Mormonism is a way of life that is practiced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over two-thirds of the church’s membership is in the United States. However, members are also located in many other countries around the world. Mormons use the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and two other books or revelations to Joseph Smith, founder of the church. These other two revelations are the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.
The Mormon organization consists of a three member First Presidency and a twelve man Council of Apostles who make up the major policy-making body of the church. Mormonism’s founding doctrine was based on the assumption that Christianity was corrupt and that it was necessary to restore the “true” Christian gospel. The Mormon church sees only itself as recognized by God. Joseph Smith founded the church in New York in 1830. He said that he had visions of God and other heavenly beings that told him to establish the restored Christian Church.
He was “directed” to some thin metal plates that he translated into what is now called the book of Mormons. This book describes the history, wars, and religious beliefs of a group of people who migrated from Jerusalem to America. Smith attracted a small group of followers who settled in Kirtland, Ohio, and Jackson County, Missouri. Because of persecution, the church moved to northern Missouri, then to Nauvoo, Illinois. The people of Illinois welcomed the persecuted Mormons, and Smith began to construct a temple and a hotel there.
In 1843, Smith secretly instituted the practice of plural marriage among a group of his followers. This could be because he himself had 50 wives. The Mormons lived in relative peace until 1844 when a group became mad about Smith’s practices. They started a newspaper called the “Nauvoo Expositor” and attacked him, accusing him of practicing polygamy. Smith denied this charge but was killed anyway. Brigham Young took over as their new leader. In 1852 , polygamy was officially announced at the Mormon conference.