How is mormonism different from Christianity? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-05-2010, 01:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard Mormons describe themselves as Christians, but am also aware that there are major differences between the two...i.e. Mormons have the Book of Mormon in addition to the Bible.

I'm curious to hear more specifically what the differences are? Are Mormons Christian?
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:08 AM
 
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LDS members (aka Mormons) will say they are Christians. Some denominations of Christianity say that LDS members are not Christians; other denominations (or at least parts of them) do accept LDS members as fellow Christians. However, if you are a non-LDS Christian and want to join the LDS church, you do have to convert. Got all that?

The LDS church recognizes another book, the Book of Mormon, in addition to the Bible used by Christians. This book was written (or revealed) in the 19th century in the US.
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:11 AM
 
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Yes, the LDS church is Christian. They believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, they believe in the resurrection, etc. They also believe that Christ came to the Americas, and that there were other groups of people following the teachings of Christ around the same time as the bible. That's what the B of M is about.

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Old 03-05-2010, 02:17 AM
 
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Yes, the LDS church is Christian. They believe that Jesus Christ was the son of God, they believe in the resurrection, etc. They also believe that Christ came to the Americas, and that there were other groups of people following the teachings of Christ around the same time as the bible. That's what the B of M is about.
Oh, yes, the Christians who do not recognize the LDS church as Christian, base the non-recognition on the addition of the B of M. There are some things some Christians consider incompatible, between the B of M and the Bible.
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:21 AM
 
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Christianity is believing that Jesus Christ is your personal lord and savior, and that he died for our sins. Period.
Christians sin. There are no "rules" You don't have to go to church, but many do. We believe we are going to heaven when we die. We pray and practice loving everyone <3 and treating others with kindness and love.

From what I understand, with LDS, there are rules of the church itself one has to follow. I may be wrong.

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Old 03-05-2010, 02:51 AM
 
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Here is a particularly useful link on "Are the LDS Christians?", produced by the well-respected Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance (aka the Religious Tolerance website):

http://www.religioustolerance.org/ldswho.htm

Basically, whether LDS is Christian depends on who you ask. There's a whole lot of disagreement about it.

But then, there is a fairly large number of Christian denominations (some small, some large) that exclude all or most other denominations from their own definition of what is a true Christian. So LDS isn't alone.

Here is another link, an overview of information about LDS and related faith groups:
http://www.religioustolerance.org/lds.htm

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Old 03-05-2010, 02:59 AM
 
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This is pretty much what I was going to say, as taken from the website Ann Marita posted.

Quote:
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints belongs under the broad umbrella of Christianity because we do believe in Jesus Christ, we do preach him crucified and resurrected, we do have faith in his Atonement, we do love him for his grace and mercy, and we do trust in his eventual return.
Am I a Mormon? Yes. Am I also a Christian? I totally believe that I am - I believe in Christ and know that he is my Lord and Savior. Whether or not other people would define me as Christian doesn't really matter to me; I know what I am and what I believe in my heart of hearts, and that's what's important.

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:21 AM
 
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Christian items of the faith that one must hold true in order to be Christian:
  • The entire Holy Bible, New Testament and Old Testament, is the Word of God. No other book is considered the Word of God.
  • The Trinity is God the Father, Son, and Spirit
  • Jesus is not only the Son of God, but He is God
  • Jesus died on the cross for our sins
  • Jesus resurrected and ascended to the Father
  • Anyone who receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will receive eternal life
  • Jesus is coming again


Can anyone list the items of the Mormon faith?

I don't think they believe that Jesus is God. I think they believe He is only the son of God. If so, then this is a major difference.

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:27 AM
 
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I would like to point out that the quote Krisis noted above was written by Edwin Slack of the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (an LDS positive group), not the Religious Tolerance website.

For an opposing view, (also quoted on the RT website), we can read the words of Bill Broadway of the Washington Post:

Quote:
The rejection of Mormonism extends well beyond Southern Baptists and other evangelicals to include the most liberal Christian denominations. In a key sign of that rejection, a theological line in the sand, most traditional churches require baptism of all Mormon converts to their faith—the same way Mormons require converts from other churches to be rebaptized.
A survey in Jan 2008 by Barna Research showed that 27% of American adults believed that Mormons are not Christian.

Like I said, it depends on who you ask.

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:40 AM
 
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Ah, this really gets into the whole "Who is a Christian?" conundrum.

Just on this thread so far, we've already seen two different (but related) definitions of who is a Christian:

Quote:
Christianity is believing that Jesus Christ is your personal lord and savior, and that he died for our sins. Period.
Quote:
Christian items of the faith that one must hold true in order to be Christian:

The entire Holy Bible, New Testament and Old Testament, is the Word of God. No other book is considered the Word of God.
The Trinity is God the Father, Son, and Spirit
Jesus is not only the Son of God, but He is God
Jesus died on the cross for our sins
Jesus resurrected and ascended to the Father
Anyone who receives Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior will receive eternal life
Jesus is coming again
With over 1500 denominations and related groups in the US that consider themselves Christian, it is extremely hard to reach a consensus on just who is or is not a Christian.

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Old 03-05-2010, 03:58 AM
 
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I think *most* Christians would agree with Shami's definition of Christianity, in particular that there are not additional books beyond the Bible that are the word of God.

Also, Mormons believe that their founder was a prophet of God..other denominations do not.

I think there are many different interpretations of the Bible, however, bringing another book into the mix makes it a whole different ballgame. It's also my understanding that they believe they are the "only ones". (Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong - this is what my stepfather's parents believe and they are Mormons so I am basing this on their particular group..maybe not all Mormons believe this?)

And, I realize a few other denominations do feel they are the only ones...but I am just saying that I don't think that is a common belief of most of Christianity, to exclude other churches.
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:20 AM
 
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I suppose it also depends on how you are categorizing. Mormonism is certainly Christian in the strictly scholarly sense. If I were dividing world religions into basic classifications, the Mormons would definitely fall into the Christian category, along with any religions which included Jesus Christ as a central figure. That does not mean I would consider all those religions Christian in a stricter sense, or consider them all to be part of the Church.
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:29 AM
 
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They believe in Jesus Christ so that makes them a Christian. They also say that Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. They believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

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Old 03-05-2010, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for all of the explanation -- very helpful. So does that mean that LDS believe in all the things that Christians do, but that they then also believe in an additional set or beliefs -- like Christianity plus something else?

I know this is a huge question, but what is it that LDS believe (in a nutshell) in addition to "mainstream" Christianity?
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Old 03-05-2010, 11:47 AM
 
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I've always thought of myself as Christian and LDS, kind of in the same way that Catholics are Christian, yes, we have additional scripture, but yes, we believe in Jesus Christ, and as such, are "Christian". We don't believe that Jesus is the ONLY son of God, we believe all humans are sons and daughters of God, and that even Satan, the devil, is a fallen son of God. However, we do believe that Jesus it the only begotten son, or favored son, who atoned for our sons (bled in Gethsemane), died on the cross, was resurrected, and indeed will come again (we call this the second coming). Our prophet these days is probably most like the pope of the Catholic church, except that he is not chosen by vote . . . although I don't know EVERYTHING about what popes do. or at least that's how I explain it to friends.

What else we believe in in a very broad question, but perhaps the most controversial is the priesthood, and the power of continuing revelation to our prophet in this day (since the time of the reorganization of the church via Joseph Smith).

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Old 03-05-2010, 11:50 AM
 
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LDS have a number of differences with mainstream Christianity.

They do not believe that Jesus Christ was God.
They believe in the Trinity, but understand it in a very different way.
They are not really monotheists. They acknowledge one God as the God of this universe, and so the person to be concerned about for us. However, they also believe there are other gods.
Their understanding of the goal of a LDS family is quite different. It is not like going to Heaven and participating in the beatific vision. Rather, it is to become like a god oneself.
Mormons thing marriage, or to be specific Celestial Marriage, continues after death.
Many would say that Mormonism is essential materialist, in that it sees God, Heaven, etc, as all being a kind of physical thing (that is, made of matter or energy). This seems to account for some of their views on things like the Trinity.
Most Christians believe that God's purpose was fulfilled with Christ, but Mormons do not. This really changes the way they understand what Christ was and did.

There are a lot of other differences theologically.

I don't find it useful to debate whether people are "really" Christians or not. But what I would say is this: the difference between Mormonism and mainstream Christianity is probably greater than the difference between Christianity and Judaism or Christianity and Islam.

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Old 03-05-2010, 01:03 PM
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I agree that the "who is Christian" argument is really pretty useless. However, I think saying Mormons are Christians because they believe in Christ and that he saved them leaves out some big pieces of information. Mormons have a very different understanding of Christ and God, and they also heavily include "salvation by works" in their doctrine.
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Old 03-05-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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Bluegoat...thanks for that list. That is very helpful.

I would like to underscore two things from Bluegoat's post:

the fact that Mormons do not believe that Jesus is God and that Christ is the center. If you don't hold these two things to be true, then, according to the Bible, you are missing MAJOR items of the Christian faith. These are two reasons that LDS cannot fall under the umbrella of Christianity.

I agree that discussing if individuals are Christian is futile. Plenty of people are present in Catholic and Protestant gatherings who believe the Bible and believe in the trinity, and even believe in Jesus Christ, BUT they have never had a personal salvation experience of being re born and receiving Jesus Christ into their being. If you have this experience of salvation then Christ lives IN you and is no longer OUTSIDE of you. Christ becomes your center. Then you are a Christian inwardly and not just outwardly by name only. Once you have this salvation experience you have to be clear on the MAJOR items of the Christian faith that one must hold to be true or else one falls in the category of being a heretic. So according to the strictest definition of the MAJOR items in the Christian faith, LDS's doctrines are considered heretical.

In the New Testament (NT), can't remember which book (maybe John 1, 2, or 3), this heresy (Jesus not being God) was addressed. The writers in the NT had to address other heresies as well. It's all there for all to see. This is why another MAJOR point of the Christian faith is to hold only the Holy Bible as God's word. LDS doctrine says that the Book of Mormon is also the word of God, but Christian doctrine says only the Bible is the W of God. To the OP, you have to decide which Book you believe in order to make your decision. Some groups believe all the books of all of the major religions are from God and there is a group of people who follow that concept (all paths lead to God concept).

Disclaimer: I am speaking of their (LDS) doctrine and not the people or individuals on this forum.


This is why I say to the OP, there is so much more for you to learn than just what you have to give up in order to belong. If having a community of very nice people around you is more important than all of this doctrinal stuff then I would say the Mormon people, generally speaking (sorry if this is a stereotype), are a wonderful, wholesome group of people to be with.

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Old 03-05-2010, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree that it's not helpful to try and categorize people's beliefs -- I think the aim of my thread was to understand more about LDS beliefs -- and the easiest way to sort of enter the discussion was to understand how the LDS church differs from the more traditional definition of Christianity.

I find the belief in more than one god very interesting -- could someone further explain? Are the other gods of other universes defined? What does celestial marriage mean? How is a marriage continued after death?
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Old 03-05-2010, 01:46 PM
 
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Originally Posted by InMediasRes View Post
What I meant was that for OP's sake, the categorization probably wasn't useful as much as just having more information about what the LDS church teaches.
One of the OP's original questions was, are Mormons Christians? My answer is no, but I had to go into the doctrine of Christianity. I agree the OP needs more info on what the Mormons teach, which I asked for earlier in the thread. Bluegoat did help with that.

I am not disagreeing with you per se, just clarifying why I am saying what I am saying about LDS doctrine. Again, I am not talking about the people or individuals on this forum.

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Old 03-05-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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The whole Jesus as GOd thing was not decided until the 4th century (1st Council of Nicea). Are you saying that the early Christians who believed otherwise (God's son, but not the same as God or one of a variety of beliefs) were not Christians... or were any less Christian than you profess to be? There's a very good book called, "When Jesus Became God" which goes through the whole history. Implying that Christians have, or always have had, similar beliefs on even something which you might view as basic as Jesus being God is simply not true. Salvation by works vs. grace, ability to buy indulgences, purgatory, etc.--all of these things have changed over time.

There were different beliefs among different Christians. Remember, a majority of Christian theology comes not from Jesus, but from Paul--who never even met Jesus. His famous conversion on the road to Damascus involves a vision of a resurrected Jesus--but he was not one of the original 12 disciples. Much of the standardization of Christian belief was held in the 4th and 5th century... yes, 300-400 years following Jesus's death.

You can read about Early Christian Beliefs, including the Trinity, here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_Christianity#Beliefs

I have to believe that the simple litmus test would be do you believe in Jesus Christ? Asking about the Bible, albeit good, doesn't mean a whole lot as it's not like Jesus canonized it.. or even wrote any of the NT. Earliest written book occurs at least 60 years after his death. The early Christians used the Old Testament as their scriptures. Origen of Alexandria is usually credited with the first serious canonization--but even then, many of the books you take as part of the Bible, were in debate.

Having said all that, LDS folks do accept the King James Version of the Bible.

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Old 03-05-2010, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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If LDS believe that Christianity started to break down around 200AD, as it states in the website quoted earlier (the religious tolerance one) -- then why do they accept the King James version of the Bible?

That's very confusing to me...?
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Old 03-05-2010, 02:58 PM
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Their version of the King James Bible has edits by Joseph Smith (and I think others, I can't remember) to make it fit with their doctrine. Their teaching claims that the Bible was impure and had to be corrected. They edit some very important passages, so you may want to take a look at the version of the bible they are using.
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Old 03-05-2010, 03:49 PM
 
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Originally Posted by umsami View Post
The whole Jesus as GOd thing was not decided until the 4th century (1st Council of Nicea).
That is incorrect. The Council was called specifically to deal with the new teaching known as Arianism - the belief that Christ was divine, but a created being rather than actually God. This concept came from a priest named Arius, and because he was an influential scholar and was actively working to spread his philosophy, a general council was called to discuss and deal with it. Arianism was considered a problem precisely because it conflicted with Christian dogma.
There is an idea that the first Council of Nicea introduced or decided on the doctrine that Christ is God, when in fact they were defending an established belief.
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:13 PM
 
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That is incorrect. The Council was called specifically to deal with the new teaching known as Arianism - the belief that Christ was divine, but a created being rather than actually God. This concept came from a priest named Arius, and because he was an influential scholar and was actively working to spread his philosophy, a general council was called to discuss and deal with it. Arianism was considered a problem precisely because it conflicted with Christian dogma.
There is an idea that the first Council of Nicea introduced or decided on the doctrine that Christ is God, when in fact they were defending an established belief.
To add to this - just because a particular formulation of doctrine wasn't officially defined does not mean that is wasn't believed, if in a primitive way. It did take hundreds of years for the Church to come up with a formulation of just what the Trinity involves, and even now very slight differences are a big reason for one of the major splits within Christianity. But there is a reason certain formulations were discussed and discarded.

But the differences in understanding the nature of God between conventional Christianity and Mormonism go well beyond "Jusus was just a great guy". THat is also not what Mormons believe. They believe that Jesus was the son of God - not metaphorically, but literally. They are not monotheists, and they do not understand God to be a spiritual being.

This is quite different from what was ever considered by the early Church as a possible interpretation of what the Apostles taught. In all cases they were quite determined to preserve God's unity, and much of the discussing was about how to do this.

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Old 03-05-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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Well does anyone know the exact words used in Mormon Baptism? IIRC it is not Trinitarian? But I haven't been able to find the exact wording with a google search.
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Old 03-05-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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So many things came into the church to degrade it almost immediately. A list off of the top of my head: culture, old religion (Judaism), practices, pagan things, politics, money, power, heretical teachings, such as Jesus not coming in the flesh, and denying the deity of Christ.

Umsami--the disciples and the apostle Paul wrote letters (epistles) to various local churches, to individuals, and to entire regions such as the Churches in Galatia) (known to be the book of Galatians in NT) in order to clear up misconceptions, misleadings, and out right heresies. So these epistles became part of the New Testament. It's fine if you don't believe them to be relevant in your belief system, but mainstream Christianity holds all of the books in the New Testament to be the true word of God. We cannot pick and choose based on author or anything else which ones we hold to be true. This is why I pointed out to the op to decide which Book of all of the major religions is true to her and follow that Book.

OP if you are already a follower of the Bible then your answers are in the Bible. Regardless of which group you involve yourself with, if you believe the Bible is the Word of God then whatever we say on this forum must line up with the Bible. What I mean is that we, or anyone professing to know something must be able to back it up with scripture.

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Old 03-05-2010, 06:04 PM
 
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I was going to come and comment, but as I read the thread I realized that shami and bluegoat seem to have covered! Very well put ladies.

I've also heard it condensed to say that while Mormons use the same vocabulary, they have a different dictionary. So while they may say Trinity, Son of God, etc., they have definitions that are vastly different than those understood and believed my most Christians.

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Old 03-05-2010, 11:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Arduinna View Post
Well does anyone know the exact words used in Mormon Baptism? IIRC it is not Trinitarian? But I haven't been able to find the exact wording with a google search.
I think they use the conventional "In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit". However, they understand the meaning of those things quite differently. Which is why, although almost all Christian groups will accept a baptism by another Christian group of an adult (or a child if they believe in infant baptism), most won't accept a baptism by the LDS as real, even though they use the same words.

It can be quite difficult for a LDS and a mainstream Christian to discuss theology, because they are constantly talking across each other.

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Old 03-06-2010, 12:00 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
I think they use the conventional "In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit". However, they understand the meaning of those things quite differently. Which is why, although almost all Christian groups will accept a baptism by another Christian group of an adult (or a child if they believe in infant baptism), most won't accept a baptism by the LDS as real, even though they use the same words.
That is correct for the Orthodox. If a member of the LDS wants to become Orthodox, they have to be baptized in the Orthodox Church, while someone coming from a Catholic background, for example, is commonly only chrismated (anointed with chrism, equivalent to confirmation in Western Christianity). While the Orthodox Church will allow an Orthodox Christian to marry a Christian from another tradition in an Orthodox ceremony, that non-Orthodox would have to have been baptized "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." An Orthodox Christian would not be allowed to marry an LDS member in an Orthodox ceremony, LDS baptism is not recognized.

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