Portal:Latter Day Saints

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The Latter Day Saints Movement

Portrait of Joseph Smith, Jr
An 1842 portrait of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement

The Latter Day Saint movement (also called the LDS movement, LDS restorationist movement, or Smith–Rigdon movement) is the collection of independent church groups that trace their origins to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 16 million members. The vast majority of adherents—about 98%—belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), with their predominant theology being Mormonism. The LDS Church self-identifies as Christian. A minority of Latter Day Saint adherents, such as members of the Community of Christ, believe in traditional Protestant theology, and have distanced themselves from some of the distinctive doctrines of Mormonism. Other groups include the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which supports lineal succession of leadership from Smith's descendants, and the more controversial Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which defends the practice of polygamy.

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Polygamy (called plural marriage by Mormons in the 19th century or the Principle by modern fundamentalist practitioners of polygamy) was practiced by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890 by between 20 and 30 percent of Latter-day Saint families.

The Latter-day Saints' practice of polygamy has been controversial, both within Western society and the LDS Church itself. America was both fascinated and horrified by the practice of polygamy, with the Republican platform at one time referencing "the twin relics of barbarism—polygamy and slavery." The private practice of polygamy was instituted in the 1830s by founder Joseph Smith. The public practice of plural marriage by the church was announced and defended in 1852 by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Orson Pratt, by the request of church president Brigham Young.

For over 60 years, the LDS Church and the United States were at odds over the issue: the church defended the practice as a matter of religious freedom, while the federal government aggressively sought to eradicate it, consistent with prevailing public opinion. Polygamy was probably a significant factor in the Utah War of 1857 and 1858, given the Republican attempts to paint Democratic President James Buchanan as weak in his opposition to both polygamy and slavery. In 1862, the United States Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which prohibited plural marriage in the territories. In spite of the law, Mormons continued to practice polygamy, believing that it was protected by the First Amendment. In 1879, in Reynolds v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Morrill Act, stating: "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinion, they may with practices." Read more...

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View of the Colorado River from Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry (also known as Lee's Ferry, Lee Ferry, Little Colorado Station and Saints Ferry) is a site on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona in the United States, about 7.5 miles (12.1 km) southwest of Page and 9 miles (14 km) south of the Utah–Arizona border.

Due to its unique geography – the only place in hundreds of miles from which one can easily access the Colorado River from both sides – it historically served as an important river crossing and starting in the mid-19th century was the site of a ferry operated by John Doyle Lee, for whom it is named. Boat service at Lees Ferry continued for over 60 years before being superseded by a bridge in the early 20th century, which allowed for much more efficient automobile travel.

Lees Ferry served as a military outpost for 19th-century settlements in Utah, a center of limited gold seeking and since the 1920s the principal point at which river flow is measured to determine water allocations in the 246,000-square-mile (640,000 km2) Colorado River basin. Lees Ferry demarcates the boundary between the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River; the states which make up each basin are legally allocated one-half of the river's natural flow. Glen Canyon Dam impounds the Colorado a short distance upstream and completely regulates the river flow past Lees Ferry. Lees Ferry has long been a focal point of American Southwest water disputes, and has been called "both the physical and spiritual heart of water history in the arid West".[citation needed] Today Lees Ferry is a well-known fishing and boat launching point, including for whitewater rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. Read more...

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The Church of Jesus Christ is a Christian religious denomination headquartered in Monongahela, Pennsylvania, United States. The Church of Jesus Christ is a Restorationist church and is historically part of the Latter Day Saint movement. It has sometimes been referred to as a "Bickertonite church" or "Rigdonite organization" based upon the church's claims of succession through William Bickerton and Sidney Rigdon. The church does not use these terms in referring to itself.

The church is not officially affiliated with any other church, organization or denomination. As of July 2016, members are located throughout the world including North and South America, Europe, Asia and Africa—for a membership total of 22,537. The Church of Jesus Christ is considered "the third largest Restoration church to have resulted from the 1844 succession crisis".

The church considers itself the spiritual successor to the Church of Christ, organized by Joseph Smith on April 6, 1830. The church sees Sidney Rigdon as Smith's rightful successor following the assassination of Smith because Rigdon was Smith's first counselor in the First Presidency. Although the church acknowledges the Book of Mormon to be scripture, it does not consider itself to be a "Mormon church" as it views itself distinct from the largest Latter-day Saint church based in Utah, which has trademarked the term, "Mormon." Read more...

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James Strang in 1856 daguerreotype photograph

James Jesse Strang (March 21, 1813 – July 9, 1856) was an American religious leader, politician and monarch. In 1844 he claimed to have been appointed to be the successor of Joseph Smith as leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), a faction of the Latter Day Saint movement. Strang testified that he had possession of a letter from Smith naming him as his successor, and furthermore reported that he had been ordained to the prophetic office by an angel. His organization is claimed by his followers to be the sole legitimate continuation of the Church of Christ founded by Joseph Smith fourteen years before.

A major contender for leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints during the 1844 succession crisis after Smith's murder, Strang urged other prominent LDS leaders like Brigham Young and Sidney Rigdon to remain in their previous offices and to support his appointment by Joseph Smith. Brigham and the members of the Twelve Apostles loyal to him rejected Strang's claims, as did Sidney Rigdon, the highest ranking officer of the church. This divided the Latter Day Saint movement. During his 12 years tenure as Prophet, Seer and Revelator, Strang reigned for six years as the crowned "king" of an ecclesiastical monarchy that he established on Beaver Island in the US state of Michigan. Building an organization that eventually rivaled Young's in Utah, Strang gained nearly 12,000 adherents at a time when Young claimed only 50,000. After Strang was killed in 1856 most of his followers rallied under Joseph Smith III and joined the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Strangite church has remained small in comparison to other branches.

Similar to Joseph Smith, who was allegedly crowned King in Nauvoo prior to his death, Strang taught that the chief prophetic office embodied an overtly royal attribute. This its occupant was to be not only the spiritual leader of his people, but their temporal king as well. He offered a sophisticated set of teachings that differed in many significant aspects from any other version of Mormonism, including that preached by Smith. Like Smith, Strang published translations of two purportedly ancient lost works: the Voree Record, deciphered from three metal plates reportedly unearthed in response to a vision; and the Book of the Law of the Lord, supposedly transcribed from the Plates of Laban mentioned in the Book of Mormon. These are accepted as scripture by his followers, but not by any other Latter Day Saint church. Although his long-term doctrinal influence on the Latter Day Saint movement was minimal, several early members of Strang's organization helped to establish the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which became (and remains) the second-largest Mormon sect. While most of Strang's followers eventually disavowed him due to his eventual advocacy of polygamy, a small but devout remnant carries on his teachings and organization today. Read more...

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