Now that the Olympics are in Utah, I keep hearing more about the Mormon religion. Is this a valid Christian faith? Think AIO ever will deal with different Christian faiths? I know children in the age 12 bracket, which is the focus for AIO shows, may have questions about Mormon religion and other Christian faiths. Mormons remind me of the old testament, when they mention many wifes for one man. It sure is a very strange religion to me. -Submitted by Mark Smith, replied by Jared Walczak

Well, Jacob Isom passed this question on to me, so I'll give it a go. First off, you're sure right about hearing more and more about Mormonism! They are one of the fastest growing religions in America. The only religion growing faster is Islam.  And when you think of it, that's horrible.  And it shows how wrong we Christians sometimes are.  Before you tell me to stop right there because I said we Christians are often wrong, let me clarify. I don't mean in our belief system - I mean in putting our belief into action.  Mormonism grows because those who follow that religion actively witness to others.  Nearly every Mormon man has street-preached, knocked on doors and handed out literature on multiple occasions. In this respect, they are very similar to the Jehovah's Witnesses, another cult. But I won't go there now.

I'll be getting into basic Mormon doctrine and why as Christians we should be adamantly opposed to Mormonism, but let me just stop for a moment and say that if the average Christian was as sincere about his faith as the average Mormon is about his, they would say of the Christians as they did in the days of the apostles: "They turned the world upside down."

Mormons claim to be Christians. They're "just another Christian denomination," according to some. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are many problems with Mormonism, but I don't have time to explain all of them.  However, only a few problems will easily illustrate the reasons we cannot accept Mormonism.

"As man is, God once was; as God is, man may become." Yes, that's a doctrinal belief of the Mormon church. I shudder to even call them a church! Can you imagine... saying that God was once a man (not as in a man, yet God as Jesus Christ was when he walked on earth, but a true, sinful man)? And that we can become like God? Think back to the Serpent in the Garden of Eden. "Ye shall be like gods."  Sound familiar?

Number two. Mormons believe we are literally the children of God. Not as in God the Father type belief, but that God is literally our father by our birth. They believe that God has thousands of wives who bear children for Him and those children are eventually sent down to be born on earth.  In all seriousness, the Mormon doctrine is downright crazy and loony. But what matters more... it's blasphemous.

As a side note on this belief, Mormon doctrine is racist. They actually believe that the children who were good in heaven (they think you are born in heaven, then are sent to earth, then die and return to heaven) were born as white children, while those who rebelled in heaven were born as black children. That is racist and evil!

Getting too crazy and horrible for you? Don't worry. It gets worse.

Mormons don't quite believe in the Bible. They believe it in most cases, but if the Book of Mormon, The Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants or works by the Mormon "Prophets" contradict it (which happens frequently), they go with the Mormon Prophet or the Mormon book, not the Bible.

The Mormons teach that when you die, you go to heaven, but heaven is a vast place and is not just God's dwelling place, but includes millions of planets. Those who were the best Mormons supposedly get their own planet and plenty of wives. The better you were, the more wives you get. To make matters even worse, it seems that Mormons do not believe women can go to heaven. They just die and it's done, according to the early Mormon prophets.  The women who are married to those in heaven never lived on earth.

They also believe that the righteous who were not Mormons get to keep on living on earth forever after they die in what they call the "terrestial kingdom" (as opposed to the "celestial kingdom"). Those who were evil also remain on earth with the righteous, but suffer while there.

Mormons used to believe in the taking of multiple wives. Four was the limit, although Joseph Smith personally had more than that. Since polygamy laws have been passed in the United States, the US branch of the Mormon church has dropped its belief that a man could have more than one wife.

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claims to have been told by God to start the religion because all the other denominations were wrong. "They were all wrong . . . all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt."

The Mormon religion was founded by Joseph Smith while traveling through New York after claiming to see an angel named "Moroni." (No, it's not where we get the word moron, I don't think, but it somewhat fits to Joseph Smith!) He was then guided to find some stone tablets with ancient writing on them and a glass that allowed him to interpret them perfectly. This was supposedly the basis of the Book of Mormon and the Mormon religion.

He then decided to leave his hometown of Harmony, Pennsylvania (a small town that now probably has zero Mormons in it - I should know, as I lived there for seven years and no one there even knew Mormonism was founded there!) and go to the cities preaching his doctrine. He got into a fight with the police and killed several officers. He was in turn shot and killed.

Brigham Young quickly took his place and became the second "prophet" of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (LDS), as they called themselves. But Mormon is quicker to say, so it always gets used. Brigham Young decided to lead his followers out west, and along the way got into several gun battles when his band of men stole and tried to settle own owned property and other such events. He murdered several men, but escaped the law. His group eventually settled in Salt Lake City, Utah, and that city still has the largest concentration of Mormons in the world - I believe around 68 percent of the citizens of Salt Lake City are Mormon.

That brings us up to now and I believe explains why Mormons are not at all just another Christian denomination. I must say that I don't write all this to be 'mean' to Mormons or just to criticize them. I hope that someday if you meet a Mormon, you'll be able to witness to him. After all, we are commanded to "go into all the world and preach the gospel!"

Now, onto the second part of your question. I do not know of any plans by the Adventures in Odyssey team to tackle the issue of false religions on Adventures in Odyssey shows, but I would say that I think it would be a good idea. I'm not calling for an episode called "Why Mormons are Wrong," but it wouldn't hurt to have, say, one of the Odyssey kids befriend a Mormon kids at school and deal with that friendship and with witnessing to that kid and in the process explain why Mormonism is wrong and how to witness to Mormons.

Will an episode like that ever be made? I really don't know. If it does, you can count on angry letters pouring in from people who have never heard of Adventures in Odyssey but wrote a letter because they heard somewhere that the show had biased anti-Mormon rhetoric in it.

But then again, that type of criticism just means the Odyssey writers are doing their job.

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