Understanding Mormonism

October 19, 2012 • Volume 22, Issue 37
Has it become a mainstream religion?
By Marcia Clemmitt


A young Mormon missionary says good-bye to a villager (Getty Images/Amy Toensing)
A young Mormon missionary says good-bye to a villager in Ha'apai, Tonga, after spending two years in the South Pacific nation seeking converts. As a young man, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney spent his missionary stint in France. (Getty Images/Amy Toensing)

As the first Mormon to win the Republican Party's nomination for president, Mitt Romney has focused new attention on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Built in 1830 upon what founder Joseph Smith said was God's word delivered on golden tablets by an angel, the church is deeply rooted in American history. Yet only half of Americans view the faith as Christian despite its regard of Christ as divine. Adding to Mormonism's struggle for acceptance are its legacy of polygamy (disavowed by the church in 1890), its treatment of blacks (banned from the priesthood until 1978) and its treatment of women (still barred from almost all leadership positions). Yet, many scholars say Mormonism has become a mainstream faith, and prominent Americans from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to TV pundit Glenn Beck are members.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Religion and Politics
Jan. 01, 2016  Religious Freedom
Nov. 07, 2014  Religion and Law
Oct. 19, 2012  Understanding Mormonism
Jan. 03, 2012  Sharia Controversy
Jan. 15, 2010  Government and Religion
Feb. 2009  Religious Fundamentalism
Dec. 07, 2007  Protestants Today
Jan. 19, 2007  Future of the Catholic Church
Jul. 30, 2004  Religion and Politics
Nov. 21, 1997  Religious Persecution
Sep. 08, 1995  Catholic Church in the U.S.
Nov. 25, 1994  Religion in America
Oct. 14, 1994  Religion and Politics
Sep. 12, 1986  Getting Religion in Politics
Dec. 14, 1984  Balancing Church and State
Aug. 27, 1976  Politics and Religion
Sep. 09, 1959  Religion in Politics
Jul. 24, 1942  Churches and War
Aug. 15, 1928  American Churches in National Politics
Apr. 09, 1927  The Religious Issue in American Politics
Aug. 01, 1926  The Religious Conflict in Mexico
Religion and Politics