The LDS church was born out of a time in the United States when the country at large believed in a concept called manifest destiny. It is essentially the idea that God is blessing his people and justifies them taking over the land. This concept is enshrined in the church’s founding scriptural tome. The Book of Mormon has this to say in 1st Nephi13:12
And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
Members believe the book is talking about Columbus in this scripture. In fact the main theme through the entire book is this idea that people follow God, he leads them to a promised land, then they stop doing what he wants them to, so they get curesed and become all loathsome and dark skinned.1 Then the next group that get to be God’s promised people come over and take over said land for themselves. From my new perspective of non belief it is no small coincidence that this doctrine mirrors the 19th century idea of manifest destiny.
Manifest destiny was a hotly debated topic when they were using it to justify war on Mexico and owning slaves. The reason is this idea that they were entitled to have slaves and take land from other people because God said so. It’s that very same sense of entitlement that has kept the middle east in conflict for centuries.
But what does that have to do with Kate Kelly and torture? Quite a bit if you think about it. In the church its members are taught a specific hierarchy in the temple. Women make a promise to hearken to the men, men make a promise to hearken to God 2 They are also committed to building up the kingdom of God by promising to give everything they have to the LDS church. Do you see the link to manifest destiny now?
So here you have an organization with leaders at the top that believe they are there because God said so, supported by a bunch of people committed to keeping them there. They in turn are taught that the church will eventually take over the world so that Jesus can come back and take the reigns one day. This goes clear back to the origins of the church where a council of fifty was created to lay the foundations for this church takeover of world government. Smith was even ordained king right before running for president of the United States. 3
The council of fifty eventually was disbanded, but this idea that the church is God’s organization on the earth and its people are destined to inherit the land has continued to the present day. Is it really any wonder that a woman standing up to the men in charge and asking for equal treatment is booted out? If the people running the show really deeply believe they are doing the almighty God’s will in making America the great promised land is it any wonder that church members and even bishops can create torture programs for millions of dollars and get nary a comment from the same people that would excommunitcate Kate?
The single biggest negative about religion in general is this sense of entitlement that it creates. When a person starts talking about how ‘God is on their side’ That is when you know they are feeling manifest destiny. Because implicit in that declaration is the idea that your competing philosophies are wrong and not divinely ordained by the creator of the universe.4 This sense of entitlement5 is a form of pride. People are proud to be Mormon, even when the facts are clear it isn’t a tenable position. Like this poor soul that lists out a bunch of the upsetting facts that have come to light. (Avoiding the teenage polygamy ones for some odd reason.)6 In the end she proudly declares that no matter what, she’s ‘all in‘. Think about that, how is it any different than the follower of Warren Jeffs claiming they are ‘all in’ even if Warren is in jail? Why would you say something like that?7
Is this because of the amount of pride you would have to swallow in admitting you were wrong about the church and had been misled by your feelings in the same way you think the Muslim or Atheist has been misled? I think so. Because admitting to myself that I was mistaken in my faith was quite possibly the hardest personal thing I have ever done. Pride is definitely the hardest pill to swallow.
- And possibly bald, have you ever noticed that those unrepentant Lamanites were always bald in church pictures? ↩
- Women used to have to obey the law of their husbands without question, but in 1990 they changed that to a milder form of listen to them with a so long as they follow god qualifier. ↩
- I personally think this movement was significant in the mobbing of carthage and the death of Joseph Smith, the people of that day and age weren’t interested in another theocracy taking over right after they have just thrown off England theocratic reign. ↩
- I personally think this begins to happen when myth is taken as fact. More on that next time! stay tuned. ↩
- Have you ever noticed how conservative mormons get all pissed off about people feeling a sense of entitlement when it comes to politics? Confirmation bias never ceases to amaze me when I see it in action. ↩
- I can’t imagine for the life of me that she missed the angel forcing polygamy on teens in her research… just another of those carefully worded semi admissions to the truth IMO. ↩
- Funny thing, when I read that article a little piece of Mormon still in me feels a prideful pull from that simple declaration of faith, if I still believed I know I would have also been ‘proud to be mormon’ after reading that. ↩