"Prediction is difficult, especially about the future." -- Yogi Berra
Question #92043 posted on 03/17/2019 8:26 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

#92017 was fascinating to read about to me. How many offshoots of the LDS church are there and what did/do they believe? What's the most interesting one out there?

-I've heard of the FLDS and RLDS church before but that's it

A:

Dear same here,

Prepare yourself. Here are basically all the offshoots of the church Joseph Smith established. Data comes from this amazing timeline (seriously go look at it). There may be churches missing but hopefully I got all the orders right, and more info on these churches can be found here, which I liberally used and often straight out copied without using quotation marks (thank you Wikipedia and please forgive me).

This is really, really long. Sorry about that. But it's super fascinating. I think the most interesting one is the Perfected Church of Jesus Christ of Immaculate Latter-day Saints (number 30). Not only did they believe in polygamy, but the founder taught menstruation could be eliminated through righteousness, priesthood alchemy could turn common metals into gold, and that his partner's pregnancy was an immaculate conception. All in all, a religion founded by a man who has no clue about female anatomy. 

tl;dr: most of these churches held the same tenets of Mormonism. The founders usually thought they had the true authority, or the mainstream church went astray by certain practices (like practicing or not practicing polygamy).

The first church: Church of Christ. 1830. Founded by Joseph Smith.

  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (This is us.) Founded 1844. Brigham Young declared himself president and prophet after the death of Joseph Smith. Estimated membership: 15,882,417. Referred to as LDS Church from here on out (Sorry but it's the shortest and easiest way to keep track with all these churches). Yes, technically we are a break-off church.
  2. Pure Church of Christ. 1831. Defunct. Founder claimed he received a revelation that he was the prophet and the true revelator, not Smith.
  3. Independent Church. 1832. Defunct. Founder denounced Smith and the Book of Mormon.
  4. Church of Christ (Booth). 1836. Defunct. Believed Smith wasn't a prophet and the BoM wasn't scripture.
  5. Church of Christ (Parish). 1837. Defunct. Believed Smith was a fallen prophet, rejected the BoM and parts of the Bible.
  6. Church of Christ (Chubby). Late 1830s. Defunct. Created to minister to African Americans.
  7. Alston's Church. 1839. Told LDS members to stay in Missouri instead of moving to Illinois.
  8. Church of Jesus Christ, the Bride, the Lamb's Wife. 1840. Defunct. Believed Smith wasn't a prophet and the BoM wasn't scripture.
  9. Church of Christ (Page). 1843. Defunct. Hiram Page, a BoM witness, started this one.
  10. True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1844. Defunct. William Law, who published the Nauvoo Expositor exposing Smith's practice of polygamy, formed this church (but did not claim to be a prophet, just the president). Said Mormonism was true but polygamy was a corruption.
  11. Church of Christ (Wightite). 1844. Extant. Founder rejected Brigham Young's claims of leadership. Moved with followers to Texas. Most followers joined the RLDS church.
  12. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Strangite). 1844. Estimated membership: 300. Strang (founder) had a letter from Smith calling him to be president (but of the church or the stake?), said angels told him he was Smith's successor. Found the Voree plates, a record of an ancient Native American. Was initially followed by William Smith (Smith's brother), Martin Harris, William E. McLellin, Lucy Mack Smith, and other famous people, though these people left when anti-polygamy Strang suddenly became super pro-polygamy (apparently no one can resist the lure of having multiple wives). He founded a town and crowned himself king of the church. Uses the Bible, BoM, and Strang's Book of the Law of the Lord, which Strang claims he translated from the Plates of Laban. Ordained women to the priesthood, practice animal sacrifice, Saturday Sabbath. Believes God is one God and that Jesus is the son of Mary and Joseph but adopted by God.
    1. Church of Christ (Aaron Smith). 1846. Defunct.
    2. Church of the Messiah. 1861. Defunct. Led followers from Maine to Palestine and failed to establish a mission there. Mark Twain wrote about the failed settlers returning home in his book The Innocents Abroad.
    3. Holy Church of Jesus Christ. 1964. Defunct. Church headquartered in France.
    4. Church of Jesus Christ (Drewite). 1965. One congregation left. Founder was excommunicated from Strangite church.
    5. True Church of Jesus Christ Restored. 1974.
  13. Church of Jesus Christ of the Children of Zion (Rigdon). 1844. Defunct. Founded by Sidney Rigdon. Believed Smith was a fallen prophet for practicing polygamy. Attempted to live the law of consecration and failed. Rigdon deserted the group and lived with relatives until his death.
    1. Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite). 1862. Estimated membership: 22,537. Fun fact: I met a Bickertonite on my mission in Georgia! He told us they believe in the BoM. Founder broke off from Rigdon's church after they moved to PA. Have the priesthood. Have offices of deacons and deaconesses, though these ordained offices are not part of the general priesthood. Have the president, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the 70. Rejects polygamy, celestial marriage, two separate priesthoods. Teaches that Smith taught some wrong stuff and many LDS denominations fell into error by following them. Believes in the Godhead, the Bible and BoM, the doctrine of Christ, only men get the priesthood authority, communion (wine and bread), and racial integration.
      1. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite). 1907. Defunct. Dispute over nature of life in the millennium split the Bickertonite Quorum of the Twelve in two (wow imagine that happening to our church). Later merged with Primitive Church of Jesus Christ (below).
      2. Primitive Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite). 1915. Defunct. Rejected the First Presidency as a valid leadership organization. Later merged with Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ (above).
  14. Church of Christ (Whitmerite). 1847 and 1871. William E. McLellin claimed Smith designated David Whitmer as his successor. Many LDS leaders agreed, including Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, Hiram Page, and John Whitmer. Most remaining members eventually united with the Church of Christ (Temple Lot).
  15. Church of Christ (Brewsterite). 1848. Defunct.
  16. The Bride, the Lamb's Wife. 1848. Defunct. Founder claimed he was taken to heaven to talk with Smith, who designated him as his true successor.
  17. Congregation of Jehovah's Presbytery of Zion. 1848. Defunct. Founder claimed he was "Baneemy" mentioned in D&C 105:27 (I looked it up. The old verse said "my servant Baurak Ale, and Baneemy, who I have appointed..." and the current version says "my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and mine elders, whom I have appointed..." So sorry about that Charles Thompson). He also said God rejected the church after Smith's death, and he had been called to renew the priesthood.
  18. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Gladdenite). 1851. Defunct. Founder claimed Nephi (one of the three Nephites) gave him the golden plates, the Urim and Thummim, the breastplate of Moroni, the Liahona, the sword of Laban, and two crowns representing the Aaronic and Melchizedek priesthoods. Said he was washed, anointed, robed, and throned in a vision, and claimed he was David the king. Martin Harris followed him (This is Harris's what, third offshoot he's joined? Say you're a prophet and he'll back you up, apparently). Brigham Young initially said they should kill this founder, but later said to just leave him and their church alone. Members later helped form the Church of Christ (Temple Lot).
  19. Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite). 1853. Estimated membership: 12. Founder said he was a member of the Quorum of Seven (D. Michael Quinn believes this was a subcommittee within the Council of Fifty), and thus the only one with priesthood authority after everyone else apostatized. Practice United Order, retains Nauvoo-era Temple endowment and Baptism for the Dead. Doesn't practice eternal marriage, polygamy, or missionary work because God rejected all the gentiles after Smith died.
    1. True Church of Jesus Christ (Cutlerite). 1953. Defunct? Split over presidential succession issue, folded with death of its founder.
    2. Restored Church of Jesus Christ. 1980. Estimated membership: 25. Founder claimed to be the "One Mighty and Strong" Smith prophesied would come to set the church in order. Teaches a bipartite god (God the Father and Jesus Christ only).
    3. Church of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. 1985.
  20. Church of the Potter Christ. 1857. Defunct. Founder claimed he was Jesus.
  21. Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS). Renamed Community of Christ. 1860. Estimated membership: 250,301. Organized by Joseph Smith's son. Never practiced polygamy, ordain women to the priesthood today, accept the LGBTQ community. minnow and I went to a congregation last week; they have similar hymns, a woman presided and directed, and only those with the priesthood can give talks. Priesthood ordinations come from leadership, so not everyone has it. It felt more like your average Christian church than the LDS church.
    1. Church of the Christian Brotherhood. 1918. Defunct. Left the RLDS Church due to their denial that Smith practiced polygamy (the RLDS Church eventually accepted it). Founder rejected most of Mormonism's tenets, as polygamy proved Smith was a false prophet.
    2. Church of Jesus Christ Restored. 1960s. Estimated membership: 40. Instituted polygamy and the United Order. Church leaders found guilty of sexual exploitation and abuse.
    3. Church of Jesus Christ (Toneyite). 1980. Founder claimed to be "Elijah and only prophet" of his organization.
    4. Church of Christ (Clark). 1985. Keep annual feasts, including Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, etc.
    5. Independent Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1985.
      1. Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 2000. You can watch all their broadcasting live from the Centerplace of Zion on their Facebook page.
    6. Church of Jesus Christ Restored 1830. Mid-1980s. Split when RLDS Church opened priesthood to women and built the Independence Temple.
    7. Church of Jesus Christ (Zion's Branch). 1986. Estimated membership: 200. Opposed RLDS Church giving women the priesthood. Wow a lot of people had a problem with women gaining equality. Their beliefs are very similar to LDS beliefs except they don't do baptisms for the dead, a temple endowment, eternal marriage, and polygamy.
    8. Lundgren Group. 1988. Estimated membership: 20. Described as a cult. Founder was dismissed from RLDS Church, practiced methods of "mind control" on his followers, claimed he was God's last prophet, and was later executed by the state for murdering five people. This is actually a really disturbing story.
    9. Restoration Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1991. More people having issues that the RLDS Church allowed women to hold the priesthood. Seriously people we have THREE new churches simply because the RLDS Church decided women should have a more equal role.
  22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Gibsonite). 1861. Defunct. Organized in Pacific Islands, had a gathering place established on Lanai, HI. Founder sought, and gained, power in the Kingdom of Hawaii, but wasn't a very good advisor.
  23. Church of the Firstborn (Morrisite). 1861. Assumed defunct. Believed in reincarnation - taught Joseph Smith was a reincarnated Mormon and Apostle Paul, and that the leaders were reincarnated Moses and Cainan. Taught the Second Coming was imminent and not to plant crops. The specific day of the Second Coming kept changing because it never happened.
    1. Kingdom of Heaven. 1866. Defunct. Lived a communal life in Washington until 1881. Taught reincarnation, that the founder was the archangel Michael who lived previous lives as Adam, Abraham, and David. Declared his son the reincarnated Jesus Christ, who came to be called "Walla Walla Jesus" (...cool). Declared his second son to be God the Father. Both of his children died.
    2. Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Most High. 1882. Disbanded in 1969.
    3. Order of Enoch. 1884. Believes in reincarnation, founder taught he was the "One Mighty and Strong" and was a reincarnated Joseph Smith, Adam Enoch, Moses, David, Ezekiel, and George Washington (...cool). Rejected polygamy, believes the millennium will happen in the 24th century. Wrote a book with 7 major teachings: Brigham Young led the church astray; African Americans are not cursed as Young taught, but should be allowed to get the priesthood and enter the temple; the Lost Tribes are not living at the North Pole (I guess we believed that?); reincarnation is real; Joseph Smith sinned in practicing polygamy and that's why he was killed; Morris (Church of the Firstborn founder) was a prophet; their founder was Jesus reincarnated.
  24. Church of Christ (Temple Lot). 1863. Estimated membership: 5,000. Led by Quorum of the 12, reject office of prophet, reject baptism for the dead, celestial marriages, D&C, and the Pearl of Great Price. Owns the lot designated by Smith for the temple of the New Jerusalem in Independence, MO. Believe they have the priesthood and are the only true church. Heavily influenced by David Whitmer's writings.
    1. Church of Christ (Fettingite). 1929. Estimated membership: 2,450. Founder claimed to have received revelations from John the Baptist. Adopted seventh day sabbatarianism. Doctrine and practices are virtually identical to the Church of Christ (Temple Lot). Only true church.
      1. Church of Christ (Restored). 1937. Only true church. Reject Saturday Sabbath, but otherwise same as Church of Christ (Fettingite).
      2. Church of Christ With the Elijah Message. 1943. Estimated membership: 12,500. Virtually same as Church of Christ (Temple Lot).
        1. Church of Christ (Leighton-Floyd/Burt). 1965. Estimated membership: 35.
        2. Church of Christ With the Elijah Message, The Assured Way of the Lord, Inc. 2004. This name tho. Similar to Church of Christ (Fettingite). Believes the Godhead is one person, not three.
      3. Church of Christ (Hancock). 1946. Defunct. First LDS denomination to be established by a woman. Accepted the Bible and BoM only at first but eventually rejected the BoM. Jerald and Sandra Tanner are former members. Kept only KJV Bible and BoM. Modalistic view of God (one God, different manifestations). Members joined Protestant churches after it dissolved.
    2. Church of Christ At Halley's Bluff.1932. 
      1. Church of Israel. 1972. Few LDS beliefs or practices remain in the church. Is racist. Believes white people are descendants of Adam and Jewish people are descendant of Cain and Satan. Deeply distrusts the government and most home-birthed children in the church do not have social security numbers. Believes the medical profession is "Jewish" and discourages the use of doctors and immunizations. 
  25. The Church of Zion (Godbeites). 1868. Defunct. Split to be more liberal and inclusive. Were the original core of Utah Territory's Liberal Party, but as they became more anti-Mormon and critical of polygamy, their influence died out.
  26. Council of Friends.1920s. Also known as the Priesthood Council. Created to continue the practice of polygamy after the mainstream church stopped its practice. Founder claimed LDS President Taylor gave him and others keys to ensure polygamy would continue even if the LDS Church stopped practicing it. Splintered into...
    1. Latter Day Church of Christ (Kingston). 1935. Estimated membership: 3,500. Originally LDS Founder preached polygamy, was excommunicated. Claims they maintain Smith's original teachings (including plural marriage). At first all members wore all blue clothes without outer pockets and went bareheaded and barefoot. There's intra-family marriages and possibly child marriages.
    2. Apostolic United Brethren. 1954. Estimated membership: 10,000. Has a temple in Mexico and an endowment house in Utah. Views the LDS Church as legitimate and divine, though wayward. They're the Sister Wives people. Believe in the United Order, polygamy, and the Adam-God doctrine.
      1. Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times. 1955. Founder was excommunicated for practicing polygamy and declared himself the "One Mighty and Strong" sent to redeem LDS people; reported 19 prophets visited him. They actively proselyte to LDS members so if you see the pamphlet "Priesthood Expounded" it's from them. They converted nine LDS missionaries in France, which has been called the "worst missionary apostasy in the history of the [LDS] Church."
        1. Church of the First Born Lamb of God. 1972. May still exist? The founder was the Presiding Patriarch of the Church of the Firstborn of the Fulness of Times but started teaching that he, not his brother (the president), had the authority to lead the church. He was excommunicated and so he started his own church. He prophesied his brother would be killed and one of his followers shot his brother. And then he and his followers committed dozens of assassinations of members of that church and other Mormon fundamentalist groups. The founder died in prison during his life sentence. Lovely.
      2. Church of the Firstborn. 1955. Estimated membership: around 100. Founder said the "One Mighty and Strong" would be an Indian prophet. Here's their Facebook page in case you want to learn more.
      3. Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS). 1954. Estimated membership: 10,000. Largest group of LDS people who practice polygamy.
        1. Centennial Park. 1984. Estimated membership: 1,500. They've been on TV quite a bit ("The Outsiders", on Oprah, Polygamy, USA). Most live in Centennial Park City, Arizona. Practice polygamy, but the woman chooses her husband.
          1. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Kingdom of God. 1990. Estimated membership: 200-300. Practice polygamy, the United Order, and believe in the Adam-God doctrine.
        2. Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine) Inc. 2000. Estimated membership: 700. Created after Warren Jeffs excommunicated their founder. Practice polygamy; most members are descendants of six men.
      4. Church of Jesus Christ in Solemn Assembly. 1974. Estimated membership: 400. Helped create the Confederate Nations of Israel, an organization patterned after the Council of Fifty. Members can be atheist or from any religious denomination or any sexual orientation. About 25% of members practice polygamy. The first openly gay mayor in Utah history belonged to this group.
      5. Church of the New Covenant in Christ. 1975. Founder was LDS and believed the Church should still practice polygamy. Said he received revelations from Jesus and John the Baptist, and that he was taken to the City of Enoch where Smith ordained him to all the priesthood keys and declared him the "One Mighty and Strong." Headquartered in Oregon. Supposedly they practice free love, drug experimentation, and heterosexual and homosexual group sex. The founder now has abandoned teaching polygamy and wants to reorient his family life away from its patriarchal structure, though he hasn't divorced any of his five wives.
        1. Sons Ahman Israel. 1981.
      6. Righteous Branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1978. Estimated membership: 100-200. Founder claims to have been visited by God and Jesus and holds all the priesthood keys. Church was formed two months before the ban on the priesthood was lifted; founder claimed he foresaw this "apostasy" through revelation. Organized basically the same as the LDS Church. Teaches polygamy, the United Order, the Adam-God doctrine, and the Curse of Cain doctrine. Thankfully they don't allow women under 18 to be sealed into plural marriages. Yay for no child marriages!
  27. Third Convention. 1936. Formed by Mexican LDS members who broke away after dispute over local governance and autonomy of the church in Mexico (the LDS church wouldn't give them a Mexican mission president). Most members eventually came back to the DLS Church.  
  28. House of Aaron. 1943. Estimated membership: <1,000. This denomination does not want to be known as part of the LDS movement, but their founder was baptized into and excommunicated from the LDS Church. 
    1. Zion's Order, Inc. 1950. Estimated membership: 100. Use LDS scriptures besides D&C 132, in addition to 650 revelations to their founder. Teaches the LDS Church must return to practice the United Order.
  29. Independent LDS congregations in Nigeria. 1953. Joined back to common LDS church in 1978. Basically people converted but there wasn't enough church leadership, so they deviated from LDS Church doctrine. Practiced polygamy and established their own black priesthood hierarchy, both which were prohibited by the LDS church at the time.
  30. Perfected Church of Jesus Christ of Immaculate Latter-day Saints. 1955. Founder claimed to be a reincarnated Moroni and was visited by a reincarnated Joseph Smith ("Our Druid Brother"). Founder claimed he had the Urim and Thummim and the seer stone Joseph used to translate the BoM (though Joseph didn't use the former, only the latter). Taught polygamy and druidry, mainly reincarnation. The founder taught that menstrual blood was corrupt and that menstruation could be eliminated through righteousness (I'm torn between laughing at this and being concerned that a lot of cultures believe this and women really do suffer because these beliefs), that priesthood alchemy could turn common metals into gold, and that the "One Mighty and Strong" was a "young white Indian". The founder's partner gave birth to twins, and the founder declared it was an immaculate conception (This guy thinks periods can be stopped by righteousness, I'm honestly not surprised he doesn't know how pregnancy works).
  31. Independent LDS congregations in Ghana. 1964. Joined back to common LDS church in 1978. Founder found a BoM and started his own congregations. Once blacks got the priesthood in 1978 the founder and most of the group were baptized into the LDS Church.
    1. Apostolic Divine Church of Ghana. 1976. Extant. The part of the above church that did not join the LDS Church.
  32. United Order Family Of Christ. 1966. Lasted until 1974. Founded in Colorado specifically for young gay men only, ages 18-30. Practiced the United Order. Was the third gay Christian church founded in America.
  33. School of the Prophets. 1982. Founder published the Book of Onias that condemned LDS Church leaders. He got excommunicated and started his own church. You can read their Second Book of Commandments here. According to the website, this isn't another church, but rather an organization to chastise LDS members into repenting and following the law of consecration, the United Order, etc. Oh wow they even have a Facebook page with a picture of Jesus whipping current day apostles. Almost all of their posts include #LDS #Mormon #Repent. They must not have heard President Nelson's recent GC talk about our name. Oh guys this is just too good.
  34. Church of Jesus Christ (Bullaite). 1983. Founder taught he was the "One Mighty and Strong". Requires his followers pray in his name.
  35. Restoration Church of Jesus Christ. 1985. Dissolved in 2010. Majority of members were LGBT. Called the "Gay Mormon Church" or the "Liberal Mormon Church." Founder was a former LDS bishop excommunicated for being homosexual. Used all LDS scripture plus The Hidden Treasures and Promises, which was revelation given to their church leaders. Was the first LDS denomination to ordain women to the priesthood. Held Heavenly Mother as an equal member of the Godhead. The Word of Wisdom was good advice but not a requirement. Practiced home teaching, endowments, celestial marriage, and LGBTQ marriages, including some homosexual polygamous marriages. Had about 500 people.
  36. True and Living Church of Jesus Christ of Saints of the Last Days. 1994. Estimated membership: 300-500. It was a "new restoration" for the "very last days" before the 2nd Coming. Was upset at LDS Church for scattering members instead of gathering them, discontinuing polygamy, and the temple changes. Taught polygamy; law of consecration; limited reincarnation; gathering of the Saints; that the founder was Joseph Smith reincarnated; that Armageddon would happen in 2004; later that Christ would appear in March 2000; does the original temple endowment; sugar, honey, and meats are forbidden. Did you just ask for a Facebook page? Go check out their cover picture - it's super Masonic! 
  37. Pentecostal Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1994. Extant.
  38. The Church of the Firstborn and the General Assembly of Heaven. 2001. Practices polygamy and the law of consecration. The founder claims to be the Holy Ghost and the Father of Jesus.
  39. Church of Jesus Christ in Zion. 2004. Estimated membership: 1,000. Founder is a former LDS member.
  40. Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ. 2007. Headquarted in England. Added the Book of Jeraneck to scriptural canon.
  41. Fellowships of the Remnant (Snuffer). 2013. Estimated membership: 5,000. LDS Church deemed it a large enough problem to have then-Elder Oaks address members in Boise, Idaho in the "Boise Rescue". Snuffer (founder) claimed the LDS Church lost the priesthood authority. Said Brigham Young was in apostasy (Adam-God Doctrine). Most followers think Smith didn't practice polygamy (yeah sorry guys he did). Believes Mary, the mother of Jesus, is Heavenly Father's wife and our Heavenly Mother.

So all in all we got about 88 offshoots. Holy heavens above.

-guppy of doom