The Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormonism, is beginning to get more and more attention in our country for several reasons. For one, the Mormon cult has stepped up its television ad campaign by running a series of commercials entitled “Truth Restored.” Secondly, a Mormon (Mitt Romney) is running for the Presidency and has a pretty good shot at winning the Republican nomination. Third, one of the highest ranking members of the Senate, and a colossal pain in the neck to the good of America (Nevada’s Harry Reid) is a Mormon. PBS recently ran a lengthy documentary on Mormonism, which can be viewed in its entirety online. But what exactly is Mormonism? Is it simply a misunderstood denomination of Christianity? Or is it a bizarre cult that has its own “Bible” its own “prophet” and its own “Jesus?” Clearly, the second option is much closer to the truth.
For starters, beware of any religion that claims to be THE ONE, when that religion is only 180 years old. Mormonism began in the 1800’s. Jesus Christ lived in the 1st Century. Do the math. Obviously, this should pose a problem, but not for Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism. Smith’s story is intriguing to say the least. He and his family were well known to the people of New York State as somewhat delusional. Smith dabbled quite a bit in the occult and was famous all around Palmyra, New York for his ability to locate secret treasures by using what was called a “Sorcerer’s Stone.” Being raised by a Christian mother and an Agnostic father, Smith sought to know which religion was the “true” one. He claims to have had a vision from God telling him that none of the religions were true and that he was to start the one, true church. (As a side note, this is essentially how every cult gets started. Everyone is wrong, so an isolated wing nut decides he’s God’s gift to humanity and starts his own religion.) Smith proceeds to write the Book of Mormon, which he claims was given to him on golden plates, written in Egyptian hieroglyphics. After he wrote them down, an angel came and took the plates back, so now no one can ever see them again…..NOR question Joseph Smith. It’s kind of a clever way to start your own cult isn’t it? You can claim anything you want, claim it's “from God”, and then claim that no one has the right to question you. This is essentially what Smith did.
Smith, who was a decidedly charismatic leader, gained quite a following by proclaiming his “restoration” of Christianity. But Biblical Christians, and even normal non-religious Americans, had problems with Smith. Therefore, the Mormons were forced to become somewhat of a “drifting” cult. They were forced out of Ohio, eventually settling in Independence, Missouri, which Smith claimed was the location of the Garden of Eden, and the spot where Jesus would soon return (Missouri?...Come on Joseph, who in their right mind would believe Missouri?...Kansas maybe. But Missouri?) At any rate, this fantasy never happened. But what did happen, was Smith riled the people of Missouri enough to get run out of there as well. The Mormons settled in Nauvoo, Illinois, where Smith began the work of building his own personal religious and governmental empire.
Smith’s fanaticism led him into more trouble in Illinois. Eventually, he landed in jail and was murdered by a mob, who apparently failed to recognize what an inspired “prophet” he was. Brigham Young, Smith’s protégé, took his place and led the Mormon people to the great Salt Valley of Utah, where they were firmly established, and remain so to this day. Now for a little bit more about the “Prophet” Joseph Smith.
Smith was not only delusional, he was amorous. Apparently he had a bit of a “weakness for the ladies,” and so in the early 1830’s he had an affair with his 19 year old housekeeper. Now ask yourself this question: What happens when an inspired “prophet” of God commits adultery? Answer (if you’re Joseph Smith): Declare it a “righteous act” and tell everyone in your church that they should start doing the same thing. This is exactly what Smith did. He claimed to have a “revelation from God” commanding Mormons to practice polygamy. To be honest, this was also what finally got him and the Mormons branded as “wacko” to the extreme. Most Americans were willing to put up with his psychotic ramblings, but polygamy clearly crossed the line of decency for most people…even those in Smith’s own cult. But Smith was not to be deterred. He declared that polygamy was not only acceptable, it was mandatory. He began to add to his harem, taking wives, not only from among the single population…but also wives who were already married to other men in his cult. So what did the original “Mrs. Smith” think of her husband’s “revelation?” She despised it…and she never forgave Joseph for his “sanctified adultery.” To his credit, Brigham Young initially resisted this practice. He pleaded with Smith not to make him do it. Young promised he would do anything Smith asked…but please don’t force me to marry another. But Smith persisted. Finally, Brigham Young gave in….and took another wife….and another wife…and another wife. 40 years, 52 wives, and 57 children later Brigham Young went to his grave proclaiming the righteousness of “celestial marriage” (aka—polygamy).
Many times, modern day Mormons, as well as uneducated Christians, bristle when the term “cult” is used to describe Mormonism. But I think when one delves into the history of this bizarre group of people; it is obvious that “cult” is the most applicable word available. Cults are marked by “Cult leaders.” Smooth, charismatic, delusional leaders who lead people astray…and YET demand absolute loyalty from their subjects. This was clearly the case of Joseph Smith. In addition to this, cults (and their leaders) have a tendency to go to the sinful extreme on many issues. For Smith it was marriage….or to be more accurate, it was sex. Smith’s depraved and perverted mind wouldn’t allow him to admit his sin…therefore he “sanctified” his adultery, and forced others to indulge as well. In this respect, Joseph Smith shares a common trait with one of the most well-known cult leaders in history. Many will remember Jim Jones, the Disciples of Christ minister who led a church called “The People’s Temple” in San Francisco during the 1960’s and 70’s. Jones, started out a little “off kilter”, but soon he showed himself to be a major wacko. Like Smith, he demanded absolute loyalty…and like Smith he had numerous affairs with women in his congregation. Furthermore, like Smith, he sought to create his own kingdom, where he alone could reign supreme as King. AND, like Smith, he used the name of Jesus Christ to accomplish his cravings for power. Somehow, Jones convinced 1000 of his people to move to the African country of Guyana, where they bought some land, set up a community, and lived……and died….tragically. Jones convinced 909 of his followers to drink Kool-aid laced with cyanide in a “mass protest” of the American government. Jim Jones was a lunatic par excellence, but Joseph Smith shared many of Jones’ bizarre traits.
In the 1890’s, the United States government refused to grant statehood to Utah unless the practice of polygamy was outlawed. Conveniently, the Mormon’s 1890’s “prophet” Wilford Woodruff had a “revelation” from God that polygamy should be abandoned….and thus statehood was granted. But alas, the damage was done.
Mormons view Joseph Smith as a prophet of God, who was not to be questioned. Thus it creates a massive “fly in the ointment” for modern day Mormons to have to explain Smith’s “revelation” concerning polygamy. Was Smith wrong? If so, then perhaps he would need to be publicly stoned. He seemed to like the Old Testament practice of polygamy, how about the Old Testament practice of stoning false prophets? But this is just one aspect of the aberrant cult that is Mormonism. Time doesn’t permit me to delve into their odd views of God (they claim he was once a man), or God’s Son Jesus Christ (they claim he was the result of a sexual encounter between God and Mary----clearly Smith had an obsession with sex) or their views on salvation (they believe its attained by works and loyalty to the church). Suffice it to say, Mormonism is no more Christianity than “chalk is cheese” to steal a phrase from Spurgeon. Mormonism is a cult…and Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, were cult leaders. Pure and simple.
With that said, I’ll close with a “political thought” relating to Mormonism. The question may arise, should we vote for a Mormon for president? My answer would be: It depends on who that Mormon is. Mitt Romney is a Mormon. He’s pro-life, he’s pro-America, he’s a brilliant man and a strong leader. In a political sense, he’s a great ally…in an eternal sense; he’s destined for Hell, unless things change. But so are the majority of the candidates for President. Does anyone with access to a Bible think Hillary Clinton is born again? John McCain? Barrack Obama? Rudy Giuliani? If they are, then their lives and their policies sure don’t bear the fruit of it. If the general election comes down to a radically pro-abortion Hillary Clinton, versus a pro-life cultist…I’ll vote for the cultist in a heartbeat. In fact, if I felt the cultist was the best man for the job, I’d vote for him in the general election too…if I was a Republican, which I’m not (I’m an Independent…most Republicans are too liberal for me, so just imagine what most Democrats are too me). The point is, I wouldn’t disqualify a qualified candidate based on his acceptance of a false religion. Will I support Romney? That remains to be seen. His leadership is impressive. But his “church” is a cult….and its founder Joseph Smith was a cult leader of mammoth proportions.