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Latter Day Saint movement
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Latter Day Saint movement

The Latter Day Saint movement (also called the Mormonism movement or the Mormon movement) is a religious movement beginning in the early 19th century that led to the set of doctrines, practices, and cultures called Mormonism and to the existence of numerous churches whose members call themselves Latter Day Saints. It is one of a number of movements within Restorationism, which includes the Restoration Movement and the Millerite movement. These group of early 19th century religions attempted to transcend Protestant denominationalism, and to restore what they considered a form of Christianity truer to their interpretation of the New Testament.

The driving force behind the Latter Day Saint movement was Joseph Smith, Jr, and to a lesser extent Oliver Cowdery, who both claimed to have seen angels who restored to them various "keys" to organize and lead the true Church of Christ. In addition, the Latter Day Saint movement was greatly influenced by Sidney Rigdon, a minister within the Restoration Movement who had been associated with the Disciples of Christ before becoming Mormonism's first great theologian. See History of the Latter Day Saint movement.

Major Latter Day Saint denominations

Today, there are hundreds of active organizations within the Latter Day Saint movement. Most of these organizations are very small, but overall, there are possibly more Latter Day Saints world-wide than Jews. Most Latter Day Saints belong to one of the two largest denominations, the largest being the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (at nearly 12 million members), followed by the more ecumenical Community of Christ (at over 200,000 members). The movement continues to grow at an astonishing rate.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The largest Mormon denomination is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and its members called Latter-day Saints (LDS).

From the LDS Church's point of view, there has never been a "Mormon Church". The church makes occasional efforts to remind the public of the church's full name, and although it objects to the use of the referrent "Mormon Church", it stops short of rejecting the terms "Mormonism" and "Mormon" and even defends these terms as exclusive references only to the Church and its members. In a press release from 2001, the LDS Church stated that the word "Mormon" as an adjective in such expressions as "Mormon pioneers", "Mormons" as a noun in reference to members of the church, and "Mormonism" as a doctrine, culture, and lifestyle, were all acceptable. Indeed, the LDS Church has acquired and set up a website at http://mormon.org intended for those who are not members of the Church, but are seeking more information.

The LDS Church also notes that the use of the terms "Mormon", "Mormon fundamentalist" and "Mormon dissident" in reference to organizations or groups outside of the LDS Church (especially those that practice polygamy) is a misunderstanding of Mormon theology, in particular the principle of continuous revelation and Priesthood authority.

Despite the LDS Church's efforts to encourage use of its official name, the Associated Press has continued to recommend "Mormon Church" as a proper second reference to the Church in its influential Style Guide for journalists. The AP Stylebook does note, however, that “the term Mormon is not properly applied to the other ... churches that resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith’s death.”

Community of Christ

The next largest denomination of Mormonism, the Community of Christ, has throughout its history rejected the name "Mormon", though it is arguably a "Mormon" denomination. Organized in 1860, this denomination was known as the "Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (RLDS) until it adopted its current name in 2001.

See also