About the Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) while a minority are members of other independent churches. Many Mormons are also either independent or non-practicing. The center of Mormon cultural influence is in Utah, and North America has more Mormons than any other continent, though the majority of Mormons live outside the United States.
Mormons have developed a strong sense of communality that stems from their doctrine and history. They dedicate large amounts of time and resources to serving in their church, and many young Mormons choose to serve a full time proselyting mission. Mormons have a health code that eschews alcoholic beverages, tobacco, coffee, tea, and other addictive substances. They tend to be very family-oriented, and have strong connections across generations and with extended family. Mormons have a strictlaw of chastity, requiring abstention from sexual relations outside of marriage and strict fidelity within marriage.
Mormons are sometimes associated with polygamy. The practice of polygamy (or plural marriage) was a distinguishing characteristic of many early Mormons; however it was disavowed by The LDS Church in 1890, and discontinued over the next 15 years. Today, polygamy is practiced only by Mormon fundamentalists who have broken with the LDS Church.
Most Mormons self-identify as Christian, though some of their beliefs differ from mainstream Christianity. Mormons believe in the Bible, as well as other books of scripture, such as the Book of Mormon. They have a unique view of cosmology, and believe that all people are spirit-children of God. Mormons believe that returning to God requires following the example of Jesus Christ, and accepting his atonement through specific ordinances such as baptism. They believe the authority to perform these ordinances was restored through Joseph Smith, and that their church is guided by living prophets and apostles. Central to Mormon faith is the belief that God speaks to his children and answers their prayers.