Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) was founded in America in the early 19th century by Joseph Smith. The Bible and Book of Mormon are essential scriptures for Latter-day Saints. The Church views the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Ghost) as three separate and distinct members of a united Godhead. Members believe in pre-existence: a spirit life before birth that a person has no memory of. They view life on earth as a period in which to become worthy to return to live in the presence of Jesus Christ and God.

Family unity is of central importance, epitomised by a 'sealing' ceremony at a Temple, when man and wife are sealed together for eternity. Children may be sealed to their parents. Family members, already dead, who were not members of the Church, may be baptised into the faith and sealed to their families. The Church encourages reverence and care for the body, and so counsels against immoral practices and the use of illegal drugs.


Attitudes to healthcare staff and illness

Most Latter-day Saints have a positive attitude towards healthcare staff and are willing to seek medical help and advice when sick.


Religious practices

The sacrament of bread and water (Latter-day Saints abstain from alcohol) equates to the Eucharist of other Christians and is performed each Sunday. Although it may be taken in hospital, it is not regarded as essential for a sick patient.

The LDS Church administers spiritual healing to the sick. At the request of a patient two members of the LDS priesthood may visit them. One would anoint them with consecrated oil and the second would place their hands on the patient's head and offer prayer. Some privacy for this would be greatly appreciated.



Church members live by a health code known as the Word of Wisdom. It warns against the use of stimulants and substances that are harmful to the body, and promotes healthy eating. LDS patients will refuse tea, coffee, alcohol and tobacco. Hot chocolate, Ovaltine and other such drinks normally available on hospital wards are perfectly acceptable.



All Latter-day Saints who are medically fit to do so fast for 24 hours on (usually) the first Sunday of each month. Normally the fast would last from after the evening meal on Saturday until a meal on Sunday late afternoon. They are encouraged to donate the money saved from missing two meals to help the poor. Some Latter-day Saints in hospital may feel well enough to continue with the monthly fast.


Washing and toilet

Washing and toilet present no unusual problems for Latter-day Saints.


Ideas of modesty and dress

Some Latter-day Saints will wear special 'endowment' undergarments (white knee length shorts). They believe these intensely private items to be sacred and will normally wear them day and night. They may be removed by staff in an emergency following an accident, but must at all times be treated with respect. Members don't usually wear them while in hospital.


Death customs

There are no special rituals associated with dying or death for any age group. After death, a deceased member should be washed and dressed in a shroud according to hospital protocol. An 'endowed' Latter-day Saint should be buried wearing special undergarments (see above) and other special clothes, and members of the Church will dress the body before burial, by arrangement with the funeral director. Generally cremation is not encouraged, although the family of the deceased must decide on either burial or cremation.


Birth customs

There are no specific Latter-day Saint customs relating to birth itself.


Family planning

Although Latter-day Saints are not encouraged to use contraception, the Church does not explicitly teach that contraception is wrong and makes no doctrinal statement about it. Latter-day Saints condemn abortion on demand but permit it where there are strong medical grounds such as risk to the life or health of the mother. The Church teaches that sterilization should only be considered where medical conditions jeopardise life or health. The husband or wife must choose what is best for their family circumstances.


Blood transfusions, transplants and organ donation

Most Latter-day Saints do not object to blood transfusions and may receive transplants or donate organs for transplantation.