What is the history of the Mormon religion?
The Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints (commonly called
the "Mormon" church) was organized in 1830 by Joseph Smith. The
Mormons later moved to the Midwest, where they often made their
neighbors uncomfortable. Their dogma and rhetoric threatened many
of their neighbors, and the Mormons found themselves unwelcome in
places like Independence, MO and Nauvoo, IL. Smith was assassinated
by some bigoted people, and the Mormons left Nauvoo and moved to
Utah where they hoped for religious freedom.
The above is true but failed to adequately convey the extent of
the persecution the Mormons endured. They were mobbed, murdered,
chased out of cities, etc. There were actually official government
extermination orders in some areas, making it lawful to chase
Mormons out of the city. The New York Times article cited below
provides a very good synopsis. It was written by the estimable Noah
Feldman, who is a law professor at Harvard University and adjunct
senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He writes
frequently on religion and public life.
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Joseph Smith was a prophet and was called to restore the gospel
on earth. He converted many people into the church. Thousands of
people were converted. Now days, there are millions and millions of
people that are Mormons.