When my life I wanted to take this assignment

When we covered Christianity as a
whole, most of the topics involved Catholicism as its historical basis and a
reflection of the majority of Christianity, then how Protestantism or Orthodoxy
related to it throughout it’sAA1  own history. Something we did not
cover in much detail, except for a particularly moving Family History
presentation, was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Given
its small stature within Christianity, I was not surprised we did not cover it,
but after coming across so many random articles about LDS in my life I wanted
to take this assignment as a means to learn more about it. From South Park’s
popular coverage and the subsequent Book of Mormon play to 60 Minute’sAA2  pieces about child brides in LDS
churches far off in the secluded deserts, I have heard many questionable things
about the LDS and this makes me genuinely curious what kind of history could
lie behind such a scorned branch of Christianity.

The church begins with its founder
and prophet, Joseph Smith. Founded in New York state in 1830, Smith started his
search for followers after he claimed to have been gifted ancient scripture on
gold plates by God. Since they were so old, he did not know the language, but
God then also gave him the ability to translate them. On them wasAA3  records, written by prophets, of
God interacting with ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem which branched into a
couple different tribes over time. Only he,AA4  and 11 others Smith said, were
allowed to see the truths and divinity contained within them first-hand (LDS
Scripture, n.d). This would bring us to the first aspect of Smart’s DAA5 imensions we see, the MAA6 ythic. After receiving the gold
plates and forming his ideals, Smith wrote The Book of Mormon which details
these records in a story format and is regarded as similar to the Bible to LDS
followers. Since only those 11 and Smith had actually seen the plates in
person, The Book of Mormon would act as the transcriptions of them for his
followers. He would also write other revelations about God and Jesus Christ
which were revisions to the Bible and its stories, as it had been corrupted
over the ages Smith explained, as well being very important documents. Most
importantly and most interesting for RAA7 eligious scholars is he also
documented his travels, which though also revered by followers, are important
for us because they give a first hand perspective into the supposed reasoning
Smith had for doing certain things or going somewhere. 

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Around a similar time to developing
the revelations, in 1842 Smith penned 13 Statements of Doctrine in the Articles
of Faith that detail the basic teachings and beliefs of the Mormon Church,
bringing us to Smart’s Doctrinal Dimension of ReligionAA8 . These include some controversial
statements for Christianity, especially at the time, such as exonerating the
concept of Original Sin, proclaiming that Zion will be built in America for
Christ’s return, and that his Book of Mormon was divine scripture. Given the
extreme nature of thisAA9  claims during the 1800s, it’s easy
to understand why LDS were pushed away from other religious communities and
frequently persecuted by the communities in which they tried to establish
themselves. Other more benign beliefs includeAA10  you must be AA11 honest and true, baptism and other sacraments lead to
salvation, and a belief in the Holy Trinity (Articles of Faith, n.d.). The
Articles of Faith are the most basic belief for Mormons and are shared by all
believers indiscriminately. Perhaps it is not a comparable tradition per-se, but the way LDS
formed in such a dramatic fashion reminds me of the way Protestantism developed
under Martin Luther. Such that nailing the 99 theses on the church doors was a
very public and controversial way to confess the schism from mainline
Christianity andAA12  this fits the theme of Smith’s bold
proclamations of prophecy and divinity. AA13 

As a new sect of Christianity, Smith
moved the headquarters frequently due to persecution from locals, once even
trying to retake headquarters in Missouri by force. He said that the land (Clay
County, Missouri) was to become the City of Zion, and he was ordered by God to
take this land for his kingdom. Once realizing he was outnumbered by the local
Militia, he proclaimed that they were not worthy yet to begin Zion’s
establishment (LDS Scripture, n.d). As such he moved the church to Ohio,
Missouri, Illinois, and then finally to the Great Salt Lakes in 1847 by Smith’s
successor, Brigham Young. Smith had been murdered by a mob in 1844 while
awaiting trial in Illinois, not his first run in AA14 with the law as the Governor of Missouri had even signed an
executive order expelling Mormons in 1838 (Rothera, 2016). Many British and
European converts followed them to Utah as a result of their missionary efforts
and preaching along the way at their many headquarters which then helped to
establish the Utah Territory as a Mormon stronghold. It became the new Zion
where Mormons cultivated and worked the land, impressively turning a mostly
arid and inhospitable land into a central hub for those traveling west.
Ironically, this would not be an outcome they wanted

Though they remained dominant in the
region they were not able to seclude themselves as events such as Federal
Expansion in 1858, the Gold Rush in 1863, and the Transcontinental Railroad in
1869 pushed Non-Mormons west and eventually they began to occupy the area as well
(Esplin & Randall, 2014). The desire for seclusion and establishment of a
totally Mormon state, Zion, was beginning to crumble and not be possible since
they could not forcefully keep anyone out. Today we can still see the effects
of the Mormons taking up the Utah territory though, as not only are they the
majority in Salt Lake City and much of Utah, they have also written many
still-existing laws around Mormon ideals in the area that affect NAA15 on-Mormons too. Such circumstances affected life back then as
well to a greater extent, for despite the growing NAA16 on-Mormon populations, public schooling took place within
LDS Church meeting places and LDS scripture was mandatory curriculum.
Eventually as the church continued to take major part of public schooling,
people began to protest and develop AAA17 nti-Mormon sentiment as the Mormon Church held onto its
control of the territory’s politics and the FAA18 ederal government had to step in; By 1930 they no longer had
a say in the education system.

This idea of Mormon isolationism and
Mormon-centered schooling heavily reflects the Social and Institutional aspect
of Smart’s DAA19 imensions. At the time, the idea was to mimic Catholic
schooling in creating a community surrounding the religion, and the isolation
of the Utah territory gave them this ability. Though this is no longer the
case, the Institutional and Social aspect of Mormonism is still a critical part
of their philosophy, as the communities of Mormons formed since the Utah
expansion still exist and therefore Mormons usually exist within strong knit
communities composed of only Mormons. A result of this is something brought up
during the Family History presentations, AA20 only marriages within the Mormon church are recognized,
marriages to Non-Mormons are incredibly frowned upAA21 , and proselytizing is a defining aspect of Mormonism. This
is to say that Mormonism as a whole is based upon forming a strong community,
and moving outside of that is unacceptable unless it is to grow the Mormon
church. Out of all the dimensions discussed so far, from my observations this
would be the most prominent and important in Mormonism. Given the way Mormons
constantly fled after trying to establish themselves, the importance given to
trying to find this Zion in America, and the way they essentially made the Utah
Territory into a habitable area reflects the strong sense of community that
acts as a pillar for the LDS.

            Just as you
have, hopefully, learned much about the beginning and history of the Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by the end of this essay so have I. Though I
knew a cursory amount about Mormonism, there was a reason I chose it for my
essay topic. At the start, I made a statement of interest that because of its
tumultuous reputation, I wanted to learn more about Mormonism because my
current knowledge was lacking in legitimate historical facts of it. This was
not necessarily to exonerate or condemn the religion in any way, but rather I
wanted to just know how such a controversial sect of Christianity started, had
it always been so scorned, how did it react to this, where did it begin, etc. I
would say that it seems the past of the LDS church has been just as racked with
allegations and dispute as the contemporary topics I am familiar with. At the
least I would say that the history of the LDS makes for a very good read, and you don’t
often hear about sects being expelled from states, murdered by mobs, or trying
to form armed revoltsAA22 .
















Scripture (n.d.). Retrieved December 05, 2017, from https://www.lds.org/scriptures


S. C., & Randall, E. V. (Jan, 2014). Living
in two worlds: the development and transition of Mormon education in American
society History Of Education, Vol. 43, Issue 1, Pgs. 3-30.


E. C. (March, 2016). The Tenacious ‘Twin
Relic’: Republicans, Polygamy, and The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. United States. Journal Of Supreme Court History,
Vol. 41, Issue 1, Pgs. 21-38.


Articles of Faith Explain Basic Mormon Doctrines. (n.d.). Retrieved December
06, 2017, from https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/articles-of-faith