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Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, the principal branch of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity, initiated by 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, most Mormons are understood to be members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). 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 commonality 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 a minority of 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 which 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, reflective of their belief that families can be sealed together beyond death. Mormons also have a strict law of chastity, requiring abstention from sexual relations outside heterosexual marriage and fidelity within marriage.
Mormons self-identify as Christian, although some non-Mormons consider Mormons non-Christian and 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.
Due to their high birth and conversion rates, the Mormon population has grown significantly in recent decades. The number of members in 1971 was 3,090,953 and now in 2017 based on the Annual Report, there are 15,882,417 worldwide.
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