THE Church of Latter Day Saints is experiencing a spot of bother in the US over its shameful involvement in California’s anti-gay Proposition 8.
Realising last month that few members outside this exceedingly well-heeled cult had the foggiest idea of what Mormons actually believed, I did some research for the August print edition of the Freethinker – and, since publication, a number of readers have urged me post the piece on this site so that it might be seen by a wider audience.
So here it is:
Until last year, I regarded the Mormons as one of the world’s most comical cults. I mean, magical underwear, what’s that all about? If you don’t know, let me offer help:Â the white tops and passion-killer bloomers for men and women pictured here are called “temple garments” which primarily provide wearers with “a constant reminder” of the covenants made in temples.
Second, the garment “provides protection against temptation and evil”. Finally, wearing the garment is “an outward expression of an inward commitment” to follow Jesus Christ. The garments also:
Strengthen the wearer to resist temptation, fend off evil influences, and stand firmly for the right.
Researchers who interviewed a sample group of Latter-day Saints who wear lucky pants reported that virtually all expressed a belief that they provided “spiritual protection”, and encouraged them to keep their covenants.Â Some of those interviewed “asserted that the garment also provided physical protection”. In Mormon folklore, tales are told of Mormons who credit their temple garments with helping them survive car wrecks, fires, and various other disasters.
I ceased regarding Mormons as amusing in 2008 when the Church suddenly decided to pour millions of dollars into Proposition 8, which overturned the rights of gays in California to marry. And, boy, did they have millions to spend. Time magazine recently estimated that the Church’s current assets total a minimum of $30 billion.
Last year $5.2 billion in tithes flowed into its headquarters in Salt Lake City, $4.9 billion of which came from American Mormons, of which there are aroundÂ six million. Mormons worldwide total around 13 million. The LDS sends out over 50,000 missionaries who annually entice over 240,000 people into the cult.
So what do the Mormons actually believe?
Mormonism, concocted by Joseph Smith in 1830, teaches that GodÂ – or “Elohim” – used to be a man on another planet, and that he became a god by following the laws and ordinances of a god on his home planet (not specified). In his present god-state, he rules our world. He has a body of flesh and bones and he has a wife. In their exalted positions as deities, it follows that Mr and Mrs Elohim must be at it like knives to spawn millions of spirit children that grow and mature in the spiritual realm before being propelled to earth.
The first spirit born to the Elohims was Jesus. Later came Lucifer and an assortment of “spirit creatures”. After spirit children are born to God and his missus, the little spooks come down and enter the bodies of human babies born on earth. During this “compression” into the infant state, the memories of their pre-existence as spirits are “veiled”. All people, according to Mormonism, are born in heaven first then repeat the whole tedious process on earth where they grow, learn, then return to God.
God the Father was concerned for the future salvation of the people on Earth. So he devised a plan for Earth’s salvation. In his plan there needed to be a saviour – and Jesus, a useless sort of Prince of Wales figure who was aimlessly wandering around heaven with nothing better to do than perhaps chat up trees and endorse homoeopathy, was selected by He Who Must Be Obeyed to be reborn on Earth to Mary.
Jesus gave the old boy’s plan an enthusiastic thumbs-up. A job at last! Lucifer did not. He became jealous and rebelled. In his rebellion he convinced a large proportion of the spirits existing in heaven to side with him and oppose God. God, being more powerful then they, cursed these rebellious spirits and turned them into demons.
The remaining spirits sided with God. Since they chose “the better way”, when the time came for them to live on earth, they had the privilege of being born in locations of their choice. They could even choose their race.
Brigham Young, the second “prophet” of the Mormon Church, explained that instead of letting any old riff-raff diddle Mary, God came along to do it in person.
Now I may have this wrong, but if , as Mormons imply, Mary was an offspring of God, she must have been Jesus’s sister. Anyway, after his birth, Jesus grew up, got married, and had children.
All Mormons have the potential of becoming gods. A famous Mormon saying is As God once was, man is. As God is, man may become. In order to reach this exalted state a person must first become a good Mormon and pay a full ten percent tithe to the LDS. Afterwards, he or she can enter a Mormon temple and learn secret rituals: baptism for the dead, celestial marriage, and various oaths of secrecy and commitment. Additionally, four secret handshakes are taught so that the believing Mormon, upon arriving at the gates of the third level of Mormon heaven, can shake hands with God in the prescribed manner, and be granted entrance.
For those who achieve this highest of heavens, “exaltation to godhood awaits them”. They will then be assigned their own planets and be gods of their worlds. Thus Mormonism will be expanded throughout the cosmos.
It beggars belief that people can fall for this fantastic garbage – but then again, consider how many people are duped each year by Scientology, a confused cocktail of crackpot, dangerously applied psychotherapy, oversimplified, idiotic and inapplicable rules and ideas, and science-fiction drivel which is presented to its members (at the “advanced” levels) as profound spiritual truth.