A brief look into Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

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A brief look into Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

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Adnan Syed/ Religion Editor
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints seen from the outside. The Temple is located at 12555 North Outer Forty Road, St. Louis, MO 63141

Missourians are putting up Romney/Ryan signs in their front yards. They have come a long way to be accepting of the Mormon faith, a different attitude than the 1883 Missourians, wherein an estimated 10,000 Mormons were forced to leave Missouri that year, as a result of the Missouri Mormon War.

The former governor of Massachusetts, Willard Mitt Romney’s belief plays a big role in his values and campaign. As a Mormon, he donated about 30 percent of his income to charity last year.

In an interview, Katy Rasmussen, Saint Louis University’s Political Science Club president and a Mormon herself, said, “You have to understand that in our faith, charity is one of the qualities we strive for. We are deeply compelled to act on behalf of others and work toward the benefit of all people. We believe in hard work and individual responsibility. We don’t believe in free handouts.”

Rasmussen explained that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon church, does have its own welfare system.

“If an individual partakes in the welfare system, they must first do all they can to take care of themselves and the church will make up the difference,” Rasmussen said. “The church then assists in financial planning so that the person can get back to taking care of themselves in a timely manner.”

The church’s assistance isn’t elaborate, but it helps with everyday  needs.

“The financial assistance won’t allow you to live in luxury, but you will have food and shelter and other necessities,” Rasmussen said. “The church tries to help people help themselves so they can help the most amount of people.”

Romney believes that his proposed policies for the U.S. can help the most people, as he has seen such policies in action throughout the world-wide efforts of the LDS church.

“As a political science major, I can tell you that politicians are power-thirsty and egotistical, but I can guarantee you that Romney is running because he believes he can help people and his faith has given him that foundation,” Rasmussen said.

According to Mormon.org, a website run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormons believe in Jesus Christ as their savior. They regard this atonement as an ability given to them “to become clean in God’s eyes and remove the feeling of guilt that follow our bad choices.”

The website explains the history of the faith. The original church that Christ began started to dissolve over a few centuries, regardless of the efforts of the apostles and their faithful followers. This period came to be known as “The Great Apostasy.”

Mormons believe that God restored Christ’s church through Joseph Smith, a 14-year-old boy God selected as his messenger and prophet in the year 1820.

“These men appeared as angels and bestowed the priesthood upon Joseph Smith,” the website said.  It said that Smith received his priesthood authority at the hands of John the Baptist, Peter, James and John who received that same “power and authority” from Jesus Christ himself.

According to the website, today’s prophet is Thomas S. Monson. He is the “the authorized successor to Joseph Smith. He and the Church’s other Apostles trace their priesthood authority back to Jesus Christ in an unbroken chain of ordinations.”

The Mormon church regards this earthly life as temporary. The belief is that the hereafter consists of immortality. The website states that God will judge all men fairly and reward them appropriately with a place within his kingdom.

The role of the female members, as stated on mormonnewsroom.org is to “draw strength and inspiration from their identity: they understand themselves to be daughters of God with a purpose in life, and they strive to cultivate the attributes of divinity—such as holiness, wisdom and charity—within themselves…They honor their bodies and minds as sacred gifts, rejecting anything that demeans them.”

The Book of Mormon, named after Mormon, the ancient prophet who compiled it, is regarded as sacred scripture. The holy book is believed to contain God’s guidance, similar to the Bible. It is believed Smith was visited by an angel Moroni who told him about a record of the ancient inhabitants of the American continent that was buried in a hill.

Moroni said the record contained “the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and was written on thin metal sheets of gold.” Smith then translated the book into English.

The book tells about the struggles of the righteous people of that time who were trying to live God’s commandments. It recounts Christ’s visit to the American continent soon after his resurrection.

The book details how Christ blessed and healed the American people, performed miracles, and gave 12 men the same authority as his 12 apostles whose works are recorded in the Bible.

A common misconception is that Mormons do not read the Bible and only read the Book of Mormon. This is not true. In fact, they regard both as holy and supporting of each other.

Amy Lutz, president of SLU Republicans, said, though not a Mormon herself, but friends with several, “I think people tend to define Mormonism as a ‘cult’ simply because they do not know enough about the religion itself. We tend to fear things we know nothing about, so perhaps that is where that assessment comes from.”

Lutz further addressed the misconceptions of the Mormon church.

“I do believe that the prejudiced stereotypes that are laid against Mormons are unfair. Many of the Mormons I know are very family centered, charitable and compassionate,” she said.

Lutz draws parallels between Romney’s faith and her own, which helps her empathize with the governor and others of the Mormon church.

“Like Mitt Romney clings to his Mormon faith to guide his life, I cling to my nondenominational Christianity to help me determine right and wrong,”  said Lutz.