I am 11 years old, and a few months ago in my social studies class, we talked about how Martin Luther (NOT Martin Luther King Jr.) developed the Lutheran Church when he was “fed up” with the practices of the Roman Catholic Church. My teacher, who is not a member of the Mormon Church, commented that unless you are Catholic, you are a Protestant because of the root word “protest” in the word “Protestant”; referring to when followers of Martin Luther protested against the Roman Catholic Church. A few months later, I ended up moving back to my old school, which is a Christian school. One day we had a substitute teacher, also not a member of the Mormon Church, who (and I can’t remember how on Earth we got on this topic) recited the protestant religions, and Mormonism wasn’t one of them. So I was just wondering, if the Nephites and Lamanites were long gone by the time that Martin Luther was alive, then what are we Mormons considered to be- Catholics or Protestants?
Ellen, from Eatonton, Georgia
The answer to your question is, neither of the above.
In the first place the Nephites and Lamanites flourished on the American continent from 600BC to 400AD. Those who wrote about the Catholics and Protestants knew nothing about them. They predated both the Catholic Church and the Protestant movements.
Martin Luther was the first of the protestant reformers. He nailed his famous 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church on 31 October, 1517. Other reformers soon followed, including John Wycliffe, John Hus, Ulrich Zingli and John Calvin. The Church of England traces its roots back to Elizabeth I who came to the throne in 1558. John Wesley (1703- 1791) graduated from Oxford University as a priest of the Church of England. He began preaching a doctrine based on faith and was finally ostracized from the Church of England. His followers organized the Wesleyan Methodist Church. The United Brethren, among whom Wilford Woodruff had such success (he converted 599 of the 600 United Brethren) was a break away group from the Wesley Methodists.
These are just some scattered beginnings to the protestant movement. Today there are hundreds of protestant churches that have branched off from these original reformers
So in the United States in the early 1800s the main religious bodies in the United States were the Catholic Church and a number of Protestant Churches. Into this religious environment the God of Heaven restored to the earth the Church of Jesus Christ that had been organized by the Savior during His earthly ministry. This restored church was called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to distinguish it from the Church of Jesus Christ of former-day Saints. The name commonly given to the Church of the Latter-day Saints is the Mormon Church. Since this church did not break away any from any other religious organization, it cannot be called a protestant church. During the Second World War the soldiers all had to wear identification tags, that we called dog tags. These tags carried all the vital information of each soldier, including their religious preference. The tags were marked with either Catholic, Protestant or LDS. Thus the government recognized that the Mormon Church was not a protestant church. It is actually the restored Church of Jesus, the only true and living church upon the face of the earth.