Mormons reject the idea of believers getting their own planet in after-life
Associated Press in Salt Lake City, Utah
The Mormon Church is pushing back against the idea that members of the faith are taught they will get their own planet in the after-life, a misconception popularised in pop culture, most recently by the Broadway show The Book of Mormon.
In an article, the church affirms the belief that humans can become like God, but says the "cartoonish image of people receiving their own planets" is not The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints envisions it.
"While few would identify with caricatures of having their own planet, most would agree that the awe inspired by creation hints at our creative potential in the eternities," the article says.
The expectation of exaltation is more figurative and ambiguous than boiling it down to living on one planet, it says.
"Church members imagine exaltation less through images of what they will get and more through the relationships they have now and how those relationships might be purified and elevated," the article says.
The 3,500-word article is part of a series of online pieces posted on the church website that explain, expand or clarify some of the more sensitive gospel topics.
Past articles have addressed the faith's past ban on black men in the lay clergy and the early history of polygamy.
The new article, entitled "Becoming Like God," does not mention Kolob, referred to in the Book of Abraham as a planet or star closest to the throne of God.
Kolob was mentioned in a Mormon hymn, but interpretations that it was where God lived, or the place where church members would go when they died, read a great deal into an obscure verse in Mormon scripture, said Matthew Bowman, assistant professor of religion at Hampden-Sydney College.
"I'm not surprised it's not mentioned," Bowman said. "Even most Mormons aren't sure what to make of the reference."