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Mormonism: A Paradigm Of An American Faith

2252 words - 10 pages

A handsome boy kneels down for prayer beside a tree in his father’s orchard. It is a nice sunny spring day with the warm rays of the radiant sun gently kissing the boy’s face. “God, give me a sign,” he pleads to his heavenly father. He is only 14, yet religion fascinates him. Confused by what Christian faith to believe in, he was not sure whether he wanted to become a Baptist like his parents, or a Methodist, which church’s teachings appealed more to him. A slight cool breeze passes through his chestnut colored hair. In a moment he finds himself paralyzed, unable to move, at the mercy of some evil force. A shadowy mist surrounds him. The boy is afraid and does the only thing he could think of: he prayed, “God save me!” Immediately a pillar of light descends over his head like a crown of gold. A strange calmness overcomes the boy, and the shadows around him recede. To the boy, who questioned God’s existence, this was a sure sign that his heavenly father was still there. That boy was Joseph Smith, who had just experienced the first of a series of visions that he would receive throughout his faithful life. Soon after his first vision, he received another in which he the angel Moroni visited him, who presented him with a map. Smith traveled to a nearby hill where he found several golden tablets, etched with mysterious characters of ancient languages long forgotten. Smith was ordered by the angel to translate the plates into what is now known as the Book of Mormon (from which the Mormons gained their name), the cornerstone of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or simply abbreviated as the LDS Church. (Millet 6-8).
The Mormon Church in the nineteenth century was considered strange and isolated by many Americans because of the church’s nonconformist views, and because of the political ambitions of their leaders. Therein lies many of the misconceptions of the LDS Church and its teachings. Protestant and Catholic ministers of the time were quick to condemn this new faith, which was attracting flocks of converts on American soil and even internationally by the 1820s, for the controversial and unorthodox teachings of the faith. In fact, the faith was so controversial during its time, that their beliefs often caused not only problems with other religious sects, but were also considered so deplorable that the federal government had to interfere with church practices and leadership on many occasions. This hatred and fear of a new growing faith led to the decades of precautions for the Mormons, being driven from their original communities into other states such as Indiana and Missouri, and eventually being lead in their mass exile to the barren deserts and rocky mountains of northern Utah. What many people at the time and even today do not realize is that many of the controversial beliefs of the Mormon faith, such as plural marriages and baptisms of the dead, were not nearly as prevalent in the faith as often portrayed by the outside world. In...

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