Mormons tackle misconceptions 13, 2003
By Cal Creek

Chris Kittle, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and the president of Latter-Day Saint Student Association, encounters a wide variety of religious misconceptions and adversity on a day-to-day basis.

From people assuming he's polygamous to overhearing people comment that Mormons don't believe in the Bible, Kittle can't believe his ears when he hears claims and questions like these.

"We believe in Christ," Kittle said.

The main difference between his faith and other Christian faiths is the Mormon belief in three additional scriptures, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, Kittle said. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints consider these books complementary to the Bible.

The Book of Mormon is another account of Christ and a collection of prophets' writings. It includes the stories of ancient prophets, including Lehi, who lived in Jerusalem about 600 B.C. God told Lehi to take a small group of people to the American continent, according to the Web site, a site dedicated to answering questions regarding the Mormon faith.

Because these books present information about Christ that goes beyond the Bible, many practices and beliefs vary from individual to individual.

"Basically, we all have a freedom of choice," said Emily Fotheringham, a Lawrence resident and member of the the Lawrence University Ward.

Fotheringham said she didn't drink alcohol, tea or coffee because of a passage in The Doctrine and Covenants. Mormons views of marriage and the after-life are slightly different than most main stream forms of Christianity, which traditionally state vows such as "til death do us part."

"We believe if you're married in the temple," Fotheringham said, "then you're married for all eternity."

One of the most popular misconceptions of Mormons centers on the issue of polygamy. The church officially rejected polygamy in 1890 because of pressure from the government and a revelation given to then-President of the church, Wilford Woodruff, but until then many Mormons practiced it openly.

While the Mormons believe in heaven and hell, they also believe in various levels of heaven that people can achieve according to how they lead their lives. And just because someone didn't hear about Christ during his lifetime doesn't mean he will go to hell.

"We believe everyone will have an equal opportunity to accept Christ after death," Fotheringham said.

Mormons also believe in living prophets and apostles who receive revelations from God today. Kittle cited Gordon B. Hinckley, current head of the Church, as a living prophet.

There are four wards or churches in Lawrence that practice the teaching of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, including the Lawrence University Ward at the Lawrence Institute of Religion, 1629 W. 19th St.

The service at the Lawrence Institute of Religion breaks down into three one-hour sections, including an hour for Elder's Quorum and Relief Society, in which the men and women split up to discuss servicing the community and helping out the church.

Elder's Quorum President Ezra Hallam, Ames, Iowa senior, said the members of the Quorum try to visit every member of their Church at least once a month.

As a chemistry major, Hallam has seen conflict between his beliefs and what he is taught in some science classes.

"I've learned how to separate secular and clerical things," Hallam said. "When I'm in class I'll give the right answer but that doesn't mean they can make me believe."

Both Hallam and Kittle have worked as missionaries for their faith locally and abroad. Hallam did missionary work in Uruguay, and Kittle worked in Brazil. Both men were gone for two years. In Lawrence, they will sometimes go out with the missionaries assigned to work in Lawrence.

"It can be very difficult," Hallam said. "It can also be very rewarding."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.