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What Being a Mormon Means to Me

There are those who have worked or associated with me in the past who have been uncomfortable with my attitude about being a Mormon. Completely unashamed. I do not fear the disappointment of man, but the disappointment of my Savior.

Now with Mitt Romney emerging as the winner in Iowa, which is still stunning considering how high the anti-Mormon sentiment runs there, and with a commanding lead in New Hampshire, the nutjobs are crawling out of the cracks and launching all their anti-Mormon balderdash again.

Representiave Judy Manning of Marietta, GA said in The Marietta Daily Journal: “I think Mitt Romney is a nice man, but I’m afraid of his Mormon faith,” Manning said. “It’s better than a Muslim. Of course, every time you look at the TV these days you find an ad on there telling us how normal they are. So why do they have to put ads on the TV just to convince us that they’re normal if they are normal? … If the Mormon faith adhered to a past philosophy of pluralism, multi-wives, that doesn’t follow the Christian faith of one man and one woman, and that concerns me.” Source

First, let's deal with the basics: The name "Mormon" was given us by people who were not fond of us well over a century and a half ago. We didn't eschew it, but it is not our official name. The name of our church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are Christians, have always been Christians, and only the deliberately ignorant mind would spout that nonsense.

But let us get to the point of this post. What being a Mormon means to me. My matriarchal ancestors joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1832 and followed the saints westward, from state to state, as the First Amendment right of "freedom of religion" didn't apply to Latter-day Saints at the time. Driven from Harmony, Pennsylvania, to Kirtland, Ohio to Independence, Missouri to Nauvoo, Illinois (although my family settled across the river in Montrose, Iowa) and finally to Utah, the saints never found that constitutional right to be available to them. They were driven completely out of the United States and ended up in Mexico (Utah,) until the U.S. purchased the territory from Mexico. Then we were back in America again. That was the story of my great-great-great grandfather and his family.

Fast forward to today, and I am still a strong Latter-day Saint who has studied her faith deeply and understands many aspects others don't, and there is still much for me to learn. But it boils down to this and this alone: We are Christians who live our lives by the principles and precepts set forth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We believe that eternal salvation can only be gained through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Unlike many other Christian faiths, we still hold that Jesus Christ is indeed the Son of God, and as such, only His teachings will lead us back to our heavenly home.

In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:26, we find it summed up nicely:

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

And our Articles of Faith, which are the basic tenets of our faith, state:

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

What in that is there to be afraid of? I ask you, does common sense dictate that there is anything in our beliefs to be scared of? 

Yes, plural marriage was practiced in the early church. As it was by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and forward in biblical times. That practice ceased in the Church by virtue of an Official Declaration issued by Wilford Woodruff, the president of The Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints at that time, on 6 October 1890. From that day forward, any new plural marriages were expressly forbidden, because we, as Latter-day Saints believe in being subject " to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

My own ancestors were polygamists, but abided by the Official Declaration issued by the prophet and president of our church. However, there was a faction who left the Church because of the cessation of this practice, and those are the polygamists you see today, the descendants of those original pioneers who could not, even would not, abide by the teachings of the current prophet. These people are not "Mormons." They never have been, and most have no intention of ever becoming so.

So, for me personally. I am a Latter-day Saint because I believe in the principles, practices and precepts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am far from perfect, but I try to follow them every day. I worship my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I worship and pray to my Heavenly Father, whom I believe to be a separate personage, in the name of Jesus Christ, for He is my advocate. And I believe the Holy Ghost inspires, teaches and testifies of truth in the quiet moments of the day and night.

So, to Rep. Manning I ask: What is there in a church dedicated to God, country and family to be afraid of? We have no jihad in the Mormon faith. We do not, nor have we ever, converted by the sword. We do not, nor will we ever, kill anyone for leaving our faith. We are dedicated to the preservation of the above mentioned, and believe it to be worth everything we have to preserve God, country and family. We believe in "loving our neighbors as ourselves," being charitable, helping those in need, strengthening each other in times of trouble and that the family unit, if strong and inviolate, can preserve our nation.

If that's what you're afraid of, then perhaps you ought to resign your position in the Georgia House of Representatives, because you're the antithesis of all that is American. Or, maybe you can educate yourself and correct the message you are sending to the public at large.

Being a Mormon, to me, means standing up for what I believe, never counting the cost. It means I stand on the side of Jesus Christ at all times, even in my imperfection. It means I believe Jesus Christ to be the salvation of our world, and that the path home goes through no other. It means, I am a Christian who is devoted to Jesus Christ, and it will always be so.


Copyright 2011. All rights reserved by Candace E. Salima.
What Being a Mormon Means to Me What Being a Mormon Means to Me Reviewed by Candace Salima on Thursday, January 05, 2012 Rating: 5