Mormonism may have once arguably fallen within the category of a “cult.” It certainly began as a personality-driven group defined by a totalitarian charismatic leader, Joseph Smith.

Smith eventually exercised absolute control over his followers in Illinois, where they lived within a largely self-contained community called Nauvoo.

He was head of the church, its “prophet,” “revelator,” “seer,” the mayor of Nauvoo and a militia general. The people of Illinois came to fear Smith’s power, which ultimately led to his arrest and death.

Then came Brigham Young. Unlike Smith’s son and designated heir Young had a new vision for the Mormons, which included a “Promised Land.” That land is now known as Utah.

In the beginning Utah was a theocracy ruled over by Young. But through a series of pragmatic “revelations” and succeeding church presidents, the religious state would become one of the United States of America. First, it was necessary to give up polygamy and many years later another “revelation” would provide the premise for previously excluded Blacks to enter the Mormon “priesthood.”

The totalitarian governance of The Mormon Church changed too. Power devolved from one-man rule to a more moderate structure of council and quorums.

But will Mormonism ever completely cast off what can be seen as its “cultic” baggage?

Racism and elitism still permeate the modern Mormon religion through its writings and teachings about the so-called “Laminites,” a mythical people apparently invented by Joseph Smith, but accepted by Mormons as historical fact.

Thomas Murphy a Mormon anthropologist recently attempted to address this issue by proving Smith’s historical claims were scientifically false. However, the response to his research results was the threat of possible expulsion through excommunication. Other Mormon scholars and intellectuals have experienced similar resistance.

William Bagely, a Mormon descendent and historian specifically studied probably the darkest day of Mormon intolerance. This was September 11, 1857, known as the Massacre of Mountain Meadows. On that day a group of Mormon men dressed as Indians murdered 120 settlers as they crossed Utah.

This event seems to reflect the deep fear early Mormons had of their ethnocentric society being somehow defiled or violated by “unbelievers.”

Bagley points out that Brigham Young himself knew about the coming attack and supposedly said, “Brethren, do your duty.” But Mormon apologists deny this, reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.

In recent months another controversy has erupted in Utah. This revolves around the rather heavy handed way the Mormon Church has exercised its power in Salt Lake City to suppress free expression around its historic Temple Square.

What then is the future of Mormonism in the 21sr Century?

Will The Mormon Church continue to evolve until it is another denomination within the mainstream of American religious life? Or has it reached some limit, which it cannot move beyond?

Many insist that the demythologizing of the Mormon Scriptures and the opening up of Utah as a truly pluralistic society is inevitable.


2 comments untill now

  1. […] why their tactics so closely resemble Scientology. Its based on the tradition and testimony of one man, and his far-fetched claims are disproven by every kind of objective manner you care to use. […]

  2. […] is a repressive, oppressive cult, period: Racism and elitism still permeate the modern Mormon religion through its writings and […]