From counterfeiting cult to political powerhouse, Mormons have come a long way in America. Problems of polygamy and polytheism have been cast aside as Christians of all colors and creeds realize that we need to form a united front in the current cultural landscape. Abortion, “homosexual” marriage, the rise of Islam, teen pregnancy, drug abuse– there are far too many critical issues that need to be addressed today. The incredible strength, wealth and reach of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) is a force that cannot be sidelined in the United States at such a vital junction.
The question that needs to be asked today is what sort of relationship should mainstream Christianity form with the Mormon movement. How can we align ourselves politically without casting our lot with those that we might ultimately condemn spiritually? How can we seek to understand the Latter Day Saints and show them compassion, while possibly turning them away from sin and welcoming them into the arms of True Faith?
In this dire economy, many Christian churches across the nation are suffering. Fewer and fewer people are tithing and those who do are earning less. Organizations representing family values are struggling to fundraise. Worst of all, we are living in an incredibly combative time in our culture, when the greatest issues of morality are being fought outside of our churches. From the national media to the Washington mall, people are organizing and spreading messages in every way possible. But this costs money.
The LDS is one of the most cash-rich religious organizations in the world. It is estimated that they own 0.7% of Florida alone. As one investigation concluded:
“The PBS special ‘The Mormons’ estimated the LDS Church is worth some $80 Billion. That estimate is probably low. It’s likely worth over $100 Billion as it is the wealthiest per capita religion in the world with annual tax-free revenues estimated to be $6 Billion per year. The LDS Church owns 928,000 acres in North America, is the largest ranch land owner in Wyoming, is the 2nd largest land owner in Nebraska (Ted Turner #1), has the largest cattle ranch in 48 states (Adjacent to Disneyworld in Florida), is the largest foreign landowner in UK. The LDS Church owns several businesses, numerous radio and television stations, its own insurance company, and is rumored to be the largest single producer of commercial beef in the USA. They own enormous properties in Hawaii including a Marriott hotel franchise in Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center (which is the most visited tourist attraction in Hawaii), as well as of course Brigham Young University and thousands of chapels and meetinghouses worldwide. They also own shopping malls, are involved in property development and own enormous quantities of stock in many corporations.” —The Mormon Thinkers Organization.
The Mormons have miraculously turned those raw numbers into brash political power. How else to explain the Olympics being located in Salt Lake in 2002? The rise of Mitt Romney as governor of both Utah and Massachusetts and later as a true presidential contender despite his irrefutable dullness proves that this religion can take the mainstream, just as Catholic John Kennedy broke a similar barrier 50 years ago. The resources that the LDS has put behind legislative and voter movements across the country to stop “gay” marriage are a further testament of the growing acceptability of Mormon money. Maggie Gallagher, a Catholic who heads the National Organization of Marriage, relied heavily on the LDS for the Proposition 8 fight in California. In more recent news, the millions who marched on Washington, D.C. in a mutli-denominational show of support for Christianity and Patriotism was stunning. Even more stunning was that this march was led by Glenn Beck, a faithful Mormon.
On the other hand, the beliefs of Mormonism are considered by almost everyone as genuinely anti-Christian. They deny the sanctity of the Holy Trinity, they believe God exists with human-like flesh and bones, and that 19th-century ex-con Joseph Smith was a true prophet. The Book of Mormon states quite clearly that when Smith asked of God which was the true Christian faith:
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” —JSH 1:19.
Other Mormon writings have expanded upon this idea and have proclaimed very specifically that they are indeed better than Christians. While they may not state this today openly, they truly believe that all religions, including all Christian religions, are either wrong or the work of Satan:
“What is it that inspires professors of Christianity generally with a hope of salvation? It is that smooth, sophisticated influence of the devil, by which he deceives the whole world” –Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 270.
“Christianity…is a perfect pack of nonsense…the devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.” –John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 6, p. 167.
“Where shall we look for the true order or authority of God? It cannot be found in any nation of Christendom.” –Journal of Discourses, 10:127.
After years of hardcore indoctrination and strict discipline, there are many who escape the LDS control with an exhausted and broken-hearted disposition. No wonder there are literally hundreds of thousands who describe themselves as “Ex-Mormons” and tap into an incredible support network to make that difficult transition back to normal human society afterward. (For those of you interested, I highly recommend this Ex-Mormon Facebook group as a great place to start, but be warned, they have been known to display symptoms of Liberalism at times.)
Understanding this, it is thoroughly important that Christians tread forward carefully and with a fully calculated game plan. Maybe money is the key. There is precedent for giving Mormonism a special status within our community in return for significant considerations. We could look at it as a sort of tithe to be welcomed into America’s Christian promise. This was done very effectively with Judaism. Once seen as the antithesis of Evangelical Christianity, Orthodox Jews have made impressive inroads in the last 50 years with the conservative movement by donating heavily to conservative candidates, supporting multi-denominational organizations, opening their nation to Christian investment and tourism and with Israel’s huge expenditures on American military products, all proving that shared resources and shared goals make a truly fruitful alliance.
A humane and spiritual idea would be if the LDS let Christians assume control of 10% of their assets each year. It would show that they are truly committed to American patriotism and the power of Christianity. It we prove that they are not a dangerous, radical element. It would reassure many Evangelicals that we have friends. Truly, in our heart of hearts, we cannot forgive their egregious sin of denying the faith of true Christianity. Yes, I realize Mormons will read this and will understand our motivations but for now this is mutually beneficial. As we associate with these sorts of people, it gives us an incredible opportunity to bring the word of God into their hearts, the TRUE word of God. Think of the potential of converting millions of Mormons into Christians! They may have made inroads in foreign countries across the globe, in fact they were merely whetting the appetites of those third worlders for the true Holy Spirit that we are impressively capable of delivering.
I am reminded of how Roman emperors (and oddly enough, the Mafia) used to control new gangs that bordered their territory. They would overwhelm them with sheer might, knock off a leader or two, and then cede some power to one of their lieutenants, demanding that this man keep his own people in check. We should welcome the Mormon people into the Christian fold without embracing the entire LDS leadership and its most heinous beliefs. Maybe we need to find a few sympathetic members of their governing council, known as the “Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” who could embrace our long-term vision of American Evangelical Christian primacy. I see this as a great start for the Mormons gaining legitimacy in this country. For a group of people who so flagrantly believe they are better than Christians, it’s simply the right thing to do. We need to be very watchful, however, because Mormons are a crafty and industrious people, quick with their little books and flimsy magazines as they are with their wallets. Left to their own devices, they would most likely start marrying each and every one of their 12-year-old nieces again and printing out fake currency to pawn off on unsuspecting tourists and Native Americans. But that was the past, these people have to grow out of these juvenile antics. They have to understand it’s vital for their future and ultimately for their survival to embrace the mainstream. They need to abandon some of their worst practices, bury the Warren Jeffs out there, and then prove financially that they’re with us. Over time, this would also give the Christian Evangelical community the unique opportunity to start assuming control of Mormon leadership positions and their assets, until they are entirely dependent on the conservatives in this country (and not vice-versa!).
** I would like to heartily thank the ExMormon Research Institute for their support and assistance in the preparation of this article. I appreciate your help my friends!**