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Frequently Asked Questions

1.   Do Mormons practice polygamy?

There are over 14 million Mormons in the United States and around the world, and not one of them is a polygamist. The practice of polygamy is strictly prohibited in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The general standard of marriage in the Church has always been monogamy, as indicated in the Book of Mormon ( Jacob chapter 2, verse 27 ).  Polygamy was part of our past, for about 50 years in the 19th century. But it is not part of our present. Polygamy was officially discontinued in 1890 — 118 years ago. Those who practice polygamy today have nothing whatsoever to do with the Church.

2.   What do Mormons believe about God?

God is often referred to in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as Heavenly Father, because He is the Father of all human spirits and they are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). It is an appropriate term for a God who is kind and just, all wise and all powerful. God the Father, His son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost constitute the Godhead or Trinity for Mormons.

3.   What happens in a Mormon temple?

Temples are not regular places of Sunday worship for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because of the sacredness of temples, only members of the Church who are in good standing are allowed to enter the temples. The primary purpose of temple work is to “seal” or unite families together, with the expectation that those relationships continue beyond death. The same temple rites can be performed for those who have died. There is no counterpart to temple practices in other Christian churches.

4.   Do Mormons believe in the Bible?

The Church reveres the Bible as the word of God, a sacred volume of scripture. Latter-day Saints cherish its teachings and engage in a lifelong study of its divine wisdom. Moreover, during worship services the Bible is pondered and discussed.  Additional books of scripture—the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price—strengthen and reinforce God’s teachings through additional witnesses and provide moving accounts of the personal experiences many individuals had with Jesus Christ. According to Church Apostle M. Russell Ballard, “The Book of Mormon does not dilute nor diminish nor de-emphasize the Bible. On the contrary, it expands, extends, and exalts it.”

5.   Are Mormons Christians?

Jesus Christ is central to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which bears His name. Every prayer in the home and every sermon in a chapel closes in the name of Jesus Christ. The emblems of the sacrament (communion) that are taken weekly in worship services are symbols of His atonement. Christ’s atoning sacrifice pays the price of sin for all humans on condition of individual repentance. His sacrifice also allows all humankind to be resurrected into immortality.

6.   What is the position of the Church regarding race relations?

The gospel is for all people. Those of all ethnic group have always been welcome in the Church and have been baptized as members, preached from the pulpit and offered prayers in congregations.  Though there was never any policy in the Church of segregated congregations, male members of African decent were not ordained to priesthood offices.  That changed in June of 1978 and the Church immediately began ordaining active black male members to priesthood offices wherever they attended throughout the world.  In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church.  Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.”

7.   What can Mormon women do in the Church?

Women play an integral role in the work of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While women are not ordained to the priesthood in the Church and do not therefore officiate in rites such as blessing the sacramental emblems or baptizing, they serve in senior leadership positions and as missionaries and teachers, and they routinely preach from the pulpit and lead congregational prayers in worship services.

8.   Why does the Church send out missionaries?

The missionary effort of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the gospel and baptizing believers in the name of Jesus Christ (see, for example, the work of Peter and John in the book of Acts). More than 52,000 missionaries under the age of 25 are serving missions for the Church at any one time in nearly 350 missions throughout the world. Missionary work is voluntary with missionaries funding their own missions. They receive their assignment from Church headquarters and are sent only to countries where governments allow the Church to operate. In some parts of the world, missionaries are sent only to serve humanitarian or other specialized missions. 

9.   What is the Mormon view of the purpose of life?

For Latter-day Saints, the mortal existence is seen in the context of a great sweep of history, from a pre-earth life where the spirits of all mankind lived with Heavenly Father to a future life in His presence where continued growth, learning and improving will take place. Life on earth is regarded as a probationary state in which men and women are tried and tested — and where they gain experiences obtainable nowhere else. God knew humans would make mistakes, so He provided a Savior, Jesus Christ, who would take upon Himself the sins of the world. To members of the Church, physical death on earth is not an end but the beginning of the next step in God’s plan for His children.

10.  Why don’t Mormons smoke or drink alcohol?

The health code for Latter-day Saints is based upon The Word of Wisdom, an 1833 revelation outlining foods that are healthy and substances that are not good for the human body. Accordingly, alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee, and illegal drugs are forbidden due to their addictive and harmful effects.  A 14-year UCLA study, completed in 1997, tracked mortality rates and health practices of 10,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California, indicating that Church members who adhered to the health code had one of the lowest death rates from cancer and cardiovascular disease in the United States and that Church members who followed the code had a life expectancy eight to 11 years longer than the general white population of the United States.

Style Guide Note: When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online style guide .