Local Mormons explain facts, dispel myths of their religion
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints elders Dylan Roggeman and Dylan Craw have gone door to door to share their faith.
Every Sunday there is a three-hour service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"We have a very firm belief in the divinity of our savior Jesus Christ and that he atoned for our sins and that he is the redeemer and savior of this world," Knoxville Cumberland Stake President Shane Cruze said.
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - With the election just days away, the nomination of presidential candidate Mitt Romney has caused many Americans to have questions about his Mormon faith.
According to Mormons in East Tennessee, there are many misconceptions about their religion. Knox County's Mormon leaders clarified what constitutes their faith.
Each and every day for the last two years, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints elders Dylan Roggeman and Dylan Craw have gone door to door to share their faith. They are Mormon missionaries assigned to cover East Tennessee.
Each day, they attempt to share the book of Mormon with 60 people.
"Our purpose is to invite others to come into Christ by helping them receive the gospel through faith in Jesus Christ," Roggeman said.
The pair do receive mixed reactions.
"We try to uplift them," Craw said. "Whether they are receptive or not, we want them to know that we care about them, that we love them as a brother or sister, and if they aren't receptive then we carry on."
Every Sunday there is a three-hour service at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Knoxville Cumberland Stake President Shane Cruze is the leader of several Mormon churches in the Knoxville area. He says a common misconception about the faith is that they are not Christian.
But in his view, Mormonism is Christianity.
"We have a very firm belief in the divinity of our savior Jesus Christ and that he atoned for our sins and that he is the redeemer and savior of this world," Cruze said.
Cruze explained how the Book of Mormon differs from the Bible, and how the church was started by 19th century American religious leader Joseph Smith.
"When Joseph was a young man, he had an opportunity to pray and ask heavenly father to tell him which church he should attend," Cruze said. "He was told he should attend none."
Cruze said Smith then saw God and Jesus in a vision, and God led him to an ancient record in the form of golden plates.
"Joseph Smith was, through the power and gift of God, able to translate those golden plates into what we now call the Book of Mormon," Cruze said.
While many Mormon beliefs parallel those of Christianity, Holy Trinity differs from other Christian beliefs.
"We believe that God is a separate and distinct being, a perfected being, with the body of flesh and bones, and that he is our literal father in heaven, and that his son Jesus Christ is also a separate and distinct individual, perfected and resurrected now," Cruze said.
Another belief that differs from Christianity is the ability to perform baptisms for the dead if requested by the family.
"They, in the spirit world, can either allow that baptism to be a part of their life or not," Cruze said.
Today, the Mormon faith believes God calls prophets to lead the church. Their current leader is a living prophet, the same as Abraham and Moses.
Mormons are also prohibited from using alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee and illegal drugs because they are not good for the human body. Members are also encouraged to prepare for and be self-reliant in times of emergency, including job loss or natural disaster.
While there are differences in the religion, area missionaries emphasize the Book of Mormon's subtitle: "Another Testament of Jesus Christ." It is message of salvation they will continue to share.
Missionaries like Roggeman said if people are curious about the Mormon faith, research their principles and ask for the guidance of a higher power.
"We invite people to follow Him to read of Him to read out of the Book of Mormon and to pray and ask God if it's true."
Cruze says another common misconception is that the Mormon religion allows polygamy, but he said the church stopped practicing polygamy in the 1890's and it is no longer accepted.
Many area Mormons are glad the election has brought their religion into the national spotlight. They hope it helps to dispel any misconceptions about their faith.