FAQ Alt.Religion.Mormon

Frequently Asked Questions
Alt.Religion.Mormon
By John Halleck
John.Halleck@utah.edu

Archive-name: none
Posting-frequency: ?
Previous-posting: Mon Oct 12 07:20:00 MST 1998
Last-modified: Tue May 29 17:20:00 MDT 2001
Reference copy: Most current official release of this document
Text-only copy: Non-HTML copy of document
French text at: http://www.chez.com/boisseaurancez/Faqmor.htm
Anyone knowing of other translations, please contact me.


Introduction

This document was originally written by a NON-Mormon irritated by hearing the same questions over and over. It is NOT to be taken as Mormon Church doctrine. Only the leaders can speak for the Mormon Church, and not all of them can. This is solely my personal opinion, *I* surely don't speak for the members of any Church, much less the Mormon Church.

No, there is no copyright notice here. What's the point? If someone can make millions publishing it, fine... They are brighter than I am. If you find this information useful, you are welcome to include it in other documents. I prefer credit be given, but don't require it.

Since this is a group about Mormonism, I have given statements of church history as direct statements instead of trying to write "According to the Mormons, x did y" everywhere. I have tried for an even tone here, but I've probably managed to offend both sides. If you have problems with the text below, write me and explain, I may even fix it.

For those of you wanting a quick overview of the newsgroup, I recommend Craig Olsen's micro-FAQ, and his micro-FAQ on manners. They are both regularly posted to the newsgroup.

For those of you into deeper questions, I recommend the FAQ (frequently asked questions list) on Mormonism that is often posted to Soc.Religion.Christian, as it goes into more detail on technical issues.

This incorporates corrections and suggestions from a number of sources. Corrections are welcomed.


Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Overview
  4. Abbreviations
  5. Common Terms
  6. Derogatory Comments
  7. Rumors
  8. Splinters
  9. Questions
  10. Flame Bait.
  11. Where do I find...
  12. Bibliography

Overview

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is usually referred to as the "Mormons". I will use the term Mormon in this text. The founder of the Mormon Church was Joseph Smith, Jr., however in common usage today Mormons tend to drop the "Jr." and refer to him as just Joseph Smith. I have followed that practice here also.

According to official church history, Joseph Smith started the Mormon Church in response to direct revelations from God (in 1820, onwards). These revelations were received in response to his asking about which church of his day was the "True" church. He was then asked to return the true church to the earth. This church was organized in 1830.

In its early history, the Church moved from New York state, to Ohio, to Mo., to Ill., and then to Utah where most people know it today. [Most of the interesting history omitted, catch it in the preface to the Book of Mormon, or in the official history of the church. Any Mormon missionary can give it to you in detail, or you can try your local library, or (if you are in Utah) you can pick relevant books at Deseret Book.]

In response to a letter by a non-Mormon, Joseph Smith wrote a letter explaining the basic beliefs of the Church. They give a quick, but authoritative, overview of the basic beliefs. This letter can be found in the History of the Church, Vol 4, p535-541. The basic articles are also called the "Articles of Faith" and are printed in the Pearl of Great Price, and are therefore part of the canonical scriptures.

The canonical scriptures of the church are:

The Book of Mormon
Translated by Joseph Smith, from golden plates he was guided to by the angel Moroni, and that he translated with the aid of divine revelation.
The Doctrine and Covenants
A collection of revelations received by the church. Mostly these were given to Joseph Smith in the early years of the Church, but some are modern.
The Pearl of Great Price.
Collection of items written by or translated by Joseph Smith.

In addition, the Mormons accept the Bible "in so far as it is translated correctly". Joseph Smith started on a translation of the Bible, but there is some argument as to its readiness for publication at the time of his death. It has been published by the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). The translation used by the LDS church is the King James Version. The LDS church publishes a version that includes the KJV as the main text, and includes parts of the Joseph Smith translation in footnotes and endnotes.

The Aprocrypha (other books having some claim to "scripture" but not in the King James Bible) were asked about by Joseph Smith, and the revelation he received (D&C 91) was basically that there was some truth there, but lots of mistakes, corruption, and interpolation, also. The Aprocrypha are NOT accepted as scripture.

There are also a number of classroom style clarifications of scripture, such as the "Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual", which are not scripture but are intended to illuminate them. They are part of the Church's educational curriculum. They can be obtained from the Church distribution system.


Abbreviations

People are lazy, and like to abbreviate. Here are some abbreviations common in alt.religion.mormon (Thanks to Danny Z Clark, for allowing me to add much of his abbreviation list to my own.)

AoF
Articles of Faith
AP
Aaronic Priesthood, Assistant to the president
ARM
Alt.Religion.Mormon
BoM
Book of Mormon
BC
Bishop's Court
BIC
Born In Covenant
BP
Branch President
BYU
Brigham Young University
COB
Church Office Building
CES
Church Educational System
CHI
Church Handbook of Instructions (Replaces GHI)
CTR
Choose The Right
DC
Disciplinary Council
D&C
Doctrine and Covenants (Sometimes abbreviated DC)
DHC
Documentary History of the Church
DL
District Leader
EQ
Elders Quorum
FAQ
Frequently Asked Questions
FIH
Father in Heaven
FHE
Family Home Evening
FIS
Financial Information system
FP
First Presidency
FTM
Full Time Missionary
GA
General Authority (of the church)
GHI
General Handbook of Instructions (Replaced by CHI)
HC
[Documentary] History of the Church (Properly DHC)
HP
High Priest
HT
Home teacher
IV
Inspired Version. See JST below.
JST
Joseph Smith Translation. Joseph Smith's Translation of the Bible. Also referred to as the "Inspired Version"
JSV
Joseph Smith Version [of the Bible] See JST above
KJV
King James Version [of the Bible]
LDS
Latter Day Saints, often short for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Also called "Mormons".
LTM
Language Training Mission (obsolete, replaced by Missionary Training Center [MTC])
MIS
Membership Information System
MTC
Missionary Training Center
MP
Melchizedek Priesthood, Mission President
OD1
Official Declaration #1 (terminating polygamy)
OD2
Official Declaration #2 (giving blacks the priesthood)
PBO
Presiding Bishop's Office.
PEC
Priesthood Executive Council
PH
Priesthood
PPI
Personal Priesthood Interview
RLDS
Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [An offshoot]
RM
Returned Missionary
RS
Relief Society
SA
Single Adults
SP
Stake President
SS
Sunday School
STMC
Strengthening the Members Committee
TLC
True and Living Church [An offshoot]
VT
Visiting Teacher
WoW
Word of Wisdom (D&C 89)
WML
Ward mission leader
YM
Young Men
YSA
Young Single Adults
YW
Young Women

Common Terms

Some terms are part of Mormon culture, and might be confusing to those new to the culture.

Baptism for the Dead
The Mormons believe that it is possible to perform valid baptisms even after death. This does NOT mean that they actually deal with corpses, instead it means that baptisms are performed on behalf of the dead. Mormons believe that the dead have the ability to accept or reject any such baptism done on their behalf.
Bishop's Court
This term has been replaced by Disciplinary Council. See Disciplinary Council
Born in Covenant
A child that was born of two parents sealed in the temple.
Branch
In areas where members are quite spread out, the Church will sometimes have units smaller than a ward. These are called "Branches".
Brigham Young University
A Church-owned University. Its policies are different from most universities, intending to reflect Mormon values.
Church Handbook of Instructions.
A "Policy and Procedures" manual for the Church leadership. This replaced the old "General Handbook of Instructions".
CTR ring
"Choose The Right" ring. A ring with shield-like symbol that is to remind the young to make the right choices. This ring has become something of a fad recently.
Deseret
The name Utah was given by the Mormon pioneers when they first arrived there. The name was changed to Utah during the attempt to make the area a state in the US. The name "Deseret" comes from a word in the BoM, not from the word desert.
Disciplinary Council
Internal conflicts are handled by the Church's own court system. The Bishop of a ward generally is responsible for these. Appeals of decisions can be made to the Stake, and failing that to the President of the Church. The verdict is public information, but the details are not. (Similar to what happens in US courts when you have records sealed.) A Disciplinary Council is usually done in a ward, arranged by the Bishop, but may be convened by higher offices depending on the rank of the charged, and the situation (For example, if the accused is a Bishop himself, or not attached to a specific ward).
Disfellowship
A punishment by a disciplinary council that is milder than excommunication but harsher than probation.
Excommunicate
To remove someone from the church. This is similar to excommunication in the Catholic Church, but it does not force eternal damnation. An excommunicate may repent and be rebaptized into the Church. This is the harshest action a Church court can take.
Family Home Evening
A day set aside for families to be together, and used to study scripture, etc. Usually Monday evenings.
Fast Sunday
A Sunday during which members fast. The Fasting is supposed to also be a spiritual time. This is usually the first Sunday of the month. Traditionally the money that would have been used for food is made as a contribution to the hungry (Called a Fast Offering.). Participation is left to people's judgement, so that people with medical conditions, and children, may participate in a lesser degree (or not at all). This was originally Thursdays, but the British moved it to Sunday in the British isles to avoid having laborers have to do hard work without food on a workday. The body of the Church later followed suit.
Fundamentalists
Sects of Mormonism that continued to support polygamy after revelation removed the principle from the church. Sometimes used to mean any sects that split off to refuse to follow newer revelations.
General Handbook of Instructions
A regularly updated "policy and procedures" manual for Church leaders. Replaced by the "Church Handbook of Instructions" (1 January 1999).
Gentile
Originally meant non-Jewish. Later someone not Jewish and not Mormon. Sometimes used to mean non-Mormon, although this may not be officially condoned.
Golden Plates (Also called Golden Tablets)
The original documents from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon.
Home Teacher or Visiting Teacher
Generally a Priesthood Leaders assign a home teacher (male) to every family in a ward, and the Relief Society President assigns a Visiting teacher (female) to each family in the ward that has an adult female in residence. These people visit once a month, and bring a spiritual message, and help out with problems. (For example they've been known to help families move, assist the sick, etc.)
Inspired Bible or Inspired Version
Joseph Smith's retranslation of the Bible.
Jack-Mormon
Someone claiming to be Mormon, but not following the teachings. Historically the term started out meaning a non-Mormon friendly to the Church, but the meaning has changed over the years.
Mormons
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. So called because their best known book of scripture is the "Book of Mormon"
Polygamy
[From the Greek, Poly = many, and gamos which meant "marriage" in old Greek but now causes modern Greeks to snicker at the term.] Used to mean the practice of having more than one wife [polygyny], which was practiced in the early church, and was done away with by revelation.
Quad
A bound volume containing all four of the standard works.
Relief Society
A service organization for women in the LDS church. Originally called the Women's Relief Society, as it still is in some non-US countries. On Sundays, when the men are at Priesthood meetings, women are at Relief Society meetings.
Reorganized Church or RLDS
A sect of the LDS faith that was reorganized in Nauvoo, Ill., from the members that stayed behind after the mass exodus to Utah. See the information about splinter groups later in this document. They prefer not to be referred to as Mormons.
Sealed in the Temple
The Mormon Church has temple ceremonies that bind a husband and wife, or parents and children, for "time and eternity". In the case of marriage, this binds the couple in heaven after death in addition to the traditional "till death do them part" of other churches.
Stake or Stake House
A stake is a collection of wards. A Stake house houses the offices of the Stake Presidency and High Council. It also is the repository for facilities that individual wards can not all afford. For example, it often contains a baptismal font, which in some areas wards do not. Roughly equivalent to a Catholic diocese. (See Ward)
The Church
The Mormon Church
Testimony, bearing one's
Telling others about the feelings, events, personal enlightenment, etc that lead a person to their belief that the church is true.
Temple
The place where the most sacred rites and rituals are performed. Mormons distinguish between meeting houses (called "wards") where regular services are held, and the temples where only sacred things are to occur. (See "Temple Recommend")
Temple Recommend
While almost anyone is welcome to attend Sunday services at a ward, entering a Temple requires that a Mormon get a temple recommendation from their local bishop, and stake president. Rumor has it that about 30% of members have temple recommends.
Temple Garment
After they go through certain rites in the Temple, Mormons thereafter wear certain special underclothing.
Triple or Triple Combination
The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, and an index bound together in one volume. These are all of the cannonical works other than the Bible.
Ward or Ward House
The place where Mormons hold Sunday services. It is also used throughout the week for social functions, boy scout meetings, etc.. Branches also meet in the ward houses. Wards are organized into regional collections called Stakes. A Ward is roughly equivalent to a Catholic parish. The term derives from the common (1800's) name for a political district. A ward usually has 75 to 100 families, or about 300 people. A stake has five to seven wards and about 2,000 people. Membership in a ward or stake is usually decided geographically, although special wards and stakes for singles, servicemen, and students also exist. (Compare "Temple")
Visiting Teacher
See Home Teacher

Derogatory Comments

Anti-Mormon diatribes have been going on for so long that the people have developed their own terminology. Since a newcomer has not a clue as to the thing being made fun of, they therefore can't even understand the sense of the insults. Here are some examples of such items. In addition, there are some stories going around that also need some explanation.

... funny Mormon underwear ...
After participating in certain temple rites, Mormons thereafter wear special undergarments.
... polygamists ...
The early church practiced polygamy (Actually, they practiced polygyny but it was referred to as polygamy.) They don't practice it now. The term is correctly applied only to a Fundamentalist Sect, or the early church, but is often misapplied to the current church. ... Those senile old men in charge ...
This appears to be a reference to the relative age of most of the Church authorities. While it was common to see men in their 30's or even 20's in high office, it is more common today to see men in their 60's or 70's in the offices, with people in the highest offices in their 80's or 90's.
... Overly convenient revelations ...
Detractors hold that the Church changes its stand on issues that cause it problems by announcing a "revelation". The Church stand, of course, denies this. Some Church members point out that it may appear true partially because many revelations come in response to direct questions from the Church president, which may likely be asked in times of problems. The standard "example" is that the revelation ending polygamy came at a time when polygamy was causing the church legal problems.
... Joseph Smith was a treasure hunter ...
In his younger days Joseph Smith was involved with treasure hunting, which was also called "money digging". This was where people tried to locate and dig up buried treasures, often with the aid of folk magic. When Joseph Smith located the Golden Plates by aid of an angel, this was considered by many to be more of the treasure hunting lore. Some people of his time held that his earlier employment as a treasure hunter made suspect anything he got out of the ground by any supernatural means.
... Believe in moon men ...
Many of the early leaders of the Church had views that were reasonable in their day, but are bizarre by modern standards. These views are not taken as Gospel by the Church, but only as opinions of the people involved.
... Think Satan and Jesus are brothers ...
Many fundamentalist Christians have trouble with the idea that is given in Mormonism that all souls (men, angels, Jesus, Satan, etc.) literally descended from God. In this sense one can consider Satan and Jesus brothers, but this does not mean there is any similarities in their beliefs, roles, or views.
... Think less of Jesus than they do of a bowl of fruit ...
This is popular in parts of the south. It appears to come from the statue of Adam and Eve that used to be in the visitor's center of the Salt Lake Temple. This statue had Adam and Eve offering up a bowl of fruit on an altar, with a lamb standing next to them. Since the lamb can be taken as a symbol of Christ (the lamb of god), some groups took this as meaning that the bowl of fruit (being higher) is held in higher regard than Christ. This same statue got complaints from other Christian groups because it showed Adam and Eve giving a fruit sacrifice (as Cain had done) instead of a blood sacrifice (as Able had). They point to this as proof that the Mormons don't know that Cain's sacrifice was rejected. Since this statue clearly bothered some Christian sects, the LDS Church has removed that statue from the visitor's center.
... "Back to the Church, and hand out to the bank." ...
In the street just outside of Temple Square, in Salt Lake City, is a statue of Brigham Young. It stands backed by the Church, and has his hand out in a gesture towards the valley. The first building in that direction is a bank. Some non-Mormons attach great doctrinal significance to this.
... Lime Jello(R) eating ...
Ok, so there is a lot of lime Jello served at Church social gatherings... Often with shredded carrots. This is a cultural fact with no scriptural or doctrinal force.

[Suggestions for more gladly accepted.]


Rumors

There are any number of odd rumors going around about Mormonism. Here are some that are either common, or stick in my memory.

... have horns ...
There is a rumor going around in at least several foreign countries, that Mormons have horns. I have no clue as to where this idea comes from, but it seems to be prevalent. [Anybody know the origin of this?] From personal inspection, it is not true that Mormons have horns, unless possibly they have them hidden under their clothing somewhere.
... worship sacred calves in their temples ...
This appears to have as its basis the fact that the baptismal fonts in the Mormon temples rest on statues of twelve oxen. The intended symbolism is that the oxen represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Some members of other religious groups want to take this as representing the golden calf that Moses destroyed in Exodus.
... use the temple to lock away polygamous wives that object ...
This comes from some 1890's fiction [Anybody have the exact name?] that featured this. The main character in this story at the end escaped by leaping from the temple window into the Great Salt Lake (a distance of about 16 miles) and swimming away. I believe the story was called "Prisoner of the Mormons", but I'm still looking for the exact reference.
... The Church owns Coke/RC-cola/etc ...
... Coke was forbidden to Mormons until they owned controlling interest in the company ...
While this is hotly debated every time it comes up, there is no evidence has been produced that it is true. From Proxy reports, and the reports of newspapers that have investigated it (for example, the Arizona Republic), it is clearly false. This is, however, a popular rumor which is often spread by Mormons themselves.
... The Church buys up and hides historical documents that disagree with the official views ...
The Mormon Church does buy historical documents on the early church. The main archives are not available to the public.

Splinter Groups

There have been a surprising number of groups that have split off of the main line LDS faith over the years. The Bibliography lists a book on the subject, a few highlights are given here. Every time a split occurs it is the subject of many postings to the network. Below is a list of some of the more significant (in terms of verbiage) splits.

LDS vs RLDS
The original doctrinal issues were over succession of church leadership. The LDS said the Council of the Twelve got the authority when the head of the church died, the RLDS said it passed to the son of the leader. Also the RLDS church does not accept the revelations of plural marriage. There have emerged other differences over the years, such as the fact the RLDS will ordain women, and don't hold the Book of Mormon in as high a regard as the LDS do.
RLDS vs RLDS splinters
The RLDS have also had groups split off from them.
LDS vs Fundamentalists
The original doctrinal issue was that the fundamentalists did not accept the revelation that ended polygamy.
Fundamentalists vs Fundamentalists
In 1951 the Fundamentalists split roughly on family boundaries into two main groups. The original issues are related to succession of church leadership. There have been further splits since.
LDS vs TLC
A group of Mormons in Manti Utah have recently [Early 1994] split off, amidst national news coverage. The doctrinal issues are basically the same as the original Fundamentalists. They call themselves the "True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Last Days".
TLC vs TLC
The Manti group split into two groups in the later part of 1994, over issues of whether a specific member had the authority to be prophet.

Questions

Didn't the original witnesses leave the church?
Yes. Those that witnessed the angel with the golden plates did leave the church, however they never denied those events that they stated they were witness to.
Weren't there a lot of high officials excommunicated from the early church?
Yes. The early church had problems with people forming splinter groups and having to excommunicate them. This is all covered in the History of the Church (for the devout) and in other non-Mormon texts. In addition many early leaders abused their positions, and were excommunicated for offenses such as adultery, or misuse of funds. The book "The Mormon Experience" by Arrington and Bitton has been recommended as a reference. [But I've not read it myself.]
Don't they hide the problems when they excommunicate someone now?
In the early church the full details of why someone was excommunicated were in the record. Today they only announce that they were excommunicated, without the details. The announcement is to the members of whatever unit (ward, etc) they were members of. Announcements are not made to the press or other non-involved parties.
Shouldn't Mormon missionaries wear bicycle helmets?
Yep. And they are given that instruction in the packet they get when they become missionaries.
Doesn't the Church forbid the priesthood to blacks?
They used to forbid it. They now give the priesthood to "Any worthy male member" that is old enough.
What is Moroni's challenge?
(From the Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:4) The challenge as often given is that the truth of the Book of Mormon will be made known to you (by the Holy Ghost's power) if you: 1) Sincerely read the Book of Mormon with an open mind. 2) Then pray to God in the name of Christ with real intent, asking to know the truth.
Is Adam God?
This has never been official Church doctrine. However some early Church leaders (most notably Brigham Young) are recorded as making speeches that can be interpreted as giving this view. The soc.religion.christian FAQ for Mormonism has a LONG much more complete discussion on the topic.
Are Mormons forbidden to drink Coca Cola and other soft drinks?
(Or, for Mormons: Does the Word of Wisdom forbid soft drinks?)
This is, for some reason, a question debated by Mormons themselves. However the same answer has been given repeatedly by the Church. The official statement is: (from a reply to someone asking...)

"... with reference to the cola drinks that the Church has never officially taken any attitude on this matter, but the leaders of the Church have advised, and do now specifically advise, against the use of any drink containing harmful habit-forming drugs under circumstances that would result in the acquiring of the habit."
-- Elder Joseph Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency (1971)

At least one Church President is on record as stating that the Word of Wisdom does not specificly forbid it, but that avoiding such drinks is a good idea anyway.


Flame Bait

Questions hotly contested in one way or another, that I don't want to deal with.

These questions are not just net questions, they occur so frequently out in real life that there are even pamphlets that cover the topics. For example, at Deseret Book (or mail order through Mormon Misc.) you can get pamphlets on:

similar questions show up here all the time.

This list is included to warn new folk of topics likely to contain more heat than light. The two groupings are more a measure of the quality of the flames I've seen, then anything else. I'm willing to move any of these to the previous section, if I get a clear relatively neutral summary from someone.

Scholarly issues:

BoM vs Bible
Is BoM History compatible with Biblical History?
BoM archaeology
Where did the Book of Mormon take place?
What has been found supporting the BoM?
What has been found conflicting with the BoM?
What should have been found that hasn't?
Etc.
BoM linguistics
What is reformed Egyptian?
What languages were used in the BoM?
Etc.

Opinional issues:

BoM vs Bible
Is the Book of Mormon Consistent with the Bible?
[Oddly enough nobody ever asks if the Book of Mormon is compatible with the Koran]
Homosexuality and the Church
(The policy is often stated "No sex outside of marriage", and since no homosexual marriage is legally accepted...)
Is the policy acceptable/inspired/unfair/sexist/etc ?
Why don't women have the Priesthood?
Is there scriptural backing for not allowing it?
Will it change as the "Blacks in the priesthood" policy did?
Blacks and the Church
(Originally Blacks could not hold the priesthood, now they can.)
Did/Does Church Policy discriminate against blacks?
Is the old policy evidence for underlying discrimination?
Does the Church discriminate independent of policy?
Official vs Common Beliefs.
Validity of pronouncements of the local Bishops.
"Official" guidelines vs local implementation.
SKAGA (Somebody knows a GA that said...)
SLOS (Some leader once said...)
MSTIS (My Seminary (or Institute) Teacher said...)
The Church vs. Intellectuals
Is the Church anti-Intellectual?
Is the Church compatible with Science?
Is the Church compatible with Logic?
Is the Church compatible with Algebra?
Does the Church discourage investigations?
Theology
Is Mormonism a Christian religion?
To what extent will animals also be resurrected?
Paranoia
Does the Church have secret files on Intellectuals/Homosexuals/newsgroup posters/anti-Mormons/etc?
Does the Church secretly prosecute groups on the list above?
Does the Church assign members to secretly spy on newsgroups like alt.religion.mormon?
Does the Church destroy old documentation that disagrees with them?
Huh?
BYU did X, therefore the Mormons believe X.
My religion says X, Mormonism says Y, therefore Mormonism is crap.
[Some Horror story] therefore Mormons are officially X.
[Flame bait of your choice], but I'm just asking for information.
[Some story about what some Mormons did], therefore Mormons in general do [whatever the story mentioned].
I heard that in Utah people do X, therefore Mormons do X.
Are X resurrected X?
Popular variants include X being Stupid, Slow, and Ugly for the curious sorts, and X being Black for people wanting to argue theology. Nobody ever asks about X being blond or skinny.

Where do I find...

Where did the "Age of accountability" get set to 8 years old?
JSV Genesis 17:11 also D&C 68:25
Doesn't Jacob 2:27 (BoM) outlaw polygamy outright?
Verse Jacob 2:30 (BoM) states God can command otherwise.
If God can heal anything, does that mean I don't have do deal with doctors any more?
No. D&C student manual on section D&C42 gives the official position.
Mormons shouldn't drink alcohol?
D&C 89 (also called the "Word of Wisdom")
"But that says 'strong drink'", "what about tea or coffee", "etc"? There are standard interpretations of the WoW, these are covered in detail in the Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual on D&C89. It also covers the caffeine, soft drinks, etc..
Why is the Sabbath on Sunday instead of the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday)?
Didn't the Christian churches move it to Sunday AFTER they lost priesthood authority?
This is covered in the "Doctrines of the Gospel" student manual, under the "law of the Sabbath". (They quote James Talmage's book "The Articles of Faith".)
Where does the word "Deseret" (The original name for the Mormon settlements in Utah) come from?
[The term "Deseret" is common as a company and place name in Utah.]
Ether 2:3 (BoM) It means "honey bee".
If you sin, and repent, and later sin again, the old sins now also count against you.
D&C 82:7 (A direct "So saith the Lord" quote)

Bibliography

  + means distributed by the Church through its distribution centers.
          (Some people take this as "approved")
  - means a text by a non-Mormon (or ex-mormon)

  > means frequently referenced by Church scholars.
  ? means books frequently pointed out as not being authoritative.

The Theology

>+ Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price
   The official scriptures specific to Mormonism.

>+ King James Bible
   The version of the Bible used by English Speaking Mormons.
   (I'm told the French use "Bible de Segond 1910")
   The version available through the Church distribution centers also
   has parts of the Joseph Smith Translation in footnotes and endnotes.

>  The Articles of Faith by James Talmage
     A good overview of many doctrinal issues.

 + The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
     A text book for a course on the official work.

>? The Journal of Discourses
     A compilation of speeches of early Church missionaries and leaders.
     It is NOT to be taken as anything other than the opinions of the
     speakers, it is NOT taken as scripture or official cannon.

>+ Jesus The Christ
     by James Talmage
   A good statement of the LDS view of Jesus.

>+ A Marvelous Work and a Wonder
     by LeGrand Richards
   Originally written for missionaries.

The History

>  The History of the Church
      By Joseph Smith
   A compiled history of the Church.  This is more or less the
   "official" history.

 + Church History in the Fullness of Time.
      A very much shorter, somewhat preachyer, history than the above,
      intended for a religion course.

 - Gathering of Zion; the Story of the Mormon Trail
      by Wallace Earle Stegner
   Very readable history of the Church from leaving Nauvoo, Ill., to
   the setup in Salt Lake City, Utah.

   Handcarts to Zion; The Story of a Unique Western Migration
   1856-1860 with contemporary Journals, account, reports; and rosters
   of members of the ten handcart companies.
      by Leroy Reuben Hafen and Ann W. Hafen
   Intense coverage of the parties of Mormon emigrants that came to
   Utah via Handcart (and the one party that went the other way),
   including the relevant history around the move.

   Great Basin Kingdom; An Economic History of the Latter Day
   Saints 1830-1900
      by Leonard J. Arrington
   Covers the economic history of the early settlers of Utah.

   The Mormon Experience; A history of the Latter-day Saints
      by Leonard J. Arrington and Davis Bitton
   Covers early Church history.

 + The Deseret News Church Almanac
   Covers lots of details of the Mormon Church, such as lists of the
   historical dates, lists of leaders, a list of temples, etc.
   Updated yearly.

Splinter Groups

There have been a number of groups that have split off of Mormonism over the years, most notably the Fundamentalists and the RLDS. I'll only list one title here, but it is a good introduction.

   Divergent Paths of the Restoration
     By Steven L. Shields
   Attempts to list and categorize all the splinter groups since the
   beginning of the Church.

The opposition:

There is quite a literary tradition critical of Mormonism also. I'll only list one title, but it contains pointers to most of the rest of the titles available. Most detractors quote this book. Almost any new book in the area is available through the bookstore that the authors run, which is listed under bookstores below.

 - Mormonism - Shadow or Reality?
      by Jerald and Sandra Tanner
   A massive volume critical of Mormonism. Most objections ever raised
   against Mormonism are covered at least briefly in this book.

Bookstores:

Supportive of Mormonism:
Deseret Book, ZCMI Center
36 South State, Store 257
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111

(801) 328-8191 (Main Store)
(800) 453-4532 (800 number)

http://www.deseretbook.com/
Critical of Mormonism:
Utah Lighthouse Ministry
P. O. Box 1884
Salt Lake City, Utah 84110

Email: ulm@utah-inter.net
(801) 485-8894

Distributors of electronic information:

[ Does someone keep a web page for distributors? ]

Computer CD's:

[This information is getting to be years out of date]

INFOBASE (800) 537-7823
The basic four scriptures, about $50.
A deluxe edition: (Includes the Documentary History of the Church, the Journal of Discourses, and other works) about $300 list.
Other collections may be available.
Portal Publications:
Basic Mormon Library, including the scriptures. About $60.

[Prices given are rough list prices in US dollars at the time this was written, significant discounts are available through some distributors. Some of the distributors are on Alt.Religion.Mormon, you might want to enquire there for best available prices. ]

Other net information

Newsgroups:
Alt.Religion.Mormon
Discussions about Mormons and Mormonism
These are NOT necessarily discussions BY Mormons.
Soc.Religion.Mormon
Discussions about Mormons and Mormonism
This group tends to have less noise than Alt.Religion.Mormon
Soc.Religion.Christian
Has an FAQ on Mormonism, that covers Mormonism in the context of Christian Religions. It covers some issues (such as the Adam-God controversy) in much better detail than this FAQ.
Talk.Religion.Misc
Heated debates, sometimes about Mormonism.
Mailing lists:
Mormon-L@onramp.net
A Mormon mailing list. (The list owner says "Anti-Mormons need not apply.") To apply for a subscription, send mail to mormon-l-request@onramp.net
Many Mormon mailing lists are documented at:
ftp://mach.cs.cmu.edu/afs/cs/usr/dba/www/List-of-Mormon-Lists
Document collections:
Deseret Book has the complete set of Mormon Scripture on line at their web page. http://www.deseretbook.com/ (This includes the Bible also.) I'm still looking for other document collections.
LDS net information (official):
The LDS Church has an official web site http://www.lds.org/ Note that this is a .org site, not a .com site (LDS.COM is a company unrelated to the Church.)
Net Information critical of Mormonism:
(Note that these sites come and go so often, this list is probably out of date.) Utah Lighthouse Ministry or the Alpha Ministry's Utah Lighthouse Ministry page email:ulm@utah-inter.net

Go to ...


Official version of this page: http://h14me.yi.org/~ylee/a.r.m.faq.html
The author's working copy of this page:
    http://www.cc.utah.edu/~nahaj/Mormon/faq.html
The official Non-HTML version of this page marks all textual changes from last revision.
(as does the author's non-html version for his working copy.)
This page was last edited on May 29th, 2001.