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Hum 127 Religions of the World - World Religions Report

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World Religions Report

Justin Fox

Western International University

HUM 127 Religions of the World

Jim McAlhaney

December 3, 2006

Here is a riddle. When does 1.5% equal 50%-70%? The answer? When discussing the percentage of Mormons in the United States of America compared to that of Salt Lake City, Utah (Demographics) (Salt Lake). The numbers can be a point of some debate but using even the most moderate numbers are astounding. What do we know about Mormonism? What has pop culture told us? Is it true? These questions and more will be answered, and to some these answers may be astounding.

Joseph Smith was born in 1805 in Sharon, Vermont (Oliver, Branch, and Walker). According to the religion, he prayed his first prayer at age 16, and he saw Jesus and God the Father in a vision (Oliver, Branch, and Walker). About seven years later, the angel Moroni (the son of the prophet Mormon) gave him two golden tablets inscribed with symbols, which he translated into the Book of Mormon in 1830 (Oliver, Branch, and Walker). The Church of Christ was founded on April 6th of that same year and was the first church for the religion. Four years later the church changed its name to Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS) (Oliver, Branch, and Walker). On June 27th, 1844 Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum die in a gunfight at a jail where he and others are being held on charges of treason. They were attacked by a mob. Joseph did manage to kill two gunmen and wound another with a small pistol, which was smuggled in earlier (Oliver, Branch, and Walker).

Brigham Young then takes over as the second prophet. Brigham Young Dies in 1877 and is officially succeeded by John Taylor in 1880 (Oliver, Branch, and Walker). Seven years later Taylor dies and is succeeded by Wilford Woodruff in 1889. During this time there were many difficulties for the Mormons. There were many disagreements within the religion about theologies and practices. This was accompanied by the issue of polygamy which took a Supreme Court ruling to stop. This continues until the 15th and current prophet Gordon B. Hinckley assumed the status in 1995.

Upon researching the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints I found that there are many more churches than I expected in my area. There is one less than 10 minutes from my house, and I did not even know it. The name is, of course, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and it is located at 1545 Eastgate Rd Toledo Ohio. The Mormon places of worship are not that characteristically similar in any way. They vary from church to church, much like many Christian churches. There are some that are huge and castle like and some that are small and just like a small town church. There are massive pipe organs in some, and smaller more humble settings for others.

I was able to acquire an interview with my wife's grandmother. Her name is Juanita Foreman. She has been with the church for many years and is heavily involved in many different aspects. She is an usher, she sings in the ensembles, and she has been involved in many outings. She was unable to meet with me face-to-face because she fell ill on the day we were to meet. Because of that this interview was over the phone. The day of the interview was Sunday November 26th, 2006. We spoke of many things, and I felt that I gleaned a little bit more about Mrs. Foreman as a person. We spoke of many light things like holidays, typical meeting times, and ceremonies or rituals, and I was informed that Christianity and Mormonism were very similar. Mormons celebrate all the same holidays that Christians do like Easter, Christmas, and the Fourth of July. They have meetings at 10 O'clock a.m., then they have Sunday school at 11 O'clock, and lastly they split off into gender specific areas for men and women. Women go to something called "relief society" and men go to a "priesthood" class. Relief society is a group that is to complement the men in the priesthood class. Mormons believe in the Christian practice of Water Baptism but nothing more or out of the ordinary.

We did not just stay on this "fluff" conversation. I asked her some hard questions, and she answered them very well. I asked about how religions had shaped her life, and she told me that it completely turned her around from the bad things that she was doing. I inquired about their take on the origin of life, and how the earth was created, and she said that they believe that God created man, and that God, Jesus, and Michael the Arch-Angel created the earth. Mormons believe that there are more than just heaven and hell for the afterlife. They believe in three different destinations, or types of glory. The first type destination is Telestial, and next to hell (complete separation from God) it is the farthest one can get from God. The next is Terrestrial, which is somewhere in between, and the best is Celestial which is the closest one can get to God.

After that we spoke of how she would defend Mormonism against those who call it a cult, and she stated that she believes a cult to be people who do outlandish things that are out of the norm. She said that their religion is family-oriented and interested in the betterment of humankind. The only question that she did not have an answer for was her favorite verse or a verse that she had that spoke to her. She said that she could not memorize things well. She came back to say that this religion has made her have strong feelings toward being very honest and treating and judging people very fairly. She gave me an exceptional background of their religion and the background on Joseph Smith. She also said that it was hard for her at first to be a part of Mormonism because her whole family was one form or another of Christian. Even though she says that Mormonism is a form of Christianity they have varied beliefs and some things that they do that were hard for the family to deal with, and some that were hard for her to get used to. In her religion they do not drink coffee or tea, which was hard for her at first. Many things were hard for family and friends to understand like, not smoking, drinking alcohol, not eating much meat, eating plenty of vegetables, and keeping the Sabbath day holy by not going out shopping or making others work by going out to eat.

During the wrap up, I asked her if she had anything that she would like



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