Stylistic Editing (trying to trim unnecessary wording)
'''Mormonism''' is a [[heresy|heretical]]
religious movement founded in the early 19th century by [[Joseph Smith, Jr.]] It is self-described as a form of ''[[Christian Restorationism]] '', and it encompasses over one -hundred sects, each of which tends to differ significantly from the others. The largest of these churches is [[The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints]] (LDS), with its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah; while the second-largest is the [[Community of Christ]] church, headquartered in Independence, Missouri. Total membership for the LDS church as of 2008 is approximately 13,000,000,<ref>"LDS Church says membership now 13 million worldwide", ''Salt Lake Tribune'', June 25, 2007.</ref> with 250,000 in the Community of Christ<ref>http://www.cofchrist.org/news/GeneralInfo.asp</ref> and perhaps twenty or thirty thousand more scattered throughout the other smaller sects.
had its formal beginning on April 6, 1830 in upstate New York, as the alleged "restoration" of the original Apostolic church. Its founder, Joseph Smith, Jr., asserted that he had seen a vision in 1820 of two celestial "personages" who claimed to be God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. These "personages" supposedly told Smith that all existing churches--including the Orthodox Church--were false, and that he was to "restore" the true Church , which Smith claimed had vanished completely from the earth sometime after the deaths of the last of the Holy [[Apostles]].
Attracting a host of converts, Smith's new religion also garnered
a great deal of persecution, necessitating moves in turn to Ohio, Missouri (where the Mormons were brutally expelled in 1838 after a civil war between themselves and the state militia, culminating in the issuance of an order from Missouri's governor for their "extermination") and ultimately Illinois, where Joseph Smith was murdered in 1844. Smith's movement fragmented following his demise, with the majority eventually following Brigham Young to Utah. Here, the Mormons established themselves, planting numerous settlements in Utah and nearby states.
, As Compared To Holy Orthodoxy==''(This section is concerned with the organization and theology of the Utah LDS church, which encompasses over 95% of the world's Mormons. While the Community of Christ church is similarly organized, its beliefs differ rather sharply from LDS Mormonism in many respects, as do the beliefs and organization of the smaller sects. However, all Latter Day Saint sects remain diametrically opposed to Orthodox Church teaching in many essential respects.)''
Mormonism as a whole encompasses a mélange of many different religious beliefs, the vast majority of which are contrary to the teachings of the Orthodox Church. Joseph Smith gleaned inspiration from various religious movements of his time, including [[Campbellism|Campbellite]], [[Restorationism|Restorationist]], and [[Universalism|Universalist]]. However, the foundation of Mormon belief is the acceptance of modern prophecy and revelation, and an "open canon" of [[Scripture|Holy Scripture]].
Joseph Smith and early Mormon leaders taught that any person with a testimony of Christ is a [[prophet]]. However, the LDS church
itself is a highly hierarchial organization, with a president-prophet (usually assisted by two "Counselors") who claims to alone possess all the "keys" to prophetic power and authority. Most modern members of the LDS church believe that their current president, Gordon B. Hinkley (as of 2008), is a living prophet, and the sole person authorized to speak definitively for God on the earth today. Below this president and his counselors are twelve "Apostles," who are also considered "prophets, seers, and revelators," but do not exercize the authority held by the church president. Beneath the Mormon apostles are the "Seventies," concerned mainly with heading up Mormon missionary efforts worldwide, together with a "presiding Bishopric" mostly concerned with temporal church affairs. These men are collectively referred to as the "General Authorities" of the Mormon church.<ref>All Utah LDS priesthood offices are limited to men; the Community of Christ, on the other hand, ordains both men and women (since 1984).</ref>
A local Mormon congregation, called a "ward" (equivalent to an Orthodox parish) is headed by a "bishop" (equivalent to an Orthodox parish priest)
, while a group of wards occupying a specific geographical area is organized into a "stake" (equivalent to an Orthodox diocese), headed by a "stake president" (equivalent to an Orthodox bishop ; the disparity between Mormon and Orthodox usage of the term "bishop" can cause confusion for the uninitiated! ).
Another potential source of confusion is the usage of the word "Elder"
in Mormonism and Orthodoxy. Whereas Orthodox Christians use the term "Elder" to refer to a holy person who has been given a special gift or charism of spiritual insight and direction (but who is not necessarily a priest or monk, or even a male), Mormons use this term to refer to a specific office in the higher of their two "priesthoods" (the lower is called "Aaronic Priesthood," while the higher is called "Melchizedek Priesthood;" "Elder" is the lowest office in this second or "higher priesthood") which is generally held by all male members of their church over the age of eighteen who are deemed "worthy" of it (which encompasses the vast majority of Mormon men).
===The "Doctrine of Eternal Progression"===
*[http://home.teleport.com/~packham/tract.htm To Those Who Are Investigating Mormonism by Richard Packham] (Packham is a former member of the LDS)
*[http://www.hbo.com/biglove HBO’s Big Love] (Big Love is a television drama portraying Mormon polygamists living secretly in modern-day Utah)