The very foundation, history, and name of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints bear ample testimony that God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ, who atoned for the sins of mankind and died on the cross, are the center of Church theology and worship.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a restoration to the earth of the original Christian Church, which fell into apostasy during the early centuries of the Christian era. Its organization and theology are not the result of reformation or protest. Rather, God sent divine messengers to earth to give the young prophet Joseph Smith the authority from God to reestablish, or restore, the Church of Jesus Christ.
Some early leaders and members of the Church entered into plural marriages during the latter half of the nineteenth century. After receiving a revelation, Church President Wilford Woodruff declared the practice should be discontinued in 1890. That position has been reaffirmed by every President of the Church since. Members of the Church who enter into plural marriage today face Church disciplinary action, including excommunication.
The term "Mormon" -- although it has no official standing -- is widely used in the media to refer to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Use of the term "Mormon fundamentalists" to refer to polygamists is therefore misleading and invites misunderstanding and misinterpretation. No members of the Church today can enter into polygamy without being excommunicated. Since those who practice polygamy cannot be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is incorrect to refer to them as "Mormon fundamentalists."
The term Mormon Church has long been publicly applied to the Church as a nickname, but most Church members prefer not to use this as a formal title. The term "Mormon" derives from the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, named for a prophet of ancient America who compiled that record. The word "Mormon" therefore correctly applies to a book or to a particular ancient prophet.
The term has also worked its way into such titles as the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, or such specific phrases as "Mormon pioneers." It should not be applied as a title to the Church itself, however. The correct name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was given by revelation from God to Joseph Smith in 1838 and should be used whenever possible in referring to the Church as an institution.
Until 1978, black male members of the Church were not ordained to the lay priesthood. That position was changed by revelation on 8 June 1978, when Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th president of the Church, announced that the "long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood".
The Church views all humankind as children of the same Heavenly Father, literally brothers and sisters. As stated by the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1987: "We repudiate efforts to deny to any person his or her inalienable dignity and rights on the abhorrent and tragic theory of the superiority of one race or color over another."
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