Mormons are followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a religion founded in the United States in the 19th Century. Joseph Smith, Jr., a farmer from New York state, founded the church. He turned to religion after he claimed he was visited by the archangel Moroni, son of the prophet Mormon. Following his vision, Smith claimed to have found golden tablets inscribed with Egyptian hieroglyphs near his house. His translation of the tablets formed the Book of Mormon, published in 1830. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was founded the same year. The Mormons began to seek converts. In the northwest of the US, they breathed life into communities so isolated that they had their own militias. Mormons introduced a strict theocracy into these communities and permitted polygamy. American political and religious leaders feared that the new church would threaten their authority, and began to restrict its development. Anti-Mormon sentiment culminated in the murder of Joseph Smith, who fell victim to a lynch mob while in police custody [June 7, 1844]. Under the leadership of Brigham Young, Mormons then moved their headquarters to Utah. In the deserts of Utah they founded Salt Lake City , creating an autonomous society based on religious standards. The US government repeatedly warned the Mormons to follow the law and abandon polygamy. The Mormons abandoned the practice only in 1890, after the dual threat of military intervention and banning of their church.
Mormon doctrine is based on The Book of Mormon. The book states that Native Americans are descended from Hebrew tribes who arrived in the Americas in ancient times. Believers consider themselves the chosen ones. They call themselves “saints” and embrace a return to Christianity’s true spirit. A distinctive rite of Mormonism is the baptism of the dead; this way, the true believers are able to save those who died before embracing their beliefs. Mormons have always actively sought to spread the faith. Their missionaries number more than 60,000 worldwide. More than 11 million believers worship daily at the Salt Lake Temple, the heart of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Mormons live in small and isolated communities, and one of their central tenants is tithing. They are against abortion and birth control.