Weatherford Democrat

Viewpoints

August 31, 2012

COLUMN: Columnist continues research on LDS church

— My last guest column dealt with the sources of the Book of Mormon. The following is a short partial description of the teachings of the 19th century Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints (LDS).

Most people are aware of the early LDS institution of polygamy. And most people probably believe the LDS practice stems from the Old Testament. But Joseph Smith and other Mormon leaders did not teach polygamy as an option. These early prophets taught that polygamy was absolutely required for salvation. And that the institution will be continued in heaven as a reward for a righteous life. It should be noted that Joseph Smith did not reveal his divine inspiration concerning plural marriage until he was criticized by his followers for having sexual relations with his followers’ wives and daughters. It should be noted that the main line Mormon Church has renounced polygamy, but it is still practiced by about 100,000 breakaway fundamentalists, living mostly in the U.S, Canada, and Mexico. The Texas group has been in the news lately when the state of Texas temporarily removed children from their colony near San Angelo. Their leader Warren Jeffs was convicted of child molestation and is in prison.

However, I believe polygamy is not the most damaging Mormon teaching. The stated goal of the LDS is to replace all levels of world and American government with an LDS theocracy. Mormon teaching from its beginnings is that their interpretation of God’s law is superior to any law made by men. And a sin committed against a non-believer is not sin. This doctrine is the justification for Mormon fraud, counterfeiting and even murder. Similar to radical religions, the LDS believed that any crime can be justified to gain converts or to defend their faith. This doctrine resulted in the attempt by Brigham Young to form an independent country in Utah and the Mountain Meadow Massacre of 150 “gentiles” in 1857. Only the dispatch of federal troops restored order and the supremacy of Constitutional law.

This LDS belief that only they know God’s will and are the only ones to be saved is the principle reason many people believe the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is a cult and not a Christian denomination. The Book of Mormon is not just a different interpretation of the teaching of Jesus, it is a completely new gospel describing acts and teaching of Jesus found no place else in the Bible.

Judging from my reading of the New Testament I cannot imagine Jesus teaching that his followers should use fraud, thief, violence and murder to spread his teachings. To me it is the exact of opposite of what Jesus taught.  

LDS has a history of racism which was not part of its founder’s (Joseph Smith) teachings. Smith actually made a black man an officer of the early church. But his heir, Brigham Young, practiced white supremacy and racial hatred which was not repudiated until the late 20th century. Young taught that all non-whites were not really human. He taught that black, brown, red or yellow people were children of Satan and could never be accepted into the LDS. It should be noted that racism, sexism and xenophobia was widely practiced in this country at that time and is still present in most of the world. And the modern Mormon Church says it has abandoned these beliefs.

However, the church is still ruled by old white men. Women and racial minorities still do not occupy any position of authority, but again that can be said of many religions and sects.

Some of the LDS’s most radical teachings may have been pushed to extremes by the treatment they endured at the hands of other people. There can be no doubt Mormons were beaten, chased out of town and even murdered for their beliefs. People who are persecuted often turn inward and become like those who persecute them.  

As I stated in my preceding column, if Mormonism is to be judged by the accuracy of the writings of its founder and leaders then the teaching must be classified as untrue. Joseph Smith went far beyond doctrine in his spiritual writings. He gave his followers a description of the outward appearance of the people who live on the moon. Right down to their height and manner of dress. He said Jesus not only came to Earth, but had also visited Mars, Venus and all the other planets. It should be noted that many people at the time believed the other planets were inhabited and much like Earth.

My conclusion is that Joseph Smith created a religion whose principle purpose was to justify and promote his immoral acts of adultery, fornification, fraud and counterfeiting. After Smith’s murder, Brigham Young used violence, intimidation and even murder in his attempt to create a Mormon refuge in Utah. If the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints is a force for good today, it arrived at that state in spite of its history, not because of it. But that can be said of many institutions.

Again I ask that my readers do their own research. I have just touched upon a little of the historical information available, and I have left the doctrine and practices of the modern church to another interested person.

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