Spirituality and religion are an integral part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often inadvertently called the Mormon Church. However, the Church membership may understand these terms differently than other people.
For example, one website differentiated the two this way:
Some believe spirituality and religion can be interchangeable in their meaning and technically it’s hard to argue with that statement. However, in America for sometime now, religion is generally viewed as some form of Christianity, the mainstream religion here in America; whereas spirituality is generally thought of as an Eastern religion or some new age belief system.
As faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a distinctive way of looking at life. We view our experiences in terms of eternity. As we draw farther from worldliness, we feel closer to our Father in Heaven and more able to be guided by his Spirit. We call this quality of life spirituality.2
A former apostle in the Church describes spirituality as “that state of holiness, purity, and relative perfection which enables men to enjoy the near-constant companionship of the Lord’s spirit.”3
Webster’s dictionary has for one of its definitions of the word: “Sensitivity or attachment to religious values.”
Elder Oaks also said that “The first of the Ten Commandments—‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’ (Ex. 20:3)—epitomizes the nature of spirituality. A spiritual person has no priorities ahead of God. A person who seeks or serves other objectives, such as power or prominence, is not spiritual.”4
Latter-day Saints (often mistakenly called Mormons) believe that all human beings are children of God. They believe that life is a mortal and temporary experience Heavenly Father has given to all of His children. After human beings die, they will return to their heavenly home and hopefully, live for eternity in the presence of God. Because of this belief, Mormons feel a yearning for their heavenly home and seek to live their lives righteously by overcoming trials and temptations, loving and serving God and others, working hard, loving and taking care of their families, and keeping the covenants they make with God. By striving to live this way, they put themselves in tune with spiritual and eternal things.
Religion in the Church of Jesus Christ
Webster’s dictionary defines religion as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural; commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance; a set or system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices; system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”
The Prophet Joseph Smith, the first President and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ in modern times, said that “The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that he died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it.”5
Although Latter-day Saints distinguish between spirituality and religion, they also see an important connection between them.
Elder McConkie said that “religion is more than theology, more than a knowledge of Deity and the system of salvation revealed by him; it is the actual practice of the revealed precepts.”6
In other words, Mormons believe they should live their religion every day. They believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of mankind. They believe they should follow His teachings and example. By patterning their lives after the Savior, they are drawn to their Heavenly Father and feel guided by His spirit. They believe that they will be with their Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ again, and they work to prepare for that glorious reunion.
Latter-day Saints pray that they will be filled with charity, the pure love of Christ, which Father in Heaven bestows “upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.”7
2. Ensign, October 1985
3. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979), s.v. “Spirituality.”
4. Ensign, October 1985
5. History of the Church, 3:30.
6. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1979), s.v. “Religion.”
7. Moroni 7:48; see 1 John 3:2–3.