Mitt Romney comes from a long line of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Perhaps his best known ancestor is his great-great grandfather, Parley P. Pratt, one of the first Apostles of the LDS Church. Mitt’s ancestors came to Utah with the Mormon Pioneers—those men, women, and children who endured unbelievable hardships in order to find a place where they could practice their religion without persecution.
In the early 1800s those Mormon Pioneers came from the Eastern United States, first to Ohio, then Illinois, and finally to Utah. They were joined by pioneers, equally escaping religious persecution, from Europe and Scandinavia. Today , The Church of Jesus Christ (inadvertently called by the media “The Mormon Church,”) is to be found in almost every country in the world. But members of the Church of Jesus Christ (Latter-day Saints, nicknamed “Mormons”) are united in their faith which centers on three main beliefs:
(1) Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God.
(2) The Book of Mormon is the Word of God containing the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as a Second Witness of Christ along with the Bible; it was revealed to—
(3) Joseph Smith whom members of The Church of Jesus Christ acknowledge as a Prophet. He saw the Father and the Son and was divinely instructed to restore the Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. Each successive prophet and president of the Church receives revelation directly from Jesus Christ.
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of our Heavenly Father; that He is a separate, unique being who took on human flesh in order to perform the greatest sacrifice for mankind, the Atonement in Gethsemane and on the cross. Only a God could take upon himself every sin, depravity, every negative emotion, and suffer it in human form without being utterly destroyed, in order that we, His children could have a chance to repent and thus not be cast out from the presence of our Heavenly Father when we leave this mortal life. In the words of Isaiah, “surely, he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4), where Isaiah is using a tense that signifies the future. In short, Christ is able to share every human experience with us, helping us repent when we have done wrong, taking upon His shoulders the burdens that we bear, being with us through His Spirit throughout our lives.
For more on Jesus Christ, please visit Jesus Christ.org.
The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is a modern miracle in and of itself. Translated from metal plates which contained an abridgement of records inscribed by prophets over a period of a thousand years, it contains God’s dealings with three separate groups of people who formed part of the transoceanic migration from the Old World to the New. First were the Jaredites, a group of people under the leadership of Jared and his brother who left at the time of the confounding of the language as a result of Nimrod’s building of the Tower of Babel (see Gen. 11:1–9; Ether 1:3–5, 33–35). The second group, and the one whose record comprises the majority of the Book of Mormon, is the family of Lehi. Lehi was a prophet at the same time as the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah; from Lehi came the two major groups in the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and the Lamanites. Lastly, when King Zedekiah was carried captive from Jerusalem into Babylon (see Jeremiah 39), some of his people escaped to the New World. They comprise the third group, the Mulekites.
The records of these three groups of people were abridged by the Nephite Prophet Mormon and his son Moroni around AD 400. It was Moroni, now a heavenly messenger, who, some 1400 years later, instructed Joseph Smith where to find the metal plates that contained the abridgment. Joseph was a young man aged fourteen, brought up in a good, hardworking family, who was inspired by what he read in the New Testament: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). He did just that, going to a quiet place in the woods to kneel down and offer a heartfelt prayer to know which church of the many that were springing up in the New World that he should join—which one was the true Church of Christ. He was rewarded by a direct answer from two members of the Godhead, Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Father introduced the Son to Joseph and Christ answered Joseph’s question. The true church was no longer on the earth and Joseph had been prepared, foreordained, to restore it in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.
The young prophet stayed faithful to that vision and a few years later was guided by Moroni to retrieve the metal plates from where they were buried in a hill in upstate New York, from which, by the gift and power of God, he translated the Book of Mormon.
Upon the foundation of these three central tenets of the Latter-day Saint religion are built the belief that the family is the “central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children”;  that the Church is a restoration of the true Church of Jesus Christ as it existed when He was on the earth, hence we have a Prophet, Apostles, and a lay Priesthood. We believe that revelation is an ongoing, continuing necessity for every man, woman, and child who belongs to the Church. And we believe in being subject to the rule of the government of the country in which we reside.
For more about Mormon beliefs, and to meet some Mormons, go to the LDS Church’s introductory website, Mormon.org.