CNN wrote a great article on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Fast Facts. It gives a great quick timeline of major events in the LDS church but leaves out some important events and facts. It also doesn’t really give many links to where readers can find more information on the topics mentioned, so we have made a similar timeline with more dates and expanded info, and more links to some sources so readers can check the facts for themselves.
LDS Church Timeline
1805 – Joseph Smith was born.
1819 – Joseph Smith is taught by his father to scry (a form of divination in which a “seer” looked into a seer stone to receive supernatural knowledge).
1820 – Joseph Smith goes with father to hunt for treasure using scrying, by placing his head into a hat with a seer stone inside. This is is the same technique Joseph Smith would later use to translate the Book of Mormon.
1827 – Joseph Smith is purportedly shown by an angel the burial site of engraved golden plates that tell the story of American prophets living in the New World.
1830 – Joseph Smith publishes “The Book of Mormon,” the translation of the golden plates deciphered through placing his face into a hat with special seer stones and supposedly receiving divine guidance.
July 17, 1831 – Joseph Smith claims to have received the revelation commanding the practice of plural marriage, but keeps it hidden from the majority of the church.
April 14, 1832 – Brigham Young is baptized into the church.
1835 – “Doctrine and Covenants” is published as a record of prophecies foretold to Smith. Smith writes in Section 132 that God has told him he can marry as many women as he wants.
1839 – Joseph Smith leads his followers to Commerce, Illinois, where he becomes mayor and renames the town Nauvoo.
1842 – Joseph Smith reveals new temple ceremonies (which are a copy of Freemasonry) and uses the Freemason’s principles of secrecy as an excuse to marry him self to multiple women and keep them secret.
1843 – Joseph Smith officially records a “revelation” of plural marriage to LDS Church, and with it comes the permission from “God” that if his current wife doesn’t agree to it, he can hide it from her (D&C 132:55).
February 1844 – Joseph Smith increases his ambitions and announces his candidacy for president of the United States.
February 1844 – Joseph Smith along with his brother Hyrum are jailed on charges of treason after using militia to protect Nauvoo from violence instigated by those opposed to Smith’s church.
June 27, 1844 – The jail in Carthage, Illinois, where Smith and Hyrum are held, is attacked by an anti-Mormon mob and both men are killed. The death of Smith causes the church to splinter into three groups. A large group follows Brigham Young. Others follow Smith’s son James and others follow James Strang.
1846-1847 – Young and his followers leave Illinois, settling in Salt Lake City. Young becomes president of the church.
March 4, 1851-March 3, 1859 – Dr. John M. Bernhisel becomes the first Mormon to be elected to the US Congress where he serves as the delegate for the Utah Territory in the House of Representatives.
February 8, 1857 – Brigham Young preaches about his doctrine of Blood Atonement in LDS General Conference, where he preaches that Jesus atonement wasn’t enough, and that it is sometimes necessary to kill a man to so that he can be forgiven of his sins, saying “love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood”.
September 11, 1857 – Mountain Meadows Massacre occurs, where where a group of Mormon men and their church leaders slaughtered a peaceful wagon train including 120 men, women, and children, which has been associated with Brigham Young’s Blood atonement doctrine.
March 8, 1863 – Brigham Young preaches that those in interracial marriages deserve “death on the spot”.
April 6-8, 1877 – Dedication for the first operating temple in Utah, in St. George. It is the only temple completed during Young’s tenure as president.
September 24, 1890 – The practice of polygamy is banned by the church. By 1910 members who continue the practice are excommunicated.
April 6-24, 1893 – The Salt Lake Temple is dedicated in Salt Lake City. It is the largest in square footage and takes 40 years to complete.
1917-1940 – William H. King (D-UT) is the first Latter-Day Saints member to be a US senator. He also serves in the House from 1897-1900.
January 4, 2007 – Harry Reid (D-Nev) is elected Senate majority leader, the highest office obtained by a Mormon in US history.
February 4, 2008 – Thomas S. Monson is chosen as the new president to replace Gordon B. Hinckley after Hinckley’s death January 27.
2008 and 2011 – Mormon and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is a presidential aspirant for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, and is the Republican candidate in the 2012 election, and loses.
January 27, 2015 – After increased public pressure, church leaders pledge at a press conference to support anti-discrimination laws for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people, as long the laws also protect the rights of religious groups. They also state that this pledge does not change church doctrine — including its opposition to gay marriage — though they say it is “unfair” to characterize the church’s announcement as a national nondiscrimination campaign.
October 25, 2016 – After increased public pressure, the church launches Mormon and Gay, a new section of its official website that’s intended to facilitate understanding and provide information on sexual identification, church doctrine and mental health resources.
August 8, 2017 – The church excommunicates James J. Hamula, the first dismissal of a major church leader since 1989, without giving a reason. Hamula had been serving as a member of The First Quorum of the Seventy, one highest order of priests in the mormon church, and his release is not because of apostasy, or abandonment of religious beliefs, the church says.
August 16, 2018 – The church releases a new style guide noting its preference for using the full name of the church and discouraging the use of any other nickname or abbreviation.
April 4, 2019 – The church announces that those in same-sex marriages will no longer be treated as “apostates.” Their children can be baptized without special approval from church leaders. It gives bishops choice as to how they will respond to same-sex marriages within each congregation.
April 6, 2019 – LDS church growth reported at lowest rate in 40 years.
May 6, 2019 – The church announces that couples who have been married civilly no longer have to wait one year before getting sealed in a temple wedding, which ceremony shares much in common with freemasonry.
August 2019 – The church changes its handbook to prohibit carrying lethal weapons on church property.
October 2, 2019 – The church announces that women will now be able to serve as witnesses to baptisms and temple sealings (which have masonic origins).
December 17, 2019 – The church responds responds to a whistleblower complaint that accuses the church of stockpiling $100 billion in accounts intended for charitable works, misleading members and avoiding taxes.
LDS Church Statistics
LDS Church membership: 16.3 million
For more information, click any one of the inline links above.