So, where did this water misconception come from? One possible explanation is from the early history of the church, which had Smith and several elders journeying down a river in canoes. They hit numerous dangers, and one elder is said to have seen Satan in the waters.
Shortly after, Smith received another vision from God, stating that the water was cursed by “My servant John.” At first, it was taken to mean the Missouri river they were traveling on but was then extended to all large bodies of water.
Not for Public Discussion
Referring to it as a "secret handshake" is considered disrespectful. That being said, the details of the handshakes and the meanings behind them are a closely guarded secret. Not only because they are, in essence, a reward for faithfulness, but because they are the culmination of learning and study that a Mormon undergoes. To prove faithfulness and knowledge.
They actually aren't called handshakes – they're known as signs, seals, or tokens. Mormons do shake hands a lot, it seems. A convert once remarked that Mormons are the most "handshaky" group he'd ever met in his life. A good Mormon handshake can mean a large number of things, from “Hello” to “I understand.”
No Beach Days
One major misconception about Mormons is that they avoid water-related activities, acting under the belief that if they are near or in the water, they are away from God's protection. In reality, just like everyone else, they just practice caution — as one should — around bodies of water.
The water issue is actually more of a myth — drinking water, bathing, and washing dishes are perfectly safe, so why larger bodies? There are also moments in the "Book of Mormon" that have adherents to the faith being baptized in lakes or other bodies of water.
When Jesus Visited America
There is another belief of the Mormons that is at heavy odds with other sects of Christianity. It's that, after his death and resurrection, Jesus traveled to America. In fact, it's one of the most central beliefs since they believe America to be the promised land.
While Jesus was in residence, he performed numerous miracles before returning to Jerusalem to ascend. The LDS Church believes that the United States is the Biblical Promised land, that the Constitution of the United States is divinely inspired, and that the millennial New Jerusalem is to be built in America.
When Jesus Returns to America
Just as he visited at the beginning of the A.D. era, it is believed that Jesus will one day return, not just to Earth in general but to America specifically. Mormons believe that Jesus will return, journey to the Mormon Temple in Jackson County, Missouri, and reign over his Kingdom on Earth from there.
The Missouri location is where Smith, the original elders, and the first adherents to the faith first settled after leaving New York. It was where Smith had hoped to create a New Jerusalem or City of Zion, but they were expelled from the area due to conflicts with the locals.