Do you think Mormonism (LDS) is basically a North American religion?

Certainly it is North American based. It was supposed to have been historically based on tribes her in North American, though now they say those tribes must have been in Cetral or Sounth America.

Whatever the roots, do you feel that Mormonism is basically North American culturally?

This ex-Mormon says so:
"As it has evolved, the Mormon religion is a fully North American invention, and the way it is structured fits the fast-paced type of lifestyle that is fairly typical for most US citizens. Life in Ecuador, and Latin America in general, does not run at that same kind of pace, and does not lend itself well to the sort of frenzied activity that is required by membership in the church. As a result, we as missionaries found ourselves constantly in the position of having to gently (and sometimes not so gently) prod our local converts to action."

Yes, but not because of the role of the pre-Columbians. I lump it together with the four great American non-Christian religions: Jehovah’s Witness, Seventh-Day Adventist, Christian Scientist, and Mormon, all 19th century. Each is an interesting fulfillment of the American dream in its own way. Makes for an interesting American History lecture.

This talk certainly portrays it that way.

No…I think is a dangerous, non-Christian cult that was started by an American con man in the 1800s

Maybe its both/and!

They certainly are religious. And they have all the marks of “organized religion”. When I was Evangelical, I saw that as proof that they, along with Catholics, were “religious”, and of course I saw religion as antithetical to true faith in Christ.

Their original leader, Joseph Smith, was certainly everything like a cult leader, with a charisma that could talk anybody into anything.

Thats why I say both/and.

From a purely theological standpoint, you are probably more right - its probably more a cult. Perhaps scholars with a less theological bent would say instead that its a religion?

However you also can look it it on the grassroots level and say that these are people seeking God, and they are looking for Christ, and this is where they found him. That they have been persuaded that it is anathema to look for Him in any other relgion may be no fault of their own. God is merciful.

Mormonism IS a North American based religion…has to be, since the first members of it were North American. As well, we sent missionaries out all over the world, and for the first twenty or thirty years, those converts in other lands were actively encouraged to immigrate to America.

However, the persecution they experienced here was a bit on the extreme side. The upshot of that was this: Mormons came together and formed very much their own culture, outside the “North American” one that grew up around them. Remember, we were quite literally driven right out of the nation, and have the dubious honor of being the only religious group in US history to have had half the US armed services sent against us. This sort of thing tends to cement cultures. Even so, we share in the North American culture and mindset in many, many ways. The doctrine does not…but the culture certainly does.

However, there are now more Mormons outside the US borders than in, and more Mormons outside Utah than in.

As to whether we are a ‘cult…’ When Joseph Smith was the leader, it’s true; if having a charismatic leader makes a group a cult, then we definately were. However, if that’s true, so was early Christianity.

By the way, I prefer this definition of the word ‘cult,’ which seems to cover all the bases:

“I belong to the true church. You belong to a denomination and are right about many things. The guy down the street belongs to a cult.” …and it holds true no matter who is talking.

Here is one of the best examinations of the word ‘cult’ I’ve seen yet.

Thanks for the history.

Not really. I think the extreme reaction in Nauvoo was justified.

Joseph Smiths frenzied run of polygamy in Nauvoo - which was thirty wives in three years there in Nauvoo — and ten of the wives were already married to someone else, and married Smith as well, either with their husband’s permission or secret from their husband, while their husband was sent off on out-of-state missions :(. Most were not living with Smith - he got them their own little back rooms or they lived with their husbands, or they were hired hands in his house, and they had their conjugal relations at secret meeting places, as the cooperating Mormon leaders later reported (or, in the case of one: Emma, first wife, reported she caught her husband with the hired girl in the very act in their barn), and some of the girls were as young as 14!! Yes, I can see why the town would be EXTREMELY persecuting!!!

(As you are aware, Dianiad, all this information is from *approved Mormon sources *and is not controversial, but just facts.)

Then when the outraged townspeople printed it up in the press, Smith, as governor, ordered the presses burned! Now the not only moral law, but civil law was violated. And the people were extremely mad!

Okay. Yes, no, religion wants to identify with today’s culture but you could certainly say your Mormon culture recalls a better time in Amercian culture than today’s.

Yes, but the concentration is here in the US. It would be interesting to see the stats you mention, as well as what concentrations are in what countries… the breakdown.

Ug! This is SO OFFENSIVE! It seems like you are comparing Smith to Jesus, so I want to be sick. Please tell me that was not your intention.

I would be very interested if you’d explain that further. Sounds like interesting thoughts.

One of the things I’ve noriced as I have studied Mormon history is that there was much religious confusion in America at the time Smith came up with his religion. It was the perfect time for a charismatic guy to say, “Look at me! I have the real answer!”

I wouldn’t even say Mormonism is significant enough to be called a North American culturally, there’s probably the same amount of Mormons as there are Jews. I mean you’ll run into 10 Mormons in your life. Personally I don’t see everyone’s fascination with them on here.

You’re kidding, right? Please tell me that you are kidding.

(taking a very deep breath. Please, everybody who knows me…please admire my restraint here, because it’s immense.)

Are you really telling me that the destruction of that printing press justified mob murder?
Are you really telling me that having a group of people who are NOT YOU being polygamous justifies raping, killing, and stealing property?


OK, then I’m sure you will understand if I claimed that the wholesale confiscation of Catholic property, the monasteries and convents in England that were taken by Henry VIII was perfectly justified–or that the specific proscriptions against Catholics in many of the early American colonies was also justified.

I have no idea what the point is you are attempting to make here.

My intention was to say that if a ‘cult’ to you means a small religious group with a single charismatic leader, then early Christianity fits. You must admit that Jesus was a very charismatic leader. After He died and was resurrected, that leadership seems to have devolved upon Paul (even more than Peter…certainly we have more of Paul’s writings, and he was certainly actively involved in leading the young church at the time)

The point I was making was NOT to compare Joseph Smith to Jesus. Mormons don’t do that…only the antis do. The point was to show you how useless the word ‘cult’ is to define anything.

Except for when it is used as very official Catholic terminology (such as when the Pope uses terms like “cult of Mary,” meaning ‘reverence for Mary’) It really has no meaning as a word, except as an insult that means “I don’t like you.”

I am beginning to think that you see your LDS friend through a very biased, and cloudy, lens.

I don’t have my lecture notes with me, but in a nutshell the story of Joseph Smith being chosen from among apostates to be the rediscoverer of long-lost truths about God and Man, and their trek across the continent through many toils and snares, to establish a new society held together by a new covenant on new principles in a new land cleansed of its old inhabitants, parallels not only the stories of Noah, Abraham, and Moses, but also the spawning of the United States itself from Europe.

The same restorationist themes figure prominently in Mary Baker Eddy’s rediscovery of Jesus’ healing powers, Charles Taze Russell’s restoration of primitive Christianity, and Ellen Gould White’s model of a faithful remnant struggling in the midst of a Great Controversy. All these novelties mirror the ambiguous self-image of America in the throes of a coming-of-age shift that brought it from the status of Europe’s little brother to the status of equal partner during the tumultuous century between the identity-defining events of the War of 1812 and the Great War that included the watershed Civil War and the inevitable westward expansion.

Anyway, it’s another lecture I’ll eventually expand into a book. Someday.

Read the Fawn Brodie book on Smith. It does a good job explaining all that was going on back then. It’s really a fascinating and fun time. I think along with Smith perhaps being a charismatic guy, there were also people who were desperately looking for answers because they had no jobs, in debt, no future, other bad things. They were running away from a bad present and dark future.

As for the prosecutions - the Brodie book quotes an eastern newspaper from the 1930’s or so saying, and I’m paraphrasing - No matter who’s to blame for the violence one thing is for sure, any attacks on the Mormons will make them martyrs in history, justified or not.

It is an interesting, if not unique, perspective. I’d like to see that book when you get around to writing it.

It was founded by a North American, in North America, with no historical links to any other culture.

Mormonism can only be culturally of North American (and by that I mean Anglo American as it has no real link to Native Americans.) origin.

You are right, “justified” is a completely wrong and inappropriate word. Using that word was a mistake on my part.

Even if someone rapes or murders your daughter (or say, for example, your unborn grandchild), you are even then not ever justified to murder or to rape. But your extreme anger would be justified.

So subsittue “understandable”.

If the young girls in town are falling in love with this charismatic, powerful, persuasive and charming prophet at alarming rates, and are quickly willing to throw away marriage and family for “celestial” childless marriage (what marraige to Smith was turning out to be - somehow, mysteriously childless, despite the marital act - unless you were Emma, that is).

And then Smith orders the burning of the printing press to avoid exposure. The people would be* understandably* driven to great anger. But we agree 100%: even an understandably angry mob is never justifed in murder, or anything else illegal or immoral. .

And those inciudents are such a tiny piece, a mere whiff of the persecutions the Church founded by Jesus Christ has suffered these 2000 years. And She still stands, and will, till the end of time.

I can understand how sidetracking it would be, when I wrongly used the word “justified”.

What I responded to is this: you said, "However, the persecution they [Mormons] experienced here [in America] was a bit on the extreme side. "
And my point is that the the persecution, the most extreme of which was at Nauvoo, was certainly understandably motivated. Not justified though. No matter how angry you are, and how understandable the anger is, you must not sin.

Okay, I’m glad you weren’t making that comparison. As to the “cult” thing, I am not inclined to call Mormonism a cult persoanlly. Perhaps from a theological standpoint alone one could make that argument. But to me it seems to me “religion” is the right term. But I am no expert. Thats just my gut feeling.

I don’t see why you’d say that. Maybe just because you were perturbed when you wrote this. Understandably.

…knows that you’ll ignore the facts in order to keep up the illusion. Yes, we know that’s the case.

Of course not and no one here or has ever advocated that. Smith was murdered, pure and simple, but it was resultant of his own lies and misbehavior.

The Federal Government passed a series of anti-polygamy legislative actions: the Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act, the Poland Act, the Edmunds Act, and the one that actually had teeth, the Edmunds-Tucker Act so it’s not as if if the church didn’t have ample warning. Not only that, but it seems as though the Mormon jesus wouldn’t let his restored church be caught off guard by this either. I guess he forgot to tell the prophet

In reality, however, Joseph Smith is second only to Jesus Christ in Mormon theology, even approving those who can and cannot enter Heaven.

Eliza, you are being inflammatory. You are not describing the issues accurately. Polygamy was not the only issue. Things were coming unglued at the time Joseph was arrested. There was plenty of evidence available to convict JS of fraud and many other crimes. However, as the evidence was being collected, the temper of the locals was rising to an uncontrolled pitch. Joseph was going to be brought to trial for many crimes, but the locals were too angry and impatient for justice to be done. They then took matters in their own hands, with an unfortunate result.

And don’t challenge my viewpoint, please. One of my ancestors was there, and he was probably just as angry as the rest. And many people have suffered since, because of that anger and impatience. If JS had not been killed at the Carthage jail, and instead would have stood trial for his many crimes, we would not be involved in such a heated discussion today.

This reminded me of a something an ex-Mormon said on a website I’m reading. so I hunted it down to share. Here it is:

"…This is what I mean about an explanation for everything. I would challenge my Mormon friends to think of any potentially faith-shattering experience and I will give you at least two perfectly acceptable Mormon rebuttals. It is my belief that the Prophet could get up to speak at a General Conference to tell the world that the Church is a big hoax and at least half of the members would stagger for a moment and then, without skipping a beat, decide that the Prophet must have fallen from God’s favor and was misled…"

Thats what the facts say.

To the OP’s original question.

Yes, I believe that mormonis is a North American religion.

Based on different reports I have read, along with many of the former mormon posters here, mormons have an extremely high inactivity rate, and defection rate in countries outside of North America.

Their retention rate in the US isn’t all that hot either.

However, they have made significant inroads on the Pacific Islands and New Zealand. Their brand of Mormonism is significantly different from Utah Mormonism, and if they understood the racist roots of it, they would leave in a heartbeat.

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