The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often informally known as the LDS Church or Mormon Church, is a nontrinitarian, Christian restorationist church that considers itself to be the restoration of the original church founded by
Jesus Christ Jesus; he, יֵשׁוּעַ, ''Yeshua, Yēšū́aʿ''; ar, عيسى, ʿĪsā ( 4 BC AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth or Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jews, Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figu ...
. The church is headquartered in the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., federal di ...
Salt Lake City, Utah Salt Lake City (often shortened to Salt Lake and abbreviated as SLC) is the Capital (political), capital and List of cities and towns in Utah, most populous city of the U.S. state of Utah, as well as the county seat, seat of Salt Lake County, Ut ...
, and has established congregations and built temples worldwide. According to the church, it has over 16.5 million
members Member may refer to: * Military jury, referred to as "Members" in military jargon * Element (mathematics), an object that belongs to a mathematical set * In object-oriented programming, a member of a class ** Field (computer science), entries in a ...
and 67,000 full-time volunteer missionaries.National Council of Churches ranked the church as the fourth-largest
Christian denomination A Christian denomination is a distinct Religion, religious body within Christianity that comprises all Church (congregation), church congregations of the same kind, identifiable by traits such as a name, peculiar history, organization, leadership ...
in the United States, with over 6.5 million members there as of January 2018. It is the largest denomination in 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 Christianity, Christian Restorationism, Restorati ...
founded by
Joseph Smith Joseph Smith Jr. (December 23, 1805June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism Mormonism is the religious tradition and theology of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationism, Restorationist Christianit ...
during the early 19th century period of religious revival known as the
Second Great Awakening The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholi ...
. Adherents view faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement as fundamental principles of their religion. Church theology includes the Christian doctrine of Salvation (Christianity), salvation only through Jesus Christ."For salvation cometh to none such except it be through repentance and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ." Book of Mormon, The church has an biblical canon, open canon which includes four religious text, scriptural texts: the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism), Pearl of Great Price. Other than the Bible, the majority of the church's canon constitutes revelations received by Joseph Smith; these include commentary and exegesis about the Bible, texts described as apocryphal, lost parts of the Bible, and other works believed to be written by Prophet, ancient prophets, including the Book of Mormon. Because of doctrinal differences, Catholic Church, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox, and several Protestant churches consider the church to be distinct and Mormonism and Christianity, separate from mainstream Christianity. Under the doctrine of continuous revelation, continuing revelation (Latter Day Saints), revelation, Latter-day Saints believe that the church President of the Church (LDS Church), president is a modern-day "prophet, seer, and revelator" and that Jesus Christ, under the direction of God the Father, leads the church by revealing his will to its president. Individual members of the church believe that they can also receive personal revelation from God in conducting their lives. The president heads a hierarchical structure with various levels reaching down to local congregations, known as Ward (LDS Church), wards. Bishop (Latter Day Saints), Bishops, drawn from the laity, lead the wards. Male members may be ordained to the Priesthood (LDS Church), priesthood, provided they are living the standards of the church. Women are not ordained to the priesthood, but occupy leadership roles in some church auxiliary organization (LDS Church), organizations. Both men and women may serve as Missionary, missionaries and the church maintains a large Missionaries (LDS Church), missionary program that proselytism, proselytizes and conducts LDS Humanitarian Services, humanitarian services worldwide. Faithful members adhere to church laws of Law of chastity, sexual purity, Word of Wisdom, health, Fasting#Mormonism, fasting, and Sabbath in Christianity#The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Sabbath observance, and contribute ten percent of their income to the church in Tithing (Latter Day Saints), tithing. The church also teaches about sacred Ordinance (Latter Day Saints), ordinances through which adherents make Covenant (Latter Day Saints), covenants with God, including Baptism (Mormonism), baptism, Confirmation (Latter Day Saints), confirmation, the Sacrament (LDS Church), sacrament, Priesthood (LDS Church), priesthood ordination, Endowment (Latter Day Saints), endowment, and celestial marriage.


The history of the church is typically divided into three broad time periods: (1) the early history during the lifetime of
Joseph Smith Joseph Smith Jr. (December 23, 1805June 27, 1844) was an American religious leader and founder of Mormonism Mormonism is the religious tradition and theology of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationism, Restorationist Christianit ...
, which is in common with all churches associated with the Latter Day Saint movement (2) a pioneer era under the leadership of Brigham Young and his 19th-century successors; and (3) a modern era beginning around the turn of the 20th century as Utah achieved statehood.


Joseph Smith formally organized the church as the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints), Church of Christ, on April 6, 1830, in burned-over district, western New York. Smith later changed the name to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints after he stated he had received a revelation to do so. Initial converts were drawn to the church in part because of the newly published Book of Mormon, a self-described chronicle of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous American prophets that Smith said he had translated from golden plates. Smith intended to establish the New Jerusalem in North America, called ''Zion (Latter Day Saints), Zion''. In 1831, the church moved to Kirtland, Ohio, and began establishing an outpost in Jackson County, Missouri, where he planned to eventually move the church headquarters. However, in 1833, Missouri settlers brutally expelled the Latter Day Saints from Jackson County. The church attempted to recover the land through a Zion's Camp, paramilitary expedition, but did not succeed. Nevertheless, the church flourished in Kirtland as Smith published new revelations and the church built the Kirtland Temple, culminating in a dedication of the building similar to the day of Pentecost. The Kirtland era ended in 1838, after a Kirtland Safety Society, financial scandal rocked the church and caused widespread defections. Smith regrouped with the remaining church in Far West, Missouri, but tensions soon escalated into Mormon War (1838), violent conflicts with the old Missouri settlers. Believing the Saints to be in insurrection, the Lilburn Boggs, Missouri governor ordered that the Saints be "Missouri Executive Order 44, exterminated or driven from the State". In 1839, the Saints converted a swampland on the banks of the Mississippi River into Nauvoo, Illinois, which became the church's new headquarters. Nauvoo grew rapidly as Mormon missionary, missionaries sent to Europe and elsewhere gained new converts who then flooded into Nauvoo. Meanwhile, Smith introduced polygamy to his closest associates. He also established Sealing (Mormonism), ceremonies, which he stated the Lord had revealed to him, to allow righteous people to Exaltation (Mormonism), become gods in the afterlife, and a Council of Fifty, secular institution to govern the Millennium, Millennial kingdom. He also introduced the church to a full accounting of his First Vision, in which two heavenly "personages" appeared to him at age 14. This vision would come to be regarded by the LDS Church as the most important event in human history since the resurrection of Jesus. Church members believe Joseph Smith is the first modern-day prophet. On June 27, 1844, Smith and his brother, Hyrum Smith, Hyrum, were Death of Joseph Smith, killed by a mob in Carthage, Illinois, while being held on charges of treason. Because Hyrum was Joseph's designated successor, their deaths caused a Succession crisis (Latter Day Saints), succession crisis, and Brigham Young assumed leadership over the majority of Saints. Young had been a close associate of Smith's and was the senior Apostle (Latter Day Saints), apostle of the Quorum of the Twelve. Other splinter groups followed other leaders around this time. These groups have no affiliation with the LDS Church, however they share a common heritage in their early church history. Collectively, they are called the Latter Day Saint movement. The largest of these smaller groups is the Community of Christ, based in Independence, Missouri, followed by The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite), The Church of Jesus Christ, based in Monongahela, Pennsylvania. Like the LDS Church, these faiths believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet and founder of their religion. They also accept the Book of Mormon, and most, but not all, accept at least some version of the Doctrine and Covenants. However, they tend to disagree to varying degrees with the LDS Church concerning doctrine and church leadership.

Pioneer era

For two years after Smith's death, conflicts escalated between Mormons and other Illinois residents. Smith had predicted that the church would go to the West and be established in the tops of the Rocky Mountains. Brigham Young took Smith's advice and led his followers, known in modern times as the Mormon pioneers, to Nebraska and then in 1847 to what became the Utah Territory. As groups of settlers arrived over a period of years, LDS settlers branched out and colonized a large region now known as the Mormon Corridor. Young incorporated the LDS Church as a legal entity, and initially governed both the church and the state as a theocracy, theocratic leader. He also publicized the practice of Mormonism and polygamy, plural marriage, a form of polygamy. By 1857, tensions had again escalated between Mormons and other Americans, largely as a result of accusations involving polygamy and the theocratic rule of the Utah Territory by Young. The Utah War, Utah Mormon War ensued from 1857 to 1858, which resulted in the relatively peaceful invasion of Utah by the United States Army, after which Young agreed to step down from power and be replaced by a non-Mormon territorial governor, Alfred Cumming (governor), Alfred Cumming. Nevertheless, the LDS Church still wielded significant political power in the Utah Territory. At Young's death in 1877, he was followed by other church presidents, who resisted efforts by the United States Congress to outlaw Mormon polygamous marriages. In 1878, the United States Supreme Court, in ''Reynolds v. United States'', decreed that "religious duty" to engage in plural marriage was not a valid defense to prosecutions for violating state laws against polygamy. Conflict between Mormons and the Federal government of the United States, U.S. government escalated to the point that, in 1890, Congress disincorporated the LDS Church and seized most of its assets. Soon thereafter, church president Wilford Woodruff issued a 1890 Manifesto, manifesto that officially suspended the practice. Although this manifesto did not dissolve existing plural marriages, so that families would not be split apart, no new polygamous marriages would be performed. Relations with the United States markedly improved after 1890, such that Utah was admitted as a U.S. state in 1896. Relations further improved after 1904, when church president Joseph F. Smith again Reed Smoot hearings, disavowed polygamy before the United States Congress and issued a "Second Manifesto", calling for all plural marriages in the church to cease, as they were already against church doctrine since Woodruff issued the Manifesto. Eventually, the church adopted a policy of excommunication, excommunicating its members found practicing polygamy and today actively distances itself from "Mormon fundamentalism, fundamentalist" groups still practicing polygamy. Some other, "fundamentalist" groups with relatively small memberships have broken off of the main Church body, primarily over disagreements about the continued practice of polygamy.

Modern times

During the 20th century, the church grew substantially and became an international organization, due in part to the spread of missionaries around the globe. In 2000, the church reported 60,784 missionaries and global church membership stood at just over 11 million. Worldwide membership surpassed 16 million in 2018. Slightly under half of church membership is within the United States. The church has become a strong and public champion of the nuclear family and at times played a prominent role in political matters, including opposition to LGM-118A Peacekeeper, MX Peacekeeper missile bases in Utah and Nevada, the Equal Rights Amendment, legalized gambling, same-sex marriage, and euthanasia, physician-assisted death. Apart from issues that it considers to be ones of morality, however, the church maintains a position of political neutrality, but encourages its members to be politically active, to participate in elections, and to be knowledgeable about current political and social issues within their communities, states, and countries. A number of official changes have taken place to the organization during the modern era. One significant change was the ordination of men of black African descent to the priesthood in 1978, which reversed Black people and Mormonism, a policy originally instituted by Brigham Young in 1852. There are also periodic changes in the structure and organization of the church, mainly to accommodate the organization's growth and increasing international presence. For example, since the early 1900s, the church has instituted a Priesthood Correlation Program to centralize church operations and bring them under a hierarchy of priesthood leaders. During the Great Depression, the church also began operating a church welfare system, and it has conducted numerous humanitarian efforts in cooperation with other religious organizations including Catholic Relief Services and Islamic Relief, as well as secular organizations such as the American Red Cross. During the 2nd half of the 20th century, the church has responded to various challenges to its doctrine and authority. Challenges have included rising secularization in the Western world, challenges to the correctness of the translation of the Book of Abraham, and primary documents forged by Mark Hofmann purporting to contradict important aspects of official early Church history. Matters concerning its minority members have come to the forefront in this timeframe, such as its positions on Homosexuality and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, homosexuality, Women and Mormonism, women, and black people. The church has also sought to address difficult doctrinal matters such as evolution. In August 2018, the church's president, Russell M. Nelson, asked members of the church and others to cease using the terms "LDS", "Mormon", and "Mormonism" to refer to the church, its membership, or its belief system, and instead to call the church by Name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, its full and official name.

Teachings and practices

The LDS Church shares various teachings with other branches of Christianity. These include a belief in the Bible, the divinity of Jesus, and his Atonement in Christianity, atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, resurrection. LDS theology also includes belief in the doctrine of salvation through Jesus alone, Restorationism (Christian primitivism), restorationism, millennialism, continuationism, penal substitution, and a form of apostolic succession. The practices of baptism#Submersion, baptism by immersion and the eucharist are also held in common. Nevertheless, the LDS Church differs from the many other churches within contemporary Christianity, and many people do not accept the church as part of Christianity. The faith itself views other modern Christian faiths as having departed from true Christianity via a Great Apostasy, general apostasy and maintains that it is a restoration of 1st-century Christianity and the only true and authorized Christian church. Differences between the LDS Church and most of traditional Christianity include disagreement with aspects of the Nicene Creed, belief in a theory of Plan of salvation (Latter Day Saints), human salvation that includes three heavens, a doctrine of "Exaltation (Latter Day Saints), exaltation" which includes the ability of humans to become gods and goddesses in the afterlife, and unique ceremonies performed privately in Temple (LDS Church), LDS temples, such as the Endowment (Latter Day Saints), endowment and Sealing (Latter Day Saints), sealing ceremonies. Officially, major Christian denominations view the LDS Church as standing apart from creedal Christianity. Church leaders assert it is the only true church and that other churches do not have the authority to act in Jesus' name.

Nature of god

LDS Church theology includes the belief in a "Godhead (Latter Day Saints), Godhead" composed of God the Father, his son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as three separate Persons who share a unity of purpose or will; however, they are viewed as three distinct Beings making one Godhead. This is in contrast with the predominant Christian view, which holds that God is a Trinity of three separate persons in "Homoousian, one essence". The beliefs of the church also include the belief that God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ, are separate beings with bodies of flesh and bone, while the Holy Ghost lacks such a physical body.

Cosmology and plan of salvation

The Mormon cosmology and Plan of salvation (Latter Day Saints), plan of salvation include the doctrines of a pre-mortal life, Degrees of Glory, three degrees of heaven, and Exaltation (Latter Day Saints), exaltation. According to these doctrines, every human spirit is a spiritual child of a God the Father, Heavenly Father, and each has the potential to continue to learn, grow, and progress in the eternities, eventually achieving eternal life, which is to become one with God in the same way that Jesus, Jesus Christ is one with the Father, thus allowing the children of God to become divine beings or "gods" themselves. This view on the doctrine of Divinization (Christian), theosis is also referred to as becoming a "joint-heir with Christ". The process by which this is accomplished is called ''exaltation (Latter Day Saints), exaltation'', a doctrine which includes the reunification of the mortal family after the resurrection and the ability to have spirit children in the afterlife and inherit a portion of God's kingdom. To obtain this state of godhood, the church teaches that one must have faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, repent of his or her sins, strive to keep the commandments faithfully, and participate in a sequence of ceremonial Covenant (Latter Day Saints), covenants called ''ordinance (Latter Day Saints), ordinances'', which include baptism (LDS Church), baptism, Confirmation (Latter Day Saints), receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, the Endowment (Mormonism), endowment, and celestial marriage. This latter ordinance, known as a Sealing (Mormonism), sealing ceremony, reflects a singular LDS view with respect to families. According to LDS Church theology, men and women may be "sealed" to one another so that their marital bond continues into the eternities. Children may also be sealed to their biological or adoptive parents to form permanent familial bonds, thus allowing all immediate and extended family relations to endure past death. The most significant LDS ordinances may be performed via proxy in behalf of those who have died, such as baptism for the dead. The church teaches that all will have the opportunity to hear and accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings that come to those who faithfully adhere to it, in this life or the next.

Restorationism and prophetic leadership

The LDS Church teaches that, subsequent to the death of Jesus and his original Apostles, his church and its attendant spiritual gifts were Great Apostasy#The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, lost from the Earth, due to a combination of external persecutions and internal heresies. The restoration - as represented by the church itself and began by Joseph Smith - refers to a return to the Earth of the authentic priesthood (Latter Day Saints), priesthood power, Gifts of the Spirit in Mormonism, spiritual gifts, Ordinance (Latter Day Saints), ordinances, living Prophet, seer, and revelator, prophets and revelation of the Early Christianity, primitive Church of Christ. This restoration is associated with a number of events which are understood to have been necessary to re-establish the Early Christianity, early Christian church found in the New Testament, and to prepare the Earth for the Second Coming (LDS Church), Second Coming of Jesus. In particular, Latter-day Saints believe that angels appeared to Joseph Smith and others and bestowed various priesthood authorities on them. The church is led by a President of the Church (LDS Church), president, who is considered a "prophet, seer, and revelator." He is considered the only person on Earth who is authorized to receive revelation from God on behalf of the whole world or entire church. The church teaches that he is infallible when speaking on behalf of God. In modern practice, however, authoritative declarations with broad doctrinal implications are typically issued by joint statement of the First Presidency (LDS Church), First Presidency (of which the president is a part), and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church), Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Word of Wisdom

The LDS faithful observe a dietary code called the Word of Wisdom, in which they abstain from the consumption of alcohol, coffee, tea, and tobacco. The Word of Wisdom also encourages the use of wholesome herbs and fruits within season, moderate consumption of meat, and consumption of grains.Doctrine and Covenants .

Law of chastity

Latter-day Saints follow a moral code called the law of chastity, which prohibits adultery, homosexual behavior, and sexual relations outside of marriage.

Tithing and other donations

LDS faithful donate a ten-percent Tithing (Latter Day Saints), tithe on their annual income, for the operations of the church, including construction of temples, meetinghouses, and other buildings, and other church uses. Faithful members also fasting, fast on the Fast Sunday, first Sunday of each month for at least two consecutive meals, prayerfully dedicating the fast to a purpose of each individual's choosing. They donate at least the cost of the two skipped meals as a fast offering, which the church uses to assist the poor and needy and expand its LDS Humanitarian Services, humanitarian efforts.

Missionary service

All able LDS young men are expected to serve a two-year, full-time proselytizing mission. Missionaries do not choose where they serve or the language in which they will proselytize, and are expected to fund their missions themselves or with the aid of their families. Prospective male missionaries must be at least 18 years old and no older than 25, not yet married, have completed secondary school, and meet certain criteria for physical fitness and spiritual worthiness. Missionary service is not compulsory, nor is it required for young men to retain their church membership. Unmarried women 19 years and older may also serve as missionaries, generally for a term of 18 months. However, the LDS Church emphasizes that women are not under the same expectation to serve as male members are, and may serve solely as a personal decision. There is no maximum age for missionary service for women. Prior to October 2012, the minimum age for full-time missionary service was generally 19 for men and 21 for women. Retired couples are encouraged to serve missions, and may serve 6-, 12-, 18-, or 23-month terms. Unlike younger missionaries, these senior missionaries may serve in non-proselytizing capacities such as humanitarian aid workers or family history specialists. Other men and women who desire to serve a mission, but may not be able to perform full-time service in another state or country due to health issues, may serve in a non-proselyting mission. They might assist at Temple Square in Salt Lake City or aid in the Seminary (LDS Church), seminary system in schools. All proselyting missionaries are organized geographically into administrative areas called Mission (LDS Church), missions. The efforts in each mission are directed by an older adult male mission president. As of July 2020, there were List of missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 407 missions of the church.Eight New Missions to Open in July 2020
''Newsrooom'', 21 November 2019. Retrieved 20 February 2020.

Worship and meetings

Weekly meetings

Meetings for worship and study are held at meetinghouses, which are typically functional in character. The main focus of Sunday worship is the Sacrament meeting, where the Sacrament is passed to Church members. Also included are meetings for Sunday School, and separate instructional meetings based on age and gender, including Relief Society for adult women. Church congregations are organized geographically. Members are generally expected to attend the congregation with their assigned geographical area; however, some geographical areas also provide separate congregations for young single adults, older single adults, or for speakers of alternate languages. For Sunday services, the church is grouped into either larger congregations known as Ward (LDS Church), wards, or smaller congregations known as branches. Regional church organizations, encompassing multiple congregations, include Stake (Latter Day Saints), stakes, Mission (LDS Church), missions, District (LDS Church), districts, Area (LDS Church), areas, and regions.

Social events and gatherings

Additional meetings are also frequently held at the meetinghouse. Church officers may conduct leadership meetings or host training sessions and classes. The ward or branch community may schedule social activities at the meetinghouse, including dances, dinners, holiday parties and musical presentations. The church's Young Men (organization), Young Men and Young Women (organization), Young Women organizations meet at the meetinghouse once a week, where the youth participate in activities. In 2020, the church implemented a new initiative for children and youth worldwide, which replaced all other programs as of January 1 of that year.Children and Youth—Overview and Frequently Asked Questions
Official Notice from Priesthood and Family Department, churchofjesuschrist.org. Retrieved January 8, 2019.
The adult women in a congregation meet at least quarterly for additional instruction and service. The meetings may consist of a service project, conferences, or classes.

Temple worship

According to church teaching and doctrine, temples are buildings dedicated to be a House of the Lord. In them, Church members perform ordinances that are considered the most sacred in the Church, including Washing and anointing, initiatories, Endowment (Mormonism), endowments, and marriages or Sealing (Mormonism), sealings. Baptism for the dead, Baptisms for the dead are performed in the temples as well. Temples are considered by church members to be the most sacred structures on earth. Operating temples are not open to the public - only Church members who pass Temple (LDS Church)#Worthiness interview, periodic interviews with ecclesiastical leaders are permitted to enter. Church members are strongly discouraged from sharing details about temple ordinances with outsiders, or even from conversing about them outside the temple itself. As of April 2021, there are 160 operating temples located throughout the world.

Sources of doctrine

The theology of the LDS Church consists of a combination of biblical doctrines with modern revelations and other commentary by LDS leaders, particularly Joseph Smith. The most authoritative sources of theology are the faith's canon of four religious texts, called the "standard works". Included in the standard works are the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price (Mormonism), Pearl of Great Price. The Book of Mormon is said by the church to be "Another Testament of Jesus Christ" that Smith translated from buried golden plates. The LDS Church teaches that the Angel Moroni told Smith about these golden plates and guided him to find them buried in the Hill Cumorah. The church characterizes the Book of Mormon as "the most correct of any book on earth and the keystone of [the] religion". The Bible, also part of the church's canon, is believed to be "the word of God as far as it is translated correctly". Most often, the church uses the Authorized King James Version. Sometimes, however, parts of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible are considered authoritative. Other revelations from Smith are found in the Doctrine and Covenants, and in the Pearl of Great Price. Another source of authoritative doctrine is the pronouncements of the current Apostles and members of the First Presidency (LDS Church), First Presidency. The church teaches that the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles are prophets For past sustainings, see also: [//www.churchofjesuschrist.org/search?query=sustaining+of+church+officers Search - "The Sustaining of Church Officers"]. and that their teachings are generally given under inspiration from God through the Holy Spirit. Members of the church regularly Common consent (Latter Day Saints), acknowledge them formally as prophet, seer, and revelator, prophets, seers, and revelators ; this is done publicly twice a year at the church's worldwide general conference (LDS Church), general conference.

Organization and structure

Name and legal entities

The church teaches that it is a continuation of the Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints), Church of Christ established in 1830 by Joseph Smith. This original church underwent several name changes during the 1830s, being called the Church of Jesus Christ, the Church of God, and then in 1834, the name was officially changed to the Church of the Latter Day Saints. In April 1838, the name was officially changed to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. After Smith died, Brigham Young and the largest body of Smith's followers incorporated the LDS Church in 1851 by legislation of the State of Deseret under the name "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints", which included a hyphenated "Latter-day" and a British English, British-style lower-case ''d''. In 1887, the LDS Church was legally dissolved in the United States by the Edmunds–Tucker Act because of the church's practice of polygamy. In the United States, the church continues to operate as an unincorporated entity. Common informal names for the church include the LDS Church, the Latter-day Saints, and the Mormons. The term ''Mormon Church'' is in common use, but the church began discouraging its use in the late 20th century. The church requests that the official name be used when possible or, if necessary, shortened to "the Church" or "the Church of Jesus Christ". Tax-exempt corporations of the LDS Church include the ''Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints'', a corporation sole which was organized in 1916 under the laws of the state of Utah to acquire, hold, and dispose of real property; the ''Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints'', which was established in 1923 in Utah to receive and manage money and church donations; and ''Intellectual Reserve, Inc.'', which was incorporated in 1997 to hold the church's copyrights, trademarks, and other intellectual property. Non-tax-exempt corporations of the church include Bonneville International Corporation, Bonneville International and the ''Deseret News''. In August 2018, church president Russell M. Nelson asked members of the church and others to cease using the terms "LDS", "Mormon", and "Mormonism" to refer to the church, its membership, or its belief system, and instead to call the church by its full and official name. Subsequent to this announcement, the church's premier vocal ensemble, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, was officially renamed and became the "Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square". Reaction to the name change policy has been mixed.

Priesthood hierarchy

The LDS Church is organized in a hierarchical priesthood structure administered by men. Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus leads the church through revelation and has chosen a single man, called "the Prophet" or President of the Church, as his spokesman on the earth. While there have been exceptions in the past, he and two counselors are normally ordained Apostle (Latter Day Saints), apostles and form the First Presidency (LDS Church), First Presidency, the presiding body of the church; twelve other apostles form the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (LDS Church), Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. When a president dies, his successor is invariably the most senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve, who reconstitutes a new First Presidency. Following the death of church president Thomas S. Monson on January 2, 2018, senior apostle Russell M. Nelson was named president on January 14. These men, and the other male members of the church-wide leadership are called general authority, general authorities. They exercise both ecclesiastical and administrative leadership over the church and direct the efforts of regional leaders down to the local level. General authorities and mission presidents work full-time and typically receive stipends from church funds or investments. Twice each year, general authorities address the worldwide church through General Conference (LDS Church), general conference, which includes five two-hour sessions over the course of two days. General conference sessions are translated into as many as 80 languages and are broadcast from the 21,000-seat Conference Center in Salt Lake City. In addition to general conference, general authorities speak to church members in local congregations throughout the world; they also frequently speak to youth and young adults in special broadcasts and at the Church Educational System schools, such as Brigham Young University. At the local level, the church leadership are drawn from the laity and work on a part-time volunteer basis without stipend.Like all members, they are asked to donate a tithe of 10 percent of their income to the church. Members volunteer general custodial work for local church facilities. All males who are living the standards of the church are generally considered for the priesthood (Latter Day Saints), priesthood and are ordained to the priesthood as early as age 11. Ordination occurs by a ceremony where laying on of hands, hands are laid on the head of the one ordained. The priesthood is divided into three Aaronic priesthood (LDS Church), Aaronic priesthood quorums for young men 11 and up, and a Melchizedek Priesthood (Latter Day Saints), Melchizedek priesthood quorum for men 18 and up.

Programs and organizations

Under the leadership of the priesthood hierarchy are five organizations that fill various roles in the church: Relief Society, the Young Men organization, Young Men and Young Women (organization), Young Women organizations, Primary (LDS Church), Primary, and Sunday School (LDS Church), Sunday School. Women serve as presidents and counselors in the presidencies of the Relief Society, Young Women, and Primary, while men serve as presidents and counselors of the Young Men and Sunday School. The church also operates several programs and organizations in the fields of proselytizing, education, and church welfare such as LDS Humanitarian Services. Many of these organizations and programs are coordinated by the Priesthood Correlation Program, which is designed to provide a systematic approach to maintain worldwide consistency, orthodoxy, and control of the church's ordinances, doctrines, organizations, meetings, materials, and other programs and activities. The church operates a Church Educational System which includes Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University–Idaho, BYU–Idaho, Brigham Young University–Hawaii, BYU–Hawaii, and Ensign College. The church also operates Institute of Religion, Institutes of Religion near the campuses of many colleges and universities. For high-school aged youth, the church operates a four-year LDS Seminary, Seminary program, which provides religious classes for students to supplement their secular education. The church also sponsors a low-interest educational loan program known as the Perpetual Education Fund, which provides educational opportunities to students from developing nations. The church's welfare system, initiated during the Great Depression, provides aid to the poor. It is financed by fast offerings. Money from the program is used to operate Bishop's storehouses, which package and store food at low cost. Distribution of funds and food is administered by local Bishop (Latter Day Saints), bishops. The church also distributes money through its LDS Philanthropies division to disaster victims worldwide. Other church programs and departments include Family Services, which provides assistance with adoption, relationship counseling, marital and family counseling, psychotherapy, and intervention (counseling), addiction counseling; the LDS Church History Department, which collects church history and records; and the Family History Department, which administers the church's large family history efforts, including FamilySearch, the world's largest Family History Library, family history library and organization. For over 100 years, the church was also a major sponsor of Scouting programs for boys, particularly in the United States. The LDS Church was the largest Boy Scouts of America#Chartered organizations and units, chartered organization in the Boy Scouts of America, having joined the Boy Scouts of America as its first charter organization in 1913. In 2020, the church ended its relationship with the BSA and began an alternate, religion-centered youth program. Prior to leaving the Scouting program, LDS Scouts made up nearly 20 percent of all enrolled Boy Scouts, more than any other church.


Although the church has not released church-wide financial statements since 1959, in 1997, ''Time Magazine, Time'' magazine called it one of the world's wealthiest churches per capita. In a June 2011 cover story, ''Newsweek'' stated that the LDS Church "resembles a sanctified multinational corporation—the General Electric of American religion, with global ambitions and an estimated net worth of $30 billion". Its for-profit, non-profit, and educational subsidiary entities are audited by an independent accounting firm: , some done by Deloitte & Touche. In addition, the church employs an independent audit department that provides its certification at each annual General Conference (LDS Church), general conference that church contributions are collected and spent in accordance with church policy. The church receives significant funds from tithes and fast offerings. According to the church, tithing and fast offering money is devoted to ecclesiastical purposes and not used in for-profit ventures. The church has also invested in for-profit business and real estate ventures such as Bonneville International, Deseret Book Company, City Creek Center, and cattle ranches in Utah, Florida, Nebraska, Canada and other locations. It has been estimated that the LDS Church received $33-billion in donations from its members in 2010 and, during the decade of the 2010s to net about $15-billion gains per year. According to estimates by Bloomberg Businessweek, the LDS Church's net worth was $40 billion as of 2012. In December 2019, a whistleblower alleged the church holds over $100 billion in investment funds through its investment management company, Ensign Peak Advisors; that it failed to use the funds for charitable purposes and instead used them in for-profit ventures; and that it misled contributors and the public about the usage and extent of those funds. According to the whistleblower, applicable law requires the funds be used for religious, educational or other charitable purposes for the fund to maintain its tax-exempt status. Other commentators have argued that such expenditures may not be legally required as claimed. In response to the allegations, the church's First Presidency stated that "the Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves," and that "a portion" of funds received by the church are "methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future".


Due to the differences in lifestyle promoted by church doctrine and history, members of the church have developed a distinct culture. Some scholars have even argued that church members form a distinctive ethnic group. It is primarily concentrated in the Intermountain West. Many of the church's more distinctive practices follow from their adherence to the Word of Wisdom, which includes abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea. As a result, areas of the world with a high concentration of LDS members may practice these restrictions societally. They sometimes come into conflict with local retail businesses that serve non-members.

Media and arts

The culture has created substantial business opportunities for independent LDS media. Such communities include LDS cinema, cinema, LDS fiction, fiction, websites, and graphical art such as photography and paintings. The church owns a chain of bookstores called Deseret Book, which provide a channel through which publications are sold; titles include ''The Work and the Glory'' and ''The Other Side of Heaven''. BYU TV, the church-sponsored television station, also airs on several networks. The church also produces List of pageants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, several pageants annually depicting various events of the primitive and modern-day church. Its Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant, Easter pageant ''Jesus the Christ'' has been identified as the "largest annual outdoor Easter pageant in the world". Notable members of the church in the media and arts include: Donnie Osmond, an American singer, dancer, and actor; Stephenie Meyer, author of the ''Twilight (novel series), Twilight'' series; and Glenn Beck, a conservative radio host, television producer, and author. Notable Church-related productions include ''Murder Among the Mormons'', a 2021 Netflix documentary; and ''The Book of Mormon (musical), The Book of Mormon'', a big-budget musical about Mormon missionaries by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone and Avenue Q writer Robert Lopez that received 9 2011 Tony Awards, Tony Awards.

Home and family

In 1995, the church's First Presidency (LDS Church), First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve (LDS Church), Quorum of the Twelve issued "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", which stresses the importance of the family. The proclamation states that "Marriage in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children." The document further says that "gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose," that the father and mother have differing but equal roles in raising children, and that successful marriages and families, founded upon the teachings of Jesus Christ, can last eternally. This document is widely cited by LDS members as a statement of principle. LDS Church members are encouraged to set aside one evening a week, typically Monday, to spend together in what is called "Family Home Evening." Family Home Evenings typically consist of gathering as a family to study gospel principles, and participate in wholesome activities.

Political involvement

The LDS Church takes no partisan role in politics, stating that it will not "endorse, promote or oppose political parties, candidates or platforms; allow its church buildings, membership lists or other resources to be used for partisan political purposes; attempt to direct its members as to which candidate or party they should give their votes to ... or attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader". While the church takes an apolitical approach to candidates, it encourages its members to play an active role as responsible citizens in their communities, including becoming informed about issues and voting in elections. A 2012 Pew Center on Religion and Public Life survey indicates that 74 percent of U.S. members lean towards the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party. Some liberal members say they feel that they have to defend their worthiness due to political differences. The official church stance on staying out of politics does not include if there are instances of what church leaders deem to be moral issues, or issues the Church "believes ... directly affect [its] interests." It has previously opposed same-sex marriage in California Proposition 8 (2008)#Religious organizations, California Prop 8, supported a gay rights bill in Salt Lake City which bans discrimination against homosexual persons in housing and employment, opposed gambling, opposed storage of nuclear waste in Utah, and supported the Utah Compact. It also opposed a ballot initiative legalizing medicinal marijuana in Utah, but supported a possible alternative to it. In 2019 and 2021, the church stated its opposition to the Equality Act (United States), Equality Act, which would prohibit discrimination in the United States on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, but supports alternate legislation that it says would protect both LGBTQ rights and religious freedom. Thirteen persons identified as members of the LDS Church served in the 115th United States Congress. Governor of Utah, Utah's current Governor (United States), governor, Spencer Cox (politician), Spencer Cox, is also a church member. Church member and current List of United States senators from Utah, U.S. Senator Mitt Romney was the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party's nominee in the 2012 United States presidential election, U.S. 2012 presidential election. Jon Huntsman Jr. sought the Republican Party (United States) presidential primaries, 2012#Candidates, Republican nomination until his withdrawal in early 2012. In 2016, following Donald Trump's Donald Trump 2016 presidential campaign#Temporary Muslim ban proposal, proposed Muslim travel ban, many LDS Church members – who are one of the most consistently Republican voting groups – formed a significant faction of Never Trump movement, traditional Republican voters skeptical of Trump, with just 11% support in Utah. These voters saw parallels between Trumps anti-immigrant and anti-Islam rhetoric and the past persecution of Mormons in the United States. However, by January 2018, many church members in Utah had expressed their support for Trump, in particular his policies on land and anti-environmentalism. His approval rating was 61%, higher than any other religious group. In the 116th United States Congress, there are 10 LDS Church members, including all six members of Utah's congressional delegation. Eight are Republicans and two are Democrats.


The church reports a worldwide membership of 16 million; this figure is based on the church's own membership records. According to these statistics, the church is the fourth largest religious body in the United States. Although the church does not release attendance figures to the public, researchers estimate that attendance at weekly LDS worship services globally is around 4 million. Members living in the U.S. and Canada constitute 46 percent of membership, Latin America 38 percent, and members in the rest of the world 16 percent. The 2012 Pew Research Center, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, found that approximately 2 percent of the U.S. adult population self-identified as Mormon. LDS Church membership is concentrated geographically in the Intermountain West, in a specific region known as the Mormon corridor. The Mormon corridor was originally settled by Mormon pioneers in the mid- to late- 1800's. LDS Church influence in the area - both cultural and political - is considered relatively strong. After interviewing and polling thousands of youth across America, evangelical statistician Christian Smith wrote in 2005, "in general comparisons among major U.S. religious traditions using a variety of sociological measures of religious vitality and salience ... it is Mormon teenagers who are sociologically faring the best."

Humanitarian services

The LDS Church provides worldwide humanitarianism, humanitarian service. The church's welfare and humanitarian efforts are coordinated by LDS Philanthropies (LDSP), a church department under the direction of the Presiding Bishop (LDS Church), Presiding Bishopric. Welfare efforts, originally initiated during the Great Depression, provide aid for the poor, financed by donations from church members. LDSP is also responsible for philanthropic donations to the LDS Church and other affiliated charities, such as the Church History Library, the Church Educational System—which includes Brigham Young University, the Perpetual Education Fund, and the Polynesian Cultural Center—the Tabernacle Choir, Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, and efforts dedicated to providing funds for missionary (LDS Church), LDS missionaries and temple (LDS Church), temple construction. Donations are also used to operate bishop's storehouses, which package and store food for the poor at low cost, and provide other local services. As of 2016, the Church reports it has spent a total of $1.2 billion on humanitarian aid over the last 30 years. The church also distributes money and aid to disaster victims worldwide. In 2005, the church partnered with Catholic Relief Services to provide aid to Niger. In 2010, it partnered with Islamic Relief to help victims of flooding in Pakistan. LDS Charities increased food production during the COVID-19 pandemic and donated healthcare supplies to 16 countries affected by the crisis.

Controversy and criticism

Early criticism

The LDS Church has been subject to criticism and sometimes Anti-Mormonism, discrimination since its early years in New York and Pennsylvania. In the late 1820s, criticism centered on the claim by Joseph Smith to have been led to a set of gold plates from which the Book of Mormon was reputedly translated. In the 1830s, the greatest criticism was for Smith's handling of a Kirtland Safety Society, banking failure in Kirtland, Ohio. After the Mormons migrated west, there was fear and suspicion about the LDS Church's political and military power in Missouri, culminating in the Mormon War (1838), 1838 Mormon War and the Mormon Extermination Order (Missouri Executive Order 44) by Governor Lilburn Boggs. In the 1840s, criticism of the church centered on its theodemocracy, theocratic aspirations in Nauvoo, Illinois. Criticism of the practice of plural marriage and other doctrines taught by Smith were published in the ''Nauvoo Expositor.'' Opposition led to a series of events culminating in Death of Joseph Smith, the death of Smith and his brother while jailed in 1844. As the church began openly practicing plural marriage under Brigham Young during the second half of the 19th century, the church became the target of nationwide criticism for that practice, as well as for the church's theocratic aspirations in the Utah Territory. Young introduced policies in 1852 that Blacks and Mormonism, discriminated against black men and women of African descent which were not reversed until 1978. Beginning in 1857, the church also came under Mountain Meadows massacre and the media, significant media criticism after the Mountain Meadows massacre in southern Utah.

Modern criticism

Academic critics have questioned the legitimacy of Smith as a prophet as well as the Criticism of the Book of Mormon, historical authenticity of the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham. Criticism has expanded to include claims of historical revisionism, homophobia, racism, and sexist policies. Notable 20th-century critics include Jerald and Sandra Tanner and historian Fawn Brodie. Evangelical Christians continue to argue that Smith was either fraudulent or delusional. The Homosexuality and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, church's views on sexual minorities have also received criticism such as its 2008 requests by top leaders to adherents to donate time and money in the campaign for California's 2008 California Proposition 8, Proposition 8 against same-sex marriage which sparked heated debate and protest by gay-rights organizations and others. In 2009 the church expressed support for a Salt Lake City ordinance protecting gay and lesbian people against discrimination in employment and housing, but wanted an exception for religious institutions from this ordinance. Further controversy resulted in November 2015, when the church changed its guidance to lay leaders about same-sex unions and about minor children living in the home of a parent in a same-sex relationship, whether natural or adopted. In April 2019, the church reversed this policy, citing efforts to be more accepting to people of all kinds of backgrounds. Jewish groups, including the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, criticized the LDS Church in 1995 after discovering that vicarious baptism for the dead, baptisms for the dead for victims of the Holocaust had been performed by members of the church. After that criticism, church leaders put a policy in place to stop the practice, with an exception for baptisms specifically requested or approved by victims' relatives. Jewish organizations again criticized the church in 2002, 2004, 2008, and 2012 stating that the church failed to honor the 1995 agreement. The LDS Church says it has put institutional safeguards in place to avoid the submission of the names of Holocaust victims not related to Mormon members, but that the sheer number of names submitted makes policing the database of names impractical. Due to doctrinal differences, the LDS Church is considered to be distinct and separate from mainstream Christianity by many Catholic Church, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, which express differences with one another but consider each other's churches to be Christian. The church's lack of transparency about its finances has drawn criticism from commentators who consider the church's practices too secretive. The disclosure of the Ensign Peak Advisors, $100 billion church-controlled fund has led to criticism that the church's wealth may be excessive.


Mormon apologetics organizations, such as the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) and the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), have been founded to counter criticisms of the church and its leaders. Most of the apologetic work focuses on providing and discussing evidence supporting the claims of Smith and the Book of Mormon. Scholars and authors such as Hugh Nibley, Daniel C. Peterson, Orson Scott Card, and James E. Talmage are well-known apologists within the church.

See also

* Christianity in the United States * Index of articles related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints * List of missions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints * List of temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints * Mormon (word) * Mormonism and Islam * Mormonism and Judaism * Outline of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints




*. * * * * * * * (published only to certain clergy—not generally available to church members or the public). * * * * * * * * * * *. *. See Doctrine and Covenants. * *

Further reading

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External links

Official church websites

– Official church website
– Official church website, with information about basic beliefs. (formerly Mormon.org)

Other sites

* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1830 establishments in New York (state) Christian denominations established in the 19th century Joseph Smith Organizations that oppose same-sex marriage Religious organizations based in the United States Religious organizations established in 1830