Mormons. A self-proclaimed “peculiar people” that acknowledge that they are “in the world” but contend that they are not “of the world.” Most non-Mormons will agree that Mormons are indeed a peculiar people for a myriad of reasons. In many regards, however, Mormons share fundamental beliefs and practices with Christians of various denominations including a commitment to following the 10 Commandments, reading the Bible regularly, worshiping at Church on Sundays, rendering service to others and alms to the poor, and resting their faith and hope in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.
Despite these several similarities to other religious sects, there remain a number of strange lifestyle and doctrinal differences that separate Mormons from what one might call typical Christian living. For one thing, Mormons follow a fairly strict dietary law of health called the “Word of Wisdom” that prohibits the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, and tea. In addition to Sunday worship in meetinghouses, Mormons also build and attend Temples for special religious practices throughout their lifetime. In addition to reading the Bible, Mormons also read from the Book of Mormon, which they hold as sacred scripture concerning ancient America as revealed by the prophet Joseph Smith in 1830. Finally, Mormons place a high standard on family home life and all of their teachings and activities are committed toward bringing families closer together in love and unity in hopes that this ideal will be perpetuated in the afterlife.
Mormon missionaries. Two twenty-something year old young men in white shirts with black name tags saying “Elder ____” come knock on your door and invite you to read the Bible-like Book of Mormon promising that doing so will bring your family together and bring you all eternal happiness. Or perhaps two young ladies in modest skirts or dresses riding bikes pull up next to you and offer you a “pass-along card” with an invitation to attend church services at the local Mormon meetinghouse on Sunday from 9 AM to noon. Sound familiar?
Mormon missionaries go out in companionships of two to “preach the gospel of Jesus Christ” and help others in need fulfilling the commission Christ gave to his disciples in the Bible (Matthew 28:19-20). Of the 68,000 Mormon missionaries in 162 countries and 405 mission districts, some 70% are young men age 18-27, 20% are young women age 19-28, and the remainder are retired couples and other single retirees. No matter what your age is, all missionary service is voluntary and missionaries and their families pay their own way. Missionaries are assigned to work in various parts of the world by “revelation,” which is to say Apostles ponder and pray about a volunteer’s personality and qualities and feels “by the power of the Holy Ghost” where to send a prospective missionary to serve. Mission service lasts 18 months for young women and 24 months for young men. During this time, missionaries leave college, jobs, and social circles behind to serve as full-time ambassadors of Jesus Christ helping, contacting, teaching, and baptizing in the name of Christ.
For more information about what Mormons believe and what Mormon missionaries teach, check out http://mormon.org/.