A Mormon is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are sometimes also referred to as Latter Day Saints or LDS.
The Mormon Church was founded by Joseph Smith of Palmyra, New York. He, along with his followers, organized the church in 1830, based on the Book of Mormon, which Smith is believed to have discovered.
Mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be a testament of Jesus Christ’s travels and works among the Nephites in the days after his crucifixion and resurrection. The Nephites are generally believed to be the people of the New World, or the Americas.
What Do Mormons Believe?
Mormons share many of the same beliefs as mainstream Christians, but there are a few notable differences. Mormons declare 13 Articles of Faith that provide insight into the beliefs of their religion, these include belief in God and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. They believe that mankind can be saved through belief in Christ, “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
Mormons believe the Bible “in so far as it is translated correctly,” to be the Word of God. They believe the Book of Mormon to also be the word of God. Mormons also believe that the ten tribes of Israel will be gathered and restored in the Americas, where Christ will personally reign and paradise will be restored.
Mormons have some unique beliefs about the human body as well. Mormons see the body and the soul as intertwined, as the body is the house for the soul, the upkeep and maintenance of the body are important in LDS belief. This is why Mormons as a general rule place great importance on exercise and also have some well-known dietary restrictions. Mormons are forbidden from drinking coffee, tea or alcohol.
Until recently, Mormons were also advised to avoid the consumption of caffeine in beverages such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi. Recently, these restrictions regarding soda have been relaxed, but it is still fair to say that Mormons are more health conscious than most people.
What do Mormons Believe about Cremation?
Mormon beliefs about the physical body are related to LDS beliefs about cremation. LDS Elder James E. Talmage, stated in 1913, “It is peculiar to the theology of the Latter-day Saints that we regard the body as an essential part of the soul. Read your dictionaries, the lexicons, and encyclopedias, and you will find that nowhere, outside of The Church of Jesus Christ, is the solemn and eternal truth taught that the soul of man is the body and the spirit combined.”
Because of these beliefs, LDS members are generally advised to avoid cremation unless it is required by law. When possible, they should be buried in the earth and allow natural processes to occur. That said, Mormonism does not prohibit cremation, it simply discourages it, and cremation is not seen as a hindrance to the ultimate resurrection of the body. Mormons who have been cremated can still receive an LDS memorial service or funeral as well.
The LDS position on cremation was clarified in a 1991 issue of the LDS church’s Ensign Magazine, “Where there is no overriding reason to cremate, burial is still the preferred method of handling our dead. In the end, however, we should remember that the resurrection will take place by the power of God, who created the heavens and the earth. Ultimately, whether a person’s body was buried at sea, destroyed in combat or an accident, intentionally cremated, or buried in a grave, the person will be resurrected.”
The LDS church encourages that members pray about their decision to cremate and consult with their church leaders, but ultimately it is a family decision.
If you or a loved one is considering cremation, we at Neptune Society encourage you to consider carefully your own position on the subject, discuss your options with your religious leader, and make the choice you believe is right for you and your family. For more articles in this series, please see our religion and cremation article archive.