|The Angel Moroni**|
(That's about 3 or 4 hours less than my husband routinely spend at the church every Sunday.)
The reason we do this is to worship God, which for us takes several forms: Taking the bread and water, emblems of Christ's atonement, and being fed spiritually by lay speakers in the sacrament meeting; discussing the scriptures in Sunday school (also being fed spiritually); and teaching young women and men (ages 12 through 18) in the Young Men and Young Women organizations (also being fed, and feeding others, spiritually).
(In my husband's case, those extra hours are spent interviewing people who are going to be accepting callings as teachers and leaders in our ward and who are preparing to go to the temple, counting the donations received each Sunday, and giving priesthood blessings to people who ask for them.)
Ah! That reminds me: Donations! All our donations, 10-percent tithing plus fast offerings (giving the amount we would pay for two meals which we forgo on Fast Sunday each month), go directly to help people in need. Our bishop, our stake president, all our leaders---nobody gets any of this money, not even any "overhead" or anything whatsoever.
And why do we do this? Because we believe in God: We believe that He created this Earth, and us, so that we can learn by our own experience to become like Him. We believe we accepted with joy the challenge of coming to this Earth, and we believe that God put in place an eternal plan of happiness for us, knowing we would not "pass" every "test"** we would face, which would include letting his own Son, Jesus Christ, come to Earth to atone for our sins and lead us to eternal life.
We believe He did all this because He loves us. We believe this because this is what we read in the scriptures, the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants.
We believe these scriptures because as we read them we pray about them to know if they are true, and the answer is that they are.
And because the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith's account of how he received the golden plates from which it was translated is true. And the church he founded is true. Its purpose is to help us in the great work of bringing ourselves, our families, and our friends to Christ.
This is what I want my own children, and all children and all people everywhere, to know about true religion: It's about God's love for us. That's it. It's unfortunately also true that some people teach false principles and treat others badly in the name of religion. But some people do the same in the name of science, in social and educational movements, in politics, and, in general, in the pursuit of power. True religion is about humble love and service. That's it.
I'll be writing soon about how we got into this mess where religion and science are supposedly in conflict with each other. True religion and true science are NEVER in conflict.
*I love the statues of the Angel Moroni on the temples. I love knowing that God has sent heavenly messengers, angels, throughout history, to bring us truth, comfort us, and warn us.
**This explains why we have pain and sorrow in this life: We chose to come here, knowing it wouldn't be easy. We suffer because of illness, our own mistakes, and the actions of others. Our suffering is never God's "fault," never because of a lack of love or caring from Him. And we find relief from this suffering through our faith in Christ.