Europeans are becoming curious about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) - otherwise known as the Mormon Church - due to Mitt Romney's high-profile campaign to win the GOP nomination for president. THe LDS is seen is as the American religion, but, in fact, it is growing faster outside the US thanks to the work of the young Mormon missionaries. Romney himself was a missionary in Paris in the late 1960s and futilely tried to convince the French to give up their wine and tobacco. I grew up in Chicago and never once encountered a Mormon until I moved to Germany and encountered two young American missionaries on the streets of Freiburg. Later I had a classmate from northern Norway - where people go crazy for lack of sunlight - who was a devout Mormon.
There are about 35,000 members of the LDS church in Germany, including the Bergmann family in Bremen:
Kerstin und Ingo Bergmann sind seit zwölf Jahren verheiratet. Beide sind in mormonischen Familien aufgewachsen. Nach Bremen sind sie wegen seines Berufs gezogen. Kerstin Bergmann hat damals ihren Job als Arzthelferin aufgegeben, um sich um die Kinder zu kümmern.
(Kerstin and Ingo Bergmann have been married for 12 years. Both grew up in Mormon families. They moved to Bremen because of his job. Kerstin gave up her job as a medical assistant to take care of the children)
And they have plenty of company in Bremen:
In Deutschland ist die Kirche schon lange vertreten. Die Bremer Gemeinde existiert seit 1882. Heute hat sie rund 400 Mitglieder, von denen etwa 150 regelmäßig den Gottesdienst besuchen. Die meisten Menschen hierzulande wissen allerdings wenig über diese Religionsgemeinschaft, die sich selbst als christliche Kirche versteht, von der katholischen und evangelischen Kirche aber nicht als solche akzeptiert wird.
(The LDS church has been in Germany for a long time. The Bremen community has been around since 1882. Today it has 400 members, of which 150 regularly attend services. But most people here know little about about this religious community, which considers itself a Christian church, but which is not accepted as such by Catholic and protestant churches.)
In fact, the LDS church has a polytheistic doctrine that has little in common with Christian theology (for details, see Ist der Mormonismus christlich?). There is nothing in this article about the strange, secret rituals hidden from outsiders, the magic underwear, or the bizarre practice of posthumously "baptizing" Jewish Holocaust victims into the LDS church. Among those "converted" are the parents of Simon Wiesenthal, the parents of Nobel Prize-winner Elie Wiesel, and Anne Frank (nine times).
Unlike fundamentalist Christians, Mormons embrace science and - Romney is a good example - very successful in business (see Romney folgt der 'Kirche der Manager"). And the Mormons are one of the few polyglot groups in the US, thanks to their missionary work abroad.
For anyone interested in the violent origins of the LDS church I highly recommend Jon Krackauer's 2003 book Under the Banner of Heaven (German version: Mord im Auftrag Gottes).