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Religious misconceptions abound with Church of Latter-Day Saints


By Rachel Youmans
There are 84,876 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Virginia, in 188 congregations. Despite the large presence in our area, many Virginians do not know about the practices of the church.

Junior Delilah Doss, who attends the Hopewell Ward of the LDS Church, converted eight years ago when her family moved and had to look for a new church.

“It was a huge change,” Doss said. “I had to stop drinking coffee!”

Nevertheless, Doss and her family are very happy. Her father, who didn’t convert with the rest of the family, is becoming part of the church this summer.

Junior Ayana Hinton’s family also converted eight years ago, after missionaries visited her house.

“I obey the rules,” Hinton said. “We’re not allowed to date until sixteen, then we have group dates.”

Although Virginia is more tolerant of Mormonism than some other places, there are still some misunderstandings.

“People still think we practice polygamy,” Elder Matthews, a missionary, said. “That’s not true at all.”

Polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints officially abandoned the practice in 1890, but it is still a concept that is inaccurately associated with Mormonism.

Although Hinton does not think Virginia is an area with a lot of religious intolerance, she admits people sometimes make false assumptions about the church.

“There are misconceptions about the way we dress,” Hinton said. “And some people think we are polygamous.”

The Church of Latter-Day Saints has a long history of suffering from religious intolerance. The roots of the church can be found in 1820, when Joseph Smith had a vision in the woods near his home.

In March of 1830 Smith published the Book of Mormon, which he said was translated from ancient Native American writings. Around this time Smith’s followers organized themselves into a church.

In October 1833, non-Mormon residents drove Mormons from Jackson County, Missouri, the place that Smith had described as the “center place” of the City of Zion. Smith and his followers were forced to move west. As a result of conflict in the area, 2,500 Missouri militia attacked the Mormons, imprisoned Smith and other church leaders, and expelled the remaining church members.

“In Utah there are a lot of protests at religious conferences. Any time there’s a temple up, there are protesters,” Matthews said. “Of course, it’s not like it is always happening; there are a lot of nice people out there too.”

“A lot of people think we’re Amish, too,” Elder Fabrizio, another missionary, said. “They’ll ask why we have cell phones or computers, because they think it’s against our religion.”

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  • M

    Malikah WilliamsNov 7, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    This article really informed me. As Jill said, they are normal people just like everyone else, however there are still misconceptions just like any other religion. I am glad we can cover this in the school newspaper.

  • R

    Rachel ArnoldNov 7, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Rachel did a good job presenting this article. It is very well written and kept me interested to the end. I find history really interesting so I like the background she gave as to how and when the religion was formed. I definitely learned a lot that I didn’t know.

  • J

    Jill FairchildNov 5, 2010 at 6:55 am

    From living in Idaho, so close to the temple in Utah, we had a lot of Mormons in the area. I don’t think we had any misconceptions there just because about half of the school was LDS. They are normal people just like everyone else!

  • A

    Alex MartinezNov 5, 2010 at 6:13 am

    I think that many people think that Mormonism is ridiculous because of perceived arbitrarity in the restrictions that the religion places on its followers, although this does not warrant the animosity that many people have towards Mormons. With a better understanding of the religion, people might become less hostile toward it.

  • H

    Haseena Abdur-RahmanNov 1, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Their are points in this article that I diddn’t know about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I think that the school newspaper pursuing articles on diffrent religions really expand the minds of the student body. I’m just dissapointed that in some areas of the world, they aren’t as accepted;which to me is truely astonishing.

  • J

    Jamar JohnsonOct 28, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    I remember watching an episode of Family Guy one day and it was talking about the Mormons, well making fun of the Mormons I should say. I had no clue what Mormons were until I read this article. This article really helped me get a basic understanding of what a Mormon was.

  • A

    Autrey J.Oct 28, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    I knew the history of the church but I did not know some of the rules that were given. I agree that a lot of people misunderstand parts of the religion, but that is true with almost every religion. This is an interesting look into something people don’t go out of their way to learn about.

  • E

    Elizabeth NerdigOct 27, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    I actually went on a religious trip with the LDS church in 2009 with a friend, and even though I’m not Mormon, I felt so welcome and included. They really are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met, and it really disgusted me to see protestors criticizing the Mormon beliefs, demanding the Mormons to repent, saying that Joseph Smith lied, etc. They put out a bad name for Mormons, and I really like how this article helps clear up a lot of things.

  • T

    Tessa AllenOct 26, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    The concept of religion in general is an intriguing subject to me. I’m very interested in the prospect of learning more about various religions that are often misconstrued by the media and other sources. The only real criticism I have is that the description of the Mormon background seemed a little disjointed to me, but overall I enjoyed the article a lot.

  • K

    Kim CarnealOct 25, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I’m glad we were able to cover religion. I didn’t know people believed they practiced polygamy. But then again anything is possible in this world because of how judgemental people can be. I wish I knew why Delilah’s family converted, (more than just that a missionary came to their house). And what it must have felt like not having her father convert with the rest of her family.

  • J

    Joseph P.Oct 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    This is an example of how more people need to be more educated. It is understandable to not have a complex understanding of a common religion that you don’t practice, but some may be offended by ignorance to an extent. Although, with stereotypes and the media these days, you can’t blame someone for believing that a group of people practices polygamy.

  • C

    Chris BaeOct 24, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    It is very important for everyone to be able to understand religious differences and beliefs. Rachel did a good job keeping her opinions out this article or else there could be some major disagreements, misunderstandings, and arguments. I find it humorous to find that some people believe have misconceptions about technology and religion.

  • J

    Joshua KentOct 23, 2010 at 7:31 am

    I find it interesting that the trn staff would do an article based on different religions. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, I’m just saying that it wasn’t something I expected to see in a high school news paper. When I lived in Engaldn before I moved here there was a large local LDS population. I never really understood their views and their beliefs and I also belived they still practiced polygamy.