We Do Not Actually Worship Joseph Smith and His Successors
We worship Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, but we do not actually worship the church’s founder Joseph Smith. He is a very important person in our church history, as are all the successors who followed him. We believe he was a modern prophet who was divinely inspired and we believe that the current church president, Thomas S. Monson is also a modern divinely inspired prophet. For the most part, he is a very wise man who has some inspiring things to say and counsel us on, but as for worshipping him, no.
I Don’t Know if Joseph Smith Was a Freemason or Not and I Honestly Don’t Care One Way Or The Other
I frequently come across articles online that Joseph Smith based the church off of Freemasonry. It is possible but I would not know because I do not belong to that organization (because I’m a female and females aren’t initiated into it.) I don’t know anyone who is so I have nothing to compare it to. If I do, I don’t hear anything about it because they are a secret society that meets and does stuff. I don’t know what they do behind closed doors, but know that they hold spaghetti suppers and raise money for local charities and people in need at our local chapter, by having yard sales and other fundraisers, so that’s the public part of it that I do see and know for sure that they do. And on the surface, it doesn’t seem like a bad thing.
Now there are You Tube videos of temple ordinances as well as Masonic rites circulating out there, and they are similar but who knows if they are actually real? That is the thing with the internet, you cannot always believe what you see or read so one has to be careful.
I personally feel that conspiracy theorists like to take this particular ball and run with it. I will add that my grandparents were from an organization similar to the Freemasons called the Order of the Eastern Star and they were very devout Methodists who loved the Lord very much. So just because they belonged to an organization such as this, it did not make them bad people at all and by the same token, Joseph Smith’s involvement in Freemasonry (if he was involved at all) didn’t make him a bad person either.
The bottom line is that the church allegedly has records of Joseph Smith’s involvement in Freemasonry but I haven’t personally delved into it because I have more important things to study that take precedence over this. And just because there are lots of things on the world wide web that allude to this, doesn’t necessarily make it true or correct. A lot of other leaders of a lot of other churches were allegedly involved in Freemasonry too. So I will leave it at that.
Cult You Say?
The only answer I truly have for that is that by definition, any religion is technically a cult. But honestly we’re not Kool Aid drinking followers of Jim Jones. We are not living in communes or forced to live in compounds or other types of controlled environments. We’re allowed to live in the privacy of our own homes, to work and come and go as we choose, just like any other members of any other church. We have free will.
The church concerns itself with “perfecting the saints” which simply means, at least to me anyway, giving members opportunities to better themselves and their families. Trust me, my life has not been a bed of roses. My friendship with fellow members has helped me a lot. They have given me self esteem. They have taught me a lot of things. They give me opportunities to attend college. They help me as well as my son to do well. If I go to the hospital I can count on a member to be there with me to give me comfort and help at home if needed. My son used to be a shy little wallflower but he’s encouraged through involvement with scouting through the church to learn survival skills. Most teenagers walk around with their pants around their knees. My son likes wearing a suit and tie and going out and helping the missionaries. He has become a very good teacher and a positive role model himself. The church encourages family togetherness, marital harmony, food storage, disaster preparedness, etc. Many of my brethren from our local ward have very organized and together marriages and lives. BUT, I caution here, they aren’t perfect and do have problems and trials and tribulations like everyone else. A few of them are working to overcome smoking, alcoholism, drug addiction, and more. We have members who suffer from depression and physical and mental illnesses just like everyone else. The church has programs to help with that. Frequently members get together to just do fun things like BBQs, picnics, field trips, camping expeditions, plays, concerts, choirs, and other things to bring out our talents or help us learn new ones. Not too long ago I was asked to teach the preteen girls how to knit and crochet.
Tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster? The LDS church members often never hesitate to be right there to assist with cleanup, preparing meals, toiletry kits and first aid items for those who were affected. I think we actually rival the Red Cross when it comes to service! In essence the LDS church is more of a gospel based service organization than it is a cult. There is much more to the church’s service that includes feeding the hunger to helping members with bills or other issues in time of need.
I think most of the cult accusations come from those who are confused by the existence of fundamentalist offshoots who aren’t approved or endorsed by the LDS church. I covered this in my previous article.
We are Often Confused With Jehovah’s Witnesses
At one point in my life, I investigated becoming a Jehovah’s Witness as well so I am familiar with how their church operates. There are many similarities of course, but there are also many differences.
For one thing, we Mormons celebrate Easter, and Christmas and while we know Halloween is a Pagan holiday, we do fun things with our kids by having a trunk or treat in our parking lot and fun activites for the kids for other holidays too.
It is easy to see why the confusion: Charles Taze Russell founded the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society around the same time Joseph Smith started the LDS church. Both were from New York. Both churches have door to door proselyting. However it is the missionaries that do the door to door work in our church, whereas the proselyting and tracting is done by individual members of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. There are a few more similarities too but for the most part we’re not the same organization.
I have respect for my Jehovah’s Witness friends, same as I do my Baptist, Catholic, Methodist, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, etc. friends. They all believe what they believe and it is fun to get with them and compare notes sometimes. At times I will be invited to a potluck or something else held by a friend of another faith and I don’t mind going so long as they understand I won’t waver from my own belief system or convert to theirs, any more than I would ask them to waver from theirs or convert to mine.
Yes, We Believe in Christ
I am frequently alarmed at the number of people who think we don’t believe in Jesus Christ. Again, I don’t know how that got started or why, but I have heard many different things. But our church is named the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, so why would we logically name the church after Him if we did not believe in Him? Furthermore everything we do is based on encouraging us to be like Christ, follow Christ and remember Christ’s atonement. The Book of Mormon is a record of events leading up to Jesus Christ ministering to descendants of modern Native Americans! Joseph Smith’s first vision and a few others involved encounters with Jesus Christ. We even have many hymns, including one called “I Believe in Christ”. I am a primary worker and just this morning we had the kids perform a song called “I’m Trying To Be Like Jesus” and a couple other songs about Jesus.
I will close by saying the church is not for everyone. It is a church that encourages members to be proactive and there are many responsibilities that come from being a member. It is a church of action and service. I think that makes it unique and it fits me better than any other I have tried, which is why I decided to officially join and get my son involved with it as well. I think our lives are much better for it. Any other information about the church that anyone would ever want to know, can be found at lds.org.