Mormonism is the popular name for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mormonism was founded in the 1820's by Joseph Smith. Smith maintained that he was directed to golden tablets which he translated into the Book of Mormon, which recounts a visitation by Jesus Christ to Native Americans during prehistory.
Smith and his followers moved from western New York, eventually settling in Nauvoo, Illinois. Conflict between Mormons and non-Mormons led to rioting and violence, and Smith was killed by a mob in 1844. One of the sources of conflicts with Mormons was their practice of polygamy, or plural marriage.
List of famous Mormons:
- Glenn Beck - Became Mormon for his wife
- Steve Young
- Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite)
- Brandon Flowers (Leader singer of the Killers)
- Stephen R. Covey
The Mormon Church
The Mormon Church was then led westward by Brigham Young, settling beside the Great Salt Lake, in territory then outside the United States, where polygamy was openly practiced. The Mormons sought to establish their own state, to be called Deseret, but settlement in the region by non-Mormons again led to conflict, settled by the arrival of the US Army in 1858 and the establishment of the secular Territory of Utah. In 1890, the Mormon Church officially abandoned the practice of polygamy in exchange for US statehood.
Mormonism believes in the special practice of ordinances, or special ritual, as a part of their covenant with God. Mormons hold that the purpose of earthly life is to choose good over evil. As such, they eschew certain substances such as caffeine, and serve several years as missionaries, seeking to spread their gospel.