The True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days (TLC) is a breakaway sect of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). It is headquartered in Manti, Utah, United States, where as of 2004 it maintained a membership of 300 to 500 adherents.The church maintains a meetinghouse in downtown Manti, and in the past also owned the Red Brick Store, also downtown.
The church was organized on May 3, 1994, in response to what was felt to be a general apostasy of the LDS Church. This apostasy included Brigham Young (and subsequent presidents of the LDS Church) scattering the LDS Church membership rather than gathering it; the discontinuation of plural marriage; changes to ordinances and temple-related doctrine; and an increasing trend of what TLC describes as "watering-down" doctrine.
The TLC began as a study group and Priesthood Council in the early 1990s, where people from both the LDS Church and Mormon fundamentalist churches met together to discuss doctrine. During this period, the leader of the study group, James Dee Harmston (born November 6, 1940; died June 27, 2013), served a mission to Nauvoo. Prior to his retirement and founding of the TLC, Harmston worked as a real estate developer and lobbyist for the Reagan Administration.
A manuscript called "Further Light & Knowledge"dealing with research into the true order of prayer was published in 1990 by Ogden Kraut's publishing house, Pioneer Press. Gary Barns likely authored the manuscript, but authorship is not completely clear because an undated manuscript by the same title, believed to be written by Harmston, has been circulated in various Mormon fundamentalist discussion groups. In 1994, Harmston claimed the ancient biblical patriarchs Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses laid their hands on his head and conferred upon him the keys of the Melchizedek priesthood. Harmston then organized the church and collected his revelations in the Manti Revelation Book . He formally organized a hierarchy consisting of a President of the High Priesthood (himself), a Presiding Patriarch, a First Presidency, and a Quorum of Twelve Apostles.
One investigative article in the early 1990s wrote of the TLC's beginnings that:
"Prior to the Fall of 1992, some members of the LDS Church in Manti and surrounding areas occasionally met together in study groups and informal gatherings to discuss their interpretations of the gospel. Some of these individuals already had Mormon Fundamentalist leanings .... Harmston, as well as other men and women, began to teach what they knew of the 'original, pure' doctrines of Joseph Smith in their study groups as well as to interested individuals. This teaching began as informal discussions, evolving into a two-day, organized seminar referred to as the Models. "Frustrated with the 'dilution' of the 'pure' doctrines taught by Joseph Smith, Harmston and his wife, Elaine, say they sought a closer relationship with God and answers to their questions about the modern-day practices of the LDS Church. They decided to seek those answers at home, in a prayer circle, using the 'true order of prayer,' as taught in LDS temples" (Johns, p. 32).
Jim and Elaine Harmston "donned their Mormon temple robes at home and created a makeshift altar from a pillow and piano bench topped by a white bed sheet. They knelt to utilize the 'true order of prayer,' a ritual said to facilitate otherworldly communication .... They say God gave them the same answer He gave Smith (in the grove when asking what church to join) only this time He said the current church was among the 'wrong' churches and they should start their own".
Soon after organizing the church, Harmston taught a number of semi-private seminars known as "the Models," discussing the necessity of following early Mormon doctrines. Besides the doctrines of plural marriage and the law of consecration, the TLC also teaches "multiple mortal probations," a form of reincarnation limited in scope to one's own gender and species, i.e., human men are reincarnated as human men and human women as human women. This doctrine is considered false by the LDS Church and some Mormon fundamentalist groups. The TLC also teaches "the gathering," a doctrine familiar to early Mormonism and referenced numerous times in Latter Day Saint scripture. "The gathering" is the idea that all the "elect" of Israel should gather together. To the TLC church, this gathering is thought to be primarily to Manti, but can be elsewhere in Sanpete County, Utah.
Harmston taught he was the reincarnation of Joseph Smith and that he had been ordained by Moses. He predicted a period of upheaval beginning before 2004, and began a survivalist community where he and 300 followers would stay during that period. They would be armed and would have food stored beforehand. Several former sect members sued Harmston, hoping to recover $250,000. Members of the sect were excommunicated by the LDS Church for "undue preoccupation with Armageddon."
While proselytizing was heavily pursued during the infancy of the TLC, all missionary work ceased by March 2000. This was in part due to a revelation and promise by Harmston that Christ would appear on March 25, 2000, perform the ordinance of deliverance, and begin the terrestrial order (or, Millennium). This promise was conditional upon the faithfulness of the members, but when it was not fulfilled, some members felt Harmston had prophesied inaccurately. This precipitated the subsequent apostasy of several members of the First Presidency and Quorum of Twelve Apostles (Randy Maudsley, Jeff Hanks, Kent Braddy, Bart Malstrom and John Harper all either left or were excommunicated). The Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency were subsequently reorganized. One of the church's better proselytizing tools, its website, shut down completely a short time later due to a revelation declaring that "the day of the Gentile" had ended, meaning preaching to non-members (gentiles) must cease. A CD-ROM version of the TLC website has continued to be mailed to persons interested in joining the TLC. While the TLC has decided to remain offline in regards to their public missionary work, discussion forums do exist with former members,and cached archives of TLC website material is available on the internet.
The end of "the day of the Gentile" is a reference to previous revelations, particularly in the Doctrine and Covenants, that the gospel of Jesus Christ would first go to the Gentiles and then to the Jews ("the House of Israel"). This policy, in addition to the above factors, discontinued the TLC's policy of open missionary work or attempts at conversion. Those seriously seeking knowledge or membership have been directed at times to attend meetings or research doctrine and other information from the early Latter Day Saint movement.
While the TLC has claimed many early LDS Church doctrines as its own, it has been noted that the TLC itself has changed some of its doctrinal interpretation since its formation. The TLC teaches that only the perception of doctrine has changed, and the actual foundational material remains.
The TLC has a strong youth program heavily involved in Scouting, including the Venturing Scout program which allows participation of both young men and young women.
In 1998, two disaffected members accused Harmston of fraud when they failed to see Jesus.In 2002, a court granted them $300,000, but the suit was later overturned. An appeals court in 2005 granted the two former members the right to a new trial. The settlement was later reduced to $60,000 due to the church's financial hardship.
A twenty-minute audio documentary, "Saints of the Last Days", aired on National Public Radio's program This American Life in April 1996. It discussed the breakup of the study group that preceded the TLC, which occurred prior to the formal organization of the TLC.The TLC itself was heavily profiled in a 1999 A&E Network documentary, Inside Polygamy (AAE #17685).
A book containing the accounts of two of Harmston's wives (Pauline and Rachel Strong) was published in 2006.Numerous other anti-polygamy books include "exposés" of the TLC.
A 2007 documentary critical of Mormon fundamentalist groups, Lifting the Veil of Polygamy, included interviews with a former TLC member.In 2010, the anti-polygamy TV program Polygamy: What Love Is This? also aired an interview with a former TLC member.
Some ex-members (including one former member of the First Presidency) have maintained blogs with information about the church.
The term "Mormon fundamentalist" appears to have been coined in the 1940s by LDS Church apostle Mark E. Petersen.While Mormon fundamentalists, including members of TLC, call themselves "Mormon", the LDS Church considers the designation to apply only to its members and not to members of other sects of the Latter Day Saint movement. The LDS Church therefore claims that there is no such thing as a "Mormon fundamentalist", nor that there are any "Mormon sects". The LDS Church suggests that the correct term to describe these splinter groups is "polygamist sects". The LDS Church has repeatedly emphasized that it is not affiliated with Mormon fundamentalists. If members of the LDS Church are found to be engaging in polygamy, they are excommunicated.
The TLC may also be distinguished from historical Mormon fundamentalism which traces priesthood lineage either through the 1886 Revelation (John W. Woolley line) or those who believe Benjamin F. Johnson's claims (the LeBaron family line). The TLC does teach that the 1886 revelation is legitimate and believes that (as stated in the revelation) John Taylor met with Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ. It has not been made clear how it doctrinally understands the existence of a resurrected Joseph Smith, since James Harmston was believed to be his reincarnation.
The TLC is a re-restorationist movement in that it holds that the original keys passed down from Joseph Smith, the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, were lost through apostasy and a re-restoration was necessary.
The TLC shares much doctrinal common ground with other new religious movements, including Edgar Cayce and The Summit Lighthouse.
Some doctrinal distinctions also exist between Mormon fundamentalism and TLC teachings. For example, while the TLC does offer the original endowment Joseph Smith restored, it is understood that a "living endowment"—or administration of keys not all at the same time, but possibly during separate sessions—is necessary for the living, while endowments for the dead are performed in the same manner as the mainstream LDS faith and some other Mormon faiths. The TLC also provides temple ordinances beyond those revealed to Joseph Smith prior to his martyrdom in 1844.
The TLC teaches that the Word of Wisdom involves a raw food diet and has also incorporated some ideas from the "Eat Right 4 Your Type" books by Dr. Peter D'Adamo. Sugar, honey, and meat are forbidden.
Harmston gave up clothing with leather or other animal products, suggesting he may have adopted a vegan lifestyle. Whether or not the rest of the membership is living the same is the subject of speculation by some former members. In 2005, the President of the "temporal church" Dan Simmons changed from using sugar to using xylitol,but again the practice of other members is unclear.
At one time, the TLC had an "endowment house" in Fairview, Utah, but this was lost when the property owner (a member of the church's First Presidency) left the TLC. They have continued to offer temple ordinancesfor the living and the dead without the Fairview endowment house, consistent with the threefold mission of the church, which includes "redeem the dead". Historically in Mormonism, ordinances for living people could be performed in endowment houses whereas ordinances for the dead required a temple.
Harmston died of a heart attack Thursday, June 27, 2013, at Sanpete Valley Hospital. Harmston had a history of heart trouble, but his death was unexpected.
Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, the principal branch of the Latter Day Saint movement started by Joseph Smith in upstate New York during the 1820s. After Smith's death in 1844 the movement split into several groups following different leaders; the majority followed Brigham Young, while smaller groups followed Joseph Smith III, Sidney Rigdon, and James Strang. Most of these smaller groups eventually coalesced into the Community of Christ, and the term Mormon typically refers to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as today this branch is far larger than all the others combined. People who identify as Mormons may also be independently religious, secular and non-practicing, or belong to other denominations.
Mormonism is the religious tradition and theology of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity started by Joseph Smith in Western New York in the 1820s and 1830s. As a label, Mormonism has been applied to various aspects of the Latter Day Saint movement, although there has been a recent push from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to distance themselves from this label. A historian, Sydney E. Ahlstrom, wrote in 1982, "One cannot even be sure, whether [Mormonism] is a sect, a mystery cult, a new religion, a church, a people, a nation, or an American subculture; indeed, at different times and places it is all of these". However, scholars and theologians within the Latter Day Saint movement, including Smith, have often used "Mormonism" to describe the unique teachings and doctrines of the movement.
Polygamy was practiced by leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for more than half of the 19th century, and practiced publicly from 1852 to 1890 by between 20 and 30 percent of Latter-day Saint families. Today, various denominations of fundamentalist Mormonism continue to practice polygamy.
The Latter Day Saint movement is the collection of independent church groups that trace their origins to a Christian Restorationist movement founded by Joseph Smith in the late 1820s.
Mormonism, or the Latter Day Saint movement, teaches that its adherents are either direct descendants of the House of Israel or adopted into it. As such, Mormons regard Jews as a covenant people of God, and hold them in high esteem. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest church in Mormonism, is philo-Semitic in its doctrine.
Mormon fundamentalism is a belief in the validity of selected fundamental aspects of Mormonism as taught and practiced in the nineteenth century, particularly during the administrations of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor, the first three presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon fundamentalists seek to uphold tenets and practices no longer held by mainstream Mormons. The principle most often associated with Mormon fundamentalism is plural marriage, a form of polygyny first taught in the Latter Day Saint movement by the movement's founder, Smith. A second and closely associated principle is that of the United Order, a form of egalitarian communalism. Mormon fundamentalists believe that these and other principles were wrongly abandoned or changed by the LDS Church in its efforts to become reconciled with mainstream American society. Today, the LDS Church excommunicates any of its members who practice plural marriage or who otherwise closely associate themselves with Mormon fundamentalist practices.
In the Latter Day Saint movement, a temple is a building dedicated to be a house of God and is reserved for special forms of worship. A temple differs from a church meetinghouse, which is used for weekly worship services. Temples have been a significant part of the Latter Day Saint movement since early in its inception. Today, temples are operated by several Latter Day Saint denominations. The most prolific builder of temples of the Latter Day Saint movement is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There are 168 dedicated temples, 45 under construction, and 52 announced, for a total of 265. Several others within the movement have built, or attempted to build, temples. The Community of Christ operates two temples in the United States, which are open to the public and are used for worship services, performances, and religious education. Other denominations with temples are the Apostolic United Brethren, the Church of Christ, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Celestial marriage is a doctrine that marriage can last forever in heaven. This is a unique teaching of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or Mormonism, and branches of Mormon fundamentalism.
The Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) is a Mormon fundamentalist group that promotes polygamy. The AUB has had a temple in Mexico, since at least the 1990s, an endowment house in Utah since the early 1980s and several other locations of worship to accommodate their members in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
Lorin Calvin Woolley was an American proponent of plural marriage and one of the founders of the Mormon fundamentalist movement. As a young man in Utah Territory, Woolley served as a courier and bodyguard for polygamous leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in hiding during the federal crusade against polygamy. His career as a religious leader in his own right commenced in the early twentieth century, when he began claiming to have been set apart to keep plural marriage alive by church president John Taylor in connection with the 1886 Revelation. Woolley's distinctive teachings on authority, morality, and doctrine are thought to provide the theological foundation for nearly ninety percent of Mormon fundamentalist groups.
Community of Christ and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are two denominations that share a common heritage in the Church of Christ founded by Joseph Smith on April 6, 1830. Since Smith's death in 1844, they have evolved separately in belief and practices. The LDS Church is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, and claims more than 16 million members worldwide; Community of Christ is headquartered in Independence, Missouri, and reports a worldwide membership of approximately 250,000.
The teachings of Joseph Smith include a broad spectrum of religious doctrines as well as political and scientific ideas and theories, many of which he said were revealed to him by God. Joseph Smith is not the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement but is recognized by many anti Latter Day Saint churches as the founder. Beginning in 1828, Smith began dictating the text of what later became the Book of Mormon, and also began dictating written revelations he said were inspired by God.
John W. Bryant was the founder and first leader of a Mormon fundamentalist sect that is today known as the Church of the New Covenant in Christ and is headquartered near Salem, Oregon.
The Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as The Righteous Branch, The Branch Church, The Peterson Group and Christ's Church, is a fundamentalist Mormon sect of the Latter Day Saint movement. It is based in Iron County, Utah.
Islam and Mormonism have been compared to one another ever since the earliest origins of the latter in the nineteenth century, often by detractors of one religion or the other—or both. For instance, Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, was referred to as "the modern Muhammad" by the New York Herald, shortly after his murder in June 1844. This epithet repeated a comparison that had been made from Smith's earliest career, one that was not intended at the time to be complimentary. Comparison of the Mormon and Muslim prophets still occurs today, sometimes for derogatory or polemical reasons but also for more scholarly and neutral purposes. Although Mormonism and Islam certainly have many similarities, there are also significant, fundamental differences between the two religions. Mormon–Muslim relations have historically been cordial; recent years have seen increasing dialogue between adherents of the two faiths, and cooperation in charitable endeavors. In terms of a mainstream Islamic as well as Christian perspective, Mormons are sometimes compared to Ahmadiyya in that they are sometimes not accepted as belonging within mainstream Christianity and Islam, respectively.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Kingdom of God is a Mormon fundamentalist church in the Latter Day Saint movement. The sect was founded by Frank Naylor and Ivan Nielsen, who split from the Centennial Park group, another fundamentalist church. The church is estimated to have 200–300 members, most of whom reside in the Salt Lake Valley. The group is also known as the Third Ward or the Naylor group, after Frank Naylor.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and a topical guide to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the life and influence of Joseph Smith:
Remnant fellowships are a loosely organized branch of the Latter Day Saint movement formed by individuals who accept divine revelations allegedly received by Denver Snuffer Jr.. The Remnant Fellowships generally feel called to personal and social renewal preparatory to Christ's eventual second coming. According to movement beliefs, participants anticipate a coming time when remnants remain within the full restored covenant with Jesus Christ: an allusion to a belief that "The Bible, Book of Mormon, and modern revelation through the Prophet Joseph Smith, prophesy that the gospel of Jesus Christ would shift from the Gentile stewards of the gospel back to Israel in the last days." The movement places a renewed focus on individual communion with God, gifts of the spirit, tangible expressions of faith, and the eventual establishment of Zion. While the movement has no official name, the term "Snufferite" has been used to denote followers. Other designations include covenant of Christ movement and Denver Snuffer movement. Participants sometimes reference each other as "covenant Brother," "covenant Sister".