The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS church) is a religious organization with headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and adherents throughout the world. Worldwide, there are now more members outside the US than in the US.
It is the largest by far, having over eleven million members on their records, of several religious groups which claim to be the legitimate continuation of the religion originally founded in the State of New York by Joseph Smith, Jr. in 1830 allegedly as a restoration of the original apostolic Christian church. Smith's church was originally called simply the "Church of Christ", later the "Church of Latter-day Saints", and finally the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". The church is also commonly referred to as the "Mormons" or the "Mormon Church" by non-members. The nickname comes from The Book of Mormon, believed to be another testament of Jesus Christ, which the church accepts as scripture in addition to the Bible (King James version).
Compared with other religions the LDS church is a form of Christianity adapted for an American 1800s audience, supporting their contemporary views and providing additional scripture that describes biblical events that occurred the American continent. This is similar to Rastafarians's describing biblical connections for Ethiopia and claims during the height of the British Empire that the English were the Lost Tribe of Israel.
In 2001, the church requested that the official name, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" be used wherever possible, stating: "This full name was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838." When referring to members of the church, they asked that the term "Latter-day Saints" be preferred, although "Mormons" is acceptable.
Chapels and Temples
One must be a member in good standing of the church in order to enter any of the temples. However, the public is welcome to attend meetings in local chapels.
More information on /Temples.
Beliefs about God, Jesus and regarding the Trinity
God the Father, Jesus the Christ, and the Holy Ghost (called the "Godhead" by the church) are three separate personages. Deity and Christ are believed to have physical bodies, while the Holy Ghost is a spirit. Adherents believe that Jesus is an eternally-existent, equal member of the Godhead (as distinct from the Trinity decreed by the First Council of Nicaea), while maintaining that they are physically separate beings with a spiritual unity of purpose.
Other basic beliefs include faith in Jesus Christ, the principle of repentence, baptism by immersion, the gift of the Holy Ghost, accepting both the Bible & Book of Mormon as scripture, and being honest, chaste, & virtuous.
It is believed that God is a glorified and perfected man, a personage of flesh and bones. It is also believed, although it is seldom mentioned even within the Church, that God is married. No reference is made to the status of the Heavenly Mother in terms of her Divinity. She is not worshipped or prayed to. Her existence is simply acknowledged.
Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all church members are called "Saints", and the membership of the church "The Saints". There is no concept of a Saint in the sense used by other Christians, only in the sense of a faithful follower of Christ. The original 12 followers of Jesus are referred to simply as the Apostles, as are the church leadership.
Doctrine of Exaltation
It is believed that by living faithfully, Mormons can literally become gods themselves over the course of eternity. This process is known as exaltation.
A Sealing is a special ritual or ceremony which is held only in a Temple. During a Sealing, the members of a family, including parents and children, are bound together as a family which is believed to endure beyond death. The Church teaches that a family which has been sealed in the Temple will remain a family even in Heaven. This is the belief which lies behind the well-known Church slogan, "Familes are Forever."
See the Articles of Faith for more details on the beliefs of Latter Day Saints.
Priesthood in the LDS Church has a different connotation than it does in most other churches, because all worthy males of the proper age may be ordained. There are two branches of the Priesthood, known as the Aaronic Priesthood and the Melchizedek Priesthood. The Aaronic Priesthood is considered a preparatory priesthood, and is given to men from age 12 onward, and the Melchizedek Priesthood is the "full" Priesthood, which is reserved for men over age 18.
Church members also may wear special clothing or undergarments which they call the Garment of the Holy Priesthood. Only those who have attended the temple wear the garment. This clothing functions similarly to the ecclesiastic clothing worn by many other Christian groups, but because the church has a lay clergy, members wear this clothing under their normal attire.
For information on LDS beliefs see the church's official web site: http://www.lds.org