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Mormonism and Judaism
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Mormonism and Judaism

Latter-day Saint theology was established in the early 19th century as a form of Christian Restorationism, and practitioners (called Latter Day Saints or often "Mormons") consider themselves to be part of Christianity. See Mormonism and Christianity. However, there are many Latter-day Saint doctrines and practices that are more closely connected to primitive Christian rite, and ancient Hebrew Judaism than the more mainstream Christianity of the modern world. None of Judaism's religious branches, past or present, accept any of the claims of the Latter-day Saints (though this doesn't apply to ethnic Jews who convert).

Lineage in the tribes of Israel

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), members receive a patriarchal blessing given by a LDS patriarch. Patriarchal blessings are declarations of lineage, either blood lineage or lineage of adoption (when the recipient is not a literal descendant of Abraham). Most blessings (especially from European and Asian ethnic backgrounds) state that the convert is a member of the tribe of Joseph, through the tribe of Ephraim or tribe of Manasseh, but all tribes (including Judah and Benjamin) have been claimed in varying frequency based on the results of these blessings. Authority to do this is attributed to the believed restoration of the priesthood keys of Melchizedek (who blessed Abraham and his descendants) and Aaron (the Levite priest).

Some apologists have speculated that LDS relatives are generally appointed to the same tribe since a patriarchal blessing appointing family members to different tribes implies that one family member would not be directly sealed to another in the afterlife. This speculation is not supported by any authoritative statements from LDS General Authorities, and is not considered doctrine.

Another more realistic theory could be that most converts are believed to be descended from or adopted into the tribes of the Kingdom of Israel, the northerly Hebrew kingdom which was destroyed by the Assyrians, with its people dispersed to the ends of Assyrian lands. As Jews of the southerly Kingdom of Judah had scattered to many other lands by the times of Alexander the Great and the Roman Empire, it is believed that the northerly Israelites also scattered to the far reaches of Eurasia and Africa, ultimately becoming fully assimilated into their host cultures. Additionally, converts from the native peoples of North America, South America and Polynesia are believed usually to be partially descended from or adopted into the original Israelite tribes who spawned the Nephites, Lamanites and Mulekites (cultures in the Book of Mormon), who are believed to be the chief forerunners of greater Native American culture (not unlike how the Roman Empire is perceived as the chief forerunner to Western Civilization, or how Chinese culture has had a strong lasting influence on its linguistically unrelated neighbor nations). To affirmed LDS converts, these beliefs can suggest a possible direct (albeit diluted) genetic lineage to one or more of the tribes of Israel. (EDIT NOTE: Maybe this could be explained and discussed with better words than these.)

LDS assert peaceful coexistence with the Jewish people, whom they recognize as Israelites who simply never lost the knowledge that they are Israelites.

The LDS Church includes the Star of David among their traditional symbols. For the LDS Church, it represents among other things divine Israelite covenant, Israelite regathering, and affinity with the Jews, and is prominently depicted in a stained glass window in the landmark Salt Lake tabernacle building.

Regardless of the controversy, acceptability, or perceived reality of such beliefs, they have nonetheless influenced popular culture through the publications of writers (usually members or former members of the LDS Church) who have used the theme directly or marginally in fictional stories. Such works include the science fiction and fantasy novels of Orson Scott Card, the animated films of Don Bluth, and Glen Larson's television series Battlestar Galactica, and more recently, the cinematic productions of Richard Dutcher.

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