Transcript for Inside the Mormon Church
It's a time of change in america. In the last 12 years ago, we have seen the election of the first black president, the first jewish candidate on a major ticket, and next week, another breakthrough. The first mormon nominee for president. A profound and historic moment for the mormon faith, which is still a mystery to a lot of people. So, tonight, dan harris begins a two-part series, answering questions about this uniquely american religion. Reporter: With their imposing temples, where secret rituals are performed, rituals so sacred that nonmormons cannot enter. And with their all male leadership believed to have a direct line to god, members of the mormon faith are keenly aware that they are sometimes seen as a source of mystery and suspicion. I'm a skateborder, and I'm a mormon. Reporter: Which, in part is why the church of jesus christ of latter day saints launched this public relations campaign with the message "we're your neighbors." I'm a mormon. I'm a mormon. Reporter: While mormons, who make up just 1.7% of our population, roughly equal to jews and double that of muslims and buddhists, are trying to be more open, america's best-known mormon, whonce held one of the highest positions in the church -- has talked about his faith but rarely used the word mormon. I'm not running for pastor in chief. I'm running for commander in chief. Next question. Reporter: So, given all the mystery and misconceptions, what is it that mormons say they believe? Here are answers to three common questions. First, why so much secrecy? It is rooted in a painful past, according to professor j. Spencer fluhman, a practicing mormon and author of the upcoming book "a peculiar people." I don't think it can be seen apart from a very bitter history of anti-mormonism, still, they carry it with them. Reporter: In the early days of the church, the mormons were violently driven from state to state. And their founding prophet joseph smith was murdered by an angry mob. What do they believe? In the mormon faith, the bible is considered the word of god. B but mormons also believe god added three books from joseph smith. It happened when smith was a young man in upstate new york. He claimed an angel lead him to a nearby hill where he dug up a pair of golden plates from which he translated the book of mormon. Mormons like professor robert millet are well aware that adding onto the bible in this way can be very controversial. Latter day saints love and adore the bible. But we've announced it is not the end of the prophets. God still speaks. Reporter: And finally, what about jesus? Mormons believe that when jesus, the son of god returns, he will first go to jerusalem and then to missouri, where he will establish his kingdom on earth. For mormons, america plays a special role. Every summer, in fact, hundreds of the faithful act out the story of the book of mormon, which says a tribe of ancient israelites came to america thousands of years ago and were later visited by jesus after the resurrection. Mormons think they have a distinctive message they always thought that. But at the same time, the proximity to rational christianity is clear and obvious. So, mormons have a complicated relationship with traditional christianity I think is an easy to say it. Reporter: Tomorrow night we'll answer some common questions about mormon culture like polygamy, which was banned by the church in 1890. And we'll show you what I saw on a rare tour inside a mormon temple. And, I can't wait for tomorrow night. Bum we were talki iing today, because people do know that most mormons don't drink caffeine. Why? Reporter: We checked scripture today and while it didn't say the word caffeine, joseph smith specifically told his follower that they should avoid alcohol, tobacco and hot drinks. Technically, that means that modern day mormons can drink cold calf nated da, but a lot of very strict mormons includes mitt romney stay away from it. And tomorrow night, you'll take us in the temple and tell us more about family and the church. Reporter: Really fascinating. Okay, thank you dan.
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