Global Christianity Mormonism
Global Christianity

Religious movement officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS).

Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah

Mormonism began in the context of nineteenth-century American evangelicalism. However, Mormonism soon acquired features so distinctive that few outsiders regarded it as Christian. These features include new Scriptures, the practice of polygamy, the belief that humans have the potential to become gods, and an array of ceremonies not part of Christian churches. Mormonism began when Joseph Smith (1805-1844) claimed to discover tablets of gold buried in a hillside in Palmyra, New York; the translations of these tablets were published as the Book of Mormon in 1830. Smith claimed to restore Christianity to its ancient practices. But "gentiles" or non-Mormons objected to Mormon belief and practice. Amid political and financial scandals Joseph Smith was murdered in a jail cell in Carthage, Illinois; most Mormons then moved to Utah territory. This great migration took place in 1846-1848 and was led by Brigham Young (1801-1877), who became governor in Utah territory. The Mormon community became a state within a state and was suppressed by federal troops in 1857. In 1879 the Supreme Court, interpreting the constitutional settlement, ruled that religious freedom was not sufficient grounds for practicing polygamy. In 1890 the main branch of the LDS church outlawed polygamy, though it is still practiced by smaller sects. By the close of the Twentieth century the LDS numbered some 11 million members worldwide.

Luther Seminary | Copyright |

Map courtesy of General Libraries, the University of Texas at Austin.
Photo by Nick Utphall.