A Mormon is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The name Mormonism, which is commonly used in speaking of this religion, comes from the use of the Book of Mormon as one of the works of scripture in this church.
The Book of Mormon was published by Joseph Smith in 1830. The book tells of ancient peoples who came from Palestine to the New World and of a true Church established among them by the resurrected Christ. According to Smith, this information was inscribed in reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics on gold plates about 385 A.D. by a prophet named Mormon. The plates were buried in a hill between Palmyra and Manchester, N.Y. Mormon's son, Moroni, in the form of an angel, guided Smith to their hiding place. Smith further testified that with divine assistance he was able to translate Mormon's inscriptions. Eleven witnesses confirmed his story.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was formally organized by Joseph Smith in Fayette, New York, on April 6, 1830. Because of the persecution to which Joseph Smith and his followers were subjected, some moved westward to Ohio, some to Missouri, and finally, to Nauvoo, Illinois where they established their first permanent settlement. In 1844, Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were killed by a mob even though they were in the Carthage, Illinois, jail for protection from the mob.
Brigham Young then became president of the church, and in 1846, about fifteen thousand of his followers started the pioneer movement to the Rocky Mountain territory. In July of 1847, the first advance company reached Salt Lake Valley, in what is now Utah, and began the cultivation of that territory. Utah has remained the headquarters of the Mormon Church.
The principle beliefs of the church are given briefly in its Articles of Faith. These include belief in a personal God; in Jesus Christ; in repentance; in baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; that men will be punished only for their own sins and not for Adam's; that through the atonement of Christ, all men may be saved by obedience to the Gospel.
According to its members, Mormonism gives man an exalted place in the universe. They believe man possesses unlimited possibilities, and "What God is, man may become". Members of the church support it by the principle of "tithing". This means members contribute one tenth of their income or earnings for the maintenance and operation of the church.
The church also has a missionary system maintained by members at their own expense. About two thousand young people are constantly engaged in this work.