Of all of the religions in America, Mormonism is probably the most maligned and least understood. Most people seem to have images of men living on compounds in Utah with 8 wives and 43 children. Either that, or they think of the Osmonds (which is even more disturbing). Allow us to burst your bubble: there are actually over 10 million Mormons worldwide (including 6 million in the U.S.), and Mormonism has one of the highest conversion rates of any religion in the world (they recruit better than any basketball coach). So read on and discover what it means to be Mormon.

By the way, the decision to convert to a religion is a serious one, so please keep in mind that the humor used in this SYW is not meant to make a mockery of Mormonism. But you, being the sharp, inquisitive person you are, already knew that.


The first thing you should know is that every Mormon is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's the exact same thing. Look how fast you learn!

It is important that you check out all available resources before you decide that converting to Mormonism is a good idea. For you computer literate readers, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' official web page lists all the church's stances on controversial issues, such as abortion and homosexuality. (For the computer illiterate, how'd you get to this site?) Compared to other religions, Mormonism is pretty strict, so you should be aware of some basic beliefs you'll be expected to share.

Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet
Thirteen Articles of Faith
Pay a tithing
Body as a temple

Accept Joseph Smith as a prophet

This is a really big one for Mormons since the whole religion is founded upon his teachings. The story of Joseph Smith is one every convert needs to know. Here's the book jacket version: at the age of 14, Joseph Smith was confused as to which church he should join. As he was praying for guidance on this decision, he saw a vision in which God, the Father and Jesus Christ, appeared to him. Rather than joining a church already in existence, Joseph was instructed to restore the true church of God. To convert to Mormonism, it is essential that you accept this vision as truth and accept Joseph Smith as a true prophet of God.

Thirteen Articles of Faith

When investigating Mormonism, this should be one of your first stops. Pretty much everything Mormons believe can be found in the Thirteen Articles of Faith, written by Joseph Smith. While any convert under the age of 18 will most likely never have to recite these from memory, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with these principles. Some beliefs expressed in the Articles are that Mormons do not believe in original sin (Article 2), do believe in modern day prophets (Article 7), and do believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God (Article 8). The thirteen articles are:

  1. We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

  2. We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.

  3. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

  4. We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

  5. We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

  6. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

  7. We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

  8. We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.

  9. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

  10. We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

  11. We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

  12. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

  13. We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul-We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

Pay a tithing

In a Mormon ward, you'll never see a collection plate being passed around. This isn't because the Church worries about sticky fingers, but rather because most members have already given a tithing. A tithing is a sum of money a member pays that goes to help in the running of the Church. A general rule of thumb is that 10% of everything earned should be paid in tithing. Obviously, this varies by person but you will be expected to contribute something. This goes for all members, even children who often contribute parts of their allowances. What is all this money used for? While there isn't a specific area the money is allotted to, much of it goes into a fund used for members who have fallen upon hard times. The Church tends to frown upon accepting welfare from the government. Instead, money received from tithing will be used to help a financially strapped family get back on its feet.


Mormons believe in baptism by immersion, which is just a fancy way of saying you'll be dunked from head to toe. Also, a person has to be at least 8 years old before he/she is eligible to be baptized. The reason for this rule is to make baptism a decision of the individual and not of his/her parents. Once a person has decided to be baptized, he/she will have to meet with a bishop for an interview session. The purpose of this meeting is to make sure you have good reasons for wanting to convert and aren't just looking for a way to drive your parents crazy. While baptisms can vary, there are some general rules that must be followed: the baptism is performed by an "Elder" (these need not be old people -- in the case of converts, it is usually the missionary who introduced them to Mormonism) and at least two Mormons must witness the event.

Body as a temple

Mormons believe that the physical body is sacred and shouldn't be contaminated. This means no alcohol, no tobacco in any form, no use of recreational drugs and no caffeine (e.g. tea or coffee). While Mormons don't have to be vegetarians, they are encouraged to eat meat sparingly.

Another way Mormons show respect for their bodies is through conservative dress. Anything "revealing" is frowned upon, so now would be a good time to donate your hot pants and Speedos to the Salvation Army. These restrictions are often difficult to adjust to, but you will be expected to uphold them, especially if you are planning a trip to the temple.

While the above beliefs are very important in Mormonism, they are by no means all inclusive. Like all religions, Mormonism has many levels that can only be understood through effort on your part. Conversion isn't for the lazy. You'll be expected to attend services, participate in Church activities and meet with the missionaries before you're allowed to be baptized. Oh and don't be alarmed if at meetings members refer to you as Brother or Sister So-and-so. They don't think you're a long lost relative; they just use the terms as signs of familiarity.