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What Is It That Mormons Believe, Anyway?

As a Mormon living in Gwinnett County I get these questions all the time:

When people first find out that I'm Mormon I usually get one of two reactions. The first is, "Oh," followed by raised eyebrows and a quick change of subject. I usually get this response from people who don't really know any Mormons. The second is "Oh. I knew a Mormon once. He . . . " followed by something generally pretty nice.

Here a just a few of the questions (and answers) people ask me when they find out that I'm Mormon:

Q: My pastor said that Mormons aren't Christian. Is that true?

A: I consider myself a Christian. Here's why: I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal redeemer and savior. I believe he is the son of God and that he suffered on the Cross for me. I study his gospel and learn about him. I try and do Christ-like things like help my neighbor, volunteer when I can, and donate money to charity. I have faith in him and in his atonement. 

Q: But you can't be a Christian. You don't believe in the Bible.

A: I believe that the Bible is the word of God. Reading it has brought me closer to God and taught me about Jesus Christ. So, yes. I do believe in the Bible. I also believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and another testament of Jesus Christ. Just as the Bible talks about Jesus teaching his gospel to the people in Israel, the Book of Mormon talks about Jesus visiting and teaching the people of the ancient Americas after his resurrection. In my view, they both have strengthened my belief in Jesus.

Q: Okay. But if you're Christian, why don't any of your churches have crosses on them?

A: This is a great question and can be a bit confusing for other Christian religions since the cross is so ubiquitous a sign of Christian belief. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Mormons remember Christ's suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and as He hung from the cross. But, we also celebrate His resurrection three days later. Christ's resurrection is what makes Easter such an important holiday for Mormons. It is His resurrection that we want to remember. Our church may not be adorned with crosses, but you will find many beautiful paintings of the Savior in them.

Q: What's all this about golden plates and Joseph Smith? It all sounds a little weird.

A: Most religions have founding stories that seem a little strange, but the story of Joseph Smith and the golden plates is no less strange than Moses talking to a burning bush or Abraham sacrificing his son, nor is it any less true. When Joseph Smith was 14 he was eager to join a church. Confused by the different congregations in up-state New York at the time, Joseph turned to the Bible. There he learned that one can ask God in prayer for answers to life's tough questions and God will answer. Mormons believe that God really did answer.

God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and in time he was guided to a record of the ancestors of ancient Native Americans. With God's help Joseph Smith translated these golden plates, which is now called the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is all about how inhabitants of the ancient Americas also believed in the Messiah and looked to his coming just as the ancient Israelites. It testifies of Christ as our Savior and for Mormons is scripture.

Q: You call yourselves Christian, but you didn't let black people hold the priesthood in your church and still won't let women hold it.

A: This is true. Up until 1978 people of African descent could not hold church leadership positions nor could they hold the priesthood. I don't know why at one time all were not allowed full participation in the church. I do know, however, that God loves all of his children equally, regardless of race. Women cannot hold the priesthood, but hold other leadership roles in our church. In fact, what Mormons call "Relief Society" is the largest women's organization in the world and is dedicated to supporting women and providing needed help worldwide.

Q: So, with Governor Romney running for president is your church telling you who to vote for?

A: No. Not at all. I know of a few Mormons, in fact, who are voting for Obama because they are Democrats. You'll find that most Mormons are republican, however, because they try and align themselves with conservative values such as tradional marriage and limited government. That said, the LDS church is politically neutral and at church you won't hear much political talk at all. Mormons are eager to study the issues and choose for themselves who they will vote for, but the church does not encourage us to vote for any specific candidate.

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These are just a few of the questions that I get on a regular basis. I hope my answers have provided some explanation about what Mormons believe. If they haven't feel free to comment and ask another. If you see a Mormon missionary on the street, don't be afraid to ask them a question either.

They will probably give you a Book of Mormon and invite you to church, but you don't need to be afraid of them. If you know a Mormon in your neighborhood or at work, get to know them and ask them a question, too. They're really nice. I promise.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kim August 13, 2012 at 12:54 AM
I appreciate when people are able to have a respectful dialogue. As a member of the Mormon church, I have found that the vast majority of people here in our Lilburn community to be tolerant of other people and their faiths. We live in a very diverse area, and we chose this area as a place to raise our children because we wanted our children to have friends from many faiths and ethnic backgrounds. We teach them to be respectful of the differences we all have and we expect the same respect to be shown back. I would say in the 10 years we've lived here, that's what we've found. If I have questions regarding the faith of my Muslim neigbors, I ask them. If I am curious about what my Jewish friends believe, I ask them my questions. If I'd like to know more about my Baptist neighbor's beliefs, I direct my questions to them personally. If you have questions about my faith, ask one of your Mormon neighbors. We appreciate the chance to answer them ourselves. And, we appreciate when you treat us with respect, even if we disagree on matters of faith.
Michelle Couch August 14, 2012 at 05:55 PM
@Mudd Apparently, you are no more an authority on the Mormon faith, than you are the Jewish faith. Their are Orthodox Jewish and Messianic Jewish. The Messianic Jewish believe that Jesus is indeed the Messiah (unlike the Orthodox Jewish). Please forgive me if I have misspelled Messianic. Thank you to the originator of this post for sharing more about the Mormon faith. I worked with a young lady of the Mormon faith several years back and she and I became great friends. I agree completely with Kim... When you have questions about another faith - ask. It doesn't have to be so divisive.. It doesn't have to create such hatred... My pastor at 12Stone directed our church with profound clarity this past Sunday at service. He said that we would be a church that "LEADS WITH LOVE". That in all we do, we should always "lead with love". We will not be a church that jumps on the band wagon in this world of hatred to condone everything that is wrong with the world. That we will lead with love and do the good that we can do. That message is so absolutely SPOT-ON! Our faith and spirituality should not tear us apart and create hatred between us - it should bring us together in love and unity. Amen!
Bobby Landreth August 16, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Thank you for taking the time to write this. I also wanted to Thank you for taking a stand for what you believe in.....wow that has become less and less in this day and age. Also, I wanted to Thank you that you are taking the time to share what you believe and why....and knocking on doors.....wow where would all be if we served our beliefs with half that compassion. Thank you!
George Gordon-Smith August 16, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Bobby. Thank you for your kind and respectful reply. I will be posting more articles on the LDS faith and writing about Mormons who live in Gwinnett county shortly, so stay tuned and let me know if you have any questions.
levi August 17, 2012 at 05:44 AM
Why do Mormons wear "magic underwear"? http://1857massacre.com/MMM/mormon_underwear.htm Challenge: Ask ANY mormon about their magic underwear & planet kolob & watch how quick they squirm & struggle w/ an answer or just turn & leave. VERY INTERESTING & ENTERTAINING! ;D Perfect way to get them to stop stalking your doorsteps too! Why do mormons mislead people when asking them to pray to a "heavenly father" & not tell them that the "heavenly father" they ask you to pray to with them, is really an exalted man that lives on a planet near the star base Kolob, and is not the Heavenly Father of the Bible at all?! What did the make believe plates found by some joe Smith whoever have to be golden? Platinum just isn't snazzy enough? Mormon religion is listed as a CULT! Just one of many great websites that tell the truth about mormons: http://www.mmoutreach.org/mormon/articles/facts_mormon_wont_tell.htm

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