Mormon beliefs are getting a lot of attention these days between Romney stories and The Book of Mormon on Broadway. The lyrics for some of the songs in the show are what got me digging online to find out some background on some of the Mormon beliefs portrayed therein.
It all starts with Joseph Smith, who was a convicted con artist, from Palmyra, New York, who allegedly found golden plates, which he translated to become the Book of Mormon.
He gave a number of different accounts of how he found the plates, but the official church version is that God the father told him all churches were an abomination and he must restore the true gospel.
He translated the gold plates which no one else has ever seen.
I found a site called http://www.top10craziestmormonbeliefs.com/ (which certainly has a bias) that has some other beliefs.
One that surprised me is that the Garden of Eden was on the North American continent and that Adam and Eve began in the upper part of what is now the state of Missouri. “It seems very probable that the children of our first earthly parents moved down along the fertile, pleasant lands of the Mississippi valley.” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, three volumes in one, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft 1960, p. 127)
Another belief is in the planet of Kolob. Here’s some inf o on it from Wikipedia:
Kolob - a star or planet described in Mormon scripture as the place where God resides. Reference to Kolob is found in the Book of Abraham, a work published by Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. According to this work, Kolob is the heavenly body nearest to the throne of God. While the Book of Abraham refers to Kolob as a “star”, it also refers to planets as stars,and therefore, some LDS commentators consider Kolob to be a planet. Kolob has never been identified with any modern astronomical object and is not recognized by scholars as a concept associated with any ancient civilization. Kolob is rarely discussed in modern LDS religious contexts, but it is periodically a topic of discussion in criticism of Mormonism. The idea appears within LDS culture, including an LDS hymn about it.
An 1893 engraving depicting Joseph Smith’s description
of receiving artifacts from the angel Moroni. The artifacts
include the golden plates and a set of spectacles made
of seer stones, which Smith called the Urim and Thummim.
The sword of Laban and an ancient breastplate are shown nearby.