The Mormon Church: An American Original
March 24, 2013
World History From 1500 H
Mitt Romney was a competitive candidate in the 2012 presidential campaign, and he is a Mormon. David Archuleta is popular American song writer and singer who nearly won American Idol back in 2008, and he is a Mormon. Andy Reid, the well recognized NFL coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, is also a Mormon. Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions of recorded human history, and it is only getting bigger. So where did Mormonism come from? How did it alter history? And what are the lasting implications of it? The key to these questions all lay in one thing – history. The Mormon Church has forever left its footprint on the history that every American shares. Note: I am researching scholarly source, whether they are Mormon or not, on the history of the church. I am not researching on the religious views of the Mormon Church leaders. The Mormon Church was created into existence when the founder Joseph Smith, Jr. and five of his followers gathered on April, 1830 in upstate New York. They originally intended calling the new religion the Church of Christ, but the unofficial name Mormon (originating from the Book of Mormon) would gain acceptance and popularity among the members. The official name of the church would be changed two more times.1 1. Codell Carter, Godhood (in Ludlow, Daniel H., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, New York: Macmillan, 1992) 553 First, in 1834, it was changed to the Church of the Latter-day-Saints and then again in 1838 to its now present name Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day-Saints, or LDS for short. The Mormon Church was not accepted among most New Yorkers during the time of the Second Great Awakening because of its new, differentiating theology and practices.1 Many people who knew of Joseph Smith, Jr. did not view him as a creditable source, for he was often in trouble with the law and had as what many neighbors described as a shady background.2 Going on, Joseph Smith, Jr. sent missionaries to spread his new gospel containing the entire Christian canon and additional writings to the people of Kirkland, Ohio where Smith wanted to eventually move his church. By the beginning of 1831, nearly a hundred members had been baptized into the church in New York and a similar number in Ohio.3 The church was headquartered in New York, but after Smith said he had divine revelation, the entire church body moved to one specific location in Kirkland, Ohio. In May of 1831, nearly all members were living in Kirkland. Smith believed he had gotten revelation to establish a New Jerusalem, which would be centered in Jackson County, Missouri, and name it Zion.4 Soon after the Mormons had migrated to Kirkland, Smith began making plans for another transition of the church.
1. Kenneth Godfrey, Comprehensive History of the Church, A (In Arnold K. Garr; Donald Q. Cannon; Richard O. Cowan. Encyclopedia of Latter-day Saint History. Salt Lake City, 2000) 64 2. Dean Jessee, The Reliability of Joseph Smith’s History (Journal of a Mormon History, 1976) 27 3. Godfrey 2
Before the church was able to successfully move to Jackson County, local settlers banished the church members because of uneasy tensions between the two. The settlers did not approve of the church’s new interpretation of the gospel and the lifestyle that followed. Smith and his followers decided to stay in Kirkland instead and build the first Mormon Temple where the most important rituals and sacraments could be performed. From 1830 to 1836, the population of Kirkland grew from 1,000 inhabitants to over 3,000 in part due to the cheap land prices and the Mormon culture.1 Wherever the Mormons settled, they mainly spread their religion through their next generation, and members were encouraged to procreate and have many offspring in order to spread the church. Smith would go on to acquire legislation to put him in control Kirtland Safety Society, a...
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