The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes millions of believers worldwide. Founded by Joseph Smith in the 19th century, the church uses both the Bible and the "Book of Mormon" as its holy scriptures. The Mormon Temple, which is not the same as regular worship buildings, is considered to be a holy space, with the church's most important sacred ceremonies taking place there. The religion has gained, somewhat unfairly, notoriety for the "secrecy" of their temples, as non-Mormons are not allowed to attend sacred ceremonies or enter any Mormon temple.
Like most Christian denominations, baptism is an essential and sacred rite for Mormons. Baptism's importance is reflected in the fact that it is a part of the Articles of Faith, the main creeds that Mormons use to shape their religious practices. As the Articles of Faith detail, a person's body must totally be immersed in the water. Children are baptized when they turn 8, which is considered the age in which Mormons turn accountable for their actions. In most cases, children are baptized by their fathers, who usually hold the higher of two Mormon priesthoods, the Melchizedek.
Controversially, Mormons also baptize the dead, as they believe that this may save the souls of those who never accepted the Mormon faith. For these baptisms, the deceased's body is not actually used, as another body acts as a "proxy" for this special type of baptism.
The Endowment, considered one of the main temple ordinances, is an important initiation ceremony where Mormons make their first covenants called "pledges." A member must be baptized in order to make his or her Endowment. The Mormon Endowment consists of swearing loyalty to the Church and to God. After the Endowment has taken place, a member goes through a ceremonial washing and anointing, and is given "Mormon underwear" or temple garments to wear underneath their clothes.
Sealing or Temple Marriage
Marriage and family is an important aspect of being a Mormon, as the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve Apostles of the Church have proclaimed that marriage "between a man and a woman. . . is central to the Creator's plan." Marriages -- often described as eternal "sealing" -- take place in a Mormon temple; the ceremonies, which last around 20 minutes, are conducted by men of the Melchizedek priesthood.
Men can achieve Melchizedek priesthood, the higher of two priesthoods in Mormonism, by being approved by the holders of a community's priesthood. After receiving this approval, the Bishop ordains a man into the priesthood at a Mormon temple. Achieving Melchizedek priesthood is fulfilling a church ordinance and is considered a "saving ordinance" for men, as they are mandatory in order for men to achieve eternal life with God. Like other sacred Mormon ceremonies, Melchizedek priesthood ordinances must be performed only by men who themselves are part of the Melchizedek priesthood.
- BBC: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- Mormons at a Glance
- BBC: The Temple
- BBC: Baptism
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: The Articles of Faith
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Mormon Baptism for the Dead
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Mormon Temple Endowment
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: The Family
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints: Priesthood Ordinances and Blessings
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