up to age 12), and Sunday School (which provides a variety of Sunday classes for adolescents and adults). Women serve as presidents and counselors in the presidencies of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary, while men serve as presidents and counselors of the Young Men and Sunday School.[146] The church also operates several programs and organizations in the fields of proselytizing, education, and church welfare such as LDS Humanitarian Services. Many of these organizations and programs are coordinated by the Priesthood Correlation Program, which is designed to provide a systematic approach to maintain worldwide consistency, orthodoxy, and control of the church's ordinances, doctrines, organizations, meetings, materials, and other programs and activities.

The carillon tower at Brigham Young University, one of several educational institutions sponsored by the church

The church operates a Church Educational System which includes Brigham Young University (BYU) (and its associated Jerusalem Center), BYU–Idaho, BYU–Hawaii, and LDS Business College. The church also operates Institutes of Religion near the campuses of many colleges and universities. For high-school aged youth, the church operates a four-year Seminary program, which provides religious classes for students to supplement their secular education. The church also sponsors a low-interest educational loan program known as the Perpetual Education Fund, which provides educational opportunities to students from developing nations.[6]

The church's Family History Library is the world's largest library dedicated to genealogical research

The church's welfare system, initiated during the Great Depression, provides aid to the poor. It is financed by fast offerings: monthly donations beyond the normal 10 percent tithe, which represents the cost of forgoing two meals on monthly Fast Sundays. Money from the program is used to operate Bishop's storehouses, which package and store food at low cost. Distribution of funds and food is administered by local bishops. The church also distributes money through its LDS Philanthropies division to disaster victims worldwide.

Other church programs and departments include Family Services, which provides assistance with adoption, marital and family counseling, psychotherapy, and addiction counseling; the LDS Church History Department, which collects church history and records; and the Family History Department, which administers the church's large family history efforts, including the world's largest family history library and organization (FamilySearch).[147] For over 100 years, the church was also a major sponsor of Scouting programs for boys, particularly in the United States, where it provided more members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) than any other church.[148] In May 2018, the church announced it will no longer sponsor BSA programs, effective the end of 2019.[149]


Although the church has not released church-wide financial statements since 1959, in 1997, Time magazine called it one of the world's wealthiest churches per capita.[150] In a June 2011 cover story, Newsweek stated that the LDS Church "resembles a sanctified multinational corporation—the General Electric of American religion, with global ambitions and an estimated net worth of $30 billion".[151] Its for-profit, non-profit, and educational subsidiary entities are audited by an independent accounting firm: as of 2007, some done by Deloitte & Touche.[152][153] In addition, the church employs an independent audit department that provides its certification at each annual general conference that church contributions are collected and spent in accordance with church policy.[154]

The church receives significant funds from tithes and fast offerings. According to the church, tithing and fast offering money is devoted to ecclesiastical purposes and not used in for-profit ventures.[155]

The church has also invested in for-profit business and real estate ventures such as Bonneville International, Deseret Book Company, City Creek Center, and cattle ranches in Utah, Florida, Nebraska, Canada and other locations.[156]

It has been estimated that the LDS Church received $33-billion in donations from its members in 2010 and, during the decade of the 2010s to net about $15-billion gains per year. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the LDS Church's worth at $40 billion as of 2012.[157]

In December 2019, a whistleblower alleged the church holds over $100 billion in investment funds through its investment management company, Ensign Peak Advisors; that it failed to use the funds for charitable purposes and instead used them in for-profit ventures; and that it misled contributors and the public about the usage and extent of those funds. According to the whistleblower, applicable law requires the funds be used for religious, educational or other charitable purposes for the fund to maintain its tax-exempt status.[158] Other commentators have argued that such expenditures may not be legally required as claimed.[159] In response to the allegations, the church's First Presidency stated that "the Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves," and that "a portion" of funds received by the church are "methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future".[160]


Due to the differences in lifestyle promoted by church doctrine and history, members of the church have developed a distinct culture. It is primarily concentrated in the Intermountain West. Many of the church's more distinctive practices include adhering to the Word of Wisdom, a health law or code which outlines guidelines for maintaining good health. Among these guidelines are instructions prohibiting the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, coffee, tea, and improper drug use.[89] As a result of members adhering to the Word of Wisdom, areas of the world with a high concentration of LDS members practice these restrictions. They sometimes come into conflict with local retail businesses that serve non-members.[161][162]

Meetings and outreach programs are held regularly and have become part of Latter-day Saint culture.

Media and arts

The culture has created substantial business opportunities for independent LDS media. Such communities include cinema, fiction, websites, and graphical art such as photography and paintings. The church owns a chain of bookstores called Deseret Book, which provide a channel through which publications are sold. Titles including The Work and the Glory and The Other Side of Heaven have found acceptance both within and outside the church[clarification needed]; BYU TV, the church-sponsored television station, also airs on several networks. The church also produces several pageants annually depicting various events of the primitive and modern-day church. Its Easter pageant Jesus the Christ has been identified as the "largest annual outdoor Easter pageant in the world".[163]

No question the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "having a moment" ... The Twilight vampire novels of Mormon Stephenie Meyer sell tens of millions of copies, Mormon convert Glenn Beck inspires daily devotion and outrage with his radio show, and HBO generated lots of attention with the Big Love finale. Even Broadway has gotten in on the act, giving us The Book of Mormon, a big-budget musical about Mormon missionaries by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q writer Robert Lopez that, with 14 nominations, is expected to clean up at the (2011) Tony Awards on June 12.

— Newsweek magazine, June 2011[151]

Home and family

In 1995, the church's First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve issued "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", which stresses the importance of the family. The proclamation states that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children." The document further says that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose," that the father and mother have differing but equal roles in raising children, and that successful marriages and families, founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, can last eternally.[164] This document is widely cited by LDS members as a statement of principle.[165]

LDS Church members are encouraged to set aside one evening a week to spend together in what is called "Family Home Evening" (often abbreviated to FHE).

The adult women (members of the church's Relief Society) in a congregation meet at least quarterly for additional instruction and service. The meetings may consist of a service project, conferences, or of various classes being offered.

After interviewing and polling thousands of youth across America, evangelical statistician Christian Smith wrote in 2005, "in general comparisons among major U.S. religious traditions using a variety of sociological measures of religious vitality and salience ... it is Mormon teenagers who are sociologically faring the best."[166][clarification needed]

Social events and gatherings

Additional meetings are also frequently held at the meetinghouse. Church officers may conduct leadership meetings or host training sessions and classes. The ward or branch community may schedule social activities at the meetinghouse, including dances, dinners, holiday parties and musical presentations. The church's Young Men and Young Women organizations meet at the meetinghouse once a week, where the youth participate in activities. In 2020, the church implemented a new initiative for children & youth worldwide (for ages 7–18) that focuses on four areas of personal and group development, and which replaced all other programs as of January 1 of that year.[167] Other popular activities are basketball, family history conferences, youth and singles conferences, dances, and various personal improvement classes.

Also beginning with the new initiative in 2020, during the summer, the LDS Church provides week-long experiences, known as For the Strength of Youth Conferences. This effectively replaced what was previously known as Especially for Youth, offered through BYU. The program is held Monday through Saturday during the summer months for youth ages 14 to 18. During this week, youth spend the night in college campus dorms and the day in various classes taught by adult religious educators, as well as participating in other various activities such as scripture study and dances.[168]

The LDS Church was the largest chartered organization in the Boy Scouts of America (Scouting program), having joined the Boy Scouts of America as its first charter organization in 1913.[169][170] In 2020, the church ended its relationship with the BSA and began an alternate, religion-centered youth program.[171] Prior to leaving the Scouting program, LDS Scouts made up nearly 20 percent of all enrolled Boy Scouts.[172]

Political involvement

The LDS Church takes no partisan role in politics, stating that it will not "endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms; allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes; attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to ... or attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader".[173]

While the church takes an apolitical approach to candidates, it encourages its members to play an active role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections. It actively works to counter anti-Mormonism that may come up during political campaigns. A 2012 Pew Center on Religion and Public Life survey indicates that 74 percent of U.S. members lean towards the Republican Party.[174] Some liberal members say they feel that they have to defend their worthiness due to political differences.[175]

The official church stance on staying out of politics does not include if there are instances of what church leaders deem to be moral issues. It has previously opposed same-sex marriage in California Prop 8, supported a gay rights bill in Salt Lake City which bans discrimination against homosexual persons in housing and employment,[176][177] opposed gambling, opposed storage of nuclear waste in Utah,[178][179] and supported the Utah Compact. It also opposed a ballot initiative legalizing medicinal marijuana in Utah,[180] but supports a possible alternative to it. Jack N. Gerard, a general authority who serves as executive director of the church's Public Affairs Department stated, "The Church does not object to the medicinal use of marijuana, if doctor-prescribed, in dosage form, through a licensed pharmacy."[181]

Thirteen persons identified as members of the LDS Church served in the 115th United States Congress.[182] Utah's governor, Gary Herbert, is also a church member.[183] Church member Mitt Romney was the Republican Party's nominee in the U.S. 2012 presidential election. Jon Huntsman Jr. sought the Republican nomination until his withdrawal in early 2012.[184]

In the 116th United States Congress, there are 10 LDS Church members, including all six members of Utah's congressional delegation. Eight are Republicans and two are Democrats.[185]

Humanitarian services

U.S. Navy sailors moving LDS Church-donated humanitarian supplies to Beirut, Lebanon, in 2006

The LDS Church provides worldwide humanitarian service.[186][187] The church's welfare and humanitarian efforts are coordinated by LDS Philanthropies (LDSP), a church department under the direction of the Presiding Bishopric. Welfare efforts, originally initiated during the Great Depression, provide aid for the poor, financed by donations from church members. LDSP is also responsible for philanthropic donations to the LDS Church and other affiliated charities, such as the Church History Library, the Church Educational System—which includes Brigham Young University, the Perpetual Education Fund, and the Polynesian Cultural Center—the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and efforts dedicated to providing funds for LDS missionaries and temple construction.[188][not specific enough to verify] Donations are also used to operate bishop's storehouses, which package and store food for the poor at low cost, and provide other local services.[189]

The church also distributes money and aid to disaster victims worldwide.[190]

In 2005, the church partnered with Catholic Relief Services to provide aid to Niger,[191] and it has also partnered with Islamic Relief to help victims of flooding in Pakistan.[192]

LDS Charities increased food production during the COVID-19 pandemic and donated healthcare supplies to 16 countries affected by the crisis.[193][194][195][196][197]

Controversy and criticism

The LDS Church has been subject to criticism and sometimes discrimination since its early years in New York and Pennsylvania. In the late 1820s, criticism centered around the claim by Joseph Smith to have been led to a set of gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was reputedly translated.

In the 1830s, the greatest criticism was for Smith's handling of a banking failure in Kirtland, Ohio. After the Mormons migrated west, there was fear and suspicion about the LDS Church's political and military power in Missouri, culminating in the 1838 Mormon War and the infamous Mormon Extermination Order (Missouri Executive Order 44) by Governor Lilburn Boggs. In the 1840s, criticism of the church centered on its theocratic aspirations in Nauvoo, Illinois. Criticism of the practice of plural marriage and other doctrines taught by Smith were published in the Nauvoo Expositor. Opposition led to a series of events culminating in murder of Smith and his brother while jailed in 1844.

Protesters in front of the Newport Beach California Temple voicing their opposition to the church's support of Prop 8

As the church began openly practicing plural marriage under Brigham Young during the second half of the 19th century, the church became the target of nationwide criticism for that practice, as well as for the church's theocratic aspirations in the Utah Territory. Beginning in 1857, the church also came under significant media criticism after the Mountain Meadows massacre in southern Utah.

Academic critics have questioned the legitimacy of Smith as a prophet as well as the historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. Criticism has expanded to include claims of historical revisionism, homophobia, racism, and sexist policies. Notable 20th-century critics include Jerald and Sandra Tanner and historian Fawn Brodie. Evangelical Christians continue to argue that Smith was either fraudulent or delusional.

Mormon apologetics organizations, such as the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), have been founded to counter these criticisms. Most of the apologetic work focuses on providing and discussing evidence supporting the claims of Smith and the Book of Mormon. Scholars and authors such as Hugh Nibley, Daniel C. Peterson, Jeff Lindsay, Orson Scott Card, and James E. Talmage are well-known apologists within the church.

During the civil rights era of the 1960s and 1970s, the LDS Church was criticized for its policy of excluding black men of African descent from the priesthood, a policy that the church changed in 1978.[198] In more recent years, the Internet has provided a new forum for proponents and critics of religions, including the LDS Church.[199][200]

The church's support in 2008 of California's Proposition 8 sparked heated debate and protest by gay-rights organizations and others.[201][202][203] The church expressed support for a Salt Lake City ordinance protecting members of the LGBT community against discrimination in employment and housing while allowing religious institutions to consider lifestyles in actions such as hiring or providing university accommodations.[204] Further controversy resulted in late 2015, when the church changed its guidance to lay leaders about same-sex unions and about minor children living in the home of a parent in a same-sex relationship, whether natural or adopted.[205] The policy said that these children should only be baptized after reaching legal age, and only if they did not live with parents who were in a same-sex cohabitation or marriage. In addition, it said that these children should reject the practice of homosexual marriage or cohabitation. The church said that this baptism policy is designed to protect children.[206] In April 2019, the church reversed course on this policy, citing efforts to be more accepting to people of all kinds of backgrounds. Church leaders described these changes not as a change in doctrine but as one on policy.[207][208]

Jewish groups, including the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, criticized the LDS Church in 1995 after discovering that vicarious baptisms for the dead for victims of the Holocaust had been performed by members of the church.[209][210] After that criticism, church leaders put a policy in place to stop the practice, with an exception for baptisms specifically requested or approved by victims' relatives.[211] Jewish organizations again criticized the church in 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2012[212][213] stating that the church failed to honor the 1995 agreement.[211] The LDS Church says it has put institutional safeguards in place to avoid the submission of the names of Holocaust victims not related to Mormon members, but that the sheer number of names submitted makes policing the database of names impractical.[209]

Due to doctrinal differences, the LDS Church is generally considered to be distinct and separate from mainstream Christianity by Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, which express differences with one another but consider each other's churches to be Christian.[14][214]

The church's lack of transparency about its finances has drawn criticism from commentators who consider the church's practices too secretive.[215][216][217] The disclosure of the $100 billion church-controlled fund has led to criticism that the church's wealth may be excessive.[218]

See also


  1. ^ "Chapter 7: Personal, Abiding Testimony". Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2011. pp. 62–70.[dead link]
  2. ^ Green, Doyle L. (January 1971). "April 6, 1830: The Day the Church Was Organized". Ensign. Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "2019 Worldwide Statistics". Intellectual Reserve, Inc. April 6, 2020. Archived from the original on March 25, 2020. Retrieved April 11, 2020.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 5, 2020. Retrieved April 4, 2020.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ At the end of 2018, the number of full-time and church service missionaries was 98,354.
  6. ^ a b "Topic: Education",, LDS Church, archived from the original on June 27, 2019, retrieved September 23, 2014
  7. ^ "2017 Statistical Report for 2018 April Conference". Intellectual Reserve, Inc. March 31, 2018. Archived from the original on June 29, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  8. ^ "National Council of Churches News: Church giving drops $1.2 billion reports 2012 Yearbook of Churches",, National Council of Churches, March 20, 2012, archived from the original on August 24, 2013, retrieved June 30, 2014
  9. ^ "LDS Statistics and Church Facts | Total Church Membership". Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Archived from the original on June 28, 2019. Retrieved September 13, 2018.
  10. ^ Smith 1976, p. 121 "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."
  11. ^ Monson, Thomas S. (January 2003), "The Way of the Master", Ensign: 2–7
  12. ^ "For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ." Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:12
  13. ^ Articles of Faith 1:8
  14. ^ a b Kennedy, John W. (February 2004), "Winning them softly", Christianity Today, 48 (2), archived from the original on October 14, 2006, retrieved October 7, 2006
  15. ^ Oaks, Dallin H. (May 2008), "Testimony", Ensign, Perhaps the puzzle some feel can be explained by the reality that each of us has two different channels to God. We have a channel of governance through our prophet and other leaders. This channel, which has to do with doctrine, ordinances, and commandments, results in obedience. We also have a channel of personal testimony, which is direct to God. This has to do with His existence, our relationship to Him, and the truth of His restored gospel. This channel results in knowledge.
  16. ^ "Age Changes for Youth Progression and Ordination Announced - Church News and Events". Archived from the original on July 14, 2019. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  17. ^ "Age-Group Progression for Children and Youth, January 2019" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on June 29, 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  18. ^ Ballard, M. Russell (November 2007), "Faith, Family, Facts, and Fruits", Ensign
  19. ^ Neuenschwander, Dennis B. (November 2001), "Ordinances and Covenants", Liahona
  20. ^ a b "Don't use 'Mormon' or 'LDS' as church name, president says". NBC News. August 16, 2018.
  21. ^ a b "Stop calling the Mormon Church 'Mormon,' says church leader. 'LDS' is out, too". Washington Post. August 17, 2018.
  22. ^ Scholars and eyewitnesses disagree whether the church was organized in Manchester, New York at the Smith log home, or in Fayette at the home of Peter Whitmer. Bushman 2005, p. 109; Marquardt 2005, pp. 223–23 (arguing that organization in Manchester is most consistent with eye-witness statements). The LDS Church officially favors organization in Fayette.Lloyd, R. Scott (May 22, 2009), "'Major discovery' discussed at Mormon History Association Conference", LDS Church News, LDS Church, archived from the original on March 27, 2019, retrieved September 23, 2014
  23. ^ Doctrine and Covenants 115:4.
  24. ^ Book of Mormon, "Introduction".
  25. ^ Bushman 2005, p. 122; LDS D&C 57:1–3; LDS D&C 84:4: "the city New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at [Jackson County, Missouri], even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared in this generation".
  26. ^ Brodie 1971, p. 97 (citing letter by Smith to Kirtland converts, quoted in Howe 1833, p. 111). In 1834, Smith designated Kirtland as one of the "stakes" of Zion, referring to the tent–stakes metaphor of Isaiah 54:2.
  27. ^ Smith et al. 1835, p. 154; Bushman 2005, p. 162; Brodie 1971, p. 109.
  28. ^ Smith said in 1831 that God intended the Mormons to "retain a strong hold in the land of Kirtland, for the space of five years". (Doctrine and Covenants 64:21).
  29. ^ Bushman 2005, pp. 222–27; Brodie 1971, p. 137 (noting that the brutality of the Jackson Countians aroused sympathy for the Mormons and was almost universally deplored by the media).
  30. ^ Brodie 1971, pp. 141, 146–59; Bushman 2005, p. 322.
  31. ^ Brodie 1971, p. 101; Arrington 1992, p. 21 (by summer of 1835, there were 1500 to 2000 Saints in Kirtland); Desert Morning News 2008 Church Almanac p. 655 (from 1831 to 1838, church membership grew from 680 to 17,881).
  32. ^ Bushman 2005, pp. 310–19; Brodie 1971, p. 178.
  33. ^ Bushman 2005, pp. 328–38; Brooke 1994, p. 221 ("Ultimately, the rituals and visions dedicating the Kirtland temple were not sufficient to hold the church together in the face of a mounting series of internal disputes.")
  34. ^ Roberts 1905, p. 24 (referring to the Far West church as the "church in Zion"); Bushman 2005, p. 345 (The revelation calling Far West "Zion" had the effect of "implying that Far West was to take the place of Independence".)
  35. ^ Bushman 2005, pp. 357–364; Brodie 1971, pp. 227–30; Remini 2002, p. 134; Quinn 1994, pp. 97–98.
  36. ^ Bushman 2005, p. 367 (Boggs' executive order stated that the Mormon community had "made war upon the people of this State" and that "the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace"). In 1976, Missouri issued a formal apology for this unconstitutional order (Bushman 2005, p. 398).
  37. ^ Bushman 2005, pp. 383–84.
  38. ^ Bushman 2005, p. 409; Brodie 1971, pp. 258, 264–65.
  39. ^ Brodie 1971, pp. 334–36; Bushman 2005, pp. 437, 644.
  40. ^ LDS D&C 132:18–20
  41. ^ Kimball, Spencer W. (October 1975), "The Lord's Plan for Men and Women", Ensign
  42. ^ Widmer 2000, p. 119 (Smith echoed the words of Paul that faithful saints may become co-heirs with Jesus Romans 8:17); Roberts 1909, pp. 502–03; Bushman 2005, pp. 497–98 (the second anointing provided a conditional guarantee that those persons who were pure and faithful would be exalted, even if they sinned, if they were sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise).
  43. ^ Quinn 1994, pp. 120–22; Bushman 2005, pp. 519–21 (describing the Council of Fifty noting that Smith prophesied "the entire overthrow of this nation in a few years", at which time the Kingdom of God would be prepared to lead)
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  47. ^ Many local Illinoisans were uneasy with Mormon power, and their unease was fanned by the local media after Smith suppressed a newspaper containing an exposé regarding plural marriage, theocracy, and other sensitive and oft-misinterpreted issues. The suppression resulted in Smith being arrested, tried, and acquitted for "inciting a riot". On June 25, Joseph let himself be arrested and tried for the riot charges again, this time in Carthage, the county seat, where he was incarcerated without bail on a new charge of treason. Bentley, Joseph I. (1992), "Smith, Joseph: Legal Trials of Joseph Smith", in Ludlow, Daniel H (ed.), Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan Publishing, pp. 1346–1348, ISBN 0-02-879602-0, OCLC 24502140
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  49. ^ Quinn 1994, p. 143; Brodie (1971, p. 398).
  50. ^ Bushman 2005, pp. 556–57.
  51. ^ Smith's position as Prophet and President of the Church was originally left vacant, but later filled when the apostles could regroup based on the restored principle that the most senior apostle would always be the next President of the Church. As a result, Young, and any other senior apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve, would be ordained President of the Church as a matter of course upon the death of the former President, subject to unanimous agreement of the Quorum of the Twelve.
  52. ^ Quinn 1994, pp. 198–211.
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  57. ^ The most notable instance of violence during this war was the tragic Mountain Meadows massacre, in which leaders of a local Mormon militia, contrary to top church leaders orders, ordered the massacre of a civilian emigrant party who had the misfortune of traveling through Utah during the escalating military tensions. The Mormons feared the mobs which murdered their families at the Haun's mill massacre and other illegal thefts of land, and murders which had plagued them back east.
  58. ^ To combat the notion that rank-and-file Mormons were unhappy under Young's leadership, Cumming noted that he had offered to help any leave the territory who desired. Of the 50,000 inhabitants of the territory of Utah, the underwhelming response—56 men, 33 women, and 71 children, most of whom stated they left for economic reasons—impressed Cumming, as did the fact that Mormon leaders contributed supplies to the emigrants. Cumming to [Secretary of State Lewis Cass], written by Thomas Kane, May 2, 1858, BYU Special Collections.
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