Mormons - Orientation

Identification. The Mormons are a religious-based cultural group founded in western New York State in 1830. They were one of a number of such groups founded in this part of the country during the first half of the nineteenth century. Others included the Shakers, Campbellites, the Oneida Community, and the Community of the Publick Universal Friend. All groups were based in part on a communal lifestyle or value system and a reemphasis of New England Puritan beliefs. Unlike the other groups, however, Mormonism has flourished and is now a worldwide religion. The name "Mormon" is commonly applied to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and splinter groups such as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (founded in 1860) and the Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonites). The Mormons apply the term Gentile to all those who are not members of the church and often refer to themselves as LDS or Saints.

Location. The majority of the Mormon population is located in the intermountain region of the western United States, especially in the state of Utah, in a distinct cultural Region labeled by cultural geographers as the Mormon Region. The region consists of a core, domain, and sphere. The core is the zone of the most dense, continuous Mormon population and runs about sixty-five miles north to south in the Wasatch Oasis, centered on Salt Lake City. The domain runs from the upper Snake River country of Idaho south to the lower Virgin River area and southeast Nevada and includes most of west-central Utah and sizable sections of southeast and northeast Utah. The sphere encompasses those areas where Mormons live in clustered communities within the general population. In addition to Utah, it includes parts of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. Finally, many Mormons live among the general population, especially in urban areas, with sizable numbers in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland. There are also significant numbers of members in South America, Asia, Africa, Europe, and Oceania.

Demography. As of the 1980s the church claimed more than 5 million members around the world. Because of a high birth rate, longer than average life expectancy in the United States, and recruitment of new members through worldwide missionary work, the Mormon church has a very high growth rate. In 1989, there were about 4 million members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the United States and over 200,000 in splinter groups.

Linguistic Affiliation. Mormons in the United States speak English and the basic church documents are written in English. In other nations, members usually speak the native language of the country or of their cultural group.

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