Professor Christopher Martinez
Introduction to World Religion
December 3, 2012
The Modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: A Secular Age and Integration
America was founded on the idea of religious freedom. Puritans, Catholics, Quakers and Anglicans formed the original colonies established on the east coast of what is now called the United States. Since the signing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787, a government was established that did not enforce any particular religion. This separation of religion from the government is known as secularism.
Similar to many words associated with government and politics, there are different moderations of secularism. Terms such as hard and soft, or conservative and liberal, are applied to measure the amount of leeway given to the separation. In terms of religion, the more conservative form of secularism implies a complete dissociation with religion and government. People should be free from religious rule and government implication of any religious ideals. The more liberal form of secularism retaliates that political decisions specifically should remain unbiased by religious beliefs. In the United States, state secularism is implied which allows for religion to remain separate from government, but also gives religion the power to gain support on some political issues. Many believe that in this sense, there should be a complete redefining of secularism, in which, the applied meaning moves away from state secularism and towards a more secular society. While the distinctions between the separation of church and state and the simultaneous protection of religious minorities (primarily in democratic societies) are vaguely defined in state secularism, the ideals of a secular society are intentionally simplistic. For example, although political groups are permitted to gain support on issues such as abortion, contraception, and same-sex marriage through religion within the means of state secularism, a secular society would support pluralistic and tolerant ideas through rational problem solving. In an ideal secular society, the respect for individuals and their groups would abolish discrimination based on class or social hierarchy. The integration of science and technology in religion has had both positive and negative results based on the particular religion as well as the varying degree of secular society ideals. The integration of religion in a secular age can be more closely examined through research of the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The Latter-Day Saints (LDS), inoffensively known as Mormons, is a religion that began in the 1820’s during a period of religious revival and has now become the fourth largest Christian denomination (“NCC”). Founded by Joseph Smith Jr. and believed to be a restoration of the Christian church that focused on the atonement of Jesus Christ. Despite the fact that both religions focus on salvation in the name of Jesus Christ, Mormons have received much discrimination due to their alleged beginnings. Members believe that American-born prophets, Joseph Smith being the preliminary prophet, were anyone with a testimony of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was said to have been visited by the Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ, and was told that “none of the churches on the earth had the fullness of truth” (“Newsroom”). The idea was misconstrued and lead to persecution from fear of religious threat when the authenticity of Joseph Smith’s revelations was questioned. He was said to have been led by God himself to ancient writings and given means to translate them into what became known as The Book of Mormon. Later revelations became the doctrines and covenants used to better understand the 13 articles of faith. To Christians, this ‘re-writing’ of biblical text discredited the true non-American prophets (Moses, Abraham, Isaiah, etc.), although the current LDS faith promotes that all religions stem from God’s true...
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