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Published on Aug 28, 2012
Mormons (play /ˈmɔrmənz/) are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, the principal branch of the Latter Day Saint movement, which began with the visions of Joseph Smith in upstate New York during the 1820s. After Smith's death in 1844 the Mormons followed Brigham Young to what would become the Utah Territory. Today a vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) while a minority are members of other churches. Some Mormons are also either independent or non-practicing. The center of Mormon cultural influence is in Utah, and North America has more Mormons than any other continent, though the majority of Mormons live outside the United States.
Mormons have developed a strong sense of communality that stems from their doctrine and history. During the 19th century Mormon converts tended to gather to a central geographic location, and between 1852 and 1890 many Mormons openly practiced plural marriage, a form of religious polygamy. Mormons dedicate large amounts of time and resources to serving in their church, and many young Mormons choose to serve a full time proselytizing mission. Mormons have a health code that eschews alcoholic beverages, tobacco, coffee, tea, and other addictive substances. They tend to be very family-oriented, and have strong connections across generations and with extended family. Mormons also have a strict law of chastity, requiring abstention from sexual relations outside of marriage and strict fidelity within marriage.
Mormons self-identify as Christian, though some of their beliefs differ from mainstream Christianity. Mormons believe in the Bible, as well as other books of scripture, such as the Book of Mormon. They have a unique view of cosmology, and believe that all people are spirit-children of God. Mormons believe that returning to God requires following the example of Jesus Christ, and accepting his atonement through ordinances such as baptism. They believe that Christ's church was restored through Joseph Smith, and is guided by living prophets and apostles. Central to Mormon faith is the belief that God speaks to his children and answers their prayers.