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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mormons and Evangelicals: How do they compare?

With the January 21st  South Carolina Republican primary election on the horizon, people are wondering to what extent religion might decide the vote.

Reuters explains that “evangelical Protestants are expected to form a large voting bloc” and that “some evangelicals harbor mistrust for fast-growing Mormonism and its more exotic beliefs.”  Reuters then references this Pew report finding:  … while a substantial majority of the world’s 14 million Mormons view themselves as Christians, some non-Mormons view them as a cult based on the belief in living apostles and prophets, two additional books of scripture besides the Bible and other tenets.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints website describes the Book of Mormon as “Holy Scripture,” and states that it “is the word of God, like the Bible.”  Its content “contains the history and God’s dealings with the people who lived in the Americas” (during the thousand-year period from
approximately 600 BC to 400 CE).  According to Wikipedia, many Mormons also adhere to the Doctrine and Covenants (aka D&C, or D. and C.), which is “a part of the open scriptural canon of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement.”  This book includes “many revelations on numerous topics…”

The Church website also describes Joseph Smith, Jr. as “a Prophet of God,” and states that God called him “to re-establish the Church of Jesus Christ.”  One of the governing bodies of Smith’s church hierarchy is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  The members of this quorum “are considered to be apostles, with a special calling to be evangelical ambassadors to the world.”

Although mainline Protestant Evangelicals tend to disagree strongly with some of these Mormon traditions, Reuters reminds us that there are some striking similarities between the two groups.  Greg Smith of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life is referenced as listing these commonalities:  They are ideologically conservative, a majority are Republican or lean Republican, they tend to attend church and pray regularly, and religion is often important in their lives.   

Copyright January 14, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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