About the Mormon Church

BENJAMIN DAVIS
Apr 03, 2009
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About the Mormon Church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a contemporary religious organisation based on the fundamentals of Christianity, though it is directed by its own scripture, the book of Mormon. The Church is relatively new as a world religion, with less than 200 years of history.

The history of the Mormon Church is rife with conflict and controversy. Since its inception, the Mormons have been prejudiced and accused.

According to the Church, the religion was “revealed” to Joseph Smith in the 1820s by the angel Mormoni, who guided him to uncover the secrets of a lost tribe of Israel and translate a distinct version of the Bible.

Smith began preaching in upstate New York,where he ran into almost immediate opposition. Yet, it was also during this period of religious upheaval across America that the Mormon Church’s charismatic leadership proved appealing, especially to women, and its numbers grew.

Amid persistent confrontation with the local authorities, the Church was on the move searching for a headquarters that would provide them with a stable base. This was never achieved during the life of Smith. He was murdered after a public protest while being held in custody by local police. No one was ever charged in connection with his death.

With Smith’s passing, a new leader emerged from the fractured ministry. Brigham Young consolidated the church leadership and saw the great expanse of the American west as the future. Young was to take the remaining struggling members of this nascent religion across thousands of miles of wilderness, guided by God to what he believed was the second holy land.

The wandering Mormons arrived in the almost vacant territory of Utah in 1848 and began to establish their empire. Hard-working and pragmatic, the pioneers built a modern industrial state based on community, strict religious belief and the assured governance of the untouchable ranks of the Church’s administration.

The California gold rush of the 1850s and the arrival of the American trans-continental railway put the budding population of the Mormon colony in an excellent position for commerce and expansion. The practical values of self-sufficiency and savings instilled in the adherents not only helped them through the harsh Utah winters but also enabled the Church to grow into one of the most influential political and financial centres of the American west.

The leadership of the Church and its sound financial and social policies have created an oasis in the desert of Utah. The Mormon machine is consistently producing highly placed members in government and financial institutions throughout the world. In the 2008 US presidential elections, Mitt Romney, a senator from Massachusetts and a Mormon representative, was one of the few viable candidates. Other leading names include Terry Rooney, a member of the British parliament; and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, senior vice-president of Lufthansa Airlines.

I have personally experienced the Mormon Church and its philosophy. I lived and worked in the Latter-day Saints capital for more than five years. Salt Lake City is the heart of the Church’s empire. The city and the state of Utah are controlled entirely by the upper echelons of the Mormon Church. Salt Lake City has just over a million people but has a visible police force the same size as that of Los Angeles, a city of 12 million. With a very low crime and vagrancy rate, the surface is shiny and polished. The population of the city and most of the state is almost entirely homogeneous, with very few deviating from the accepted norm. The few who do rebel do so almost uniformly, in a cookie-cutter type of dissension perhaps even encouraged by the hegemony. It usually does not take long for the handful of rebellious youth and outsiders who try to blight the church and its “divine guidance” to realise the futility of such an insurrection. More often than not, the mutineers return to the fold, recognising that the Mormon revolution is not about selling out their own ideals; rather, it is about buying into prevailing ones