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Thursday, 11 August 2011

The Mormons: A History

While the press is full at the moment of images and stories of the recent riots sweeping through London and across England, and the news is exhausted with the Euro crisis and how Obama is going to deal with the economic crisis, I would like to deal with something a little different. That is not to say that these issues are not important, because they are, but I have recently got back from a holiday on the East Coast of the United States, and was intrigued by their cultic worship of the Mormons.

On my trip, in which I was away with my best friend, Emily, we went to visit her cousin and aunt in Berthesda, Maryland, close to Washington DC. She told me horror stories about the Mormons, and all the atrocious acts being performed and encouraged by their leader, Warren Jeffs, known to them as the Prophet. On the way back from a day of activities in the capital she showed us the most enormous Mormon temple imaginable, in Kensington, Maryland.


This absolutely huge temple, which occupies 52 acres of land, and is 88 metres talls, looms above the Maryland landscape, a monstrous dedication to Christianity at its most fundamentalist and extreme. If Europe is under threat from Islamic fundamentalism, then America is under threat from Christian fundamentalism.

In the Times yesterday, it was reported how Warren Jeffs, aged 55, taught his 10,000 followers that polygamy was not only acceptable but would bring them exaltation in heaven. Having more than three wives, he argued, was the key to salvation. Jeffs took this extremes, hoarding 79 wives, 24 of whom were under age! No wonder that consequently he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, under the accusation of sexual assault.

In his trial last Thursday, truths came out of his horrific leadership, in which he was accused of raping a 12 year old girl and of fathering a child with a 15 year old. When children caught his eye, he would tell their mother that their daughters now belonged to him. Few stood up to him, but those who did were banished from their communities.

Police raided a sprawling compound in Texas and found 468 boys and girls who had been systematically sexually assaulted and physically abused. The children were returned to their parents, but several of the girls were found to be pregnant, leading to Jeffs being charged with raping them.

With the news of these atrocities, you would think that the United States government, one of the most powerful in the world would close them down, but this is not the case. You would think, that after this, people would leave the cult, but this is not the case either. People have become so indoctinated into the teachings of the church, that they are still willing to believe pretty much anything that Jeffs says.

Not all Mormons accept polygamy, in fact most are monogamous, but there is still a strong sect of fundamentalist Mormons who are polygamous and think this is acceptable. Governments can do nothing to close down the Church, or prevent its spread or further indoctrination of people because this would be seen as decriminating against a certain religion. So the Church continues.

Warren Jeffs is expected to remain the leader from a distance, even though he will be in prison for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, the Church continues to extend and protect its assets. The temple I saw in Maryland had a massive wall all around it, and was protected by CCTV and a guard tower, behind some venomous gates. The fact that they needed to do this suggests this is a Church with money, and a Church that believes it is being outed by the other, less fundamental people of Maryland.

In fact, I saw evidence of a massive recruitment drive in America. In Times Square, in New York City, amongst the adverts and flashing lights to symbolise America's wealth and capitalism, was an advert of a smiling young man and a sign that said The idea being that Mormonism would lead to happiness. Since when did a Church need to advertise alongside other members? I don't see signs saying become an Anglican Christian today, become a Catholic today, become a Muslim today.

This is because Mormonism is not a religion but a Cult, it is not a Church but a company, which can advertise just like other companies and alongside other companies in the monument to Western commercialisation. It sends the message that the Church is not out to help people, like it so claims, but is out to make money, like it has done from the work of Stephanie Meyer, a well-known Mormon author, whose Twilight saga has become a literary and film sensation worth millions and almost as widely known as Harry Potter. The fact that Meyer's books have not been read by me, and neither have the films, is more due to my disbelief that they could be at all as good as they are made out to be. Now I feel that any involvement in the films or books would be unacceptable given the scandal that is unfolding around the church.

How did such a 'Church' come about? The church was started by Joseph Smith, who prayed to a tree because he was confused about which church to join because they all had such different doctrines. Joseph then claimed that Jesus came to him in a 'pillar of light' and instructed him not to join any of the churches. He was led to a hillside, where apparently idigenous American prophets buried a book written on gold plates. Smith claimed to have written the book, which he published in 1830 as the Book of Mormon, from the ancient prophet-historian, Mormon, who compiled the book.

Smith then went about setting up a new Jerusalem (or the city of Zion as he called it), in North America. This was first established in Kirtland, Ohio, and then Jackson County, Missouri. Unsurprisingly, they faced attacks from the locals, causing new churches to be established across North America. Even today, Jeffs claims he is facing decrimination because the law does not accept his behaviour.

So the Mormon church seems to have originally been set up so that there was a church with American foundations, rather than Eurasian ones. It constricts its followers to chastity before marriage, to no alcohol, smoking, coffee, or tea. The Christian religion in its most brutal form.

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