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The Latter Day Saints Movement

Portrait of Joseph Smith, Jr
An 1842 portrait of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement

The Latter Day Saint movement (also called the LDS movement, LDS restorationist movement, or Smith–Rigdon movement) is the collection of independent church groups that trace their origins to a Christian primitivist movement founded by Joseph Smith in the late 1820s. Collectively, these churches have over 16 million members, although the vast majority of these—about 98%—belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). The predominant theology of the churches in the movement is Mormonism, a form of Christianity usually categorized as Restorationist. A minority of Latter Day Saint adherents, such as members of the Community of Christ, believe in traditional Protestant theology, and have distanced themselves from some of the distinctive doctrines of the LDS Church. Other groups include the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which supports lineal succession of leadership from Smith's descendants, and the more controversial Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which defends the practice of polygamy.

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Polygamy (called plural marriage by Mormons in the 19th century or the Principle by modern fundamentalist practitioners of polygamy) was practiced by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890 by between 20 and 30 percent of Latter-day Saint families. Note that there are various denominations that are considered Mormons and they have different beliefs and practices.

The Latter-day Saints' practice of polygamy has been controversial, both within Western society and the LDS Church itself. America was both fascinated and horrified by the practice of polygamy, with the Republican platform at one time referencing "the twin relics of barbarism—polygamy and slavery." The private practice of polygamy was instituted in the 1830s by founder Joseph Smith. The public practice of plural marriage by the church was announced and defended in 1852 by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Orson Pratt, by the request of church president Brigham Young.

For over 60 years, the LDS Church and the United States were at odds over the issue: the church defended the practice as a matter of religious freedom, while the federal government aggressively sought to eradicate it, consistent with prevailing public opinion. Polygamy was probably a significant factor in the Utah War of 1857 and 1858, given the Republican attempts to paint Democratic President James Buchanan as weak in his opposition to both polygamy and slavery. In 1862, the United States Congress passed the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, which prohibited plural marriage in the territories. In spite of the law, Mormons continued to practice polygamy, believing that it was protected by the First Amendment. In 1879, in Reynolds v. United States, the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Morrill Act, stating: "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinion, they may with practices." Read more...

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CarthageJail1885.jpg
An etching of the Carthage, Illinois jail, circa 1885. This was the location of the Death of Joseph Smith on June 27, 1844

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View of the Colorado River from Lees Ferry

Lees Ferry (also known as Lee's Ferry, Lee Ferry, Little Colorado Station and Saints Ferry) is a site on the Colorado River in Coconino County, Arizona in the United States, about 7.5 miles (12.1 km) southwest of Page and 9 miles (14 km) south of the Utah–Arizona border.

Due to its unique geography – the only place in hundreds of miles from which one can easily access the Colorado River from both sides – it historically served as an important river crossing and starting in the mid-19th century was the site of a ferry operated by John Doyle Lee, for whom it is named. Boat service at Lees Ferry continued for over 60 years before being superseded by a bridge in the early 20th century, which allowed for much more efficient automobile travel.

Lees Ferry served as a military outpost for 19th-century settlements in Utah, a center of limited gold seeking and since the 1920s the principal point at which river flow is measured to determine water allocations in the 246,000-square-mile (640,000 km2) Colorado River basin. Lees Ferry demarcates the boundary between the Upper and Lower Basins of the Colorado River; the states which make up each basin are legally allocated one-half of the river's natural flow. Glen Canyon Dam impounds the Colorado a short distance upstream and completely regulates the river flow past Lees Ferry. Lees Ferry has long been a focal point of American Southwest water disputes, and has been called "both the physical and spiritual heart of water history in the arid West".[citation needed] Today Lees Ferry is a well-known fishing and boat launching point, including for whitewater rafting trips through the Grand Canyon. Read more...

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The Church of the Firstborn was a sect of the Latter Day Saint movement that formed as an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1861 and was involved in the Morrisite War. Its adherents were known as Morrisites, and schismatic sects that emerged from it were extant until 1969. Read more...

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Photo of Alpheus Cutler

John Alpheus Cutler (February 29, 1784 – June 10, 1864) was an early leader in the Latter Day Saint movement who founded the Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite) in 1853. He had previously served in several church positions under Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, as well as captain of Smith's personal bodyguard and "Master Builder and Workman on all God's Holy Houses." Following the death of Joseph Smith in June 1844, Cutler at first followed the Twelve Apostles under Brigham Young, but later left Young's church to reorganize the Church of Jesus Christ, with himself serving as its first president. Cutler claimed that this was the sole legitimate continuation of Smith's organization, and he served as its leader until his death. Read more...

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OrsonPratt.jpg

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