When the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints started in 1830, it had no more than a dozen members but it now boasts of a membership of over 16 million congregants. That exponential rate of growth makes Mormonism one of the fastest growing religions in the world and actually the fastest in the US. There are still many myths surrounding the religion thanks to the controversial reputation surrounding some sects that emerged from the faith over the years and people tend to associate the religion with the cultic practices of these sects. However, there is a lot to love about Mormonism and these 10 popular myths need a second thought because they are simply not true…
All Mormons are polygamous
Polygamy has been outlawed in the LDS religion since 1890 after the then president Wilford Woodruff issued a decree commanding all members of the church to abide by the law of the land. There is a sect of Mormons called the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christs of Latter-Day Saints who still practice polygamy but it is not a universal practice in the religion. The Book of Mormon which is the main text agreed in the religion still supports the binding of multiple women to a man but less than 20% of members support it and the sects that practice polygamy are not considered LDS congregations.
All Mormons are Republicans
Utah is a majority Republican state which is why many people assume that all Mormons are conservatives but that is not the case. It is true that about 60% of Mormons identify as Republicans but the rest don’t and millions of Mormons from Nevada and other states around the US vote democrats. There are even democrat elected officials in the congress and the senate who are Mormons including former Nevada senator Harry Reid.
Mormons baptize dead bodies
It is true that Mormons do have a baptism for the dead but it doesn’t involve baptizing dead bodies. Baptism for the dead is a baptism by proxy practice where a relative can be baptized for the sake of their ancestors and loved ones who died without hearing or accepting the teachings of Jesus Christ as taught by the LDS. During the baptism, a living relative is immersed in water for the sake of their relatives. The practice has seen the church help members track down their relatives through what is now the largest genealogical database in the world.
Mormons worship naked in their temples
No one gets naked to worship in a Mormon temple. Most of the rumours about nudity relate to the ritual practices of washing and anointing which are now a lot more modernized. The rituals of anointing involve the pouring of oil on the head of the recipient who is dressed in a white robe while doing it. There is no form of sexual perversion during the ritual either as the officiators for men are fellow men and the same for women. The people to be anointed also come to the temple already dressed in their white robes and therefore no nudity is involved.
Mormons don’t use birth control
Mormons tend to have larger families than the average Americans or other western countries and therefore some people assume that birth control is prohibited in the religion. Sexual relations in during marriage in Mormonism are considered deeply private as is the decision to have or not to have children. You can choose when and how to have your children and that is a decision between you and God as per the doctrine handbook of the church. Children, once born are considered a blessing to both the church and to the parents.
Mormons practise blood atonement
The TV series Under the Banner of Heaven starring Andrew Garfield and Sam Worthington was heavily criticized by Mormon communities as vilifying the faith as it centres around this controversial Mormon topic. Blood atonement is a practice that involves killing a person that has sinned so that their own blood atones for their sins. While sects of the FLDS were associated with the practice in the past, it is not practised anywhere in modern Mormonism.
Mormons can’t be politicians
The relationship between the LDS and the US government has always been strained and that is why members of the religion were rarely associated with the political class. There is no Mormon teaching that prohibits members from holding political positions and the LDS has no shortage of prominent politicians either. Mitt Romney is a Mormon and he ran for president twice in 2008 and 2012 although he didn’t qualify. The LDS also has members of Congress on both sides of the house.
Mormons don’t believe in the bible
It is true, that Mormons have beliefs that differ from other Christian religions, especially where the trinity is concerned but they believe the bible to be the word of God. The bible is also quoted during regular sermons and in evangelical missions. Some people don’t consider Mormons as Christians because they follow teachings in the Book of Mormon among other texts, Mormonism is still Christianity because they believe in Jesus as the saviour of humanity just like other Christian churches.
All Mormons live in Utah
The history of the LDS means that the largest number of congregants in the US of the religion live in the state of Utah. However, the US only has about 5 million which is only about one-third of the church’s global membership. Tonga is actually the country with the largest number of Mormons followed by Samoa. The state of Utah has only two million or so Mormons which is a very small percentage of the church membership.
Mormons don’t party
Many people confuse Mormons for the Amish. While the teachings of the church prohibit drinking strong drinks which the church interpretation named as alcohol, coffee and tea. Mormons still party just like other people and everyone has their own way of enjoying the party. Mormons also dance and have fun so the misconception that they are naturally reserved moody people is wrong.
Do you know of any Mormons? Have you heard of any of these myths? Do lets us know in the comments below.